enfrdeitptrues

FPS

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    System Requirements
    Operating System: Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows NT, Windows 2000, or Windows XP Minimum Intel Penitum? 233 or AMD K6-2 32 MB RAM 400 MB HD Space 2x CD ROM Drive SVGA, high-color (16-bit) Win-compatible Soundcard 32-bit Internet service provider with 28.8+ modem or LAN
    Preferred Intel Penitum? 233 or AMD K6-2 48 MB RAM 3D Accelerator card (OpenGL or Direct 3D

    What makes Blue Shift different from the other Half-Life games? You get put into a position where it\'s you against the aliens AND the military. Now, that\'s what I call fun. You get access to areas not available in the other two games, and there are better graphics thanks to the Blue Shift: High Definition Pack. Included with Blue Shift, there is Opposing Force. Having included Opposing Force, Blue Shift gives a whole new definition to online, network gaming. From a Christian perspective, it\'s really good. The game has some swears, but it can easily be disabled from the options menu. There\'s the blood and gore too, most of it can be disabled in the Options menu also. This is one of the best games, I have ever played. Blue Shift can play all of the Half-Life mods (includes over hundreds, plus more are still being made).

    Interesting Tidbit:

    Half-Life: Blue Shift\' is composed of scientific terms. Half-Life is the time in which an element decays. Blue Shift is when a star is moving faster towards a closer point on the magnetic spectrum.

    Overall: 88%

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    ***Overview***

    Any high school in America has a group of people who love video games and talk about them obsessively. Counter strike is one of those rare games that many, not just geeky computer people, rant about. Counter Strike is a mod, a modification to a large game and in this case, Half-Life. The game is totally online (no subscription fee) and pits Counter_terrorists against terrorists.

    ***Graphics***

    The graphics of Half Life: Counter Strike are, well, bad. This game was first created in 1998 so, the graphics are dated. Be sure to look for the blockly blood effects and the boring character models. I give it a C+.

    ***Sounds***

    To make up for the terrible graphics, Counter Strike boasts amazing sounds. To be truly successful in Counter Strike, you need to open your ears to 3d sound effects so you can locate nearby terrorists. Characters also let out a moan of pain when shot, which does add some realism to the field. I give it a B.

    ***Controls***

    This section is going to be really short. If you have played other first person shooters, you will be at home. Be prepared to be awful the first few times you log on to a server though. Some people have \'Skillz\'. I give it an A.

    ***Offensive Content***

    Though the game completely revolves around the fact your team wins when the other team is destroyed. Blood flies in large amounts; especially when a bullet grazes a player\'s head. Because this is an online title, many players swear and use fowl words. I give it a C+.

    ***Underview***

    Overall, Counter Strike is a fun, fast- paced, online gun blaze that has more replay factor than could be imagined. I award Counter Strike a 90 out of 100!

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    System Requirements
    Operating System: Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows NT, Windows 2000, or Windows XP Minimum Intel Pentium? 233 or AMD K6-2 32 MB RAM 400 MB HD Space 2x CD ROM Drive SVGA, high-color (16-bit) Win-compatible Soundcard 32-bit Internet service provider with 28.8+ modem or LAN
    Preferred Intel Pentium? 233 or AMD K6-2 48 MB RAM 3D Accelerator card (OpenGL or Direct 3D)

    \'Opposing Force\', the first expansion for \'Half-Life\' has new creatures, new weapons, new areas of the Black Mesa Facility, and the same heart pumping, adrenaline action as the original. This game continues and expands on what made Half-Life great. \'Opposing Force\' comes in a stand-alone package, or you get it automatically when you buy \'Blue Shift\', the 2nd expansion pack. I highly recommend getting the \'Blue Shift\' package. You get the 2 expansion packs PLUS the High-Definition Pack. This pack updates all creatures and weapons (from the entire Half-Life Series) with higher polygon counts to make them look better than ever.

    Story

    This time around, you are Adrian Shephard, one of the marines sent in to find Gordon Freeman. Your mission takes a different turn when the facility is suddenly overtaken by aliens. You have a new mission. Get out alive. In your mission, you will make your way through areas of Black Mesa not in the previous game. You will encounter brand new creatures. And obtain some new and quite powerful weapons. You will also have some puzzles to solve.

    Gameplay

    If you\'ve played Half-Life and liked it, you will certainly like Opposing Force. The game has expanded on what made Half-Life so good. You are still winding your way through the Black Mesa facility, fighting against some fairly strange looking creatures. You\'ll be using your MP-5 with grenade launcher quite a bit, but will find a new set of weapons (some alien-oriented) to use. I found the new weapons and creatures to be a nice addition. It\'s a first person shooter, but, what has made the series so great is the way they make you feel a part of the environment. The sounds. The sights. You feel like you are really there. You will come across puzzles on your journey. The puzzles range from fairly simple, to more complex. They are typically of the \'how do I open a door\' or \'how do I get from point A to point B\' variety. Remember the Barnacles from Half-Life? They are the aliens with the long tongue hanging from the ceilings? This time around, you will find a helpful item in the game that\'s a Barnacle you can use. I won\'t give away its use, but it is needed to solve some of the puzzles.

    Graphics

    I have only played this using the High-Definition pack (explained above), so I don\'t know what the regular graphics look like. The graphics are somewhat dated but I am still very impressed with them. The pulsating and rippling look of the creatures continues to amaze me. Several times you will have co-operative missions with other Marines. These guys look pretty good too. By 2002 standards, the lighting effects and faces probably have the most dated look. Water effects are very limited. Because of these, the graphics rating is knocked down a bit. But overall, the graphics are very pleasing and believable.

    Sound

    The sound is a mixed-bag. I really enjoy hearing the sound of a creature around the corner before actually spotting it. Your character\'s sounds are also very well done (the sounds of your footsteps, reloading of weapons, and the firing of weapons). Where the sound can sometimes be a problem is when a character is talking to you. Sometimes the voice was too quiet or it was getting masked out by another sound in the room. The sound of a door closing could make me miss a key word or phrase someone was saying. I would have to go back to my last save point and re-listen to what was said.

    Stability

    The game ran great on WinXP. Only once did I have a problem. I had a save point that kept crashing on me when I\'d reload. This happened about three times in a row. I finally rebooted my machine and never had another problem.

    InterfaceThe interface is quite simple and easy to use. There is a heads-up display (HUD) with all you need to know (health and ammo, essentially).

    Christian Perspective

    The game involves a lot of shooting and killing (both aliens and humans). There is also blood splatter when you make a hit. The blood can be easily turned off in the Parental Controls option. I should note, I don\'t actually consider the game to be a strictly all-shooter game. The game is full of puzzles which are sometimes tough enough to give you a good gratifying feeling when you have figured them out. Unfortunately, the language does get quite rough at times. More so than either Half-Life or Blue Shift.

    Longevity

    The game has a lot of life. There are user-created levels you can download as well as a multi-player aspect.

    Final Analysis

    No doubt the game has some terrific game play. The graphics are a bit dated, but still hold up well. I was disappointed to hear some fairly strong language this time around. The heavy violence may be an issue for some. With the ability to turn off the blood, the game becomes much cleaner. I know there are much more violent games available, but some of the scenes are still a bit gruesome.

    Final Ratings

    Game play: A+ Graphics: B+ Sound: A- Stability: A Interface: A Christian Perspective: D

    Overall: 90%

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Half-Life
    Developed By: Valve
    Published By: Sierra Studios/Valve
    Released: November 8, 1998
    Available On: Windows, PlayStation 2, macOS, Linux
    Genre: FPS, Horror, Sci-Fi, Adventure
    ESRB Rating: Mature for Animated Blood, Animated Violence
    Number of Players: 1 offline, 20+ online
    Price: $9.99

    What can I say about this game that hasn't been said before? If you've somehow been on the Internet and haven't heard of Half-Life yet, I applaud your ability to not hear of one of the most popular shooters of all time. For the uneducated, Half-Life is a game made by Valve, released in 1998. However, it is so, so much more.

    Based off a modified version of the Quake engine, which Valve then called GoldSrc, Half-Life was another revolutionary shooter to come out of the '90s. Because it was based on the Quake engine, it had the same beautifully smooth and buttery fast-paced gameplay. As you play through Half-Life, you'll discover that this game encourages daredevil-like speed. Even 20 years after it launched, Half-Life's gameplay is still the template for FPS games. The movement is crisp and almost lag free. The guns are balanced with good hit registration and damage. Not to mention, Half-Life's AI was light years beyond what they had at the time. The enemies don't feel aged, and respond about 2/3 as well as what we have today. Half-Life's gameplay, in my opinion, has aged better than any game in history. Certainly better than other old popular games like GoldenEye.

    And just like its gameplay, Half-Life revolutionized gaming with its stunning 3D graphics. And although they aren't the prettiest nowadays, Half-Life set the bar on intuitive textures, and models with their horrific aliens and monsters.

    The sound of the game hasn't aged [i]horribly[/i]. Playing with my headphones that, I'll admit, aren't the greatest (not a $200 pair) but can hear really good quality, the game is missing high frequencies, or they sound very dampened. The panning is still great, and you can tell where sounds are coming from. The ominous (and sometimes loud sounds) most certainly add to the atmosphere of this game. It can make it feel empty or packed with action. While the bit-crushed and lower quality sounds are a bit dated, they certainly aren't horrible like some other old games can be, with a very present terrible quality.

    The music in this game also is pretty good. While some of the instruments may sound dated or compressed, the melodies are awesome and the music goes great with adding tension or additional feeling to the ambience of this game.

    Now onto the actual story. Half-Life follows the life of Gordon Freeman (not to be confused by his uncle from marriage Morgan). Gordon Freeman works at the Black Mesa Research Facility in Arizona. Black Mesa is a giant testing ground filled with creatures, robots, scientists and more. As a graduate in theoretical physics, Gordon specializes in the scientifically unseen. Aliens, time travel, things that no one should mess with.

    Half-Life
    Science going to far
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Great gameplay, level design and character AI
    Weak Points: Graphics have aged not as well, and the movement speed/controls can be finicky at times
    Moral Warnings: Moderate/borderline severe language (S***, D***, A**, blasphemy), strong violence and bloody gore, light references to cigars/alcohol

    When a mysterious object appears in Black Mesa that nobody knows anything about, the obvious answer is to experiment with it! Because they're scientists! When the experiment goes wrong, because, as we all know, all experiments fail in games, a rift between Earth and an alien planet is opened. Gordon now has to find his way out of Black Mesa while battling aliens, monsters, soldiers and even the world around him.

    In addition to the graphics and gameplay, Half-Life boasts a huge world full of challenges and enemies at every turn, with ingenious level design (we'll come back to it) and an array of guns. Such as, but not limited to, a shotgun, a pistol, a crossbow, an RPG, grenades, and more. And with Half-Life 2's invention of the Source engine, the gravity gun and more, Half-Life is the franchise that kept on giving.

    Half-Life's level design is also as good as its gameplay. With great design choices, Half-Life encouraged players to either run through it at full speed, or take their time to catch their breath, or maybe look at their surroundings. Half-Life's levels were huge and had great ideas such as radioactive waste, pits, low-gravity sections and more. The amazing thing this game did for me, was be able to create a sort of perfect labyrinth of technology and science and tear it apart. It was because of these revolutionary things that made Half-Life an amazing FPS and something that raised the bar for the future of gaming. Now, on to the cons.

    While most things aged well, the graphics did not. While they aren't horrible today, they still look like a game from the '90s. Blocky environments, fuzzy textures, lacking detail and washed out colors. Overall, they aren't bad, but they certainly have aged the worst out of this game. The gameplay is also hit or miss. While it is good and still holds alright today, some things about it can be specifically annoying, such as friction and movement speed. The level design is good but sometimes the placement of characters or enemies can lead to things being not so obvious or overly challenging.

    Half-Life
    Great environments, but poor graphics
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 80%
    Gameplay - 18/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 3/5

    Morality Score - 81%
    Violence - 3/10
    Language - 6/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 5.5/10
    This game displays the consequences of evil and/or messing with the occult. (+3 pts) 

    Half-Life does have some moral issues. While the killing of aliens/monsters could be written off, the killing of human soldiers cannot. This game could have simply made them aliens or something else. I understand they wanted to portray a government cleanup, but it doesn't justify it. The game also allows you to kill innocent scientists, or let them go to their deaths.

    While very few main characters in the game (if any) swear or use crude language, the soldiers you encounter in the game can drop almost all language except an F-bomb. In addition, sometimes characters or enemies can be blown up, and depending on the character, they may be blown into graphic chunks of 5-10 pieces of flesh. When killed, all characters' bodies hit the floor and don't disappear for a short time.

    The aliens in this game can be seen as scary, and this game does have a horror side to it, so it isn't for the easily frightened people. However, if you can handle horror/dread decently, this game won't scare you. Some characters can have cigars, and there are some references to beer.

    In closing, Half-Life was and still is a staple of Fast-Paced FPS Adventure games, with amazing graphics for its time, great gameplay and AI, and perfect level design, despite its moral and aging issues.

    - God's Gaming's Contempt, signing off.

  • Minimum System Configuration

    1.2 GHz Processor 256MB RAM DirectX 7 capable graphics card Windows 2000/XP/ME/98 Mouse Keyboard Internet Connection

    Preferred System Configuration

    2.4 GHz Processor 512MB RAM DirectX 9 capable graphics card Windows 2000/XP/ME/98 Mouse Keyboard Internet Connection

    After years of waiting, the loyal Valve fans\' dreams have finally come true. Despite the agonizing delays, the insidious but ingenious beta leak, and the Valve-VU legal disputes, the beast has awoken. Be afraid, Halo 2, be very afraid. One of the major fears, as with all well-known titles (especially this year), was that it would not live up to the hype. After the disappointments of Halo 2 and Doom 3, my heart was warmed, and my faith in games revitalized when I entered the first chapter of Half-Life 2. The environment was alive.

    People walked about, actually going somewhere (as opposed to games such as Deus Ex where the cities were populated with individuals that apparently thought sitting in the same chair of the same bar for hours on end and staring blankly into space was a good idea), the air filled with sounds of combine radio chatter, Dr. Breen\'s constant stream of propaganda, and wind howling through the roof of the train station, and objects fell over and bumped each other in a realistic manner (as opposed to the physics of games such as Doom 3, where everything seemed to be made of a futuristic rubber that repulsed everything it touched). The very air felt breathable; never before did I experience such beautiful realism in a game. Before we go on, I hereby assure you I will not provide any spoilers to the game beyond what you could view in the videos released by Valve or gather from the game\'s bio. In fact a large amount of what you see in the binks didn\'t make the final cut, so prepared.

    Story

    After being in limbo for 10 years, Gordon Freeman is awakened by the mysterious G-man and dropped into an eastern European city nicknamed ?City-17?. It seems the world has been taken over by a race of extra-dimensional aliens known to humans as the Combine. Your role in the human rebellion is that of a messiah, the last bastion of hope against complete subversion of the human race. The plot becomes more twisted and desperate as time goes on, as the remaining vestige of resistance struggle to find a way to free themselves from the bondage of the Combine and their human puppet leader, Dr. Breen. As for the rest of the story, Half-Life 2 does an excellent job. Not everyone liked the ending, but overall plot provides a great impetus to continue playing the game. You constantly meet up with allies who provide direction, supplies, and support, so you never feel lost or abandoned.

    Game play

    The game play changes many old concepts from Half-Life, while introducing some new exciting ones. Most of the weapons made it back, repolished and somewhat modified. In fact there are very few new weapons; most of the new stuff is related to the new gameplay concepts. The movement speed in Half-Life 2 is slower and more realistic than that of the original, but there is a sprint option which draws energy off a rechargeable power source. Breathing underwater lasts longer but also uses the battery, as well as the flashlight. Another new game play element is the vehicles. Yes, this isn\'t really new to the industry, but I\'ve never seen vehicles used so well in a single-player game (even Halo). They are responsive, fairly easy to control, and great fun.

    The vehicle levels seem to be made perfectly; the large landscapes have many optional pit stops and many challenges and puzzles spicing up what would be monotonous driving in most games. You can command squads of human resistance later in the game. The humans aren\'t the smartest, but can help when the going gets tough. They have some nifty abilities, such as giving you ammo when you\'re running low, they can pick up better weapons if they stumble across them, can jump and move most places you can, and the medic rebels can heal you and the others. One note about the NPCs; many critics complained that the allies tended to get in your way in tight areas, I never had this problem. A little push and they quickly stepped aside.

    As Gabe Newell stated in one of the E3 demonstrations, not all allies in game are human. You can command a race of Starship Trooper-like aliens with pheromones. I won\'t go into this too much to keep from ruining it for you, but I\'ll just say it\'s really really cool. The physics, as to be expected, are the best so far. The thing that surprised me was how much it was a part of the game, everything is rendered with physics, from cars to wooden bridges to pieces of scrapwood. You can pick up and throw smaller items, but the real fun comes with the famous Gravity Gun, commonly known as the manipulator. It allows one to pick up and hold up large objects as a shield, then launch them at a very high velocity...a deadly weapon.

    Thus just about anything not tied down is a potential weapon, and Half-Life 2 is replete with objects just waiting to be smacked into your enemies faces. One last concept that I couldn\'t tell if it was a bad thing or not, is the ammo/enemy health equivalency. In Half-Life, enemies were tough to kill, and you could carry large amounts of ammunition. In Half-Life 2, the focus seems to be more on lots of low-hp enemies, and limited ammo capacity. This might annoy the die-hard Half-Life fans, but it was still an interesting idea; even on hard it was fairly easy to dispose of most enemies (barring the ones requiring heavy firepower).

    Graphics

    The eye candy is beautiful. Every aspect of the graphics is delicately and painstakingly crafted, many of them are more a work of art than a game. Some scenes inspired me as much as the real world. The shaders and effects were on level with the industry. The models are very very well done-not photo realistic-but definitely the best so far. The texturing is sometimes low-resolution, but this may be to help the framerate. Incidentally, the framerate is quite high; even on my 9600 pro it ran at 40-50 FPS. There\'s a set of custom drivers out there made specifically for the Source engine, I suggest you try it if you\'re getting low framerates.

    The NPCs\' faces and body language are simply amazing. The characters, from the close friends and co-protagonists, to the citizens and rebels you, meet, fight alongside, and yet never see again, all act like real people. You can look into their eyes and see their emotion-from cold fear to exhilaration in a firefight- and the rest of their body follows suit. Unfortunately, one part of the graphics is severely lacking. The shadowing effects aren\'t very good, many shadow bugs can be seen throughout the game. Given the beauty of the rest of the game, this small bug can be easily looked over, but it can be a severe problem in multiplayer, where the shadows sometimes will betray your location (this can be dire in Counter-Strike: Source).

    Sound & Music

    The ambient sound is one thing I love, everything from the Combine radio, to the airboat hitting the water is well done. The Source engine, like its predecessor, has an excellent doppler simulation, which means echo and reverb is applied to every corner of the game. The rest of the game\'s sounds are on par, some of the guns sound kind of wimpy, but that\'s to be expected in a Half-Life game. The voice-acting is superb, which goes very nicely with the incredible character animation. The music disappointed me slightly. It borrowed a lot of tracks from the original game, and the new ones where very short. They weren\'t bad, but I expected more from such a epic game. The music style is mostly electronica/rave/techno, with a little industrial thrown in.

    Flaws

    Now for the criticisms. There are a few things in Half-Life 2, not mentioning the shadowing, that stole from the rest of the game\'s perfection. The artificial intelligence (AI) wasn\'t thoroughly impressive. The higher-ranking Combine will tend to hide behind objects, but the lesser Combine and aliens will mostly charge you blindly, even on higher difficulty levels. Steam, the distribution system for all Valve\'s games, has received praise as a great answer to the problems of patching and publisher greed, but also with anger at the unreliability and numerous difficulties some users have had. Even though Half-Life 2 is a single-player game, you MUST have an internet connection to register it on Steam. This is probably to prevent piracy, but poses a problem to those with no internet connection. So be warned, no internet, no Half-Life 2.

    As stated above, Steam is not the most stable piece of software around, and many users have had to fight to get the game to run, especially when using the store-bought copy. The nice thing about using Steam is its built in server and friend system for multi-player games and mods. You can also purchase any Valve game and download it online, no going out to buy it from the store. I opted for this and got Half-Life 2 completely online. It worked fine for the most part; just don\'t quit Steam or shut off the computer when it\'s downloading or you might be stuck with corrupt files and have to re-download a lot of stuff.

    Appropriateness

    In terms of objectional content, there is a little to be aware of. This is of course a first person shooter, so if you are against fighting and killing, obviously you\'re in the wrong department. There is gore, particularly related to the alien race known as headcrabs (small face-hugger like creatures which latch on one\'s head and control the host, turning them into zombies). You can cut zombies in half, burn them (eliciting gut-wrenching screams). There is a fair amount of ?scenery gore?, such as burnt, mangled, and hanging corpses. The characters do swear, just about every major word is used except the f-bomb (which is amusingly hinted at in one part of the dialogue). Apart from that the game is quite clean, no sexual innuendos (except for Dr. Breen ranting about reproduction and human instinct in an early part of the game). Beware of the M rating, I certainly wouldn\'t give this game to preteens.

    Conclusion

    All in all, Half-Life 2 has proved to be a game of great worth, capable of beating all its competitors with a great story, excellent gameplay, amazing graphics, and most of all, a stable engine for which many free mods will be created in the near future.

  • System Requirements Windows 98/Me/2000/XP 1.2GHz (2.4GHz Recommended) 256MB RAM (512MB recommended) 4.5GB HDD DX7 level graphics (DX9 recommended) Internet connection required Half-Life 2:Episode 1 is the first in a trilogy of the aftermath of Half-Life 2. At the end of Half-Life 2, City 17 is quite unstable as the reactor is about to blow up. Your mission in this Episode is to evacuate City 17 as soon as possible. Of course there will be many enemies and obstacles to get in your way. You resume the role of Gordon Freeman and Alyx for the majority of the time will accompany you. Although she’s not invincible she will do most of the shooting if you let her. You will get to solve many obstacles on your own though. Many other characters from the previous game(s) will be there as well (Dog, Barney, Dr Breen, G-Man).

    What’s included with Episode 1?

    Half-Life 2: Episode 1 is a stand alone title; you don’t need Half-Life 2 to play it. So for $20 or less you get about seven hours of single player game time, Half-Life Deathmatch: Source and Half-Life 2 Deathmatch online game modes. When you beat Episode 1, you get to see a teaser trailer for Episode 2, which I must say looks great; I really look forward to getting that!

    Any new weapons or enemies?

    There really isn’t anything new when it comes to weapons or enemies in this game. You have the Combine shooting and sniping you as well as zombies, head crabs, Ant Lions, and some boss variants attacking you as well. You don’t get your trusty crow bar until halfway through the game, but you do start off with the gravity gun. You’ll collect guns, grenades, and rockets along the way as well.

    Graphics

    The graphics are still some of the best on the market. The character models look extremely life-like. The maps are gorgeous but a little bland given the devastation in the area; it’s not exactly a tropical paradise like Far-Cry. The enemy models are gory and scary looking. The object manipulation and gravity is very realistic, and the physics engine is superb. All in all the graphics will not disappoint if your system can handle it.

    Sound

    The voice acting is great in this game, and every character has a unique voice. Each weapon has it’s own sound effect. When manipulating objects the noises are very realistic. When entering certain areas techno music kicks in, often catching me off guard. It usually indicates something big is about to happen. I didn’t notice any light and fluffy background music.

    Appropriateness

    This game has lots of blood and gore though most of it is in self-defense. -4 for violence -2.5 for blood spray -2.5 for gruesome details There is language and blasphemy too. PG13 language –4 Using God’s name in vein –5 On a positive note there is no sexual content other than Dr. Breen broadcasting that people should procreate to save the human race. Nothing is seen or heard anywhere. Alyx is dressed modestly, which is good. I didn’t see any occult references just aliens and combines. There is no gross humor, just a bad joke from Alyx calling combines with head crabs on them Zombines.

    Final Thoughts

    This game is really fun if you don’t mind the violence and language. The boss battles are pretty challenging. The game play is pretty short but to compensate that the price is $20 or less and they throw in a couple of online game modes. It’s a pretty good deal if you want to get Half-Life 2 action at half the price.

    Final Ratings

    Game Play 17/20 Graphics 10/10 Sound 9/10 Controls 5/5 Stability 5/5 Appropriateness 32/50

    Final Score 78%

  • System Requirements:
    Windows 98/Me/2000/XP
    1.7GHz (3GHz Recommended)
    512MB RAM (1GB recommended)
    DX8 level graphics (DX9 recommended)
    Internet connection required

    Half-Life 2:Episode 2 is the second in a trilogy telling the story of the aftermath of Half-Life 2. There’s a portal being opened up by the enemy and Alyx (from the previous games) has the data needed to close it. The enemy is aware of this and will try its utmost to eliminate you and Alyx. You resume the role of Gordon Freeman with Alyx close by for the majority of the time. Although she’s not invincible, she’s very handy to have around. You still get to solve many obstacles on your own though. Many other characters from the previous games will be there as well (Dog, Dr. Kleiner, Dr. Magnusson, G-Man).

    Game Play

    The majority of the game is a first person shooter and your objective is to bring this data safely to a lab to stop the portal and save the planet. Although the lab is not very far, there will be many traps and roadblocks to make it difficult for you. Fortunately there are refugee bases and weapon caches to aide you. You won't be walking around and blasting guns ALL the time, there are some car driving scenes to offer some game play variety. As you progress in the game your car will get upgraded a couple times. You'll be fighting against aliens, big bugs, and combine soldiers. There are some tough bosses to defeat as well. The story is good and will engulf you, and the ending will trigger emotions. The game play itself is pretty linear, but action packed. There's little room and not much time for exploring. You'll be using your trusty gravity gun to help you get past obstacles and to manipulate the environment around you.

    What’s included with Episode 2?


    Half-Life 2: Episode 2 is a stand-alone title; you don’t need Half-Life 2 to play it. It's highly recommended that you play Half-life 2 and Episode 1 to understand the continuing storyline. So for $30 or less you get about seven hours of single player action. The best way to get Episode 2 is with the Orange Box, as you get Team Fortress 2 along with “giftable” copies of Half-Life 2 and Episode 1 if you already own them.

    Are there new weapons or enemies?

    There are some new enemies, vehicles, and weapons in this game. Hunters are a formidable foe and in groups they are extremely tough. In the ending levels you’ll be given a great new way to destroy striders but you’ll also have many of them to destroy, so it won’t be an easy task. You get to drive and race in a “new” vehicle as well; it is mission critical, so don’t let it get destroyed.

    Achievements

    As you play this game you can unlock various achievements. I’m not sure of the rewards other than adding enhanced game play and bragging rights. Some of the achievements include running over X number of enemies with the car, killing a combine with his own grenade, propelling yourself as a rocket, beating dog in a race and more. Some of the achievements will be met through the storyline but many of them you’ll really have to work for.

    Graphics


    The graphics are still some of the best on the market. The character models look extremely life-like. The maps are gorgeous and the scenery is very pretty in the wooded levels. There are some caves and caverns to explore too. The enemy models are gory and scary looking. The object manipulation and gravity effect is very realistic, and the physics engine is superb. All in all, the graphics will not disappoint if your system can handle it.

    Sound

    The voice acting is great in this game, and every character has a unique voice. Each weapon has its own sound effect. When manipulating objects the noises are very realistic. When entering certain areas techno music kicks in, often catching me off guard. It usually indicates something big is about to happen. I didn’t notice any light and fluffy background music.

    Appropriateness

    This game has lots of blood and gore though most of it is in self-defense.
    -4 for violence
    -2.5 for blood spray
    -2.5 for gruesome details

    There is language and blasphemy too.
    PG13 language –4
    Using God’s name in vain –5

    On a positive note there is no sexual content other than Alyx’s dad wanting grandkids from you and Alyx. Alyx is dressed modestly, which is good. I didn’t see any occult references, just aliens and combines.

    Stability

    I ran into a very annoying glitch that affects ATI users. There must be a bad texture that causes the game to crash to desktop when seen by the player. I experienced this with multiple drivers and the only way I was able to get past it was to walk backwards looking another direction. I hope this gets patched soon as it’s very frustrating.

    Final Thoughts

    This game is really fun if you don’t mind the violence and language. The final battles are pretty challenging. The game play is pretty short but it’s a good deal if you get the Orange Box bundle. ATI users be warned and save early and often after you escape the guardian.

    Final Ratings
    Game Play 17/20
    Graphics 10/10
    Sound 9/10
    Controls 5/5
    Stability 3/5

    Appropriateness 32/50
    Final Score 76%
     

     

  •  

    boxart
    Game Info:

    HYPERGUN
    Developed By: NVYVE® Studios
    Published By: NVYVE® Studios
    Released: August 23, 2018 (Steam), Autumn 2018 (Consoles)
    Available On: PS4, Windows, Xbox One
    Genre: First-Person Shooter, Rouge-lite
    ESRB Rating: Not Rated (yet)
    Number of Players: 1
    Price: $14.99

    Thank you NVYVE® Studios for sending us this game to review.

    What would you do if your job gave the business you worked for the task of saving the world? Personally, I would silently resign as that is too much pressure on my shoulders. ‘HYPERGUN’ plays around that situation where you play as an intern named Dewey Owens working for Devtech Labs. Your assignment is to go into the simulation and test out various components to create the titular HYPERGUN: a weapon that will theoretically save humanity from the upcoming alien invasion.

    ‘HYPERGUN’ is a mixture of an FPS and a rogue-lite, and starts out with the character exiting an elevator, where you are free to explore the office. The office acts as a hub where you can view the various enemies, see what attachments you have collected over the simulations, buy more attachments with hyper coins (which I will go into later), and see the statistics. The statistics detail how many runs were attempted or completed, various combat statistics with each of the classes, and the top 5 HYPERGUNS in rating of DPS. The office also contains various logs, and sticky notes that delve into the office life, the monumental task they were assigned as well as what the employees think about Dewey. I feel it is a very nice and stylized menu that gives off a nice amount of pizzazz, and breathes life into the world.

    The main room is the Simulation Chamber, where you choose one of the four classes with various passive and active abilities to go into the simulation and tackle six levels, with randomly generated arenas to fight in that will eventually lead to the boss of the level. You start off with Dewey Owens, who wields a sub-machine gun and abilities revolve around movement and suppressing fire. The other characters have to be unlocked, which include Dirk Smith the security guard, Gilligan Gold the company’s lawyer, and Sue Sharp the human resources manager. Each class have their own unique HYPERGUN, as well as different amounts of health, speed, and shield capacity. Each of their abilities are also based upon their occupation, which did get a good laugh out of me, such as Dewey throwing hot coffee at the enemies and generally being a nervous wreck, or Dirk being able to use surveillance cameras to see enemies through walls.

    HYPERGUN
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Nice aesthetics; solid level design; good humor.
    Weak Points: Large difficulty spike against the fourth boss; game is blatantly balanced around Dewey; very grindy compared to other rouge-lites. 
    Moral Warnings: Mild language like ‘d*mn’ and ‘hell’ contained in the logbooks; fantasy violence against alien lifeforms.

    As you start the simulation, each room (with the exception of the one you start in which is always a small hallway), is randomly generated. The only other rooms that will always appear in a level are the map room, the store, and the boss room. There are other rooms like the treasure room which sometimes requires a key and challenge rooms that are optional, but always yield four rewards of some kind if completed. Loot, if dropped, is also randomly generated. The loot can vary from health and shield pickups, bits, which act as the in-game currency for the levels, hyper coins, which are the currency for unlocking classes and attachments, secondary weapons, and the attachments for your weapon that can give off various effects such as increased fire rate, bullet velocity, speed, jump height, and even health. Some attachments can also decrease these values too so be informed of which weapon you pick up. Almost all of the attachments alter the appearance of the gun so in the end, you end up with this Frankenstein Monster of a weapon. Every arena that is cleared also has a warp point that you can access from the map menu. It’s a very convenient mechanic that future rouge-lites should take note of.

    Hyper coins are another type of currency used in the office hub that allows you to unlock classes, alternate abilities/perks of the classes, as well as more attachments to collect through the simulation. It is a fairly unique (at least compared to the rouge-lites that I have played) concept, as many rouge-lites have additional drops or items obtained from completing certain tasks such as beating the game or finding a secret room. This concept does allow anyone of any skill level to eventually unlock everything, but it also makes the game feel grindy as the amount of hyper coins per play-through can vary greatly. To me, it feels like a lame way to artificially lengthen the game, especially when each class is worth 50 coins, eight unlockable abilities that cost 20 coins each, and over 50 unlockable attachments that can range from 5 to 20 coins.

    I really dig the level design of the arenas as they all give you various amounts of freedom to move around in them, as well as the futuristic aesthetic that reminds me of games such as Far Cry: Blood Dragon. The levels start off rather simple, but with each level completed adds more obstacles such as fire turrets, explosive barrels, and fire pits. You can even use these hazards to your advantage against the enemies. Even as the enemies swarm you, there is always a way to maneuver around them. Most levels also have vantage points where you can jump to and from that also lets you redirect enemy moment to your liking. Not once have I died in the game due to the design of the arenas. Each completed play-through can last from an hour to two hours.

    HYPERGUN
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 64%
    Gameplay - 11/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 6/10
    Stability - 3/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 89%
    Violence - 6.5/10
    Language - 8/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    As the setting is futuristic, the music is mostly based on electronic dance music. It fits the scenery very well, but most of the music in the game didn’t really stick out to me, except for the boss and final boss music. I found those to both be amazing and they’ve gotten stuck in my head quite often. Sound effects are rather goofy, and soft. Even though enemy attacks are indicated by distinct sounds, they don’t sound very good and lack a dynamic feel. The graphics are rather nice, and the alien design is also freaky, but good. Seems to be heavily based on the Doom series as one of the later enemies greatly resembles the Revenant for Doom II.

    'HYPERGUN' is rather stable and runs smoothly for the most part, and the controls are responsive, but I did encounter some issues when playing as well. There is a rather annoying glitch that if you collect a weapon and warp at the same time, your gun will turn invisible for the rest of the simulation. There is also another annoying glitch that makes you unable to buy attachments from the hub store unless you restart the game. Sometimes enemies can get stuck on the terrain, or even 'invisible terrain.' During the third boss that takes place in a massive arena, certain secondary weapons can cause the game to lag massively, to the point where it runs in the single digits. Ragdoll physics for some aliens when killed also flail around in a humorous manner; Secretly, I hope they keep this one in.

    A rather large difficulty spike in the fourth boss also happens due to the boss' poor design. It is a mob based boss where enemies continuously spawn while you have to constantly move around and destroy these four pillars before you can attack the core. Each pillar that is destroyed also temporarily gives a large stat boost to every enemy in the arena that lets them move much faster, as well as increased damage. On top of that, there are also various fields that randomly appear that can do various things such as drain your ammo, slow your movement, or do damage-over-time to you. I’ve always hated mob-based bosses as they are an example of lazy game design and do not test a player's skill. Whenever I die in the game, it is almost always to the fourth boss and basically whenever I beat that boss, I would generally beat the game as well. I dread fighting the boss every time I get up to it as if you don’t happen to have the right amount of drops, you will most likely lose. The developers did push out an update to make the boss slightly easier (such as the pillars now reach the floor so you’re not forced to look up as you have to dodge enemies and fields on the ground) but it is still a fundamentally flawed boss.

    HYPERGUN is also very much balanced around the play style of Dewey, which is strange because stat wise, he’s suppose to be the worst character. It never appeared to me how poorly balanced the game was until I got to the third boss with every character and just how ill-prepared Dirk and Gilligan are with dealing with said boss without the right secondary weapons. In later updates, I sincerely hope the game becomes more balanced around the other characters.

    Morally, there isn’t too much to pick at with 'HYPERGUN'. There is some language like “dam” and “hell” said within the logs, but the logs are purely optional to read. In many cases, the player won’t even see it. There is violence, but it all takes place in a simulation and it’s not graphic. Enemies glow red when hit and simply dematerialize when killed.

    I see the ambition contained within 'HYPERGUN'. There are quite a few things that I very much like about the game, but there are also many annoyances that prevent me from truly enjoying 'HYPERGUN'; some can be patched, but a lot are issues and complaints that simply can’t be patched out without an extensive overhaul to the mechanics. The aesthetics and humor are great, but the game being too RNG based to have a successful completion, none of the other characters feeling as fun to play as Dewey, and the most of the weapons lacking that ‘oomph’ make me have mixed feelings overall. It is safe for most people to play, but I’m not even sure if most people will want to play it as there are better FPS games, better rouge-lites, and possibly even better games of the combination of genres to play (the developers also seem to be rather unresponsive to certain people as I've tried to contact them multiple times to no avail). If you do decide to pick up this game as a lover of rouge-lites, you’ll get a few dozen hours of enjoyment for the $15 spent.

    -Cinque Pierre

  •  

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Insurgency: Sandstorm
    Developed by: New World Interactive
    Published by: Focus Home Interactive
    Release date: December 12, 2018
    Available on: Windows (console versions coming in 2019)
    Genre: First-Person Shooter
    Number of players: Up to 32 online
    ESRB Rating: Not rated
    Price: $29.99
    (Humble Store Link)

    Thank you Focus Home Interactive for sending us this game to review!

    Insurgency: Sandstorm is the sequel to the popular 2014 FPS, Insurgency, which sold over five million copies. The original game is built on the Source engine while the sequel is powered by Unreal 4. Both games look great and if you already own the first one, you can get a 10% off loyalty discount on the sequel.

    Although I own the first game, I haven’t played it so I can’t really compare the two. According to the Steam store page, everything is bigger and better in the sequel. Like the first entry, Insurgency: Sandstorm is a team-based tactical FPS that has a lot of close quarter combat scenarios. Your goal in most missions is to capture and secure enemy bases, destroy weapon caches, and annihilate them if possible.

    The tutorial will teach you the basics of movement and weapon usage against some bots, but most of your interactions will be with humans.  In COOP you’ll team up with online players to take down a group of AI enemies. Versus mode has you fight in a 16 v. 16 match against humans.  The ranked competitive matches are 5 v. 5 humans fighting for the top spot through ten matches. 

    Insurgency: Sandstorm
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Fun and fast-paced gameplay; active online community
    Weak Points: Some of the maps are unbalanced, making it nigh impossible to get past well-placed snipers; some players have experienced crashes and performance issues (I haven’t); graphical glitches
    Moral Warnings: Lots of in-game swearing and blaspheming; online players provide even more foul language and racist remarks; gruesome violence

    Before each mission, you get to select your role and there’s a limited number of slots for each one. The commander can call in fire support with the help of an observer. The observer is radio support and has to be close to the commander to be effective. As the name suggests, the rifleman is good with assault and battle rifles. I usually played as a breacher who specializes in shotguns, SMGs, and SBRs. The gunner prefers to use large deployable machine guns. The demolitions soldier is an expert at making explosions with rocket and grenade launchers. An advisor uses exotic weapons and trains the local forces. The marksman uses sniper rifles and long-range scopes.

    The game takes place in the Middle East and you can play as security or insurgent forces. The desert-themed maps are pretty well detailed and have lots of places to set up a sniper’s nest. I like how you can go through buildings to avoid open roads and areas. Not all of the maps are balanced as a well-placed sniper can take out a whole incoming troop before they are able to take cover.

    When completing a mission your character will earn experience and can level up. Gaining levels will unlock various cosmetic upgrades like tattoos, gloves, pants, shirts, headgear and so forth. Female soldiers are available for the security team, but the insurgents only have their males do the fighting.

    Insurgency: Sandstorm
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 82%
    Gameplay - 17/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 66%
    Violence - 3/10
    Language - 0/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    While I was customizing my character, some of the changes I made to their appearance weren’t available in the character screen, but did show up in battle. There are also several reports of other graphical glitches including invisible hands and other appendages in game. Thankfully, this title ran fine on my 2080Ti, but other gamers have experienced performance issues. I did not see any slowdowns or crashes.

    Like many first-person shooters, violence is a given. You’ll see puddles of blood and dismembered bodies lying around. If your gun is out of ammo, you’ll have to resort to defending yourself with a knife. The language is harsh during the tutorial with the Lord’s name being used in vain and sh*t and f*ck being said a lot. It gets even worse when playing online as I regularly heard racist and vulgar words. This is not a game for children to be playing!

    If you enjoyed the first Insurgency game or Counter-Strike, you may enjoy this title. Be warned that it’s very violent and has a lot of blaspheming and foul language. If you plan on playing this game near children, please use headphones! A free update was recently released that added more weapons and a new game mode, arcade. There are also over 500,000 players so the developers and community are pretty active.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Left 4 Dead 2 (PC)
    Developer/Publisher: Valve/Valve
    Release Date: November 17, 2009
    Rating: M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Language
    Available On: Xbox 360, PC/Mac (version reviewed)
    Genre: FPS
    Number of Players: 1 Campaign (offline) ; 4 Cooperative, 8 Competitive (online)
    MSRP: $20 PC/Mac version (Steam); $30 Xbox 360 version

    Minimum System Requirements:

    (PC)

    Supported OS: Windows® 7 / Vista / Vista64 / XP
    Processor: Pentium 4 3.0GHz
    Memory: 1 GB for XP / 2GB for Vista
    Graphics: DirectX 9 compatible video card with 128 MB, Shader model 2.0. ATI X800, NVidia 6600 or better
    Hard Drive: At least 7.5 GB of free space
    Sound Card: DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card

    (Mac)

    OS: MacOS X 10.6.4 or higher (Snow Leopard Graphics Update required)
    Processor: Dual core Intel processor, 2GHz or better
    Video Card: ATI Radeon 2400 or higher / NVIDIA 8600M or higher
    Not supported: OS X 10.5.x, ATI X1600 or X1900 graphics, NVIDIA GeForce 7 graphics or Intel graphics.

     

    When Valve announced that Left 4 Dead 2 was arriving just a year after the first game launched, people met the news with boycotts and frustration. Fears of the sequel being nothing more than a full-priced expansion pack were expressed and even yours truly was unsure if the game would change enough. Rest assured though, Valve has brought a lot to the table so that the experience offered here is more than just a lazy cash-in.

    Before jumping into the review, it’s necessary to explain what kind of content can be expected in the title, mainly because Left 4 Dead 2 ramps up the violence found in the first game exponentially. A new damage model sees Infected being dismembered, disemboweled, and decapitated in various and realistic ways: blood splatters across walls, on the player’s screen, and drenches melee weapons. Gunshots wound Infected differently depending on both their caliber and location. Shotguns can blast holes clean through an enemy’s torso, magnum handguns maim limbs, and assault rifles expose muscle and bone. Bladed melee weapons can cause large gashes and reveal guts and intestine depending on where they land, and the chainsaw in particular slices up enemies into large chunks. By no means my first violent videogame, the first few hours playing had me cringing at how gnarly some of the gore could be. There is an option in the settings to tone down the gore so only heads could be removed, but blood is still present as are corpses.

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Better challenge; enjoyable melee weapons; varied modes, maps, and weapons; improved animation and effects; free DLC and community campaigns
    Weak Points: Lackluster teammate AI; not radically different from the first game; Versus could use more balancing
    Moral Warnings: Excessive blood and dismemberment; swearing and blaspheming throughout (“s--t“, “GD--n”, etc.)

     

    Swearing is also prevalent as well. Phrases that are found in most PG-13 movies are in the game, including “s—t”, several crude words, and blaspheming. While not as over the top compared to other M-rated games, the swearing is noticeable mainly when the group is under severe attack. I should mention that a special Infected, the Witch, wears barely anything, and the Spitter has visible underwear, but neither carries sexual overtones.

    Think you can stomach all that? Then welcome to Left 4 Dead 2, sequel to Valve’s co-op first-person shooter (FPS) that sees four brand new survivors making their way through hordes of Infected in a new locale: the Southern United States. No longer confined to just urban environments, the new group will make their way through bayous, swamps, a Louisiana-style French Quarter, and more. The four survivors this time around consist of Rochelle, Coach, Nick, and my personal favorite, Ellis, all of whom complement each other very well personality-wise. You’ll grow to have your own favorite as you play, because these characters are so likeable.

    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

     

    Game Score: 92%

    Gameplay 18/20

    Graphics 9/10

    Sound 10/10

    Stability 4/5

    Controls/Interface 5/5

    Appropriateness Score: 63%

    Violence 2/10

    Language 1/10

    Sexual Content 8.5/10 

    Cultural/Moral/Ethical 10/10

     

    Occult/Supernatural 10/10

    If you’re new to the series, the basic goal of Left 4 Dead 2 is for you and your three fellow players (or somewhat competent AI bots if playing alone) to battle your way through masses of Infected to reach a safe house. Safe houses allow you to catch your breath and restock on supplies like ammo and health packs before you set out for the next leg of your campaign. A campaign is made up of five levels and by making it to a safe house, you’ll move onto the next level. Certain levels require that you and your team hold out at an area and fend off enemies for a certain time. These “finales” are big events that culminate in large swarms of Infected attacking while you complete predefined objectives. One mission has you actively collecting gas cans to fill a getaway car; another has you hold out while transport arrives. The finales this time around are much more engaging and offer a fair amount of challenge compared to the first game. Those on the PC can play the campaign with bots, online friends, or with complete strangers; the entire matchmaking process has, in my experience, been smooth and other players were found rather quickly.

    So what’s an Infected? It’s a “zombie” more akin to those found in 28 Days Later than in work like Romero\'s Dawn of the Dead. You won’t find any zombies shuffling towards you here though. When the Infected notice you, they’ll sprint in your direction, even climbing and hurdling over obstacles or leaning into turns to reach you faster. While they are relatively weak, they make up for it with numbers. And by numbers, I’m talking over a thousand to two-thousand dead by the time a campaign’s finished. But it’s not just the normal Infected you have to worry about; there are also special Infected. The standard Boomer, Smoker, and Hunter all return, but with them come a few new faces. The Charger, who can tackle one player and knock back the rest as he rushes by; the Spitter, which utilizes a powerful room-clearing acid attack; and the Jockey, a pint-sized mutant who latches onto a survivor and pulls them away from the team into a group of Infected. Also returning from the first game are the Witch (who you shouldn\'t mess with), and the Tank (who you\'ll love to hate).

    To help speed these Infected and the meaner special varieties into the afterlife, your arsenal now includes a plethora of new toys, some of which include melee options. Expect to see a katana, fire axe, crowbar (thanks, Valve), frying pan, and even a cricket bat lying around. The melee choices replace the standard pistol, but the trade-off in hearing Infected go splat and mowing your way through a crowd in a few swipes make it worth it. Military weapons like the AK-47 and SCAR show up in the campaigns, as does new Incendiary and Explosive ammo. Those disappointed in Left 4 Dead’s paltry weapon selection will find a lot of options here.

    Much like the first game, Valve has an AI “Director” in place who will either ramp up or tone down the amount of pressure your team is under depending on how you well you play. If you’re getting a lot of friendly-fire and someone’s dying, the game will ease up on the Infected and give you enough space and trickle in enemies. If you’re doing well, expect more enemies, special Infected attacks, and fewer supplies in the environment. The Director will also mix up where enemies and supplies spawn every time you play, which makes this one of the series strengths. You can blast through all the campaigns in about a day or two, but playing through a second time will always give you a different experience. This, coupled with the game\'s various modes and difficulties, offers a lot of bang for your buck with replayability.

     

    So besides Campaign, what other modes does the game come with? There’s Versus, which is basically a Campaign with four players trying to reach the end while four enemy players take turns as the special Infected whose main goal is to incapacitate and kill the other team. After each level, the teams are switched with the survivors now playing as Infected and vice versa. The team with the highest score (determined by how far the teams actually go distance-wise) wins.

    There’s Realism, a Campaign mode that offers a more realistic experience to those wanting a harder challenge. Infected are harder to take down, require more shots, and Witches can one-shot a player. No player outlines are visible, so if you get dragged away by a Smoker into an alley, it is likely your team won’t hear or see you until it’s too late. Versus Realism is also available to those looking to really test their mettle.

    The two other modes include Survival, which is a time-based last stand where the main goal is to outlast the clock on a certain section of a level. Scavenge is the other mode, which plays a lot like Versus but requires one team to grab gas cans to fill up a generator. The team with the most cans after three rounds wins. I personally enjoy this mode the most since it’s a quick competitive game that takes about ten minutes compared to the forty-five minutes with Versus. Valve has recently been offering quick updates for Left 4 Dead 2 called Mutations. Every week the Mutation mode will have a certain restriction that radically changes the game, whether it’s melee-only in the Campaign, or all of the special Infected in Versus are Tanks.

    The game visuals have gotten a fine upgrade, in more ways than one. Several campaigns take place all throughout the day, character models and special Infected are more detailed, and enemies are more diverse. The most impressive change would be the gore and animations. Infected have multiple layers for their damage model, this means different attacks will reveal muscle, bone, and more gore. Valve added a large number of different wounds, so you may see the spine of an enemy from a shotgun blast, one Infected looking down to see intestine fall out of his own body from a rifle shot, and yet another hitting you with one arm because the other was removed in a gunfight. Like previously stated, the effects can be over the top, but they are an excellent move towards realism. Weather effects have also been added, which suffice it to say makes the Hard Rain campaign absolutely stunning.

    When making sense of this fictional world, Valve has left a few bread crumbs along the way that help tie up the story.  Safe rooms will usually have messages and notes scrawled across the walls, almost as if it’s a public journal. The messages both relay personal information to friends and family about where their loved ones are heading to next; others share a person’s view on the situation (some fairly humorous).

    Contrasted with the first game, the characters and campaign have a much stronger continuity this time around. The characters are total strangers who bond over time or generalize the special Infected in the first moments of the game before settling on a name (e.g. “tongue guy” and then “Smoker”). It’s nice to see Valve allowing the group to evolve as one plays, as well as having a logical progression throughout the campaign. Where Left 4 Dead put the survivors in a random situation and had them escape, Left 4 Dead 2 takes a note from Half-Life 2 and connects the story piece by piece. The hotel roof you start on leads to a shopping mall, mall to the highway, etc.; it’s mostly a seamless experience that involves the Southern culture and locales to various degrees.

    Left 4 Dead 2 is what the first Left 4 Dead should’ve been: a tight and well executed package that offers a challenging spin on the zombie genre. Fans of the first L4D should make the switch to the sequel if they haven’t already; the additions to the core game are not that radical, but they are welcomed and feel fresh enough to warrant a purchase. And now with the recent content updates (including support for Mac), you’re getting extra value for free. Xbox 360 players still have to pay for The Passing/Sacrifice, however.

    Again, this game easily earns its M-rating, and I cannot recommend it to younger teens or those who object to this kind of content. It is a blood bath, especially when using melee weapons, and the language can be a bit excessive at times. For those looking for a tame co-operative game, this is definitely not it. But for folks who are used to such content in their games, Left 4 Dead 2 is a solid and rather original FPS choice. I\'ve enjoyed it immensely and I’m sure you would too regardless of which version you pick up.

    -- Jonathan “Keero” Harling

     

     

  •  

    boxart
    Game Info:

    MOTHERGUNSHIP
    Developed By: Grip Digital, Terrible Posture Games
    Published By: Grip Digital
    Release Date: July 17, 2018
    Available On: Windows, PS4, Xbox One
    Genre: Action; First-Person Shooter; Rogue-like
    Number of Players: 1
    ESRB Rating: Teen for Fantasy Violence
    MSRP: $24.99
    (Humble Store Link)

    Thank you Grip Digital for sending us this game to review!

    Four years ago, Terrible Posture Games made a little First-Person Shooter (FPS) called Tower of Guns that gathered a small but loyal following. The premise of that game was to enjoy a short, quick session of player vs. environment (PvE), where you shoot down lots and lots of enemy robots, while doing your best to stay alive. Level and enemy layouts were random, which lends itself well to lots of replayability. That team is now back with the spiritual follow-up, MOTHERGUNSHIP.

    Rather than just lots and lots of enemies to blow up (though there is that), there is now a crafting and leveling element, which makes you gradually gain power as you not only gain experience, but also new and better weapons. As you complete missions, you can take with you whatever you find, and add it to the ship’s inventory. You can then choose a limited number of items in that list to take with you when you start another mission. There are several at a time to choose from; there is always a story mission, as well as a few other side missions which can help you gain experience or weapons if you need them.

    MOTHERGUNSHIP
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Fun shooting action; lots of bullets to dodge; levels are unpredictable; humorous dialog; graphics are great
    Weak Points: No difficulty level selection; failure loop is easy to get stuck in; levels are too random at times
    Moral Warnings:Lots of shooting and blowing up robots (and you die a lot); AI robots are the butt of lots of insults

    I’ve generally enjoyed my time with MOTHERGUNSHIP, and the basics of combat and shooting is really well done, and feels great. I also find it funny that you can collect the ability to jump many, many times over – a simple double jump is not enough. One time, I collected seventeen jumps! That was nearly unlimited in practical use, and was fun when trying to avoid bad guys, or lava and such. Unfortunately, I have not gotten so lucky again since that run.

    There are two major problems with this game. First, is the random number generator (RNG). The levels and drops are truly random – and sometimes, that leads to lots of jump upgrades, but no healths. Or lots of shops in the level, but no coins to buy new weapons. Or lots of coins, but no shops to buy them. Or lots of enemies – and no chance of survival with the crappy weapons you might have started the level with.

    If the RNG is particularly tough on you, you may find yourself on a losing streak, which then limits or eliminates all weapons from your inventory, which can lead to a losing spiral and you get weaker and weaker without good weapons. They try to alleviate this by giving you weapon testing levels, but I still found myself losing to even the easiest level one weapon testing levels. While you do gain experience (which allows you to make permanent upgrades when you level), it is not difficult to get stuck in what amounts to a weapon drain loop as you continuously lose. No amount of excellence in shooting or neat ideas can make up for a negative feedback loop.

    MOTHERGUNSHIP
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 74%
    Gameplay - 12/20
    Graphics - 9/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 4/5

    Morality Score - 93%
    Violence - 7.5/10
    Language - 9/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Thankfully, the game itself is fun. No two levels are exactly alike, though the environments do start to feel repetitive after a while, despite technically always being unique. Beating a level is quite a chore, and a relief when it happens – but it happened far to rarely for me. I suppose you could argue I need to ‘git gud’ - and to an extent, that is true. But if beating the campaign is not accessible for most, then perhaps it should be reexamined, especially when this happens in the first few hours of gameplay. A selectable difficulty level could be another approach to solving this problem, as those who seek the difficulty will be pleased. Either way, the second or third mission should never be a steep difficulty wall, no matter what game this is.

    And that’s really my problem with MOTHERGUNSHIP. I want to like it, and it’s not that I don’t - but at the end of the day I don’t want to play a game where I don’t feel like I am making any progress. I am okay with challenging games, if the gameplay itself is really compelling, or playing it makes me a better player, and I can somehow learn from my mistakes. But here, you will never play the same level twice, and what killed you last time may be totally different from what does it next time. With no levels I can learn to conquer, or with too few tools to earn to take on the level again renewed, it’s just no longer fun, nor is there a compelling reason to keep going.

    I really want to like MOTHERGUNSHIP. It has a fun premise, rock-solid gameplay and shooting mechanics, and great ideas. It also really helps a lot that the developers avoided putting in curse words, which made me very happy. (The AI is brunt to a lot of jokes, but computers don’t have feelings, right?) Only robots (or you) die. So I want to give this game a chance. Thankfully, it seems that the developers are looking into player feedback, and do intend on patching the game to improve the sometimes terrible RNG, and hopefully other issues. They have already promised co-op to come, and more content as well. Once they make it so a level can usually be completed by most competent players, then I imagine I will also enjoy it very much. Until then, I’m going to pass.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Offensive Combat: Redux!
    Developed by: Three Gates AB
    Published by: Three Gates AB
    Release date: August 18, 2017
    Available on: Windows
    Genre: FPS
    Number of players: Up to sixteen online
    ESRB Rating: Teen for violence and crude humor
    Price: $19.99

    Thank you Three Gates AB for sending us this game to review!

    Offensive Combat was a browser based free to play first person shooter. Since I don’t play games on Facebook, I have no experience with the original title. It has since been abandoned and much of its community was heartbroken. Offensive Combat: Redux! has enhanced the visuals and changed the business model by making the game playable without spending any additional money outside of its $19.99 asking price.

    Offensive Combat: Redux! is a solid first person shooter that offers your typical Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and Capture the Flag game modes. With the in-game currency you can customize your character’s appearance with a plethora of options to choose from. Some of the selections include a banana, panda, alien, rooster, or even a "Donald Drumpf" mask. You begin the game with a decent amount of starting money, but you can earn more by simply shooting your opponents in game. Weapon upgrades can be done in a similar fashion.

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Funny pwning system; excellent map design; lots of options to customize your character and upgrade your weapons; no microtransactions
    Weak Points: No LAN play and not many people playing it online; only six maps and many of them are too big for the sparse number of players
    Moral Warnings: Plenty of violence but no blood or gore; farting noises and crude hand gestures

    Though killing your opponents in a first person shooter is typical, players are rewarded more for "pwning" their victims afterward. Not only are the intimidating gestures funny, they can randomly drop character customization items. Some of the pwning gestures include armpit tooting or squatting and farting on the recently departed. Some more crude options like tea bagging or using a wanker hand gesture are possible as well. The mooning animation merely consists of waving your character's butt around while remaining covered. 

    At the end of a ten minute round, the player’s pwn, kill, and death counts are tallied up for a final score. Pwns are worth the most since they are risky to do. The gestures take between three and five seconds to complete and your character is vulnerable while performing them.

    Each of the six maps have various power-ups scattered on them. Health is not needed since players regain health automatically if they are not shot at for a few seconds. Damage and speed multipliers are usually available though. Armor is handy to find and equip as well. An unnamed powerful gun is available on most maps. Out of habit, I call it a Redeemer and the heavenly music that plays while equipping it makes the name fit.

    Offensive Combat: Redux!
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 82%
    Gameplay - 16/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 79%
    Violence - 6/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 6.5/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    There is plenty of map variety and they are all designed exceptionally well. Each map has plenty of places to hide, snipe, and duck for cover. Many of the maps are huge too which is great when you have ten or more people online. Sadly, I rarely encountered more than four. Searching for one or two players on a gigantic map isn’t very fun. The mini map on the upper left hand side is helpful for locating power-ups and players.

    Due to the lack of players, I was only able to play the regular Deathmatch mode. I have not seen any active Capture the Flag or Team Deathmatch games to join. If you’re by yourself, you can play against the bots which are pretty competent, but you cannot adjust their difficulty at all. There is also a shooting range and a map exploration mode. This game would be great for LAN parties, but I don’t see any options for setting up private or local only matches.

    The developers have plans for adding more maps, pwns, and character customizations. Despite the title, this game isn't as offensive as other titles that we have reviewed. I don’t know what future DLC will contain though. Violence is a given, but there isn’t any blood or gore to be seen. Some of the guns are electricity based and kill via electrocution.

    The promise of updates is good but the lack of players is very discouraging. Because of that, I would recommend holding off on this game unless it goes on sale. My kids find this title hilarious but $20 is a bit much for them to spend and not be able to enjoy it fully.

  •  

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Overwatch
    Game Title: Overwatch
    Developed By: Blizzard
    Published By: Blizzard
    Released: May 24, 2016
    Available On: Windows, Xbox One, and Playstation 4
    Genre: Class-Based First Person Shooter
    ESRB Rating: Teen
    Number of Players: Twelve
    Price: $40.00

    [*note* Overwatch is strictly an online game and as of now is incompatible with Mac computers. It runs on Blizzard servers. Having a free Blizzard account is required.]

    Who has not heard of Overwatch? Ever since its release, Blizzard Studios’ latest golden egg has taken the gaming community by storm. Its unorthodox advertisement campaign generated overwhelming hype. Its launch topped records, and it completely swept the competition at the 2016 gaming awards, snagging the coveted ‘Game of the Year’ title in several competitions. If that weren’t enough, Overwatch is also changing the face of professional esports as we speak with their new Overwatch League. However, we Christians know that something’s popularity and innovation doesn’t always mean it’s endorsable. Overwatch could be positive beacon, or a vice in high quality clothing.

    So how is Overwatch’s storymode? Well, there currently isn’t one. The game just gives you what you need, ala a snappy tutorial, then turns you loose, but fear not, my fellow lore lovers. That’s not to say there is no story at all. Overwatch’s backstory is mostly expressed through their advertisement. You heard me right: their advertisement. The Blizzard staff must have really really really wanted the attention, because they basically founded a whole animation studio for it. They put together a series of high quality mini-movies to establish Overwatch’s setting, and they’re fantastically memorable. They even fooled me into thinking they were planning a film. Who knows? Maybe a full-fledged Overwatch movie will come later down the road. Whether you’re interested in buying Overwatch or not, I highly recommend you check these shorts out. You’ll be plenty entertained.

    However, if you want the story super quick, here it is. Overwatch is set in an unspecified future earth. Four decades ago, a man vs. machine war called the ‘Omnic Crisis’ ravaged the world over, but then a new task force named Overwatch gathered the world’s most extraordinary individuals. Together, they succeeded in ending the conflict and maintained global peace long after. Omnics (Robots) and humans set aside their differences, until only the terrorists, known as Talon, were the last public scourge, but sadly, this golden age didn’t last. Overwatch fell victim to scrutiny. Internal politics and rumors of corruption mounted, until the nations demanded their dissolve. Overwatch agents were unceremoniously scattered. Some were killed. Others disappeared entirely, but now, they need to make a comeback. A second Omnic Crisis is looming ahead. The world needs those soldiers, scientists, and oddities to return. Whether they’re former Overwatch agents, Talon operatives, or new blood, fresh off the hero block, everyone will play a part in shaping the earth’s future. This is the lore that compiles Overwatch’s amazing backdrop. It doesn’t get in the game’s way, yet this universe is rich, interesting, and compelling to those who seek to understand it.

    Overwatch
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Superb Gameplay; Fantastic Characters; A Thriving Community; Annual Updates/Events
    Weak Points: Difficult for Newcomers
    Moral Warnings: Mild Language; Minimal Blood; One Lesbian Character; Potentially Rude Teammates

    I’ll give it to you straight. Overwatch’s presentation is spectacular! I particularly appreciate the game’s aversion for the gritty, grey decor so common in post/pre-war stories. Its bright and optimistic tone is a welcome subversion of that trope. There’s a Pixar quality to their character designs. They’re cartoony yet sophisticated and so easily identifiable you can tell who you’re looking at no matter how far away they are. The actors deliver their lines beautifully too. The occasional interactions are believable and often funny. As for the settings, Overwatch’s arenas span multiple countries from Japan to Mexico. They’re colorful, cultural, and sprinkled with a dash of sci-fi. More impressively, the designers arranged every bridge, corridor, and stairway to setup situations for players to work with or work around. The musical arrangements also befit the different cultures and often adds an exciting percussive dubstep to the mix. Not to mention, the main theme itself is a pulse pounding masterpiece equal to gaming’s finest. Its triumphant revere is too inspiring not to sweep me off my competitive feet.

    Games like Team Fortress 2 may have popularized the Class-Based Shooter genre, but Overwatch perfected it. Now, gameplay and mechanics here are so tightly connected, it’s near impossible for me to discuss them separately, so instead, I’ll walk you through an Overwatch match step by step then express my thoughts. Let’s first look at how these matches are set up. Twelve online players are first split into two teams of six, and their goal will depend on the type of map the game selects. These maps are categorized as Assault, Escort, Hybrid, and Control, but we’ll go over those more closely in a bit. After the map is established, it’s up to teammates to pick characters that best serve their agenda as one functioning unit. Four roles compose a well rounded team: Offense to dismantle, Defense to counter, Tank to charge ahead, and Support to keep the others going. Remember, though, that a character can only be used by one teammate at a time, but you can switch your avatar with a currently unused one mid-match. Once the teams are set, the game shall begin.

    As mentioned, the map types determine the match objective. Assault, Escort, and Hybrid maps are pretty similar. At least two rounds are played, so each team is given a chance to play both the Offensive side and the Defensive side. The attacking team is allotted a set time to complete their goal, but the defenders must try their darnedest to stop them. In Assault, Offensive teams must capture two marked out areas one at a time. In Escort, they’re tasked with moving a vehicle, called a payload, from point A to point B, and Hybrid blends the previous maps’ elements by requiring the payload be captured before it can be escorted. Attacking teams are awarded points based on their success. Highest scoring team wins, but if there’s a tie, additional rounds are added using what extra time was left in each team’s time bank. Control maps, on the other hand, are a different kind of animal. There are no specified sides. Teams fight head to head over a marked out area. The team that shoves their opponents off the point gains ‘control’, and their tally will climb from 0% to 100% so long as they maintain the point. First team to reach 100% wins that round. Best two out of three rounds wins the match. However, the overtime bar can upend all odds. Once time runs out or a team counter hits 99%, a burning gold bar appears. So long as one Offensive member stays on the capture point/payload or the losing team has one man on the ‘control’ point, the bar will stay full. If not, it empties fast, and once it does, the match is over. It’s do or die time for all in the final seconds.

    That basically summarizes Overwatch’s structure, but what’s it like to be in the action? First of all, it’s a first person shooter, meaning you look where you shoot, and your mouse/joystick does the aiming. Your experience also depends on your character choices. We’ll talk about how they differ soon, but they share common features. Your basic inputs include a primary fire, ammo reload, and a melee move. Some avatars also come with a passive/extra ability and/or a secondary fire too. However, your side and ultimate moves are the main attraction. Each avatar gets two side moves unique to them, but you have to wait a few seconds between uses. The ultimate move, though, has to be charged either over time, by scoring kills, healing allies, etc. These extremely useful abilities take practice in order to learn and master in all their applications, but it’s well worth it. (There’s a training arena. Use it. You’ll thank me.) ‘Okay,’ you’re probably thinking, ‘That’s all fine and dandy, but what keys/buttons should I push?’ Well, that’s the best part, my friend. Your controls are completely customizable. Any ability can be programmed to any button, mouse click, or key. It doesn’t matter if you’re a keyboard purist or controller commando. You can tweak anything to fit what’s comfortable for you, right down to the tracking speed. To Overwatch, the sky’s the limit on giving you a smooth ride.

    Overwatch
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 100%
    Gameplay - 20/20
    Graphics - 10/10
    Sound - 10/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 80%
    Violence - 7.5/10
    Language - 7/10
    Sexual Content - 5.5/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Let’s take a closer peek at those characters. Up until I played Overwatch, I’ve never seen a game this driven by its cast both in lore and mechanics. They’re a memorable bunch from a genius ape with a craving for peanut butter to (arguably the coolest words ever put together) a cyborg ninja. However, you can’t know just how unique these knights and knaves are until you use them. No two characters behave exactly the same. Gamers of all types (Hit-and-runners, campers, harassers, etc.) will find their natural fit in at least one of them. In fact, their variances fit types within types. Consider Overwatch’s snipers. Currently, there’s Widowmaker, Hanzo, and Ana. Widowmaker is a classic sniper. She’s poor for close combat but can pick off distant targets with one headshot. Hanzo is a very mobile archer able to handle crowds, and Ana shoots medicines, poisons, and sleep darts to heal, buff, and mess up anyone she aims at. That’s three distinct ways to be a sniper right there, yet these characters transcend their labels by sheer utility. Take Soldier 76 for example (think old and grumpy Captain America). He’s an effective Offense character with a pack capable of healing teammates similar to a Support. Alternatively, Support character, Brigitte (the iron squire), heals her teammates per strike she lands, yet she’s got a survivability comparable to Tanks. Do you need an Offense and a Support? Support and a Tank? You can be both.

    All the topics we’ve covered amounts to one grand experience, and there’s more than one way to experience it. Quick play mode, competitive mode, custom mode, and the mini-games in arcade mode pull out all the stops in this fun buffet. Overwatch has plenty in itself, but what makes it truly special is the social factor. This is a team game with a capital ‘T’. Showboaters, you will not - I repeat - will not get far in this game, and talent’s got nothing to do with it. Why? Well, unless your brain is asleep, I’ll make it plain. No single character can carry the load. You’re always equal parts valuable and vulnerable no matter who you pick. You need your team, and your team needs you. Serve your unit’s needs as they are needed. That’s what matters. This might mean swapping avatars mid-match; letting someone else main your ‘main’, or filling an empty role you’re less comfortable with. Communication and situational awareness is key. Be flexible. Listen. Strategize. The players themselves, both who you’re playing with and against, dictate the challenge. Odds are you won’t taste victory the same way twice. Good thing then Overwatch rewards participants according to performance, not just on wins and losses. All players receive medals based on their kill count, assisted kill count, damage they blocked, healing they did, time spent on the point/payload - just about anything relevant to their role(s). The players also vote between the top scorers to decide who’s awarded the commendation card. However, Play of the Game is the grand prize. The game picks the player who accomplished the biggest feat of the match. It could be for stringing a bunch of kills, performing a difficult move, rescuing their team, or outright turning the battle’s tide. The winning player’s moment is then featured in full display for all to see and is set to Overwatch’s epic victory song. Sure you’re given new outfits, game currency, voicelines, and emotes to customize your avatars with, but to win Play of the Game? That’s the most thrilling of game rewards I ever experienced. Period.

    As you can tell, I can gush about Overwatch for a long while, but in terms of appropriateness, I must put my eagerness aside to concede to a few failings. Granted, most of these failings are sparse, but they exist nonetheless. Most obvious pitfalls involve words and outfits. Language in Overwatch doesn’t get much worse than ‘da*n’, ‘a*s’, and ‘he*l’, but one or two foreign exclamations translates to ‘sh*t’. Thank goodness none of the verbal dirt is said much. Most females are modestly covered albeit in sometimes form fitting suits. However, for our worst outfit offenders we have Widowmaker on cleavage, Symmetra for high hip exposure, and the cybernetic cowboy, McCree, wears a minted belt buckle with the acronym ‘BAMF’ (Bad A** Mother F****r). However, you can curb these problems by winning conservative attire for them. Violence in Overwatch is hecticly flashy. Reds do streak out from hit opponents, but if you blink, you’ll miss it. Dead characters disappear quickly too for re-spawning. As for character specific problems, McCree is a smoker. (Come on, man. That’s three strikes in a row.) Omnic monk, Zenyatta, has a Hindu vibe going on. He even poses with extra arms and all sometimes, although he doesn’t actually say much about the belief system. However, Overwatch’s biggest blemish, hides in plain sight. Their time skipping mascot, Tracer, is written as a Lesbian with a girlfriend. That yuck nugget nearly spoiled the whole deal for me, but I’ll give credit to Blizzard for having the courtesy not to rub it in my face. This poor writing choice isn’t paraded around in the game like most ‘relevant-hungry’ companies would do. In fact, I’d be completely unaware of it had not an online comic spilled the beans. It’s thus sandwiched in extra materials no one has to read. It also goes without saying that a social game always carries the human factor. You might meet crude players with no sense of decency. You are given options to report and block abusive players, though. You’ll find the Overwatch staff takes bad behavior very seriously. Good for them.

    I’d also like to add that Overwatch has a lootbox system. Lootboxes randomly awards gamers those costumes, voicelines, and emotes I’ve mentioned. They’re given to players for gaining levels, completing arcade mode challenges, or for free during special events. Players can also win gold to buy specific items they’d like, but players also have the option to buy lootboxes with real world money and hope its got what their looking for. If anyone is asking, yes. It’s true the government has been investigating the ‘lootbox’ mechanic lately. Some argue this gaming element is a form of gambling or a ‘pay-to-win’ trap for gullible, under-aged kids. First of all, in Overwatch’s defense, their lootbox prizes are purely cosmetic. They neither help nor hurt gameplay, so I’d hardly call it a ‘pay-to-win’ trap. However, whether you’d count it as gambling or not, it’d be prudent for parents to ensure no funny business goes on with their wallets, should they decide to buy this game for their child. Little gamers should be watched carefully.

    Overwatch is stellar. I can’t describe its superb craftsmanship enough. Even when I was on losing streaks, I always walked away with something to smile about. Just know this; joining Overwatch means joining a thriving community. Director Jeff Kaplin and his team continually update the game and send personal videos to keep you informed on any changes they install or upcoming content. Since the game’s launch, they’ve added new outfits, new maps, new characters, and hold seasonal events, most of which are themed after holidays (including Halloween, Chinese New Year, and a more Santa/winter themed Christmas). Plus, their Overwatch League is a professionalized esport venue that’s quite fun to follow. You could say Overwatch is the gift that keeps on giving for one single payment. The only gameplay criticism I have is its chaotic matches may overwhelm a newcomer, but after some practice, I’m sure they’ll get the hang of it just as I did. However, I won’t say the game is clean. In fact, I wouldn’t encourage parents to give this one to little ‘Timmy’. The game has the moral problems I’ve described and lootboxes they could ‘sneak’ buy. Not to mention that despite the Overwatch staff’s noble efforts to discourage crude behavior, no system can control who you’ll run into online. As for any older gamers reading this, I’d suggest you pray and read your Bible a while before doing anything. Really consider Overwatch’s pitfalls and how it might spiritually effect you. Watch over your heart before you let Overwatch get too deep into yours.

  •  

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Prey (2017)
    Developed by: Arkane Studios
    Published by: Bethesda
    Release date: May 5, 2017
    Available on: PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox One
    Genre: First-person shooter (Immersive Sim)
    Number of players: Single player
    ESRB Rating: M for Blood, Language, Use of Alcohol, Violence
    Price: $19.99

    It has been a while since the first immersive sim games like System Shock and Deus Ex. Worlds were more pixelated, but also more open. Stories had to be pieced together for the sake of depth and complexity. Sometimes the player could make a character build unable to progress further, having not recognized the importance of combat or crafting on a space station overrun with violent enemies. Often, due to technical constraints, the story was told largely through text and voice recordings and needed to be written to account for this. Prey suggests that these sensibilities can work decades later. A combination of throwback and modern shooter, it succeeds brilliantly. On the surface, Prey is more similar to System Shock than Bioshock and Dishonored could hope to be - space station, evil corporate experimentation leading to infectious enemies, paranoia, resource allocation, human enhancement, and computerized guiding voices. Yet Prey is also a game about a theme to which it commits in every quest, environment, and sidestory. What can be given up to save the many, or the one? What will you do to help people, and at what cost?

    Prey has a twist opening, so I’ll skip to the point: the player controls Morgan Yu, either the brother or sister of the CEO of a research company operating the Talos I space station. I chose to play as a female Morgan. Morgan is trapped on the station with a huge gap in her memory, surrounded by an alien threat called the Typhon. The player’s goal is...well, that’s the point I tried to make earlier. The story branches quickly, with characters insisting it is Morgan’s responsibility to destroy Talos I with the Typhon and herself aboard. They contrast the characters who insist on a responsibility to escape to warn humanity. Others claim the station must be saved to salvage the research trapped inside. Morgan is not forced to act on any one person’s orders. In fact, she can kill anyone who does give her an order. But whatever goal the player decides to pursue, they must make it happen within the game itself. Want to escape? You better find a working escape pod. Want to detonate the station? Your brother the CEO isn’t keen on that and will try to stop you. Choose who to work with or go it alone; Prey will demand exploration and backtracking to open up options.

    Prey’s openness extends to level design. Though progression from area to area is mostly linear, movement within them is organic and open. Maintenance shafts, security panels, shelving, cabinets, and enemies all might hinder certain paths. The player, especially early on, must choose how they want Morgan to solve these problems because progression through the skill tree is tightly regulated, and points put into hacking are not being used for survivability or repair. In some ways this makes navigation far easier than it would be if the game insisted on combat. Viable as a combat build is, crawling through the walls is usually possible with a bit of awareness and patience. I accidentally picked up valuable quest and upgrade items just from poking around non-essential rooms.

    Prey
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Level design encourages a variety of approaches; choice-heavy quests rely on gameplay rather than binary decisions; thematic story and sidequests; lots of worldbuilding detail for its own sake; varied character build possibilities
    Weak Points: Uneven difficulty can lead to unworkable character builds and inventory starvation; buggy quest triggers; frequent load screens
    Moral Warnings: Gun and melee violence against aliens and machines; blood, missing body parts, and corpses of humans regularly shown; violence against humans is possible and occasionally encouraged; R-rated swearing throughout; alcohol drunk by characters and by the player for gameplay benefits; multiple homosexual relationships referred to

    Much of the game is non-essential, and I mean that in the best way. Talos I has bathrooms, lots of them. It’s an advanced space station with hundreds of staff; of course it needs bathrooms. There’s a museum room where (if you can kill/subdue the resident Typhon) you can learn about the alternate history that predates the events of the game. Every dead body has a name, many of which match a specific workstation and a specific bedroom, all of which Morgan can explore. Audio logs tell the interested player not just what evil things have been going on but what certain employees did as collaborators or resistance. There was an ongoing tabletop roleplaying game interrupted by the alien trouble, and I visited the room the game took place in, dice still on the table. The graphics sell the realism of the environment if not always of the human characters. Talos I feels like a place people actually lived in.

    By the time the game starts, Talos I isn’t so inhabitable anymore. The Typhon cover the station, even if you can’t see them. The most basic enemy, small spider-like creatures called mimics, live up to their name. They take the form of everyday objects like chairs, coffee cups, and first-aid kits. Two chairs sitting next to each other might be just that, or one might be a mimic ready to pounce. The player cannot trust the environment and must stay alert to scurrying and flashing lights. While Prey doesn’t feel like a horror experience, it induces paranoia everywhere. Larger enemies are less interesting but more dangerous. A variety of vulnerabilities and resistances ensure the player carefully curates Morgan’s limited inventory space. The game is more about planning for encounters than skillfully fighting, and taking your time will pay off more than rushing into battle.

    Between the shooting, healing, and hiding, Morgan’s resources are always low. Sporadic recyclers and synthesizers let Morgan turn environmental trash into useful items. You must do this diligently to keep up with the constant drain exploration puts on your supplies. There is not an endless amount of resources, and it is theoretically possible to burn through so much that the melee wrench is not enough to get the player through. I appreciated the tension, although it is not everyone’s cup of tea. Prey does not want you to feel empowered. It was a pain to be low on ammunition all the time if only because the shotgun felt so good to use. A whole branch of alien enhancements is available to the player as well, including mind control, telekinesis, and fire. They use up a limited mana pool, so leaning into these abilities is choosing one form of resource management over another.

    Prey
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 90%
    Gameplay - 19/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 10/10
    Stability - 3/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 44%
    Violence - 0/10
    Language - 0/10
    Sexual Content - 6/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 6/10

    There are so many gameplay systems here. There’s the inevitable-yet-brief hacking minigames. Prey manages decent zero-gravity controls for extravehicular activity. There’s the GLOO Cannon, which immobilizes enemies and builds footholds on walls. It all works. What doesn’t always work is the quest triggering, especially when other humans are on-screen. It was about 20 hours in when the game didn’t recognize that I’d taken a character into a certain area. I figured out how to convince the game I’d completed the quest, but I shouldn’t have had to. These bugs are not unknown and seem to not be rare for other players. Broken quest lines are a big issue where they come up; fortunately, they rarely did.

    Talos I is fittingly filled with bloody and decaying bodies. At one time I was encouraged to shoot an unconscious man in the head. If you want to know why I did, you should play the game. That might be the only time the game encouraged that kind of action explicitly, but Morgan is free to save or kill every surviving human and still complete the game. Often the player is forced into an either-or situation: attempt to save a few or be guaranteed to save a different, more numerous group. Many times the player has to weigh the threat of the Typhon to humanity against their threat to people in the room. Prey doesn’t force killing per se, but it does force decisions where action or inaction will influence others’ fates. Also, you can’t change the backstory or the actions of others. As such there is alcohol strewn across the station which the player can consume. Talos I is home to horrific human experiments the player can observe and, to an extent, take part in. One side arc follows the romantic relationship between two female crewmembers. Morgan herself (or himself) had a relationship with a female coworker before the events of the game. Among audiotapes and dialog there is much swearing from f*** to undue references to God. Typically the swearing regards the swearers’ place of business being overrun by carnivorous aliens. I’d deem it unnecessary yet not unrealistic.

    If the description of an immersive sim sounds fun and M-rated content is acceptable, Prey is the modern option you want. It has a deep world and many toys with which to play. It is plain good sci-fi joined to demanding resource gameplay. I loved the natural presentation of its moral quandaries, and the gameplay kept my attention despite me usually not having a taste for shooters. Prey hits a niche which games haven’t quite filled for a long time.

  • Download Prey 2 

    Gameplay:

    The game Prey can only be defined by the word…. trippy. You are Tommy, an American Indian who can wait to get away from the reservation he has been stuck on all his life. You get your wish. The shooting is standard fare but the weapons are very much alive! The “grenades” are spider-like little buggers that you “arm” by ripping off their legs, your sniper rifle has a snake like attachment that connects to your eye, and one heavy weapon is a boss’ arm. The gravity (if not the gore) is sure to toss your stomach; you may find yourself on the ceiling when you walked out of the last room on the floor. The portals that open up with the arrival of Hunters (stock enemies) are amazingly fun to toy with do to the fact that if you get behind one you don’t even see it so you can just wait for a hunter to pop out and nail him in the back. The spirit-walking element of the game revealed by your Cherokee roots is nothing special, its main use is to let you solve puzzles and throw switches. When you “die” you go into the spirit realm and have to shoot wraiths to regenerate your health which gets old very fast, but even if you don’t bother shooting any wraiths you will still return to the came to the game with partial health. AI wise there was nothing entirely special, they took cover and tossed “grenades” at me, the sniper fire was very easy to avoid due to the fact that the sniper rifle emits a red laser that shows right where he is aiming. (think Half Life 2 rockets) The boss fights are standard FPS bosses with no new elements thrown in, although (SPOILER ALERT) you do take cover behind a force shield which then breaks but as the boss sticks his arm through the hole you can reactivate the shield chopping off one arm and claim it as your own… gun…. (END SPOILER). In the end you are left wanting more action due to the fact that the game is approximately four hours long, but being able to replay the game in Cherokee mode (a.k.a. Legendary for you Halo people) adds a few more hours to the mix.

    Graphics:

    Prey ran “beautifully” (gorily/juicily/ect) on my mid range system with a GeForce 6600 card with all the graphics cranked to maximum with minimal lag. The lighting effects were beautiful with the way the ammunition glowed in dark places and your lighter shines into the dark. The particle effects where limited but still beautiful, and steam and liquids looked quite realistic. The actual human models looked a bit odd at times in certain postures but overall looked decently realistic (they put the majority of the bump mapping into the faces, so ignore the bodies and it will almost look like a good Pixar film). The monsters were all a biomechanical mess with shining metal sticking through the fleshy areas. Weapons looked very nice and… alive…. They all had heavy-duty bump mapping and the lighting in a room would cast proper shadows on the gun. While in spirit walking mode the graphics stay the same but everything is well lit and in a smokey blue haze. The land of your ancestors, which you make several visits to, blew me away. The rocks and mesas looked incredibly realistic (provided you don’t focus on seams between walls and floors too heavily). They were the most realistic real life based scenery since Oblivion in my book, although the point where you can look into the horizon looks a bit painted. All in all the graphics are quite up to par with today’s heavy hitters.

    Sound:

    The sounds of prey are a blur as you go blazing through the depths of the alien vessel but a few key things stand out. There is creepy ambient noises all around, people screaming, children crying, and Tommy comments on particularly creepy or awe inspiring scenes. The Hunters sound a bit like Elites from Halo (even when you spirit guide translates it to English for you), and the snarling of the cannon fodder beasts is a bit like dogs and a hyena. The weapon fire sound effects are standard fare as far as shooters go, although hearing your “grenades” make this little shrieking noise instead of the standard beep or boom is unsettling. The sound placing and distancing is excellent, if you shut your eyes you can still home in on the source of the sound and tell how close you are to it. The voice acting is “good” by videogame standards. They still cant get convincing voice actors sadly, all games have the overexcited actors who try to put way to much energy or urgency in their voices, or fulfills perfect stereotypes. But as I said Prey is good as far as games go. The original musical score by the guy who did Oblivion is a major bonus, it adds to every type of atmosphere they throw at you in the game. And as the credits roll they play a great indie rock song that blew most people away*.

    Multiplayer:

    Dare I spout this horribly pun of a name for what the designers call MultiPrey… Yes I know its bad… But playability wise its quite fun having all the guys who kicked your butt at Counter-Strike moving slowly and carefully along a corridor as you run up on the ceiling and blow them away with your choice of any gun from the game. Some innovations just for MultiPrey… are: a complex where each trench and hole has a different center of gravity, a map where the entire room is full of gravity switches so you cant ever depend on cover, and the fun ability to sit behind a portal (when your behind the portal you see through it as if it wasn’t there) and blast any poor soul who dares step through. The main flaw with MultiPrey (besides the name) is that with all the gravity switching the game will tend to lag with about 6 or more on a map (possible 18). But it does provide solid fun for a few hours. (XBOX 360 guys ignore this, this is for PC)

    Appropriateness

    Killing non-human, fictional beings (-3.5 pts) Blood sprays on the wall and everywhere else (-2.5 pts) Body parts can be visually unattached (-1.5 pts) Swear Words found in a R-rated movie are used in the game (-5 pts) Partial Nudity (-4 pts) Game takes place in an environment with minor occult references. (-3 pts) Im iffy as to whether the Cherokee lore is minor or majorly occult) I feel its minor as it only has “Spirit walking and the Land of the Ancestors” Occult magic is used by player. (-5 pts)

    Final Ratings

    Game Play 18/20 Graphics 9/10 Sound 9/10 Controls 4/5 Stability 5/5 Appropriateness 29/50

    Final Score 74%

    *according to the band’s website, and I for one loved it (but that’s because I was a fan of the band before hand so I’m severely biased).

  • System: Xbox 360, PC Rating: M (mature) for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, strong language, partial nudity Prey. One of the first FPS games for 360 and it\'s also available for PC. This review is based around the 360 version, so I don’t know about the PC version. If you don’t know, prey is one of the first games ever to be released on a videogame console. About 40 years ago it was supposed to come out on the old intelvission system but the company went bankrupt and everything went downhill. But humanhead and 2k games brought it back to life, and here’s my review. In prey you take the role of Tommy, a Cherokee Indian Garage mechanic who lives on a reservation with his girlfriend, Jen. (There are no sex scenes with her) you are introduced to all the characters in about ten minutes. Then everything goes up in chaos.

    Graphics: 10

    Even though they aren’t eye-popping good, they are amazing and the world of the sphere is amazing. It uses the Unreal engine 3, and its graphics are unparalleled for 360. I Can’t say anymore.

    Storyline: 9

    There is a good storyline to the game, to bad it lasts 5 hours. It’s excellent, some diversions, and brain bending puzzles, but its great.

    Audio: 10

    Surround sound with Dolby, hi-def audio, and excellent voiceovers, it makes the game real, and I’m not kidding.

    Controls: 10

    Smooth like butter. The controls are great, and work mostly like Perfect dark zero. Very responsive, and changeable.

    Objectionable Content

    Here is where the game goes so downhill it’s not funny. First off blood is not a huge factor in this game, but there’s still a lot of it. Lots of the parts are pretty scary, and extremely gut wrenching, definitely not for the weak hearted. The game is a FPS, so it\'s really not surprising that it\'s violent. –10 points for violence, blood, and gore. The language is just horrible. the F word is said clearly about 50 times through out the game. –5 points. But you can turn it off by going to the audio change in the pause menu, so it drifts away like a dream. +1 There isn’t much nudity in this game. The aliens and some of the other creatures do not where that much clothes, but you kill them and they go away. The last boss, Mother, is scantily clad but not horribly, and you can study her that well. –3.5 for lack of clothing. The last thing that might be objectionable is the spirit walk. With this little added mini-game, you shoot wraiths to replenish Tommy’s spirit and health. Now the spirit walk is where you leave Tommy’s body and you can sneak up on enemies, and its not hugely exaggerated, and it follows some of the ancient Indian myths. I really didn’t care about it, but it might bother other people. Borderline magic (hard to tell if occult) is used by player. -3.5 pts I’ll give this game a nine for its fun game play, crazy hard puzzles, and its good storyline but for the weak hear mind or spirit or stomach this game is definitely not for you. there is a demo on xbox live marketplace and I would recommend checking out first.

    Final Score 78%

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Quake Champions
    Developed by: ID Software
    Published by: Bethesda Softworks
    Release date: August 22, 2017
    Available on: Windows
    Genre: FPS
    Number of players: Up to eight online
    ESRB Rating: Pending
    Price: $39.99 for Champions Pack

    Thank you Bethesda for sending us a review code for the Champions Pack!

    When it comes to first person shooters, both Unreal Tournament and Quake hold a near and dear place in my heart. I’ve played a lot of Quake 2 in my teenage years and more Unreal Tournament in my twenties and thirties. We have introduced our kids to the free Unreal Tournament Pre-Alpha and they are enjoying it so far. In fact, one of my daughters is getting frightfully good at it. When Quake Champions releases its free to play version, I’ll be sure to let my kids know.

    Quake Champions is currently available on Steam and through Bethesda for $29.99 and that price will go up once it’s fully released. For the money you get to play it out of beta and with all of the champions unlocked. You’ll also get three reliquaries worth of good loot which allows you to customize champions to make them stand out more. Like many free to play games, there are plenty of micro-transactions and opportunities to spend real money for prettier customizations. By playing matches and earning experience, you can still unlock backpacks, chests, and reliquaries, but it takes longer.

    There’s a good amount of variety in the champions and they each have three stats and a unique ability. The stats are armor, health, and speed. There are three female champions and most of them are fast and frail. One of my favorite champions is the unholy paladin, Galena, who has more health and armor than the other ladies. Her ability of leaving crosses that heal allies and hurts enemies is pretty cool too. Fans of ID games like Wolfenstein will recognize BJ Blazkowicz and Doom Slayer from DOOM. The acid spraying Sorlag is another one of my favorite champions to play as. The free to play edition will only offer the Ranger. If you want a lot variety, the champion pack is worth picking up at its discounted price.

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Interesting champions; beautiful maps and visuals; intense and fun action
    Weak Points: No offline play or LAN support; glitches and lag
    Moral Warnings: Lots of blood and violence; obscene player names and gestures; cussing in the game and in chat; some female characters wear revealing clothing; pagan symbolism

    The matchmaking process takes close to a minute or so to join a game. I had no trouble getting added into 6-8 player Team Deathmatches. Besides a free for all Deathmatch and a one on one dual mode, there is a Sacrifice game mode. The sacrifice mode is similar to capture the flag except you have to bring the spawned skull to your team’s obelisk.

    All of the modes have the coveted quad that spawns every few minutes. Whichever team possesses the quad has a clear advantage with the holder of it doing quad damage. Other item collectibles include ammo, armor shards, health power-ups, and timers to reduce the cooldown time for your champion’s ability. If you see any vases be sure to break them as they may contain a rune that can be used to unlock a champion’s relic armor set.

    The gameplay is fast, furious, and most importantly, fun. Despite being on a low ping server, I did experience some lag which caused some stuttering mid-match. Another glitch I experienced was not being able to complete the tutorial the first time around due to a glitch in the gun sampling room. In order to try the next gun out you have to shoot all of the blobs with the previous one. In my case, one of the blobs would not go away no matter how much ammo I used on it. The second time I played through the tutorial I was able to complete it.

    Quake Champions
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 88%
    Gameplay - 18/20
    Graphics - 9/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 63%
    Violence - 3.5/10
    Language - 6.5/10
    Sexual Content - 6.5/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 5/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    In its current state, you have to be online to enjoy this game. There is no single-player campaign with bots to freshen up your skills on. There doesn’t seem to be a local network option either. There is a friend system in this game so maybe finding matches with them is possible. Sadly, I don’t have any friends in game so I can’t say with certainty what it does.

    From a moral standpoint, there are some issues worth mentioning. Like all FPS games, there’s violence, but if you don’t shoot first you’ll be on the ground bleeding out. With the various gun types available, there is a fair amount of blood and splatter depending on which ammo is used. Some of the characters use language and hand gestures that I don’t want my kids using. Like most online games, some of the players will have cuss words in their names and won’t hesitate typing out or speaking obscenities in-game. Voice chat can be disabled in the game’s settings.

    In the end, Quake Champions is promising and I look forward to seeing more features added, bugs ironed out, and more players to battle against. The champions are fun to learn and customize and I highly recommend picking up the pack if you like various fighting styles. When the free to play version comes out I’m sure there will be plenty of new players to practice on. Like all games with micro-transactions, be mindful not to go overboard on spending. Be sure that any youngsters playing this game don’t have access to buying items and keep an eye on the people they are playing along with online. Last but not least, take into consideration the language and gore before letting youngsters play this game.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Robinson: The Journey
    Developed by: Crytek
    Published by: Crytek
    Release date: November 8, 2016
    Available on: Oculus Rift, PSVR
    Genre: FPS, Adventure
    Number of players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: Everyone with Mild Language and Fantasy Violence
    Price: $39.99

    Thank you Crytek for sending us this game to review!

    After his ship crashed, a boy named Robin appears to be the sole survivor on a foreign planet called Tyson III. He’s not alone though; Robin has his AI companion, HIGS, and a baby T-rex named Laika. The young tyrannosaurus rex is quite smart and can play, roar, and follow on command. There are plenty of other creatures to scan and learn about on this island, and not all of them are friendly. In fact, many of the creatures have destroyed various structures and Robin has to fix them in order to survive.

    The 3D graphics in this first person perspective game are incredible. The jungle environment and the creatures are very detailed and look believable, especially in VR. This game is very immersive, but the movements made me and several other gamers motion sick. Because of that reason alone I would avoid purchasing this game at full price. Another factor is the short amount of gameplay as this title can be beaten in less than two hours if the nausea doesn’t get to you first.

    Robinson: The Journey
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Gorgeous visuals; great sound effects and voice acting; fun puzzles to solve
    Weak Points: Motion sickness is a common problem for this game; short amount of gameplay for a $40 title; no touch/motion controller support
    Moral Warnings: Some dinosaurs get hurt, but there is no blood

    Although short, the gameplay is very fun with various life forms to scan, terrain to explore, and many puzzles to solve. To scan the life forms, you have to put your wand in scanning mode and tap on all of the green dots and not the others. If you get another color, you’ll have to start over from the beginning with a different pattern. Smaller life forms like snails and caterpillars are easier to scan than dinosaurs.

    The puzzles are logical and are not too hard to solve. However, if you get stumped, there are several walkthrough videos available on YouTube. In the beginning, the puzzles consist of minor repairs and restoring power to various devices. While a controller is sufficient for this game, the lack of support for touch or motion controllers is a huge oversight.

    Robinson: The Journey
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 66%
    Gameplay - 7/20
    Graphics - 10/10
    Sound - 9/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 2/5

    Morality Score - 95%
    Violence - 7.5/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Robinson: The Journey is safe for people of all ages to play, but due to the motion sickness I experienced, I won’t be showing this game to others. I don’t recall any foul language, but there is some bloodless dinosaur violence.

    After playing Crytek’s The Climb, I was looking forward to this game. In fact, there are some rock climbing portions in this title, but they don’t involve chalk or stamina levels. Sadly, this game is a disappointment since it makes me nauseous every time I try it. If you enjoy puzzles and dinosaurs, and are not easily rattled by motion sickness, Robinson: The Journey may be worth picking up on sale.

  •  

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Sky Noon
    Developed by: Lunar Rooster
    Published by: Reverb Triple XP
    Available on: Windows
    Number of players: Multi-player
    Genre: First-person shooter
    ESRB Rating: Not Rated
    Price: $14.99
    (Humble Store Link) 

    Thank you Lunar Rooster and Reverb Triple XP for sending us an Early Access code of this game to review!

    Sky Noon is a rather unusual first person shooter, but I found it quite fun. For example, there is no HP or health points at all in this game. Players eliminate enemies by blasting them off of the island with guns – for all of the guns are air powered. Players are equipped with one weapon, an ability (which you can change), a lasso, and a grappling hook. There are four different guns you can choose from: hand cannon, which is long-range and very powerful, shotgun (short range but powerful), revolver (super long- range and somewhat powerful), and the machine pistol which is very long range, super fast, but not very powerful. The different types of guns are useful with different strategies.

    This is the same with abilities. There are a few varying types of abilities you will encounter, and when you spawn, you start with one. To use your ability, press shift. If you want to change your ability, run into the blue floating ability box for a new one. These abilities include booster, which will shoot you farther in the direction you are facing. This can be very useful when your enemy pushes you off the floating frontier and your grappling hook (every player is equipped with one as well as a lasso) cannot reach the bottom of the island, for your booster could potentially boost you upward as you are falling to make your survival chance higher.

    Other abilities include mines, dynamites, and teleporters. All three of these items must be thrown. Mines will stick to any surface it is thrown at, however once thrown, you can press shift at any time to make it explode. Again, all weapons are air powered. A blast of air will shoot in all directions. You can only throw one mine at a time. Dynamites will blow once they make contact with a surface. Teleporters will teleport you to the first place they touch, which can also be useful as you are falling to what could be your death. The last ability is jet boots. Jet boots will blast you upward when you hold shift. The blast is not very powerful, but it could save your life, as it did to me many times.

    Sky Noon
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Great gameplay 
    Weak Points: No bots, not many people playing
    Moral Warnings: Cartoon violence

    You get to choose and customize your avatar. You can be Steve, the male character, or Jaz, the female character. As you gain levels from winning or losing matches, more customization items unlock. There are a few different items you start with, and some options are always unlocked but have the Discord logo. You can customize your character in four different areas: torso, legs, hat, and head. “Torso” is a wardrobe of shirts you can choose from, “legs” are the kind of pants you can have, the “hat” section is a bunch of cowboy hats of all different styles you can wear, and “head” is a gallery of bandannas and a couple of small tattoos you can choose from.

    A few of the game modes are cart, free for all, king of the hill, duel, and time trial, which is single-player. Some of these game modes involve separate teams, and these two teams are Minutemen and Cartel. In time trial, you must go through each golden hoop in a certain amount of time. “Cart” is where you are to push the cart along the tracks by shooting it with your gun or whipping it with your lasso by pressing Q in order to destroy your opposing team’s fortress. Free for All is where players will simply attempt to shoot whoever they please.

    The duel mode is just a fight between two players, where if one player wins three rounds, they win. If a round is not completed within two minutes, the game will start overtime. There are three different duel maps, each meant to not accommodate more than a couple of people: Turbines, Tinytown, and Standoff. These maps are all super fun and different in their own way.

    King of the Hill is a match in which a spot anywhere on the map is selected randomly and your team must stand in that place for the longest amount of time. Once a certain amount of time has been spent in that spot, it will change to a different location. All of these game modes are fun, but my personal favorite is probably King of the Hill.

    Sky Noon
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 88%
    Gameplay - 18/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 96%
    Violence - 8/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Though the game offers a descriptive tutorial which you can replay at any time, the controls still need explaining. Use WASD to move, the space bar to jump, mouse to look around, left-click to fire, and hold right-click to use your grappling hook. Press Q to use your lasso, which can pull enemies toward you or make the cart move if your weapon runs out of ammo (weapons can “run out of ammo” if you use them too much).

    The computer graphics that make up everything you see in this game are not bad. I generally like this art style and I think it’s cool and very detailed, especially on maps and your avatar. These graphics make the maps really detailed, and the avatars very descriptive with the customizations they have been assigned. Sometimes when you launch the game (which takes forever by the way) you will not see the pupils of your avatar’s eyes – just white. It’s kind of creepy. This will fix after a few seconds though.

    The music isn’t bad, either. It does a good job of recreating the wild west feeling – what the whole game happens to be themed on. There is almost no music during the battle, which is appropriate because I wouldn’t want something to distract me during a fight. The sound affect are also fitting. When you fire your air gun or use your grappling hook the sound does remind me of something like that happening, so no complaints on sound at all.

    I thought this game was awesome. It’s so fun, but if you don’t have any Steam friends that are willing to buy this title, then don’t buy it. If you do, however, by all means. Sky Noon deserves a better player base, because this title is fun but nobody plays it. I hope there's more players on when this title leaves early access. I love this game, even in practice mode when there’s nobody to fight against except the dummies. There aren’t any moral warnings besides cartoon violence, too. So I would recommend Sky Noon to anyone who has Steam friends willing to join them.

  •  

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Skyfront VR
    Developed by: Levity Play
    Published by: Levity Play
    Release date: November 10, 2017
    Available on: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Windows Mixed Reality
    Genre: FPS
    Number of players: Single-player/Up to ten online
    ESRB Rating: Not rated
    Price: $19.99

    Thank you Levity Play for sending us an early access code to preview the game!

    In first person shooters you typically kill or be killed yet Skyfront does offer a backstory for this zero-gravity VR FPS title. In 2300 AD, Earth was embroiled in the Final War and many nations and their cities have perished. Our planet was barely recognizable afterward. In 2700AD, mankind was thriving again with technological advances. To commemorate the war of the past, a Skyfront Tournament was created to crown contestants as Guardians and keepers of the peace.

    This game is currently in Early Access and there are two maps and game modes available. One of the maps takes place in a Grecian environment while the other has an Egyptian flare to it. The current game modes are Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch. More maps and game modes are in the works before this game is officially released. Some future game modes include 3X3 Elimination and Capture the Flag.

    Skyfront
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Zero-gravity first person shooter; fun weapons; great movement system that does not make me nauseous 
    Weak Points: Not too many players online, spent most of my time killing bots
    Moral Warnings: Bloodless violence; people may swear in the voice chat

    Over twenty weapons and loadouts are also envisioned for this game in the near future. My default configuration was a grappling gun in my left hand that allowed me to quickly travel to nearby structures with a grappling hook. Aside from the grappling hook, I could use my jetpack to maneuver around. My right hand typically held an assault rifle with a shockwave ability. Other abilities include stealth or being able to heal yourself. A temporary shield is a nice option to utilize though it only lasts for a short amount of time and needs to recharge before it can be used again.

    Each of the weapons have their pros and cons. While making your selection you'll be able to see their damage and reload times. As cool and powerful as the rocket launcher is, I found it difficult to aim with. There are plenty of weapons available to equip and try out. Customizing your character is a menu option, but it's not available yet.

    The developers are pretty active and setup frequent skirmishes for the community to compete in. Some examples are the most headshots or the highest killing streak. Not only are the Steam discussion boards active, but there is also a Skyfront Discord server to check out as well. Players often setup matches on Discord outside of the busier Happy Hour and evening playtimes.

    Skyfront
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 74%
    Gameplay - 14/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 6/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 82%
    Violence - 6/10
    Language - 5/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    While I have encountered other players online, most of my time was spent blasting away at bots with mediocre AI. With the quality and potential of this game, I truly hope that the community and multiplayer base continues to grow.

    Graphically, this game is decent. The guns and robots are nicely detailed and the current maps are serviceable. The maps are very spacious and there are plenty of areas to explore and hide if needed. Inside of the floating structures, you’ll often find health power-ups.

    The sound effects get the job done and there is no background music currently. The built-in voice chat is nice, but with all voice-enabled games, this could lead to some unavoidable cussing. While some matches were curse free, others had players dropping the F-bomb every few seconds.

    Though this is a first person shooter, there is no blood or gore. When you die, the screen turns monochrome and you simply respawn a few seconds later and jump back into the action.

    Overall, Skyfront VR has a lot going for it. The developers are inspiring the community with their competitions, updates, and implementing suggestions from the players. In turn, the currently small community is friendly, dedicated, and active. The asking price is a reasonable $19.99. If you don’t mind the current human activity being limited to evenings and weekends, then this title is worth adding to your VR library. While other VR titles have made me nauseous, this one hasn’t. I look forward to the other promises and features to be implemented into Skyfront in the near future!

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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