The Lost Reviews – Hook

19 05 2016

HOOK (Rainbow Train - 2005)

I have always loved those puzzles where you had to make a route from one side to another. You know the sort of thing, where you might have to direct a flow of water from the tank to the tap, but there are obstacles in the way; like those hacking puzzles in Bioshock. I just love the technical aspects of such puzzles plus the stress of getting it right first time (plus the fun of getting it wrong…on occasion). Well Hook is sort of like those puzzles, except instead of building a route; you need to completely demolish it.

HOOK 3

Hook is a 2D puzzle game where you have to click on switches, clear routes and send messages, all for the purpose of clearing the entire level of obstacles. Sound confusing, well it is. To play the game all you need is your mouse, and in turn you will be clicking on a black button to send a message to remove some sticks from a big maze of sticks. Some sticks though are blocking others and you will need to remove those ones first to remove the others. Once all the sticks in a level have been removed, the level is complete and you progress onto the next one. It’s sort of a mix between Pick up Sticks, and Kerplunk. As the game progresses, further little bits are added to increase game difficulty, ranging from circles that need turning to connect routes to one another, as well as wireless/Wi-Fi like messages to remote routes not connected to the main puzzle.

In terms of the game’s difficulty, the first few levels are all pretty easy, but by the end they are extremely complex. To begin with you don’t need to worry about making mistakes. Eventually though lives are added. Once all your lives are depleted, you have to start the level all over again. Hook’s graphics are simple yet effective. It’s a white background with dark greyish lines showing the routes and sticks. Nice and simple, but not at all confusing. Great work has been made to make them look nice and crisp and not jittery or block like. It’s a smooth looking game, and the animations are just as smooth. Even little things like sticks overlapping each other, to the sending and receiving of signals are nicely made. Hook does not really have a soundtrack as such; it’s just the sound of blowing wind. It’s like imagining yourself at the O.K. Corral. This lack of music though is nothing too bad, as the lack of sound really does help you to concentrate on what is happening. It’s not exactly peaceful though, as the level of silence and the occasional gust of wind can really increase the tension and frustration, the good kind.

HOOK 1

The only real problem I have with this game is that it’s a bit quick. The first few levels are nice and easy, but it takes a while for the levels to get harder, which is what you want. It’s a puzzle game; it’s meant to be tricky. It’s only really into the second half of all levels that it gets any trickier. These levels take more of your time to play, but the level of difficulty, gameplay, not forgetting the frustration, is what you want in a puzzle game. But as soon as you finally get these levels, the game is nearly over, and once you get the hang of everything, that’s it the game is over. All levels are completed. I have no desire to replay this game either. It was fun; it could just have been longer. The lives system is fun, but a higher level of consequence would have been nice too.

HOOK 4

Hook is an addictive game, and you will find yourself unable to do or think of anything else other than play Hook continuously until you have finished. It lacks achievement though; there is no real reward for playing a game that’s just too easy and too quick. At best, it’s a casual little game to play when you have a lunch break. On the other hand if you have a whole day off; I would suggest playing Borderlands instead, at least there is more to do in Borderlands, and it’s longer.

HOOK 2

GENEPOOL





Top 5 Weapons I Would Choose In The Hunger Games

18 05 2016

Katniss Everdeen

I love The Hunger Games, by that I of course mean the combination of the Film and the Book, not necessarily the setting of jumping into an arena and having to kill people. A few years ago, after the release of the first one, I remember an interview that was conducted on some of the cast members who were asked how they would act inside the arena. Now for me, I would more than likely just hide in the corner, and cry my eyes out until I was either dead, or just go mad and become some kind of psychopath. In my head though, it’s a completely different story as I would see myself being like Blade and just be invincible going round killing everyone, but that is very unlikely. Anyway I thought I would do a post on what my ideal weapon choices would be in the arena.

M110A2 Self-Propelled Howitzer

Now I decided to sort of be semi-realistic in my choices. For one, I know I cannot bring anything in to the ring, so it prevents my 3 main options: Godzilla, a M110A2 Self-Propelled Howitzer and Lisbeth Salander; although fair point, Lisbeth Salander would receive double points for having access to a cool leather jacket.

Lisbeth Salander

It’s certainly better than wearing those swimming outfits in Catching fire. I mean, what would you prefer; the swimming costumes from Catching Fire, or a Cool Leather Jacket?

Anyway, under the point that I can’t necessarily take anything in, this list is made up of choices I would choose if they became available in the arena themselves. Now, I do realise that this list may seem a little bit rushed. I have had these dreams for a while of what I would choose, but have only just decided to do this as a post, and in the end, I don’t think I have used my imagination all that much, and this list is made up of more practical stuff mixed with things from Movies, and so I may eventually regret my choices (apart from the leather jacket), and do another one of these in the future with either some additional thought, a selection of weapons from the films/books, things I just made up. Anyway, here are my choices of what I was able to simple cobble together.

Mortis

5. Mortis – What could be better than if one of the choices was the robot Mortis from Robot Wars? What could be better than Mortis, the best robot in all of Robot Wars? Now he would be ranked higher if it wasn’t for the case of a remote-controlled robot being relatively impractical as you would spend most of your time behind the robot directing it rather than looking out for the girl from district 6 creeping up on you. But forgetting that bit, its axe would be so deadly an attack, you don’t necessarily need to kill anybody, just puncture them and let them bleed out. It’s a grim idea, but it might be easier on your conscience.

M4A1

4. M4A1 Assault Rifle – Ok, this one is mostly based on what fun I could get out of MW2 Multiplayer, but yeah. Why not choose a Gun? It makes complete and total sense; you can get it over with good and quick as long as your aim is good and true. Why not add the attachable grenade launcher, then that way you can set fire to any forestry around you and force people out before shooting them. Ok, it relies on you not wasting ammo; but why on earth would the Capitol only give you one clip?

Crossbow

3. CrossbowKatniss Everdeen had her bow and arrows; I would have my Crossbow (even though I should point out this is all hypothetical and I don’t actually own one). It’s similar to the above mentioned Gun, but this time it’s a bit more quiet and lethal. Yes, I can see a Crossbow coming quite handy in the Hunger Games, and I don’t mean just some old relic of a device, no! I mean a proper modern beast of a weapon, similar to the one used in Brainiac: Science Abuse for testing armour in a modern civil war, or like at the end of Reign of Fire when Christian Bale’s character kills the Big Dragon.

Quarriors

2. Quarriors Dice – If you have no idea what those 2 words mixed together mean, it’s obvious you have not played my Favourite Board Game. In Quarriors (using a similar sort of game play to Dominion, if you know what that is), you roll and collect dice to attack other people. Dice can be used to summon spells, and summon monsters. Just imagine it, you roll the dice, and in a similar vein to Yu-Gi-Oh, Monsters and Spells come out of the dice to attack your enemies.

Heimdall

1. Equipment from Thor – When I think about me being in The Hunger Games, one thing that always comes to mind is the film Thor, quite possibly because the night on the day that I first saw The Hunger Games, I went home and watched some scenes from Thor. Anyway, I have decided to call this bit Equipment of Thor (I know it does not sound all that exciting), because there are 3 things I can think of that would be quite useful to have in The Hunger Games. As to how you would get them is relatively obvious, basically you will be covered in lightning like Thor and receive the equipment as it is bonded to your body. Anyway, the items in question; Heimdall’s Armour, Heimdall’s Sword, and Thor’s Hammer. It’s all you really need isn’t it, just the basics, and the hammer could prove to be a useful escape route as you could just plough through a wall or the roof, or better yet, send the hammer flying and destroy the Capitol, end of The Hunger Games, everyone is free, let’s go home. Basically, all this time, I just see myself becoming Thor while also receiving some equipment from the mighty Heimdall too.

GENEPOOL





The Lost Reviews – Timberman

17 05 2016

Timberman 2

A wise man once said “I’m a lumberjack, and I’m okay.” Well after playing this game I can say that I am a lumberjack, but after playing on Multiplayer mode, I don’t know if I’ll be able to say I am okay. Timberman (Digital Melody - 2015)

Timberman is an arcade style, casual flash game for the PC where you play the role of a Lumberjack chopping down trees as quickly as possible without dying. The game has a simple interface and control scheme. You are represented by a lumberjack avatar, and you have an axe. When the game starts, all you need to do is click away furiously to chop down as much tree as possible. You will need to alter which side of the tree you chop down to avoid the large number of killer branches. As the tree falls with each click, branches come down with it, and if a branch falls on you, you die. Controlling which side you chop on is very easy, all you do is change which mouse clicker you are clicking with. You will also need to be aware of a timer above your head counting down the amount of time you have left until your imminent death.

Timberman 3

Personally I prefer to avoid games that are made specifically to look like pixellated arcade games from the pre mid 1980’s; Timberman’s graphics however are aesthetically pleasing to the eye. They are not blurry nor cause any worry for potential photosensitive seizures. They are in fact very nice to look at, plus it makes the game easier to run, which is especially useful on computers not designed for playing heavy games, and easy access multiplayer battles. A neat little feature the game is that when one game is finished, and you decide to play another, the time of day changes. So from a nice autumn day, to a dark night, to a nice summer’s day. Timberman also comes packed with dozens of Timberman characters too. Some of these are beneficial to unlocking others, which is very useful if you are not the most hardcore of lumberjacks. These can range from simple characters like the basic Timberman with a different coloured shirt, to ridiculous characters like Father Christmas, a Bear, a Snowman, Jason Voorhees and Barack Obama.

Timberman 5

At best; single player mode is just a way to hone your tree cutting skills and unlock new characters. It’s Multiplayer mode where this game really comes out to shine. Now if you’re anything like me and play mostly on your laptop, it can be hard to play multiplayer games especially those of big graphically powered games. The number of times I have decided to play Left 4 Dead on Multiplayer, and found my computer and connection so slow that I have had to reposition myself in the hope of getting a stronger signal. Due to Timberman’s increased accessibility though it is so easy to connect and play without any interruptions. Multiplayer takes the form of a battle/race to chop down as much tree as possible without dying. It follows the same gameplay methods as single player, but this time you find yourself lined up with up to 3 other lumberjacks. These battles play over several rounds with scores being taken from each round. Whoever has the highest score after 5 rounds, wins. With winning such battles comes the opportunity to have your skill level and rank increased, so you can show off to the entire world (or at least those who play this game) how good you are at chopping down trees.

Timberman 4

Despite some of its good points however, the game does have a few shortcomings. Single player does not have much longevity to it other than to unlock new skins. This though is relatively minor to a bigger gripe I have. Timberman does not have a Tutorial mode; neither shows any information on how you play it. The first time you play you are at a complete loss to understand how on earth you are supposed to play it. It sort of expects you to know, thinking that the relative simple understanding will be enough. It reminds me of the seaside side-show game Whack-a-Mole. All you get is a mallet and have to hit moles with it. Timberman as a concept runs along similar lines to this, however as you are not actually holding the axe in your real hands, there is no way of knowing how you actually swing it. Then the issue of dying from branches comes up where you learn that the hard way after several games of not looking, thinking you just keep on clicking. The Red bar above your head is self-explanatory, but in your first game you could very easily die without knowing how you do anything. The Soundtrack is pretty cool. It has an early arcade game sound to it which when mixed with the pixellated graphics is a nice added touch. But it’s just endless and can get pretty boring after a while. It’s just a shame there is not any variety in the music compared to the changing of the time of day.

Timberman 1

Timber man is a rather fun game. It’s a nice cool, fun concept. It is an easy game to play (once you know how), the graphics are rather neat and the inclusion of customizable lumberjacks and the ever-changing day and season calendar is a nice little add-on. While it does include some issues such as the repetitive music, lack of a more diverse single player mode and the irritating non-existence of a tutorial mode; Timberman is worth going through some of these issues just to play in multiplayer clashes.

Timberman 6

GENEPOOL (another thing that is missing is the quaint stroll through the wood like there was in Rashomon).





Building The Raid

4 05 2016

TR3

For over a year now, it has become evidently clear that there are 2 things I really like. One (given by the status of how much time I have played on it) of them is the PC Game Prison Architect (by Introversion Software). The other one (given by how much I have talked about it) is the Indonesian Action Film The Raid. As a fan of both I thought it might be fun to combine the two. Now, for those of you who know what the two things involve, you may be wondering how I combine a game about building Prisons with an Action film series that mostly takes place in an urban setting. Well, that answer is pretty easy to answer as it happens. Quite a lot of the first act of The Raid 2 takes place in a Prison. Basically, during the first act, there is a fight in the prison yard, when taking a look at the shots surrounding the yard, such as the shape of the prison surrounding the yard, plus the scene where Rama (Iko Uwais) is inside a prison cell, such small details like that gave me plenty of ideas as how to construct a prison in Prison Architect to look like that Prison.

One of the main ideas with a game like Prison Architect is to let your mind flow and almost make a work of art, but seeing as building the prison is only half the battle as you get caught up in prison Management and Administration also, I thought that building a prison based on a Prison I saw in a film would be a good idea. I thought that such shapes and designs could help me come up with something relatively basic, but also help me in the running of a prison on the Large Map game setting. Well after 3 attempts; I have come to the conclusion that it’s not as straight forward as it sounds. Let me explain. Designing prisons based on ones in either real life or even a film as it is probably a real prison, does not mean that something in the real world is going to work in a game, not to forget that it’s just a design, and that it does not mean also that it will equate to the management and administration of a prison too. Those kinds of things come down to service quality, not bricks and mortar.

Prison Admin

On my first attempt to build The Raid, I started out normally. By this I mean I started designing out the look and shape of the prison using the in-game planning tool. This acts like something as like a blueprint sketch, where you can plan out where the walls and objects within your prison are going to go before you start building them. As I wanted to get it right, that was the best Idea. I planned out where Cells were going to be, where showers, solitary, yard, canteens, and other various rooms were going to be, and then I gradually built it bit by bit. In the game, you can acquire grants that provide you with money for completion of a task. It’s a useful feature as the first few prisons you build in the game are likely to have the use of them as money to begin with is short. When a prison is complete you can then go and sell it, and receive money in aid of constructing your next prison. Well, having done quite a few prisons by this point, I had quite a lot to use. In the end, when I did complete the prison, I was nearly out of usable grants, but from what I remember I still had plenty of ownership of my prison. One other way of making money you see is to sell shares in your prison for large amounts of cash, this will reduce your overall ownership of the prison, but it’s a great way of making a lot of money really fast. The other way of doing it quickly is to open your prison early and receive cash injections for the arrival of inmates. Anyway, by the time I thought it was complete; I had near to no money at all or ways to get money. And then things got worse. A fire broke out, and it just engulfed an area of my prison that was strangely made out of rock. Prisoners now had an easy escape route, plus I had no money to fix it, so I abandoned that Prison in the hope that one day I would learn from my mistakes and build a better version.

The Raid 2

Well, recently, back in about February, on the final night of BBC Three as it happens, after a while of not playing this game, I decided to re-install it. After a few games and time to try out some of its new elements such as women prisoners and a finally working Execution facility I decided to try and rebuild The Raid. I went through the same old thing again; design then build bit by bit. One thing about this time I remember though was that I was able to secure a large amount of money and get a lot done before opening it. However, I have sort of forgotten what happened, but given the pictures I took, I believe it had something to do with a Riot. If you look at the canteen area on the below picture, you can see a large area shaded Red, that shows that in that room a riot is taking place, so it’s sort of more like The Raid films, but not exactly great for prison designing. And given by how much money I had, I can bet I was not able to survive. I think in the end, I gave up. I did not stop playing or uninstall the game; I just deleted that save file and start all over again.

The Raid 2 Riot

So, with my having yet another go at building The Raid, I played a few more games in the hope of building up to that again, well I have had one more go. I did things differently this time however. Given by the success I have discovered in imprisoning women as they appear to not riot as much as Men, I thought I would give it a go as a women’s prison. Same thing again, designed it by sketching it out, and then built it from the ground up. This time however, I did not have as much money, so I had to be quick when I did have money. I slowly but surely built up the first bit, and it was going relatively ok.

The Raid 3

Then a riot broke out, and another if my memory is correct. It became clear, that building The Raid was never going to be an easy task. Over the last few games I had actually come up with new ideas on how to design a prison and those ones actually worked out ok, but as the design for this one was so much different, it was not going to be as straight forward. I tried to do things differently by having two separate large canteens instead of one big one, but it was becoming ever clearer, that this Raid was going to plummet before it was even near finished. So just before I wrote this post up, I sold it, and deleted the save before uninstalling the game. Well, I have played on it for nearly 200 hours now (189 to be exact, my most played game on Steam), so maybe it’s time to move on and try something else for a bit. I am not a sore loser or anything, it’s just clear to me that building The Raid time and time again is probably not going to work.

The Raid 3

If anything, this project has taught me, never to design anything in a game based on something in real life. They are two different realities, life and video games, and it’s clear the two are not meant to mix (not unless I get re-inspired when The Raid 3 comes out). Thinking about it, the signs should have been clear. I mean, how many times Video Games and Movies mixed…..have and came out positively. Not to sway your opportunities if you want to try to build The Raid, give it ago, let me know how you get on.

The Raid 3

Now, let’s end on a reflective piece of music.

GENEPOOL (please have a read of my review of The Raid).





The Great Game Sacrifice

6 04 2016

My PS3 (and GameCube)

Since about 2009, I have owned a PlayStation 3. For many years I kept it in the front room of my house which enabled me to play it downstairs, as well as have a good internet access to enable the system to complete any number of the millions of system and game updates the machine requires on a too regular basis. Anyway, for some time my enthusiasm to play on the machine on a regular basis had begun to dwindle, and it had been a long while since I had bought any new games for it. I think the last time I bought a brand new game for it was when I bought Beyond: Two Souls back in 2013 (which then led to a reflective post on video games as a hobby). Well, roughly about this time last year, I decided to move the machine to my room, where I originally used to play on it when I first bought it. Putting the machine up there allowed me to give more of a part in the playing of games on the console, especially as I was no longer standing up. However, very quickly, my interest waned again and it was back to being a console in my room, just gathering dust, with a lack of enthusiasm with me to playing on it.

The issue really was that despite the games I owned for it, not many of them were games I wanted to instantly pick up and play at that time, and for most of the time I was either playing things that I had played too much, or stuff I did not want to play at that time of day/night. My interest had gone because I was not playing anything all that really interesting to me as a player. I needed new stuff to play really. Luckily, back in July I did pick up a bunch of cheap games I had not played before including Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas and Lost Planet 2. I played MW3 and enjoyed the experience, but the other 2, I just found rather boring. Once again, playing on the console got un-regular, and on the evenings where I really wanted to play something, I would usually end-up on an entirely different machine. I t was sort of a never-ending sad story for my PS3.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (Infinity Ward - 2011)

Eventually, the penny dropped. One night, I was playing on Brütal Legend, a game I really like, but got to a point that I was not enjoying, and came to the conclusion that I came as far as I could. I tried looking at my other games, and choosing one to play, but came to the stark realization, that for a lot of them, games that I really liked such as Brütal Legend, Killzone 2 and even Far Cry 3 (a game I have considered for a long time as one of my top favourites), it was clear that I did not want to play them again, well not at least for a long time, time for them to get interesting, time for me to forget something about them to keep them fresh, because right now, fresh they weren’t. It was there that I decided to trade them in. I cycled through the games I had, kept ones I was sure of keeping at least for now, like Mortal Kombat 9, Killzone 3 and Fairytale Fights, but got rid of the games I have mentioned above, including those I got back in July, and some others I had got down the line.

Fairytale Fights (Playlogic Entertainment - 2009)

Pretty much the following day, while on break from my time working at Barnardo’s shop, I popped into CEX across the road, chose a few games for possible purchase, and traded in my old ones. It was a hard decision to trade in games I loved, but I thought I could buy them again down the line if I wanted too. So yes, I traded in those games, got an alright price for them, chose a game, took it to the desk where I was told it had gone down in price, so I got an additional one too. I also went into GAME where I got an additional game for just 99p. I was both Happy and Excited, I was about to play games I had not played at all. One was a game I had known about since it was first released back in 2009, while the other 2 I had known about for a while but had not considered buying until near that time. But I was happy and really excited to try out something new. Those games were; Haze, Blur and Dishonored.

Dishonoured

There was still a bit of an issue though. While I may have had cool new games to play, I was still unsure about a game I kept. I decided to keep ModNation Racers, a quirky and very fun racing game that was something of Sony’s attempt at making their own version of Mario Kart, which actually worked; quite brilliantly. I sort of decided to keep it as it could be a good multiplayer game to have, despite the fact that I hardly ever play online multiplayer. I decided to keep it as more a split screen multiplayer game. Anyway, one thing that made the game really work for me was the single player campaign and story, which was very in-depth and thrilling from scene to scene. Since completing that part though, repeating the campaign was just so easy, and out of everything about the game, it was the campaign that really stood out for me. So by deciding to keep it, I decided to make it fun again, by deleting all my data on the console. As a result, the story was fun but challenging again, however, due to the deletion, the game kept getting interrupted by a screen demanding I do an update. It was of course an option rather than a demand to be fair, but when I would click cancel, another would pop up less than 5 minutes later. Having had enough over the years of constant updates on the console and its games; I decided to switch the console’s internet access off. The decision and the action of doing such a thing were actually very easy to come to, and do. At the time I did not regret it, and don’t now. Turning it online hasn’t really been of any advantage for me in the first place other to play on MAG. The only thing that was a bit annoying was that I lost some vehicle bodies in ModNation Racers, but apart from that, have had no issues with games, the console, nor any annoying screens telling me that there is an update required. For the first time in a long time, the console is more or less at a stage with which I am more than happy with it. I can now just play games on it and not have to worry about additional issues.

Since then, I have been happily playing on my games. So far I have been playing the story/campaign mode in ModNation Racers, played a few levels of Haze, and am some distance into Dishonoured, which I am really enjoying. Have yet to play Blur, but am sure will get round to it sooner or later, well more sooner than I was before getting it. I don’t know what will happen after I complete those games, whether I’ll keep them or trade them in, but now, am happier than I was before, and am more up for game trading than I was before, because without doing it, the PS3 in my room would be a lot more dustier now than it was less than a couple of months ago.

My PS3 Games (at the moment)

GENEPOOL (Did you notice the dust claw marks on my PS3?)








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