Wednesday, 28 September 2011


I've had VVVVVV for a long time, and I pirated it before that. But I've never stuck it out and beaten it until today. I'm actually quite surprised at how short it is - although there are other modes to try out and all the trinkets to find.

My favourite bit about the game is the music, truth be told. It's classic 8-bit music, except it's more detailed and the tunes are addictive. I could listen to it for a long time.

Least favourite bit is how finicky the controls are. Several times I overshot even though I was pressing the button the same amount as successful attempts (at least that's how it felt to me).

I like it, anyway. Not the 'omg amazing groundbreaking awesome' game I kept hearing it was though. 4/5 stars.

This Is What's Wrong With Gaming Today

Take one extremely fragile, incredibly twitchy car.
One twisty route with lots of blind hills and stuff littered by the side of the road.
An insanely tough time limit.
Random traffic.
One gamer crying out of frustration.

This mission is a 3-mile route. I only have this car for this mission, so the miles on the clock are only from this mission. I gave up after accumulating 29.8 miles.

This is ridiculous! No other mission comes even close to getting this hard. The only other time in the game I've had as much difficulty was when I was trying to do a championship with a car not nearly powerful enough to be competitive.

So, for the first time in my gaming career, I find myself ragequitting. Five times, I had the finish line in sight, but ran out of time or accidentally scraped a sign or cut just a little too much of the corner.

There's no reason for a game to up it's difficulty this much randomly. It went from 'mildly challenging' to 'fucking your dog' completely out of nowhere. Even the rest of the DLC missions are not this hard.

It's with a heavy heart I put Test Drive down for a while. I do genuinely enjoy it, but after being kicked in the ass so many times one has to retreat and lick their wounds for a while.

I'm giving it 4/5 stars for now, but perhaps a few weeks from now I'll be able to return to it with a vigor and love it properly like it deserves.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

:B: - Age of Empires Online

Age of Empires Online has been recieving a lot of flak for not being difficult enough. I bought the premium Greeks pack from the store before I knew this. But you know? I'm alright with that.

I am not very good at RTS games. This is a fact. I turtle too much, I don't scout enough, I can never balance my army correctly, hell, my army is very rarely big enough full stop. And I can't multitask for anything. So this game might be more suited towards me than any other RTS.

And so far, my playing experience has been great. The difficulty curve is extremely low, allowing simpletons like myself to ease themselves in. I'm level 8 now, and the missions are getting a little bit difficult, and this is suiting me just fine. It's doing a very good job of easing me into doing more complex things. I just finished a mission where I had to defend a town center for 15 minutes. Now, veterans of the genre could probably do it with their eyes closed, but it struck a balance between keeping me on my toes yet not being too much of a leap from the last mission.

I am one of those people who absolutely loved Age of Empires 2 yet never even managed to finish the tutorial missions. I sucked. Really, really sucked. And Online is Age of Empires 2 with lovely graphics, and a much lowered difficulty curve (plus a chat box in the corner which I admit to have ignored completely).

So to all those people criticizing Age of Empires Online for being too easy? I invite you to fuck off and leave this game to us people who love the genre but suck at it. I think this game is fantastic, so just toddle off. Not every game has to be difficult to be good - which is an attitude that's been bothering me for quite some time. Maybe I'll write an article about it one day. 5/5 stars.

(PS. It's free to play so you should come and play. I'm wastelanderone on there.)

Sunday, 25 September 2011

:B: - Jetpack Joyride

It's been a little while since I last posted because I haven't done any significant gaming in a couple of weeks. A few minutes here and there, occasionally an hour before going to bed. But this game is proof that it adds up.

I got Jetpack Joyride after Stuart Campbell recommended it here. I am always open to new iPhone games and Stuart is one of the guys whose iOS recs I trust most. Needless to say I've definitely got my 69p worth.

Yes, Joyride is a glorified 'helicopter dodge the things' game, but it's beautiful, both graphically and in design. The sprites are bright, crisp and well-animated and the backgrounds are detailed. However this isn't the draw. The developers don't half know how to motivate a person to continue playing. You collect coins during play to unlock new things: these range from mohawks and top hats for Barry to bubble jetpacks to magnetic vehicles (which you can also paint gold). There are missions to do during play so you can level up, get more coins and get badges (which in turn get you more coins). And there's also amusingly-named achievements to go for, from reaching a certain distance, to doing so while in top hat and coattails, to knocking over scientists to avoiding everything for 2000m. Yes, you will always have something to aim for next.

After many bus rides, train rides, and lying in beds trying to go to sleep, I've clocked up my 5 hours. And what do I have to show for it? 26 levels, 1 badge, 21 achievements, magnetic vehicles, a punk outfit and a bubble gun jetpack. I still have a lot of play left; those golden vehicles won't buy themselves! I suspect that I'll be playing this on and off for at least the next few months, perhaps more. 5/5 stars.

Friday, 16 September 2011

:B: - Grand Prix Story

I've always had a slow-burning, secret passion for Grand Prix, more specifically, the games resulting from the sport. I do keep an eye on the results of the season, but watching the actual races bores me to tears. But, sit me in front of one of the games and I'll be entertained for hours - possibly because my father introduced me to F1 Pole Position 2 at a very young age. But that's a story for another day.

Grand Prix Story is the latest game from Kairosoft, developers of such games as Game Dev Story, Hot Springs Story and Mega Mall Story, all for iOS. Instead of the usual position of being in the driver's seat, you're behind the scenes as the team director. You start off with an inexperienced driver and two equally inexperienced mechanics, and a garage. To start racing, you'll have to create a car, but your first car won't get you very far - you'll have to race to get money, experience and research data before you can get even third place.

There is a huge amount of depth to this game despite how it first appears. You can train your driver to get better skills, and unlock better training drills to train better, and he occasionally gets an Aura, which is sort of like 'the Zone', that makes him much better at his next task. Your mechanics can be levelled up to research and repair your cars quicker, and they can also get skills when performing tasks. You have to research new cars and parts, but you'll have to figure out how to unlock the plans. Once researched, your cars and parts can level up to have higher performance, and they can also be upgraded separately to the same effect. Your team eventually expands to 2 groups of 6 mechanics and 1 driver, and hiring and firing is important. Finally, there are sponsorships to unlock that pay you for racing that can also level up to give you more money. There is a lot going on in this little game.

Don't worry, though, the game does a very good job of introducing you to all the different nuances of the game. Not everything is available from the start of the game; new things are added when the game thinks you've grasped the last thing it gave you. I never once felt overwhelmed which is quite an achievement.

There are a lot of races to take your team to, as well as three Grand Prix's, which will keep you busy for a long time. It's difficult, if not impossible to win a Grand Prix as soon as you unlock it, as they tend to have opponents that are a large jump from the previous races you were doing. However, continuing to race and upgrade will get you your podium place.

The game uses a score system like previous Story games, and stops recording after 10 years, with the ability to continue afterwards if you want to see everything. However, you can start again, this time picking a car plan and part to take into your new game to give you a head start - although you have to be careful because if you pick a really powerful car, your newbie mechanics won't be able to build it to specification.

Long story short, this is a great little game that isn't getting any less fun despite having played through it twice. Heartily recommended for simulation fans or people with a cursory interest in racing. It gets a 5/5 stars, and now you'll have to excuse me because I need to create a better car for the Formula One.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Fallout: New Vegas Adventures

I have been playing a lot of Fallout: New Vegas lately. So much, in fact, that I've had little time to do anything other than sleep and work. It's got it's claws into my brain and I just can't stop playing.

Here are all the screenshots I've taken so far, uploaded to Flickr for your convenience. I haven't commented them all yet, because there's a few of them, but rest assured I'll get round to it one day. And you have to know that there's so many screenshots of posters because I'm sort of on a quest to take screenshots of them all. Because I'm like that.

Anyway, I have to go, because I have more New Vegas to play. Goddamn that game is good.