Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category


Indie Hell: A Pimp RPG

September 12, 2013

It’s been a while, huh.

Well, I can explain the lack of updates very easily. I ran out of ideas.

But, I have since discovered the vast wasteland that is the Xbox 360’s Indie Game section. Holy shit.

So tonight, I would like to talk about  A Pimp RPG.

In a technical sense, it’s not bad. For something made by an enthusiast in their spare time, the engine works pretty well.  There aren’t any major hitches.

And then there’s the content.

Holy Shit.

Let’s start with the player character: a black gangster, likely straight from Poser, with a huge afro, named Daddy K. And the first thing you see is Daddy K surrounded by three women in a splash screen that states “No hos were harmed in the making of this game.” Also, your contact throughout the trial is a woman named Queen Mateefuh, who will give you pin striped pants and a shiv in return for two sets of platinum “grillz”, and then sends you off to kill some dude who is trying to join a gang.

Oh, and the description for said “grillz” is “Look at those teef sparkle!”

I swear to God, I didn’t make a word of that up.

Look, it’s pretty clear that this game is supposed to be satire (or maybe that’s just what I’m telling myself to keep from going into a wordless rage and crawling through a plate glass window), but it goes a little overboard. There is a fine line between satire and just complete tone-deafness (called Poe’s Law), and I can’t figure out which side of the line this comes down on. It takes Blaxploitation movies from the ’70s and Final Fantasy-style, turn-based RPGs, puts them in a blender with not enough of a smiling wink (and I seriously need the satire option to be the right one, for the sake of my mental health) and put it up on Xbox Live.

So in short, if you want your brain to continue functioning in an effective and proper manner, don’t download this.


Review: Darkest of Days

May 7, 2013

Well, we appear to be back. Things got a little crazy here, but the short version is, my father finally did get disability (and I do mean finally, he got the money he was owed just a couple of weeks ago), and we have since moved. So, things are going good, and I feel confident in starting in on the reviews again.

I will say this for Darkest of Days: it has an interesting concept. You play a member of the 7th Cavalry who went missing during the Battle of Little Big Horn, pulled out of his own time to go make right what once went wrong. So, the base idea is Quantum Leap: The FPS. Somehow, though, it never quite comes together.

The game as a whole feels kind of rushed, especially when it comes to storytelling. This is a ten hour game, and there doesn’t seem to be much replay value in it, because the story is the same no matter what order you do it in. Be prepared for me to spoil the entire game, by the way. Read the rest of this entry ?


Review: 7.62 High Calibre (w/ Blue Sun Mod)

May 7, 2013

Allow me to point out, quickly before I start, that this is going to be about 50/50 a review of 7.62 High Calibre and of the Blue Sun Mod, and this is really by necessity. You see, dear readers, in 2007, Russian developer Aperion released through C1 7.62, which was a follow-up to their previous game, Brigade E5: New Jagged Union, which was itself a spiritual sequel to the Jagged Alliance games. It has since seen a European/US release by the same publisher. Its reputation is…less than stellar.

The thing is, the game was made quickly and somewhat on the cheap, and it shows. Boy, does it show. Let’s just take a moment, and go through these in the order that most players would probably notice them. First, it’s pretty clear that there wasn’t anybody in the entirety of the development team who was fluent in English. And that the localization was pretty much just one dude plugging all of the words in the game into At one point, the ammo pouch was referred to as a cartouche, which while technically correct is hilariously outdated.

As for the Blue Sun mod, the most important thing it does is make the game actually playable. As a matter of fact, one Let’s Play of the base game said that a fan-made English translation “ranges from ‘passable’ to ‘the translator didn’t know what the English word was so he threw up his hands and left the Russian word in.'” Besides the functional change in language, Blue Sun changes some of the basic gameplay. For example, in vanilla 7.62mm, you just sort of show up in Algeira’s version of Cancun. With the mod, you start about fifteen miles north of town with a broken down bus and a car you can pull a Beretta out of. After going through the character creation and class system, which were also added by the mod. All of that is about half of what the mod does.

Another, say, three-eighths is a pack of missions tied to the Blue Sun mining group operating in Algeira and their allies. The writing is…well, let me put it this way. The story as a whole is actually pretty well done, focusing mainly on the Blue Sun company’s attempt to take advantage of the imminent civil war between the Algeiran government and rebel forces to begin a military takeover of Palinero, a county to the south of Algeira and the setting of the previous game. The writing itself, on the other hand…well, I’ll let a comment on another LP with the Blue Sun mod sum it up: “I’m not nearly as far along as you are yet, but holy shit the dialogue in the Blue Sun quests”.

And the last thing the mod does is add weapons and items. Like, a bunch of them. 274 new guns and 276 new items, although most come from assorted other mods.

As far as the vanilla story goes, it’s fairly standard for sandbox games. You come to Algeira to track down a Russian gangster, but, y’know, no rush, when you can. In the midst of all this is a conflict between the administration of Generalissimo Alberto Sosa and surprisingly hot rebel leader Tanya Tormens. I normally wouldn’t bring up her appearance, buuut she’s also wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt that’s a size too small. So…there’s that.

The Blue Sun storyline is also pretty much par for the course. Go to [town], assassinate [enemy]. Repeat until you start to take over the government installations of Palinero. When you get all three sides going at once, then things are starting to get interesting. As for the combat…ehh. It’s not bad. It’s not exactly the most robust system to come from a game, but it works pretty well. And there’s something just so satisfying about having the game pause itself at the moment the shot you took from across the map hits an enemy in the side of the head.

Personally, I think it’s worth the fifteen bucks it costs on Amazon. But only if you grab the Blue Sun mod with it. Otherwise, I’d suggest you get away while you can.


Review: Omerta – City of Gangsters

March 14, 2013

Annnd we’re back. Things are starting to stabilize here, so it looks like updates are going to start coming again, but more importantly, Steam demos. Today: Omerta – City of Gangsters. The story, or at least what I got of it from the demo, is the standard gangster boilerplate – Sicilian man leaves for the East Coast of the United States during the prohibition era. The story isn’t really the important part. Where the game really starts getting my attention is in the mechanics.

Being a game from Kalypso and Haemont, half of this game bears a striking resemblance to the Tropico series, except, y’know, Atlantic City. You have x amount of gangsters who you can send to buy from (or raid to steal from) home breweries, sell the alcohol you’ve acquired by various means, conduct jobs for people outside the gang, investigate buildings around town, et cetera, et cetera.

The part I really, really find interesting is that once you get into combat, the mechanics are surprisingly similar to the first and second games of the Fallout series. Each of your characters have a certain number of Action Points and Movement Points, which really clicked with me because having a single pool of points was one of the few things I disliked about Fallout II.

Anyway, the Action Points are strictly used for, appropriately enough, actions – basically, using guns, melee weapons, and sending your meaty fist gangster-ward. And Movement Points are, equally appropriately, used only for moving. In addition, there are different attacks that your character can use based on the weapon you’re using – or lack thereof. For example, my boss character was using his meaty fists and had three options: throw a punch, sweep the legs, or a kick to the dangly bits.

If I’m being completely honest, it’s a little rough. But it definitely has potential. Right now it’s $40 on Steam, but I would wait for it to go down another five or ten dollars before it’s really worth the money you’d be spending on it.


Review: Seven Psychopaths

February 2, 2013

Holy fucking shit.

That could be your review right there. Three words, holy fucking shit. Because that’s what I found myself saying throughout most of this movie. But since I don’t want to just crap something out, I’ll elaborate (also, you’ll have to forgive me if I skimp on some of the details – I’m running on about three hours of sleep).

The main focus of Seven Psychopaths is really a writer by the name of Martin Faranan, who is working on a movie appropriately titled Seven Psychopaths. But he doesn’t have to go it alone, being helped by his friends Billy and Hans, who kidnap dogs so they can return them to their owner for a reward. Billy is an out of work actor, and Hans helps with the dogs to get money for his African-American wife who’s in the hospital with cancer. I normally wouldn’t have mentioned that she was African-American, but it comes up more than a few times in the movie.

As Martin is writing his screenplay, Billy has kidnapped the shih-tzu of a mob boss. So most of the movie deals with Martin’s attempts to come up with convincing psychopaths while helping Billy and Hans not get killed by the mafia. Fair warning: Last chance to skip to the last paragraph to bypass the spoilers.

Read the rest of this entry ?


Review: Dexter

December 4, 2012

First and foremost, UNICEF is raising money for children in Malawi schools to get desks. There are kids over there who are sitting on concrete floors and dirt floors, and it’s really doing a number their ability to learn. If you can, if you would like to give, you can do so here: UNICEF

Second, things are stabilizing a bit, but updates are still going to come in fits and starts for the foreseeable future. I won’t be following any schedule, which should help things.

And now, your featured presentation.

There is a Dexter video game.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Showtime series, Dexter is about a blood spatter analyst with the Miami police. And he kills people who evidence shows have been wrongly freed from the justice system. And collects their blood. Not in, like, jars or anything, but on microscope slides. Get it? Because he’s a foren-you get the picture.

There is a game based on this.

I am absolutely shocked that this game got made. Mainly because you play a killer. And it’s a game where you actively stalk and kill people (albeit, yes, people who are themselves killers). It’s kind of weird.

As for the game itself, it’s not bad. It follows closely the events of the first season, with the first kill in the game being Dexter’s first victim in the show, the choir director who was dead five minutes into the pilot. After that, you return to Dexter’s lovingly-rendered apartment where a message from his adoptive sister Debra awaits. And that’s where the game starts to impress me, because they got all of the voice actors to come in and reprise their roles for the game. And all of them give good reads, with the notable exception of Julie Benz who, in her defense, was about a season away from leaving the show.

The game itself isn’t bad – the first season is done well even if the graphics look a bit dated (c. 2005-ish). But the sticking point is that the game is kind of…unsettling, as a game where you play a serial killer might well be. It forces you to think like a serial killer to a certain point, and frankly that’s a place in my own head where I don’t want to go. And having Michael C. Hall’s dark narration over characters with soulless eyes really isn’t helping matters any.

I…I can’t recommend this game. But it’s not for anything in particular with the game. It’s the fact that the source material really shouldn’t have been adapted to a game. It just really gives me the creeps.


Review: Aces High and Prisoner of War

September 19, 2012

I’m…kind of hesitating about describing Aces High, because I’m not entirely sure how to go about it. Aces High is essentially a World War II-era combat simulator, but there’s more to it than that. There certainly are planes – there are a shitload of planes – but there are also ground vehicles, there’s a PT boat you can pilot, there are ground defense guns, and there are also aircraft carrier groups.

There are also a number of editors for the game: a terrain editor, which lets you create your own arenas to play in (I’m currently working on a Southern California one centered around LA), an object editor which I haven’t played around with enough to know what it does, even a cloud editor! You can edit how clouds form in the arenas! I…that is a level of incredible, almost obsessive depth that I am utterly unfamiliar with.

Hell, I recommend it even if you never go online with it. And I recommend not going online, because after two weeks there’s a monthly fee. Just be well aware that you’re going to need a proper joystick or a controller.

And then there’s Prisoner of War. This one is really easy to explain: USAAC Captain Lewis Stone and Lieutenant James “J.D.” Daly are shot down during a reconnaissance mission over Germany in the summer of 1944. Both men bail out and are eventually captured by the Wehrmacht (more specifically the German Army) and sent to a holding camp. During an escape from the camp, J.D. is shot and killed by General Stahl, in charge of at least a portion of Nazi weapons research and in the area purely by chance.

From there, Stone is bounced between Stalag Luft I and Oflag IV-C (better known as Castle Colditz) along the way getting roped into an English SOE operation to steal plans for a new type of V-rocket, calling for British bombers to launch a night raid on Stalag Luft I to destroy this new rocket before it can be launched at London (the raid itself is a goddamn miracle, because the bombers managed to hit the rocket and only the rocket), and to sabotage the weapons research taking place underneath Colditz.

The gameplay is heavily stealth based, and it is the only videogame I’ve seen that features soldiers of Nazi Germany and you aren’t shooting them. In fact, this game has the lowest bodycount of any World War II-era game that I’ve ever seen – exactly two people die. Three if you count one of the Colditz prisoners who is possibly taken to a concentration camp during your second visit to Stalag Luft.

But the most amazing thing about this game is that, despite being a decade old, it runs fine on Windows 7. Well, unless you count the fact that it doesn’t capture the mouse. That can get annoying sometimes.