Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth3: V Generation - PS Vita Review

The latest Hyperdimension game for the Vita makes the most of the handheld and series

Farming Simulator 15 - PC Review

Down on the farm - again. This simulator provides plenty to do for fans of the series

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Xbox One Review

The latest in the Witcher series does almost everything well - a definite Game of the Year contender


This shooter gets almost everything right, throwing lots at you but making it fun

Big Pharma - PC Preview

A fun simulation game with some social commentary to share as well

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Scrabble - iPad Review

I read a lot of articles about games - and one that I see pop up pretty frequently is a list of 'best games for the iPad' or 'best tablet' games. Of course, this is a very subjective list and opinions will vary widely, but one of the most common titles I see on these lists is Scrabble.

For those unfamiliar with the board game - well.. come out from under your rock. :)

But seriously, the premise is simple yet the experience changes every time you play, which is a good deal of its charm. Opponents get sets of letters, and they use these letters to spell out words on a board. There are various things that can affect the score, from the values of the letters used (Q is worth a whole lot more than E) to the types of spaces you spell your word across (such as double letter or triple word).

This happens to be one of the first games my wife acquired after buying her iPad, and it's one of our most heavily played.

Graphics - 5:

Okay, there's really not much going on here. You have a static board and some letters on tiles. That's it. So why am I not being harder on the score? There really isn't much more to do with it really. Any superfluous animations and effects would probably just get annoying. However, tiles are easy to read, the board is a good representation of what you see in the boxed game. It's clean, concise and functional. That's really all anyone's looking for in a title like this.

Sound & Music - 5:

See above. Seriously, there's just not much of interest going on, but I can't honestly say I'd expect much either. With as much time as you spend staring at the small screen though, some nice, varied background music would have been a plus.

Gameplay - 9:

Everything works like it should. It's easy to slide tiles, the game checks word validity for you, and you can play against the computer or another human opponent. My wife and I play this when we're laying down just watching a movie. It's easy to hand back and forth and there are some clear advantages to an electronic version versus the board game:

- no cleanup
- built-in word checking

Talk about some valuable time savers. When it comes to touch detection and drag, there's almost never any problems or missed gestures. It just does what it is supposed to and stays out of the way, so to speak.

Intangibles - 9:

If you like word games, then it is really hard to do better than this classic game. There's always a good challenge to be had if you play the AI and it's fun playing against a person as well. Obviously if there's a significant skill difference between people, the challenge is reduced, but the various score tiles and random nature of the letter acquisition helps to balance things out as well. There is even a handy 'best word' feature each player can use 3 times a game. Stumped? The game will find you the highest-scoring possible word you can spell and then ask you if you want to go through with it. Nifty feature when I have a ton of odd letters and can't see anything useful on the board.

Overall - 7:

This score's a bit misleading in that it really depends on the person. If you like word games or enjoy playing board games like this with other people, you're going to get a lot out of this. If we drop out the technical aspects of the score, this game would have been a 9 out of 10 for me. That said? If you don't particularly get much out of these types of games, this is not going to interest you at all. It's exactly what you would expect from a board game of Scrabble - for better or worse depending on your preferences.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Next gen Xbox won't support used games?

So, I recall when a topic like this came out for the PS3 a long time ago, about how they were trying to patent some new technology that would prevent gamers from using a 'used' disc on another PS3 system to combat the used game marker.  I am surprised I have seen little/no references to this yet amidst the other topics about the next Xbox and whether or not it will support used games.  Now, nothing came of that Sony rumor, just as a lot of times that kind of speculation never comes to fruition when pertaining to upcoming game consoles.

That said?  A very similar rumor has come up again - this time for the next generation of Xbox 360.  IGN posted about it here.

I love gaming - and I have been playing them for longer than most people.  I get very excited when I read reports that the next Xbox will be 6 times more powerful graphically than the current generation model.  But this sort of thing is a deal killer for me if it comes to pass.  A lot of people believe that digital distribution of games is the future, and it might be - but it's not the immediate future.  There's too many problems with that distribution model (not everyone has blazing internet speeds, and as games continue to age, they also grow in size.  Compare the 10 gb downloads we have for a game now to what game sizes were a generation or two ago.  If rumor is true that the next Xbox will support Bluray the way the PlayStation does, that means that games could be quite substantial in size.  Not only will the hardware have to compensate for these potentially 15-45 gb games, but think about our bandwidth limits.  I have one ISP provider in my area, and they limit our household to 200gbs per month, and we flirt with that monthly now.

Digital at this point is an option, it's not however the only method of distributing games.

So that leaves us with discs still, which has value because people like to borrow games from friends.  They like to go over to a friend's house with some games to play.  My house has two Xbox 360's.  Would my games work on both with this model?  Under the current 360 model this is a real problem because I can play titles on both systems - but my wife and kids can't.  If the title is associated to the person's gamertag does that mean other people on the same system in the same household can't play it?

Of course, this leaves more questions than answers, and in fairness it is all speculation for gaming sites and blogs.

Of course, Microsoft wants people talking about their upcoming console - buzz is generally a good thing and it helps pique interest.  That said?  This is potentially very damaging for Microsoft, and when the PS3 rumors came out several years ago, Sony was pretty quick to respond that the rumors were false.  I really dislike the online passes and other codes that game companies use to try and get people to buy their games new, but at least used is still an option and it then falls on the gamer to decide the value of the code materials.  This is something more, something much more potentially damaging to the market I think.  It will be interesting to see if Microsoft speaks up quickly about this topic or not as Sony did a few years ago.  If not, it's only going to add fuel to the fire.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

King's Bounty: Crossworlds - PC Review

This is not going to be a full-fledged review. Why? Well, I thoroughly reviewed King's Bounty: The Legend here. And the thing is, this game feels very much like that one. It uses the same graphics engine, it uses the same basic soundtrack and the controls are the exact same. Now, that said, I really enjoyed the first game, and this one is just a shade better in some other areas, so I'll go over those points now.