• ThumbnailHere’s Kevin Lynch’s best 5 from 2014.

    5) Epic Battle Fantasy 4

    Are you a fan of turn-based RPGs? Yes? As it so happens so do I and Epic Battle Fantasy 4 is a solid addition to the genre. I laughed it off as […]

  • ThumbnailThe Geometry Wars franchise returns with Dimensions, the third title in the series and its most polished yet. If you’ve played either of its two predecessors you’ll be instantly familiar with its mechanics. Move […]

  • ThumbnailIt might not be the best looking game of all time. It might not have the most complex of mechanics. Indeed, it might not even be a game, but Qora deserves to be looked at and admired, even in a small burst of […]

  • “Look to my coming on the first light of the fifth day, at dawn look to the east.” is exactly what I said to my mum the night before the release of World of Warcraft’s second expansion The Burning Crusade. In truth though, my body gave up after the third night. This was my favourite time whilst playing World of Warcraft and for me, no other MMORPG will come close to its level during The Burning Crusade.

    It was 1.55am, standing outside the Dark Portal, waiting for that realm restart to then make your way through. I still remember my excitement. It was a journey into the unknown, a feeling that you don’t really get with games these days, even new Warcraft expansions. In those days, there was no cross-server play, all the players you came across were from your realm. The dark portal stairs were packed!

    WoWScrnShot_070914_160602Being on a PvP server (Thanks James), there were dead bodies everywhere. Players trying to be the first to enter the world of Outland, and failing miserably. We made our way, slowly and surely to the steps and waited for the clock to strike two. It seemed to take an eternity, constant fear that some dick of a Tauren would have his way with me, but it didn’t come and when the clock struck 2, we charged forward! I’ll never really forget that feeling, running through to be greeted with the warzone that is Hellfire Peninsula. Covered with Pit Bosses and demons, fire from the sky and destroyed settlements, Hellfire was a furious place. It doesn’t have the same lustre nowadays, but my goodness was that an awesome sight. We pillaged, looted and levelled. Items being constantly linked into guild chat, chat on Teamspeak or Ventrillo about how much more damage we could all now deal, and the occasional expletive when one of our merry band were stomped by a Fel Reaver.

    The second night was our first LAN and it as enjoyable as the first night, journeys into Zangarmarsh and Nagrand were as fruitful as our exploits in Hellfire Peninsula and onwards we pushed. Fuelled on coca-cola, pizza and a ton of sweets we had a smashing night at our Rogue’s place. I don’t remember if we done anything out of the ordinary that night. We maybe ran a few of the new dungeons, probably got pissy with each other if we both needed the same item and then just laughed it off an hour later when something better dropped. The sun came up again, and we ventured to Microplay for the 3rd night.

    Microplay was a gaming center just behind Central Station in Glasgow. It’s no longer there, like literally no longer there, they demolished it. I have nothing but fond memories of Microplay. Many a Counter Strike: Source game was had in that hallowed room. Several hours killed between lectures at Uni and some good friendships started. Occasionally, I do miss it. My fondest memory is definitely that LAN. Our merry band of adventurers, now sitting around level 64 or 65 decided to run Zul Gurub, a level 60, 20 man raid. We had 7. So you can imagine that it levelled itself out. We fought and fought and eventually killed a few bosses and grabbed some loot. Bloodlord Mandokir was our last kill after numerous attempts, and we cheered louder than anyone in Glasgow that night when the boss dropped down dead. These bosses, in that form, are now no longer available and some of the items are gone for good. I have a kept few for nostalgia value and a little reminder of that night.

    WoWScrnShot_070914_160719There was one zone in The Burning Crusade that was more enjoyable than the rest. Karazhan, this was a 10 player raid and was balanced beautifully. It was difficult enough to be enjoyable, yet allowed you to progress at a level relative to your gear and skill. In my honest opinion, it was (and has not yet been matched) the most balanced raid experience in an MMO. We cleared Karazhan on a number of occasions but it did have its scope for a little fun.

    An instance of this would be by breaking crowd control intentionally. Crowd control is a term used to control a pack of enemies. For example, you could stun an enemy, turn them into a sheep or a frog or if they were undead and shackle them with chains of light. Further into Karazhan when you are ascending the tower itself there’s a room, full of undead enemies. Packed. It took a lot of time to slowly pick off each enemy one at a time and plan your route through the room. What made it more fun was to break the shackle. This was extremely easy to do even by mistake. An area of effect spell that hit that enemy would allow it to run free and attack. Honestly, there was nothing more fun than breaking a shackle when James was your tank. He hated it. Literally hated it, you see it made him work harder as the tank and you could just stay back and fire off spells or attacks. If the group dies, doesn’t matter, James’ fault. This was similar to fighting “Shade of Aran” who would cast a flame wreath around you and if you moved through it, it pretty much exploded the raid. Not as fun, as you got the blame, but still quite fun if you had enough time to keep going and you wanted to piss off someone in the group!

    WoWScrnShot_070914_160922My utmost fondest memory of Burning Crusade was within Karazhan. Prince Malchezaar was the last boss of the dungeon. Famed for being notoriously dickish with his infernal spawns that would constantly spread fel fire across the room, and for knocking everyone’s health down to 1HP with a spell. An unlucky run could see you go down to Prince several times without it really being your fault. It’s about 4am, we’ve been in Karazhan for about 3 hours. We took our sweet ass time at this LAN, stopping for pizza midway through and then with a groan “Suppose we best finish this then”. One of our rogues wasn’t at the LAN. He was with us on Ventrillo though and knew the score. Prince Malchezaar was being a King Troll. We had died a few times, gear needing repairs, frustration setting in. Another run came and we got him down to about 10% health, at this point an Infernal came down and pretty much landed on James and he went down. Still watching his health tick away whilst the boss was now loose killing everything in sight. 5…4…3…2… Only our Rogue left alive and while Prince made his demonic charge towards our helpless softy, something wonderful happened. A massive critical hit brought the demon to his knees and down he went. The place erupted! We scared the cats, hell we probably scared half the neighbourhood. 4am on a Sunday and BOOM! Milton on Campsie was rocking! I don’t even remember what loot we got that night, does it really matter? I just always picture our Rogue sitting in the dark, by himself, and letting out the smallest “Yas” he could muster.

    • Is it bad to feel a bit jealous when reading these WoW articles. Sounds like you guys had some amazing fun playing together.

  • 2014-07-03_00001Following an ever increasingly popular trend of “Rogue-like” games, Kitfox Games opted to return to the roots of the genre with Shattered Planet: an isometric turn based RPG with some very interesting mechanics thrown in for good measure and it’s harder than your Granny’s stew!

    As one of four playable clones you descend through Shattered Planet looking for scrap metal and crystals and trying to not die horribly. You’ll lose everything you were carrying when you die except the scrap and crystals. These can be used to purchase strength, wits and health upgrades for your clone and also used to create randomly generated items or summon companion pets. When you’ve spent your hard earned resources it’s time to dive back in for another randomly generated shot. Rinse, repeat, Rogue-like.

    2014-07-05_00001Exploration is at the heart of the title. You’ll constantly be pushed to find the next teleporter plundering further into the unknown. Being nudged to fill a research catalogue to level-up is also a very nice feature. Levelling up will unlock summonable companions, other classes and items. If you’re a completionist, like me, you’ll find it hard to resist coming back to Shattered Planet. Even if your goal is just to collect new entries to the log. The daily challenge mode offers an experience in itself and the exploration mode, where the real meat of the game is, is long enough to keep you interested in progressing.

    The environment Shattered Planet is set in is a perilous yet lovely world. The soft palette of colours coupled with the cartoon style seems to pop off the screen, you will not have a huge amount of time to explore each environment as with each move a spreading area of damage known as “Blight” will spawn into the area. Not only does blight damage on contact, it will spawn reasonably difficult enemies to contend with and ultimately will lead you to your death or to the next teleporter. Unfortunately, it feels like a mechanic solely used to push you further on. For me, I’d find it much more entertaining to clear the area of enemies and reap the rewards of the zone before moving on, it doesn’t add tension, only frustration.

    2014-07-05_00009The combat is refreshing, there’s been quite a few Rogue-like titles recently that fixate on the action being live rather than by turn. Rogue Legacy, Tower of Guns and Risk of Rain have all done this, all successful in their own right but all having larger difficulty curves. Shattered Planet isn’t an easy title to master, but it is to learn. Being played solely with the mouse makes it easy to plan your next move through the world and decide which path to take. Clicking on your character will cause you to wait a turn which can also be useful to bait enemies into coming into your range. Focusing mainly on Swordplay means being kept to melee range and this can lead to some hectic situations. Being forced into a corner by two adjacent enemies can be extremely frustrating but is usually avoidable.

    Shattered Planet does a lot of things right. The combat works well as does the music and sound and being able to fill a codex of everything you’ve seen a goal in its own, however, where the game frustrated me most was with its randomness. Rogue-likes, by their nature, are designed to have random elements. Levels are generated, randomly. Items dropped, at random. Enemies spawn, at random. It’s random. Kitfox may have pushed this a little too far. Before beginning a level you will be given the option to buy consumable items for crystals, these items rotate in options of three and if the Gods of RNG aren’t with you, you could end up buying quite a few grenades and no healing items. Throw in the fact that the crystals are also used to generate your equipment (either a weapon or armour) and you could very possibly be equipped like Rambo with a headband , 6 grenades and no sword or you could be Robocop with regenerating health and a plasma sword, most of the time it’s down to sheer luck. There’s ways of circumventing this outcome, your inventory will store equipment, healing items and companions and there’s the very real option of saving for that one run that you’re going to throw everything at. Only to be squashed with more RNG from bottled pick-ups or unfortunate enemy spawns. Some more focus on guided gameplay, for example, by telling the player what the bottled item does, and a more forgiving item roll algorithm would help Shattered Planet greatly. When the outcome of your run is down to more luck than skill, that sense of being gripped to keep playing fades quickly.

    2014-07-05_00004Shattered Planet is on the right track, it does a lot of things right and with a bit more structure to the randomness it would be a highly enjoyable title. In its current form, and asking for £10, its worthy of your time. Throwing half an hour at it at a time is how to get the most out of Shattered Planet, playing it for a few hours on end will leave you frustrated by its heavy reliance on randomness.

    3.5 random rolls out of 5.

  • As World of Warcraft approaches it’s 10th anniversary I thought this would be a great time to take a look back on some humorous memories I have of when I first started playing. 2004 was the year it began for me. Halfway through my first year at University and at the age of 17 I took my first foray into the world of MMORPGs. Armed with a copy of World of Warcraft and 4 friends who had been pushing me to get the game since I stepped foot into my first lecture. It was on that fabled Boxing Day that a Dwarf Warrior, with 2 handed axe in hand, stepped foot into Kharanos, and my World of Warcraft story was to begin.

    1646882-4172 Days of game time later (yeah, really) I can now look back on my time with WoW with fondness. For me, Warcraft was never about pushing to have the best gear or the most achievements or even being just that little bit better than your peers. No. For me, it was all about the social interactions. I could babble on about Stratholme 45 minute runs, Sunday evening Upper-Black Rock Spire or 6 day long Alterac Valley fights but those are atypical of the nostalgia of Vanilla Warcraft. I’d like to share some of the less desirable pastimes that my companions and I were fond of participating in.

    For those of you unfamiliar with World of Warcraft or its “Vanilla” version. Stranglethorn Vale was one of the most evil places in all of Azeroth. Being on a PvP server – thanks James – meant that we could be ambushed by higher level players from the opposing faction with relative ease and dispatched before you could utter “oh not a-fucking-gain”. However, every cloud has a silver lining as they say and this opened up some fun ways for the 5 of us to bully lower level characters, for example, by drowning them.

    Back in Vanilla, you had a pretty realistic breath meter. As far as I remember you had maybe a minute tops before you started to take damage from being underwater. They did change this and you now can breathe for a lot longer, making this pretty much impossible nowadays. Our Warlock at the time made sure we could breathe underwater and we went hunting.

    It all started with our Priest mind controlling a low level hunter into the water, my warrior landed a concussion blow (5 seconds in those days), James, our mage would frost nova, the rogue would gouge. We’d cycle this round until the last droplets of breath escaped and the corpse fell to the ground. Yeah we probably could have just killed the poor fellow on the shore, but, where’s the fun in that? It’s a bit sadistic, but we planned that forced drowning very carefully! Happy with our handiwork, we’d then wait for him to respawn again under the water and well…drown him again. It was malicious but our Ventrillo was full of hilarity!

    It wasn’t just the Horde that felt the force of our nastiness. Oh no, this is to date, one of my most favourite memories within a game. I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard at a game like I did on this night in a long, LONG time. Volchan, a level 60 elite (powerful) creature resided within Burning Steppes, an end level zone. This creature was formidable, he’s what’s known as a Molten Giant, a huge lumbering behemoth, dripping in lava and rock and on occasion firing off a huge fire blast in a circle from his feet outwards, causing some pretty hefty damage to end level players.

    1646862-4Close to Burning Steppes is a very low level area known as Redridge. Within Redridge is a town called Lakeshire, safe haven for the inexperienced and weak. Well not on the day we decided to take Volchan for a walk. Back in Vanilla you could partake in a technique known as “Kiting”, kiting works by periodically attacking a creature whilst moving away, then attacking, then moving away. Again, nowadays it’s pretty much impossible, the vast majority of creatures will only chase for a certain distance and then run back to where they were. Volchan liked to be kited.

    After several failed attempts and a lot of patience, Volchan was a new resident of Lakeshire. I made sure that I kept Volchan’s attention, our Priest would heal my health back to full after each fire blast, and our band of merry bandits were riling up support from the locals: “Come help us slay the giant” they’d yell, often followed by “We need help” and the most blatantly nasty one of them all “He drops Epic Loot!”. In their bucketloads the newbies responded. Volchan disposing of their puny attempts at battle with ease, one fire blast after another. Guards and NPCs fell like leaves in the wind and with each satisfying death yell from members of our own faction we laughed. Oh how we laughed and laughed. Eventually our priest forgot to heal me, or I forgot to attack (could have been both due to the giggles) and Volchan was now free to pilage as he pleased. A few minutes later he ran back, undefeated, to his magma covered home of Burning Steppes. We still laughed.

    To be honest though, we weren’t that bad all the time. We had several enjoyable evenings and weekends working as a team to kill enemies and become closer friends. World of Warcraft gains a bad reputation at times and sometimes it is deserved. However, if you can disfranchise yourself with the game there’s some solid foundations of social interaction and it’s with these I remember Vanilla Warcraft with fondness. I’ve built quite a few friendships through Warcraft to the point of being one of my Uni mates Groomsman at his wedding (She plays too in case you were wondering) and although I may have spent 172 days in the last 10 or so years playing Warcraft. Most of the time, it was time well spent. Who knows if I’ll be playing and if it’ll even last another 10 years. One thing’s for sure though, we’ll still be laughing at the memories.

  • ThumbnailKevin sees promise, but a lack in content sees M0B1US just fall short of the last hurdle

    From a world filled with ‘Flappy Bird’ and ‘Temple Run’ comes ‘M0B1US’ from Glaswegian developer Mental Ultimate. It’s an […]

  • To a certain extent Karma plays into everything anyways =P

  • Yeah, plenty of food references! Clearly the footlong is the better option at all times!

    For Humble Bundles I try to roughly work out how much I’m going to play each title then throw on a little bit extra for charity!

  • ThumbnailWhat’s the price of Entertainment? Kevin’s money saving plan could also save you time and heartache, in his opinion.

    How much is the price of entertainment? I’m a 26 year old guy, working in an ok paying job […]

  • Thumbnail“HOLY ONSLAUGHT” It’s back again, meaner, darker and more loot filled than ever. Reaper of Souls is the expansion pack for the well received, yet flawed Diablo 3. The real question is this, has it brought Diablo […]

  • I’ve had Dobble for about 2 years now after some friends bought it for us for Christmas. Great little party game with young and old.

    Kind of hits the nail on the head in terms of complexity. Everyone can play, […]

  • PinballThere has to be a twist…

    Zen Studios really are committed to their cause of making Zen Pinball 2 the be all and end all of playing pinball on your PlayStation console(s). With an expansive library of tables that range from Plants vs. Zombies to Street Fighter II Tributes to Casinos around the world, the team at Zen are ever-approaching the achievement of having a table for everyone. The latest table pack – Super League Football Pinball – looks to hook in a whole new set of fans while reeling back in the steady stream of pinball addicts.

    Super League Football Pinball launches with themed tables for Arsenal, Liverpool, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus, Roma and a Zen Studios generic, footy-themed table. It’s worth noting that Zen have admitted they’re willing to expand this set and add in new teams should the demand exist. It is also worth noting that your purchase only nets you one of these themed tables but this isn’t much of an issue as the tables are identical – outside of purely aesthetic differences.

    And it is in these aesthetic differences that SLFP truly shines; the guys at Zen have really nailed the visual and audio flare that makes these tables feel unique to each of the specific clubs. Play the Barca table and the outskirts of your screen will be filled with a miniature Nou Camp. Boot up the Liverpool table, though, and you’ll be greeted with a crowd rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone. It’s these little touches that make all the difference.

    Super-League-Football_Real_MadridSo once you’ve chosen your allegiance and loaded your table, SLFP sees you taking your club into a 5 game season with each match featuring your standard 45 minute halves (which obviously go by a lot faster in the game). However, inexperienced players – like myself – will struggle to make it to half time. The game is incredibly challenging and I’m sure completing the season will prove a test for even Zen’s pinball veterans.

    The table itself features your standard array of ramps, bumpers and little tunnels for your football (of course the ball is a football) to disappear into. The difference here is the purpose of the ramps etc. Hit the long ball ramp enough times, for instance, and you’ll be granted the chance to shoot at goal on a second, mini-table and this affects the score of the match should you manage to last the 90 minutes. Every so often you may even be granted a penalty although the method in this madness isn’t always clear; just keep flipping and hope for the best.

    It goes without saying that the gameplay in SLFP in spot on. Zen know how to bring pinball to your PlayStation console of choice.

    PinballThe only criticism that I can levy at SLFP is the odd cross-buy system that is at play. Buy the pack on your PS3 or PS Vita and you can play it across all three PlayStation platforms. Purchase the game on the PS4, however, and it’s a solo purchase with no cross buy, whatsoever. Weird, I say.

    Super League Football Pinball for Zen Pinball 2 is certainly targeting a very, very specific niche. But if you’re a video game playing, pinball loving supporter of Arsenal, Liverpool, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus or Roma then this really is the perfect game for you.

    3.5 Pinball Wizards out of 5

  • ThumbnailEpic Battle Fantasy 4 is the 4th game in the series of flash driven, turn based RPGs by Kupo Games. Its tiny development team, headed by Matt Roszak (Whom is credited for design, art, story and programming) should […]

  • ThumbnailDeveloper Sit Down: Matt Roszak

    I recently caught up for a quick chat with Matt Roszak about games, inspirations, programming and the future.

    How long did it take you to develop Epic Battle Fantasy 4? […]

  • We had an update from Blindflug saying that they will have an update for stability in the launch release. Also they’ll be adding a multiplayer option if the game is received well. Go get this when it comes out guys!

  • Thumbnailjeremy.spillmann@gmail.com

    If you’ve ever sat on the bus, mucking about on your phone on your way to work and thought “I’d just like to blow the world up with nuclear warheads” this is the game for you! In all […]

  • Kevin Lynch changed their profile picture 1 year, 9 months ago

  • I think that personally, it’s a good idea in theory. Looking back on a game with mild hindsight can be beneficial for everyone involved but it will depend on how they do it and look at their process.

    If they […]

  • ThumbnailWhat? I hear you ask. Yes, that’s right Bill Laimbeer’s Combat Basketball for the SNES. Allow me to explain.

    Bill Laimbeer was part of the notoriously rough Detroit Pistons team that won two NBA Championships […]

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