Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea Episode 2 – Review

NOTE: this review will be as spoiler free as possible, but may hint at the ending to the previous episode and plot lines from the main game. Consider yourself warned!

2014-05-08_00001The game starts nice enough

So we come to the final part of Booker and Elizabeth story. Burial at sea gives three for the price of one by concluding Bioshock infinite, Burial at Sea a few gaps in the original Bioshock story line. So don’t play this unless you want all those games spoiled. It starts simply enough, you in Paris, playing as Elizabeth, you know this as within a few seconds an artist shows you a portrait of you with your name on it, and also most NPC talks to you by name.

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You know it Paris cause there an artist…

2014-05-08_00004 …and accordions….

2014-05-08_00005 …and freaky clowns….

2014-05-08_00006 …and a silly dog, all we need is a guy on a bike with onions and we have every French cliché in one section

But within a short space of time your back in rapture shortly after the event of the previous game. And running into another familiar face in the form of atlas. And due to another convoluted set of actions you end up working for him. I cant say any more about the story without spoiling it. But I can say its good and does give a proper conclusion to what was started in infinite.

2014-05-08_00014 Atlas, way and more of a dick in this game.

Gameplay wise, its wants to be played as a stealth game, but it can be run a gunned if you really want to. Enemy’s now have icons above their head showing their alert status, similar to Dishonoured, allowing you to sneak around quite effectively. You can also do sneak attacks on unaware enemys (although you could do that somewhat in the first games). Dispite this being tacked on it does work quite well and i managed to make my way around the levels pretty easly.

2014-05-08_00023The bars fill up as guards become more aware of you

You also get some new tools and toys the add to the new gameplay. The crossbow returns, this time loaded with tranquilliser darts (but it can also take different types) which allows you to quietly take down enemy’s from a distance. You also have a chance to retrieve the arrows off fallen enemy’s so it actually quite hard to run out of ammo, I rarely had to re-buy new darts, which is a nice touch.

2014-05-08_00018 Every game should have crossbows in it

There are a couple new plasmids, one I found useful, one I barely used. The first is the peeping tom plasmid and basically ties in with the whole stealth system. Just using it allows you to see enemy’s through the walls, and holding it allows you to turn invisible. Initially it does not last to long, but soon after you get an upgrade (which are now found in canisters instead of being brought, this does mean if you miss one and go to a different level you lose it forever), this allow you to see enemy’s and remain invisible indefinitely using no eve as long as you don’t move. This does make the game a bit of a cakewalk but allows you to be a proper stealth predator. It very similar to the gene tonic you get from researching Houdini splicers from the first game.

2014-05-08_00027The peeping tom plasmid really helps with stealth

2014-05-08_00028 Plasmids are now upgraded using canisters

there is the new lock picking game. It pretty simple. A cutaway shows you the inside of the lock, your pick moves randomly across all the pins, the goal is to hit the blue or the white pins, doing so will unlock the door, and if you hit a blue pin you’ll get a noise maker arrow for your crossbow. A red pin will set an alarm off alerting enemy’s to your position, but nicely the door will still unlock meaning you cant waist lock picks and get stuck.

2014-05-08_00016 The new mini games is one of the better lockpicking game I’ve played

Combat is pretty similar to the previous game, there are no more of the silly pneumo-lines from the episode 1 that turned rapture into Columbia. you also some across a few places where enemy will fight each other representing the start of rapture civil war. A few guns return from the previous episode, but I found myself sneaking my way through most combat and not having to run and gun. but overall it still fun and a lot of the environments and really interesting to fight over.

overall, Episode 2 is an excellent ending to the bioshock series (and it does semi end the series). if you’ve played the other part then I would differently purchase this.

 

Thief – Review

Oh Edios Montreal, how I had faith in you, you took one of my beloved franchises in the form of Deus Ex, and created a fantastic prequel, which deservedly received critical acclaim. You updated it but kept the core of what made Deus Ex a great game and enhanced it. How I had great faith when I heard you were going to applying that same skill to another one of my beloved franchises in Thief, only for it to turn into a complete disappointment.

2014-02-28_00017Not taking any hints from Dishonoured

Looking at Thief in two ways, as a Thief game it fails utterly, it loses the spirit and core of the series. As a stealth game it is mediocre, the stealth is far too easy, and one tool you can buy early on breaks the game.

2014-02-28_00005 It is however very pretty

Before talking about were its all gone wrong, lets me explain why the previous thief games were great, (incidentally you can pick up all the proper games from Steam, here, here and here). A thief game cast you as a pretty normal man, Garret, just living his life in a fantasy world. He never tried to be a hero, most of his inclination was to simply look out for himself. Often his motivation to commit crimes would be just to get enough money to pay the rent. As the game went on he would be drawn reluctantly into saving the world. Each mission (generally) would place you outside a building or area with perhaps a very simple objective. You could if you want go in through the front door (although you would almost certainly be killed by the guards) or more likely try and find a sneaky way in. Once in you would have to explore the world find clues about the location your objective and how to perform it (no objective markers here to guide you). Overcoming puzzles, guards and tasks as you came across them. There were no real boss battles, nor any scripted screens where you where force to be caught and had to escape (before anyone comments about the mechanist tower level from thief 2, where you go into an office and set off an alarm, it possible to actually disable it before going in and not get any guards after you). Freedom was name of the game, you were encourage to try a different way of taking each level, often coming across secrets as a rewards

Thief 4 pretty much drops all of that.

Where to begin? Well I’ll try to be as spoiler free as possible, but having said that I will spoil the first prequel section of the game, but if you’ve seen any of the trailers you will have had that done already

I was worried from the start, Garrets voiceover artist, while better than in the original trailers, still sounds more like a Chicago hit man then a thief. He still has a cynical side, but otherwise sounds like any game protagonist you heard before, but a greater sin comes when you meet his temporary sidekick in the form of Erin (Amusingly i had a sheep called Aeyrn, spelt differently but pronounced the same, which meant I kept visualising her every time Erin name was said)

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I know who I rather have as a companion

Erin is a cocky, reckless, annoying young companion, constantly talks about how much better she is then you, while you go on about how much she has to learn. So, sounds like pretty much any modern female sidekick show in any modern game. She ends up falling to her apparent death (although I’m writing this before I’ve completed the game, so I’m certain she turn out to not be dead) and gives Garret a sense of angst he really does not need. Garret himself has been taking lessons from the Game protagonist book of cliché and become simply another cookie cutter mould character like you get in most games. As such his home base has to be is a Clock tower, not some little dingy apartment, but a ruddy great big clock tower in the middle of Stonemarket!

2014-03-09_00003Just the place for a man who want to keep a low profile

Continuing with the Fluff issues, the story feel like a cheap dishonoured rip off, you have a city with a plague going round, and a baron using it somewhat to his own ends. The writing is pretty bad, and sopme of the scripts are cringeworthy. At one point a group of guard have a discussing about a cock ring!

2014-03-01_00002 The new look Basso, and a example of non atmosphere breaking dialog

Game play wise things are not much better, you now have an action button for most athletic interactions, want to climb up somewhere? Action button, want to jump down (you can’t just walk off edges)? Action button, want to vault over something? Action button, want to… you get the idea. This can and indeed does cause problems, I was once running from some guards and saw some boxes next to a roof, thinking quickly I planned to climber up and get onto the roof, but as I was running when I approached I instead vaulted over them. The game also starts to place limits on where you can use your ability to prevent you from having fun and trying something diffrent. In one of the early level you can get onto roofs, but to stop from trying to jump into the buildings, the top of the roof has a 30cm tall metal fence around it which makes it impossible for Garret to cross. Later on I was in the building and wanted to jump down from my spot, I tried and tried for a few moments before realising I has to run and jump down. This lack of consistency makes a ok system frustrating and had me swearing at it times.

Another new feature Garret has is called ‘Swooping’, it allow you to move from place to place rapidly over a short distance and seems to be a response to Dishonoured Blink mechanic. It actually a fun system control and work very well, Just a pity it also tied to the action button.

The game also introduces mechanics only for it to then have to limit what you can and can’t do. For example at ome point you have to climb an outside of a building (the game goes into an immersion breaking third person view to do this) at some stage doing this climb you move from one set of pipes to the another set above, later on doing a similar section you can’t move from pipes to pipe even though the set up is the same, and you end up having to button mash everywhere to try and find how to move. The game also gives you tools and limits them, Rope arrows have to be shot into convneant placed sticking out beams, except the ones you’re not allows to shot rope arrows into, in which case they’ll hit but do nothing and you waist a rope arrow

2014-03-01_00004 A climbing section, or guess which way the game want you to go section

The actual stealth mechanic feel rather primitive compared to older thief games, your light gem returns, but seem to have two setting, light or dark, with the stages in-between hardly making any noticeable effect. Guard have a mixture of good and poor AI, they’ll notice a door move from open to close, even if they don’t see you do it. They will also notice you putting out light and will eventually relight them. But will only really search around the local area, and not investigate other rooms nearby to try and find you. This makes avoiding them trivially easy. Also early on you can by a wrench tool that allows you to open up vents and climb in. The AI has no way to deal with this, even if they see you go in, they’ll act like you disappeared in front of there eyes.

2014-03-01_00003 Behold, the place where no guard believes exsits

Between each level you get to explore the city, this a fairly large and spawning area, but feels somewhat dead, apart from beggars and guards there are not a lot of people to interact with and does not feel like an actually place. The levels themselves early on are fairly liner, and set up in a way so you can only progress through and not backtrack. Once you get to chapter 3-6 they do get better, only to revert back to form in the later chapters This make the buildings you visit feel more like, well, levels instead of a place that actually exists. Ironically the side missions are closer to the original thief levels in terms of design.

Some good things about thief, the game look beautiful, and the animation/motioncapture in the cutsecens and in game are excellent. The game is very visual, you get to see garrets hands almost all of the time. When you feel for a hidden buttons around a picture you see Garrets hands grab it and have to move them with your mouse to fell around the edge till you find it, and you actually see his hand grab loot and pickpocket people which is really nice. Likewise lockpicking is also fun, but functially the same as looking for hidden buttons

2014-02-28_00016 looking for a hidden button

2014-02-28_00008what’s yours is mine, what’s mine is mine

One nice feature is the ability to customise your game difficulty settings you can switch off thing like the focus mode (which has the benefit of saving you quite a bit of money as you don’t have to buy upgrades for it.) and other things like moving more slowly, this is a pretty nice feature, and I would love to see more games making use of this.

Overall Thief 4 feels like someone took the design document for Dishonoured (an excellent stealth game), put it through dozen of focus groups removing any and all unique and interesting features and then built a poor stealth system on top. I would strongly recommend getting Dishonoured GOTY edition over this, or better yet buy the original games and enjoy a proper stealth game.

Professional farmer 2014 – Review

Just when you through the desktop farming community was properly satisfied with one game about replicating agriculture, another one come along. Professional Farmer 2014 is a replacement for the companies previous (has to be said, quite buggy) Agricultural Simulator, and brings alone some improvements, boasting a new engine leased from a polish developer Silden. It would be unfair to compare this game to its main rival, Farming Simulator 2013, so I’ll keep that for another post. Instead I’ll talk the game on it own merits.

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So what good? Well for started you have the vehicles have properly simulated cabs. Most of the cabs have a displays showing, revs, gears, fill level, fuel and time. You could easily use the cockpit to drive without the HUD, unfortunately you cannot switch off the HUD so most of the time it’s taking up valuable screen space. The game also simulates the gear boxes correctly for tractors, you have a multiple of gears split into ranges (for those who don’t know, tractors come with gears, usually 6, which then goes through a second gear box split into ‘ranges’, for example 4, this effectively mulplies the gears, so in the example above you would have 24 effective gears, 6 gears X 4 ranges). You also have to specficly select reverse to go backwards and still use the accelarted pedal, no arcade driving controls here. I do have an issue with the driving, the game is meant to have cruse controls options for CVT gear boxes to maintain speed. But this never worked when I played it, however I believe this is an issue with my steering wheel.

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The game features simulated cabs, shame you can’t switch the HUD off

Speaking of steering wheels, when you load up the game you can select which device you want to drive the vehicles with, and it worked immensely with my steering wheel. I did have a few issues. Firstly, I had to inverse my pedal arrangement as the game insisted on using my break pedal for accelerate, secondly, the game had no native support for the buttons on my wheel. I ended up having to use Pinnacle game profiler in order to use any of my steering wheel buttons.

Another disappointment is the lack of Livestock choices, the only options in the game are chicken, ducks and cows. And generally all the simulation boils down to getting money generated each game turn. To be fair, this tends to be the case with most agricultural sims. The focus is usually on the arable side of the farming. I can to an extent understand this. It is easier to simulate ploughing, cultivating, sowing and harvesting. But lots of the things you do to livestock (no jokes please) would not be easy to simulate or devolve down into mini-games. But as a man who loves livestock (still no jokes, please) I always feel disheartened about the non-interactive nature often demonstrated in these games.

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Vehicles in the game world are well detailed

The game itself is split into turns, representing stages of the year (early spring, late spring etc) you carry out all the task for one turn before moving onto the next. Its a neat idea getting away from rapidly growing crops shown in other games and making the game feel more realistic. You have to contend with weather in later seasons making some task more difficult. It also removes a lot of the time pressure involved to get things done.
You’ll also get side missions in the form of doing contract work for other farmers. I did discover that these involve to no more then ensuring a % of a field was ploughed, cultivated etc. Quality did of the job does not matter and long as you hit the % target you’ll complete it. A Partically stupid example, after I did some harvesting, I was informed I had complted the task and told to head for home. I had an 80% full grain tank, and rather take it to the trailer to dump it correctly I simply empited the grain onto the field (which means its effective lost) I recived no pentily for this as I had simply hit my % target.

2013-12-01_00007Fear me, for I am the reaper of wheat

The world is excellently detailed. The way sunlight lights up the cab realistically make it a beautiful game to drive around in. You wont find any NPC apart form driving vehicles which make town feel a bit empity. Talking about the engine, the only thing I’m not sure about is how easy the game is to mod for, looking at the game files I can’t see an easy way for fans to create customer content. But I’ll hold judgement on that.

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You get a baler at the start allowing to earn more money from your left over straw.

There are a few other annoying issues. You have constant background music that sounds like what the developer believes all American rednecks must listen too. And there aren’t that many songs so you get quite a bit of repeat, lucky the music can be switched off. Also there is now way to quit back to the main menu, you can only quit the whole game and re start it if you wish to return to another mode. Along the same lines you can only ever have one save game running. It does auto save when you quit, which is nice, but if you want to multiple farms on the go, forget it.

if you looking to get into digital farming, Professional Farmer 2014 would not be a bad start, it’s one of the more realistic takes on farming I’ve played and is only £14.99 at the moment on steam for the basic edition. If you’re not into farming, this is probably not for you.

 

 

Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea – Review

NOTE: I will do my best to endeavor to avoid spoilers in this review, but at some part i may have to refer to events from all the Bioshock series of games, you have been warned!

First thing I need to say about Burial at Sea, is you need to have completed Bioshock: infinite. If you don’t, prepare to have key plot points ruined by the DLC. BaS is set the day of the new years eve attack by Atlas and his rebels. As such you have the opportunity to explore parts of rapture before the fall. you get to see what the city like and hear the residents talking about life, while at the same time feeling slightly creeped out by the fact no-one bats an eye to the little sisters and big daddy’s wandering around. It’s a nice touch, giving you an atmosphere as to how life was in the original game and mirrors the opening to BS:I, a calm before the storm. This section takes about the first hour of the game, the end of which you’ll meet an old ‘Friend’ form BS1 before being plunged into the the combat heavy section.

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Not a good day to be in Rapture

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Seems familiar

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Little sisters make a creepy return

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Cohen, still obsessed with rabbits and proof that he was mad before splicing

Combat is identical to BS:I, Vigor’s and Salts have been renamed Plasmids and Eve to keep in theme with the Rapture setting, of which you’ll have Possession and Devil Kiss right from the start. later on you’ll pick a few old favorites form BS:I and a new one call Old Man Winter. weapon selection is also similar, with a pistol, Tommy gun, carbine and shotgun. you also get to play with the new Radar Range, this is rapture answer to mcrowave ovens and and excellent at crowd control. it a pity you get it so late in the game as you don’t really have a chance to use it before the final showdown. Elizabeth reprises her role as combat support, throwing you health and eve as needed during combat, and the skyline system makes a return, although Rapture cramped conditions don’t really lends themselves using it the same as BS:I.

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Splicers look in a worst state then in the first Bioshock

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Old weapons return, but with an art-deco edge.

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You still get the opportunity to do gruesome finishing moves, Elizabeth doesn’t mind this time.

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Elizabeth still has her lock-picking ability.

The storyline is good, and fits reasonably well with the BS1 and BS:I storyline, however unless you’ve played both, you may find some of the references hard to get. The ending is also something I was not expecting and generally surprise me, just like the BS:I ending. The only thing I would like to have seen more was for the renaming of weapons and plasmids/vigors to match BS1, given that a lot of these had counterparts in the first game this would not have been a hard thing to do and would have tied in nicely with the series. My only major grip with the DLC as a whole is it is very short, on my first play through it took me less then 3 hours to complete, and that was with getting stuck on a puzzle, and I do feel £11.99 is a bit overpriced for such a game. considering you payed a similar price for the dishonored DLC and they gave you double the playtime. So my advice, either buy the season pass or wait for a sale before getting the game.

Sir, You are being hunted Pumpkin update, new biome and robots

Well Halloween is just around the corner, and to celebrate the guys at Big Robot have release version 0.6 of ‘Sir, you are being hunted‘. There have been a few minor changes, such as the inventory and loot windows being switched round (loot on the left, inventory on the right) perhaps as a symptom of my psychological condition from playing too many game with loot systems, I  didn’t actually noticed till I read about the change in the patch notes. But i feel this is a good thing, sometimes the changes that you don’t notice are the best as it just make the game flow and feel better, even if you can’t put your finger on why, which is what happened to me. Another minor change, is when you hover your mouse over items in the inventory now, it tells you underneath if the are in anyway useful, for example, a piece of edible food will be marks as usable, a rifle as equitable, random junk like boots and skulls as… well junk and stuff you could eat but shouldn’t as dubious. this saves you the time of having to randomly try something in your inventory and see if you could use it.

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The new switched round layout that I failed to notice

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New item codes give you an idea if its worth taking any piece of loot

The next major update is the new industrial biome. it has a lot more buildings then the others, plus a central canal running through the map. This creates some interesting situations as you can only cross the canal at certain points, leaving you to hope the area is free from robots before moving, as the crossing seem to always be nice and exposed. My only feeling about this is, most of the biomes and just variation on the rural theme, rather then a new place. this wasn’t too noticeable before, but the industrial biome shows it up as basically being the rural theme with a few more building and walls being plonked down rather then being a whole new place to explore.

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The new industrial biome

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A canal separates the map creating some interesting situations

There are two new enemy types, the first one I encountered was the scarecrow. initially I approached up to just to see what it would do, i was a bit taken aback as it all seem to do was open its glowing red eyes and stare at me while making a moaning noise,. it would not even attack me when i got close. It was then I saw what must have been 8 or 9 robots making haste to my position, the blasted scarecrow has alerted them to my location. thinking i would sneak away, I turned my back on the scarecrow and moved into cover at the edge of the field. When I looked back to where the scarecrow had been, it was gone. I could still hear its moans, and they didn’t seem to be getting quieter, looking around my position I jumped out of my skin when I saw it was now a few feet behind me! each time I move it kept following me, but only when I was not looking. if you’ve ever seen any of  the Doctor Who episodes with the weeping angels in it, now imagine them in a game, that’s what you get with the scarecrow. The only way to avoid this is to either not alert it, or keep moving away while maintaining sight contact at all times. easier said then done with what seems like the whole map worth of hunters converging in on you.

 

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The scarecrow, look a bit creepy but not too bad

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How about now?

The other new enemy is the bog monster, my first thought when I saw it was the tneticle creature from Half-Life 1. it springs out of water briefly and the retreats back into it, before returning. From the promo video for this update I saw, it can also apparently move, but I’ve not seen that in the world I’m currently playing. initially, like the scarecrow it seemed to be pretty harmeless, tilll, for the sake of science, I decided to brave the water with it and approach it. It didn’t end well. Once I reloaded my save, I released what the purpose of both these new enemy’s were for. in previous versions of Sir the two great places to hide was the long grass in fields, or in the water. now both these enemys make both solutions less safe, but cleverly and importantly, do not make both solution impossible and prevent the game getting frustrating.

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From here your safe

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From here, less so.

Sir is really shaping up to be something special, there are still a few bugs which break the immersion, like a boat to one of the other island being stranded in a lake, But overall its getting there. I’m hoping when they do the urban biome, they take the plunge and redo the procedural generation to make a proper full urban area, and we don’t end up with the rural setting with more houses. I’m also still waiting for my VTOL horse that they showed in the concept art at the beginning. Come on lads, give me my pony!

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Did you really need a dock that big?

 

 

 

Sir, You Are Being Hunted impressions after a month of play

I’ve been playing Sir, you are being hunted for a few weeks now, and so far have really enjoyed the tense atmosphere of the game. It has just been updated to version 0.5.4725, code name ‘Dead Haggis’, and brought with it quite a few new features. So I think it’s a good time to get some thoughts and feelings down.

sirMenu
Sir main menu

For those who don’t know, sir is a stealth based game set on a series of procedurally generated islands. For each of these islands (except for the centre island, which is defaulted to rural) you chose a ‘biome’ basically a theme for how the terrain is laid out, at the moment the themes are the above mentioned rural (typical country side, with small towns, fields and winding little roads), fens (like rural, but a lot more open, presenting less cover to sneak from) and mountain (as the names suggest, very tall mountains, seems to be a lot less buildings).

ruralBiomeA typical scene from the rural biome

The goal is to collect 25 pieces of a device that have been scatted around the islands. During your time you also have to managed your ‘vitality’, which is basically hunger. Having a low vitality prevents you from healing and can lead to death. Vitality is constantly dropping, making you have to take a break from collecting fragments and start raiding villages for food and supplies every so often. I’ve never run out of vitality during the games I’ve played, although it has come close a few times and the mechanic adds a nice tension to the game.

The main adversary’s of the game are robots, the basic hunter, dressed in a manner of a stereotypical country gent from around the late 19th century, roam the island in packs of 2-5 (size depending on how many pieces you’ve collected). They are armed with shotguns, which will take you down quickly up close, and can cause you to bleed, which you need bandages to heal otherwise you’ll bleed out. As they roam the island, if they come across a fragment or building they will sometimes start guarding it. More then once I’ve come back to retrieve some goods I stashed ‘safely’ in a building to find it guarded and having to sneak past them.

Aiding the hunters, are balloonists, they float round the maps and look for you with a searchlight. If they find you, they’ll sound an alarm and alert other hunters to your location. Hunter also sometimes have hounds with them, these will attempted to pin you down and hold you still while the hunters come in for the kill. The final robot you’ll encounter is the squire, unlike the others he is non-hostile and patrols village, but if he catches you stealing he will then become aggressive.

The stealth system itself is very similar if you’ve played any of the thief series of games, you have a visibility meter, which shows how easy you are to see, if you well hidden enough a robot could walk within a few metres and you will not been seen, on the other hand, with a maxed out visualise you can be seen from very far away. It worth noting, that unless your under hard cover, the balloonist can see you no matter how low your meter reads.

So that’s a brief overview of the game, so what have they changed? Well there is a new inventory system. In previous versions you had items assigned to the number keys, these were hard coded and not be changed. Now you can assign items to the keys 1-7. At the moment you can only have items that can be ‘used’ i.e. guns and other devices, you can’t place food items in the slots to give you an quick way to eat without having to go into the inventory, which is a minor annoyance, but not big one.

new-inventoryThe new inventory, notice the additional slots to assign items to

I’ve just created a new world, but have only been able to get a hour or so of play on it at the moment, but have some across a few of the new items. The first one I discovered was the torch, in this new versions night is a lot darker (but does add a bonus to make you harder to see) and the torch really helps you find your way and see what you are doing. It also unsurprisingly makes you very easy to spot.

torchOffIts gets dark a night!

torchOn
Torches make it easier to see, but also make you easy to spot!

I then got to try out one of the new distraction devices. In previous versions you only had rocks or bottles, which you could throw to distract robots. I found them not very effective as they tended to not travel far enough, and robots didn’t investigate them for very long mean you didn’t have a lot of time to snatch the piece. You now have some better options.

I came across a piece being guarded by two robots, a short distance away I placed a toy train on the ground I had picked up from a village earlier. I had a few seconds to circle round to the other side of the fragment before the train horn sounded, the robots rushed over to investigate it allowing me time to pick up the pieces and make my getaway.

The games currently in alpha, so I’m not going to be too critical of it as it can change on a weekly basis. But I do have some thoughts, some of the things I would like to see, such as more types of enemies and biomes I know are in the pipeline to be implemented. I would like to see a biome representing a modern rural area. With perhaps an area of farm buildings to hide in, and more regimented field with some different crop types like wheat in them, more modern’s road and larger villages. Perhaps some farm vehicles to hide behind and round.

I do have some other issues, in game there are will-o’-wisp that lead you to the pieces, however I often find myself standing around a waiting for them to appear to lead me to the next piece, and sometimes you don’t see them for quite a while wasting vitality, You can also end up with several moving in different directions make them hard to track. A scanner device has been introduced to make finding pieces easier, but I’ve not come across it yet so don’t know yet how helpful it is.

Other then that, I’ve no real problems. If you like stealth games, then this is worth a look, it still in alpha so theirs plenty more stuff to look forward to. It given me many hours of enjoyment so far and I can recommend it.

Classic Game – Rainbow Six 3: Gold Edition

Hi All

As mentioned on our podcast, Rainbow Six 3: Gold Edition is now on Steam for a mere £4.99, this includes both Raven Shield and Athena Sword And I just wanted to reiterate and give you a few reasons why you should buy it.

The original Rainbow Six holds a special place in my heart, as it was one of the first PC games I brought (My very first PC game was MechWarrior 2, I got it for £9.99 from the bargain bin at PC World). I remember playing Rainbow Six more as a puzzle game then action, I loved the thrill of planning all my assaults to make sure everyone came out healthy and all the objectives where completed. Our PC at the time could not handle it properly, and even with the resolution turned down to 640×480 it would run at about 2fps.

I still completed it.

I loved it that much i put up with the pain of watching the world go by as a slide show with graphics so low it looked like in had been animated in MS Paint, I loved the realism, reading all about the weapons and the joy of a seeing the mission completed screen was about as high as 12 year old me could get.

So, yeah, I kinda liked it.

I brought all the expansions to both it and its squeal, Rouge Spear, and lost many hours of my life to them, Rouge Spear was my first entry into online game, preforming terrorist hunts mission with friends online, it introduce me to a world I didn’t know existed until then. So you can imagine my excitement when I learn’t Raven Shield was in development, I was at college at the time, and every day, during my lessons, I had the Raven Shield website open, I would check it every ten minutes, just to see if anything had been updated, I would spend hours trawling over every new set of screen shots, trying to make out details for the one and only game i cared about. And then came the release day, I remember waiting outside GAME to buy my copy, and rushing back home to get it installed.

So, yeah, I really liked it.

Anyway, Enough gushing, as I’m guessing you’ve got better things to do then let me ramble on about how much I loved this game, so lets get into why this game is so different, and why it like nothing you can get today. Rainbow Six: Raven Shield (as it was originally know, the 3 was added later) was released in 2003, set in the futuristic year of 2005, it was about a group of neo-fascist trying to start a new movement by causing a economic depression in south America. Yes, the story was about a bit out there, but then that’s what all Rainbow Six game have always been like.

The game itself is split into two parts, the Planning and Action Phase. In many way the planning phase was the main part of the game, in it, you select operatives and divide them up between three teams (Red,Green and Gold), you would choose their equipment, not just weapons, but you could give them special gear such as breaching charges to blow doors, or heartbeat sensors to look through walls. Once you’ve got the teams set up, you’d start planning the assault.

You would be given a map of the area to attack, areas would be marked where you could deploy your teams, where any objective like hostage are, and extraction zones to get them back out. You would place way points for each team, making them a route through the map, hopefully in such a way they would clear and coverage at the right points. In order to ensure proper timing of assaults on key areas, you could set go codes. During the mission, teams would stop at these points and wait for you to give the signal, thus ensuring areas were attacked at the right time. You could also give them special instructions such as: sniping at a certain area, throwing flashbangs before moving, and other actions.

The action phase is where your best laid plans would be carried out. You could take control over any of the teams (and switch between them in game) and guide them through the way points you’ve placed. Hoping you did your planning correctly. And if you didn’t want take part directly, you could view the game as a observer, and watch your teams carry out your orders. Inevitability, your first plan would likely fail, half your team would be killed/hostages shot/bomb set off etc. And you would have to go back to the planning screen to adjust way points, team configurations, equipment or scrap the whole lot and start again. This would mean you may well spend hours in the planning for some of the missions, the actual action phase? about 5 minutes. because of this, it’s better to think of the game as a puzzler, and less of an action game, with the goal being creating the best plan keeping your whole team alive whilst completing the objectives.

The AI of the game was overall pretty good, it did do some weird things, for example, getting stuck in doorways, sometimes terrorist would shoot at your team, and they would just stand their and let themselves be killed, which was especially annoying when it happens towards the end of a tense mission. But otherwise it was pretty good, terrorist would try and run away from grenades, investigate noises and sometime surrender, unfortunately, they didn’t understand the concept of cover and would just stand a shot at you.

So why have i picked Rainbow Six 3? well in my mind, this was the last of the ‘proper’ Rainbow Six  games. Later ones dropped the planning phase and turned into generic cover based shooter, featuring your single team working it way through a fairly liner level from one end to another. In my opinion they ripped out the soul of the games and become less realistic and more action orientated. The world needs another Rainbow like game, if you know of any, please post in the comments.

Hopefully the above ramblings have made you appreciate, and want to give the game a try, £4.99 will give you hours of entertainment, and you wont be disappointed.

Thanks for reading

Nick

Dishonoured: The Brigmore Witches – Review

Well. I completed Dishonored: The Brigmore Witches last week, And I a thought it would be good to post some of my feelings about the game. Before we begin, Just a warning, there will be some very minor spoilers in the post. If you want to experience the game fresh, stop reading now.

First up, it’s a better the Blade of Dunwall. The levels overall (with the exception of the first) feel bigger. The last level of Blade was a real disappointment, it felt confusing and linear compared to the first two, but I can happily report that Brigmore does not have this issue. Incidentally, it would be worth getting Blade if you don’t already own it, as you can import your save from the previous DLC, including all your upgrades and cash. The only problem I had with this, was that I finished Blade with the low Chaos ending. When I tried to import the save into Brigmore, the game said I had ended with Blade with high chaos. I can only assume the Blade bases it’s ending on your actions in the first two levels of the DLC, but Brigmore bases it’s import on your actions for all three levels. This means that if you, like me, decided on the last level to just take everyone down and have some fun, you’re going to have to be more careful in Brigmore. One thing I can say, even with a high chaos import, it is still possible to get the low chaos ending.

The games gives you three levels. The first takes you back to Coldridge, the prison where Corvo was incarcerated, and sees you mounting a prison rescue. This is the smallest of the levels in the DLC, and perhaps the one with the smallest amount of scope, but it still a good level overall. Interestingly, there is no assassination to do in this level, instead you are breaking someone out, this is a nice brake from the rest of the game.

Level two, takes you to a once wealthy part of the city that has fallen on hard times due to the plague. It is now the battle grounds between two gangs, you can either avoid them, or after getting so far through the main story quest they will become friendly to you.  this is by the far the best level of the DLC, not least because it fool you with its size, once you think you’ve completed it, you still got another large part of the level to do. This brings me onto my biggest criticism of the game, I’ll be quite vague, to prevent spoiling. You are given a choice, which cant be bypassed, as it part of the main quest line. The choice at first seem a morale one, and their is quite clearly a good and bad way to complete this, however, taking the morally right side will cause consequences that will result in a high chaos rating. there is no way to counter this, despite the situation being set up in such a way it sounds as if you could avert it. So if you want to be a low chaos player, you’ve got to stick with the morally wrong option.

This bring us onto the final level, infiltrating a manor. You start in the grounds, have to scout out the area, before finding your own way in. If you every played the Thief series of games, you can easily see the influence on the design, especially at the end. I can’t say too much without spoiling the game, but i will say its a fitting final level for both DLC pack, and after finishing it, i Imminently wanted to play it again!

Weapon wise, you get all the toys from the Blade, their are some useful upgrades. The one that stands out is the upgrade for the chokedust, this make enemy’s forget they’ve been chasing you and return back to the normal routes (assuming they don’t see you). This very useful for when you find yourself in a situration of being attacked by multiple guards, and has turned chokeduct from being pepper you throw in someone face into something useful.

Character wise, Daud characterisation is excellent, I felt I knew a lot about him just from his simple comments he makes, he sounds like someone you could a have some smalltalk with in a pub over a pint (although I probably wound not leave my drink alone with him) I get the feeling he cares about his assassins, and is prepared to have some banter with them. Early on, he overhears two of his assassins discussing turning him in, his response is a simple ‘I promise I’ll come quietly’. This says all i need to know about Daud, despite the threat to his leadership, he simply turns the situation into a joke. I get the feeling that Daud is world weary, the assassination of the empress has been a big strain for him, and hes looking for redemption before moving on. There is one final moment for Daud, a picture of him performing an action that is both symbolic, and is his way of atonement for his actions. I cant say what it is without spoiling it, but if you play and get the low chaos ending you’ll know what I mean.

So, should you buy The Brigmore Witches? Well in my view it depends, if you have all the previous DLC, then yes, get it, you wont be disappointed. if you don’t own Blade of Dunwall, Buy it and play that first. if you don’t own Dishonored at all, I would wait, I would not be surprise if we don’t see a game of the year edition out for Christmas. Overall, i would recommend buying this game.

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