Monday, October 31, 2011

10 Most Anticipated PC Games of 2012 - #5 Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm

5. Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm

Why it might be good:
  • Continues the story for the awesome sci-fi epic, Starcraft II
  • Blizzard are known for releasing well polished games (although it must be said that Starcraft II wasn't exactly up to their usual standard)
Why it might be bad:
  • New units might unbalance multiplayer and will definitely have the pros whinging
  • Whether the game is overpriced for what you get remains to be seen.
Release Date:
Q2 2012

Choicest VGM - VGM #16 - Thexder 2 - Mission 1

A bit like Silpheed, I never got past the first level of this game, so the only track that really sticks in my mind is the first mission music. It's a pretty groovy track by Rob Atesalp, responsible for some other awesome Sierra game music.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cities in Motion Review

I originally wasn’t going to review Cities in Motion. I had enough retro reviews already and I still had quite a few 2011 games to play and review. However, I then realised that Cities in Motion is a 2011 game. This came as quite a surprise since I actually bought it on the last Steam sale for an insanely cheap price (probably $10 or something like that). Anyway what attracted me to this game was the fact it sounded a bit like Transport Tycoon, a classic transport management game which hasn’t really been beaten since. Does this game by Colossal Order have what it takes to be a Transport Tycoon beater?

Sound (2/5)
The sounds in the game are okay – you can hear the typical background noises of a bustling city (or rustic farming village) and different buildings emit different sounds (e.g. a church will have bells ringing, an amusement park will have the sounds of the rides). The only downside is that you may notice occasional audio glitches: For some reason, sometimes the volume or horns blaring becomes intolerably loud when you’re running the game on fastest speed.

Music (4/5)
The game has different styles of music playing depending on which era your game is currently in. This is a nod to Chris Sawyer games which employed a similar system (especially in Chris Sawyer’s Locomotion), however the older pieces are closer to fusion than actual jazz. The music isn’t for everyone though as there is a particular track that can get grating if you don’t enjoy a xylophone being hammered repetitively.

Graphics (4/5)
Cities in Motion is probably one of the better games out there in terms of Transport Tycoon clones when it comes to graphics. There is a lot of detail and you can even see the hundreds of passengers and cars heading to and fro throughout the city. The only reason it doesn’t get a full score is that I think there may be some issues with AMD/ATI drivers when you use the Rage Performance Driver (another game that I’m playing at the moment). It seems that when the Rage Performance Driver is installed, the game simply doesn’t work! However, uninstalling it and re-installing just the basic drivers seems to have fixed the problem!

Plot (3/5)
Unlike Transport Tycoon, there is a bit more plot in this game if you play the scenarios through the missions you play. In every scenario you’re in charge of implementing a public transport system but you’ll be advised by a variety of people.

However, there is one similarity that Cities in Motion shares with Transport Tycoon (or at least Transport Tycoon Deluxe) and that’s the lack of real-life vehicle names. It’s only a minor authenticity issue however, and to be expected unless you have wads of cash to spare on licensing fees.

Gameplay (3/5)
In Cities in Motion, you play the role of managing a city’s public transport system. You can create bus lines, tram lines, ferry lines, helicopter lines and metro lines. Provided you earn enough money from ticket fares to offset your expenses such as employee wages and maintenance, you will make a profit. The challenge is trying to find a combination of the most profitable routes and most suitable vehicles to service these routes. If you’re playing scenarios, you’ll also have other competing demands which may make your game more challenging (like eliminating routes because greenies don’t like buses as public transport). At the same time you’ll have to manage your reputation by ensuring you provide timely services and you can also invest money in advertising campaigns.

This mechanic of building a bigger, better and more profitable public transport network means the game has some of the same addictive qualities as Transport Tycoon. However, before you go thinking this is a worthy successor, let me just go through a few points that may make you change your mind.

The main drawback when compared to Transport Tycoon is that you’re running intra-city networks not inter-city. This means you don’t feel you’re having as much of an impact on a city’s development as you do in games like Transport Tycoon or even A-Train. To further emphasise the game’s limited nature and smaller scale, you’re limited in the modes of transport you can provide. There’s only inner city passenger transport in this game, no freighters, trucks, Jumbo jets or freight trains to be seen.

The game also seems to be targeted towards a more casual audience (or at least dumbed down when compared to Transport Tycoon). There is no competition in this game meaning the game is like SimCity in that it’s a sandbox game, unless you play the scenarios. Oh and the scenario missions don’t seem to progress in a linear fashion, i.e. sometimes you can finish a scenario without completing missions leading up to the final one (the one that triggers scenario completion). There is a chance of going deep into debt but considering some mission conditions don’t even check whether the money you have is borrowed or not can have hilarious consequences. For example you can complete a mission that wants you to have $20,000 in your bank account – The fact you may have to go $200,000 into debt in order to satisfy the condition doesn’t seem to bother the game in the slightest!

Another reason I think this game is tailored towards a more casual audience is that there is a lack of information on how profitable your vehicles are. Sure, each month it will tell you how much it generates compared to how much they cost to maintain, but over the long term, there’s no way to tell which are the most profitable lines.

Replayability (3/5)
The game has 12 scenarios which you play over five European cities (Amsterdam, Munich, Berlin, Vienna and Helsinki) so the scenarios do get somewhat repetitive since you’re only playing the five same maps each time. There is the ability to purchase more maps and vehicles to increase the life of the game, but the cynic in me says they’ve only released half the game so they can make the rest of their money through DLC.

You are able to play the maps in a sandbox mode and there is also a map editor so you can make your own maps – however there doesn’t appear to be any way to build proper scenarios with scripted events as they do in the actual campaign, which is a shame. Playing your map will still generate generic mini-missions though (e.g. reduce your ticket prices).

The process of creating maps using the map editor is a bit cumbersome though especially if you want to have as much detail as there are in the campaign maps. For example, props such as fences need to be placed like bricks, one at a time. You cannot simply drag and drop them as a line, as you do with roads. There also doesn’t appear to be an official means of sharing your maps, although thankfully there are fan sites where you can share your creations and download maps (and mods) made by others.

Polish (4/5)
Besides the Rage Performance Driver issue I’ve mentioned before and some sound bugs, the game is pretty well polished.

Score - 7/10

Not a bad 20 hour distraction if you like transport management games – doesn’t have as grand a scale though as the classics.

If you want to get the game, you can get it off Steam.

Choicest VGM - VGM #15 - Xenon 2 - Intro (Megablast)

Now on to my first 1989 entry to Choicest VGM. The track used in the game is actually a sequence from licensed music provided by Bomb the Bass, a British dance/hip-hop/electronica musician. I only managed to find a C64 version that was easily accessible, so this is different to how I remembered the music which was from the DOS version... thankfully someone has already downloaded on Youtube so it's over here:

The source material is worth checking out too as I think it's one of those tracks that blends genres, to the point that even haters of rap can consider this as passable. I personally think it's fun, funky and a little bit crazy.

Also note that the audio cuts short on purpose - I think it's meant to loop.

10 Most Anticipated PC Games of 2012 - #6 Syndicate

6. Syndicate

Why it might be good:
  • If they could tap into the mood and background story of the original, they may be onto something.
  • Return of the persuadertron, in a sense.
  • Nice to hear them using the original (albeit remixed) Syndicate music in the launch trailer. Hopefully there'll be more tributes to the original in the game.
  • 4-player co-op is apparently going to emulate the original 4-cyborg squad experience.
Why it might be bad:
  • The original was a tactical squad-based strategy game while this is an FPS. That means it could be dumbed down.
  • Will the breaching mechanism add value to the game or just be a cumbersome annoyance?
  • Might be too soon after the return of another well-known cyberpunk series, Deus Ex.
Release Date:

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Choicest VGM - VGM #14 - Police Quest 2 - Oak Tree Mall

While there was a lot of funky 80s music in Police Quest 2, somehow the syncopated rhythms of this track really stuck in my mind.

You know after listening to it a few times, the music could almost pass as an entry in the Transport Tycoon soundtrack...

Friday, October 28, 2011

Halloween Steam Sale now on

Steam is currently having a Halloween Sale. Apparently any gruesome, spooky or weird games are on sale (so there's a lot of horror and zombie titles on sale).

I think the best picks are:
- Left 4 Dead for $7
- Left 4 Dead 2 for $7
- Overlord Complete Pack for $5 (hmm might get it myself)
- Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlies for $5

10 Most Anticipated PC Games of 2012 - #7 Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

7. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Why it might be good:
  • The classic Half-Life mod is back
  • Valve is at the helm, and they usually only invest in a game if they know it's going to be successful.
  • Cross-platform play means the game will be open to more players
Why it might be bad:
  • Does the world really want more Counter-Strike?
  • Is the game too similar to the previous versions?
  • Don't we already have Counter-Strike on the Source engine?
  • Cross-platform play means the game will be open to more players (yes this isn't a typo)
Release Date:
Early 2012

Choicest VGM - VGM #13 - Police Quest 2 - Introduction

Only one game to use as source material from the year 1988 and I was actually a latecomer to PQ2 (only really playing it in the past couple of years, thanks to a Police Quest pack courtesy of GOG).

The music in PQ2 was probably the funkiest out of the entire Police Quest series. Not as gritty or bluesy as the other games and sounding more like 80s pop music - or as if you were starring in an 80s TV cop show like Magnum P.I. or Miami Vice :)!

The game introduction was memorable because of its pompous nature - and because it was played every time you and your partner rushed to a scene in your car.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Choicest VGM - VGM #12 - Space Quest II - Introduction

Ah Space Quest II - probably the first Sierra adventure game I played and the first of the Space Quest series. The triumphant fanfare used as the theme juxtaposed with the bumbling exploits of incompetent janitor, Roger Wilco, helps to make the series even funnier.

10 Most Anticipated PC Games of 2012 - #8 Dota 2

8. Dota 2

Why it might be good:
  • Epic games where you and your friends can play as heroes that can tip the battle in your favour
  • Based on a tried and true formula
  • Valve is at the helm, and they usually only invest in a game if they know it's going to be successful.
Why it might be bad:
  • Original Dota players can be highly competitive meaning there might be a steep learning curve for newer players
  • Will it be different enough from the old Dota yet similar enough to lure the veteran players?
Release Date:

10 Most Anticipated PC Games of 2012 - #9 War of the Roses

9. War of the Roses

Why it might be good:
  • Team multiplayer game where you can fight using medieval weapons!
  • Apparently it has persistent stats and a levelling system to unlock new weapons - a bit like Call of Duty and Battlefield.
  • One of Paradox's developers, Tale Worlds, already has experience in creating a game with melee combat. If they can tap into this pool of experience they're already halfway there.
Why it might be bad:
  • Lead and Gold, which War of the Roses will borrow many elements from wasn't exactly a resounding success.
  • While there is single player, the focus is on the multiplayer - so if you don't like multiplayer, it'll be a waste of money.
  • Apparently you fight from a third-person perspective so this may turn off first-person purists
Release Date:
2012 (best guess)

10 Most Anticipated PC Games of 2012 - #10 Scrolls

Well it's only two months before the end of the year and then we're into 2012 with all the awesome and wonderful games it has to offer.

So I thought it was a good time to crank out a 10 Most Anticipated PC Games of 2012 feature. Before I go any further though, keep in mind these are my top 10 anticipated PC games (not necessarily reflecting the opinions of the majority of gamers out there or even the other contributors on this blog). However, I'm sure you'll find at least one game on my list that you too can't wait to get your hands on come next year.

The list actually has two games from last year's list on it but that's because their release dates were mere guesses at the time. We can now be more certain that they will be released in 2012.

Anyway, without further ado, let's get this ball rolling and we start with an indie game at number 10...

10. Scrolls

Why it might be good:
  • Created by developer-god Markus Persson and his crew; responsible for the hugely successful Minecrack... I mean Minecraft
  • Game sounds like a mixture of the card game Magic: The Gathering and computer games like Guild Wars and Knight's Bounty (i.e. tactical gameplay and tournaments using a limited number of pre-selected skills)
Why it might be bad:
  • Still early days and there isn't too much information about it yet.
  • Risky move by Mojang in developing something totally different to their breadwinner, Minecraft.
  • Will Scrolls be unique enough (like Minecraft) to make it stand out from the crowd, or will it be against some competition?
Release Date:
2012 (Already accepting sign-ups for the alpha)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Choicest VGM - VGM #11 - Maniac Mansion - Introduction

I never actually played Maniac Mansion when it originally came out, but in 1993 when playing its sequel Day of the Tentacle. You see, when you use a certain Commodore 64 in the game, it actually boots up the original Maniac Mansion which is pretty awesome since you get two games for the price of one!

Maniac Mansion had surprisingly funky music considering its raw 8-bit sound - which goes to show how talented the composers were (Chris Grigg and David Lawrence I believe). My personal favourite is Flashbulb Funk (Michael's Theme) although there are a couple of other good ones too, including the main theme.

Here it is in all its 8-bit glory.

Battlefield 3 Launch Trailer released

The most awesome Battlefield trailer yet. Graphics are looking pretty good for the next iteration and it looks like the single player campaign is going to be giving Modern Warfare a run for its money.

Also nice to hear the Battlefield theme in there, even if its not the orchestral type :).

Monday, October 24, 2011

Choicest VGM - VGM #10 - Leisure Suit Larry - For Your Thighs Only (Larry Theme)

A game many guys would be embarrassed to admit playing, Leisure Suit Larry was actually a fun adventure game in its own right set in a contemporary setting (like the Police Quest series). The highlight for most teenage boys of the 80s would be the pixellated babes and sexual innuendo, but another thing that was memorable was the main theme by Al Lowe (who also designed the game).

The theme would be revisited in almost every of its sequels and captures the sleazy yet happy-go-lucky nature of the series protagonist, Larry Laffer.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Choicest VGM - VGM #9 - Silpheed - The Legend of Silpheed

And now the last of 1986 games, although I believe the version I played was the Sierra On-Line port which was released in 1988.

You can tell from the very first few seconds of the intro theme that Silpheed was a game made in Japan and that it wouldn't be out of place in one of its animes, like Macross or Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Sadly as I wasn't very good at the game as a kid I don't recall ever getting past the first level and this theme will forever be the only one that is memorable for me.

Battlefield 3 TV Advertisement released

Seems to be a day of posts about trailers! Anyway there's also a Battlefield 3 TV advertisement that's been released. Looks like they went to a lot of effort (even mixing it with live action video).

I actually happened to see a BF3 ad on a bus the other day too. It's a rare occasion when games that I play are advertised in more costly mediums like buses, billboards or TV. The only other two I can remember are The Sims 3 and Brink.

Starcraft 2 - Heart of the Swarm trailer released

Apparently Blizzcon is on at the moment and Blizzard have finally released a new trailer for the second chapter of Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm.

From what I can gather, it doesn't look like it's happily-ever-after for Jim Raynor and Kerrigan. Kerrigan seems to be raising hell in order to get revenge on the man who turned her into Zerg, i.e. Arcturus Mengsk.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Battlefield 3 Contest

DICE and EA are giving you the chance to get a mention in the Battlefield 3 credits. All you have to do is "like" the Facebook page for Battlefield 3 and then you can name one of the points on the new Gulf of Oman map to enter the competition.

Choicest Games now has a Steam group

Thought it was about time I created a Choicest Games Steam group. I've been already running one for my guild/clan but I've decided to set up a public one for two reasons. Firstly, any readers of the blog who want to actually play games with like-minded individuals can do so via the Steam group and also any Steam players who are curious as to what Choicest Games is about can join as well.

Choicest VGM - VGM #8 - Out Run - Passing Breeze

As an adult, Passing Breeze is probably my favourite of the Out Run tracks, especially when you listen to some of the awesome remixes people have based off it. I believe it captures the essence of what Out Run is; cruising into the sunset in a red Italian sports car.

This Amiga version doesn't really do the arcade version justice (it's kind of repetitive) but here it is anyway :).

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Choicest VGM - VGM #7 - Out Run - Splash Wave

Splash Wave is probably my least favourite of the Out Run music trifecta but it's still a pretty memorable and catchy tune!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Dreamfall Review

I loved The Longest Journey when it was originally released back in 1999. For a brief moment, adventure gamers were given a small sliver of hope that the genre wasn't dead... however this was not to be the case (although adventure games still exist, it's just they're made by indie developers nowadays :)).

The Longest Journey had a sequel in the form of Dreamfall which was released 7 years later in 2006. While I initially was going to buy this, I decided not to because of the intrusive DRM it used known as Starforce which actually requires you to reboot your computer as it installs device drivers onto your machine.

Fast forward five years and Dreamfall was on sale for a very cheap price on Steam. I decided to give it a shot since it appears that at least the Steam version doesn’t have the Starforce DRM (or at least it’s not as bad as before).

Sound (4/5)
For some of the characters, especially Zoe, the voice acting seems a bit wooden and contrived.

Music (4/5)
No truly memorable themes but Dreamfall, just like its predecessor has a beautiful orchestral soundtrack.

Graphics (3/5)
The graphics look a bit dated now but they’re still surprisingly passable for a game that is five years old.

Plot (4/5)
Just like The Longest Journey, Dreamfall has a strong plot, thanks to the detail that has gone into the creation of the two worlds of Stark and Arcadia. The game’s main protagonist is Zoe Castillo who seems to be your typical spoiled rich kid, until she uncovers a sinister plot once one of her best friends go missing. The game takes you to several locations across the world of Stark and Arcadia (and some places in between) as you unravel the mystery.

Unfortunately I cannot give a perfect score since I have no idea how the game ends… I’ll explain more later in the review.

Gameplay (2/5)
Dreamfall took a big gamble in departing from the traditional point ‘n’ click adventure and made the game more like an action adventure with RPG elements. Basically you now get a choice in several parts of the game where you can choose to either fight your way out, talk your way out or sneak your way out when facing obstacles. While it generally works well, the controls are a bit annoying and it’ll take a lot of getting used to for PC players.

Also while most puzzles are pretty easy to solve, sometimes you get ones which are ridiculously hard – one such puzzle only gives you the solution once (in terms of a sound effect) and if you didn’t hear it the first time, it’s game over! I had to resort to an online walkthrough in order to get past!

Replayability (1/5)
I’ll give the game one point at least for replayability since I can see you will get some replay value by trying different approaches to obstacles. Sadly there is no way I’m going to play this game again because…

Polish (0/5)
… I came across a show stopper bug! At one point in the game a cut scene involves Zoe and a newly met acquaintance walking down some stairs. Unfortunately either of them can get stuck in an infinite loop and it’s pretty much game over. Don’t ask me why, it’s just what happens! I tried several times to get past by reloading games further and further back but to no avail. Since I can’t finish the game thanks to poor testing on part of the developers, I have to give it a bit fat zero for polish.

Score - 6/10

It’s a pity I couldn’t actually finish Dreamfall, since it seemed like a great retro game that could stand the test of time!

If you want to get the game, you can get it off Steam.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

AMD Rage Performance Driver

EnRAGED (get it? oh never mind) by the fact you have an AMD/ATI Card and the framerates are like 10 fps in RAGE? Well this patch might not do wonders but it does appear to increase the framerates for those of you who are suffering with an AMD/ATI card (such as myself).

So if you're having problems, I recommend giving this a try.

Just goes to show though, Rage's graphics performance issues are so bad they needed to release a standalone fix for it!

Choicest VGM - VGM #6 - Out Run - Magical Sound Shower

6th on our Choicest VGM list is a game that was released in 1986 to the arcade. Out Run was the first arcade game I remember vividly - you got to drive a choice Ferrari Testarossa, and the arcade cabinet was pretty neat too. Best of all though was, like a real car, you got to pick what "radio station" you listened to in the form of three tracks. The most memorable for me (and my favourite as a kid) was Magical Sound Shower.

While most of my Out Run experience was actually on the arcade platform I did however manage to play it a couple of times on a friend's PC - so I can justify this as PC gaming music too :) - this particular track is from the Amiga version... apparently.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

GOG Atari sale

Screenshot of Atari sale on GOG website

Good Old Games are currently having a sale on all their Atari items at 50% off.

I'd highly recommend grabbing a copy of Master of Orion 1 + 2 (if you want to see the grandfather and father of 4X games), Star Control 1 + 2 (all-in-one open-ended space exploration and spaceship combat RPG) and the Witcher, for less than $5 (you heard me, under $5!)

I also somehow grabbed a copy of Chris Sawyer's Locomotion... even though I'm pretty sure I sold my original copy of this :(. Good Transport Tycoon clones are hard to come by you see...

Better be quick though, sale ends this weekend!

Here's a complete list of games on sale:

- Alone in the Dark 1+2+3
- Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare
- B-17 Flying Fortress: The Mighty 8th
- Blood (One Unit Whole Blood)
- Blood 2: The Chosen + Expansion
- Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive
- Independence War Deluxe
- Independence War 2: Edge of Chaos
- Chris Sawyer's Locomotion
- Master of Magic
- Master of Orion 1+2
- Master of Orion 3
- Outcast
- Rollercoaster Tycoon: Deluxe
- Rollercoaster Tycoon 2: Triple Thrill Pack
- Star Control 1+2
- Star Control 3
- Total Annihilation: Commander Pack
- Total Annihilation: Kingdoms + Expansion
- The Witcher: Enhanced Edition

Friday, October 14, 2011

Choicest VGM - VGM #5 - Bubble Bobble Level Theme

The 5th entry to Choicest VGM is actually a track I mentioned in an earlier post.

The tune I'm referring to is the one that is repeated ad nauseam while playing through the hundred levels or so of Bubble Bobble. So maybe the tune wasn't that great after all but since it kept on repeating itself over and over, the tune would be instantly recognisable for anyone who played this classic from 1986.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Choicest VGM - VGM #4 - Tetris A Theme

Well I got the urge again to post some VGM videos so I decided to type up a list of games that when I heard the name of the game spoken in my head whether I associated it with any of the game's music or not. I ended up with quite a few, almost 200, which means there's at least 200 video game themes that I would be able to identify if played at any instant, keeping in mind some games had many memorable themes (creepy!).

Anyway, as I managed to organise these themes into a list I was able to sort by date. Pac Man and Frogger were on the list but then I realised they don't actually have music. They might have a little ditty for a few seconds before the game starts but that's about it. I tried looking for music for Digger and Microsoft Decathlon but I came up with nothing, not to mention music from both games were copied from already composed music (e.g. Popcorn, in the case of Digger).

So the earliest game I could find music for was Tetris, which came out in 1986 on PC (in all its 4-colour CGA splendour)!

And while on the topic of non-original music, the memorable Tetris A theme (from the Game Boy version, although it must've been in the PC version as well since I never owned a Game Boy) is actually a Russian folk song called "Korobeiniki" - probably why it's such a catchy tune!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Mass Effect 3 gets multiplayer

At first I was a bit distraught at this announcement. Why is Bioware making everything multiplayer (e.g. The Old Republic)? You don't need to make a game multiplayer to make it awesome damn you! However, after reading a bit more, my fears were somewhat abated as the multiplayer is optional. Apparently, you can still finish the game entirely single player, although if you prefer playing multiplayer this also helps Commander Shepard achieve his objective too, i.e. the multiplayer can be used as a substitute to advance the single player storyline.

The multiplayer will apparently not involve Commander Shepard but it will allow you to create characters of any race (including Turians, Krogans, etc.) and there will be a levelling system for your character. You will be able to play with three of your mates as well.

So it's good that the multiplayer is optional but by even trying to develop a multiplayer component I fear that Bioware may lose focus on what makes the Mass Effect series great - an awesome single player campaign. Fingers crossed they don't lose sight of that!

Oh and it would be neat if when you picked a Salarian he would break out some Gilbert & Sullivan while standing idle, just like our old friend Dr Solus :P

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Back to the Future: The Game Review

Well the scores have all been tallied for the five episodes of Back to the Future: The Game, so now it's time to see how they all work as a game overall!

Sound (4/5)
The game has awesome voice acting and kudos to Telltale Games for doing their best to hire the original voice actors. They even managed to grab the reclusive Michael J. Fox for a cameo! No easy feat. The game doesn't get a perfect score though as there are definitely occasional sound stuttering issues.

Music (4/5)
The music in the series is excellent with licensed music from the films (e.g. Huey Lewis and the News) and variations on Alan Silvestri's orchestral score. Unfortunately sometimes when you expect music to be playing, there actually is none. I've noticed that some pivotal points in the game or action sequences will actually have no music whatsoever which seems rather odd to omit.

Graphics (2/5)
A lot of effort was taken in developing the character models to look like their real-life actor counterparts but low-res textures on many background items and several graphical glitches after Episode 1 means the game doesn't fare too well overall in the graphics department.

Plot (4/5)
The plot for the whole series is extremely good, probably because they used Back to the Future co-creator Bob Gale as a story consultant! The only reason the game didn't get a higher score in this department is that those who haven't watched the Back to the Future films may be a bit confused as to who all the characters are, and some of the in-jokes (the Back to the Future films are all about in-jokes).

The game suffers from the fact the player is limited in what he/she can do making the game seem more like an "interactive movie" in the bad sense of the word. The puzzles aren't particularly challenging and most of the game involves you of walking from one point to the other. Out of all the episodes, the second one had the most entertaining puzzles but the rest were so-so in comparison.

Replayability (3/5)
The game has average replayability as you'd expect for any game in the adventure genre. The attraction to replay is mainly to relive favourite scenes and dialogue.

Polish (4/5)
The game is pretty well polished throughout every episode, however I never liked Telltale's mixture of keyboard and mouse in order to control your character (obviously pandering to the console players). I miss the days of traditional point 'n' click adventures...

Score - 7/10

An entertaining distraction for Back to the Future fans, just don't expect it to be in anyway challenging as a game.

If you want to get the game, visit Telltale Games.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Back to the Future: Episode 5 Review

This is the fifth and final episode of the Back to the Future series called "OUTATIME". Some sections of the review are going to be understandably short since each episode is quite similar in terms of mechanics (only the plot really changing). I'd recommend reading the previous reviews in conjunction with this one to get the full picture.

Sound (4/5)
Audio is as good as Episode 1. Authentic sound effects and great voice acting mired by some occasional sound stuttering issues. It should be noted that in this episode there is a cameo by Michael J. Fox which is pretty rare nowadays considering his condition.

Music (4/5)
The music is still great but for some reason there were occasional bits in the game where no music was playing at all which seemed rather silly during action sequences.

Graphics (2/5)
Graphics have the same style as the previous episodes and it had just as many glitches.

Plot (4/5)
This episode sees Marty trying to protect the younger Emmet Brown from his older self, who believes that he is better off marrying Edna. This episode actually reveals a lot more about Edna’s character which is interesting although the ending leaves the series open for a sequel.

Gameplay (3/5)
The game still suffers from the fact the player is limited in what he/she can do (and this runs the danger of the player becoming a mere spectator).

Replayability (3/5)
The game has average replayability as you'd expect for any game in the adventure genre.

Polish (4/5)
The game is pretty well polished, which is pretty common for Telltale Games however I never liked the mixture of keyboard and mouse in order to control your character (you can blame consoles for this). I miss the days of traditional point 'n' click adventures...

Score - 7/10

A cameo by Michael J. Fox is the highlight for Episode 5 but once again the puzzles aren’t too difficult.

If you want to get the game, visit Telltale Games.

Stay tuned for a wrap-up review where I give a score for the game as a whole (i.e. the five episodes altogether).

Where are my RAGE Anarchy Edition items?

For those of you who pre-ordered RAGE you may be wondering where your Anarchy Edition items are, especially considering the flyer in the game doesn't actually indicate where you're meant to find them!

Fear not as they are revealed to you as you progress through the game. Near the beginning you already get access to the double-barrel shotgun and Fists of Rage. I haven't got to the point where you get the buggy and new armour but if this thread is to be believed, it will come soon enough.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Jagged Alliance: Back in Action

Apparently this one has been known for awhile but while on the topic of reboots and remakes, it looks like Jagged Alliance 2 will be remade with a 3D engine by a German developer called bitComposer Games. I don't know much about their track record and the English on their website isn't too good, which makes me wary (one of the strengths of the Jagged Alliance series was the mercenary dialogue).

However, this is still definitely one to watch for as it's been too long since anyone has even successfully attempted to revive this venerable series.