Author Topic: Video Game Review Thread - $$$Possible Spoilers$$$  (Read 602 times)

Offline TNC

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Video Game Review Thread - $$$Possible Spoilers$$$
« on: March 15, 2016, 06:57:56 AM »
So it's been quiet here, and I'm bored so, here's a thread for video game reviews.  If you'd like to post a review for a game feel free to.  I'll start with what I've played most recently.

Silent Hill: Downpour (PS3/Xbox 360)
“Wherever this thing goes, it can’t be any worse than back there… can it?” – Murphy Pendleton, clearly having no idea what’s in store for him…

Silent Hill: Downpour is the 8th game in the franchise and was released in 2012 and developed by Czech Republic based Vatra Games (which went under right shortly after the game was released).  Downpour is a stand-alone story that is set in the previously unexplored south-eastern region of Silent Hill.  Which as an aside, if this fan made map can be trusted, Silent Hill is pretty damn big…  Speaking of big, this is probably the largest game in the franchise with plenty of hidden things to find.

Downpour once again takes us to everyone’s favorite slice of hell.  This time you are inmate Murphy Pendleton.  The game starts off with a very dark tutorial, Murphy has made a deal with crooked prison guard George Sewell to get some alone time with a sequestered prisoner Murphy has a bone to pick with.  Once you get into the showers said sequestered prisoner arrives in a fan disservice moment (fat guy wearing nothing but a towel around his waist), and then you get the combat tutorial as you chase the unarmed guy around the room and kill him.

So then the game cuts to you getting transferred to another prison.  On the way your bus goes off the road (pro tip: keep your eyes on the road) crashing just outside Silent Hill.  As usual you’ll have to make your way out of the town while learning about why Murphy went to prison.  In a way, Downpour is a spiritual successor to Silent Hill 2, instead of focusing on The Order (the psycho cult responsible, directly or indirectly, for the horror in the other games) it presents the town itself as a malevolent entity that draws in people with checkered pasts and tries to kill them until they learn something important.

Along the way you’ll run into a few other characters: Anne Marie Cunningham (a cop with a vendetta against you, who got a tie-in comic released in 2014), Howard Blackwood (a mysterious mailman and one of the few African-American characters in the franchise), Bobby Ricks (someone who seems to know a thing or two about how Silent Hill works, another African-American character), JP Sader (a guy who used to run a train ride at The Devil’s Pit with a dark past, one of the game’s more interesting locations), and Frank Coleridge (in flashbacks, a corrections officer who’s trying to look out for you).

As with other Silent Hill games, you have to survive monsters, solve puzzles, and get the hell out of Silent Hill.  This time around you have a Journal where your Gameplay Tips, Objectives, Memos (“Mysteries”), and Maps are.  As far as combat goes, you can only equip two weapons at a time, a melee weapon and a gun or two guns. However you will have to ditch one of those guns to use a melee weapon to get past barricades (like in Homecoming).  Like in Origins weapons will gradually degrade and break, this includes at least shotguns, forcing you to get new ones.  As I mentioned, you need certain weapons to get past various obstacles: hatches/fire axes/pickaxes for boarded up areas, any heavy metal object for padlocks, and latter hooks to pull down ladders.  There’s usually one of these near said obstacle.  Unlike Homecoming, swinging melee weapons is a little slow and you’ll likely take a couple hits fighting a monster.  While aiming a firearm the reticule will move around a bit.  You can also throw most melee weapons.  Monsters will become more aggressive and more numerous during storms forcing you to go indoors.

Like Silent Hill 2 & 3 you can change the game difficulty and the puzzle difficulty separately.  This time you will find a UV flashlight that you’ll need to get through some puzzles.  As I said before this is quite possibly the largest Silent Hill yet and has a new sidequest feature.  You don’t have to do any of them but most of them reward you with items, trophies/achievements, or little tidbits of information.  A couple of sidequests: “All Points Bulletin” and “Homeless” make the game a bit easier.  The first one gets rid of police cars around town that summon monsters when you get near them while the second one opens up subway tunnels for you to get around town faster.  Almost all of the sidequests involve solving puzzles or item fetching.  Three sidequests give unique weapons: “Cinema Verite” awards the Golden Gun, “The Art Collector” awards the Tomahawk, and “Shadow Play” awards the Demon Statue.  The Golden Gun is a more powerful version of the base handgun, but you will get less ammo for it since while you have the handgun every other handgun you pick up gives you more ammo, which doesn’t work if you have the Golden Gun.  The other two are melee weapons, with the Tomahawk supposedly being one of the best weapons in the game (though its acquired at a point where advancing the main story will give you very limited time to use it).

As expected you are shifted to the Otherworld, the twisted hell beneath the surface of Silent Hill, several times.  Unlike previous games, the Otherworld spaces are completely unique areas with only slight thematic similarities to the area you were in before.  The Otherworld also differs in appearance, often having lots of water around and impossible geometry (one room is called “Escher Room” for good reason).  There’s a fair amount of puzzles in Otherworld segments, as well as chase sequences where you are chased by this creature called “The Void” which is basically a red tinted black hole that will slowly kill you when it gets close to you. 
There are a lot of different areas to explore, perhaps my favorite is the aforementioned Devil’s Pit, the first cave system (that I can remember) in a Silent Hill game (or at least one I’ve played.)  This is also the only Silent Hill without a hospital.  Also there’s no more “The lock is broken, this door cannot be opened.” As areas you can’t go are just boarded or walled off.
It wouldn’t be a Silent Hill without multiple endings, and Downpour has 6 endings.  The four “main endings” are based on the hidden karma meter.  Said karma meter is based two things, three moral decisions (two at the beginning of the game and one at the end) and killing monsters.  Killing monsters means you lose karma points and because of this it means the last moral decision is more important when determining the ending.  After beating the game once it unlocks the sidequest “Digging up the past” where you’ll dig up (yes, you’ll need a shovel) artifacts around town and when you get all of them it will unlock the joke ending.  The sixth ending does not unlock a trophy and is more of a non-standard game over; just let the final boss kill you.  This means you’ll have to play the game three times to get all the endings (or if your near the threshold for killing enemies, the final boss sends a bunch of mooks after you so if you can kill enough of them you might be able to get the four non-joke endings in one playthrough, but I don't know what that threshold is).  Also this is one of the few Silent Hill games where you have to go through the whole game to get the joke ending, most of them cut some time off of the game.

The Bad
It’s probably the best looking Silent Hill, but there are a few issues.  Bobby Ricks’ model doesn’t seem as good as the other characters.  The game uses an auto-save system, which can cause some lag and prevents you from going back (as it only keeps 4 save files and at least on the PS3 you can’t copy data to cut down on play time to get all the endings).  The two weapon system is kinda annoying considering the fact that previous games had unlimited inventories (except for Silent Hill 4: The Room).  There are some lag issues although it’s mostly fixed with a patch.  Also the monsters are a little too human looking compared to the previous games.  Plus the game has several points where you'll lose at least your weapon(s) and flashlight, the worst of which is near the end when you cross the point of no return and loose EVERYTHING, including the 15 or so First Aid Kits you'll have picked up by this point.  The final negative is a minor one, but there's no New Game+ feature which means no infinite ammo laser pistol and you'll have to start any sidequests over from scratch when you start a regular new game.

Final Verdict
All in all, I’d have to say this is a solid entry in the Silent Hill franchise.  It’s not the best (IMO that’s Silent Hill 3), but it’s still pretty good.  I’d have to give it a 7.5 out of 10, mostly due to the lag, limited weapon system, clunky melee combat, and mostly disappointing monster designs.  I’d recommend this game to Silent Hill fans; although I figure most of them have already played it.  If you haven’t played a Silent Hill before, but like horror games then I’d say give this one a shot since you don’t really need to know the franchise to play it (though you will miss out on all the little references).

EDITED: To fix an error and add some details.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2016, 12:11:12 PM by TNC »
“Battle is not a simulation. It’s blood and screams and funerals.” – Capt. Georgiou – Star Trek: Discovery – “The Vulcan Hello”

Offline TNC

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Re: Video Game Review Thread - $$$Possible Spoilers$$$
« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2016, 06:31:35 PM »
Star Trek: Timelines (iOS, Android)
"Boldly go where not even the Q have gone before." - Q
I normally wouldn't review a mobile phone game, or a game I haven't completed but screw it. 

Star Trek: Timelines is a strategy RPG released back in January set some time after Nemesis.  The game opens with you, the captain of a Constellation-class ship, investigating an anomaly near Romulan space along with Commander Tomalak.  Q shows up an explains that it is no ordinary anomaly, and suddenly several Federation ships from different time periods (including the NCC-1701) show up.  Of course Tomalak assumes its a Federation trap and attacks you.  After defeating him Q tells you that the temporal anomalies are causing multiple timelines and realities to intersect with yours and recruits you to fix it.  The story is divided into "Episodes" which are multi-mission chains consisting of Space Battles and Away Missions.  Most of these Episodes focus on a dispute in the region, which you are able to take sides in and determine the victor.  For example the 1st episode is a conflict between the Klingon Empire and Augments.  Which side you take will effect what your final reward is, for example in the conflict between the Klingon Empire and the Augments, siding with the Empire awards you "Security Officer Worf" while siding with the Augments awards you Persis (the female Augment from season 4 of ENT).

The game consists of Away Missions  and Space Battles, with a heavy focus on Away Missions.  You recruit people from every Trek series to serve as your crew, there are even multiple versions of some characters.  Away Missions function kind of like DOff missions from STO, you pick three people to send on the mission and the mission consists of several branching steps.  Each step requires proficiency in one of 6 areas: Command, Diplomacy, Security, Engineering, Science, and Medicine.  The characters you recruit will have different levels of proficiency in one or more of these areas (maximum of 3).  This means that even if a task requires an Engineer, and you don't have one, you could pick a different task to complete the mission.  Failure at any point in the early tasks will apply a penalty to the final task, making it more difficult, and if you fail the final task you fail the mission.

Space Battles consist of 1 on 1 duels with an enemy ship, which is on auto-pilot basically as all you can do is activate abilities.  Kind of like STO every ship has one or more built in abilities and 2 BOff seats.  While there are several different stats, the 5 most obvious are Shields, Hull, Attack, Accuracy, and Evasion.  Every crew member has a single ship ability that will boost Attack, Accuracy, or Evasion (which are color coded Red, Yellow, and Blue respectively).  Crew Ship abilities can also have boosts based on equipment that crew member has, but the boost are only active if they meet certain criteria which varies from ship-to-ship.  For example, your starting Constellation-class requires personnel with Command and Diplomacy skill sets for the bonuses to be active, whereas the Nova-class requires Science and Medicine.  Each ship also has built-in unique abilities, for example the Constellation has an ability that boost Evasion by one, while the Nova has two abilities: one that boosts Evasion and one that boosts Accuracy.  Shields will slowly regenerate damage until they fall.  Space battles are also timed with a 170-some odd seconds to defeat the enemy.

As I said before Crew Members can be equipped with various equipment.  This equipment boosts their stats, and once they have been equipped with 4 items, you can "Advance" them allowing them 10 more levels.  Then you have to repeat for the next 10 levels and so on, I don't know what the max level is.  Crew come in the typical White, Green, Blue, Purple, Yellow rarities.  If you pick up multiple versions of Green, Blue, Purple, or Yellow characters you can "Fuse" them to improve their stats.  For example I got 2 "Promoted Siskos" fairly early on and fused them since they were Green.  When I got a third, I had to just discard him.  You can only carry 25 crew initially, but you can spend Credits (roughly equivalent to EC in STO) to get more.

After you advance to a certain level, Faction Missions unlock, which are pretty much DOff missions from STO were you send crew off ship via one of your two shuttles for a set amount of time.  Successfully completing these missions gives you items and boosts your faction reputation, which in turn unlocks more items in the various faction stores.  No experience is gained from these missions and the more you do for one faction, the longer subsequent missions will take and the harder they will be.  In addition to the Episodes mentioned above there are "Distress Calls" which are collections of unconnected side missions that take place an a specific region.

As a mobile phone game, it is built in a way to encourage you to spend money, or grind your ass off.  Some of the equipment is hard to come by and is randomly dropped from various missions.  The hardest I've found to get is the "Science Experiment" which only drops in 1 space battle.  There are various daily rewards: A one time claim reward that changes each day of the month, rewards for doing a certain number of missions, etc.  and hourly chroniton boosts.   Chronitons by the way are basically lives, each mission requring a certain number of Chronitons for you to attempt.  As you level up you can have more Chronitons which slowly regenerate over time.  There's also the Time Portal which is where most of the major stuff is.  There's also usually some kind of special event on the weekends.  You can also replicate items, but you have to break down other items to do it and I haven't really tried it yet.  There's also 3 difficulty levels: Normal, Elite, and Master (IIRC).  You have to get three stars to in the lower levels to unlock the higher levels, plus be a certain Captain Level.  For Away Missions the difficult levels up the Proficiency requirements and for Space Battles the enemy ship gets higher hull and shield levels and gains an additional ability for each difficulty level.  To get three stars in Away Missions you have to get all the rare item rewards (which are dropped on Critical Successes on various tasks) and in Space Battles you have to defeat the enemy in 20 seconds.

There's also Challenges and the Arena.  Haven't tried the Arena since it sounds like PvP, but the Challenges are basically special Away Missions with a restriction (for example, you can only use Female White and Green crew) and require special tickets to do instead of Chronitons.  The Challenges change each day and after completing one there's a set amount of time before you can do the next one.  Both of these require you to be a certain level to do.

Other comments
For a mobile phone game, the graphics are pretty good.  Some characters have voice clips from the show, one of these is poor Mayweather from ENT who just says "Mayweather" every time he's selected.  He went from being Token to Timmy.  :'( :P  Q is the only one with relevant dialog, meaning he usually narrates his dialog.  The game requires internet use, I'd have to say it's fairly average in its data usage, depending on what you're doing.  There's something like 247 different crew members you can collect, and its just about everybody you can think of, or not think of.  Like Dr. Russell from TNG: "Ethics", or a MACO woman named Money, "Gangster Spock", "Wrathful Khan", Tuvix, "Chef Neleex", "Ambassador Neleex", etc., etc., etc.  Q gives a special "Space the Final Frontier..." monologue the first couple of times you play it but then it changes to snarky comments like "Did you enjoy Risa, or wherever you were.", "Everything is right where you left it, mostly", and "I'm glad you could make time for us".

Preliminary Verdict
It's a little unfair to give a "Final Verdict" to a game I haven't finished yet, but I've seen enough for a "Preliminary Verdict".  It's a pretty fun game, the story is good so far.  It's kind of like STO-lite I guess.  I'd definitely recommend trying it, since it is free-to-play, just be ready to grind if you don't want to pay. (Right after starting it offered me a U.S.S. Defiant, for $25, and I've seen special offer packs in the C-Store Time Portal for $100) If I had to give it a score, I'd say 6.5 seems about fair.  The Chroniton system and auto-pilot space battles kind of suck, but I guess navigating a ship and firing would be a pain with touch screen controls, especially with smaller phone screens.  Also the Galaxy map can be a pain to get it where you want it to select old missions you've beat if you want to replay them to get a better score or get a specific item.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2016, 06:39:58 PM by TNC »
“Battle is not a simulation. It’s blood and screams and funerals.” – Capt. Georgiou – Star Trek: Discovery – “The Vulcan Hello”