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When Fallout 4 was announced, there were a lot of very excited fans. I was definitely one of them. In the excitement of the announcement, many decided to go back and replay older Fallout games. I was also one of those people. I’ve played Fallout 3 before, but never got a chance to finish it. Going back through and actually beating Fallout 3 sounded like a really good idea. For those who haven’t played it or for those who wanted to hear my take on the game, I’ve decided to do a full review, though it’s a bit belated.


Fallout 3 is a single player, action role playing game that utilizes a huge open world post-apocalyptic setting. It was developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. Bethesda had bought the rights to the Fallout series from Black Isle Studios/Interplay Entertainment, so this was Bethesda’s first attempt with the franchise. The game came out in late October of 2008 for PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. The game got rave reviews across the board and was given Game of the Year in several instances.




The game is set in the same universe as the rest of the earlier Fallout games. It takes place in the year 2277, which is approximately 200 years before the nuclear apocalypse that ravaged the United States. Many citizens ended up in “Vaults” underground that keep them alive during the bombings. The story’s protagonist is a character of the player’s choosing (male/female, looks, etc.) that resides in Vault 101. Things in the vault seem great at first, but after many years go by, events happen that force the protagonist to leave the vault. The wasteland that lies outside of the vault is deadly and full of secrets. As the main character explores the open-world area of what used to be Washington D.C., these secrets start to come to light.


The main story line is quite good. It has everyone that a person could want: family issues, secrets, exploration, evil groups vying for power, monsters, and an altruistic mission. There are many side quests as well that can push a player into playing for long, long time. The map is expansive and the tone really just make you feel like you are in the Capital Wasteland. The urban exploration alone in the game is well worth the price of the game. It was one of the first games that I actually felt overwhelmed over when I looked at the sheer size and scale of it. Once you go out of the vault, it really feels like you can go anywhere and do anything.


The game play is like a first person shooter to a degree. You can play that way if you want. However, the feel is more RPG with XP for kills, completing tasks, and quests. There is also a special combat system called V.A.T.S. (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System) that allows a player to pause time and pick special areas to attack on an enemy based on a probability percentage. It’s an interesting system that has a love or hate relationship with many Fallout 3 players. Luckily, you can choose whether you want to use it or not based off of how you want to play the game. This includes how a person levels up their character by choosing points in the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system, which stands for Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck. Players can also choose their way of playing by adding points to “Perks” that at given after leveling up. Want to sneak around and get stuff done that way? There are Perks for that. Want to go in guns-blazing? There are Perks for that. It creates the type of game play that is re-playable many, many times.




The graphics looked pretty slick at the time that the game came out. The opening sequence for the game is probably one of the best in gaming history, as it sets the tone of the game quite nicely and has a really creepy feel to it. The 1950s retro feel with the nuclear apocalypse grays and browns gives the game a unique feeling. It’s one of those games that a player could fall in love with, one of those rare gems that only come around every once in awhile.


I completely understand why it was hailed as Game of the Year from many places. It’s a great game, hands down. However, because of its age, the game play feels a bit stiff, and the Gamebryo game engine just wasn’t quite up to par with what it needed to do. The gray and brown color scheme makes hours and hours of play a little bland after awhile (it looks like this fixed for Fallout 4; there are a lot of more colorful game footage out). Regardless, though, it’s an amazing game. It’s definitely worth a play or replay before Fallout 4 comes out.
This War of Mine

No GravatarThis War of Mine

I first had the opportunity to check out This War of Mine at PAX East. I was immediately intrigued. The art is absolutely beautiful in its realistic simplicity. The game sucks you in and keeps you wondering what will happen day to day. You truly go through the day to day of what it’s like to live in a country ravaged by warfare.

I found myself wondering if I would survive and make it. You see the characters struggling and dealing with the psychological effects.

11 Bit Studios describes This War of Mine as:

This War Of Mine provides an experience of war seen from an entirely new angle. For the very first time you do not play as an elite soldier, rather a group of civilians trying to survive in a besieged city. During the day snipers outside stop you from leaving your refuge, so you need to focus on maintaining your hideout. At night you get a chance to scavenge nearby locations for items that will help you stay alive.

Make life-and-death decisions driven by your conscience. Try to protect everybody from your shelter or sacrifice some of them to endure the hardships. During war, there are no good or bad decisions; there is only survival. The sooner you realize that, the better.


11 Bit Studios created a great game that will keep you enthralled for hours. I highly recommend checking This War of Mine out and giving it a try. I give the game a 9 out of 10.

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This War of Mine is available now. Check it out and buy it here.


No GravatarFor those gamers looking for a lot of action similar to the Batman: Arkham series mixed with some high fantasy, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor could be a good choice.  Set in the Lord of the Rings universe between the events of The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring, Shadow of Mordor is a great game for LOTR fans.  But, is it enjoyable for people who haven’t read the books or seen the films or for those who are not into the series?  Yes, one can play this game without any knowledge of the series.  However, it will be more enjoyable for LOTR fans.

The game was a sleeper hit when it came out in September of 2014, a hidden gem in a sea of mediocre games that had come out that year.  Developed by Monolith Productions and published by Warner Bro. Interactive Entertainment, it came out for PC, PlayStation 3 and 4, and XBox 360 and One.  For the purpose of this review, I will be exploring how the game felt for PlayStation 4.  The game is considered an action RPG and utilizes a more open world map.

The short version of the story is basically The Crow meets Lord of the Rings.  If you haven’t seen or read either, first of all I would suggest that you remedy that right away.  However, that might take some time so here is the synopsis: it’s a revenge tale about a Ranger named Talion (voiced by Troy Baker) who is killed, along with his family, and brought back to find those that killed them (the Uruks).  It’s an interesting revenge tale, and it’s fun to see familiar LOTR characters in the story as well.  Since the game takes place between The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, one can see Sauron’s minions getting stronger throughout the game.  Along with Talion, there is another undead wraith, Celebrimbor, who is helping out and giving him cool powers.  The relationship was a very similar feel to when Aragorn recruited the undead in Return of the King.   

 The biggest problem with the story is that, as a whole, it’s not strong enough to hold what I would say is the “average” person’s attention.  Sure, it’s fun, but it’s not super compelling.  Big-time LOTR fans would probably love it.  However, when I played it, I was playing more for the game play and not for the story.  As good as the beginning of the game started, it very much fizzled out over the end.

The story is in interesting idea but was executed poorly.

The story is an interesting idea but was executed poorly.

The game play, though, is very good, except for a few issues.  If you are familiar with the Batman Arkham games, Shadow of Mordor will be very easy to get into.  The game play is almost exact, and you level up in a similar way.  You fight in a similar way.  You can even change (most) attack commands mid-stride, making it easier to stop and counter and enemy.

The “RPG-aspect” (or leveling up system) of the game is very similar to the Batman: Arkham games as well.  Shadow of Mordor is not really the traditional RPG that I thought it was going to be.  When I heard it was open world, I was thinking more “Elder Scrolls.”  The game is very open world, and it’s very action oriented.  The leveling system is very interesting.  There are two skill trees to level up: Ranger and Wraith.  Each are interesting and fun to play.  There are ability points for getting enough XP, and the player can use those points to add certain powers and moves from the skill trees.  There are also options to upgrade the sword, bow, and dagger with runes that the player obtains from killing Uruk Captains (more on this later).

Overall, the basic game play mechanics of the game are very fun, but that’s not the crowning jewel of the game.  Technically, most of the game play is nothing new, since it borrows heavily from the Batman games’ mechanics.  However, the Nemesis System totally and utterly blew my mind.  It is new, original, and highly creative.  All year, I was looking for something new in gaming.  I was getting really tired of game play that is borrowed from ten or fifteen years ago.  Instead of relying on arena-style boss battles and push-the-button-oh-look-more-enemies, Shadow of Mordor gives us the Nemesis System, which I would describe as a roaming boss battle that remembers.

As you play the game, you meet Uruk Captains that can be pretty tough bosses.  If you kill one, you upset the balance of Sauron’s army.  If you or the boss run away during battle, the guy will remember you.  If one kills you, he will get more powerful when you come back (you’re already dead, so you can die as many times as you’d like–see the next segment for more details).  Not only that, but he may challenge a higher ranking Captain and change ranks.  If a normal Uruk kills you, he will get promoted up the ranks and so on.  If you die from something random, a lot of Uruks among the ranks get more powerful.  These bosses will remember that they killed you previously and comment on it.  You also can interrogate Uruks to gain information about bosses in the higher level ranks.  Each boss has strengths and weaknesses, and you have plan your attacks accordingly.

I have honestly not seen anything quite like this system.  I thought it was revolutionary when BioShock had the roaming boss battles, but Shadow of Mordor has improved upon that even more.  Sure, it can be a pain when you have a boss that has killed you several times and has gotten really powerful because of it.  But let me tell you, when you finally kill the guy, you will be cheering.  I also really enjoyed the strategy element that comes in when attacking these bosses.  You can’t go about doing things in just one way because what works for one boss might not for another.  Plus, you can make decisions such as allowing one boss to live so it will take out another (Uruks like to fight each other for power).

The Nemesis System really is the best part of the game.

The Nemesis System really is the best part of the game.

Here’s the only problem with the game play: besides a lackluster story line, the game can be very monotonous.  The side-quests are extremely repetitive and the nemesis system, which should be awesome, is very overbearing.  It’s hard to do ANYTHING without a boss targeting you out, which ends up being extremely annoying after about ten plus hours into the game.  The game play doesn’t translate well overall, unfortunately.  With a poor story line, the repetitive game play ends up being boring and hard to get through.  Sure, you can blast through the man quest with no problem, but for those who like to really get into the game, it ends up being very disappointing.

The graphics are fairly good, though there are much prettier-looking games out there for this current generation.  The overall look and feel of the game was a little dark and somewhat dull, which added to the monotony of the story after awhile.  However, I can understand the developer’s choice in this color palate, since it fits well with the dire tone of the story line.

The overall tone of the game is bleak and so is the color palate for the graphics.

The overall tone of the game is bleak and so is the color palate for the graphics.

Overall, the game is pretty decent: it makes great strides with the Nemesis System, but unfortunately does not do the same with the story.  However, it is refreshing to see a developer in the gaming industry try to do something different for a change, and I have to give Monolith productions a lot of credit for that.  Although I do not feel the game is a full price buy, now that it’s been out for several months, it would be a good addition to anyone’s gaming library at bit of a discount.


No GravatarHave you ever watched a Bond film and thought “that’s what I want to do”? Well, you might change your mind after you play Alpha Protocol. Not because the game is specifically bad, but because you’ll get a feel of what being a spy in the field is actually like.


Alpha Protocol is an action role-playing stealth game. What a mouthful, but accurate. It was released in 2010, and for a four year old game it feels…older. That’s not a bad thing, mind you.  Most gamers would say their favorites are from a generation of consoles that are no longer distributed, but those games are chosen quite often out of nostalgia. On the one hand those games were the best of their time, but on the other hand they fall short compared to some modern innovations. The point here is that Alpha Protocol feels like one of those games. Something you loved for what it was back when you played it the first time, but over the years it has lost its edge.

To start, Alpha Protocol is truly a spy story. You are Michael Thorton, a new recruit in the Alpha Protocol program, and your job is to serve your country and stop the bad guys. Sounds simple enough given this is the idea behind more than few games. However, you are a spy. Your job is to get things done with minimal exposure. Whether you kill everyone in your way or just leave them with a tortuous headache, no one should know you’re there. Stealth is a great game mechanic, and Alpha Protocol does a great job of using it. Except for the bugs.

Let me talk about those for a moment because most of the issues I had with this game stem from bugged stealth mechanics. There were times when I would be crouched behind a wall, completely out of sight and fully buffed in sound dampening, and taking a few steps alerted a guard more than ten feet away. This would then alert every guard on the map. And if I should come out of cover and actually be seen, one guard would be enough to expose my location to every guard who would then proceed to start shooting. It’s easy enough to rid yourself of guards and turn off an alarm, but in a minute I’ll tell you why this was such a problem.


This game is good. It’s hard to call it great, and at times it isn’t all that fun, but it’s good. Agent Thorton is betrayed on his first assignment for Alpha Protocol and is set on a path to make things right. Here is where my favorite aspect of the game comes in. Choice. As Thorton you get to choose what happens. How you interact with others can determine how they respond to you and your actions. Gaining friendship has advantages, but so does rivalry. Who you get on your side can change the outcome; deciding who to ally with and who to piss off, that’s the trick. This game requires you to pay attention. Between gathered intelligence, dossier information, and other tidbits you collect along the way there is an abundance of knowledge. Knowing where you’re going, why you’re going there, and who you’re facing will make things far easier. The game doesn’t do all the thinking for you. The missions you choose to do, and the order you choose to do them in, also has impact.


That’s all great, but how do you actually play? It’s simple enough. There is combat, stealth, hacking, and collecting. In combat you can put points into different weapons: shotguns, SMGs, assault rifles, pistols, and hands. There are also gadgets; from grenades, to flash bangs, to health kits, you can carry a minimal set into missions and use them for different situations. Stealth, while not a requirement in mission, is a good way to get all that you want. Hacking is dealt with in three ways: computers, keypads, and safes. Hacking a computer requires finding a series of non-moving letters and numbers amongst a stream of flashing figures. A keypad is simply hacked by matching numbers is ascending order to their circuit. A safe is a lock picking screen where you move pins into position and click them in place. Collecting is just what it sounds like. Make sure you explore every room because information, money, and security systems may be hiding anywhere (which is useful when you are lacking cash to buy that armor you want). You will spend the majority of the game working on these skills, getting used to being in cover and sneaking into position, only to reach “boss” fights and the final mission.


Remember when I said how bugged the stealth system was? Here is where that becomes important. Boss fights, including most of the final mission, are tough. Add in the fact that stealth becomes useless and they get tougher. Here, fight a helicopter that can shoot you through cover, never loses target lock, and you have to fire one RPG at a time at it and those RPGs are scattered across the map. On top of that, here are five men who are going to shoot you, chase you, and know where you are because the helicopter never loses target lock. And if one enemy knows where you are, they all do. It’s infuriating.

I will say that I had fun with this game. The story pulls you in, and you feel like a true spy when things go right. The stealth is fantastic, when it works. The characters are ranging, and often have unexpected stories. I plan to try it again, make some different choices and see what happens, but I do like where my initial instincts lead. And that’s good. This isn’t a game that says “here, make a choice” and then gives you a cookie cutter ending. Who you decide to be will change the path, and that’s nice to see.


There are other things I could cover. How bad targeting is, how wonky movement can be, how bad pathing is for NPCs, how many boss fights I won because of glitches…

If I were to recommend this game it would be lightly. If you like stealth games and spy stories try it out. If you don’t, skip it. Alpha Protocol requires dedication. It asks you to sit down, pay attention, and accept that things will not always go the way you want. You may do a bit of reloading, but know that the only save option is auto saves.

With all that said, you can always use brute force, and then stealth doesn’t matter so much. It will take more time, you’ll face more enemies, and you may lose out on some of the finer points, but at least you’ll know why all the guards are after you.


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Brothers: a Tale of Two Sons is a beautiful game perfectly offset by a dark and bloody story. In Brothers you set off from a nice peaceful town, where the biggest obstacle is a random bully, in order to save your ailing father to dark and bloody areas filled with despair and death. As you travel across the world with their unique controller setup you’ll have to navigate countless simple puzzles and save the occasional NPC who will in turn help you along your journey; which is only becoming more and more perilous as you go.

In between these moments, however, is where you’ll experience the bulk of the game’s brilliant storytelling. Brothers is a nonverbal game where the characters speak in a fantasy language and your only context are the characters heavy use of hand gestures and actions that do a wonderful job of making everything clear while also showcasing each brother’s personalities. While the older brother’s actions are far more focused on helping his father the little brother’s interactions with others and the environment are more carefree.

Simply going down the alternate paths will reward you with experiences you would have otherwise never knew existed. For instance I’m moving on to the next area and I look down to see a man standing on a chair. What I didn’t notice until I went down his path to look was that there was also a noose tied around his neck. Now you can either watch a man commit suicide or have the older brother hold him up while the little climbs the tree and unties the knot. Brothers is full of moments like that in each and every area and the controls really enhance the experience.

In Brothers you simultaneously control them maneuvering a series of puzzles working together through beautiful landscapes. Each brother is assigned a half of the controller and it works flawlessly. While you use the analogs to control each brother’s direction the triggers control their actions. The only problems I experienced with the controls were user based which at times can cause a little frustration. I would routinely have the little brother running into some random wall because I was paying attention to the other or use the wrong side of the controller and falling.

Puzzles or I guess obstacles are obviously the main challenge of the game and all of them use the teamwork component. Whether it’s the big brother using his strength or the little brother using his size each obstacle is easy to navigate for the most part. The challenge comes when you have to “quickly” traverse the area. You’ll be so focused on doing it right and finding your rhythm and it may take you a little longer than expected. The best part about this, however, is that there isn’t a task that will take you forever to figure out or even do. The “harder” ones will take you a few tries tops and you’ll be on your way. Once you learn the controls you’ll be able to fluidly move through every challenge.

Brothers is an extremely short game, but appropriately so. You won’t have this incomplete of rushed feeling by the end of it. Brothers is a must play for anyone who can appreciated a good story and in my opinion should be enjoyed by all. Gamers and non-gamers alike. It’s truly a beautiful game. 9/10.

You can find Brothers: A tale of two sons on Xbox live arcade or currently for free with a PlayStation plus membership.

By Jesse Willoughby On 3 Feb, 2014 At 11:28 PM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, Games You Slept On, PC Games, Reviews | With 0 Comments

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Growing up I had no set preference for games except they had to be playable on my computer. Aside from that, if a game looked interesting (I had to judge by cover art mind you) I would do my song and dance until my parents gave in and bought it for me. I don’t recall ever playing a bad game, and that is interesting to 25 year old me. In the past two or three years I’ve walked away from games feeling like my money was entirely wasted. But back in the day I played some great games.

One, or should I say two, of those games was called Syberia.


It’s not a play on Siberia, though that is a destination in the game, but a mythical island somewhere deep in Eastern Europe. Of course, you don’t really find this out until quite a ways into the first game, but that’s ok and I’ll tell you why.

To start, Syberia focuses on a lawyer named Kate Walker. The opening scene shows Kate arriving in a small town you soon learn is called Valadilene (Vala-da-len for pronunciation) while a funeral procession passes by. There’s something odd about this procession though, the pallbearers are not men, but automatons. As Kate enters town and makes her way to the inn you take control. From here on out, you are going to enjoy a grand point and click adventure.

Part puzzle solving, part character reveal, part exploration, Syberia is fun from start to finish. The majority of the first game is all about discovering Kate. You know she’s a lawyer and has come to Valadilene to talk to the owner of the automaton factory about signing contracts to sell. However, Anna Voralberg has just passed and Kate has arrived just in time for the funeral. Of course Kate thinks everything should still be in order, but Anna has confessed on her deathbed that her brother Hans is still alive and will be in charge of selling the factory. Sounds simple enough, but no one knows where he is.


Kate sets off through the town to uncover the past in order to track down Hans. She discovers Hans left behind amazing creations. A train, and an automaton named Oscar. The only way to find her man is to start a trek across Eastern and Western Europe. Initially she is set on completing her business deal, but her adventures uncover more than just where Hans Voralberg is located.

Kate is hounded by her boss, the aggressive Mr. Marson, her mother, her friend Olivia, and her fiancé Dan. Despite risking everything for her job, these people constantly call to tell Kate how selfish and unacceptable her behavior is. She begins to feel distant and hurt, and learns a lot about who she really is. Who she wants to be.

And that’s why it’s ok it takes so long to learn about Syberia. Because you are learning about Kate. That’s also why this game is split in two. Syberia is all about Kate, Syberia II is all about completing her adventure. Her boss and family are hunting Kate down while she is simply looking for her better world.

The greatest thing about this game is its story, but there are plenty of good things otherwise. Syberia was released in 2002 and Syberia II was released in 2004. In my opinion they were well made and hold up graphically. While I love both, Syberia II is, as far as game play goes, the better of the two. A number of the inconsistencies of Syberia are corrected, the color is more robust, and there are some updates that make things operate more smoothly most notably the system used in  guiding Kate around areas.

With that said, Syberia is filled with better content. The puzzles make more sense and require seeking out information. Syberia II gets a bit sloppy and requires a stupid amount of luck while you guess your way through. I get frustrated easily with these games as missing a simple click can cost you more time than you’d like to admit searching around, but in the second game that is less the issue than facing a puzzle that you’ve seen no notes on beforehand and you must solve by pressing buttons until they work.

There aren’t very many options in these games in terms of graphics and audio, they don’t require them really. But the cutscenes are beautiful, the characters are quirky, the interactions are fun, and you fall in love with the clockwork origins of just about everything. There’s plenty to admire, as long as some mistakes in subtitles don’t bother you.


There are things you can find wrong with this game, most notably the treatment of the female lead by male counterparts, but they are easy to overlook. Kate is too strong and self-reliant to care about how others treat her.

If you’re playing this on a new system, and have two monitors like I do, this game gets confused. A mistaken mouse click off screen and you will find a number of highly hilarious but annoying glitches. Also, I ran into a problem where my anti-virus software would quarantine the .exe file of Syberia II and make the game unplayable, but the Steam version of these games might not have these problem.

All in all, Syberia and its sequel are great. The story, the world, the graphics, all is satisfying. If you love point and click, adventure, a good story, clock work and automatons, and discovery, then Syberia and Syberia II are for you. If you slept on these, wake up and try them out. If you do and like them, or have long since played them, the Internet says there will be another one this year or next. I’m excited.

The art for this game is beautiful, check it all out.

The art for this game is beautiful, check it all out.

By Sean Jacobs On 17 Jan, 2014 At 02:06 PM | Categorized As Games You Slept On, Indie Spotlight, Nintendo Wii/Wii U, Reviews | With 0 Comments
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Nano Assault Neo is a great game that harkens back to the old school games of the 16 bit era brought to you by Shin’En. Games like Gradius, R-Type are ones that I think of when I am trying to sell this game. While, I only use these classic titles as mere reference points into luring you the reader or any random person whom is looking for a good game to try, this game packs so much more. Nano Assault Neo is a very beautiful, fast-paced (16:9 60 frames per seconds) space shooter based inside the microscopic world in linear PCM 5.1 surround sound. Nano Assault isn’t just a side scrolling shooter like the games I originally mentioned yet it is a 3D hybrid of those titles. You will face all sorts of microscopic creatures that will come at you from various angles even from ways you can’t even see them attacking you from. These strange creatures come in all shapes and sizes with a large arsenal of projectiles speeding your way these will not be your only obstacles neither, the world itself presents its own challenges.

NanoAssault stage                                                      Nano-Assault-Neo-2                                                                                          nano crazy legs boss

“A warrior never enters a battle without a proper weapon” with the “Nanoshop” provided to you in between the 16 stages divided between 4 uniquely designed microscopic cluster worlds you can upgrade your ship with points collected on the previous stage completed with up to 3 different types of Subweapons and 4 Satellites which are position-able anyplace around your ship via your Wii U Gamepad. You can buy extra lives, Item Attractors, Score Doublers amongst other additions to your arsenal. Each world has its own large “extreme boss” after the 4 stages are completed within each cluster. Then fun can also be shared with a friend locally via co-op play using the TV & gamepad the gamepad even displays a small live feed in the corner of it displaying the action that’s going on screen with your team member. Additionally, missions are given to you that you can decide to complete if you desire along with competing with online with the ranking system provided to you the system ranges from all modes available to you within the game like single-player, two-player  & survivor mode to name a few.


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This game is another great title that utilizes the Wii u gamepad well in small subtle ways that are intuitive and not overly done. Nano Assault can be used totally independent of the television, which is a plus for a parent of a house load of children and a wife who just might want to use the TV right when I am deep within a battle on one of these tyrannical micro worlds of Nano Assault Neo. This game can be played by any level of gamer but, you have been warned this game is not for the faint of heart, just endure the pain that will occur you will be thankful afterwards. This is an excellent shooter to the controller gripping end, I hope my words has moved you to go pick up this title on Nintendo’s Eshop now available for $9.99 in the U.S. Don’t miss out on this great game you already slept long enough on Shin’En games Nano Assault Neo.



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Contrast is an ode to the storytelling of the early 1920’s.It has an artistic film noir feel to it, this is one of the main reasons why I downloaded this game on PlayStation Network (though this game is also available on Steam) Oh, plus this game is free of charge brought to me by my lovely PlayStation Plus subscription also available for $15

Contrast-PS4  First, I will touch on the gameplay because the crown jewel of this game is the actual story which in today’s gaming scene is hard to come by. This game first starts you off by briefly going through tutorials while pushing the story forward. The mechanics are simplistic in nature there are only four moves you learn Jump, Dash, Interact & Phase in/out (For transitioning into & out of the shadow world). It is slightly difficult in some parts due to timing or maneuvering of the game worlds objects you have to position to progress forward. Contrast is setup like a stage play the game is broken into acts. Within each act there are a set number of light orbs called “Luminaries” you will need these orbs to lighten certain paths needed to progress through the stage. Contrast is considered to me as a 3D puzzle platformer and plays as such but, the shadow play really adds complexity to this simple game. The design of the game has been used before but, is still fairly new to me and to the console platform as far as I know. Games like Super Mario 3D World has touched on this artistic shadow game mechanic along with a few others. Shifting from reality to the shadow realm is part of this games allure fun and frustration will ensue because of this new found mechanic. You will find yourself in precarious situations whereas you will find yourself stumped in several puzzles. Please do not fret because simplicity is the key and it is not as hard as you think it is. In many cases you will find that you were over thinking the whole situation.

When first playing Contrast you will see it doesn’t shine with all the next gen shiny graphics. Easily something that can be done with last gen tech. Though,  it does have some high res textures throughout the world you can still come to appreciate the beauty that this game portrays. The neon lights through the city scape to the brownish toned film noir feel the world has down to the shadow play game mechanics that are the main catalyst propelling the games storyline forward. You will be impressed how the developers and story writers let the story unfold. The crown jewel of this is definitely that, the story.contrastkep02This game drops you off into a story about a family torn apart by the complexities of love, trust and loyalty. The main characters of the game are Didi and Dawn the latter is the avatar you will play as. Dawn (The playable character) is the imaginary burlesque circus performer dressed friend of the adolescent girl Didi. The Mother of our character is a nightclub songstress Kat whom is fed up with her husband Johnny because he lives in the skies with lofty get rich schemes. While her parents try to hide the ever-present issue they face as a couple. Didi just wants her dad to live back with them because Mom kicked him out once again. Johnny failing at almost everything he does. He truly wants the best for his family. His dreams in the clouds are not helping paying the bills. While Kat is struggling to keep her home together and a roof over Didi’s and her head all alone is left to do things that drives added stress into their lives. Kat leaves her daughter to her own devices at home alone while she tries to make a living. Dawn is created to help her coupe the emotional stresses put upon this young lady as they escape to the city to have a little fun much is revealed to us through their night time adventures.

contrast1-545x306There are a few more caveats to add spice to this story but, I will leave it to you experience because I repeat the story is what you truly what you want to experience with Contrast. I tried to eliminate as much of the spoiler content within my review while exposing enough of the story to you so, that it will shine just enough light on this title in hopes that you will purchase/download Contrast .Please try to get into this sweet and touching story that displays the skills of the developers skills in storytelling.



By Jesse Willoughby On 19 Dec, 2013 At 10:41 PM | Categorized As Featured, Games You Slept On, PC Games | With 0 Comments

No GravatarI’m not the most diverse gamer, or the most knowledgeable gamer, or even the best gamer, but damn if I don’t want to be. I love games. I love gaming. I love being a gamer.

I also love writing and have spent the last ten years of my life writing about all that bounces around in my head. That’s one reason why my gaming experiences are most enjoyable when a good story is involved. Story makes all the difference.

That’s partly why I’ve chosen “Freelancer” as my first review.


If you’ve never played this game it came out in 2003 for PC and is classified as a space trading and combat simulator. The trading part is small, so if that’s what you’re looking for this isn’t the game. However, don’t let that stop you. Freelancer is always on my list of favorite games, and I’m going to tell you why.

Let’s start with the plot. You play as freelancer Edison Trent. You have left your home planet of Leeds to make your fortune. You make a deal with a Republican Shipping captain for a large shipment of boron, and then you make a deal with a man named Lonigan who is promising you 1million credits for your cargo. Just as you are signing the contract the space station you are on is attacked. You barely make it out having to carry Lonigan over your shoulder. The next thing you know you are on the planet Manhattan, Lonigan is being taken away for medical attention, and you are now a freelancer without a ship. Lucky for you a Liberty Security Force officer is looking for someone just like you. Jun’ko Zane, who wants you to call her Juni, gives you a ship, a couple thousand credits, and a job.  But when all goes sideways you find yourself falling down the rabbit hole.

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I really enjoy this story. One could pick it apart, poke holes in all the science that ceases to exist, compare it to other stories, but I like it. The farther you go the more fun it is, the more conspiracy theory it becomes. This is a story heavy game despite the creator’s attempts to make it more.

Next let’s talk about the setting. Something I learned in looking up a few facts about this game is that it’s set 800 years after the game “Starlancer” which I have never played. In that sense I don’t know entirely about the build up behind this game, but the opening cut scene does a decent job of setting the scene.  All those 800 years ago back in the Sol system a civil war broke out between the Alliance (made up of America, England, Spain, Germany, Italy, France, Japan and other minor nations) and the Coalition (made up of Russia, China, the Middle East, and southeast Asia). In a last act of defiance the Alliance built five ships to break past the Coalition and settle in a new sector, the Sirius Sector.

This sector is huge, consisting of many solar systems that contain no less than two planets and a number of stations. If you understand simple physics, this will bother you. The planets seem to fall on the same line in rotation around their stars. It takes a few minutes to get from one planet to the next via a Trade Lane. Perhaps not the most realistic.

Other than the science, the look of the Sirius Sector is decent. Though most planets have similar, flat, desolate textures, the space stations have smooth surfaces, and the debris fields look the same no matter where you go, this game still looks good. Each planet has an individual backdrop when you land, the different areas you can visit are decorated in their own style, and the space backdrop…oh the space backdrop.

How about the voice acting you ask? Well, Jennifer Hale is the voice of Jun’ko Zane. That’s all I needed to learn. The main cast is good all together. They needed to be. The story is good, but there are some moments when you needed to know the characters were actually struggling with their situation. When you are escorting Juni to her home system while on this insane quest you need to hear how hurt she is to know all of what she loves may be in danger and you need to hear Trent understand her. It makes all the difference.

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What about the game play? I am not a huge simulator fan, but this seems the perfect fit for me. It’s a great mix of flying a space ship, maintaining a space ship, making a reputation for yourself, and exploring a universe. The default key bindings are intuitive, the controls are concise, and you are never overloaded with things to do. Don’t think it’s easy though, as you progress through the game you will have to use more than brute force to stay alive.

What else is there? Well, not much. Aside from the main cast you will hear the same four people a hundred times over if you want to talk to NPCs. If you like hearing “activation sequence completed, lane jump initiated” many times over, then you’ll love this game. The character designs are unique amongst the main cast, but the NPCs tend to…repeat. Be it story or off campaign you do the same thing quite a bit.

Freelancer 2013-12-16 22-11-37-58Over all Freelancer is a great game. Complete the campaign, enjoy the story, love the characters, and then explore the universe. If you really love it you’ll make a fortune, own the best ships, use the best guns, and have whatever reputation you choose.

I know it’s not new, and I know it’s not “the best game ever”, and I know you’re probably wondering why I’m even talking about it, but Freelancer is a great experience. Definitely give it a try.


No GravatarThe Nintendo DS was an underrated system. Cue backlash, but hear me out for a moment: in an era with flashy onscreen graphics and multiplayer gameplay, the DS stood alone with its often “basic” displays and “restricted” single-player campaigns. And, predictably, there were a great many games that flew under the radar of gamers. This is the tale of one of those games, which appeared and vanished quickly, while still gathering praise and helping add to the prestige of the series with which it was aligned.

This is the tale of Devil Survivor.

Devil_Survivor_by_MachoMachiDevil Survivor arrived on scene at the perfect time: early Summer 2009, right after the release of Pokemon Platinum (and at the time when the casual Poke-players would be seeking something new), near the beginning of a season perfectly suited for portable gaming. Part of the prolific Shin Megami Tensei series, this game was a solid representation of the visual novel/tactical battle system pioneered by Atlus throughout the previous decade or so. Mixing elements of strategy, foresight and “common sense,” it brought players into a world on the brink and asked “what would you do to survive?”

Devil Survivor was an apocalypse story in the truest sense of the word. Rather than portraying the downfall of society at the hands of zombies/aliens/communists/etc, the game chose to “pull back the veil,” and reveal to a select few the “reality” behind out world: angels are calling the shots and maintaining a semblance of order, while demons seek to rebel and overtake the masses using mankind as a nexus point for their plots. Humanity, caught in between their eternal war, is given seven days to comply with the angel’s commands, or the city of Tokyo will be completely destroyed.

While borrowing heavily from Christian symbolism and storytelling, the game manages to frame the topic in a context that leaves religion out of the debate. Rather than bear witness to the coming doom, a select few of those humans choose to do something. Cults devoted to the idea of human liberation preach the transcendental power of humanity as a whole and warn against both domination and depravity. Certain demons, despite their “unholy” origins, choose to work alongside humans to spare the destruction, while angels appear petty at times, reveling in their “power” while the world around them slowly decays. Long before Supernatural decided to “humanize” the warring factions of good and evil and throw shades of gray into the cosmic struggle, Devil Survivor was portraying both sides strengths and weaknesses as part of an expansive “morality play” and forcing the player to call the shots on how the story ended.

shin-megami-tensei-devil-survivor-overclock-3ds-screenshots-10The concept of survival was a central point to the entire experience, as players were forced to deal with mobs of panicking humans, discovering shelter for the night, acquiring food and even looking for a power source at one point, all while society crumbles around them. The daily “countdown” towards impending doom added to the tension of the story, facilitating the need for “smart” decisions, rather than just reacting to the situation at hand, a tactic which would more than likely lead to death or derailment of plans/plots/initiatives. While not as urgent as a survival horror game, there was a distinct emphasis on consequences and foresight built into the plot, which rewarded astute gamers, and added stress to impulsive choices.

This emphasis on storytelling is one of the hallmarks of the Shin Megami Tensei series as a whole, and Devil Survivor expanded upon narrative and character interaction throughout the “seven days” of gameplay. There were numerous story lines in play, rooted around the game’s central characters, and even more around some of the “supporting cast.” Deciding which path the game took often required quick thinking, time management, and attention to detail, for some of the alternate stories hinged on how certain interactions proceeded, how often specific characters were used, what time of day it was, and how well the Protagonist sympathized and related to the individual stories of his friends. One slip up could close off an entire story line from that play through (especially those which were time-sensitive), and often that deciding moment would not be noticed until hours later. Finally, unlike its sequel, which forced the player to choose which side he was on, Devil Survivor elected instead to keep the main plot of the game static: the alterations to the plot rarely changed the outcome, just the path the story took to get to the outcome.

auctionMechanically, Devil Survivor was fantastically executed. I often called this game series “Pokemon with demons,” and for good reason. Unlike Persona games, which rely on luck and savvy fusing skills, or previous SMT games which needed negotiations to win demons over to your side, Devil Survivor tackled the issue by instituting an auction system. Money accrued during gameplay was used to enter into a “demon auction” against computer controlled AI “characters,” who would bid for the rights to contract with demons offering their services online. Quick bidding and successful manipulation of the system would net powerful demons at a low cost. Failure would mean loss of a potentially powerful ally forever.

mqdefaultWhile there was a buyout system which circumvented the bidding wars, it was often more cost-effective to analyze strategies and find ways to outbid the computer, thereby winning powerful new demons to your collection, which could then be fielded or fused within the Cathedral of Shadows to create more powerful fare. Players were encouraged to keep checking the auctions after each battle, since new demons would appear frequently, as older ones would eventually “experience out” of viability. This mix of fusion and “negotiation” proved to be as addictive to players as wandering the tall grass, because battles were often challenging and required a steady stream of “the best” demons to ensure victory.

Battles were both simple and complicated affairs. Borrowing from the tactical RPGs which Atlus is known for, combat removed the player from the interactive world and placed him on a massive grid system, facing off against wild demons or opposing summoners. Strategy took the form of choosing not only the appropriate demon, but also having a working knowledge of the demons skills and “specialties.” Certain demons had the ability to move quickly, or multiple times. Others could attach twice. Others could attack from long range. Some could heal, or fly, or teleport. It was very easy to lose sight of these special skills in the heat of combat, and thereby discover your party has been maneuvered into a tight spot from which escape was unlikely. There were many-a-battle where enemies with huge hit boxes could wipe out an unprepared party before they could move within range to strike.

beelzebulDevil Survivor was a frustrating experience for the unprepared. While the learning curve was hardly an issue, the difficulty would abruptly ratchet up several levels in between encounters. Time-sensitive events would vanish swiftly, and frequently never pop up again in the “daily log,” thereby restricting (or even breaking) carefully planned course of action. Certain bosses were quirky and had merciless AI and “random number generators,” which could spell doom for even the best-prepared party. Even grinding was unpredictable and relentless in its encounters. And yet, it is a testament to the game’s appeal that one would not wish to stop playing. Even after losing a hard-fought, twenty-plus minute boss fight in the final moments due to an unanticipated sequence of strikes, the player would simply reload a save and go right back, taking what they learned and hopefully avoiding it the second (or third, or fourth) time around. Maybe a tweak to character abilities, or a swapping of demons/party members, and it was back into battle. It made the eventual victory both sweeter and more satisfying, knowing it was attained through strategy and effort, and not just overpowered steamrolling.

devil survivor 2It might be a testament to the success of the game that you rarely see copies for sale. It sold fairly well, maybe not a hit in most people’s opinions, but certainly enough to warrant both a “fancy” 3DS upgrade, and “cult classic” status. It vanished from store shelves a few months after release, and even the used game sections rarely-if ever- see copies in them. Like many of the other SMT titles, this one served to satisfy the fan-base, but also made fans of many newcomers, myself included. While it’s a radical departure from the wildly popular Persona series that many casual gamers recognize, it was also familiar enough to have solid appeal. The replay value was extremely high: New Game + mode carried over demons and money, which made the followup game sessions ridiculously easy; the existence of multiple endings, “exclusive” fusions, and optional bosses prompted repeat plays just to see how strong one could become.

There was a sequel released in February of last year, also for the DS, which carried over many of the aspects that made this game such a success. And on it’s own, Devil Survivor 2 is as much a “Game You Slept On” as it’s precursor. But for this gamer, the first title will always be the special one. It opened the wide world of Shin Megami Tensei on a platform that seemed perfectly suited for casual play, while not losing any of the addictive nature that other SMT games hold. It was because of this game that I sampled Persona, which has become its own monster in my gaming life. And while I haven’t played it since those three hundred or so hours back in 2009, I can still recall vividly how much enjoyment the game carried with it. That’s a rarity these days.

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