Monthly Archives: September 2017

Preview: Griff – The Winged Lion (PC) ~ 5th Console generation inspired game

Developers’ Website

Another retro-inspired game? I know, we have seen quite a lot of them lately. But, this time, it’s quite different. Today, I want to talk about Griff the Winged Lion. A retro-inspired game by major titles from the 5th console generation. Games like Spyro and Crash are two of the biggest inspirations for this game. So, in this preview, I’m going to talk about the released press and promotional materials, the provided demo and what my ideas are for the game. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

If you want to support this game to see it completed, you can help the developers on KickStarter!

The promo & press materials

If you want to check out the press kit for yourself, you can do it right here. In the provided press kit, we can read the story. The story is about Griff, a king’s son who goes on a journey to find answers about his mysterious fate.

I think that there is a lot of potential in the story. Since my experience with gaming stories and writing stories myself in the past is telling me that there is going to be more than just that. I’m convinced that the story presented in the press kit is just going to be the tip of the iceberg. Something is going to happen that changes everything. I’m quite curious to see what it will be.

So far, the characters that get described are an amazing throwback at the characters from the games they took inspiration from. I can’t wait to see how everything will fit together into one story.

When I keep reading in the press kit, I see some features that get me excited to play the full version of this game. First, the fact that there will be 5 playable characters gets me excited. I enjoy adventure platformers where you have to switch between characters to solve puzzles.

Second, the fact that this game is based on mythological creatures, I can’t wait to see which mythologies get covered. I have a soft spot when it comes to mythology in games…

Third, the voice cast for this game is well-known actors in the scene. The 4 names that are listed are impressive. If an indie project like this has such a great voice cast, I can’t wait to see the result.

I really urge you to look at the press kit since there are a lot of screenshots to be seen to give you an idea of the final product. Also, check out the KickStarter page, since you can download the demo right from there. Speaking of the demo…

The Demo

I looked at the demo provided in the Kickstarter. While I know that the demo isn’t a great representation of the final representation of the game, but I would like to say a few things.

The demo of the game is quite short. Maybe a bit too short in my opinion. I think it would be fun if there were one or two levels available to play in the game. Since now I only got a basic understanding of how the controls will feel and how the game will look visually.

There was one issue in the demo that I found very annoying. The fact that the “enter” button was used to select and both go from full screen to windowed mode was annoying.

One thing I would love to see changed in some parts of the UI still looks a bit too modern and out of place in the 5th console generation. Especially the character portraits in the top left corner. But then again, this is an early build so I can excuse that.

Something I really didn’t like was the swimming controls in the game. I’m under the impression that the camera controls flip under water. That moving the mouse up, moves Griff more under the water. While above water, moving the mouse up, moves the camera up.

Something else I didn’t like was the fact that you could get yourself stuck when you go to the king. There was no way back up, so I had to restart the demo to explore the rest of the game. There is a way to get out there, but it took me a bit too long to figure that out.

One minor detail that you could change but would make it a nice touch is to change the XBOX controller into a PS4 controller on the control screen. Since you draw inspiration from games that are published on Sony systems. See where I’m going with this? It is in the details.

And that’s everything I didn’t like about the demo. The music, the visual presentation, the controls and everything else looks quite promising. While there isn’t too much to do in the demo and you can “finish” the demo in 15 minutes, I really want more. I want to see more and see this game get fully developed. Since, after I played this demo, I’m bursting with ideas. Speaking about those ideas…

  My ideas for the game

Okay, it’s that time of the preview articles again. A time where I throw around ideas that I would love to see in the finished product. Keep in mind, that these might not even get implemented. These are three ideas I have after seeing all the press materials and playing the short demo.

I think it would be amazing if there is a level where you must use the “turn your enemies into gold” mechanic that is promoted. What I mean is, that you turn enemies into solid gold and must use them as platforms to reach other platforms.

Another idea I had was, give the game a speed run feature. What I mean is, build in a feature that speed runners can use to help them time their in-game time when playing the game. I can see a lot of potential in this game for speed running. So, seriously, grab that chance.

Since this is somewhat of a coming of age story, I think it would be amazing if there is a level where you must guide younger lion cubs to safety from hunters. From what I understand of the plot, the story is about Griff proving that he can become king when his father would pass away.

Overall, I’m quite excited for how the game is going to turn out. I’m crossing my fingers that they reach their Kickstarter goal. Also, if they are unable to reach that goal, I seriously hope that they don’t drop this project. This game has quite a lot of potential and it would be a shame if it died.

If anything interested you in this article, go and look at the Kickstarter page. I seriously think you will enjoy it. You can download the demo I used to base my article on. This can become an amazing tribute to the early PlayStation games and much more.

I have said everything that I wanted to say about the game for now. Thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

First Impressions: Suicide Guy (PC  – Steam) ~ How Do I Die This Time?

Suicide Guy 1Steam page

In most games, your goal is to accomplish a goal alive. Yet, there are a few games that challenge you to do the exact opposite. This is one of these games. Your goal is to try and die in your dream to hopefully wake up and catch the beer you dropped. So, will this guy be able to drop his beer before it hits the ground? Full disclosure, I got a review code for this game. So, with that said, it’s time to talk about this game. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion/thoughts on the content of this article and/or the game.

Note: for this review, I haven’t fully beaten the game, that’s why it’s the first impression. Also, I have played v1.2.1 released on September 18th.

The tavern hub

Suicide Guy 2Like I said in the introduction of this article, the goal is to die in each dream to try and wake up so you can catch your falling beer. The story is basic but it fits the theme rather well. This game is a hybrid of a puzzle, action, adventure and platform game. The story takes a backseat for most of the game and honestly, I’m glad for that.

I expected much worse things when I heard the title. I expected the story to be about a highly depressed man who wanted to die as quickly as possible. But the story is lighthearted and that makes the game even more enjoyable.

So, after the first dream that acts like a tutorial, you get sent to the hub world. The hub world is a big tavern with all the tables a separate level. The level you have to beat will have a light shining on it, all the beaten levels will have their icon without said light. I really like the hub world since on the monitors you still see your main objective, wake up and catch that beer.

The hub world also helps build the character you play as a bit more. I’m under the impression is a somebody who owns his own tavern at the side of the road who is on holiday watching TV. Or perhaps, I might be looking way too much into this.

The icons you see on the tables is also a quick representation of what the level is going to be about. You can also see if you have collected the statue of that level. When you have found the hidden statue in the level, it will be displayed on the table. I really like the design of the statues, since the pose has always something to do with the level theme.

I have two issues with this hub world and that is the in some occasions, the sound effect for the level doesn’t start playing when you quickly walk between levels.

The second issue I have is with the placement of the levels. Levels 1 to 7 are placed in such a strange order; levels 1,2,3 and 7 are placed on one row and 4,5,6 are placed on the other row. I personally place them in a more linear order. The reason why I talk so much in-depth about this is that from level 7 to level 25, it’s all placed in a linear order. So, why not the first few levels.

How shall we beat this level?

Suicide Guy 3The goal of each level is simple. Find the end of the level to try and commit suicide. Like I said before, in each level, you have a statue to find too. This is optional as far as I know.

Once you collect the statue, it stays collected. So, if you didn’t find the statue the first time, you can enter the level and find it. You don’t have to beat the level to keep the statue. Most of them are in plain sight and if you explore just a little bit, the statues are easily found.

I really love the theming of each level. Some levels are even a reference to other popular games or movies. There is even a level based on Indiana Jones, my favorite movie series!

Visually, this game is very pretty. I think it’s a quite impressive display. The only thing I don’t like about the visual presentation when you crouch and you look up, you see what I think are the tops of the arm models. I have seen this for the first time in the 8th level.

The animations are also great. You can see a big visual difference between the graphical settings. I ran the game on high settings since the normal settings had some elements that I didn’t like too much. The shadows for example where too blocky. If you can avoid it, don’t use the lowest graphics settings. The lighting engine goes banana’s then and makes the levels too bright. The game has rather low system requirements, so I think not a lot of modern computers will have trouble with it.

There are a few areas that could some polish visually. Some parts of decorative walls aren’t solid and sometimes the skybox is shown in-doors. Most of the times, these problems are quite minor and will only annoy you if you look for them. I have notified the developer of all instances I found.

Shall we catch that beer?

Suicide Guy 4This game has controller support. I haven’t tested it out with my controller, but I have played the game using a mouse and keyboard.

One annoying thing about the controls is that you can’t rebind them. This isn’t such a big issue if you use QWERTY-keyboards. Sadly enough, here in Belgium, we use AZERTY keyboards so I was annoyed that I had to change my keyboard language to QWERTY to easily play the game. If this could be fixed, I would be a very happy camper.

The UI of this game is pretty good. I have only one complaint, I think that the “select level” button in the main menu is not needed. The hub area covered that already.

The biggest problems with this game are the awkward items and jump controls you must get used to. The problem with the item controls is that the “pick up items” button is a physical button and the “use items” button is the left mouse button. I think it would be better if either both are buttons or both actions use the mouse.

The problem I have with the jumping is that you don’t always know if the character is going to grab and climb up a ledge or not. Maybe a bit more of a visual indicator would be helpful. In most levels, there isn’t a lot of jumping that you must do. So, it isn’t that big of a problem since you get used to it quickly.

Each level isn’t too long. If you know what you are doing, some levels can be beaten in 1 or 2 minutes. In addition to that, if you screwed up and got stuck somewhere, you can easily restart the level without losing too much progress.

If you commit to it, you can beat this game in an afternoon. The game doesn’t take longer than 2 and half hours to beat. This makes the game ideal for speed running. I think that this game would be better if there is a “speed running mode”, where there is a timer in the bottom of the screen and after you have beaten the game, you see a results screen that you could possibly share online, on how fast you beat each level and the entire game.

One thing that I missed in this game is a sort of hint system. One time, I was really stuck on the Mario level. I didn’t want to look up a walkthrough, but I did want a hint. It took a bit too long to figure out what I had to do to climb up to the second ledge.

The soundtrack of this game is excellent. You also can get the soundtrack for the game data folder. If you enjoy the soundtrack, you can listen to it everywhere you want. Something quite unique is the fact that the music plays through the radios scattered around the level. You can pick up those radios to take the music with you or shut them off if you don’t want to hear the music. Pretty great mechanic.

This game isn’t too difficult, once you figure out what you should do, it’s straightforward. This game can be challenging when you don’t see the solution, but overall, it’s quite simple.

There are also Steam Achievements and Steam Trading Cards for those who are interesting in those.

So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. I can’t wait to fully beat it myself. Currently, I’m halfway done. If I had to give a score of what I played so far, I would give the game a 7/10. This game is a very fun game but it’s rather short. It’s ideal for casual players or gamers who want to play something quick and different. Also, for the cheap price tag of 5€, you can’t complain. This game has a lot of polish and soul put into it and it’s a bargain for that price.

Thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article, but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day!

Publishing: 50 Best Bows and Crossbows in Video Games – Precis 1

Over the years a good portion of the huge selection of video games available have included the good old bow and arrow and the trend is on the up. The bow is a weapon historian have found in settlements dating back to around 9000 BC. Pop culture loves the bow and arrow and there’s also a good slice of the movie that’s taken up the gauntlet with heroes like Hawkeye and Katniss Everdeen wielding them.

There are a comprehensive top 50 of the best bows (and crossbows) ever in video games over at targetcrazy.com and with their permission, we’ve reproduced the top picks here, but if you want to see the whole list, take a look at the article in the link.

Best Retro Game Bow – Kid Icarus – The Sacred Bow

The favorite bow from older games is the enhanced Sacred Bow wielded by Pit in Kid Icarus. While he starts out wielding a short-range bow, the Sacred Bow lets him fire arrow much faster and farther. Pit has an unlimited supply of arrows and can use Fire Arrows to deal more damage. By the time Pit returned in Kid Icarus: Uprising, the bow was only one of many weapons he used, but in the original two games, it was his primary weapon of choice.

The Best Crossbow – BioShock

Do crossbows count? They are bows, after all, some might say not really but the top pick for the crossbow in a computer game is BioShock. Not only is the crossbow in BioShock one of their favorite video game crossbows, but it’s also considered by many players to be the best BioShock weapon. It deals excellent damage with multiple types of ammunition, it is powerful at both short-range and long-range, and a headshot from the crossbow will kill a Splicer in one hit on any difficulty setting. If that’s not enough, its bolts can often be recovered intact (and you can upgrade it to make this more likely), which means it’s an incredibly powerful weapon with a ready supply of ammo. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Magical – Bayonetta 2 – Kafka

Some are magical some are just plain weird. Bayonetta is here to prove bows can be very strange. The Kafka, a new bow added in Bayonetta 2 and named in honor of Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis,” has a dragonfly-like appearance and shoots poison arrows. According to its in-game description, the bow comes from a man who metamorphosed into an insect and lives on inside the weapon to fire arrows made of venomous bugs. Indeed, if you perform an Umbran Climax while wielding this bow, it fires massive, demonic dragonflies at the enemy. A bow that shoots demonic dragonflies instead of arrows? It doesn’t get much weirder than that.

SciFi! – Crysis 3 – Predator Bow

You can’t beat an auto-loading compound bow! The Predator Bow from Crysis 3 is a fan-favorite, with three draw weights you can switch between and four different types of arrows to fire: carbon-impact, electro/shock, airburst fragmentation, and super-thermite. In single player, it has its own weapon slot, and it is also the only weapon you can fire while Cloaked without using energy. In short, the Predator Bow is one of the best bows in video games–science fiction or otherwise.

Better Than Real? Best VR – QuiVR

QuiVr is a multiplayer wave shooter designed specifically to be a fun, accurate archery game. Your trusty bow will let you take down wave after wave of enemies, with physics designed to feel like actual archery. QuiVr isn’t the fullest gameplay experience out there yet, but if you want to feel like you’re wielding a bow and take down enemies at the same time, this is the VR bow we like the most.

The Top 5 Best Overall Bows in Video Games

Some of these bows are in games where archery is the main focus, while others just happen to have a good archery component, but either way, these are the top 5 bows in video games and some of the games you most want to seek out if you’re looking for a fun archery experience.

Middle-Earth – Shadow of Mordor – Azkâr  – Azkâr is a special bow originally made for Celebrimbor, but Talion can use it in Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor when he enters the Wraith-world while in Ranged mode. This bow can be upgraded with Runes to gain special bonuses, and Shadow of Mordor is another game where archery is generally enjoyed by fans. You may not use it often, but between its gameplay and its connections to Lord of the Rings lore, we feel Azkâr deserves recognition.

Dark Messiah of Might & Magic – Bow of the Dragonhorn – The Bow of the Dragonhorn available in Dark Messiah of Might & Magic is one of the most powerful bows in the game (especially against undead enemies), but that’s not why it has such a high spot on this list. Instead, we picked it out because many players consider Dark Messiah to have some of the most realistic and satisfying archery in video games, with realistic aiming and physics.


Mount & Blade: Warband – Khergit Bow – Okay, the best bow is pretty divisive among fans, but whether you favorite the Khergit Bow or one of the others, Mount & Blade: Warband is a must for satisfying archery combat. Just the fact that so many different bows can be considered the best depending on your style and preferences points to how strong its archery is. Not only that, but it has fairly realistic physics and aiming. In general, using a bow in Mount & Blade: Warband finds a nice balance point between realism and fun.

Tomb Raider – Compound Bow – As of the Tomb Raider reboot, the bow has become Lara’s standard weapon. There are many different types of bows you can use, as well as various special arrows, but as long as you don’t mind its slower rate of fire, the Compound Bow is one of the best. It deals heavy damage and is a great choice for stealth. Tomb Raider and Rise of the Tomb Raider don’t have the most realistic archery combat, but they do make it fun, so give their bows a try.

Age of Chivalry – Longbow – Age of Chivalry is a free total conversion mod for Half-Life 2 focused on medieval combat between two fictional orders. The team eventually made a full game called Chivalry: Medieval Warfare. Archers in Age of Chivalry can fight with a longbow, a crossbow, or a javelin, and the longbow’s fast pace and long range makes it our pick. Not only is archery a strong focus, but it’s also fairly realistic–Age of Chivalry is another go-to game for players interested in bows that try to feel realistic.

For those that like pictures….

Here’s the whole list in a nice infographic for those of you who like that sort of thing!

20 of the Best Video Game Bows Ever
Source: targetcrazy.com

 

Review: Mirillis Action v2.7.3 (PC) ~ A Let’s Player Tool.

action-1Mirillis official website

So, you want one tool that can easily record your screen, your gameplay, screenshots, record only sound, stream to Twitch AND record your stream and much more? In the past, I used various tools for that, but ever since I got contacted by the developers of Mirillis Action, I uninstalled most of those tools. Was this a good idea? Is the software good enough to replace them or does the software have holes? Mirillis gave me a review code. The software is usually 30$. So, let’s get right into the review and talk about how this software performs according to me. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion and/or thoughts about the software and/or the content of the article down below.

Specs and such

Before we continue, I should say that I tested this program on two different machines. Both on my laptop I use for classes and my gaming desktop. My laptop is a Lenovo B50-80, the only modification I did was that I changed the standard 8GB RAM into 16GB RAM. I need that much RAM since I have to run 4 or more virtual machines and each VM can use up to 2-ish GB RAM each. And yeah, if I only had 8GB of RAM, I wouldn’t be able to follow the classes.

Before I tell you the specs of my gaming desktop, a computer I built myself with my uncle, I know that the graphics card isn’t the strongest or best in these modern times to play games on; but I’m happy with it. The specs of my gaming desktop are an i7-4820K CPU (3.7 GHz), GeForce GTX 660, 16GB of DDR3 RAM, 128GB Boot SSD and a 3TB HDD for my data. It’s quite a beefy PC in my opinion.

During the time I tested the software, the software updated twice. From v2.7.1 to 2.7.2 and then again to v2.7.3. While the software update crashed on my laptop when updating from v2.7.2 to v2.7.3, it ran fine on my gaming desktop. Probably a hiccup with files that were in use by Windows Update or something. Thankfully, a simple uninstall and reinstall fixed everything.

 The positive aspects.

action-3I can hear some content creator say already, why do we need this tool? What does it have over OBS Studio, which is free? I think a big plus is how clean the interface is when you compare it to OBS.

You can do a lot with OBS, but it’s all buried in menus. When I used OBS for the first time, I was quite confused how to set it up. I had to use a guide to get started. Most features of OBS are hidden in drop-down menus and that’s a real shame.

In addition to having a better-looking UI, a big advantage in Action is that you have a better indication if you are recording or not. The counter is visibly more present than in OBS Studio.

This tool is much more than a streaming and recording tool alone. You can take screenshots and benchmark as well. These are two quite handy features to have. The more I worked with the program, the more I was amazed by how handy this tool is for content creators.

Some neat features are, you can easily cap the framerate the video, you can set a length of time to record, there is a built-in video converter for the recorded videos. I think that this tool will be quite useful when I’m benchmarking a game for a review or when I want to record some gameplay footage to refer to when I’m writing a review.

Something that might make video creators quite happy is the feature that you can record your microphone audio on a separate track. So, when something happens in-game that is quite loud, you can easily edit that out without having your commentary be too silent.

If you need any help with the program, the help button is not too far away. When you use it, the program will display a very to the point help screen. If you still need more help, you have a button that will redirect you to the website with even more information to help you.

There is also support for greenscreen webcam recording. At this moment, I don’t own a good webcam or a green screen, so I wasn’t able to test out this feature. But, from what I read online; it’s pretty good.

The Action RCU app is an amazing feature, but I’ll talk about that more in depth later in the article.

The negative aspects

action-2Now that I talked about all the reasons why I would recommend this software, here are the things that I didn’t like. Keep in mind, these remarks are made about v2.7.3. It’s possible that Mirillis patch or update their software to make these remarks invalid.

When you open Action, it displays by default a box (called the HUD) of what you will record and how many frames per second it takes. The default location for this is rather annoying. It’s in the top right of your screen. While I understand that the box is more visible there, it’s quite annoying when you have apps on full screen. While clicking the box does nothing, I keep thinking it will open the program. So, I try to navigate my mouse around it. I think it would be better if it showed by default in the middle of your screen at the right-hand side. Then, I realize that you can quickly hide it with F6. So, this is a true nitpick.

Something I miss from OBS Studio is a preview of what the video is going to look like. When you boot up OBS Studio, you see what it’s going to record. This is something you don’t see with Action. So, I had to make a test video every time I tried out some new settings.

A nice feature to have is to easily move the output folders at once to another location. In the current version, you must move it feature by feature. If an option is added where you specify a folder to output and Action creates the 4 folders it needs for the output; that would be awesome.

Something that is missing from the video recording & streaming tab, is an option if you want to record system audio. I would move that option from the options menu to the streaming and video recording tab. Since it’s more useful there.

A huge incoming update

Something I wanted to quickly touch upon is that there is going to be a big update in the feature. Action 3.0 will fix almost every negative I have with the program. The new features will include things like a live preview of the video composition and an improved HUD. Let’s not forget to mention that v3 will have StreamLabs support. You can read more about it and give your own suggestions on this Facebook post.

If you already own Action v2, you will be able to freely upgrade to the v3.

The Action RCU Android App

If you have an Android phone and you are a YouTuber or streamer, you are going to love this feature! When you enable Action RCU in the options menu and install the app on your smartphone, you will be able to control parts of the program with your smartphone. Before I forget to mention it, this is a free app! Yep, free.

In the app, you will be able to start and stop recording or streaming. But not only that, you will see the program that Is recording, how much free space is on the drive you are recording too, how many FPS you have and how long you are recording.

This is an amazing additional feature. I would love to see more promotion of this feature. Since this is going to be a selling point for a lot of let’s players and streamers.

If the app gets updated with these few remarks, I think that the app would be even better.

First, I think it’s quite dangerous that you can connect with any computer without giving a password. I think it would a good idea that you must enter a preset password before the connection is made. This password can be set in the program itself in the options menu. This would avoid annoying roommates stopping your recording without you knowing it. Or let the program pair your smartphone with the program and smartphones that aren’t paired, block them until they are paired.

Second, I couldn’t connect at first to my computer. After a bit a troubleshooting, I found out that some firewalls are blocking the app. I use Avast Internet Security now on my gaming desktop. Right after I made the connection, I can enable Avast again and the firewall doesn’t interfere with the app. There is a solution for this. You can whitelist the program in Avast and the problems will stop. On my laptop, I use Avira Free and Windows Firewall and that didn’t have any problems when I allowed it in the Windows Firewall settings.

Third, I think it would be amazing if a button is added in the app to mute the microphone. In addition to that, possibly a “light” that changes when the microphone is active or not.

Four, this might possibly in the pipeline; but create an iOS and Windows Phone version of this feature. Since the smartphone market is more than Android alone. The developers told me that they will first develop a MAC version of the program before they port the app to iOS. This is planned to start production next year.

Update 28/09: so, there is an iOS version of the app. There will be a version for MAC of the actual program possibly next year. Still, I would love to see a version for Windows Phones.

Five, if a limited record time is set, I think it would be lovely to have a countdown timer of some sorts too.

Six, add a screenshot button! Seriously, one that will be something useful to make thumbnails without having to search around in the video afterward.

And last, why not display the key(s) you need to press to pause the recording also in the app?

Apart from the first two remarks, the other remarks are just additions to improve the app and make it more powerful and even more useful than it already is.

Conclusion

Would I recommend this program? Without any doubt in my mind, I would. This program is already a great tool but with some additional features based on the remarks I raised in this article, I think this program can compete with major names like OBS Studio or DXTory. Besides, the program has more features than DXTory and is cheaper.

This powerful tool is cheap in my opinion and I’m glad that Mirillis Team contacted me to look at their software. Since now I’m a proud owner of a great piece of software that’s going to prove useful in class when I record how to enter commands to configure routers and switches but it’s also going to prove useful to create screenshots for my articles.

The program is already worth the asking price, but it can only grow and improve. The developers update this program quite often, so it’s going to only get better from here on out! In my opinion, this is one of the best recording tools out there right now.

There are a lot more than this program can do, so if this program sounds interesting to you; go and check it out. So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this program. Time to wrap up this article.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

Review: Tomb Raider Legend (PC) ~ The Sword of King Arthur

Tomb_Raider_-_Legend

Wikipedia entry

I remember picking up this game quite well. I was hyped for this game. Not too long before the release of this game, I got a new computer that was able to run to this game quite well. It even ran with the next-gen graphics. Back then, I finished this game and I remember that I had a lot of fun. Eleven years later, I decided that I want to write a review of this game. So, I took my copy from the shelves and booted up my Windows XP retro game pc and restarted playing this game. So, does this game still hold up or is this game just good in my nostalgic filled mind? Let’s dive into the Legend of the Tomb Raider. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of the article in the comment section below. 

Thrill ride

160089-lara-croft-tomb-raider-legend-xbox-360-screenshot-use-your

The story of this game starts off with a young Lara on a plane. She is flying with her mother through a thunderstorm when suddenly, the plane crashes.

Lara finds an ancient sword and touches it. Her mother pulls Lara away and then pulls out the sword and disappears.  We fast forward a few years when Lara starts the journey to try and find out what happened to her mother.

In my opinion, the story is pretty good. Not great, since some parts of the story a bit too predictable. I was able to guess what was going to happen in the last parts of the game. I really liked the twist at the end, setting up the next game Underworld perfectly.

I know that Anniversary released before Underworld, but it has really nothing to do with the story of this game and Underworld.

In any case, the voice acting in this game is pretty good. I loved it when I played the game for the first time when I was a child and I still love it now. My favorite voice actress in the game is Keeley Hawes. She voices Lara Croft in this game and she does a pretty great job, just how I imagine Lara Croft sounding like.

Most of this game story is told in cutscenes. But, if you already finished the game, you can skip the cutscene by tapping the pause button and choose for “Skip Cinematic”.

I have played this game on two different systems for this review. One that can handle the next generation content and one that can’t handle that. The next generation content is nothing really special in my opinion. It just adds some additional visual fluff to the game.

Something I did notice, is that when I played it on my more than capable retro gaming PC, one that his the recommend specs perfectly, there is a lot of flickering in some stages and textures not fully loading in. I mostly had this problem when I did the motorcycle bit in the snowy area.

There is a lot of variaty in this game. You have driving sections, QTE, platforming and shooting sections. Wait, Quick Time Events? I know that some people really hate this, but I personally don’t mind them too much. They aren’t too frequent and they are over quickly. To be honest, I enjoy most of them.

Exploring Lara’s house

Tomb Raider Legend

It’s a shame that the game has some graphical problems here and there. Maybe it has to do with the fact that old PC has an ATI device in it, and the other PC has a NVidea card. It does display at the start.

But, the overall presentation is good. The environments and tombs you explore in this game are pretty well designed. The animation is great too. Some death animations really send a shiver down my spine. They felt a bit too real, but some became funny when Lara keeps sliding more than you expect and falls off a cliff.

You can also explore the Croft Manor in this game. In this game, the Croft Manor isn’t the tutorial like we have seen in all previous Tomb Raider games. Now, you can unlock certain training areas to explore when you finish a certain level in the game. I personally recommend that you play through the Croft Manor when you either want a relaxing level or a post-game thing to play.

There are also secrets to find in the Croft Manor. These extras range from character profiles to object models. There is also a special surprise if you collect them all. Thankfully, it’s quite easy to replay a level to try and find secrets you missed.

One thing that really annoyed me was the saving mechanic. It works fine and the autosave points are placed perfectly, but the loading of save games is just a bit broken. Tomb Raider is known for difficult jumps sometimes or multiple jumps you have to do in a row. I like to save after I did a few of them so I can load the game when I did something wrong. In all the previous titles, that I played, when you load; you start right back at the position you saved. Not in this game, you start at the beginning of the jump bit or sometimes even earlier.

The soundtrack of this game is great. I really enjoy listing to it and it added a great atmosphere while you are exploring the tombs. The orchestral soundtrack of this game really impressed me as a kid and it still does as an adult. The sound design for this game is good as well.

Put that gun away, Lara!

tr7_ghana

If there is one thing that could use some improvement in this game is the controls.

Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t terrible in any meaning of the word.

There were just a few times that I pressed the grab button, but Lara didn’t grab a ledge. Yet, it isn’t the wrong thing about the controls. There isn’t a “put your gun away” button. And if there is, I wasn’t able to find it. This was really annoying when you were done fighting some enemies and you wanted to start a jump puzzle and Lara doesn’t grab the ledge because she is still holding a gun.

Also, the default layout for the controls is just bad for some functions. For example, to switch your weapon, it’s “End”. To switch your light on or off, it’s “Del”. Medkit is “Home” and your binoculars is “Page Down”. So, I highly recommend you rebinding those controls when you want to play this game.

I don’t know what was causing this problem, but sometimes, the camera moved without me moving my mouse at all. This happened multiple times when I was swinging on a rope.

That’s enough complaining about the controls. Let’s talk about the rest of the game. There is a sort of help system in the game. The PDA. It’s helpful, but I rarely used it. The only time I used it was when I returned to the game after a long while to check what I needed to do.

But, the binoculars can help there as well. With them, you can see what you can use and plan out your route. Yet, the level design is so clear, you barely have to use it when you pay attention to what’s around you.

The difficulty in this game is spot on. No complaints there. The UI of this game is pretty well crafted too. Again, no issues there.

The combat in this game is really enjoyable. My favorite moments are when you enter a sort of bullet time mode and you jump on enemies shield to launch you into the air and shoot the defenseless enemy.

Before we go to the conclusion, I want to touch on one final thing. This game’s length is spot on. It isn’t too long but it isn’t too short either. If you decide to complete this game that is. Since, if you rush through this game, you might be able to beat it in a day. Since it’s 8 hours long. If you want to complete this game, you double your play time.

Conclusion

The good:

+ Good story, while predictable sometimes

+ Great voice acting.

+ Good level design.

+ A lot of variety in gameplay styles.

+ ….

The bad:

-Some visual issues on some computers.

-The controls, while good, could use some polishing up. The default layout is just bad.

-The game is too short if you rush through it.

Final thoughts:

This game didn’t age too well. As a kid, I thought this game was one of the best games I have ever played. But, looking at it now as an adult, I see the flaws of this game. It’s by no means a bad game. The story, voice acting, level design… they are all good.

The big issue is that they aren’t great. The sequel games, like Anniversary and Underworld, are so much better in my opinion.

In general, this game has its problems. Some are noticeable, others aren’t. I do remember having adrenaline rushes when I played this game for the first time. When I played it for this review, I had them too but way less.

In conclusion, I think that this game is worth it. I would recommend it to any fan of Tomb Raider and adventure games. If you have a decent enough computer that can run it and doesn’t get affected by the same graphical issues I was. Since I can tell you for a fact, I didn’t have them on my old childhood computer. This game is good, but not great. It could have been better if there was a bit more polish.

Thank you for reading this review and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day!

Score: 70/100

Gamer’s Thoughts: My favorite Zelda dungeons

ZEldaTo those who don’t know, I’m a huge Zelda fan. I pre-order every Zelda games that come out and I own almost all of the spin-off games. Not too long ago, a friend of mine commented on my blog asking if I’m willing to do a top 10 list of my favorite Zelda dungeons. So, here is my list of my favorite Zelda dungeons. Notice the “my” in the previous sentence. So, it’s my opinion. Also, I wasn’t able to rank these 10 dungeons, so they are in no particular order! In any case, I invite you to write leave your opinion on my list and/or give your own list in the comment section down below.

PS: I linked each title to the dungeon theme. Enjoy!

The Eagle – The Legend of Zelda

the eagle

This dungeon has to be on my list. The reason for that is an obvious one. It was my very first Zelda dungeon. I wasn’t able to play it on the NES when this game can out, but I did play the NES Classic GBA port of this game.

Just when I heard the theme of this dungeon, I remember playing this game for the first time before not too far from the fireplace and just enjoying the game. In a matter of fact, after I had beaten the first dungeon, I was reading the instruction manual and found the mini-walkthrough that helped new players towards the first dungeon.

The only complaint I have with this dungeon is that the theme is way too short. In-game, it doesn’t matter that much, but a loop of 1 minute of music can get annoying sometimes.

Thieves Hideout – A Link Between Worlds

Review of this game

Thieves Hideout

In this dungeon, we have a sort of escort mission. One that I enjoyed quite a lot.

When you fail to escort the girl out, you won’t have to redo the puzzles again to get her out of jail. This is a great bonus.

This dungeon is one of my favorite dungeons in the game. The biggest reason why I enjoy this one a lot is that I enjoy the final boss quite a lot. Seriously, when I think about dungeons from A Link Between Worlds, this one pops right in my head. It was also quite fun to replay this one while I was researching for this article.

Eagle Tower – Link’s Awakening (DX)

Review of this game

Eagle Tower

My favorite Zelda games are the portable Zelda games, to be honest. To be honest, the puzzle in this dungeon one I really like.

In order for you to progress in this tower, you have to solve some puzzles that don’t require you finding a key to a locked door.

This concept has been used by various other Zelda games, but I played with the mechanic for this first time in this game. And recently replayed it, in the DX-version of the game.

Forest Temple – Ocarina of Time

Forest TempleAh, Ocarina of Time. A game that is lovely by many, and also disliked by many. In any case, I’m leaning more towards the love side.

The Forest Temple is one of the best dungeons in the game in my opinion. The atmosphere, music, theming, puzzles are all great.

The twisting corridor and the Poe Sisters, I enjoyed it all. I finished it on a real N64 finished it on the 3DS version. Yup, both versions of the dungeon are great. Also, the dungeon item, the Fairy Bow is amazing to play around with in the 3DS version since you can all aim around you with moving the 3DS.

Snow Temple – Spirit Tracks

Review of this game

Snow_Temple

The Snow Temple in Spirit Tracks is quite a lot of fun. Not only were the towns and the journey towards the dungeon a lot of fun and memorable.

I also really love how the boomerang is used in this dungeon. This time, it’s not only to hit far off switches or anything of that sort. Oh no, it’s something that bows can’t replace. It’s to create a temporary ice path to be able to cross the water.

In addition to that, the final boss was a fun fight as well. I know that the concept of the boss has been done before in the Zelda series, but it was executed pretty well.

Sand Ship – Skyward Sword

First impression article on Skyward Sword

Sandship

Let me be clear on one thing. I’m in the camp of  “Skyward Sword is a good but not great Zelda game.” So, that said it’s time to talk about why this dungeon is so enjoyable.

On this ship, you have amazing fights. One where you have to get a strong pirate off the ship like shown in the screenshot.

But what I enjoy the most is how the time stone mechanic is implemented here. While Fi ruins some of the puzzles, I learned that by pressing A quickly, I wasn’t able to read all her dialogue, so a lot of those puzzles weren’t spoiled me for.  Yeah.

Also, I was able to make great use of the guest jar, that brought back memories of another handheld Zelda game, the Minish Cap. Also, this dungeon gave me the bow and arrow, the proved quite useful in this dungeon.

I remember finishing this dungeon while I was in a big Skype call with a lot of my friends. We were waiting for somebody to fix his Minecraft server that went down. So, we all decided to play other games. The chaos of everybody talking about what happening in their game was hilarious and memorable at the same time.

Fortress of Winds – Minish Cap

Review of the game

Fortress_of_Winds

If it isn’t clear enough with my nickname, I’m a cat lover. So, the fact that the dungeon item is sort of cat claws (called the Mole Mitts, but they are Cat Mitts in my mind) is just amazing.

I love this dungeon a lot because it provided me with one of my favorite items in the game. I only wish I was able to use it on more spaces.

I also love how the final boss of this dungeon isn’t defeated by the dungeon item alone. You have to use your bow as well. But what makes the dungeon even more memorable is what happens right after you beat it. Yeah. That was something strange for a Zelda game.

Earth Temple – Wind Waker

Earth Temple

Medley is one of my favorite character in the Wind Waker. So, when we both tackled the Earth Dungeon in the Wind Waker, I was such a happy camper.

In this dungeon, you get the Mirror Shield. But the puzzles with it are more tricky than in Ocarina of Time. Since you have two mirrors now to work with.

The final boss is pretty interesting as well since you have to beat all the little ghosts to avoid them going back into one big ghost… I still have a déjà vû for that.

Jabu Jabu’s Belly – Oracle of Ages

Jabu-Jabu belly

Review of this game

So, do you remember the Water Temple from Ocarina of Time? I do as well, and I’m not that big of a fan of it. What I’m a big fan of is the 2D version of it.

One of the last dungeons you do in the Oracle of Ages game is inside Jabu-Jabu’s Belly. Thankfully, you don’t have to escort Ruto in this one. It’s the Water Temple with the Jabu Jabu Inside theming.

If you don’t know what you are doing, you can easily get turned around. But, the creativity in this dungeon is so much fun. Also, the final boss of this dungeon is such a great one. It’s one that tests your reflexes and I like that a lot!

Explorer’s Crypt – Oracle of Seasons

Review of the game

Explorers Crypt

At the beginning of Oracle Of Seasons, I found the beach area quite fast. So, I always wanted to continue right there.

So, when I had to dungeons left in Oracle of Seasons, I was so happy to finally tackle the Beach area.

The build-up towards the dungeon is great and the dungeon itself too. You also have to solve puzzles that test your reflexes and knowledge of the items you acquired. It’s also one of the longest dungeons in the game.

While the boss and mini-boss aren’t too difficult, I still had a great time in this one.

Final thoughts

I love the Zelda series and I can’t wait to play more. There are a few Zelda games I’m close to finishing but haven’t fully beaten yet.

Trying to rank my favorite X in the Zelda series is always a hard task, since every game has it’s amazing and memorable moments. I wasn’t able to put dungeons from Breath of the Wild or Majora’s Mask on here. And that’s a real shame.

Also, to avoid me making all the spots related to the handheld games, I also decided that I was allowed to pick one dungeon per game. So, yeah.

In any case, that’s everything I wanted to say for this article. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day!

Review: Outlaws (PC) ~ LucasArts Pew Pew in the Wild West

250px-OutlawsLucasArtsBoxCover.jpgWikipedia entry

When I was on a garage sale trip in late June, I saw this title in a big PC box for 1€ at one of the last stands I visited. I was drawn to the LucasArts logo on the box. I didn’t think twice about buying it. When I got home, I took a picture of all the games I bought on that garage sale and people got hyped about Outlaws. A friend of mine even said that this is a game he wanted to see remastered. So, I got out my retro game PC, installed the game and started playing it. A few days ago, I finally finished the game so it’s time to give my review about this game. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the content of this article and/or the game. 

Old school shooter

maxresdefault

In this game, you take the role of a retired U.S. Marshall, James Anderson. After he comes home from the store, he finds out that his wife and daughter are kidnapped by two well-known outlaws. When you find out that they killed your wife and are on the run with your daughter, the case is on.

I do have to admit, I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the story while I played this game. While the cutscenes that present the story are very nicely animated for the time, it didn’t grip me. I’m not saying that the story is badly written in any way, shape or form. The cutscenes I watched were thrilling enough to continue playing the game. The voice acting was decent as well. The only thing that I didn’t like about the voice acting was how cliche some voices were. Also, there wasn’t enough emotion in some scenes in my opinion.

Speaking of the voice acting, there is also voice acting during the gameplay. A lot of enemies taunt you with some lines over and over again. The only thing that could be better if there were more lines said. Since, if you hear the same taunts spoken in the last level that you heard on the first level, you stop paying attention to them.

This game is your typical early-3D style shooter. Each level has an end boss and in order to reach the said boss, you have to look for keys to unlock the doors they hide behind. The first time I encountered a boss, I died after two hits. I got so frustrated with the game, I almost rage quitted. After I calmed down, I tried again but this time, I waited and learned the pattern of the boss. When I killed the boss, a cutscene played and that’s when everything clicked for me.

Not long after that, I learned that the yellow arrow on the map screen is the location of the final boss. This is a pretty handy feature. One that helped me several times when I got stuck. The map screen was a good friend in this game. It helped me several times to find new ways when I got stuck or felt that I was running around in circles. There are three things I would change about it. One, have a sort of marker where doors are where you need special keys for. Two, a zoomed out map would be amazing. And three, I would have loved the see the level names like in DooM somewhere in the bottom of the screen.

Something the map screen did well is show how many secrets there are in a given level and keep track of how many you found. This was good fun.

This game doesn’t have an autosave feature. You can save whenever and wherever you want. Just hit the “Esc” key on the keyboard and choose the option “save”. The only thing I could have loved to see improved is that the time and date was displayed when the save was made.

Reload that gun

Outlaws_PC_31

This game has an amazing reload mechanic. In this screenshot, you can see how the revolver doesn’t have any ammo left. When you hold the right mouse button, you start to insert bullet by bullet in your gun. But, don’t worry, when you meet an enemy while reloading, you can just shoot. Even when your gun isn’t fully loaded. I wish more shooters implemented this feature. It speeds up the action so much and makes the gameplay more fun in my opinion.

I played this game on the medium difficulty. Let me tell you, this game can get intense. The game never gets too hard to be unfair. I have played a little bit on the hardest difficulty. Let me tell you, you have to use your cover or you won’t survive.

For the most part, the level design is very well built. I really liked all levels in the game. One of my favorite levels was the Canyon. Especially when you were able to shoot enemies from the cliffs. They have a separate animation for that and even a sound effect! It helped so much with building the atmosphere. In that stage, there was also one of my favorite stage gimmicks. There is wind blowing through the canyon. At certain places, when you weren’t moving; well, the wind moved you towards the cliff edges. There were a lot more stage gimmicks providing variety through out the game.

In this game, you shoot with a lot of different guns. I liked the revolver the most since you can shoot quickly with it. It helped me to clear out a lot of crowded areas. But, all weapons have their own use in certain situations. The only thing I did have problems with is the dynamite. It never lit on fire, I had to shoot it always when I wanted to use it.

That disappointed me, just like the sheriff badge pick up. While these are rare to find, I don’t know what they do. So, I had to consult the manual. Apparently, it’s a shield and a damage increase. I didn’t notice any change with or without the badge.

What disappointed me the most was the frustrating platforming parts. This game had a few, very interestingly designed platform segments but due to the sometimes floaty and unreliable jump, this got to some frustrating deaths and/or me having to do that jump section all over again. When you are playing this game, master the run and jump and the crouch and jump as quick as you can.

Something that didn’t disappoint me was the manual. The manual for this game is actually beautifully created and designed. It features some additional background stories and information about the characters you meet in the game. It’s also themed like the wild west, just like the additional leaflet for the troubleshooting problems with the multiplayer.

Speaking of the multiplayer, this game has it. While I wasn’t able to experience it, from what I read, it’s a decent addition.

Wild West music

Outlaws

This game is, give or take, a 15-hour long adventure. I have to say, I think I’m willing to play through this adventure again. The gameplay is a lot of fun. The game’s presentation is dated but still holds up for retro gamers.

The animation is pretty good too. But if we are speaking of presentation, this game excels in two things as well. The soundtrack and sound design. The soundtrack is amazing. Honestly, it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite soundtracks I heard lately. I’m so adding it to my library of video game soundtracks to listen to while I write.

The sound design is well done as well. I played this game with a headset that blocks out a lot of the sound from around me. So, I was able to fully immerse myself into the game. I have proof that I was fully immersed into the game since most of my play sessions of this game were around 2-3 hours without a break.

Earlier in this review, I touched upon the jump mechanic. Overall, the controls are pretty good. The game has a fast flow to it and I didn’t have problems with the controls. Apart from what I mentioned earlier, the jumps.

When you play the historical missions, some jumps that you have to do are a bit pixel perfect. But, I won’t go too much in-depth about that since I already complained about that earlier in my review.

Something that annoyed me the most in this game is that some areas are designed to get a player stuck. I had to consult a walkthrough twice since I got stuck on two different levels. And both times, it was with one hallway I didn’t check enough or in a place, I forgot to crouch.

So, if you get stuck in this game, don’t forget you can jump ridiculous distances and crouch!

Something that took me by surprise and made me happy is the fact that some enemies were female! Yes, female enemies in a shooter. Some were even bosses of a level. Thank you for doing that LucasArts!

It’s quite clear that LucasArts made this game since there are a lot of easter eggs and references in this game. You can find aliens, Indiana Jones, Sam & Max and a lot more easter eggs. So, if you enjoy easter egg hunting, pick up a copy of this game and start looking!

The final thing I have to say is that I find this game too short. After I had beaten the game and the historical missions, I found it bitter sweet. I wanted to play more but I was happy that I had beaten the game. If only LucasArts was still around, then I would be able to ask/nag for a remake or a sequel to this game.

So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. I left some things out for you guys to discover. But it’s time to wrap up the article and get to the conclusion of this one.

Conclusion

The bad:

-The annoying parkour sections.

-Minor complaints about the map screen.

-No date/time displayed on the save screen.

-The voice acting was too cliche sometimes

-Too short!

The good:

+ Amazing soundtrack

+ Addictive gameplay

+ Great presentation for the time

+ …

Final thoughts:

If you look the negatives I listed, it’s quite clear that those are very minor problems. This game is so close to perfect, it’s annoying. The biggest problem to me was the annoying parkour bits that were difficult to do with the sometimes floaty and unreliable jump.

All the other issues are so minor, they weren’t too big of an issue to put a damper on the fun I was having with the game. If you enjoy games like DooM, Wolfenstein, Heretic amongst others, you owe it to yourself to check out this game.

I highly recommend this game to people who enjoy stealth games too. If you play it on the highest difficulty setting, this game is a great stealth game.

I’m so happy to have this gem of a game in a big PC box complete in my collection. This game is one I will most likely play again in the future since I enjoyed my time with it so much. Also, the soundtrack is pretty great and I can’t wait to listen to it while I’m on the road.

In any case, that’s everything I wanted to say in this article. Thank you so much for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

Score: 100/100