RPG Index: Single player Role Playing Games

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Divinity 2

Divinity II is an under-appreciated game that never really stood out among other instant hit titles of the time like Dragon Age or Oblivion. Whilst it may deserve a spot in the sun, its lack of polish earned it a lonely bench in the shade. Even the hardiest of RPG connoisseurs can overlook or miss out on playing the Divinity games, which is a real shame. Just because the franchise was out shined by better publicized and better funded companies, doesn't change the fact that at its greatest moments; Divinity can easily compete and even beat its more popular rivals.

Yeah, I forgot what happened here. Let's just say magic stuff.

Genre: RPG, Adventure, Action
Release Date: 20th November, 2009
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360
Score: 8/10
Similar Titles: Dragon Age, Kingdoms of Amalur, Oblivion

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Dragon Age 2 second playthrough

I've recently been playing a little Dragon Age 2 in my spare time. Although everyone thinks it's a letdown, I still think it's worth a playthrough. It's simple, fun, and very easy. I've taken to playing it whilst I watch television, because it's one of those games that doesn't really deserve 100% of your attention.

3 options, so naturally pick evil every time.

The main gripe that people had for DA2 is the dialogue system. The wide amount of conversation options that made the first such a pleasure to play is dulled down and reduced to three choices at a time. Often in the first game, you would get at least four options to play with; usually more.

Dragons!? In Dragon Age?! They are incredibly rare.

On the plus side, the combat is streamlined and visceral. It's entertaining to watch, albeit way too easy even on the harder difficulties. The abilities are all very interesting, and if you use them in the right order you can often outmaneuver opponents without taking a touch of damage. On the other hand, I missed the frantic pausing to make frequent adjustments in the first game. In the original DA you had to monitor and maintain your entire party to win tough battles. This feature is all but gone, in Dragon Age 2 you can win using one hand and nary a pause the whole game.

Still, if you like to multitask, whack on the television and give Dragon Age 2 a shake. Take a look at my original review if you're curious!

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Server issues on Path of Exile


PoE has recently taken a rather large influx of players, and thus the servers are disconnecting people rather frequently. I've taken a break from playing because of this, because it's quite annoying. Hopefully they'll sort it out in the next week, because the more I play it the more addictive it gets.

Normally you will encounter a few bugs and maybe disconnect once every couple of hours. It's inconvenient, but it's not enough to stop you playing such an awesome game. However, I've been kicked off the server as frequently as 10 minutes apart in the last couple of days. I wouldn't mind continuing to play, but I can barely make any progress.

If you haven't checked out Path of Exile yet, please make sure to have a look. It's essentially everything  Diablo 3 should have been. In other words, it's not a huge disappointment. I don't think any amount of hype could let you down before playing PoE. There are actually people playing the game and enjoying it, instead of D3 which is essentially populated by bots and farmers now.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Crysis 2

When the original Crysis hit the shelves in 2007, it was borderline revolutionary. The graphics and engine left people with a jaw to pick up off the ground. Those who could run it, anyway. Many a person bought a new computer just to get it running. The second installment however, just feels like more of the same without much being improved on. That's not a horrible thing, but among other franchises that progressed further using the original Crysis as inspiration- it makes Crysis 2 lack the means to really stand out.

It's so pretty! Aside from the destroyed terrain, of course.

Genre: FPS
Release Date: 22nd March, 2011
Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Score: 6/10
Similar Titles: Farcry, Just Cause, Halo (kind of not really)

I have always seen the Crysis games as a graphics engine. With a lack of much else to compensate. I decided to follow up on that with a nice long playthrough to cement my opinion. To be honest, I still retain the same opinion. Mostly, anyway. But boy is it pretty. Even now, years later I cannot help but admire the incredible graphics and visuals in the game. Not only that, but my computer admires them too. Enough to stutter a few times in firefights, anyway.

Alien spaceships apparently need steampunk gears and cogs.

Unlike the majestic jungle you will experience in the first game, Crysis 2 sports a ravaged New York City. The aliens for the first game are back with force, with their world domination plan beginning in New York. Because aliens always attack America. Why? Because you're all cunts, that's why! The city looks really good, but the limitations of where you can and can't go will become apparent very quickly. Regardless, Crysis 2 is enhanced by the atmospheric visuals. Watching buildings getting torn to pieces whilst spaceships fly overhead is incredible in high definition.

The story is a follow on from the first game, the opening scenes begin with the new main character Alcatraz, a marine sent to combat the infection that has spread across the population. upon reaching the shores of New York, the U.S submarine comes under attack. Alcatraz is the only survivor, barely making it out. Prophet, the protagonist from the first game manages to save you. Sadly, he is infected by the deadly virus and doesn't have long to live. As his final act, Prophet passes on his stolen suit to you. And so begins your quest to save the human race from extinction.

These aliens can't even see you until you hit them in the face.

As the only person with an advanced Nanosuit that even rivals the advanced alien technology, Alcatraz can survive bullets, jump incredible heights, and even turn invisible. There are even purchasable upgrades to enhance your capability. All suit powers are governed by energy, which depletes when you activate them or take damage. Using the advantages of the suit is vital to succeeding in Crysis. You can die very quickly if you forget to turn on armor mode; or get outnumbered without taking advantage of stealth. The real shame is if you use the suit intelligently and frequently the game is just a joke. It's just too powerful- and the AI has no way to counter it. You can stay in camouflage mode indefinitely, making it possible to complete an entire level without being spotted. Armor mode is almost impenetrable, it takes several rocket launcher shots for you to run out of energy. Quite simply, if you want to actually play a video game instead of strolling through an incredibly pretty film- you have to resist using your full strength all the time.

The visor allows you to find ammo quickly. The other 'advantages' are all pretty useless.

This really put a dampener on the game for me. You have all these amazing powers at your disposal, giving you the potential to pull off amazing assaults and some badass moves. But what's the point if you can just walk through the game wasting entire rifle clips on a single enemy without being challenged? Or if you get into a tight spot you can just put on invisibility mode and walk away, while the 20 guys who had you pinned down just stand there scratching their heads without even looking for you? You have access to grenades, C4, rocket launchers- but are they ever really that useful? Nope, merely tacked on mechanics that are less efficient than shooting someone in the head. The worst part is, these inherent problems that make every gunfight boring and easy could be fixed in less than a day. Give the enemies EMP grenades to knock out your energy, or even just special flares to bring you out of camouflage. Problem solved. AI that is only programmed to shoot at you when they see you horrendously lazy code and ruined the game for me.

This little piggy got microwaved.

Despite the giant difficulty flaw, Crysis 2 is still a decent game. Sure, the story is a bit of a flop and you won't be challenged too much- but the rest is pretty solid. The Nanosuit is a cool ass feature that I'd want in my wardrobe. New York feels very realistic and the alien invasion affects the City just like you'd expect it to. Dying citizens can be found hiding from the armed forces in alleyways and sewers. Aliens land in various places to attack army emplacements and you can hear it all through your communications.

As for the aliens themselves, they can be pretty freaky. Crysis intentionally puts you in places you wouldn't want to be and throws enemies galore at you. They come in several types, some of which can take a fair amount of bullets to the face. Humans are also gunning for you, but they aren't really a threat. In fact, barely anything is a threat but we need a scale to measure.

I like to think he had a parachute. It just failed to activate.

I wouldn't really recommend Crysis 2 to the average person. It's just too similar and questionably inferior to other FPS games. Hell, even Call of Duty and its 5 year old target audience is probably better for most people. The one exception is people who like the idea of toying around with the super Nanosuit. Because it is pretty awesome. If you don't mind stomping noob AI, anyway.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Path of Exile has an enormous skill tree.

I'm level 16 and I've barely made it out of the starting gate.

After spending an entire evening glued to Path of Exile, I've not encountered something I dislike yet. But my favorite part is the skill tree. It's just unbelievably big. It's also remarkably similar to the Sphere grid on Final Fantasy X. Since all the classes share the same grid but start in different places you can head towards another classes zone if you want to pick up some of their talents. It's simple yet complex at the same time.

Maybe I'm biased because I truly do love being able to customize my characters build to be completely unique. Instead of having some douchebag join your party on Diablo 3 and copy your build, on Path of Exile they would have to start a new character. So I've been feeling fairly original whilst carefully designing my build, which is rare for me on a game these days.

I zoomed out as far as I could, and this just about half of the talents in the game.

So if you're going to play Path of Exile, the talent tree is a huge plus. It's got plenty of nifty little features you won't really see in other games. For example, the closest thing to currency in this game is scrolls of identification. What's that you say? No money? Yep. It's more like a barter system. You trade your items to vendors for scrolls and other interesting scraps. Another cool feature is when you die on your hardcore character, it is automatically converted to a normal one. So instead of losing your character, you just lose your bragging rights.

Path of Exile is going to be a great game when it's finally released. If you don't believe me, try out the beta. Sure, it can't sport a high budget like the usual suspects, but that doesn't change the facts. Grinding Gear Games clearly have a passion for games, and the know what Diablo and Torchlight didn't deliver. They are bringing it to Path of Exile.

Open beta on Path of Exile!

For those of you who want alternatives to Diablo 3 or just like the dungeon crawling Hack'and'Slash style of games- Path of Exile is in open beta. Hosting an enormous skill tree and a true challenge, people are flocking to this semi-mmo RPG. I say semi-mmo because in part, you can interact and join other players whilst you're in the towns. It's definitely worth a try, I'm really having fun testing it out.

The graphics aren't half bad.

I've only been playing for 30 minutes so far, but it looks incredibly promising. The witch is the class I am testing, because I'm partial to playing spellcasters. There are currently 6 classes to try out- all of which start on different places in the same talent tree. This mechanic is really intriguing. Essentially, you can start as a warrior and level your way to the healer tree to access restorative talents. Another interesting feature revolves around how your active skills work. They are slotted into your equipment through gems. Weird, right? Instead of unlocking a new ability when you level up, you find a gem in the world and whack it in your armor.

Combat is bloody and brutal, like it should be.

I thought I'd make a quick post in case there is anyone interested in getting in on the free beta. It's not going to cost you anything but a little time and bandwidth, so give it a go! Link to Path of Exile, if you want to test it.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Prototype 2

Out of all the sandbox games ever made, the Prototype franchise may not be in the top 5. But it's definitely one of the most fun. With brutal execution moves and truly terrifying powers, James Heller is one of the most soulless and badass protagonists in a game to date. The plot is shit, the quests are stupid, the characters aren't interesting, and the graphics are mediocre at best. But damn, the gameplay is wonderful.

That's probably really painful.

Genre: Action, Sandbox, Adventure
Release Date: 24th April 2012
Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Score: 7/10
Similar Titles: Assassins creed, Spiderman, Just cause

You know that evil antagonist in every film, game, or book? The one that seems unstoppable, with powers that can corrupt, or destroy anyone on a whim? It takes every hero working together to even put a dent in his armor? James Heller is that guy. He's a monster amid a war between humanity and the zombie mercer virus. What's more, both sides are trying to kill him. And James Heller sure as Hell isn't losing (bad pun, but so easy. I'm sorry!). I think the story could have really been something. The setting is compelling, everything is there to make it an immersive and nail-biting tale. It's just not delivered well enough.

Tendrils are so fun to use, best attack in the game.

Blackwatch are a company fighting for humanity, albeit with questionable intentions. The Mercer virus infects the entire of New York city and threatens to encompass the world. It's too late to eradicate the Zombies entirely, they have spread too far to be stopped without nuking the city. Alex Mercer, the protagonist from the first Prototype has gone completely darkside. His conscience no longer exists, and his goal is to eradicate the human race. Thinking James Heller would be a good soldier, Mercer infects him with powers similar to his own. Luckily for us, Heller has no such intentions.

Nothing to see here gentlemen, move along.

Gameplay is addictive and exactly what you want in any game. Intuitive and easy controls, with a degree of depth for the more advanced players. The combat is satisfying to say the least. Attaching four cars to a helicopter at high velocity with tendrils is just plain awesome. Gliding above a military post and slamming literal hammer fists into explosive barrels to send the base sky high is effective and deadly. Kicking ass as James Heller is just a pleasure. As you progress you unlock new abilities, all of which are cool and overpowered. Mutations may also be unlocked for these abilities, powering them up in whichever way you choose. The system is simple, and it works.

Consuming people is done to access their memories and unlock inaccessible areas.

Another side of Prototype 2 is the stealth/shapeshifting segment. You can switch between Heller and a single disguise at will. Picking camouflage is done by absorbing a helpless human, and is often a good way to escape large amounts of enemies at the end of a quest or when you're too lazy to kill the scourge. This mechanic is largely useless, I rarely spent any time in Heller's body. It's easier to just stay in whichever poor sod you absorbed last.

Strike teams are like annoying flies.

The game isn't hard, it's more about choosing how to kill your enemies as opposed to having one path to victory. Tanks after you? Tear one in half, use it to blow the rest into smithereens. Helicopters? Rip off the missiles and go to town on everything in sight. There is clutter everywhere and it's all a potential weapon. James Heller is one overpowered motherfucker, and it feels good to go on a rampage with nothing to slow you down. In fact, the only things that can really kill you are the huge scary beasties we call bosses.

Helicopter, meet James Heller.

Quests are nothing special. Your typical objective consists of Hulking out and smashing up whatever target Heller sets his eyes on. Which is fine, that's what you do best and it's also the most fun. It's refreshing to play a game that doesn't try to be more than it is by breaking the mold. Prototype is about playing with your awesome power set and blowing stuff up. Every now and again you'll be asked to absorb a particular individual or hack into a certain terminal- but other than that you get free reign to be as destructive as you please. For the more demanding player, there are challenges and collectibles scattered across the city. Some of them can actually be very difficult if you're looking to get frustrated.

I wasn't expecting much from Prototype 2. If you've played the first game, then the second is almost exactly the same. It's a big sandbox for you to swing around in. Nobody expects you to finish it, it just wants you to have fun. Whether that's laughing at Radical Entertainment and their attempts to make you sympathize with the cold blooded James Heller, or just killing everything in sight. It's flawed in many ways, and has countless limitations outside of combat. Just enjoy it. Surprisingly, it's one of the rare games I actually managed to finish. Maybe you will too.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Torchlight 2

There's a reason I'm reviewing the second Torchlight before Diablo 3. Not because it's better, but because Torchlight 2 did not let me down. Sporting cartoon graphics and a simple yet elegant engine, Runic games have done a good job transitioning into a sequel. You will traverse a reasonably long campaign split into acts, basic character customization with detailed and addictive skill/talent system. Also, 6 player multiplayer! So if you have 5 friends instead of 3, screw Diablo and buy this.

Begin your journey and it's raining. Fucking British weather.

Genre: RPG, Roguelike, Hack'n'Slash
Release Date: 20th September 2012
Platforms: PC
Score: 8/10
Similar Titles: Diablo III, Path of Exile, Titan Quest

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Rayman Origins

Out of all the new games I've played in the last year- not a single one has surprised me as much as Rayman Origins. At a brief inspection it looks like the good old 2D platformer that we all played in our childhood. To a degree, it is. The Rayman formula is not only intact; it's better. With multiplayer support and what can only be called immaculate polish, Ubisoft have revived an essentially dead franchise with tremendous brilliance.

Globox swinging on a beard. Are you going to buy it now?

Genre: Platform, Action
Release Date: 15th November, 2011
Platforms: PS3, Wii, Xbox 360, PSvita, 3DS, PC
Score: 9/10
Similar Titles:  Mario, Sonic, Crash Bandicoot
Worth Playing: Rayman Origins is definitely worth playing, whether you're a fan of the series or not it's the authentic experience. Keep the music turned up, the soundtrack is amazing!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Guide to winning Shogun 2 on harder difficulties

Select your faction carefully!


Shogun 2 is a brilliant game. The expansions and DLC content are also very acceptable if not slightly overpriced. Playing the campaign with a friend or even alone is unbelievably addictive. Whilst Normal difficulty is a stroll through the park, when you bump it up to Hard mode or higher; the challenge can be frustratingly overwhelming- even if you have two people.

Legendary is just obscene and I doubt many people even have the patience to persevere through the sheer amount of new games it would take to stand a fighting chance. Armies just spawn over and over making it a very slow uphill battle to snatch a couple of provinces. Therefore for the best challenge I recommend most people stick to hard, unless you are a mathematical genius who wants to abuse mechanics. The normal campaign is designed to ease you into the game, and can be completed using auto-resolve for every battle. I personally find normal easy, but hard and higher are exponentially more difficult.

The start of every campaign is usually the most challenging, if you lose your first large army or the majority of your provinces it's safe to say you are probably going to lose. Most of the information here is designed to help you early game, so you stand a better chance of grabbing provinces early on and then keeping them. With a bit of luck this guide will give you a good shot of becoming the Shogunate.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

The second Skyrim playthrough, with mods galore!

So there's a point in time that's coming up for all of you, when Skyrim beckons you back. Eventually the only outcome is to buckle and reinstall the Bethesda masterpiece. However, any adventurer worth his salt will come armed with lots of fancy mods to spice up their experience. If you don't have or don't like Skyrim- I am disappoint. Maybe you need some addons to cure your black soul!

I just wanted to fly on my own dragon, honest.