Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Deus Ex: Human Revolution Non-Review

Hello ladies and gents! Have you missed me? Or wondered why Aristogamer has been updating less frequently? I'm afraid I fell into a terrible, terrible time trap called Deus Ex: Human Revolution and was having some difficulty pulling myself out.

You see, when I began playing the new Deus Ex, I decided to try my hand at stealth. I wanted to be a sneaky devil whose ability to move in and out of areas without a sound or alarmed guard was highly revered. This critical, highly ill-advised decision is what led me to stop playing the game before I could give it a fair shot.

I spent approximately six hours playing Deus Ex and did not advance the story one iota. I spent my time restarting from a save I made when someone would notice me, then try something different, and repeat the whole process until angry. Remaining undetected in Deus Ex: Human Revolution is not like it is in Metal Gear Solid. In fact, comparing the two is like comparing driving to the store to Formula 1 racing because cars are involved.

From what I have played, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a marvelous game. The graphics are spot on, if a bit orange, the controls take some getting used to, but are nowhere approaching annoying, and the amount of quests can only barely lure you away from the intriguing story. My only regret in playing the game is not being able to complete it because of a silly decision I made, which lead to a severe loss of interest and frustration associated with the game. I'll be more careful of that in the future and may end up giving Deus Ex another chance when the muscle memory of pause->load->Save1 has left me.

In short, give Deus Ex: Human Revolution a try, but I implore you to not make the same mistake I did.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Batman: Arkham City

We have learned that Gamestop will, along with the Joker's Carnival Map, offer a pre-order bonus for this incredibly anticipated game. Not only can you play as the cool modernized version of Batman as seen in Arkham Asylum, but you can use the skin from the much missed 90's show Batman: The Animated Series (seen boxed below with incredibly artistic taste).




You may remember the selection of skins that could be possible from a previous post, but this is the first we've learned of one of the skins being offered in an American release. Personally, I would've chosen the Animated Series skin because Kevin Conroy (the voice actor for the Animated Series and for Arkham Asylum) is absolutely the best voice of Batman, so to play the game in the old skin is only fitting. Now I found this out through a PowerUp Rewards email from Gamestop so I can't confirm if it's an exclusive PowerUps pre-order or for all pre-orders, Gamestop's website certainly can't confirm squat. But! It will be available to use throughout the entire campaign and challenge maps, so it's still very exciting!

New Layton vs. Wright Trailer

One of the most anticipated mashups of the impending future just got more exciting with the release of a new trailer at TGS. Layton vs. Wright is, so far, one of the only games I'm excited for on the 3DS and this video only reinforces that excitement. I implore you, join me in squeeing over this new trailer:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bastion Review

Rarely am I excited about games being released for Xbox Live Arcade. I oft look at them as I do PSP titles, with slight interest, but knowing I have other, presumably better games to play. Bastion took me by surprise, however, as it looked like a game I simply needed to play. I am still unsure whether it was the graphics, story, or gameplay that intrigued me enough to want it, but I could not be more excited about its port to Steam. Call of Juarez left me in desperate need of a palate cleanser, and as such I was delighted to start playing this isometric 3D action game. Was my gut steering me straight, or should I have given my purchase a little more thought?


Bastion follows a young man, simply referred to as The Kid, on his quest to rebuild his world after a cataclysmic catastrophe called “The Calamity”. He soon meets up with an old fellow named Rucks who explains to him that in order to get their society back, they must rebuild something he calls “The Bastion”. The Kid is sent to various different locations, each with their own history, to collect Cores that power and rebuild the Bastion. The story is positively the best aspect of this game. With each new level comes a bit about the history of The Kid’s city, Caelondia, and their longtime enemies the Ura. Rather than give you extensive backstory to read through like in Final Fantasy XIII, Bastion takes a somewhat classier approach by giving you a feel for the culture of the world through narrative. The game also knows precisely how much of the story to tell, never boring the player with drawn out explanations or sordid history, just simple stories that open a beautifully executed window into Bastion’s world. By breathing life into the surroundings as well as the characters, this game endears itself to the player on multiple levels and makes him genuinely care about the well-being of not only the Kid, but the entire world.



Breathing life into a story this grand requires careful planning and execution of the tale’s presentation. Or in Bastion’s case, a gruff but tender narrator who tells the story of Caelondia through the actions of the Kid. The seemingly omnicient Rucks is a large draw to this game as he provides the most well executed narration in recent memory. His words match your actions, sometimes in unexpected but pleasant ways. For instance, if I started destroying objects to get items, he might quip something like “The Kid takes out some of his anger on the scenery.” This is of course completely unnecessary narration, but those small touches reeled me into the game far quicker than I had bargained for. Rucks’s voice is hard to describe. Imagine you walk into a bay-side pub and see one particularly salty Captain drinking alone. If you happened to buy him a shot of rye and he spun a yarn for you, his voice and cadences would be akin to that of Bastion’s narrator. That description is the best I can come up with barring a link to an audio file.

The game has mostly standard action gameplay. The Kid has a number of melee and long range weapons ranging from a hammer to a mortar cannon. All of these are upgradable in shops in the game, making weaponry simple while still allowing for deep customization of weapons if you find one in particular that tickles your fancy. You also possess a myriad of special attacks, but can only equip one at a time, forcing you to think about what would be most advantageous for the level. The combat system is quite smooth and responsive, allowing you to plan your battles depending on what weapons you possess. The only aspect that left me yearning for improvement with was the shield, as it only comes out once you’ve finished attacking with a weapon. I cannot count the times I’ve nearly died because I got too carried away with my machete and had to wait helplessly for my attacks to end before the shield emerged to protect me. The only other awkward thing is movement; the isometric 3D layout of the game means that WASD is not the optimal tool for getting about. Of course movement would not be an issue if you downloaded this game on XBLA, so it is a flaw I can overlook.



The graphics look like what 16-bit era graphics would have evolved into had we not added the third dimension. Smooth lines and bright colors set this game apart from the sea of browns, grays, and bloom seen in most recent games. The game is an absolute treat to look at and listen to, as the music fits the atmosphere of each level quite well, though the battle music seems to end too quickly for my liking. Combine those with the narration, story, and fast-paced gameplay and Bastion starts to look like a steal at only $15 on Steam.

Verdict:
If you enjoy games nostalgic to the SNES days, great stories, or action games, Bastion is for you. Its graphics take a cue from Final Fantasy VII and the gameplay is similar to Zelda or really any other action based game. The reasonable price tag, incredible narrator and rich story make this game one of the must by indie games of the year.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Monthly Podcast

Here it is, a merry time! A time for laughter! A time for opinion! A time for, well, gaming! I'm pleased to announce that our next monthly podcast will be:

Wednesday, September 14th at 8:00pm.

We will be discussing subjects including:

- The 3DS's upcoming attachment for a circle pad

- Tablet gaming (including Gamestop's recent announcement in Android based OS)

-
Final Fantasy XIII (both XIII-2 and Versus)

- Recently released games and initial impressions with Deus Ex and Dead Island

- Star Trek Online going F2P

- Wii U currently in developmental issues

- Halo 4 creative director leaving Microsoft

- Further development in Elder Scrolls vs. Minecraft copyright fight

Others topics may be brought up as well during the podcast since the news keeps rolling in, so be sure to tune in on Wednesday for the discussion, or download via our website or iTunes should you miss this fantastic conversation!

Instructions on:

How to download Teamspeak 3 and connect to our server


How to join in the discussion and the rules for doing so


Hope to see many of you fine readers there!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Call of Juarez Review

Call Of Juarez: The CartelAs I pondered what title to review next, I found myself intrigued by one title in particular.  “Call of Juarez,” I pondered. “That’s a western-type game, is it not?”  No, I concluded, surely I must have confused it with Red Dead Revolver.  This new game seems to have little to no western elements at all.  I shook the confusion from my head and rented Call of Juarez: The Cartel on a whim.  A recent Ubisoft release, Call of Juarez follows three questionable police officers as they are thrust into various moral quandaries, all the while trying to dismantle a Mexican drug cartel.  With a story premise that intense, how could I say no?

In essence, the game is broken into two sections, driving levels and FPS levels. Driving is deplorable. The vehicle physics are completely unrealistic and the steering feels clumsy and awkward. The only comparable game that comes to mind is Cruisin’ USA, but without the benefit of spectacular car-flipping crashes.  Rather, Call of Juarez notifies you that you have mangled your motorcar by simply coming to a full halt on the spot.  The only rightful place for that kind of anti-climactic physics is in an awful mall arcade with tragically dingy carpet. The firearm sections are not much better, consisting mostly of unimpressive gun battles using a rifle weapon and two pistols. If you have played the first level of this game, you have indeed played them all. Next to no variations exist between levels, save for environment changes. Disposable enemies run at you, you dispatch them with your firearms, and you move on. At least games like Call of Duty have an element of tension; Call of Juarez’s only notable element is boredom. On another note, it appears that whether or not you actually hit an enemy depends entirely upon whether they are running or hiding. I found I could never hit anyone running, though that may have more to do with the lag than the gun physics. Yes, Call of Juarez: The Cartel has intense lag issues. “But J,” you may say “lag is simply a reality we must deal with when playing games online.”



I was not playing online. 

Call of Juarez: The Cartel is such an awful game, it lags when played on a console. Perhaps I could understand a hiccup here and there if it was on a PC and I had programs running in the background, but I’m running the game on a system whose sole purpose is running games. Lag on an offline console game is wholly unacceptable in this day and age. Another odd feature is that regardless of what rifle you select, any rifle ammo you have collected will work. It certainly makes collecting ammunition quite a bit easier, but it seems excessively lazy to just label it “rifle ammo” and treat it as an interchangeable item. Could not someone have based the name of the ammunition item on the weapons available? I shall answer that, actually. Yes, someone could have, quite easily mind you, but that exemplifies the feel of the game—slapped together by a team with low standards and not a clue what they wanted to do.

The story flawlessly compliments the incredibly poor gameplay. You begin by choosing to play as one of three cops, all of whom are working toward the goal of destroying a diabolical drug cartel. Each character has their own personal motivations for wanting the cartel eliminated, as well as their own covert agendas to take care of in each mission. These ulterior motives serve to cultivate intense relationships between the three officers. How, you ask, can a story with that much potential turn into a bland, lifeless shell of itself? By crafting characters who are two-dimensional stereotypes with predictable dialogue and having them traverse a meandering plot that knows not if it wants to be about calculated subversion or mindless aggression. I could continue on for hours about how bloody terrible this story is, but I believe you get the gist.

How are the graphics? They are the best part of the game, and Ben’s face gives him the distinct appearance of an addled chipmunk.



I myself may not be fluent in the Spanish language, but I certainly believe that a game taking place partially in Mexico should include more than the same seven Spanglish vulgarities awkwardly heaved about in unconvincing accents.



After completing Call of Juarez: The Cartel, I felt so unsatisfied that I decided to specifically seek out the name of the development team responsible for it. After partaking in the Googles in my search for Call of Juarez, I made a discovery.  There were indeed two Call of Juarez games before this one, and they were both westerns. I’ve never played them, but apparently they had something to do with the Treasure of Juarez, a seemingly intriguing plot point that naturally was mentioned in this game perhaps three times before being forgotten all together. I am hereby officially requesting back the six hours of my life Ubisoft has swindled me into wasting. As I played, I found myself hoping that perhaps the tension would rise and lead me to overlook the gameplay and lag in exchange for a captivating story. Alas, the ending is just as unsatisfying as the rest of the story, leaving me asking why I persisted in playing it through.

Verdict:

I would recommend Call of Juarez: The Cartel to people who loathe their free time. It is a dreadful rehash of Call of Duty that reaches new lows in character development, story, driving, and romance languages. They may have made Assassin’s Creed, but I’m certainly disappointed in Ubisoft for this game. For shame.

AristoGamer In the Wild!

We at AristoGamer can appreciate that all games need not be of the video variety. Close to the Colonel's heart is also the world of motor sports. In honor of that, we sponsored a car in the 2011 Tire Rack SCCA Solo National Championships.


We trusted these two brave souls to set sail on this, the most sophisticated of automobiles:



We thank these brave men Nick and Zack, Apex Vinyl, and Hurst Street Zombie Company for allowing us to contribute to the sport in some small way. God speed, gentlemen.

For more pictures, click Read More below.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Red Dead Redemption Free DLC

After a good amount of time waiting for new downloadable content, Rockstar plans to release a new "Myths and Mavericks" pack for Red Dead Redemption. This pack will include various new locations and character models for online play (and not just in free-roam mode), which will be listed below. It will be entirely free to download and will be available September 13th.

Locations:
- Cochinay: Gold Rush, Shootout, Gang Shootout, Stronghold
- Nekoti Rock: Gold Rush, Shootout, Gang Shootout
- El Presidio: Gold Rush, Shootout, Gang Shootout
- Plainview: Gold Rush, Shootout, Gang Shootout
- Gaptooth Mine: Shootout, Gang Shootout
- Perdido: Hold Your Own, Grab the Bag
- Benedict Point: Hold Your Own, Grab the Bag
- Beecher’s Hope: Stronghold
- Torquemada: Stronghold

Characters:
- Landon Ricketts
- Vicente DeSanta
- Drew MacFarlane
- Deputy Eli
- Deputy Jonah
- Javier Escuella
- Nastas
- Uncle

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Aristogamer From Dust Video Review

It's the first of the month, chaps. And while that may mean rent is due, certainly the latest video review will lift your spirits. J is joined by the Colonel via webcam in reviewing Ubisoft's latest game "From Dust." Did the nature simulator/strategy game live up to its hype, or is it in the shadows of the more well known "Black and White?"

Monthly Podcast #2

J. Wellington Rommefeller and the Colonel cover this month's topics in gaming news including: Gamescom news, Trading hats for games in Steam, How to do DLC properly and more!

iTunes link for subscribing here

Or you can stream it from the player below:

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