A Week Of Many Games… Well… Four In This Article!

Unlike my usual posts, I have been unable to feel much about any one game, this week. Rather than despair and not write anything, I thought I’d write a little about each of the games.
Between my days of apathy and misery, I have played a number of games on a handful of platforms in an attempt to escape the daily drone of life. So when I haven’t been dusting off the PS3, I have played on my phone or migrated to the computer for some Steam-based shenanigans.
Let’s get this article rolling…

Ratchet & Clank : Tools Of Destruction

After reading Khinjarsi’s article on Ratchet & Clank, I had a huge hankering for some Insomniac platforming. Having bought Tools Of Destruction and A Crack In Time when I got my Playstation 3, but never playing them, I decided to give it a shot.

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The game starts a whole new story from the previous games, though favourite characters return, such as Captain Quark and The Plumber. Much like the previous games, the core gameplay is the same. Platforming, shooting and weapon levelling are all present, with a few new additions…
Since this was the first Ratchet & Clank entry for the PS3, Insomniac decided to implement the SixAxis motion control feature wherever they could. This means tilting the controller to guide Ratchet during free fall, guiding the tornadoes created by the Tornado Cannon and tedious rolling ball “hacking” mini-games…

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The game plays nicely and the story is engaging, as I found with previous Ratchet & Clank games. I particularly enjoyed the way the game created a sense of a vast galaxy. You explore numerous planets across a number of sectors and the varied terrains make the galaxy feel full and vibrant.
The new characters are a little weaker than in previous instalments, but I came to like the new villain and some of the lesser sidekicks. The new female, not so much…

I did encounter a glitch which stopped my progress and I had to restart the entire game, as well as a number of scripted difficulty spikes in the form of bosses. These were mainly the on-rails space combat bosses, but a giant robot boss was also noteworthy for his ridiculous difficulty.

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This robot… This darn robot…

I enjoyed Tools Of Destruction and I’m playing through the “Challenge Mode” to further level my weapons and get all the upgrades. Had Khinjarsi not written about Ratchet & Clank already, I could have written a whole review, but she basically covered it; the formula doesn’t change much.

Dear Esther

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Dear Esther is regarded as on of the “pioneers” in the Walking Simulator genre. These are games in which you simply explore a world, usually from a first-person perspective at a walking pace. I thought I had some idea of what to expect, so I gave it a go.

Well, I was taken in by the visuals as I started along the narrow, cliffside path towards the lighthouse. A narrator started telling a story as I continued onwards to my destination.
Then I slipped down a slope and wondered about aimlessly for way too long…

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See, this game doesn’t give you any direction. No HUD, no introduction, no sign of progress. That last one isn’t strictly true though. Your progress is measured by whether you are hearing narration or not and as I wondered around in near-silence, I came to realise I was completely ambivalent to what was going on.
It is very pretty, even on the middling graphical settings I used, but graphics aren’t all that one requires…
Needless to say, I didn’t reach the end of Esther’s letter and I’m not too fussed.

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*uninstalls Dear Esther*

Dante’s Inferno

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For a long time, I had been interested in playing Dante’s Inferno. I am interested in the literature it’s based on and it was made by Visceral Studios, the creators of Dead Space.
That being said, the friend who lent it to me said I could keep it because they found it so boring. I entered the game with a mix of feelings and preconceptions…

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The game is similar to God Of War in it’s play style. You journey through the circles of Hell, slashing up enemies and then finishing them with Quick Time Events. The game varies from God Of War by applying two levelling trees, based on your approach to the slaughter. Each enemy can be killed through Punishment or Absolution, allowing you to tailor your play style to a Holy or Unholy alignment.
The can be furthered by finding shades of past characters, from religious history, and deciding whether to condemn or forgive them. This is a nice little feature to flesh out the Circles Of Hell and also a way to give the player little XP boosts. Other than these little changes, the game plays pretty much like a God Of War clone with a few more collectibles.

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While I enjoyed playing through God Of War, I had several complaints. The difficulty curve was tough. I started on Hellish [hard] difficulty and had to drop down after the first boss. Playing through on Zealous , I was staggered to see the difference in damage received. Zealous allows you to actually take several hits before dying, while Hellish allowed for three/four hits max; brutal.
Regardless of the difficulty, the game also has some really awful enemies. The minions of the Circle Of Lust come to mind; creatures corrupted by their untamed passions who now lure impure souls to Hell. These are some of the most infuriating enemies I have encountered in a game for a long time. Their attack patterns are fast and nearly impossible to foresee, not to mention the fact they can mind control you, allowing other enemies to interrupt and brutalise Dante’s soon-to-be corpse.
I also felt that the game missed the mark with the alternate levelling trees. Each tree has a range of skills within it, but they are both unique. Unholy focuses on advancing your main combos and building up your range of attacks, while Holy focuses on developing your ranged attack. The problem here is that you are encouraged to focus on one alignment, but to have the best chance of survival, you need to dabble in both. It feels poorly implemented and gives the impression that the whole Holy and Unholy dynamic was tacked on at the last minute.

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These demon ladies can go to Hell… Oh, wait…

Despite these flaws, I still enjoyed the game even if it created some excessive frustrations. The visuals are really impressive and I have to admit I revelled in the gore and violence. The religious tone was a little more intense than I expected, but it is Dante’s Inferno after all.
I think if someone were intrigued by the title, it is worth a look even if it is a bit taxing in places.

Anomaly : Warzone Earth HD

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Anomaly is a series of Tower Defence games by 11 Bit Studios. I am somewhat fond of the games and their concepts, even though I am not very good at them… Until now…
Previously, I have only been able to play these games on my Mac and I have struggled managing the interface with my mouse. Now that I have an Android device, I have been able to play on my mobile phone and I have found the touch screen much more manageable.

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Anomaly takes the Tower Defence archetype and mixes it up by switching the roles. Rather than defending a location by placing towers, you play as the marauders, destroying towers to reach a protected location. In the case of Anomaly, you are managing a convoy of marines, moving through an alien-ridden Baghdad.
You get to plan your route through the city districts and arrange the order of your convoy. As you destroy towers, you collect money which allows you to build more vehicles or upgrade your existing units. These features are all very easily managed with the touch-screen interface and work well on the mobile device.
Besides organising your units and their route, the main strategy comes from how and when you place your cooldowns. As you progress through the campaign, you will be granted access to Repairs, Smokescreens and Decoys which give you more ways to manage the situations that unfold.

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You can play each mission on one of three difficulties and you should be aware that those difficulties are pretty accurate. The hardest difficulty is brutal, while the equivalent of medium is pretty tough, but fair.
Once you unlock more vehicle types to put in your convoy, the game allows you to approach the missions with a number of strategies; upgrade one turret and protect it with shield generators or maybe spam the enemy with a ton of armoured APC units, for example.

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Anomaly worked for me as a game, which was a surprise after I failed so often on the Mac. I feel it translates better to mobile devices than it does on the computer, but that may be more to do with the sudden fear that strikes into me whenever I play any sort of Real Time Strategy game…
The game looks pretty good for a mobile game and the sound is nicely designed; headphones are probably recommended though as it all sounded a bit tinny and intrusive to people nearby.

And that was my past week of gaming…
Hopefully I will find something more substantial in the coming week.

Ellie stole most of these pictures from places all over the internet… Google Play Store, Destructoid, MobyGames, Engadget and many more… Dear Esther was all screenshot-ed by Ellie and she did look for the pictures by herself… Oh well, Ellie doesn’t claim any of the work crete by 11Bit Studios, Visceral Games, Insomniac or The Chinese Room.

All games were played and some were completed between 06/08/15 and 13/08/15.

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