Monday, October 31, 2016

Choicest VGM - VGM #254 - Detroit - Design a Car Model

Screenshot from Design a Car Model screen in PC game Detroit


Soundtrack composed by: Christopher J. Denman and Jason P. Rinaldi

"Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black." - Henry Ford

This track plays when you enter the "Design a Car Model" screen, by far the most fun to be had when playing this game. Here you get to choose how your car looks and what kind of parts to place it. You start off with pretty basic stuff like a 4 cylinder 747cc engine, a hand brake and not much else, but don't worry, you'll be able to jazz the thing up in the decades to come :). Like a lot of music in the game, I like it because it's cruisey.

The music was recorded through DOSBOX and consequently this is DOSBOX's emulation of OPL3 I believe, the FM synthesis sound chip used in a lot of old Soundblaster cards.

[ VIDEO: Choicest VGM - VGM #254 - Detroit - Design a Car Model ]


Sunday, October 30, 2016

Steam Games Sunday - 30 October 2016

The final chapter of King's Quest has you play an elderly King Graham on one of his final adventures

  1. War Thunder
  2. Rainbow Six Siege
  3. Sid Meier's Civilization VI
  4. Company of Heroes 2
  5. Everyday Genius: SquareLogic
  6. League of Mermaids
  7. Shadowrun Returns
  8. Mount & Blade Warband
  9. Marvel Heroes
  10. King's Quest

This week we again have a change to the top 3 with the newly released Sid Meier's Civilization VI taking third place behind the usual #1 and #2, War Thunder and Rainbow Six Siege respectively. Company of Heroes 2 is still being played quite a bit as it's only dropped one place to fourth. Sudoku-like puzzle game Everyday Genius: Squarelogic gained a bit of ground this week, rising from 6th to 5th place, while match-3 physics puzzle game League of Mermaids dropped from 4th to 6th place. RPG Shadowrun Returns managed to go up a couple of places and is now 7th on the list while Mount & Blade Warband remains in 8th place. Superhero MMORPG Marvel Heroes has dropped from 7th place last week to 9th place this week and in 10th place, we see the return of King's Quest to the list, thanks to the recent release of its final chapter: A Good Knight.

Anyway stay tuned for next Sunday to see if this list changes :). Are you playing any of the games on this list? How are you finding them?

Saturday, October 29, 2016

10 Most Anticipated PC Games of 2017 - #1 Mass Effect: Andromeda

Screenshot of Mass Effect Andromeda
Looks like there'll be an Asari on the crew

Considering my love for the Mass Effect series, it's probably no surprise that the next instalment in the series, Mass Effect: Andromeda would be on this list - although #1 again? Like last year? Obviously, I'm not the only fan here at Choicest Games although the fact it was featured last year also means the game is slightly delayed. No matter, apparently we don't have too much longer to wait as it will be released early next year.

So what's new about this next Mass Effect? Unfortunately, one of the biggest features are that it's going to be an "open world" experience, whatever that means (and shouldn't that be "open galaxy" considering this is Mass Effect?) - so long as that doesn't translate to a dilution of the quests and storyline, I'll be happy; if it's an excuse to do a copy and paste job on quests and dungeons, then not so much. Apparently there will be a return of a vehicle similar to the Mako from the first Mass Effect as well as a ship that you can command called the "Tempest". There will also be the return of dialogue trees, choices, romantic relationships with companions and co-op multiplayer (which was introduced in Mass Effect 3).

In terms of plot, the game is (no surprises here) set in the Andromeda Galaxy and takes place long after the events of the Commander Shepard Trilogy (i.e. the original three Mass Effect games). You play the child of someone called Ryder, an N7 operative designated as a "Pathfinder". Pathfinders have been tasked by Humanity to explore prospective planets for colonization and that's about all there is to know about the game so far.

Whatever the case, it will be great to get back into a sci-fi RPG with a rich backstory and I'm sure at the very least, Mass Effect: Andromeda will deliver in that regard - just please don't make it too much like Skyrim IN SPAAAAAACE (because as good as Skyrim is, it's not what I'm looking for in a Mass Effect game).

Score:
5 out of 8 votes

Voted by:
Lanna, Mark, Luke and Choona

Release Date:
Q1 2017



[ LINK: Mass Effect: Andromeda Official Website ]

Friday, October 28, 2016

10 Most Anticipated PC Games of 2017 - #2 Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands

Far Cry and Ghost Recon - not necessarily a bad thing

Now we come to #2 on our list of 10 Most Anticipated PC Games of 2017 and it just so happens to be another Tom Clancy game: Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands. 2016 has been a pretty good year for Tom Clancy games with Tom Clancy's The Division being released in March and free expansion packs to Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege also being released throughout the year. Next year promises to continue that trend with Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands being set to release on 7 March 2017.

So what's so good about this game that all 4 of the judges decided to throw in their votes for it? Ghost Recon is obviously well regarded as a series of tactical shooters, but Wildlands is going to be the first in the series to introduce an open world to explore. The game is also not going to be set in a futuristic setting like some of the more recent iterations of Ghost Recon and instead will be set in a modern day Bolivia where a US Special Forces group called "the Ghosts" are out to take out a drug cartel. The game sounds like a mix of Far Cry and Ghost Recon which isn't necessarily a bad thing, and the game also promises four player co-op as you go through the campaign!

Score:
4 out of 8 votes

Voted by:
Lanna, Mark, Luke and Choona

Release Date:
7 March 2017



[ LINK: Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands Official Website ]

Thursday, October 27, 2016

10 Most Anticipated PC Games of 2017 - #3 Kingdom Come: Deliverance

Screenshot from Kingdom Come: Deliverance
Unlike other RPGs that tend to be set in fantasy universes, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is set in the real world of the 15th century

Okay, now we're entering the business end of this 10 Most Anticipated PC Games of 2017 list since we're now at #3. This game is no stranger to this list either, having featured not once, but twice before. Kingdom Come: Deliverance started off as a Kickstarter Project by Warhorse Studios (formed by Daniel V├ívra of 2K Czech fame and Martin Klima who was a producer at Altar Games, Codemasters and Bohemia Interactive) back in 2014. The campaign successfully raised £1,106,371 in funding and has been in development for the past 2-3 years, so we're still patiently waiting for this one to be... um... delivered (no pun intended).

So what makes this game so special?

  1. Realistic setting: Bohemia in 1403
  2. Cutting edge technology: The game will be using the CryEngine and motion capture
  3. Realistic swordplay: Apparently they even managed to hire some experienced swordfighters in an attempt to make the swordplay as realistic as possible
  4. Your reputation matters: Every choice you make with respect to conversation and deeds has an impact on your reputation which is important as it spreads quickly by word of mouth. Are you ruthless and bloodthirsty, or charming and benevolent?
  5. Multiple solutions to problems: You can solve problems either with diplomatic skills or brute force
  6. Historical battles: You can apparently participate in historical battles

So you can clearly see this is not your average run-of-the-mill RPG and it's got a good team behind it too. Choona has already backed the project while Luke and I are keen to see how this game turns out.

Score:
4 out of 8 votes

Voted by:
Mark, Luke and Choona

Release Date:
2017



[ LINK: Kingdom Come: Deliverance Official Website ]

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

10 Most Anticipated PC Games of 2017 - #4 Paradigm

Screenshot of point 'n' click adventure Paradigm
Paradigm isn't only the name of the game but also its strange-looking protagonist

We now move on to the first game in the top 10 countdown for Most Anticipated PC Games of 2017 to receive more than three votes: Paradigm. What? What do you mean you haven't heard of Paradigm? It's a point 'n' click adventure game about a mutant living in the post-apocalyptic world of Krusz which is "a land inspired by a mix of Eastern Europe and the 70's and 80's" according to its developer Jacob Janerka. I first found out about the game in 2014 when Janerka was running a Kickstarter project in order to raise funds for development. Both Choona and I decided to back this project because (a) we love wacky point 'n' click adventure games and (b) we like supporting local developers (Janerka hails from Perth, Western Australia) :). While the funds were definitely trickling in, it wasn't until some major coverage by YouTube celebrity PewDiePie that funding started to skyrocket; so not only did Janerka meet his modest goal of $14,000, he ended up pocketing an extra $22,000 resulting in several stretch goals being unlocked. Choice!

Despite the really weird characters and scenery, you can tell that Janerka is a very talented artist and if you ever get around to playing the demo of the game (which I recommend you do), it has some genuine laugh-out-loud moments (so Janerka is a bit of a comedian too). Choona and I are definitely looking forward to this title and despite it not having the multi-million dollar marketing budget of some AAA titles on this list, we think it's going to be just as fun.

Score:
4 out of 8 votes

Voted by:
Mark and Choona

Release Date:
January 2017



[ LINK: Paradigm Official Website ]

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

10 Most Anticipated PC Games of 2017 - #5 For Honor


I had a lot of fun with the game War of the Roses which is basically a medieval FPS (First Person Slasher/Shooter?) which allowed you to try a variety of weapons, even crossbows. What I loved best about the crossbow is that despite it being a very deadly weapon, reloading the thing was slow and you had to play a sort of mini-game in order to reload the bolt properly, leaving you quite vulnerable but also ensuring the need for skill in order to play the game effectively. Sadly, there never really was a big following for it here in Australia and when that happens, it's very difficult to continue playing a multiplayer game as a result. Medieval: Total Warfare on the other hand, seemed to do quite a bit better on Steam which just goes to show, there is a market out there for a multiplayer melee game and finally one of the big publishers has taken notice.

So Ubisoft are apparently going to release a multiplayer melee game on Valentine's Day next year (a peculiar choice of game to release on that date) where you can not only play as the knights, but as Vikings or even Samurai! Yes, For Honor promises to have three factions you can play with different fighting styles, weapons and armour. The game will also have at least three multiplayer game modes: Dominion (a 4v4 battle which sounds like Battlefield's Conquest mode), Duel (a three round one-on-one fight in an Arena) and Brawl (a 2v2, three-round battle to the death - last man/woman standing will win the game for his/her team).

Also, as an added bonus, the game promises to have a single player campaign mode too, although I suspect most people will be jumping on board mainly for the multiplayer.

Score:
3 out of 8 votes

Voted by:
Mark, Choona and Luke

Release Date:
14 February 2017



[ LINK: For Honor Official Website ]

Monday, October 24, 2016

Choicest VGM - VGM #253 - Detroit - Marketing Concepts

Screenshot from computer game Detroit of Marketing Division


Soundtrack composed by: Christopher J. Denman and Jason P. Rinaldi

Ah what a beautiful view of smokestacks you get from the Marketing office. This is the track that plays when you visit the Marketing Division in the classic automobile company game, Detroit. Here you're able to spend money on advertising your cars either on billboards, magazines or even at sporting events. It's similar in style to most of the Detroit soundtrack, decadent, pompous and audacious - just the way you like your cars right?

The music was recorded through DOSBOX and consequently this is DOSBOX's emulation of OPL3 I believe, the FM synthesis sound chip used in a lot of old Soundblaster cards.

[ VIDEO: Choicest VGM - VGM #253 - Detroit - Marketing Concepts ]


10 Most Anticipated PC Games of 2017 - #6 Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III

Artwork for Dawn of War III
BRATHA I AM PINNED HERE! NO!

I've heard a lot of good things about the Dawn of War games. In fact the original Dawn of War managed to make it at #96 on the Choicest Games Top 100. The game would serve as a solid foundation when Relic went and tackled the Company of Heroes series in 2006 and, well, the rest is history. It's been a long time since the last Dawn of War game - 8 years if you consider the 2008 expansion pack for Dawn of War II called Soulstorm, but Relic have finally announced that they're doing a sequel: Dawn of War III is slated for release sometime next year.

As mentioned, I've heard a lot of good things about the Dawn of War series since my first foray with a Relic RTS was Company of Heroes... well unless you count the one time I played a demo of Homeworld; this means I've never really experienced the Warhammer 40,000 setting in an RTS but Dawn of War III looks like a good opportunity to finally do so.

Although they'd better make the below track the theme song for the Space Marines... it's too good not to:



Score:
3 out of 8 votes

Voted by:
Mark and Luke

Release Date:
2017



[ LINK: Dawn of War Official Website ]

Sunday, October 23, 2016

10 Most Anticipated PC Games of 2017 - #7 Torment: Tides of Numenera

Screenshot from CRPG game Torment: Tides of Numenera
Torment: Tides of Numenera takes place in the far future in a tabletop RPG setting developed by Monte Cook

The 1999 game Planescape: Torment is often found on lists ranking the best CRPGs ever and there's a few reasons for this, including its mind-bending "Planescape" setting which connects all "Dungeons & Dragons" planes of existence by magical portals, as well as immersive dialogue and a memorable protagonist (who is incidentally an amnesiac), "The Nameless One".

Fast forward to 2013, and Brian Fargo along with his company inXile Entertainment launched a Kickstarter project to raise funds for a new game called Torment: Tides of Numenera. Fargo and his previous company called Interplay was the parent company of Black Isle Studios who were behind the development of Planescape: Torment, so he probably knew he was onto something when he advertised this latest game as a "thematic successor to Planescape: Torment" - I mean, what CRPG fan wouldn't support a game that was described like that? Well turns out that this game is obviously not set in the same D&D Planescape setting as Planescape: Torment but besides having "Torment" in the name and being developed with Brian Fargo's oversight, inXile has promised to have the game adhere to "four pillars" which will make the game similarly awesome to Planescape: Torment (which I've paraphrased below):

  1. The game will explore the concept of legacy; it will explore what you leave behind as a consequence of your choices
  2. A unique setting: I guess they've got that box ticked thanks to Monte Cook's "Numenera" RPG setting which is set on Earth a billion years in the future. Technology and magic are sometimes confused to be one in the same.
  3. Memorable "nontraditional" characters, including yourself and your allies.
  4. Choices and Consequences: Your choices really matter and there will be consequences for them.

The Kickstarter project was a huge success raising over $4 million from 74,000+ backers (including myself). So as you've probably already figured out, two of the votes for this were from me (since I've essentially pre-ordered a copy of it). Luke has also mentioned his interest in this title, probably because he's a fan of classic CRPGs from the late 1990s and this RPG intends to emulate the same style.

Score:
3 out of 8 votes

Voted by:
Mark and Luke

Release Date:
Q1 2017



[ LINK: Torment: Tides of Numenera Official Website ]

Steam Games Sunday - 23 October 2016

Screenshot of a Natural Wonder being discovered in Civ VI
Civilization VI debuts on the list at #5

  1. War Thunder
  2. Rainbow Six Siege
  3. Company of Heroes 2
  4. League of Mermaids
  5. Sid Meier's Civilization VI
  6. Everyday Genius: SquareLogic
  7. Marvel Heroes
  8. Mount & Blade Warband
  9. Shadowrun Returns
  10. World of Zoo

There's finally been a change in the top 3 and in a big way! While War Thunder still remains in first place and Rainbow Six Siege in second, Everyday Genius: Squarelogic has dropped down considerably to 6th place. Taking its place, seemingly out of nowhere, is Company of Heroes 2 which is now in 3rd place. League of Mermaids remains quite popular and stays in 4th place while the newly released AAA title, Sid Meier's Civilization VI, debuts on the list at #5. Marvel Heroes dropped down from 5th place to 7th while Mount & Blade Warband has moved up one rank from 9th place last week to 8th this week. Another new game to the list is Shadowrun Returns, a turn-based tactical RPG set in an interesting role-playing universe where cyberpunk sci-fi meets fantasy; it debuts on the list in 9th place. Finally, World of Zoo still manages to stay on the list but has dropped from 6th place to 10th place.

Anyway stay tuned for next Sunday to see if this list changes :). Are you playing any of the games on this list? How are you finding them?

Saturday, October 22, 2016

10 Most Anticipated PC Games of 2017 - #8 Battalion 1944

German soldiers peak out a window in Battalion 1944
The devs at Battalion 1944 thinks it's about time we re-visit WWII as a multiplayer shooter setting

It's been a while since anyone decided to revisit WWII as a setting for a multiplayer FPS. In fact the last one I ever played was Call of Duty: World at War and that came out in 2008 - eight years ago. One of my favourite multiplayer FPSs of all time though, one that I probably spent way too much time playing was an old Half-Life mod called Day of Defeat; this game managed to ride on the popularity of the WWII setting (thanks to films like "Saving Private Ryan") and offer a multiplayer experience like no other. I miss those days and I'm probably not the only one: introducing Battalion 1944, a project by Bulkhead Interactive which seeks to recapture "the core of classic competitive multiplayer shooters" and to introduce the WWII setting to a new generation. To me, that sounds like they're trying to revive a game like Day of Defeat and 10,096 backers thought this was a good idea, raising £317,281 for Bulkhead Interactive.

In August, the developers announced that the game was listed on Steam as "Early Access" but the game is still not available for purchase (even in it's Early Access state). There hasn't been much news since then except for them cancelling their appearance at a UK game expo called EGX; unfortunately it was due to tragic circumstances as the senior Producer Joe Brammer and his wife, lost their premature baby in late September. Sad news indeed and consequently it's no easy task to continue on working (which Brammer assures us he is) after you've lost a child; outliving your children is the stuff of nightmares for parents.

Anyway, fingers crossed that Battalion 1944 will see the light of day next year and it will bring back some of those Day of Defeat players back into the fold. We salute the Bulkhead Interactive team for their dedication and commitment thus far!

Score:
3 out of 8 votes

Voted by:
Mark, Luke and Choona

Release Date:
May 2017



[ LINK: Battalion 1944 Official Website ]

Friday, October 21, 2016

10 Most Anticipated PC Games of 2017 - #9 Full Throttle Remastered

Screenshot of Full Throttle game splash screen with Ben on his bike
Ben Throttle, from Full Throttle

I remember the Golden Age of Point 'n' Click Adventures during the late 1980s to mid 1990s with great fondness. They were the days when the two companies Sierra On-Line and Lucasarts pumped out classic titles like King's Quest V, Quest for Glory IV, The Secret of Monkey Island, Loom, Gabriel Knight and... well I could keep going on and on, there's just so many to choose from. Anyway, when I first heard the news that Double Fine were finally going to release a remastered version of Day of the Tentacle, I was beside myself; Day of the Tentacle is one of my favourite games of all time, let alone one of my favourite point 'n' click adventures and the game is still as good today as it was over two decades ago. All I needed to make me even happier is if they decided to re-release Full Throttle and Curse of Monkey Island. Well, I'm still waiting on the third Monkey Island game, but thankfully one of my wishes came true as Full Throttle Remastered is going to be released next year!

There's currently very little information on the remaster but like Day of the Tentacle, I can't really think of any way you can improve on the original formula. The voice acting is sensational thanks to Roy Conrad, Kath Soucie, Tress MacNeille, Mark Hamill and Maurice LaMarche and the soundtrack featuring music by Californian rock band, The Gone Jackals complemented the game really well. Despite the game being really short, it was one hell of a roller coaster ride (or should that be Corley Motors ride?)! I suspect Double Fine will do the same treatment on Full Throttle as they did with Day of the Tentacle which would mean a remastered, higher quality soundtrack, higher definition graphics and developer commentary. Definitely looking forward to this one next year and it will be an insta-buy for me :).

Score:
3 out of 8 votes

Voted by:
Mark and Choona

Release Date:
2017



[ LINK: Double Fine Official Website ]

Thursday, October 20, 2016

10 Most Anticipated PC Games of 2017 - #10 The Mandate

A schematic of a destroyer from the game The Mandate
A schematic of a destroyer from the game, The Mandate

The Mandate originally featured as a game we'd "keep our eyes on" in 2015 and even featured on the list last year in 6th place. The Mandate started off as a Kickstarter project that was launched on the 3rd October 2013 and it managed to successfully raise $701,010 from 16,408 backers when the campaign came to a close on 2 December 2013. Unfortunately, this means the game has been in development for quite some time with not really that much to show for it (which has got some backers worried) but we're hoping this is a case of all good things come to those who wait, despite it being almost 3 years since development started.

There have also been some clarification and changes in direction with the project since the last time we featured The Mandate on this list, but they're not necessarily bad concessions. For example, despite the game still retaining some sandbox elements, they're going to focus more on a narrative and characters that matter, which are things I'm always looking for in a good RPG. The game also won't quite have boarding combat implemented when the game is released on Steam Early Access next year but the developers plan to implement it shortly after. Besides these minor setbacks though, we're still keen to get our hands on this sci-fi RPG with its unique Imperial-Russia-in-SPAAAAACE setting so fingers crossed we get to see some choice gameplay come 2017.

Score:
3 out of 8 votes

Voted by:
Mark and Luke

Release Date:
2017



[ LINK: The Mandate Official Website ]

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

10 Most Anticipated PC Games of 2017

Collage of 10 Most Anticipated PC Games of 2017


I'm starting this article a bit earlier this year, mainly because I'm not going to have any time to complete it come mid-December; that's right, it's time to go through our 10 Most Anticipated PC Games of 2017 here at Choicest Games! Just like last year, I've managed to get the help of Choicest Games regulars Choona, Luke and Lanna to help me with the voting. Unlike last year, I've also managed to perform a litmus test on the Whirlpool Forums to get an idea of what the public are generally looking forward to next year when it came to PC games. I used some of their comments to help guide me in ordering the final list (more on that later).

The Judges


Mark G
Mark founded the blog Choicest Games in 2008 and has been playing PC games since the 1980s. He has an eclectic taste in games but his favourite genres include point 'n' click adventures, First Person Shooters and almost anything to do with sci-fi. He is also leader of the social guild/clan Gamers of Choice.

Lanna
Lanna is Mark G's wife and being the supportive wife that she is has contributed reviews and her input on the running of the blog. Lanna enjoys puzzle games, the Battlefield series and Civilization. She was also at one stage world champion at Everyday Genius Squarelogic.

Choona
Choona is a contributor for Choicest Games and has been playing PC games since the late 1980s. Choona enjoys playing basketball games, First Person Shooters and MMORPGs.

Luke
Luke is another contributor for Choicest Games and has been playing PC games since the 1990s. Luke mainly enjoys Real-Time Strategy games, First Person Shooters and RPGs.

How the list was made


An arbitrary list of 63 games was compiled through a combination of me scouring the Internet for exciting PC titles coming out next year as well as any the contributors could find as well. I used the same scoring system as last year where the contributors were given a choice of three potential scores:

0 = Not interested in the game at all
1 = Slightly interested. Keeping my eyes on it and/or will buy it if there's nothing better to get
2 = Must-buy. I will buy it on release or I've already pre-ordered it.

Contributors were asked to assign a 0, 1 or 2 to each of the games on the list. I would then count up the total score and then sort the list by score in descending order. Like last year, the number one spot was an easy one since it was a clear favourite amongst all the judges. Also like last year, there were games that received the same score and some had to be cut from the top 10 list. In the cases of tied scores (which happened most of the time), I placed games higher up the list if they (a) were selected by a higher number of judges and (b) had interest from members of the Whirlpool forums.

A whopping 4 games on this list appeared last year (so they're ones that are obviously delayed) and five of the games on the list started off as Kickstarter projects. As you can see, in terms of AAA releases, 2016 was probably a more exciting year with the release of XCOM 2, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Mafia III and Tom Clancy's The Division. Also, Sid Meier's Civilization VI and Battlefield 1 are just around the corner too. This is probably why there are more games this year that are simply delayed projects from last year and also why there are more Kickstarter projects (since other titles just aren't interesting enough). It could also be the publishers deciding to not hype about games until the last minute - this is why Civilization VI or Battlefield 1 didn't make the list last year.

Anyway, let's get back to 2017. Over the next coming days, more titles will be added to this list as we run through the 10 Most Anticipated PC Games of 2017 as voted by Choicest Games!

  1. Mass Effect: Andromeda
  2. Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands
  3. Kingdom Come: Deliverance
  4. Paradigm
  5. For Honor
  6. Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III
  7. Torment: Tides of Numenera
  8. Battalion 1944
  9. Full Throttle Remastered
  10. The Mandate

Other games we're keeping our eyes on:

Monday, October 17, 2016

Choicest VGM - VGM #252 - Detroit - Research New Parts

Screenshot from the computer game Detroit - Research Screen


Soundtrack composed by: Christopher J. Denman and Jason P. Rinaldi

Here we have a track that probably wouldn't be out of place on a Kraftwerk album; You could just imagine all the boffins and engineers plodding along and experimenting to the beat of the music.

The track plays when you visit the "Research New Parts" screen which is where you can research new automobile parts such as suspension, cooling, engines, luxury items, etc. (luxury items include things such as radios! WOW!). In order to be an automobile company worth their salt, one must innovate so make sure this department is well funded.

The music was recorded through DOSBOX and consequently this is DOSBOX's emulation of OPL3 I believe, the FM synthesis sound chip used in a lot of old Soundblaster cards.

[ VIDEO: Choicest VGM - VGM #252 - Detroit - Research New Parts ]


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Steam Games Sunday - 16 October 2016

Showtime! debuts on the Steam Sunday Top 10 List this week in 8th place.

  1. War Thunder
  2. Rainbow Six Siege
  3. Everyday Genius: SquareLogic
  4. League of Mermaids
  5. Marvel Heroes
  6. World of Zoo
  7. NBA 2K16
  8. Showtime!
  9. Mount & Blade Warband
  10. Borderlands 2

Once again, the top 3 remains unchanged with War Thunder in first place, Rainbow Six Siege in second and Everyday Genius: SquareLogic in third. League of Mermaids which made a comeback to the list at 6th place last week has shot up to 4th place this week - mainly thanks to a certain daughter starting to get involved with the gaming. In fact, that' the same reason World of Zoo is still on the list as well at 6th place. Marvel Heroes has been played quite a bit this week though since it's still ahead of World of Zoo at 5th place. NBA 2K16 is also back on the list 7th place but the big news for this week is the debut of Showtime! to the list at 8th place.

Showtime! is a game I managed to get as part of a free G2A voucher I received off Australian PC gaming magazine, PC Powerplay (so thank you PCPP guys - you're awesome :)). The game seems to be like a cut-down version of that old Lionhead Studios game The Movies. Despite the low production values, I'm quite enjoying the game and I've yet to have a movie that wins multiple awards - I seem to be good at mass-producing profitable, yet trashy movies. Another plus with the game is I believe it's made by an Australian. Just call it a hunch but considering there's (a) a newspaper called "The Herald Moon" (instead of "The Herald Sun"), (b) there's a show called "At the Cinemas" (instead of "At the Movies") and (c) the ratings system follows Australia's (i.e. G, PG, M, MA15+ and R18+), there's a good chance.

To round up the rest of the list, we have Mount & Blade Warband in 9th place and Borderlands 2 has dropped from 7th place last week to 10th this week.
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Anyway stay tuned for next Sunday to see if this list changes :). Are you playing any of the games on this list? How are you finding them?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Elegy for a Dead World Review

I'm a Rocket Maaaaan. ROCKET MAAAAN! Burning out his fuse up here alone.

  • Reviewed by: Mark Goninon
  • Developer: Dejobaan Games/Popcannibal
  • Publisher: Dejobaan Games
  • Release Date: 10 December 2014
  • Time played: 2.2 hours

I tend to get a lot of my games during Humble Bundles – which is good for my wallet and my conscience (you can’t say I haven’t contributed to charity this year!) but it’s not so good for dat backlog. Anyway, Humble Jumbo Bundle 7 came along a couple of weeks ago and were offering a variety of games I wasn’t interested in, so I originally wasn’t even going to bother grabbing it, but the addition of two latecomers: Agatha Christie – The ABC Murders and Elegy for a Dead World made me reconsider as they’ve both been games sitting on my Steam wishlist for some time.

Dejobaan Games have promoted the game on Steam as one where you “explore dead civilizations, write about what you find, and share your stories with the universe”. I always enjoyed creative writing and wrote many sci-fi stories in my youth, so when I discovered that this game was all about writing sci-fi stories, I knew this would be one of the higher ranked games on my Steam wishlist.

So how does the game actually work? You control this little spaceman on the screen and at the beginning you get to pick one of three worlds to explore by moving to a portal. Activating the portal will give you the choice of creating a new story, editing existing ones or reading stories (either penned by you or someone else). Creating a new story takes your little spaceman down to the world where you can explore either by walking or using your jetpack. While exploring the landscape you’ll come across writing nodes scattered all over the place where you’re able to type in some words for a story or poem. Depending on the type of story/poem template you picked prior to entering the world, you will receive different prompts; there’s even a freeform mode where you can rid yourself of prompts altogether and just type whatever your heart desires. Once you’ve visited all the writing nodes and composed your beautiful prose, you can then leave the world and publish the story on Steam so that anyone else who has the game can read your story.

What I like:


Audio

The game has fantastic audio to really help immerse you in the environment. You’ll hear the humming of ancient machinery, the sound of the wind blowing through tall grass and even the sound of your character breathing heavily (well, at least I think it’s your character, since you’re in command of the narrative, maybe not!)

Art

Elegy for a Dead World has some gorgeous backdrops that are apparently inspired by the works of J. M. W. Turner who… I’ve never heard of before but Wikipedia assures me that he was an innovative 18th century English Romanticist landscape painter.

Easy to publish stories

It’s simply a matter of clicking a button and then your story is available to all the other players of the game. Neat!

Export option for HTML story

If you’re not content with just sharing your stories with others who own the game, you can even export the story into HTML format so that it looks very similar to what you see in the game.

A good way to teach creative writing

I see this game as having great potential in a classroom setting, as a way of teaching kids what creative writing is about – i.e. taking notice of the sights, smells and sounds of a particular locale and then describing the scene in words.

Users create the content

There are many stories and poems available for reading because the players or users are the ones that create the content. This is always a cunning move by developers as it means they can free themselves up from introducing new content to increase the game’s longevity as the users will be the ones doing that job instead. At the same time, users will feel empowered and invested in the product because you tend to feel a sense of pride when the content is created by yourself. It’s almost a WIN-WIN situation…

What I dislike:


Users create the content

Not everyone is made out to be a great writer so even though you’ll have the occasionally competent short story, you’ll find many rife with spelling and grammatical errors. And let’s not go into the comedians who think it’s hilarious to enter the word “penis” every time they are prompted to fill in the blanks…

Differing experiences

When you write the story, you actually control a little spaceman to explore the world and consequently you experience all the sights and sounds. When you read the story, you are not given the same experience; instead you’re just given text to read over some pretty backgrounds, but that’s about it. Yes, I can understand this might have been done intentionally since isn’t the point of creative writing being able to take your reader on a journey simply through the use of words? However, when I originally started playing this game I thought the reader and writer would receive the same experience and at least that way the reader will feel as immersed in the world as the writer was.

Only three worlds to explore

I’ve already visited three worlds and typed up one story for each of them. I’ve also read a few stories created by other users as well and after doing all of that, I’ve only spent around two hours playing this game. To be fair, there are other “challenges” or story templates you can use but you’ll end up experiencing the same landscape over and over again.

What’s the point?

Is there any point to answering the prompts provided to you as part of the story template? I mean, considering there’s a freeform mode where you don’t even need to fill in prompts and just type whatever you feel like, this game becomes no different to a word processor with some animated scenes as inspiration.

Impossible achievements

There are three achievements in this game that correspond to each of the three worlds in the game. Each achievement is triggered once you receive 1,000 recommendations for your story from other players. Now there are a couple of problems with this logic: (1) it assumes that a lot of people are going to be playing this game, (2) it assumes that there will be a lot of people reading stories in this game, and (3) it assumes a subset of group 1 and group 2 will actually bother to take the time and vote on whether they like a story or not – and then there’s no guarantee they will actually commend the story or not.

Consequently, it comes as no surprise that the top rated story for Elegy for a Dead World still hasn’t reached 1,000 commendations; a few hundred perhaps, but not 1,000.

Score – 6/10 (Okay)


Elegy for a Dead World is basically a program that enables you to write short stories or poems and then publish them on Steam for other owners of the game to read or export it via HTML for anyone to read. While the game has excellent visuals and audio, and could be used as an effective tool to teach creative writing at school, there’s really not much else to recommend if you’re looking for a game to entertain you in the traditional sense. If you go in expecting nothing more than a fun little tool to help inspire you into writing beautiful stories, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed; if you’re expecting anything else, avoid.

Is the game worth $14.99 USD?: No. What you have to ask yourself is how much would you pay for the ability to share your short stories or poems with other Steam users? I’d probably not pay more than $5 AUD.

If you like this game, you might like…

[ LINK: Official Elegy for a Dead World Website ]


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

World of Zoo Review

Screenshot of giraffe exhibit in World of Zoo
3 year old logic dictates that every zoo should have a pink giraffe

  • Reviewed by: Mark Goninon
  • Developer: Blue Fang
  • Publisher: THQ Nordic
  • Release Date: 31 October 2009
  • Time played: 8.3 hours

I can’t quite remember how I managed to obtain a copy of World of Zoo but according to my Steam account’s history, I managed to acquire the game in 2014 as a key activation along with RACE the WTCC Game and Trainz Simulator 12 - so a bunch of random games indeed! Anyway, since it was a key activation I probably have someone to thank for this game and I’m guessing if it isn’t the ever generous Steam user Mix-Master (who provides a majority of my keys) then it must be one of my friends or family. So I’ll just collectively thank all of you for funding my gaming habit and increasing that backlog :).

Okay, so back to World of Zoo, why on Earth did I want this game in the first place? One part of me is thinking I mistook this game for something quite different, i.e. Microsoft’s Zoo Tycoon which is actually a management simulation game involving zoos. In my defence though, both Zoo Tycoon and World of Zoo were developed by the same company, Blue Fang Games (which closed its doors in 2011) so you can understand my confusion. World of Zoo (released in 2009 for the Nintendo Wii and PC) is a game focused at a much younger demographic as it does away with almost all business management aspects and instead gives you lots of opportunities to get up close and personal with the animals: it’s basically Tamagotchi with zoo animals where you get to feed the animals, play with them, clean them and take care of them when they’re ill. New items, new animals and new exhibits are unlocked with tokens that you generate by showing attention to the animals or completing challenges.

And that’s really all there is to it but does that mean the game is any good?

What I like:


Great fun for pre-schoolers

This game is perfect for younger kids especially pre-schoolers. The game is totally mouse-driven so the kids won’t need to memorise any particular keys and you’ve got large pictorial icons to click on, meaning kids not quite competent at reading yet are able to navigate the menus.

As mentioned previously, the game is also like Tamagotchi with zoo animals. Kids will love being able to take care of virtual animals, throwing beach balls at them to play with, hand-feeding them, showering dirt off them with a hose and just giving them lots of affection in general.

The game also gives players the ability to create new animals and customise them. If you’re like my daughter, this means pink giraffes and giant green donkeys; there are actually quite a few customisation options available including species, age (i.e. adult or baby), sex, size, behaviour type, voice pitch, skin patterns and skin colours.

Casual

World of Zoo is a casual game. There’s no way you can really fail. Provided you invest the time in taking care of the animals, you’ll earn tokens to unlock more things, and most kids probably don’t care about the earning of tokens anyway – they’re probably just as happy to continue playing with the same giraffe for hours on end. Actually, I lie. The only things you can fail at are the timed challenges but even then the game uses positive language such as “good job” or “great effort” (so you can definitely tell this game was developed with kids in mind).

Family-friendly

It goes without saying that this is a family-friendly game. There are no drug references (well except for those sleepy time biscuits I’m guessing), adult themes, nudity or violence.

Educational

While the game can be played by younger kids, older kids and even adults will appreciate the interesting facts provided courtesy of National Geographic. These show up whenever you’re creating a new animal and reviewing which species to go with. Just keep in mind that this is only a small part of the game though so despite there being some educational benefits to playing it, I wouldn’t class it as an edutainment title.

Visually appealing

Despite the game being 7 years old, the game has aged pretty well with graphics that are still visually appealing. The game also runs smoothly, as you’d expect from an older game running on newer hardware.

What I dislike:


Not much for the adults

Besides the occasional interesting fact provided courtesy of National Geographic, I can see the game losing its appeal really quickly with adults, unless you’re the sort to like playing Tamagotchi/pet management style games (but that’s what kids are for, right? ;) )

Sound effects

Each of the exhibits tends to lump several species of animals together. While you’re not going to get too much variation in the panda or giraffe exhibit, I suspect the variations are more pronounced in the small monkey, big cat or horse exhibits. The way the game seems to work however, is that all animals in an exhibit make the same noises – so all small monkeys make the same cries and all horses neigh the same way. Considering you have horses, zebras and asses making the same noises, this doesn’t seem particularly accurate. Surely asses bray like donkeys right?

Lack of variety with animals

You only have access to six exhibits: koalas, pandas, horses, small monkeys, giraffes and big cats, so it really won’t take too long before you have them all unlocked (only a few hours if you are smart about it). In the Wii version of the game you apparently have access to 11 exhibits which seems like a better number but somehow with the Steam version you only get access to just over half of the animals that the Wii version gets. Ripped off.

Overabundance of toys

You tend to have a whole bunch of toys in each exhibit that basically do the same thing, i.e. bounce around and entertain the animals. I sometimes feel like they could’ve introduced more interesting toys instead of different looking beach balls.

Pathing issues

The animals can sometimes get stuck running in circles or bumping into other animals in the exhibit, although thankfully they usually sort themselves out after a while.

No Steam Trading Cards, Leaderboards or Achievements

It’s a pretty old game so I guess they never got around to implementing these.

Score – 7/10 (Alright)


Assuming you’re purchasing this game for the target demographic (i.e kids) or you’re just into Tamagotchi games featuring zoo animals, then this game is not a bad distraction for several hours. The game has aged well despite it being 7 years old and the interface is so intuitive even a 4 year old can figure it out. The game even provides some interesting facts for older kids and adults courtesy of National Geographic. While there are some minor issues with respect to pathing, sound effects and a general lack of animals to play with, none of these are deal breakers.

Is the game worth $14.99 USD?: Yes, but only just, and only if you’ve got kids as I can’t imagine the game will keep the attention of an adult gamer for very long.

If you like this game, you might like…

[ LINK: World of Zoo Steam Store Page ]

Monday, October 10, 2016

Choicest VGM - VGM #251 - Detroit - Sales and Factories

Screenshot of computer game Detroit's Sales and Factories screen


Soundtrack composed by: Christopher J. Denman and Jason P. Rinaldi

As the name suggests, this is the music that plays when you visit the "Sales and Factories" screen in the car company management game, Detroit. From this screen you're able to build new factories and showrooms across the globe and you can choose from 16 territories: Canada, N.W. United States, N.E. United States, S.W. United States, S.E. United States, South America, Northern Europe, Southern Europe, Eastern Europe, Mid East, India, China, Japan, South East Asia, Africa and Australia. Japan, China, India and Canada are the only territories that represent a single country instead of multiple countries (Australia is almost in that category too except I notice that New Zealand is included as well). The United States is represented by four territories each representing a different region of the country. I guess if I wanted to live up to the game's namesake I should've built my first factory in North-East United States... oh well.

The music is very cruisey, which evokes images of holidays to faraway places - so perfect travel agent music right? Or something you'd hear in a hotel elevator?

The music was recorded through DOSBOX and consequently this is DOSBOX's emulation of OPL3 I believe, the FM synthesis sound chip used in a lot of old Soundblaster cards.

[ VIDEO: Choicest VGM - VGM #251 - Detroit - Sales and Factories ]


Sunday, October 9, 2016

Steam Games Sunday - 9 October 2016

Screenshot of giraffes in World of Zoo
World of Zoo enters the list this week in a respectable 5th place


  1. War Thunder
  2. Rainbow Six Siege
  3. Everyday Genius: SquareLogic
  4. Marvel Heroes
  5. World of Zoo
  6. League of Mermaids
  7. Borderlands 2
  8. King's Quest
  9. Sid Meier's Civilization V
  10. Call of Duty Black Ops

The top 3 this week is identical to last week's with War Thunder in first place, Rainbow Six Siege in second and Everyday Genius: SquareLogic in third. Marvel Heroes has shot up from out of nowhere this week to make it to 4th place; this coincides with an event that was held until Thursday the 6th October involving a tie-in with Netflix Original Series "Marvel's Luke Cage". World of Zoo is another game that has come from nowhere and is now 5th on the list. This is all thanks to me introducing my daughter to the game (and it's turning out to be a favourite of hers). League of Mermaids, which featured on the list in previous weeks is once again on the top 10 list in 6th place and Borderlands 2, which was in 5th place last week, is now in 7th. King's Quest has also dropped down the list compared to last week where it was in 7th place; this week it's in 8th place. Civ V has also dropped down the list from last week's 4th place and is now in 9th place. Call of Duty Black Ops remains in 10th place.

Anyway stay tuned for next Sunday to see if this list changes :). Are you playing any of the games on this list? How are you finding them?

Thursday, October 6, 2016

King's Quest - Chapter 4: Snow Place Like Home Review

Screenshot of King's Quest Chapter 4 Snow Place Like Home
A PoooOOOOOISONOUS coffee mug


  • Reviewed by: Mark Goninon
  • Developer: The Odd Gentlemen
  • Publisher: Sierra
  • Release Date: 28 September 2016
  • Time played: 4.3 hours

Snow Place Like Home is the name of the fourth chapter of King's Quest, published by the new Sierra. It’s hard to tell when this chapter is set since while it borrows several plot elements from the original King’s Quest timeline, it also changes several of them too. The first part of this chapter seems to be set shortly after the events in King’s Quest – Chapter 3: Once Upon a Climb, which was a re-telling of the original King’s Quest II. However, the bulk of the chapter recounts events that would’ve occurred just after King’s Quest III in that we have an older King Graham exploring his relationship with a teenage Prince Alexander/Gwydion who is effectively a stranger to him.

What I like:


Music

Just like the previous chapters, the music in King’s Quest is top notch, borrowing themes used in previous games. I was especially chuffed to hear a variation to King’s Quest V’s Town theme :).



Voice acting

Most of the voice actors will be familiar to those who have played the previous chapters although there are a a couple of new voices too: Vito Scaletta.. er I mean... Rick Pasqualone voices the older Prince Alexander and Alexander Polinksy voices the teenage Alexander (Rosella is voiced by Cherami Leigh and Kari Wahlgren who voiced parts in previous chapters too).

References to the original series

Just like previous chapters, there are quite a few references to the original King’s Quest games. Obviously most of the references in this game (at least ones relating to Prince Alexander) are derived from King’s Quest III, although I did notice a few nods to my favourite King’s Quest: King’s Quest V.

Puns

It wouldn’t be a Sierra adventure game without puns and there are quite a lot of them in this chapter.

The father-son relationship

This chapter is basically dedicated to exploring the relationship between King Graham and his prodigal son, Prince Alexander. King Graham’s struggles in trying to find common ground with his son and accepting him as an adult are sometimes hilarious, sometimes awkward, yet always convincing.

Longest chapter after the first one

For those that complained about the chapters becoming shorter in terms of time required to complete them, you’ll be glad to know that this is the longest chapter I’ve played since the first one. True, most of the time is spent solving puzzles instead of conversing with other characters but there's no denying that it's a longer chapter.

My favourite King’s Quest villain revealed at the end!

And I’m not going to say any more than that, you SWINE!

Puzzles

Every chapter since the first chapter has resulted in the adventure genre being mixed with something else: Chapter 2 is an adventure game mixed with survival sim (similar to games like The Oregon Trail or in more recent times, The Organ Trail or The Banner Saga), Chapter 3 is an adventure game mixed with dating sim and for Chapter 4, we have an adventure game mixed with puzzles and riddles. For gamers who are against the Telltale style of adventure game which tends to eschew puzzle-solving for cinematics and character development, you should find a lot to like in this latest chapter. In fact, the game feels a lot like Portal, except it’s third-person, and it’s fantasy, and there’s no portal gun… okay maybe nothing like Portal, but you do go from room to room trying to solve puzzles and riddles, so it’s probably similar to that old British TV show called “The Crystal Maze” – except you have a sphinx as a host instead of Richard O’Brien…

What I dislike:


Puzzles

This chapter’s strength is also its weakness: with so much time spent solving puzzles, there’s actually not much time left for interacting with anything else or exploring anywhere. You’ll probably finish the chapter feeling there could’ve been better characterisation or plot development.

Linear

The chapters are becoming progressively linear and that’s definitely the case with this one where you basically enter a room, solve the puzzle, unlock the exit, move on to the next room, repeat: there are very little opportunities to explore the world. Even Prince Alexander jokes about this in-game.

Deus Ex Machina

There is one point in the game when a character I did not expect to have a particular ability suddenly does and it occurs at a very convenient time too. Since I haven’t played every King’s Quest maybe I’m missing out on some reference but I very much doubt it. There’s also no hint or explanation how the character came across the ability in the first place (sorry for being so cryptic but I didn’t want to give too much away).

Rosella takes second place

Maybe I’m biased (being the father of two girls) but I felt that Rosella is somewhat neglected in this chapter and despite King Graham’s attempts at reassuring the audience that he loves his daughter too, it’s not quite the same as his fixation on his son, Alexander. Yes, in terms of the plot it does make some sense (King Graham hasn’t seen his son for a very long time after all) but it also feels like King Graham values affection from his son more than his daughter. Or maybe I’m being too sensitive about this and perhaps this is all intentional: maybe a rocky relationship between Graham’s children will be explored in the final chapter?

Score – 8/10 (Excellent)


Snow Place Like Home touches on events that occurred in the original King’s Quest series yet again like previous chapters, revises them. In this chapter, you’ll learn more about Graham’s relationship with his teenage kids and how the kids relate to the rest of the family as adults. The chapter also contains a lot of rooms with puzzles and riddles, although it can feel somewhat claustrophobic and linear considering you spend the majority of the game progressing from one level to the next, a bit like Portal. Overall, I had fun with this chapter and once again enjoyed the high production values, references to the original series and puns!

Is the game worth $9.99 USD?: Yes. While this chapter is still not as long as the first chapter it is longer than the other two chapters and as an added bonus it features lots of puzzles, which adventure gamers love, right?

If you like this game, you might like…

[ LINK: Official King's Quest Website ]

Monday, October 3, 2016

Choicest VGM - VGM #250 - Detroit - Administration

Screenshot of computer game Detroit - Administration


Soundtrack composed by: Christopher J. Denman and Jason P. Rinaldi

This track plays when you visit the administration section which is where you hire/fire all your personnel, contact the bank for a loan, view financial reports and check out the options menu. The music that you have the joy of listening to while doing important automobile company CEO things like playing golf... er I mean, making important business decisions is basically a waltz (or at least it sounds like one but maybe I'm just biased against 3/4 time). As an added bonus, there's a little Newton's Cradle executive toy that is animated in time with the music! Choice!

The music was recorded through DOSBOX and consequently this is DOSBOX's emulation of OPL3 I believe, the FM synthesis sound chip used in a lot of old Soundblaster cards.

[ VIDEO: Choicest VGM - VGM #250- Detroit - Administration ]


Sunday, October 2, 2016

Steam Games Sunday - 2 October 2016

Screenshot from Chapter 4 of King's Quest computer game
King's Quest returns to the Steam Games Sunday Top 10 List for this week


  1. War Thunder
  2. Rainbow Six Siege
  3. Everyday Genius: SquareLogic
  4. Sid Meier's Civilization V
  5. Borderlands 2
  6. Company of Heroes 2
  7. King's Quest
  8. Her Story
  9. Audiosurf
  10. Call of Duty Black Ops

War Thunder remains in 1st place for the 11th week in a row and Rainbow Six Siege has finally overtaken Everyday Genius: SquareLogic to reclaim its spot in 2nd place again, pushing the Sudoku-like puzzle game to 3rd place. Civ V has once again shot up the list thanks to a couple of multiplayer games amongst the Choicest Games crew (one was an abysmal failure but the other is still a work-in-progress). Borderlands 2 has gone up one place since last week and is now in 5th place while Company of Heroes has dropped from 4th place last week, to 6th place this week. King's Quest is back on the list at 7th place due to me trying out the recently released fourth chapter to this episodic adventure game and Her Story has dropped from 5th place last week to 8th place this week (mainly because I've finished the game :)). Audiosurf remains in 9th place and Call of Duty Black Ops has dropped from 7th place last week to 10th place this week.

Anyway stay tuned for next Sunday to see if this list changes :). Are you playing any of the games on this list? How are you finding them?