Monday, August 12, 2013

Deadlight Review


Over the last few years we have seen just about everything zombie within the realms of possibility, but never before have we seen it quite like this. Taking place in the 80's for seemingly no reason whatsoever, Deadlight is a side scrolling platforming puzzle game which puts the player in the shoes of protagonist Randall Wayne. Randall Wayne is a grizzly looking manly man in search of his family from which he has been separated. Seattle has been overrun by a sickness that has spread and turned its inhabitants into the flesh eating, walking undead known simply as "shadows".


The first thing that will jump at you while playing Deadlight is its apparent dreary look and atmosphere. This is something that Deadlight does indisputably well. A blend of dark shadows against brightly lit, yet washed out backgrounds set a tone that is perfect for the games setting. The thing that impressed me the most about the in game visuals and environments is the way the developers made this obviously two dimensional adventure seem very un-two dimensional. From time to time you will stumble into areas that have a breathtaking amount of depth for a side-scroller. Often given the illusion that the background is much more than just a background, almost giving you the urge to explore it. The bulk of the main story is done through comic like stills that are equally impressive and also fit the games tone just right.


But does the story stand up to the games impressive lighting and dynamic environments? Unfortunately it does not. The story here is fairly cliche, something you may expect from an older budget title of days passed. It's not that the story was absolutely terrible, it just simply falls into the category of mediocre. As far as the games ending is concerned, the story gets an A for effort, but its delivery is poorly executed, ultimately stealing the thunder of the moment.


To go with the games dreary look is a wonderful, eerie and atmospheric soundtrack of ambiance that harmoniously melds with the games visual experience. Its obvious that a lot of care wen't into this games soundtrack and the effort has certainly paid off. Yet I can't say the same for the games atrocious voice acting and dialogue. Randall Wayne's voice definitely holds a certain gruffness that one would expect from a giant man with an epic beard. But gruffness doesn't go the distance when it comes to voice acting. A lot of the voices in this game make cheesy B-rate acting seem wonderful and a few interesting lines aside, the games dialogue seems forced and at times unnecessary.


All the things mentioned above can still sum up to a great experience, but most of my frustrations with the game come from the titles mediocre gameplay. Aside from a few overly frustrating parts, the game doesn't offer much in the way of challenge. Keep in mind that this is coming from a guy who tends to stray from titles involving heavy platforming and puzzles. Deadlight is extremely linear and though there are a fair amount of collectibles to be found, the game offers very little in the ways of exploration. After finishing my first play-through with the game I had a an overall completion of over 85% percent. I had found a great many of the games collectibles, though I wasn't really looking for them. In fact, I didn't particularly find many roads straying from the beaten path. As far as puzzles are concerned there are definitely a few moments here and there that had me scratching my head, but the end result of the puzzles failed to wow me in any way. Deadlights gameplay is about as straight forward as it gets. 

  
Deadlight focuses greatly on survival. Your best bet is to avoid the undead at all cost and a lot of the time it almost seems like there is no danger of combat whatsoever. But its the moments when combat is unavoidable that emphasize just how clunky and frustrating the combat system really is. Swinging your ax around uses up stamina. When your stamina runs dry you will have to wait a frustratingly long time for it to refill. Simply hacking away at zombies with your ax will get you no further than knocking a zombie down, providing you with a few moments until they are once again on their feet. When on the ground players can bring the ax down on disabled enemies for a kill. In small numbers this is fine, but when facing an overwhelming number of zombies you might as well throw yourself at them until they rip you apart allowing you to restart at the last check point. It doesn't help that the controls, especially when it comes to platforming, are simply passable. Normally I would ease up on infrequent clunky and unresponsiveness in controls. But seeing as this is a platformer, I personally feel the controls should be the most solid of all the games aspects. Usually the occasional wonkyness with controls is fine, but its frantic situations when you need to make every jump and attack count that this can cause agonizing frustration. 


Deadlight is definitely not the worst title I have ever played. It gets a lot of respect for making an attempt on something new and refreshing in a genre that has nearly been beaten to death. But with lack luster gameplay, a campaign of three to five hours, some bugs including crashing, horrible voice acting and equally unimpressive dialogue I couldn't consciously recommend this title for a price of fifteen dollars. If you find it on sale for five bucks and some of the games aspects intrigue you, give it a go.  


Pros:

- Impressive Visuals 

- Diverse Environments 

- Great Soundtrack


Cons:

- Linear 

- Terrible Voice Acting

- Too Short

- Uninspiring Gameplay


SCORE:

6.4 / 10






Friday, August 9, 2013

The Witcher 2 Walkthrough: Chapter 1 (Parts 11-14)

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Part 11: Defeat Letho



Part 12: Where is Triss?



Part 13: Follow the Trail / Find Cedric



Part 14: Death to the Traitor

The Witcher 2 Walkthrough: Chapter 1 (Parts 6-10)

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Part 6: A Matter of Price / Speak to Cedric




Part 7: Defeating the Kayran



Part 8: Prison Barge / Rose of Rememberance



Part 9: Talk to Zoltan / Meet with Iorveth



Part 10: Kill the Arachas

The Witcher 2 Walkthrough: Chapter 1 (Parts 1-5)

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Part 1: A Rough Landing / By the Gods



Part 2: The Nekker Contract



Part 3: Troll Trouble



Part 4: The Endrega Contract



Part 5: Indecent Proposal 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Witcher 2 Walkthrough: Prologue (Parts 6-9)

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Prologue: Part 6 (To the Temple)



Prologue: Part 7 (Temple Courtyard)


Prologue: Part 8 (Assassination) 


Prologue: Part 9 (Escaping Prison)

The Witcher 2 Walkthrough: Prologue (Parts 1-5)

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Prologue: Part 1 (Interrogation)



Prologue: Part 2 



Prologue: Part 3 (Barricade)



Prologue: Part 4 (At the Fore)


Prologue: Part 5 

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Walkthrough


The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings walkthrough in 720P.


Prologue:

Parts 1-5

Parts 6-9

Chapter 1: 

Parts 1-5

Parts 6-10

Parts 11-14

Chapter 2: In progress.

The Darkness 2 Review


The release of The Darkness in 2007 filled us with a sense of wonderment and gave us an opportunity to explore an innovative title quite unlike anything we had previously experienced. In 2012 Jackie Estacado returns with The Darkness 2. Though the Darkness 2 lacks the same innovation and sense of awe that the first game presented, The Darkness 2 can still provide players with an enjoyable experience so long as you can look past it's faults.

Jackie has achieved much this time around, currently standing at the head of the Franchetti crime family, Jackie is clearly living a life of extravagance. After years of suppressing the evil force that lurks within him known only as "the darkness", it is clear that the story's lead protagonist is trying his best to find a new life and make peace with his past. Unfortunately as things take a turn for the worse Jackie is forced into relying on the evil within him once again and learns that some things just can't stay buried.

Though the Darkness 2 starts out rather slow and uninteresting, the games story picks up tremendously about half way through it's rather short campaign. What starts off as a very generic plot unravels into a wonderfully crafted story that will make the player think and keep them guessing. This in marriage with many of the games emotional moments can make for quite an enjoyable ride and you will find yourself pushing forward for the chance to see what happens next. 


A lot has changed this time around, and one of the things you will notice right away is the art style. Digital Extremes has decided to ditch the more realistic approach that Starbreeze Studios used for the original Darkness, instead using a very cell shaded look more true to the comic book the games are based off of. The new art style is fairly charming in it's own way and does a good job of portraying the intended atmosphere, though I can't say the game truly impressed me visually. Textures at times seemed to almost bleed into others and lighting would sometimes create splotchy shadows and react to textures in unpredictable manners. None of these things were enough to make the game unplayable, but could be rather agitating from time to time. Players on console may not experience these problems. Though these small graphical issues could pull you out of the experience it's important to note that the game does sport some solid programming. Bugs are hard to come by in The Darkness 2 and I would be surprised to hear of any that one could consider game breaking.

Notice the wavy lines caused by the lighting.
On the surface The Darkness 2 may look like a refreshing title. It certainly seems like there may be some serious innovation here. Unfortunately that is not the case. Though The Darkness 2 does have some interesting mechanics, these are mainly par for the course in this day and age. Tentacle limbs of doom aside, The Darkness 2 is very much your every day linear, corridor shooter. Players will shuffle from point A to point B through claustrophobic environments that leave little breathing room. On your way to point B you will fight band after band of very generic looking badies. Its bad enough that a lot of these enemies look identical to one another, but its especially unsavory when enemies are simply uninteresting. If you are looking for strong AI you won't find it here. Enemies in the Darkness 2 do not come in spectacular variation. Furthermore enemies will be encountered in predictable patterns and will usually be found running around aimlessly unloading clips in your general direction. This leaves little suspense in combat as you will find yourself using the same methods to dispatch your enemies over and over again. The vast majority of the games difficulty is due to level design, as you will be forced to fight numerous enemies in uncomfortably small areas.


The Darkness 2 is a brutal game. Enemies can be torn apart like wish bones, beheaded, blown up, ripped in half and torn limb from limb. This is something the game does rather well. You feel like the powerhouse of a demon the games makes you out to be. The games weaponry is also commendable. Though there isn't a wide range of firearms to choose from, each gun feels like it hold significant weight and the ability to duel wield any variation of weapon that can be held with one hand is extremely refreshing. The aim assist clearly goes above and beyond helping the player make his or her shots connect. Sometimes this is a bad thing, but i'm more forgiving of this with The Darkness 2 as it allows players to effectively duel wield without greatly struggling due to the lack of iron sight.


This time around The Darkness 2 features some meaty RPG elements. Though the skill tree provided is not nearly as in depth as what you might find in some ARPGS, it is certainly impressive for a shooter. Killing enemies awards experience. How much experience you get depends on how the enemy is dispatched. Shooting an enemy will award you ten experience while ripping them limb from limb could award you thirty. Throughout the games campaign you  will come across stations where you will be given the chance to spend your earned experience on a wide variety of different skills. Some of these skills can be interesting and a lot of fun. Such as the ability to occasionally chuck a black hole at your enemies, sucking everyone in the vicinity into a dark nothingness. Some skills are executions that can be performed on enemies that have been grabbed by your evil looking demon tentacles. These executions are extremely graphic and these brief moments are some of the most satisfying ones the game has to offer. But as you progress through the game and have killed, disemboweled and maimed your seven hundredth enemy, you begin to see that these executions are lacking in variety and after a while they stop holding the same appeal.

 
As mentioned before the campaign is fairly short. You will only spend around five to seven hours playing through it depending on the difficulty you chose. Though that is indeed a short campaign even for a shooter, the game does have some decent replay value. For starters, after finishing the game players will be given the chance to select new game plus which allows you to play through the campaign again but with all the experience earned from your previous playthrough. The game also has some really fun multiplayer. Players can join together in up to groups of four to take on a whole separate two hour campaign. This campaign is lacking in story but is surprisingly entertaining.


The Darkness 2 is certainly not without flaws, but those who are merely looking for an entertaining shooting experience will find their time is well spent playing the role of Jackie Estacado. The Darkness 2 shows a lot of potential in gameplay and it offers a truly entertaining co-operative experience. I wouldn't advise shelling out a lot of your hard earned cash for this title, but for twenty bucks most shooter fans will be pleased with their purchase.

Pros

- Interesting Story

- Enjoyable RPG Elements

- Satisfying weaponry

Cons

- Poor AI

- Mediocre Level Design

- Repetitive Combat

Score:

7.2 / 10