Sunday, 2 December 2012

Review: FTL


Don your space-captains hat and hold onto the space-arms of your space-chair. FTL (Faster Than Light), created by Subset Games, puts you in charge of the last loyal federation ship in your home sector. Your mission is to elude the overwhelming rebel force and rendezvous with the remnant federation navy fleet. With rebel scum hot on your tail, your ship will face adversity every step of the way. Do you have what it takes, Space-Captain?

FTL is a self described space-rougelike game, with both procedural content and randomly generated events. FTL was released publicly in September after a successful Kickstarter campaign. Subset Games, a two man development team, leveraged Kickstarter to finalise and release FTL without financial difficulty. The Kickstarter campaign also helped advertise FTL, creating an amount of hype and expectation.



Unlike most roguelikes, FTL actually features a full tutorial, which I highly recommend new players complete. I also recommend starting your first game on easy, normal mode is actually FTL's hard difficulty. After the tutorial, players can pick a ship and sub model to command. New ship models are unlocked as players advanced through the game, or encounter special events. Ships feature different crews, weapons and abilities; your choice of ship effects your gameplay.

FTL's gameplay consists of the player jumping from system to system; encountering friendly, hostile or neutral ships and trying to survive the hell march to safety. Managing your ship and it's crew, upgrading ship systems, damage and repairs, battle strategy and navigation are all required skills for the aspiring space captain. At its heart, FTL is a game of choices: do you fight to the death or flee the encounter?



An interesting feature of FTL is its level of difficulty. Because of the random nature of FTL and the likelihood that a bad encounter may lead into an even worse encounter, players are often left dead in the water -or space. Generally speaking, most players have a mixture of good and bad encounters throughout their travels. Normal difficulty reduces the amount of scrap (in-game currency) and increases encounter strength. Playing FTL on easy, until you have a handle on the game, is not a shameful act.

FTL's music is wonderful and successfully sets the mood for the game. A mixture of calming space tunes, ambience and battle themes. More roguelikes should have badass soundtracks like FTL.





If you like hard games with great soundtracks, with no two playthroughs ever the same, than you will like FTL. FTL won't be everyone's cup of tea though, but considering its launch and continued success, I don't think being a niche game has hurt its popularity. A testament to the usefulness of the Kickstarter funding model and the ability of two people to create and release a game they're passsionate about.

FTL is currently available DRM free and on Steam through their site FTLGame.com
 
9/10

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Review: Black Mesa


In the late 90s, video game development was in the midst of a golden age. Specifically, 1998 was a very good year for game releases. 1998 Game Release List. In November '98, a new cross-genre game was released that would capture gamers' minds and introduce Valve Corp into the gaming world - that game was called Half-Life. As a testament to Half-Life's and Valve Corp's success, Valve Corp has since evolved from a small studio into a multi-billion dollar company, with genuine power over the direction of video game development, publishing, services, community and delivery.


Hopefully, the short history lesson above illustrates the significance of Half-Life, Valve Corp and their continuing effect on video game culture and development. Any gamer worth their salt has played Half-Life, its mod Counter Strike, or games released within the Orange Box. The original Half-Life seamlessly blended FPS action coupled with story-driven adventure, concerning theoretical physicist Dr Gordon Freeman and his escape from the compromised Black Mesa Research Facility.

Fast forward to 2012, and a large team of fans have released their modern day love letter to the original Half-Life game. Built upon the current version source engine, Black Mesa seeks to retell Gordon's original adventure with updated graphics and increased difficulty.


NOTE: I played through the game on the hardest difficulty setting, and I recommend hard difficulty to players familiar with the series

The first noticeable gameplay change is Gordon's increased walking speed, speeding up the puzzle and action sections of the game; the downside is that Gordon is likely to fall into traps, run off cliffs, or stumble into deadly ambushes more often. Small game changes, such as new weapon damage, gives Black Mesa a unique feel while still being a faithful remake. Most fans have probably replayed Half-Life enough to note specific areas or memorable boss monsters; Black Mesa succeeds in recreating Half-Life's classic encounters, and successfully pushes the nostalgia button.


The only let down of Black Mesa was the missing ending. An unfinished game can leave you wanting more, but, unfortunately, I was left feeling flat and asking myself, "Is that it?". A little bit of in-game information regarding the missing ending or an acknowledgement/epilogue would've been nice. Don't get me wrong though, Black Mesa is a great remake and I would definitely recommend it to friends, family and random people on the street.


Fans will be glad to know that the Black Mesa Mod does the original justice. Personally, I'm looking forward to the Black Mesa team's future accomplishments and release of the proper ending.

Black Mesa is a free mod, requiring the Source SDK installed with Steam. The Black Mesa release and installation instructions can be found here:
http://release.blackmesasource.com/

8/10
-They're waiting for you Gordon.
-Where is Ep3, Gaben? 

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

An Update?


Hi guys and gals,

Unfortunately, I've been derelict in my duties regarding this blog over the last couple of weeks.

I've recently been selected for jury duty and have subsequently been put on a trial. I'm under orders not to give out details of the case, etc.

Before jury duty, I was working on a Black Mesa review and, recently, I've been playing some multiplayer games; I'll probably review them in the future. I've also started a re-play of Rome:Total War, which was sold on steam for $1, a week or two ago.

Hopefully, I'll have more time to write after the trial is over.

Be back soon,
SW

1/10

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Review: Eve Online 21 Day Trial


Have you ever wondered what spacefaring would be like if that famous Nigerian Prince owned his own spaceship? Eve Online answers that question and a whole lot more. A sandbox MMORPG set in space, Eve Online was created by CCP Games and publicly released in 2003. Since its release, Eve has become a benchmark for MMOs and has gained a large, dedicated fan-base.

Gamers interested in Eve may trial the game over a period of 14 or 21 days. After the trial period, players may subscribe to Eve for a monthly fee or use in-game currency to buy PLEX(Pilot License Extension).

Caracal - PvE fitting
M is for Massive. Eve Online is set in a vast universe filled with death, adventure and profit. Space is split up between security zones, which indicate survivability and general difficulty. Low-Sec(Low Security) and Null-Sec(No Security) is a free-for-all environment, while High-Sec(High Security) has engagement rules that are strictly enforced.

New players are led through basic flight school and career training. After basic training, players are unleashed into the universe to make their fortune or misfortune. Hard lessons await new players, and only through knowledge and practical experience can players succeed in Eve. Gameplay advice often includes: you are never truly safe, unless inside a station; and never fly what you can't afford to lose.

M is for Multiplayer. Thankfully, you're not the only small fish in Eve's huge pond. Players, new and old, band together under player owned and operated corporations(corps). Corporations tend to focus on specific gameplay, such as PvP or mining. Choosing the right corp is probably the single most important aspect of enjoying Eve. Established corps generally have an unspoken obligation to nurture new players and harness members to achieve greater goals, for themselves and the corporation. Unfortunately, corps can also be detrimental to newbies and can be utilised for scamming or griefing.

O is for Online. Eve players from across the world are all connected together. Eve's servers are stitched together, allowing players to freely interact with friends, family or enemies overseas; this is one of Eve's greatest strengths. Instead of having a server shard of 200-2000 players, all of Eve's online players are connected together, from 20k-50k players.

Eve's player-driven economy is directly impacted on day and night, across all time zones. Heavy investment into Eve's volatile economy can leave players billionaires or penniless. Insider trading, scamming, rigging, interdiction, metagaming, short trading and many more real life economic strategies can be used to turn a buck. Running missions or mining are also lucrative ways to make ISK, Eve's in-game currency.

Caracal - Firing missiles
R and P is for Role-Playing. Unlike popular fantasy MMOs, Eve Online does not corral players into specific classes or jobs. Spending all of your time devoted to a single aspect of Eve's gameplay will often reap greater rewards, but it also tends to burnout players and ruin other aspects of the game. Generally, players tend to focus on a few synergistic money making and combat roles over the course of their career.

Eve's sandbox design allows players to be pirates one day, and a simple miner or explorer the next; no one is locked in. A player devoted to trading on Eve's market can also be running scams, dodgy lotteries or metagaming to increase profits. Eve Online definitely has one of the loosest in-game rulesets in MMO history, in regards to player on player interaction.

G is for Game. Eve is not a game for everyone; action fans will not find instant gratification here. Pilot skills are gained over real time minutes, hours, days and weeks. Some ships require years of time investment to completely master. Dedication, friends and a slight addiction is necessary for players to keep coming back, aiming for loftier goals.

After my 21 day trial, I found Eve to be a mixed bag.

Eve Online's long history is littered with "Player vs CCP" drama, recrimination, paranoia and suspicion. Recent game changes make many online resources out-of-date, confusing new players coming to terms with Eve's gameplay concepts.

The best aspects of Eve Online is its depth, unpredictability, lethality, freedom, camaraderie and player-centric focus. Player corporations have the greatest effect on enjoyment and increase player retention. Choosing a corp, complimentary to your playstyle, is the single most important factor regarding enjoying Eve Online.

You can buy Eve Online on Steam or access a trial account on their website or player forum.

8.8/10

Saturday, 25 August 2012

PS2 Review: Wizardry Tale of the Forsaken Land


Many gamers don't know that, since the early 90s, Japanese developers have been creating their own Wizardry series of video games. Based upon the oldest western Wizardry titles, the Japanese Wizardry series has grown homogeneously, offering a serious and dedicated experience without the levity of its western kin. Over the years, only a handful of Japanese Wizardry games have been commercially released to the western audience; one of these is Wizardry: Tale of the Forsaken Land(W:TotFL) for the PS2.

W:TotFL takes place in the cursed and winter-locked kingdom of Duhan. An event called "The Flash" has destroyed most of the kingdom and plunged the survivors into depression. The player's mission is to explore the broken labyrinth under Duhan, uncover information surrounding "The Flash" and recover your, conveniently, lost memories. Duhan is a sad place, cut off from the world by a snow covered wasteland, charging into a monster filled dungeon for wealth, fame and answers seems like a good thing to do.

Players start the game with character creation, choosing a race, class and distributing stat points. After the first level "tutorial" of the game, players are given access to six slots for player-made and NPC characters. One of W:TotFL's best features are its NPCs, most have their own quirks, story and personal goals. On the other hand, specific player created parties can be tailored for a preferred play-style or class discrimination. Wizardry contain both basic (Warrior, Priest, Thief and Sorcerer) and advanced (Bishop, Samurai, Ninja, Knight) classes. As with all RPGs, a good mix of fighters and casters is the best recipe for success.

Queen's Guard - Kulgan

Duhan's village and labyrinth dungeon are the game's main settings. The small village features an inn(Missions and NPCs), a temple(Healing and Resurrection), lodgings (Level-Up), a store(Equipment and Spells) and guild(Party Customisation). Village interaction typically involves accepting quests at the inn, selling excess items at the store, resting at the lodgings and then trying to travel further into the labyrinth. Duhan's labyrinth is the business end of the game, filled with monsters, traps and treasure; players must traverse the labyrinth without succumbing to its belligerent fauna.

The labyrinth is traversed in a tile-based, 3D first person mode; players also have access to a sprint mechanic, useful over medium distances. Hostile encounters take place inside a 3D battle system, taking players out of first person view; very reminiscent of the Final Fantasy battle systems. Unfortunately, going into a battle system for minor battles really slows the game down; traversing the first "economic/tutorial" level of the labyrinth quickly becomes a chore. Luckily, other sections of the labyrinth aren't so poorly utilized, every few levels offers a quick-return access point to the upper levels. Town services should be used liberally during the adventure, as character death and status effects are a common occurrence.

W:TotFL isn't a casual stroll. Players, especially newbies, shouldn't run through the dungeon and expect to survive the next floor, as monster difficulty is more logarithmic than linear. I advise players to take their time, level-up, equip characters, discover class abilities and test party endurance. Once a player is used to the monster scaling, certain sections of the dungeon can be safely skipped.

To curb the difficulty slightly, W:TotFL introduces a party based mechanic called Allied Actions(AA); based on party "Trust", AA can quickly turn the tide during difficult battles. AA features both offensive and defensive abilities, involving a few members or the whole party. AA allows players to breeze through weaker hordes and severely cripple boss monsters.

Sadly, W:TotFL's magic system is probably its greatest flaw. The magic-stone system involves mixing monster organs to create and advanced existing spells. Magic is strong, but en masse magic-stone creation is poorly implemented and party magic power duly suffers. In contrast to the magic system, W:TotFL's NPC characterisation is well crafted and genuinely sells the setting and story.

Wizardry: Tale of the Forsaken Land pulls no punches and rewards tenacity with a pretty decent story. If you are a hardcore gamer, and have a dungeon crawling itch, then W:TotFL is definitely worth blowing off the dust on the PS2.

8/10

*Warning: It's possible to have characters completely destroyed, when playing - no resurrection.

 Note: There is a Japanese-only sequel called Busin 0:Wizardry Alternative NEO.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Review: EU3 Chronicles


Europa Universalis 3(EU3) is the latest installment of Paradox Interactive's flagship grand strategy series. Spanning world history from 1399 to 1821, EU 3's gameplay covers the Middle Ages to the Georgian Era. EU3 offers players a choice of over 300 separate nation states, from across the world, to lead during the game's timespan. Will your nation suffer or flourish under your patronage?

Nation select screen, with advised starting nations
Before starting, players choose a historical period and a nation to play; further game options must also be set before the game begins. Game difficulty is generally based on the starting nation's strength during the time period a player has chosen; some states are historically strong and others aren't. A nation's strength can be measure by wealth, military, size, trade options, political and geographical advantage. Players can tweak their game experience (easy, medium, difficult) by the nation they pick.

The game takes place on a scaled world map featuring seas, rivers and mountains. Nations are split up into provinces and each province may be industrialised by its owner. Knowledge of the world map and provincial features is vital for a successful campaign. Invading and occupying enemy provinces, from sea or land, is often the fastest and most satisfying way to end a war. A fog-of-war clouds the map over neutral and hostile territory, useful for hiding standing armies.


Over the course of the game, your nation will, hopefully, become stronger, richer and much larger; even world domination is achievable with the smallest of nations. It is up to the player to set their own national goals or follow in-game mini-missions. The player has a range of tools available to grow their nation: conquest via direct war and annexation; diplomatic hegemony via vassal states; or inheritance through royal marriage. Making money through trade, tariffs, taxes and production allows players to develop their nations and invest in technological progress.

It isn't always smooth sailing through the Dark Ages and beyond. Hostile neighbors, the Holy See(the Pope), the Holy Roman Empire(HRE), trade embargoes, wars, alliances, spies, discovering the new world, the reformation/counter-reformation, holy wars, revolutions and much more will test your nation's mettle. Fortunately, other nations are also affected by strife, making them easier targets for conquest or diplomatic influence. A game mechanic called "infamy" is the cost for aggressive expansion, too much infamy and your nation will tear itself apart.


EU3's historical setting and absorbing challenge often leads players into learning or reading about historical events, historical figure heads, national unification, the reformation, geography and much much more; I believe this is EU3's greatest value, which is also shared with Paradox Interactive's other series(HoI, Victoria, etc). If you don't like something with EU3, you can always mod it in or out; EU3 is one of the most moddable games available. Modding guides and tips are available online and at the Paradox Interactive forum.

Make no mistake, mastering EU3 takes a decent amount of time. Knowledge of history and geography helps, and increases enjoyment of the game. New players may get frustrated, but choosing a suitably strong starting country allows new players to test the ropes without much hardship. Intermediate and expert players often end up playing the most difficult or complex nations in a given era. EU3 starts nations in historical context, but players and the AI inevitable turn their game into an ahistorical "what if" scenario. Japanese invasion of Europe in the 1500s - go for it.


Players, who are time-poor, might find it difficult to fully immerse themselves into the game. Gamers who are looking for instant gratification will not find it with EU3. If you are a history buff, if you like learning and don't mind taking time to master a game, than EU3 is the game for you. EU3 is a benchmark for grand strategy games and is often a gamers first foray into the genre.

Multiplayer is available over internet or LAN, and it's very fun with friends or relatives.

EU3: Chronicles is available online at Amazon, Steam or the Paradox Interactive website.

9/10
-Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Review: Bastion


Bastion is an action adventure game developed by Supergiant Games and published by Warner Brother Interactive. It's features include: arcade style combat, full voice narration, base building, player tailored difficulty, mini-challenges and much more. Released as an indie developed game, Bastion was created with a small team and minimum budget.

Bastion is set after an apocalyptic event called the Calamity. The Calamity has either destroyed or warped what remains of a once populated and industrious world. Players assume the role of "the Kid", a young soldier who survived the Calamity, and now ventures to learn the truth and to restore the bastion - a beacon of hope in a broken world. Along the way you will meet other surivors, like the wise narrator Rucks, former ambassador Zulf and outcast Zia. As Rucks narrates, the Kid moves from area to area recovering artifacts to restore the bastion.


Gameplay is arcade style, with players choosing weapons, weapon skills, alcoholic passive buffs and enemy difficulty scaling. Weapons in Bastion have an associated challenge area and prizes are won with each level of difficulty. Increasing game difficulty, through a set of god idols, also scales currency rates and XP bonuses. Players have a shield for both defense and counter attack, and an evading roll to tumble out of danger. The action is fast paced, but for the majority of the game players can go at their own speed, taking their time and planning their next fight.

Bastion's music, art design and narration are delightful, making Bastion a very unique experience. As an indie development, Bastion really showcases how much quality you can deliver with a minute budget and small development team. It is also unique in the way it hands gameplay decisions over to the player, a very interesting design choice, trusting the player to tailor their own experience.


The game does have a few minor faults, some difficulty choices make certain weapons generally useless; for example, close range melee weapons are handicapped once the monsters have contact and explosive damage upgrades. Bastions also tends to rely heavily on static turret based monsters, I would have appreciated more lively encounters similar to the first and last quarter of the game.

Bastion is a solid gaming experience, a tour de force for Supergiant Games and independent game development. Bastion's storyline delivery is quite unique, and all types of gamers should enjoy Bastion's adventure, story and arcade style combat.

Bastion is available on Steam and a wide variety of other platforms here.

9.5/10

Note: This is a review of the PC version of Bastion using mouse and keyboard.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Review: X3 Albion Prelude


X3: Albion Prelude(AP) is the latest installment in developer Egosoft's X series of games.  At its heart, AP is a sandbox space sim, blending elements of military, economic and strategic management across an expansive universe. Built on top of X3:Terran Conflict, AP adds new plots, ships, scripts(ship AI) and stock exchange system. AP's story seeks to fill the gap between the end X3:Terran Conflict and the start of X:Rebirth, Egosoft's next game.

X3: Terran Conflict finishes with the discovery of the lost Terran colony in the Aldrin sector and the reconnection of the Terran home sectors with the universal gate network. With new found strength in the Aldrin colony and a new access point to their former enemies, the Terrans have an opportunity to settle an old score. However, before the Terrans are fully prepared, an Albion terrorist/freedom fighter named Saya Kho destroys Earth's orbital ring, forcing the Terrans into war.


AP begins with the player choosing a starting role; roles are split up between races and starting assets. Some roles start with a large ship and wads of cash, while others start with an out-of-date fighter and a poultry sum of credits. Curiously, AP's story isn't told through a Terran plot line, instead it's told through an Argon plot, which is available to all starting roles but the Terran commander. Players should choose their starting role carefully, as some starts are much harder than others.

After choosing a role, you are dropped into your ship and unleashed into the universe. If available, players should take lessons from the flying-school ships in the starting sector. A new player's first goal is, usually, making money, upgrading their ship or preferably both. Station missions, plot missions, trading, fighting and piracy are all good ways to make cash. Depending on your skill level, knowledge and experience, starting can either be a growing pain or delightful challenge. If you are new to the X3 series, you may find the learning curve quite steep, but dogged persistence will lead to success, fortune and a fleet of ships.


Ship to ship fighting, trading and exploration are AP's core gameplay elements.

Drones, fighters, heavy fighters, corvettes, missile frigates, battleships and carriers are some of the fighting craft you will command and encounter during your adventure. AP is set during a warring period, and some sectors are constantly swapping hands between Terrans and the Argon lead Commonwealth. War sectors feature large capital ship battles, which are glorious to behold and participate in. Pirates, Xenon and Kha'ak are naturally hostile towards the player, occupying their own sectors, they need to be either eluded or destroyed.

If fighting is not your style, trading is a simple and lucrative way to make money. Freighters, large and small, are available to transport goods from station to station; AP features scripts for automatic trading between stations. Building your own space stations and trading shares on the local stock exchanges can also create wealth. Space stations can be amalgamated into huge complexes producing many products for player use and sale. AP introduces stock exchanges for players to buy and sell shares, making profit from speculation - buy low, sell high.


AP is a beautiful game, players can just wander from sector to sector, enjoying the view, looking for either trouble or opportunity. Wandering into a hostile sector, full of enemy carriers, is quite scary and often deadly. Scouting, finding new resources and stations, opens new trade routes and targets of opportunity for ship hijacking players. AP allows players to go at their own pace and it never holds your hand or offers an easy way out. Saving outside of a space station requires the player to buy insurance - no freebies for you.

X3:AP is not without its faults. The story is quite short and doesn't fully explain the events concerning the Albion sector. Capturing capital ships via "spacewalking marines" is just terrible. The stock market prints money, if you know what to do. The war between the Terrans and Argon never ends, even with your stout intervention. It sometimes feels like stations are always out of stock, so restocking your ships can be a hassle. Repairing is too expensive and training marines sucks - the two worst things about the game. Thankfully, common issues and nuisances can be fixed by community made mods; the X3 modding community is one of the largest and extensive modding communities on the Internet.


If you like the X series of games and/or space sims you will love AP. AP is beautiful, expansive, cerebral and addictive; you will start playing and quickly lose track of time. Building space stations, accruing wealth and blasting your enemies into space dust is quite enjoyable. AP's sandbox gameplay offers great replay value and tons of awesome space action and adventure.

X3:Albion Prelude requires X3:Terran Conflict to be installed and both are available on Steam.

8.5/10

Note: I did play with a joystick during my playthrough, but a joystick isn't required. You will be using mouse, keyboard and/or joystick extensively while playing.


X3:Albion Prelude now has a new 2.5 patch, adding new plots and bug fixes.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Topic: Steam Sales


If you are a heavy gamer, making your gaming money go further is a requisite. We all need to eat, but your addiction needs to be fed too. How can you save money, but still pay for food?

Fortunately for gamers everywhere, Steam has started its July sales, offering massive discounts on a wide range of games. New sales, on a featured set of games, are made available daily; random mini-sales and community picks(voted games) are also mixed in for good measure. A Steam sale is one of the best ways to buy an expensive game and sweep up its trifling DLC, without going broke.

Multiplayer games offer the best value for money, as multiplayer games are further enhance by community, matchmaking and server discovery of Steam. If you are really strapped for cash, older and indie games are much cheaper and give good value for money. Collections of games, by series or publisher, are also great value.

Steam sales are a great time to buy someone a gift. The steam service allows you to buy and send games to friends and family overseas. Games make great presents for nephews, nieces and video game addled teens.

Happy shopping everyone.

http://store.steampowered.com/

Monday, 9 July 2012

Hot Topic: Anita Sarkessian and Video Games


There has recently been a loud discussion, in my opinion, concerning feminist values and video games. I decided to write this opinion piece regarding video games and feminism because, as everyone knows, games are serious business. So that we are on the same page, this post will outline my views on feminist analysis of video games and the portrayal of women in video games.

Anita vs Ralph
The Issue

Anita Sarkessian has become sensational gaming news concerning her "tropes vs women in video games" Kickstarter. Her Kickstarter involved financing a video analysis of the most apparent stereotypes of women featured in a selection of video games. During her Kickstarter campaign, a backlash occurred from gamers concerned by Anita's motives and outcome bias. Supporters of her campaign flocked to her side, while the backlash grew, and Internet trolls found a new source of entertainment. 

Internet hate is not a new phenomenon, freedom of speech and reasonable anonymity allow people to speak their minds, be it love or hate. Internet trolling, people getting laughs by harassing other Internet users, is at an all time high, an art form unto itself. The better the troll, the bigger the laugh, and the more people who know, the better. There are even troll communities on the Internet, meeting on IRC networks or popular image forums. As long as there is an Internet there will be Internet trolls. Internet trolls targeted Anita and her Kickstarter seeking a comical or flawed response.

Pac-Man, Pong and Space Invaders
The Past

In the past, women were treated like chattel(personal property) of their father, husband or man of the house. The women's suffrage movement demonstrated and fought for women's rights, and succeeded in changing how women are treated in the western world. Modern feminism was born out of the women's suffrage movement. Feminism, to put it as plain as possible, is the struggle for equal opportunity, treatment and income for women. Feminist theory and criticism is often applied to books, speech, movies, music and even video games.

Video games are a relative new form of entertainment. Pac-Man, Space Invaders and Pong are some of the earliest video games made available to the mass public. These classic video games have pervaded into pop culture and feature across multiple media platforms. Many early video games don't discriminate between men or women, even Pac-Man is shown as a genderless pizza with a mouth. Classic video games could be deemed gender neutral and pose no threat to feminist values of equality.

Over the last few decades, boys and men have become the main target of video games and computers/consoles. Any economist knows that people only value what they personally believe holds worth. Men and boys value women and girls, video games that contain beautiful women generally sell more copies. Throughout the 90s, the guns and girls attitude flooded mainstream pop culture, including video games; Arnold, Stallone, Doom and Duke were all successful money makers of the 90s.

Battlefield 3, Bayonetta and Call of Duty
The Now

Today, exploiting the guns and girls market is still big money; the Call of Duty, Battlefield and Bayonetta games are evidence of this continued success. Money is what drives publishers, and, when the Call of Duty franchise has made 3 billion dollars of revenue, exploiting what men and boys want has never been better. Women have only recently become a valued revenue stream for game publishers. With the rise of social media and casual gaming, more women than ever have become a new untapped market waiting to be exploited.

When feminist criticism extends into fictional media and art there will always be a backlash. Feminist analysis of video games raises many questions: Are women poorly stereotyped or are men being exploited by good looking pixels and marketing? Is it possible to objectively analyse a fictional character based on a feminist agenda? Is Anita picking a soft target, concerning female portrayal in video games, when games are often marketed towards men? Is the backlash against Anita warranted, or being exploited to promote her personal goals? Can gamers already guess Anita's conclusions, based on her overt feminist viewpoint?

Brain interface for gaming
The Future

Until Anita's video series is completed, there is no way to accurately answer the myriad of potential questions that feminist critiquing of video game characters creates. I do know there are many strong and complex female characters featured in modern video games, but the majority of support characters(including men and women) are shallow decorations; most female characters fall into support character status. Considering the majority of games are made by men for the male audience, when a good female character does come along, they are often cherished far more than their male counterparts.

In the future, there will be more women and girls playing games than ever before, forcing publishers to develop games to suit them. I believe economics will be the driving force behind better portrayal of women in video games, not feminist criticism of existing female characters tailored for a male audience.

As a gamer, I hope Anita takes the time to fully discover each of her subjects true worth and underlying character. It would be a pity if she held each character up to a feminist ideal, an ordeal none of them were created for.

Sources:
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/566429325/tropes-vs-women-in-video-games
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_suffrage
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Call_of_Duty
http://www.destructoid.com/a-response-to-some-arguments-in-anita-sarkeesian-s-interview-230570.phtml
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZueOCLGt1tw
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6gLmcS3-NI

Sunday, 8 July 2012

PS3 Review: Red Dead Redemption GOTY


Red Dead Redemption(RDR) is an open world western adventure game created by Rockstar and released on the PS3 and Xbox 360 consoles. Rockstar, famous for its synonymous Grand Theft Auto(GTA) series of videogames, brings GTA style gameplay to the western genre. This review will focus on core gameplay and story of the RDR GOTY edition; it will not focus on multiplayer or the Undead Nightmare downloadable content(DLC).

You play as John Marston, a reformed outlaw, who has been blackmailed by an unscrupulous government agency to facilitate retiring his former posse. With his new life and family at stake, John needs to apprehend his former partners in crime - dead or alive. The unforgiving western frontier is full of hardship and sorrow and you'll decide if John continues on his path of reform or devolve into his former criminality.


RDR's storyline follows Rockstar's familiar, capital letter on the map, mission based formula; by completing "named" missions the story slowly unfolds. Gamers who have played previous Rockstar titles will feel right at home, but some might be dismayed at the lack of innovative storytelling techniques. RDR is an open free-roam world, so players may at any time: ride around and experience random encounters; shoot random Mexicans or banditos; participate in mini-games, gunfights, gambling and bounty hunting; lasso horses and people; or just go hunt wild animals.

There is so much to do in RDR I don't think any review could do the content justice. It would take weeks of strenuous playing to fully cover the expansive RDR world and the content it contains. Unfortunately, some of the random encounters do get tiresome; if I see another random "damsel in distress" I'm just going to shoot her and ride away with a smile. Mini-games are also hit and miss, some are good, like poker, and others are frustratingly bad, like five finger fillet. Missions also follow the basic formula of - ride here, shoot people and ride back.

 

I'm forever going to have a problem with console controls and shooters. RDR really overtaxes the controller and it does take some time to acclimatise. Playing the GOTY edition's hardcore difficulty mode is no easy task; hardcore mode turns off auto aim, reduces player health and slows health regeneration; hardcore mode forces you to rely on medicines and snake oils to survive against the uncannily accurate and numerous AI. Normal difficulty features a snap-to auto aim system that would probably make RDR much easier and balance the AI's accuracy nicely. RDR also features a "Dead-Eye" slow time mode, allowing players to call shots on one or more targets.

Overall, RDR is a decent adventure with a tonne of mini challenges and lengthy story that takes hours to complete. The artwork and world design is detailed and engrossing, but the storyline and mission rewards left me flat. I would've liked Rockstar to have spent more time developing the players relationship with John Marston, RDR's impact would've been much better; and personally, I felt more for Bonnie McFarlane than John because her character is fully developed.

RDR GOTY edition also features a zombie Undead Nightmare DLC and weighty multiplayer scenarios. This review doesn't cover RDR GOTY's extended features, but with all these additions RDR is probably one of the best time sinks for the PS3 or Xbox 360.

8.9/10
 

Monday, 2 July 2012

PS3 Review: Dark Souls


Dark Souls is a dark fantasy hack n' slash game created by Japanese developer From Software for both PS3 and Xbox 360 systems. A sequel to the sleeper hit Demon's Souls, Dark Souls doesn't stray too far from the original's winning formula. The most notable changes to Dark Souls are the new faction system and the departure from the world/character tendency system of Demon's Souls. Dark Souls is an unrelenting game for the niche hardcore gamer market.

Something is rotten in the state of Lordran - you. After a series of exciting events, prosperity and eventual corruption of society, you find yourself both undead(hollow) and banished; doomed to rot interminably in an undead asylum until the world finally ceases to exist. Luckily for you, fate decides to intervene and sets you back into the broken world as "chosen undead".

Character creation involves choosing a face, body type and starting class. You have a choice of ten classes and each class determines starting statistics and equipment. Like Demon's Souls, Dark Souls' classes are more of a starting guide and do not lock you into an atypical build. The initial game is easier with a knight class' armor, shield and sword compared to a deprived class' club, plank-shield and lack of armor. Magic using classes are also available, but tend to be a tougher start for an inexperienced player.


Dark Souls' gameplay is uncompromising - you will die. The undead asylum features a short tutorial, but after this the hand-holding is over. You will learn to fight and use bonfires to recuperate and save your hard-won progress. Bonfires act as the player's base of operations and, after dying, you will respawn at your last visited bonfire to continue your journey; unfortunately, bonfires also respawn previously defeated non-boss monsters. Arriving at the next bonfire means progression, or you are entering a new area.

Dark Souls rewards careful and thoughtful advancement. Players should take their time and learn how enemies move, defend and attack. Knowledge and exploiting your opponents movements is the best strategy to efficiently defeating them. Defeating enemies will gain you souls, the game's currency, which can then be spent on equipment or character upgrades. Upgrading your character makes them tougher, effects PvP range and unlocks equipment. A final tip - don't rush - rushing through the game will get you killed, even pros who rush will generally end up dying.


The Souls series of games is famous for its inspiring level design and awesome area bosses. Dark Souls' environment design is generally characterized around the area's boss; if an area is full of lava - expect a lava demon, etc. Level design is both intricate and confusing, unfortunately new players can often find themselves without a clear path forward; reading an online guide, Google search or wiki can put the player back on track. The environment itself is a hazard in Dark Souls, it will, often literally, cause your downfall.

If you play Dark Souls online, and you should, there are a number of online only features: PvP and co-op gameplay; spectres of other players; player messages comprising of hints, warning and traps; and blood stains of other players. Touching blood stains will replay someone else's final moments, often warning of a monster, ambush or fall. If you are online, you may trigger co-op or PvP invasion, these add much more tension, flavor and community into the game.


Covenants are a new addition to the Souls series and enable both active co-op and PvP multiplayer. Split between generally evil and generally bad, covenants offer special rewards and abilities to members. Personally, dark wraiths are my favorite covenant; dark wraiths forcefully invade players around the same level and hunt them for souls and humanity. Some covenants remove the level cap for invasions, so a level 30 player could potentially fight a high level 120+ player or group of high level players. Some players have mixed feelings over no-cap fighting, but it does add an amount of variability into the game. PvP is also the fastest and most efficient way to harvest souls, so mastering it does pay off.

Dark Souls is a great game, but it does have its fair share of problems. There are frame rate issues in some sections of the game and lag, but they are generally not a major issue. The game has been out for sometime now and it has become arguably less newbie friendly in relation to covenants and PvP. Dark Souls is not a game for everyone, it doesn't hold your hand or baby you, and this could be a casual gamer's worst nightmare.


In a AAA market dominated by mindless shooters and risk-averse publishers, Dark Souls is another breath of fresh air that takes the average gamer out of their comfort zone. Dark Souls' art, music and design are excellent and its imagery and music resonates. The game rewards tenacity, mastering your character and being as unrelenting as the game itself. Casual players will probably find Dark Souls an untenable and miserable experience, which they cannot drag themselves through - too bad for them.

9.2/10

Note: The best time to PvP is between 5-9pm Japanese time. Why do Japanese players always have two phantoms while pvping? Dishonorable!

This is a review of the PS3 version of Dark Souls, the Xbox 360 version may differ, or not have frame rate issues, etc

Also, a PC version of Dark Souls with added features will hit stores later in the year.

Friday, 15 June 2012

PS3 Review: Uncharted 2 Among Thieves


Uncharted 2 Among Thieves (UC2) developed by Naughty Dog and released in 2009 for the PS3. UC2 is a sequel of 2007's Uncharted Drake's Fortune (UC1) and features the original's team of characters. Like UC1, UC2 is an action-adventure platformer with an ample helping of cover based shooting. Has Naughty Dog found hidden treasure with UC2?

Once again you play as treasure-hunting wiseguy Nathan Drake as he is solicited into stealing one of Marco Polo's relics. Two new characters are introduced, Harry Flynn and Chloe Frazer, both of whom have a murky history with Nathan. It doesn't take long before you are leaping, shooting and puzzling your way through the wonderful story. The story seamlessly unfolds as you play the game and successfully keeps you directly in the action.

UC2's levels are much more complicated and much larger than UC1's. The whole world is larger and the environments are much more diverse; this time around you are not restricted to ruins and jungle levels. As usual, the platforming is seamlessly integrated into the environment and is often used to great visual effect. You may literally feel dizzy looking down in UC2; people who are afraid of heights have now been warned.



The artwork is fantastic, the Tibetan/Buddhist mythology is spot on and UC2's story has greater depth and length compared to UC1. Buddhist mythology is a vast subject with many facets and I think UC2 manages to balance the elegant artwork with mythological significance without bogging our minds in the depths of Tibetan/Buddhist spiritualism. Many puzzles are quite large, ornate and directly feature interesting Buddhist artwork and themes.

The new cast of characters, especially Claudia Black's Chloe, add so much more to UC2's story. UC2's new characters not only add depth and tension to the story, but they also add to Nathan Drake's backstory. The villain of the piece is also very well crafted, both monstrous and full of memorable evil. UC2's story and characterization strongly demonstrates the superb writing and creativity of the UC series. UC2 also contains some very good lines of resonating dialogue throughout the game.


I have no problem writing that UC2 is a truly amazing game and one of the best sequels ever made. A complete upgrade from UC1, UC2 has lusher visuals, lingering music, improved gameplay and a more engaging story; even the malingering gunfighting elements have been thankfully tweaked. And although gunplay elements could be further improved, they're probably fundamentally hampered by the inaccurate console controller. Hopefully UC3's gunfighting will be further mastered and will be as satisfying as the rest of the game.

In summary, UC2 should easily be a contender, if not winner, for GOTY 2009 and deserves every award it receives. The developers are obviously aiming to be closer to a blockbuster movie than an ordinary run, gun and jump console game and it shows in the final product. Console game designers could learn a lot from UC2's core design elements and lofty goals. If you have a PS3 and love great videogames don't miss UC2, buy it now. I'm going to tell random people in the street how good this game is.

-I take back that Nathan Drake is like Indiana Jones, he is more like Jack T. Colton from Romancing the Stone and Jewel of the Nile.

9.8/10


A warning to players - just like UC1, I still had stuttering problems during cutscenes with UC2. After searching the Interweb, it (probably) turns out my replacement harddrive is too fast for the PS3 to handle, causing sync issues with audio and video. If you have upgraded your internal harddrive with a faster drive you may also experience sync issues, which will wreck your enjoyment of the game a little. Even with this problem it is plain to see that UC2 is GOTY material.

Monday, 11 June 2012

PS3 Review: Uncharted Drake's Fortune


Uncharted Drake's Fortune is an action/platformer/puzzle/shooter released in 2007 and developed by Naughty Dog for the PS3. You play as treasure hunter Nathan (Nate) Drake as he follows the lead of his ancestor, Sir Francis Drake, in the search for the lost city of gold El Dorado. Nathan is joined by his compadre Sully and the nosy reporter Elena Fisher. The trio's search for El Dorado has not gone unnoticed by the usual fare of pirates, scum and fortune hunters.

Uncharted's gameplay is a mixture of platforming, puzzling and gunplay. 

The platforming elements are solid and are often used to effectively show off the fantastic level design. The high production value of Uncharted's art, design and textures really immerse the player into the game's environment. Hidden treasures are often stashed around platforming areas of the game.

The puzzling isn't challenging, but I think it's adequate, as hard puzzles would break the flow of the action. You won't feel like a genius solving the puzzles in Uncharted, but they're a nice change of pace from the platforming and poor gunfighting.


Unfortunately, Uncharted's gunplay is poorly balanced between player and AI. The AI comes in large waves and has god-like accuracy and toughness. Guns are hard to control and, because there is a lot of gunfighting over the course of the game, a general handicap to the overall enjoyment of the game. In comparison to weapon handling, melee fighting is well handled and generally satisfying.

The game's story is spot on for action-adventure and mixes humor and serious plot to perfection. Uncharted reminds me of Raiders of the Lost Ark and other Indiana Jones movies, but Nathan Drake is no Indiana Jones that's for sure. The characters in Uncharted are well crafted and, as the story is moved along, further developed as you play. The unfolding storyline concerning El Dorado, and the characters seeking it, is definitely a highlight of the game.

Uncharted also features a lot of small QTEs based on the PS3 controller which can be hit and miss - shaking a controller will be forever counter intuitive.

In summary, if Naughty Dog spent more time mastering the gun elements and weapon balance, then Uncharted would be an instant classic - hands down. Uncharted's gameplay will be forever marred because of the way weapons are handled. If you can see past the bad points, Uncharted is as a pretty fantastic and generally well-polished game. 

Uncharted has a number of sequels and hopefully the weapon handling issues have been fixed.

7.5/10

Did anyone else have stuttering issues during the cutscenes? I have the region 4 platinum edition of Uncharted and during cutscenes experienced sound sync and stutter issues. I didn't factor these problems into Uncharted's final ranking.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Review: Warlords Battlecry 3


Warlords Battlecry 3 (WBC3) is a fantasy RTS game with role playing elements released in 2004 for the PC. The game allows players to fully customise their RTS gameplay and has become a cult classic for RTS gamers. WBC3 features extensive character customisation and a large free roam singleplayer campaign. Multiplayer and skirmish modes are also available outside the single player campaign setting.

Players begin by creating an army general/hero, really a mercenary leader, who commands your forces throughout the game. You control your general during battle, and dictate his campaign path using the overhead world map. During the course of the game, your hero will level up and you will have to decide which stats and skills to invest in. After numerous battles, your hero can potentially become a physical or magical wrecking ball, much to the ire of your enemies.

Hero Stats
WBC3's hero creation is what sets it apart from its RTS siblings. Featuring 16 different races and 28 characters classes, WBC3 has more in common with pen and paper character creation than a CRPG. 448 different combinations allows for very specific, player specified, gameplay customisation. Keep in mind that some race/class combinations are underpowered, some are overpowered and some are middle ground. If you want to play an insectoid warrior or minotaur wizard, WBC3 allows you the nth degree of customisation.

WBC3's single player campaign is extensive. There is a main storyline and story driven quests, but the game does not shackle you to it. The player is free to roam around the map, making friends and enemies as you go. The 16 races of Etheria inhabit the world and each are represented on the overhead map. Battles usually feature the local inhabitants and locals can be friend, foe or neutral to the player. Stealing from a race usually turns them hostile and the player will no longer receive missions from that race. Allied races become playable races that you can select to command before a battle starts.

Overhead Map
Once a battle or mission is selected from the overhead map, the player may then choose a few units to start with. Players can choose a standard racial selection of units or from a special retinue of hero units. The special retinue of units follows the hero and keeps experience from previous battles. After starting unit selection, the screen will then change to the RTS battle map.

Battles consist of creating race specific buildings and units to overcome your enemy. Racial units and buildings have different strengths, weaknesses and upgrade trees. Overall, it is a standard RTS featuring rushing, turtling, resource management, hero killing, fog of war, etc. Knowing your racial strength and weaknesses is often the key to winning. Your strategy will probably be rush building to your race's most effective units and then overwhelming your enemy with superior forces. Your leader and hero units offer flexibility when starting, building structures, maintaining resources and fighting. The enemy AI is adequate, but nothing amazing.

Battle Map
WBC3 also includes skirmish and multiplayer modes. Skirmish mode allows you to play heroes outside of the main campaign and test builds and units against each other. Multiplayer can be played over LAN or Internet and has a wide range of features and gameplay modes. WBC3 also contains a map editor which allows users to create maps that can then be used in skirmishes and multiplayer.

WBC3 was released in 2004 and I still have fun playing it today. The replay value of this game is immense, to say the least. If you are a fan of RTS games, and you missed WBC3 in 2004, you should probably check it out. The warlords series is definitely original and fun, and WBC3 offers a lot of gameplay and subtle depth for people interested in fantasy RTS games.

WBC3 is available here.

 -Did I mention WBC3 has 13 schools of magic?
8/10

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Review: Diablo 3


Diablo 3 is a AAA game released for the PC and Mac by Blizzard Entertainment. The previous Diablo games are generally well regarded as quality hack n' slash adventure games. A long time in development, no doubt due to World of Warcraft's success, Diablo 3's release comes with very high expectations due to its groundbreaking forebearers. Have Blizzard put out another successful game?

Blizzard has always released high quality and, due to long development cycle, very well polished games. Diablo 3 bears all the hallmarks of a quality Blizzard offering. Unfortunately, Diablo 3 features an online MMO style encapsulation that detracts from the enjoyment of the game, especially the single player experience. No connection to the Internet means no Diablo 3. You will encounter this always online MMO shell every time you start the game.

Starting the game involves creating a character, you have a choice of witch doctor, barbarian, wizard, monk and demon hunter. Classes are split between melee and ranged variations, each has a unique skill and rune empowerment system. You also have the option of both male and female characters of any class; an option that is severely lacking in most games. Assign yourself a family friendly name, as anything rude, racist or lewd will not be accepted. Diablo 3's cinematics are first rate and are used to tell the game's story, so make sure you stay awhile and listen.


You character's gamestyle will revolve around the skills you select to play and the runes you choose to empower them with, for example, barbarian's have shouts and bash skills, while monk's have mantras and fist based combinations. As you level your character, new skills and runes will be unlocked and you gain some arbitrary attributes and HP. Diablo 3's main character customisation comes through equipment stats and ability bonuses. Having quality equipment enhances your characters skills, damage, resistances and survivability.

As with all Diablo games, equipment is dropped randomly and you might find yourself stuck with the same piece of equipment for half the game. Equipment bought from the auction house is your best chance of finding something adequate for your level and is generally seen as a non-negotiable necessity in hell and above difficulty.  NPC equipment vendors, which are adequate during a normal playthrough, are useless for players on harder difficulties. NPC equipment level is based on region and not player level, so you could be level 55 while NPCs still vend poor level 40 equipment. When playing, equipment doesn't really start to define your character until the final stages of your first playthrough. Socketed equipment can be further customised with gem stones.

Gameplay is generally fun as you, either solo or multiplayer, smash through demon infested environs. The difficulty of a multiplayer game is increased or decreased according to the number of players present. A solo playthrough on normal is hardly challenging and it's only on nightmare difficulty or above a decent challenge exist. Solo players have the option of a henchmen to help them through the game. Having a NPC buddy adds some flavour and makes difficult opponents and situations even easier. Difficulty levels cannot be skipped, so joining your advanced buddy in hell is not an option. Diablo 3 is split into a series of acts, some which are better than others. Randomly structured levels help replay, but only in a aesthetic sense.



Diablo 3's story, told through cinematics and NPC dialog, is solid. Most of an act's story is a lead into the inevitable boss fight. Needless to say, after your initial playthrough, the story is just a nuisance getting inbetween you and the demons. The story can be skipped, but I find it a hassle that the story and main quest line can never be deviated upon, you will be undertaking the same quests to defeat the same boss monsters each playthrough. The story is definitely a linear, although action packed, experience.

Diablo 3 offers a few unique features including a real money auction house and custom equipment/gem NPCs which need to be invested in. The auction house sits outside the game, some could say tacked on, which allows players to auction their surplus items to other players. The auction house is still being fixed and the real money feature has not yet been implemented. I could only imagine the hoopla if real money was mixed with a buggy implementation. Investment NPCs are a mixed bag too. The gem NPC Covetus Shen, excellently voiced by James Hong, is probably the most memorable character in the game.

Diablo 3 is really a mixed offering. It's a decent hack n' slash adventure and co-op gaming with friends is always fun. Plagued by initial release problems, Diablo 3 still has some major issues that need to be resolved. It's arguable if always being online has hurt Diablo 3 more than it has helped it. I think the auction house will end up being a forever troublesome problem for Blizzard. Eventually, after a series of large updates, the majority of problems will be solved and we will finally have a solid game.

 -Stay awhile and listen...
7/10

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Roguelike Review Series Wrap Up


The end of the month means the end of my roguelike review series. I will review another series of roguelikes later in the year. I did miss a notable few including Slash 'EM, Elona and Diablo. With the release of Diablo 3, I probably should've ended the series with a Diablo review, but the Diablo series shifts away from the roguelike genre and is more action/RPG/isometric/etc.

Overdosing on a particular genre is not healthy for a gamer, I'm looking at you MMO players. A change of pace will keep me fresh for another roguelike series later in the year. Also, due to the complexities of some roguelikes, review times can be slow and it's sometimes hard to give justice to the game's content. Hopefully, this month's series of reviews can offer a taste before people decide to invest their time playing a game.

A quick reminder, the games reviewed this month are free to download and play, but their continual development is dependent on fan donations. Most free roguelikes have a donate button on their website. If you have a few spare dollars, and like their game, donate and keep the developers working.

I will return to reviewing games I happen to be playing, currently they're: Ace of Spades, Crusader Kings 2 and Diablo 3. Be sure to follow me on Twitter or Facebook for new updates.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Roguelike Review: DoomRL


Holy Crap. Doom the roguelike, mixture of mid 90s FPS classic Doom and the awesome depth of a modern roguelike. A match made in heaven...or hell? When I first heard about DoomRL, years ago, I thought the game could go two ways - fantastic or massive fail. A mad scientist like concept, does this Frankenstein's monster like game live up to the classic Doom legacy?

I'm not going to introduce Doom, go Google it now if you are 12 years old or casual. Needless to say, Doom is a classic FPS action game with gameplay features that modern developers still emulate today. DoomRL incorporates story, characters and gameplay elements from Doom into the roguelike genre. First person viewpoint is changed to top down, real time action is now turn based and many other changes have been made to transform the essence of Doom into DoomRL.

You start the game as a marine, scout or technician. DoomRL features a unique skill tree and custom equipment modding. Skill and equipment tailoring will need to be mastered for you to win the game. Unlike most roguelikes, DoomRL is action focused and has been designed for fast gameplay that can be enjoyed by casual gamers. DoomRL cuts back on the normal roguelike learning curve, allowing players to jump straight into the game and start blasting away - just like Doom.



All of Doom's weapons are featured and DoomRL includes special and unique weapon variants. Equipment, weapons and armor can be modded to increase damage, speed, etc. Chainsaws, knifes and fists allow you to melee opponents, but I think DoomRL's gunplay shines through. Blasting enemies with you chaingun or plasma rifle is quite satisfying. If a stubborn enemy crosses your path, time to bring out the BFG or rocket launcher. Knowing the right gun for the situation is critical to beating boss monsters or clearing a demon infested room.

DoomRL demands sensible resource management from the player. Ammunition, armor durability and health all need to be maintained throughout the game. Running out of ammo or armor at a crucial moment can be quite fatal. Fighting with your fists or chainsaw can be quite brutal, but your health and armor will suffer for it. Powerups, randomly placed around levels, can save the player's life or offer a huge advantage over the local filth.


DoomRL features both randomly generated and custom crafted levels. Custom levels are denoted by their red staircases and their designs are usually based upon famous Doom levels. Levels can be skipped if you are not properly prepared or you have run out of supplies. DoomRL is very forgiving for a rougelike and offers multiple difficulty modes for novices, experts and everyone in-between.

If you have fond memories of the original Doom series, and don't mind the roguelike genre, than DoomRL will give you a decent nostalgia hit. Easter eggs, references, enemies and epic soundtrack will bring those 90s memories flooding back.

DoomRL is the fastest paced and action oriented roguelike I have ever played. Music and sound effects are remastered from the original games and the soundtrack immediately sets the right "Doom mood". If you need to waste a few minutes or an hour, DoomRL is the perfect game - light on story and heavy on action.

DoomRL now features full graphical support and is available on Windows, Mac and Linux. DoomRL can be found here.

-I'm too young to die!
8/10