Dead Space: Extraction Review

When Dead Space: Extraction was announced, fans of the series immediately split into two groups – on one hand there were those grateful for the continuation of the series, while on the other there were the PC gamers who didn’t own a Wii or PS3 and wouldn’t get to enjoy the new title. And even though Dead Space: Extraction didn’t come out on the PC like its predecessor, its popularity somehow managed to surpass even that of the first game.

Gameplay

The gameplay isn’t exactly similar to that of Dead Space. The game takes place before the events of the first game, serving as a prequel to fill in some of the gaps in the storyline so far. The story isn’t directly tied to the one of Dead Space though, in the sense that the game doesn’t leave off precisely where the first one begins.

You no longer play from the third perspective, and don’t even control your character directly – the game is now a “rail” shooter, where the character moves on a predetermined path and you simply control their movement and kill the enemies as they show up.

New weapons have been added, as well as several new monsters. The controls have obviously been geared towards Wii players, as they can aim much more conveniently by pointing the controller at the screen directly, or even using the Wii Zapper if they own one. PS3 players shouldn’t feel let down though, as they can still enjoy the game in its fullest, only with a slightly more clumsy aiming system.

Graphics and System Requirements

Due to the nature of the level design (lack of possibility for backtracking by the player, etc), the game has been designed in a very detailed manner, with the levels featuring some impressive, breath-taking scenes that push the capabilities of the aging Wii’s hardware really far. Despite the predetermined nature of your movements, the animations don’t feel stiff or too unrealistic, and on the contrary, the game feels very smooth and easy-flowing.

The blood effects seem to have been toned down, but that’s somewhat understandable – being unable to avoid obstacles easily, coupled with the copious amounts of blood that is sometimes on the screen at once, could’ve easily make the game look cluttered.

Other

Dead Space: Extraction also offers a multiplayer mode where you can try to beat the game with a friend of yours. It’s only limited to two players, and it’s played in a manner standard to this type of shooters – you both share the same screen and compete against each other for points, but are also trying to help each other to succeed, of course.

Conclusion

If you’re a dedicated PC gamer, you won’t get to play Dead Space: Extraction and that’s a fact. Are you missing out on a lot? Possibly – but if you’re a true fan of the series you can grab a second-hand Wii and give it a shot!

Killing Floor Review

When it comes to zombie shooters, there have been numerous attempts to create something original in the genre – and most of them have been just copies of the previous, with one or two added features. Some games have managed to stand out from the crowd though – and in some rare cases, even non-commercial projects have caught the spotlight.

Killing Floor started out as a freeware modification for Unreal Tournament 2004, which was subsequently adopted into a complete commercial product that’s now enjoying a steady fan base (which, as of recently, has expanded to Mac users as well).

Gameplay

Killing Floor has several players fighting together as units in a special response team in an outbreak of zombies. The gameplay is very dynamic, with levels being divided into several parts, during which players need to survive against an oncoming wave of zombies. After each section, they can visit a store to purchase better weapons, using money that’s earned by killing zombies.

Some of the weapons are slightly unbalanced though, some positively, some negatively, as the shotguns tend to be a lot more useful than the other weapons for their price, as an example (and weapons like the flamethrower see less use because of their low price/usefulness ratio). The zombies’ AI is commendable, on the other hand, as they don’t always rely on blind rushes to get their “job” done.

Graphics and System Requirements

The game uses the Unreal Engine 2.5, which is getting a bit old for today’s standards. You can see some repetitive textures here and there, as well as the engine’s “trademark” square-patterned light beams. However, this makes it very good for older computers which can enjoy it without much strain, and this has helped the game retain its player base despite the heavy competition from other similar games such as Valve’s Left 4 Dead and its sequel.

The atmosphere is a bit more serious/grim than that of Left 4 Dead though, with some references to demons and Satanism, as well as more brutally-looking zombies and effects. The characters are more generic and not as uniquely designed as L4D’s, though that doesn’t kill the atmosphere and it’s still enjoyable to exchange voice commands as you’re on your way to the next wave.

Other

The game has a few bugs in several occasions, one of which may prevent you from progressing on a level, though it can be averted in most cases. It can also get somewhat repetitive fast, so try using some of the more underutilized weapons if you want to spice up your experience and feel that the game’s getting dull.

Conclusion

If you’re crazy about horror-themed entertainment, Killing Floor is one of the games you must not miss – it may not be as polished as Valve’s series, and may not have as many players behind it, but the fun you can have in it is still on par with its competition.

Left 4 Dead 2 Review

Left 4 Dead 2 is the sequel to Valve’s hit online zombie shooter, Left 4 Dead. Despite gaining some criticism over the fact that it was released just one year after its predecessor (and not as a free expansion, either – a full-blown game with regular price) – it still managed to live up to the expectations gamers had about it and surpassed Left 4 Dead’s popularity timesfold. The game remains one of the most popular online shooters right now, and keeps bringing new players in.

Gameplay

Left 4 Dead 2 puts the player in the role of one of four survivors in a zombie apocalypse, who have to make their way through a variety of levels mimicking the style of classic horror movies, looking for a way out of the whole mess. There are new weapons, with the addition of a new category, melee weapons, as well as new types of zombies – and new special ones, like the Jockey who can take control of a player and attempt to steer them in the wrong direction away from his/her buddies.

The gameplay is even more intense than before, with the AI Director doing its best to keep players on their toes throughout the levels, while making sure they get a few seconds of breather after a massive fight, in order to prepare for the next one.

Graphics and System Requirements

The four survivors have been designed extremely well, as were those in the first game – each has their own personality and behavior, and they look and sound unique, which greatly adds to the atmosphere of the game. The writing is superb, and the dialogue between the characters reveals them as near-lifelike human beings bit by bit, such as the slightly cynical gambler Nick, or the amiable and somewhat naive country boy Ellis – after just a few rounds they grow on you and it’s part of what brings you back for more.

The overall graphics quality is good, as can be expected from Valve’s Source Engine, which has been presented in its latest incarnation here. The survivors’ flashlights cast very realistic shadows from the objects around the levels and the players themselves, and the addition of daylight levels as opposed to the all-night style of the first game is a refreshing change. Source is known for its scalability on older machines, so you should be able to run the game even if you’re not up to date with your hardware.

Other

Valve have a tendency to continuously update their games post-release without any extra fees, and Left 4 Dead 2 is no exception – it received a free content package after its release, containing a whole new episode – though when we say free, we only mean the PC version of course – due to Microsoft’s policies, the update costs 560 MS Points on the Xbox 360.

Conclusion

If you’re a fan of horror movies/games and you want a game packed with tasteful dark humor that you can enjoy with your friends, Left 4 Dead 2 would have you glued to the screen.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Review

Modern Warfare 2 is the follow-up to the massively successful Call of Duty series. Ever since coming out, the game has built up to the top of the ladder of online shooters, and still ranks #1 in terms of players online at any time. This huge success came despite some negative backlash from the community against the way the servers were structured in the new version – it seems that people have calmed down with time and have came to terms with the new rules (more on that below).

Gameplay

The game features a rather short single-player mode, which managed to stir up some controversy due to the depiction of a group of Russian terrorists slaughtering an airport. The selling point of the title isn’t the single player though – its power lies in the online play, managing to gather together thousands of players every day. You can unlock various new weapons, tools and ranks as you progress through the RPG-like levelling system, giving you access to a very powerful arsenal on the battlefield.

Some of the criticism from the community came as a response to the removal of dedicated servers – in other words, you can’t host your own private game, you need to rely on the IWNet (Infinity Ward Network, the game’s centralized account system) to connect to other players via “lobbies” – which, while convenient for newcomers, precludes more advanced players from customizing their gameplay to greater extents.

Graphics and System Requirements

The game uses the newest version of Infinity Ward’s proprietary engine, and it performs excellently for the task of giving you tons of eye candy – the game looks spectacular, and the graphics combined with the rest of the effects really make you feel like you’re in the center of the action. The system requirements scale appropriately though, and you’ll need a powerful machine to run the game with everything enabled – at least a GeForce 6600GT or Radeon 1600XT, or any other DirectX 9-compliant card; and a 3.2GHz processor if you’re using a single core.

Other

An underrated aspect of the game’s multiplayer is its cooperative mode, which allows you to play with your friends in a variety of exciting situations – so if you’re getting MW2, make sure you give that one a try, if you manage to find any lobbies for it. Also, since the game was released, more content has been made available for it in the form of DLC map packs (one released so far and more coming up), though you’ll have to pay for those as they’re not free.

Conclusion

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 managed to become one of the highest-ranking games of its time, and we’re yet to see anyone take the crown from it – and despite its occasional flaws and hiccups, it deserves its popularity in all aspects – so if you want a refreshing shooter, give it a try.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Call of Pripyat Review

STALKER was a massive hit when it came out. Set in a fictional near future, it revolved around events in “The Zone”, a common way to refer to the Zone of Exclusion around Chernobyl. In the game’s fictional timeline, a second major disasted in Chernobyl causes the military to completely cordon the zone, at the same time creating a self-sustained area inside it, where bands and organizations fight against each other for dominance and survival. Call of Pripyat is the second expansion to the original, set shortly after the events of the first game.

Gameplay

In Call of Pripyat, it’s assumed that the first game ended with the player destroying the organization controlling The Zone (as the game featured multiple possible endings). There have been various additions to the gameplay, such as upgrades to the weapons and changes to the trading system. There are now also daily “emissions”, a new type of anomaly caused by the disasters in the area, which causes deadly outbursts of radiation, forcing the player to seek cover.

A much-requested Free Play mode has been added as well, which allows you to continue playing the game and exploring its world freely after you’ve finished it, completing some of the “perpetual” quests and enjoying the game’s atmosphere – which, by the way, is in some aspects even better than the previous games.

Graphics and System Requirements

The X-Ray engine has been slightly upgraded for this version, bringing in some new post-processing effects, and new eye-candy such as water realistically flowing down walls when it’s raining – if you’ve got a computer that can support it at the highest levels of detail, it will be a fantastic experience, guaranteed. The game portrays both outside and indoor environments very realistically and in a captivating manner – and the new effects utilized for anomalies are just spectacular.

Despite that, Call of Pripyat’s overall system requirements are actually lower than those of the previous two – apart from eye candy, the engine also received a lot of optimization, it seems. This is always great to see, as many developers nowadays tend to concentrate on buffing up the graphics quality without any regard for how much they’re shrinking their potential customer base.

Other

The game does have a few bugs and glitches, as the developer is known for releasing products like that. However, the latest patches fix most of what could be troubling you, and the game becomes a smooth and enjoyable experience. Online play is there but not very heavily accented, as the primary spotlight here is the single player experience – though still, you may want to have a few rounds blasting other people with the game’s guns (mostly the sniper rifles, due to the way it’s balanced).

Conclusion

A solid game that grabs you and just doesn’t let go until you’ve beaten every single side-quest and explored every last ruined factory. It’s not just your regular shooter, it’s an absolute masterpiece that really deserves more attention than it’s received.