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  1. I find it a little hard to justify buying either of the Sonic 4 games for full price... thankfully, this helps solve that. Get Games is running a deal... buy both the games together for only $7.98! The codes are redeemable on Steam, too. If you're interested, here's the link: http://getgamesgo.com/product/sonic-4-bundle As a side note, there are some nice random deals going about recently
  2. Marcus Estrada

    Review: Forge

    Developer: Dark Vale Games Publisher: Dark Vale Games Platform: PC (Steam) Release Date: December 4th, 2012 ESRB: T Have you been looking for a class-based multiplayer game that requires actual skill to play? Are you in the mood for an independently-developed title? Are you perhaps looking for a game that is showing signs of potential but still requires work? If any of these apply to you, or better yet all of them, then perhaps Forge will be a nice addition to your collection. Forge is a title which recently made its way onto Steam thanks to Greenlight. It is certainly not the first but one of the few which has currently gone through the process to being sold. This is an interesting point because the game is in fact still in beta. Keep this in mind during the review as there are multiple points that may be resolved down the road. However, as I am no mind reader, the game will be assessed as it is right now. First, let“s discuss the classes and gameplay. There are currently five very different classes who can be chosen at any point during play. Each is actually quite distinct both in design and ability. They all have their own play styles and ranges they work best at. Some players may only ever touch the short range characters while others will opt to take on a sniper-like class. The amount of effort put into keeping each class from overlapping is easy to see. Unfortunately, they are not as tightly balanced as they should be. In the game, you currently have three modes: Capture the Relic (flag), Team Deathmatch, and Arena. There are more modes listed, but they are not playable, such as King of the Hill. Obviously they are meant to be added in later. The modes work as you would probably expect. Most interesting though is how characters themselves control. Each uses abilities like you might expect to see in World of Warcraft. After using an ability, you must wait for cooldown. For “melee” attacks the rate is very fast, but you“ll be waiting longer on stronger skills. As the game is so fast-paced, the system of waiting on cooldowns seems an odd choice. It certainly adds more strategy into the mix, but when there are hordes of enemies piling around you, it“s easy to quickly lose focus. The fact that each ability has its own visual flair too really clutters the screen if you“re in a small space with others. Still, players interested in that sort of gameplay will probably not find it much of an issue. Visually, the game looks really good for something to come out of an indie studio. Each class has a refreshing look and the landscapes aren“t shabby either. Although the game will win no awards for stunning graphics, it in no way makes you think “indie.” That“s not to say it all is perfect. The UI is a bit cluttered, but manageable. Less excusable is the incredibly low lit nature of some of the levels. At first I thought it was just me having a hard time seeing, but then more and more players commented on how dark they are. Of course, you can turn up brightness in game but it ends up washing out the world more than anything else. While each game mode is competently put together, the method of accessing games is not quite there yet. You will find no server browser, only click on a game mode and get thrust into a game. It is a shame that there“s no way to hop into a specific game yet as it causes issues from time to time. For example, sometimes you“ll enter into a server and find that you“re the only one in it. A server browser is such a simple thing that you don“t realize is important until a game doesn“t have it. Again, this is something that will almost certainly be added in time, but it is not currently available. Dark Vale Games has managed to do something quite amazing with their game. Not only did it manage to capture the interest of thousands of Steam users, but it was not destroyed by its ambition either. It is rare to see indie games with visuals rivaling the current generation, and even more so to see any independent team make an online multiplayer game. There are a few, but so far Forge feels like the most competent product. Unfortunately, it still has a ways to go before it can truly be recommended for a general audience. Pros: + Five available classes have distinct play styles + Ambitious multiplayer gameplay works quite well + Nice visuals complement the game Cons: - Lack of expected tools like server browser - Missing game modes taunt player - Balance still needs work Overall Score: 6.5 (Out of 10) Decent Those willing to jump into the game now will see that Forge shows a great deal of promise.
  3. Marcus Estrada

    Review: AirBuccaneers

    Developer: LudoCraft Ltd. Publisher: LudoCraft Ltd. Platform: PC (Steam) Release Date: December 5, 2012 ESRB: N/A (T recommended) LudoCraft“s AirBuccaneers is one of the first few out of Steam Greenlight“s gates. While most developers using the service have presented single player experiences, AirBuccaneers is one of the few bold multiplayer-only titles. It certainly looks to be innovative as well, but it all comes down to how fun the game actually is. So, is it a worthwhile new addition to a multiplayer fan“s regiment or should it be skipped? Although the online multiplayer world is not starved for games, there is definitely room for something different. AirBuccaneers is just that with its focus on airships and team play instead of allowing everyone to wreak havoc on their own. Each game takes place primarily in the skies upon airships suspended by balloons. Once on these ships, you begin a game of aerial battle between Buccaneers and Vikings. The two teams are equally matched in skills and ships. What makes the game so interesting is the necessity for teamwork. When you“re on a ship hundreds of feet in the air there is really nowhere else you“re expected to go. Sure, you can jump off, but no one is about to survive the fall. Boarding your team“s ship means that you are there to play an integral part of the crew. Unless you“re standing still, anything that can be done on the airships is beneficial to the team. For one, you can man one of four cannons stationed on both sides of the ship. These roles get taken fast, but are exciting to take control of. Once manning a cannon, you must aim without any handy reticle, light the cannon, and position it before it shoots. As enemies are moving (as well as your own ship) it isn“t just a matter of learning how to judge aiming to distance with the cannon. You must also account for their movements as well as speed. When up close to an enemy airship, you can even change out the cannonballs and make the device an impromptu flamethrower. There are many other tasks to perform aboard these vehicles. You may scope out far away enemies with a telescope and let the crew know where they are. Or, if you equip a specific weapon you are able to block enemy cannonballs before they damage your own ship. That requires a great deal of timing practice, but is great when it works. Then there are the services you can provide if getting into fights isn“t your thing. Players may help cannon users by speeding up their loading time or even repairing the ship after it has taken damage. Overall, there are three main ways to play. The first two have already been explained but the last will probably excite fans of ships the most. As you might expect, players can also steer ships. It is a lot of fun but something that should not be taken lightly. With a full crew aboard, no one would be laughing if you just started spinning the boat around or lost control of it. In an attempt to keep these types of players away, gamers with higher rankings are able to take the job of steering themselves. It does serve a purpose, but may annoy new players who are trying to actually be helpful. The reason there are three main rolls players can fulfill is because, depending on what you do during a game, points will be awarded to that play-style. After enough rounds, you will have enough points to work on skill trees specific to your expertise. Interestingly, any time you gain a new skill you also gain a new flaw. Flaws are meant to counterbalance the skills, making sure that no one can become so incredibly powerful they destroy the game“s balance. Earlier it was mentioned that there are ways to use the cannon for close combat. That“s not all you can do though. One supremely entertaining aspect of the game is the ability to overrun the enemy“s ship. If they are close, you can jump off your own ship and attach a rope to theirs. From there, you climb up and attempt to overpower their crew with swords or other weaponry. It can be daunting at first to try and board another ship, but after awhile it becomes second nature to do whenever enemies are nearby. Much of the fun of playing AirBuccaneers is that it is incredibly simple to start playing but also fairly strategic. The more you play the more you understand about the game and learn new bits about it. You can spend hours playing without ever looking into the skill trees and have no issue. Or, you can become focused on one play-style and hone those skills to the best of your ability. So far, the game is incredibly appealing. That doesn“t mean the game is flawless. There are still some issues worth pointing out. For one, there is not a wealth of maps to play on. After a while, some players really get a grasp of what works best on one map and no longer want to experiment. Similarly, one map in particular is structured in such a way that one team basically always seems to win. It is odd, but at least there is only one map with this issue. Then there are technical issues that some encounter, such as being kicked after a game map changes a few times on a server. Then there are issues that are not the fault of LudoCraft. As of right now, there are only a dozen or so servers for the game. Most of them are completely empty though. During most hours, only two servers really see big bunches of activity and are filled to the brim. Hopefully, as the game has been out longer, more players will come to it and fill up other servers. Since the game already has a dedicated fanbase, I expect that more players (as well as more servers) will arrive soon. AirBuccaneers is some of the most fun I have had in an online multiplayer game since Team Fortress 2. It certainly has its quirks, but overall, manages to be a simple to understand but fairly complex game. Those who have always wanted to be a “pirate” in a game will probably find that it suits their needs too. It would be nice to see more content available, but as it stands, AirBuccaneers is still a tremendously enjoyable experience. Pros: + Gameplay concepts are simple enough but require time to master + Team-based play is put together well + Battles are rarely dull Cons: - Lack of servers and more than a large group of players at the moment - More levels or ship types could be added Overall Score: 7.5 (out of 10) Good AirBuccaneers is a solidly entertaining team-based multiplayer game for all those who have ever wanted to experience a pirate“s lifestyle.
  4. Marcus Estrada

    The Journey Down Screenshot 3

    From the album: Review Images

  5. Marcus Estrada

    The Journey Down Screenshot 2

    From the album: Review Images

  6. Marcus Estrada

    The Journey Down Screenshot 1

    From the album: Review Images

  7. Number 905

    Review: Scribblenauts Unlimited

    Developer: 5TH Cell Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment Platform: 3DS, PC, Wii U Release Date: Out Now ESRB: E10+ for Everyone 10 and Older This review is based on the PC version of the game I remember back when the original Scribblenauts was coming out. The buzz surrounding the game was insurmountable, with people hyped out of their minds to create whatever they could imagine. When the game came out, many felt it didn“t meet their expectations, despite how ambitious it was. Still, the franchise chugged on, popping out another handheld title, Super Scribblenauts, which was met with much the same reaction. Now the series looks to sink its teeth into more platforms with Scribblenauts Unlimited. It“s still not the “game of the forever†that people thought the original would be, but Unlimited is a lot of fun for those ready to flex their lexicon. Entrusted with a notebook that can make materialize anything written in it and a magic globe that lets you travel anywhere, Maxwell and his sister Lily head out to the city at the behest of their parents. As you can imagine, giving such powerful items to children doesn“t work out for the best. Maxwell plays a prank on an old man who casts a curse on Lily to turn her to stone. To cure her, Maxwell must collect Starites, items that are created by doing good deeds for other. Armed with his notebook, Maxwell heads to the city and beyond to cure his sister. At its heart, Scribblenauts Unlimited is a puzzle game. You help random people around the map for Starite shards and play scenarios for full Starites, with each scenario consisting of a few puzzles. You“re given a situation, like a school boy wanting to eat something to make him grow up strong, and it“s your job to open Maxwell“s notebook and make a solution out of adjectives and nouns or to modify an existing item that fits the instructions. There are also item Starite shards that are awarded to you for making and interacting with certain items. For instance, those who want to induce paradoxes by strapping a piece of buttered toast to a cat and seeing just how it lands will be rewarded for their curiosity. As you collect Starites, you unlock more areas with different themes and puzzles. Much like other games that use this system, you can beat the game without getting every Starite, so you don“t have to feel too pressured if you“re absolutely stumped on a puzzle. While the concept and mechanics behind it are fun, your enjoyment of the game is going to largely depend on how you solve the puzzles. That“s not to say that those with a small vocabulary won“t get much mileage out of the game. It“s more of an issue of flexibility. You could amass a backpack of favorite items that will serve you throughout the game, but to me, the fun comes from challenging the system and trying to think of the most outlandish solutions possible. That said, you“re going to run into some words that aren“t in the game or just don“t work like you“d want them to. Luckily, Unlimited has an item creator that allows you to make any nouns you want. You can also edit your avatar in the same way, should Maxwell not suit you. The creators are surprisingly detailed and is easily something you could spend hours on. As I played Unlimted on PC, I can“t fully comment on the differences in the 3DS and Wii U versions, though I do know that they contain some Nintendo characters and items that aren“t in the PC version. Still, the PC version is not without its advantages. I“m not a fan of typing on a resistive touch screen, so being able to type on a physical keyboard is a huge plus to me. While the Nintendo versions may have some more words to work with, the PC version makes up for this with Steam Workshop support. Not only can you make your own nouns, you can browse user-created content as well, assuming you don“t mind sifting through some less than inspired creations and dozens of Slender Mans and Creepers. It also makes the item creation more fulfilling, as you can share your work for others to enjoy. Scribblenauts Unlimited has a great concept behind it, but it seems like the series will always be hit-or-miss depending on how creative you want to get with your solutions. If you“re just looking for a quick completion, Unlimited won“t offer much for you, despite the refinements that have been made to the concept and the depth of the item creator. If you go into the game wanting to have fun with it, though, you won“t be disappointed. Pros: + Charming story and aesthetic + Large dictionary of words + User-created content Cons: - As deep as you make it - Not enough Starite scenarios - Some words don“t work as you would expect Overall Score: 8 (out of 10) Great Long story short, Scribblenauts Unlimited is the best entry in the series and so long as you“re looking to be creative and have fun, you will.
  8. It's bundle time once again! Indie Royale is quickly becoming the most prolific of bundle creators out there. It has been only a few weeks since their last offering, and now they have prepared another set which may be of interest to indie gamers. The Snow Storm Bundle has gone live and can be purchased for $5 right now. Here are the games available this time around: Hinterland (Windows: Desura, Steam) Project Aftermath (Windows: Desura, Steam) Resonance (Windows: Desura, Steam) RoboBlitz (Windows: Steam) RoboRiot (Windows, Desura) StarDrone (Windows, Desura) Then there are the expected bonuses that come with the set. There are four game soundtracks included, all of which come from the games in the bundle. Unfortunately, Hinterland and Resonance soundtracks are the ones left out. Finally, if you pay over $8 then you get the Planeteri album by Pixeljam. If you need to see a bit of these games in action then take a look at the official trailer:
  9. Every so often, Valve announces the next games that will make it through their Greenlight service onto Steam itself. It's always an exciting moment to know that some games are going to get chosen but not be sure. Of course, every developer hopes it is their own titles, but it all relies on how many users vote for games, as well as what Valve believes is viable for the service. Today ten new games were greenlit as well as two pieces of software. The games are as follows: Akaneiro: Demon Hunters Asylum DLC Quest Eador. Masters of the Broken World La-Mulana Leisure Suit Larry MaK The Age of Decadence Unepic War For The Overworld The two pieces of software chosen are articy:draft (a game design tool) and GroBoto (a modeling application). There aren't many surprises this round. As usual, each of these titles will only be available to buy when developers allow. For example, Akaneiro will probably be out shortly, but Leisure Suit Larry will take more time as the game is not even finished yet. Let's look at some numbers just to give you an idea for the turnaround speed from being selected on Greenlight to being available on Steam. So far, forty four games have been greenlit, with the majority being through the user voting process. Of those, twelve have launched. A handful of those launched (Forge, Towns) are still in beta stages. The process is certainly not perfected yet but at least it exists. Which games do you want to see greenlit next?
  10. Just yesterday, a lot came out about Valve working together with other companies to have PCs optimized for Steam use. With that out in the open, people took it as being the official "Steam Box" which had been rumored before. Although Valve has had a hand in these dealings, they are still holding their trump card close. A system straight from Valve has still yet to be formally announced, and won't be until 2013. However, Valve Co-Founder Gabe Newell was still willing to talk about it. In an interview with The Verge he offered some interesting bits of information: "We“ll come out with our own and we“ll sell it to consumers by ourselves. That“ll be a Linux box, [and] if you want to install Windows you can. We“re not going to make it hard. This is not some locked box by any stretch of the imagination." It has been speculated before that an upcoming device would come with Linux. It certainly is no secret that Valve has been putting a lot of effort into getting Steam for Linux going lately. Still, the freedom will be with the consumer to use their system how they want, and not necessarily in a factory standard fashion. Then there is this interesting remark about what Steam's device will do: "Any PC can serve multiple monitors, so over time, the next-generation (post-Kepler) you can have one GPU that“s serving up eight simultaneous game calls. So you could have one PC and eight televisions and eight controllers and everybody getting great performance out of it. We're used to having one monitor, or two monitors -- now we're saying let's expand that a little bit." In this way, the Steam Box would be acting as a sort of server for its content. Perhaps eight is a bit of a high number that won't be used much, but the idea that they're shooting for it is impressive. Next, Newell spoke about controllers for the device, which have also been talked about over the past year: “I think you“ll see controllers coming from us that use a lot of biometric data. Maybe the motion stuff is just failure of imagination on our part, but we“re a lot more excited about biometrics as an input method. Your hands, and your wrist muscles, and your fingers are actually your highest bandwidth – so to try and talk to a game with your arms is essentially saying ”oh we“re gonna stop using ethernet and go back to 300 baud dial-up.“ …Biometrics on the other hand is essentially adding more communication bandwidth between the game and the person playing it, especially in ways the player isn“t necessarily conscious of. Biometrics gives us more visibility. Also, gaze tracking. we think gaze tracking is gonna turn out to be super important.” We already knew when Valve was hiring people to create controllers with input such as biometrics, but were not sure how far it would go. Perhaps they don't know exactly how far they will go with it either, but seem to be thinking further along the lines technologically than the consoles of this current generation. We'll have to see if that works in their favor once Steam's device is launched.
  11. So, remember how there have been those rumors time and time again about a "Steam Box"? Whether or not the people who proliferated them were honest or not, we now know that Steam partnered up with a manufacturer to create one. The computer, named Piston, debuted today during CES to the delight of PC fans. What Valve has done is invest in the company to make sure this device ends up the way they want it. President and CEO of Xi3, Jason Sullivan, said this about the partnership: "Today marks the beginning of a new era for Xi3. This new development stage product will allow users to take full-advantage of their large high-definition TV displays for an amazing computer game experience. As a result, this new system could provide access to thousands of gaming titles through an integrated system that exceeds the capabilities of leading game consoles, but can fit in the palm of your hand." The codename "Piston" still alludes to steam engines, but that seems as far as Xi3 is willing to take their branding of the device (so far). Piston is specifically optimized for Steam and its Big Picture mode. Unfortunately, no specs or price was announced, but we do know it will be similar to their X7A line. For reference, the X7A contains a Quad Core 64-bit, x86-based processor (3.2GHz), integrated graphics, 8GB of DDR3 RAM, USB 3.0/2.0 ports, ethernet port, and up to 1TB hard drive.
  12. Marcus Estrada

    A New Beginning Screenshot 3

    From the album: Review Images

  13. Marcus Estrada

    A New Beginning Screenshot 2

    From the album: Review Images

  14. Marcus Estrada

    A New Beginning Screenshot 1

    From the album: Review Images

  15. A whole lot has gone on since The War Z was unleashed on the world. It initially went into public beta two months ago, but landed on Steam more recently. Of course, shortly after that it was taken down. This response from Valve was only the tail end of a longer list of complaints which had been building since the game opened up. Accusations of unfair banning, lies on the product page, and much more had been talked about with no real response. Today, an open letter was posted to the official The War Z forums by Sergey Titov to apologize. He covers a lot, but still manages to evade discussing things like the Steam takedown. Regardless, Titov speaks frankly, even saying that he "chose not to notice the concerns" of his own community. In regards to not paying attention to the players, he said this: "Even since the early Alpha launch, this game has always cultivated a large and loyal player base that is very active in the game. Again, thank you for this. Unfortunately, we weren“t prepared for this large success and the way we managed the community was not the way it should“ve been. We relied too much on forum moderators, whose primary role was to punish those who break rules, not to engage the community and guide conversations into productive discussions about problems. There wasn“t enough presence of the development team on forums, there wasn“t enough updates on development of UPCOMING features. We failed to communicate our position and messaging on the outside platforms such as Facebook, twitter and various online websites, and when we did this we chose to rely more on arrogance rather than being humble and trying to understand why people were saying negative things. We chose to tune out negative reactions to the game, not paying enough attention to them – and this, again, is my fault." Beyond that, Titov explained his hope for a solution to this issue, and also explained the current state of the game and why it is this way. The game is "fully playable" as is, but they are not done and will continue to implement new features they desire as well as what the community is looking for. Finally, he expresses a hope to bring back players who were alienated by their bad decisions eventually.
  16. Marcus Estrada

    Steam for Linux Now in Open Beta

    Did you miss out on joining the closed beta for Steam on Linux back in October? If so, then now is your chance to get in on it. It hasn't been too long since the beta was accepting applicants but things must be proceeding well for it to now be open to all. Interested parties simply have to grab the .deb file from the download page. If you're a Linux user, you still have to be running the the popular Ubuntu distribution. Ubuntu users should also make sure they are running version 12.04 LTS as well, since that is the suggested one to be running on for Steam on Linux. Once installed, you should be ready to play a bunch of games via Linux. What games are currently supported? The list is continuously expanding but all current titles are listed here. Some big name games tagged as working are Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Killing Floor, and Team Fortress 2. There is also an official community section for Steam on Linux if you want to interact with other users and get the latest updates.
  17. Have you been whittling away your cash on this month's swarm of bundles? Stop! Well, you don't have to, but toady the Steam sale has gone live which will lead to a much larger loss of money. The latest annual Steam Holiday Sale went live at 10 AM PST today and will be going until January 5th. Let's start by explaining the basics for anyone who has never weathered a Steam sale before. Each day there will be new Daily Deals going up at 10 AM. Alongside those sales, there are also Flash Sales. These are a more recent addition and change even more frequently than the Dailies. They have their own counters to let you know how long they will be available. Then there is a section which allows you to vote on which game should receive a sale next. Whichever gains the most amount of votes in the timeframe will be granted sale access. Then there is the rest of Steam which, for the most part, will also be on sale. Not every game is on sale, but a very, very large chunk of the storefront is. The games and packs that are on sale (not as part of a Daily or Flash deal) will continue to be on sale for the entire sale timeframe. Therefore, don't feel stressed to look through the entire catalog in one day as they will still be on sale tomorrow. Finally, there is one new change that will benefit those who would like to go a day without refreshing Steam. Now you are able to get alerts from Steam when a game on your wishlist goes on sale. Of course, many of us will still be constantly checking new deals anyway.
  18. Talk about things escalating quickly. At the start of this week, online multiplayer game The War Z launched on Steam. Quickly after that, players began to complain about all sorts of things. It wasn't that they just didn't like the game, but that the Steam Store page itself was making statements that were not true to the game. Things such as how many players are in one map, how big the maps even are, and others all were pretty untruthful. There was also no statement on the page of it being an alpha or beta build, although other Steam games in the same situation do not say so either. Basically, developer Hammerpoint ruffled a lot of feathers (in many more ways than just described) and then later changed the description to fit the truth. However, people still knew very clearly what had gone on and remained unhappy. Word of this quickly rose through Valve and they have since pulled the game from their store. It is listed, but not up for purchase anymore. Here is some of the official word from Valve: "From time to time a mistake can be made and one was made by prematurely issuing a copy of War Z for sale via Steam. We apologize for this and have temporary removed the sale offering of the title until we have time to work with the developer and have confidence in a new build." If you already have The War Z on Steam and wish to keep playing it, then you are able to. However, if you felt burned by this experience you can receive a full refund from Steam.
  19. Marcus Estrada

    Waking Mars Screenshot 4

    From the album: Review Images

  20. Marcus Estrada

    Waking Mars Screenshot 3

    From the album: Review Images

  21. Marcus Estrada

    Waking Mars Screenshot 2

    From the album: Review Images

  22. Marcus Estrada

    Waking Mars Screenshot 1

    From the album: Review Images