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Bamul Blog

Introducing: Mini-Reviews...

So a bit less than two months ago, I posted a blog update about me being done with writing reviews and that kind of stuff... well, it turns out that my hobby couldn't die so easily. Although writing the fully featured, long reviews that I used to flood this website with is still a bit too much work for my situation right now, I still really love writing about video games. Thus I wrote three mini-reviews in the past few weeks; something a lot more spontaneous, less detailed and easier to produce. I've written these for Metro: Last Light, Deadlight and the Faction Pack DLC. I think I might start writing more of these, so please give them a read if you want to and leave a heads-up at their pages. They're much, much, much shorter than my older work.

Cheers!

Sod it

I've been calling myself an enthusiast writer ever since writing video game reviews became a big hobby of mine. I've been uploading my work to this website for years now, but as I grew and gained more experience - my writing skills improved tenfold. I even received the "Top 500 Reviewers" badge here on GameSpot, which I'm still very proud of. I think I was fifteen years old at the time. Unfortunately about four months from my seventeenth birthday now that I'm writing a book in Polish, revising for exams and my backlog of unfinished games grows... I've decided that I should stop. Forever? I don't know. I've been putting too much of an emphasis on writing in my leisure gaming to a point where I refused to play new games until finishing the reviews of games I had already completed. And with so much going on in my life lately, I just can't be bothered with this anymore. As much as I love writing, sometimes I just want to sit down and enjoy a game with no strings attached.

So, I guess I'm writing this blog post just to say farewell to reviews and let all of you know (even though it has been ages since anyone has given me feedback on a review, since most of my GS friends are gone and others simply don't have the time or will to read my stuff). It's a shame that I'm choosing to quit at this moment... I won't get to tell you how much potential the new Tomb Raider had, how Call of Pripyat almost perfected the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. formula and how brilliant Last Light is despite of the shocking Ranger Mode pre-order bonus. Well, I guess I still would be able to do so if I kept posting on GS, but in much less detail. Anyway, I'll still rate my games and keep my Top 30 list going (I like to keep a track of games I liked and games I didn't like), but no more reviews.

Zeno Clash Review

Had this one ready for a while now, I just didn't get around to posting it. Sorry for the lack of apostrophes in this review - GS ate them again. The version at the review page is fine as always though.


ZENO CLASH - For PC - Review by Bamul

Zeno Clash Boxshot

The human minds creative imagination and the work of a talented team of developers can create something truly special.

Difficulty: Just Right
Time Spent: 10 Hours or Less
The Bottom Line: "Surprisingly good"

INTRODUCTION:
How many first-person fighting games have you played? No, Im not talking about the Elder Scrolls series or Mirrors Edge. Sure, those games allow you to punch and kick from a first-person camera perspective, but that isnt their main point. Personally I dont think Ive ever played a first-person fighting game before, so you can imagine how intrigued I was when I saw Zeno Clash for the first time. What is this? A first-person fighting game? Well, thats unusual. I had never gotten around to buying it until the Steam Christmas Sale of 2012. After finishing it, I decided that I should share my opinion of the game with you.

REVIEW:
The first thing that makes Zeno Clash stand out is the unique artistic style of its visuals. I dont know what ACE Team (the developers of the game) were smoking when they made this, but the game sure does look really trippy. Remember the Shivering Isles expansion for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion? Giant yellow mushrooms, rooms turning into butterflies - that sort of stuff. Well, if you took that and multiplied it by crazy times five then youd get Zeno Clash, and this is one of its strongest points.

Everything from the creature design to NPCs, weapons and environments looks fantastical. Most of the enemies you will fight are hybrids of different animals, like chickens, pigs, fish, elephants and so on, but with human features applied to their appearance. Its a really interesting world that they made for this game, full of vibrant colours, funky shapes and imaginative designs. These great visuals are used to create moments of baffling folly or enchanting beauty, and neither of these ever disappoints.

Zeno Clashs plot is just as strange as its graphics. The story is set in a fantasy realm called Zenozoik. As the player, you take on the role of Ghat - a man who wakes up after triggering an explosion that kills Father-Mother, a seemingly hermaphroditic being and Ghats supposed parent. Ghat belonged to Father-Mothers large and powerful family of offspring until discovering a dark secret and attacking his parent in result. Consequently, Ghat is banished from the family and forced to flee from his numerous revengeful siblings. On this journey he is accompanied by Deadra, a female companion who attempts to save him from apathetic madness and I wont spoil any more than that.

This story, as well as the world that it takes place in, might not and most probably will not make any sense to you when you start playing the game. The basics of the plot are simple enough, but all the little details beyond the outline seem nonsensical. However, this is all part of the games abstract themes, and the best forms of abstract art dont explain everything, thus leaving much to be explained by the viewers imagination and their own interpretation of whats what. If you look deeper into some of this narratives aspects - such as: the names of various characters, their appearance, the dialogue between them, the atmosphere of each environment and so on - then you might find some profound meanings and messages behind it all. If not, then at least the characters are likeable and fascinating.

As I mentioned earlier, Zeno Clash is one of the very few games out there that are considered first-person fighting games. Its been tried before, but it rarely worked because melee combat usually looks and feels very clumsy from this perspective. Zeno Clash actually manages to create something fairly original, innovative and most importantly it works! It does get a bit clunky at times, as the camera occasionally turns in an uncomfortable direction when punching a targeted enemy.

At first, the gameplay itself consists of mostly hand-to-hand combat. A diverse array of punch, kick, elbow and knee attacks (with various levels of speed and power) can be used to knock out hostiles. The lock-on option can be used to ensure that all of your strikes land on the chosen opponent. Later on in the game, a selection of weapons appears - some very creative designs of ranged armaments and a few simpler, bludgeoning tools can be used to defeat heavier foes. Its not perfect, but still highly entertaining with engaging action, challenging enemies and brutally satisfying combat. The level progression is linear, with some cutscenes in between segments of gameplay - which is a shame since it would have been a blast to explore Zenozoik in an open world environment.

The satisfaction in combat is achieved through not only well-animated characters, but also outstanding sound effects that make each punch feel impactful. The quality of the audio is equally awesome in the music, with strange tunes of many different types to match Zenozoiks oddness. The voice acting of each character is good, but nothing exceptional and there are no standout performances. The lines could have been spoken with more emotion, but instead many of the actors sound a bit confused. This is unexpected and unusual, which suits the rest of the games tone. Other less-humanoid creatures make bizarrely beastly sounds.

Now lets summarize what Zeno Clash is like:

GAMEPLAY - 8.5/10 (Great)
Its an interesting mix of melee and ranged combat, as well as being one of the very few first-person fighting games to work so well.

STABILITY - 8/10 (Impressive)
Apart from occasional freezes in menus with music glitches and other bugs present in most Source engine games, Zeno Clash is very playable.

STORY - 7.5/10 (Good)
Its well-written and makes enough sense to be understandable, but a lot has to be interpreted and sometimes perhaps its a bit too much.

GRAPHICS - 10/10 (Marvellous)
Technologically decent graphics, the human minds creative imagination and the work of a talented team of developers form something truly extraordinary.

SOUND - 8.5/10 (Great)
Sound effects add satisfying impact to combat, voice acting suits the narrative and the soundtrack is packed full of fittingly strange music.

LONGEVITY - 4/10 (Unsatisfactory)
Consider the facts: this game normally costs £6.99, but the singleplayer is under 4 hours long and there is no multiplayer some games are meant to be short, but considering the price, this is unfair. You could wait until another sale and buy it for £0.69 like I did (then its more than worth it), but that doesnt change the fact that the original price is off-putting.

When small and new developers from different places around the world come up with fresh, new and ingenious ideas like Zeno Clash, I grow more & more interested in the indie scene. Not bound by an oppressive publisher, ACE Team has managed to create something great. Not everyone may like this game, but its certainly something different and, for me, Zeno Clash is something special now if only it cost a bit less or was a bit longer. With news of a sequel coming sometime in 2013, lets hope this promising series gets the bigger budget that it deserves and reaches an even higher standard of quality.

OVERALL RATING 7.5/10 (Good)


If you liked this review, please give it a thumbs-up at: http://uk.gamespot.com/zeno-clash/user-reviews/811635/


It's been over five years...

On March 6th, 2013, I missed my fifth anniversary of being a member on this once glorious gaming site. It's been a few months since I logged on here to write a blog post and I see nothing has changed. I see the content from the UK branch and Kevin VanOrd's reviews are still stellar, but the website doesn't seem to be under any of the promised overhauls. The communities I used to be a part of are still dead. It's a shame.

What's up with me? Not much. I'll be leaving school in about two months - off to college and then university. Can't be bothered to talk here about non-gaming related stuff, so I'll say I finally got a proper gaming PC and leave it at that. What's everyone else been up to?

Mass Effect 3: Leviathan Review

MASS EFFECT 3: LEVIATHAN - (DLC) For PC - Review by Bamul

Mass Effect 3: Leviathan Boxshot

Once again, we are presented with some stellar downloadable content but not enough of it.

Difficulty: Easy
Time Spent: 10 Hours or Less
The Bottom Line: "Too short"

INTRODUCTION:
Ever since Electronic Arts acquired the Canadian RPG developer, BioWare has become known for supporting its games post-release with DLC of mixed quality. They tested the grounds with Mass Effect first by providing players with two uninteresting downloadable content packs, each of lackluster quality - especially so when compared to the capacity of the original game. Then came Dragon Age: Origins and BioWare flooded it with optional DLC packs, most of which were equally dull. Mass Effect 2 stepped up the game by offering more free downloadable content and additional paid options. However, even that wasnt perfect, as the free things werent of the best calibre and even though Lair of the Shadow Broker was stellar stuff - It was too short for its price. Mass Effect 3 had a very poor start with the shocking on-disc DLC From Ashes, but BioWare has otherwise been keeping the game updated with a lot of decent and good quality content for free ever since. Leviathan is the first of the promised storyline DLC packs delivered by the company, so lets see how it fares.

REVIEW:
After the ending of Mass Effect 3, many players were left underwhelmed and unable to make sense of what happened. Everyone wanted to know more about the Reapers, their origins and what came before them - if not just to understand what the last 5 or 10 minutes of the game were all about, then simply out of a fans curiosity to learn more about the fascinating lore of the series. What Leviathan does marvellously is give players more insight on these issues, without spoiling too much and still managing to keep much of the mystery, and doing so through a superbly written and well-designed story. Leviathans plot starts with a message from Admiral Hackett, who has been running black ops on the pursuit of an evasive creature, known only as the Leviathan, recognized for killing Reapers.

Everyone in the Systems Alliance command who has been informed of the subject is well aware of its potential strategic value in the war against the Reapers, but no one has been able to track down the Leviathan. A human scientist, called Dr Bryson, has been investigating the matter for years and has recently come across something that could lead him right to the Leviathan. Hackett requests that Commander Shepard meet with Bryson and assist him in any way possible. Upon your arrival at the scientists lab on the Citadel, the situation takes an unexpected turn of events and leads Shepard on an exciting journey across a new part of the galaxy in search of the elusive Leviathan.

As we have come to expect from BioWare and the Mass Effect franchise, the writing here is stellar. Any fans of the series will likely find themselves hooked into this DLCs plot from the beginning, and it only gets more interesting after that. In traditional RPG fashion, the player is given plenty of choice during dialogue throughout the entirety of the adventure. Unfortunately, this choice does not affect the outcome or direction of the plot - which is understandable due to the importance of Shepards objective (though still a bit disappointing) - but it does affect the characters around Shepard and their fates. Speaking of which, all of the characters are well-voiced and an exceptional performance is given by Anthony Skordi. Even though the story content of Leviathan is brilliant, it is quite surprising that so much important game lore has once again been kept secret in order to later become available as paid DLC. Leviathans story really is great, but this should have been in Mass Effect 3 from the get-go and available to all for on additional cost.

From a gameplay perspective, Leviathan doesnt wander too far into the uncertain territory of novelty. The combat missions are fairly standard fare and match what youd normally expect from battles with Reaper forces after playing Mass Effect 3. There are some interesting detective like sections of gameplay where Shepard (with a bit of help from EDI) has to examine a safe area for clues and leads as to where she or he needs to head next in the search for Leviathan. These unusual gameplay segments are interesting, but it does seem like BioWare should have explored them further and in greater detail, so they end up being slightly disappointing in the long run. A very brief fragment of gameplay takes place underwater. Its a joy to play through and should have been longer, but excess length would have likely diminished its effect.

Even if Leviathan doesnt add that many new features to the already exciting gameplay of Mass Effect 3, it does create atmosphere exceptionally well. During the three main missions included in Leviathan, we get a chance to see some really spectacular environments. A mining colony on an asteroid protected by immense force fields, a desert wasteland with skies dominated by Harvesters or a planet covered entirely by oceans - all of these environments are created with fantastic attention to detail and highly impressive visuals, as well as a lot of jaw dropping dynamics. Each is also backed up by a stunning soundtrack and characters with convincing voice acting to create an amazing atmosphere for all of the locations in this DLC pack.

Lets summarize everything Leviathan has to offer:

GAMEPLAY - 8.5/10 (Great)
Leviathan doesnt add a lot to the gameplay formula, but it tries enough new approaches to keep things fresh and interesting.

STABILITY - 8/10 (Impressive)
My computer crashed once whilst playing this DLC, but this could have been just a random error with my hardware instead of the game. Other than that, there are no bugs beyond the usual, occasional glitches of Mass Effect 3.

STORY - 10/10 (Marvellous)
The plot answers many questions and creates a dozen new ones; it is well-written, well-presented, important to the series lore and backed by good characters.

GRAPHICS - 9/10 (Outstanding)
Each environment seen in this DLC looks spectacular, the visual style of Mas Effect 3 is further refined with new atmospheres and many new creative ideas.

SOUND - 9/10 (Outstanding)
The soundtrack consists of thrilling and diverse music that fits the action, the characters are all well-voiced and the audio effects are of a great standard.

LONGEVITY - 4/10 (Unsatisfactory)
This short DLC can be completed in a substandard time of 2 to 3.5 hours of gameplay and dialogue, depending on just how much you do in each area. Technically, this does double or triple if you plan to play through it with more than one character, but not everyone will.

BioWare has repeated the same mistakes that they have previously made with Lair of the Shadow Broker. Once again, we are presented with some stellar downloadable content but not enough of it. Leviathan can only last for a maximum of around 4 hours on the medium or higher difficulty settings from a completionists point of view, and that really isnt enough for the price of 800 BioWare points (around 6 UK pounds or 9.50 US dollars). If you are a big fan of the series, if youre dying to know more about the Reapers and their predecessors, then Id say go ahead and buy it when you have some spare money. Leviathan is a very well-made DLC and its worth it for a hardcore fan. However, there is very little content in it for such a high price, so if you think you can resist - then perhaps its best to avoid BioWares DLC altogether.

OVERALL RATING - 8/10 (Impressive)


I'm really finding it hard to sit down and write these reviews lately. Once I'm into it and writing, it's a piece of cake and I enjoy it but it just takes a bit of time. And finding the time, then the will, to sit down and write a review is becoming increasingly difficult for me. It's pretty much become almost like a chore, which is a shame - but I'll keep writing them, because I'm usually happy with the result and it helps to develop my reviewing and writing skills. I might need those in the near future, especially since this is my last year at secondary school.

Anyway, if you liked this review, please give me a thumbs up at:http://uk.gamespot.com/mass-effect-3-leviathan/user-reviews/806762/. As always: thanks very much for reading and have a nice day! :)

-Bamul

Heavy Rain: Move Edition Review

HEAVY RAIN: MOVE EDITION - For PS3 - Review by Bamul

Heavy Rain: Move Edition Boxshot

If you're searching for an emotional, thrilling, deeply involving, truly unrestricted, interactive movie - this is it.

Difficulty: Just Right
Time Spent: 10 to 20 Hours
The Bottom Line: "Underappreciated"

INTRODUCTION:
When Heavy Rain first came out for the PS3 in early 2010, I was not sure what to think of it. Some praised it, while others nefariously dubbed it "Quick Time Event: The Game". Whatever it appeared to me as at the time, it was definitely different to anything I've ever seen before in gaming. A supposed psychological thriller that really made the player think about the plot and her or his actions in the game. I watched a few videos showcasing some of the gameplay on YouTube, but I still wasn't entirely convinced whether the content of the game was worth the expensive price tag of a new release. When the game was updated to support PlayStation Move motion controls in late 2010, it made no difference to me. Finally, when I got Move as a present during Christmas of 2011, I realized that Heavy Rain: Move Edition was a great opportunity to try out this new peripheral. When the price dropped considerably, it was time to test my theory.

REVIEW:
The first thing that you notice when looking at a game are its visuals. Heavy Rain's visuals could have been a mixed bag, but there are some very strong redeeming qualities that bring the whole product into the territories of greatness. The graphics themselves are good for a 2010 console release, but there are some technical inconsistencies that sometimes disrupted my experience with the game. It's no secret that the PlayStation 3 holds some immensely powerful technological prowess for a console that was first spotted on store shelves in very late 2006, but due to the difficulty of coding for the platform - few developers have the ability and experience to tap into that potential. Usually, it is the developers of Sony exclusive games that manage to do this best (such as Naughty Dog or Guerrilla Games), but unfortunately the team at Quantic Dream is not among them.

Heavy Rain is, from time to time, plagued by serious screen-tearing issues. At times, the problem was so persistent and severe that it almost completely broke the immersion for me and distracted me from the core experience of the game. Fortunately, tearing does not occur at every step taken in the game's world and - bizarrely enough - sometimes it is completely absent from the screen. Even with this occasionally infuriating visual anomaly, the good qualities of Heavy Rain's visuals remain triumphant over their hindrances. The attention to detail in each and every environment seen in the game is striking and the facial expressions of characters are almost lifelike (which makes me all the more curious about what the game could have looked like had it utilized the incredible MotionScan technology that debuted in L.A. Noire).

However, even Heavy Rain's good-looking graphics come at a price. In almost every scene (especially at later parts during the game), the textures of environments, objects and characters take enough time to load that the delay and texture pop-in becomes noticeable, sometimes even annoying. It's not a major problem, but also something that should have been fixed. Even so, although Heavy Rain may not appear as visually amazing as Killzone 3 and can be easily classified as a console game from a technological point of view, it still looks great - especially considering the fact that the over 30000 unique animations used in the process of its making manage to keep the whole experience looking fresh and always impressive, except for a minor hiccup here and there.

With games that rely almost completely on narrative to engage the player, it can be difficult to overcome the looming problem of ludonarrative dissonance; the problem when there are conflicts between a video game's narrative and its gameplay. Thankfully, Heavy Rain shelters itself from this exceptionally well by linking story aspects with how the game is controlled. It is not an open-world game, but it's also not linear. You can't go wherever you want, but you are given a lot of freedom when it comes to the decisions that characters take during difficult situations. It is this choice, this open-ended plot that keeps the player immersed and emotionally involved, whilst the unusual controls keep you engaged and physically involved with the entirety of the experience.

The vast majority of movements and activities done by the protagonists of the game have to be carried out by the player through specific button presses and analog stick actions. This works even better with PlayStation Move controls, where the player has to literally push and pull doors, twist keys and wave their hand about with the motion controller, just as you would do those actions in real life. Moreover, and more importantly, these prompts are always designed in a way to make the player feel what the character on the screen is feeling; fast button presses represent effort and strain, sections where the player has to hold down multiple buttons at the same time in awkward positions represent anxiety and disorientation, and so on.

Many of these are timed and thus can indeed be dubbed as "quick time events", but it is the time limits on these situations that add to the tension and authenticity of the experience. When a man armed with a gun is chasing you, you wouldn't take your time with the running and evading, would you? In addition, quick time events in games are used as tools for linear progression and to mix up the action by providing the player with something different to do - a break from the normal gameplay. With that said, Heavy Rain has less quick time events as most of its button/action prompts do not appear individually, but in numbers to give you choice. Also, the PlayStation Move motion controls can't really be classified as "quick time events", because they require direct movement of the player's arms. This adds to the immersion.

The plot of the game itself is non-linear and quite complicated. Without spoiling anything, all I can say is that it is about a murderer called the Origami Killer, who kidnaps ten-year-old boys. Their bodies are later found dead from drowning, with an orchid on the chest and an origami dog in the hand. The player is given control of four main characters: Ethan Mars (an architect that lost his first son in a car accident and now has to complete a series of trials in order to save his second son, who has been kidnapped by the killer), Madison Paige (a young photojournalist and insomniac who becomes involved in the latest Origami Killer case), Norman Jayden (an FBI profiler sent to support the local police force with the investigation) and Scott Shelby (a former police officer and marine - now working as a private investigator employed by the families of the victims).

Each of these characters is a believable persona and their stories often intertwine with each other to form one grand tale about love, death, murder, depression, sex, drugs, romance, crime, family and life in general. Of course, its main theme is also the game's message; the impending and frightening question: "How far would you go to save someone you love?" The story is obviously very well constructed and, at times, even emotionally touching. What makes the experience so outstanding and personal for the player is the freedom of choice offered to you - be it the actions during an intense scene or choices during dialogue. Just like it's written on the back of the box, "your every move can make a difference". Your choices will directly and/or indirectly affect the direction of the narrative, the lives of NPCs and ultimately the outcomes of the whole story. Even the protagonists can die during the plot on a number of occasions, but the plot will keep going regardless and evolve accordingly.

In this kind of game, music and audio are very important. They make up at least 50% of what the player is feeling and add a lot to the emotion that is expressed through visual images on the screen. Heavy Rain's soundtrack is memorable and does everything that it should excellently - be it a quiet, mellow tune on the piano to highlight the emotional value of a sequence, or the use of frantic bowing on the violins to fuel the player's energy during a chase scene. Actors specially selected for each role have also done their jobs well, providing each character with the feelings and persona they need by excellently speaking their well-written lines of dialogue with no excess drama and performing the required actions using motion capture appropriately.

Now that you have a general idea of what this game is like, it is time to summarize its best and worst points:

GAMEPLAY - 9.5/10 (Incredible)
A combination of gameplay mechanics interwoven with narrative works exceptionally and surprisingly well, especially so with PlayStation Move controls.

STABILITY - 8.5/10 (Great)
There are no apparent graphical glitches or bugs; the game runs smoothly and the motion controller failed me only twice, but there is a bit of screen-tearing.

STORY - 10/10 (Marvellous)
The pinnacle of interactive storytelling, emotionally gripping narrative, character development and freedom of choice in gaming.

GRAPHICS - 8.5/10 (Great)
Heavy Rain's visuals are great, but they suffer from some minor inconsistencies which make it look more like a multiplatform game rather than a PS3 exclusive.

SOUND - 9/10 (Outstanding)
Admirable performances from actors, a fantastic soundtrack that enhances the experience and sound effects that make all of it feel authentic.

LONGEVITY - 8.5/10 (Great)
The game takes around 5 to 15 hours to complete depending on how much you do, but the open-ended story offers hours of replayability along with the bonus content included with the Move Edition, as well as trophy support for completionists.

Heavy Rain is the definition of non-linearity and open-ended gameplay in a mostly small-scale and heavily-scripted environment. It affects the player (especially if she or he is a parent) on an emotional and personal basis. It tells a story and puts YOU - the player - in the middle of it all like very few other games have ever done before it. It shows that motion controls can be used in ways that have never before been possible, in ways that never get repetitive and annoying even for hardcore gamers. Obviously, if all you want to do is shoot more faceless enemies, then this game won't appeal to you. On the other hand, if you're looking for something completely different - an emotional, thrilling, deeply involving, truly unrestricted, interactive movie set in a real world with no supernatural aspects, then I doubt you will find a better candidate released before this game.

Either way, Heavy Rain: Move Edition is a great package with more than enough bang for your buck and plenty of unique content to offer. With PlayStation Move controls, this really is a brilliant game with no equal in its genre.

OVERALL RATING - 9/10 (Outstanding)


I know, it's not the review of Red Dead Revolver that I promised. But hey - things rarely go according to plan. :P I bought a lot of indie and older titles from the Steam Christmas Sale, gotplenty of games (for PS3 and PC) as presents and I also have started playhtroughs of Red Dead Revolver and Demon's Souls. I honestly don't know what review will come next.

Anyway, if you liked this review - please give me a thumbs-up at: http://uk.gamespot.com/heavy-rain-move-edition/user-reviews/805332/ Thanks very much for reading and have a great day! :)

-Bamul

Alpha Protocol Review

ALPHA PROTOCOL - For PS3 - Review by Bamul

Alpha Protocol Boxshot

An impressive RPG thats better than most say though it lacks polish in all departments except for story & persona.

Difficulty: Just Right

Time Spent: 20 to 40 Hours

The Bottom Line: "Ambitious"

The video game development company Obsidian Entertainment has always been known for developing sequels to great games and - most of the time - its products were considered to be inferior to their predecessors and lacking in technical stability. Whilst I agree with the latter statement, I tend to belong to the minority of people who often find Obsidians sequels to be just as good, if not better than, their precursors. Perhaps due to the infamy they have gained for apparently ruining game franchises, the poor folks at Obsidian decided to start anew with their own original IP. This was realized in 2010, with the release of Alpha Protocol - the very first game from Obsidian Entertainment that isnt a sequel of (or a spin-off from) someone elses series. The critics have generally given the game mixed reviews, with many wandering slightly into the positive areas of 60% and 70%, but not much more than that. Now I will tell you what I personally think of this game, by presenting to you my own opinion regarding many of its features.

Alpha Protocols setting is that of a modern day world, plagued by tensions between national superpowers and huge corporations. Initially, the plot is quite simple as it revolves around the player character (Michael Thorton) and his recent induction into Alpha Protocol; a top secret American intelligence organization, designed for operations that cannot be linked to the US government due to the political pressure that may potentially occur as a result of such actions. After a few unconventional training sequences, Agent Thorton is sent on his first professional mission as a member of Alpha Protocol - the aim of which is to assassinate Ali Shaheed (the leader of the terrorist organization called Al-Samad) after an attack on a passenger aircraft in the Middle East.

Things seem fairly simple until a surprising plot twist happens, which Im not going to spoil. Suffice it to say, things get very complicated as it turns out that Halbech Corporation had more to do with the missiles and the attack than anyone could have foreseen. From there, Thorton has to go to Moscow, Rome and Taipei to follow the tracks left by the disturbing company. Overall, the story of Alpha Protocol is really quite amazing and one of the best Ive seen in any video game in a while. This is a sure contender with the likes of BioWares titles and maybe even The Witcher series.

Furthermore, the game sports a brilliant cast of diverse, likeable and detestable characters. Since the game has plenty of RPG elements, the player can choose what she or he wants to say in every single conversation in the game, using the famous dialogue wheel from Mass Effect. Surprisingly, whilst the choices dont have much of an impact on the whole plot of the game, they do strongly affect the relationships that Thorton has with every character and the lines between ally and foe change drastically depending completely on your own choices during dialogue. Moreover, the plot has so much more to it than can be discovered during one playthrough. There are plenty of secret facts and alternate options that can be revealed only by completing the game more than once. The replay value for narrative purposes is stunning.

On the box of the game, it is stated that Alpha Protocol is the first modern-day espionage RPG. How much does the gameplay of the title match this claim? Totally! However, just because it is well advertised does not mean that the game itself is fun to play. In reality, its not always entertaining - Alpha Protocol manages stealth and third person shooter gameplay with varying degrees of success. The structure of the environments during missions is usually quite linear (with some exceptions), and so is the progression towards objectives, but there are always different ways to approach a certain situation. It is completely up to you whether you want to use lethal force or not. Yes, that means you dont have to kill anyone throughout the whole game. Even after you defeat an antagonist, you are always given the choice to finish them off or let them live.

The best part of Alpha Protocols gameplay is actually the padding of the content and the RPG elements on the side, rather than the centre of it all; the shooting or stealth itself (which is both good and bad). There are plenty of gadgets, protective clothing and weaponry - all of which can be customized in many different ways - to craft your own perfect loadout for each mission. In traditional RPG fashion, there are stats, skills and abilities that work behind each and every move you make and piece of equipment you use, but they work more like the levelling system of Mass Effect, rather than something like The Elder Scrolls, so there is about as much action in the gameplay as there are RPG elements.

The mechanics of the gameplay itself work well most of the time, but not always. For example: the shooting cannot be compared to Red Dead Redemption, Gears of War or even Mass Effect 3. It is decent, but nothing extraordinary and doesnt feel quite as powerful as it could. On the other hand, the stealth system put in place is quite inconsistent in quality. It isnt broken or completely unfair, so lets just say that sometimes enemies spot you under the same circumstances under which they previously failed to notice you. In this case, Alpha Protocols main problem is that it tries to be a stellar third person shooter and a fantastic stealth game at the same time. It concentrates on trying to do both so much, that it does neither as well as do its contenders from both genres.

Alpha Protocol definitely isnt a game you play for its graphics. Although it does have plenty of variety in its environments, characters, weapons, items and pretty much every single part of its visuals, the game simply doesnt look quite good enough (from a technological perspective) to be considered up to the standards of a game released in 2010. This wouldnt be so bad if the game had a distinct visual art style that it tried to present to the player through unusual graphics, but that is not the case. The game tries to look as realistic as possible. While the attention to detail is admirable, the technology shown in the game just isnt up to the job. Once again, this could be alright, but it isnt because the console versions of the game have even more problems.

When playing the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 version of the game, you will notice plenty of screen-tearing, a ton of texture loading and some drastic drops in frame rate during the more action-packed sections of the game. Do all of these problems hinder the overall experience? Yes, but they shouldnt stop you from enjoying the best parts of the game - the story, choices, consequences and characters.

How is the audio department of Alpha Protocol? The voice acting of the characters is what takes it into the impressive territory, as the excellent performances, given by the diverse cast of actors, express the emotions of each character well - even if they are partially limited by the aged facial animations. Everything else (the soundtrack and all of the sound effects) is good too. In fact, some of the awesome boss battles in the game make great use of unique and/or licensed music. A fine example of this is the fight with Konstantin Brayko; a young Russian mobster, who is obsessed with the western pop culture of the 1980s. The song played on the speakers of Braykos disco during combat is a very unoriginal 80s tune that highlights the epic feeling and fast tempo of the battle.

Now that youve read an overview of what the game is like, lets summarize Alpha Protocols best and worst features:

GAMEPLAY - 7/10 (Decent)
Its great when it works, but can get very frustrating when it doesnt.

STABILITY - 7.5/10 (Good)
Except for various graphical glitches that can break the immersion quite often, it seems that most of the bugs have been ironed out by patches since release.

STORY - 10/10 (Marvellous)
One of the best video game storylines I have experienced in a long while; the amount of choice given and the consequences that come afterwards are astounding.

GRAPHICS - 6.5/10 (Passable)
The graphics arent bad, but they do suffer from some terrible problems and are almost unacceptable for a 2010 release.

SOUND - 8/10 (Impressive)
The performances of each voice actor are the standouts here; everything else in the audio department is good, but not much more than that.

LONGEVITY - 7.5/10 (Good)
Although there are many reasons for you to return and play through the game again without the need for a tacked-on multiplayer component, its still a short RPG at around 20 hours max if you carry out all of the optional objectives and missions.

In the end, Alpha Protocol really isnt as bad as many people make it out to be. In truth, its not bad at all. Most of the bugs that people complained about since release also seem to be fixed. Its an impressive role-playing game that does choice & consequences better than BioWare, but tries something new with its gameplay and doesnt do that well enough, which is where it slips and makes some mistakes. Still, Alpha Protocol should be enjoyed by most fans of the RPG genre for its brilliant story, even if nothing else.

OVERALL RATING - 8/10 (Impressive)


I know, I know - I said I'd post a review for Red Dead Revolver after my Resistance 3 review, but I decided to do this one instead. The next one should be of either Red Dead Revolver or Demon's Souls. If you liked my review of Alpha Protocol, please give me a thumbs up here. Thanks for reading and have a nice day! ;)

-Bamul

PS: Yes, no apostrophes in this review - the terror of GameSpot's hunger for apostrophes has returned, as after I pasted my review into this post, all apostrophes disappeared. I can't wait for the day that the GS staff get their crap together and fix this.

Resistance 3 Review

RESISTANCE 3 - For PS3 - Review by Bamul

Resistance 3 Boxshot

Resistance 3 truly is a grand game, capable of satisfying fans of both the first and second entry in the series.

Difficulty: Hard
Time Spent: 20 to 40 Hours
The Bottom Line: "Best in series"

Resistance: Fall of Man was Insomniac Games' first FPS game, and one of the founding fathers of the fantastic quality of games that PlayStation 3 exclusives are now known for - released at launch, in Japan and North America in 2006 - landing on the shelves of European gaming shops about a year later. It was followed up with a different, but still great sequel in late 2008. Resistance 2 took many by surprise; some claimed it was an improvement of the Insomniac shooter formula, whilst many hardcore fans of 'Fall of Man' said that it strayed too far from the original idea of the first game. By the latter half of 2011, Resistance 3 was released, with Insomniac Games promising that it returned to the classic formula of the original part in the series, whilst retaining the positive aspects of the sequel. How did it all turn out?

Let's begin by analysing the graphics, and just how much the series has progressed in terms of the visual aspect of its level design. In Fall of Man, we had to fight through some very gloomy environments with a depressing atmosphere. It worked for the game's setting, but got tedious by the time we had seen so much of the same colour theory. The game was set in an almost post-apocalyptic England, so they definitely got the horrible weather right. In Resistance 2, we had to fight off hordes of monsters in the US. We were met with a generally more colourful environment and more diverse level design. It was definitely a step up from the first game, but it also forgot that it was meant to tell a sad story through its visuals too (as it predecessor did) and felt a bit alien when compared to FoM. It seemed like the series was struggling with finding its own identity, especially so when the tie-in game Resistance: Retribution for the PlayStation Portable returned to the more forbidding visual style of Fall of Man.

Resistance 3 finally gets it right, by combining the diversity and vibrancy of Resistance 2 with the dark and sorrowful flair of the first game. In addition, everything in the graphics department is improved from a technical point of view, as well as its artistic equivalent. Resistance 3 starts off in the southern states of the USA, with a mostly brown and orange palette. As the protagonist journeys further north towards his objective, the environments around him change to darker and colder scenery - which signifies both the shift in climate and the main character's increasing solitude. So, in short: his surroundings look stunning. Everything is also shown in a much grittier and realistic way, since the game finally shows the survivalist civilian perspective of the Chimera invasion, rather than that of the military liberator one. However, it is not just the environments and their atmosphere that have been modified to a better standard, but the characters, weapons and animations too. Simply everything looks better than it ever has before. Is the game as beautiful as Killzone 3? Maybe not from a photo-realistic standpoint, but it is still definitely one of the best looking games on consoles and quite special in its own way. Insomniac have finally given the Resistance series its own atmosphere. Much like with BioWare and their Mas Effect series, it took them three games - but both of them eventually got there, doing so in style.

The Resistance series has always been set in an alternate cold war background, where the world is invaded by hordes of monsters known as the Chimera - originating from Russia and rapidly tearing their way through the entirety of Europe, all the way to the Americas. The plot of the third game is a bit different to that of its brethren, as we no longer play as Nathan Hale, but one of his former squad members; a hardened man named Joseph Capelli. For reasons obvious to everyone who has played the previous game, Capelli has been dishonourably discharged from his duty. He vowed to stop fighting for as long as he could, fell in love, started a family and tried to survive by hiding from the Chimera. Four years later, the monstrosities attack Joe's town, after being unintentionally led to it by Dr Malikov - a Russian scientist who used to co-operate with Hale's squad of Sentinels. After a massive plot to freeze the entire planet is revealed by Malikov, Capelli bids farewell to his wife and son, having to embark on an epic journey to New York City in order to stop the Chimeran scheme.

Overall, it is an interesting tale - though not as interesting as that of its predecessor, even though more emotionally moving and with plenty of strong characters. There is nothing quite as surprising and unexpected in the game's story as there was in Resistance 2's ending, but there is one killer plot twist which comes close to it. Each personality is very well tailored, though there are a few side characters that could have been explored further. Some of the plot's elements are ripped straight from Half-Life 2, as are some of the game's levels, but Resistance 3 still manages to retain its own identity throughout, even if losing a bit of innovation in the process. Although the story of this game is slightly above average for a shooter, it is still quite standard fare, strengthened by some very likeable characters and its protagonist. As always, in traditional Resistance fashion, the backstory of the game and its setting are fleshed out through optional, collectible journals. The desperation of the battle for survival of the human species in a post-apocalyptic environment is captured just as well as it is done in Fallout 3, but not quite as strongly as it is in Metro 2033.

Of course, as with any atmosphere, the visuals alone cannot always hold it all up. A suitable component in the audio department is needed to back it up and enhance the ambience. Insomniac does this very well by incorporating a stellar soundtrack with its own unique melodies, distinct from those of the previous games in the series but matching in essence. Each piece of music fits the part of the story it is assigned to, be it a rhythmic thudding during a chaotic gunfight or a mellower tune played in the background of a calmer moment. The sounds of various guns and explosions used in the game are well-recorded, now giving the game a distinct sense of recognisability. The same applies to the voice acting, as each NPC and the protagonist are backed by convincing performances from their respective actors. On the whole, the quality of Resistance 3's audio design lives up to the rest of the game's features.

As it is has been with most of Insomniac's games (from Ratchet & Clank, right up to now), Resistance 3 shines the most with its gameplay and very clever weapon and enemy design. So, what makes Resistance 3 so special? What makes it stand out from the sea of all the other cliché shooters out there? Firstly, the health system - in that your health does not regenerate and you have to collect health kits yes, that's right, a truly classic gameplay mechanic that is generally not used in most modern shooters. Time and time again, it has proved to be an important ingredient of creating a challenging experience. Here it does so as well, making Resistance 3 a much more exciting game to play than many of its young relatives in the FPS genre.

Secondly, no limit to how many weapons you can carry. Once again, good old classic stuff; why should a game that doesn't try to be realistic ever limit you to carrying just two weapons? Well, Resistance 3 doesn't, and it only benefits from this. This is especially important when a game's arsenal is as massive and innovative as that of each part in the Resistance series. Moreover, the game doesn't treat you like a baby and assumes you're smart enough to take cover by yourself. There is no broken cover system put in place to hinder your progress.

Thirdly, it's the diversity in the game's design. Insomniac used to be known for their platformer series. One of the things that have always made the Resistance series great are the mechanics Insomniac have learned to use from their R&C series, then applied to the shooter formula. Here, it is the fantastic enemy design. There are various distinctive types of Chimeran troopers. From the generic, yet fearsome Hybrids - to the advanced Steelheads; from the fast and creepy Grims - to the terrifying, giant arachnid-like Widowmakers; some of these are new, some of these are old, but there has never been any shortage of variety in the fearsome adversaries of the Resistance series, and its third iteration is no exception. Instead of having just one boring type of opponent who shoots back at you, the game mixes it up with a range of organic (as well as some larger mechanical) hostiles who employ different tactics and utilize different weaponry to fight you. This ultimately makes the game more thrilling.

Thankfully, the assortment of guns given to the player to confront the packs of Chimera is just as varied and powerful. Older weapons return, like the HE .44 Magnum (a revolver that fires explosive rounds), the Bullseye (an alien assault rifle which can 'tag' enemies), the Auger (a weapon that can shoot through walls), the Marksman (a three-round firing carbine, which deploys an automatic turret with its secondary fire) and many more. A few new weapons are also introduced. Among them are the huge sledgehammer and the Mutator - a chemical, man-made weapon that fires a biohazard which causes bulging cysts to appear on an enemy, effectively turning them into flammable land mines. There are many other firearms, all just as creatively designed as we have come to expect from the great minds at Insomniac.

What of the game's multiplayer component? In recent years, everyone has come to expect that every singleplayer shooter of up to 10 hours in length has to have great online multiplayer, but that is not the case with Resistance 3. For some bizarre reason, the awesome competitive multiplayer of Resistance 2 that allowed up to 64 players to duke it out on large maps has been completely changed for the worse. Now we have more close-quarters maps that allow only 16 players to play on each map. The gameplay and stat progression, as well as almost everything else about the MP, has been completely CoDified. It's a step backwards for the Resistance series, in terms of its online features. There are a few unoriginal game modes and generally nothing that great to stand out from the generic Call of Duty clone. Even the extensive co-op features of Resistance 2 have been critically reduced.

Thankfully, PlayStation Move support has been put in place to increase replayability. How well does it work? Well enough. There are some awkward moments if you want to do some of the other actions besides shooting and moving, but the motion controls are very responsive and it's very fun to use the motion controller, especially so if you have a gun accessory that allows you to point and pull the trigger as you would on a real pistol or rifle.

Now the time has come to summarize what makes or breaks Resistance 3:

GAMEPLAY - 10/10 (Marvellous)
An awesome singleplayer campaign that mixes plenty of classic gameplay mechanics, great level design and stunning set pieces is more than enough.

STABILITY - 8/10 (Impressive)
Everything runs at a mostly consistent frame rate, with no screen tearing or graphical glitches and only a few gameplay bugs; two of which forced me to load my game.

STORY - 7.5/10 (Good)
It is an interesting tale, with a relatable protagonist and supporting characters, but nothing quite outstanding enough to stand high above other shooter stories.

GRAPHICS - 9.5/10 (Incredible)
Some very well crafted graphics, a developed art direction and an engaging atmosphere make Resistance 3 one of the best looking Sony exclusives.

SOUND - 9/10 (Outstanding)
A soundtrack that reinforces the strong atmosphere and gives the game its identity, captivating voice acting and believable sound effects add up to make outstanding audio.

LONGEVITY - 8/10 (Impressive)
The campaign takes around 7 hours to complete (though that can easily stretch to 20 hours for completionists, spanning multiple playthroughs) and although the disappointing online multiplayer will not keep you entertained for long, there are optional co-op features and full PlayStation move support that extend the game's life.

Ultimately, Resistance 3 is an outstanding game. It begs for an even higher rating, because its singleplayer is truly amazing, but is denied a 9.5/10 due to its forgettable multiplayer and short campaign, as well as some very few but still noticeable hitches along the way. Furthermore, it lacks originality in its level design. It really does return to the classic formula of Resistance: Fall of Man, whilst keeping most of the good aspects of Resistance 2 - but at the cost of great online multiplayer. How does it compare to its main competitor on the PS3, the amazing Killzone 3? Well, it's certainly not as polished but more ambitious. It is better in terms of story and singleplayer, but worse when speaking of multiplayer and graphics. Overall, it stands on an equal footing with Killzone 3. It truly is a grand game, capable of satisfying fans of both the first and second entry in the series.

OVERALL RATING - 9/10 (Outstanding)


I hope you enjoyed reading this review. :) If you thought it was good, please give me a thumbs-up at:http://uk.gamespot.com/resistance-3/user-reviews/802969/. The next review I will post will be of Red Dead Revolver for the PS2. Thanks for reading and have a nice day! ;)

-Bamul

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dawnguard Review

I know, it has been a while since I blogged or reviewed, but I've been busy. I'm still writing my book, I turned 16 on the 27th of October and I got plenty of cool prezzies. :P


THE ELDER SCROLLS V: SKYRIM - DAWNGUARD - For PC - Review by Bamul

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Dawnguard gave me a reason to go back to Skyrim, which was enough for me to accept its flaws and embrace its strengths.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Spent: 10 to 20 Hours

The Bottom Line: "Surprisingly good"

Bethesda Game Studios have always been known for their great, open world, role-playing games with massive worlds to explore and plenty of things to do while you're there. However, the tracked record of quality of the downloadable content that they have released for some of their games is mixed. From the glorious madness of the Shivering Isles to the ridiculous absurdity of paying for horse armour, Bethesda have both succeeded and saddened time and time again. As if it wasn't already huge enough, the developer has decided that the world of Skyrim has to be expanded through more DLC. Originally, they had planned expansions comparable to that of Shivering Isles - so you can imagine how disappointed I was to hear the word "DLC" coming from the mouth of Todd Howard. As always, I refused to succumb to the seduction of Bethesda's promises, and my wallet thanked me for it at first. Funnily enough, I received The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dawnguard as a birthday gift. Now that I have been given a chance to experience its quality (or lack thereof) for myself, let's see if it is truly worth the price of £14 or $20.

The story revolves around the return of Vampire Lord Harkon, the leader of clan Volkihar, who seeks to end the sun by using the Elder Scrolls; executing an ancient prophecy, thus creating a world where vampires dominate all. As soon as the main quest of this DLC begins, the player is introduced to the Dawnguard - a reformed order of vampire hunters who strive to destroy the bloody menace of Harkon and stop the prophecy from turning into reality. Once the first introductory sequence of questing is completed, two important things happen: firstly, we are acquainted with one of the best characters to appear in any Bethesda game - and secondly, we are given a choice whether to join the pureblood vampires (therefore becoming one of them) or continue working for the Dawnguard.

Either way, the plot itself - although very interesting - is nothing extraordinary. However, Serana (an NPC and companion who plays a crucial part in the story regardless of whose side you pick) and her constantly evolving relationship with the protagonist makes everything even better. This is also one of Dawnguard's biggest stumbles - as the quest itself ends very abruptly & suddenly, Serana's unique dialogue finishes in a similar manner and her fascinating relationship with the player is not taken any further.

Assuming the player has chosen to ally her or himself with Harkon, she or he will turn into a pureblood vampire just like her or his bloodsucking brethren. This is something completely new in the Elder Scrolls lore, which has not appeared in any of the previous games. As a pureblood vampire, the player can change into a Vampire Lord, where your appearance, stats and powers are all affected. In Vampire Lord form, the protagonist is transformed into a tall, grey, muscular and gargoyle-like figure with wings. As a Vampire Lord, the player can hover above the ground or walk, by using the sneak key to switch between the two modes of movement. When hovering, you can use two spells; one for draining life energy and the other for reincarnating dead enemies to serve as your minions. When walking, you can use the Vampire Lord's deadly claws to rip your enemies to shreds. There is also a perk tree for these new vampiric powers, which comes with some additional bonuses.

Werewolves are also treated to their own perk tree, but it's no secret that the Vampire Lord is the star of this DLC, so doggies don't get anything else. This may sound very disappointing to gamers who play as werewolves, and it is, but fortunately there are plenty of opportunities for the player to switch from lycanthropy to vampirism. Yet even if you choose not to do so, you can still experience most of this DLC's spoils - including the entirety of the quest and adventuring with Serana, but from the Dawnguard's point of view. Still, improving the Werewolf transformations would have certainly been a welcome feature.

Another important element added to the world of Skyrim by the Dawnguard DLC is the inclusion of crossbows. Crossbows are fantastic weapons that feel more powerful & satisfying to use than normal bows, with their own unique set of animations. At the beginning of the quest, you are given a crossbow and a few bolts as ammunition. If you side with the vampire slayers, you may choose to pursue a series of side quests from a member of the Dawnguard, which will eventually yield the most powerful iterations of enhanced crossbows and exploding bolts. Crossbows have not been seen in a Bethesda game since The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, so they are a welcome addition to the world of Skyrim and definitely one of the DLC's stronger points.

Things that made me enjoy playing through Dawnguard very much were its environments. As it was with most of the DLC released by Bethesda in recent years, many of Dawnguard's locations are located outside the boundaries of vanilla Skyrim's map. However, unlike Point Lookout or Mothership Zeta, Dawnguard tries to integrate itself more with the default gameworld - so the quest may even take you to places you have already been to. Be that as it may, the completely new locations separate from the open world of the original game are the most exceptional.

The Forgotten Vale is a perfect example of that; it is a smaller open world cut off from the land of Skyrim. It shows you the remains of an ancient civilization, with some extremely beautiful sights, and allows you to battle with two dragons at the same time - introducing a new gameplay mechanic, where the dragon dives underwater (breaking through the icy surface) and ruptures through at a different part of the lake. Lastly, the Forgotten Vale contains within itself an interior setting with possibly one of the best & most dynamic boss fights of any Bethesda game. Apart from this, Castle Volkihar and Fort Dawnguard are both spectacular structures of stunning size and awesome architecture. Each of these locations has a set of new NPCs; some unique, some filler; some friendly, some hostile. With all of this also come new items and equipment, though nothing quite powerful enough for level 50+ characters.

Here comes the final question: is Dawnguard really worth the money it costs? Well, that's a tough one to answer. Dawnguard does many things right: it finally gives the player a worthwhile reason to turn into a vampire, introduces an amazing character with clever and entertaining dialogue, brings back crossbows and does so in style, offers a quest of decent length and shows us some gorgeous environments. However, for almost everything that it does well, there is an area where Dawnguard stumbles: werewolves are treated unfairly, both the quests and the relationship with Serana come to an unsatisfying end, plus there is not much to reward higher level players with besides the experience itself. Furthermore, the quests provided by the DLC do not take that long to finish. Depending on how many of the side quests you will want to finish, Dawnguard might take anywhere from 5 to 15 hours to complete.

In the end, the fact that Dawnguard gave me a reason to go back to Skyrim was enough for me to accept its shortcomings and embrace its strengths, but that may not be enough for some.

OVERALL RATING - 7.5/10 (Good)


If you liked this review, please give me a thumbs-up at:http://uk.gamespot.com/the-elder-scrolls-v-skyrim-dawnguard/user-reviews/802431/Don't hesitate to leave a comment if you want to. :) Thanks for reading and have a nice day. ;)

-Bamul

Slender Review

Before I get on with this, can I just say that I'm really a bit angry that no one posted on my last blog post. :x Okay, I know it was long, but it was... special. :D It was mentioned on the Chalk Talk community feature (because, apparently, it was so great). I'm really proud of that, but no one else seems to care, which is... kinda depressing. I think I may also be the only person who read other peoples submissions for the feature. :(

Anyway, enough about that. I played Slender and it was so unexpectedly bad that I had to write a review of it... Yes, I'm serious. :P So here it is; below that line. Enjoy!


SLENDER - For PC - Review by Bamul

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How can a boring, badly executed and predictable game even hope to scare me when I know what is going to happen?

Difficulty:Very Easy
Time Spent:10 Hours or Less
The Bottom Line:"Boring"

Just a quick notice: this review is slightly different from my usual work.

Like many other people, I heard about this game when it was recommended to me by a friend. He wanted me to play it and see my reactions, assuming that it would be hilarious to watch. I thought it was a good idea, agreed and downloaded the free indie title called Slender. I thought Id launch it up and play it once before recording anything - just to see what I actually have to do, what Im up against, etc. Unfortunately, I was thoroughly disappointed with what I experienced. My expectations were not that high; I know that an indie game, made by one person, has certain disadvantages due to resource & budget limitations. Sadly, this game has almost no redeeming qualities. However, if you really want to try it because youre wondering if it could scare you, then feel free to read on and find out if it will.

The gameplay of the game is a rather simple idea that has plenty of potential, but ends up being terribly executed. You play as I dont really know who you play as, but that doesnt really matter. You play as someone, and that someone is stuck in a forest during a pitch black night. The only item you have with you is a flashlight, yet even that has its limitations. Your goal is to collect eight pages of notes scattered throughout this woodland area, whilst trying your best to evade a dark entity known only as Slenderman. For those who dont know: Slenderman is a mythical creature that was formed by the dark depths of the internets, as part of a photoshop contest which aimed to scare gullible individuals using digitally altered photos with disturbing backstories behind them. It was later twisted into many different and hilarious memes, but many still reinforce its dark roots of fictional horror.

The gameplay itself is not very well thought out. The walking speed of the player character is slow, sluggishly-paced and unrealistic. Its like the protagonist is constipated or both of his or her legs are broken. Obviously, it was put in to make the game more challenging and frightening, but in the end it just doesnt work and ends up being an annoying & unnecessary feature. Although there is an option to jog, it is surprisingly relaxed and somehow pulls the light beam of your flashlight down to the ground, where it remains steadily poised for the duration of the slightly-accelerated-walk. Therefore it is just as frustrating, since you cant see where you are going. Your flashlight gradually loses power depending on how long it is turned on, but this is barely noticeable and has almost no effect on the gameplay. It feels more like a feature that was put in for the sake of just being there, even though its almost non-existent in practice.

At the beginning, your enemy does not chase after you or reveal himself properly until you find the first page (or take too long to find it); things really only start getting a tiny bit tense after you find two pages. With each page found, the music gets creepier and your pursuer gets more obnoxious. This sounds like a good idea on paper, but it is horrendously executed. Basically, whenever you turn around & look back, Slenderman will probably be behind you. Chances of him being there increase with each page of scribbles you collect. The longer you stare at him, the more static appears on the screen until he eventually moves closer and kills you. Game over. If you take your time searching for the next note, there is a chance that the camera will forcibly turn towards Slenderman and you will die again. Occasionally, when you turn around and dont expect him to be there, Slendy will appear - a short and frightening tone of music will play resulting in the famous, so-called jump scare; the cheapest type of fear available. However, most of the time when did this happen unexpectedly, I thought there was more humour than terror in it because (in this game) Slenderman looks like he is made of Plasticine.

In the end, its not hard to realize after playing it that Slender is a fairly easy to complete, uninspired and generally more boring & frustrating experience rather than a fun horror game. There is nothing entertaining or terrifying about it. Its not the fact that its an indie game which pulls it down. It is the fact that its a promising idea which is badly fulfilled and designed. Its a shame that this is an independent production, because its low development values provide no redeeming qualities. Actually - other than the idea around which it is based on - this game has no saving merits. Then is it worth the download? While its true that many people found Slender creepy, I honestly dont know why. This game simply isnt scary... at all. If some friends are coming over to your house and youd like to see if you could MAYBE scare them by using Slender, then feel free to download it. After all, its completely free. If not, then its best to not waste space on your hard drive with an application that fails to do what it aims to do.

OVERALL RATING - 3.5/10 (Bad)


If you liked this review, please give me a thumbs-up at:http://uk.gamespot.com/slender/user-reviews/800087/platform/pc/. Don't hesitate to leave a comment, if you want to. Also, I would really appreciate it if more people could go back and check out that previous blog post of mine (it cost me a couple of sleep hours before a school Friday). Anyway, thanks for reading and have a nice day! ;)

-Bamul