League of Legends is Not DotA

Though some may argue, it comes rather close. League of Legends is a free-to-play online RTS that is based off of Defense of the Ancients’ playing style. If you’re not familiar with DotA, games are 5v5 with each player selecting a hero of a playstyle that suits their tastes. The map is a square, the there are three “lanes,” throughout, one that covers the left and top perimeter, one that crosses the center of the map from bottom left to upper right corner, and one that covers the bottom and right perimeter. Creeps, which are non-player controlled weaker units, will crawl from the spawn points of both sides and down the lanes, acting as a sort of buffer zone for player advances. While they do not deal great amounts of damage, they can be threatening in numbers. Also in the lanes are a series of three towers, each growing progressively stronger as they draw closer to the spawn point. These towers deal massive damage, but fortunately have aggression priority on creeps, that is unless a player of an opposing team attacks the hero on the team that own the turret.

LoL matches DotA to that point, but is unique in the way that it implements different critical structures. The inhibitors hide behind the third tower of the lane, and when destroyed, allow the destroyer’s team to spawn super-creeps, which are more powerful, durable versions of the lesser creeps. The final structure is the Nexus, which allows champions to spawn. When destroyed, the game ends.

League of Legends

Since DotA is a Warcraft III custom game, the capacity for expansion is a mite restricted. League of Legends, with a full development team backing it, continues to patch and release new champions to this day. LoL also differs from DotA in the way that it utilizes a money system that is required in order to unlock new champions. Each week, several preselected champions are made free-to-play, thus allowing new players to immerse themselves in the game prior to earning any Influence Points. If they don’t want to wait, there are always Riot Points, which are purchased with real money.

In my opinion, League of Legends is a good game if you can take the time to play on a light, daily basis with friends. Influence Points take time to grind, and unlike DotA, player versus computer matches aren’t given much of a spotlight. As such, the A.I. can be tricked with relative ease, resulting in easy wins. The developers are aware of this, and subsequently limited the number of times players can earn IP from bot matches per day. That really bums me out, because the community is full of trolls, egomaniacs, and whiners. Hence, play with friends.

League of Legends

What’s Good:

  • Champions are all unique, each with a set of gimmicks.
  • Weekly cycle of free-to-play champions lets you test before you buy.
  • Playstyle is different enough from DotA to provide a new experience.

What’s Eh:

  • Most champions cost 6300 IP, which takes a long time to accrue.
  • The LoL community isn’t pleasant to deal with.
  • Repeated quitting of games (even if your internet crashes) will lead to account suspension. It takes a while for that to happen, though.

 

Command and Conquer 4 Tiberian Twilight, Another EA Murder

This time, the victim is the once popular Command and Conquer: Tiberium Wars saga. Command and Conquer 4 Tiberian Twilight, EA’s latest steaming log of an installment to a once glorious series, is comparable in crap-quality to that of the Twilight series. Thus, the word twilight is ruined as well. Come on, people at EA, I know you love buying out smaller companies, grinding out crap games loosely based off of their style, then firing everyone after the game flops. Couldn’t you have left Tiberium Wars alone? Kane’s Wrath was an RTS masterpiece with balanced units, solid structures, nifty abilities, but Tiberian Twilight? It’s just sad and frustrating that such a game should be called anything but a mistake.

Tiberian Twilight shuns all past Tiberium Wars ideals and knocks down the target age group ten years. It goes from a properly balanced strategic RTS to a game of capture the flag mixed with rock-paper-scissors. The Scrin have been entirely removed from the series, despite having a large presence in the previous installment. So now, it’s back to Nod and GDI, good guys and bad guys, cops and robbers. Each faction has three sub-factions, and no, it isn’t like Steel Talons or ZOCOM. It’s Offense, Defense, and Support. Really? Are you goddamned serious? In Kane’s Wrath, those weren’t factions, they were playstyles! Chosen by the player to suit their taste. If you wanted to play GDI, you could play that or one of its three subfactions, and run your operations however you wanted. In this cheap ploy to make Tiberian Twilight seem larger than it is (which failed), they managed to remove one whole faction, and a grand total of nine subfactions. Way to go EA, you pack of uncreative series ruining morons.

Tiberian Twilight

So what’s good about it? Nothing. There is nothing positive when translating from any other Tiberium Wars game to Tiberian Twilight. It’s a joke. Defense is the only faction that can construct buildings, and even then there are only a few turrets. They are also the only faction that gets a drastically underpowered superweapon. Offense can only build tanks, so no worries about doing anything but cranking out cheap units to overwhelm everyone. Support is the only faction that has air units, so they can’t even participate in the “capture the flag” aspect of this farce, because that wouldn’t be fair. Worst of all, where normally your Mobile Construction Vehicle is the most valuable asset to your army, in Tiberian Twilight, it respawns. So who gives a crap if your entire force is destroyed? Why even bother to attempt a strategy? Just keep bashing your head on the wall until you have enough units, then bash your head on the enemy. No need to think.

Tiberian Twilight

Worst of all? They turned it into an RPG. What’s that? How can anyone possibly turn a quality series of games like the Tiberium Wars into a slow, dull, obnoxious RPG? Why, EA of course. Great job. Now, in order to fully enjoy the game, you have to spend an hour fighting against incompetent computer players– which are pathetic even on the hardest difficulty- or spend time on the laggy, disconnection prone online lobby, dealing with either disappointed Tiberium Wars fans or six year olds who don’t even know the series, let alone how to play well. What do you earn for playing this horrible game, over and over again? You earn your standard units. That’s right, in order to guarantee that people play their worthless game, EA has locked all but the most rudimentary units to new players. Happy grinding, suckers! My advice, don’t even sell the game back. Destroy the disc in public and burn it along with the case. The more copies of Tiberian Twilight that are destroyed, the better off the gaming industry is.

Game Review: Clive Barker’s Jericho

Clive Barker’s got a video game… And it’s called Jericho. Clive Barker’s Jericho. This is what would happen if Hellraiser and Call of Duty were fused together by Lucifer, and you can be pretty sure that’s what Clive’s going for here. Jericho’s running a storyline on steroids, and if you don’t believe it, check out the intel files. The more you play, the more that are made available. Details on enemies, allies, squad members, past ops, the works. This game wants you to know that it isn’t just a throw-away hybrid fantasy FPS. When you start playing, you and your squad of six soldier wizards are travelling to Al-Kali to discover the source of some major spiritual turbulence. What could be causing the colossal stationary sandstorm? Oh, nothing. Just God’s first, failed (and evil as well) creation looking to escape his prison by exploiting the power-hungry minds of an infamous cult.

Clive Barker's Jericho

It only gets worse from there. The team comes to find a breach in time itself, with a series of layers that lead down into the Pyxis, the place where the Firstborn is imprisoned. On the way, the player is forced to combat the twisted souls cast from glory into the bloodsoaked asylum of a dimension known as The Box. Doesn’t sound very scary, does it? Play the first three chapters of Clive Barker’s Jericho, and you may just change your mind.

What this game has to offer: A magnificently detailed plot, characters with more than a few sentences of back story and unique weapons and abilities, grotesque visuals (if you dig that sort of thing), and an ever-present gloomy tone that really sets the mood. In regards to negatives, there are a few places where Jericho is lacking. Aiming can be a bother, because the camera takes most of a second to rev up to full speed from being idle. Having a flashlight that uses Sixaxis about as useful as having a gun that shoots golden bullets. It looks nice at first, but it doesn’t take long to realize that it isn’t helping you whatsoever. The variety of enemies is just above the “redundant” line, so prepare to face off against mutilated versions of Soul Calibur’s Voldo many more times than what you’d likely be comfortable with.

Clive Barker's Jericho

On the see-saw of quality, this game earns from me one “Hey alright,” a chuckle for the headshot effects (SPLOP), and three extra playthroughs. When you finish, you won’t necessarily be scrambling to do it all again, but you will certainly know where to look if you’re bored and wouldn’t mind a few hours of mindless excessive shooting and gore. If you really want incentive, there’s a hidden Cenobite. No hints!

Brush Up on Your Folklore

Does anyone remember that 2007 Ps3 exclusive release with the funny looking cover that no one talked about? No? Not surprising. The shameful part is, Folklore is actually a very high quality game. The beauty of the explored worlds and creatures within, the intricate plot and web of lies slowly uncovered… It’s more like a beautifully decorated storybook than a game, but that takes nothing away from how much fun you’ll have reading it. You are allowed to choose between two characters initially, though you must play as both in order to complete the game. Keats is a reporter for a popular occult magazine, and receives a mysterious phone call that leads him to the small, secluded village of Doolin. Ellen, a young woman who has spent most of her life living alone, receives a letter from her never-present mother, also leading her to Doolin. That’s as much as I’ll say, since anything further would serve only to spoil the well-made plot.

Folklore

So how do you fight in a world full of magic and faery tales and happiness? Well, to put it bluntly, you beat enemies (Folks) with their comrades until their Id pops out and you suck it up using the Sixaxis like the soul devouring freak you are. Following this, you can summon their helpless bodies to do the same to further enemies. Folklore could be one huge, disturbing yet profound metaphor for snowball effect competitiveness if you really thought on it, but we’re here for video games, not philosophy. Moving on.

The combat system is fairly simplistic, varying between the two main characters. Keats is more of an all-out aggressive fighter, using Folks as extensions of his own gestures. More often than not he summons the upper half of a Folk rapidly to perform quick combination attacks and dish out loads of damage. Ellen, on the other hand, summons the Folks to act almost independently of her. They can act as shields for her while simultaneously assaulting a foe, absorbing some damage before being de-summoned. Basic enemies aren’t very complicated, and bosses also match that description. The various attributes of summoned and enemy Folks make up the rock-paper-scissors aspect of most fights later on in the game, yet it only serves to boost the difficulty if you’ve had trouble collecting Folks of a certain attribute.

Folklore

The scenery deserves some mention. The different realms the player travels to throughout the course of the game are all spectacularly done, each crafted to represent an aspect of human nature, i.e. war, forgetfulness, and patience. These areas rest somewhere in the middle grounds between captivating and unnerving that they seem to be almost subconscious in nature. So hey, you have something nice to look at while you’re passing through the surreal worlds underlying the village of Doolin.

Folklore is a perfect game for casual-core players who aren’t looking for reason to smash their controllers to pieces. That said, they do give you the option to change the difficulty, yet the prime of the game’s entertainment value comes from everything aside from the challenge. Even so, it’s a worthwhile purchase for any type of gamer out there, capable of being enjoyed by the widest of audiences. Aside from FPS junkies. You guys get lost.

Armored Core for Answer from Armored Core 4

Armored Core

Pros of AC4 and ACfA

  • Dynamic, fast-paced combat favoring strategy over endgame weapons
  • Wide array of missions with minimal repetition, if any at all
  • Over two hundred components with which to build your mech
  • Much more player-friendly interface than in previous games
  • Seemingly complex customization process is quite easy to learn

Cons

  • Characterization is strained at best
  • Though areas of operation are large, they tend to be quite bland
  • Frame rate is known to have issues on the Ps3
  • A.I. can be predictable to the point of being obnoxious
  • Multiplayer may as well not exist

Armored Core

Until you’ve played a game from the Armored Core series, you’ll hardly know what makes a truly exceptional third-person mecha fighter. The game itself is brimming with content, and though I have owned a copy of this game for about two years, I still take pleasure in playing to this day. The appeal comes almost entirely from the ultra-expansive customization made available to the player. Speed demons, glass cannons, moving fortresses, missile spammers; every combat role a mech could play is made available to the player, providing they have earned enough money from their missions to purchase the appropriate parts. Also noteworthy is that fact that no single mech will be able to complete each and every mission. Strategy, adaptability, and spur-of-the-moment tactics are required for each and every mission. You may not feel deeply immersed in the plot, but I personally guarantee that each mission will bring something new to your doorstep. Even better, if you find that you’re scoring S ranks on all your missions, there’s always hard mode to look forward to.

Armored Core

With the general description of the game out of the way, we delve now into specifics regarding Armored Core for Answer, and it’s predecessor, Armored Core 4. What’s different between the two?

  • Kojima weapon damage is nerfed. No more one hit kills, you chemical junkies!
  • Missiles are nerfed. That cloud of screaming fire is a lot less ominous now.
  • Swords can lock on! The Moonlight blade is back. Death glows pink.
  • L3 is no longer required to lock onto enemies! Auto-lock is much more useful.
  • Tellus body parts are no longer overpowered. Customization emerges victorious!
  • Rocket parts are now overpowered. But… they still can’t lock on. Aim away!
  • Energy efficiency is much easier to achieve. Sustained flight for everybody!
  • Addition of assault armor. Trade your shielding for some okay damage? Eh…
  • Last but not least, Primal Armor has received a massive boost in regeneration.
    • Except when using assault armor. A minute recharge delay is a bit much.

Soul Calibur IV and some of Soul Calibur V

Since the series started with the arcade game Soul Edge, the Soul Calibur series has come a long way. A very long way. In fact, they’ll be releasing a fifth game early next year, which a lot of people are excited about. I’m excited. How about you? I mean, it’s only the most innovative and intense 3D plane weapons fighter out there. Seriously, check around. I haven’t found a single game that lets you walk anywhere on the stage while swinging a sword- zweihander, scythe, spear-dagger combo, machete, katana, ring blade, whatever- around violently and kicking people off cliffs. That might be rather vague, and I might not have looked around for similar games, but you should definitely give it a shot. You’ll see what I mean.

Soul Calibur IV

Okay, so, here’s the deal. The game has a lot of positive points, such as the wide variety of weapon styles, the easy to learn-tough to master move lists, the expansive character creation system, the lovely stages, so on, so forth. But as it goes with most video games, the negative aspects tend to stand out more prominently than the positive aspects, and with a game as good as Soul Calibur IV, the cons are fairly obvious.

First of all, a guard-crush/critical finish system was implemented, making prolonged blocking a guaranteed loss. The color scales from blue to green to yellow to red, and if you got into the bright, flashing red, one more blocked attack would put you into guard crush. That means red electrical effects around your character, which means your opponent can press R1 (or right bumper for you Xboxers) and enter a cinematic attack that makes you win instantly. Not very wise. It was a good idea to discourage players from hiding behind their defense forever, but the whole instant-win button aspect never turns out well. In my experience, it hasn’t.

Custom character design is next on the naughty list. They don’t have as many outfit choices as they did in the last game, but they sure do look prettier. Problem is, they put in a weapons ability system that receives points (power, impact, gauge, boost, and special) only from certain articles of clothing. With enough points in a stat, you could afford to take an ability that randomly turns a normal attack into an unblockable, or maybe a nifty ability that keeps you from falling off ledges and subsequently instant loss. These abilities are nice, but the downside is that it causes the player to rely on particular pieces of equipment. For example, the secret final outfit for male characters, the Leviathan armor, gives you loads of strength and gauge, which are handy for raising your character’s aggressive potential and allowing them a trick that involves their HP gauge, respectively.  This means that even though your ninja outfit looks really fly, you won’t be able to auto-counter attacks unless you swap out your ninja mask for the Leviathan helmet. Staple articles really ruin custom character appeal, I tell ya.

Soul Calibur IV

This complaint is more personal, though it is a rather vehement topic of discussion on forums. The guests characters from Star Wars, Vader, Yoda, and that godforsaken Apprentice, really throw a wrench into combat. Yoda is very short, meaning all horizontal attacks miss. You already know what’s wrong with that, so I’ll move on. Apprentice has a wide array of “force attacks” that drain his minimal force gauge and lead to a self-inflicted stagger, but what they do tends to balance that out. He can shoot you with lightning, he can explode the ground and fling you upward, allowing an air juggle combo, he can even fly up into the sky and wait for a bit, then come crashing down onto your health bar like a final boss on steroids. Yes, he’s good, but if you play him, you’ll never have any friends and you’ll live the rest of your life alone. That last bit was the personal opinion part. Vader’s actually okay, he’s probably the most balanced out of the three. His force overload “HADOKEN” may be a bit intimidating at first, but a quick (or slow, he takes forever to wind up) sidestep is all it takes to bake Vader’s taters.

And that’s a wrap. I grill this game so hard because I love it, and because I hope for the best come time for the sequel. One final word of assurance, though. I have heard rumors that number five will be encompassing a more ballistically high speed, air-combo based combat playstyle much akin to Marvel vs Capcom, but I can guarantee that that will not be the case. Soul Calibur’s got a unique gift, I hardly think they would waste it on some petty merchandising copycat tactic.

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim the Sketchy

Pretty much everybody’s heard of Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the legendary sequel of  the prestigious Oblivion. Those who aren’t gamers have probably heard of it through a friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, etc. It’s a pretty popular game. Yet even so, my first concern when I purchased Skyrim was the potential glitches. In all seriousness, Bethesda’s notorious for releasing games with a fine array of rather powerful bugs in them, and when I heard that they were making Skyrim much larger than Oblivion, I assumed that the number of bugs would scale up as well. I was correct.

I purchased Skyrim for the PC, and within the first ten minutes of gameplay, I encountered two major, obnoxious problems. First of all, the vertical sensitivity of the camera appears to be linked to FPS, meaning that being in an area that requires a lot of memory means my character was barely able to look up or down. Secondly, there appeared to be some sort of problem with loading a quest-essential character that led to a crash-to-desktop. I was rather disappointed, but I pushed on, knowing that the content would likely make up for the inconvenience.

Skyrim
Further into the game, I noticed that several of the miscellaneous quests in my journal were having tracking/finishing errors. For example, a quest that required me to kill a giant at Red Road Pass would not allow me to track the target giant, or even track the quest itself. Even when I opened up the console and manually attempted to advance the quest, I could not progress, and it is still stuck in my journal after. A second example of an irritating quest bug is with Jarl Skald, who gives you your quest reward after speaking with him, yet the quest itself remains in your journal. Several other incidents have popped up where tracking quests with mobile NPCs did not create any map marker, making them nearly impossible to find if not for the console command “player.moveto.” The smallest glitch is capable of forcing the player to exit the game through the task manager, such as when the naming portion of the enchanting table will not allow you to deselect the name, thus preventing you from exiting the window and continuing to play.

To make matters worse, I’ve been reading that Bethesda has released a patch that has claimed to fix several of these problems, yet in exchange raises the rate of desktop crashes overall. It was the same with Oblivion, after all. Fix one thing, break several others, and in Skyrim the cycle continues. It feels as if Bethesda is content to release glitchy games, then rely primarily on the fanbase to repair their sloppy programming for them. Enjoying Skyrim is like trying to take a relaxing walk with a pair of splinters in your heel. If you pull one out, two take its place.
Skyrim
I respect the hard work put into the game, the myriad quests, weapons, abilities, the improvements made across the board to aesthetics and combat mechanics, the toning down of magic’s ability to surrogate every role in the game, yet all the same. If Bethesda does not care enough to fix the prominent errors that still plague the game, the positive factors might just be overwhelmed by game crashes and quests that cannot be completed.

Game Review – Dark Souls

Dark Souls, the perfected echo of the gut-wrenchingly difficult Demon’s Souls. If you thought you died too much in Demon’s Souls, you haven’t seen anything yet. Dark Souls is a game not meant for casual-core gamers who want cheap thrills and easy wins; it’s called one of the hardest games on the market for a reason. Muster all of your cunning, be ready to react, pay attention to the subtleties, because if you make one mistake, you won’t survive. But where in some games death is the end, in Dark Souls, it is only a step forward. In death, the player is moved back to the most recent bonfire they have rested at, and must push ever forward to retrieve what they have lost.

Dark Souls

In Demon’s Souls, souls were the currency of the realm, used to level up attributes, empower weapons, purchase items and materials; a universal necessity. Upon death, they were left in a bloodstain right where the player died, calling for a return trip to retrieve what was lost. If the player dies again before reaching the bloodstain, the first vanishes, and a new one forms. In Dark Souls, there is even more to lose. Humanity is utilized to revert from the fire-vulnerable coop-unavailable Hollowed form to the full powered human form, to offer to covenant leaders in exchange for powerful items, spells, and gifts. Useful, but not likely to be kept, as it too drops into the player’s bloodstain upon death.

But enough about dying, hm? Even though it plays a large role for the player (and everything else, for that matter), staying too focused on that single detail in particular would detract from the utter vastness of the rest of the game. Between the realistic damage system, perfected combat mechanics, visual splendor, and unspoken yet profound plot, Dark Souls has a lot going for it.
The character begins as an undead, locked in an asylum indefinitely, only to be rescued by an unnamed knight and offered the first, vague shred of direction along with some essential items. From then on, all other fragments of plot are obtained through extensive exploration, the defeating of powerful bosses and conversation with NPCs. By no means will the game make this progression simple, though. All areas are connected in a web-like fashion, all with unevenly distributed difficulty, so some places must be snuck through, while others can be fought through. There are hidden shortcuts between each area that can be activated to make travel much less harrowing, as not to bore the player with meaningless travel when they could be facing daunting foes and finding valuable loot. However, no matter where the player goes, the way forward will always be barred by myriad foes, be the remnant soldiers of an army from ages long past, demons straight out of the fiery pit, or even your very allies, whose minds have turned to madness after becoming Hollowed themselves. Some zones are completely blocked by the presence of a powerful boss, making exploration much more valuable than linear travel.

Dark Souls

Though bosses may come to fall before you as you rack up experience and souls, each victory illicits a feeling of utter triumph, no matter how small it is, as the requisite of success is not overwhelming force or some endgame weapon. It is in fact trial and error tactics that will define the player’s progression. When the Iron Golem grabs you from between his towering legs and throws you from the tower of Sen’s Fortress to your doom, you learn how to dodge his grasp. When the Bed of Chaos opens the ground beneath you and you plummet into a burning death in lava, you learn which parts of the ground will crumble and which are safe to walk on. When the hammer of Smough the Executioner and the spear of Dragonslayer Ornstein simultaneously break your guard and deplete your health you for the hundredth time, you start to realize that you should get some help.

Another excellent point about the game. The cooperative play allows human-form players to summon Hollowed players as phantoms to assist in certain parts of the game, such as boss fights or particularly daunting areas. Covenants are available to suit the player’s preferred form of online play, be it jolly cooperation, invasion and assassination, or the bringing of justice to betrayers, murderers, and thieves. For those who do not have online capability, there isn’t any need to fret about the lack of assistance from other players. Assisted NPCs will gladly be summoned to aid in the defeat of bosses, and their availability coupled with their overall power makes them invaluable assets when facing off against a boss that is too tough to take on alone.

Dark Souls

Despite the magnitude of appeal Dark Souls has for it already, the most intriguing aspect of the game by far is the plot itself. The way it is subtly applied through lore and legend, snippets of conversation, and unusually alluring artifacts found, it almost feels as if the player is compelled to create their own answers. What caused Gwyn, the Lord of Cinders and forger of the First Flame, to lose his mind and shun the victory he had attained in the war against the dragons? How did Crossbreed Priscilla, the child of beloved man and hated dragonkin come to be locked behind the frame of the cold, unforgiving Painted World of Aramais? Why are the Darkwraiths so convinced that gods are evil and humankind should rule the land of Lordran in their place? The player may piece together some answers from descriptions of particular items and vague explanations offered by allies and enemies alike, but the entire answer is never there, making immersion into the desecrated world of Dark Souls inevitable.

Overall, this game offers much more than its predecessor, but due to the lack of a relationship between itself and Demon’s Souls apart from gameplay mechanics, anyone can pick it up on a whim and enjoy to the fullest extent. Once you play Dark Souls even halfway through, you’ll know that there’s no other game quite like it.