Tag Archives: PC

Ziggurat (PlayStation 4, Xbox One & PC)

Developer(s) – Milkstone Studios

Publisher(s) – Milkstone Studios

First released on Steam Early Access back in 2014, and going on to see both digital and physical releases on multiple platforms, Ziggurat is a Roguelike first-person shooting dungeon crawler, somewhat reminiscent of Tower of Guns, with a heavy emphasis on combat, player character development and above all, challenge. After having played Tower of Guns, I had fairly high expectations of how good this game would be, and how it would do the things is does; overall, I was not disappointed.

Graphics – 8/10

The game takes place in a pseudo-medieval fantasy world bearing resemblance to game series’ such as Warcraft or Baldur’s Gate. The graphical quality of the title is stunning, especially for a game developed independently, but more importantly, it also does extremely well to break away from games that were clearly taken as influence by incorporating a massive variety of unique creatures and boss characters, such as Sir Arthur and Lady Audrey. Cutting edge graphics can mean much less if there isn’t variety in conceptual design, but this game has both.

Gameplay – 8/10

The basic premise of gameplay, along with the game’s story, is that an apprentice wizard must take on the challenge of the Ziggurat in order to graduate from his order. Players must undertake increasingly difficult tasks of ascending the floors of the Ziggurat, which are filled with dangerous monsters and challenging obstacles throughout. Players can take advantage of a massive choice of different weapons, spells and perks that can found across the game in order to survive for as long as possible, and to try and eventually graduate from the wizard’s order. Locations, enemies and bosses, in Roguelike tradition, are procedurally generated, an thus does each playthrough provide a new set of challenges every time, keeping the game insanely fresh, and giving it virtually infinite replay value, which can make for hours upon hours of fun.

Controls – 10/10

Belonging to a genre that has dominated the video gaming market since the sixth generation, Ziggurat’s controls are perfect, providing no unnecessary complications, straightforward control mechanics and incorporating all aspects of gameplay seamlessly. The fact that the player character moves faster than in most other first-person shooters also provides quite a lot of fluency for players who have mastered it after a while, as it can become quite satisfying to be able to effectively dodge a wide variety of simultaneous enemy attacks. By the same token, it can also provide an equal amount of challenge to newcomers, since it can be quite easy to rush through unexplored areas, and accidentally fall for a number of given obstacles such as lava pits.

Originality – 7/10

Though Ziggurat is not the first game of it’s kind to incorporate the basic premise of gameplay that it does, it stands out for a massive number of different reasons; the variety in gameplay combat options it provides, as well as it’s conceptual design and artistic direction in terms of visuals. Although it’s clearly not without it’s influences, it provides a marvellous gaming experience that greatly shines throughout the indie developer community, and it’s certainly worth playing again and again.

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Overall, Ziggurat is a highly enjoyable game, filled with challenge, entertainment and a staggering amount of replayability. It looks great, it plays out wonderfully, and stands out as one of the better gaming experiences on eighth generation hardware.

Score

33/40

8/10 (Very Good)

Undertale (PC)

Developer(s) – Toby Fox

Developed by Toby Fox over a period spanning over 2 years following a successful Kickstarter campaign, Undertale was heavily inspired by the Super Mario RPG series, as it combines turn-based RPG mechanics with real-time combat, and having a narrative deeply reminiscent of many more surreal games including Anodyne and EarthBound. Though I have voiced my concerns about developers combining Turn-based combat with real-time combat in the past in reviews of games like Dragon Age: Origins and Final Fantasy XII, the way it’s handled in this game is much more adaptable and sensible than in most others, and it made for a very engaging experience.

Graphics – 7/10

At first glance, the visuals seem extremely basic in terms of graphical quality, but as the game progress, players will start to notice subtle details throughout that really make it stand out, such as reflections in pools of water, raindrops, snowflakes and surprisingly effective use of shadow and lighting. The conceptual design, however, is where this game truly differentiates itself from others, as it takes place in a wide variety of different locations, and has an insane amount of different character designs. My own personal experiences of witnessing many cosplayers dress up as characters from this game speak for themselves, and give testament to how much of a cult following this game has garnished since it’s release.

Gameplay – 8/10

The game focuses on a combat system highly resembling that of any classic Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest game, but it is in how players must evade enemy attacks where it becomes extremely enjoyable. The attack evasion system plays out like bullet hell games such as Galaxian or Gradius, with players having to evade an onslaught of objects on the screen. After being disappointed by a plethora of games that have tried and failed to combine turn-based and real-time combat, it was enormously refreshing to find a combat system that does this, and one that actually works well. It gives testament to Toby Fox’s ability as a games designer if he can succeed where many mainstream developers have failed spectacularly.

Controls – 10/10

Even with a very different control scheme from most other games of this kind to have been released over the last 25 years, the control scheme in Undertale presents players with no unnecessary complications or annoyances. Movement is straightforward, as are the combat mechanics, and like many RPGs before it, the developer didn’t try to fix what wasn’t broken and the game is the best it could be in this respect for it.

Lifespan – 3/10

Lasting around 6 to 7 hours, Undertale falls way short of the standard lifespan of an average turn-based RPG, and this stands out as the worst thing about the game in my opinion. If it had much less of a linear progression as it does, then potentially it could have been made to last far longer. Arguably, it can be put down to the fact the developer worked on a budget, but there have been indie games made on a budget with virtually infinite replay value, thus even under the circumstances, the game still feels far too short than what it ought to have been.

Storyline – 10/10

The story of Undertale follows a player-named human child, who has fallen into a mysterious realm called the Underground, where resides monsters that were once equal to humans, but banished there following a war that broke out between them. The human sets out on a journey to find the king of the Underground, Asgore Dreemurr, and reach the barrier leading back to the surface world. The game’s story was heavily inspired by Internet culture, as well as the concept of motherhood, further taking influence from Nintendo’s Mother series; the character Toriel, in particular, being perhaps the most prominent example of this. The story has a unique blend of comedy, tragedy and moral ambiguity, as players are presented with choices of befriending, fleeing or killing enemies, which in turn influence the direction in which the story goes. It certainly stands out as one of the better and more subtle narratives told in an indie game, and is worth experiencing at least once.

Originality – 10/10

Though the game takes inspiration from a variety of different sources, such as Internet culture, other game series’, and even UK comedy shows such as Mr. Bean, it present players with a gaming experience largely unlike most others. I was overwhelmingly satisfied to witness how well combat was handled against many other RPGs released throughout the previous generation of gaming, and most other aspects of it also contributed to make this a truly unforgettable experience, like it’s story and subtle graphical details. It can be looked upon as one of the most remarkable achievements in gaming in general; made even more remarkable by the fact that it was all the work of one man with limited financial backing, but with unlimited imagination.

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Overall, Undertale is an engaging, subtle and extraordinary video game that will have players amazed and immersed from beginning to end. Though my biggest concern stems from wishing that it could have been made to last a little longer, what there is in the way of story and gameplay makes for an experience unlike many others, and I recommend it to any fan of the RPG genre.

Score

48/60

8/10 (Very Good)

Doom (2016) (PC, PlayStation 4 & Xbox One)

Developer(s) – id Software

Publisher(s) – Bethesda Softworks

Director(s) – Marty Stratton & Hugo Martin

Producer(s) – Timothy Bell

Twelve years in the making, and finally released to positive reviews in mid-2016, the re-vamp of id Software’s classic shooter Doom presents players with an experience more akin to Doom 1 and 2, deviating away from the survival horror approach taken with Doom 3, and given an overhaul in visuals as well as having numerous different features thrown in for good measure. I thought that whilst it was pretty light on story, again alluding to the first two games, it was overall a fairly decent gaming experience worth at least one playthrough, and was left relieved that it didn’t become another Duke Nukem Forever, as it easily could have been if history has gone another way.

Graphics – 10/10

The game runs on the id Tech engine; one of the most advanced gaming engines on the market. And as a result, it looks nigh on flawless in terms of technical performance. It’s certainly one of the best looking video games I’ve seen throughout the eighth generation so far; if not, the best. The conceptual design is also very well handled, as it looks even more akin to the classic box art than any other Doom game to date, with the red skies and terrains of mars, and the hordes of demons players must have to contend with. Although the game itself plays out much like the first two games in the series, I like that they also kept the scary atmosphere and limited lighting in UAC facilities, which were established in Doom 3.

Gameplay – 7/10

The game has a standard level-based campaign mode, whereby players must shoot their way through hordes of demonic creatures and complete a couple of collectible side quests along the way, but on top of that, there is online multiplayer included as standard. But the most interesting feature the game has to offer is undoubtedly the SnapMap system, which allows players to create their own arenas and stages, and hold their own online multiplayer battles and single player levels as well as other game modes; a direct response to the overwhelming legacy the original game created in terms of user-generated content. The SnapMap feature makes this game stand out among the many other generic FPS games that are released every year, and after completing the main story mode, will provide much more replay value for people left wanting more.

Controls – 10/10

Handled by the godfathers of the first-person shooting genre, id Software, it was expected that there would be no issues with the game’s controls; and so there aren’t any. Doom’s controls are handled just as well as any other modern FPS game, and present players with no unnecessary complications

Lifespan – 10/10

The campaign can typically last up to around 13 hours, which whilst isn’t exceptional is still much longer than the average FPS story mode. But on top of that, online multiplayer and the SnapMap feature will provide players with unlimited replay value, so the game will in essence last as long as player interest, which given what this game has to offer, should be a considerably long time; especially veteran fans of the series.

Storyline – 4/10

As I said, this game is light on story; even in the campaign mode. The plot is that an unnamed space marine is traversing through the planet Mars, and is on the way eliminating as much of the demon horde as possible. There are slight instances of character development and a couple of different plot threads, but not enough to make it stand out from other games in this respect. Arguably, there didn’t need to be a story for it to work, and that does apply to a certain extent, but given how id Software have previously demonstrated that they know how to tell at least an interesting story, as evidenced with both Rage and Wolfenstein: The New Order, I still can’t help but feel that this game fell short in this respect.

Originality – 6/10

Another aspect that the game falls short on slightly is in terms of uniqueness; partly in conjunction with the fact that this is simply a second re-telling of the events of the original game. It’s also due to the fact that Doom does essentially play out like a standard first-person shooter, and that there are no unique mechanics within the gameplay itself outside the SnapMap feature. It could be argued that id Software may have wanted to keep things simple for the sake of delaying the game any more than they already had done. If true, the game was made to suffer slightly in terms of originality.

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In summation, however, Doom is a solid first person shooting experience, and I would recommend it to both veterans and newcomers. It’s longer than the average shooter, and while it does play out a lot like an average shooter, there are enough additional gameplay features to keep players busy vanquishing the demon horde for a long time.

Score

47/60

7.5/10 (Good)

Zombie Vikings (PlayStation 4 & PC)

Developer(s) – Zoink Games

Following the immense success of their adventure puzzle game Stick It To the Man, Zoink games followed up with an adventure beat ‘em up title name Zombie Vikings, but was met with unjustifiably mixed reviews, at least as of now, garnishing an average Metacritic score of just 61. Personally, I found it to be much better than the former game for a variety of different reasons, and hope that other review sites that haven’t yet provided a review see the game for it’s many different qualities.

Graphics – 8/10

The general design of the game is extremely similar to Stick It To the Man, with characters and scenery hearkening back to the 2D hand-drawn style of the previous game. However, the conceptual design of the game is drastically different, taking place in a world inspired by Norse mythology as opposed to a world inspired by the trappings and intricacies of modern life. Even despite how weird and wonderfully outlandish their previous title was, this one is just as magnificently strange; if not more so. The game may not run on 60 frames per second like the former, but to me, that’s semantics.

Gameplay – 8/10

Taking a drastic departure from Stick It To the Man, Zombie Vikings presents players with a wonderfully varied linear beat ‘em up game reminiscent of the like of Streets of Rage or Final Fight, and packed with variety in weapons, abilities, character choices and even side quests thrown in for good measure; something I’ve personally rarely seen in games of this kind, which after playing this, make this game seem as if a trick has been missed for many years. It all makes for a wonderfully fulfilling and addicting gaming experience, which in my opinion is much more satisfying to play through than Stick It To the Man.

Controls – 9/10

The game is a 2D side scrolling beat ‘em up, so by default, I would have problems with it’s control scheme to a certain extent; but much to my pleasant surprise, nowhere near as much of a problem as I have found with many of the games of its kind that many other gamers consider to be classics. The main reason for this is that movement is infinitely more varied, and players can not only run, but can dodge enemy attacks by rolling in different directions, which certainly help to alleviate many previous frustrations I have personally had with other games of its kind in the past.

Lifespan – 7/10

As well being bigger and better than Stick It To the Man, Zombie Vikings is also a much longer gaming experience, which always goes down well with me personally. Although the main story can take around the same amount of time to complete as the former, the increased amount of gameplay variety by proxy gives this title much more replay value, and of course, there’s also the multiplayer to indulge in afterwards, which can make for many more hours of entertainment.

Storyline – 8.5/10

The story of Zombie Vikings revolves around four zombie Viking warriors who have been summoned by the thunder god Odin to retrieve his stolen eye from the trickster god Loki. The basic of the game’s story seems simplistic, yet outrageously abnormal in scope at first glance, but it is also made enormously interesting throughout with its references to modern life, breaking of the fourth wall and quirky sense of humour. I was personally delighted to see that the developers had incorporated these same elements as they did in Stick It To the Man, and to witness them having built upon it. The game also excels in storytelling as well as gameplay, which in a market saturated with AAA games seemingly focusing on one and not the other, is always a breath of fresh air to me.

Originality – 8/10

This title is wonderfully unique in every single respect, from its wonderfully weird visuals to its staggering amount of gameplay variety to it’s coming together of many different ideas, which all form it’s own fully cohesive concept in terms of story. Ever since the start of the influx of indie games throughout the last two generations, it’s been fantastic to see so much depth and imagination implemented in the majority of these kinds of titles coming from many vastly creative developers, and this game is yet another excellent example of this.

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In summation, Zombie Vikings is most definitely one of the best indie games I’ve played through 2015, and I would highly recommend it. It’s a vast improvement on what was a similar-looking yet exemplary game in it’s own right, and it makes me excited for what Zoink have in stall in the future.

Score

48.5/60

8/10 (Very Good)

XIII (PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox, Mac & PC)

Developer(s) – Ubisoft Paris, Southend Interactive (Xbox) & Feral Interactive (Mac)

Publisher(s) – Ubisoft, Marvelous Entertainment & Feral Interactive

Director – Elisabeth Pellen

Producer – Julien Barés

XIII was a game based on the comic book of the same name written by Belgian novelist Jean Van Hamme. According to then Ubisoft president Laurent Detoc, the game would create “a world so unique and enthralling that gamers will become instantly engaged”. Even with a very new form of visual presentation in video games, I wouldn’t entirely agree with this.

Graphics – 7/10

The graphics were fairly well done for the time. This was, after all, the first ever comic book style first-person shooter. Its visual style is indeed the best thing about the game not only that, but it is also very well polished. I couldn’t see any glitches or anything like that whilst I was playing through it. I think the weak point about the game’s style is that the settings are extremely similar to that of games like Perfect Dark and Goldeneye 007, which would suggest that influences were somewhat too obvious. For example, the level whereby rooftops have to be traversed in order to elude police recapture was very similar to the opening level of Perfect Dark in conceptual design.

Gameplay – 5/10

Although this game was revolutionary for its time in terms of visuals, it wasn’t in terms of gameplay. Even for the time, this is a first-person shooter, which plays out pretty typically for most games in the genre. Any element of challenge in the game is presented through the stealth mechanics, which again, are not as elaborated on as those found in games like Metal Gear Solid, or the first Sly Cooper. The game also has a small amount of incentive and variety, as the more the player progresses, the more the main character’s memory is regained, thus yielding more skills as the game progresses. But even so, this game can become very boring very quickly, in my opinion.

Controls – 7/10

The movement in this game is also particularly stiff. It can become an unnecessary chore to aim at times, and the auto-aim system can be particularly confusing, as the crosshair doesn’t fix itself onto targets properly. Also, the grapple hook used to traverse buildings or mountains can be difficult to get to grips with at first. But other than that, the game plays out fine in terms of controls.

Lifespan – 5.5/10

Typical of any standard first-person shooter, XIII can be finished within 6 hours. Visuals alone are never enough to keep people playing a video game. At the end of the day, it’s all about the gameplay, and there wasn’t enough of it in XIII to make it last as long as it may have been able to. The problem with developing linear first-person shooters, or even linear games in general, is that very few of them have side quests and therefore contain next to no replay value apart from playing through it on a harder difficulty.

Storyline – 7/10

The game’s story is about a man named XIII, who wakes up on a beach with amnesia to find out he is the prime suspect of the president’s recent assassination, and he must fight his way through the FBI, the CIA and the criminal underworld in order to uncover his identity and clear his name in the process. The game’s story is actually not bad, to be fair. There are a few decent twists and turns to it but the voice acting is a bit off. The standout performances in my opinion are that of both David Duchovny and Adam West, who play XIII and General Carrington respectively. This was based on a fairly popular comic book series, so it was always bound to have some depth in story, at least. But overall, I think the developers chose to concentrate more on that and visual style than on gameplay.

Originality – 7/10

Obviously, the most significant features of this game are the stylised visuals, which would become a stable part of game franchises in the future, and the pretty compelling story. But as I keep pointing out, it’s all about gameplay ultimately, and there wasn’t enough innovation in that department to keep it enthralling in my opinion.

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Overall, I think first-person shooting fans should play through this game at least once, but I think it should probably be left at that. It’s terrible by any stretch of the imagination, but I think the novelty wares off after a while, as there doesn’t seem to be enough substance in gameplay to keep it entertaining throughout.

Score

38.5/60

6/10 (Average)

Xeodrifter (PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, 3DS & Wii U)

Developer(s) – Renegade Kid

Publisher(s) – Renegade Kid, Gambitious Digital & Entertainment

Director(s) – Jools Watsham

Programmer – Matthew Gambrell

Developed as a love letter to the Metroid series, Xeodrifter is a Metroidvania game with emphasis on exploration and intense combat, as well as including a small RPG element in the facility to upgrade weapons and learn new abilities as the game progresses. For the small amount of time it takes to complete this game, I was impressed with how it plays out, but underwhelmed by just how fleeting an experience it is, with the game ultimately leaving wanting a lot more than what was on offer.

Graphics – 7/10

Making use of intricately detailed 8-BIT environments and a dark and gritty atmosphere, the game is set on four different planets with their own unique looks and surroundings, and does extremely well to perpetuate the feeling of isolation that is synonymous with games like this; Super Metroid and The Swapper to name but a few. The biggest gripe I have with it in terms of visual presentation is the lack of variety in boss designs, with the developers choosing to simply recycle the same character sprite, but colouring it differently, and giving it different abilities with each battle. But although there is a lack in variation in boss design, there certainly isn’t in general enemy design, as there is a wide range of different creatures to fight throughout the course of the game, keeping things fresh for the most part.

Gameplay – 8/10

More impressive than the visuals, however, is how the game plays out. The combat involved in the game is just as intense and enjoyable as in the original Metroid; if not, more so. There is a wide range of weapons for players to utilize, as well a satisfyingly strong puzzle element to the game, with players having to use different abilities in order to progress through different areas, giving scope for players to revisit previously explored planets in order to uncover secrets other inaccessible without the aid of specific abilities, thus expanding what longevity there is to be had. Whilst the bosses are largely repetitious, they are also legitimately challenging; especially the final boss.

Controls – 10/10

Though this gameplay formula had been popularised and developed upon for over thirty years until this game was released, the developers did well to not only program the game’s control scheme properly, but also to build upon the formula, implementing unique features such as shifting from the foreground to the background, and vehicular exploration and combat, as well as travelling and fighting on foot. Unlike in a lot of many 2D side scrollers to have been released in the past such as Mega Man and Castlevania, the controls are also adequately responsive, and don’t perpetuate any unnecessary frustrations in-game.

Lifespan – 1/10

The worst thing about this game, unfortunately, is how short a time it lasts, with it lasting an average of merely 2 hours. It may have been impressive back in 1986, when Metroid first came out, but against most other Metroidvania games released since, such as Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Dust: An Elysian Tail, there’s no way it would possibly be able to compare in a positive sense. Personally, I think that even the aforementioned games could have done with lasting a little longer than they ended up doing, making a 2-hour Metroidvania seem especially unacceptable.

Storyline – 6/10

The game’s story can best be described as Metroid meets Pikmin. It follows an astronaut whose ship is damaged by an asteroid, and crash-lands on an uncharted world, and he must find each of the missing pieces to repair it. It’s very simple in scope, and it features next to nothing in the way of the usual tropes of a modern in-game narrative, but the majority of games released in the time that this game is reminiscent of didn’t either, and so I don’t think it should lose out on too many points as a result. Personally, I would much rather have a game include standout gameplay over a standout storyline.

Originality – 7/10

Though this game was clearly inspired by many classics of the genre, most notably the Metroid series of course, in terms of gameplay, it offers something fairly different to what other Metroidvania games do, and I believe there is indeed potential to make a franchise out of this title, and potential to build upon what is offered within it in a possible sequel. Though it may stand out as one of the shortest games of it’s kind ever developed, it stands out somewhat for the wrong reasons as a result.

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Overall, Xeodrifter is an intensely enjoyable, yet criminally short game. I think that with a much larger in-game world to explore and even more to do, a sequel could be considered a classic; but if the developers plan to leave this series as it is, then they will have provided nowhere near enough of an experience to warrant any more than one playthrough.

Score

39/60

6.5/10 (Above Average)

Worms (Amiga, CD32, Jaguar, Super Nintendo, Game Boy, Mega Drive, Sega Saturn, MS DOS, PlayStation & PC)

Developer(s) – Team17

Publisher(s) – Ocean Software

Designer – Andy Davidson

Starting out as an entry for a programming competition called Total Wormage, Worms went on to become not only a hugely popular game, but a hugely popular franchise. A by-product of the 90s, a strange time for the industry in its own right, Worms combines some concepts which may sound ridiculous on paper, but make for something very entertaining on either CD or cartridge format.

Graphics – 6.5/10

The designs of the in-game battlefield in particular are quite unique compared to typical video game settings for not only its times, but for video games in general, taking place in settings varying from glaciers and scrap yards. The FMVs that play out before the beginning of each battle were also pretty well done for the time and add quite a bit of entertainment to the game, which I will elaborate on further into the review. The aspect that I think lets the visuals down, however, is how poorly detailed the character sprites stand out among the in-game scenery. I think by that token, the game hasn’t aged particularly well from a visual perspective. After a while, the sound bytes of the character voices could get a little annoying after a while in the first instalment.

Gameplay – 6.5/10

I find that this game’s fairly strong level of addiction can be attributed to how much challenge can be involved at times, and for how much strategy and variety in gameplay was surprisingly included in a game like this, which I personally commend it for. At the time, there was something strangely wonderful about determining the best way to take out each of the opposing teams worms before they take the player’s team out, and it’s a unique gameplay novelty, which I believe still hold up to this very day.

Controls – 9/10

The only gripe I have about this game’s control scheme is the system of having to measure up wind resistance against trajectory in order to take the most accurate shot possible with the bazooka or grenades. In my opinion, that can make the game unnecessarily difficult at times, given the most awkward of circumstances and unit positions. To my dismay, this system would feature in future Worms titles. However, there are no problems otherwise.

Lifespan – N/A (10/10)

As a game with no fixed lifespan, it only lasts as long as player interest. Like games such as Mario Kart, Worms is a game that cam simply be picked up and played without players having to worry about making progress in the conventional sense or having to worry about how fleeting the experience may feel like after they’ve finished playing.

Storyline – N/A (10/10)

As like many video games before and after the release of Worms, this game has no properly established storyline, but rather a mere basic premise; worms warring with each other. The best thing about the premise of Worms is the entertaining comedic element portrayed in the many FMVs of the game, which play out before each fight. This would become a stable in the series, much to my personal approval.

Originality – 7/10

In the 90’s in particular, when most players were primarily used to 2D side scrolling and first person shooting, a real-time strategy game about worms at war and using a wide variety of weapons and gadgets to subdue each other was a breath of fresh air on both a conceptual level, and in terms of gameplay. Indeed, these are the kinds of seemingly nonsensical ideas, which have been the very foundations for some of the greatest video game franchises ever conceived.

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In summation, Worms is a very unique and compelling game, which whilst not holding up on a graphical point of view, definitely holds up in terms of both gameplay and originality. In my opinion, it’s a must-have for any fan of the real-time strategy genre.

Score

49/60

8/10 (Very Good)

Wasteland (PC)

Developer(s) – Interplay Entertainment

Publisher(s) – Electronic Arts

Director – Brian Fargo

Producer – David Albert

Making use of the GURPS system (Generic Universal Role Playing System), a tabletop role-playing developed by Author Steve Jackson back in 1986, Wasteland was released two years later back in 1988, and remains one of the most influential western RPGs in gaming history, with director Brian Fargo going on to pioneer the Fallout series as a result. In comparison to the original Fallout, I believe this game to be the superior out of the two by some distance, and in every single respect.

Graphics – 8/10

From a technical standpoint, the game is no more advanced than an average NES game, making use of 8-bit visuals, albeit with a much more varied colour palette than Nintendo’s first home console. However, from a conceptual standpoint, the visuals were exceptional for the time, as a post-apocalyptic setting had virtually been unheard of in gaming at the time, and the game also has an exceptionally diverse enemy roster for the time in addition

Gameplay – 7/10

In addition, the gameplay follows many of the same tropes featured in classic PC RPGs at the time, but as stated, makes use of the GURPS system, playing out much more like a tabletop RPGS, which were exceptionally popular at the time, and have continued to remain prominent at expos and conic cons all over the world ever since. I was pleasantly surprised to find how short a time it took for me to get into this game in this respect, as since the entire concept was new to me, I didn’t think I’d have the slightest idea of where to begin; like Fallout 4 to a certain extent. I wasn’t disappointed however, and ended up having a lot of fun with it.

Controls – 8/10

The biggest gripe I have about this game is the fact that it’s control scheme and basic mechanics can take a little bit of time to grow accustomed to; especially if players may be new to this style of play. Old-school PC games relied heavily on similar mechanics, which were largely text-based, and therefore nothing like the games of today. But with perseverance, they can be grown accustomed to, and it is worth it to play through this game in my opinion.

Lifespan – 10/10

RPGs since the late 90s were established as being capable of lasting at least 50 to 60 hours; 80 hours plus at a stretch. Although Wasteland only lasts around 12 hours, this was exceptionally long for any game to last at that time, with only games like the original Final Fantasy having the same level of replay value as this. The game, like the original Final Fantasy, was also designed to be played multiple times, giving it even more replay value, and therefore, making it even more enjoyable and varied.

Storyline – 7.5/10

The game’s story revolves around a group known as the Desert Raiders looking to bring order to a post-apocalyptic world following a global nuclear war in 1998. Whilst the story may sound very basic, like the original Fallout game, for the time, it was much better than the average and typical story of the hero saving the damsel in distress, which had become synonymous with a great deal of games at that time; Super Mario Bros and The Legend of Zelda to name but a few.

Originality – 9/10

Released in a time when Japanese developers such as Squaresoft and Enix were the dominant forces in the RPG genre, and whilst they still remain so to this day, this game eventually went on to establish the western world as a prominent develop of RPGs with not only Fallout, but with The Elder Scrolls and Warcraft in addition. While it may be easy for younger gamers to simply write this off as a complicated mess of a game, the fact of the matter is that it is one of the most influential games in history, and paved the way for the better games to have come over the years.

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Overall, Wasteland, despite the fact that it may not have aged particularly well, still largely hold up in terms of gameplay in my opinion. It’s a fun RPG exceptionally long for the time, and will provide many hours of entertainment, as well as extensive replay value.

Score

49.5/60

8/10 (Very Good)

Warriors Orochi (PlayStation 2, Xbox 360, PC & PlayStation Portable)

Developer(s) – Koei & Omega Force

Publisher(s) – Koei

Designer – Atsushi Ichiynangi

An early seventh generation title, as well as an extremely late sixth generation title released on PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360, Warriors Orochi was yet another hack and slash tactical action game released by Koei Tecmo following their success with both the Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors series. It introduced a level of variety that I’ve personally rarely seen in a video game of it’s kind and whilst I did find a handful of issues, I ended up having a lot of fun with it at the same time.

Graphics – 6/10

Conceptually, I found the visuals to be quite impressive. Unlike many other games of its kind, enemies seem to have a fair bit of uniqueness about them, as opposed to simply being recycled throughout the course of the game. The variety in main character design is also unprecedented, with each one flawlessly standing out from the other. A lot of what I found wrong with the graphics, however, is in the fact that some enemies can actually glitch out from time to time; especially in the first level. Whenever they flee in terror, some actually end up disappearing into thin air, which I found to be quite a big design flaw.

Gameplay – 7/10

Although at its core, it’s easy to look upon this game as simply being a button masher, the amount of characters and mission also afford players a massive amount of variety, since each character also has their own style of combat and range of weapons, with many more to unlock as the game progresses. On top of that, there are also learnable abilities to unlock, giving the game an almost RPG feel to it, which I was even further pleasantly surprised to find. I couldn’t help but draw comparisons between this game and Hyrule Warriors, and whilst I find Hyrule Warriors to be the better game, largely by default since I am a huge fan of the Legend of Zelda series, and that it contained about as much variety, but in a much more creative way, Warriors Orochi still turned out to be a much more entertaining game than I initially anticipated.

Controls – 8/10

The worst thing I found with the controls was that they could be a little bit unresponsive at times; especially when playing with characters that use heavier weapons. It can sometimes be quite easy to come across some awkward camera angles when playing through levels that are set in buildings, such as the first level. But otherwise, I found no other issues with the controls. Apart from these few issues, it plays out as fluently as any other game that Koei Tecmo have developed employing the same style of play.

Lifespan – 8/10

As well as there being great abundance in gameplay variety, there is also great abundance in lifespan, with the game being able to last at least 30 hours. Replay value can be had in levelling up each individual character to the max, as well as playing through it with several different factions, in turn offering different perspectives on the plot of the game; similar to Sonic Adventures, but on an even bigger scale. It’s impressive to me how Koei Tecmo have been able to attach such longevity to a type of game that can be largely seen as repetitive. I’ve seen it in Hyrule Warriors, and I saw it again in Warriors Orochi.

Storyline – 6/10

The story of the game follows several different warring states of both China and Japan as the serpent king Orochi creates a rift in time and space, which brings warriors from both sides together. Orochi wishes to simply test their might, as characters from each faction eventually band together to finally confront the serpent king. The concept of the story is very exciting, as well as different to that of many other game like it that Koei Tecmo have released, but a big problem, at least to me, was how terrible the voice acting is. Some would argue that this adds to the game’s charm, but I’ve always found bad voice acting in video games in general does nothing more than mar down the entire experience. Given the choice, I would much prefer to read dialogue, similar to classic Final Fantasy games, than to have to listen to sup-bar voiceover work.

Originality – 6/10

This type of game had been replicated many times beforehand by Koei Tecmo, and has been replicated many times again ever since, with Warriors Orochi alone spawning two sequels, but the increased variety in gameplay, as well as the story concept, served to at least keep it fresh in comparison with every other game of it’s own kind. Although in Japan, this style of play has seemed to become as popular in the same sense that Call of Duty is popular, how the developers can simply release more of the same without much innovation, it’s easy to see how the idea has caught on, and why Nintendo would want to have implemented it for themselves with Hyrule Warriors; it’s addictive and can make for something special when put into the right hands.

Happii

Happii

In summation, Warriors Orochi, while having it’s fair share of flaws, is a particularly enjoyable game. Although the voice acting is by no means up to scratch, I need to commend Koei Tecmo for focusing on the aspect that truly matters; the gameplay.

Score

42/60

7/10 (Fair)

Warframe (PC & PlayStation 4 & Xbox One)

Developer(s) –Digital Extremes

Publisher(s) – Digital Extremes

Artist – Michael “Mynki” Brennan

Warframe is an online free-to-play third-person shooter, made in roughly the same vein as Metal Gear Rising, but with considerably less swordplay involved, and more detailed graphics. At first, I had scepticisms that this game would prove to be pretty straightforward and generic, but after playing, I was proven somewhat wrong, since there elements of it that seemed to have influenced some of the biggest games to have come out in the eighth generation so far.

Graphics – 7/10

The visuals are pretty well done for a game developed by a third party, that came out upon the release of a new console; the level of detail is particularly impressive, and the conceptual design also has it’s strong points. For example, the wide variety of different warframes (the game’s variant on futuristic suits of armour), is extremely well though out, made even better with the facility of customisation. There are a few issues with the loading of textures, but for the most part, I was impressed with how well the game looks overall.

Gameplay – 7/10

The gameplay is also surprisingly varied, with a combat system consisting of not only third person shooting, but of swordplay, levelling up and the use of special abilities unique to each fighting class. The main thing I will criticize it for is it’s lack of side quests, since even games as linear as this have at least one of them; games like Gears of War and Uncharted. Nevertheless, the combat system is pretty addictive, and each level is quite varied in terms of how many main objective there are to do in each one.

Controls – 7/10

Unfortunately, there are a few issues with the game’s control scheme. One of which, and the most standout one in my opinion, is that the climbing mechanism seems to have been handled quite clumsily, since there are some climbs players will probably think should be made, and aren’t, creating issues of inconsistency. Another gripe I have is that it can be unnecessarily difficult to effectively execute certain special moves, including the Slash Dash, as it’s overly easy for CPU enemies to move out of the way. Another big problem I have with the game’s controls is that from time to time, the game’s main antagonist can pop up with voice messages, but at with time, the holographic image of his head takes up almost half the screen. I get that the developers did this to try and impose a level of fear within gamers, but for me, it’s much more of a hindrance than the developers intended. Otherwise, however, the games plays out smoothly enough.

Lifespan – 5.5/10

Taking all missions into account, including alert missions, the game can last up to 8-10 maximum. Even compared to games such as Gears of War and Uncharted (which though are among some of my favourite games of all time, they are far too short), this in an incredibly underwhelming amount of time for a game of its kind to last. Even if it is free, there are other games on both the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade free not only to paying subscribers, but to anyone with an account, that can be made to last much longer.

Storyline – 6/10

The story behind Warframe is that the Tenno, a race of ancient warriors awoken from years of stasis, are plunged into war with three other races; the Grineers, the Corpus and the Infested. It’s particularly standard for a science fictions game, and there’s not a great deal present to differentiate from the likes of Gears of War or Halo. The only strong points I can highlight bout it is that the character of Captain Vor is very well brought to life by his respective voice actor, Kol Crosbie, and the character of Ordis does provide some basis in comic relief. It’s actually quite interesting to consider how similar both Ordis and the ghost from Destiny are; though Ordis provides a lot more personality in my opinion.

Originality – 6/10

There aren’t a great deal of games made in this manner that present such varied combat, but in terms of story and inclusion side missions, I think it does fall short of how unique a game it could have been if there had been more added to it. At the time of the release of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, it would have been considered just a game to tide people over before greater and varied releases would come out, but for the people who chose to align with it beyond that point, I believe more could have been done to accommodate for them.

Niiutral

Niiutral

In summation, Warframe is a better game than I expected it would be at first, but I’m still able to express too many concerns about it for me to consider it a classic, or even one of the better games on the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One so far. There are a few hours of enjoyment to be had out of it, but after that, there’s not much cause for players to pick it up again, except maybe to play it on a harder difficulty.

Score

38.5/60

6/10 (Average)