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Found 752 results

  1. Marcus Estrada

    Standalone DayZ Getting Steam Release

    It was in August when DayZ was announced as becoming a standalone game, instead of just a mod for ARMA II. Since then, there have been little updates here and there as the game approaches a possible launch at the end of this year. Today the development blog was updated with loads of information, as well as confirmation that the game will be landing on Steam. Here are the current specifics about DayZ on Steam: "Release will be on Steam, using many of steams key features such as delta patching, VAC, server browsing technology. Patches to steam can be deployed by the click of a button in our build pipeline thanks to new technology developed by Steam, that is making our process extremely easy and exciting. We are very pleased that Steam is working with us so actively to make DayZ a great game and supporting us with quality features. I met many at the team at Valve at PAX, and really want to get them playing the game and getting their feedback to help in development. I“m incredibly thankful to people like Chet Faliszek (creator of L4D) who has been very supportive and helpful to me. In using Steam for authentication, distribution, server browsing, etc… we are able to tap into their awesome resources in terms of scalability. The only hardware we then need to manage is the central database, which we already have some experience managing thanks to the DayZ mod. This means we can work towards avoiding the usual launch problems, by relying on the experience of Steam." With many possible complications out of the way thanks to Steam, the developers are able to focus on updating the game itself. Other areas seeing big changes are the game's controls. They are currently being reworked to make interacting with the game easier. Other changes such as updates to animations are also getting worked on to flesh DayZ out as an actual product instead of just a mod. The team is currently testing ideas like allowing weapon customization as well as showing degradation. Then there are simpler things being worked on such as character clothing, ranging from hats to jackets. There is definitely a lot being done for DayZ. Even though we're near December, the hope is to still get a version of this game out before the year ends. If they just aren't ready in a month though, the game will not be forced out to reach arbitrary time frames. Finally, no screenshots or gameplay videos are being released yet, but we should expect them soon.
  2. The Binding of Isaac hit Steam a little over a year ago and was a pretty successful game. It may have not enthralled gamers in quite the same way as Edmund McMillen's previous Super Meat Boy, but it had its audience excited. Although the idea for console versions loomed, only Valve were ready to host a "blasphemous" game. McMillen wrote a postmortem for the game on Gamasura that ends with an interesting twist in the world of The Binding of Isaac. He has revealed that developer Nicalis will be remaking and porting the game to consoles. There are many things that are being changed about this version of the game, titled The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. For one, this version will have to include the second expansion which McMillen planned on doing, but was unable to within Flash. The graphics themselves will be redone in 16-bit style but still retain the aesthetics of the existing game. It is also set to feature local co-op play. McMillen chose Nicalis because they offered to take care of it all. After his inability to get the game on Nintendo 3DS, McMillen is done with personally handling these aspects. As such, Nicalis are also going to work out all the business between console companies and getting the game to their digital distribution services. Currently no consoles were confirmed for The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, but McMillen is hopeful that Sony, Microsoft, and even Nintendo will play ball this time around. Update: As of today, it has been confirmed that Rebirth will be coming to PS3 and Vita via PSN. Nicalis is also talking to Microsoft and Nintendo although nothing is confirmed for those platforms yet.
  3. Marcus Estrada

    Indie Gala 11 is Here

    The Indie Gala people never rest. Instead of waiting for the new month to start, they have just let out yet another bundle-Indie Gala 11. There's no particular theme this time around, although most every game included comes with Steam keys. Well, you all know what this is about by now, so let's get to the games. Three games are unlocked by paying $1: Imperial Glory (PC) Necrovision: Lost Company (PC: Steam) XIII Century: Gold Edition (PC: Steam) At the $4+ level, these games unlock: Cryostasis (PC: Steam) Men of War (PC: Steam) Men of War: Redtide (PC: Steam) Star Wolves 3: Civil War (PC: Steam) Those who put down $4 or more will also be able to come back and download three more games later. These games are to be unlocked during the second week of the sale. At the very least, we know that they all also come with Steam keys. Do you think the term "indie" still perfectly defines these bundles? Or have they changed?
  4. Marcus Estrada

    Review: Cherry Tree High Comedy Club

    Developer: 773 Publisher: Nyu Media/Capcom Platform: PC (Steam) Release Date: November 8, 2012 ESRB: T Gamers in the West don“t really have a good understanding of dating sims. We have been handed a few treats in the form of Katawa Shoujo or abbreviated versions in the vein of Persona 3 or 4, but beyond that not much. As such, seeing Nyu Media get Capcom to release a game like that (even digitally) is quite a surprise. Well, maybe it“s not fair to call Cherry Tree High Comedy Club a “dating sim” per se, but it is definitely a relationship sim the likes of which will be foreign to many. Cherry Tree High Comedy Club is a friendship simulator when you really take a look at it - and that“s all it offers. If you have played Persona 3 or 4 then you“ve gotten a taste of this from Social Links. However, this game has no extraneous features such as turn-based battles or powerful storyline. Instead, it relies wholly on the enjoyment of talking to characters, befriending them, and reaching your goal before time runs out. The game focuses around a young woman named Miley who wishes for nothing more in life than to become a comedian. She excitedly hopes to start her own comedy club at the school but is then informed that there must be other members in the group to exist. So then Miley goes to work befriending as many people as she can in hopes of getting some to join up. Yes, this is a rather negative prospect, but the game never takes itself seriously so it doesn“t become an issue. Once in game, those familiar with recent Persona games may feel it was ripped right from there. As Miley, players have three time periods where they can perform various actions. The player may study, find ways to de-stress, learn about topics of conversation, or engage in discussion with others. Doing things like homework help her overall, but then cause the stress meter to increase. Watching movies, playing games, or reading magazines are all things that Miley can do in order to be more able to talk to her friends about topics of interest to them. Although the game may seem barebones, it is really only trying to provide a very specific experience. This experience is helped in great part by the writing. Thanks to Capcom and Nyu Media, the English text translation and localization was actually overseen by Tezuka Productions. If you don“t recall this name, they are the team behind the Ace Attorney and Ghost Trick localizations, so they“re more than capable. You can definitely feel their influence with the game“s Westernization, as well as some of the pop culture references. However, the game is still not close to the hilarity of Ace Attorney which is probably due in part to the original script and characters. The Westernization of the game will appeal to some and push others away. Many who are looking for a “dating sim” experience, too, will be left unsatisfied as there are no romantic relationships to be found here. Those who are not so specific in their gaming tastes will probably find that the game works fine, and the translation is certainly competent. In the original direct download version released earlier this year, there were a few typos to be found. However, since the Steam release these have been cleaned up, helping the product feel more professional. With such a simple game it also shouldn“t be expected to be a long experience. The game takes around 3 to 4 hours to complete but any longer would have made it overstay its welcome. Once you finish, a New Game + is unlocked. This game mode carries Miley“s stats over so you“ll be more able to make friends quicker. Beyond that though there“s not too much reason to play the game for extended periods of time. Thankfully, the game is fairly cheap which makes the brevity expected. It may feel “cheap” though to people who come into the game with Persona-level expectations. If you“re interested in a dating sim-esque game then Cherry Tree High Comedy Club should fit the bill. It manages to be very weird in that it focuses on friendship instead of dating, but the gameplay mechanics are still quite similar. The Westernization may even be a little off-putting for some, but others may welcome it. Then there“s the fairly short gameplay time which may make some find the game too quick. There are a lot of things that may turn someone away from it, but if you come in with an open mind you may find that Cherry Tree High Comedy Club is a fun little experience for a lazy afternoon. Pros: + One of few games available in English to please “relationship” sim fans + Humorous writing helped by Tezuka Productions + Tight gameplay mechanics which are easy to comprehend Cons: - Overall a short experience with little replay value - Factors such as localization style and simplicity may turn off some Overall Score: 7 (out of 10) Good Cherry Tree High Comedy Club may be a niche game, but it caters very well to that audience.
  5. Steam Guard is a security measure that users of Steam have been able to use for over a year now. When activated, it will send a code to your email when your Steam log-in is being used on a new computer. This is meant to stop those who otherwise might gain access to your account. So far, it has not been enforced in any way although many have activated it anyway. If you're a fan of using Steam Trading then be aware of the upcoming requirement. Steam Trading was added after people expressed a need for something like it. What it does is allows two people to trade games at once instead of relying on the other to gift them something back. Using Trading currently reveals that, starting on December 12th, it will be compulsory for Steam Trade users to have Steam Guard activated for their account. The message also states that accounts will have to have Steam Guard enabled for fifteen days before being allowed to trade items. This new rule only applies from December 12th onward. Although most of us already have Steam Guard enabled, there are certainly those out there who have opted out of it until now. The push for security is probably being done in preparation for the next big Steam sale. So, if you expect to be trading games around then be sure to activate the extra level of account security. Do you use Steam Guard? Why or why not?
  6. A few weeks ago Marvelous AQL hosted a simple survey which asked people if they would buy Half Minute Hero 2 if it were released in the west. That was the only question asked and it excited some at the possibility of the game making its way over here. Siliconera took to asking the company what their plans were with the title. Unfortunately, the sequel's release is not cemented yet. Marvelous AQL producer Esteban Salazar said this about the survey: “We“re just trying to gauge interest at this point. It“s considerably more expensive to put out the sequel and we need to sell a lot more of the first game on PC to begin to justify it. The best thing fans can do to help along the sequel is encourage their friends to buy the Steam version (or buy it for them!)—something that will be a little more appealing during the holidays *hint*.” So if you're someone who is really interested in seeing Half Minute Hero 2, then you're tasked with helping spread the word. Even though the original game has been released on PSP, XBLA, and Steam, it still needs the support to continue on. Half Minute Hero will be on sale on Steam for a full 24 hours more on the last day of the Steam Autumn Sale for 40% off.
  7. Marcus Estrada

    Super Shock Bundle Sells 13 Games for $13

    Have you had your fill of post-Thanksgiving shopping yet? If your legs are weary from standing out all night then perhaps another bundle will be what you need. Yes, there have been many just this week but already the newcomer Super Shock Bundle seems that it will be worth it for many. It is not currently live but interested parties would do best to know about it now because the bundle will only run for seven hours. The bundle will be live tomorrow, Saturday, at 12 noon EST. Here is the current lineup of titles: Captain Foraxian (PC) Cortex Command (PC: Steam) Deepak Fights Robots (PC) Home (PC: Steam) Jottobots (PC) Little Gardens (PC) Offspring Fling (PC: Steam) Probability 0 (PC) Puzzle Bots (PC: Steam) Starseed Pilgrim (PC) Swift*Stitch (PC) Thirty Flights of Loving (PC: Steam) VVVVVV (PC) Only the games which are on Steam will include Steam keys, of course. The rest are presumably going to be DRM-free downloads straight from the site. Strangely, the original list of titles included Hotline Miami, but apparently that wasn't official. If it had been, many more people probably would have been itching to buy. Super Shock Bundle is not coming to us from any of the big bundle names but simply the developer Michael Todd. Because of this, the site may go down as more and more people hear of it when it launches. That's why this post is coming now, so that interested parties get the best chance at grabbing the games.
  8. Marcus Estrada

    Review: Edna & Harvey: Harvey's New Eyes

    Developer: Daedalic Entertainment Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment Platform: PC (Steam) Release Date: October 16, 2012 ESRB: N/A (Teen suggested) What is it that people want out of an adventure game these days? It still seems that, despite technical advances, people just want a good story. Although there have definitely been hits and misses over the years, it seems that one series deserves much more attention. This series is Edna & Harvey, which just released the second game in its series: Harvey“s New Eyes. Although the original came out on PC here, it wasn't widely loved. Experiencing this newest entry though really makes it seem that this is an adventure game that more people should be playing. As soon as you begin Harvey“s New Eyes it seems like a very simple, silly game. It introduces you to a young girl named Lilli living at a convent school. She is, by the narrator“s suggestion, the most virtuous girl in the world. As you start playing, a fourth wall-breaking tutorial begins and seems to hold the player“s hand a lot. At the start, it seems like this game may be made for children. In fact, many sites who covered this game simply stated it to be an adventure game for kids. If you can make it past the very beginning though you“ll quickly realize this is the worst assessment possible. This is not a game for children but for people with a taste for dark humor. As you investigate puzzles and talk to others you quickly realize that there is a lot lurking beneath the cute veneer. Although the narrator says things like he“s speaking with a child, the words that come out of his mouth are usually tinged with disturbing ideas. The juxtaposition between the supposedly simple world of Lilli and the things she does is hilarious, although quite creepy upon reflection. Such writing isn“t really common for adventure games which is why it was so surprising to experience. Although the game was originally in German, Daedalic learned something after the original game. The first of the series, Edna & Harvey: The Breakout, garnered many low scores due to sloppy translation. On the other hand, Harvey“s New Eyes has such good writing that it feels like English was its native language. There are a few spelling issues here and there, but for the most part it sounds perfectly natural and voice actors also seem to be fluent speakers. Each character is weirdly compelling, but none so much as Lilli herself who never actually says a word. She is so odd because she only ever makes meek little sounds. Her voice actor is probably the most annoying, which is a shame, because she barely even has to say anything to be a bother. How do you interact through Lilli if she doesn“t talk? The game gives you options for dialogue but as soon as she makes a tiny sound, the conversation partner will tend to just talk at Lilli. In comparison to the developer“s other adventure series, Deponia, this is a bonus. Having a character who barely talks may be better than having one who talks too much and is a huge jerk. As for the puzzles, they are at a pretty good difficulty level. At the start you will rarely be stuck wondering what to do because characters will slyly mention solutions. This not only makes it easy for regular players but also for those who are new to adventure games. As you make it into later chapters puzzles then start to ramp up, but still not too much. Thankfully the logic rarely tries to force you to do something truly outlandish. There are also minigames which take logic to solve. They are pretty neat and varied, although there is at least one which is a bit more trouble than its worth. There is even a sort of meta-puzzle which gets kicked off in the second half of the game. From then on, your character is set up with a series of blocks to her actions. It“s weird at the start, because it means that you cannot perform various things which will be necessary to solve puzzles. However, the way the game allows you to unlock them is creative and a lot of fun. It also brings up a whole slew of new, strange locations to explore. For all the greatness the story has to offer, the same cannot be said for the visuals. It“s obvious that there was an attempt to make some sort of distinct style, but it fails more than anything else. Aside from Lilli, characters hardly look attractive (in any sense of the word). Even beyond her design, the plain art style just seems sloppy. In cutscenes you can see the weird, wiggly outlines of characters. Overall it seems rushed rather than stylistic. This is such a shame because the game is so compelling but it just isn“t that great to look at. Visuals are rarely the reason to love or hate a game. Even with the unfortunate look of the game it rarely detracts from the experience. The overall storytelling experience with Harvey“s New Eyes is so fun (in a creepy way) that you can“t help but enjoy it. The adventure is mostly easy to clear and under ten hours. If you“re looking for an interesting story to be had with an adventure game then this is definitely the game that should be next on your list. Pros: + Script full of dark humor which is rare for games + Flow of puzzles is mostly logical + Meta-puzzles add new layer as an adventure game Cons: - Visuals seem to have been done quickly and look sloppy - Lilli“s sound effects are more annoying than characters who actually talk a lot Overall Score: 8.5 (Out of 10) Great Edna & Harvey: Harvey“s New Eyes is an adventure game with such a sinister sense of humor that it deserves more attention.
  9. Marcus Estrada

    Steam Autumn Sale is Live

    It may not be the Summer or Winter sale, but when a big sale comes onto Steam it tends to be chock full of good deals. Just as was rumored earlier, the Steam Autumn Sale has just gone live today and offers a great bunch of deals. As with other big sales, this one will change deals daily, while some deals remain the same throughout. There are even flash sales, which were a recent addition to the last sale, which will be switched out even more often than the daily deals. The Steam Autumn Sale runs from today to the 26th. In case you're living in a cave (or outside of the United States) then recognize that the dates are selected to coincide with the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. As Black Friday and Cyber Monday are coming up too, it may be worth expecting extra special deals on those days. Here are the first round of daily deals to get you started: Age of Empires III Complete - $10 Darksiders II - $17 Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 - $5 Terraria - $3.39 The Walking Dead - $12.49 XCOM: Enemy Unknown - $33.49 Current flash sales include Limbo, Payday: The Heist, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II and a handful of others. There are also deals on many indie games as well. Take a look there if you'd like to get Hotline Miami, Mark of the Ninja, or even Torchlight II at a bit of a discount. These indie game sales will continue throughout Steam's event although they may be selected for daily deals later on. Are there any games you're going to grab during the sale?
  10. Marcus Estrada

    Review: Chaos on Deponia

    Developer: Daedalic Entertainment Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment Platform: PC (Steam) Release Date: November 6, 2012 ESRB: N/A (Teen suggested) Back in August, Daedalic Entertainment released Deponia. The bright, cartoony 2D adventure game ended up being fairly popular, and for good reason. Although the lead character, Rufus, was an absolute chore to deal with, the rest of the characters and the world they inhabited were wonderfully refreshing. This month has seen the release of the second game in the series: Chaos on Deponia. It continues the adventure off where it so unceremoniously left off in the first. Does this game manage to be an improvement, worse, or somewhere in between? In many ways, Chaos on Deponia is an improved game. However, it doesn“t seem like any of these reasons fix some of the biggest complaints overall. Let“s step back for a moment and give a general feel for what exactly this. Chaos on Deponia is the second game in the Deponia series which focuses on a self-centered jerk. In the last game, he “saved” a woman named Goal who hails from the land of Elysium. Rufus“s planet, Deponia, is basically a planet of trash and not a good place for any of its inhabitants. As this game starts, the stakes are increased as Elysians plan to destroy all of Deponia for confidential reasons. As the game is a point-and-click adventure, you can expect a fair lot of puzzle-solving. Puzzle difficulty ranges from fairly simple to a handful of things that will take a lot more effort to figure out. This causes an issue in that those not accustomed to adventure games will probably get stuck on the harder situations while veteran players will simply breeze through all but a few segments. It probably would have been better to simply keep the level of all puzzles on a simpler scale, as it is still fun and works better with the modern gaming audience. One feature that Deponia got right in the first game and maintains here is general ease of use for the interface. When you want to look at your inventory you just have to use a mouse scroll wheel to bring it into view. When players worry they might be missing an item all it takes it a press of the spacebar to bring up markers over objects which can be interacted with. For minigames, there is even now the option to skip them entirely. These few features definitely make the game accessible to a wider batch of people. It“s because the game offers so many nice introductory features that the harder segments really stand out. However, even if you“re proficient at these games, there is at least one puzzle mixed in which has caused a great deal of frustration with players. If there were more puzzles like it then it would help the game, as they are clever and would be expected. Since there is only one though of this kind it ends up being a huge blemish on an otherwise mostly lower difficulty adventure game. Still, adventure games are known for having some pretty messed up puzzles from time to time. Visuals were one spot that the original Deponia shined. The trash heap of a world was fun to look at and explore. The same is not as true for Chaos on Deponia. Somehow, the world is cleaned up. Much of the creativity of backdrops has been sucked up. Although the world still looks like it was fashioned from spare parts, it now looks cleaner and friendlier than it did previously. New players won't notice the change but it“s a shame that the designs are less cool this time around. Then there are the characters. One thing that I hoped for in the original Deponia was to see Rufus grow as a character. It didn“t happen then, and it still hasn“t happened in the second game. He is as much as an awful human being as he ever was, although now there are other characters introduced who are even easier to dislike. Beyond that, there are a handful of other characters who get more time in the spotlight this time around. The biggest change in particular is Goal, who now is conscious for most of the game. Unfortunately, she still serves as the ultimate “goal” for Rufus instead of having much of her own life. The story is a fair bit funnier than the original, but there are still instances when it fails. Thankfully, these are less frequent than before. Although it won“t win awards for the funniest game ever it is certainly on the better end of comedy adventure games, so fans of those types should look into it. Those who played the first game might as well give it a shot although new players should not feel unable to play either. The entirety of the first game is summed up at the start in a (mostly) easy to follow manner. Beyond that, the original didn“t have too much going on. It is really with Chaos on Deponia that things start gearing up and that makes for an overall more engaging adventure. Pros: + Lots of easy to comprehend puzzles + Humorous writing is packed throughout the game + Long by adventure game standards Cons: - Character development still barely existent for lead - At least one messed up puzzle Overall Score: 8.5 (out of 10) Great Chaos on Deponia brings a more interesting adventure to point and click fans than the previous title.
  11. You've got to love this day and age where music, videos, and even games are not safe from the all-seeing eye of copyright holders. While we're used to seeing claims on goofy Youtube videos, we aren't quite so accustomed to claims on games. However, today GTA: Vice City was taken down from various digital download services (including behemoth Steam) due to one. Why? Here's the simple reason: "Due to some music licensing issues, we“ve had to temporarily remove Vice City PC from digital stores. We“ll make it available again as soon as possible." Sony Music Entertainment filed this claim because of the Michael Jackson song "Wanna be Startin' Something" on the in-game radio. Of course, this isn't the only Jackson song in the game but it's the one that caused the whole issue. Copyright is a fairly confusing thing but the most likely reason this is happening now is because the game's right to use the track has probably expired. For the moment this means GTA: Vice City can't be sold on Steam (or other PC download sites). With this being an important part of the GTA series we can expect it to come back online at some point, but hopefully no one was planning on buying it this weekend. Thankfully, if you already owned the game on Steam then you can still access the download.
  12. Harrison Lee

    Let's Re(Visit): Black Mesa

    Developer: Black Mesa Development Team Publisher: Black mesa Development Team Platform: PC (Web, Steam) Release Date: September 14, 2012 (out now) ESRB: N/A (M-17 recommended) I'll be honest and straight-forward; I'm not a fan of Half-Life 2. I never dug the sci-fi occupation-resistance plot and I never felt emotionally connected to the characters. I didn't really appreciate the combat as much as I probably should have. In fact, I didn't like any of the things that made Half-Life 2 great. I played Half-life 2 in 2008. Fast-forward about 4 years or so and we're now in the presence of the legendary Black Mesa, a nearly-vaporware remake of Half-Life 1 in the newer Source engine. After playing through much of Black Mesa's exciting, intense campaign I may just have to give the sequel another run-through. The first thing you'll notice about Black Mesa is just how great it looks and sounds. The audio has been completely re-worked and the Source engine visuals, though aging, feel fresh and modern. It certainly looks better than the original Half-Life, that's for sure! The voice-overs are also well-done, though it's clear a number of lesser characters had the same voice actor. I can't knock the game for that, because the guy does the one-liners so well! It has just enough cheese factor to be endearing, yet serious enough to involve you in the intriguing plot at hand. Speaking of plot, I should mention that Black Mesa is incredibly faithful to the original. Little, if anything, has been changed from the original game. It's all been gloriously updated in HD graphics and given a mechanics update. That means that the only things new are the visuals, sound, some new physics puzzles, and general feel of the game. The rest of the source material has remained mostly untampered with. While the addition of puzzles and a face-lift may seem skin-deep, it completely changes the way Half-Life plays. This standalone mod really makes the franchise feel new in a way that hasn't been done in 5 years. Since it's been 7 since I've played the original, it's great to get re-acquainted with the original Xenian invasion and the likable cast of oddball characters. What Black Mesa has really incorporated, however, is improved atmosphere. There are times when the game is genuinely creepy. It's frightening to walk down a hall and open a door.....only to watch in horror as an unknown beast grabs a scientist and blows him up in an air vent shaft. Once you discover what's really killing off the scientists and Black Mesa security officers, things get intense. The game doesn't truly let up, even as the plot steamrolls to the unfinished resolution. It's a challenging pace to keep up, given how many boss battles, angry Marines, and head-crabs players have to kill off. Thankfully, Black Mesa never feels overwhelming; it's always just the right amount of action and tension to keep you engaged and wanting to know what happens next. The team that built Black Mesa, comprised of 40-odd volunteers, has also updated the games enemies and combat environments. Everything feels more open and organic, thanks to larger spaces and less claustrophobic corridors. The new Marines and aliens are also deadlier than ever. The soldiers use flanking, grenades, and suppressive fire to flush and pin players at will. The aliens are equally aggressive, favoring attacks in large packs or surprise assaults from behind. Trust me; you'll be thanking the heavens for HP health packs hidden around the varied environments. While Black Mesa is pretty darn good, it does have a few minor flaws. Noticeably, the game still features first-person platforming. And yes, it's still just as hard to do as it was in 1998. Jumping from swinging box to swinging box can be frustrating once you've tried for the 17th time. I've also noticed a few minor glitches, like body parts getting stuck in walls. As I'm sure you've also read, the loading times are frustratingly long. This isn't anything the development team can avoid, since it's a fault with the Source engine. Now, Black Mesa does lack the Xen conclusion as of right now, but it will be added at a later point. And let's be honest; Xen had far more platforming than anyone wanted, right? These minor complaints aside, Black Mesa is a fantastic addition to any gamer's collection. If you own a PC and have internet, you have almost no excuse not to start downloading this ASAP. This mod represents the true potential of a dedicated group of fans when it's given complete freedom to honor the source material. Black Mesa is a wonderful, FREE update to a classic that deserves all of the hype and praise 8 years of development has garnered. You can get Black Mesa from the official website, http://release.blackmesasource.com/. BONUS: The excellent soundtrack is also freely available! Kudos to Joel Nielsen for a great musical score.
  13. Harrison Lee

    Review: Hotline Miami

    Developer: Dennaton Games Publisher: Devolver Digital Platform: PC Release Date: October 23, 2012 Rating: N/A (suggested 17+) I drive up to a specified location in my nondescript DeLorean. A brief menu flashes before me, offering a choice of animal masks. I choose one and watch the driver briefly pull it over his head. This mask grants him a knife from the very start. Once I push open the door to the target building, everything else is a blur of violence, adrenaline, power, and regret. Welcome to Hotline Miami. Hotline is one of 2012's most talked-about indie releases. From the minds behind Seizure Dome and Ad Nauseam comes this upstart little game. When you first fire it up, a neon-washed menu screen written in Cyrillic greets you. The text flits about the space in a drug-induced motion. It's trippy and so 1980's that it hurts. From there, things only get stranger. The main character, who's never given a name, is a vigilante. He accepts his missions from a telephone that records messages from a mysterious sender. Every instruction set uses odd euphemisms and outright lies to detail where you're going and who to kill; you're always out to slay bad guys. Or at least, I think they're bad guys. The farther you progress in the story, the more you begin to question the character's sanity. Is any of this really happening? Are the bad people actually bad people? When you reach Hotline's conclusion, you'll still be left with more questions than answers. I will spoil nothing of the plot for you, because this game deserves to be experienced. The plot, however confusing and disorienting, is well-paced and constructed. The player will never discover the truth to what's going on; only enough to make theories about each and every character's involvement in the overarching story. By and large, however, you aren't playing Hotline for the story. You're playing it because of the vicious combat. I have seldom seen melee brawlers as intense as Hotline. Each level is broken down into self-contained stages that need to be cleared of gangsters. Charging in the front door without observing the level's layout and enemy patrol patterns is a death sentence. Strategy is key, though fast reflexes and adaptability are just as important. You could try to memorize patrol patterns and weapon drops, but both elements change each time you play that segment. This wildcard always makes each and every engagement as much about planning as it is improvisation. Use what you have and you might just survive another shootout. For each and every enemy you kill, you get a score bonus. Kill faster and you score more. The more you score, the more weapons and masks you'll have access to. Puzzle pieces and additional secret masks are also scattered about the levels. If you look carefully, you can find plenty of secrets scattered about the play areas. Every new mask earned is like a badge of accomplishment for the amount of work you'll likely put in. While the new weapons are nice, they don't have the same feeling of reward that a mask brings. Hotline's visuals and soundtrack are top notch. The pixelated-graphics offer a fantastic, retro experience. While it's not quite 8-bit, I love the overall feel of the visuals. The neon-drenched environments feel like the 1980's. The soundtrack also bleeds old-school charm. It features the talents of bands like M.O.O.N. and Jasper Byrne. It fits the mood of each mission and interlude perfectly. In some ways, the audio and visuals are what truly make Hotline so special. While I love Hotline for what it does right, there are a few things I'm not in love with. Chief among them are the numerous bugs present during my experience. Whenever more than one person started shooting, my framerate dropped to a near crawl. Sometimes, throwing my weapon didn't register a hit. A few times, I didn't execute an enemy even when I spammed the space button. None of these glitches really prohibited me from enjoying this game. In its current state, I'm still in love with it. All of the gameplay elements and narrative pieces (bugs aside) serve to moralize in a way you might not expect. Each enemy is simply a small set of sprites until you kill them. As is typical of shooters, they are dehumanized until they're dead. When you see the aftermath of your actions, you slowly come to understand just how terrible the main character is. While you could argue that Hotline loses some of that impact with the scoring system, I think Dennaton uses that for ironic effect. It wants to show you how senseless video games are when it comes to violence. Unlike Spec Ops: The Line, Hotline really doesn't need to make blatant explanations of why the crimes you're committing are wrong. You, as the perpetrator of chaos, know that what you're doing is horrific. Once again, you're a pseudo-villain. I say pseudo because there are plot elements that suggest that things may not have been your fault. At other times, the game bluntly accuses you of terrible, bloody murder. I can't say which is correct. There is no right answer in Hotline; it's up to you to draw your own conclusions. While Hotline Miami isn't the best game of the year, I will say that it is one of the most important. On a much smaller budget and with more subtlety and stylistic flair than Spec Ops, Dennaton has managed to criticize the world of video game violence while simultaneously embracing it. It's a maddening, but fitting, contradiction. Nothing is what it seems in Hotline Miami. Pros: + Incredible audio and visuals + Interesting narrative and plot twists + Deep, complex combat system + Adrenaline-inducing Cons: - Quite a few bugs to contend with - Difficulty spikes can be cheap Overall Score: 9.5 (out of 10) Fantastic I recommend experiencing Hotline Miami at least once. It's exciting, powerful, and one of this year's most important games.
  14. Harrison Lee

    Review: XCOM: Enemy Unknown

    Developer: Firaxis Publisher: 2K Games Platform: PC, XBOX 360, PS3 Release Date: October 9th, 2012 ESRB: M This review is based on the PC version of the game If you're looking for a remake of the original X-COM, you're looking in the wrong place. What Firaxis and 2K have done to the venerable turn-based strategy title is break down the core elements that made X-COM great and rebuild them into a new, modern image. It's not the X-COM you might have expected. However, what this newest iteration does is nothing short of astounding. Firaxis has created an XCOM that's addictive, intense, and just as challenging as the excellent original. Regardless of how your 20-30 hour war against the alien threat ends, you can rest assured that the battle for dominion over Earth was epic. XCOM wastes no in time in putting you in the Commander's chair. Your first mission, which serves as a plodding tutorial, forces you to command a small squad of troops in a first-contact confrontation with the enigmatic aliens. It's here that you'll learn the basics of movement, abilities, cover, and squad-centric tactics. While it's relatively uneventful and slow, the XCOM tutorial does a serviceable job of introducing the very basics of combat to players. The more advanced game mechanics set in only a few short missions later. Following your intro to XCOM's turn-based combat, you'll get to see the headquarters from which all of your anti-xeno operations are run. At the HQ, you can research new weapons, build housing facilities for alien captives, recruit new soldiers, and more. Your base is your hub for launching ground assaults against the aliens via the Command Center. And believe me, it's critical that you build your base intelligently. While there are no base defense sequences, you will need to manage the assets each facility provides with maximum efficiency. In order to locate alien activity, players must utilize the satellite network that they've built around Earth. Launching satellites from various countries lowers each nation's panic level while providing faster scans. Once alien activity has been intercepted, players are offered several choices in missions. Each is in a different part of the world; whichever countries you don't choose will have an increase in panic. These panicked countries will reduce funding to XCOM, thereby limiting your already-limited resources. Seeing the challenges forming yet? It's this constant tug-of-war and tension that really builds the campaign's pace and excitement. At any point in time, a player can lose the war. Even if you've invested 10 or more hours into the campaign, Earth can still be overrun. That feeling of potential (sometimes inevitable) defeat always nags at you, even in the turn-based battles. The odds are almost always stacked against your standard troops until you unlock powered armor, new soldier abilities, and super-powered troopers. Even then, the aliens always have new variants, more powerful units, and greater numbers to squash the puny humans like bugs. The inherent difficulty is punishing at times, but can be so rewarding when a victory is stolen from the jaws of defeat. While I adore XCOM's punishing approach to combat, I have to say that there are times when I felt the odds were unfairly stacked against me. I often walked (albeit cautiously) straight into ambushes. I could do nothing but watch as squad member after squad member was reduced to a red pulp. Maybe I just played the game wrong, but I found myself regularly losing soldiers. Then again, XCOM presently reminds you that casualties are inevitable with the trite Memorial. It lists all of the soldiers you've gotten killed, with nary a word of warning or remembrance in their honor. I'm surprised XCOM does so little in this regard, given that you can customize each soldier's name and look to a great degree. You should be attached to your squad members; the Memorial almost trivializes their deaths. It's a minor, if morbidly amusing gripe. From a technical standpoint, XCOM looks and sounds great. The Unreal 3 engine has been used to great effect here. While the character models and cutscenes won't win awards, the effects and combat sequences look great in motion. The voice-overs are mostly solid, though some of the main characters at the HQ begin to grate when they continue to bug you with information. The soundtrack, orchestrated by Michael McCann, is very Deus Ex-esque. While it sounds very familiar, I love the score all the same. What I am less a fan of is the presence of bugs. Every once in a while, my mouse seemed not to respond to anything I clicked on. At other points, soldiers would clip into cover or have one or two odd animation glitches. The minor visual oddities didn't detract from the overall experience greatly, but they did prove distracting on occasion. I do wish the combat UI was more responsive. At random intervals, ability buttons simply would not work until I'd clicked them three or so times. In general, these were infrequent but aggravating when they appeared. If you're looking for a deep multiplayer suite, look elsewhere. There's a limited deathmatch mode where squads of aliens and humans go head to head. The map rotation is small, though there is the potential for more to be added through DLC. Regardless, you should only play XCOM for the singleplayer campaign. XCOM: Enemy Unknown succeeds as a reinterpretation, not a remake, of X-COM. For series veterans, it is a fresh and inventive take on the franchise that moves at a quick, intense pace. It's challenging, rewarding, punishing, and addictive. Expect to have your tail handed to you regardless of your experience or familiarity with strategy titles. I can't help but recommend XCOM to any gamer with a love of tactics and action. Pros: + Excellent tactical depth + Lots of intense action + Extensive campaign + Great musical score Cons: - Glitches here and there - Some visuals are lacking Overall Score: 9 (out of 10) Fantastic I can't recommend XCOM enough for gamers looking for strategy and tactical depth.
  15. Marcus Estrada

    Sine Mora Heading to PC Soon

    Way back in March the sidescrolling shooter Sine Mora came to XBLA. We reviewed it positively, as did some others, but after that it mostly disappeared. If there was one issue with the release it was probably due to having only the Xbox audience to enjoy it. Now the word is out that the game is being brought to PC to hopefully expose it to an even larger audience. Sine Mora, a collaboration between Digital Reality and Grasshopper Manufacture, is being published by Kalypso Media on PC. It will arrive on Steam, GamersGate, GreenManGaming, and a few other digital outlets on November 9th. Fans of the genre should definitely give it a look if they haven't yet. Apparently this isn't the last port we'll see of the game either. In June, it was stated that the game would be reaching the PS3 and Vita as well. There is no more known about that currently except that it hasn't been canceled. The Vita version will even have a few exclusive features like a character cameo from Under Defeat.
  16. Marcus Estrada

    Steam's Halloween Sale Going on Now

    Were two bundles of horror games not enough for you? If so, then perhaps Steam will be where you want to spend your money. They have started up a Halloween Sale today and its full of games of varying degrees of scariness (some of which aren't creepy at all). Still, all but a few titles fit in some way into the blanket of Halloween-friendly. Series' like Left 4 Dead and F.E.A.R. are included, as well as many standalone games. Here are some of the highlights: Alan Wake - $15 Condemned: Criminal Origins - $7.50 Killing Floor - $5 Lone Survivor - $5 Painkiller Complete Pack - $7.50 They Bleed Pixels - $4 Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines - $5 The Walking Dead - $15 Games such as Amnesia are also on sale but at this point everyone probably has it from one Steam sale or another. Recently-released Lucius is also on sale, but only at 15%, but that isn't much of a sale. We're also inching closer to the eventual Steam Holiday Sale so some may choose to just hold out for that one. Do any of the games included in the sale interest you?
  17. Marcus Estrada

    Linux Steam Beta Accepting Applicants

    Back in September, Valve finally announced that a closed beta of their Steam client would be usable by a small amount of people in October. Over the weekend, they opened up a new page which invites interested users to apply. Who are they looking for? The Valve Linux Beta Survey page says that they are "looking for Linux gamers to install and test our new Steam for Linux client. We are primarily interested in experienced Linux users." So, in order to give it a shot you don't have to be a Linux developer or anything, but you should have some knowledge of the Operating System. Signing up for the survey itself just requires you already have a Steam ID and once submitted will put you in the pool of possible beta testers. Although Linux does have a thriving homebrew game community, as well as ways to play Windows-based games, we should expect that a great deal of users will quickly flood the Steam Linux beta (if they haven't already). As such, if you're interested in this at all then it would probably be best to submit your own application soon.
  18. Marcus Estrada

    Amnesia: The Dark Descent

    From the album: Marcus's Album

  19. Marcus Estrada

    The Path Screenshot

    From the album: Marcus's Album

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