Thursday, 18 June 2015

Geometrical trench war in turquoise tomb tops from evolved dimensions

Once again a round-up of smaller digital titles I've played. I liked how Xbox Live used to just call these titles "Arcade" titles. I guess that they have grown and become so advanced that the difference between these type of titles and the full release ones are kind of blurred out.

Had fun playing them in various degrees. Check out my small reviews and come back for other game reviews soon!

Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions Evolved

Platform tested: Xbox One

Geometry Wars first saw daylight as a mini-game inside your garage in Project Gotham Racing 2, way back in 2003 on the original Xbox. It reached it's full fame potential when it was released in an upgraded version on Xbox Live as an arcade game there on the Xbox 360 in 2005. Since then we have had a sequel and now the latest entry is here Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions. Mind you, I am reviewing this a while after the release, which was in November last year, the game has actually been upgraded to the Evolved version with a free update.

My initial reaction to GW3 was that it was a wonderful new entry in the series, with lots of content, new types of more three dimensional levels, new enemy types etc. However, I felt the main adventure mode, which requires you to have a certain number of stars gained from each level to progress, was way to difficult to actually get far into the game. As such, I ended up getting stuck and not being able to try the next levels as it demanded I earned more stars from earlier levels. Luckily they changed that in the Evolved update and simply require you to earn one star from the level before it to unlock the next. I finally got to see all the levels this game had to offer.

GW3 has retained it's trademark gameplay with twin stick shooting and colourful levels drawn in retro inspired Tron-like graphics. The music score is sublime as usual and really pumps up your adrenaline with techno inspired tracks that increase they're dramatic effects to further speed up the feeling of the game. Beating your highscore on a level, with tons of enemies crowding around your little ship while the electronics music keeps you in a trance while playing is an adrenaline rush that needs to be experienced by everyone once again.

One can argue that GW3 brings little truly mind blowing to the table, and in a ll sense some of the 3D levels make it more tricky to control and actually lessens your visibility over the enemies, but I enjoyed the variation it gave the game. If you have never played any Geometry Wars games before, what better place than to start here! Especially considering it includes all the classic modes from the first and second game! Great value for money, pumping music, sharp controls and colourful graphics, Geometry Wars is still king of the small arcade experiences!



+ Plus points

  • Vibrant visuals with tons of effects and colours.
  • Amazing soundtrack. Like really amazing.
  • Lots of variety and modes.

- Minus points

  • Some of the more 3D levels are confusing.
  • Death is often casued by a bad view of the surroundings.
  • Nothing ground breaking new.

Valient Hearts: The Great War

Platform tested: PlayStation 4

There are a ton of World War 2 games, but somehow there are hardly any about the first world war, the Great War as it is known. Mainly due to the fact that trench warfare isn't really suited for games seeking to give players variation and cool new settings. At least in the first person shooter genre WW1 seems to be a difficult game to make a whole game around, without it being extremely tedious. Luckily Ubisoft opted to think out of the box and make something completely different with Valiant Hearts. A game that is a tribute to the many lives that were lost in the Great War.

VH apparently uses the Rayman Legends engine, and as you may have guessed is a 2D game. It's artstyle depicts the colours you'd expect from photographs from this era. With it's fairly pale palette, with more natural shades of brown, grey, green and blue. The characters themselves have a cartoonish appearance with chubby, round bodies and tiny feet. The game may not have an artstyle for everyone, but I found it to have a very charming look. It gives a sense of being a moveable painting with it's wonderful backgrounds images.

The game is divided into four main chapters with a few levels within these, the storyline follows couple that are a young German man and a French woman, who get pulled form each other when the war begins. The womans father must also fight in the war and becomes friends with an american soldier. The game also follows a young French woman working as a medic. All these lives are inter weaved through the storyline and meet each other through the years of the war.

Valiant Hearts is more of a puzzle and adventure game than anything else, and features a fairly slow gameplay style. It's a refreshing game to play in a time crowded with hectic and fast action games. It gives me a certain nod back to the old point and click adventures on the PC, without being that genre exactly. By that, I mean the way it makes you solve puzzles with items you find. It requires you to look through the environments for items that may start a machine or similar to fix a certain problem in that hinders your progress in that level. Items may also unlock areas that were previously not reachable.

I enjoyed learning the stories of all the main characters you play and I really liked the historical facts within the game. Every level unlocks small historical photographs with small bits of facts thrown in. Items you pick up also explain what they were used for and such in the era the war took place. I appreciate the game for comparing items of that time to the equivalent of today too, it's fun! At times I feel this game would be an excellent educational game for young generations to learn about this tragic and bloody war that changed world history forever and led to the even bigger tragedy that was WW2. It serves as a lovely little tribute!



+ Plus points

  • Interesting historical facts and pictures.
  • Fun puzzles to solve.
  • Strong story showing the brutal Great War from both sides.

- Minus points

  • Gameplay is very limited.
  • On the repetitive side.
  • Slow paced and aimed at a fairly limited audience.

Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris

Platform tested: PlayStation 4

My first encounter with the Tomb Raider spin-off series starring Lara Croft was The Guardian of Light back in 2011. I loved that game and gave it a very good review back in 2010. Understandably I was rather excited for the sequel; The Temple of Osiris. Even more so because the game now had support for up to four players rather than just two. I played the last game coop, so I got together with three others for this one.

It becomes immediately clear that the pace of the game has changed. Levels are completed within far shorter times than the last game. The puzzles are simpler and the whole experience seems to be aimed at being more casual and faster paced action. This may be the fact that it aims on being for short multiplayer bursts that require less time to complete and as such are more suited for online play. For me it feels a little to close to a short handheld or mobile game style timespan. Good for on the go, but not necassary for a home console game.

The gameplay from the previous game is maintained and indeed it was good then so why change it? I like the various abilities the "real life" characters have versus the reincarnated Egyptian ones. It helps with the variation as playing them feels distinctly different. The puzzles are adapted around their unique abilities too, requiring the player to have one of each. Singleplayer compensates this by letting you have an AI partner. Passing through the levels is the main drive for me in this game. However I found the loot you acquired through collecting points and opening chests that require a certain amount of points to be disappointing and fairly meaningless. Mainly consisting of various rings that give you hardly noticeable upgrades and a lot of the time an equivalent downgrade.

I loathe the fact that points are collected individually, thus making the coop experience an annoying competitive affair. I do not want to experience how this is to play with randoms on the net, grabbing all the points and collectibles in front of your face. Weapons that are found are simply shared amongst the group, but I would rather have seen the points shared the same way and used to level up weapons and abilities on a grid like system.

I found the overall experience of Temple of Osiris to be more chaotic than the previous game and left me with a more bitter taste than the fun original. Maybe the last game filled my need for another title in this spin-off series, but this just didn't live up to the first game for me. It's one of those games that worked the first time around and should have been left with that until something new and very clever popped in as a gameplay feature.



+ Plus points

  • Four player support.
  • Looks sharp and good for this type of game.
  • Completing the actual levels and puzzles is still fun.

- Minus points

  • Chaotic at times.
  • Feels less original and unique than the last game.
  • Loot is basically useless stuff and the points are not shared among players.

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