Think with Portals...to save your life.
reviewed by Amelia Dutra
Valve has many successful game franchises. I previously reviewed Team Fortress 2, one of Valve’s online FPS games. Today, I’m reviewing another hit of the company that was quite recent.
Portal 2 is one of the most unique games out there. I’m not reviewing the first game because it’s really freaking short and it’s not too different from the second. You play as an adult woman whose name is hard to find out. In the beginning, you wake up from a seemingly induced coma, and you’re asked to get your bearings. After falling asleep and waking up a second time, the automated voice in the room tells you you’ve been asleep for “nine nine nine nine nine nine nine –bzzt-.” You hear a voice coming from outside this door. You open it, and there’s a round, white machine that’s talking to you on a rail. His eye is blue, and the captions say his name is Wheatley. He says you have a minor case of serious brain damage, and he busts you out of the room.
You navigate through a weird, tangled mess of vines and broken machinery while heading towards “her”. If you’ve played the first game, you know exactly who Wheatley is talking about when he says “she” and “her”. Before you reach “her”, you undergo a series of tests. Some portals open on their own, and eventually you get the dual portal device, allowing you to shoot portals onto white walls. Soon after, you reach a pile of huge broken metal circuits and robot parts. Wheatley says, “there she is”. Unfortunately, a wrong button is pressed and “she” reassembles herself.
GLaDOS greets you with a cold undertone in her voice and reminds you that you killed her. Wheatley is shocked and you’re forced to do more of her tests, all while she’s taunting you and trying to weaken your morale. There’s a plot twist later in the game, but finding out for yourself is the best way to get to it.
This game is far longer than its predecessor, having 9 chapters instead of 19 test chambers and a boss. Of course, there’s a boss at the end of this one. Cave Johnson is hilarious with his pre-recorded descent into madness and shouting about the control group and lemons. This game has all the elements of the previous one, along with some new ones. The first game didn’t have tractor beams, hard light bridges, lasers, faith plates, or the three gels.
I would highly recommend this game to anyone that enjoys Valve’s other games, or a challenging, humorous puzzle. I give it 5 out of 5 cakes.
There’s no real way to describe Skyrim because of how much it can change based on your play style. At it’s core it’s a first person, action-adventure, RPG set on a continent called Tamriel. The plot of the game is that you, a prisoner arrested by the Imperial army, is sent to be executed but just as they put your head on the chopping block a dragon attacks. You escape using the havoc of the attack as your cover and later realize you are the ancient Dragonborn, a child who was descended from the Chief deity of a group of gods, the “Eight Divines”, named Akatosh. You also realize that a dragon named Alduin is resurrecting all the previously killed dragons and only the Dragonborn can kill them to absorb their souls. With these souls you can use “The voice”, an art used by the natives of Skyrim that allows you to harness words in the dragon language to attack your enemies.
It’s very clear that Skyrim has a very rich storyline and since it’s the fifth in a series called The Elder Scrolls it also has a richer lore behind it. And even after you’ve finished the story, studied the lore, and killed every dragon ever there’s still hundreds of side-quests that can be handled in any way you please. There’s also no rush to complete any of them either. Someone says that it’s urgent to meet them in a town far away? You’ve got time. Go become the leader of the Dark Brotherhood, the Thieves guild, and the Companions, clear out every dungeon, get every daedric artifact, become a werewolf, and liberate Skyrim. That person won’t care. They’ve got time.
The best aspect of Skyrim is the ability to change your skills to fit your needs. Let’s say you were a heavy armored, sword and shield type character but really wanted to be a light armored mage. You can very easily. Just change how you play to focus on using magic and light armor and eventually you can completely change over. Another reason Skyrim is great is that you have the ability to go anywhere. The creators of the game sat down at an interview and showed a screenshot of a large mountain range. They began pointing to every cliff, every hill, and every inch of the screen while saying “You can go there.” No area is off limits.
Now a large, open world game like this cannot come without a few minor flaws. First of all the game is horribly bug ridden with hilarious glitches. None of them really impair your playing but they can occasionally annoy you. For example, I was once exploring and found a dragon flying. I approached it but as I got close it flew in reverse at insane speeds across the sky away from me. I couldn’t attack it and it couldn’t attack me but I can constantly see it while I wander around. Also since it’s possible to kill anyone you can cause main quests to break without trying very hard.
All in all Skyrim is a fantastic game that deserves its Game of the Year title. It doesn’t matter if you hate fantasy games or even the past games in the series, you will love Skyrim. If I had to give it a rating I’d give it a solid 9/10.
A Characterized FPS?
By Amelia Dutra
You’ve all heard of the immensely popular Halo and Call of Duty franchises, I assume. They’re probably the best-selling first-person shooter games in the United States. In my opinion, I think they’re too bland. I’m going to be reviewing a game that is really set apart from all the other FPSes.
Team Fortress 2 is a game developed by Valve that’s meant for the Xbox 360 and the PC. I have it on the PC, and I don’t regret getting it. The graphics aren’t too good; the characters look like they came straight out of a Pixar movie. The reason for that is because the game is entirely online, so the downgraded graphics reduce lag. That’s right, you play with other people. There’s a RED team and a BLU team. Yes, those are acronyms, and they dress in the respective colors. What makes this game really unique is the characters and the forms of gameplay. I’m going to list off the characters in order of their keyboard macros.
Everyone’s favorite eccentric, hyper, arrogant Boston native is at number one. The scout is a guy that’s fairly young; he appears to be 18 or 19. He runs incredibly fast and can double jump, unlike everyone else. His main weapon is a deadly scattergun, his second is a small handgun, and his melee weapon is a baseball bat. He can provide hit-and-run distraction techniques or just beat the heck out of someone. He speaks very fast and his domination lines are hilarious.
“Hey, look, you shapeshifted into a dead guy!” (Said when dominating the spy)
The soldier has been kicked out of every branch of the military, but still went on a killing spree in WWII. He is the definition of war-crazy. The stereotypical American arrogance is played out in his attitude, and his rocket launcher can make for some devastating kills. His secondary weapon is a shotgun, and his melee weapon is a shovel. He can rocket jump by blasting a rocket on the ground and jumping to reach heights that even a scout couldn’t reach. His domination lines are also very funny.
“Scotland is not a real country! You are an Englishman with a dress!” (Said when dominating the demoman)
Who was that masked man? Why did he light me on fire? The pyro is not too useful, but he is nevertheless fun to play. Hiding behind corners and ambushing people with a flamethrower is so exhilarating. Air blasting people off cliffs is also something you can do to make people rage. Nobody knows who the pyro truly is because he’s hidden behind a mask and he mumbles a lot. His secondary weapon is a shotgun, and his melee weapon is an axe.
KA-BOOOOOOOOOM!! You guessed it, there is a bomber in the game, and he is a demoman. His grenade launcher is good for forcing people out of hiding, blowing up sentries, and getting enemy team members to back away. He is by far the coolest African-Scotsman ever. One of his eyes is useless, so he covers it with a patch. Many of the other classes mock him for it. He’s frequently drunk and carries a stickybomb launcher along with a katana or a moonshine bottle for a melee weapon. The stickybombs can prevent people from capturing a point or getting past a certain area.
Getting a hail of bullets in your direction? CRY SOME MORE! The heavy is certainly one of the more flawed of the classes, but that doesn’t repress his awesomeness. He’s slow and big, so he’s an easy target for snipers and spies. He's often ridiculed by the other classes when he's dominated because of his size, and he doesn't have any domination lines of his own that are directed at specific classes. His thick Russian accent and faulty English makes him amusing to listen to, and the extreme amount of bullets you can fire from his minigun can pretty much destroy anything. The heavy is a tank, and when he's backed by a medic, there's almost no stopping him. Then again, there are the dangers of snipers and spies.
BUILDIN' A SENTRY! The engineer is essential for defense and nothing other than defense. This Texas native countryman builds a few different things to help his team. Sentry guns will fire at opposing team members. Teleporters can be placed to help team members go from place to place quicker, and dispensers will heal and provide ammo for his team. BLU teams don't really need engineers as much as RED teams do, because BLU is more for offense. Still, no matter what team you're on, you will want at least one engineer.
Of course, no team would be complete without someone to heal the others properly. Dispensers will not cut it sometimes. The medic is one of the most useful classes in TF2. This guy is completely insane, and he's a sadist. Using his syringe gun is practically useless, so you're supposed to run around with a medigun and heal injured teammates. It basically keeps them alive to hold the line, and if you charge your medigun enough, you can unleash an ubercharge. With a normal medigun, it will make the charged and the medic invincible. With a Kritzkrieg, it will grant a 100% critical hit chance. However, for the love of god, don't uber the scout, spy, engineer, another medic, or a sniper. On an added note, I love his German accent and his glasses.
This class is one that the new players tend to choose, but if a skilled one chooses him, he's a force to be reckoned with. The sniper is a cool, calm Australian man who sees his killing sprees as a daily grind. He camps out in hidden or secluded places and uses his sniper rifle or bow and arrow to shoot people straight through the head. Heavies and medics would often rage because they're such easy targets. It takes a lot of patience to play as a sniper, and an enemy holding a melee weapon could easily kill him. I haven't played this class very much, so I can't really say any more about him.
Ahem. Gentlemen. Last but not least is the spy. He is the most cunning of the characters and is a master of disguise. To any opposing team member, he can look like an enemy or he could look like one of them. It takes paranoia or a good eye to spot a hidden spy. This French gentleman is very suave in his actions and backstabs his enemies like it's a walk in the park. He can turn invisible and he has a thing for the scout's mother. He is no doubt one of the harder classes to play, and his domination quotes crack me up so much I'll have to hyperlink them.
So there you have your nine classes. I won't dive into the modes of gameplay, but there are about 4 or 5 basic modes. They're easy to figure out, and, as urban dictionary said, "This game is like crack cocaine in the sense that you don't stop playing". While Steam and TF2 may take a long time to download, it's worth it. And it's free! Go play it and have some online fun.
The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords
I discovered this thing called "e-shop". It lets you buy and download older games previously for the game boy. So I was raiding the e-shop one day and noticed Four Swords was available to download for free. No cash needed. So I didn't take a second to even hesitate to download it. I've never actually played the original version of Four Swords, but I have played Four Swords Adventures. But this new version isn't a remake or anything like that; it's the exact same game, just for a different system. And it's really fun. The whole story basically plays like this: The prologue shows Link and Zelda approaching a sword in a pedestal, called the Four Sword. After Zelda explains its history and the creature sealed within it, the creature named Vaati breaks free, capturing Zelda to marry her. Link is encountered by three fairies that instruct Link to pull the Four Sword out. Link then pulls the Four Sword out, inadvertently creating three copies of himself that fight alongside him. As the game begins, the four Links are tasked with finding four Great Fairies, who together will grant them access to Vaati's palace. After finding the four Great Fairies and entering the palace, where the Links battle Vaati. After Vaati is thoroughly weakened, he is trapped in the Four Sword. Zelda and Link then return the sword to its pedestal, where Vaati is once again sealed. You have four stages to choose from. One of them is actually just a training stage that explains all your attacks, every item and how they work. The other three are actual levels. Yeah, it's a pretty short game. In some ways, it's just a mini- game. Now that I remember, Four Swords was a bonus feature to the game boy re-release of A Link to the Past. But it'll still be worth your while. Besides, you can't go wrong with Zelda games. Disliking Zelda games is similar to disliking pizza rolls. It's just never possible. Legend of Zelda: Four Swords gets 5 out of 5 stars.
Difficult, but addictive.
by Amelia Dutra
All of you know about the Xbox 360. All of you know about its predecessor, the Xbox. A lot of the games are overlooked. The first legitimate platform game I played was Blinx: the Time Sweeper.
I swear, this game is like a big mushroom trip. (I’ve never tried mushrooms, but I’d assume this would be something imagined on mushrooms.) The monster designs are insane, and some of these worlds are so bent out of shape that it wouldn’t be real. There are floating octopuses crossed with balloons that shoot trash at you, blob things and spikey things that try and rush at you, old wizard things that stand on clock balls and shoot trash at you, and many more bizarre, deranged things you have to fight. There are even frogs that have black holes for mouths and swallow everything you shoot at them.
The difficulty setting on this game is set so high that a lot of people complained about it, so its sequel, Blinx 2: Masters of Time and Space, was painfully easy. I like the fact that this game is a challenge and teaches perseverance and patience. The first couple rounds are easy to play, and then the game tells you, “we’re not playing anymore”. It quickly shifts to a form of gameplay that seems impossible at first. To make it even more heart-racing, each stage has a 10-minute time limit. If you get hit even once, you lose a retry. You start out with three, and you can buy more the more you progress in the game.
Bosses are probably one of the most infuriating parts of Blinx. The first and fourth ones are like Cookie Monster crossed with a wizard, a goat, a beanbag, and a number line. I’m not even kidding. Go see for yourself. The second and sixth ones are huge mutated frogs. The third and seventh ones are like fish crossed with moles crossed with numbers. The fifth and eighth ones are huge robot things made of trash that can spawn mini-bosses. I’m not going to spoil the final boss for you, but he is HARD to beat. My dad couldn’t even do it after about 100 tries. Now, I can beat him in under 3 minutes.
Wow, I haven’t even explained about Blinx himself. He’s a cat that walks on his legs and carries around a vacuum cleaner-guitar-like thing that sucks up and spits out trash. He also manipulates time to pause, fast forward, rewind, slow down, and record. In some rounds, these controls are mandatory. If he doesn’t kill all the time monsters (formed from time crystals, which are glitches in time), he can’t finish the stage. The time factory has sweepers whose jobs are to sweep up the crystals before they turn into monsters. There are so many other worlds, and the Tom-Toms (evolved pigs) captured the princess of world B1Q64. Blinx sees this, and he goes to rescue her, despite one of the workers telling him B1Q64 is done for because of all the monsters.
Some aspects of the game are really sneaky. There are fire monsters in worlds 5 and 8, so the shop offers a water sweeper for you to buy. Normally, they take like 10 hits until they shrink down to a dragon, which you can kill in one hit. The water sweeper makes sure you can kill it with just two and save all your ammo. The same goes for the fire sweeper and the ice monsters in worlds 4 and 7. The ultimate sweeper shoots fire AND ice, can sweep up the biggest trash, and has the fastest sweeping speed, costs 90,000 gold and is only unlockable if you get all 80 cat medals. I have it on one of my files. Yeah, I have no life. Getting some of the cat medals requires using time controls or taking extremely risky detours or jumps. It’s worth it if you really want the ultimate sweeper. Super bombs are like regular bombs, except they’re worth two hits—with twice the size of the explosion. I don’t know how many times my dad has tried using them on the final boss and ended up hurting Blinx with them. Spiked bombs are like that too, except the spikes shoot out everywhere.
That concludes my (long) review of this game. I give it an 8/10 because it can get too difficult, and it’s only for the original Xbox. Still, I would recommend this game to the advanced gamer. It’s very fun and can provide you with an adrenaline rush from the action.
Kingdom Hearts II by Stephanie Rairdan
No doubt you’ve heard of the game. In March of 2005, it made it’s way over to North America from Japan where it became an instant hit. Filled with magic, action, and the goofiness you’d expect from, well, Goofy, it still manages to incorporate enough of story line that captivates the older audiences as well.
Roxas, a 15-year-old kid who doesn’t remember most of his past, is ending his summer in Twilight Town when odd things begin occurring to him. He starts to have dreams of a kid named Sora, who is from the previous game. At this point, people who haven’t played previous games become intrigued because they wonder why Roxas is having these dreams, these memories.
Before long, Roxas discovers who he really is, a Nobody, a being without a heart, yet somehow, he still has a heart, which is the reason why he can wield the coveted Keyblade. He then meets Namine, a girl that Organization XIII, an elite group of Nobodies, has deemed a witch, who has the ability to replace memories. She takes him to Sora and after Roxas sees Sora, his life then becomes one with Sora as he wakes.
Now awaked from his yearlong sleep, Sora is off on a new quest. This time, to defeat the leader of Organization XIII, Xemnas, who desires to create Kingdom Hearts so that he and all of the other Nobodies can find their hearts again. While a noble cause, the way he goes along with the plan is not the greatest. He uses Sora to create Kingdom Hearts.
This is no doubt my favourite game. The graphics are outstanding and the controls are pretty easy to figure out. Be warned though, it is a Disney game so it has a lot of Disney characters, however, there are many Final Fantasy characters as well. I’d give this game a 9.5/10 because of the story line and graphics. The amount of depth that they go into the characters is another contributing factor to the high rating. The only reason that it isn’t 10/10 is because Sephiroth, one of the bosses, is almost impossible to defeat. Just level Sora up and equip him with all the strongest stuff though and eventually, Sora will defeat Sephiroth.
The Binding of Isaac
From the brilliant mind that brought you such games as Time Fcuk, Gish, and Super Meat Boy, we bring you The Binding of Isaac. This game is a slightly modern retelling of a bible story where a father is told by God to sacrifice his son, Isaac. The Binding of Isaac’s story is slightly different though. Isaac’s mother, who is only referred to as “Mom”, is told by a voice that her son is corrupted with sin and needs to be saved. The voice tells her to remove all that was evil from Isaac so she takes away his toys, game consoles, and even clothes. Then Isaac’s Mom is told to kill him and he runs to his closet, finds a trapdoor, and hides from her in the deep caves that are apparently underneath his house. Isaac finds many monsters and biblical figures in the caverns he explores in an attempt to survive.
The many monsters Isaac encounters range from zombies to demon fetuses, the four horsemen of the apocalypse to Satan, maggots to the seven deadly sins. The combat in The Binding of Isaac is unique and fun. You attack by shooting your tears at your enemies and, using a wide variety of power-ups, you can give your tears different effects such as freezing, homing, and even turning them into cement. All of the enemies you face are challenging in their own way. Some jump at you, some shoot lasers, and some are just your doppelgangers that copy your every move. Some of the fun of playing this game is learning the patterns of your enemies and knowing how to circumvent their defenses.
The game is considered a top down, 2D, action-adventure, dungeon-crawler. That is quite a lengthy description but it’s basically the only way to describe The Binding of Isaac. Throughout your adventure you’ll find such items as Mom’s Knife, the Book of Belial, and Brimstone, which turns you into a laser-spewing demon. From this description it may seem like The Binding of Isaac is a fairly serious game but, in fact, it’s got quite a bit of unique humor. For example, one of the items you can obtain is called the Gamekid, which transforms you into Pac-Man and allows you to eat anything you touch. Another, and my personal favorite, item is the Unicorn Horn. It gives Isaac a unicorn horn and makes him invincible while very upbeat music plays.
This game is a perfect mixture of challenge and fun. An average playthrough of this game can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. If anyone is interested in this game it is currently $10 on Steam and if you don’t want to buy it I recommend you watch a Youtuber by the name of Northernlion. He currently has a 150-part playthrough of The Binding of Isaac, which is both funny and informative. I’ve barely scratched the surface of this complex and unique game so I suggest you give it a try. I’d give it an overall rating of 8.5/10.
Review of PlayStation 4
If you want to ask your parents for an exciting gift for the holidays, do I have a suggestion for you! Sony’s PlayStation 4 will be released in time for the 2013 Holiday Season. What is new and exciting about this version PlayStation is the remote. The remote has a blue sensor bar and a touchpad. It has share button that will allow the player the share information to social media sites. You can literally go on a friend’s game and watch him play his game live. Another brand new feature is that you can also get on Facebook and keep in touch with your friends through the PlayStation.
Another aspect of the PlayStation 4 is that it downloads much faster than any of the older versions. The graphics will be better. For those of you who don’t play many games, this upgrade will make everything look much more clear, defined and realistic. For all the people who play online will like this part they said it wont lag online as much because of all the new hardware they are bringing the blue ray player back into it again.
A lot of people love Minecraft, and with good reason. I know some people out there aren’t seeing what’s so great about it but trust me, I get it because I was exactly the same way. I really didn’t see the point in it at first until one day; my friend forced me to buy it. At first, I wasn’t all that excited, and honestly, a little pissed off that I bought this game. But after about 2 hours I was hooked. The game has been around for a few years, originally made by a man the world knows as Notch and his team of coders. They created a game about building, mining, and surviving. All the base elements of a survival game exist alongside the ability to do whatever you want. Not only is it a great game while playing purely vanilla (no modifications), there are also hundreds if not thousands of mods and texture packs that make the game completely new and refreshes the player’s excitement. If you have any doubts that this game is something you should buy, put them aside, it is a truly fantastic game.
I have recently got into the game called Terraria. This game is a two-dimensional sandbox type game. It shows a great resemblance to the very popular game “Minecraft”. Blocks can be mined and placed and are used to build structures like houses. If you want a change from Minecraft or want to play a relaxing game, I would definitely recommend Terraria. This game consists of fighting off enemies, trading with NPCs, building houses, and exploring caves and dungeons. This game is available for PC, Xbox, and PS3 so you can play it on pretty much anytime. Terraria is compatible with online multiplayer. This lets you play with your friends online. You can create your own character and upgrade them with armor and weapons found in game. Weapons and armor may also be enchanted or reforged.