Average User Score: 5.6Oct 23, 2012This is actually a remake of a 1988 PC game. At the time, Carrier Command was a pretty groundbreaking game. It was pretty (for 1988, ofThis is actually a remake of a 1988 PC game. At the time, Carrier Command was a pretty groundbreaking game. It was pretty (for 1988, of course) and very deep. This remake is a faithful update to that original formula.
The game looks amazing. The carrier itself is very detailed, with tons of ports, bays and guns. The futuristic jets and tanks it launches are quite impressive as well. The only downside is that the gameplay takes place exclusively on islands, so the scenery can get kind of repetitive. The islands do have different climates and terrain features, however it feels more like a theme park than dynamic scenery.
Unfortunately, a game's looks can only take it so far. The gameplay has to be compelling and sadly I found myself pretty bored after just a few hours.
In story mode, you start out on foot with your squad invading an enemy island base. You traverse your way through some winding island paths and rust covered indoor facilities. Nothing about this first person on foot experience feels right. The gun feels lifeless in your characters hands because it has no recoil. You just point at an enemy, spam your fire button and they go down. And with no real visual indicators, you can barely tell if you are actually hitting your target until they fall over dead.
This takes about 30 minutes to complete. Which is good, because the on foot first person gameplay never comes up again. You find your carrier and add a ground vehicle. From there you go from island to island, defeating enemies and gaining more vehicles. This should only take you a few hours and will get real boring, real fast.
The RTS portion of the carrier is decent You queue up ground and air vehicles, and upgrade which attachments they get sent out with. And the transition from RTS to FPS is seamless. You deploy your units from the carrier, issue them commands via the minimap, then click on any of their icons to instantly gain a first person view of that vehicle.
You will be commanding your vehicles quite often, because the AI pathing is just dumb. They will drive into the walls of an island base over and over again while being shot at. They will get stuck on rocks. They will fly in circles instead of getting to their waypoints. If you don't micromanage every vehicle almost all of the time they will get themselves killed. Which is unfortunate, because that is the most challenging part of the game.
The enemy AI isn't much smarter. They seem to have set zones where they will patrol, so it doesn't take much to find a spot where you can destroy them without taking any damage yourself.
Everything about this game has the potential to be great like its 1988 predecessor. It just isn't strong enough in either its RTS or FPS portions to be anything more than mediocre, which is just a shame.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.2Sep 26, 2012Garshasp: The Temple of the Dragon is a stand-alone prequel expansion to the 2011 game Garshasp: The Monster Slayer. It was released on SteamGarshasp: The Temple of the Dragon is a stand-alone prequel expansion to the 2011 game Garshasp: The Monster Slayer. It was released on Steam September 24, 2012.
Let me just say from the outset that I appreciate what this game is trying to do. It takes a mythology that westerners are probably not familiar with and presents it in a third person action setting that most audiences can understand. The game is ambitious for a studio of Dead Mage… Expand
Average User Score: 6.5Sep 25, 2012Dear Esther, released on the Steam Network, is a remake of a 2008 Half Life 2 mod. But to simply call it a remake does not do the gameDear Esther, released on the Steam Network, is a remake of a 2008 Half Life 2 mod. But to simply call it a remake does not do the game justice. It is a complete overhaul of the original, with a new score and a complete graphical make over.
Having never touched the mod, this was a new experience for me. Loading the game, I immediately went to the options menu and checked my control scheme. Odd, there is no action button. I can only walk and swim upwards. No "use", no "shoot".
This sent alarm bells running through my head. Is this a $9.99 tech demo? Is this even a game?
2 hours of playtime later, I would have my answers. No, this is not a glorified tech demo and not only is it a game, but it is one of the most fulfilling and rich game experiences I have had in a very long time.
While I won't give away any of the details of the story, the premise is pretty simple. You are on a massive island that you will explore while triggering dialogue sequences that are in the form of a letter to a woman named Esther. As you travel, you will uncover more and more of the plot.
Upon completion of the game, I felt as if I had been emotionally drained. Everything about the presentation was almost perfection. The score (composed by Jessica Curry) would swell at just the right times while never becoming overbearing and overly dramatic. The voice acting (Nigel Carrington) was equally well done, keeping with the tone of the story line. And then there were the graphics. I didn't realize that it was possible to pull this much stunning beauty out of the Source engine. The island itself is full of details, down to the trash on the beach and the markings on the walls. With all of that in mind, I still have a couple of very minor complaints. For one, the experience, while engaging and emotionally draining, still feels too short. I wanted more dialogue and more story. While I am sure there is more in a second play through, I still feel as if I should get more plot in my initial sitting.
Another small thing is the lack of a "pick up" button. While it was appropriate to not have action oriented buttons, there were plenty of in game objects that were amazingly rendered and would have been even better if I were able to pick them up and examine them. While you could zoom in with the left mouse button, I wanted to get even closer to some objects.
Those two issues are very inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. This game is high quality and well worth your time.… Expand
Average User Score: 3.2Sep 25, 2012Dinner Date is an indie game produced by Stout Games and is available on Steam. It is one of the 2011 Independent Games Festival winners.Dinner Date is an indie game produced by Stout Games and is available on Steam. It is one of the 2011 Independent Games Festival winners.
The premise of the game is pretty simple. You play as the subconsciousness of Julian Luxemburg as you await his date, a young Japanese girl named Meiko. As you sit there, you can use different keyboard buttons to control what he is looking at, what his hands are doing and so on.
Lets start out with the positives. If you are a budding game designer or a student, this game is a great study in game theory and design choices. You will learn about atmosphere, dialogue, action queues and all of that other fun game design stuff.
The music is quite nice. It is an original score by Than van Nispen tot Pannerden (now THAT is a Dutch name!) which flows nicely through the game. It does a good job of pushing the anticipation and frantic drive of the narrative. The voice acting has its moments, but it comes out quite stiff and oftentimes hard to decipher. Luckily, there is a subtitles option.
There were scenes where the music would swell to a fever pitch and the narrator would be trying to convey a sense of fevered anticipation but it tended to come out a bit flat, like watching a college freshman give their first speech in their communications class.
Another problem was the graphics. I know this was an independent game, but the game takes place in one room. While the room itself is nicely detailed, the interactive objects are abysmal. You can only see the main characters hands, yet they look like something straight from the early PSOne era.
The most glaring problem for me was the story itself. While listening to Julian's monologue was engaging at times, it also came across as highly unrealistic. He sat in his chair for virtual hours and couldn't take the 5 minutes to get up from his self loathing and call his date to find out where she was? You could argue that he was too neurotic to even consider that, but the story isn't deep enough to even indicate his personality. Just get on the horn and call her!
Experimental games are a good thing, don't get me wrong. But while trying something new should be encouraged, so should solid game play. The controls were erratic, with buttons all over the keyboard representing different actions. Furthermore, even if you were quick on the keyboard, all of those movements were irrelevant because after each scene only one button would become available to make the story move forward.
One of the most basic game design principles is the idea that actions should lead to a payoff or reward. Why even bother with a multitude of buttons to press when none of them actually have meaning? It seems to me that the game creator tried to do too much with the controls just for the sake of having a lot of controls.
Overall, this game had moments, but it was just not enough. I do think that the company has a firm foundation to work with on their next project if they decide to do more interactive story telling.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.5Sep 25, 2012They Bleed Pixels is a 2D puzzle/platform game on Steam. It was released on the 29th of August. Why did it take me so long to post a review,They Bleed Pixels is a 2D puzzle/platform game on Steam. It was released on the 29th of August. Why did it take me so long to post a review, you ask? Lets just say I like to finish games before I write about them. I pushed and pushed my way through this game and still haven't finished it. It is insanely hard and insanely frustrating and insanely fun.
The premise is simple enough. You play as a young girl who has gotten a hold of a book that turns her dreams into Eldritch horrors. Her hands turn into Wolverine-like claws that allow her to slice and dice her way through enemies as she jumps, slides and climbs her way through puzzles and platforms.
Neither the premise or gameplay are unique. However, it all comes together for a rather engaging experience. The two button control scheme is simple enough to allow anyone to pick it up, but still allows for some complex abilities and moves. The combos are visceral and satisfying. The only knock is that sometimes the controls are slightly unresponsive, especially when doing timing based jumping sequences. I would repeatedly die while jumping over spike-filled chasms because the analog stick wasn't as precise as I needed it to be. The game recommends an X-Box controller and I couldn't agree more. Playing this without some sort of analog stick would be a total nightmare.
By the way, this game is hard. Be prepared to get extremely angry at your computer. The good news is that besides the occasional hiccup in the controls, the majority of deaths are the players fault. Many times I would die because I couldn't make a jump and then proceed to try to make that jump 20 more times, spraying my pixeled blood everywhere.
The graphics are in a classic pixel style that a lot of indie games have been employing lately. The short cutscenes between levels add some nice plot elements to the game and are really well done. The copious amounts of pixelated blood adds a lot of color to the sometimes dreary backgrounds.The main character is adorable in a kind of horrifying way.
The music is adequate, even though it can get repetitive at times. I did like how it would fade out as I lost more life, as this adds even more tension to the already frenetic pace of the game.
The length of game makes it a very nice value at 10 bucks. It uses a ranking system with achievements to add some re-playability to the levels. Each level also contains difficult to reach collectibles. My only complaint on this front is that sometimes the levels feel a little longer than they should be. Granted, you can start the game at your last checkpoint, but finishing up a level before quitting a playthrough feels much more natural.
If you are looking for a challenging platform experience at a bargain price, this is the game for you. It has enough variety to keep it interesting. It is also an excellent game to play on your TV if you have an HDMI setup and Steam's "Big Picture" service.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.1Sep 25, 2012Imagine, if you will, an 8 year old little boy sitting on the floor of his brown carpeted room surrounded by GI Joes and Ninja Turtles inImagine, if you will, an 8 year old little boy sitting on the floor of his brown carpeted room surrounded by GI Joes and Ninja Turtles in front of a 300 pound, 24 inch television. He inserts his neighbor's copy of "Double Dragon" into his NES and presses the "on" switch. The screen blinks green and black repeatedly. So, he takes the game out of the system, blows on it and puts it back in. He hits the power button and it works!
After getting through the title screen and its kickin rad intro music, he marches his in game sprite to the right, punching and kicking his way through street thugs. Then, he loses a life. Then another. Then another. Then he gets a "game over" screen and has to start over from the beginning.
4 hours later, this 8 year old has had one of the best times of his short life, even though he barely made it past the 2nd stage.
I have a lot of fond memories of wasting away hours playing really hard, really bad videogames. The nostalgia is wonderful and it fills me with joy to remember the innocence of my early days as a gamer.
However, those memories are just that: memories. My gaming palette has evolved. In 2012, I expect a game to have responsive, smooth controls. I expect collision detection to make sense. I expect QA to eliminate game breaking bugs.
Double Dragon Neon fulfills none of these expectations.
2D beat em' ups died sometime around the end of the Super Nintendo's life cycle. Games like Final Fight, Streets of Rage, and Turtles in Time had pretty much evolved the genre as far as it would go. Somehow, this game takes the innovations of the 16-bit era and discarded them entirely and decides to be a neon colored, clunky mess.
Take the controls, for example. While the button layout is pretty natural and fits with the style of the game, the execution of the button presses feel like sludgy trash. This, coupled with the awkward collision detection, make the game a frustrating nightmare. You end up taking a bunch of damage from enemies because of delayed reactions from your character. You miss hitting guys because you are outside of their hit box even when you are right in their faces. You miss hitting guys because they were immune to your swings, even though they didn't give you any kind of visual cue. Even Mike Tyson blinked before he beat you up in "Punchout"! Bad controls are 1988 jank that have no business in a 2012 release.
Even with the control issues, I was able to finish the game in 2 hours. For a 10 dollar price tag, this is entirely too short. They try to encourage multiple playthroughs by adding in powerups, co-op and unlockable difficulty settings, but none of these things make the game not play like hot garbage.
I ran into a few game breaking bugs, including one where an enemy would get stuck on the environment and would not allow me to advance in the level.
To deviate from the original game, they added unlockable power ups and stores to buy things within the levels themselves. I bought a bunch of extra lives. When I continued my save the next day, all of the lives I purchased were gone.
I get that nostalgia is all the rage, but putting out bad titles and slapping familiar names on them is insulting to our intelligence as gamers, and I hope that people will stop encouraging these lazy cash grabs by putting their wallets back in their pockets.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.9Sep 25, 2012Vessel is a 2d side scrolling puzzle game in which the main character M. Arkwright manipulates water like creatures called "Fluro" to solveVessel is a 2d side scrolling puzzle game in which the main character M. Arkwright manipulates water like creatures called "Fluro" to solve puzzles.
From the opening cinematic, I knew I was in for something special. The game is gorgeous. Although it is a 2D world, the depth of perspective within the backgrounds are phenomenal. Every set piece gives the game a rich, colorful and unique locale to solve the hundreds of puzzles.
The problem with the game world, however, is that it gives you a taste of what the exterior landscape will look like before you spend the next 2 hours of game play in dank buildings and caves. While both the warehouse and caves are unique, I think it was a bit of a design mistake to place the brown palette places so close to each other. For someone sitting down for a long session, this color scheme can become a little dull.
The dullness is compounded with the games sound track. While it starts out as a nice piano composition, it will suddenly bust out in a dub step beat that makes me want to strangle someone. While the occasional "womp womp" music wouldn't be so bad, it seems that the soundtrack loops a nearly identical track ad nauseum.
That is not to say that this game is by any means boring. The game play mechanics with the fluids are one of the most unique experiences I have had since Portal came out a few years ago. At the beginning, you can use pipes and hoses to manipulate water and the semi sentient "Fluros" to open the next location. As you move through the game, you gain more and more tools to manipulate the "Fluros", water, steam and other liquids which makes the puzzles more and more complex. This ramping up of difficulty is a pleasant change to the classic designs of old sidescrollers which maintain the same difficulty through the whole game.
Although unique, I did have a few problems with the game play. The controls are just not tight enough on a keyboard to handle some of the areas. It can be a bit frustrating to understand how to complete a certain puzzle but still have to take a lot of time actually doing it because the jump and grab controls are not precise enough.
If you have an Xbox 360 controller, I recommend using it. It feels a lot cleaner to play and a little more intuitive. Unfortunately, I got 3 hours into the game before I realized my old USB controller didn't have enough trigger buttons to use an in-game item correctly. I have enough buttons on the controller, but the game does not allow custom mapping. This wasn't a big deal to me, because I was able to whip out an Xbox controller, but for someone who doesn't own one, the lack of controller customization could be a problem.
I ran into a problem with the game lagging after extended play sessions. My computer is pretty high end, so I don't know what the issue was. It would become especially problematic on a large puzzle with multiple "Fluros" and a lot of physics calculations going on. I don't know if this is an isolated case or a larger problem, but it could get a bit frustrating at times.
Despite all that, the game is a blast. It reminds me of my youth, plowing my way through games like "Earthworm Jim" on the SNES. This game also gives you a lot of value for the price. I am about 6 hours in and I have a ton more to go.
This game is a great buy and worth every penny.… Expand