Not being a fan of Japanese visual novels, or visual novels at all for that matter, upon initially hearing about Aoishiro, I was at least to say most unenthusiastic to play the game. But I decided to give Aoishiro a shot regardless of my negative bias towards this genre, with a tad little hope in the back of my mind that this game will be enjoyable to play. Using the unofficial English translation patch (so that I could understand it) I tried it out and wow, was I surprised…
Having never played the original title, I went into ClaDun X2 with no expectations. The title is an abbreviation for the original Japanese title, Classic Dungeon X2. As the name implies, ClaDun is inspired by the classic dungeon crawlers that could be found on the NES, which is additionally made apparent by the game’s 8-bit visual style.
As a dungeon crawler, players are expected to battle their way through dungeons for all kinds kinds of loot — be it gold or a brand new piece of equipment. Is ClaDun X2 equally as valuable, or is it another useless item to be discovered and disregarded?
Dawnguard is The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim‘s first downloadable content (DLC) release. Originally released on Xbox 360 for an exclusive time period of a little over one month, until it eventually founds its way onto Steam Workshop for Windows users. As of this review, there is no official word yet for the PlayStation 3 release.
Dawnguard seamlessly integrates itself into the world of Skyrim for players of level ten and over. Adventurers can expect to explore new landmass, dungeons, slay new foes, collect and forge new items (including crossbows!), hire armoured trolls for battle, or become a vampire and have the power to become a legendary vampire lord. With this in mind, Bethesda’s Todd Howard promises fans a ten to twenty hour play-time with this new content, but is it worth your buck? Read more for the spoils. Continue reading
The Slender Man is perhaps one of the most famously unknown and terrifying stalkers talked about throughout fictional history and now thanks to the work of a single man he’s gotten a little more exposure. But first, a little backstory on who — or what — the Slender Man actually is.
The Slender Man was created at the Something Awful Forums in a thread entitled “Create Paranormal Images.” He is seen as wearing a black suit, a tuxedo, and as the name suggests he is extremely thin and is able to stretch his limbs and torso to inhuman lengths in order to induce fear and ensnare his victims — children. Once his arms are outstretched his victims are put into something of a hypnotised state, this is where they are completely helpless to The Slender Man’s evil-doings. He is also able to create tendrils from his fingers and back that he uses to walk on in a similar fashion to Doc Ock, the Spider Man villain in the Marvel Universe. The superhuman stretching ability can also be seen as a similarity between himself and Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four. Whether he absorbs, kills, or mearly takes his victims to an undisclosed location or dimension is also unknown as there are never any bodies or evidence left behind in his wake to deduce a definite conclusion.
The game Slender, created by Parsec Productions (a one-many army) places the player in the midst of a dark, spooky forest in the middle of nowhere. The player assumes the role of a female child where you are immediately instructed to collect eight pages, which are found scattered intelligently random throughout the forest. There is no tutorial, there is no prologue, there is no introduction to the game. Much like in real-life you hear yourself climb the fence and flick your flashlight on. You are now completely alone and defenceless, well, The Slender Man will be sure to keep you comforted in your journey.
Continuing on, it’s incredibly easy to learn the controls and mechanics of the game. Left-click is the action button (which is pretty much to collect pieces of paper), right-click is your flashlight, left shift is to sprint and buttons Q and E are used to zoom in and out respectively, with an appropriate lens-zoom sound effect as they are held down. Finding and collecting the first page initiates the first stage of ambient music: an off-in-the-distance drum echoing that will continue playing from now on. Now for every two additional pages you find, the next stage of ambient sounds will layer on top of each other, progressively becoming more chilling and intimidating. It’s a very effective, but simple, technique to ensue paranoia and fear.
|Your flashlight will eventually run out!|
Without spoiling, the pages can be found around landmarks in the forest; so you’re not going to find a page randomly on the floor in the middle of a bunch of trees; however, there is some level of consistency and visual clues as to where they can be. Also, at the beginning of each session of play, the pages’ locations are randomly generated in specific “hot spots” so you will not always find the same page at the same spot every single time. Now, picking up from before about music, the first stage of ambient sound is an audio cue to tell you that The Slender Man is on to you. There is no message that appears to break the immersion and tell you that you’re being stalked. Everything is naturally integrated in to the gameplay itself. The author of this game was definitely aiming for the most immersive and frightening video game experienc, by keeping the screen HUDless and replacing user interface elements with both an adaptive mix of visual and audio.
With this in mind, I found myself constantly looking around my surroundings, especially outside; expecting The Slender Man to appear right in-front of my eyes. As a matter of speaking, he has the ability to teleport anywhere on the map to where-ever you’re not looking at, but I learned that pretty quickly after finding my first page. With he continuation of the building-up ambient music along with the fear of seeing The Slender Man appearing right behind me with the classic “DUNN!” B-movie horror sound effect, my hands were physically sweating and my mouth was open the entire time I was playing; just waiting to be scared. I feel Slender is a self-selling game that makes you question your own psyche subconsciously. It was my own fear that that was keeping me motivated to play. I wasn’t sure if seeing or not seeing The Slender Man was for the better or not because it could mean he was going to either appear before my eyes any second, or if I did see him, then I would have just got scared by seeing him! This is what I mean when I say it is a self-selling game, I, myself, the player, was scared no matter what I did because of the tension that I created.
Is Slender the scariest video game ever made? Maybe…. It’s certainly the scariest video game I’ve ever played. Its efficient and simple style of gameplay makes up for a very convincing and addicting atmosphere. The realisation that you are indeed alone and helpless, and that all you can do is dig yourself a deeper grave, is spectacular. Its casual approach makes it open to all and any type of person to play, even if you don’t like to play video games, there is a strange addiction and compulsion to keep going and keep playing until the bitter end, a “so close yet so far” philosophy.
Guru Meditation is a regular author for GamingAdvance. You may contact Guru Meditation through the email address: email@example.com.
|You can whack out a taunt, or compliment, at any time.|
That’s not to say that there aren’t any fun missions either. In particular, I love when I have to storm through the city in a tank, destroying everything in your path. Everything. Buildings, fences, trash bins, cars, people, you name it. It’s a lot of fun and it also feels very good when you hear that cha-ching sound as you receive cash at the end of the mission. This serves as a cool reminder that you’ve earned your right to enhance your character’s abilities.
|Yes… revival needed.|
As you might have guessed, weapons can be bought and can be upgraded in linear stages, but it’s vehicles and clothing I want to talk about for just a minute. Fully customisable options throw themselves at you when you drive your car in a garage, you’re able to change, add and re-colour many parts of the car so much that it becomes totally unique to your personal taste. Those looking for a role-play experience or like the way their avatar look may be disappointed to learn that clothing for The Third makes a weak comeback, in comparison to Saints Row 2. The quantity of items to buy have been sucked dry and you’re limited to only wearing one item per body part, for example, one type of shoes, one type of legs, one type of torso clothing; and with limited options to choose from, you may be put-off if you like to dress your character in ridiculous ways. Even the over-the-top wacky costumes do not look exceptionally dissimilar, in a strange way, they seem to “fit in” with the world and characters rather than have them “stick out” and make you wonder what kind of artist could imagine something like that up.
|Feel free to run up to any bystander and kick their teeth to the back of their throats or punch their head-in, all in the name of fun.|
To sum up this bloody great game, in every meaningful output of the meaning, I can’t deny the amount of entertainment The Third offer. It sure has built-up and improved on many aspects from Saints Row 2 but the drawbacks are that of cut content that fans miss, such as the poop-shooting mini-game in which you fire poop on anything that exists to earn cash and respect. Sounds fun, right? The sense of direction I feel Volition went with their latest game is that of quality over quantity, putting the concrete between the bricks, whilst removing the loose and crumbled ones. Casual players and newcomers to the series will appreciate the attempted humour and the effort the developers put in to this beauty, but may feel disappointed if returning to Saints Row 2 to learn that that offers more on the table.
You wake up in that familiar room once again, requested to do your exercises to ensure that you are in top condition. The room is inside the Aperture Science labs, deep underground. You are a test subject, but have not been awoken in years. However many years, you are unsure. This time, however, the room is a mess. The lights are out, and everything is everywhere. Someone knocks on your door. An unfamiliar voice.
It turns out to be an AI named Wheatley, who tries to help you escape. After making your way passed what remains of your enemy, GLaDOS, you accompany Wheatley down stairs to try and open up an exit. He activates her. GLaDOS awakens, and she is angry. But it’s okay. She’s going to put everything behind her, for science. You monster.
Chell and GLaDOS return in Portal 2, and GLaDOS is more antagonistic than ever. Every trial is also an attempt to kill you, but you have no choice but to move forward. Portal 2 is the sequel to Portal, a popular and famous game for its quirky, humour and unique puzzle mechanic. Unfortunately, the original was practically just a tech demo. Portal 2 is an attempt to make the title a truly complete game, and what it accomplishes is nothing short.
Upon my initial play through of Portal 2, I was instantly stunned by the incredibly structured narrative. For a sequel to a title that completely lacked it, Portal 2 is particularly impressive. Whilst the story is still essentially just Chell being put through scientific tests (for an unknown purpose) and trying to escape, the execution is incredible.
The humour is more frequent, and a lot more funny. Portal’s sense of humour can be hit-or-miss, as I know people that also severely dislike it. That being said, the numbers of people that dislike it are far and few between, but it seems to me that you either love the game’s sense of humour … or loathe it.
Not a single line of dialogue in the game is wasted, either used for the humour or for character development. The characters themselves are very strong. Chell is still rather mute and bland, but GLaDOS is still absolutely rich in personality. Accompanying the cast of the previous title is Wheatley, voiced by Stephen Merchant, who does an incredible job as the little personality core. Both GLaDOS and Wheatley have their own arcs, as well as the initial act of the game serving as to establish the characters.
Despite being AI, these characters grow and progress through-out the game as they experience situations beyond their purpose or expectations. I don’t want to spoil anything, but both characters feel very real, unique, and are, simply, just very strong characters. It is very rare to be confronted with such incredibly strong characters within a video game, with such real development.
The game is split into three acts. The first act serves as a re-establishment of the cast and setting, as well as the introduction to new characters. The second act develops the relationship between Chell and GLaDOS, GLaDOS herself, and gives closure on Aperture Science’s wacky history. The third, and final, act covers the end of Wheatley’s development, while concluding the story for both titles.
While the second act is possibly the strongest narratively, it is also the weakest for gameplay. The game has a rather repetitive formula, with Chell entering a room, successfully solving the puzzle, and then taking the elevator to the next room. The game avoids making this boring by changing things up frequently, but upon entering the second act the different trials of the game become longer and more tedious.
Each particular series of chambers focus on a specific mechanic. Upon beating these chambers, the player is tasked with solving puzzles with another mechanic. Some examples are beams of light that one can walk on (called Hard Light Surfaces), firing lasers into the appropriate place or an Excursion Funnel that beams you in one direction. Meanwhile, the second act involves the use of three different kind of gels (jumping properties, momentum increasing properties, and “stick-Portal-anywhere” properties). These gels can make the gameplay very fun, but feel very misplaced as the main focus of a test. As this also feels like the longest section, it becomes to get tedious nearer to the end of the act.
The game also features a wider variety of environments than the previous title. The facility begins in ruin and slowly gets fixed back to the clinical appearance of the original, but then things are changed as the player is forced into the underground section. The player also gets to explore more of the facility outside of the chambers as well. Graphically, the game looks better than the first too, despite using the same engine. It looks great and plays great.
Portal 2 is also an audible improvement upon the previous title. The voice acting is just as good, if not better, and the soundtrack is even more memorable. I actually spent time within one puzzle trying to stay on the red gel (for momentum) simply for the track that plays as you speed up. As per the previous title, Portal 2 also sports a humorous ending track. The track, titled “Want You Gone”, isn’t quite as quotable as the previous “Still Alive”, but it sounds and plays better.
Wheatley, voiced by Stephen Merchant, is a loveable moron new to the franchise.
With a lifespan of five to seven hours on the campaign alone, Portal 2 lasts long enough for a standard first-person campaign run; however, it also comes accompanied with a co-op mode with its own unique story and humour. Co-op stems over five different courses, each with a purpose. The co-op also contains some funny gestures for the two protagonists: P-body and Atlus (both robots). While it is about as strong, narratively, as the previous title, it makes up for this by having the more complex and challenging puzzles of the game. The standard lifespan for the co-op mode is about four hours.
Furthermore, Valve plan to continue to release new updates and maps for the game to enhance replayability even more. As an added bonus, players on the PS3 or PC edition are able to play with each other online thanks to Steam crossing over with PSN.
While Portal 2 isn’t as groundbreaking as the original, it is everything that the original should have been. It is a complete package and an unforgettable experience. The game deserves a retail purchase from anyone. This title is a great addition to anyone’s library and highly recommended; however, it is not for those who dislike the concept of physics-based puzzles (perhaps due to the complexity involved) or for those who dislike the humour, as it would become frustrating.
As such, Portal 2 earns a solid 9/10. It’s an amazing title that should not be missed. It has been refined and polished so neatly, and is absolutely unforgettable. A brilliant experience to be had by all.
Civil war has ravaged the metal planet of Cybertron as the cybertronians, robotic lifeforms with the ability to disguise themselves by transforming, take two distinctive sides in this battle for the fate of Cybertron. The Autobots fight for freedom and are lead by Zeta Prime. Their enemies, the Decepticons lead by the ruthless Megatron, seek to collect the dark energon to gain control of the planet’s core and bring Cybertron back to it’s golden age. Dark energon is an alternative to the energon that fuels the planet and it’s denizens and has been located in an old space station currently guarded by the Autobots.
To gain access to the core of Cybertron, Megatron requires the Omega Key which is held by Zeta Prime, and so he must end this battle against the Autobots once and for all and achieve his goal. Unbeknown to Megatron, his greatest feat would also lead to his greatest downfall as the fall of Zeta Prime also marks the rise of a new leader of the Autobots, and one that he will forever be locked in battle with until the end of their days. Optimus, a field commander, gathers up the remaining forces of the Autobots and takes up temporary leadership. It’s no secret to us that Optimus is destined to become a Prime, the true leaders of the Autobots, but how he got there no longer needs to be up to our imagination.
Transformers: War for Cybertron is a computer game aimed at being the origin story for every iteration of the Transformers series, from the fan favourite “Generation 1″ to the infamous Michael Bay movies. That doesn’t really say much for this game though, as all gamers know that computer games based on popular franchises that weren’t first games don’t tend to be that great. This rule also applies to Transformers. Now I won’t go into why these type of games don’t succeed, not here. No, instead I’m going to question, “does that rule also apply to War for Cybertron?”
Developer: High Moon Studios
Release Date: 25th June 2010
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows
War for Cybertron consists of ten chapters split into two compaign modes – Decepticon and Autobot. Chronologically, the Decepticon story occurs first and is followed by the Autobot story. In each chapter you may select one of three character choices. I know that doesn’t sound like much variety, but this is a computer game; playing Starscream, a cybertronian jet, in a tunnel would be just plain impractical. Each character is designed with that type of level in mind. The entire game is designed specifically around gameplay and being the origin story of the Transformers.
There are a total of nine Autobots and nine Decepticons for campaign, and each character is full of personality. This is where the presentation of the game excels. The cutscenes in the game develop the story and nothing more; however, the characters are fleshed out really well through the use of in-game dialogue passed between the three playable characters of that chapter. Each character has their own distinctive personality, and each have their own role in the various chapters. The pacing of the story is exceptionally well done, and designing the campaigns to have five chapters each was nothing short but genius with each chapter serving to deliver an important plot point, while having an extensive period of gameplay where characters get shaped by in-game dialogue.
Transformers: War for Cybertron successfully delivers a brilliant story with little neat touches supplied by developers that are also fans of the series. I was confident to say that the franchise was in good hands before, but after experiencing their story I not only feel that my confidence was within reason, but I also feel that I still underestimated what High Moon Studios were capable of as I was blown away by the experience; however, I do feel that the Decepticon campaign was underwhelming compared to the Autobot campaign which makes me have to claim that there was some underhanded Autobot fanboy involvement found within the development team. Regardless, the story in both campaign modes were incredibly satisfying; and, quite frankly, I want more. Bring on War for Cybertron 2! Of course, given the conclusion of the game I believe a new subtitle would be more apt…
The story for War for Cybertron was impressive through almost perfect presentation; however, without good gameplay the story can find itself less effective and lose it’s impact. So how did the gameplay fare?
War for Cybertron is a third person shooter developed using the Unreal Engine. This resulted in a lot of comparisons with Gears of War, a cover shooter game where you must hide behind cover and shoot targets from there. Transformers is nothing like it. Yes, it uses the same engine and is a third person shooter, but it’s certainly no cover shooter game. Enemies are varied amongst car type, aerial type, brute, heavy and tank; with the former two having two different versions – a recruit and a leader.
One thing I noticed early in the game is that ammo and recovery items feel sparse, but is not entirely a problem and in fact adds to the game’s own style. The player finds himself conserving ammo, trying not to waste it and as such players are rewarded for skillful play. For the lesser players this needn’t be a bother as the inclusion of a melee attack works as a nice alternative, and for players with a tendency to look around instead of playing the game like a rail shooter will also be rewarded with ammo and health packs.
There are only five real boss battles in War for Cybertron, two in the Decepticon campaign and three in the Autobot campaign. These battles usually involve surviving three iterations of the enemy’s pattern to completely defeat them; however, the enemy may also change it’s pattern after a short period of time keeping players on their toes. These battles usually last no more than five minutes, with the exception of the two final bosses – Omega Supreme and Trypticon.
So now I’ve covered the general gameplay features, but what of the transforming feature that is so important that the game was named after it? Well, it was an after thought. Now, I know what you’d be thinking, an after thought is bad, right? Well, no actually. They designed the gameplay and then added each character’s transformation to fit gameplay. If anything, having the transforming an after thought and the least important feature was actually beneficial; instead, transforming adds a nice little bonus during gameplay to make use of. I found transforming for use of the weapon in vehicle mode quite beneficial, or using vehicle mode to traverse long paths really handy. Transforming also allows you to evade persistent attacks, particularly of bosses.
Like most games this generation, Transformers: War for Cybertron contains a multiplayer mode. More specifically, it contains three different multiplayer modes. Firstly is co-operative campaign, which sees you playing with up to two friends online during the story of the game. The second mode is escalation which is essentially a survival mode where the players must fend off multiple waves of enemies and survive as long as they can. Finally, there is competitive online, in which players must fight in game modes such as Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, etc. In all honesty, there isn’t much to add to these things as they have become so common in recent games that they’re practically expected, and all play rather the same. These modes serve to add reason to continue to play the game even after completion, and extend the replay value of the game.
Transformers: War for Cybertron features exceptional story-telling and an appropriate style of gameplay that fits the Transformers universe well. Graphically, the game also looks nice, which only adds to the already well polished presentation that this game has. Each cybertronian is well designed, looking mostly unique. This leads to the characters being easily identifiable much unlike the Michael Bay counterparts. War for Cybertron looks great, and even the level designs look really nice. My only real major bone to pick with the graphics in this game is the repetitiveness of the levels, but even that isn’t really all that bad. Each location has it’s own style; but unfortunately going down the same looking corridors or motorways does seem to get old. This is where the transforming feature also helps as these type of areas are usually the ones that you blaze through in vehicle mode; in which case the repetitive level design becomes less prominent.
Now for one of the biggest things for fans of the franchise, the voice acting. Needless to say Peter Cullen reprises the role of Optimus Prime so we all know that’s good and I can confirm that it’s nothing short of an amazing performance. Optimus is really brought to life by his voice actor, but that isn’t to say the others are too. Every character in the game has an appropriate voice actor; and, although the some of the fan favourite voice actors aren’t around, their replacements match up perfectly giving an equally impressive performance. Transformers: War for Cybertron is a game in which the voice acting is very unforgettable, a fact that also stands with true with the soundtrack.
Stan Bush makes a return to the Transformers franchise giving it a new main theme entitled “Till All Are One”. Several moments in the game techno music or metal music will play to set the tone and atmosphere and is played at appropriate times. The overall soundtrack is very appropriate and feels complete with Stan Bush giving it that little boost.
So, my question at the start was if War for Cybertron would be an exception of the rule that adaptations as a video game would be bad? Well, I think the answer is clearly, “yes”, in this case. War for Cybertron is a well polished game that is delivered exceptionally well. Fans of the franchise will not be disappointed, in fact, this is the game we’ve all been waiting for.
Transformers: War for Cybertron is a game that shows that when an adapted video game breaks the formula and does something on it’s own – it becomes a very successful and fun game. This game receives a well earned 8/10 – A great game. I recommend to all Transformers fans out there to go out and buy it; and if you’re not a fan of the series then I have two words for you, “Rent it”.
(This game was reviewed on the Sony PlayStation 3 on Normal Difficulty. Single player campaign was completed, and multiplayer experiences were touched on. Game was completed in nine and a half hours).