Monthly Archives: February 2012

Batman Arkham City: Finding Freeze Pt. One

You’re once again placed into the hands of Batman. After a short cut scene in which the Joker confesses he’s infected Batman and all of Gotham with the Titan illness, you start off outside the Steel Mill factory. According to Joker the only one in Arkham City is Mr. Freeze. It’s to start looking for the popsicle man, and that cure.

Grapple up to a decent vantage point and situate yourself. You need to find the coldest spot in the city to find freeze. You’ll notice a temperature gauge will appear on the right side of the screen as you start. You want that gauge to get as cold as possible to find Freeze’s hideout. Once you get close enough you find out it’s the old GCPD building.

Making the Approach

Looks like Joker’s men made it first. There are five armed thugs in the area. Three are patrolling while two others attempt to break into the GCPD building. Of the patrolling guards one patrols the walkway, another patrols the area where the two guards are breaking in and the last guard watches over the left half of the building near the spotlight. You’ll want to take them out silently. Wait as the one goon walks underneath the archway (where the spotlight is on top of the roof) to the other side of the building then take him out. From there the other guard along the walk way should now be isolated on the far right side of the building. Move to him as quickly (and quietly) as possible. After dealing with him, take out the final guard. Wait until he isolates himself from the break-in thugs and then sneak up from behind and choke hold him Batman-style.

Now just grapple up to the walkway behind the remaining two guards, jump down, bash their skulls together and the area is clear. Use your new Remote Electrical Charge to open the metal garage door. Slide underneath and take an immediate right. Before heading in search the guard lying by the door and take the chip from his communicator. Your cryptographic amplifier will allow you to listen in to his conversations with his crew. Time to head inside.

Inside the GCPD

When you first enter you over here Penguin’s crew searching for something Mr. Freeze has. Probably the cure. That also means Freeze isn’t here. Regardless, you’re going to need to take them all out. The signal in this room is jammed. You won’t be able to see the thugs in the room. One thug is guarding each entrance, so taking the front door isn’t an option. Instead, grapple up to the separated walkway above. Once you’re up there head down the hallway away from the Riddler trophy. Open the grate at the end and sneak into the forensic lab where five of Penguin’s men patrol the floor, with guns. Move quickly as Penguin’s men are wearing heart monitors, so they’ll know when one of their own has been taken out. Begin by bringing the jerk jamming your signal to the floor. He shows up through the jammed haze of the detective mode as a red flashing warning sign and pulsating white circles. This will make finding the rest of the guards easier.

As they react to the first guard being knocked out the two patrolling will run to his aid. The two thugs guarding the entrance are most likely to become isolated so take them out next as they search for you. One wanders into the long hallway and isolates himself there. Move quickly and take him out before the others notice. From here you may want to freestyle how you take the rest out. It’s a big room so for them to become isolated isn’t very difficult. Put the vantage points to good use and hang the thugs with the inverted takedown. The last guard is going to require some interrogating. He explains that Penguin has kidnapped Freeze and is holding him in the museum. Knock him out and head for the exit. Before you can leave Penguin locks you in. Hop underneath the grated panel by the exit and enter the security office. Use the cryptographic amplifier on the panel in the office to shutdown the security system. It’s time to leave and head towards the Museum. Time to have a talk with Penguin.

Second Chance: Star Wars-Empire at War

From what I remember I picked this game up sometime back in high school. The game attracted my attention mainly out of the fact that it featured two things I love: Star Wars and real-time strategy games. Star Wars: Empire at War followed your typical real-time strategy game guidelines. Protect your territory, take over your enemy’s territory, raise tech level and raise armies. Fairly simple to understand.  But after having an opportunity to play it once again, I’m starting to remember why I gave up on this game in the first place.

Multi-tasking is a down right pain to pin down. While this is a challenge for all RTS’s, Empire at War has implemented it into a far more intricate system. This is because the gaming space is can be held on a galactic scale in the Galactic Conquest mode. You have battles separated into land and space battles for each planet. The difficulty doesn’t stem from the fact that you have to worry about establishing space and land defenses, but the fact that you have to maintain them on several different planets in the expansive Star Wars universe. I found myself preparing armies in one section of the galaxy while neglecting others. It was only at the last moment as I heard, “Imperial fleet approaching”, did I realize the error I had made. Playing it again has brought back this same frustration. I’m not quite sure if it’s just LucasArts, since…well the rest of the game is pretty damn good.

A Skirmish mode allows you to play in land or space only skirmish battles. At this level the game allows for your typical base-building, tech upgrading enjoyment you would get from any other RTS. You can make quicker improvements to soldiers and vehicles, prepare your base and go to battle in a much quicker amount of time. Your chances of winning and self enjoyment will be satisfied, while still having some sort of challenge to the battle. But I’m starting to look for more challenges in my games and the Galactic Conquest mode is a mighty one to contend with. For those of you who don’t have the patience for all of that building, the Skirmish mode offers that quick fix.

Spending more time with the game hasn’t shifted my opinion too far from where it stood, but I have developed a taste for the challenge that it’s been providing me. Whether or not the immense multi-tasking difficulty was intended or not, I’m still pleased at the fact LucasArts was able to produce a viable Star Wars strategy game. If you’re looking to immerse yourself into the Star Wars universe, overcome the layered challenges and have the willpower to take over the galaxy then you may want to give this a chance once more like I have.

Second Chances: Coming Back to The Games We’ve Put on Hold.

As I’ve grown as a gamer I’ve found myself, either by searching online, aimlessly wandering the shop, or games that adorn my shelf, I’ve come across games that I’ve tried and ultimately gave up on. Indeed some were plainly bad and my interest disappeared quickly. Others, I find myself wondering why I stopped playing in the first place. These were downright entertaining games, but somewhere along the line I just decided to stop playing.

For most of these games the main it was simple matter of difficulty. Yep, I wussed out and gave up. Or it simply didn’t fit into my gaming rotation at the time. But now with of these classic games on Steam or the Internet I intend on revisiting these games and providing reviews on what I think of these games now.

The first will be Star Wars: Empire at War. A fairly entertaining game that finally made a viable strategy game out of the Star Wars universe and we can all appreciate the ability to make a good license into an equally good game.  Will I have a change of heart and stick with it this time? Find out later tonight!

Diablo III Has a Release Date…Kind Of.

According to IGN, Diablo III almost has an expected release date…almost. A post recently published on the games community site by director Jay Wilson. He plainly explains that the company will be announcing a release date “in the near future”. Currently it’s expected to hit retail shelves sometime in the second quarter of 2012.

While this announcement still doesn’t offer us total clarity, it finally offers a glimmer of hope the innumerable delays will finally come to an end. I really, really hope it does.

[Source] IGN, Forum Post

 

Borderlands: Fuel Fued Bounty (Lucky Bounty Board Quest)

You can find this quest the Lucky Station Bounty Board. Some one is looking for you to destroy three fuel tanks located in different spots in the Dahl Headlands and cripple the supply for the bandits in the area. Time to hop in your vehicle and piss off some bandits.

Fuel Tank 1

The first fuel tank is located to the southwest at the abandoned race track. As you approach the office building near the entrance of the track, a swarm of crawler and desert scythid appear on the inside of the abandoned building. Head inside and start killing those nasty little buggers.

After clearing out the building, head through the back door into the fenced backyard where the tank is located. More scythid are guarding the tank. Keep an eye out for a bursting scythid, as well as keeping your distance when you kill him. Once all of the scythid are dead, destroy the first tank and move on to the next one.

Fuel Tank 2

Follow the marker north from the race track to find the second fuel tank.  It’s located in a small bandit encampment. The tank this time is guarded by a reasonably upset group bandits. Stay out side the entrance and draw your enemies out. A wave of psychos and burning psychos rush as you enter. Use your best close range weapons and melee attacks to fend them off.

Use this same technique to fend off the bandit raiders that also attack. You’ll be in for a heated fire-fight, so put your abilities to use. Take cover behind your vehicle if you’re low on health and have nowhere else to go.

Continue to take cover as you approach the entrance. Clear out the bandit (warning: he may start chucking grenades at you). From there destroy the second fuel tank found in the right corner. One more to go.

Fuel Tank 3

The final tank is located a short-ways south of your current bandit camp location. This time, you are taking on a much smaller bandit outpost. But that doesn’t mean they won’t spray you with a wall of hot lead as you approach.Burning psychos charge you, as bandit thugs pop off shots in your direction. Take these nuisances out as quickly as possible, as you’re going to need to focus on some tougher baddies.

Two bandit raiders will show up and lay down some heavy fire. Use a mix of your abilities and elemental weapons (incendiary works wonders). Use the rock formation in front of the outpost for cover if necessary. Once all of the bandits are dead you’ll find the tank tucked back in the left hand corner in the out post. Head back to Lucky’s bounty board and collect your reward.

Reward:

-Money: $3844   -4800 EXP   -Grenade upgrade: Explosive MIRV

Borderlands 2 Trailer Makes Waiting That Much More Painful

The new Borderlands crew.

After months of depressing silence Gearbox brings the noise with a raucous new trailer for Borderlands 2. The trailer fleshes out the story and gives us an introduction to the new cast. The dual-wielding, tough-guy Salvador will be aided by Maya, presumably another siren, the soldier-esque Axton, and the sleek, swift moving ninja Zero.

Yes, I’m filling in the blanks, as the trailer doesn’t explain the other three classes, but judging from the different scenes it seems clear that Axton is replacing Roland, Zero replaces Mordecai and Maya takes over for Lilith. The new in-game screens gives us a moment to see how distinct the designs are for the “870 gajillion” guns you’ll be able to find (not all of them of course). I’m pleased at the unique design each gun features, with enhanced elemental weapons, geometric bullet chambers and gun designs so absurd, a terse description would still leave you lost on its appearance.

The trailer ends with the ever amusing Claptrap popping and locking like a boss, while also giving us a planned release date of September 18. While we all anxiously wait for that day, feel free to check out the trailer at the Borderlands 2 website by following the link below.

http://www.borderlands2.com/#!/media

Poison Ivy: How To Win Against the Plant Woman (Catwoman)

On your first play through as Catwoman, you begin perched on a roof near Hugo Strange’s vault. Needless to say Catwoman is looking for an entrance and steal the loot. But she’s going to need to grab her equipment and hopefully get a helping hand from Poison Ivy. Follow the exclamation point placed on the map to get to Catwoman’s apartment. Once you land on the roof top of Catwoman’s apartment you’ll over hear a group of thugs talking below the grated patio. Open one of the doors on the cage to get a vantage on the group of thugs. Fighting this group we’ll take no time. A few well timed hits and counters later you’ll be able to head in to the apartment to grab your remaining equipment. Now it’s time to have a bit of a chit-chat with Poison Ivy.

1. Making the Approach

There are three guards posted outside the entrance of Poison Ivy’s lair, all of whom are armed. The best method is to try and take them out one by one quietly. Using ledge takedowns works too, but it draws the attention of the remaining guards. If you are taking them out silently, first start with taking out the guard patrolling the lower roof.  From the broken down highway, swing over to the ledge near the stack of boxes. As the lower roof guard passes behind the boxes, climb up from the ledge and use a silent takedown. The other two guards won’t notice a thing.

After taking out the first guard, you can proceed to takedown the other two in whatever order you see fit. Sneaking up on the guard the walkway can easily accomplished by jumping up to the underside of the walkway and climbing up when he walks back towards the entrance to Ivy’s lair.

From there, take out the last guard quietly from the ledge, or any other point, as no one else is around to hear his teeth getting kicked in. Now it’s time to go inside and face Ivy herself.

2. Floor by Floor Throwdown

Once you enter Ivy’s Lair and after a short cutscene you will be thrown into a multi-floor brawl. Ivy throws you floors of the building where you come across more of her zombified henchmen. On the first floor you’ll be facing off against four henchmen, six on the second and finally eight men on the third. The difficulty of each group will depend on your play difficulty. As soon as you take out the last enemy on the first two floors, jump to the ceiling and climb to the next floor. Ivy’s released a toxic gas that will damage and kill you if you don’t move fast enough.

After defeating the last enemy, you’ll be treated to a short cutscene and then back to the main story.

Defeating a Dragon Priest

Needless to say these undead holy men are a pain in the ass. You almost cringe when you hear their casket crack open. While they are a challenge the reward for defeating them is worth the tumultuous fight. Here are a few suggestions on how to hold your own with these draconic holy men.

Move Quickly

Stay on the move to avoid their attacks and decrease the amount of damage you take. Heavy fighters should equip armor that protects them from magic so you make an easy charge at the Priest and beat him back with a powerful melee weapon. Mages and archers should keep a good distance and run circles around the priest and fire your strongest ranged attack. Mages use the missle version of your ice, fire, and shock destruction spells and pelt the dragon priest until he bursts into flames.

Summon/Bring a friend

No matter what form of combat you’ve mastered having a distraction for the priest can give all the time you need to land as many blows as you wish. Summon a storm or flame atronach if you’re taking the magical route, or just the most powerful thing you can summon to the field. The Call of Valor Power also serves a great distraction against the priests. Having Hakon One-Eye beating the priest back creates a few open opportunities to take some pot shots with your bow. Or if you haave none of these at your command bring along a loyal follower to lend a hand.

Use your shouts.

Use any shout you think will be effective. Using Marked for Death will drain his armor and lifeforce allowing you to deal more damage. Fire or Frost breath can also cause some additional extra damage.  As with any other tough enemy take whatever potions are necessary to increase your chances of being the winner of the encounter. You’ll be in for in one hell of a fight but if you can manage it and use the right tactics you can take them down and claim those masks.

Why Not To Worry About Max Payne 3

A couple weeks ago I was looking at the Game Informer poll asking if people were excited about Max Payne 3. Only a third of the community responded with a yes to the question. I’ll admit I was taken aback by the number of people who really had no interest. Max Payne is classic. How could no one be excited about another Max Payne?

This may be the Max Payne fanboy in me talking (definitely is), but as I looked through the comments in Max Payne articles there seemed to be some reasonable, but also unreasonable concerns. Among the unreasonable there was the notion that the game would be moving away from its original noir tone.

As most people who have been following the game, it will be set in Sao Paolo, Brazil filled with sunshine and palm trees. Now this is definitely a far cry from your typical rainy, bleak New York City background, but it’s not necessarily the setting that makes a noir. Noir is mainly about mood. A detective or some type of investigator, who finds himself deep in the local underbelly solving a crime he just can’t seem to solve. And at the end there’s always some kind of a twist.

Movies like Man On Fire had Denzel Washington going through the streets of Mexico in Broad daylight, but still with a dark, gritty atmosphere. And even noir originator, Raymond Chandler, had Phillip Marlowe running through the streets of Los Angeles doing the very same. So for those of you concerned about the new setting please don’t fret, everything will be fine. Rockstar still seems to understand that this game is a noir and has no intention of changing the tone.

Younger gamers or those who never played the game thought that it was somehow related to the God awful movie with Mark Wahlberg. While I still have to give props to Wahlberg as an actor (not in this film), the movie will never, ever represent the Max Payne character or story. There were no wild, flying valkyrie demons and Jim Bravura was an aging Chief of Police for the NYPD, not Ludacris.

There are some concerns that I can understand. With original developer, Remedy, no longer behind the game there really is no guarantee on how the direction of the game will be handled. But Rockstar is brilliant when it comes to writing game plots, even with the change in direction the new trailer gives me some hope for the story.

The one thing that does concern the hell out of me is how they plan on implementing the game play. Max Payne is an old game by current standards. The game came from an era without over the shoulder aiming and bullet-time used more than that butt-grooved cushion on your couch. The addition of cover still has me confused with Max Payne’s usual run and gun tactics. It may break up the action, but it doesn’t seem that useful still. I would need to see a straight game play trailer before I’m convinced of how well this game is going to play. The recent pop-up trailer explains some of these issues, but it’s not quite enough.

Look, Max Payne has been away for a long time and it’s not going to be very easy to look at it in today’s gaming world. But it’s also why I can’t wait to see it in action again. I do have my concerns like many of you, but after all of these years it’ll be nice to see an old gaming friend again. Let’s hope he hasn’t changed too much.

Rage Review-Awesome Fast-Paced Action Redeems Lackluster Story

Rage. The name explains it all for id’s new first-person shooter/racing title. From the dangerous, chaotic world to the intense gunplay, Rage delivers a chaotic ride through the post apocalypse, but could have delivered just a little bit more.

The game begins 106 years after the real-life, near earth asteroid, Apophis, collides with the earth. You awaken inside a large stasis pod called an Ark. After finding out you’re the only survivor in your Ark, you’re thrust into the wasteland. You soon find yourself battling roving gangs of bandits, blood thirsty mutants and a tyrannical, big brother government called the Authority. Another group called the Resistance is looking to take down the authority by employing your help.

While the story has potential id only gives it so much depth. I found myself forgetting about it up until the end, when the plot seems to build, only to have it cut short. It left me with a feeling of disappointment rather than one of accomplishment. The game could have paced itself a lot more. The game moves too quickly. You can tell merely by the speed in which you gain new upgrades and weapons. Many RPGs or games with RPG elements have you complete several missions before gaining such prizes. If Rage had this mindset the game’s story would have a more even pace.

The game world on the other hand fairs slightly better. The scale is massive, showing the destruction that the asteroid has done to the Earth. Massive highways are broken, the rust red landscape gleams in the sunlight and the ground has been raised by the massive impact. The id Tech 5 engine renders these landscapes beautifully as you look off into the horizon. Character animations are smooth and fluid. NPC’s are actively moving around town, mutants crawl out of the ground and enemies charge toward you bounding off walls with a grace that almost seems real. Sadly, some appearances can be decieving.

While the landscape appears explorer friendly, you accomplish all of your exploration by completing the missions. Some may enjoy the streamlined feel, but this game was marketed as an open world. I wanted to be able to take a break from the missions and fool around. I didn’t in the end, not because I didn’t feel like, but because I had explored every inch of the area as I accomplished missions.

But what it lacks in an open world and story it makes up for in fantastic gameplay. Gunfights are fast paced and brutal. Every enemy offers a well balanced challenge to the player. Mutants will rush you, on coming bandits will bob and weave your shots, while the Authority use decisive military tactics to hunt you down. But you’ve got an arsenal to match. It comes with a typical line up of a pistol, shotgun, assault rifle and a rocket launcher.  The addition of a crossbow brings in some stealth to break up the over the top action. Upgrades can made to most of these weapons be it better accuracy, quicker reloads or a different ammo types.

The simple crafting system allows you to create an array of useful tools and weapons to help you out in a fight. Being able to set-up a mobile turret to take down enemies behind cover creates a sense strategy in gunfights even if they do just offer distraction to those foes. But if there is one crafted weapon that you’ll come to love the most it’s the wingstick. The wingstick saved my ass more times than I care to count . There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing an enemy’s head lopped off after a successful throw.

The driving portion is mostly ignorable. I only ever raced to earn a better car to drive in and that’s just all I could stand for. However, the car combat is some of the smoothest in an action game. A simple push of a button allows you to whip your car around to make another run. Granted, it isn’t always well executed, with occasional difficulty in aiming, but you’ll still find some intense car combat here.

While the game seem like its about to show you everything you ever wanted to see, it ends becoming nothing more than a tease. The over-world certainly has a sense of scale, but it only looks “open”. The story had huge potential, but it fell short by cutting it short. All things aside though, the action and gameplay is brilliant. I wouldn’t expect anything less from id and a game called Rage.