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Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions Review [Xbox One]

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The naked body is one of the most beautiful objects in the world. There’s a reason why the Greeks used it as an analog for the gods in their sculpture and why art students around the world study each muscle and intonation of nude models. It’s because the simple lines and curves that shape the human body conspire together to create the perfect melding of form and function.

Here’s an exercise. Imagine the most attractive person you can. It doesnt matter if it’s a man or woman, take your pick. Imagine that person standing there, void of clothes, makeup, or tattoos. Visualize only their body, proud and confident. Beautiful isn’t it? Hell, it’s downright stunning. Now, keep imagining that person, but add the usual adornments people require. Shoes, a simple shirt or dress, etc. Maybe that person looks slightly better to you now, or maybe a little less. Now, continue adding the accessories that we’re used to seeing draped on the human form. Imagine them with a complicated, in vogue hairstyle, pile on the makeup and gold jewelry. Keep going. Picture them wearing a hat, gloves, designer sunglasses. And just like that, the beautiful work of art that was once there no longer has the simple perfection that they were born into the world with. Instead, this new creation is a gaudy substitute. Hidden somewhere under all of those unneeded additions is the true beauty. Somewhere.
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That’s the path that a lot of modern games have taken. At the core of Call of Duty’s dozens of weapons and myriad of controls may be a solid first person shooter. Deep down beneath The Crew’s needless storyline and layers of special effects could be a decent racer. But like many games today, you’ll be hard pressed to find the beauty of the game underneath all of the extraneous makeup and jewelry that are masquerading as ‘innovations’.

Geometry Wars 3 takes a different route. The simple, straightforward gameplay that dates back to one of the first twin stick shooters, Robotron 2084, is stripped of any pretense. You aren’t inundated with a story that was shoehorned in. The graphics are made up of basic geometric shapes that somehow seem at home even on a powerhouse like the Xbox One. It’s the opposite of the runway model who can barely stand under the weight of the latest in fashion.

The idea of the naked form has become transformed by society. It’s been co-opted by everything from advertising to porn. Sure, there’s a juvenile part of us that wants to laugh and point, mock and ridicule, or reduce it to a base sexual stimulant. But once you look past that, what you’ll see is beauty. Pure, simple beauty without the need to cover it up and over adorn it with needless trinkets and toys.

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The developers at Lucid recognize this. The gameplay modes of Geometry Wars 3 are basic, yet still satisfying. They range from the straightforward ‘Deadline’ where you shoot everything that moves in a set time limit, all the way to Pacifism, where the object is just to survive as long as possible without firing a shot.The adventure mode is a simple progression of level and game types, getting progressively more difficult as your ship equally gains in power via A.I.drones. These power ups are the only really unnecessary piece of bling on the title. Most of them equate to either increasing your firepower, or helping to protect your ship. But with the hectic gameplay, they could have easily been left out without much impact on the experience. Lucid has managed to hone the controls to near perfection, with movement becoming almost instinctive. Your eyes and hands work together in harmony with no middleman to slow them down. 


Some people say that it’s our insecurities that cause us to hide behind layers of makeup or strut around with expensive watches and designer clothes. The theory is that there’s some inherent flaw underneath, real or perceived, that can be covered up. Like an over compensating student at prom wearing too much cologne. Game developers have a tendency to fall into the same trap. It’s as if they know that if you were to strip away the fancy graphics and dense controls from most AAA titles, you’d be left with uninspired, tiresome gameplay thats been repeated for years. Geometry Wars 3 stands defiant and proud, unashamed of the absence of baubles and trinkets. It has grown since it was born as minigame in an Xbox racer. It’s a bit bolder, a bit wilder. The primitives based visuals have matured into a melding of shapes, color and sound that complement the gameplay instead of overpowering it. It doesn’t need nor want to be hidden under a thick blanket of excess. Geometry Wars 3 revels in it’s nakedness. And that’s a beautiful sight to behold.

Score. 9 out of 10

  • Published in Xbox One

Monochroma Review [PC]

Kickstarter is certainly becoming a hotbed for video game developers to bring their gaming visions to life without the yoke of a big publisher interfering. One of the latest video games to get fully funded and developed is Monochroma. It was developed by Nowhere Studios, a small studio in Istanbul, Turkey,who wants to take the spirit and fun of classic video games and create next-gen games for all types of systems. Monochroma is their first game towards that goal.

Monochroma tells a bittersweet tale of two brothers. Set in alternative dystopian 1950 it starts with the boys near their ramshackle home doing typical young boy things; climbing, jumping, swinging, and flying a kite. While the youngest brother is flying the kite a strong breeze comes up and takes the kite away from him. The boys chase the kite to a railway barn where it gets caught on the roof. They climb up onto the roof and just as they get close to it the roof caves in. The older brother comes through fine, but his younger brother injures his leg in the fall. With a little determination the big brother carries his little brother out of the railway barn into the connected robot factory only to learn it holds a dark secret. Their journey now becomes one of, not only looking for help, but survival.

It's a well told story especially given the fact that there is no dialog. The animation and "acting" of its characters are combined with a well-crafted soundtrack to convey all the story and emotion. The soundtrack was created by Gevende, a Turkish psychedelic rock band. Gevende manage to capture wonder, adventure, and yet a slight sad dystopian feel that gives Monochroma an emotional boost.

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The animation art is made up of stark grayscale that outlines positive and negative space, highlighted only by the splashes of red that point out items of importance. It's hauntingly beautiful. Little details certainly speak well. For example, the first time you try to set your brother down in the game in a place that's not brightly lit. The way he shakes his head and sort of hides his face at the same time perfectly conveys that childhood fear of the dark.

While the art and music of Monochroma present so much, it's a disappointment that the controls are not up quite up to snuff. For a 2D puzzle platforming game they are loose enough that you will experience more than a few untimely deaths. Part of the core controls is the fact that your movement speed and jumping height are affected by whether or not you are carrying your brother. You can move faster and jump higher without him, but you cannot go very far without him either. The game doesn't always seem to realize you are not carrying him. This issue comes into focus mostly while jumping. In later sections of the game this really matters because you are racing against a clock.The controls aren't completely horrible and if you remember to take the looseness into account, they are playable.

The only other problem I had with Monochroma has more to do with my own muscle memory than any problem with the game. Jump is the up arrow or "W" if you use "WASD" controls and the Space Bar is used to pick up and put down your brother. Years of playing other PC games that use the Space Bar as jump has led to a few “oops” moments. Again this really isn’t a problem with game; it's more a problem if you're so ingrained in one way of playing.

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Overall Monochroma is a very good story. The game rises above its problems and tells the sweet and sad tale of childhood, growing up, and family bonds. It stands out as one of the better Kickstarter games and Nowhere Studios should be very proud of it. I would like to see what they do next; in the meantime though I have some hidden flowers to find in Monochroma so I can finish an achievement.

  • Published in PC

Moebius: Empire Rising (PC)

If you are a gamer of a certain age then the name Jane Jensen will catch your interest. She is the writer behind many classic Sierra Online games and the creator of the Gabriel Knight adventure games. Recently she has taken to Kickstarter to back two games. The first of those two games has been released, Moebius: Empire Rising.

If you are a gamer of a certain age then the name Jane Jensen will catch your interestMoebius: Empire Rising is a point and click adventure that tells the tale of Malachi Rector, an antiques and art appraiser. He is very intelligent and sharp eyed in his chosen profession. He is also something of an aloof snob and an ass. He is hired by semi-secretive organization (F.I.T.A.), run by a man named Amble Dexter, to go to Venice to investigate a murdered woman and determine what historical figure her life most resembles. While there he is attacked by ninjas who then scan all of the information he has on the murdered woman. He reports back to Dexter that, while her life closely resembled Livia Drusilla, she did not match completely.

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Working for himself again Malachi is next in Cairo to appraise ancient artifacts from a mummy's tomb. While there he saves ex-special forces American, David Walker, from the same ninjas who attacked him in Venice. He decides to hire David as a bodyguard. In many ways David is a typical American, blonde haired, blue eyed, jock, who likes to tell bad jokes. (How many Special Forces soldiers does it take to change a light bulb? Sorry that's classified information.) When the ninjas attack a third time Malachi and David are able to stand their ground and fight them off. He finishes his business in Cairo and returns to New York.

Malachi believes the ninjas are part of something bigger and asks to meet with Amble Dexter. He is surprised when Dexter insists that Malachi bring David to the meeting. At the meeting Dexter reveals that F.I.T.A. believes in Roman philosopher, Paramedes’, theory that everyone is an "echo" of someone in the past. From there the story takes some strange twistsNot like reincarnation where a person was someone else but now living a new life, but that same person living the same life event for event in a new generation. Their overall goal is to make Senator Markam, whom they believe is the echo of Augustus Caesar and will bring hundreds of years of prosperity to America, the next United States President. Malachi agrees to help in their endeavor.

From there the story takes some strange twists from a detective adventure towards one of a more supernatural vein.

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The mechanics of Moebius: Empire Rising is pretty standard and sound for a point and click adventure. No major problems arose when I used the controls. It does have a quirky playing feature. In most point and click adventures you can pick up and carry almost anything. In Moebius: Empire Rising, you can’t just pick up whatever you want and carry it around. Certain items needed for a puzzle can’t be picked up until you hit the right “trigger point” that will allow you to pick up that item. This causes a lot of backtracking during game play. The oddest of which is when you try to get into a VIP tent to meet Senator Markam. You practically go from one end of Manhattan to the other, working back and forth gathering the items you need. By some strange coincidence the Senator's rally lasts just long enough for you to do all this and then ends the moment you walk into the VIP tent. It's a slight stretch of your suspension of disbelief, but it’s not a game breaker.

The graphics are where the breaks start happening. Moebius: Empire Rising has anexaggerated comic book look that turns into the late 2000's video game style. All the characters have long thin limbs, except David who looks in normal proportion. The style is fine. It's clipping and other effects that fail. Feet go through floors, legs sometimes twist in unnatural ways, and at one point Malachi moves a chair, but he doesn't actually grab the chair as it magically moves, his hand floats on top of it and the whole thing shifts. Little things like this took me out of the game. The worst offender was the water reflections. Now in the background things like trees and buildings that didn't have as much definition are reflected fine. It was when characters stood next to the water with their backs to it. The reflection was not their backside reflected, nope. It was a complete recreation of their front. So unless everyone has their face on the front and back of their head, something's not right here. The first time I saw it I thought the game was going into a dream sequence of some sort.

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I do have to give great praise to Moebius: Empire Rising's voice actors. They turn in some fine performances. I think the real audio gem though is Jane Jensen's husband, composer Robert Holmes. Robert provides a great soundtrack that wouldn't sound out of place in a Hollywood spy thriller.


Moebius: Empire Rising's story starts a bit slow, but by the third and fourth chapters things start getting interesting enough that I want to see how it will end. Malachi is a really hard hero to cheer on. His aloof attitude never really endears himself to the player. The only thing that makes him seem to have a heart is subtle underlying relationship between him and David. At one point David tells Malachi that he is meeting Malachi's assistant, Gretchen, at a nightclub. Malachi asks that David not get involved with his only other employee, to which David replies, "She's not my type." At the nightclub David hints around that he's not interested in Gretchen. Towards the end of the conversation Gretchen tells David point blank to not get too close to Malachi, that, "he will break your heart." The possible gay romance never really moves up from a subtle possibility. It gets to a point where you wish it they would either just come out with it or drop it.

Jane Jensen can tell an interesting tale in a video game still, but there seem to be some stray parts to Moebius: Empire Rising that just doesn't pull me in. Moebius: Empire Rising has flashes of a good gameA main character I have a hard time caring for and a subtle romance that doesn't go anywhere are things that push me away from a game. Throw in graphical elements that completely take me out of the game and we are starting to have real problems. I have to say the puzzles hold things together fairly well, but an adventure game needs more than just puzzles to engage a player. Moebius: Empire Rising has flashes of a good game and you can see where Jane Jensen wants to take it, but as a whole it falls to the middle of the road. If you're a fan of Jane Jensen or point and click style games it might be worth it, but it's a pass otherwise.

  • Published in PC

Farming Simulator 15 [XBox One] Review, Photos & Newbie Tips

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With games like Euro Truck Simulator and Goat Simulator out there, it’s easy to be dismissive of the growing simulation space.  Simulator games are making quite the comeback but, as with anything else, you have great content and then there’s the stuff that’s…  Questionable.  Farming Simulator 15, I would say, is of the foremost camp.  The game may not be on most gamers' radars but, if you give it a real shot, you may very well fall in love.  So let's get into the nitty-gritty of this wonderful country romp!

 This gem by Giants Software comes from a long line of blue collar simulation games, particularly Demolition Company and Ski Region Simulator.  Farming Simulator is their flagship property and it shows.  If I’m not mistaken, this is only their third or fourth installment in the increasingly popular franchise.  The depth and attention to detail is significant and you can tell this is a game developed with love.

Farming Simulator is significant to me because it is representative of a paradigm shift in video games.  We’re going back to games that are not shooters or visceral, visually-pleasing experiences with no substance.  Simulations were huge in the 80s and 90s (arguably during the 70s too..  like that space simulator on the Atari 2600 with the really nifty peripherals), particularly with flight and war simulators, but then they disappeared, alongside point-and-click adventures and FMV games.  This excites me and the fact that gamers are voting with their wallets is even more encouraging.  We need more innovation, risk-taking, and variety in the video game industry because, let's face it, all the big studios are regurgitating the same old thing.  To that end, Farming Simulator certainly delivers a unique, memorable experience.

Today, simulator games seem to be on the rise, much like we have seen with MMOs, MOBAs, and TCG/CCGs.  While the space is rather saturated, it seems like the demand is there and Farming Simulator does a great job of carving out it’s own little niche.  Can you name another game that lets you operate over 140 different vehicles and brings the farm of your dreams to life (virtually)?  I can’t.

 

Farming Simulator 15 First Impressions

Going into Farming Simulator 15, I was worried the skill cap would be too high yet I was more eager than anything else.  While I will always be a New Yorker at heart, making me a city slicker for life I suppose, I spent a lot of time on farms and the countryside as a kid.  Some of my fondest memories include watching chicks conga line with their mother hen, waking up to the coos of a very eager rooster (at aroun 4am every day), and having an angry chicken poop on my shoulder.  Oh, we can’t forget the time that a goat tried to eat my little brother...  Sadly, he did not succeed.  All jokes aside, I truly appreciated the opportunity to review this game and revisit simpler times.

 Farming Simulator 15 Review

In any case, jumping into the game was easy.  In Career mode, you have two regions:  Bjornholm or Westbridge Hills.  The former is best if you want to go through the tutorial and get a full tour.  The tutorial did a good job walking you through the basics without becoming a total drag.  Westbridge Hills is better if you want freedom - ‘MERICA!!!  Bjornholm offers a persistent tour with tool tips and in-world prompts to walk you through the various features, locations, and core mechanics.  If you want more challenge or immersion, Westbridge Hills is the way to go.  You don't have to be American to appreciate this region - look how purdy it is!

 Farming Simulator 15 Review

After choosing your region, you can choose a difficulty.  I recommend Easy if you want more creative freedom and opportunities to explore.  Normal and Hard increase the amount of debt and, by extension, operational overhead you have to offset with revenues.  If you ask me, I don’t want to simulate my own life so starting off in debt doesn’t sound like fun.  For the masochists out there, sure, go with Hard mode.  Oh, and easy means you can hire illegal immigrants or outsource jobs overseas to save a buck.  That's the American way, amirite?

 Farming Simulator 15 Review

I spent my first hour or two cultivating land, sowing seeds, harvesting, and then going across town to sell my crops.  Along the way, I noticed different icons on the minimap and HUD.  There are places where you can drop off surplus items for quick cash (more on that later).  Everything else you either store or sell right away in the appropriate buildings.  The strategy here is to sell when the rates are good but not wait so long that your storage maintenance and crop freshness get ruined.

 From what I could gather, the initial run in any career will revolve heavily around sowing and harvesting corn and wheat.  Radishes and other crops require more specialized equipment and investment thereof.  You also have livestock/cattle in the form of sheep, chicken, and cows.  Chickens are your best bet due to their low upkeep and the steady supply of eggs that you can resell.

 Farming Simulator 15 Review

After going through a few cycles of the basic cultivate-sow-harvest, I did more exploration.  My suspicions seemed confirmed.  The game only opens up fully once you repeat the core farm operations and expand into other livestock and crop options.  Buying new plots of lands and woodcutting is also an option, though I am not sure how the latter works...  It’s also quite awkward when you try to work a field that doesn’t belong to you.

My close to four-hour first romp came to a screeching hault quite literally when my tractor got stuck in traffic.  Darn jerkface drivers. *muttering to myself*  Wow, this really is a simulator.  Bad drivers with no consideration for those around them - so realistic!  I mean, let’s be honest: most people with licenses don’t really know how to drive properly..  Those gumball machines must be chock-full of driver’s licenses!

 

Farming Simulator 15 Review AllGames Yogizilla 9

 Kids, this is why it's important to obey the rules of the road!  Stick to your side of the road and always observing incoming traffic... Especially in the countryside (trust me, I'm in Georgia and the drivers out here are SAVAGES)!

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*** Regresamos A La Finca! ***

After some focused E3 2015 viewing (how about that Bethesda presser, folks?) and getting over the initial butthurt (of the traffic jam situation, not E3), I was able to salvage the session after reloading and cleverly getting off the road before the cars came in to pile up again.  I almost opted to start a career on Westbridge Hills.  Fortunately, I used better judgement there because this mode does not hold your hand at all..  Instead, after dabbling with Career a bit more I decided to dive into multiplayer a bit and have someone carry me instead.

...Well, maybe not.

All the good servers required DLC.  BOOOOO!  I finally found some vanilla FS15 servers but then it took forever for the hosts to realize someone was joining their servers.  Ultimately, impatience took over and I went back to Career (this time on Easy because Normal made me feel like a scrub).  BTW, DLC for the game currently runs between .99 to 9.99 USD.  Not a bad deal if you can spare the scrip.

I would say the game does a fantastic job at balancing depth and accessibility.  That’s no small feat, either.  There’s enough opportunity for mastery and perfection without making the game hard to learn or play casually.  As such, Farming Simulator is equally good as a palette cleanser or simple escapism; you can play a quick 20-30 minute session or get lost in it for hours on end.  The graphics are not mind-blowing but the locations are quite picturesque.  The little touches like watering troughs, phone booths, and houses really helped me escape and get lost in the world, even if only for a little while.

 Farming Simulator 15 Review

Farming Simulator 15 Review AllGames Yogizilla 4

It’s worth noting that the game is called Farming Simulator, not Farm Simulator, and that branding makes sense.  The focus here is more on the operational side of a farm, rather than the farm itself.  You are tasked with cultivating, sowing, and harvesting.  The more minute details seem to take care of themselves so it doesn’t seem like your animals will die nor do you have to clean up after them.  This frees you up more to be creative and play the resource management meta game.  That means you don't have to worry about building sheds, barns, silos, or any of that more granular stuff.

The game’s web site boasts over 40 licensed vehicle brands and 3 livestock options so the variety is there.   I barely made a dent in the game in terms of unlocking new equipment but I was able to get more cattle in the mix; after all, 7K only goes so far!  Anywho, this game has some serious brand power and it's a brilliant way to gain sponsorships and subsidize development.  The Giants Software team knows what they're doing!

 Farming Simulator 15 Review

Now to be a typical gamer and complain for the sake of complaining...  I was disappointed that I was not able to run a baler in my runs with the game.  There are over 100 tools and vehicles in the game, which seems about right from my extensive window shopping.  They start you off with the basics and, from there, it’s whatever you want it to be.  I must say, though, machinery is super expensive…  Did I mention I’m a cheap bastard?  Well, I am.

One of my favorite things about the game is that you don’t feel rushed.  You can pace yourself however you see fit.  The game takes place in a pseudo real time but the clock stops when you quit.  This gives you time to explore and take in the scenery.  This also averts the pesky aspects of, well, just about every mobile game these days.  For me, any video game that respects your time is automatically a cut above the rest.

The controls are responsive and intuitive.  There are lots of controls to learn but it’s about as simple as it gets for a simulator.  Control schemes pretty much carry over across vehicle types, too.  My only gripe is that I have become so accustomed to pushing the left analog stick in to run so, whenever I go into first-person view, I keep bringing up the stats screen.  This is handy and, well, I’m just bitching because I can...  That’s what we geeks do!

So, back to the plethora of licensed brands in the game, I actually recognized a few of these names, mainly because I live in Georgia and can actually drive up to some of these companies.  New Holland comes to mind and  Husqvarna you’ll see everywhere these days, possibly more than John Deere.  Is it me or are all these agricultural manufacturers in Europe?

All these nifty items can be purchased using virtual currency and there are no microtransactions - YAY!  The in-game store can be accessed by going to the physical location or pressing Y anywhere.  Overall, the HUD and global functionality is super intuitive and informative.  You have all the information you need, including a mini Farmer's Almanac type screen.

 Farming Simulator 15 Review AllGames Yogizilla 10

On top of the vehicles you can get,  there are a lot of attachments and tools too..  Like these strange contraptions.  I don’t know about you but these things are scary - and I’m not just talking about the price tags!

Farming Simulator 15 Review

 Fantastic multiplayer is something I look for in any game I play these days since I have limited gaming hours; alas, I was not able to dig into the multiplayer here.  From what I understand, the host can control how income is distributed but, essentially, all players in a session help the farm owner out on his property.  Servers seem to support up to 6 players, which means you can get a lot more done in the course of an hour or two.

So, who is Farming Simulator for?  I think this game will resonate with anyone with fond memories on a farm, love for agriculture, an affinity to any sort of simulator experience, or mobile gaming addictions.  The latter I say lovingly because most mobile games are about completing mundane tasks and keeping an eye on a your recharge bar/clocks.  Farming Simulator has that level of repetition and minutia but not to the obscene degree where it stops being fun and becomes a job or obsession.

Overall, this is a game I can very much see myself getting lost in since it has a good balance of resource management and creativity.  There’s more structure and guidance than in, say, Minecraft…  Huge plus for me.  I love games that are flexible and dynamic, but it’s also nice to have some default activities you can do almost completely on autopilot or at least in the midst of heavy multitasking (like watching E3).

Second Look & Tips From An Avid Farmer

Well, technically, this is a fourth or fifth look but I decided to approach the game from another angle thanks to my pal, podcast co-host, and simulator enthusiast, ObioneX2.  He was a little jelly that I got a review copy of the game.  Full disclosure: Obi  has a good relationship with Giants Software and they have hooked him up in the past but his love for the game is authentic, believe me!

 One thing Obi recommends is focusing on woodcutting if you want to raise money fast or at least have a nice head start.  I revisited my first save game and started off with a $1000 Husqvarna chainsaw.  You can use your starting vehicle to collect logs so the initial investment is easily recuped.  Obi cautions against focusing on livestock/cattle initially as it is the slowest way to earn money.  That aligned with my relatively limited experience.  I noticed early on that livestock has high upkeep too, but not nearly as much as storing surplus.  Chickens cost around $1 a day, whereas cows are the most expensive at around $40-100 a day.  Chickens are a good place to start since they produce eggs..  And they're delicious.

 Farming Simulator 15 Review

Tree stump cutters will be a good investment if you get into woodcutting.  After a while, tree stumps will make pathing hard but be careful: the tree stump cutter is treachorous (just watch my video clip on XBox LIVE, my gamertag is Yogizilla).  Each tree will average you between $3000-5000 a pop.  Drop them in the pond by the lumber mill and you get instant cash.  Some trees can get you over 20K in munnies!

Woodcutting is a super efficient way to generate revenue because you can take the wood chips left over from chopping down trees and store them.  After you get a nice stash, you can sell them.  The same thing goes for all surplus (like hay bales) in the game.  Obi adds that you have to wait until the Bio Mass factory wants to buy wood chips.  One shed full of wood chips can net you around 100K - WOW!

 Farming Simulator 15 Review

One of the really nice things about Farming Simulator is that crops grow quickly so you don’t have to wait several days or weeks.  In Farming Simulator, seasons don’t really matter as much as they do IRL.  You do get bonuses for growing during good weather and using fertilizers when cultivating land.  This helps with the sense of progression and rewards, which feeds into the overall immersion of the experience.  If you think that you might lost track of your crop yield, don't worry: the heat map makes it quite easy to know what is ready to be harvested.

 Farming Simulator 15 Review

Out of the box, a lot of core features seem to be missing.  For example, unless you have the Bank Transfer mod, you can’t transfer funds across save games or game modes.  This seems like a missed opportunity to me but it’s not a deal breaker.  Of course, it’d be unfair to compare any console game to it’s PC counterpart but it’s worth noting.  The benefit of not having the extra mod availability is that the game is more challenging and less overwhelming at the same time.

 If the controls escape you even after the brief walk-through/tour, press Start and RB one time, you’ll see the basic controls..  One more time and you can get into the Settings.  The amount of customization throughout these screens is nice.  The most notable options are Timescale (defaults at 5x), Mission Frequency (default: every 5 minutes), Plant Growth (default: Normal), and Plant Withering (default: On).  Obi recommends turning plant withering off if you want the freedom to explore and switch jobs often.

 For a more automated experience, perhaps to accommodate multitasking, you can hire help.  Whenever you hire help, they seem to take over the last activity you were doing.  So, if you are sowing, the help will sow until there’s nothing left to do.  If you’re cultivating, they’ll cultivate the land until it's ready for sowing.  I didn’t play with this option much because, like I said, I’m cheap.

 The last featured I only discovered towards the end of my last gameplay session is the job board (there’s one by Field 1, BTW).  This is the game’s way of including challenges and missions without breaking you out of the simulation or overall immersion.  The jobs I first came across included clean-up and transportation gigs.  It’s pretty much what you would expect a farmer would do to supplement income.  If you need more structure or objective-driven gameplay, the job board has you covered.

Farming Simulator 15 Final Review & Scores

When judging simulation games, I think it’s important to temper expectations and realize that these are very specialized games for specialized tastes.  Judging within the proper context and with the right expectations is key, especially when it comes to graphics and overall technology.  As such, I wouldn’t compare Farm Simulator 15 to a sandbox experience like GTA V or the coming Fallout 4, but I can see the appeal to fans of the franchises.  This is not a big studio release so the amount of polish we may be accustomed to is not there but that is not to say the game is not amazing in it’s own way.  With that in mind, my scores and assessments will take these special considerations into account, as well as the standards set within this very special genre.

  • Graphics:  It won’t blow the socks off those seeking bleeding edge but the environments are detailed and pretty to look at.  The nice little touches to livestock behaviors, tool operation, and other animations are brilliant.  There are no jaggies and frame rates are smooth but you could definitely tell there is a compromise due to the multi-platform release catering to the least common denominator.  9/10
  • Audio:   I noticed somelack of environmental sounds and spatialization but, other than that, the audio is good.  Vehicles and tools murmur, clank, buzz, and toot, as expected.  There’s not much music to listen to, which is fine since this sort of experience caters more to we heavy multitaskers.  I do wonder why the title music so jazzy but it definitely got me in a good mood. *jazz hands*  Ths is a perfect  BYOM opportunity - Bring Your Own Music (May I suggest an AllGames.com podcast?).  On sound bit side, the rooster and chicken sounds really sold me and brought me back to simpler times.  8/10
  • Controls:  Game controls are fairly consistent and intuitive across all vehicles and tools.  Vehicles do pull a bit but that only adds to the realism.  Even the camera controls are solid and you have full 360-degree control!  9/10
  • Immersion:  There’s plenty to keep you busy and you can easily get lost in the world..  But it’s also easy enough to play the game on autopilot (i.e. while multitasking) and not be fully-engaged with it.   Once you learn the conventions, locations, and core mechanics, you’ll find that there is always something to do or somewhere to explore and admire.  8/10
  • Progression & Feedback:   Farming Simulator seems to favor immersion over feedback, though I’d say they go hand-in-hand at times.  In my 6+ hours, I did unlock any achievements and feedback seemed limited to prompts and hints triggered by map points and key events.  This kept me immersed in the world but not as driven as most modern games make you feel, either by force or just good ‘ol “sticky” content.  Lack of a sense of rewards or progression (e.g. Destiny) can make the grinding less tolerable for some, which is a common complaint with gamers.  7/10
  • Fun & Replayability:  The replay value is there and there’s tons of fun to be had if you appreciate a more open, less hand-holding gameplay experience.  As with most simulators, repeating mundane tasks over time is rewarded.  The experience does lack some stickyness until you open up your options.  9/10
  • Originality:   I don’t know many farm simulators..  Farmville doesn’t count, though some may argue that point.  This is an original concept that has been cultivated into something with quite a massive scope.  If you love the subject matter, you’ll find it refreshingly original.  Across the franchise, Farm Simulator seems to be on the path to keep evolving and building upon a solid foundation.   10/10
  • FINAL VERDICT:  Farming Simulator 15 is a solid simulation experience that has a promising future if they build upon the strong core and foundation.  If you want to work a farm without actually breaking a sweat, there’s no better solution.  This game would be a fun thing to stream or do videos on while you share commentary or engage with a live audience.   8.7

     

    Review: I Am Bread [PS4]

    Among other such ballyhooed features as a time-saving sleep/resume function and the ability to purchase a rising mountain of slightly remastered versions of games you already purchased between two and 10 years ago, the Playstation 4 also makes it dead simple for anyone to engage in the formerly cost- and technically-prohibitive act of streaming a live performance of their gameplay to all who wish to watch it.

    Now let's amend that statement for Bossa Studios' "I Am Bread." Among other such blah blah blah as something something God of War III High-High Definition Edition, the PS4 makes it dead simple for anyone but you to spend their own $13 to play "Bread" on a live stream while you, and not them, enjoy the game's best feature -- schadenfreude -- for free. You need not even own a PS4 to take advantage of this incredible offer.

    i am bread Story Mode

    "Bread's" gameplay operates in league with the likes of "Octodad," "Surgeon Simulator" (Bossa's previous game) and the ancestral "QWOP," all of which tasked players with doing simple things -- walking around as an octopus, maneuvering a surgeon's hands and running on a track, respectively -- via purposely unintuitive controls that transformed elementary motion into acts of comedy and horror.

    This time, you control a slice of bread, whose four corners are mapped to, of all things, the Dual Shock 4’s shoulder (L1, R1) and trigger (L2, R2) buttons. Hold the corresponding buttons to apply weight and grip to those corners, and use the left stick to swing, nudge, flip and fling the bread according to the whims of physics and whatever combination of corners you have gripping onto whatever surface stands between you and the floor.

     From this, a system of movement is sort of born, and if it sounds willfully messy in written form, the words have done their job. Even "Bread's" lone attempt at helpfulness, wherein it denotes each corner's button assignment with a corresponding icon on that corner, sort of backfires. All four icons look nearly identical, and you may wonder, with increasing lament, why the iconic Playstation face buttons weren't used instead or simply offered as an option. (They come into play as well, but in service of a secondary grip mechanic that isn't nearly as instrumental or complicated.)

    The objective of all this? Get yourself toasted before too much exposure to the ground or other unsavory elements deems you inedible.

    i am bread Free Roam

    (Never mind that the walls and furniture you maneuver to stay off the ground appear just as dirty as anything below. "Bread's" definition of what constitutes an edible slice of toast is right up there with its controls in terms of erratic interpretation, so please do not consult it when making real toast in your own home.)

    Aggravatingly, "Bread's" physics are similarly temperamental — sometimes obeying the laws of this earth, but just as frequently suffering a crisis of gravity that turns the task of gently steering a simple bread slice into either (a) a reactive guessing game or (b) an experience reminiscent of accidentally wandering into quicksand and trying to crabwalk your way out. Soft touches sometimes trigger wildly erratic flops, while other times, all the jamming in the world on the stick and buttons won't move the slice more than a painfully impotent tick at a time.

    Yes, while you're working all this out and seeing these digital tantrums for the first time, "Bread" is funny — not laugh-out-loudly so, because the games that broke this genre in did so with more absurdity, charm, surprise and shock, but amusing at least.

    But "Bread's" temperament and sluggishness spell a quick demise for the joke. And once the joke wears off and all that remains is you, these not-quite controls, these not-quite physics, a fickle edibility meter and the constant threat of one wrong anything — from you or the game — undoing 20-plus minutes of monotonously careful maneuvering that had sapped all pretense of being fun to play at around minute four, "Bread" feels less like amusement, or even a game, and mostly like digital antagonism that's designed to be enjoyed by everyone but the person tasked with playing it.

    (That, after only three failed attempts, each level tosses in an invincibility power-up that makes failing the level completely impossible is quite telling in multiple interpretative ways. An unspoken admission that the developer recognizes but has no interest in intelligently reconciling the laughable imbalance between the task at hand and the tools provided to complete or even just enjoy it? Or just yet another way for game and audience alike to mock the poor soul who ponied up the $13 sacrifice? All of the above? Take your pick. No wrong answers here.)

    i am bread Race 01

    The shame in all this is that some genuine novelty peeks through all that contrived aggravation. When you discover, possibly by accident, that you can toast your bread without a toaster, it's enough to wonder if "Bread" could have been a clever environmental puzzle game instead of a practical joke. Physics are sometimes employed to clever effect, even if these instances are telegraphed by the standout placement of certain objects in each area. "Bread's" end-of-level grading system takes toasting technique into account, and had it gone all in on this pursuit and left the willfully obtuse control scheme giggles behind, it could have been a genre unto itself instead of an also-ran.

    "Bread's" story mode — which is punctuated by interstitial text that, to its credit, pays off with a clever conclusion and remains amusing long after your smile might fade everywhere else -- accompanies a series of secondary modes that all engender their own ill will in their own special ways.

    There's a multiple-item fetch quest mode in which you play as a cracker that's susceptible to breakage as well as dirt and bad physics and is, as such, even more tedious to control. There's a very basic racing mode starring a bagel that's amusing except for the part where you steer a bagel that occasionally betrays everything you're doing with the controller, and there's a zero G mode that's amusing except for the part where you bang your head against a stubborn control scheme that feels like that aforementioned quicksand with a side of frozen tundra mixed in.

    Finally, there's a destruction mode, starring a presumably stale baguette, that should be the cathartic foil to the antagonistic game that envelopes it. But even here, where failure is nearly impossible and the only task is to create as much chaos as possible in two minutes' time, a diving framerate and the worst, most not-of-this-earth physics in the entire game join forces to pry aggravation from the jaws of mindless fun.

    I am bread CheeseHunt 02

    At that point, with all other options exhausted, the only recourse is to quit the game, fire up the Live From PlayStation app, find a stream of someone else playing "Bread," and experience the game as it's most likely intended to be experienced. Only here — when you set out to revel in someone else getting their turn at comedic misery but instead experience pangs of empathy while watching an increasingly dispirited fellow player attempt to justify 13 evaporated dollars by chasing it with countless wasted minutes — does "Bread" feel like a product whose intent and result are in strangely perfect alignment.

    The Walking Dead Season 2 – Episode 3 [PC]

    The Walking Dead Season 2 – Episode 3 “In Harms Way”

    After the bombshell that was the second episode in Telltale's stellar video game series The Walking Dead, we immediately move forward without being able to stop and think about the choices you chose previously. Which is a good thing, as the second episode did shake me up a little and I began to question my own moral compass and how devastating the narrative has been on poor Clementine.

    twd 203 hoard

    Episode two was all about the action and raising the stakes, where as episode three is more focused on the psychological and emotional breaking points of each character. All seems to be lost as Carver has captured the group and is taking them back to his place of safety.

    The writer of this episode (Pierre Shorette) really does push the player to his/her own emotional brink, and has created some brilliantly sadistic and uncomfortable scenes that again not only questions Clementine and the supporting casts actions, but also the players actions and moral compass.

    The episode itself manages to be fresh and unpredictable. Even right up to its climax it still wasn't apparent if the group were going to make it to safety. The shift from all out action to the emotional and psychological was handled superbly and was just as gripping.

    twd 203 captured

    I feel that In Harms Way was probably the most bleakest of any of the franchise episodes to date, and any form of optimism is immediately quashed by the continuous moral choices faced by Clementine.

    The ever present, menacing character that is the brilliant Carver continuously raises the stakes for our group and provides the necessary roadblocks that Clementine and co have to overcome, not only to plan an escape, but just to survive in general. His ruthless control over the community is brilliantly played out through the entire episode. Every interaction with Carver was unpredictable and an uneasy affair.

    Carver has been such a huge presence on and off screen that I found myself playing Clementine in a slightly different light. I originally set out to sculpt her into a cold hearted, bitter eleven year old who never trusted anyone. However, with the introduction of Carver I found myself siding with the group and being a little warmer to her relationships with each group member.

    All because of the huge effect Carver has on the episode as a whole. So huge in fact, that for the first time in a long time I genuinely wanted to see this character dead and wiped off the face of the earth.

    This then sets up a fantastic ending to the character and you genuinely do find yourself throwing all compassion out the window and dishing out cold blooded justice.

    twd 203 carver

    The episode itself ends openly in that as the player, you have literally no idea what's in store for Clementine and the rest of the group. That made the ending all the more unnerving and your choices more important as the unpredictability of the series continues.

    Overall, episode three was a different beast to the action packed episode two. Your moral choices and dialogue options felt more important in this episode than ever before. The unpredictability of Carver heightens everything to its maximum, and the episode itself ends in such an open way that I will be worried for Clementine's future until episode four is released.

    • Published in PC

    Pathologic Classic HD [PC]

    Pathologic Classic HD is a remastered version of the cult classic first person survival game where you search an open world to find clues, items, and of course a lot of stopping random people and children to talk and barter items. Not a lot of action in this game, and after awhile it can get a bit dull doing the same things over and over. You live out the story of 3 people in this game and it may leave you scratching your head wondering what is going on and why.

    GRAPHICS:
    The graphics are reminiscent of Day Z and H1Z1. The overall animations of the characters are fairly basic, as the people you 'talk' to look at you with various facial expressions. You’ll have to "talk" to a lot of people in the form of reading text on a screen..lots of reading text on the screen...lots!

    Pathologic screenshot original 1

    CONTROLS
    With this game you should be able to use either joystick or keyboard/mouse, but my joystick never worked on this game. I’m not the best keyboard game player and the learning curve is small but it does take awhile to get used to. The overall motions are smooth once you get used to the controls. The quick loading times are a plus when going in and out of buildings. With such a huge map, there are a lot of houses to go into and places to buy stuff. Although sometimes you wonder why there is so little to choose from in some shops.

    Pathologic screenshot original 2

    GAMEPLAY
    This is a very slow game in my opinion. After a few hours of walking and reading text with no real action, I lit up when I was slapped in the face by someone who I had spoken too. On another occasion I was getting punched in the face for doing talking to someone else. That led me to believe that there was going to be a battle, but no, just run out the door and the fight is over. Your reputation is very important in this game, so be careful how you treat the people you are talking to. But there are times where the actual audio of the person has nothing to do with the task at hand and sometimes the choices you get for communicating are to either saying something mean or saying something even worse.

    Pathologic screenshot original 4

    THE FINAL WORDS
    This is the kind of game that is an acquired taste for sure, if you like a game where you do a lot of walking and reading text, finding random items and seeing some things that just are simply strange, then you may enjoy Pathologic HD. Not much shooting or fighting in this one. Be prepared to play for hours trying to figure out what is exactly happening in this game. It seems to be aimed at the more cerebral gamer that steers clear of twitch action titles.

    • Published in PC

    Street Fighter 4 Review [X360]

     

    There is something extremely satisfying about a well thrown punch. The feeling of contact between your fist and bone. The sharp snap it makes. The tinge of pain in your forearm from the shock of the impact. I'm not talking about justhitting something. I'm describing what happens when you use everything your body has, directed through your fist, in an attempt to destroy whats on the other end. Its addictive and dangerous. Most people never really experience that. But those that do, know exactly what I mean.

    When I was younger, I was very familiar with that feeling. Growing up in the projects meant that when someone pushes you, you push back harder. It's a simple rule that worked amazingly well.I didn't get pushed that often, andwhen I did,I made sure it didn't happen again.

    That rule changed when we moved to the suburbs, but no one told me. Being one of the few Black kids at Linkhorn Park Elementary School, I got pushed a lot. And I pushed back. Punched back. And when I'd get pulled into the principles office, I couldn't care less what she had to say. She obviously didn't know how things worked. Her rules weren't my rules. Even when Chris, the only other Black kid in the school tried to explain things to me, I ignored him. "Derrick,the kids here are wimps, you can't hit them like that anymore'. He was right, the kids were wimps. A shove on the basketball court was a reason for tears. A kick at the playground was a reason to run to the teacher. Why were they crying? They have 2 parents, nice houses, and didn't have to use a free lunch card in the cafeteria. Wimps.

    I finally got the message when my mother was called in for a 'conference'. I waited outside while the teachers recited my crimes to her. When my mom came out of that room, I expected a smack to the head and to be shoved into the back seat of the car. That what was supposed to happen. But it didn't. Instead she refused to look at me and headed for the bathroom.Tears streaming down her face. I had never seen her like that. When the teacher appeared, she looked at my blank expression and accused me, 'You did that to her.You're the most apathetic child I've ever seen, do you know what apathetic means?' I nodded my head. I knew exactly what it meant. It meant 'boy who makes his mother cry'. That's when I decided to change. What beatings, and restrictions, and suspensions failed to do over the years, was accomplished in a split second by the image of a strong woman reduced to tears.

    But deciding not to hit other kids doesn't mean the feelings go away. And they needed an outlet. When I saw a new game at the supermarket called Street Fighter 2, I asked my mom for a quarter and played it while she shopped. When another kid joined in, it was a revelation. I could punch him, kick him, throw him to the ground. No punishments. No crying. This was a good thing. Very good.

    Over the years other ways to channel those feelings have come and gone, and Street Fighter faded into the background. Each new version seemed to get farther away from allowing me to throw a punch and enjoy it connecting. Instead of an outlet, it turned into a way to watch a combo meter count upward. I just wanted to hit someone.

    Street Fighter 4 brings that back. The visceral thud of a punch is conveyed in beautiful images that make the violence seem like a work of art. The controls have been simplified so that I don't have to search online for a 13 page move list to enjoy it. And most importantly, when a punch connects on screen, I feel it. And it feels good.

    Score 9/10

     

    Call of Duty : Advanced Warfare Review [PS4]

    Call of Duty. The game people love to hate. The Michael Bay movie of the gaming world, everyone will complain about it but everyone will play. This year’s addition to the franchise Advanced Warfare is brought to us by COD new comers (not including their help on MW3) Sledgehammer games. In this COD Sledgehammer have brought the franchise to the future. Exo skeletons and Minority Report stylisation galore.


    From the offset you can be sure…this ain’t your daddy’s COD. The introduction of the double jump alone has created a whole new beast, let’s take a look shall we?


    The campaign mode, while not any different from any previous year’s campaign weighs in at around 6 hours gameplay (for the average gamer) and this is what we have come to expect from the Activision shooter franchise. However this time, more than applicable to any previous iteration, it is advisable to play through the campaign first before delving into multiplayer as Sledgehammer have shaken the very foundations of the COD series that have remained relatively unchanged since the first major shake-up in Call of Duty 4 : Modern Warfare.
    Story wise it is more or less the same length as previous CODs, you have your team, you have your buddies and you have your mission. While not quite as engaging as perhaps the Ghosts campaign, the jump to the future certainly changes the game significantly in location settings and looks, and also the equipment available. While playing the story, even in the opening chapter, you are witness to a ‘Matrix’ esque swarm of drones and walkers that look plucked straight out of Metal Gear Solid 4. A standard tale of power and corruption helmed by Kevin Spacey himself is enjoyable, but it won’t take the whole weekend to complete.

    COD AW UN-Speech


    In campaign mode, visiting the pause menu will greet you with a set of EXO challenges such as, get 50 kills or, collect 5 pieces of Intel. This gifts to the game a set of side quests to accomplish alongside your main objective. The introduction of the new arsenal such as the threat detector grenade, gives Advanced Warfare’s campaign even more reason to be played as it gets the player fully comfortable with the changes this time round. A short stealth section aside and some ninja like grappling, the campaign is an easy 6 hour blast, needed this time before hitting the multiplayer. While short and sweet like most COD campaigns, the main story proves more as a necessary training ground for the COD elite.


    Controls are shaken up a tad with the dodge mechanic, clicking L3 down and flicking down, left or right will make your character dodge in the corresponding direction. While a nice touch, having it in the multi-player is quite redundant giving the fast paced antics you find in there. Clicking R3, knife kills are replaced with insta-death punches which feels immensely more satisfying than knifing. Finding the beam weapon instantly brings the Ghostbusters theme to your head and is gratifying to use to cause more devastation.

    COD AW Biolab-EM1


    Weapons are much more fun to handle, the aiming and feedback are a whole ton better than we had in Ghosts last year. Bringing the franchise to the future has seemingly brought the fun back to COD. Getting used to the new mechanics and the level layouts is a breath of fresh air to the series and something that needs to be recognised by the teams making next year’s iteration.


    Onto multiplayer, while it’s always nice to play your favourite COD map (Nuke town right?) having a complete fresh feeling set is always better. Yeah sure most new CODs have their own set of maps, but never before has such as sense of freshness occurred in venturing into online multiplayer. Thanks to the ingenious (and about 5-10 years overdue) double jump mechanic, playing COD online is a very different game from ANY game previous. Maps have suddenly become much more open as reaching high places is as simple as a double tap of X. That one guy who used to be carefully placed in an unapproachable nesting spot can be quickly dealt with by a few timed double jumps.


    Multiplayer seems a lot more frantic this time around. While standing pumping rounds into the guy in front, his buddy is generally only a corner away with a loaded fist. Fast paced has never been a more astute phrase, but this time you will need your wits about the multi layered levels. As granting players the ability to leap buildings and walls means you are never a minute away from the action.


    For the old hard-core, online mode does feature a classics section, where you can play online with all the new-fangled young kids double jumping is negated for good old fashioned shooting and being shot at. The extra mile has certainly went into making Advanced Warfare feel as different while familiar as possible.

    COD AW Riot-Slam-Dunk


    On to the not so goods – graphically the character models in the cut scenes and in game are absolutely superb. Kevin Spacey being a natural highlight in the story but, each characters facial expressions have had some amount of work put into them. Hats off to Sledgehammers talented studio for that. However the downside is while looking very nice in cut scenes, when the game actually hits the backgrounds just can’t match that cut scene quality and somewhat detracts from the immersion. Getting new items and equipment this time around sadly is not up to the player and is assigned automatically after each online match. This leads to a sense of less customisation than the previous installments that have allowed the player to pick their rewards after matches.


    All in all COD is a great package, it’s a big shake up in the way the games played and is visually impressive despite the shortfalls in the way the backgrounds look in gameplay. This is the game to bring back the COD doubters and is the game for any Kevin Freaking Spacey fan to play as he is fantastic in the campaign mode. It’s big dumb fun, but this time… it’s futuristic big dumb fun that might require some getting used to.
    For more on COD Advanced Warfare, check out 42 Level One every Tuesday at 9:30pm GMT right here on All Games.
    9/10

    The Good
    It’s the freshest COD since MW 1
    Kevin “freaking” Spacey
    The guns

    The Bad
    Campaigns still short and unsurprising
    Scenery could look prettier

    Dungeons & Dragons Neverwinter (PC)

    Most epic fantasy has a lot of thanks to give not only to Tolkien, but to his inspirations: mythos and lore. In this same way, much of modern fantasy that occupies tabletops and gaming consoles can tip a hat to Forgotten Realms for the depth of their universes. It's hard to escape the influence in most games set in medieval or high fantasy. Expecting Perfect World and Cryptic to bring something new to the table when presenting their free-to-play MMO, Neverwinter, is a bit much considering this framework defined the genre. Yet they still brought innovation to the table, just with focus on MMORPG functionality.

    This isn't to say Perfect World changed how they monetize FTPMMOs. They have a solid structure that has worked with their many other titles, and they know better than to mess with that. For those new to the program, however, things can be a little daunting. I get that the urge to rush into the gameplay is strong, and you probably feel you have a pretty good grasp on MMOs in general, (at least I did), but it's important to pay attention in the beginning of the game. Not everything you need to know is spelled out for you, but the game offers access in game to wikis and provides tips in load screens. You can also do a quick search and find plenty of fanmade wikis to aid you, as well. Learning as much as you can as early as you can will benefit you, because there are a lot of things going on here.

    First, there is normal gameplay. The controls here are decent once you get used to a targeting system that is a little unorthodox for third-person RPGs. (I did, however, much prefer the controls here to the ones found in D&D Online, but maybe I just didn't give those enough time.) My biggest gripe with a targeting system where you aim instead of click on targets is how often line of sight is easily broken. (This is especially a headache if you try to heal an individual in a full on battle.) When targeting enemies, however, there is a bit of an auto-aim that adjusts your character's focus while you are in attack mode. The controls are fluid and responsive. I have always been a double-click the mouse runner, but learning to use WASD full time was not difficult, especially since it's pretty standard. The rest of the key-mapping is intuitive and easy to remember, and also entirely customizable.

    Speaking of customization, the character selection screen is pretty darn good. Players can choose between some of the most prominent races in Forgotten Realms, such as halflings, half-orcs, dwarfs, and even the drow eventually, with more races to come. Tieflings are also an option, creating some of the most impressive looking wizards you'll see running around in game. Individual tweaking of character appearance is detailed (though not quite as much as in PWI or other Cryptic titles) and impacts both facial structure and body structure. A wide range of tones are available for skin, hair, and other features. There are also three body types available, including a “heavy” preset, which can be altered using individual sliders for each body area.

    customapp

    Class is not limited to race, though different races have abilities consistent with specific class types. There are also more classes that will be added to the game over time.  Attributes are chosen by rolling, which is a nice touch. One of the best parts of creating a character is choosing their background and deity alignment. You can also add a character history while creating a character, or at any point during gameplay. Just be sure to save this text in another application, because I encountered a glitch that repeatedly erased the character history I wrote for all of my characters. Only two character slots are available per account, with additional slots available for purchase. Some gamers choose to create multiple accounts to get past paying, but keep in mind that purchases made on one account with real money will not transfer to other accounts.

    b5acc065e64e259f96c927218b2ed0f71367610089

    Speaking of the many forms of currency, how do they work? Well, the Zen currency is used in all of Perfect World's game incarnations. It allows you access to exclusive items, but there is also a variety of game currencies that can be achieved through different means as you progress in the game. Each currency relates to a specific market, granting access to things such as augmentations, profession items, and potions. Astral diamonds are the in game currency that can be acquired and traded for Zen to be spent on exclusive items. The amount of astral diamonds needed for these items is very high, and it takes a lot of work, but there are ways to avoid spending real money to get some of the real money items.

     

    Astral diamonds/Zen also help to unlock Nightmare Lockboxes that are found in the game. While most of the drops in the game at lower to mid level are good, they all lack a certain legendary quality. The character will have many chances to collect these dropped lockboxes. They contain very rare items at random, but require a large about of astral diamonds or the purchase of Zen to open. At this point, there are aspects of the game that resemble a pay-to-win structure. I personally prefer when games stick to purely aesthetic purchases for real currency. On the other hand, you are required to pay nothing for a game that will likely provide you weeks upon weeks of enjoyment.

    I had no real issue with the currency system because I've always been more of a PvE player, but there is a PvP arena that allows party vs party combat. It can be really invigorating provided you're in a solid team. If you prefer solo or small group play, the game is set up for that, too. I found the rogue and cleric to be very fun in solo play. You can also unlock the ability to use a computer controlled companion that you train and summon to help you. Keeping up with the timing of their training, on top of timed profession building, means your character has a lot to focus on while they strive for the current level cap of 60. Professions work like time-based quests found in social gaming apps, so they can be performed in the background at all times. There are dungeons and skirmishes available, each performed with a full party of five players. Queue up for these events while you work on other parts of the game.

    All of the things I'm describing are achieved at level ten and higher, but you can only realize how fun these things are if you make it past the beginning of the game. Granted leveling is quick, and the beginning is relatively short, but the story here is drab, dry, and a sorry follow-up to the awe-inspiring opening cinematic. The story and fighting abilities vastly improve as the player levels, and my personal favorite feature of the entire game is introduced at level 15- The Foundry. The Foundry allows players to create their own quests and campaigns within the game. Some of the stories you can play, created by individuals from all over the world, are varied, creative, and an excellent way to level outside of the main quests. You can create your own campaigns, but this varies from the tabletop version. Even with a vastly adaptable tool kit and a cornucopia of base content to configure, there are limits simply by using the visual representation required in game. That's not to say the limits prevent any worth- the Foundry is an amazing addition to this gameplay format, and does a fantastic job at resembling the creative nature of tabletop itself.

    foundrysample

    The truth is, as a lifelong fan of the Forgotten Realms and nearly every game released from this universe, I had high expectations. In some ways, I was disappointed. I maybe expected too much from the story given my nostalgia for other games set within Neverwinter or Baldur's Gate. Neverwinter is a game that takes a little time to ease into, but it's worth the investment. I'd even say that in-game purchases with real money are warranted, provided you like the game enough to keep playing as it grows better and better. Beware of glitches that can cause things like character histories to be erased, or even prevent you from using an ability or potion here or there during battle. (I encountered the latter infrequently, and I'm sure the game is constantly patching and fixing these things.) One of the most compelling features of Neverwinter is the constant attention to improving the game and adding more features, including endgame PvE and PvP opportunities. This, along with character created Foundry campaigns and a seeming desire to incorporate the essence of tabletop magic, lead me to highly recommend at the very least trying this game if you are a fan of Forgotten Realms and MMOs.

    • Published in PC
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