Category Archives: Games

The Surge was fucking amazing!

My guy.

My end game character. If you fight right, you get to keep the bits of armour from the enemies you come across so there’s lots of styles and stats to choose from, each piece can be upgraded to level 5. If you wear a matching set you get a special bonus. It’s all very Division!

RPG goodness.

I bought The Surge on my B’Day (May 16th, check my review below). I’ve been chipping away at it since. No other game I’ve ever played in my life has made me want to rage quit more than this game. It’s got to be the hardest game I’ve ever played!

There are 4 big bosses in the game and I couldn’t get past the 3rd boss for days. During those days I watched a lot of videos. On the 3rd day I watched other guys on Youtube play past the boss only to see them die over and over on the next level (which was, like the last level, a billion times harder than the level before). I decided that I’d not put myself through the pain and rather stop playing here, BUT! I gave it one last push and fucking hell I beat the bastard!

I farmed hard on the new level in order to build up my character (so as to make it easier for the final boss) and when I got there I died at least 20 times before beating him. Wasn’t as bad as the 3rd Boss, but it was damn bad and it makes me realise this game is torture but I’m such a sucker for this kinda shit!

SO stoked to have finished the game (especially that the game has no difficulty settings, nor glitches or console cheats). The ending sequence was great and made up for the lack of story throughout the game (it was all action baby!). Super smart level designs and I really appreciated the sound design (but I had to turn the music off for boss fights in order to pass them, the intense music was killing me!). Really loved the super intuitive and fairly deep RPG elements of the game. You can really build up your character how you like to play, and for me that was tanky as fuck with a heavy hard hitting weapon.

PS: When you finish the game your save file becomes “New Game+” and the game start over but with a whole bunch of new surprises (I’ve only just loaded in; you get to keep your gear and the first guy you fight feels like fighting another player/PVP!). Very very cool. I’m more than satisfied.

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The Surge – Happy B’Day to me

42!!! I had a huge breakfast at The Pool Cafe with Mum in the morning and spent the rest of the day gaming and avoiding calls to go out. Under the radar is just my style when it comes to birthdays!!!

2 games were released May 16th. “Injustice 2″, one very polished Mortal Kombat style beat’em up featuring Superheroes and another called “The Surge”. Had to buy at least one of them and since I’ve been eyeing Dark Souls 3 (everyone’s comparing this game to it) I thought why the hell not.

I love it how every game I buy now I just go: Full Screen, 4K, Ultra! So so good! This game features low res textures throughout, but I love the art style, which feels low tech grungy and very Fallout 4 as you’re in a mech suit at all times.

39 hours in and I now truly understand what Dark Souls is all about. It’s about dying… LOTS! The RPG elements are great so far (I’m killing things over and over just to gear up before progressing) and the map makes you go a long way out only to give you a very quick alternative way back to base (surprising and welcoming each time).

The first boss was a bitch but the 2nd boss took the cake and had me crying in frustration as I died at least 30+ times before beating it. The 3rd boss made me quit, then watch tutorial vids on tips to pass. I’m on the 4th boss now and I’ve just about had enough! I know what to do… but I just can’t get past him! The maps/world is starting to get all samey and my research tells me there’s only one more boss to go after this one I can’t pass, so if that’s it then I have to say yup. The Surge got me good. 100% would recommend. Trailer above, some screen grabs to come!

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Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

4K goodness. A screen grab from the super detailed and crazy windy opening scene.

Style is bang on.

I’ve heard of Deus Ex, a game released in 2000 (for a little while when I’d google Deus, Deus Ex would rock up, that’s way before Deus took off!). I’ve always been into first person shooters and I love cyberpunk-themed worlds. Not so massive on stealth type games as I do like to gun, but the main thing I never liked about the Deus Ex franchise was the look of Adam Jensen, the main character. It’s like not liking an Actor in a movie. To me he looks stiff, like Neo but so not, and generally just trying too hard. With every new game release the character never changed so I never bothered to pick up the game until now.

I decided to play the most recent 2016 Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and was instantly thrown into a vibrant detailed world with impressive graphics, turbulent windy environment (which sadly doesn’t impress again after the initial scene) with tons of litter everywhere for me to pick up and interact with. It’s not open world, feels it at first but the world feels smaller as the game goes on. There’s a crafting system which I didn’t use at all, the main guts is in how you upgrade your character’s body augmentations, some of which will make or break the way you can get in and out of spaces, and this game offers you even more ways than Prey does.

My playthrough was 27hrs start to end doing a fair few of the side missions. I’m still not into the main character and thus didn’t get into much of the rather simple story (delivered with stiff cut-scenes). Prague/the world is awesome and I liked the general gameplay feel and how effective each upgrade I invested in worked. Although it’s a stealth game I still did 50/50 stealth and attack and I think I got the best of both worlds (IE: satisfaction from sneaking around in vents to avoid enemies to get to point A, or blasting my way direct to point A).

Gun play wasn’t amazing, the guns just didn’t feel powerful, but hey Deus Ex isn’t primarily a shooter. The ending was a let down as it’s a cliff hanger to a part B DLC, one which I didn’t pay for and glad I haven’t to be honest. Am I a Deus Ex fan? Nope. Really enjoyed the game, but kinda knew it wasn’t for me, still isn’t and it’s primarily because I have to play Adam Jensen.

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Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines completed

Back in LA.

Malkavian love!

I didn’t think I would, but I made it to the end!

I wrote my previous post about this old (2004) game on the plane on the way to Japan (click here to check it out). I’ve been playing it on and off since and I’ve just finished my first playthrough. Loved it! The combat mechanics are shocking though, and I ended up using the console to use God mode more than a few times just to get past bosses and finish the story (which is as excellent as everyone says it is).

It feels good to play homage to games which paved the way for other games I love so much today. I’m sure I’ll dig up a few more classics to play in future.

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Prey PS4

In the mail yesterday!

No character customisation but hey I get to play as me! An Asian guy with facial hair! WHOO!

I love Bethesda games, and this game is made by Arkane Studios, the same people that made Dishonored 2 (you can instantly tell by the retro art deco style fonts and UI). I didn’t get into Dishonored 2, but I’m loving the solitary sci-fi game world of Prey MUCH more.

I remember watching the Prey preview at E3 a year ago, at the time I didn’t think much of the graphical style (I’m really hungry for high res textures and more realism lately!). A few more previews since and I’ve not changed my mind much, but giving it a spin last night changed everything!

The game has a fear in the dark/Alien and art deco retro/future Bioshock kinda vibe and reminds me of many sci-fi films where solitary and paranoia are the main themes. I’m a guy (almost chose the girl but didn’t! Always a hard choice for me with games) trapped on space station with hostile aliens and I need to find a way off.

I’m playing Prey on PS4. For the first few minutes (during the intro) I was already wishing I was on PC as the PS4 just can’t render buildings in vast outdoor scenes without jaggy edges! But before long I was hooked in the world and story. I’ve already died a billion times. The game sure isn’t easy in normal mode early on in the game and resources are actually pretty damn scarce right now. I’m roaming around on 20% health most of the time!

I’m into it. Right now I’m stuck and there aren’t any guides out there yet to help out (game officially comes out today!). Looks like I’ll have to use my brains instead of cheating!

EDIT: I finished the game on PS4 and loved it so much I bought it for the PC too! My review is up on Zen Blog:

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In search for the best Batman & Transformers games out there

Original G1 Optimus Prime packaging. As a kid I’d stare at the art on the back of this box for hours.

I’ve played a LOT of games growing up; Atari, C64, Megadrive, Playstation, Mac & PC. I can’t recall any good Batman games though, and I’ve only played one Transformers game (2004 on PS2) so I’ve been on the hunt for the best Batman game out there, and the best Transformers games out there. Being a child of the 80’s (born in 75) I grew up on Transformers. I watched it every morning before school, I’d get Transformers toys from my parents when they came back from overseas business trips to Japan and Hong Kong every year and I’d get Transformer toys every birthday and Christmas too. I watched the Transformer animated movie in the cinema with my Dad (who slept through the whole thing). I literally had hundreds of robots and I still own and proudly display my original Takara made Generation 1 (G1) Transformers.

Batman I got into a little later in high school through reading DC Comics. I was a huge 2000AD fan (Judge Dredd) and DC released a Judge Dredd vs. Batman issue which I had to buy. Batman was pretty damn dark in that comic, so I dug up the darker Vertigo Batman comics and bought a fair few back in the day. The first (89) Hollywood film wasn’t so painful as Jack Nicholson made for an awesome Joker and I was a Kim Basinger fan, but Keaton as Batman? COME ON!!! Then I think everything after that turned to shit until Christian Bale (2005).

I put a call out on Facebook for suggestions and I got plenty! In the end I’ve narrowed down my choices to Batman: Arkham Knight & Transformers: Generations.

Batman: Arkham Knight.

This game came out in 2015. It got pretty damn good reviews on console, but they released such a bad PC port that the game was unplayable… until now! #justmyluck Now 2 years later the PC port has been patched and the game runs super smooth on the Zen PC. The graphics look great. Gotham looks awesome! It’s always night and it’s always raining too. Perfecto! The game world feels like the best bits of the better later Batman movies, and some of the darker earlier DC Batman mixed in.

It’s new school but somehow still manages to feel old school, which I really like. Batman is way overpowered in fist fights but so he should be! Just perching high up and gliding over Gotham City is worth the $20 price alone. You get to drive the Batmobile in the game too, and apparently there’s so much Batmobile gameplay in the game that it polarised gamers down the centre. I personally don’t mind it so much so far, but I’m only 15% into the game, and man it already feels like I’ve done at least 3 times more than that so I’m impressed at how big this game feels so far.

Transformers: Devastation.

There’s been a fair few Transformers games but I’ve only played Transformers on the PS2 back in 2004. I remember that being an AWESOME game. The art was a bit too cute for my liking (with the robots looking more like mini bots), but it had an open world feeling, sound was on point, transforming was fun and the boss scene with Tidal Wave literally blew my socks off. It was the first time I felt scale in a game, and is still one of the best boss fights I’ve ever experienced to date in a game because of it.

I’ve been searching for something G1 and I’ve found it. Transformers: Devastation (2015) which brings back the G1 Transformers big time. The developers even went as far as hiring the original voice talent from the cartoons I watched growing up as a kid! Add to that being able to play as Grimlock and the game being 80% off on Steam for $10, how could I not buy and play this game?! Just bought it and gave it a quick spin, it’s SUPER arcade styles with frantic action and pace. I’m actually really enjoying it! I’ll most likely give some final thoughts on both games at some point (or not as I’m quite happy with both purchases!).

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Wolfenstein: The Old Blood – Review

Nier: Automata left me a little frustrated. I do think the replayability of the game is conceptually interesting, but I just rage quit a few too many times half way through the 2nd playthrough. Ultimately the gameplay and graphics killed it for me, and the story, nor the soundtrack (I had the music on for the 2nd playthrough) just didn’t grab me, full stop really.

I’ve had a review copy of Wolfenstein: The Old Blood gathering dust around my lounge room for a year now. Initially I couldn’t install it on Ved’s PC because it didn’t have a DVD drive. I ended up getting an external with the Zen PC build so I finally got around to installing the game yesterday and finished it today (more a DLC, it’s super super super short!).

Published, and sent to me by Bethesda (so you know it’s going to be good!). It’s made by MachineGames, but I had a feeling it was going to look, feel and play like Doom, which it did! But what it did even better than Doom was take me back. I soon realised this game was made for me, for Bethesda fans and most importantly for other oldies who played the original another lifetime ago.

Fast gameplay, BJ, dual wielding guns (silly but it’s OG!) and something I didn’t expect, stealth, which was actually quite fun (not at all serious as the AI couldn’t detect dead bodies). Over the top Bethesda Easter Eggs and references to the original Wolfenstein are dropped throughout the game; even a simulator of the original game within the game! Loved it’s world more than Doom’s SCI-FI world, and it kills Metro in every way. I was shocked it ended so quickly, definitely left me wanting more.

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Nier: Automata – Review

Sold as an open-world action role-playing video game, but in reality it’s everything but. I was super happy to give Nier: Automata a miss despite the rave reviews (people out there literally calling it a masterpiece, 9-10/10’s and reviewers saying they were literally brought to tears with the storyline, or at least very deep in thought about it post game.

Man have these guys played Fallout 4?! To me, Nier: Automata feels very Japanese in an old school Indie Sega Mega Drive game kinda way. It’s story is cool, but nothing new in the post-apocalyptic gaming world. The soundtrack is getting HUGE praise, but I always turn music off in games, that’s just how I play. The graphics are really low definition and over-stylised, it’s such a low saturation and hazy environment which doesn’t look good despite running in 4K and on max graphics settings. I suppose it’s just not that kind of ULTRA high res textures gaming experience (with a full screen bug and laggy cut-scenes I’d say it Nier would have been better on the PS4 than the PC).

The gameplay is super arcade style. The game goes from 3rd person to 2D side and overhead like old school coin operated games like 1942 and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (which I sank lots of 20c coins into as a kid!). It’s hilarious that Nier is blowing people’s minds as it’s just old turned new again. Think iPad, and how Angry Birds blew minds (but in reality it’s a really simple game). Old platform games came back to star on “new” technology (tablets). I see it as a low-tech, going back to go forwards kinda thing.

A quick dip back into Ghost Recon had my PC’s fans on full blast minutes in, and I found myself in the dying light, in the rain, gawking at the detail on my Ghost’s wet backpack.

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Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines

This fan made video is awesome, and literally a love letter to the game itself! It’s what pushed me over the edge to hit the buy it now button (and I’m glad I did!)!

I’m a vampire. I swear. I’m 41, and feel like I’ve done so much and lived forever. Where I have lived on, my friends have gone, so I keep making new young friends in life, but eventually they all go too (“Going” in this case probably means getting married and having kids and moving on with their lives rather than dying, but you get my analogy?!).

Something that many might not know about me is that I am a huge vampire fan. I grew up on Anne Rice novels, and loved everything she wrote (later on I read her erotic novels which she published under a fake name, they were super fucked up!!!). Her novel “Interview with the Vampire” ended up becoming a pretty successful movie, one which I’ve watched a few times, and enjoyed (but ultimately I love Bram Stroker’s 1992 Dracula starring Garry Oldman as the Nosferatu the most).

I was more punk than goth when I was younger, but I hung out with goths all day long as my long term girlfriend Caryn at the time (we dated for 7 years) was sister to Sydney’s King Goth Charles Gillespie, who ran and owned Club 77 for years, had Marylin Manson hang out at his house, which has so many dead animals hanging on the walls you’d think you were hanging out at an abattoir!

I collected and read the entire Sandman series of graphic novels by Neil Gaiman too, love his artwork, love the fantasy world he has created, love Dave McKeon’s heavy layered photoshop work (a huge inspiration to me back in high school). I’m still hopeful they will one day make a movie on The Sandman, the lore is there for the taking!

Somewhere along the lines Twilight happened, and maybe Twilight killed the vampire for me just like Fast & Furious killed car culture. Either way I’ve not really felt attached to any kind of vampiric love for a while, until now!

Enter Vampire Bloodlines. I stumbled upon this title when searching for the best Role Playing Game (RPG) of all time. It came up time and time again. Made in 2004 (it’s old!), it was a rushed release and on release it was so broken that people could not play it. The game died in the ass on release, but over time a community of fans fixed the game to the point where they’ve released an unofficial patch which realises much of what the games developers wanted to do with the game in the first place.

Isn’t that just amazing?! I’ve seen it with Fallout 4 and the community of modders who not only fix bugs in the game, but make everything about the game better, from textures through to gameplay mechanics. What you have to realise is that it’s not the developers who are shit here, it’s the fact that there are a shitload more amazing ‘developers’ in the world than in one studio, so when a game developer releases a game which the community can mod, it’s only fair that there will be better coders/designers/artists out in the world (in comparison to the smaller pool of talent in one dev team).

So, back onto vampires, goths, and games. I decided to download Bloodlines off Steam (it was $25AUD), I downloaded the official patch, installed it without issues and the game is running fine so far. There’s no way of using a controller as there are a LOT of keyboard commands you can use, it’s going to take a while for me to be completely fluent with them all, but Bloodlines isn’t exactly an action first person shooter so I’m sure I’ll feel more comfortable with the controls over time as it’s a slower paced game.

When you launch the game you’re thrown into character creation, definitely one of my favourite parts of starting any new game (and I love that dark Massive Attack like track on the home screen! Sets the mood right!).

Like Fallout New Vegas’ start with the Doc. Bloodlines starts with a psych test to help figure out what class of vampire suits you best. I loved the psych questions right away and I answered them as honest as I could, this gave me the class of “Malkavian”, the crazy ones, which I’ve read over and over again as one of the most fun play though characters in the game as their dialogue is totally whack and almost nonsensical (which then makes for some fun unexpected results when you’re forced to make a choice). The Malkavian character is one that a lot of Bloodlines players suggest as a 2nd play though just for the sheer fun of it. It’s probably not the best character for a first play though due to the fucked up dialogue, but hey it’s what I got so I’m sticking with it.

If you answered in other ways you could have gotten Nosferatu for example, these guys are so ugly that gameplay would force you to always be lurking in the shadows and underground tunnels for the entire game. Talking to other NPC’s to gather info from them becomes impossible as you’re so not human looking that most of them will scream and run away from you. Unlike Skyrim where it almost doesn’t really matter what class you choose as in the end you can get any class to work once you’re levelled up enough, with Bloodlines classes it really seems to matter which class you choose and that’s an awesome thing (especially for game re-playability).

After the character creation screen you’re thrown into a cut scene which really shows how dated the graphics are, but you know what? Despite a low polygon count the expressions on the characters are better than this year’s 2017 Mass Effect Andromeda. Far from realistic, but the expressions are there and the voice acting is bang on. The tutorial at the start throws you into the basics, yup there’s a lot you can do in this game and surprisingly it’s not just a point and click RPG but much more dynamic than I originally thought.

It turns out you can play first person and 3rd person, and you have all the controls of a FPS, and that’s because this game has been built on an early Unreal engine (blew my mind and makes so much sense as to why I’m loving it right now). Bloodlines worked originally as a turn based Dungeons and Dragons style board game of sorts, but when it went digital it didn’t do the RPG point and click Fallout 1 style game, but went right into open world FPS, much more like modern Fallout games. Really impressive.

What I’m sincerely loving the most is the general goth vibe of the game. It’s so bang on I can’t believe it, and it’s surely the real reason as to why so many people out there think the writing in this game is so good. I don’t think it’s the writing. I think it’s the fact that the guys who made this game had to be goths, or at least were mates with goths, because some bits in this game are just SO goth it brings me back, hard!

Just seeing goth guys dance on the dance floor, IT’S BANG ON! If you’ve ever seen goths dance, it looks like they’re invisible sword fencing, or they look like gorillas going through the mist.. the game nails it, and seeing other NPC’s randomly joining in on the dace floor was cool, then when I randomly decided to have a closer look at the dancers a prompt appeared for me to start dancing too, BANG ON! This is just the kind of explorative mechanic that gets me in a good game.

SO I’m barely out of the tutorial, but I’m somehow I’m already hooked. This is amaze as most games usually start out super slow and boring, especially tutorial bits. I’ve only met a couple of NPC’s so far but the ones I’ve met have been fucking amazing. One vampire by the beach I stumbled into had an Aussie accent, and a great bit of dialogue to go through. Pretty sure he wasn’t anyone special in the game, just filler, but fucking good filler at that as he was super engaging.

Really looking forward to more Bloodlines, mainly because the culture of it all feels so bang on, respectful and legit. I literally feel like I am hanging out with my old goth mates again, for real! Will post up a final review at some point I’m sure.

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The Vanishing of Ethan Carter

Looks amazing in 4K. Love the buildings!

Oh wow, trees that look like trees in nature.

Ah no bull. I love bush walking and this is legit the best looking natural nature formations I’ve seen in a game, it’s the randomness of things that make nature look natural. These guys have done the Takashi Amano Nature thing so nicely!

I’m always on the hunt for immersive games to play that I haven’t played yet (that would most likely be a lot of them!). I’m defining my priorities as a gamer, and I’ve chosen to value games which create great experiences by utilising a great mix of action, story, RPG and open world.

A while back I reviewed a very strong story driven Indie game “Firewatch” (review here). I loved that it was so strong on narrative, and that it moved me, but it was light hearted and I’ve still been looking for a MYST or RIVEN like experience.

I think I’ve found it.

I’ve stumbled upon “The Vanishing of Ethan Carter” on Steam. It’s an adventure game that’s immersive from the second you load in. The first thing you read is that the games developers do not intend to hold your hand, and too right. I screwed up my first playthrough by starting a lot of puzzles, not finishing them and moving on the start other ones, which somehow sadly broke the game for me a couple of times, forcing me to start the game all over as the game doesn’t let you save whenever you want to (crazy!), instead it autosaves when you’ve completed a puzzle.

The game breaking, and having to start all over again a couple of times ended up being a GREAT thing! I’d say this game would be only about 3 hours short if you knew where to go and how to solve the puzzles, getting lost exploring, and having multiple attempts at the puzzles is what soaked up a lot of my time, and where I usually hate puzzles in games I absolutely loved every single one of the puzzles in this game.

The game is drop dead gorgeous too (check my screen shots above). For a $20 game I think it’s environments look more realistic than my modded Skyrim which uses 4K texture packs. I often found myself pausing to take a screen grab, enjoy the views, the sounds and fauna swaying in the wind.

The soundtrack is great as well, it builds up as you go, but I hate music in the background in games so for my 2nd playthrough I left the music off and found it was more way immersive. The sound design really shines when the music is off, especially the sound of your footsteps over different terrain.

Do give this game a go if you’re after something different (find it on Steam, it’s a small download). It’s beautiful, creepy, dark and tragic all at the same time. It’s super short (I’d say a 5hr playthrough if you do everything there is to do in the game), but that’s alright for the price. It’s also got a GREAT ending which has had me pondering way after I’ve put the game down (also, there’s a sniper rifle “easter egg” to be found in the game, must have if you’re a completionist!).

PS: If you do get lost in the game, use this guide (helped me out with the one tricky puzzle I couldn’t beat!).

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