Day of The Tentacle Remaster Review

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Leaping Lab rats! The Remaster we’ve all been waiting for!

This generation seems to be the time for upgrades and remakes, which is all fine and good, but finally, I get the one I really want. I’ve been waiting for Day of the Tentacle for a very long time.

I remember playing this game as a child on our first family computer; I’ve actually still got the original CD-ROM.

I really am a huge fan of the original game and upon learning of the impending re-master months ago, had high hopes that this would do it justice. I thought it was brilliantly funny back then, well constructed and hoped it would still hold up today. A small niggling fear in the back of my head – what if DOTT doesn’t actually hold up today and it doesn’t turn out to be as great as I thought it was 20 odd years ago.

Luckily, I’m happy to say that isn’t the reality.

Now in case you had a very deprived gaming childhood or just missed it entirely, DOTT is about a mutated tentacle that turns evil after consuming toxic sludge and decides to take over the world.

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DOTT is a classic ‘point and click’ puzzle adventure game, filled with funny dialogue, weird and wonderful characters you meet along the way.

You play as three very different and unlikely friends who have to stop him from taking over the world, the only problem being they’re all stuck in different times, thanks to mad scientist Dr. Fred Edison’s botched time travel machine.

Our three protagonists are – Hoagie the rock roadie. He is 200 years in the past, Laverne the oddball is 200 years in the future and geeky Bernard is stuck in the present. Their only form of contact – three toilets converted into Chron-O-Johns and the help of a mad scientist.

Double fine really have given DOTT the care and attention it deserves in this update. The lines are smoother, the colours are vibrant and they haven’t changed the art style and have kept true to the origins of the game. They have also re-mastered the audio.

The puzzles still hold up today, they’re funny, clever, well constructed and don’t feel shoehorned in. Some are also head-scratchingly difficult. Having played this game many years ago some of the answers evaded me. You will find a time when you feel like you’re aimlessly hopping between all 3 kids and just repeating yourself but, there’s no greater feeling, after all the pointing n’ clicking for half an hour when you get the “Eureka” moment and it all comes together nicely.

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The dialogue still works today as well as it did in 1993, it’s witty, funny and sometimes just a bit dark. There are also some great one-liners, especially when trying to use certain objects with other objects in the puzzle solving. With some pretty comical achievements popping up along the way. I watched all of the cut scenes and used most of the dialogue choices and at times there were proper laugh moments out of me.

Playing across all three playable characters is simple and easy enough, you play as much with whomever, but there are moments when certain actions affect certain times, this works really well across all three characters. The inventory system is super simple and does a good job swapping between each kid and playing across the different time periods.

With DOTT given the enhanced and updated treatment, you can switch back to the original style so you can see the difference. Personally, I didn’t remember the game being that pixelated, but hitting the button will show there’s a huge difference in graphics, 20+ years obviously goes a long way and it really shows the effort and care Double Fine put into making this re-master look as good as it does. The only bad point I noticed was some of the dialogue didn’t match up to the speaking animation, a bit like poor dubbing. It’s not enough to ruin it, but it is noticeable – I suspect this is down to the voices and sounds being improved to a higher bit-rate.

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DOTT been completely redrawn in high definition 2D graphics and it really does look marvellous, you can also mix and match audio, graphics and UI to whichever you prefer.

Throughout the adventure, you will also collect concept art and you can turn on the developer commentary which really adds to the heritage of the game.

To summarise, DOTT is still great today. It’s a great point and click game with genuine laugh out loud moments, clever and well-made puzzles. The remake looks gorgeous and the writing is still as fantastic now as it was back then. Whether or not you played the original, this is a classic point and click adventure game that will keep you entertained and challenged while laughing and smiling throughout.

Pros

Amazing work re-mastering looks gorgeous.

Still holds up as a classic point and click

Laugh out loud funny.

Cons

Vocal Animation can be a bit off.

If you’ve not played before, some of the puzzles can be very challenging
Score: 9/10

The Flame in the Flood Preview

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“A rogue-lite river journey through the backwaters of a forgotten post-social America. Forage, craft and evade predators”

The Flame in the Flood caught my attention a few months ago. A kickstarter from the art director of the Bioshock series, as well as a team of veterans from Bioshock, Halo and Guitar Hero. Not a bad set of experienced creatives to have on an indie project.

The gorgeous art style, the graphics, as well as the soundtrack – I was sold on the trailer alone. It did the job of catching my attention pretty well.

I’ve recently been enjoying my rogue-lite/rogue-a-like games, as well as playing the early access game ‘The Long Dark’, another survival game.

The Flame in the Flood combines these 2 genres very well; the art style and soundtrack suit it brilliantly. Survival games can seem daunting at first. The style of The Flame in the Flood just takes the edge off for me, makes it a tad more approachable.

As it stands when I played, TFITF is early access and only has “endless” mode available, with story mode coming soon.

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You find yourself stranded in the wilderness with nothing but the clothes on your back, luckily for you a dog dragging a backpack finds you and you’re off on your way to survival! Or most likely certain death.

Your canine companion helps with finding resources around the various islands (think back to Fable helpful mutt). He means well, but barking at everything and even the gear you discard gets a bit annoying, but who can stay mad? He’s trying to help……. I think?!

Survival comes in the form of watching over your character’s vital hunger, thirst, health, warmth and fatigue. In order to keep everything ticking over you forage for whatever you can and use various resources and materials to craft weapons, traps, food and medicine. Sounds easy enough? As each play through is procedurally generated, you might not find what you need straight away. My first run through I tried standing toe to toe with a boar (Don’t!) and came off worse for wear with broken bones and lacerations. As I couldn’t find anything for a splint or to help heal my lacerations they got infected and left untreated you do indeed die.

My second run through I came across the resources to not only snare a boar but made myself a splint, then I died of exhaustion, after all of that!

 

My current playthrough is turning out much better and I’m even managing to plan for the worst. I’ve got more penicillin than a chemist and I’m jerking rabbit and boar like a pro! It’s safe to say the difficulty does start increasing the further downs the procedurally generated river you go, twisting and turning along the currents. I say difficulty; I mean more things trying to kill you.

Wolves start appearing in packs and I’ve started having to weigh up risks of scavenging against taking on more than one predator. There are other aspects throughout the game to start considering, your raft being the other point of your focus. You can dock up at repair islands and make repairs or improvements to your raft. Parts of my play through seem to be scarce and few between, bits and pieces can be crafted but nothing made quite just yet.

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For a preview in an early state, The Flame in the Flood looks great, the art style is gorgeous and music/soundtrack is fantastic, it suits each environment and period of either dread, fear, fight or travel well. I’m really looking forward to what the story mode brings. As it stands right now, it doesn’t have the longevity on its own, but I’ll use the endless mode for a taster of what else is to come.

TFITF would suit any gamer, it’s easy to get to grips with after a few deaths, you learn a bit more as you go and form solutions from where you went wrong, like a good rogue-lite game should.

If you’re not a fan of survival games this shouldn’t put you off, the crafting elements, visuals and soundtrack are great. It’s genuinely harrowing in parts, whether you’re crawling with a broken leg after getting away from a wolf or being thrown about on your raft.

To my surprise (given its early access release) I have experienced no bugs. The Flame in the Flood is well worth checking and I’m really looking forward to coming back to this one as it updates and nears full release. As it is, it’s unusual, it’s beautiful and oozes creativity.

Dream Review

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You snooze, you lose…..Your mind? Possibly…..Maybe!

Dream is an exploration game that takes place within the subconscious mind of Howard Phillips, a young man whose waking hours are tedious and dull, but whose dreams are lucid and powerful.

Games have started taking the form of more artistic, puzzle and exploratory genre rather than the usual typical shoot em’ up or maximum score driven games. Games such as Dear Esther, Gone Home and The Stanley Parable being examples of games walking in the realm of art.

Dreams are weird and the dream world in Howard’s mind are no exception, you start off in a house after hearing a short section of dialogue in which you are speaking to your friend about something at stupid o’clock in the morning. You play as Howard in Dream and it all starts funnily enough, by going to sleep.

It kicks off great and really grabbed my interest immediately. Asking myself why? Where’s this going? What does it all mean?!

In terms of story and plot it doesn’t really progress much more after that.

Each dream world is beautifully designed with some great scenery; they are also very varied and imaginative. You can be in a desert, then next in an office building block. The dream settings and environment are pleasing to look at and can change when an interaction goes right or wrong. The soundtrack works very well and compliments each setting.

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The puzzles are varied with some degree of difficulty but enjoyable enough, some even seem familiar, they’re fun and offer enough difficulty to feel rewarded on completion. They range from turning off the lights in a tunnel while being chased by what appears a smoke/fog monster to matching light beams in an office block which looks like something from the Crystal Maze.

After each dream sequence of the game you complete there is a nightmare. These are genuinely creepy, the atmosphere is well set but it still seems a little bit out of place, an afterthought as the nightmare doesn’t have much to do with the dream before.

Still I couldn’t help feeling they have much point; they don’t seem to add to the story if at all. Not that there is a huge revelation to what the story is and what it is leading up to.

That’s my main gripe with Dream; it doesn’t seem to focus on what the point of the story is, where it intends to go or why Howard is having these weird dreams in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad game at all.

The control system is easy enough, mainly walking but integration can be clunky at times. Don’t bother using a gamepad as it only offers partial support. With Steam big picture I would like to have used a pad on a TV, small problem for me but nothing game breaking. Hopefully something for the future.

Sometimes these can be a bit hit and miss, The Stanley Parable I thought was fantastic, Gone Home a bit of a let-down and Dear Esther somewhere in the middle. Dream is different enough to set itself apart from the rest of the genre which is starting to get saturated.

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It might seem like I’ve spent more time moaning about Dream than saying how much I liked playing it.

I did enjoy playing and I will continue to go back to it every now and again, there are alternate endings which do add a reason to come back and play again. Dream is a solid and enjoyable experience, if you enjoy nice looking environments and fun puzzles. I felt potentially it could have had more of a story element with some twists and turns. I am however interested in following what, if anything happens with this in the future.

If you’re a fan of those games then this is for you. I am a fan of the exploration genre and jumped at the chance of having a look at Dream on the PC.

Score: 7 out of 10.

Pros

+Relaxing gameplay

+Collectable notes with dream meanings (You might even figure out your own messed up dreams!)

+ Beautiful, varied level design and soundtrack

+ Enjoyable puzzles

Cons

– A lot of repetitive walking about

– It’s difficult to find out what to do sometimes

– Not much of a story

Knee Deep – Act 1 Wonderland

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Spend a night at the theatre!
“When a washed-up actor hangs himself on location, a spotlight is cast on the backwater Florida town of Cypress Knee. Your screen becomes a stage on which you investigate this mysterious suicide as three distinct characters.”

Knee deep is an episodic “You decide what happens” mystery game. Based similarly to the TellTell games, you play as 3 characters in turn. Online blogger Romana Teague, journalist Jack Bellet, and has-been detective K.C. Gaddis.

The decisions you make will help you understand just what exactly happened in this sleepy small town. A place which has been rocked by a high profile suicide and you will have to deal with the strange town’s folk populating Cypress Knee.

The real difference that sets this apart from the usual mystery murder solving game is that this is set as a stage performance and you are the director, choosing the dialogue and how the 3 different characters go about the investigation and the news articles they post.

It’s nice to have a different angle, but I’m not sure how well the theatre aspect works, I guess we’ll see how it expands in the future episodes.

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You begin by investigating the suicide and speaking to different people in the town. These people range in personality; from odd the Scientology cult types to inbred hicks that live in the swamp, there’s a few “normal” characters chucked in for good measure too.

The 3 protagonists differ greatly in their behaviour and can be played in any manner you see fit. Firstly, the female blogger, who I decided was to be quite sarcastic and uncaring. The news journalist Bellet, seeking more truth in the bigger picture of what’s happening in the town and Gaddis trying to claw back something from a declining career which meant returning to Cypress Knee.

As for the mechanics of the actual game, you don’t control where you move around in a directional sense, you pick your choice of response that can control where you look next or whom you speak to.

You also have to update you blog or send in news articles based on the clues and information you gain from speaking to the occupants of Cypress Knee you come across. You can also put a spin on the article you post. You can be cautious, edgy or inflammatory. Your various posts and how you spin seem to affect your relationship between your editor and employer, this being episode 1 I haven’t seen this in play just yet.

The story that unfolds before you gathers at quite a pace and throughout my 2 hour initial play through it got pretty interesting, pretty quickly. The main story seems relatively straight forward and a bit cliché, but it’s the twist and investigating what’s happening in the bigger picture which is what captured my attention and I want to return to Cypress Knee.

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There are no wrong answers or places to fail, which is great because there is nothing worse than repeating dialogue scenes when you screw up (Think L.A. Noire, parts of that used to drive me mad!). You get to interact the 3 characters together in some instances as well as the other inhabitants, being no wrong answers means you don’t replay sections, but it does affect the relationship you have with them. At one point my character (Gaddis I think) gets punched in the mouth thanks to one of my responses.

Some issues with the game I will point out are the graphics and the animation aren’t great, but Knee Deep obviously isn’t touted as an AAA title that will max out your GPU.

Some voice acting wouldn’t go amiss either, as the whole game revolves around dialogue and different emotional scenes I think some voice acting could really lend towards setting the emotion in said scenes and could distract from the low quality graphics.

Response from the audience would add more to the setting of being in a theatre too, the only reminder you have is at the start and changing of the scenes when you travel to a new part of town.

There’s also no real way to tell how you’re progressing. The reports you send in get little feedback and with the lack of ability to “fail” it’s hard to gauge how much of an affect your reporting is actually having, apart from pissing off some of the locals every now and again.

The issues thankfully though don’t detract from me wanting to play the game or come back for episode 2.

I’m invested and want to see what happens which is exactly what I want from an episodic game and I will be revisiting for the next instalment.

So far, Knee Deeps is telling a good story and has done enough to keep me interested. If you prefer your games to have story and substance over graphics and enjoy the TellTell style games then this is for you. It’s well timed and the suspense keeps you thinking and guessing.

The charming straight to DVD style writing, dialogue, story and characters will see you through episode 1 and wanting to come back for episode 2.

 

Positives:

  • Interesting set up in the theatre
  • The murder mystery story is good and very involving
  • Cynical responses!

Negatives:

  • Graphics and animation isn’t great, faces are expressionless.
  • Lack of voice acting is noticeable

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Stonehearth – Preview

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StoneHearth (not to be confused with Blizzard’s popular card game HearthStone) is a mix between Minecraft style crafting, The Sims and Farmville. All with some RPG elements added to the mix. It has a similar pixel graphic style of Minecraft, albeit more cutesy, like My Sims from the DS. Since the arrival of Minecraft there seems to be plenty of spin offs, all usually resulting in a poor man’s versions of the popular craft ‘em up. Luckily this isn’t heading the same way.

After a successful Kickstarter campaign and being voted for release via Steam’s Greenlight programme, StoneHearth is now in early access stage of development. This is Radiant’s first title and a very confident one to boot.

The aim of the game is simple, it’s a sandbox game which you control your Hearthlings and help them to create a home, all in a world which can be built, mined, crafted, but be warned this world can be hostile! You’re free to choose where to start your fledging village, pick a spot amongst the trees for more resources or in the middle of nowhere for maximum room, but less materials.

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On with the gaming and welcome to FrugalLand! I hope you like squirrel jerky!!

Each of your Hearthlings start out as workers, you tell them to mine and harvest, they do it. Once you get going you can promote them to new professions, you can set roles such as trappers, who hunt and trap animals, footmen, which will patrol and protect your town from invaders, blacksmiths, for all your armour and weaponry needs, you get the idea!

There isn’t much of a tutorial, but all the features are well laid out and simple enough to understand. Once you have enough materials you can design and construct buildings. I found the initial design process, choosing what to build and with which materials easy enough to begin with, sadly the actual building process didn’t seem to work as well. This could be the result of a bug or just me doing something wrong. Waiting for buildings to finish can feel like an age too, so start small then add to them seems to be the best approach I’ve found so far.

Don’t start off trying to build a huge castle! You’ll be waiting for a very long time and have nowhere to sleep in the meantime!

Your main aim is to keep morale up, build up your town and earn lots of gold. If you hit certain targets during the daily update you are rewarded with a new settler! Another worker to add to the force or a new shepherd to tend the flock.

But not all is rosy and sunshine in Frugal Land. Come nightfall you can carry on working, but you could be met with invaders! These come from the outskirts and try to attack your town. Sound the horn to defend yourselves and your Hearthlings will spring into action, however they can be injured and even die in combat. A genuinely heart-breaking experience as it is very easy to become attached to the little guys, it’s also quite annoying as you now need to wait for a new settler to take the blacksmith helm.

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Gameplay can seem to be a lot more spectator rather than actual doing much (similar to The Sims and Sim City), but  I still found myself playing for a good chunk of time. Usually waiting for the little guys to complete a building, then a notification will appear with someone willing to trade goods with you. There is always something to keep you occupied and always a goal to work towards. Whilst there are enough features to make it feel in depth it is still simple and fun to play.

The current build of Stonehearth is very playable and a lot of fun. I’m really looking forward to seeing what they add to it, with modding, multiplayer and PvP promised, the long term future is looking very promising. I’m hooked already and with the possibility of playing with my fellow Frugal gamers over multiplayer, I’ll be playing this for a while.

Keep an eye out on this, if you’re into your Sims, Sim City and/or Minecraft, this is maybe for you.

Pros:

For early access it’s very playable already

Good fun

Loads more features to be added

Cons:

May get overlooked as it’s of the “craft” genre

Building seems to take ages

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Car Mechanic Simulator 2015

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Simulators. They’re everywhere at the moment, from driving trains, trucks and forklifts, to being a slice of bread or a rampaging goat. There seems to be a simulator game for everything and for some reason I seem to own quite a few of them (Thank you Humble Bundle and Steam sales).

Now I’m no petrol head, I can drive a car, I grew up around cars (mainly broken ones for scrapping) yet I don’t really know where most bits are or where the alternator connects to the flux capacitor……

So I thought I’d give this a try and maybe learn a bit more about fixing cars, wolf whistling women and overcharging people.

Car mechanic simulator 2015 as the name might suggest, thrusts you into your own garage with a wrench and a constantly ringing phone! Unfortunately there’s not a nudey calendar in sight (DLC?).

There’s a bit of a tutorial but not the hand holding tutorial as you would normally expect, basically a prompt pops up when you interact with something you haven’t before, I found this frustrating to say the least because I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. You answer the phone, pick a job and a car appears in the middle of the garage.

You’re then expected to fix it.

Thankfully the onscreen keys explain their function and by wandering around the workshop you can find a computer to order new parts.  The easiest method I found for finding which part was in need of changing was to replace the rustiest looking one, who would have thought?! Simple!

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There’s not much in the way of interaction. It’s you, the garage, a car and phone that will not stop ringing!

The aim of the game is to fix cars. Pretty straightforward. You can progress your skills in the way of XP, finish jobs and make sure the car doesn’t blow up in your care and you get paid in cash and XP. Build up your XP and you can remove nuts and bolts quicker, improve your ability to inspect parts, invest in a tablet PC etc.

I started getting the hang of what the game wanted me to do. (Yeah, yeah I know you fix cars, but the WAY you go about it).  The rolling tutorial finishes without telling you and after getting my eye in and hammering through the cars left right and centre, building up some cash and XP along the way, I started to feel a little bored, it’s the same old cars coming through with the same old problems. Certain jobs you can’t take on because you don’t have enough XP (Why call then?!) There’s different parts of the garage which you can access. My aim, get £15K to buy a carpark so I can go to auction and buy some cars to fix up and sell on. Proper wheeler dealer style.

With £15K burning a hole in my virtual overalls, I run (well, hover) over to the garage expansion only to be told on top of the £15K I need 9000 XP!!! Disheartened with my current 2600 XP its back to changing brake pads and oil filters on a poor man’s VW Golf. With quite the gap in XP and nothing left to do in between, the grind starts to set in.

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You won’t get all the features of this game right away, not even in the first 3-4 hours. It’s starting to feel a bit of a chore but I understand why.

It’s not a game you sit and play for 4 hours straight in a single session. You sit and play it when you’ve had a brain melting day at work and only have an hour or so to yourself.

Overall it’s a very competent simulator. It controls well, looks good, doesn’t take an age to get into and is actually quite a lot of fun. I’ve even learnt a little bit about where bits of the engine go.

If you’re looking for something that you can go for in between games that don’t require huge amounts of thought or time Car Mechanic Simulator 2015 will do you nicely.

The only downside is it’s a pretty niche market for these games, purists (or actual mechanics) will pick flaws in it and the rest of us may lose interest due to the amount of grinding required to get upgrades and additional features.

I can only hope they add some fun DLC content to go with it for the future.

Pros:

Actually interesting, even learnt something about cars!

Quick to get into

Great for short bursts when you only have an hour

Good attention to detail

 

Cons:

Thrown straight in, no real tutorial at the beginning

“leveling up” for new features is a real grind

Early stages can be repetitive

 

Score: 6 out of 10

 

Grand Theft Auto V PC Review

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My previous experience with Grand Theft Auto V? I played it near release on the 360, I enjoyed it but didn’t get massively into; call it wrong timing or maybe too much to play at the time? But I didn’t give it much time, I did enjoy the story part of what I played.

I’m predominantly a PC gamer, also PS4 and an Xbox One owner, but I was holding for the PC release just because I know it will look amazing running on my rig and the possibility of modding and other community made content was enough to make me hold out. Touted as the definitive version of the game.

I was right to wait.

It can look amazing if your system can handle it. Even running 4K if you’ve got a big boy gaming rig. Just make sure you free some room on your HDD for the beefy 65 GB download space it requires.

I’m running it on an i7 4770k @ 3.50 Ghz 4 cores with 16Gb. Not that it’s very CPU intensive, even though the recommended spec is an Intel quad core.

Your real payoff is in your GPU; if you’re running a 4 GB graphics card you’ve got plenty to play with.

I’m running a Gigabyte GTX 770 4 GB Windforce and with plenty of settings to choose from the limits can soon be reached to 4096Mb of video memory in the graphics settings.

I’ve pushed the settings on everything on high/very high and water reflection on ultra and getting a good 1080p output, which is a steady 45ish FPS, not bad but some sacrificing will get you towards the 50-60 FPS mark.

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First off the hype is real, it looks amazing if you can run it at a decent stable rate.

I found myself just stopping and trying to get perfect screen shots, as some of the scenery and places looked amazing; rain on the roads during a neon lit highway to panoramic views of Los Santos from a cliff edge. The links below might help some of you comparing the various options and how to get it looking the best for you:

Gamer Nexus Benchmark

Digital Trends Guide

Geforce Performance Guide

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You can see the incredible production values and the money that went into this game as well as the small attention to detail. Damaged roads which look like the ones I drive to work on, the most notable is the detail of the first person mode, at first I thought this was a gimmick to justify buying it again.

With additional animations and responses to certain actions you really feel it when you come off the handlebars of your bike or roll a car. My girlfriend was watching me play for a time and had to leave the room as she started getting travelsick!

Even wearing sunglasses in first person changes the colour balance of your view. Carjackings and fist fights look incredibly realistic from this point of view and you can tell from the actions and reactions the developers really did their homework on beating the crap out of people and going over handle bars in first person. The water looks amazingly clear and flows incredibly well. Wildlife looks great and no longer flat.

This is the first game in possibly the couple of years, which made me go “wow” visually. (Vanilla of course). I cannot wait for the mods and to see what the community can do; judging on how good Skyrim can look after modding 3 years later, GTA V should hold up for years to come.

Grand Theft Auto V is set in Los Santos

You’re thrown into a bank heist at the start of the game, which is basically the tutorial.

For the first 5 hours you switch between Michael and Franklin, the beginning of what appears to be the story and the reason for you “coming out of retirement”. Switching to and from characters is a nice touch and offers something different to the usual template of newcomer with nothing to San Andreas/Liberty City etc.

My only slight gripe with this is I didn’t feel as connected to the characters as I did in GTA IV with Niko. You start feeling immersed then you’re off flying like a weird carjacking, gun toting ghost to another character on the other side of town. I found myself rarely switching characters on the fly as I wanted to do everything I was supposed/could do with that character before I had to change. That could just be me though.

The first missions do feel slightly linear with the main feel of each mission drive here, kill that, then drive back lose cops. It wasn’t until you start planning your first heist that you can put some thought in and have repercussions for how you go about the job in hand..

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Until you start the Trevor missions and carry on from there is when you really start seeing the narrative and story opening and becoming more of a bigger picture. The one thing that is certain with the GTA games is not only do they get bigger (and this is definitely bigger), but also the story most certainly improves each sequel.

The controls allow you to switch from gamepad to keyboard and mouse as you please and on the fly. I found myself struggling to get decent aim with the 360 gamepad so was able to switch to keyboard and mouse instantly. No need to go to the settings or have the onscreen prompts look out of place with incorrect keys. Then jump in the getaway car and straight back on to the gamepad. A great balance of traditional PC gaming and practicality. The cover system is still there and works and I found the car handling a lot better than it was in GTA IV. All the cars handle each in their own way, but the driving is far more enjoyable this time around in my opinion. The AI is actually quite good and assists you, this might be a small thing but I’ve played far too many games in which the AI either stand around doing nothing or just get in the way, I always appreciate good AI!

There are hours of entertainment in Los Santos and some of its legit!

Play a round of golf, play tennis, go to the cinema or just watch TV at home. Just in case you need to take a break away from the killing and carjacking!

Los Santos really does feel like a different world from Liberty city on GTA IV. The lush beaches and waterfronts generally seems like a much nicer place than the dreary downtrodden streets of Liberty City, the developers have really done it again with setting the tone of GTA V and its location.

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I’m ready for online, put me in!

Firstly, I will say I’m not a fan of the Rockstar Social club; it made LA Noire unplayable on the PC and it’s still a pain in the arse to work with. You can create a crew and get your mates involved, which works OK, just don’t count on it to work for everyone at the same time. We at Frugal had a game night on GTA V and getting everyone on together in the same map was a real faff. With the features that Social club offer I’m sure they could have made that work in game rather than using a shoehorned in external feature.

I didn’t see much in the form of glitches. Driving with your mates can give you some interesting frame rates but overall the graphics still hold up well and the FPS otherwise was fine. It’s a big old world in GTA Online and with the PC community involved I can see it sticking around for a while, rather than the 6 months or so on consoles which people will most likely get bored of.

GTA Online is a great world with loads to do, The Frugal Gaming crew were online for a couple of hours and didn’t really do anything, blow some stuff up and F%$& the police. It’s a place where you can make your own fun, from bike races, jet plane races or making up your own. “Helicopter Jousting” was an interesting one! Heists have been introduced into GTA V Online. A team of 4 can pull off raids and robberies over Los Santos.

During the game you can record your own clips without the requirement of 3rd party software or hardware. In the age of the current gen consoles on which it’s as easy as pressing a button to stream, record and share your gaming victories, triumphs, or massive fails. With the Rockstar editor you can do just that. You can instantly start recording small clips during your game and when you’re finished you can touch them up and stitch them together using different effects/filters/depth of field etc. You can then export them to YouTube.

Exclusive to the PC game is director mode, which allows you to explore the world of Los Santos as any character. you can change the mood, weather and generally get as creative as you want.

It matched the hype and personally I say it was worth the wait. The PC is the definitive version of GTA V which looks fantastic, delivers with the brutality and humour with missions that start ramping up to keep you going back to the story mode. Online and the potential of modding will keep this as part of your gaming time for quite a while. Social club still bugs me and the online isn’t as flawless as I would like and can be downright frustrating. Overall it’s the blockbuster you’ve heard it was and duly delivers. Truly the best and definitive version of the game.

 

Toxikk – Early access

TOX_06_720p review

“FRAG LIKE IT’S 1999! TOXIKK plays as if today’s military shooters never existed. The game combines the simple and intuitive mechanics of old-school FPS giants with a fresh setting, slick graphics and our vision to carefully evolve the genre with some new ideas elaborated with Arena-FPS enthusiasts.”

Available for Early Access via Steam, my first thoughts when I saw this game in action for the first time were that this is looking pretty polished already.

It boasts a level playing ground, no levelling up and no load outs; just like we had to endure during the 90’s and early 00’s. We had to find the decent weapons!…………… In the map!!

Far from the “twitch” shooters like Cod etc. Toxikk takes it back to simpler times when everyone would scramble for the power weapons. Think RPG’s, snipers and shotguns. You’re unstoppable!!

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I’ve played 2 maps with 2 modes. I played on the Foundation map, which is a dark but brightly illuminated Hong Kong downtown slum. It’s a smaller, pretty close quarters, which for playing death match was a lot of fun, although being so small I found myself constantly getting killed on spawn. But there’s no time to stand still so no campers!

The second map – Twin Peaks, looked very Halo-ish, was large and had access to vehicles. The vehicles, (again rather Halo-ish) were great fun as they were not massively overpowered tanks which cannot be destroyed and easy enough for anyone to jump in and drive. On this map I played Cell Capture, which is pretty much capture the flag. This was great fun and worked much better than I thought it would on a huge map.

The guns feel different in their own unique way. You have the usual jump and crouch, there are also dodge moves too and a cloaking ability. There’s also the chance to create and submit your own content. Toxikk offers the chance to build your own maps, skins, characters and other user generated content.

There is a background story to Toxikk. You play a part of a new world order struggle between 2 factions: The Exocom and The Drayos. You play a mercenary whose offering your services to the leading faction. I’m not sure if they will try and put some kind of story or campaign like Titanfall. We will have to wait and see.

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There are a plenty of empty servers and only 2 official ones, which during my playtime didn’t have loads of people in them. I managed to get a couple of good games in where 6+ others were playing. From what I’ve read, I hope and believe people are playing when I’m sleeping.

In all there is definitely something about this game which will keep you coming back for more, I felt I had improved over the time I played, it looks pretty good and looking at the specs it should polish up a bit more on release.

The main issue, in my opinion is Toxikk maybe should have been a closed beta to test rather than made playable via early access.

People will play it and they will enjoy it, it’s just a shame that people will forget about it come the officially launch date. Of course games need testing and what better way to test then putting them out to people like you and me. 

toxikk_mailshotI just fear in an already saturated market of FPS games with 2 clear camps of BF4/HL or CoD, this may only get a nostalgic looking for most players then forgotten about. I liked the fact it’s a level playing field and that you got your arse handed to you because the other guy was better than you, not because he’s hammered it and 50 levels higher than you with better guns.

There’s not a lot wrong with the actual game, the real thing that stands against are the market leaders, CoD and Battlefield have the majority of players hooked and this doesn’t seem to have a large player base already. For this game to succeed it needs bums on seats. Now I learned the basics against bots which is fine, it encourages new players to get there eye in without having there arse handed to them and being put off forever.

I can see this really appealing to the Quake and Unreal Tournament fans, I’d almost go as far as saying that this is the game a lot of those fans asked for back when there were no CoD’s or BF’s. Most new arena wannabe shooters that are released are usually free to play, look and play terrible. Toxikk looks rather good, it already looks polished and plays really well. I just really hope I’m wrong about people forgetting about it when it’s finished and released fully. I will be coming back to this and don’t want to be server surfing for games with more than 3 people.

Keep your eye on this one though, at the moment it looks good, plays well and puts the arena FPS attributes into it well. The early access is aimed for 5-6 months then hopefully we’ll see the released version. I just hope it gets the attention it deserves before then.

 Toxikk is available via Steam Early Access HERE

Dungeons of Aledorn | Pre-Alpha First Look

DoA_Team21_Dungeons_of_Aledorn_Manto_02“Spiritual successor to many old school hard-core RPG/Dungeon masterpieces, that combines tactical combat system, exploration in the first person view and intriguing travelling system between main map locations.”

“Dungeons of Aledorn (DoA) is an RPG game that brings back several time-tested principles in a mixture of fantasy RPG/Dungeon. It´s primarily made for (and from) hard-core gamers and those who prefer games with high challenge level.”

Listed features from the Steam Green light page:

 

  • A combination of the time-tested principles of former masterpieces with the advantages of current technology.
  • Classical high-fantasy game setting that places emphasis on realism within its world´s rules.
  • Start with a ready-to-go party of heroes, chosen from a combination of nine races and six classes – or create your own!
  • Branching skills and further specializations.
  • Total immersion into an enormous archipelago realm with various climates and landscapes.
  • Original and atmospheric soundtrack designed by our in-house composer.
  • No more long winded following of quest markers – get your brain ready for intriguing quests with multiple solutions.
  • DRM Free

DoA_Team21_Dungeons_of_Aledorn_news_18_pirate_ship_03Dungeons of Aledorn is a tactical RPG/Dungeon crawler with first person exploration. It boasts realistic hit and stat points with a very detailed inventory system.

Not really knowing a lot about this game or hearing a lot about it prior to getting a look at it, only that it is an RPG that was on Kickstarter. I soon found myself enjoying this easy to pick up and play game that had a lot more going on inside. To begin with it didn’t look like my type of game, but I’m more than happy to try anything and to be proven wrong.

Only having a play of the tech demo which is available via there Kickstarter page http://www.aledorn.com you have the choice of a ship battle or in a cave.

After about 5minutes I thought this had a similar battle arena style to the Banner Saga and other RTS type games. The hex tile space provide the platform of the arena, you have a team of 4 – ranging from a healer, mage etc. You battle against considerable opposition and foes. Effectively a turn based RPG, which was looking a dying breed.

You take turns moving your party into tactical areas in order to attack. You can only move a set amount and attack depending how much you move and how much you attack. Each character has an array of different attack or defend options using the hotkeys. You get a probability of the attack and the enemy can also counter.

The layout and movement around the level seems very straightforward, but the real detail is within the inventory and stats of each character.

With vast equipment choices and stat details, when you really get into this game the upgrade possibilities will be huge, not just for your character but hopefully the equipment and spells too.

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The stats seem catered for everything going! From strength and even stamina mental protection!

Battle tends to flow pretty well with decent animation and graphics, it’s not mind blowing next generation graphics but that’s not the point of this game, that’s not what it’s all about.

This game is the type I would personally play on my laptop with some awful television on in the background. I can see this being one of those “one more turn and I’ll quit” similar to Civilization 5. It seemed so easy to pick up and play and once you get the hang of the tactics and what each character can do this really appeals as an easy ‘pick up and play’ with the real good stuff in the inventory.

After seeing to your foe you’re left to explore in first person mode, I thought this is a great touch and you don’t see in many games (none that I can recall anyway). As this was a tech demo I had nothing to really explore other than my immediate surroundings.

I can see this being a huge attraction in the main game though if you could loot bodies or nearby caves and barrels, those with the ‘carry everything I find tendency’ will have a field day (you never know when those 15 clay bowls will come in handy!)

Watch this space and keep an eye out if you’re not looking to fund the Kickstarter as a backer. With a full story, tutorial, NPC’s and fully operational exploration mode this will be a popular game which I think will take a few by surprise.
The amount of stats, equipment and hotkeys may seem a lot to keep up with and may be too much for some. That’s really the only part I could see a potential flaw with and I wasn’t expecting much being a tech demo. Dungeon of Aledorn has some real potential. It really looks like it could be an exciting first person exploration game with really good RTS battle mechanics gameplay.