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  1. Steam's new Greenlight service just launched last week and quickly saw loads of uploaded content. The service, which is meant to let users vote on indie games they want on Steam, saw a lot of positive content but also some naughty stuff. For example, some people were posting obviously joke game listings and others were taking a much more offensive route. It certainly wasn't what Valve envisioned when they decided to add this new feature. As such, we're already seeing one big change to Greenlight. In the official blog there was an announcement made: "The first update is a $100 fee for someone to post to Steam Greenlight. The proceeds will be donated to Child“s Play. We have no interest in making money from this, but we do need to cut down the noise in the system. (Note: Anyone who has already posted a submission to Greenlight will not have to retroactively pay for any existing submissions, but will need to do so for any future submissions.)" Valve hardly needs money and the fact that they're sending each $100 entry fee to Child's Play shows that this is purely a gatekeeping measure. While it would be great to allow developers all free access, it would also allow trolls and others to push their content onto Greenlight as well. However, it is a bit of a shame to see there's now a price attached. It's not as if you are actually paying to get your game on Steam, but to simply give it the slight possibility of making it onto Steam at some point. Do you think this is the best method to keep Greenlight clean? What rules would you implement to better moderate the listings?
  2. Marcus Estrada

    Review: They Bleed Pixels

    Developer: Spooky Squid Games Publisher: Spooky Squid Games Platform: PC (Steam) ESRB: N/A (Teen suggested) Release Date: Out Now Over the past few years it seems like there has been a rebirth of the side-scrolling platformer. This style of gameplay is hugely popular with indie developers, but some have worked to make incredibly difficult ones. Games like VVVVVV, Mighty Jill Off, and Super Meat Boy have challenged players with tough levels, but they were still loads of fun to play. They Bleed Pixels is the newest entry into the genre of tough but fun platformers and might make some question if it is just a copycat. Is the game too derivative of other titles or does it manage to stand all on its own? If you take a look at any of the many platformers out there it“s often hard to see much difference between them. Because of this, it might seem that They Bleed Pixels is just another game with little to separate itself from the crowd. To think this about the title would be a huge mistake though as it has a distinct experience to provide. This is apparent as soon as you start playing and see the lead character. She“s a young girl who has just entered the Lafcadio Academy for Troubled Young Ladies. Although all seems well with her to start, she begins to have horrific nightmares after discovering a strange, bloody book. She slowly finds herself transforming into the creepy clawed creature she is in her dreams. Although there“s not much story beyond that it is certainly an interesting little piece of the game. The most outright distinctive thing about the game is its art style. It is done in a retro pixel style like most games in this genre are, but the style is very cool. The lead character and enemies around her all have very fluid movements and look distinct from one another. Design of the chapter “title cards," extras section, and more all have a great overall design. Everything about this game oozes a fantastic style that would be hard to hate. Sound is another shining point of the game. The music is provided by Shaun Hatton who used a whole bunch of instruments and electronics to create tracks. What“s most interesting is the way that these things were used as they create sounds that aren“t common in most music. Hatton“s soundtrack fits very well with the game and helps shape your experience with the game. For those who pick up the bundle on Steam, you will be given a digital copy of the soundtrack as well. All the great graphics and music in the world can“t make a game by itself though. How is the actual gameplay? Thankfully, They Bleed Pixels has an incredibly smooth and smart gameplay style. Most fun and frustrating about moving through levels is the ability to cling to and climb walls. It's a necessary function of the game but will no doubt cause many accidental deaths due to miscalculating jumps to or from walls. The character can run, jump, climb, and slide but also has a variety of fighting mechanics. She can claw and kick but also pull off a variety of combos. Combos are mostly easy to pull off and are smart to use. Sometimes they“re not the best bet though, as there are definitely occasions when a simple kick will launch an enemy right into a saw or spike pit. As you destroy enemies, you gain blood from the felled enemies. This blood is useful because it fuels your character“s checkpoint meter. Instead of the game creating checkpoints for you, they will charge up with your character until you“re ready to lay one down. While it“s typically not too hard to get enough blood for this, it can be hard actually placing it. If you“re near enemies, on slippery ground, or hanging on a wall you can“t set your checkpoint. While it might not sound hard to just simply go somewhere else, you“ll quickly find that more often than not you“ll get killed just before you can safely make a checkpoint. In regards to the pure platforming aspects of the game, it is also a winner. Design of levels is incredibly smartly done as it all feels very doable. However, strategic placement of saws, spike, enemies, and more bring the challenge up. Most of the time you“ll know just what you have to do to proceed but must get timing and attacks just right. This is definitely one of those games where you“ll feel accomplished after passing through each level. Well, as long as you actually can manage to progress. Difficulty in this game is easy to call unfair. Even though you can fight through levels you“ll still find the newest ones to be a challenge. this is a game that“s hard and never lets up on that fact. If you're not the kind of person who can get into a challenging game then stay far away from this. They Bleed Pixels makes little concessions for its level of challenge. Even the checkpoints are made to be hard to use which in fact almost serves as the game taunting you. It“s always heartbreaking to be so close to making a new checkpoint and then getting killed before you have the chance. Despite the pain it“ll invariably cause you though, it manages to be a fun game. There are not hundreds of levels in the game, but each one is so tough that it“ll take you awhile to clear. Because of this, the game feels much longer than it probably would actually be if it were easy to complete. Beyond that, you can always retry levels to try and get higher grades on each one. At this time, there are two bonus levels included which have been created by other indie developers. What seems great is that so far there are more of these bonus levels on the way for free. This means that even after you“ve beat the main levels there will hopefully be more waiting to be played. There are also unlockable art pieces by indie artists which are a neat little extra. They Bleed Pixels is not a game for a casual gamer. It might seem cute with its clawed heroine, but it quickly bares its fangs. It could have all gone wrong if the controls were bad but thankfully they are tightly responsive. This is a game that relies purely on your own ability to control your character. If you can take that responsibility and do well with her then you“ll enjoy the game. Death will be constant, but once victories come they will be incredibly sweet. Pros: + Levels are smartly designed and fun + Visuals and soundtrack help give the game A+ presentation + Controls are easy to learn Cons: - Difficulty comes fast and never lets up - Player-controlled checkpoints seem like a cruel design choice Overall Score: 8 (Out of 10) Great Those who are willing and ready to take a digital beating while playing a platformer will love this game.
  3. Marcus Estrada

    They Bleed Pixels Screenshot 2

    From the album: Review Images

  4. Marcus Estrada

    They Bleed Pixels Screenshot 1

    From the album: Review Images

  5. Marcus Estrada

    They Bleed Pixels Main Character

    From the album: Review Images

  6. Marshall Henderson

    Gotham City Impostors Quietly Goes Free-to-Play

    So it's been a while since we've heard about Gotham City Impostors, which means one of two things: Either it's going well and it's all smooth-sailing, or it's not doing so well and it is going free-to-play. Let's not bother with a punch-line here, we all know what happened. Gotham City Impostors takes place in that Batman universe, where a gang of amateur vigilantes called The Bats do battle against the villain gang The Jokerz. You can tell who is good and who is evil by the Jokerz using a Z instead of an S. Given the micro-transaction build and the monthly subscription, inevitably some people weren't going to be happy here, and Gotham City Impostors has some stiff competition anyway, with the likes of the comfortably well-established Team Fortress 2 sitting around. No information on what the situation is with the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions, but be patient, jerks, we'll see! Jeez! Gotham City Impostors is free-to-play right now on Steam, so go play it!
  7. Marcus Estrada

    Indie Horror Game Home is Coming to Steam

    Indie horror game Home initially launched a few months back but wasn't available on Steam. It even came with a really neat physical edition which included a map, manual, digital copy, and a few extra baubles. Unfortunately, this digital version wasn't a Steam copy. Finally this is being changed though as the game will be available on the service this week - August 31st. Once the game is available on Steam that will be the only way to get it. It'll no longer be for sale off the developer's site and will go up in price from $2 to $3. Why the price increase? Now the game will come with a PDF manual and apparently something else as well. We'll have to wait until launch to see what that extra thing is. What if you were someone who actually bought the physical version? In order to thank you, you'll be given a Steam key for free. Although there's a great many indie games out there it seems they really do make their mark once they're on Valve's service. Maybe Home will find its second launch to be its biggest. If you're curious to see what Home is all about then check out the Steam announcement trailer:
  8. Marcus Estrada

    Indie Royale is Back With Getaway Bundle

    Have you been feeling your backlog just isn't big enough? Were you disheartened by bundle packs as of late seeming to dwindle a bit? Probably not, but the Indie Royale team is back with their latest bundle and it's a pretty good one. Don't expect to see games like World of Goo for the fiftieth time. For the Getaway Bundle we are being treated to these six games: Analogue: A Hate Story (Our review) + DLC (Windows, Steam, Desura) Da New Guys (Windows, Desura) MiniFlake (Windows, Desura) Shattered Horizon (Steam) Super Amazing Wagon Adventure (Windows, Desura) Waves (Steam, Desura) To grab these games costs about $5 minimum at the moment. Buying at this price also secures you the soundtracks for three of the included games: Analogue: A Hate Story, Da New Guys, and Waves. If you're willing to part with $8 you'll also get the digital CD Handheld Heroes Volume One. If you're interested in the copy of Shattered Horizon be sure that your computer is equipped for DirectX 10 games. There's a couple gifts if you manage to be a top contributor to the bundle as well. The top five contributors will get a meteorite (with a certificate of authenticity) for some reason. If you're in the top ten then you get a more earthly prize of a Shattered Horizon t-shirt. Remember that if you're interested to buy early, as the bundle price will continue to trend upwards. Here's a trailer for the bundle:
  9. Developer: KING Art Publisher: Nordic Games Platform: Windows, Mac, Steam Release Date: July 31, 2012 (out now) ESRB: T for Teen This review is based on the Steam version of the game. As an adventure game enthusiast, it“s always a treat for me to get my hands on an adventure title that I“ve not yet played. When I got the chance to play The Book of Unwritten Tales, I was ecstatic. It presented beautiful-looking art style and graphics, a seemingly solid story, and garnered praise everywhere I looked. I was expecting to jump into the best adventure game of this generation. Unfortunately, with those high expectations, along with some poor game mechanics and design that The Book of Unwritten Tales contained, my experience with the game was anything but. The Book of Unwritten Tales dives into the world of medieval fantasy – elves, gnomes, gremlins, orcs, dragons, and so on. This world has been ravaged by war between the Alliance and the Army of Shadows for years now, and a gremlin archaeologist has discovered a powerful and ancient artifact that could ultimately end the war. However, the Army of Shadows has caught wind of this and is doing all that they can to get their hands on this artifact. Once the archaeologist is caught, he leaves it up to our four involuntary heroes to get a hold of this artifact before the Army of Shadows does. It“s a rather simple tale that“s slowly-paced, unfortunately, and each chapter is drawn out way longer than it should be. The biggest gripe I have with The Book of Unwritten Tales only adds on to the slow pacing. Items that are needed to progress throughout the game can be excruciatingly difficult to spot. Countless times, I had wandered around for hours throughout every area possible because I was unable to find something. One particular item was so small and the exact same color as what was behind it that I thought it was part of it. Now, this problem is easily solvable by using the hotspot feature (spacebar). However, for those who are stubborn and refuse to use such hand-holding features (like me), it“s still quite annoying. I ultimately felt forced to use it in that one instance, and felt shame as an adventure gaming aficionado. In any case, I do feel as if this all could have been designed a lot better and that the hotspot feature shouldn“t feel like a necessity. The puzzles, on the other hand, are mostly simplistic. None of them really popped out at me that would make me exclaim, “Wow, this is pretty creative and genius!†The only times I would ever be stuck on a puzzle was due to the aforementioned problem; missing an item because I couldn“t find it. While The Book of Unwritten Tales is comprised of such glaring problems, it“s not all bad. I actually quite love its graphics and art style. The character models are clean, crisp, and gorgeous. The backgrounds, in particular, are masterpieces. There“s so much detail in them that it“s unbelievable. And there is such a wide variety of environments and settings shown in these backgrounds – forests, pubs, mountains, insides of monsters“ stomachs, and so on – that you“ll never become bored of what you come across. The characters of the game don“t just look visually appealing, but they“re written well, too. Wilbur is a gnome that has lived in the mountains his whole life; wishing to become a mage instead of going down the path of technology. His cluelessness about the world once he leaves his home is amusing and endearing. Ivodora is an elven princess, and while she“s dressed somewhat scantily, she“s a very strong female character and likes to take things into her own hands. She“s also very witty and sure to charm most that play The Book of Unwritten Tales. Then we have Nate: a human adventurer that is very reminiscent of Han Solo from Star Wars with his cockiness and narcissism. Our protagonists, along with every other character in the game, obviously show that KING Art put a lot of time and care into creating them. Along with great characters, we have top-notch English voice acting and humor. I laughed a lot throughout the game (despite how infuriating it could be sometimes wandering around for ages). The Book of Unwritten Tales is also chock-full of pop culture references and nods to other adventure games such as the Monkey Island series. One other thing that The Book of Unwritten Tales features that is worth mentioning is a system where multiple characters are controllable. It“s nothing unique and not quite as in-depth as Resonance“s system, but it“s still something not executed in adventure games often and is still fun all the same. It also adds a bit more to the game“s rather bland puzzles. I really tried to love The Book of Unwritten Tales. As an adventure game, though, it does nothing extraordinary or new. It“s incredibly average – in both story and gameplay. However, it does offer wonderful art and character design. For adventure game enthusiasts, it“s worth a try if you have nothing else to do. The Book of Unwritten Tales seems to cater more towards newbies of the genre; those not looking for any sort of special adventure game and won“t mind using the hotspot feature to progress quickly and painlessly. Pros: + Great cast of characters + Exceptional voice acting and humor + Jaw-dropping, beautiful graphics and backgrounds Cons: - Puzzles are too simple - Story is weak and predictable - Items are consistently difficult to find; forces you to use hotspot feature Overall: 5.5 (out of 10) Average The Book of Unwritten Tales is brought down to average level by a boring story and poor design decisions. Be wary, adventure gamers. Newbies, on the other hand, go ahead and give it a shot.
  10. Edmund McMillen, part of Team Meat (Super Meat Boy, The Binding of Isaac), will be releasing a set of his previously made games called The Basement Collection for Steam later on in the month. The Basement Collection consists of eight of McMillen's games of the past, which have been revamped with new art, music, and extra content. The collection includes the following games, along with whatever upgrades and new content they have received: Aether (with improved graphics, physics, controls, and extra bonus content) Coil Grey Matter (the first Team Meat game) Meat Boy (with improved controls) Spewer (with a new exclusive 10 level bonus chapter, improved physics, and controls) Time Fcuk (with a new exclusive 33 level sequel chapter and updated level editor) Triachnid (with improved mouse controls) Secret game 1 (with new music, graphics, and gameplay) Secret game 2 Every single game will have achievements and can be played at full screen resolution in high detail. And all of this isn't the end of what The Basement Collection will be offering. Each game will also feature bonus development extras (such as design sketches and playable prototypes) and eight unlockables that include bonus games and full comics. Last, but not least, the collection will have a full collection of soundtracks from every game (except one that isn't mentioned by name) and also ten fanmade tracks. This must cost a ton, right? Quite the contrary. The Basement Collection will be available on Steam on August 31st (for both PC and Mac) at the extremely low price of $4. What do you think of The Basement Collection? Will you buy it?
  11. Marcus Estrada

    Steam Community Update Beta is Upon Us

    Yesterday afternoon, Steam's Community Update Beta went live. They've been talking about it all week with small updates but now 50,000 users were given the opportunity to take it for a spin. Those users (who had a Pillar of Steam Community badge) were granted a key into the beta. Actually, they were granted two keys - one for themselves and one for a friend. So that means there's actually double the opportunity to get into the beta if you haven't already. What did this update bring to the table? It's all about making friend interaction and communities on the site much more interactive. The Friends tab now lets you post status updates and your friends can comment or "like" them. For users with tons of people on their friends list, you can now give them specific nicknames which will never change even if they change their display name. For each user their content has been updated as well. Instead of being in a small, clunky to navigate area, your photos and videos will now all be put together in a nicer fashion. They will also display on the Friends page as visual updates which definitely helps give them more attention. The biggest changes come to the Community tab which is now finally living up to its name. Basically, it increases focus on user-generated content and allows for more discussion about each game. You can read more about it right here. If you didn't manage to try out the beta yet then just wait around a bit as more invites will be handed out soon. Have you checked out the Community Beta? What do you think of it so far?
  12. Marcus Estrada

    Second Life is Coming to Steam

    It was only a matter of time until Steam's growing free-to-play MMO market would expand to hold something like Second Life. According to a post on the SL blog it seems like that time is quickly approaching. Although Second Life's time as a media darling has now passed, that doesn't change the fact that it's still a massively popular virtual world. It will be coming in the "next month or so" and basically be the same experience. Why did Linden Labs decide to bring their online game to Steam? It's simple: they'll gain an even larger audience. Here's the official word: "What does this news mean for Second Life? You“ll still be able to access Second Life just as you can today; there won“t be any change to that. But, the more than 40 million people who use Steam will also be able to get Second Life as easily as they can get games like Portal." Have you ever played Second Life? Do you think this will introduce a new audience to the game?
  13. Marcus Estrada

    Review: Deponia

    Developer: Daedalic Entertainment Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment Platform: PC ESRB: N/A (Teen suggested) Release Date: Out Now When you think of adventure games, what comes to mind? There's probably the thought of contrived puzzles and loads of pixel hunting. Thankfully, most adventure games in the modern era have evolved to rid themselves of these problems and leave players with a good story. When looking at Daedalic Entertainment's Deponia, it's easy to tell they wanted very much for it to be a streamlined, fantastic title. Although there is a fair amount done to modernize it, there are still some things that hold it back from greatness. So, where does it fall on the scale - better or worse than your average adventure? The heart of any point-and-click adventure title is the story. In this game, the story focuses around a young man named Rufus. He's spent his life on a trash heap of a planet named Deponia. More than anything he wants to get off it and head to a supposedly majestic and heavenly planet. The only problem is that no one ever makes it off Deponia... Well, no one except Rufus's father who left without him long ago. Will you be able to get Rufus out of his horrific home or is the guy doomed to live out his days on a wasteland? The setup is fun because it helps set the stage for where you're going to spend your time in the game - Deponia. The planet is a complete mess and it makes for a very lively environment. Each screen is packed with mechanical doodads, trash heaps, and rusty junk. You can tell there was a lot of work put into making sure the art accurately represents what the planet was said to be like. Because everything is just such a mess it also makes sense that you might find various items within the trash. Having so much on screen also often presents the player with many objects to look at although it may be a bit overwhelming at first. When it comes to the hero of our story though, the game doesn't fare quite so well. Rufus is not a nice guy. He's a self-centered jerk who is completely unlikable. Maybe others will find him funny, but for me, he was pretty detestable and I didn't find myself agreeing with any of his ideas or assertions. It's not a requirement for a piece of fiction to have a likable lead character but it bothered me all the same. What poses a bigger problem is that he really undergoes no change as the story progresses. Typically you expect to see a lead go through trials and come out changed. Rufus changes, but only in the slightest amount. Because of his wholly gross demeanor I was unable to enjoy the game as much, which is quite a shame. Ignoring the possible Rufus problem then, the thing worth looking at is all the other characters. It's apparent Daedalic understands how to make characters that aren't jerky because they did it well for others in the game. For example, Rufus's ex-girlfriend is a fantastic character who is likable despite her quirks and overbearing nature. Similarly, the short friend of Rufus is an entertaining guy even if he's a smartypants know-it-all. As you come across other characters, they all have charming, strange demeanor. Encountering characters often gives you many possible lines of discussion, even though the majority don't help you solve puzzles. Simply talking to these unusual people is a joy and would have been better if the main character were simply a funnier guy to bounce discussions off of. Point-and-click games don't just survive by their stories. They also require good puzzling mechanics to keep players going. Deponia provides a mostly sane puzzle-solving experience with only a few hard ones. For the majority of the game you'll find yourself sailing through puzzles. While they are not completely inane, they are puzzles that simply thinking about logically will solve. There is no hint system, but usually there are hints slyly put into item descriptions or conversations. The only problem with this is that sometimes the hints are put in places that aren't directly related to the puzzle at hand. Either way, this method of hint-giving just trains you to pay attention to everything you hear. It's a good thing that most puzzles are relatively easy to solve because the game is bursting with them. Almost every second has some puzzle in your face no matter how simple it is. A handful of puzzles are harder and more involved and these may pose a challenge to gamers. Even being used to adventure games isn't a surefire way to get through them. There were times when I knew basically what had to be done but couldn't figure out the one point necessary to set things in motion. It's a good thing that these puzzles weren't more common, but it doesn't seem like they follow logic quite as well as the rest in the game. One problem with the game is that it leaves you hanging. There is probably hope for a sequel but right now this is all we have. After working through puzzle after puzzle and seeing the story build it's natural to want to get some kind of resolution. Instead, all your work is put into the game to leave you with a cliffhanger. It doesn't invalidate the rest of the game or anything, but is kind of annoying after putting so much effort in. Weighing the various pros and cons, Deponia still ends up as a pretty good title. The humor is pretty nice (minus Rufus's entire character) and the story keeps things interesting. As you venture onward, more is revealed and you start to understand more about the "importance" of the journey. Overall, the game isn't as funny as classics in the genre but is still a good attempt. If nothing else, this is definitely a game with high production values (for a point and click game). As was stated earlier, the backgrounds are excellently designed. Every character has voice acting and a lot to say - they'll even talk more if you unlock the bonus mode. It's easy to see that a lot of time and effort was put into making it a very involved experience. There are a few glitches that were encountered in the game, although none ruined it. There were times when items in the menu would simply be "invisible". They were in the inventory slots, and could be used just fine, but the slot itself would look blank. The first time this happened to me it was early in the game and I thought I'd lost a necessary item. After searching around a few more times I realized it was there, just not displayed. It's an annoying thing that happened with multiple items so hopefully a patch fixes it soon. Once, the game switched languages on me when attempting to combine an item. This was funnier than it was a bad thing as right after that the language switched back to English. Finally, the last cutscene in the game froze for me so I was unable to view it until after beating the game. None of these problems are game-breaking but they should be fixed to help make the game a nicer experience. If you're looking for a humorous point-and-click adventure then Deponia will definitely fit the bill. If you want something with puzzles that aren't incredibly difficult then this is also a great choice. If you'd like to see a game with a story that isn't the same as everything else then this is still a game worth looking into. Basically, Deponia is a nice adventure game with only a few unfortunate flaws to keep it out of the classics club. Pros: + Fantastic environments + Humorous writing and lots of it + A fairly long adventure filled with puzzles Cons: - Main character fails at being a likable jerk - Story ends without any resolution - Inventory glitches will definitely confuse players until they figure it out Overall Score: 8 (Out of 10) Great It might not be the next great adventure game but Deponia is still a solid addition to the genre.
  14. Marcus Estrada

    Review: Orcs Must Die! 2

    Developer: Robot Entertainment Publisher: Robot Entertainment Platform: PC ERSB: N/A (Teen suggested) Release Date: Out now Just last year, a very popular game by the name of Orcs Must Die! came out on PC and XBLA. Developed by Robot Entertainment, the title caught the wave of tower defense popularity and managed to be a stand-out game amongst them. For one, it was in third-person perspective instead of the typical top down view, and second, it had some seriously fast action. A year later we've now been graced with the followup: Orcs Must Die! 2. This time around it's only on PC (for now, at least) and adds in co-op. Is this game bigger and better than the first or is it just more of the same? In many ways, it feels like the same game we all enjoyed last year. From much of the music being shared between both titles, to the graphics not looking upgraded, the games may at first seem identical during play. That's not a bad thing considering the original was so fun, although it seems odd that they would go so far as to reuse music. Either way, there are actually changes to the game that players will notice pretty quickly. The main ones are the layout of the upgrade menus and the fact that there are many new traps and weapons at your disposal. The heart of the game is being able to unleash all your most vicious traps on hordes of orcs. I mean, isn't it obvious - just look at the title! If you've never played either game then a quick run-through of how it plays is in order. You control one of two characters (a melee or spellcaster character) and maneuver them around the level map in real time. They come equipped with their own weapons but they are also your guide for placing traps wherever you want them. Orcs will spawn from various points on the map and all lumber toward a goal. If too many orcs make it to the goal then you lose. Managing to keep orcs at bay is tougher than it sounds. At the start of a level you're only granted so many points to allocate between traps and other goodies you can place on the field. Once all that is allocated you must kill more orcs to get more points to spend. Some of the larger enemies will even drop extra points so try and make sure you get them. Between waves of orcs you will sometimes be given as much time as you need to strategize where to place everything. Most of the time though you'll simply have a few seconds before the next wave. It's pretty stressful knowing your defenses aren't up to snuff but you only have 6 more seconds to fix it! This is when co-op mode comes in handy. Despite the fact that there are three difficulty settings, you might find that playing solo is a more difficult experience than you want. Yes, the game can totally be beaten in single player but it's a bit tough. It feels like the difficulty has gone up from the first game. By calling upon a friend, both can then engage in running defeating all the levels. Having a partner is great because it means you can set up double the traps (as both of you will accrue funds and be able to place traps). It's obvious that co-op was the intended mode of play for Orcs Must Die! 2 as well, since most maps feature two (or more) distinctive spawn points which are in hallways apart from each other. Again, it's not a massive task to beat the game solo. But the fact of the matter is that this game seems very much geared toward the multiplayer experience, which is why the maps are laid out in such a way. It becomes a little annoying to recognize this because it's just not possible for one player to lay out quite as many traps or manage the spawn layout quite as well. In co-op you will tend to not feel overburdened by the spawns until later waves, while single player folks are more apt to feel the crunch straight from the start. Co-op works quite well and feels like something that is just a natural extension of the game. There's little special functions to be had between characters but having two people frantically trying to fend off orcs is much better than one. Both players may choose the same class but it works out better if each player chooses their own. This way you can get the best of both worlds with their respective abilities. Playing with a partner also tends to help you gather more level up skulls as well since the faster you beat a level the more skulls you're awarded. Looking at leveling up items is a bit confusing in comparison to the first game. Each item is listed in a book, including the ones you already own and ones that may be purchased. Once you've selected what you want to upgrade then you're shown three ways to upgrade it. Over the 50 or so weapons, traps, and guardians you can manage to upgrade things more than a hundred ways. In order to get enough skulls for every upgrade it's necessary to play through modes and levels more than once. You simply won't get enough playing through the campaign mode. There are three main modes to play in Orcs Must Die! 2. There is the Campaign Mode which features 15 levels and a bit of story. Then you've got the Endless Mode which is new. If you guessed that it is a mode for playing an infinite amount of waves then you'd be right. Both of these include co-op mode. If you already own Orcs Must Die on Steam then the game will grant you 10 additional stages from the original. They're also made to be co-op compatible which is a nice bonus. If you're looking for a game with a lot of replay value then this is definitely a contender. With so much action and a large level up tree it's definitely something you've got to invest as lot of time into for completion. Playing with a friend is a lot of fun and definitely recommended to blast through waves and waves of orcs. Even if you're playing solo it manages to be more of the same, which isn't a bad thing. Gamers who hoped to see a massive update to the game will be disappointed but for everyone else it is just another really fun tower defense game. Pros: + Co-op mode brings a fun new element to the game + Massive upgrade tree will take a lot of time to get through + New gameplay mode is a nice addition Cons: - Game's main focus now seems to be on co-op which toughens the single player experience - Strange lack of updates to the music and graphics Overall Score: 7.5 (out of 10) Good Orcs Must Die! 2 is more of the same with a handful of new additions which are sure to please fans and new players alike.
  15. Pretty neat news... NIS America has released the PSP game Cladun x2 on Steam today! It normally goes for $19.99, but it's on sale for $15.99 for now. Here's the game's Steam page What's everyone think? Is this exciting? You looking forward to any NIS games coming to the platform? Discuss!
  16. Today Steam launched a new page which declares that "The New Steam Community is Coming Soon." Alongside that, it showcases a bit of features that will be arriving on the service. Although Valve has certainly created a solid product so far, they now want to make community involvement and sharing an even larger part of the ecosystem. Today Valve posted about "Game Hubs". These hubs will work to stick all sorts of user-generated content together whenever you access a specific game's page. For example, a page for Team Fortress 2 would show off screenshots, workshop items, news, forums, and more. Items that will get top priority are based off items which the community rates as most impressive. Every game is set to have its own hub of user and official content, but that doesn't mean that every game itself will have loads of content to check out. More obscure titles on the service will no doubt have very lonely looking Game Hubs, but that's to be expected. As the week goes on, Valve will unveil more about their upgrades to Steam. Although they won't go live immediately, users who are interested can enroll in the beta which kicked off this week.
  17. What Ho fellow Podunkers! Despite playing PC games for years I have never got into Steam. This was due to the fact that when I got Half-Life 2 I had to run it on Steam & back then it was awful and intrusive (it took me ages to get it off my laptop). Also I usually only play older games on my PC (my gog library grows & grows). but i've finally decided to take the plunge as the Steam sales are going on! I was just wondering if any of you could give me tips about using the service and what are some of the best deals to get? Cheers!