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(Slightly) Old Video Game Review: Spec Ops: The Line

spec opsSpec Ops: The Line is one of the biggest sleeper hits for me. I never thought of picking up the game until a friend of mine heavily recommended the title. A true avid gamer himself, I couldn’t say no to his recommendations and decided to get the game and see what all the fuss was all about.

Released back in June 26, 2012, the game got a lot of praise for the story, but the negatives focused on the lack of a great multiplayer component (unfair, but they got to review everything right?) and the stale gameplay. I never had the chance to play the multiplayer components, so I’ll leave that out of my review, but everything else is fair game. Continue reading

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tomb raider

(Slightly) Old Video Game Review: Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider brought a woman into a man’s world.  An adventurous and dangerous protagonist, who would shoot her way to victory.  The first Tomb Raider also brought one of the earliest forms of cosplay with Lara Croft.  A big-breasted woman, wearing a tank top and some short, shorts while duel-wielding pistols.  I don’t know exactly if specifically Tomb Raider started to ruffle the feathers of feminists, but it definitely helped bring the word sexy to video games.  Over the years however, the game became dull and Lara Croft getting hotter.  But that doesn’t mean Tomb Raider was doing something spectacular, actually it was worse than mundane.  Eidos was losing touch with their Tomb Raider fanbase.  You know what the worst part of that is?  It was potentially putting Lara Croft as an afterthought in the video game industry.  Eventually, Square Enix picked up the rights to Tomb Raider and put all the pressure in the world onto Crystal Dynamics to revive the Tomb Raider franchise.  Thankfully, Crystal Dynamics not only revitalized the Tomb Raider name, but boldly rebooted the series.  The result?  Welcome back, Lara Croft.  You are relevant in the gaming world once again.

lara croft

No time for rest.

Crystal Dynamics did something Eidos wouldn’t have thought of doing.  Changing the entire look and persona of Lara Croft.  No more sexy killer with an adrenaline for adventure. Nope, Lara Croft became a simple, reserved girl who was helping her friends track down mythical history.  A girl who gets dirty, injured, broken, battered, bruised, and scarred both emotionally and physically.  The story starts you off on a ship looking for the mysterious island called Yamatai.  An ancient island lost to the pages of history.  No one knew of the island, let alone its inhabitants.  The myth piqued the interest of Lara and her friends.  To find a discovery and make a whole TV series out of it.  However, they have to cross what is called the Dragon’s Triangle (something like the Bermuda’s Triangle, but near Japan) and survive the horrors that have plagued the sea.  And…from there you can pick up the game and play to see what adventures you get with the new Lara Croft.  The story reminds me of the Uncharted series, which is definitely not a bad thing at all. Continue reading

(Slightly) Old Video Game Review: Castle Crashers

SMASH ALL THE BUTTONS!  That’s how I felt when playing a beat-em-up side scroller.  Just keep tapping on the buttons and eventually, your enemies will fall.  An old-school formula that is still an awesome time waster.  Castle Crashers following the footsteps of Streets of Rage, Final Fight!, and River City Ransom.  The Behemoth, creators of Alien Hominid, brought this magical and wonderful game to the XBOX 360, Playstation 3, and Steam starting in 2008.

Boss fights are fun with some twisted humor.

Set in Medieval times, the story is set in a very fairy tale-like world with a twisted sense of reality.  The story just revolves around saving four princesses kidnapped by an evil wizard. The four main knights go after the wizard to save the princesses and fight all his minions head-on.  There are no twist ending (well…kinda), just go save the princess.  And not in a Super Mario Bros. type of way where the princess is “in another castle!”  The fantasy world is fascinating with all the cute, yet dangerous enemies.  You start off choosing four different fighters, each with a different magical ability.  Think of them as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but the medieval knights version (sort of). Continue reading

(Really) Old Video Game Review: Counter-Strike

De_dust is the map.  Chk! Chk! Chk!  The sounds of guns being bought from you and everyone around you.  Buying an AK-47 with body armor and helmet combo.  Buy the maximum amount of grenades and flash bangs.  Buy all the primary and secondary ammo available.  Then waiting until the countdown ends to begin the round.  Go! Go! Go!  One of the most common phrases you’ll hear out of your speakers.  I run up the stairs, turn left and then right past the boxes, and into the hallway.  Throw a couple flash bangs through the first doorway and at the end of the hallways and run out guns ablazed to bombsite A.  A couple of Counter-Terrorists are killed, but more Terrorists are gunned downed.  Spraying and praying while running to cover.  Covering other teammates to setup and plant the bomb and secure our way to victory.  The bomb has been planted.  Now, all the Counter-Terrorists run to our position to attempt to defuse the bomb.  We are outnumbered, but holding the bomb position as best as we can.  Ping! Ping! Ping!  The bomb keeps ticking away as we are getting picked off one by one.  Finally, all of the Terrorists at the bombsite are overwhelmed and we all die. The Counter-Terrorist go into defuse and the Terrorist’s one and only hope is camping at spawn.  Son of a b*tch!  We just lost because some NOOB camped his ass off.  Counter-Terrorists Win!  Mother f*cker!  You dumbsh*t!  Stupid piece of crap!  The insults are all hurled at the camper and does he/she stop camping?  Nope, he/she just runs back to the same spot.

The original maps of Counter-Strike.

One of the MANY scenarios Counter-Strike has thrown at me.  It was frustrating, yet the amount of fun taken in erased all those problems away.  How can you just stop playing?  All the hours you put into trying to practice burst firing or throwing the perfect grenade.  I put months, MONTHS into this game.  I know many others have spent more time on other games like *cough* *cough* World of Warcraft *cough* *cough*.  But, Counter-Strike was one of the few games I actually tried to be good at.  I’m not going to brag on how good I was, because I like to play the flanker.  If you don’t know what I mean, I like to wait usually (not camp, I don’t sit around in one spot) until the number of people, teammates or enemies are busy shooting each other.  Then I would like to see if I can sneak off around the map and flank the enemies. My strategy wasn’t the best, because obviously the better players would be able to play in a variety of ways unlike I did.

Yeah…you’re screwed.

Counter-Strike wasn’t just some game.  It was a mod of one of the most famous games of all time, Half-Life.  I never really finished Half-Life (I know, pretty much a taboo, especially coming from someone “reviewing” games…).  However, PC games weren’t even in my focus when it came to video games.  Not even Starcraft or Diablo ever were able to bring me into the PC age of games like Counter-Strike did.  Yeah, that means I missed out on Quake and other famous PC games (except Doom).  Those games didn’t really mean much to me as I concentrated on console games mostly.  But Counter-Strike made me into a PC gamer for some time.  My consoles and the games just dusted for weeks after weeks, even months after months.  All thanks to this game.  The good thing is, I saved a lot of money from not buying any games, but the bad news is that I was missing out on a lot of games as well, PC or console.

Valve, the makers behind Half-Life, were smart enough to release the source code to their amazing game.  Allowing many other talented programmers to change or make a game of their own based on Half-Life’s game engine.  Thus, Counter-Strike was born on June 19, 1999 when the first beta was released to the public.  Valve was smart to team up with the developers of Counter-Strike to make it their own.  Because Counter-Strike became (or still probably is) one of the greatest competition games ever played.  Millions would play and millions more would watch competitive e-sports because of Counter-Strike.  I’ve first encountered Counter-Strike during the 7.0/7.1 beta releases, but I really started to play during Version 1.0.

Graphics aren’t pretty anymore, but the game is still one of the most solid shooters still around to this day.

The game was nothing like any other game of its day.  There were no sci-fi nonsense, no horror themes, nor set in any war before the Gulf War.  The guns were real, existing in the hands of armies, police, and/or special ops groups.  The realism in the guns and equipment not only make this game great, but gave gamers a taste of what modern warfare would have been before Call of Duty modernized war.  The well balanced gameplay and the variety of maps helped make this game stand the test of time.  There were three different modes of gameplay: hostage rescue, assassination, and search and destroy.  Assassination being the least popular and search and destroy would be most popular.

The gameplay was as real as it could get.  You couldn’t go guns ablaze while moving, that would disrupt your accuracy.  Spray and pray?  Good in up close battles, not long range battles.  Burst fire would be your best friend at long range.  Learn the physics of grenades, because it can help or hurt your team.  Crouching is a good tactic for accuracy and for silent movement. The radar is a must to survive.  Learn which are the best weapons.  Sniping is a either a blessing or a curse.  Looking to regenerate that lost health?  Too bad, there is no health pack or regenerative system.  One life for one round.  Better make the most of it, or your score is going to look like crap.  The money system was brilliant.  It made you aggressive, because the less you do, the less money you get to buy guns and equipment.  Or play safe and be well equipped to fend off rushers at the critical choke points.  To stay unnoticed, you must walk and used silenced weapons.  Use teamwork to survive (or at least try), unless you are a pro gamer.  Just so much to learn and practice to become, well the best.

There were plenty of maps to choose to play, but there were thousands because of the user-created content available to all the players.  The customization never stopped for the game. Mods of changing the “skin” of your gun or characters existed.  Server mods that ranged from Warcraft mods to zombie mods to death match mods.  It got kinda crazy, but made the game have plenty of variety for those who wanted something different.  But, the customization also led to one of the biggest flaws of the game…cheating.  Yeah, I admit I hacked for some time on Counter-Strike.  But that was when my interest in the game was fading.  Many of the glitches were also fun to exploit.  The best one?  Bunny hopping.  You may think it was cheating, but you really needed some skill to take advantage of the speed glitch.  Cheating though got pretty boring fast and made my skills at the game worse than ever.

Hacking is not as fun as you think…unless you really are a douche.

Another problem about the game was the servers.  Since Valve never had any official servers, many were custom servers from either clans or just people who like to spend money for one. This caused a few problems, such as lack of map variety and server admins who are kicking/banning people for being better than them.  It was also hard to find some good servers that had consistent number of people playing or too many people trying to join a server.

Sucks to be in a server as empty as this one…

Despite the flaws, many still played on and find that perfect server that will allow them to compete and make friends with the massive community.  Yeah, there were many sh*t talkers and whatnot out there, but there were more who were willing to friend strangers and play competitively together or one another.  Counter-Strike will be going through its fourth iteration later this year, called Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.  Hopefully, Valve will recapture the magic of the original as Condition Zero and Source never lived up to the original.

No matter what though, this was one of the main games that brought first person multiplayers on the map.  The competitive gaming was at its finest, despite the flaws.  You needed skill and there was no forgiveness to those who couldn’t keep up.

Rating: 8.6/10

(Really, REALLY) Old Video Game Review: Mortal Kombat

FINISH HIM!  Who can ever forget those words, especially when you are about to pull off a fatality move on your opponent.  One of the most violent games that came out in the pixelated era.  A game to created to go heads up against Street Fighter.  NetherRealm Studios probably knew Street Fighter was one game that would be hard to knock off of the fighter’s podium, but it can heavily challenge its ways by putting in something extra; something a little different. NetherRealm decided to release this game with a little, flair.  And by flair, I mean blood.  Lots of it.  This is one of the main highlights that got this game noticed in the 90s.  Who can forget Sub-Zero ripping an opponent’s head off?  Or Sonya giving one of the characters a kiss of death?  So many violent, yet memorable moments.  As a kid in the 90s, violence in video games weren’t rare, but they weren’t shown off graphically like the way Mortal Kombat did. Mortal Kombat showed off violence and blood like how Playboy shows off women.  They meant to show as much violence as possible.

Showing up at arcades and video game retailers all across the world on August 8, 1992 (1993 for console ports), games would never be the same.  Ever.  Mortal Kombat heavily borrowed from Street Fighters’ great formula, but they decided to tweak the formula here and there.  The biggest change was the addition of the fatality move.  Usually Street Fighter just ended once one of the player’s health bars goes down all the way in a 2 out of 3 round match. But the developers added the fatality to humiliate your foe’s defeat, in an awesome way of course.  The game was crude compared to Street Fighter’s formula, but it still made the best of it.

FATALITY!

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