Sunday, September 30, 2012

Dear Esther Review

There was a lot of buzz regarding the game Dear Esther earlier this year and after I received the game as a gift from my bro (thanks bro!), I finally got a chance to see what the fuss was all about.

Plot (3/5)
Interesting story but you have to piece it yourself. It can be very confusing as to what actually happened and whether the game is all a dream or not.

Gameplay (1/5)
I’m sorry but this isn't a game. The only reason I gave it a point is that there is some motivation to explore the island as you learn more about the story that way. Besides exploring for the crumbs of story though, the game is nothing more than a fancy slideshow. Also, exploring the whole island will take only 1-2 hours.

Sound (4/5)
The game has good voice acting and the background noises really immerse you into the environment.

Music (4/5)
Music is minimal but when played it amplifies the feeling of loneliness and despair.

Graphics (4/5)
Graphics uses the Source engine so occasionally when you go up close to items, they look kind of blocky, but the amount of effort into creating the island is nothing short of amazing.

Replay (2/5)
You may be tempted to play the game again to try and figure out what is actually going on with the story and to grab and snippets of information you missed – but besides that, there's no real reason to come back – unless you want to admire the scenery.

Polish (5/5)
I didn't really experience any bugs whatsoever – although considering this isn’t really a game – not surprising.

Score – 5/10

While the island you visit is pretty, you’re mainly just a spectator to the story’s jigsaw puzzle plot.

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

If you like this game, you might like...

Videos:


Friday, September 28, 2012

60% off Square Enix games on GOG.com


And once again it's another GOG.com promotion - but just like last week's, there's some really good games on this list. Square Enix (most commonly associated with Final Fantasy) has some pretty good IP and it's discounted by 60%.

I decided to grab Deus Ex and Deus Ex 2 - even though I've already got the games - I don't have the DRM-free versions :). Also happened to grab Anachronox - a humourous sci-fi RPG in the same vein as Japanese RPGs - except developed by Westerners!

Recommended picks in this sale include:

Thief series

The ultimate in stealth games. If you like to be sneaky, this is the game for you. Personally, sneaking is not my thing - I don't have the patience for it :).

Deus Ex

PC Powerplay's Perennial Best Game Ever, this FPS/RPG hybrid takes the premise, "what happens if all those conspiracy theories you hear are real?" and has you exploring that world as United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition (UNATCO) agent, J.C. Denton (IN THE FRESH!).

Anachronox

When I first played Anachronox, I was slightly put off by the Japanese RPG-style of gameplay - but the game has heaps of humour and it's an epic sci-fi RPG to boot. Sure the graphics are slightly dated now but this game is one of those best games that nobody's ever heard of.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

60% off retro Atari games on GOG.com


Woohoo! GOG.com is having another weekend promotion. Well, they're always having weekend promotions I suppose but this one is a bit different in that they're discounting games on their Atari catalogue and by 60%! Atari has secured the IP on a lot of real classics so this is why I've been motivated to mention this particular sale.

I've already managed to get a few of them already but Colonization was somehow not in my library so I managed to grab it as a resust of the sale.

Recommended picks in this sale include:

Master of Orion 1+2

Master of Orion is reponsible for a games journalist coining the term "4X" (explore, expand, exploit and exterminate). It's basically Civilization in space which means you'll be often uttering "just... one... more... turn..." as you play them.

Star Control 1+2

I'd recommend getting Star Control 2 if you want an early example of a sci-fi RPG mixed with ship battles, since that's exactly what it is. However, if you're too cheap and can't afford the $3. I'd recommend checking out this project called the Ur-Quan Masters where you can get the fan port for free.

Sid Meier's Colonization

I just nabbed this off the sale. I already have the latest Colonization remake but thought I'd keep a copy of the original as well. Did you know I actually won the original in a magazine competition from this defunct UK magazine called PC Review? Anyway, I digress. If you want a chance to colonise the New World and to fight the American War of Independence, this is the game for you.

There are also some other games that are held in high regard here such as Master of Magic, Total Annihilation, Rollercoaster Tycoon and the original Pirates! But since I've never really played them to a great extent, I've reserved judgement :).

Friday, September 21, 2012

Could a Freelancer sequel be in the works?


Chris Roberts, famous for the Wing Commander, Privateer and Freelancer games, has come out of hiding and is apparently back in the game development business! After his stint as a movie producer (The Punisher, Lord of War, etc.) he's now provided a teaser in the form of a letter to his fans. Apparently more will be revealed on the 10th of October but some interesting points:

  • Chris Roberts was a successful game developer at a young age - that makes me sad :(.
  • Chris Roberts reckons that the "power of today's computers and the reach of the internet" means he can finally work on the "connected experience" he always dreamed of. Does this mean he's going to be making an MMO?
  • I like it how he recycles Origin's tagline: "We create worlds."
  • The spiel comes off like a presidential election speech :P.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Obsidian Entertainment starts Kickstarter project called Project Eternity


It looks like this could be Obsidian Entertainment's second game to be funded through the Kickstarter model (they were actually hired to develop Wasteland 2 via Kickstarter).

If anyone can make a good RPG, it's Obsidian Entertainment. Sure, their RPGs tend to be buggy and unpolished, but story, character development and the amount of choice you get is always phenomenal.

Project Eternity is apparently going back to the roots of CRPGs and it's going to be a tactical real-time game with a pause system (like Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale). Apparently, OE started the project on Kickstarter because like a lot of other genres (e.g. point 'n' click adventure games), you would get laughed at if you pitched the idea to a publisher nowadays. They've already met their target but hey I've already pledged my support to the project, and if you're into old-school RPGs, I believe you should too.

Why is this game going to be awesome?

  • Pays homage to the great Infinity Engine games of years past: Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale and Planescape Torment
  • Promises to have memorable characters, extensive dialogue choices and mature themes.
  • OE was founded by ex-Black Isle veterans. These guys created classic RPGs such as Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, Planescape Torment and even the first two Fallout games
  • Will be available as a DRM-free option off Good Old Games (GOG)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Changes in scoring system for 2012


Previously when rating indie games or budget games (i.e. games that were cheap) I gave them a boost to their score to reflect the low production budgets. I thought it was unfair rating an indie game against a blockbuster game, especially in the areas of graphics, music and sound, as they simply didn't have the money to go for a live orchestra or the latest in 3D graphics engines.

However, when it came to other areas like the plot or gameplay for example, they shouldn't really need help in these areas as these are irrelevant when it comes to budgets (well at least not as much as the other areas). So I thought, maybe I should just eliminate the boost on these rating areas instead?

Ultimately, I decided I would take the boost off all ratings areas since at the end, sure a game might be cheap but it's still no excuse for a bad game. A great example is Mosby's Confederacy. You might not feel as bad for wasting your money but it also means you're not going to play the game - a bad game deserves a bad score regardless of its price.

This may mean some indie and budget games will start to have lower scores but I've noticed that the original scoring system skewed the scores in their favour anyway.

What do you guys think? Should price be taken into account for the score when reviewing indie/budget games or should it be judged on its own merits?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Choicest Games - Game of the Year 2011

It seems every year the Game of the Year post is published later and later. Although this year has been a busy one for me (buying a new house, a new car, starting a family, etc.). Will be curious to see if I can keep the momentum with the blog (although as long as I continue to play PC games, I think I’ll always have something to comment about the industry : )) This year I reviewed a whopping 20 games – another potential reason this post is so late (last year I posted 12 reviews).

For 2011, the best scoring game here at Choicest Games was:


Portal 2


There were a lot of 9/10s this year but when you examine the actual percentage scores, we have a clear winner – and that's Portal 2. What's great about Portal 2 (and its predecessor) is that it's a breath of fresh air in the games industry. It dares to break the mould and not simply be another cookie-cutter clone of Modern Warfare, GTA, etc. Portal 2 just took everything that was great about the original, it's humour and devious physics puzzles, and made it bigger and better. This game is definitely one to try for those who have become disillusioned with the games industry. It might just suck you back in!



This year, the runners up prize goes to:



Gray Matter


Gray Matter was also 9/10 but came a clear second ahead of the other 9/10s (except for Portal 2 of course). The game is like a modern Gabriel Knight and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Best adventure game for 2011. So if you’re into old school point 'n' click adventures, definitely one to try out.



Sunday, September 16, 2012

Where to buy Dishonored and XCOM: Enemy Unknown in Australia


Two big ticket games that will be released next month (at least IMHO) are Dishonored, a steampunk game with Harvey Smith (who previously worked on Deus Ex) as one of its designers; and XCOM: Enemy Unknown which is being developed by Sid Meier's company, Firaxis (who incidentally published the original UFO: Enemy Unknown series when he was at Microprose).

So where is the best place to get a deal? With GAME out of the picture, there's only really EB and JB as candidates if you want to buy a physical copy. Then there's always Steam...

Dishonored
  • EB = $68 (In-game DLC and a Tarot Card deck when you order)
  • JB = $69 (T-shirt and keyring)
  • Steam = $80

This is one of the rare instances when Steam is actually ripping you off - even after the exchange rate is taken into account. If you absolutely hate boxed copies of games (because they hoard space) then by all means, go the Steam route. Otherwise, if you want to save some cash, you might want to go with EB or JB - it really boils down to the tarot card deck or T-shirt... hmmm - I may go with the T-shirt, only because it's more practical :P.

Now on to XCOM: Enemy Unknown

XCOM: Enemy Unknown
  • EB = $68 (In-game DLC: Elite Soldier Pack)
  • JB = $69 (In-game DLC: Elite Soldier Pack and X-COM T-shirt)
  • Steam = $70 (In-game DLC: Elite Soldier Pack. Extra pre-purchase rewards depending on how many pre-order the game. Currently also has free TF2 items. May even get a free copy of Civ V!)

With this game, the prices are pretty much the same. You all get the in-game DLC: Elite Soldier Pack if you pre-order but JB sweetens the deal with a free T-shirt. However, Steam gives you free TF2 items and the chance of nabbing a free copy of Civ V. If you were planning on getting Civ V or you enjoy playing TF2, might be worth getting the Steam version. I think Steam would be the best choice if purchasing XCOM: Enemy Unknown (unless you really want an X-COM t-shirt).

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Choicest VGM - VGM #63 - Jones in the Fast Lane - Low Cost Apartments



Yep. This is where it all starts in Jones in the Fast Lane, your awesome Low Cost Apartment. Sounds like the kind of music you'd get in a prison cell with the harmonica leading the melody.

Thanks to Sierra On-Line and Quest Studios for providing these memorable tracks.