Monday, May 30, 2011

Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom

Majin and the forsaken kingdom could easily be a PSN/XBLA game instead of a dvd/bluray one. It's just the content quantity and variety that it delivers is not that big :
- All in all there are several types of enemies throughout the game (less then 10).
- The puzzles are a bit repetitive and there's not real variety (If you can't solve one from your 3rd try, stop trying since you don't meet the requirements for solving it).

This game just reeks simplicity all over. Which is not that bad actually.. I'm guessing that a kid around 10 yrs with an experimenting nature will surely enjoy it, just that i miss that target group for around 20 years :). If assuming a kid's perspective the game offers quite the challenge and stimulates moderate amount of reasoning.And then there's the action, which is also simplified to several actions you can make. But from a perspective of a seasoned gamer like myself this game offers nothing new in terms of gameplay and game mechanics.

The storyline is also kinda bleak. A story of a kid and an innocent friendly giant is seen in cartoons for years now [1] [2], but this all confirms what i said about the gameplay - it's a game for kids. So, if you already bough it, like me, go and make some kid you know happy by giving it as a gift. I know i will :)


Monday, May 23, 2011

On RPG's : Open worlds and multiple choices

Open world, free roam and shit like that.
Many of the latest titles boast with this kind of stuff, but is it really worth it ? Does it impact the gameplay and overall improve the game?

IMHO, No. I get that there's plenty of stuff to do in an open world, but most of it due to unrelated-ness to the storyline or the lack of player motivation are deemed meaningless and kinda stupid. Let me elaborate, explaining some of the features of an open world.

1. You can go to any place in the map. I'm not even gonna elaborate the stupidness of this one . Yay, i climbed the mountain/ i reached top floor of that building / swam to that isle ... Bitch please.

2. You can kill random citizens. Yes you can. I can go on a killing spree and after 10 minutes of repeated massacres, I start to lose interest. Okay, it's very much possible, but it lacks purpose. I can kill enemies and get XP, or i can do that without the XP/get significantly less XP. What's the reasonable choice here?

3. Various mini-games. There are examples mostly present in rpg's . Poker Dice in Witcher , Quazi-blackjack in Mass Effect 2 , and many more. With these you can get monetary reward in terms on in-game currency , but due to the repetitive nature of the mini-games i never spend more than 30 mins AT BEST. The monetary reward was insignificant.

4. You can collect various in-game resources and afterwards sell them. That sounds awfully familiar. Farmville anyone ?

Not to be hater and all, but IMHO the openness of the world has 2 real benefits:

1. The possibility of making an error (Kill the wrong enemy , go to the wrong place, etc..) which is inherent ability of broadening the number of player choices. But due to the map navigation and automatic checkpoint marking that most games have, this possibility is effectively suppressed thus eliminating the purpose of the open game world.

2. The reward for exploring the unknown. Yes I'm talking about the Super-sword you get after going off the map and defeating/solving the puzzle of Demi-God X. Many of the old games had these moments, but nowadays, almost every game rewards the player with the best sword of the game after dealing with problems along the main storyline , so basically you don't need to waste time exploring, since you know that you'll get the real deal "by default". So the only real benefit from this is achieving it faster/easier. That's probably the best motivator when it comes to RPGs but i often feel cheated when i spend hour and a half for a piece of shit gear.

So for me at least , the open world implementations of modern games don't bring much to the table. I'm not into completely eliminating the open world option, just some adjustments need to be made here. Some other time ...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Batman : Arkham Asylum

Yo dawg, i heard you like Batman, so i recommend you the best Batman game.

When i think about it, I myself never had the "Batman phase" maybe cause I'm into superpowers and shit. But I cannot say that I havent watched all the movies and also the epic TV series with Adam West.

The thing that made me buy Batman : Arkham Asylum was all the cool fight videos, but I got quite more than i bargained for. Since the begining the game starts the storytelling of a what i think is a superb and truly Batman-like plot, with many of the well known characters making an appearance. Talking about the characters, the voice acting is beyond words. They bring the characters to life quite well. Also, the entire Arkham Asylum setting is extremely compelling.

The gameplay offers a wide variety of obstacles to overcome from sneaking, fighting, platform and some of them require a small amount of spatial reasoning. It's like you get 4 games in one with this one. The beauty of it, figuring them out really feels like you're Batman ( not that i know how's that like :). When i think about it, I spent a great deal of the game in detective mode, so there was a moment when a friend of mine thought i was fighting skeletons :)

What the game really takes to another level (IMHO) is the fighting/action part. I've never experienced such a great mix of quicktime events and fluid action. I mean it looks just like an action movie watching them from aside, but actually doing the combos is a MUST HAVE experience. The only thing that might use a bit work is the difficulty. I've played the game on Hard (hardest setting available) and I never played a segment more than 3 times over, and I'm really an average player when it comes to gaming. For a huge deal of them I was able to get on the first try. Also, maybe because of all the fun you have, it does seem a little bit short.

All these elements combined - an awesome pack of fun. I strongly recommend it!


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes

"The simpler the game, the greater the danger you can get hooked."
When it comes to puzzle games i find this to be true. Of course there is other stuff but for myself I prefer it as simple as possible. Might and Magic is kind of a RPG flavored bejeweled-based puzzle game, and it still doesn't describe it well.

The rules of the game are simple : you connect 3 same-color tiles(soldiers) to activate formations . There are specific types of creatures that take different conditions for activating, and there is more. Some of the advanced creatures have special abilities which can more than come in handy, they can even decide the battle. It also helps knowing the abilities of the enemy in order to plan the defense well.

The goals can vary. Attack specific tile (in specific order or random), plain defeat of the enemy, or maybe present some situation with a specific goal to overcome it - similar to chess problems. The first ones can be fun especially when the tiles are moving so you have to take the timing into consideration.

The RPG elements are all over this game. The units you use gain levels and hence improve their abilities, the player can use various artefacts which give various bonuses and benefits, each hero has a special ability which is unique and much more. The gameplay is on a board-like layout with various encounters and objects on it, which motivates the players to exploring.

The storyline is decent, though it does not offer something spectacular it does not distract the player or damage the gameplay. I also liked the art : hand drawn scenery with manga-based characters make for an interesting world to explore.