Tag: PC

After walking through the nine best games of the year that I haven’t played yesterday, today we’ll jump back into one of my favorite games of the year (even though it came out last year). Coming back down from the cosmos, we find ourselves entering a lawless world where violence is the name of the day and success means you’ve found a rarer, more elaborate gun in…

Game #10

Borderlands 2 is one of the most fun and action splattered first-person shooter games that has ever been made. It advances the scope of the original game by taking everything and ramping it up another few notches, including the action, the difficulty and especially the humor.

Whereas Gearbox Studios’ original title in the franchise introduced us to the world of Pandora and the lawless, wild west nature of the world, the sequel brings us into the gold-rush, with vault hunters scouring the planet and battling each other to find the biggest vaults and all of the treasures within.

One of the first innovations you will uncover in this game is the change-up of the four main character classes in the game. Whereas the first game created character classes with the basic sniper, heavy support and other typical online game classifications, Borderlands 2 takes the classes and develops them a bit. The focus seems to be on making it so character classes aren’t tied to specific types of guns as much as ways to play the game based upon their special class ability.

The characters you play aren’t the only thing that have abilities – the guns you find throughout the game also add special effects you can utilize at the right times to get you through some of the more difficult battles.

And there are plenty of difficult gunfights, early and often. I hadn’t played the game more than five minutes and I was  struggling to take down a group of baddies. We quickly learned that we couldn’t play the game the same way as the beginning of the last game. And after only two of those battles, you also learn that ammo is scarce and needs to be managed well to succeed in the game.

You may have noticed that I mentioned “we” there. That is because Borderlands 2, similar to the previous game, is best experienced in co-operative (co-op) play with one to three extra players joining you in the mayhem. Journeying with just a second player to assist makes Pandora that much more interesting and exciting. And unlike other FPS games, the experience with co-op is seamless with the single player action, not some tacked-on mode that is not as in-depth as the main game.

Ultimately, I have only played about four hours of the game so far, so there is still much more of the world of Pandora for me to discover. But, I can already tell that the game is a much more enjoyable and rewarding game than its predecessor. I am definitely looking forward to journeying through with some friends and taking out wave after wave of psychos with my exploding-bullet loaded assault rifle.

Have you played Borderlands 2? If so, let me know if your experience is similar to mine. Also, let me know what character class you enjoy the most and why.

Where to Buy

Borderlands 2 can be found pretty much anywhere for about $25 – $30. It is available on the PC, XBox 360 and PS3. Currently, for the month of December, Borderlands 2 can be downloaded for free for all PlayStation Plus members, which is well worth the subscription cost alone.

The game is also available for 75% off, including all downloadable content on Steam for the holiday sale (thanks for the heads-up Dale).

Today’s iteration of the 12 Days of Christmas will stay in the stars. Although it has been in beta for three years, today’s game is one of the most ambitious and technical games I’ve played in a long time. So, without further ado…

Game #7

On December 13, Kerbal Space Program celebrated its 3 year anniversary of being released to the public in its beta stage. The game is still in beta.

In many instances, this would be a giant red flag; in the case of Kerbal, one of the more ambitious games in recent history, all one needs to do is play it to find that entirely acceptable.

Kerbal Space Program‘s goal: to be a realistic simulation of rocket science while remaining fun and accessible at the same time. Kerbal has developed a decent-sized cult following among hardcore PC gamers. I must admit, I haven’t sprung for the beta as of yet, but after playing the demo, I can see why folks are flocking to this game.

In the game, you are tasked with running the space program for the planet Kerbal. Your first goal: landing on the Mun. In the Demo, you only have access to building fairly simple rockets, but within the purchased beta, you are able to run all aspects, science and development, construction, flight and consistent operations of the space program.

At its core, Kerbal is a variation of a sandbox game. Whereas true sandbox games, like Minecraft, give you a sandbox to build, explore and play in, Kerbal gives you all of the tools needed to build spaceships – you just need to figure out the best way to make them fly where you want them to fly.

Early on, you will spend the main portion of the game jumping between the launch pad (seen above) and the design area, where you work on putting your craft together.

This makes the building phase sound simplistic, but trust me, this isn’t just sticking Legos together to make your dream ship. It isn’t even your junior high science class where you built rockets.

This is a trial and error version of rocket science. You must determine the type of fuel to use, the type of rockets to attach to the main ship and what kind of capsule to use. Along with this, you also determine the different phases the rockets will fire in to add the correct amounts of propulsion at the right time.

I’m not sure if even Jebediah Kerbal wants to ride in this ship…

Once the build phase is complete, now its time to take your ship for a test drive. Once out on the launch pad, you have control of navigating the ship and putting it through the different pre-planned phases of the launch and flight.

This is where the fun and skill comes into the game. The moment you launch, all the decisions you made in the building of the vessel are now realized in (as far as I can tell) realistic aerodynamic physics. And let me tell you, it isn’t very easy to handle all that propulsion deftly.

Its all in your hands now!

My first ten flights (at least) ended up in sheer and utter disaster. The first time, I didn’t decouple it from the launch platform and the ship veered into the tower and exploded. Next, I positioned the wings on the ship incorrectly, throwing the aerodynamics out of whack and creating a weight imbalance, causing the ship to uncontrollably veer right back into the earth after rising only a few hundred meters. After that, I didn’t have my separate rocket tubes stabilized enough and they flew apart, smashing into each other, exploding and leaving the main vessel to fall back to the planet without any propulsion to slow it down. And always, I was able to watch the sheer horror of my Kerbal pilot in the bottom right of the screen as he flew towards his doom.

It will go really, really bad early on…

Even though I encountered failure after failure, I still enjoyed the game, which is a testament to its design, allowing the player to get back to designing quickly. Slowly, I figured out how to improve on my design. Soon, I made it through the atmosphere and into outer space. That progressed to me getting the ship into a shallow orbit, and eventually achieving a near synchronous orbit. Looking at the bottom-right of the screen, the awe and happiness in the Kerbal pilot’s face was an additional reward for a job done better.

 

We made it to space!

Accomplishing that much came with a massive feeling of accomplishment. And it pushed me to want to try more variations and tweak with my design to push the boundaries even more. I started to feel what it must have felt like to be in the 1950s and 60s, pushing constantly for the next achievement and learning from and improving on previous flights.

The demo is fairly limited in the tools you have to experiment with. In the full beta, you have much more at your disposal: you can send up satellites, larger space ships, and eventually a space station. As this is a beta, the developer, Squad, is continuing to add more on a regular basis. Their most recent edition is the science package, which allows you to develop more technology and progress more through the game.

Space Stations are one of many advancements in the full beta

I really cannot recommend playing the demo enough. I bet that once you give it a shot, you will become quite hooked by the experience and want to be able to do more and more with the game. Additional appeal lies in joining the game at this pivotal point in development and watching it continue to grow into a more sophisticated experience leading up to its full release.

Hope to see you on the Mun sometime. God speed!

Where to Buy

Kerbal Space Program can be purchased for you or as a gift code for $27 via the game’s website. The game is also available on Steam and is currently priced at $18.99 until January 2nd in the Holiday Sale.

Yesterday, we focused on the huge, modern day open world adventure that is Grand Theft Auto V. Today, we’re going to change gears, drastically. Instead of the massive fictional world that Los Santos, we will now be journeying back in time to the Cold War era in the fictional world of our next game:

Game #5

Papers, Please takes place in a fictionalized version of Cold War era Eastern Europe/the U.S.S.R. You play a character who just received a job via the labor lottery on the border checking passports of those attempting to enter your country, Arstotzka. Your job, to determine if the people are entering your country legally or illegally by validating their passport and other (increasingly complex) immigration information.

Just another day on the job…

As you can see, Papers, Please uses a simplistic art style. The gameplay mechanics are also nothing new; you review the information the prospective immigrants present and determine whether to approve or deny their request. You get paid for each correctly processed person. Make too many mistakes, and you get demerits (or even fired, arrested and/or executed).

“What is the point? This game looks like work. Why would I want to play a game that is about working?”

Although the gameplay mechanics are simple in a Diner Dash sort of way, the storyline and the overarching concept of the game adds more to the experience than any other game I have played in a long time.

As I mentioned before, you make money for each immigrant you processed correctly. This doesn’t just go toward buying a better passport stamp or nonsense like that. Instead, you need to be able to pay for rent, heat, and food for your family of six.

This alone becomes motivation to do your best to avoid being a dead-beat dad (or son or spouse). However, making enough money is not always within your control and when times get tough, you need to decide what is more important, heat or food. If this happens too often, your family gets sick and needs medicine and you need to decide which family members receive the medicine and which ones don’t. Neglect family members for too long and they will die.

Which family member gets the medicine?

This use of RPG=lite elements help to make the “grind” of the office a bit more interesting.

Speaking of the job, the game does a fantastic job of ramping up the complexity from beginning to end, starting you off with checking basic passports but then building to adding work visas, diplomatic papers and other sorts of identification. Directives will be passed down on a daily basis adding these new paperwork restrictions as well as other decrees from on high (such as not allowing anyone through the checkpoint from specific countries).

You must check all information with your guide to validate the authenticity of documentation and notate any discrepancies before denying entry.

As you advance through the game, small story events will come up that force you to make decisions. Do I allow the director’s buddy into the country without the proper credentials? What will happen to me if I don’t? Should I assist a secret order with their attempts to infiltrate the country and perform attacks on the government? If a person attempts to use falsified documents, do I arrest them or just deny their passport? These decisions help to build towards the 20 different endings within the game.

While performing your job and making these difficult decisions, the game continues around you. Every now and again, a terrorist will attack the checkpoint, causing destruction and closing the border early that day – which makes it that much more difficult to earn the money needed for grandma’s medicine. Eventually, you are even given access to defensive weapons (a sniper rifle or a tazer gun) to take care of attacks before they are entirely carried out.

What is most intriguing about this game, however, are the parallels that the developer Lucas Pope draws between the dystopian world of the game and present-day complaints and issues in America.

One parallel drawn is the price of terrorism and its affect on personal freedom. Similar to the TSA agents at all American airports, you gain the ability to scan people with revealing X-Ray scanners to determine if they have any weapons on them. After scanning, you are presented with a naked, front-and-back image of the person to inspect in order to see if any weapons or contraband is on their person.

Clearly, the most blatant subject the game covers is immigration. No matter how different the world may be in the game from the world we live in today, the game characterizes those immigrating and how their ability to enter the new country may (or may not) make a huge difference in their lives. The game plays with these concepts, showing all sorts of different people seeking entry and gives the player a unique perspective on the immigration debate in American that not seen in any other game (or any other fictional work for that matter). My guess is, based upon your discussion with some of the characters in the game, you will think twice about following the rules blindly and give their passport the green stamp.

The ways that this game is able to broach some of the most integral and serious topics in our world today within this simplistic looking game is a testament to solid story telling and game design.

Possibly this is why when I started playing the game – only planning to toy with it for about an hour – I became engrossed to the point that my short play session was in actuality five hours long. And I wanted to keep playing. Why? Because in its simple mechanics but complex, branching story, I just wanted to experience more of the world that was crafted.

The game succeeds in doing everything it set out to do and so much more. And that is why no matter how mundane this game sounds to you, I implore you to play it for just one hour – a few hours later, I believe you will feel the same way I do about Papers, Please.

Rating: Seven out of Seven Stars

Where to Buy

Papers, Please can be purchased at the game’s website via paypal or on Steam for $9.99.

 

Yesterday we started off the 12 Games of Christmas with a program that allows subscribers to download multiple games for free. Today, we are getting down to a specific game from a widely recognized franchise that is quite amazing. Well, enough waiting, here is:

Game 2 of the 12 Games of Christmas

The Walking Dead is based in the same world as the comic book series created by Robert Kirkman and the AMC Television series created by Frank Darabount. However, it is a completely original story within that universe and other than a couple of cameos from a couple of characters popularized by the TV series, it stands on its own.

The game, created by Telltale Games, was built as five episodes released incrementally over time that tells the story of Lee Everett, a college professor on his way to prison for murder when the zombie outbreak began, and Clementine, a child separated from her parents and alone in the world.

The story, similar to the series and comics, focuses around these two characters and the people they meet (both friend and foe) as they attempt to survive a zombie infested world. The one difference is you as the player have the ability to alter the chain of events in the story as well as the relationship that Lee has with other characters.

The Walking Dead hearkens back to more traditional interactive adventure games. Within each environment, Lee is given basic interactions with objects and individuals to find a way through that area. At each level, you have a basic problem to solve. One may be how to escape a room while avoiding zombies, while another can be deciding which characters plans are right and which ones are wrong.

To give you a better idea, here is a walkthrough of the demo for the game, which pulls pieces of the first episode and visualizes what I am describing..

While the gameplay itself isn’t revolutionary, the branching story that changes as you go through the episodes feels new. For instance, in Episode 1, A New Day, you have to choose one of two characters to save, which affects who you play alongside through a majority of the game. Also, in the early parts of the game, you will decide which characters to support in their decisions for the group, which has an impact near the end of the game as to which characters will help you through to the end.

It is a very interesting concept and makes it feel like the experience is something you played a part in creating. Along with that is a phenomenally well-written and touching story.

Season 1 along with add-on content 400 Days, are widely available now. Season 2, which picks up the story where it left off in Season 1 Episode 5 No Time Left, will be available on Steam and XBox Live Arcade on Tuesday, December 17.

I cannot recommend this any more highly as it is an incredibly touching game.  You cannot help but become invested in both Lee and Clementine and some of the other supporting characters.  Which makes it that much more crushing when bad things happen. A full review of the game will be coming in the near future, so keep tuned in.

Have you played the game? Do you have any questions? Let us know in the comments below.

Where to Buy

The Walking Dead: Season 1 is available for the majority of gaming systems. It is purchasable for download for gaming consoles on XBox Live Arcade (XBLA) and PlayStation Network (In fact, the full game is free currently on the XBLA, so you should definitely download it!) . It is also available on Steam and Amazon for download on PC.

The game can also be found at most game retailers in its entirety in disc form. Prices for all of these options range from $25 to $35 for the entire game.