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Darkman2007 Blog

Game Review - MDK

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Hello everyone, so for this review I decided to review a lesser known game, , that game is MDK.

 

http://image.gamespotcdn.net/gamespot/images/box/8/7/8/197878_42476_front.jpg

 

MDK was developed by Shiny Entertainment, the makers of Earthworm Jim and Aladdin (well , Aladdin wasn't made by Shiny as such , but the team that made the game, went on to form Shiny), and released in 1997. MDK was Shiny's first big attempt at a 3D game, , MDK is really just a 3rd person shooter, but its one infused with Shiny's trademark sense of humor and wacky and innovative thinking.

 

MDK was originally released on the PC, and I will focus on that version (all of the screenshots, unless stated otherwise , are from the PC), but I will talk about the PS1 version too.

 

 

Story - MDK surprisingly has a story , Dr Fluke Hawkins, a rather crazy scientist and inventor, has had enough with the laughter of the scientific community at his theories and inventions. To this end Hawkins travels into space to live alone in his space station...Well , almost alone, he does take his janitor , Kurt Hectic, along with him (convincing him to stay due to the programmable VCR on the space station). After a failed attempt to create a coffee-making robot (due to the robot having world domination plans), Dr Hawkins finally creates a sucessful robot, a 6 legged dog called Max.

 

All is calm until the earth is invaded by aliens, who deploy minecrawlers across the earth. These minecrawlers are huge harvesters (the size of cities) who scour the earth for mineral wealth and destroy everything in the way.

 

Kurt is thus forced to wear the Dr's experimental coil suit, and save the world.

 

MDK has a pretty wacky story, although for the most part the game itself has no story, most of the story is there through the manual.

 

 
 
Gameplay - As mentioned before, MDK is a 3rd person shooter, you run around shooting enemies,  use items and solve the occasional platforming section.  Each level is seperated into sections, or rooms, and each has a different feel and challenge to it, some areas are more open and are really more of a suvival round where you have to fight past alot of enemies, while some other areas are more enclosed and generally have more platforming elements to them. Alot of areas are also very creative in their design , and require you to adopt odd strategies (such as defeating a powerful enemy , while also jumping from platform to platform , and escaping a wrecking ball)
 
The interesting thing is that even the weaker enemies are not that much weaker than you, they die quicker, but there are many more of them. As such , the game requires you to use alot of strategy strafing and taking cover behined objects and walls is key .
 
Not to worry though , Kurt has a number of things to help him , pickups that give you extra health or a temporary extra firepower,  As well as a trusty sniper scope hidden in his helmet. the sniper mode lets you fire a number of rounds , be they normal shots, or mortar shots.  Beyond that,  Kurt has a chaingun mounted on his arm , which is the game's standard weapon. To help with the platforming , Kurt has a glider of sorts which he can use to stay in the air longer.
 
 
 
Every level has an end of level boss, which is more of a puzzle than a fight, since they require you to hit specific places and such , There is a also a bonus section at the end of each level. The controls are also good, though you will have to use the keyboard (there is a joystick option , but I can't get it to work)
 
The wacky and crazy nature which all of Shiny's games is here, the enemies are wacky, the jokes are wacky, and overall, while MDK is not that innovative as such , its very well done , and has gameplay which keeps the game interesting.
 
 
 
Graphics and Sound - Graphically, MDK is a great looking game, with a colourful and wacky design , as well as some great looking areas which have a very long draw distance. Great transparent and reflection effects also help alot . While Kurt himself is a 2D sprite, the entire game is in 3D, and for a game in 1997 , the game still looks great due to its art design .
 
MDK was also one of the earlier games to support the use of a 3D accelerator , to those who did not play PC games at the time,  there were 2 options for PCs . You had a normal 2D graphics card, which ran your DOS games , and such , and an optional 3D accelerator card alongside it if you wished , games which supported it took advantage of it, usually had sharper textures, smoother polygons, better effects, etc. MDK has various patches for it for both Direct 3D and 3DFX Glide mode.
 
Software mode MDK
 
 
 
 
3DFX/D3D MDK
 
 
 
admittedly its not a huge difference in MDK (this was built with the 2D cards in mind after all)m but the difference is there
 
From a sound perspective , MDK is quite good if a little generic, its the kind of music one would expect and it fits pretty well , although alot of times, the game is pretty silent, where you might hear the engine of the minecrawler you are on.
 
 
 
 
 
MDK on the PS1
 
 
As mentioned before, MDK was eventually ported to the PS1 , the developers had numerous challenges in porting this game over to the PS1 .  So did they suceed in bringing the game over?
 
In short, yes, although things had to be downgraded. The resolution is halved (320X240 on PS1, as opposed to 640X480 on the PC) , slightly simplified enviroments and characters, and a general lack of sharpness in comparison , and the frame rate can occasionally get choppy.
 
For comparison , here are 2 screenshots from the PS1 version , although sadly it was taken with a webcam since my capture card is broken (it will do)
 
 
 
That said, the PS1 version doesn't have any compatibility issues, and proper gamepad support, which might convince some. Don't get me wrong, its a good version overall , just a downgrade at the same time.
 
 
 
 
 
 
So in conclusion , MDK is a great game with a wacky sense of humor and some great level design , with visuals to match (for the time of course). The game is not hard to find either, besides the physical copies for both the PC and PS1, you can buy the games on GoG and Steam, I personally haven't tried those as I have the physical copy ,but I suspect they will run fine on a modern computer.
 
Whichever way you decide to play MDK , you will find a great and inventive 3rd person shooter .
 
 
 
So this was my review of MDK , I highly recommend it in one form or another. There was also a sequel released a few years later, but that is a different story altogether.
 
Thanks for reading :)

Game Review - Samurai Shodown

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Hello everyone, so here is another review , this time its a rather well known game, Samurai Shodown , specifically , the 3DO version

http://image.gamespotcdn.net/gamespot/images/box/4/7/6/584476_3096_front.jpg

Samurai Shodown was originally released for the Neo Geo arcade and home systems in 1993, as another attempt by SNK to outdo Capcom , the game was not a Street Fighter clone (as many games were, including some of SNK's earlier offerings) , Samurai Shodown instead focuses on weapons combat. Being very popular on the Neo Geo , Samurai Shodown was ported to every major system at the time, the Mega Drive , SNES , Mega CD , and even the Gameboy and Game Gear all got versions of the game, where the ports were of varying quality due to the hardware of those system.

The 3DO version of the game was released in 1995 ,after being ported by Crystal Dynamics, This version also has its quirks, though not necessarily stemming from the game itself.

before I begin , you will have to excuse the poor camerawork , my capture card is broken , and thus Im forced to use a webcam , but its more to give you an idea of what the game looks like (and I will post a video link at th end)

Story - There is a story to this game? no, no there isn't, well, to be fair there is some story at the begining, but its almost non existant, and frankly, you can make up your own.
Gameplay - As mentioned before, Samurai Shodown is a weapons based fighting game , its quite similar to any other 2D fighting game at the time, but veers away from both Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. The game does use 6 buttons like Street Fighter , 3 "punches" which in this game are weapon strikes of varying strengths/speeds , and 3 kick attacks. In this game, one has to be more defensive , blocking is more important here than in most other 2D fighters, as weapon attacks especially will take off alot of health , even more so with special moves (some can take off half your life bar if you are not careful)
If your character blocks or gets hit enough times, the "POW" meter gets filled , when its full , your character will turn red (as shown above) and will be able to do much more damage per hit temprarily.
All this doesn't sound that great, but the stength of this game comes from the variety of the characters, in Street Fighter 2 and Mortal Kombat, many of the characters were similar, their punches and kicks were almost the same, the main difference were the special moves.
in Samurai Shodown , because every character has a different weapon to use, every character is very different in both tactics and attacks, a character with a sword is going to have less reach than one with a spear, but will do more damage if he actually managed to hit someone.
The game does take some inspiration from MK though , in the form of the blood, its not as crazy as MK , but its certainly visible, also if you execute a powerful move at the end of the match , you might cut your opponent in half.
The game however is let down somewhat by the 3DO itself, firstly, the frame rate isn't as good as should be, the game is not slow, it is a fast game, but at times the game does slow down , mostly during special moves, but it does occasionally happen.
The 2nd issue is the controls, put it simply, the 3DO controller doesn't have enough controls, and has a pretty mediocre d-pad, to show what I mean , here is a 3DO controller
http://videogamecritic.net/images/systems/3docont.jpg
the controller only has 5 buttons (that thing at the top middle is actually a port to connect the 2nd controller to , the 3DO uses a daisychain system to connect controllers), and so at any and all times, the 3 face buttons are your weapon strikes, if you hold the right shoulder button , the face buttons will change to kick attacks. That is annoying , its not game breaking and you do get used to it, but its certainly not ideal.
The 2nd issue is the d-pad, while the d-pad looks like a Mega Drive/Saturn d-pad , its stiffer, which makes diagonal moves in particular more difficult, in fact, Crystal Dynamics actually gives you instructions in the manual on how to modify the controller to loosen the d-pad, again , just like the buttons, its not game breaking, you do get used to it, but its not idea.
Loading is about what one would expect for a CD game at the time , the games load before each battle , but the loading itself isn't that long (pretty similar to the 2D fighters on the PS1)
So the gameplay in Samurai Shodown is fun , though its let down somewhat by the 3DO itself.
Graphics and Sound - When Samurai Shodown first appeared in arcades , it was one of the best looking 2D fighting games on the market, The large sprites, great animation , zooming camera and great style made Samurai Shodown stand out. The SNES/MD/SCD versions varied in quality, none could produce the same quality as the Neo Geo did, and all lacked a character called Earthquake (pictured above). The 3DO was the first non Neo Geo system to produce something that looks very close to the original , The characters are well animated, colourful ,and detailed, the same goes for the backgrounds. One can't really fault the game visually (Im sure purists could point out differences, but its close enough)
Sound on the other hand is something else, The game itself has a great soundtracks, which all fit the nature of the game. SNK wasn't content with a cheesy soundtrack , and also included enviromental sounds, during the battles you will hear the wind blowing , or the sound of the waves of the sea . This in addition to the music, gives the game a great atmosphere.
Here the 3DO has its ups and downs, since the audio is all recorded music , it's not downgraded in any way, but the sound quality is not good, voices in particular are muffled and the music itself isn't helped by this either.
In conclusion , Samurai Shodown is a very good fighting game, with great gameplay, visuals and audio , but the 3DO version is not necessarily the way to go . It is technically the best classic version of the game (and a nice addition to your collection if you have a 3DO) , but there is no denying that later versions found on compilations might be better for the average person , both because they are arcade perfect (as opposed to very close to perfect , but with some flaws) , and the fact the 3DO is not a console everybody owns.
( the Engrish here is so bad, that its awesome)
finally, here is a video of the 3DO version
So this was my review of Samurai Shodown , a fun fighting game all fighting fans should check out, on whatever platform (though ideally on the 3DO or later)
Thanks for reading :)
(you will have to excuse the format of the review, for some reason the spacing between the paragraphs is messed up)

Game Review - Hitman Absolution

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Hello again , so I said there would be a blog, and indeed there is, and in this blog I thought I would give my opinion on a game I got about a month ago , a game that has been getting some mixed reviews to say the least, some really like it, some hate it, and that game is Hitman Absolution.

http://image.gamespotcdn.net/gamespot/images/box/4/9/6/943496_217408_front.jpg

So the first Hitman game in some 6 years (if I remember correctly) is a bit of a different animal from its forebears, and this is arguably the reasons for the mixed opinions , I was hesitant to buy it because of this, though eventually I found it on sale, and have played through it .

More specifically I got the PC version of the game, but we will get to that in time, regardless, all the screenshots in this review are from the PC version , directly from my PC.

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Story - From the begining of the game, you can already tell effort went into the story, it begins with Agent 47, the protagonist of the series, on the way to murder Diana , the woman who in previous games , gave 47 his missions at the Agency (the mysterious organisation 47 works for). With some hesitation ,47 accomplishes this mission , but then proceeds to switch sides, so to speak , and fulfill Diana's last request to protect a girl the agency is looking for. Obviously once its discovered that 47 betrayed the agency , everybody and their cousin are now after him as the girl is valuable in some way you will discover later on.

This story is actually quite an achievement for the series, anybody familiar with the earlier games in the series, will know the story was always pretty weak , they got better later on , but for the most part you were not getting to know any characters well , and that includes 47 himself. Absolution changes that with better story telling which helps immerse you in the world, the people you fight are not just contracts you know nothing about, but in some cases legitimate enemies

However, the one problem the heavy story introduces is linearity , something that will be discussed later.

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Gameplay - This is the area where people are rather divided about, and with some good reason . traditionally, Hitman games put you in a large open world with a series of targets, you were to kill someone, steal something, or usually both, and then escape, how you did this was entirely up to you.

Hitman Absolution has many of these things, and the abilities that 47 had are retained, you can still kill enemies from behined with your fibre wire , you can still take the costumes of your enemies to better disguise yourself, this is still a stealth game in every way with many of the skills and abilities one finds in other stealth games.

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Where the potential problem arises is how these skills are implemented, because of the story , your missions are not as open ended, nor does every mission involve killing anybody, in fact, most missions do not have a specific target as such , in fact alot of the missions have you go to a certain place, and sneak past the guards, also do not get select what weapons you have at the begining of each mission , your weapons are dictated by the story, and what weaposn you pick up during the game.

HMA2013-01-0500-30-48-01.jpg

You still get to roam the levels freely, but your goals don't always make it necessary to do so , though the levels themselves have the flaw of being smaller than the average level on any of the older Hitman games (at least as far as Contracts or Blood Money were concerend)

Moreover, the costume system has been changed, to what is arguably a more realistic, but also somewhat more troublesome system. As mentioned, 47 can steal any costume he wants, and this is better than his standard suit, but costumes are based on character class, which means that if , for instance, you dress as a policeman , other police officers will be able to see through your disguise if you don't quickly walk away.

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As you can see in this picture, 47 is disguised as a police officer, and in order to avoid being discovered by a nearby policeman , he has to hide his face using instinct mode, which helps you spot targets and hide like this , although this eventually runs out and refills through out the level (indicated by the yellow bar at the side of the screen)

One thing that has certainly been improved is the combat system , previous Hitman games had a somewhat clunky system. Hitman Absolution brings into the series elements which are found in modern 3rd person shooters, such as a cover mechanic , and this helps you when you get discovered, which happens quite often.

The game does have a multiplayer mode to remedy the linearity though , in the form of contracts, in this mode, gamers themselves create scenarios using the existing levels, you are given weapons , a list of targets and attempt to beat the levels created by the player. This actually feels more like the older games, but its quality is varied obviously.

I know this sounds like Im being negative , but Im not, as I said, the elements which make up the gameplay are well done, but the context in which they are used has changed, which can be both a good and bad thing.

As a side note, the PC version supports both the keyboard/mouse and the 360 controller , which is what Im using, as it helps the game in my opinion.

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Graphics and Sound - As noted before, this is the PC version , and it looks great, the new engine used for the game really shines, the texture quality, and models, its all great ,and the overall design of the game is good too. The engine does a good job of bringing the various locals to life , wheres previous games felt like you were the only person on the street, Absolution has lots of people , and alot of detail everywhere (probably the trade off for the smaller levels)

On my PC , Im running the game at 1920X1080 , at these settings

HMA2013-01-0500-10-56-07.jpg

needless to say these are not the maxed out settings, but the game still looks and runs better than it does on the consoles , if you have a good PC , I would recommend this version over the others, as the optimization is pretty good as far as a multiplat goes

(my PC is a Phenom II X6 , 4GB DDR3 and a Radeon 6870 1GB , and it runs the game at around 45-70 fps , mostly at 55ish, depending on the situation , it should give you an idea of how well you might run it)

That said, I have played the PS3 version , and while its obviously not as good looking, its still a good looking and smooth running game so don't hesitate to get the console versions.

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Sound is done pretty well in this game too, there isn't that much music, but the eviroment and characters provide the right atmosphere , although music is used when youre discovered. The game has more voice acting in it than previous games ,and its overall well done, if at times a little cheesy.

Overall, I can't complain about the overall presentation of the game.

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Overall , Im not sure what to say about Hitman Absolution , its certainly a not for everyone, it really depends on what youre expecting. If youre looking for a traditional Hitman game, then youre not going to get it, the game is not as open ended, and not necessarily all about assasinations. If youre looking for a good stealth game however , you will probably like the game, since the overall elements which make up the game, are well done.

I personally found the game fun , I was open minded about it and was willing to accept the changes its not like they turned the game into a Call Of Duty clone , its still , at its core , the same game as its predecessors.

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So there was my review of Hitman Absolution , its a hard game to describe because there is alot to like, but also some flaws which hurt it, I hope this helped some people make up their mind about the game

Thanks for reading :)

No, Im not quite dead yet

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Hello again , no Im not dead, I didn't write a new blog or a review in quite a while, over 2 months, there wasn't any specific reason really, apart from maybe that Ive written quite a few reviews that Im finding it difficult to find interesting games to review (other than reviewing big hits and such , but thats not as interesting unless its a new game where opinion is not 100% formed)

there is also the obvious reason that Im playing games as opposed to just write about them .

I will try and find something new to review, but its not easy, unless people have specific requests for anything for me to write about (not necessarily reviews either)

I would also like to wish people a happy "whatever holiday they were celebrating" , and a happy new year .

Thanks for reading :)

Game Review - Grim Fandango

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Hello Everyone, so I thought I would review a game Ive been replaying recently, a game with a very good storyline and was really signaling the death of an entire genre, or at least the begining of the death of it.

http://image.gamespotcdn.net/gamespot/images/box/5/4/4/50544_80759_front.jpg

Grim Fandango was released in 1998 for the PC and developed by Lucasarts , who spent the decade before making some of the best Point and click adventure games, from Monkey Island, to Indiana Jones. Grim Fandango was an attempt to bring that genre into the 3D era.

The game combined a very unique atmosphere and stiory, with 3D visuals, and while the game isn't perfect, its one of the best adventure games youre likely to play

http://img.gamefaqs.net/screens/f/8/b/gfs_80759_2_8.jpg

Story - Grim Fandango takes place in the land of the dead, a place inhabited by skeletons , demons, and other odd creatures. the land of the dead however, is only a temprary place, where souls go only to travel to the underworld, where true peace lies.

to help the dead reach their destination , the department of death has its travel agents book souls on various journeys to the underworld, the journey depends on how good a person is, with the best people getting a ticket on a luxury cruise or fast train

One of those agents, is Manny Calavera, seems to never get the good souls and thus no commision to make up for past crimes. In a desperate attempt he steals a soul from another successful agent, a crime which leads him to discover how rotten the department really is.

http://img.gamefaqs.net/screens/7/2/a/gfs_80759_2_2.jpg

The story is unique to say the least, being set in a world which is heavily influenced by Mexican/Aztec culture, and with a world inhabited with colourful characters, everybody has something intersting to say , and the story constantly finds new ways to keep you interested. The game also takes place over very varied enviroments, while it spans a number of acts, each enviroment is very different. The only disadvantage , is that the game is a bit short, not too short, but it is the kind of game that can be completed in 10-15 hours (at most). The writing is quite clever and even funny (the game was designed by Tim Schafer , not a dull person in the slightest).

Gameplay - As mentioned before, this is an adventure game in the vein of the previous point and click adventure games of the early 90s. you wonder the world collecting items and solving puzzles, interacting with characters while saying the right things to advnace the plot. Its a style of gameplay that relies on your ability to think , not how fast your trigger finger is.

Puzzles are major part of it, and Grim has a variety of puzzles for you to solve, all of which are related to the story, and can sometimes be very confusing, although this is part of the appeal of the game.

all this is well and good, although there is one issue which holds the gameplay back a bit, and that is the controls. instead of using a mouse to point at things, your characters moves and interacts with the world via the keyboard , you walk whereever you want, but the controls leave alot to be desired, as they are very similar to the traditional Resident Evil tank controls, something not easy to control on a keyboard.

The game has the option for a gamepad, but given the fact its an old game, it won't recognise everything its a hit or miss thing.

Otherwise though , the gameplay in Grim Fandango is just fine.

http://img.gamefaqs.net/screens/6/3/b/gfs_80759_2_9.jpg

Graphics and Sound - Grim Fandango was the game that attempted to bring the Lucasarts adventure games into the 3D era, and indeed it does. The game uses 3D characters who roam a pre renderd image , its the same style we saw in Resident Evil or the PS1 Final Fantasy games, a way to create very elaborate enviroments using limited resources.

While the technology is old, the creative design of the game pulls through , the entire game has a very unique look , sometimes colouful , sometimes dark , but always interesting.

Like many games at the time, the game features both a software 3D mode, and a hardware accelerated 3D mode, though honestly since most of the game is a 2D image, it doesn't do much besides making the characters a bit sharper and smoother.

Image

The sound helps compliment the feel of the game , and it does so very well , the music is creative and fits the nature of the game perfectly , it can be very upbeat , but alot of the time its quite moody in nature.

The voice acting is overall pretty decent, every character in the game has a voice, and while it is a bit cheesy , especially the exaggerated Spanish/Mexican accents of many of the characters, its decent enough for you to get to like some of those characters.

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Grim Fandango on a modern PC - as mentioned, Grim is a 1998 game, ie, it was really designed for windows 95 and 98, and thus presents several problems for the modern gamer. Its all the usual problems from the game not starting to freezing and crashing.

Thankfully, a special game installer and launcher was developed by a fan of the game, which installs the game on a modern system , fixes a number of bugs and helps it run on a modern system , which can be found with a quick google search.

thats not to say its perfect, there are still occasional visual glitches, Ive even noticed it slowing down a few times, but short of buying a vintage computer , this is the best solution for most people.

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Overall , Grim Fandango is a great adventure game which anyone who enjoys a good story and some puzzle solving should check out , a great story, decent gameplay and a unique atmosphere all combine to create a very appealing game.

Sadly for Grim , despite being an excellent game, its sales were not what Lucasarts expected or wanted. By 1998 , the point and click adventure was already getting less and less popular , and the lack of any console ports (personally I think this game would have done well on the PS1 or Dreamcast, especially with the controls) did not help either. This lack of sales (despite glowing reviews) , helped speed up the death of the genre, leading grim to be , ironically, the grim reaper of adventure games.

This means that the original boxed versions of the game tend to be fairly expensive , if youre not a hardcore collector though , there were rereleases of the game which are significantly cheaper.

Whichever way you play the game, its a recommended experience

Finally, here is a video of the first ten minutes of the game

www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXzyB0nMCQ0

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So here was my review of Grim Fandango , a great game indeed.

Thanks for reading :)

Fighting games, and a broken console

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Hello everyone, so I didn't blog for a while , but since not much has happened, its not too bad.

At any rate, I got a number of games this month

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So my pre order of DOA5 finally arrived , took a few days , but its finally here, DOA is a great fighting series, and while some will over emphasize the females in the game, the real part of the game is the fighting.

The game is pretty solid, not the best DOA (that spot still belongs to DOA2U) , but its very good . The game looks fantastic, and runs well.

http://image.gamespotcdn.net/gamespot/images/2012/268/936978_20120925_screen005.jpg

One of the new additions are the power moves (can't remember the exact name) , which can be used when you lose most of your health , it gives the game a street fighter aspect to it.

There are only 2 problems with the game, first problem is the content, the game has more characters than any other previous DOA game, but the number of costumes is pretty small , even the female characters have around 6 costumes at most. Im assuming this will be remedied by DLC and such (which I may or may not get ,depending on the price and content), there is also no real customizing and such.

the other problem is the sometimes cheap AI which was also a problem in DOA4 , I would still recommend this game if youre a fighting game fan though.

http://image.gamespotcdn.net/gamespot/images/2012/269/936978_20120925_screen033.jpg

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When you see SC4 for the same price as a cup of coffee, you may as well go for it, Soul Calibur is the better fighting series from Namco (Im not a big Tekken fan), and SC4 is a good game, it looks good, runs well , plays well , and has alot of options, its a well rounded and enjoyable fighting game, and like I said, dirt cheap.

http://img.gamefaqs.net/screens/9/a/f/gfs_89774_2_57.jpg

the only real problem here is that its still not as good as SC2 (which I have on the Gamecube, that game is pretty much in the top 3 fighting games that generation .

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http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/0/08/Empire_Total_War_cover_art.jpg

as part of the Steam sale during the weekened, I got Empire Total War, the only TW game Ive never played or owned. This game has its ups and downs, it has scale, unlike the other TW games, which are focused on one region , Empire is set in 3 places, Europe/Mideast , India and the Americas ( or at least the eastern part of them), and this gives the game alot of scale.

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There is also a reliance on navies , more so than the other games, and this is facilitated by both the naval battles in the game, and the fact this game takes place across the world.

The game is also harder than the other TW games, either that or I suck at it, either or.

http://image.gamespotcdn.net/gamespot/images/box/2/1/1/938211_84724_front.jpg

Vice City Stories is that "other" GTA game, one that Ive never played. Well , I got the game for the PS2 for very, very cheap . Its a better game than Libery City Stories, though its still not as good as the main GTA games , its more.....toned down , for a lack of a better word, its also not as good looking. The soundtrack is good though , it has alot of licensed 80s music similar to what Vice City and San Andreas did.

Its at this point that I realised my PS2 is more or less broken , the disc itself is in pretty good condition , but sadly the PS2 has issues reading the disc , the game constantly freezes and crashes, making it basically impossible to finish the game.

http://img.gamefaqs.net/screens/b/7/6/gfs_213189_2_3.jpg

sadly this is...probably my 3rd PS2, and its not as though I don't take care of my consoles, Ive never had to replace another console, with one exception of my Saturn's laser not working well , which was fixed in about 15 minutes (though eventually I got a replacement.

so this is it so far, I will probably play DOA5 sometime soon to unlock more costumes (Ive finished story mode, and got all the costumes for Jann Lee and Kasumi so far).

Thanks for reading :)

Games I Got Recently

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Hello Everyone, so in the last month or so , I got a number of games added to my collection , some new , some old, some new.

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So after a long time, I finally went ahead and got FF13-2 , for a very low price, as Ive said before, I wasn't a huge fan of FF13, it didn't really click , so to speak.

FF13-2 is better in some ways, but worse in others, while I think the game is more open ended , its also not as interesting (and FF13 didn't have the best of storylines) , though I will admit Ive only played this game for a few hours before being bored and going to play something else.

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(this woman needs to get her eyes checked, if I was crying crystal tears, Id seriously consider going to an optometrist)

the combat is about what you would expect , the visuals are nice, though again , something just feels off about it , but I just can't put my finger on it. overall , its a good game to get for the £8 I paid for it, but I wouldn't pay anywhere near full price.

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Max Payne 3 is one game I wanted to get, the first Max Payne was a great game, the sequel was great though not quite as good, and now we have the 3rd game. I got the PC version , mostly because I could , and because it was cheaper.

I was actually a bit worried because the previous Rockstar games on the PC (at least the current gen ones) , were a mess, with slowdown everywhere and poorly optimized code. Thankfully, Max Payne 3 is a great PC game. and runs great on my PC (AMD Phenom II X6 1055T , 4GB DDR3 , Radeon 6870 1GB) , and these are the settings I used.

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so if you have a similar PC to mine (or better) , you will be able to get these visuals out of it, with a very decent frame rate (you can see the frame rate counter at the top of the screenshots at various points)

MaxPayne32012-08-2317-12-10-09.jpg

(this guy has a haircut from hell , this guy is supposed to be rich , but he can't afford a decent haircut??)

Ive played the first 5 chapters so far, and the game is very good, don't know if its as good as the original game, but its a good game, visually its great (especially here),the gameplay is something between GTA and Max Payne (an odd combination I know , but it works, as you can combine bullet time effects with cover mechanics and such) controls are good (you can choose either a gamepad or keyboard/mouse, which is closer to the original games). And the story is good enough.

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The only thing Im undecided about is the setting, the original games had a very film noir atmosphere, and had a very good story. Max Payne 3 takes place in more varied enviroments (here you can see me fighting in the jungle), which is both a good or a bad thing, depending on what youre looking for.

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Overall , I would recommend this game, I got it for £20 brand new, and it even came with a free t-shirt (even if it was at least 1 size too big, I usually get clothes size small or medium ,this was a large), and if you like 3rd person shooters with a good story, this is a good game to get.

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So was looking at various games at this 2nd hand shop when I notice a copy of SOTC (the original PS2 version) for a mere £2 , given the fact the game usually goes for £20-40 on Ebay, I got it wheter I liked it or not, I never actually played the game until then.

I have to say I didn't get much time to play this one yet, I defeated one monster already, and it took a while to figure out how to kill it, what amazes you is the sense of scale , everything is intentionally done on a grand scale (while at the same time making the PS2 work overtime, judging from the stuttering frame rate)

from what Ive played, I enjoyed the game quite a bit, and look forward to playing more of it.

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Ah, Final Fantasy 12, that game I got when it was new,and the first FF game to actually bore me, it was also the first FF game I sold exactly because it bored me . Well, I got the game again for a very low price , thinking "maybe I was not mature enough" , well , I can say that it bored me in 2007 , and it bored me now, I played it, got bored, left it alone.

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Parasite Eve is an example of what happens when Square actually gives a damn (if only they did this today) , The game is really what happens when Resident Evil and Final Fantasy have an odd , twisted relationship. The game has an RPG leveling system and random battles, with an atmosphere more like Resident Evil.

http://img.gamefaqs.net/screens/4/6/3/gfs_93781_2_83.jpghttp://img.gamefaqs.net/screens/b/f/9/gfs_93781_2_181.jpg

Ive gotten to day 4 in the game, and so far, the game is great, the gameplay is great, visually it looks good (looks like something between FF7 and FF8 , its odd, but it works), and the music is really good (typical Squaresoft from the late 90s)

http://img.gamefaqs.net/screens/8/1/1/gfs_93781_2_292.jpghttp://img.gamefaqs.net/screens/d/1/d/gfs_93781_2_307.jpg

(hooray for Engrish)

Id say Parasite Eve is worth getting for fans of both horror and RPG games, the game isn't really very long, but its very good, and while sadly it was never released in any PAL region (forcing me to get the import version) , it is available on the US PSN shop for very cheap , so that certainly is one option (the boxed version is quite pricy, especially since sellers know it wasn't released here)

So these were all the games I got for the most part, I also got Gex:Deep Cover Gekko , but the less I talk about it , the better, as the game is pretty bad.

Hopefully some of you found this interesting, I may review a game for my next blog (hey, it might be Max Payne 3 if I finish it, or it might be another retro game).

Thanks for reading :)

Game Review - Pocket Fighter

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Hello Everyone, This week I figured I would review a game, a somewhat odd one at that, that game being Pocket Fighter

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So Pocket Fighter originally came out on the CPS2 arcade machine in 1997, with the Saturn and PS1 ports following in 1998. While a quick look at the cover will make one think this is a simple Street Fighter game, Pocket Fighter is in fact quite different in both style and gameplay.

http://img.gamefaqs.net/screens/7/9/1/gfs_11845_2_1.jpg

Story - This game has basically no story, even more so if you own the Saturn version like me, which is in Japanese. besides, this is an arcade fighting game, its about beating the stuffing out of people..

http://img.gamefaqs.net/screens/e/c/4/gfs_11845_2_26.jpg

Gameplay- Pocket Fighter is indeed a Street Fighter game, but in terms of gameplay it changes several things which make the game feel quite different. Rather than go for the usual 6 button formula , Pocket Fighter goes for a simple 3 button formula, a punck , a kick and a special button. Intially all of these are weak and do not do much damage, but this is where the gems come into play. As you hit the opponent, gems of different colours fly all over the screen , additionally, treasure chests which contain gems also fall from the sky every so often. as you take these gems, your attacks become stronger, The colour of the gem corresponds to that particular button/attack.

This rather interesting twist causes the game to have an almost puzzle like atmosphere, in addition to the fighting, and while fighting game purists will protest, this is actually a breath of fresh air in what is a standard formula.

Controls are good, combos are very easy to use in this game, more so than other game (to go along with the fun and silly nature of the game), in fact rather than use normal combos, Pocket Fighter usually has combos where characters do anything from hit the opponent with a variety of objects, to your character running the opponent over in a moped. The game also has a decent number of characters, including characters from Vampire Savior and Street Fighter 3 .

The only real disadvantage here is that the game doesnt really have too many modes of play, but this was relatively common for arcade fighters back then (with the exception of some Namco games)

Overall , the gameplay in Pocket Fighter is somewhat lighthearted and possibly not as "hardcore" , but its fun , very fun at times.

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Graphics and Sound - Pocket Fighter takes a different approach . As the name suggests, the game uses a more childish , or super deformed look. All of the characters are drawn in this way, both the fighters and backgrounds. The game is very colourful , and the animation is top notch . In fact , animation is possibly the visual aspect of the game, thanks to the characters occasionally switching outfits during combos, It can be quite funny too , and will almost certainly make you laugh.

Music is pretty good, again there is an ongoing theme in the game , but its about what you would expect from a capcom arcadw fighter, including remixed versions of some older SF music tracks

http://img.gamefaqs.net/screens/0/2/6/gfs_80589_3_17.jpg

The console ports - as mentioned before, Pocket Fighter was released on both the PS1 and Saturn , with the Saturn version being Japan only sadly. In still shots they look mostly the same, though during gameplay the Saturn version does contain better animation (both characters and backgrounds), as well as slightly smoother gameplay and the usual sound quality improvement you get over the PS1.

futhermore, the Saturn version makes optional use of the 4MB RAM cartridge, its not a must , but using it will give what is essentially an arcade perfect port with less loading.

That said, given the fact is the PS1 is more common and in most cases, cheaper, the PS1 verison is a perfectly playable version for most people, and one should not be dissuaded from getting the game.

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In conclusion , Pocket Fighter is a worthy addition to any retro game collection, while it is different, its also very fun , despite the somewhat simple nature, and the colourful graphics and funny atmosphere of the game will put a smile on your face.

oh and if anybody thinks "this looks like a child's game" , I would say, nonsense, real men (and some female tennis players/golfers) play Pocket Fighter

Finally here is a video of the Saturn version of the game

www.youtube.com/watch?v=BI40hXr-aC8

(and yes, the game does run in full screen , unlike the video)

So this was it for now, hopefully some of you found this review interesting or helpful

Thanks for reading :)

A Blog Long Overdue

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Hello everyone, once again I didnt blog for a long time, 2 months in fact, the main reason for this is that after university , you want a break from writing, and the fact there was relatively little to write about, so that's that, Im not quite dead yet, just taking a break.

First of all , yesterday I got 1 year closer to death , that is , my birthday, nothing special happened of course, I mean , Im too old to actually celebrate my birthday. ironically my Birthday ended up right on Tisha B'Av , a Jewish day of mourning.

As for gaming, surprisingly not much has happened , I really didnt get too much new things, I got Arkham Asylum and Arkham City for my PC, and both were good games , though I didnt play them even once since finishing it, the same goes for Diablo 3 , which eventually bored me (something Diablo 2 never did) . Right now, Im in somwhat of a Final Fantasy marathon for whatever reason , Im playing most of the FF games I own , although some are getting alot more attention than others

though there ae a few games I want to get in the near future, Im thinking of getting FF13-2, if I can find it for cheap (I thought 13 was.....ok at best , so Im not planning to spend alot), Max Payne 3 is another option , but I might want to finish Max Payne 2 first (I did finish the first game, and its a game I would recommend). There are a few others like the yet unreleased DOA5 ,but thats a different matter.

I may go back to writing more reviews, but Im unsure as to which game to review, so , if anybody wants me to review any game I own (including new ones) , just say and we can see if its possible. The biggest problem is that my video capture doesnt work , and I have yet to bother with a new one, so any review will have to use any random decent photos I find (unless its a PC game, where I can use fraps to record the screen)

so this is it for now, I will try to write another blog soon , though if somebody has a suggestion for a review, speak up.

Thanks reading :)

What Do I Think of Diablo 3 without a review

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Hello Everyone, so I was away for a while again , once again university work , and in the next few weeks Ive got exams coming up (although if I pass those, I will pretty much finish university).

While I might do a recent purchases blog soon , for this one, I wanted to write about the newest game I got, which is Diablo 3.

Ive pretty much played every Diablo game when it was new or close to new (the only one that I didn't play was the Hellfire expansion for the original Diablo, but that one is uncommon at best). and both are among my favourite PC RPGs, so Diablo 3 was a pre order for me. Well , Ive finished the game , and while I can't write an honest review (not so quickly after finishing the game) , I can write my impressions of it after the single playthrough.

Caldeum Fly-over - Lore Panel

The Good

Good Pacing - This game has a great pace, not many times did I feel I was just wondering the world doing nothing , which is something that did occasionally happen in Diablo 1 and 2, you always feel like there is a goal and what youre doing at that particular point has something to do with it.

Less boring leveling up - Diablo 3 still makes you roam the world and really its recommended for you to explore an entire area, but the good thing is that you don't keep on going to the same area to level up if you don't want to , as long as youre smart with what weapons you use.

Game runs very well - Not really gameplay related but worth nothing , this game has modest system requirements, and runs well . my PC is able to handle the game on the highest settings and at 1920X1080 at around 80 frames per second, and its not as though my PC is that amazing (Phenom II X6 , 4GB DDR3 , Radeon 6870 1GB ) the game also includes a built in frame limiter (as well as V-sync).

Story is more "personal" - kind of hard to explain , but if youve played the older Diablo games, you will know that your character said almost nothing , and really had nothing to do with the story. It was also the case that NPCs generally did not interact with each other in any way.

Diablo 3 changes that somewhat, your character actually talks and interacts, as do other NPCs, and the story in general tries to be more personally involving (while trying to keep the grand adventure feel of the other games) , and it does it pretty well.

The voice acting btw, is pretty good, about on par with what Diablo 2 had, maybe a bit better.

Streamlined item system - Those who played the older Diablo games know full well how annoying it was , you find a shiny weapon , you try to pick it up , only to find out your inventory is full and you have to travel back to town to sell the stuff you picked up , or you have to drop items to pick up new ones.

Diablo 3 still has a bit of that, though now things are better, as every object takes up a maximum of 2 blocks in the inventory screen , and objects of a similar type are just grouped together.

Monk vs. Fallen

The "neither good or bad"

A "different art style - One of the first things you notice about Diablo 3 is that the style is.....brighter than the last two games , its also more colourful . Now to a certain extent, the lack of colours in the older games (Diablo 1 especially) , was also a technical issue, but Diablo 3 really does look quite colourful.

just for comparison compare these screenshots

http://img.gamefaqs.net/screens/a/a/2/gfs_95788_2_22.jpg

Diablo 1

Diablo

Gnarled Walkers

and while there are darker areas in Diablo 3, there aren't many of them. especially once you get to the later acts.

now , a brighter pallete of colours isn't necessarily a bad thing, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't . It really depends on the individual locations.

New skill system - The new skill system is a bit odd, but it does work , you pick a skill like you did, though now the way you recharge your "mana" to use them is a bit odd. you do not use potions, but instead different characters recharge them in different ways. For my character , a monk , you recharge your mana by simply attacking.

this is both good and bad, the good is that it makes the game look flashy as you use special skills often , the bad is that it can make the game quite easy.

The Bad

mediocre visuals - There is a reason why the game runs well on older systems, the game is simply not that great looking, at least on the technical side. Artistically the game is great (brighter colour pallete not withstanding), but technically its not that great for a 2012 PC game.

Though its important to note Diablo was never about visuals, Diablo 1 looked decent for its time, but even Diablo 2 was only saved by its art (something Diablo 3 also does well), its also about scale, its quite something when youre chased by 25 crazed zombies.

Waypoint in the Cemetery

buying and selling stuff is useless - Unless Im doing something wrong, picking up normal items is pretty much pointless, as unless youre planning to actually use that weapon , a seller will only give 5 gold pieces at most, magical items give around 100-300 gold pieces. ie , the vast majority of your money will come directly from monsters, not from selling anything.

Also generally speaking the stuff sellers offer you , simply suck , you would do much better just to find stuff.

Annoying DRM - not a gameplay thing, but the DRM in this game is a pain . You have to be constantly online, even for the single player, which means that if your internet gets disconnected, or if Blizzard's servers crash , you can't play the game.

Indeed that happend on launch day, when I was (and apparently many others) locked out of the game for several hours because the servers crashed.

Its really quite something when Diablo 1 from 1996 works fine on my PC , but the brand new Diablo 3 doesn't because soem server on the other side of the world crashed.

Game is a bit too short - not a big deal , but I finished the game in 18 hours, which is a bit short for an RPG , though Im aware that alot of people will ignore the single player and go straight to the online portion of the game.

Bastion's Keep

So overall, with all the good and bad, is Diablo 3 worth it? is it good?

to answer the latter question , yes, Diablo 3 is a great game , the game still plays like the previous Diablo games overall , and the story is very good, in short its at least an 8/10 game .

Is the game better than its ancestors? While its hard to compare it to Diablo 1 (which was very limited by everything from the budget to the technical limitations of the time), but if one compares it to Diablo 2, I would still say Diablo 2 is the better game , even if Diablo 3 is still overall of the quality one would expect from Blizzard.

So that was very simple overview of the good and bad I noticed about Diablo 3 from what I played.

Thanks for reading :)