Sorry for the Delay!

Sorry for the lack of shows for the last two weeks, we have one in the works right now so hang on and we should have it uploaded very soon! We have all been incredibly busy lately, personally I have been hit with a bucket load of work, and Matt and John are in a similar situation.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution Review

Deus Ex: Human Revolution is the third installment in the first person RPG series Deus Ex. It is set as a prequel to the original Deus Ex, which is often hailed as one of the greatest games of all time. Human Revolution is set in a dystopian future, where, unlike in the previous titles, the idea of human augmentation is up for debate with you being thrown into the middle of it as Adam Jensen the security chief of Sarif Industries, whose headquarters are attacked during the opening mission. From here on in, you are tasked with finding out who is responsible for the attack, researching both pro and anti augmentation groups such as other firms and the activist group ‘Humanity Front’.

Human Revolution allows the player to choose augmentations, through a very precise and easy to follow menu screen which includes augmentation upgrades, the inventory as well as the message page which includes the emails and messages you find throughout the game. The player is giving the ability to chose which augmentations to upgrade/unlock which gives them a better connection to the game as well as the freedom to explore the game in entirely different ways. For example, a character who focused on the hacking skills would be able to access more locked areas than say, a character who focused on the offensive augmentations. However, this does not simply lock away a portion of the game from players who chose not to improve their hacking ability as quite often the game provides alternate routes to the objective or even into the room in question via key codes found in the game or traversing the air duct system (which also provides the player with extra experience due to the exploration xp system) or even using other augmentations, such as strength which allows you to smash down certain wall sections.

Personally I can only comment on my experiences and therefore that of a stealth character. For a better perspective I will explain what augmentation upgrades I chose. The main augmentations I upgraded were those which were of a non-combat role, hacking, stealth (however, leaving the invisibility ability to far later into the game), energy and eye augmentations (x-ray vision to see positions of enemies through walls etc). With these augmentations my main goal was to sneak through levels without being seen, and if need be take out enemies in a non-lethal manner. With this set up, this style was highly achievable and allowed me to play how I wanted to, which in anyone’s books has to be a huge positive note for the game in question. I was also able to accumulate enough Praxis points (the points required to upgrade augmentations) to be add points in other augmentations which just sounded fun, and therefore I ended up with a character who mainly worked in stealth but was able to fight hand to hand effectively (which was made even more entertaining with high energy cell slots and the invisibility augmentation).

The game play worked like a dream, I was actually surprised at the scope of the hub areas when I first entered the Detroit hub where, I quite promptly ignored my mission and went exploring, this exploration was made even better when I thought to myself “can I attack this random person” and quite promptly punched a guy in the gut. Going exploring is exactly what I had done previously when in Sarif Headquarters, where I had ignored the mission I was given, resulting in the degradation of the situation involved. Little details such as random NPCs complaining at me for being late and having a completely different attitude towards you compared to if you had left for the mission straight away (the only area I actually repeated) as well as the bigger differences just as different secondary objectives and dialogues. The world got far more exciting for me when I found out that the choices you were given were not only what augmentation to upgrade, and not just how to use them for each situation, but how you would react to certain situations that were presented in front of you. Either using the brilliant dialogue system to work out which style of argument will persuade your opposition in dialogue style boss battles, which also have multiple end results such as just letting them go free go persuading them to give you something in return for freedom, or if you feel like it just killing or knocking them out. This mechanics presents the player with a system that bounces opinions back and forth, making you gauge what statement would appeal to them more so you can get what you want from them. This style of engagement with the characters you account is brilliant, and it felt from more interactive that other dialogue systems I have encountered in the past. However, this style of encounter Mr Jensen has with those surrounding him does not seem to be used to its full potential. In the entire game I can only recall three moments when I actually had to use persuasion which resulted in the majority of the encounters with those involved in the plot against Sarif Industries not involving the dialogue mechanic but the traditional boss battle.

Here is where the problems began for me, unlike the previous Deus Ex games, you could not use your stealth ability to just by pass the boss but had to fight them in the traditional boss fight manner. This was a huge problem for my play style for in my inventory, which is of limited space and therefore you have to chose which weapons to take, there was only non-lethal weaponry and the 10mm pistol when I reached the first boss which made the non avoidable combat situation extremely annoying. For a character who was just evading all the enemies before hand, why on Earth would he openly walk into each boss situation carelessly rather than weighing up the situation and tracking the guards movements I had him doing all game. These battles just got annoying as I never had the right equipment or the right augmentations to combat these bosses, which always ended up with Jensen being chased around a room by a ridiculously augmented super soldier in fear of being shredded to pieces, which seemed to happen to me every time I got caught out in the open by generic enemies even with full armour upgrades.

These boss battles just seem out of place when looking at this game as a whole, in a game that allows the player to choose how to play and then force them to fight the bosses in this way is just stupid, and bloody annoying to say the least, and for this reason I have to mark the game down due to by overall enjoyment of the game being tarnished by annoying boss battles that my character was not suited for. However, this is the only down side I can think of for this otherwise amazing game and ignoring the boss battles Human Revolution was the best experience of stealth game play I have had for years.

1. Dragon Age: Origins

And now we are at number 1, and the game that beats Fallout 3’s DLCs. Well that’s quite simple! Another game that just has huge amounts of land to discover as well as the history of the land you and your party trod on. Dragon Age: Origins is just simply amazing and I still haven’t found everything. As a die hard role player Bioware once again didn’t disappoint me, improving on everything that they had previously done for a RPG Dragon Age: Origins has become one of the best RPGs I have played.

Nothing beats the exhilaration that’s one gets when only just managing to beta back that horde of darkspawn, or the disappoint when you see another wave coming at you when you only have one health potion left. I was wary about the apparent “new experiences” of trying a new race but I have found my current play through with an Elven mage completely different to that of say a Human noble. The ways npcs respond to your character affects what is open to you and no matter how many times I do it I still find the responses of npcs when I threaten them as a mage.

Dragon Age: Origins is by far my favourite game of 2009 and to be honest I am most likely going to play it once I have posted this, already having three DLCs and an expansion on its way (as well as unlockable items if you complete the achievements in Dragon Age Journeys) I can only see the world of Dragon Age growing in size until we finally meet the infamous Tevinter Imperium.

2. Fallout 3 DLC content/GoTY

Ok ok, I kind of cheated with this one. Before you say I know Fallout 3 was released in 08 however the expansion that the DLC content brought the game has to be praised. Increasing everything from new areas to explore to weapons to defend your sorry self from attack to the well awaited continuation of the story, if you hadn’t installed the mod to get around this (sorry console gamers) it kinda sucked that the game ended with still so much more to explore and Broken Steel saved us from this ever lasting fate of not knowing what happened. By far my favourite was Point Lookout, which had a far more interesting area to explore as well as crazy new enemies as well as its own cult to rival that of those in the wasteland. If you haven’t experienced the thrills of the Capital Wasteland yet, then I thoroughly recommend getting the Game of the Year addition (which was released in 2009 so ha!)

3. Left 4 Dead 2

After all the hype and disappointment that the announcement of L4D2 brought I must say that the people who are boycotting (though I doubt anyone actually did in the end) will be kicking themselves. L4D2 vastly improves L4D as a title, new weapons, including the much wanted melee weapons – who doesn’t want to smash a zombie to death with a frying pan? – and new guns, explosives and other niceties like a defibrillator for the much needy spark of life. However the main improvement is the new ways of completing a campaign, giving you multiple ways to reach the safe house and new types of finales instead of the constant “now defend here!” fights. The list goes on, with even more annoying special infected as well as new common infected such as clowns! Left 4 Dead 2 really did over achieve itself having more campaigns than L4D at launch and pretty much more of everything!

4. Red Faction: Guerrilla

As the continuation of the red Faction rebellion enters into 2009 new Guerrilla tactics are put into operation. Red Faction: Guerrilla, being the sequel of one of my most played PS2 games, was a most have. Still it has the explosive nature of the original with much bigger bangs than just holes in a wall. Guerrilla literally allows you to destroy anything, yes anything. I was glad to see Red Faction getting another sequel and back to the appealing nature of the first Red Faction as I remembered it. It even made me go out a buy the original Red Faction on pc to replay the game. Reaching number 4 in my list Red Faction: Guerrilla was a huge success in my books just because I was allowed to continue my little rebellion.

5. Sins of a Solar Empire: Entrenchment

From the conquest of nations to the conquest of worlds, Sins of a Solar Empire: Entrenchment just beats Empire Total War in my top 10 solely because of its awesome multiplayer experience. From total annihilation of your enemies to the slow decay of your own empire allows you great freedom on what you do next and most importantly where. The additions that Entrenchment brings, including the might space stations, brings new light to SoaSE and got me playing once again and once again had my fantasies of space travel going again. The modding community are still busy at work on this brilliant title with such mods as Star Trek and even a Cold War what if scenario. Only just breaking into my top 5 it still has its flaws, once you are losing, oh my how hard it is to get back, often seeing losing players without any hope quitting or just sitting back awaiting their fate once you get too power the real fun starts to fade away.

6. Empire Total War

Ah, Empire Total War from my beloved Total War series. To be honest the period of history Empire portrayed doesn’t interest me as much a previous titles or the next instalment. However the improvements to the series are no doubt held within this game…somewhere. The tech tree is a great improvement and the increase in opinions, a better ai, in the diplomacy department where well embraced by myself in the vain hope it was the end of the one city state refusing to make peace with a world power…However the improvements to the diplomacy ai seem to have reverse affects on the military side and on my first campaign with Prussia I found rival armies standing in their territories sitting there awaiting the rolling thunder of the Prussian Army.

In my opinion it lacked behind Medieval 2 Total War, especially on the modders front. Empire Total War wasn’t the game I was hoping for, now all I can do is hope that Napoleon is all what ETW should have been and more.

7. Company of Heroes: Tales of Valor

Not a game I got when it first came out, in fact I only recently bought the latest Company of Heroes. Tales of Valor (or should I say Valour) adds three new campaigns in its stand alone form, however these ‘campaigns’ are short, real short for them to be called campaigns more like three expanded missions.

However the same greatest the original spewed out is still here and it’s in truck loads once again. Nothing is more fun the blowing the s**t out of a small picturesque town to force your enemies into machine gun fire or into a barrel of a Tiger tank. ToV rolls into my top 10 all ready for action in its awesome seriousness.

8. Killing Floor

To be perfectly honest when I first saw this released I wasn’t all to rushed to go and get it, oh how I was wrong! A part from the vast and amount of ever increasing maps and weapons Killing Floor really gripped me on its focus on the team. Due to the sheer amount of time I put into this game it easily got into my top 10. However you start to see the repetition quite easily as you are forced into the same actions if you play a map to often and it disappointed me that the bosses were all the same crazy guy. Overall Killing Floor is a really fun game to play on a whim but in my opinion not on the same level as Left 4 Dead.

9. Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War 2

I enjoyed Dawn of War 2 greatly the new multiplayer modes being the most well received in every review I have read on DoW2, however even though I can see the attraction to a more squad orientated game I personally much preferred the mechanics of Dawn of War. However I must confess I never actually owned a copy of Dawn of War 2 and my experiences of this game is of playing it on a room mates computer and thus my perspective is not of a full game but the most accessible parts leaving DoW2 lagging behind the rest of group.

10. Football Manager 2010

When it comes to casual gaming for me Football Manager is quite easily the best in my opinion. Back in the day I used to play Championship Manager 2002 quite a lot however these days Football Manager has risen to the top of managing games and stand on a nice little podium. However not all is nice a shiny in the world of football management simulators, FM10 is still produces ridiculous results and while playing multiplayer online I found it to consistently lag even when playing a lan game and for these reason it only just reaches the subs bench in my top 10.

Check out these games at their perspective websites:

  1. http://dragonage.bioware.com/
  2. http://fallout.bethsoft.com/index.html
  3. http://www.l4d.com/home.html
  4. http://www.redfaction.com/
  5. http://www.sinsofasolarempire.com/
  6. http://www.totalwar.com/empire/
  7. http://community.companyofheroesgame.com/company-heroes-tales-valor
  8. http://www.killingfloorthegame.com/
  9. http://www.dawnofwar2.com/us/home
  10. http://www.footballmanager.com/

Sorrry about the huge delay with the podcast guys, we are all hugely busy sorting out our university places/job hunting. But hopefully, I have, from a reliable source, that a new episode may be out sometime this week before Welly moves to Northampton!

So with fingers crossed, you maybe hearing from us again shortly.

PS. sorry for my recent appsentence from most parts of the podcast, I always seem to have to go mid way through recording when we dont do it all in one night!

 

 

“He who fears being conquered is sure of defeat.” A famous quote from Napoleon himself, and a fitting start for an announcement of a Total War title. As you probably know, Im a complete History nut aswell as a hardcore fan of the Total War series (especial Rome Total War, bring on RTW2!) and when I read that Napoleon Total War was in the making I thought, heck yes, finally Empire is going to made into a proper Total War game instead of being Total Pacifism!

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Creative Assembly have offically announced NTW (Napoleon Total War) will be release in February 2010 and giving all Total War fans good news by saying they will continue to patch and work with Empire Total War, by already stating the release of patch 1.4 said to include major AI changes in field and fort battles.

NTW will build apon and improve the engine used by Empire Total War, adding amazing new features that were “left out” of Empire Total War, Kieran Brigden (the Communications Manager at Creative Assembly) explains: “The way that Total War development works is we do a kind of evolution-revolution cycle. We create revolutionary technology for one title – in this case Empire, which had a brand new engine written from the ground up – and all new AI. Then, for the next game, we take that technology and evolve it – in this case with Napoleon. We’ve taken everything we’ve achieved with Empire and Empire’s engine and just pushed it to the limit. Napoleon is essentially the culmination of what we wanted to do with Empire, given the time to take it further.”

Mike Simpson (the Creative Director at The Creative Assembly) has said “In Napoleon: Total War you get to actually be Napoleon” meaning NTW will have an Alexander Total War type fibe allowing the player to recreate history or completely turn the history books on their heads.  “However, the game allows you to step in the shoes of his opposing generals as well, allowing the player to rewrite history as they see fit.”

In my opinion Napoleon Total War sounds like the game I was expecting from Empire Total War if CA manage to do it right, which I pray to God that they do, unlike the stalemate you quite often find yourself stuck in while playing Empire Total War, the Napoleonic era will throw the player in the deep end of a huge European confrontation between all the major superpowers the player found also in Empire Total War.

Altogether there will be a total of 322 new units to command and a wooping maximum of 10,000 men can appear on your screen at once, depending on the settings and PC specs, leading to battles that will most likely be EPIC in their scale and in graphics! Creative Assembly have stated they will be adding more variety in the way the men look, with the aim to eliminate the ‘clone army’ problem which has plauged Total War games from the start and only really loosely solved in Medieval 2 Total War before the “problem” reared its head once again in Empire Total War.  CA have said that the game will “mix and match” body parts to make soldiers look individual and unique, and even on the lowest settings there are 64 different faces to offer! According to Kieran Brigden, “Napoleon looks 50,000 times better than Empire when it comes to the individual units and their animations and the way they act on the battlefield.” and if these reported improvements are true I think Id be inclined to agree with him.  Kieran Brigden gave IGN an example that excited me as I would believe it would do to any Total War fan, “We’ve now got to the point where the smoke from all the rifle muzzle flashes hangs in the air and then drifts across the battlefield. That affects your visibility and your guys’ ability to shoot and reload, and it’s affecting your view as a commander on the battlefield. The horses will also kick up dust and mud when they charge in, which will also affect visibility.”
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It is reported that the features of Napoleon Total War are;

  • Napoleon: Total War defines a new standard within the genre with exciting characters and a cinematic narrative, mind-blowing battle sequences and an unrivalled mix of turn-based and real-time strategy.
  • Three new episodic campaigns: Take command and lead your armies on land and sea over three campaigns: Italy, Egypt and Mastery of Europe. The seamless mix of objective-based missions and sandbox experience makes this the most complete Total War experience to date.
  • Cutting-edge multiplayer: Napoleon features fully integrated multiplayer modes and a complete set of online functionalities: Steam achievements, gameplay bonuses, uniform editor and voice communications.
  • All new Napoleonic battles and units: Advanced weaponry enables new tactical options and even more exciting real-time battles on an epic scale, while the highly detailed environments and improved battlefield buildings guarantee a realistic recreation of famous historical battles.

As much as I was disapointed by Empire Total War, though that may be down to the lack of interest in that era, I for one will buy Napoleon Total War just because it promises just that, Total War. With the new improvements that have been promised I believe this game will fill the hole that was left by Empire Total War and more, I just cant wait to lead a new super power out of the struggle against Napoleon just so I can rise up and present an even bigger threat! Long live PRUSSIA (HAHA, Matt, I just had to do it!).

For me the Total War francise embodies what PC gaming is all about, and no before you ask NTW will not be on consoles “The series is going to be PC only for the foreseeable future – we love the platform and there’s just something about the PC that lends itself to strategy games. It does them really well”, Total War is the king, no Emperor, of all strategy games and if any PC gamers havnt tried one of them out I would suggest they did, but Total War also has a huge modding community behind it, continually improving and changing the base game from historical accurate mods such as europa barbarorum for RTW to fantasy mods such as The Third Age (a LoTRs mod) for M2TW, and to some of my favourites such as Stainless Steel (M2TW), A Proper Empire: Terra Incognita (ETW), and my favourite all time mod Roma Surrectum (RTW), which can all be found on www.twcenter.net – Sorry for the shameless promotion, its just that the community rocks!

Its no Rome Total War 2 (just seeing that title would be an instant 10/10 from me) but it sounds overly impressive and if CA pull it off NTW could easily get a 9/10!

Xyilion

As everyone knows Im a huge Fallout fan, so when the new DLC Mothership Zeta came of on August the 3rd I was over the moon, although a little pessimistic on how they would accomplish such a story in the current Fallout 3 world.

So once I had bought it I decided to try it out, first off you get swept off of your feet, literally, by a tractor beam and you find yourself being abducted by aliens allowing you, as the character, to have a nice view of the surrounding Wasteland while you are pulled away from the familiar, but amazing, atmosphere Bethesda created in Fallout 3.

Here is where my first conflict arose, do I really want to have a new DLC which ISNT set in the amazing atmosphere that I love about Fallout? To answer myself, no not really, it would have to be something special to fit in with the rest of Fallout 3, but in my opinion, how could it? The huge change in the setting, and the items you will use throughout completely changes key aspects of the game.

I played around for a bit and found myself enjoying the thrill of the escape as I worked through the Alien ship searching for a means of escape, but again it made me wonder…if the player wasnt playing this DLC as part of the end game (as I was) surely the new alien weapons would completely unbalance the game onto the side of the player taking away the challenge that the environment had. For myself, im just not so sure how this all fits in with the rest of Fallout 3, though yes there was that crashed alien ship out in the wasteland it was a one of a kind giving the weapon a kind of respect as you could not gain more ammo, however with this DLC I am sure there will become an excess of such, quite frankly, overpowered materials.

However the DLC wasnt all doom and gloom for me, I still found the new weapons available just as fun while I was using them on similarly equipped opponents, and as I like to collect ‘memorabilia’ along my travels in the wasteland, the new items made available made it so much more fun as I tried to hunt down as much Alien equipment I could find. From what I have played of it already it seems more of a ‘run and gun’ style, making it some what similar to the story in ‘Broken Steel’.

With 33 new items (including weapons, Armor and even the few strange foods), 1 new perk, 1 achievement and 3 quests I would still recommend Fallout fans to obtain this DLC, if only for the change in scenery or the new items.

All in all, I would not say it was my favourite DLC for Fallout 3, but it gave me a little twist and most importantly an exuse for me to reinstall Fallout 3, after my PC troubles, and start up a new character, again!

Aquila