Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Now only one dome stands...

Game Category: Real Time Strategy
Developer / Distributor: Vertex 4 / Lighthouse Interactive
Release Date: 30 Nov 2007
Rating: PEGI 12+

If you have played the first Starcraft before, then you'd be surprised that Sunage may remind you of that game. Let's see, there are three types of factions in Sunage to play with, and the game also gives you huge cool battles featuring infantry and futuristic vehicles. There are cool storylines for each of the three campaigns which is another similar concept from Starcraft. Perhaps the only things missing from Sunage are a map editor and Battle.Net play.

Comparing Sunage to Starcraft may be quite a tall order for the former game to stand up to. The biggest problem is that Sunage has arrived too late for many - released in the year 2007, gamers were expecting much more. Take a look at the competition in 2007 (for eg., Supreme Commander,World in Conflict, and Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts) and you will know what I mean.

A reason for the game's existence was cited on the game box - Sunage is "very playable on lower spec PCs and laptops". Great, I like that developers are still taking that into consideration. A little retro idea goes a long way...

This way to battle

Monday, May 30, 2011

Alien Nations at war

The Nations: Gold Edition
Game Category: Real Time Strategy
Developer / Distributor: Jowood Vienna Productions
Release Date: 31 Dec 2001 
Rating: ESRB - Teen

I initially scoffed at the idea behind Alien Nations when it was first released. There were three nations fighting each other: Pimmons - blue skinned buffoons, Sajiki - yellow walking insects, and Amazonen - voluptuous human females. It also featured in my opinion one of the worst attempt at humor for an introduction movie that I had ever seen. In it, you see two storks craving alcohol while on the job (and yeah, you don't want to know the rest of it), I was both kind of glad and sad that I had lost that disc.

A short span later, Jowood released a follow up to Alien Nations. Known as Die Völker II: Aufstieg zum Königreich in German, or more simply as The Nations, this release presents a couple of interesting features like the obviously improved graphics and updated interface, new game play features like merchants who will trade with you, much more varied and interesting missions, and to top it all the humor doesn't attempt to embarrass itself as much as it did in the prequel.

A few months into the release of The Nations, a bonus pack containing 22 new missions and other improvements were added. Jowood decided to collect everything and re-release it as The Nations: Gold Edition. This is the version that will be reviewed tonight.

Cool... this blue guy reacts to whatever I select

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Why no updates?

Hi dear readers, there shall be no regular updates for a little while. Reason is that my wife gave birth to a healthy baby girl just a short while back. Its been really a great moment for me being a father and all.

I will hopefully return sometime next week (or as and when time permits).

For an idea of what reviews to expect next, I did spend some time playing The Nations Gold Edition, Prince of Persia, and a few other games just before heading to the hospital.

Thanks for your patience,
Best regards.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Spartans! Prepare for glory!

Sparta: The Fate of Hellas
Game Category: Real Time Strategy
Developer / Distributor: World Forge / Jowood
Release Date: 4 Apr 2008 
Rating: ESRB - Mature, PEGI 16+

Sparta: The Fate of Hellas (TFoH), also known as Great War Nations: The Spartans, is a stand-alone real time strategy game expansion for Ancient Wars - Sparta, the main game which was released a year before (back in 2007). Both games were developed by World Forge, a game development company headquartered in the city of Voronezh, Russia.

If you have played Ancient Wars - Sparta before, than you already know what to expect in this expansion. Instead of playing through three campaigns featuring 30 maps and featuring these factions - the Spartans, Persians, and Egyptians, this time round, TFoH has you slogging through two campaigns featuring only 14 maps and two factions - the Spartans (once again) and the Macedonians.

It is only natural to feel disappointed by the fewer maps and factions, but do not forget that this is an expansion. All things aside, you should be aware that you do get to play the Egyptians and the Persians (together with the Spartans and Macedonians) in the mutiplayer mode, and you could go at it in single player mode by simply activating 7 AI opponents instead of battling against 7 online opponents.

A new age has begun

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Defeated by a Crazy Streptopucker

Tonight (and possibly the next few nights) I will be featuring a short capsule type of review as an importantly big day draws closer for me. I will tell you more about it when it happens. In the meantime, enjoy the review.

Monster Mash
Game Category: Casual, Tower Defense, Kids
Developer / Distributor: Arise / Kranx Productions and Sandlot Games
Release Date: 17 Jul 2009
Rating: ESRB - Everyone

Monster Mash from Arise is a casual tower defense game that has you going up against waves of monsters marching towards the villages of Curly Valley. There is but one undefended path the monsters will take, so you must quickly build towers along it to defend your village from the huge hordes that march onwards relentlessly. The monsters are truly out of this world with weird names such as the Hideous Horripickle and the super powerful Crazy Streptopucker.

As monsters can either walk or fly, you need to choose your weapons carefully. You have five tower types to build, so you will need to locate them in the most efficient locations and combinations to make short work of the monsters. As the monsters die, they may sometime drop a bonus that will help you further the defense of your village.

What makes Monster Mash unique is probably the cute animated monsters, the addictively simple gameplay, and the catchy music. The game concepts are so elegant and simple that you should consider getting the game for your kids!

Dum dum-dum dum-dum dum-dum dum...

Monday, May 23, 2011

If you take a nap, he'll spin attack

Sonic Mega Collection Plus
Game Category: Arcade, Platformer, Kids
Developer / Distributor: Sega
Release Date: 9 Mar 2007
Rating: ESRB - Everyone

Spinning fast and whizzing across the landscape like a speeding bullet during the early nineties, this smart little spiny mammal, whose name is Sonic, is synonymous with the brand name Sega. In fact, he looked poised to uproot Nintendo's human mascot - Mario at one time in the world of the console wars. Today, the rivalry between both mascots is a thing of the past since we even have console games where both Mario and Sonic are featured together.

Anyway, today's game is all about Sonic and if you have never owned a Sega Megadrive console before, then you were missing out on all the great platforming fun. I can vouch for this since I had my very own Sega Megadrive console back in the early nineties. Sonic the Hedgehog was definitely my favorite game on my sadly missed game console.

This DVD anthology of Sega games featuring Sonic the Hedgehog has you playing quite an impressive collection of 20 games. You will most definitely enjoy your time with this large collection; the games are almost perfect replicas of the original with the emulation being top-notch.

This is the start to an excellent bundle

Sunday, May 22, 2011

I'm here to purify the three worlds

Chaos Legion
Game Category: Action, Role Playing Game
Developer / Distributor: Capcom
Release Date: 18 Dec 2003
Rating: ESRB - Teens

Chaos Legion from Capcom is a rather interesting action role playing game that has you pitting against your best friend who has turned evil. The unique thing in this game are the legions that you will summon to fight for you. These are beasts that have different attacks depending on the two crests you have chosen for the level in the game. These crests are found as prized possessions after tough fights with some pretty huge bosses that leave you gasping in awe at their sheer power and imaginative creativity.

The story of Chaos Legion is based upon a book by a Japanese novelist. According to the game's user manual, the story starts four years in the past. Three heroes - Sieg, Delacroix and Siela, rush to defend the sanctified grounds of a cathedral. There, an evil spirit by the name of Azrail captures the heroine Siela and escapes. This leaves behind two very embittered heroes. While Sieg continues to fight for good, Delacroix falls to evil.

Fast forward till today and you find out that an evil book with the title of the Apocrypha of Yzarc, purported to be able to free Azrail, has been stolen. Sieg has been deployed to discover whether his former friend Delacroix, reportedly seen at sites mentioned in the Apocrypha, had anything to do with the theft.

Truly chaotic action within

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Off we go into the wild blue yonder

Air Conflicts: Air Battles of World War II
Game Category: Arcade, Simulation
Developer / Distributor: 3D People S.R.D / Bold Games
Release Date: 9 Jun 2006
Rating: ESRB - Teens

There is no shortage of arcade flight simulation games out there on the market, but if you are looking for an attractive game based around World War II air battles that's easy to get into without the need to memorize a big bunch of keys for aircraft operation; has lots of mission variety - about 200 missions are available to be more exact; and, possesses solid fun game play that involves missions like air patrols, intercepting enemy aircraft, tactical bombing, and providing air support; then Air Conflicts: Air Battles of World War II may just be the game you are looking for.

Developed by 3D People, the game boasts three sides that you can join when you first create your pilot profile. You can take on the role of the British (RAF), the Germans (Luftwaffe) or the Russians (Красная Армия - pronounced Krasnaya Armiya). Each side has four types of planes for you to pilot (a fighter, a fighter-bomber, a bomber, and a prototype aircraft) and the maneuverability of the planes will truly surprise you as you take them into heated dogfights during the game. In fact, I was so immersed in the game that I didn't even realize I was having so much fun controlling my aircraft using my humble little mouse.

 Keep the wings level and true

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I've been working on the railroad

Railroad Pioneer
Game Category: Real Time Strategy, Simulation
Developer / Distributor: Kritzelkratz 3000 / Jowood
Release Date: 5 Feb 2004
Ratings: ESRB - Everyone

Railroad tycoon style games typically require you to plan a rail network by interconnecting at least two or more cities. You will then grow your network by expanding it to more cities, planning routes for your trains and determining which types of cargo cars you should be pulling.

In the case of Railroad Pioneer, a game developed by Krizelkratz 3000, it features a major twist in the railroad tycoon mechanic.

The first thing that greets you when you start any game in Railroad Pioneer is that the map is covered by a swath of black. You need to uncover the map with the assistance of a survey troop - a group of stalwart explorers - before you can lay your railway tracks and stations. Your survey troop may comprise pioneers, trappers, prospectors,  raftsmen, and more who have specially dedicated skills to help you explore the land.

Since Railroad Pioneer is a real time strategy game, you had best remember that the clock's ticking. Time is of the essence here if you want to beat the AI railroad barons, so you had best not spend too much time planning and strategizing.

A pioneering feat

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Taking a break

There will be no review today as it's a public holiday over here. See you on Wednesday with a review of Railroad Pioneer.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Hunt rare and wild animals

3-D Hunting 2010: Hunt rare and wild animals
Game Category: Hunting
Developer / Distributor: Kalypso Media / So What! Software Studios
Release Date: 15 May 2010
Rating: ESRB - Teen, PEGI 16

Hunt or be hunted! So Kalypso says on the back of the game box for 3-D Hunting 2010 - Hunt Rare and Wild Animals (shortened to 3DH2010 for the review). Seems like one of the latest hunting games is trying to be unique by putting you into the role as a poacher.

But isn't poaching a crime? Yes, you got that right. If anything could be more decidedly controversial than being a GTA IV gangster spouting expletives and pumping bullet holes into your rival gang's car, then this fantasy of playing a poacher might just has to be it.

Perhaps they were trying to cash in on the be-a-bad-guy-for-a-day theme, for it seems that the developers So What! have decided to put you in the shoes of being a poacher. You will be travelling on foot around exotic hunting expanses and shooting animals indiscriminately without a licence while trying to avoid park rangers and game wardens.

Looks innocent enough

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The third Law - A robot must protect its own existence...

Game Category: Adventure
Developer / Distributor: Amanita Design / Amanita Design
Release Date: 16 Oct 2009
Rating: ESRB - Everyone

Falling out of the sky just like the weird rocket ship we see at the start of the game, once Machinarium drops into your hands, you are not going to let it go. This little adventure game from independent developer Amanita Design, is a true game of distinction. It won two prestigious awards - the Excellence in Visual Art award at the 12th Annual Independent Games Festival and the Best Soundtrack award from PC Gamer (in the March 2009 issue).

I totally agree that the game deserves these awards. Simply put, the visuals are outstanding and the music is über cool. Not forgetting the light humor and ingenious puzzles that makes this game such a gem to play.

The story in Machinarium sees you guiding a poor little robot by the name of Josef. Josef has for some reason been dismantled and left for dead outside the city. You will help Josef make his way back into the city, meet many other robots - some good, and some bad, and piece together the story of how Josef got into his current predicament in the first place.

Quaint and innovative

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Chaos across time

Loki: Heroes of Mythology
Game Category: Role Playing Game, Action
Developer / Distributor: Cyanide / Focus Home Interactive
Release Date: 2 Oct 2007
Rating: ESRB - Mature

Loki - Heroes of Mythology is a Diablo clone through and through. If you like such a game, then you'd be glad to know that this game is going to grow on you. The early game may look and feel a bit disappointing, but if you give it time and as you progress to the mid and end game, you will find the action to be frantic and fun, with lots more things to see and do, and impressive looking bosses to boot.

One thing that sets Loki apart from others is the thousands upon thousands of monsters thrown at your feet. Moreover, the wilderness and dungeon areas in Loki are huge. Dungeon areas utilize dungeon geomorphs that add to the immensity of the game, so expect to spend a lot of time trudging through them.

Loki tells the story of a hero (or a heroine) chosen from four different cultures and timelines - the Aztecs, the Egyptians, the Greeks, and the Norse, who will assist their respective good gods in defeating the evil Egyptian god of Chaos, Seth. Whichever culture you choose, you will find yourself adventuring through all four timelines so that you can finally defeat Seth at his game.

That Loki look...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Perry to the rescue

Rhodan: Myth of the Illochim
Game Category: Adventure
Developer / Distributor: Braingame / Deep Silver
Release Date: 3 Jul 2008
Rating: ESRB - Teen

Also known as The Immortals of Terra: A Perry Rhodan Adventure, I won't blame you for not knowing who the protagonist of the game is supposed to be. That's because the origins of our hero goes all the way back to the year 1961. For those who aren't familiar with him, Perry Rhodan is a famous science fiction comic character who originated in Germany - follow this link to take a quick peek at the official page (translated with the help of Google).

Yes, the Perry Rhodan der Erbe des Universums novella series has been around for quite a long time, with at least 2500 novellas issued by now, and still going strong after 50 years.

Myth of the Illochan only touches the surface of the entire Perryverse - the term coined for all trivia and lore on Perry Rhodan - Heir of the Universe. Read on to learn more of this great adventure game from Braingame and Deep Silver.

Perry Rhodan, immortal adventure extraordinaire!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Beneath the crypts prophecies clash

Dark Messiah of Might and Magic
Game Category: First Person, Fighting
Developer / Distributor: Arkane Studios and Kuju Entertainment / Ubisoft
Release Date: 24 Oct 2006
Rating: ESRB - Mature

Dark Messiah of Might and Magic is a first person action fighting game that continues the lore of the Might and Magic franchise. Taking the story arc of Kha-Beleth featured in two of the sub-campaigns from Heroes of Might and Magic V, Ubisoft has expanded on the Demon Sovereign's story.

Dark Messiah tells us the nefarious story of how the Demon Sovereign is brought back to life to terrorize the world of Ashan as foretold in the Prophecy of the Dark Messiah. In fact the quote for today's game features a line from the prophecy.

In the game, you take on the role of Sareth, a young apprentice mage who eventually gets embroiled in the search for the Skull of Shadows. Somehow, our protagonist's life will get intertwined with that of the prophecy. It will be up to you to decide how fate plays out and whether the Demon Sovereign will be released from his prison forever to torment the world of Ashan.

The game of Dark Messiah comes equipped with an interesting single player campaign as well as a fun multiplayer element. Unfortunately, as of today, the multiplayer element cannot be accessed at all. Let's concentrate on the single player element then, but is it good enough to stand on its own?

Is this guy the Dark Messiah?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Out here on the Perimeter there are no stars...

Perimeter 2: New Earth
Game Category: Real Time Strategy
Developer / Distributor: KD Vision Games Development / Strategy First
Release Date: 2 Mar 2006
Rating: ESRB - Everyone

Today's review is going to be short, since I don't have too many nice words to say about it. I will say my peace, put up the requisite screenshots, write out a long list of cons, shake my head in disappointment that I have to do this, and leave you to decide whether you should get the game for your collection.

Perimeter 2: New Earth is essentially a follow-up to Perimeter - the wonderfully creative voxel-based game praised for its use of terraforming and unique squads that have the knack of morphing to give your side the strategic advantage.

The new iteration of the game is again by KD Vision Games Development, and in their attempt to make Perimeter 2 into a more accessible and fun game, they seem to have lost their direction somewhere along the way. The game has been dumbed down and is unfortunately hidden under layers of what I felt were poor development decisions. If you can find in you the courage to bravely ignore the warning sirens, then you just must like the underlying game - which can be quite fun if you give it time to build on you.

Even the startup screen looks so washed out

Friday, May 6, 2011

By Crom, I do not like this place

Game Category: Fighting, Action, RPG
Developer / Distributor: Cauldron Ltd. / TDK
Release Date: 8 Apr 2004

When Arnold Shwarzenegger first donned on the... uhm... loincloth to be Conan in 1982, it was readily apparent that he was more than suited for the role. The game developers at Cauldron likely watched every moment of Conan the Barbarian(and the 1984 sequel Conan the Destroyer) as mandated study material before designing their game. And apparently they did a darn good job about it, since their three-dimensional rendition of Conan does look a bit like the ex-Governer of California. By the way, this version of Conan obviously won't look anything like the actor Jason Momoa, who will take on the role of Conan in the 2011 film remake.

Conan is a third person action fighting game that has our heroic giant on a quest for revenge. Chasing a group of evil armored men on horseback after they destroyed his village home town and killed everyone he loved, this adventure has Conan crossing the world of Hyboria while swinging his sword, axe and mace, attacking monsters and men, climbing treacherous walls, plunging down waterfalls, and performing even more magnificent heroic stunts in order to exact revenge and rid the world of evil.

Welcome to Hyboria!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Snowy blasts off!

Snowy: Space Trip
Game Category: Kids, Casual, Platformer
Developer / Distributor: Aliasworlds Entertainment / Alawar Entertainment
Release Date: 12 Oct 2004
Rating: ESRB - Rating Pending

Today's review will be a brief one - it's about a certain animal bearing the family name of Ursus Maritimus - whose common name is known as the Polar Bear.

This particular polar bear is an adventurer of sorts, he has been on two earlier adventures and this is his third. His name is none other than Snowy the Bear, a cute polar bear created by the developers at Aliasworlds Entertainment.

We were first introduced to Snowy the bear in Snowy: The Bear's Adventure - a platformer game. Our spunky little bear was then spotted in the adventure puzzle - Snowy: Puzzle Islands. Now, Snowy returns to his platformer roots and braces himself for a trip into outer space to rescue his green friends from deadly monsters. Once rescued, Snowy must lead his friends to a rocket ship to help them escape.

Here we go on a Space Trip...

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Finding the balance between Yin and Yang

Battle Realms
Game Category: Real Time Strategy
Developer / Distributor: Liquid Entertainment / Crave Entertainment and Ubisoft 
Release Date: 8 Nov 2001
Rating: ESRB - Teens

Playing Battle Realms is almost like watching a work of art. This real time strategy game from Liquid Entertainment borrows elements of Asian historic culture. The game features kabuki warriors, geisha, ronin, and even samurai in a beautiful dance of swordplay and martial arts on the virtual battlefield. You build up these capable warriors by sending your lowly peasants to various buildings for weapons and martial arts training. Buildings also have an oriental look to them and really give the game that unique look.

The story of Battle Realms tells of how the Dragon Clan, a noble and honorable people, were displaced by the inhuman Horde from their lands. The useful and well-written user manual tells you the game's background story and is worth a read.

In the single player campaign, you will assume the role of Kenji of the Serpent Clan, an exiled hero who returns to his homeland only to find a group of men attack a town. You have the choice of siding the town or helping the group of men, but once you have made your choice, you won't be able to undo it. So choose wisely and decide to play either the side of good or evil.

The art direction in Battle Realms is great

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Rangers lead the way!

Space Rangers
Game Category: Action, Adventure
Developer / Distributor: Elemental Games / 1C Publishing
Release Date: 20 Dec 2002
Rating: ESRB - Teens, PEGI 12+

Out in the farthest reaches of space may be civilizations that humanity has yet to meet. We may wonder what they may be like and dream of what future generations may find. Fortunately, out of the blue comes this little gem of a game with the title of Space Rangers stamped on its cover. The game has a vision of what life is like at the end of the third millenium and it easily helps us visualize how fantastic such a world will be.

The game introduces us to a little sector of space where humanity tries to eke out an existence together with four alien civilizations. The aliens are either friendly (or more likely neutral) and willing to trade with us, while there is an evil race who is bent on seeing the destruction of all sentient life in the known galaxy.

This then is the world of Space Rangers, a cool little turn based multi-genre space game from Elemental Games and distributed by 1C Publishing. The game also has a pinch of role playing, simulation, and text adventure gaming to boot. What can I say, but wow!


Monday, May 2, 2011

Taking a holiday break

Will be back tomorrow as today is a public holiday. The next review on Tuesday will be Space Rangers from Elemental Games/1C Publishing.