Posts Tagged ‘ PC ’

Portal 2

Portal 2
Still thinking with portals

The sequel to the highly acclaimed 2007 Orange Box physics puzzler, Portal, Portal 2, released April 18th, 2011, offers a continuation of the original. Yup, that’s basically the game. Yes there are a lot more features and “modes” than offered in the original, but I’ll get to that later. Portal 2 is more of the fun portal hopping puzzle platforming that everyone loved in the original. That being said, if you thought the original was good, then the second will not disappoint. If you, on the other hand, never played the first, then I would like to know what rock you were living under for the past 4 years, what with the game’s relative cheapness and free giveaways. Anyway, I digress.

Bidness time.

One big addition in the sequel is that of a story. As simple as it is, the story in Portal 2 is far better than some that I’ve seen in more than a few high budget games of recent release. Yes, there is still plenty of that dark humor that everyone loved in the original, but you also get more of the history of Aperture and everything else involved for a far more lasting and enjoyable experience. I can’t say much more than that in order to avoid spoilers for those who have yet to finish the game, but the ending is absolutely worth the hours you put into the game. Seriously though, Cave Johnson is one of the best parts of this game.

Speaking of time, Portal 2 is about three times as long as the original Portal. So, if you thought 2 hours for Portal was worth it then 3x$20 = $60 should also seem appropriate. The problem is, where Portal was “The perfect length” for a game of its type, Portal 2 seems to drag on forever in certain places and, dare I say it, may be too long. I’m not saying that it gets boring and unplayable, just that the game can be repetitive after solving similar puzzles repeatedly, and with only 3 new mechanics to add to your portal shooting repertoire. Though, once you get past those few dull humps the game quickly picks back up and refuses to let you stop playing.

Graphics-wise, Portal 2 looks much much much better than the original ever did, which is to be expected with Valve updating their Source engine for 4 years. The environments are exquisite and highly varied, but not too busy like some other games.

Really, the only thing I can hold against Portal 2 are the loading screens. Late game they become less intrusive, but early game the screens manage to jar me out of the experience and remind me that I’m playing a video game. I thought loading screens were relics of the past to be forgotten. In the original Valve didn’t have any, why put them in the second? I can understand why certain parts didn’t have screens but I could have gone without being interrupted every minute to be shown a loading screen. Like I said, though, as the challenges become harder this isn’t as much of a problem or a problem at all once you are forced to spend time on puzzles, but early game it is very distracting.

Guess who's about to die

Single player aside, Portal 2 also includes robot controlled co-op mode, where two players cooperate to complete challenging portal based puzzles, at least in theory anyway. If you ever played The New Super Mario Bros then you will know exactly why this style of play can be the most fun and infuriating thing ever created. If you ever die in co-op it’s probably because your teammate shot a portal under your feet leading into a deathtrap of some kind. Now, while this kind of behavior between friends is fun and the novelty wears off quickly in that case, Portal 2 co-op allows you to venture into the internet to enlist help. This is a bad idea. Do you know who is on the internet? Because I do. It’s the kind of people who tend to live under bridges and eat goats. You probably won’t run into these kinds of people, but when you do…remember that I warned you.

Overall, I’d give Portal 29 homicidal robots out of 10 homicidal robots because one of them is broken and the other 9 are homicidal robots and going to kill me if I speak badly about OH NO! NOT THE CLAMPS!

Portal 2 is the best game that will be released this year. You should buy it immediately, [subject name here].

Bulletstorming the gates


From the creators of the hit game Duty Calls, Epic Games, comes a game that will cause children to become serial rapists, Bulletstorm. No, seriously, Fox News said this game will turn your kids into bona fide southern Bubbas. Don’t believe me? Go ahead, read it I’ll wait…AREN’T THEY CRAZY? Anyway, future rise in the rate of rape aside, Bulletstorm is a hilarious sci-fi romp through the blood and guts of some unknown alien race mutants. They probably deserved it anyway.

Bros 4 life

First off, if you are unsure of whether or not you want to shell out the cash for Bulletstorm, a decision not to be taken lightly, try the free demo on your respective Xbox, Steam, or PlayStation networks. Then, after you’ve spent a while thinking “Maybe this is pretty cool,” get the full game and spend a few hours playing before you get back to where you left off. For a game titled Bulletstorm, I for one am a little disappointed that it takes 20 minutes before you can wield your gun toward some unfriendly aliens mutants. I can let this slide even, it’s not a horrible offense, but I expect better.

So what should make BulletStorm so different? The game awards points (which you can use to buy new guns and upgrades) for performing “skill shots,” which consist of things like the standard headshot to the “Fan-tastic” for making an enemy spin on the ceiling using the drill gun. Other such skillful shots, with oft hilarious names/connotations, become available as you collect guns throughout the game. This isn’t incredibly new, Mad World for the Wii did something similar years ago. While Mad World had a lot more variety to what you could do, with the Wii motion controls and all, it was easily mastered during the first level and not really varied beyond that. BS, on the other dismembered hand, had the foresight to add color and different guns, adding some spice to the horrific killing, which you pick up during the game each with their own strengths and skills. Though after an act or two you can manage to perform most of the skills associated with your newest weapon and get back down to shootin’ stuff.

Pretty much this, like, all the time.

Graphics wise, Bulletstorm feels like somebody had great plans for the game to look fantastic but then someone else decided to cheap out and use the Unreal engine. Now there’s nothing wrong with using the Unreal engine, it’s pretty cool, but it isn’t that great. Games using it often look pretty gritty, especially when the oft used dirt filter is used. Because of this, BS doesn’t look a whole lot different from other similar shooters. On occasion, it looks like someone decided that Bulletstorm absolutely needed to have super awesome graphical sequences, but they just never come out right. Half the time you are distracted by things shooting at your face and don’t get to take in the stunning vistas. That’s not to say that Bulletstorm looks bad. It is still a fine looking game, just not very differentiable from other next-genners.

I...I don't...I don't know...

As far as the campaign goes, don’t expect at deep and captivating story from Bulletstorm. It, like the level design, is incredibly linear with the budget of twists and turns spent in the opening prologue (which is the most boring part of the game). After that, however, the game just becomes ridiculously hilarious. Between your rampant path of destruction and the fantastic one liners delivered by Steve Blum (Read: Spike Spiegel) the game remains up tempo and entertaining. Around the end it kinda peters off and the ending seems very labored, but is worth it for completion’s sake.

Once you’ve finished off the single player portions of Bulletstorm the multiplayer modes are worth a try. Anarchy mode features a Firefight style mode where you and up to four other players fight off wave after wave of enemies. The other, Echo mode, allows you to replay certain parts of the single player with teammates. Both reward (and sometimes require) precision teamwork to pull off team skill shots for bonus points and extra carnage. Otherwise, these modes aren’t a whole lot different from the basic game. Still hilarious, though.

Kinda...exactly like this.

Being billed as “Not your average shooter,” I am saddened that I can barely distinguish it from other average shooters of today. Don’t get me wrong, it is fun, but nothing at all new. It still has the realistic brown dirt look that is so common in games today and, while there is some variety, there isn’t enough to actually be called variety. Yes, shooting someone in the genitals is humorous, but only to a certain extent. There’s not a whole lot beyond the standard kicking, shooting, and electric leashing thing. While it is fun, it gets old eventually. Bulletstorm has that quirky, highly immature sense of humor that video game’s target demographic is known for and, if you’re into that, will result in a very fun time. If not, then just hope you don’t leave feeling “one hell of a murder boner” for Epic Games.

I don't know what this is, but it comes up when you google image search Bulletstorm

League of Legends aka LOL DOTA

League of Legends aka LOL DOTA

Recently, I’ve been playing a lot of a little game called League of Legends. It has been around since late 2009 but recently LoL (the official term) has been picking up steam recently. I mean c’mon, with competitive matches as exciting as this who wouldn’t want to play?

Actually actual gameplay

Anyway, League of Legends from the classic DotA mod for Warcraft III (those of you familiar with DotA gameplay should feel free to skip the following paragraph). For those of you who don’t know, DotA (Defense of the Ancients) featured five on five teams each working, for no particular reason, to destroy the other team’s Nexus, the magical building which protects/powers their item shop. The Nexus also spawns minions, AI controlled chump units, which march endlessly in waves toward the other side of the map attacking everything that gets in their way. The minions walk down one of three lanes protected by powerful turrets which must be destroyed through player intervention for minions to proceed further forward. Players (referred to as Summoners in LoL) choose champions with which to attack the other team, each with their own set of unique abilities and attributes, and advance by earning XP (leveling) and gold (to buy items) by killing stuff, including player, minions and turrets. Simple enough but, apparently, this was fun enough and a big enough deal that developers Riot Games, of which several members were contributors to the original DotA, decided it needed to be its own standalone game. And thus, League of Legends was born.

Look at thost huge...harpstrings...

Not a whole lot has changed from the original formula.  The graphics have been heavily updated and new generation of champions has been hand crafted for the newest incarnation, but not a whole lot needed to change, it’s pretty fun as is, at least once you find a champion that fits how you want to play the game, and with over 60 different champions to choose from there is most certainly one for you (personally I prefer Sona). You can be pushy, you can be sneaky, you can be defensive, you can be whatever you want, a touch of variety that was somewhat lacking in DotA.

There is one problem though: It is solely a multiplayer game. This means that you will have to venture out into the dark depths of THE INTERNET! Honestly, though, the LoL community is pretty cool. While, on occasion, some serious trolling does occur it is very rare. It also offers incentive to not rage-quit in the middle of a game, forever branding you a leaver if you do. Light, but enough to keep people in the game to the bitter end, which can very often turn around quickly. One suggestion that should be taken to heart by new players is that it is usually best to play with people you know (making use of the refer a friend) as, is often the case with internet games, random teams formed in the spur of the moment fail to mesh well most of the time and can lead to a bad time. A few people who are at least comfortable enough to yell at each other and give advice as needed can really improve the quality of the game. Personally, I prefer not to play with a team entirely of internet people, but that’s because I’m better than them.

It israther tempting

Though, the price you pay is worth a little bit of noobish-ness. Did I mention that League of Legends is free to play? 100% free. The catch: You can only pick champions from a pool of 10 champions that rotates weekly, at least until you either give them money or play enough to earn enough IP (figure out what it stands for) to unlock a champion of your choice. The upside to this is that you should, at the very least, get a good experience with a variety of champions to find one that fits you. Also available if you give in and purchase Riot Points with real world money, you can purchase purely cosmetic skins which, while looking cool/funny, don’t really do anything but are a nice aesthetic touch.

As far as free games go, LoL is pretty good. Yes, the out of game menus can be slightly unwieldy at times but the in game substance makes up for the mild inconvenience. If you’re looking for 40-50 minutes to kill, there are few better alternatives I can think of than a game of LoL. It is available for download here and, internet connection pending, you should be ready to play in 30 minutes or so. Remember, champions rotate every Monday, so start playing now to get the best of the week’s offerings.


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