Monday, 30 April 2012

Review: Lands of Lore - The Throne of Chaos


Patrick Stewart! Captain Picard! Awesome! Is probably the first thing you'll be thinking of when you start playing Lands of Lore: The Throne of Chaos(LoL). Developed by Westwood Studios, RIP, and released in 1993, LoL has good King Richard, voiced by Patrick Stewart, charging you with rescuing the kingdom from the hag Scotia and the evil Dark Army.

The gameplay is grid based, role-play with fighting in real time. LoL's fighting style is very close to the recent Legend of Grimrock- reviewed here. The real time fighting is a mixed bag. It keeps you on your toes, but at the same time allows you to be cornered and overwhelmed quite easily. The leveling system is based on three classes; fighter, rogue and mage. Character levels are gained by using each classes' weapons. Melee combat raises fighter level, missile weapons raise rogue level and casting spells raises magery.

The leveling system and weapons you find are unique, unfortunately it also stinks. There is simply not enough meaningful information about the leveling system or the equipment you discover. There are times in the game where certain equipment is useless or near useless, but there is no way of telling until it's too late. This game has many frustrating gameplay flaws. Just being able to hit certain enemies is a chore and it kills the flow of the game. I found myself rage quitting on more than one occasion due to re-spawning monsters. The game design feels like a cut-down Dungeons and Dragons system; a system LoL doesn't pull off.

The LoL story is solid and is perhaps its greatest draw card. All the characters are expertly and fully voice acted. The shapeshifting Scotia has been the most memorable boss I have fought in a long time. The story spreads across large areas and by the end of the game it really feels like you have completed an arduous quest. The overall difficulty is high and, even though monsters are set to normal, you will be wiped out often. Saving often and in multiple slots is definitely advised. Monster difficulty is unbalanced and you'll find monsters that are either pushovers or untouchable behemoths.



This game almost feels like a satire of older DnD crpgs. Filled with in-jokes, gimmicks and poor game design I can only surmise Westwood was not taking themselves too seriously when they created LoL. I wish they had spent more time developing the leveling system and relayed more information to the player regarding equipment. This game could have been a true classic, but I would still prefer playing Eye of the Beholder, Dungeon Master or Ultima Underworld over Lands of Lore.

LoL, while flawed, has a pretty decent storyline with a few memorable characters. I would advise playing on easy and enjoying the story, voice acting and puzzles. The masochists of the world have the option of making monsters even harder, but I would only suggest this if you like pain and misery. If you've ever been accused of being a casual gamer finishing LoL will entitle you to the coveted moniker of gamer.

6/10 



  


Sunday, 22 April 2012

Installing GTK+ on Windows 7 and MinGW

GTK+ is a GUI library for C and a bunch of other languages. Recently, I had the "pleasure" of installing this on Windows 7. Follow these steps and you'll be compiling GTK C programs in no time.

Download the GTK+ bundle for windows (32 or 64bit), I used 32 bit because my MinGW is 32bit.

Install in a simple directory like C:\opt\ or F:\opt\

Go to your windows environment variables on your computer and add GTK's bin directory to the PATH variable. eg. C:\opt\bin

Execute both of these commands on the command line:
pkg-config --cflags gtk+-2.0
pkg-config --libs gtk+-2.0

If the above commands fail to produce outputs than your install is bad, you need to reinstall or check your PATH variable.

Next, run package config and store the result into a file using the output direction '>'
Example:
pkg-config --cflags --libs gtk+-2.0 > flags.txt

Copy the contents of flags.txt into your makefile or use on the command line

The compile line should look like this:

gcc -o main main.c -mms-bitfields -IF:/opt/include/gtk-2.0 -IF:/opt/lib/gtk-2.0/include -IF:/opt/include/atk-1.0 -IF:/opt/include/cairo -IF:/opt/include/gdk-pixbuf-2.0 -IF:/opt/include/pango-1.0 -IF:/opt/include/glib-2.0 -IF:/opt/lib/glib-2.0/include -IF:/opt/include -IF:/opt/include/freetype2 -IF:/opt/include/libpng14  -LF:/opt/lib -lgtk-win32-2.0 -lgdk-win32-2.0 -latk-1.0 -lgio-2.0 -lpangowin32-1.0 -lgdi32 -lpangocairo-1.0 -lgdk_pixbuf-2.0 -lpango-1.0 -lcairo -lgobject-2.0 -lgmodule-2.0 -lgthread-2.0 -lglib-2.0 -lintl

GTK should now be setup for windows, happy coding.

P.S. When compiling object files using gcc -c you only need to link in the cflags files.
Using the method above, but only with: pkg-config --cflags gtk+-2.0

Friday, 20 April 2012

Opinion: Dark Souls on PC



At the the start of the year From Software, developer of Demon's and Dark Souls, announced a PC port of the console version of Dark Souls. When news of this first broke I felt more than skeptical, even pessimistic, about the future of this project. I own both Demon's and Dark Souls on the PS3, both are very good games and I will take pleasure in reviewing them in the future. First though, I want to explain how a good PS3 or Xbox game can be turned into a pile of crap for the PC.

The history of bad PC ports is legendary with common problems such as bad user interface design (Skyrim), poor translation from controller to mouse/keyboard input (Batman:AA) and lack lustre graphical options(Bioshock). Dark Souls, I fear, is treading down the exact same path of all bad PC ports before it. Without paying attention to UI, control and graphical options From Software are going to lose the chance to create a classic PC RPG experience.

Developing a good PC game is hard. UIs need to be clean and concise and, in most cases, the less on the screen the better. The mouse and keyboard combo allows for precision control and mapping of many keys; 1:1 mapping from controller to keyboard is usually disastrous. PC's differ in computational and graphical power and PCs today are much more powerful compared to consoles. Graphical options need to be extensive to get the most out of a modern PC system. However, thorough graphical options are usually the first thing overlooked and never developed beyond the console version when games are ported.



The latest news concerning Dark Souls here does not paint a pretty picture, nor assuage my fears. Low resolution textures and frame locking is taken for granted on consoles, but it is probably the worst thing you can do to a PC game. PCs have the ability of making some games look even better (Crysis) if extensible graphical options exist.

PC ports are not a new phenomena and, since the steady march towards consoles from the mid 2000s, most PC ports have been seen as an easy cash-in for lazy developers and even worse publishers. The unfortunate truth is that unless developers plan a PC version from the beginning a straight console port will be utter garbage.

From Software are great developers, I personally love them. They have created one of the best series of hardcore games this generation. Unfortunately, if things keep going as they are, they will create the worst PC port of this generation as well. This ill-fated trip into the world of PC games looks to be a bridge too far. I can only hope they wake up in time to deliver a respectable game.


Thursday, 19 April 2012

Review: Portal


Portal is a puzzle game created by Valve and the group of students who developed Narbacular Drop. The game uses the source engine and was released on the steam platform. Portal's difficulty depends on the player, a logical and patient player should have little to medium difficulty solving Portal's puzzles. Portal has a sequel that extends gameplay and story; Portal 2 review coming soon.

The story unfolds in the high tech Aperture Science Laboratory. Waking from hibernation into a small room, a robot voice instructs you on the science of portals. It doesn't take long before you are flying through the air and solving neat puzzles. Falling is an inevitable hazard within the numerous testing chambers. Luckily, the player is equipped with life saving leg suspension devices that allow the user to survive long falls.


Inevitably, things take a turn for the worse and Portal becomes a more freestyle and open game. Escaping Aperture Labs with your life is going to take all your daring and portaling skill. Gun turrets with personality, a HAL like A.I., and the promise of cake all stand in your way to freedom.

Portal is a thoroughly defined and encapsulated game. The portal chambers the player traverse have obviously gone through rigorous beta testing and iterative design stages. The cleanliness of design adds to the feeling of being trapped inside a sterile laboratory. Voice acting is wonderful and it's definitely the icing on the Portal cake.


The only small problem with Portal is the loading interruption between stages. Obviously designed with consoles in mind, the PC version is cluttered with unnecessary loading screens between very small areas. The threadbare story is refreshing and the puzzles are stimulating. If you consider yourself a gamer, of any kind, you should play portal.

9.7/10

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Review: Wurm Online


Wurm is a free-to-play, MMO, RPG adventure game based on survival, community, grinding and hate. Created and maintained by the enigmatic Rolf and his helper elves. Interestingly, Minecraft's Notch co-created Wurm.

Wurm has had its ups and downs over the years; many bugs and features are still being worked on. Wurm's biggest draw is the new player's ability to choose from a selection of maps(realms), which are quite large, and set out to build a new settlement or join an existing village. The settler spirit unites the players of Wurm and new players are usually helped along by older players, if polite.

With a basic set of tools, and the starting tutorial under your "tool belt", setting off into the unknown has never felt so delightfully challenging. Picking a good spot on one of Wurm's wiki maps or asking locals in chat about good sites will point the new player in the right direction. Building a house close to resources such as wood, water, iron, precious metals, clay, tar and peat is the most desirable starting goal. Once your house has been built, planting a farm and securing water is a good idea.

If there are any problems, at the press of a button the Wurmpedia is accessible in-game. The community chatbox is at hand with players in the local vicinity or the entire server accessible. New players should beware wild animals, most will wipe the floor with new and unexperienced players.

The RPG system used in Wurm is based on a wide variety of skills. Almost everything you do in game will train certain skills, you may also discover new skills as you play. Building a houses requires carpentry skill while building roads requires masonry. Most skills cover more than one type of action, so some skills raise easily while others don't. Unfortunately, like most MMOs, advance skills require huge amounts of grinding and only the most dedicated player reach max skill levels.

Wurm features premium and non-premium player accounts. Non-premium players skill is capped at 20 out of a possible 100; premium players have full game features unlocked. Premium membership costs 10 euro for 2 months and, after the allotted time, accounts revert back to non-premium status.

As with all MMOs, especially with smaller communities like Wurm, drama and pettiness can rear its ugly head. Premium players are able to bash down walls and fences which can cause havoc, arguments and genuine hostility. Fences can become a nasty point of contention between neighbors and GMs usually have to step in to arbitrate. Fences block movement, this can cause an unneeded massive detour to an otherwise close destination. It is also an obligation that you fence off farms, rare trees and surrounding lands.

Wurm is quite an interesting game and banding with some friends, bros or joining an existing village is preferable to going it alone. Many hands make light work and in Wurm there is a lot of work to be done. It is free to play and, if you have the time, worth checking out.

7.5/10


Review: Terraria

 

Terraria is an indie, 2D, side scrolling, block world adventure game. You create a custom character and randomize the world you want to play in. Terraria has well developed multiplayer support with PvP and co-op play. The gameplay is a mixture of survival, exploration and boss fighting. The world can be quite large and is divided into biomes, depth layers, night and day; each biome and depth layer has unique monsters and resources for the player to encounter.

Movement is in four directions left, right, up and down. Learning to move, dodge and fight enemies will be your introduction into the world. Quickly building a safe house using available materials, like wood and dirt, will allow you to survive your first hostile night. After settling down in your new environment, and outfitting yourself, the game shifts into exploration. Eventually, after exploring the world over, boss monsters become the final hurdle in clearing the world.

Playing with friends is highly recommended as more hands make light work. Mining, building, resource gathering, base defense, monster battles and even exploration is easier with a couple of bros at your side. Some players join games to tear down buildings or steal your possessions, keep an eye on new players.

Boss battles are varied and fun to fight; bosses are summoned into the world, allowing players to prepare. Giant eyes, segmented worms, massive skeletons and more want to smash you into pieces. My tip is to keep moving and keep the DPS up. If you are having trouble with bosses you may need to upgrade your armor or find/create new weapons.

Terraria is a fun game with lots to do and hours of assured gameplay. Gaming with friends is always more enjoyable and creating huge constructions is quite normal. see here. Terraria is available on steam for the low cost of $10 .

9/10

 

Review: Osmos


Created by a small team from Canada, Hemisphere Games' Osmos is a physics based puzzle game. Steam would have you believe that this title is casual, but I can tell you from experience the last levels are hell. read here.

You take control of your "mote", which has the ability to eject mass for propulsion, and, using the mouse, steer its path through space. Your mote will need to absorb other smaller matter to survive; the mote also has the added risk of being absorbed by larger objects. Management of mass, speed, orbit and direction must all be attended to. Levels can be won by becoming the largest on screen or by absobing an actively hostile mote. Game mode changes between straight absorption to, much harder, control of multiple orbits and survival of the fittest.

Osmos' music is first class and will relax your mind during the easier levels. I'm sure people listen to the relaxing music even outside of the game, it's that good. The game is a nice change of pace from hectic FPS, action or RPG games. Fun for all ages, it is easily played and genuinely rewarding to see yourself grow.

As stated above, later stages of Osmos are not so casual. There is challenge here for the more hardcore gamer and lovers of physics puzzles. I'm not a physics buff, but even I know that Sir Isaac Newton would be proud of this game. Osmos is available on steam, smartphones and has been released with the humble indie bundle.

"Become the Biggest"

9.5/10

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Review: Spiral Knights


Spiral Knights is a free-to-play, isometric, co-op MMO game created by Three Rings and owned by SEGA. The game features 4-player co-op, equipment based advancement, skillful gameplay, PvP, expensive crafting, paying real money for in-game currency(Crystal Energy) and nasty lag outside of North America.

The player controls a single knight, but you can create more, energy is shared between knights on the same account. The player starts as a noob knight who has been stranded on a planet. Luckily for you, tonnes of other knights have also had the misfortune of crash landing, so you all decide to band together and kick general ass. There is a hidden mystery deep inside the planet and you are recruited to delve into the dangerous clockwork dungeon.

Knights can team together to face the randomised clockworks together, defeating monsters and bosses as you go. Enemies drop crowns, heat and materials that the player can use to buy and empower her equipment. The clockworks use an elevator system to continue on to the next level. Unfortunately the cost of using a lift is energy and knights have a finite amount of this resource, especially new knights.

Energy rules all in Spiral Knights. Lifts in the clockworks, crafting and energy trading for in-game currency are all determined by people buying, with real money, crystal energy.  All knights have a free energy tank, called a mist tank, that refuels very slowly in real time. It takes 13.2 minutes for 1 energy and a full 22 hours for a full tank of 100. Elevators take 10 energy, so that is 10 levels per day for a new knight as long as she doesn't die. Lucky for knights there is an elevator pass that you can buy, with real money, that will make the elevators free. I guess elevator passes are Spiral Knight's biggest selling item as it allows you to play the game at your own pace. Once you are established, energy becomes less of a big deal as you'll be earning more then you are spending on lifts.

Co-op is fun, but can also be a hassle if your party is not working well together. The party leader has the option of kicking and inviting people at will. Friends and guild members can drop in an open party slot at any time. Having a full party can be a mixed bag. Less players means easier enemies, but having more players allows for better revives and splitting enemy attention. A three player party will be stronger than a four player party with one weak member. Lag can also rear its ugly head and makes players less effective; especially with blocking attacks.

PvP is split between team capture the flag and a 1v1 Bomberman style of game. The fighting is generally fun with teams of four or more. Players receive PvP prizes in the form of Krogmo Coins which can be exchanged for items. Lag can cause PvP to be less than a fair game, the norm for online games.

Recently the Spiral Knights team created a new ranked mission system. This mission system provides equipment appropriate levels outside of the clockworks. These levels award knights prestige and equipment on clearing. Prestige in turn unlocks new ranks and missions and also unfolds the Spiral Knight story. A DLC mission set was also released a short time ago.

Spiral Knights is a free-to-play MMO, and while it is possible to play for free, it unfortunately requires grinding of bosses to be energy efficient. While not required, I would recommend anyone interested in playing the game to buy an Elevator Pass and save yourself a lot of time and hassle.

Checking out the game is free and it's available on steam.

7.5/10



Review: Stalker: Shadow Of Chernobyl


S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Stealth Tigers Are Lying Kats Eat Rats

Stalker:SoC is a memorable, atmospheric and eerie game. Developed by GSC game world from the Ukraine, it is set in and around the Chernobyl NPP and the surrounding exclusion zone. In an alternative universe a second event occurred after the nuclear meltdown during the 80s. This event has turned the zone around the power plant into a gold mine of artifacts, banditry and scientific exploration. The modding community has fully embraced stalker and mods big and small litter the internet allowing players to fully customise their stalking experience; new players should approach mods with caution.

With the promise of wealth and power, men (no women) called stalkers hunt for artifacts, kill radiated mutants, play guitar around the campfire and drink vodka. Bandits prey on new stalkers and two strong factions have setup large bases in the zone. The Freedom and Duty factions have incompatible ideologies and have aligned themselves against each other. Military forces have orders to kill any non-military personnel on sight.

The player begins the game not knowing who they are; their mission is to reclaim their memories, kill a man named Strelok and survive the hostile exclusion zone. You are given a pistol and an easy mission to help fellow stalkers. In no time you will be crossing large sections of the dangerous zone, using trader bases as safe areas and stalking with the best of them.

Stalker has three standout gameplay elements; gun play, atmosphere and fellow stalkers. Pistols, SMGs, shotguns, assault and sniper rifles all behave uniquely, choosing the right weapon for the job is key. The arsenal at your disposal consists of both Warsaw Pact (AKs, Dragunovs, PMm) and NATO (MP5, G36, FN2000) country weapons. Most weapons can be modded with scopes, silencers or grenade launchers. The number of mods concerning gun play is almost overwhelming, modding stalker can add new weaponry or tweak existing weapons.



The atmosphere of stalker is probably its most memorable feature. Weather, shadow, light, night and day are all impressively rendered by stalker's XRAY engine. The night is dark and the sounds of howling dogs, gunshots or unknown growling can be unsettling for a lone stalker. Moving through an abandoned house or factory will have you on alert for bandit ambushes, wild animals or worse. Picking up a high-res mod pack will enhance the visual experience.

"Get out of here stalker", and, "Don't just stand there, come in", are a few things your fellow stalkers will say to you as you cross their path. Conversations with traders, faction leaders and fellow stalker help push the game's story along. Although you start as a loner there is always a bond between true stalkers. During fights, if friendly faction stalkers are near they will help you; even Duty and Freedom members will lend you a hand if you haven't joined a side yet. Running towards a group of friendly stalkers can be the difference between life and death.

Stalker is a true classic adventure FPS and if you haven't played it you probably should. It is advised to play vanilla stalker with only official patches for your first playthrough. Mods can then be added for replays, weaponry or graphical enhancement.


"Get out of here stalker"
9/10


Review: Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines


Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines (VTMB) was the last RPG released by developer Trokia, RIP. Buggy at release, but fixed with patches both official and fan made, VTMB has become a classic with RPG aficionados. Interestingly, VTMB was one of the first games to use Valve's synonymous source engine. Vampire the Masquerade is an RPG system created by White Wolf in a time before Buffy (the movie) and the vampire lore ruining crapfest Twilight.

When you start a new game, character creation is either questionnaire based, like ultima, or player selected. You can choose a clan from the available seven in the masquerade, each has their own skill set and abilities. There is a humanity stat to gauge your bloodthirsty-ness and a masquerade gauge to determine how well you keep actions hidden from the general populace. Discretion with your vampiric actions is required to maintain the masquerade.

You start the game human, but not for long; a cutscene shows your fate. As a fledgling vampire you are trained in the ways of the masquerade, learn who your enemies are, test your skills, learn what it takes to survive, drink blood, and fight. After the tutorial the game is divided into hub areas each of which are over-the-shoulder free roam.



Vampire masquerade can be played in the usual classic RPG ways; good, evil or neutral. Fighting can be executed with claws, melee weapons or guns. Your strong vampire abilities usually require an amount of blood to use and blood comes in packs, necks, other vampires and rats. I always knew blood banks were suspicious. NPCs usually have large dialog trees and their reactions to your comments are shown on their faces. Playing as a Malkavian also unlocks some interesting dialog options, but it generally isn't recommended to play your first game as a madly insightful Malkav.

Along the path of vamprism you'll meet interesting characters, deal with factional warfare, cut a path through your enemies, hack computers, shoot and bite people and generally have a good time. This RPG is one of my favorites and is definitely worth playing; go play it.

8.5/10

Monday, 16 April 2012

Review: Fallout


Released in the 90s fallout is an epic post-apocalyptic RPG experience. Developed and published by Interplay it is the first of a series of fallout games; some great, some not so great. Recently GoG.com was giving free downloads of fallout, so there is no better time to review it. Fallout is known for its humor, story and classic RPG gameplay. Wasteland was the precursor game to fallout.

You are the chosen one; a survivor of a nuclear apocalypse. Life in the vault, a nuclear bunker, has been untroubled until now. The machine that controls fresh water recycling has broken down and you are sent into the radiated wasteland to retrieve a water chip and save the vault dwellers. Will you find the water chip or find your death?

Character creation is quite interesting. You have seven main attributes, two traits and and many skills covering different weapons and non-combat abilities. It is this screen that determines if you will be a gunslinger, diplomat, scientist, doctor, engineer, thief or combination. As with most RPGs generalization and spreading stats will make the game harder. I chose a sneaky knife wielding scientist.

The gameplay is top down isometric with an overhead travel map. Battles are turn based using AP(Action Points) which are derived from your agility stat. The player's party and enemies take turns until one side is dead or has fled the scene. Most fights are a mixture of melee and ranged weapons with the added ability of targeting shots. A shot to the eye or groin is really irritating and the enemy will usually curse you for it. Hitting someone in the groin with a crowbar is very satisfying.

Making your way through the game you will find people to join your party; this is highly recommended because traveling the waste can be harsh. You will have conversations with many people during your travels and responses may differ depending on your intelligence, charisma or skill set. If all else fails fallout allows you to go guns blazing and ask questions later. You can also role-play as an evil or selfish character who cheats and steals.

Leveling you character gives more HP, skill points and, at every four levels, a perk. Perks range from awesome to useless, so read carefully and maybe read a perk guide. Most perks have prerequisite skills and stats which both must be met before perk selection.

The replay value of this game is outstanding. The way people react, the way you approach different situations means you probably won't play the same game twice. Good, evil and everything in between are represented in this game and you will usually have to walk the line to succeed.

Fallout was released in the late nineties and a lot of gamers feel this time was the golden age of PC games. Fallout and its sequels are beloved by its fans, lots of them reside at NMA. If you haven't played it yet you probably should.

9.5/10



Kickstarter, Double Fine Adventure, Wasteland 2, Shadowrun


Kickstarter - "We’re the world's largest funding platform for creative projects."

Over the last few months gaming circles have been discussing the new phenomena of crowd sourced game funding. A series of games (Double Fine Adventure, Wasteland 2 and Shadowrun) have gone through kickstarter for development fund raising. These projects have offered a series of rewards for backers with the ultimate bonus of seeing these games made.

The current state of the gaming industry has seen a massive shift towards casual gaming. Angry birds, pop cap games and different iphone games have been creating a lot of money for very little development expense. In comparison, old style and AAA games take years and millions of dollars to make and they also carry the risk of being panned by critics or not selling well. It is only logical for publishers to back easy money with less risk. Unfortunately this trend has caused a steep decline in harder, deeper, core games and the sullying of beloved older series; XCOM and SYNDICATE as an FPS for a recent example.

Two months ago Double Fine's Tim Schafer launched the double fine adventure kickstarter project. In around a month DF adventure raised over 3 million dollars from gamers around the world. Very impressive, very inspiring for a lot of developers. Tim's rallying call was the death of old Point-and-Click adventure games. Tim pointed out(pun) that large publishers don't back these games anymore and without kickstarter these types of games would remain dead and buried.



Coming off the success of double fine adventure inXile's Bryan Fargo launched the wasteland 2 kickstarter. A sequel to the legendary 80s RPG wasteland; a precursor to the fallout series and definitely a trend setter for all RPGs on the PC that followed it. Bryan reiterated Tim's message about publishers not willing to back these riskier type games and that only with kickstarter would it be possible to produce games true to their source and core audience.

Shadowrun is another game being crowd funded on kickstarter. Another old school RPG, like wasteland, that would have no chance of being made in the current climate of game publishing. Shadowrun is offering a return to its RPG roots after creating a more cookie cutter FPS for the Xbox and PC.

The success or failure of the above games will probably determine the viability of kickstarter as a game production agent. I'll leave you with some stats about the games at the time of writing.

Double Fine Adventure                 Wasteland 2                          Shadowrun
Game Type: Point-and-Click             Game Type: RPG                    Game Type: RPG
Backers: 87,142+                            Backers: 56,000+                    Backers: 24,000+
Raised: $3.3 million+                       Rasied: $2.7 million+                Raised: $1.1 million+
Time Remaining: FINISHED             Time Remaining: 18hrs             Time Remaining: 12 days





Review: Legend of Grimrock



Legend of Grimrock is a new indie game created by Almost Human; a very small Finnish development team. An old school inspired dungeon crawl involving four prisoners, monsters and one direction - further into the dungeon. It is an ambitious project that mixes old and new gameplay and game design styles.

Grimrock places you in command of four prisoners whose only goal is to survive. Starvation, monsters, traps and puzzles stand between you and escaping the dungeon. You have a choice of races and classes to choose from and sometimes a game can be lost just by choosing the wrong mix. After character creation you are literally dropped, naked, into the torch lit dungeon.

Gameplay is grid based with monsters fighting in real time, planning for encounters ahead of time becomes your best chance of survival. The game will test how prepared you are by surrounding you with monsters or a trap leading to a pack of waiting enemies. If you keep on flanking or kiting around the enemies you will usually have no problem beating them down.

Puzzles and traps are unique and fun. Anyone who has played similar games like Eye of the Beholder or Dungeon Master will feel right at home. A few puzzles did hamper my progress, but a few internet hints were enough to get me going again. Most puzzle solving will lead you to better equipment so secret hunting is ultimately a requirement.

The atmosphere and presentation are first rate, it really feels like a dank, dangerous dungeon filled with monsters. Torches, lighting effects and shadows are all effectively used and keeping stacks of torches on hand becomes second nature. Grimrock can get very dark and light and torches are used in numerous puzzles.

Monster animation is beautiful and never gets boring to see. Monsters are varied enough and strong enough to keep you on your toes. Some enemies can move very fast and each have their own attack speed. You will need to counter enemies either with footwork or fireballs; some enemies are immune to fireballs.

Unfortunately the game has a few niggling problems. Magic isn't well setup for real time gameplay, this is debatable, but I found it to be a chore and not very fun. Monsters are also very dangerous, if you are surrounded, your party will mostly likely get wiped out quickly. Balancing of monsters seems to favor monsters in stand up fights and the party is reduced to flanking and backstabbing attacks. Always flanking the monsters does get tiresome after the first 5 hours.

In summary Legend of Grimrock is a fine dungeon crawler with great visuals,atmosphere and puzzling. If they managed to iron out magic use and monster balance it would probably be a 10/10 game. It is definitely worth the $14.99 and you will be helping to support a small development team.

Score: 8/10






About Me

NAME: Stuart Webber
JOB: Website Admin, Application Developer

LIKES: Games, GoG.com, Programming, Reading, 4chan's /v/ board, Girls and Partying.
DISLIKES: Work, Hassles, Politicians, Forced memes, Casuals
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WHY I CREATED THIS BLOG:
I created this blog to review games; games I play currently, have played in the past and will play in the future. I've been playing since the late 80s, mostly on PCs, so, yes, I have lived through the glory days of PC gaming. I have owned a few consoles here and there over the years, and I currently own a PS3 console. I'm a hardcore gamer, to the ire of my friends and family; and yes I know how dumb it is to describe yourself as any type of gamer.

A FEW OF MY FAVORITE GAMES:
Baldur's Gate 2 - The tour de force of RPGs coming out of the mid to late 90s. A masterpiece of gaming that has joyfully claimed many hours of my life.

Red Alert 2 - My favorite RTS. Total Annihilation would probably be the best RTS ever made, but I love Yuri and all his clones. Hellmarch.mp3



Katamari Damacy - specifically We Love Katamari, it is the gaming equivalent of the feeling you get from playing golf. It mellows you out, feels simplistic, but you can play for ages. The music is amazing.

Stalker Series - maybe not clear sky. SoC and CoP are awesome games. Play with bros, bring your AK, drink vodka, and head into the Chernobyl NPP.

XCOM Series + Jagged Alliance Series - TBS games. I don't want to choose between them, both are amazing. Standouts X-COM:UFO DEFENSE/ENEMY UNKNOWN and Jagged Alliance 2 with the 1.13 mod.

I could rattle off more like Wing Commander, Double Dragon, Zork, Xwing vs tie fighter, Mechwarrior 2:Mercenaries, Fallout series, Total War series and Paradox Interactive games. There are so many good games out there, you should go play them.