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Blood Bowl 2

PS4

(Not Your Father’s Football)

 

This weekend the majority of us will be gathering with friends and families watching pigskin get thrown around during Super Bowl 50, but not I.  I’m not exactly what you’d call a “sports guy” so when I was given the review codes for Blood Bowl 2 I almost passed them off to our resident Madden aficionados.  I’m very pleased I didn’t.  Blood Bowl 2 is brought to us by Cyanide Studios and published by Focus Home Interactive and is based off the hit Board Game Blood Bowl created by Jervis Johnson for British games company Games Workshop.

Blood Bowl 2 is a football game much the way Mario Bros. is a plumbing simulator.  There may be some pipes and plumber, but that’s about it.  BB2 takes place on a football field with you trying to get to your opponents end zone and score… and that’s pretty much where the similarities come to a rest.

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Blood Bowl 2 is a turn based game based in the Warhammer universe and pits two team on a hilarious collision course.  At its base you select a team from the races that are available: Humans, Orcs, Dwarfs, Skaven, High Elves, Dark Elves, Chaos, and the Bretonnian. Each has their own perks and advantages, as well as disadvantages.  Dwarves sponge up damage and can run through most attacks, but can throw about as well as a penguin flies.  The two elf races available from the beginning are pretty much the opposite; they can run fast and pass the ball the length of the field, but their defense leaves them vulnerable to harder hitting races like Chaos or Bretonnian’s.  Each turn consists of you moving all your characters once (if they’re not disabled, dead or injured), with one special attack or “blitz” allowed per turn.  Success on turns and moves is based off your characters stats and the races overall abilities.  As of the writing of this review for the PS4 version, there are 2 new races available for download.  One is another race of Elves (Wood), and the other is the Lizardmen.

On top of each races normal attributes they each have their own star players who have abilities to help turn the tide in your favor.  You have linemen, blitzers, runners, and in the case of Dark Elves assassins who sole purpose is to take out the opposing teams best players.  Now playing against the Elves as the Orcs seems like a losing battle with the Elves’ speed, but this is where the game becomes more about how you use your team.  Let’s say, for example, the Elves just caught the ball and are yards from the in zone.   There’s no way any of the orcs can get there on my turn.  What I can do is take one of my fast Goblin runners and put them next to my towering lineman of a Troll.  This gives me the option to throw my Goblin down field at the Elf down there.  Unfortunately, being a turn based game success is based off a dice roll and your player’s stats.  I say unfortunately because this particular roll did not go my way and my Goblin was eaten by said Troll, which is highlighted by hysterical animations and dialogue from the two announcers via Cabalvision.  Basically, any confrontation or violence is zoomed in on and commented on by either Jim or Bob. Blood-Bowl-2-Screens-

The game has two main modes where you can play vs. or play the campaign.  Once you familiarize yourself with how the stats and dice rolls work you can move on to the season play where you make your own team and upgrade their abilities and stats, hire new players, and manage your team much like you would if you were a real coach.  The real downside to the season play is if you lose a character (dies from injury), or in my case, they get eaten by a Troll, that character is gone for good.   This makes player management and selection much more key towards what your style of play.  It also forces you to weigh sending that player you’ve spent hours on into the fray.

Honestly, I enjoyed Blood Bowl 2 quite a bit and it’s nice to play a game that moves outside of the conventional genres of RPG, sports, or puzzles and playfully combines them all into a hysterical mix of violence and fun.  It reminds me of how Battle Chess was, except relocated to a football field in the Warhammer universe.  That being said, this a great time by yourself or co-op online with friends.  Don’t pass this title by if you’re not into sports or football, because, there are plenty RPG, action, and puzzle elements to keep you entertained for hours.  Let’s be honest, we can all watch football any weekend, but how often do you get to see a Troll eat a Goblin after trying to throw him downfield to prevent a touchdown by an Elf?

 

By Jonathan Balofsky On 5 Feb, 2016 At 09:06 PM | Categorized As Featured, Nintendo Wii/Wii U, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments
neo

No Gravatarneo

 

 

This is going to be one of my tougher reviews. N.E.O. is a hard game to play, not because of difficulty mind you but because the controls didn’t make any sense at all to me. I couldn’t figure out how to move and when I did, the controls suddenly shifted. I am not sure what the developers were trying to do but it just made the game a chore to play.

 

The game is ostensibly a shoot em up like Asteroids but was very unplayable because of the control issues I mentioned. The music was fine, no complaints there. And the visuals did well to capture the feel of Asteroids done in a modern way but that wasn’t enough to save this. It just made me want to play Asteroids. Or maybe hope for an asteroid to hit Toronto so I wouldn’t have to play this anymore.  Fortunately for the rest of Toronto but unfortunately for me, no asteroid collision happened and I continued to try to play.

 

I previously complained about Skeasy but there at least I could play it even if it was incredibly dull, monotonous and boring. I couldn’t do that much in this game, again because the controls were insane. I felt like a guy who had his first hit of acid and went crazy trying to understand basic concepts. This just didn’t work.

 

A patch is needed badly to try and give a bit more control. Until then, stay away.

By Jonathan Balofsky On 4 Feb, 2016 At 01:25 AM | Categorized As Featured, Interviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments
going indie

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going indie

1. You are well known now as an indie game advocate. How did you start down this path, that is, what led to your interest in the indie gaming scene?

I needed a hobby, and my boyfriend and family said I should get into blogging. This was June, 2011, when the annual summer gaming release drought was kicking off. Originally, the plan was to talk about movies, but we were going through my Xbox 360 library and stumbled upon a couple Xbox Live Indie Games I had previously bought. I was like “oh yea, I forgot there was an indie section in the Xbox market.” We went through the recent releases and tried to look up reviews for them, only to find all the sites covering them gave overwhelmingly positive reviews to every single game, regardless of its quality. Brian said “There you go, that’s what you should blog about.” We bought a few dozen XBLIGs, and I opened Indie Gamer Chick on July 1, 2011. By August, it was the most popular XBLIG site in the world.

2. You are quite the caustic critic when you need to be and frequently call others out, including me on occasion. Has this ever caused any major issues between you and developers? 

I don’t feel I “call people out.” I do challenge developers to challenge themselves. Indie devs will get  hundreds, or thousands, of people who tell them “good job, your game is perfect!” I say “good job, but here’s where you have room to grow.” That’s what developers want. The ones who only want praise and are too thin-skinned to accept feedback don’t last. But the stereotype of the thin-skinned, egotistical indie dev is greatly exaggerated. I’ve been doing IGC for almost five years and I can count on one hand the amount of developers who I would say were problematic. That’s after 550+ reviews. Most developers can be disappointed by my reviews, but almost all of them use them to get better. Game reviews are ultimately resources, whether you make games or buy them. The most common response a developer has to a negative review since the day I started is “I wish someone had brought this stuff up during development.”

 

3. There is some discussion that the industry in general is in a state of growing pains now, that change is happening. What direction do you see the video game industry and in particular indie games going in?

When I started IGC, only Microsoft was putting significant stock in the potential indies had as a revenue stream. They had created promotions like Summer of Arcade that featured indies such as Limbo or Braid in prominent roles, and they had opened XBLIG which allowed anyone of any skill level to make and publish games for a subscription fee and a 30% royalty on the games sold. Here we are, five years later, and indies are a major part of the console manufacturers’ business model. By supporting indies, they assure quality titles year-round, especially out of peak retail seasons, and that they have titles across more genres, assuring content for everyone. That’s not to mention that indies have changed the definition of what a budget-release is and the quality you can expect for a relatively inexpensive game. While this has lead to over-saturation, the really high-talent studios are gaining a foothold. In the near future, you’ll see more indie studios outright acquired to produce exclusive content for manufacturers, since the cost of acquisition will be much less than a studio that’s been around twenty years.

4. You have helped bring awareness of epilepsy and seizures to many in the gaming community, do you feel you have helped accomplish change for the better?

It’s amazing how far awareness for conditions like epilepsy as it relates to gaming have come in such a short amount of time. I’ve hardly been alone in advocacy for issues like epilepsy, but that I get so many developers approach me or Ian Hamilton asking about it and what they can do with their games to make it less risky (though risk will always exist no matter what) has been genuinely touching.

5. With regards to the last question, how does it feel to be held as an advocate for people with epilepsy and seizures?

It’s actually really flattering that I’ve been able to accomplish a lot with the issue. I’m really proud of it. It’s quite a legacy.

6. All 3 console makers have embraced the indie community in recent years, I’d like to know your thoughts on what the 3 console makers have done for the indies.

Well, they’ve made indies part of their business model. Saying you’re part of a multi-billion dollar conglomerate’s business model might not sound sexy or prestigious, but I can’t think of any better indicator that indies have made it. More over, the really great ones can go on to be so much more. Look at what Shovel Knight is for Nintendo now. They’ve included it in their Amiibo line. Microsoft bought the studio and IP to Minecraft for 2.5 *BILLION* dollars. That’s over half of what Disney paid for all ownership to everything Star Wars. The ceiling is so high on indies now that it stretches the boundaries of reality and crosses over into imagination. In today’s market place, the sky is the limit for indies.

7. You have made your views on Kickstarters well known and with the recent debacle of Ant Simulator, do you see crowd sourcing as becoming a major issue with indie devs?
I’m way in favor of crowd sourcing for indies. But there has to be merit to seeking funding. You have to have the talent and ability to pull it off. Making a game, especially a good game, takes patience and self-awareness. Your first games will seldom come out the way you envisioned them. So I don’t like to see too many first time developers seek funding. They should treat it as a hobby until they have the ability to make it something more. When used right, it’s a remarkable resource. When used wrong, it could set you up to be a pariah for life.


8. With regards again to crowd sourcing, how do you feel the process can be improved upon to actually get a positive outcome?

As unintuitive as this sounds, a campaign is about you, not your game. Developers using Kickstarter have to remember that. Games sell themselves. Make sure you put what makes your game unique, and then just leave it there for would-be backers to digest. You don’t have to oversell a game. A campaign is about your ability to deliver the game you’re pitching. Showing off your talent, your skills, your drive, your determination, and your resolve to finish what you promise. Developers using Kickstarter need to remember that and take the pitches more seriously. Less non-stop sarcasm, less wacky biographies that tell you nothing about their experience or talent, less wacky pictures of the staff. Have fun, but take it seriously. Treat it like a business. Because, if you’re asking strangers for money, you are a business whether you like it or not.

9. What are some of your favorite indie games? both in general and specifically for each console.

As it so happens, I have a list on my site. But for each console, it’s Axiom Verge for PS4 and Steam, Shovel Knight for Wii U, and although I couldn’t finish the game due to epilepsy concerns, Ori and the Blind Forest seemed like it was on track to be one of my favorite indies on Xbox One.

10. In your opinion what makes an indie game stand out?

I think it comes down to the amount of joy you have making your games transfers over to your work. So if you have fun making a game,
people will have fun playing it. Make the kind of games you want to play yourself. With stuff like Shovel Knight or Axiom Verge, you can immediately tell these are the games the developers dreamed of making since they were kids.

11. What do you see as the biggest game changer for the indie gaming scene?

In the not to distant future, indies will be targeted for acquisition by the console manufacturers, and all three manufacturers I’m told have big plans to put more money and resources towards landing top-tier indie devs exclusively on their platforms. We’re maybe months away from seeing an honest-to-God bidding war for the services of relatively modest indie studios. When that starts to happen, I hope the community at large takes a moment to smile and realize that they’ve arrived at the grown-ups table.

Thank you again for doing this interview.
Check out Indie Gamer Chick’s Leaderboard of Indie Games here and her editorial about epilepsy here.
Image courtesy of the book Going Indie.
Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 10.23.25 PM

No GravatarSteadily, leaks about the “unannounced” new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game have been trickling through. First rumors about this phantom game being rated on Australia’s Classification board, some art work, a few leaked in-game photos, and finally the achievement list for the Xbox. Everything was pointing to a new TMNT game, except the publisher or developer. Activision and Platinum Games remained tightlipped about anything involving this. What’s a turtle to do?

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Then, Platinum Games, in a rather cheeky way, posted a gif on Twitter announcing the “Official leak” would be coming with a countdown timer on their website… For the next day. No build up, no suspense, just a “BAM!” in your face you’re getting the trailer tomorrow. And at 12:01, they delivered. The first official trailer for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan is here and it looks awesome.

Like a turtle do! This trailer has me hyped. The cel-shaded art style fits really well with the turtles and I’m digging Shedder’s look. And I’m loving the Turtles’ look, they actually look like teenagers here which is something I feel a lot of incarnations miss. It also looks like we are getting a lot of villains from their rouge gallery from Shedder and the Foot Ninjas to Bebop & Rocksteady to even Armaggon (the Shark Guy)! I hope they really reach deep in give of some good villains to fight. There wasn’t too much shown in terms of gameplay but we did get some combat action, showing of some fighting moves and combos between the Turtle Bros. Platinum is known for making quality action games and it’s looking like they are bringing their A game to this one.

According the the Xbox website’s game description, we can expect there to be four player online co-op play. I’m really looking forward to this because what’s a TMNT game if you can’t call your buds and play with all four brothers? The story is also being written by TMNT comic book writer Tom Waltz, who is a writer for the current TMNT comic.

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So there you have it, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan is set to release on PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC this summer. It’ll probably be around the time the new movie comes out. I’m excited, are you? Let us know what you hope to get from this game. A as always, COWABUNGA!!!

By Jonathan Balofsky On 22 Jan, 2016 At 08:53 PM | Categorized As Featured, Nintendo Wii/Wii U, Reviews, Reviews | With 0 Comments
skeasy

No Gravatarskeasy

 

This is gonna be a tough review. I know RCMADIAX on Twitter, nice guy but this game is just frustrating and not because of the difficulty but because of what the game is.

To begin, SKEASY is a endless autorunner ski game where you move left or right downhill and dodge trees. That’s all. It was fun for a few minutes but I quickly grew bored. What’s worse is that the boredom never left. RCMADIAX has a reputation for making simplistic games and sometimes that works well like Blok Drop U ( and its spinoffs) and Avoider. In actual fact, SKEASY comes off as so extremely similar to Avoider that its practically a rehash with the only different being the control scheme not involving tough controls here. However Avoider still required skill and timing and had an element of fun and suspense that brought enjoyment. This is completely lacking in SKEASY, with the game being extremely easy and quickly becoming dull with no real challenge.

RCMADIAX is better than this, the previous mentioned Blok Drop U and Avoider were great games and Super Robo Mouse ( his upcoming game) looks excellent. I just am frustrated that he is coasting along and taking the easy route. I get it, game development is expensive and time consuming, but a reputation also takes time to build and putting out repeated games like this just ruins that reputation..

I don’t want to seem like I’m hating on him because I like many of the games he has made and I know he has the talent, but SKEASY is just a lazy game that should not have been made. I cannot recommend it at all. If you are wondering why my review mentions the game so little, its because the game has practically no substance to it. It’s just a lousy rush job game. The visuals are bland but the music is the only good thing about it and that isn’t enough. My worst fear is that it will put people off his games like Blok Drop U which are actually good and might scare people away from his upcoming Super Robo Mouse. Only time can tell with that one though.

 

 

By Jonathan Balofsky On 21 Jan, 2016 At 03:38 PM | Categorized As Comics/Manga, Featured, Reviews, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments
l and c 5

No GravatarSuperheroes are awesome. We can all agree on that, but sometimes we need to look beyond the super heroics. What if I told you there was a comic book that was essentially a super hero sitcom? And that there are 4 volumes out that you can read now?

Love and Capes was created by Thom Zahler, an extremely talented cartoonist, who applied TV sitcom writing to comic book superheroes. The result was an amazing comic book that will provide hours upon hours of entertainment.

Volume 1.

 

We begin the comic by seeing bookstore owner Abby Tennyson on a date with her boyfriend, accountant Mark Spencer. They’ve been dating for a few months and Abby thinks Mark is a great guy. But Mark has a secret. He is the most powerful super hero on the planet, The Crusader. Mark decides to reveal his secret to Abby after talking with his friend Darkblade (a Batman analogue with some of the wittiest lines) but really should have thought of a better way and he learns you should really catch people when they faint.

 

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After getting over the initial shock, Abby starts enjoying the perks of being a superhero’s girlfriend

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….and the downsides, like Super Ex-Girlfriends in the form of Amazonia, one of the top heroes, as well as the fact that Mark will constantly be in danger and on call, thus interrupting dates as well as leaving her worried.

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Fortunately Abby has her sister to rely on for support…and vice versa as we see later. Love and Capes is an amazing exercise in showing a supporting cast. Yes there are awesome characters like Doc Karma (and his love of TV shows that haven’t been released on DVD stateside) who perfectly captures the kookiness and awesomeness of the Ditko era Doctor Strange and Arachnerd (3 guesses who he is based on and the first 2 don’t count).

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However, we also have excellent supporting characters like the aforementioned Charlotte, Mark’s parents and the rest of Abby’s family.  The superheroics are off panel and the focus is on the human side. We see Mark get jealous of other heroes and the reason why become a plot point. We see Abby grow more and not just as a superhero’s girlfriend but also as her own character with her own interests, as does Charlotte and Darkblade whom we learn more about. The last part of volume 1 deals with Mark and Amazonia’s former relationship and its at the end w see why Mark and Abby go so well together. That they are a good couple. If that sounds sappy I’m sorry because the comic is also incredibly funny and witty.  The drawings are excellent and evoke both classic and new TV cartoons.

 

If you like comics you owe it to yourself to get this.

 

 

 

By Jonathan Balofsky On 21 Jan, 2016 At 02:11 PM | Categorized As Featured, Nintendo Wii/Wii U, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments
space hulk

No Gravatarspace hulk

 

I am a casual fan of Warhammer 40K…yes we exist, there isn’t just the fanatic fans and the haters. So when a Warhammer 40k game was coming to Wii U, I was intrigued.

Space Hulk is a strategy based game that will excite longtime fans and entice newcomers as well. What do I mean?

The game is a perfect translation to video game form, of the tabletop game with the Space Marines battling aliens. I think of it as having many similarities to other strategy games while still being radically different. Space Hulk has a creepy atmospheric vibe at times that perfectly draws you in while knowing that you are getting an epic adventure. The turn based strategy is some of the best I have played on any system and all the rules and objectives of the tabletop game are handled extremely well.

Visually the game is excellent, with great animation and effects but if I have but one problem its that at times the game can be far too dark. This can actually get distracting at time and make me lose track of what I am supposed to be doing. Still I feel the visuals help capture the imagination one has while playing the tabletop and put it into video game form. I honestly think the renditions of the marines and enemies are absolutely incredible.

In terms of Audio, the game has great sound effects and an excellent soundtrack. It really gets your heart pumping and your mind amped.

 

All in all, I have to highly recommend this game. its a must for Wii U owners.

 

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No GravatarPokémon is turning 20 this year, and Nintendo is pulling out all the stops. Pokémon Red and Green were released in Japan on February 27, 1996, with the American Red and Blue released two years later on September 28, 1998. Since then, Pokémon has gone on to make more than 50 games, an anime running for about 19 years, 18 movies, and has made more than $37 billion world wide. So when one of your biggest franchises is about to turn 20, you celebrate. 2016 is going to be the year of the Pokémon.

 

Nintendo began their #Pokemon20 campaign, where they ask fans to tell them their favorite Pokémon memory on Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube. It’s a great way for both old fans and new fans alike to reminisce about what got them into Pokémon in the first play and why the love the franchise. It’s also a good way for Nintendo to spread the word about upcoming events, games, and merchandise for the fans.

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Starting in February, Nintendo will have something every month for Pokémon fans starting with the Monthly Mystical Pokémon Distributions. Each month, you will be able to download a legendary Pokémon you couldn’t normally get without either hacking or waiting for a special event beginning with the original legendary Pokémon, Mew. Also on February 27, a new New Nintendo 3DS special edition is coming out. The bundle includes both original Pokémon Red and Blue preinstalled and 2 cover plates featuring Charizard and Blastoise.

 

For all of you trading card enthusiast, there are going to be some new expansions coming; we have Pokémon TCG: Generations, focusing on the original 151 Pokémon, and we have the Mythical Pokémon Collection. These packs come with come with a specific Legendary Pokémon, plus booster packs of generations. We also have other 20th anniversary merchandise such as hats, mugs, and even a special edition Pokémon Trainer Red: Champion Ver. figure.

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And finally, we have two new games set to release this year: Pokémon Go, and Pokken Tournament, along with the release of the first 3 Pokémon movies digitally remastered. So there you have it, a jam packed Pokémon jamboree. How do you plan to celebrate the 20th anniversary? What got you into Pokémon in the first place? Whether you are a new comer or a long time fan, young or old, it’s a good time to love Pokémon. Train on Trainers, train on!

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By Daniel Fugate On 13 Jan, 2016 At 06:52 AM | Categorized As Featured, Nintendo Wii/Wii U, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments
Runbow

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Runbow wants you to die.

Well, it doesn’t want you personally to die, it wants your Runbow character to die and all of your friend’s Runbow characters to die too.

Maybe I should back up for a second.

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Runbow is a Wii U exclusive platformer that’s been out for a little bit now. I’m sure most of you have heard about it and some of you have even played it. Runbow is packed with multiplayer modes, achievements, unlockable characters, and two big modes that you can play by yourself if you want. Though, I wouldn’t recommend playing Runbow alone.

When you die in the Runbow single player mode, the game tells you to try harder or various other sarcastic/witty comments. At first, I found these comments funny. Then I was annoyed by them and later, I found them funny again. If you die a lot in Runbow (and you probably will), then you’ll have the same feelings that I did. The game is mocking you and it wants you to die. And I can provide even more proof that the game is out to get you.

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Runbow has achievements for dying and you can even unlock a character by purposely dying. The game also rewards those who don’t die by giving them very sarcastic comments too! And if thats not enough evidence for you, please consider this: there are no midpoints in most Runbow modes. If you or you and your friends all die, its back to the beginning of the level (or onto the next one) in most cases. As I mentioned earlier, don’t play this game alone.

Runbow is a game where someone is going lose. My advice is get some friends and play the local multiplayer mode. This mode is a lot of fun and you won’t see the sarcastic death comments unless you all die. The game also has an online mode. I had a problem finding someone to play this game with during the week, but on the weekend, I finally played a few online games. Runbow’s online mode is much more competitive than the local multiplayer. I died more often, but I had a lot of fun anyway. If you love local and/or online multiplayer, Runbow has you covered!

Though, throughout this entire review I haven’t mentioned how Runbow actually plays. Are any of the death’s caused by bad controls?

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Runbow’s controls work really well for the most part. The running and jumping works the way you would hope. There is a bit of slow down via frame rates here and there that I noticed, but it never caused me to die. Every death in this game was my fault. When you die, it’ll be your fault too.

The rest of the Runbow package is pretty great. Runbow has excellent graphics! They remind me of the beginning of the Pink Panther movies or Honey I Shrunk the Kids. Runbow also has a really good soundtrack. I especially love the surfing music!

Oh and if that’s not enough for you, Runbow has Off-TV Play and it has a special local multiplayer mode that uses the Wii U gamepad’s touch screen. There’s a lot to love about Runbow.

So, hug your friends and family and then download Runbow. You might die a lot, but you’ll have a lot of fun too.

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All of the above pictures were taken from Runbow’s official website.

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No GravatarEvery once in awhile, a very special game comes along and really captivates you.  For me, Mass Effect 2 is one of those games.  I have put more time into it than any other game except for Skyrim, which deserves a special place all by itself.  With an estimated 260 or more hours in the game, four play-throughs, an numerous romances, there is something very amazing with this game.  It’s also one of the few games that I have shed tears for (in a good way).  A few weeks ago, I finished my last play-through of the game.  It’s time to move on.  But I want to share with you all how amazing Mass Effect 2 is to me.  Sure, it’s far from perfect, but it is very special.  Though this is a bit belated, here is my Mass Effect 2 review:

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Overview

Mass Effect 2 is a third-person, action RPG developed by BioWare and published by EA in late January 2010.  The game uses the Unreal Engine 3 and displayed what a game could do in the middle of the last-gen cycle’s heyday.  Although it is somewhat overshadowed by the disaster that was Mass Effect 3, it stands alone as an amazing game.

Story

Warning: If you haven’t had the chance to play this game, please do.  This review will contain some spoilers in the story section.

There are not many games that open with a bang like Mass Effect 2.  I don’t know of many that would kill the main character within the first scene.  But ME2 did, and it was awesome.  The pacing and intensity of the main story continues strongly from there as the player learns that Shepard has been “redone” by the questionable Cerberus group and has been asked to join them to stop the Collectors, an alien race that is harvesting human colonies.  After some digging, Shepard and his team eventually find out that the Reapers are behind this evil scheme.  The game is a wild ride, complete with old faces from the original game and some new but very memorable ones as well.

As one of the few games to actually get a setting in space done right, ME2 has an amazingly rich setting, complete with a detailed set of back-story or “Codex.”  Although the game is Science fiction, the explanation of everything from the Mass Effect fields, to the relays, to the use of biotics seem to be plausible enough to seem like it could really happen.  The game really is Sci-fi at its best.  With an interesting universe filled with cool aliens and beautiful, yet dangerous places, Mass Effect 2 really is the complete package.

The feel of the game is also incredibly epic, as it has one of the more memorable hero characters in video game history.  Commander Shepard, even when played as a badass instead of a paragon, embodies everything that a hero should be: intelligent, charismatic, skilled, and even good-looking.  Moreover, he (or she) is an incredible leader who demands the very best from his team.  It makes for an amazing game.  I still remember the first time that I beat it; I may have shed a few tears because I had fallen in love with all of the characters.  Unfortunately, the gaming industry doesn’t make many games like Mass Effect 2 anymore.

Game play

Besides having an amazing story, Mass Effect 2 is a blast to play.  Though it seems like a standard duck and cover, third-person shooter, it really is a full blown, action RPG.  The missions are fun, including the side-missions.  Sure, the planet-mining is probably the game’s greatest downfall, but it isn’t too annoying overall.  The make-up of a player’s team also can greatly affect the game play.  By balancing, biotics, soldiers, engineers, and the big “heavy-hitters” with the types of opponents (i.e. geth, mercs, Collectors), the game can feel different with nearly every mission.

ME2 is not a typical open-world RPG because that would be extremely hard to do with space ships.  However, the game does give the player free roam of the galaxy as well as mission selection, making the game still feel expansive.  There are a few missions that a player must do at certain times, but for the most part, the game has a go anywhere kind of feel to it.

One of the great gaming elements of ME2 is the fact that the player can change the outcome of the story based on the choices that he or she makes in the game.  The ability to make decisions that will have affects throughout several games is one of the best parts of the game.  Also, players have the option to play the character of Shepard however they’d like.  With dialogue options that range from good, to neutral, to badass, each of the game does not have to be the same.  Don’t even get me started on the romance options.  Like any typical BioWare game, I have played through a couple of times just to do a different romance option.  Why not, right?

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Graphics

Even though the graphics for Mass Effect 2 are starting to look a tad bit dated in comparison to what is out for this current generation of consoles, for the time, they were pretty amazing.  The cut-scenes were sharp, and the actual game play looked great for the time.  It is definitely a game that one can go back and continue playing on a last-gen console without feeling like the graphics are eye-straining, especially as TVs get better and better.

Voice performance

This is a category that I used to not have, but I think it is becoming more and more important as the story and dialogue of games become more important.  I adore the voice actors in this game, and it really is an all-star cast for the game.  Look at some of the celebrities who helped with the voice work of this game:

Adam Baldwin as Ka’Reegar

Claudia Black as Admiral Xen

Seth Green as Jeff “Joker” Moreau

Tricia Helfer as EDI

Michael Hogan as Captain Bailey

Carrie-Ann Moss as Aria T’Loak

Martin Sheen as the Illusive Man

Lance Henrikesen as Admiral Hackett

The list goes on and on.

I have special admiration for Tricia Helfer, who did the voice of EDI.  Unlike some other robotic characters in a game that starts with a D and ends in a estiny, she gives off the perfect performance as an AI with a sarcastic and saucy attitude.  It is one of the more memorable performances in the game.

Overall

Mass Effect 2 is a very special game for me.  It is an amazing combination of great story and good game play.  Yes, it has its flaws, but it still remains an epic game.

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