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Thursday
Jul182013

Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara Review 

It does the heart a lot of good when you see a 90’s arcade game being successfully ported to consoles. These ports really help familiarizing the younger gaming generation to what the arcade culture was all about! Well, Iron Galaxy deserves kudos for providing a very robust version of two of the most popular games of 90’s, namely Tower of Doom and Mist over Mystara. Playing the game on the console, I couldn’t help but take a trip down the memory lane! I vividly recall bunking classes and going to the nearby arcade with my lunch money to indulge for hours at the Tower of Doom machine.   

Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara is the absolute pinnacle of the side scrolling beat-em-up genre, and with the remake, developers have done a good job of bringing this classic to current generation consoles. However, the game only caters to those who enjoy old school beat-em-ups. Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara is fairly easy to get into mainly, thanks to its simple yet effective four buttons control scheme. However, some of the problems have carried over from original games i.e. the attack button is also used to pick up loot, which can cause some problems, especially when you are surrounded by enemies and your character starts to gather loot instead of fighting. Visually, Tower of Doom compared to today’s mega budget and resource intensive games, looks bland and the characters just don’t have that immersive tinge to them. Chronicles of Mystara however has received some loving from Iron Galaxy and can be played in its original format of the 90’s. If going down the memory lane isn’t your thing, Iron Galaxy has the next best option! Since, this is an HD port, you can smoothen the graphics to give it a more modernistic touch. It’s like having the best of both worlds at your disposal.

I don’t think even Capcom realized that they were making games that would transcend the mere label of beat em up side scrollers, because of including RPG elements. These aren’t your typical button mashers with the depth of a kiddie pool. No sir! What you get is elements like comprehensive level progression, optional equipment which doesn’t go poof on you when least expected and my favorite of all supply shops. There are action based consequences and multiple ways to an objective, something that games of 90’s weren’t known for.  The premise of the game is pretty simplistic though. There’s a typical bad guy threatening the world, you assemble a bunch of ragtag crew of fighters that fight their way through the bad guy’s minions and help people along the way. At the end of their journey, there’s an epic confrontation with the boss. Defeating the boss would save the world and order will be restored to chaos. The original games were intended for arcade gaming and hence were intentionally made insanely difficult to coax coins out of players. Thankfully, the port now allows for a difficulty setting to be set. Players would have at their disposal four classes to choose from! Fighter, Dwarf, Cleric and Elf all of whom come with their distinctive abilities, traits, advantages and disadvantages. There’s no character customization, but you can conveniently overlook that little detail considering game’s dated origin, though you get to name your character which has some tangible effect on skill tree and load out.  Chronicles of Mystara offers another incentive to the game by offering two extra and new classes called The Thief and Magic User. Due attention has been given to make the classes differ from the original roster, as they have distinctively different powers and abilities. I had a blast putting together a team and trying to balance it by taking into consideration the abilities of the classes and which ones to include and which to leave out.

Control Scheme

The button control scheme is quite basic when it comes to Tower of Doom. It consists of four buttons each affixed with a certain action. It can get a bit repetitive but the sequel Chronicles of Mystara improves on it by including attacks that require specific rotation and movement reminiscent of another popular fighting game that was making waves back then, though this also results in some nuisance like the loot and attack button mix up, as mentioned earlier. The AI of the game is fairly decent and keeps throwing enemies at you which can become monotonous after sometime, but the beauty of these games is in their replayability. You can always switch characters and explore their move sets in detail and vanquish enemies in a totally varied manner.

Soundtrack

Like today’s games having their own elaborate and custom produced music and soundtracks enhancing the overall experience, these two titles have the staple arcade sound of the day. This entails a couple of tracks playing throughout the entirety of the game, your characters having pathetic timing of letting lose cheesy catch phrases and the enemies emitting the same sound over and over. But, I gladly overlooked all that because of the amount of share fun I was having reliving the entire experience!

Unlike the arcade games where you gave it your all, because dying would mean coughing up another coin, the HD ports allow for unlimited number of continues. Now I am not complaining because I died plenty of times (you will too so wipe that smirk off your face), but having unlimited number of continues at my disposal made me kind of languid in my approach and somewhat lessened the thrill. It would’ve been ideal if Iron Galaxy would’ve incorporated some sort of limited number of continues, exhausting which you’d have to play with a certain handicap or something.


The asking price for the game is $15 which is not too bad when I look back and recall that amount of coins I must’ve blown on reaching the end boss alone (killing the end boss is another story altogether). Plus, you’d be getting two awesome titles for the cost of one.

Verdict

It stroked my nostalgia and made me teary eyed when I reminisced about the good memories associated with these titles. Even after all these years and being exposed to modern games, which would leave these titles eating their dust, I still enjoyed playing them. The classic gameplay of hack n slash arcade style manages to remain as immersive as it was back during the heydays of arcade gaming. The game does have shortcomings like, too few enemy types, limited game play and sometimes fussy controls.

I would personally give the game a solid 7.8 out of 10. It might not be the cup of tea for every gamer out there but I would encourage people who’ve never come across the arcade versions to at least give it a full hearted try. The co-op is up to four players and I guarantee you’ll have a blast bashing in the skulls of baddies and competing with your buddies for loot (even if there’s a generous amount of it to go around).


7.8
Saturday
Jul132013

Get Ready For Some Fighting Action With Namco’s Free-to-Play Tekken Revolution

The 'Tekken' series amazed us two decades ago by offering stunning 3D graphics. On consoles, PCs and even portable consoles, we all have played this series at least once. And now, Namco Bandai has come up with another game in the series, “Tekken Revolution”. It was released for PlayStation 3 in June 2013, and is available on the PlayStation Store for free. Tekken Revolution is the first free-to-play game in the series.


Characters

Asuka Kazama, Jack-6, Kazuya Mishima, King, Lars Alexandersson, Lili Rochefort, Marshall Law and Paul Phoenix are playable from the start, while Steve Fox, Leo Kliesen, Bryan Fury and Alisa Bosconovitch can be unlocked during the game. Heihachi Mishima, Jinpachi Mishima and Ogre appear as bosses in the title, but are not playable. Namco plans to add more characters with future updates in the game.

Gameplay and Interface

The game keeps the same interface as other Tekken titles ― time is as usual visible in the upper middle with health bars on its left and right corners.

After data download and installation, the game can be played with an internet connection such that gameplay data can be sent back to Namco servers. It greets you with a menu screen ― clean and simple; from where all the game modes and settings can be accessed.

Although the gameplay is largely similar to previous games in the series, there are some minor changes. Some new features have been added, while others have been removed.

Tekken Revolution offers new special effects for some moves such that they can be instantly recognized as the most effective move of a certain character. There are two types; “Special Arts” and “Critical Arts”. Special Arts gives gamers invincibility at the start of the attack, but leaves you vulnerable if it is blocked. Critical Arts allows players to deal more damage if they manage to land a critical hit. Each character has four Critical Arts and one Special Arts effects.

The new “Character Enhancement System” is an RPG-like feature that lets you take experience points to be earned from matches, and apply them on three skill option: Power, Endurance and Vigor. Power determines how strong your character is, Endurance adds points to the health bar, and Vigor increases your chances of a critical hit when using Super or Critical Arts. Players must choose which areas they want to upgrade; either they can use all of their experience points on a single option or make their player an all-round character. Combo-oriented players perform better, while spending their points on Power; whereas the defensive players can use them on Endurance. This adds a whole new level of strategy and depth into the game. This gameplay element impacts the play style of other players as well.

One of the biggest changes is, the “Bound” system introduced in Tekken 6 has been removed. Though this may not affect all players, those who have adapted to it may face some difficulty. Even with the system gone, there are still some ways that can put the opponents into the Bound state, leaving them vulnerable.

There are three modes to be played: Arcade, Ranked Matches and Player Matches. Arcade mode is quite easy, and the difficulty mode cannot be changed. This is a good chance for novice players, and the ones who’re new to the series to start and learn quickly. This mode has eight stages to play. Winning or losing a fight gives you gold, experience to use the Character Enhancement System and Gift Points that can be used to unlock new characters. Player and Ranked Matches are online modes which allow you to compete with other players. The lag is very little in these modes, making way for a great experience. A Practice Mode is also planned to be added later on, with no story mode in this game.

The controls are responsive and features like sidestepping are more effective than in other games. Tekken Revolution is undoubtedly smooth, produced with the same engine as was Tekken Tag Tournament 2. The game gives an equal experience to both the players who purchase items within the game and those who do not.

Graphics and Presentation

The graphics are pretty much similar to Tekken Tag Tournament 2 with some new visual effects and the characters and stages are in high detail. The graphics are clear, bright and can perfectly capture the action while playing. The movement animations are also a lot better in this new edition. Soundtracks, while not bad, are a little less catchy than the previous games in the series which were praised for their excellent music. The motion blur effects are incredible, with amazing new effects used in Critical and Special Arts . Animations are smooth and cool; Namco has done a good job in this department. Overall, the game is well polished.

Limitations

As with almost all free-to-play games, there are some limitations in this game too i.e. low amount of characters and only three modes; for instance, there are no character customization options like the ones in previous games. Moreover, an even bigger problem is the tokens required to play. Arcade Tokens are required to play Arcade mode, while Battle Tokens needed to play Player and Ranked Matches. An Arcade Token is given to you every hour and a Battle Token is regenerated every 30 minutes. Players can hold a maximum of 2 Arcade Tokens along with 5 Battle Tokens. Premium Tickets are earned by accomplishing achievements, and can be used to play all game modes. Premium Coins act similar to Premium Tickets, but instead of being earned through tasks, they can be bought via the PlayStation Store. This may seem annoying at first, but you’ll surely get used to it soon.


Conclusion

With it’s amazing graphics and excellent gameplay all for free, even the limitations do not matter. The game’s online mode is replayable and immersive. When I first heard of a free-to-play Tekken game, I was worried that it may not provide the full Tekken experience or might offer an unfair advantage to those who bought in-game items, but this was certainly not the case. After playing the Tekken Revolution, I found how good the game actually was. This is a great game for beginners who want to try out, before they get full titles such as Tekken Tag Tournament 2 and Tekken 6. However, if it just had a bit more characters and game modes, it would have been out of this world. Let's see what more Namco can bring to us with future updates, promising new characters. Overall, the game adds some new features to the already amazing series and delivers the same fighting gameplay as the original. It has one of the best free-to-play models in the industry. The game gets a 7/10 from my side, and is really fun to play. I would recommend downloading this game, without giving a second thought! If you have anything to say about the game; feel free to share with us in the comments section below.


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Sunday
Jul072013

MotoGP 13: Take on Racing With a Different Angle 

MotoGP 13 is the latest game made for the MotoGP racing championship. Milestone has now taken its go on the series after it lost its rights following the mediocre MotoGP 08 game. Racing fans all over the world were excited when the game arrived, but in the end it turned out to be something different than what the fans had expected. It has been developed by Milestone Games which is well known for its bike racing games like the Superbike World Championship series. The series’ last game, MotoGP 11/12 published by PQube, received unsatisfactory reviews, hence disappointed the fans.. MotoGP 13  began shipping on June 21, 2013 for Xbox 360, PC, PS3 and PS Vita platforms, and has also reached to the OnLive cloud gaming platform.

Gameplay and Interface

MotoGP 13 starts by giving players a customization screen to scroll through a set of options with a limited selection to choose their name, nickname, country, colors and the riding style. It’s not really as extensive as you’d expect from a full-priced game and seems like a free to play game. It does not come up to the 2013 standard; especially considering the fact that new consoles with more memory and processing power are getting released this year.

After the customization screen, you’re greeted by the main menu where you can access different game modes. The menu is quite simple and feels like developers went a little too safe while designing it.

The game features four single-player modes: Grand Prix, World Championship, Career Mode and Time Attack. Grand Prix is a standard mode where players select a class, team, rider, track and weather conditions to compete in a single Grand Prix weekend including practice, qualification and the actual race. The World Championship mode allows players to compete in either full or custom seasons in MotoGP, Moto2 or Moto3. Career mode is the main single-player mode of MotoGP 13 which incorporates both first and third person elements as players enter a team in Moto3 due to some wildcard events. At the start, they are given an option of selecting from three teams, all of them with varying bikes and overall race performances. Players then must race multiple seasons in an attempt to ultimately become the MotoGP world champion. The career mode offers some new features for MotoGP video games which include: Parc Ferme, motorhomes and a walkable garage. The motorhome is the hub of career mode offering statistics, rankings and interaction with the team leader through a virtual laptop. The hub also has a wardrobe to edit your riders’ appearance,, and there’s a newspaper as well featuring articles on your last race. The career mode has also been expanded through objectives given by your personal manager.

Time Attack allows players to race against the previously set high score. MotoGp 13  features offline multiplayer with split screen for up to two players as well as online multiplayer for a maximum of 12 players. This is a rather arcade-style mode.

MotoGP 13 has all the official teams, riders, tracks and bikes from the 2013 MotoGP season, along with the bikes and riders from the 2012 season available through DLC. Some of the most famous tracks in the racing world, such as the Circuit de Catalunya, are also included in the game.

Before the race begins, you’re greeted with a video montage of the city. You will be racing in ― something that seems amazing at first, but gets boring after a few minutes and you desire it to end as soon as possible to proceed towards the actual game. Before the race, players are introduced to a helmet cam inside the pit stop, and the coach is on the right who teaches a few things about MotoGP racing. It is quite an extensive guide filled with descriptions and explanations of things you didn’t know about MotoGP. On the other side, there are mechanical options that allow you to edit and tweak your bike in a manner similar to other racing games we’ve seen in the past few years. Once the race starts, the rider walks towards the bike with an engaging helmet view angle, which then jumps to the racing grid.

After completing a race, you’re rewarded according to your performance and the position you achieve in the race. You are provided with “fans” that help in leveling up and unlocking new attire for your riders. MotoGP 13 offers enough stages and modes to please the gamers. The tuning is good, but serious Moto racing fans would have loved something that goes a little deeper.

The racing is fair, as it gives an interpretation of how it feels racing one of the monstrous vehicles, though the gameplay is mostly too much on the safe side. Moreover, you do not feel you are on the top of a bike that can deliver speed of more than 200 MPH. Even in the most tensed situations, the game does not give you an adrenaline kick that some previous versions were able to deliver. By default, all the assisting mechanics will be turned On, which will give beginners and casual gamers a lot more confidence, but experienced players are better off without them. Assisting mechanics seem to hinder the game’s authenticity. All bikes in the game offer great handling, and balancing is not really a problem. The ability to lean is great along with the option to control gears, though automatic mode is just as great.

The pressure applied on the accelerometer is great, with the ability to control gas, brakes, and steering is also amazing. Even the mechanics are incredible and add a great degree of realism into the game. The dynamic weather seems outstanding with races starting dry, randomly changing to rain and sometimes even reverting back to dry weather.

Sound and Graphics

This is one area where MotoGP 13 takes a turn for the worse; it features unnatural engine sounds, with the graphics being outdated and buggy. While playing the game, I saw holes in the skybox which really distracted me and damaged the sense of immersion. There is a noticeable jerk in camera movements, even from the slightest touch of the analogue stick, something that becomes quite annoying during races.

Conclusion

Although MotoGP 13 is interesting and authentic with its amazingly realistic mechanics, Milestone has under polished it, causing it to have outdated graphics and unappealing sound. I feel that had Milestone given a bit more time on its development, the aesthetics would’ve been better and made the entire experience a lot more fun. The title is one of the few great bike racing games in the market, but I would only recommend it to hardcore MotoGP or motorcycle racing fans. There are many better car racing games in the market for a lower price. I will give this game a 6/10. So, what do you think about the game? Share your opinion with us in the comments section.


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