May 142011
 

If you are from Europe, you will know that there is a song contest called Eurovision. For any Americans who don’t know what this is, it is a contest where countries from across Europe sing songs and the best gets voted. Singers such as ABBA and Celine Dion have been discovered from this. But who would win a video games Eurovision? Only European games that have been developed since May 1st 2010 can qualify and then you can vote for your winner!

1. Finland
Developer: Remedy Entertainment
Game: Alan Wake

This video game received a lot of hype and people did like it when it came out in May last year, so it qualifies as a contestant. It was received well by critics and gamers alike, with it gaining a Metacritic rating of 83%. It also won three awards. Can Finland win it?

2. Denmark
Developer: IO Interactive
Game: Kane and Lynch 2

IO Interactive are known for their vicious bloodthirsty games, Mini Ninjas aside, and Kane and Lynch 2 continues this proud tradition of newspaper baiting. The critics were mixed with some loving it, and some hating it. It has sold over a million copies. Lots of guns and blood make this a real contender.

3. Hungary
Developer: Zen Studios
Game: Pinball FX 2

I can’t really stretch this into a meaningful paragraph can I? This is a pinball game. It has online leaderboards, and it is rather addictive. It is a very well received game though, with an 88% rating on Metacritic. A surprise winner?

4. Sweden
Developer: Legendo
Game: Pear Harbour Trilogy

No one has realized that this title has been released for WiiWare. It’s probably the best plane game on the Wii (yes better than Heatseeker and Blazing Angels) and some great graphics for WiiWare game. An unlikely winner.

5. Russia:
Developer: Gaijin
Game: Apache: Air Assault

The plane simulator seems to be a thing this year. This game was heard of, but not widely reviewed or known of widely, though it did get above average reviews. Russia is a long way away from Tetris.

6. France
Developer: Ubisoft Paris
Game: Just Dance 2

This was one of those games which if you were a critic, you had to pan because of its iffy controls and lacking single player. Yet it was incredibly fun with friends, and is now a flagship title for the Nintendo Wii. It also remains the only game my girlfriend can beat me at. Damn.

7. United Kingdom
Developer: Media Mocule
Game: LittleBigPlanet 2

This massive game is full of creativity, probably because it is a British game. Not because we’re great minds or anything, but because we couldn’t be arsed to make the levels and made you make them instead. This is my personal favourite.

8. Germany
Developer: Crytek Frankfurt
Game: Crysis 2

Yes I know it is also UK developed, but I can find plenty more for them. This game was well loved, though obviously the purists grumbled about it being on the 360 and PS3. Though some media outlets criticized it, it gained an 86% metacritic rating, and is a big favourite.


May 142011
 

Titles rated T (Teen) have content that may be suitable for ages 13 and older. Titles in this category may contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling, and/or infrequent use of strong language.

The First Templar

Windows PC, Xbox 360

Contains: Blood, Mild Language, Violence

Titles rated T (Teen) have content that may be suitable for ages 13 and older. Titles in this category may contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling, and/or infrequent use of strong language.


I never stood well to understand much of what was going in my history classes when the teacher was discussing the Crusades. It’s not that I had a bad teacher either—he was amazing—but my understanding of the geopolitics of the time was cut short by the sheer density of the time period. Fortunately for me, I have a new video game that explains it to me in simple terms! Kalypso Media, a company known for its RTS titles, has just released one of their first action/adventure titles called The First Templar. It tells the story Celian, a Templar Knight, and his quest to discover the Holy Grail while the kingdom of Jerusalem is being overrun by invaders. There’s a lot to say about this piece, but let’s take a look at some first impressions.

No, you're not Altair. No, you can't climb that wall.

After launching the game, I am immediately presented a cut scene of two knights walking towards a chapel. I assume that one of the characters is my own. In front of the chapel, the characters discover a dead body. In search of the Grand Master of the Order, they express their concern and hurry inside the chapel only to be attacked by three men. At this point, I’m given control of one of the knights, and my journey begins. The game is about as straightforward as it gets, that’s for sure. Rescue the princess, defeat the disfigured human, stop the siege of the city—the game tells a very linear tale. It extends to all aspects of the gameplay, environmental design, and practically everything else.

Starting with the story, there wasn’t ever a time where I wondered what was actually going on. I knew what was going on, all the time. It was a comforting feeling to be sure, but it never let my mind wander enough to entertain other possibilities, which might or might not be fulfilled. It is an action title, so this is somewhat understandable. However, the plot has the grandness and scope of something you would see in The Witcher or Assassin’s Creed, so to have it be so unilateral in direction is ultimately doing a disservice to itself.

This is not answering his prayers.

The gameplay presents similar frustration. My first and consistent gripe is that the camera was incredibly difficult to control. It’s set at a fixed distance above your character, but moving it forward would always bring the camera forward and under. It made it so that I had to keep my hand movements limited to horizontal swipes to the right or left to maintain a consistent vantage point. Action sequences are solid and challenging, but the game lacks a targeting system, which can get very frustrating when you’re trying to juggle multiple enemies in an efficient manner. Combined with the quirky camera, I would often end up on the floor, being stabbed by countless enemies simply because I couldn’t keep track of everything that was happening at that particular moment. However, after a few battles, I quickly acclimated, and the combat became a lot more enjoyable. With the added bonus of cooperative multiplayer, combat becomes much more manageable, and even garners a little bit of replay value.

Combat is closely tied to your character progression. Character progression is based off of skill trees, with each skill tree being able to branch out in four different directions. You can tell that Kalypso spent some time thinking about what went into this—the skills I unlocked always helped improve my effectiveness in combat. As such there’s definitely a sense of strategy as to what moves you want to purchase for you and your partner. Unfortunately, the skill trees aren’t labeled, and you can only see what skills you can unlock if you purchase the skill before it. I was essentially leveling blind because of it—I had to use my intuition to create a well-balanced character.

You're the guy on the right. That guy there on the left? He's Rolland. Hella hard cats rolling out of the Crusades named Rolland.

The graphics are sharp and crisp, and they serve their purpose. They not Mass Effect or Crysis quality, but they hold the line at being just good enough to prove that they aren’t antiquated with their engine. Kalypso even put in twenty historically-accurate sites to portray the Holy Land of the Middle Ages. Going back to my original point, with so much attention to detail, I would hope that Kalypso would have opened the environments up for more exploration. I’m not kidding—even my path through all of these castles, dungeons, and deserts was entirely linear.

The sound, like the graphics, doesn’t disappoint. However, the voice acting and recordings did come off as a little strange. They were blunt, and to the point. This is fine in itself, but when it came to talking about the wickedness of the Devil and the fight to reclaim Jerusalem, it almost seemed as if the developers wanted to turn the game into a social commentary and make it sound… sarcastic. This is simply conjecture, but it provided a good laugh here or there.

Overall, First Templar is a solid game. It’s certifiably good, but what it’s lacking is a few layers of polish. Unfortunately, by today’s standards reviews are made in comparison with those that have already set the bar, and this game isn’t setting any records. Playing as a knight is cool, but it felt as if I was playing a toned down amalgam of The Witcher and Assassin’s Creed. It’s a great idea in theory, but sloppily executed.

I give First Templar 7.0 out of 10. There’s tons of room for potential and improvement, so let’s hope Kalypso gives us a sequel somewhere down the line.

PC Game

Graphics

75
 

Audio

70
 

Gameplay

80

Creativity

78
 

Execution

72
 

Offset

70
    

7.4

  

How do these ratings work? Click here for descriptions!

Pros

  • Enjoyable combat
  • Strategic skill-building
  • Historically-accurate environments
  • Co-op multiplayer

Cons

  • Linear plot
  • Linear gameplay
  • Linear environments
A copy of this game was provided for review purposes.
May 032011
 

We are going to start out this feature with an oldie but a goodie in our multi-installment of Villians We Love The Most.

Final Fantasy 6′s Kefka Palazzo is a villain that broke the norm. Now Kefka wasn’t always a homicidal lunatic, apparently he was the first subject for the magitek knight process. The process destroyed his mind and also gave him incredible magical properties. Most games consist of fighting the bad guy and stopping them before they execute their plan to conquer the world. Kefka actually succeeds in his immediate goal. He conquers the world, kills many innocents and changes the face of the entire planet. Kefka wins against the heroes, at least for awhile. What most people like about Kefka though is that he isn’t the typical evil mastermind. In fact, he seems to be much like The Joker, everything in the world is his joke and it is his job to deliver the punchline. Early on, he kills an entire kingdom because, more or less, he is bored. He overthrows an empire and plays god for awhile too! Even throughout all of this, his shrill laugh is still a sound most gamers can identify. In the Dissidia series, he once again comes off as an undermining schemer that cares only for his plans. Well, that and killing people.

 

 

May 022011
 

Unless you’ve just emerged from a cave in the deep African desert, you will know that two people called William and Kate got married last Friday. Well to celebrate their getting together (read: cashing in) lets see who the greatest gaming couples are.

All the girls go aww, all the boys are jealous.

Tidus and Yuna (Final Fantasy X)

One of the most famous relationships in gaming. Though I don’t have much idea, I have pulled an FF expert out to help me explain. Tidus meats Yuna when he sneaks into a holy place and they become friends. They start to share cute moments together. They finally realize they actually love each other and kiss, to which the entire community that girls play go awwwww. Though obviously the ending pulls out the latest FF trick of making you sob like you are watching Marley and Me.

Mrs Pac Man is a desperate housewife.

Mr and Mrs Pac-Man (Pac-Man series)

How can these two not be included. Yes I realize that they have only met in Pac Man Party, which is the most average game ever created but they are married! If you can find another leading game character that is married, please tell me in the comments.Obviously they care so much for each other, they don’t want to see each other. Just like any other married couple.

Elena hates Drakey because he is a backseat driver.

Drake and Elena (Uncharted series)

I don’t have a PS3, but a friendly PS3 fan, who doesn’t get aggravated if you talk about your latest online adventures, told me about Drake and Elena, same one as the FF expert as well. They were like a light switch, constantly on and off. But finally when Drake saved Elena, they realized that they should be together. Until Uncharted 3 I guess. I should get a PS3 and actually experience this for myself.

Just wait for the Goron.

Link and Zelda (Legend of Zelda)

At first we were unsure. Link might not want the princess, he never talks so he might already have a wife but has never told us about it. After all, married men have to be quiet so their wives can babble on about Mrs Crockett’s garden and how they should start a garden so she can water it. But then the end of Spirit Tracks, yes the game that no Zelda fan really cared a lot about, confirmed our suspicions. Or Link is cheating on his wife.

Mario won't be smiling when he discovers Peach's chastity belt.

Mario and Princess Peach (Do I really need to tell you?)

So all Princess Peach has done is give Mario pecks on the cheek and cake and she wasn’t lying about that, well that’s my contribution to our Portal theme sorted, and unless they are massive euphemisms, Mario’s been left on the lurch. I mean he has saved Princess Peach countless time and he still hasn’t got anything! Its obvious that Princess Peach likes Mario or why would she constantly send for him instead of a knight in shining armor. Unless the room she is kept in Bowser’s Castle has a burst pipe. But that destroys my article dead so its not true. They love each other deeply, but Mario doesn’t want to ask her out until Luigi asks out Daisy so they can go on double dates. There.

Apr 302011
 

Titles rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) have content that may be suitable for ages 10 and older. Titles in this category may contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.

FINAL FANTASY IV The Complete Collection

PS Vita, PSP

Contains: Alcohol Reference, Animated Blood, Fantasy Violence, Language, Suggestive Themes

Titles rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) have content that may be suitable for ages 10 and older. Titles in this category may contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.


So, I imagine you are thinking what I thought when I first saw this, “Great, another, FFIV retread”. I was weary of the thought, since I played every release of the title that has made it stateside. I also went though the teeth pulling that was FFIV: The After Years on the Wii. Loved the game but hated the fact that I had to wait a month to get any further in the story. After all, FFII (IV) was my favorite game of all time (before VI came out), I remember being amazed by the depth of colors and the story and music… Honestly none of the rereleases captured this. The closest any one of them got was the DS version, just due to 3D graphics and a few (often times) boring minigames. That is, until Square-Enix released the Final Fantasy IV: Complete Collection on the PSP…

The collection is broken into 3 pieces; the original story, an interlude and then The After Years. Playing through the original story, I immediately noticed the improved sprites from prior versions. A few characters, like Dark Knight Cecil, have had a complete overhaul. Another nifty change is the updated HD graphics. It may not sound like much, but magic and special attacks no longer use sprite based animation. for those who don’t understand what I am trying to say, it look good. With all of these added changes to the visuals and a new arranged soundtrack, it almost feels like I am playing the game for the first time… almost.

The inclusion of all 3 chapters of this story is amazing, I’ve played through the original so many times that jumping right into the additional stories is great. Although I did play through the original again, just for good measure. Everything has gotten a facelift and perhaps the only oddity that I noticed was that the game appeared to use the DS versions cutscenes during gameplay. What made this so odd, is that they really do not fit the visual level that the rest of the game sets. These scenes however are actually few and far between, so they don’t do much to get in the way. Dialogue has been doctored as well, no more odd quips from characters that seemed out of the norm.

The Final Fantasy IV that we get with the collection is the real version (or hard as some may recall). Because of this, characters get their special abilities that were not included in the original SNES release. Inventory is also no longer bottomless, often times forcing you to make a decision on what gear you will be using with little room for error. Fortunately FFIV has always followed the “get better gear, get rid of the old stuff” philosophy. So the simple practice of inventory management plays into the gameplay efficiently. Story elements are corrected as well from the old release, notably a few things that were left out, like a character that Cecil is related to.

The interlude is actually itself isn’t actually so much an interlude as it is a 15 hour adventure. That is great, considering that some RPGs can be completed in less time. Using the remaining cast from IV, the interlude sets the groundwork for the next story. Gameplay here is the same as it was in IV, so no new abilities or battle mechanics. The characters that you get to use all start preleveled, so fortunately the high level areas that you may be exploring do not require too much leveling to navigate. As you play through the interlude, you do get introduced to some of the characters that you will be meeting in The After Years.

Then there is the episodic Final Fantasy IV: The After Years. The story itself follows characters from FFVI new and old. Being that the game takes place 17 years after FFVI, all the old characters boast new looks while the new characters are all creatively designed. Seeing your old favorite characters re-imaged is actually a high point to this game as well. Ceodore, son of Cecil, kicks this one of with a bang. This time around combat is specifically affected by the lunar phase. Magic and physical attack power rise and fall depending on each phase, constantly changing battle tactics every phase. The “Band” ability is introduced as well, a special ability that allows characters to link attacks. Working similarly to the double and triple techs of Chrono Trigger, there are 70 different abilities overall. After completing the very first episode, you are allowed to choose the other episodes, instead of following a set path. This is an amazing sequel to FFIV and flows together beautifully.

Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection is the definitive collection for the FFIV series. The new graphics let relive your first experience with the series and the amount of game included is epically long. I myself logged over 100 hours of gameplay throughout all 3 titles.

We give Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection a 9.5/10. This is a title that all RPG fans need to own for their PSP.

Playstation Portable

Graphics

95
 

Audio

90
 

Gameplay

80

Creativity

70
 

Execution

85
 

Offset

95
    

8.6

  

How do these ratings work? Click here for descriptions!

Pros:

  • New HD graphics
  • Over 100 hours of gameplay
  • Complete version of FFIV
  • Remastered soundtrack
  • Plenty of extras

Cons:

  • The After Years story doesn’t flow as smoothly as I would have liked.
A copy of this game was provided for review purposes.
Apr 192011
 

The list below is in no particular order.  These are the top 5 rpg games I am most looking forward to.

Mass Effect 3

Since BioWare first opened shop in 1995, they’ve been laying down the law as to what it means to make an RPG. In more recent years their titles, spanning from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic to Mass Effect 2, have received awards from numerous sites as the best RPG of the year.

I need not make an introduction for Mass Effect 3. If you don’t know about it, go purchase the first two titles of the trilogy now, and go make a post on this page about how great you thought they were.

 

Mass Effect 3 is wrapping up the story of Commander Shepard and his crew on the Normandy as you try to save Earth from the destructive robotic hive mind known as The Reapers. BioWare has already leaked numerous details concerning the production of this title, all of which have the fans psyched: the same characters, including ones from the first ME title, Ashley and Kaiden. However, for this run, the production company is taking a darker turn and making the plot as grim as possible. This is fitting, as with most sci-fi save-the-world games, it comes down to tough decisions and undesirable consequences for your character. BioWare has masterfully combined the decision-consequence based gameplay with a thrilling plot, excellent gameplay mechanics and excellent voice acting, making it one of the most expected titles for the Q4 of 2011.

Photo source: CVG

Diablo III


 

It’s not really fair of me to heap praise upon BioWare if I don’t give equal mention to any of it’s other competitors. While BioWare has been forging ahead with character-based immersion in their games, Blizzard has been ruling the throne of the real-time strategy portion of RPGs since their release of Warcraft: Orcs and Humans in 1994. However, one of their more famously received titles was the 1997 release of Diablo, and its follow-up Diablo II in 2000.

Everyone has been expecting Diablo III. Unfortunately, still not much is known about it, although Blizzard has been dropping hints here and there. They’ve promised five new classes: a Witch Doctor, Monk, Wizard, and the powerful Demon Hunter. No news on the plot yet, but Blizzard has promised something true to the original Diablo heritage: a focused, linear storyline with all the bloody hack-and-slash goodness. New features would include: new skill developments, artisan and crafting abilities, and perhaps most importantly, a revamped Battle.net, which includes social networking features and constant access.

Photo source: IGN

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Another BioWare title, I felt as I had to include this one just for the significance. While fans thought Knights of the Old Republic: The Sith Lords was marginally disappointing (and I mean, very marginally), they have been craving a sequel to The Old Republic series for more than seven years. Seven years, BioWare has kept us waiting, and now, we have details on their answer: an MMO.

The story takes place some 300 years after the events of The Knights of The Old Republic, and quite a long time before the events that take place in the movies. Conflicts are arising between a new Sith Empire and the Republic after the Treaty of Coruscant, the alleged end to the Great Galactic War. The decision to move the story to an MMO was a sound one, as massively-multiplayer online content is arguably the only shell capable of addressing all the needed lore that the Star Wars canon can contain. Players can choose between Republic and Sith factions, with four character classes belonging to each. The Jedi Knight and Consular mirror the Sith Warrior and the Inquisitor, while the Smuggler and the Trooper mimic the Bounty Hunter and Imperial Agent. Each class has advanced classes, all unique to the Star Wars universe. With any luck, this will be the title that wraps up the inconsistencies with the Dark Lord Revan and other character stories within the Old Republic timeline. BioWare has a website that is frequently updated with new information on background and history, as well as details on game mechanics. I suggest you go check it out.

Photo source: SWTOR

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Bethesda was one of the first developers that grasped the notion that in order for the player to truly take on the role of its character, that player needs to see the entirely of the world that the character is placed in. This is what Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind was known for, and this of course was expounded upon in Oblivion. Oblivion got game of the year by almost every well-known games news site during its 2006 release, and now we get to see if Bethesda can one-up themselves.

Not only does Skyrim look visually beautiful, but once again there is a vast lore that the player must undertake in order to understand game mechanics. Bethesda has incorporated a utility called “Dragon shouts” which are words of an ancient tongue belonging to the race of your character—these words can in turn be used to power up your abilities, as the Dragon Shouts are canonically attributed as the voice that a leader used to bring others into battle. In terms of other mechanics, it seems that the entire affair has become more streamlined, taking out redundant or unnecessary features and creating a more simplistic, streamlined game for the player. Don’t take this as a sign of Bethesda wussing out on the works—the game has over 120 dungeons with some impressively-designed mythical beasts making sure that you don’t succeed in your mission.

Photo source: Joystiq

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Last but not least, we have an Eidos title, the third and follow-up prequel to the prestigious Deus Ex series. Customization has always been the name of the game for Deus Ex titles, and the chaotic futuristic society of all three titles proved to be the proper environment to load your character up with all different kinds of ability-enhancing tech. This was needed to enhance your skill and increase your chances of success.

 

This new story follows the story of Adam Jensen, a security enforcer at a company specializing in nanotechnology in a time where bio-tech is being protested and proliferated at the same time. Jensen is loyal to his job, but is not necessarily approving of the new nanotech upgrades that his company puts out. A break-in at the company forces Jensen to accept this new lifestyle, as his body is left badly damaged, and can only be repaired through mechanized parts. Jensen begins investigating as to who attacked his company and ends up uncovering a gigantic conspiracy.

Human Revolution works of the same original Deus Ex groundwork, but features some really cool changes—new melee abilities, coming from blades extending from Jensen’s arms, as well as the ability to choose between a stealth or assault mode of play. Visually, the game looks superb, borrowing themes from medieval Renaissance and futuristic steampunk, and I have no doubt that the plot is equally appealing.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution comes out this May.

Photo source: Deux Ex

 

Apr 182011
 

In February, a rumor was dropped about a new Batman title coming to XBLA, with little else known about it besides its given name—Gotham City Imposters.

Now, it seems that WB has purchased several domain names, called BatmanHushGame.com, BatmanImposters.com, and BatmanRedhoods.com. As for what purpose these websites could have, it’s anyone’s guess. Perhaps the game will coincide with the October Arkham City release, or even function as some form of DLC.

For those of you that don’t know, “Imposters” was an arc in the Batman Detective Comics series, which featured mass riots of civilians dressing up as Batmen and Jokers to finish the war on crime in Gotham.

Little Tommy Elliot always had a bone to pick with the Wayne Family.

Hush and the Red Hood are two of the Caped Crusader’s older villains from the Modern Age, so if those domain names are foreshadowing as to what’s to come, it’ll be interesting to see how WB incorporates them into another cohesive Dark Knight title.

 

Source: CVG, Superannuation

Apr 172011
 

Point and Click Adventure games have always been near and dear to our hearts here at Gaming Irresponsibly. We were overjoyed when word got out the the unofficial resolution to the King’s Quest series was finally going to be released in episodic content by it’s creators at Phoenix Online Studios. Needless to say we were honored to have an opportunity to have a conversation with Cesar Bittar, Director and Designer of The Silver Lining and CEO of Phoenix Online.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Can you give us a brief history of Phoenix Online Studios?

CB: Phoenix Online first formed as Phoenix Freeware in 2002. By 2004, we dropped the “Freeware,” legally registered the company, and became Phoenix Online Studios.  It was formed by a group of fans who were unhappy after learning that the Sierra we knew and loved had dissolved and that there were no plans for a new entry in the King’s Quest franchise. Through the years, people from every corner of the world, including the Netherlands, Australia, Sweden, the UK, Brazil, Venezuela, Canada, and the US among others, have become part of the team and have given their all to The Silver Lining.

These days, we often just go by Phoenix Online, and we are in the middle of a big transition as we become a fully functional and commercial company.

What inspired you to give the KQ series a fitting end? 

CB: We just simply couldn’t let go of our childhood dreams, and, when we learned that there would be no more King’s Quest, we decided to take matters into our own hands and do a final chapter. We wanted the series to go out with a bang. We felt it so deserved it. We had been together with this family for so many years and we felt that if we were to say goodbye to our heroes, it needed to be in a big way, a grand way, fitting of a Daventrian adventure.

What do you feel has been the greatest achievement in the production of TSL?

CB: I feel the fact that we’ve somehow been able to coordinate hundreds of people remotely to put together something so cohesive, all this while working in a volunteer way, it’s an amazing achievement in itself. At times, I don’t know how we’ve done it, and while it’s true that it took us a long while to get there, we’ve learned so much in the process that we’ve managed to now responsibly meet our own goals. For example, in the past, the new material we put in Episode 3 would have taken years to put together, but we did it in the best part of 5 months. And all this while we recruited the people to do it, so, I’m sure that now we are ready to take on real productions and work full time on it. That is the value of our achievements: we now can make professional games as we move forward.

What influences (outside of the KQ series) have helped to shape TSL into the game it has become? 

CB: I found The Longest Journey very influential when it came down to give me the crazy idea of making King’s Quest very epic. Around the time we wrote the original script, Lord of the Rings was popular as the movies were just coming out, and I has been loving Final Fantasy for a few years. So there’s where I drew most of my inspiration to say “OK, if I’m going to be spending the next I don’t know many years of my life working on a project like this, it’ll better be something that I’ll fully enjoy, and to me, I’ve been aching for a more mature rendition of King’s Quest, so, let’s have at it!” In the end, we are making the game we want to make, and we are very happy with it.

What made you decide to go with episodic content, as compared to a full game release?

CB: Having worked at Telltale for a period of time, I learned that the episodic content was not only  a great way to market a game, but also an amazing way to keep production focused on chunks of work at a time (as opposed to the full game). Things become easier and more manageable. From a marketing point, your game stays in the news for the whole duration of the production. And from a customer perspective, it gives us a chance to be able to listen to what the fans want and include these changes as we update the build and release the following episode. So it’s a win-win situation in every way you see it.

The remaining episodes seem to be slated to release this year – what are your plans after wrapping up TSL?

CB: Right now, we have so many windows open and so many possibilities that is a little too premature to say what comes next, but I can tell you that it’s going to be big. Having been at GDC this year gave us the opportunity to connect with many people in the industry who’d seen or heard of what we are doing, and there’s a lot of interest going around for what we can cook next. So, like I said, we are still juggling things and deciding on our next step while we work on a few prototypes for different games, but a lot is happening internally!

On a personal level, what games are you playing right now?

CB: I actually caught a whiff of nostalgia, so I was playing the Legend of Kyrandia 1 and 2. Other than that, I have a huge piles of games I always want to play — I’m a very hardcore gamer. I’ve been trying to play Dragon Age and Mass Effect 2 for years  now, but I never seem to have the time now to play such immersive games. I do better with DS games these days — I was playing some Mega-Nan games recently, or adventure games. I recently played Gray Matter, by the incredible mind of Jane Jensen, and was so excited to experience a new game from the woman that brought to me my favorite series ever, the Gabriel Knight games.

What are your favorite moments in KQ history? I’d have to go with the zombie house in KQ IV.

CB: King’s Quest 7 as a whole reminds me of Christmas. But as for special moments, I remember curing the dragon in King’s Quest 7 was very cool, and the whole chase scene from the ending of King’s Quest 6 as you went up the stairs was amazing. Also, flying on Nightmare to the lands of the dead was very cool!

After creating a title, do you still have a good time playing it?

CB: Yes! I like to sit back and enjoy these titles as a final creation, and experience all the details that went into finalizing them. I sometimes will also replay Episode 1 just for kicks. It keeps me grounded and reminds me of what we are capable of doing.

Are there any shout-outs or special mentions that you would like to make?  Any sites you would like to bring attention to? 

CB: We’d like to thank everyone who’s been so supportive of our project throughout the years. Not everyone can say that they’ve gone out of a cease and desist twice and that’s only happened because of our incredible fans and because of the support from the press. So, a thousand times thank you!

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Once again, we would like to thank Cesar Bittar and Phoenix Online Studios for taking the time to answer our questions. Make sure you do yourself a huge favor and swing by their site to play the first 3 episodes of The Silver Lining as well!

Mar 182011
 

Titles rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) have content that may be suitable for ages 10 and older. Titles in this category may contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.

Trine

PlayStation 3

Contains: Mild Fantasy Violence, Use of Alcohol

Titles rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) have content that may be suitable for ages 10 and older. Titles in this category may contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.


Trine is a good game overall, though it’s not without its fair share of cons and annoyances.  Basically it’s a physics puzzle, and it feels like they wrapped a terrible story around an idea to achieve this goal.

Loading Screen

As a player, you can rotate between 3 characters – a mage, a thief, and a knight.  These three get thrown together into a single, shared body, and must find an artifact called the “Trine” to heal their woes.  The mage can conjure boxes and planks, and eventually floating platforms – this is useful for getting over the strange terrain of the path of each level.  The knight (in my opinion the most useless character of the three) has the unique abilities of sinking quickly in water and carrying a shield/sword.  Though there are times you are forced to use him, those times suck.  The thief was my favorite by far – she has a bow which can shoot flame arrows and a grappling hook that can swing her around like a madwoman.

There is a great variety in the level landscapes – over the game you will encounter open spaces as well as cramped dungeons – even a few underwater sections.  Using the abilities you earn through finding treasure and upgrading your characters, you will be able to perform new and enhanced abilities as well as make your characters stronger and more resilient.

Wizard conjurations and telekenisis

The characters have unique personalities, and by that I mean extreme personalities.  The Knight is, of course, dumb as a rock, and the wizard is somehow the world’s oldest ladies man.  Perhaps this is one of the biggest factors that attracted me to the thief – she’s quiet.  The terrible voice acting really had a tendency to “immerse” me in annoyance.

Swinging from a grapple

Despite all of the shortcomings, this was really a great experience as far as actual gameplay.  I enjoyed the fighting because I was able to make it tougher on myself by crushing enemies with wizard blocks and using the bow as a primary offensive weapon.

There wasn’t a great variety in the types of enemies encountered, or even in the number of levels.  In fact, the game design causes you to repeat some levels multiple times in search of secrets.  Because you earn more abilities as you progress, this was almost mandatory for unlocking everything to be found.  (Though I never did make it to 100%)

Hammer Time!

As an inexpensive steam title, I gave it a shot because of the ability for it to play on both windows and OSX.  I hope more game creators are taking note of the fact that the Mac market for games is rapidly expanding.  Especially with steam, I love it because I can use a single account to play on any operating system I choose.

Though there were times of frustration and annoyance, I think that overall this game is deserving of praise.  They did go out on a limb to run with a concept that I hadn’t seen before, and the graphics were just nice enough to impress me while running smooth on a laptop.  My final score for Trine is a 7/10 – and I look forward to any possible content expansion through DLC or possibly a sequel.

PC Game

Graphics

80
 

Audio

60
 

Gameplay

80

Creativity

70
 

Execution

75
 

Offset

70
    

7.3

  

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