Archive for July, 2011

Bioshock

Posted in Uncategorized on July 28, 2011 by caseystorton

-First thing I’d like to say, Bioshock is my favorite game of all time, so apologies if this post ends up really long so I can cover everything I want to. Bioshock is a first-person-shooter set in 1960 that has the most unique gameplay I have ever experienced in a first-person-shooter
-Okay, first thing that happens in the game, we see a first person cut-scene of a man sitting on a plane, smoking and looking at a picture in his wallet. The man says to himself,”They told me. ‘Son, you’re special. You were born to do great things.’ You know what? They were right.” Next thing, the plane starts falling, and it fades to black as we hear the passengers screaming. As the screen turns black, the title screen pops up, “Bioshock” in big letters on an ornate metal sign with water dripping from it. Next thing, our character, Jack, wakes up deep underwater and has to desperately swim to the surface. He makes it there, and this is where the player takes control. As you move around, you survey the crash, and see that you are the only one that survived. As you continue moving, you see some of the fire spreading and immediately head for a nearby building out on the water. You go inside, and look around at the statues of a man that the game calls Andrew Ryan. you make your way down some stairs and into what appears to be a one man submarine with a lever. You pull the lever, the door closes, and you look out the glass window on the front to see that you are descending into the water. As you go deeper, a screen falls from the ceiling and a projector rolls a clip. It plays a slideshow narrated by Andrew Ryan, who asks us, “Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow?” After explanations of how the answer around the world is always that it belongs to whoever deserves it, he says, “I rejected those answers. Instead, I chose something different. I chose the impossible. I chose… Rapture!” And with that the screen retracts and the window shows you a view of a massive underwater city, filled with neon signs for all sorts of different places. As you continue on moving in the Bathysphere (mini sub), you approach what appears to be a docking station and here some radio chatter from and Irish guy saying that he sees someone coming in the Bathysphere. As you come in to the station, you dock in place and see a man slowly backing away from what looks like a mutant, begging and pleading for his life. The mutant springs forward and slashes him with a pair of hooks on his hands. The mutant sees you and jumps on top of the Bathysphere and destroys a part of it that allows it to go back the way it came. As it goes a way, the Irish guy from earlier is heard from a radio on the wall, “Would you kindly pick up that short wave radio?” You pick it up, and he introduces himself as Atlus, and says that he aims to keep you alive. The door opens, and you walk out into the city, seeing protest signs littered on the ground along with broken pillars and bits of wall. a mutant appears and Altus summons a flying security bot to scare it off. You pick up a pipe wrench which you use as a melee weapon, and break through a downed pillar. you head up some stairs and encounter your first real enemy, who runs at you like a madman swinging an old pipe as a weapon. you then come to a room with a broken door switch, you head upstairs where you see a weird vending machine that has some statues of little girls all around it labelled “Gatherers’ Garden.” You see a large glass jar filled with a weird looking substance. You walk up to it and press the action button. Your character grabs a hypodermic needle, takes some of the substance, and injects it into his left wrist. Immediately, your vision blurs and a first person cut-scene shows your veins pulsating a light blueish color and electrical charges shooting out of your fingers as Atlus assures you that it’s all normal, “Your genetic code is being rewritten.” You fall over the stairs and pass out. Still in cut-scene, you wake up and see two masked mutants through blurry vision asking each-other what happened to you, and if you still have some Adam on you. They run off in a hurry, just in time for you to see a little girl with a strange needle in her hand, accompanied by a large machine with a drill attached to it’s arm. The girl says in a distorted, almost demonic voice, “Look Mr. Bubbles, it’s an angel.” After realizing that you were still breathing, they leave. You wake up fully, and see that you can now shoot lightening out of your hands. After continuing on, you see what the Big Daddy and Little Sister, the two mysterious characters from the cut-scene, really look like. A while later, after finding a pistol, shotgun, and machine gun as well as a plasmid that lets you shoot fire out of your hand, you encounter a Little Sister separated from her now dead Big Daddy. You walk in to see a Splicer (the mutant from earlier) talking about all the Little Sister’s “tasty Adam.” He is then shot and killed by a woman up on a balcony, who then threatens you. Atlus and her then tell you of the options you have with the Little Sister. You can rescue her, turning her back into a normal little girl, yielding 100 Adam, or harvest her, yielding 160 Adam, but killing her in the process. You use the Adam you collect to buy new plasmids and tonics from the Gatherers’ Garden.
-In addition to plasmids, you can equip Gene Tonics that affect your performance in combat and hacking. Hacking allows you to turn security bots, turrets, and security cameras to your side by redirecting the flow of some pipes. I know the last part of that sentence didn’t make much sense, but you have to see it to understand it. as the game progresses, you visit man interesting and beautifully designed locations, like a sort of mall with unique areas called Fort Frolic, a forest that supplies the city with oxygen called Arcadia, and a Medical Pavilion complete with an insane, murderous surgeon boss fight. As it goes on, you collect new plasmids, such as Telekinesis, Incinerate, Insect Swarm, which deploys a swarm of angry bees that come out of your hands, Winter Blasts, which freezes enemies in place, allowing you to shatter them for an easier kill, and many more. Weapons are mostly standard, with a revolver, tommy gun, shotgun, grenade launcher, and melee wrench being the more simple ones. Stand outs include a surprisingly powerful crossbow and a chemical thrower. The Best thing about the weapons it that they each have three different types of ammo. The pistol and machine gun have regular, armor piercing, and anti-personnel rounds. The shotgun includes explosive and electric charged ammo. The grenade launcher includes heat-seeking rockets and proximity mines. The chemical thrower includes napalm, liquid nitrogen, and electric gel, with effects similar to their plasmid counterparts. And the crossbow has trap bolts, which create electric trip wires, and incendiary bolts, that deal extra fire damage. The tonics do things like reducing enemy melee damage, increasing wrench power, adding extra fire/electrical/ice damage and resistance, make you turn invisible if you stay still for a few seconds, and more.
-Probably the best thing about Bioshock is it’s setting and atmosphere. The underwater city of Rapture is surprisingly large and offers many opportunities for exploration and hunting for collectible audio logs that provide insight into the city’s history. While here, you encounter many different enemy types, including Thugish Splicers, basic melee enemies, Leadheads, that carry guns, Nitros that throw grenades, Spiders that crawl on the ceiling and throw sharp hooks, and Houdinis that can teleport and throw fire blasts. With all of these different enemy types, weapons, tonics, and plasmids, the game allows you to play it however you want, which is a freedom that few other games can do this well.
-In the end, I could go on about the emphasis on looting, the effect of some of the other tonics, or the twisted intriguing story, but that would take all day. So overall, Bioshock is my favorite game of all time, and a title that everyone needs to experience. 10/10
-While we’re here, this is as good a time as any to explain my scoring system: 10/10 does not mean that the game is perfect, it just means that it has achieved my highest honor. More explanation is included below:
10/10: Amazing
9/10: Awesome
8/10: Great
7/10:  Good
6/10: Average
5/10: Below Average
4/10: Bad
3/10: Terrible
2/10: Really terrible
1/10: Complete garbage  

F.E.A.R.

Posted in Uncategorized on July 25, 2011 by caseystorton

-F.E.A.R. is a strange concept for a game that tries to combine two genres that seem to be complete polar opposites of each-other. F.E.A.R. which stands for First Encounter Assault Recon, is a game that attempts to combine a tactical shooter with a supernatural horror game. It’s an interesting idea, that yields only mixed results. The main problem with creating a supernatural first-person horror game, is that as long as the player still has control during the scary moments, there’s a chance that they won’t be looking in the right spot when the supernatural ghoul or whatever creeps up out of the shadows. However, at other times, the horror isn’t avoidable, and some of it actually did make me jump, so overall, it does provide a semi-decent if somewhat disjointed horror experience.
-The story of F.E.A.R.  is a confusing one to say the least. You play as an unnamed operative who never speaks and refereed to in loading screen mission objective lists as either, “F.E.A.R. operative” or “F.E.A.R. point man.” Your task as this character is to investigate the dealings of a mysterious corporation called Armacham (not entirely sure that I spelled that right). As the game progresses, though, it becomes apparent that something much bigger is going on as the point man experiences paranormal visions of a mysterious little girl that is later called Alma, and of an equally mysterious cannibalistic man  named Paxton Fettel that both serve as the primary sources of paranormal horror that the game boasts. Towards the end, much more about Alma and Fettel is revealed, but the game ends on a cliffhanger, forcing me to go out and buy F.E.A.R. two and three to see how it all turns out.
-On the gameplay side, F.E.A.R. is a competently executed first-person shooter that has some added bonuses to keep things feeling similar to other games. First on the list is the AI. The AI is touted all over the place, and it deserves recognition for being one of the first games I can remember with realistic AI that doesn’t just sit behind cover waiting for you to run around and shoot them. The AI in F.E.A.R. behaves the way you would expect soldiers to behave, laying down cover fire to keep you pinned to cover while some of the team runs around to try to flank you or flush you out with a well tossed grenade. To help combat this foe, the game allows you to carry three weapons at a time, mostly consisting of standard fps equipment, with standouts such as a rocket launcher that fires three shots at a time, a beam weapon that satisfyingly splatters enemies all over the walls, and a cannon weapon that works in a similar way to the beam weapon. You have non-regenerating health, with the ability to pick up and store health pack for you to use as you need them, as well as find body armor that reduces the damage you take until it is destroyed. There are multiple types of throwable explosive weapons for you to mess around with, including standard frag grenades, anti-personnel trip mines, and remote bombs for you to detonate on command. The most unique thing about the game though is the then new bullet time mechanic, that allows you to slow down time to pick off targets more effectively. The bullet time regenerates so quickly though, I found myself relying on it in almost every firefight and as a result I quickly became maxed out on health packs as a result of being able to kill off enemies before they were even fully aware of my presence.
-At the end of the day, F.E.A.R. is a good game with some decent horror elements, a reliable bullet time mechanic, and a deep story. If you can overcome the difficult level design that occasionally leaves you wandering around wondering where to go for a few minutes, you’re in for a unique first person shooter. 8/10

Animal Crossing

Posted in Uncategorized on July 23, 2011 by caseystorton

-I recently dusted off my copy of Animal Crossing, to play it some more after not touching it for almost a year. Animal Crossing is a hard game to categorize, it’s kinda like The Sims, but then it isn’t. You play as a random person with a name of your choosing, moving to a town with a name of your choosing that needs a place to live. While on the train, you meet a friendly cat that leads to the selection menus of name, gender, and hometown that you want to create. Once there, you talk to a friendly raccoon shopkeeper that hooks you up with a house that will cost you 19,800 bells (currency of Animal Crossing). You only have 1,000 to give him, so he offers you a job working for him at the shop. Through his jobs, you learn fundamentals of gameplay, such as how to plant trees and flowers, interact and do jobs for local townspeople, sending letters to other members of your town, and managing inventory space. After a few jobs, he no longer has any work for you to do, so you are free to go explore the town to find ways to pay off your house however you see fit.
-The variety in how you can make money and what the game allows you to buy is easily one of its best features. methods of acquiring bells include fishing, catching bugs, digging up fossils (which need to be sent to the museum and identified before they are able to be sold or donated to the museum, which accepts fish, bugs, fossils, and paintings.), selling fruit grown from native trees, or doing odd-jobs for the locals. Using this money, you can pay off your house, which can be expanded with greater living space, a basement, and a second floor as you get more money and pay more of it off. Also with your money, you can buy yourself new clothes from the shop, create new patterns for your clothes, umbrella, wallpaper, and flooring of your house, as well as buy pre-made flooring and wallpaper from the shop. You can even buy furniture from the store, which has literally hundreds of different things that you can put in your house.
-Another feature of the game is the real-time clock based on whatever time and date is set on your gamecube. While you are gone, weeds grow around the town, cockroaches move into your house, seasons come and go, and NPCs move to and from your town. And when you do come back to the game, if it has been a long time, characters will ask why they haven’t seen you in 11 months or however long it has been.
-There’s no way I can cover everything that you can do in this game in just one post, so I’ll just end it by saying that it is a unique game that gets you hooked with only a vague overall goal, which is more than I can say for most other games. If you see a used copy of it on a shelf somewhere, give it a go, you’ll enjoy it. 9/10

Bulletstorm

Posted in Uncategorized on July 20, 2011 by caseystorton

-So I just finished the campaign of Bulletstorm for the second time, and I enjoyed it. The idea to play it again came when I was playing Gears of War 2, but felt like I needed something similar but not entirely the same to what I was playing. So I brought out Bulletstorm and started up a new campaign. I’d already played through the campaign once before, so I new what I was getting into this time around. Basically, it’s a first person shooter with  ridiculous over-the-top weapons, a fun, experimental skill-shot system that awards creativity with how you dispatch your enemies, and some of the strangest character dialogue that I have ever heard in a game.
-The game stars Grayson Hunt, I former mercenary turned rogue when he discovers that his client, a military general by the name of Sarrano,  had lied about their targets, who were innocent civilians, rather than the mass murderers and slave traders that he had tole them about. the game begins with you interrogating a prisoner before kicking him out of your ship’s airlock. he plants a bomb on the outside, and takes out part of your ship. You then appear right by Sarrano’s giant ship, the Ulysses, and try attacking it with your much smaller ship. Both your ship and the Ulysses are then downed on a hostile planet, and your friend Ishi is badly injured. After you and a shipmate fight some unfriendly locals and acquire Grayson and illegal weapon, an energy whip that grades soldiers’ performance called a “leash,” they go back to the ship so Doc can fix Ishi up with some robotic parts to save his life. Locals invade, and only Grayson and Ishi escape the mess alive and set off on the quest for some batteries for Ishi’s mechanical parts, and to find a way off of the planet. What follows is a campaign through some interesting locations, populated by enemies hard to kill do to their health rather than their AI, skill-shot rewarding things such as: blow an enemy’s top half off with the shotgun, kill an enemy by shooting him in the ass, kill an enemy while drunk, and impale two enemies in a row with the “penetrator.” All peppered by some immature dialogue from Grayson and Trishka, a soldier of Sarrano’s that you encounter on the planet. The Characters probably use the word “dick” at least 200 times, and “fuck” at least 100 more. I laughed a couple of times, but overall, the humor comes off as trying to hard to get people laughing. 
-On the gameplay side, you can hold three weapons, although for some reason you can never no have the starting assault rifle that isn’t very good. Other weapon’s include a shotgun that sends enemies corpses flying in no less than 2 different directions, a sniper rifle that lets you steer the bullets in slow motion, a gun that shoots two remote-detonated grenades between a chain that latch onto enemies for usually an instant kill, and a heavy weapon that shoots drills the size of small cats into your enemies, plus you can use the leash and a kick move to launch enemies up in the air, into giant cacti, into fires, into spiked walls, and off cliffs. The weapon’s are a lot of fun, which I attribute to the involvement of developers “People Can Fly” the studio behind “Painkiller,” the most frantic and intense shooter I have ever played with appropriately creative weapons. But with all these crazy weapons, we still have the spirit of a modern fps coming through. Taking cover is necessary quite often, although not quite as much as games like Call of Duty or Gears of War, and you have a regenerating health system. 
-At the end of the day, it’s one of my favorite shooters in recent memory. It’s not quite as fun as Painkiller, which I would highly recommend to anyone with a remote interest in first person shooters, but it’s closer to it than any other game I’ve played in a long time. 8/10

What’s gonna happen

Posted in Uncategorized on July 16, 2011 by caseystorton

To anyone that may or may not be reading this:
Hello, my name is Casey and I want to be a video game journalist when I get older. To get some practice at it and/or figure out what style I’ll be writing in, I’ll be using this blog as an experiment to figure out what I want to do and where I can go from here. If you follow me, I would really appreciate it.