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    Rock Band 2 (360)    by   Secretdwarf02       (May 19th, 2015 at 08:50:57)

    This game is really good. I've played it for years and am already on the Endless Setlist 2

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    Legend of Grimrock (PC)    by   dkirschner       (May 17th, 2015 at 16:43:31)

    Beat Grimrock and am proud of myself. This is the most intense game I've played in a long, long time. It's wonderfully atmospheric, very gloomy. I wish I knew how many times I died. It doesn't keep track of that, but I can tell you that I fell into a pit 66 times (usually on purpose!).

    Starting roughly halfway through, the game reached this sweet spot of making me alternate between wanting to quit because it was too punishing and jumping with joy at solving a difficult puzzle and discovering the way forward. All of the puzzles can be figured out without a walkthrough. They are tough, but they all make sense! I admit to looking at a walkthrough one time only, and that was because I didn't realize I could drop items through a gate (hint: you can drop items through gates). I had another ridiculous AHA! moment when I realized that you can put items into bags you find on the ground. Duh. Don't I play enough RPGs to know this? For whatever reason, I would pick up bags and crates, empty their contents, and then discard the container. And I wondered why my inventory was full all the time.

    One of the most interesting things about the game is how the feel of the combat evolves over the course of it. At first, I could hardly even figure it out, it was such an odd system to me. Then I decided it was repetitive. I learned you can exploit nearly any enemy in the game by just doing a little dance around them, attacking them, moving out of the way before they attack back, and repeat until they die. This works well enough with one enemy at the time, but if you can't isolate them, you find yourself in a tough spot. Two enemies can easily corner you, and even late into the game, the most basic enemies can kill your party members. You *always* have to be careful. And the last room in the game is insanely difficult. There is a constant stream of spawning monsters of various types, plus the boss at the end (although the boss will crush enemies in its path, which is useful for clearing the room a bit). Anyway, it isn't so much repetitive as it is a dance with death every encounter. It looks slow if you're just watching a video (my prior exposure to Grimrock), but you will be poised over the mouse and keyboard to quickly maneuver this way or that and attack depending on what the enemy does. It is intense.

    Another thing I liked about Grimrock was all the secrets. According to the stats at the end, I found about half of them. I know I missed a couple big ones, but I thought I found more! You have to kind of pixel hunt along the walls (which does get tedious because all the walls look the same every few levels of the dungeon), looking for anomalies to explore. Then usually a door will open somewhere and you go find it and loot some treasure. It felt rewarding to find secrets, because often they were hard to spot.

    Let's talk about my party. My tanky warrior was awesome. I maxed out defensive skills, so he was tough to kill, and still packed a little punch. The minotaur could deal over 100 damage on a regular basis, but died relatively quickly, so near the end of the game, I began pumping him full of armor points so he could wear heavy armor. My mage, I just kind of scattered points across most of the spell schools, with most in spellcraft (+50% cast speed!) and fire. But I did have a bunch of poison spells and some cold spells. Fireball is a great spell. My rogue became a super badass once he unlocked the "throw two throwing weapons at once" skill. He essentially did double damage from then on out. If I could do it over, I probably would have put two tanks in front because the front takes a lot of damage. Then I probably would have just used two rogues, one with throwing weapons and one with daggers (they can get a skill to attack from the back row with daggers). The reason is that, although the mage was powerful, you have to click sequences of buttons to cast spells. This was neat, but practically, it took time to do. It is easier to click on some throwing knives. Also, mana is a resource that my mage burned through, making me rest often to refresh it. I could have just saved a lot of time with two rogues back there.

    Another thing I would change is that I would just get rid of alchemy altogether. I used maybe 3 potions the entire game. They were pointless for me and the alchemy ingredients just took up space.

    I know there is a Legend of Grimrock 2 out, and I will definitely be buying it! I need some time to relax from this stress-inducing game, but I will have seconds in the future. I am very curious to see what changes they made.

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    Shatter (PC)    by   dkirschner       (May 15th, 2015 at 23:44:25)

    So this is a fun little Breakout-style game with some cool updates. You can "suck" and "blow" the ball and other objects, giving you some control over where it bounces. You can also temporarily shield yourself and you can unleash a special missile barrage once your meter fills up. There are a handful of different types of blocks. Some will float toward you, some will rocket toward you, some hold other blocks in place, some will cause a big explosion, etc., etc. The regular levels were easy enough to just breeze on through, and most of the bosses were too. There are however many levels, with 6 or 7 waves and then a boss. The bosses were fun because you had to make use of sucking and blowing to hit weak points and avoid lasers and other obstacles. Actually I beat them all on the first try except the third-to-last boss in the game. I was stuck there after the first time I played Shatter, then tonight I beat that boss without using all my continues. So yeah. Pretty basic still, but short and fun, with a good soundtrack and nice visuals.

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    Legend of Grimrock (PC)    by   dkirschner       (May 12th, 2015 at 19:41:50)

    I did not think I would be as into Legend of Grimrock as I was for the first hour. Totally reminiscent of the game Paper Sorcerer (aside from the old Dungeon Master and Ultima Underworld) that I played last year. It's a first-person dungeon crawler RPG. You move one square at a time and explore the underground of Grimrock, a nasty prison, where you have been tossed into to die.

    "You" are composed of 4 party members. I checked out the stock party the game will start you with (human fighter, minotaur fighter, human mage, human rogue), and then went back to see what other options there were. I went with a human fighter (who will be tanky), a minotaur fighter (who will deal massive damage), an insect mage (+ willpower), and a lizardman rogue (+ dexterity). Your 4 party members move around in a 2x2 formation. You can put 2 on the front lines, 2 on the back, and change their position at any time. I have the rogue in the back specializing in missile/thrown weapons, though so far all I've found are 6 rocks and a throwing knife. My mage is currently useless. He has two spell scrolls, but I didn't invest points in those two schools of spells at the beginning, and he hasn't yet leveled, so he can't use any spells. I have him throwing the knife over and over and holding a torch so I can see.

    I like how "realistic" the game is. By that I mean, good lord, it's hard! Just like if you imagine four criminals tossed into a pit, they have *nothing* and they are weak and starving. I'm dressed in rags, if anything, and my weapons are horrible. There is a meager tutorial (I had to read it a couple times to figure out how to attack as I was getting my ass kicked by a giant mushroom) and I'm not confident in allocating the skill points I have yet. Though one of the last things I did was fight a warrior with a spear and shield, which my human warrior is now sporting. I'm not sure if there's permadeath. I mean, besides the reloading. I don't have/know about any way to revive slain characters, and I'm currently at a tough part with a bunch of poison-spewing mushrooms who have wiped my party out a couple times.

    Movement is interesting in battle. Like I said, you move one square at a time in the four directions. Then the Q and E keys turn your facing right or left. I've already sort of developed a cowardly strategy for fighting, I admit. I let the enemy get near me, attack with my melee guys, back up and throw some rocks, back up again as the melee attacks are recharging. Then attack again when the enemy moves into range, and repeat. That way I get in way more attacks. But these poison-spewing mushrooms ignore some of the distance and therefore are hard. I shall have to run around corners. Hopefully I won't be playing so cowardly the whole game! At least I can rest and get health back after battles.

    Looking forward to playing more of this. I just now found out my full schedule for tomorrow has been wiped. Though I need to do some work, I shall certainly spend some more time in Grimrock.

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    Gunpoint (PC)    by   dkirschner       (May 12th, 2015 at 16:55:56)

    Just marathoned Gunpoint. It was pretty cool, short though; thought-provoking, but never that difficult. It's a stealth puzzle platformer and reminded me of Mark of the Ninja.

    You play as Richard Conway, a freelance detective who gets wrapped up in a murder case involving espionage, giant corporations, affairs, assassinations, suicides, weapons dealing, and all kinds of good stuff. The tone from the other characters is dead serious, but Conway is an asshole. You have serious dialogue options, but mostly sarcastic ones, made funnier through the fact that in the first half of the game, Conway is trying to earn money while investigating himself, on behalf of the police and some corporate execs, for a crime that he may or may not have committed. The writing is quite good.

    The real star is the stealth puzzling. Conway gets access to something called the Crosslink tool, which allows him to sort of hack electronics by linking them together. So for example, I can link a light switch to a light. Makes sense. I can also link the light switch to a door, so that when I turn on the light switch, the door opens. I can link security cameras to electrical outlets, so that when an enemy walks through the security camera's field of vision, he also gets shocked by the electrical outlet. There are a bunch of different combinations, and then some other gadgets you unlock later on, such as the thing granting the ability to transfer electrical shocks. So for example, I can link the light switch to the electrical outlet, then link the electrical outlet to a door. So when I flip the light switch, the door will shock an enemy.

    You do all this remotely. You don't have to stand right next to things to activate them, and half the challenge is trying to get the guards to trigger things for you as they patrol and become alert to noise and stuff. I should also mention that there are different colored links: red, blue, yellow, green, purple. So different electronics may be on different link grids and can only link with electronics of the same color. Activating different colored link grids requires hacking circuit boxes around the level.

    Super clever game. There is a map editor, which I probably will never use or download custom maps from anyone, but good for there being one! I'm sure people are making challenging maps. Good times. Oh, and at the end of the game, you help Conway write a blog post that you can find online! Here's mine: http://www.pentadact.com/category/conwaysblog/?K=12&U=24&C0=1&E1=1&C1=2&E2=2&C2=6&C3=3&C4=3&C5=2

    You get options for what to write based on your actions in game and based on how you want to talk about what you did.

    This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on May 12th, 2015 at 16:57:29.


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    Sins of a Solar Empire (PC)    by   Lamada

    No comment, yet.
    most recent entry:   Monday 11 February, 2008
    Gameplay 2: After a nice break, I returned to galactic domination. By this point in the game, I have been able to nicely upgrade my fleet. I have moved up the very advanced tech-tree, which has me constantly looking at it to best decide how to upgrade my guys. The space battles have been fun, the ones that I have seen, and I have the graphics turned all the way up with little preceptable lag, which makes the experience all the more fun. One thing I have noticed in this game is the AI is not stupid. If it's outnumbered, expect it to leave a few ships to cover its rear while the rest of the fleet warps away. Even more scary, expect a failed offensive into enemy space to bring a counter-offensive with reserve forces. Yes, the computer keeps reserves, which is slightly more organized then I am right now. I had my huge fleet attack one of his home planets, and after a huge, glorious looking battle, most of my fleet was spacedust. I retreated what I could, and turtled up my forces waiting for reinforcements. At this point in the game, I hadn't been exposed to the counter-attack method. It was a great kick t the head when the game told me :"Enemy warp-space laugh detected. Fleet inbound." My jaw dropped when I saw the same fleet I had just been going toe to toe with, some of the ships still heavily damaged with repair ships in tow, now laughing missles waves and laser attacks against me. I knew I was doomed at that point, which left me with a great feeling. I was worried the game was too easy, considering I have had XP with this type of game, but nope. I just started my next game!

    Design: This game is a revolutionary game. It is the first of its kind to mix 4x/RTS, and it does it so well. I am constantly drawn into the game deep research system, along with its addicting planet development system. The ships are all modeled nicely, cold be better, but I expect they will, as Stardock is a quality publisher that supports its games. I love how I can just zoom in and out effortlessly, and it makes it super easy to control my empire with this feature. Also, the left side of the screen is taken up by a drop down list containing my entire list of planets, plus any orbiting ships around them. This makes the game fun, and once you summit the steep learning curve, it allows you to have an enjoyably strategic experiences without having to worry about all the hyper clicking and hot-keying of you empire. The game, through its design, makes the player remember to build ships and work on your planets while your off fighting aliens, and makes it a fun expereice that I am throughly addicted too.

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