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 Games Review Thread

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Lunarwolf
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PostSubject: Games Review Thread   Sun Oct 18, 2009 3:39 pm

OK with some chatting over at "What Have You Been Playing?" I have decided to set up a thread where you can review games you've played and loved, or played and hated.

It can be from any gaming platform, so long as it is a video game (no board games, card games or pen'n'paper rpgs here please).

I would ask that people cut and past the following template for use, I have tried to make it a compromise of what Harewood, PJK, Charada and myself wanted so hopefully in encompasses all or most of what we all wanted:


The Template

(cut and past the underlined sections)

Game Name:

Info: Platform / Genre / Theme (Link if available)

Game Synopsis: Brief run down/summary of the game. What its about, etc – you can use the official blurb from the game developers if need be.

Media: Screenshots, embedded videos, etc.

Gameplay Review: Pretty much as it sounds, say how the game plays and cover as much info as you feel appropriate, from storyline to controls, difficulty, length of the game, longevity etc. A good place to mention bugs or what you think they could have done better with the game.

Audio/Visual Review: Say what you think of the graphics, animations, videos, sound effects, voice acting, musical score and everything in-between. This is also the place to mention the presentation of the game, even including such things as cover design / concept art, marketing events, demos and showcases.

Summary: Give an overall summing-up of the game and remember to also include your personal opinion on it, as well as just a technical run-down.

Score:

Scoring System:
Please rate from 0 - 10 using the following from IGN.com:

10.0 (Masterful): "It doesn't get any better than this..."
9.5 to 9.9 (Incredible): "Without a doubt, these are must-own titles that stand at the top of their field."
9.0 to 9.4 (Outstanding): "...it's a worthwhile experience with just a few imperfections."
8.5 to 8.9 (Great): "An excellent gaming experience that misses the boat in just a few key areas..."
8.0 to 8.4 (Impressive): "...they're still a heck of a lot of fun and should appeal to most gaming enthusiasts."
7.5 to 7.9 (Good): "...they're still entertaining enough to provide genuine entertainment while they last."
7.0 to 7.4 (Decent): "...they still boast enough credible ingredients to make them fun in smaller doses."
6.0 to 6.9 (Passable): "Rent these games or download the demo first before spending your hard-earned money on it."
5.1 to 5.9 (Mediocre): "...only diehard fans of the particular genre will get any enjoyment out of middling games like these."
5.0 (Meh): "...the epitome of "middle of the road."
4.0 to 4.9 (Poor): "...you'll probably find yourself returning to the store for a refund."
3.0 to 3.9 (Bad): "...you know you have some major suckage going on."
2.0 to 2.9 (Terrible): "Maybe the cat could find some use for them."
1.0 to 1.9 (Abysmal): "The absolute worst of the worst."
0.1 to 0.9 (Worthless): "Okay, so we lied....We think of them as sewage in a box."
0.0 (FAIL): "Run far, far away and never look back."

Thanks guys and I look forward to reading some cool reviews Smile

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PostSubject: Re: Games Review Thread   Sun Oct 18, 2009 3:59 pm

Left 4 Dead


Info: Survival-Horror Co-Op FPS for PC+XBOX360, available from Valve.
Website Link

Game Synopsis: “It's the Zombie Apocalypse. Bring friends.
From Valve (the creators of Counter-Strike, Half-Life and more) comes Left 4 Dead, a new kind of action game for the PC and Xbox 360™️ that features single player, co-op and multiplayer game modes.

Set in the immediate aftermath of the zombie apocalypse, L4D offers four expansive "movie campaigns" that challenge you and your fellow survivors to battle thousands of swarming zombies as you travel across the rooftops of an abandoned metropolis, through rural ghost towns and pitch-black forests.


Media:

Trailer:


Screemshots:






Gameplay Review:
Where to begin? Well, Rift is - in the beta at least - very, very promising. Gettng the comparisons out of the way yes it DOES share a lot of elements with the mmos that came before it, taking many of the most successful aspects from the Everquest, Guild Wars, Lord of the Rings Online and WAR series of games. There are also a lot of direct comparisons with World of Warcraft. All of these comparisons are fair to some degree because Rift does not try to break the mmorpg mould....on the surface. The vast majority of changes are more hidden, but become apparent as you play. More on that later.
For the most part, Rift will feel familiar to anyone who has ever played an mmo. There are action bars (the main one corresponding with the numbers 1 through to 0) and its the same WSAD movemt with TAB hot-switching between opponents. All the elements of PvE questing, PVP battlegrounds and instances/dungeons are there, along with player hubs (Capital Cities in this case), mounts, crafting etc. While each of these have additions to the usual rules, none are paticularly new - they feel familiar.
What Trion have done is got these games systems and polished/perfected them where they can or simply put a new coat of paint on to make it 'feel' a little different where nothing needed be altered. The game itself uses the same graphics and physics engine as Warhammer Online (or WAR) so players of that game will notice a similarity in the graphics, even though all the textures and colour palette are quite different. Guilds are there of course, as are such things as Achievements and Collections. There are some new and interesting ideas incorporated, and while I've not experienced them all (I got a character to lvl 20 on the beta), but here is a shortlist:

* Callings & Souls: The diversity in character classes is probably the best I've seen in any mmo. Each Race (3 per Faction, Male and Female with not nearly enough variety at character creation for my liking!) chooses between 4 'Callings' (like classes) being Warrior, Rogue, Mage and Cleric. Each of those Callings can pick 3 'Souls' (class specialties) or 4 if you get high enough in PVP (each calling has an unlockable pvp soul). Each of the four Callings has a total of 8 souls (7+the pvp one) and they can choose between any of them. This means that each calling has a total of 56 different Soul Combinations. In short, that means there are
224 'classes' in the game.
Crazy huh?

* Cross-Calling Roles: It seems pretty obvious when you read the paragraph above, but the mixing of Souls means you can get very diverse characters. Gone are the stereotypes of mmo gameplay. In Rift you can have Rogue Tanks, Mage Healers, Cleric DPS and Warrior Crowd Control. If you put "LF Healer" in general chat you never know exactly who will turn up...

* PVP with PVE content: Now I've not actually done PVP so I'm only going by whats been plastered on the internet here, but PVP in Rift is meant to be quite a major affair. Apart from getting specific pvp equipment (like in most games nowadays) and unlocking PVP-Specific Souls (which cannot be unlocked through PVE content), it seems that the Warfronts (Rift's versions of Battlegrounds) also have plenty of PvE content built into them so players can annoy and upset the opposing faction and keep them from their goals. There is said to be open-world pvp areas as well but I've not looked into these.

* Rifts, Invasions, Footholds: Rifts are - somewhat obviously - a big part of the game. They happen anywhere, anywhen and don't give a flying ewok whether you were talking to your quest giver or doing a bit of RP at the time. Truly dynamic, players need to band together and take down rifts as soon as they appear, otherwise there are actual consequences. Should a Rift stabalize (basically not be closed by players) then an Invasion happens - meaning more powerful creatures come through the Rift...and keep coming. Should enough of said creatures come through it becomes a Foothold and the creatures become more powerful (the equivilent of becoming Elites) and the enviroment begins to change. If the players STILL don't sort it out a major boss comes through (quite often huge) and starts treading on all the wee players and npcs alike. These are the equivilent of World Bosses in other games. Interestingly enough the beings that come through don't often get along, its not unusual to ride past and see Death Rift creatures and Earth Rifts creatures beating one another to a pulp!

The Crafting System seems pretty robust and isnt that different to the likes of WoW or LOTRO. Crafting is very easy at first but becomes more difficult later on with harder materials to collect in bigger quantities - the fashioned goods are pretty good though, and it rewards the crafter who puts the time in. You can have 3 'professions' per character, and you choose between at total of 9: 3 Foraging ones (Butchery, Foraging, Mining) and 6 Crafting ones (Apothecary, Armorsmithing, Artificing, Outfitting, Runecrafting and Weaponsmithing ) and most hubs have the crafting areas for you to continue your work.

Its not all roses and happy times though. I'm often a little over-critical of games in my head and tend to not write the bad parts in reviews because I feel bad about doing so. I feel that Rift is a 'full grown mmo' though, so am going to do so here. I do have some issues with the game.
Firstly, with the huge customisation in character class builds, the designers seemed to have really not gone as far as they could with the rest of character creation. There are only a total of 6 races in total and two of those (the High Elves and Kelari) are almost identical physcially. Though you can chose loads of hairstyles, tattoos/makeup, height and the shape of your face all the body models are set in stone. There is nothing to alter the size of any body parts (like chest or arm / leg length) which means at the beginning of the game where everyone is wearing starting equipment, unless you get really close everyone looks like carbon copies. Luckily this sorts itself out by about level 10 with all the new equipment and clothes dyes, but it feels like the developers were going "ah, nobody cares what they look like under their armour - why bother?" and that annoys the heck out of me. Also, there is no "style" tab, so you can't keep a look you like, you have to go with the item sets or suffer the shame of wearing that lvl 5 hat you liked at lvl 40.
A lot of the major npc placement seems a bit....crap. In the major cities you just have bosses sortof 'hanging around'. usually in the corner of some (admittedly wonderfully modelled) grand hall - they don't even get their own room. Lastly there are way too many 'box-buildings', by which I mean buildings you can't get into - they have closed doors and are just there for decoration. I love rooting around inside different areas in mmos, its the explorer in me. But in Rift you often can't do that. There is the occassional building you can go in, and its great when you can but they're so far and few between that it really lets the side down. Oh, and there is no player housing. Perhaps after Launch something like this might come about, but I doubt it.

Audio/Visual Review:
Visually Rift is pretty impressive, but nothing ground-breaking - a lot like many other mmos. It shares a lot of its design with WAR (not surprising considering it uses the same game engine), but does a good job of mixing the fantastical with the mundane to give an interesting visual experience. Each of the areas I went too looked quite different and had their own 'feel', something which becomes even more apparent when a Foothold takes over and even the sky changes to match the elemental plane that is in control. Overall the graphics are good as are many of the weather and particle effects, especially some of the spells and other abilities available to players. It runs at a good FPS rate on all but the oldest of machines and most people will be able to play it on high settings. The colours are more varied that its predecessor WAR, and more subtle than the those used in games such as World of Warcraft or DCU:Online. I would say it sits somewhere between Vanguard and Age of Conan.
The Audio is again, good but not ground-breaking. The music is atmospheric but is fantasy-based so will not be to eveyone's taste. As it seems with most mmo's the voice-acting is 'OK' though there are some paticularly good bits - and bad (the opening credits guardian voice springs to mind).

Summary: I'm personally a really big fan of Rift. It came out of nowhere and took me by surprise and it was a pleasant surpise at that. Rift did exactly what I wanted in a mmo: It was familiar but with enough new content to make me sit up and take notice. It addressed a lot of the niggling issues I have with mmos. It felt and looked like WAR but gave actual PvE gameplay rather than pushing you toward PvP, and rather than trying out hundreds of new gimmicks to try and sell it (which usually ends badly) they instead just got what people have done before them, improved it and put their own spin on it. It felt incredbily polished at Beta, more so than many premium games I've bought, and the class customization is just incredible. I love the randomness of the Rifts as well, it really keeps you on your toes and insures you always have something to do.


Here's a shortlist of what to expect:

2 Factions; Guardian and Defiant.
3 Races per Faction: Guardians get Mathosian (humans), Dwarves and High Elves, Defiant get Eth (humans), Kelari and Bahmi (air-elemental hybrids)
4 Callings: Warrior, Mage, Rogue, Cleric
8 Souls per Calling: 224 total combinations
Crafting: Full crafting system with 3x Foraging and x6 Crafting professions. You can have a total of 3 professions per character.
Dynamic world events
Level cap of 50 upon release
Player mounts at level 20
Good balance of PVE and PVP
Roleplaying Servers available upon release

Score:


9.3
(Outstanding)
"...it's a worthwhile experience with just a few imperfections."

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