Saturday, August 27, 2011

King's Bounty : The Legend / Armored Princess

If i can single out the best 3 games ever made, the list will definitely contain Heroes of Might & Magic 3. It's such a perfect mix of cleverly made challenges that always kept me on my toes requiring careful planning strategy and optimizing combat effectiveness to beat the game (which I must say , I haven't done till this day :). It's no secret for me that King's Bounty : TL/AP feeds on the ideas used in Heroes of Might and Magic and the similar games, but actually the game is a spiritual sequel on the 1990's game King's Bounty (which I've never played). King's Bounty : The Legend also introduces some modification of the game segments that improve the overall player's experience.

King's Bounty : The Legend , and Armored Princess have too much similarities for me to make separate reviews for both games so whatever i say here goes for both games.

The player takes control of a hero general who explores the map in real time, and if a combat situation arises the time is stopped and combat is done in turn based manner. The combat itself can be easily described like some sort of modified chess version where the hero's troops take on the ones of the enemy. Of course, there's a billion things to take into account beside the raw combat stats of the unit, the unit's morale, the leadership of the hero, the special powers, strengths and weaknesses of the units, various magic and also randomized combat terrain with power up objects... The mechanism is not really that complicated, but it requires careful planning to make the most of the battle. The units can be of various appearances mostly represented by creatures from various mythologies, divided into several categories/races (Humans, Animals, Demonic, Elves...) but after the first encounter with them it's relatively easy to get to know their ability. That's basically combat mechanics 101. The fun part kicks in when the superb AI shows up. It is so cleverly done that it's designed to react differently to a different approach, so the battles are NEVER boring. Yes, in The Legend the enemy armies were largely consisted of same class (depending of the world/map the battle is taking place), so it's kinda lame to fight the same enemies over and over but it's corrected in Armored Princess.

Army management is just part of the story. The strategy part. The other one is the RPG. The hero can gain experience and level up, gaining talent points in 3 different trees magic, mind and might, each giving bonuses in different categories. The hero can also wear gear that improves his basic attributes (Attack, Defense and Knowledge) delegating the attack and defense benefits to it's commanding troops, and the Knowledge directly influences the effectiveness of the magic the hero uses in combat. Customizing specific gear to fit specific fighting styles or even single battles can be sometimes annoying but it's always fun to beat a challenge using your own intellectual prowess which is actually is a significant part of what gaming means.

This game is definitely among my top 10 games I've played, and I'm not sorry for every minute I've spent. If you're into RPGs and turn based strategies this one will definitely win you over. Just be sure to have some work vacation days available :)


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mafia 2

I'll just cut to the chase and say that I am very disapointed of this game. This coming from a guy who's played the first Mafia and find it one of the best games on the subject of crimeworks in general, if not ever. The game had it all - the cinematic appeal, the voice acting, the whole "mafia" mood, I can safely say that it was to games what The Godfather was to movies - a jewel.

Mafia 2 is almost like an exact copy of the first game, and it has all the "good stuff" but lacks the "for the first time" factor.

The storyline is best described with the caption of the last chapter "Per aspera ad astra", meaning that it describes the rise to power of a small time crook, to a key figure in the criminal world. Yes, the story has all the suspense, trust and betrayal, power struggles and everything but it's nothing new.

The gameplay mechanics is almost an exact copy from the first game, with a little touch from GTA. City map with various locations to explore, cars to steal, several different weapons and people to run over and everything does not pack much of a WOW, I think everyone would agree. Even the variety of the missions carries over from the previous game, torching the competition, illegal distribution and smuggling to the classic sleeping with the fishes kind. It's not that it isn't substantial , more that it isn't something new.

Also, overall the game is rather short.I finished it for like 10 hours or so, on Hard. I dunno what was I expecting, I guess I wanted something different, but instead i got the original Mafia. I think the "2" in the name is obsolete.


Monday, August 8, 2011

The world is saved (again)

An awesome youtube video from an IGN blog. There is no better way to put into words, all the feelings of epicness brought by playing video games. It's so great it's hilarious!

Sunday, August 7, 2011


I must say I was a bit predetermined that this game will be kinda shitty, since I found out that lot of the people who played it compared it to Prototype. I don't have anything against Prototype, just that the fact that after you get the Devastator moves (which is kinda 50-60% of the game progress), the gameplay slides downfall into boredom.

So, with that in mind I was pleasantly surprised. The storyline is just the right mix of situations to keep you invested, though not enough to be the sole driving force throughout the game, but that's mostly because of the marvelous game mechanics. The key characters are nicely brought to life and are pretty charismatic each bringing their own appeal through interacting with the main protagonist. Also, loved the art style of the comic between missions!

The game mechanics itself offers a nice array of moves and powers, and the controls are mapped appropriately so very soon you can make incredible acrobatics with great ease. The terrain of the city offers great variety so it was always challenging to me in finding ways of using it to my advantage. The variety of the enemies is superbly done scaled to the players point in the game progress, just so new enemies will appear even at the near end of the main storyline.

I very much enjoyed this game, but as I said , I dived in with some very low expectations, to find an awesome game.