Reviews for Gamers by Gamers…

BioShock 2 – The Review

Filed under: BioShock 2,PC Games,Playstation 3 Games,Xbox 360 Games — Tags: , , , — Mike Cieply @ 20:03 February 17, 2010

“While the return to Rapture is more of the same, it supplies an overall enjoyable experience that will satisfy most players.”

Format

Xbox 360/PlayStation 3/PC

Style

First-person shooter; action-adventure; survival-horror

Modes

Singleplayer; online multiplayer

Pros

Impressive visuals; Brilliant art and level design; Superb voice acting; Large array of plasmids, weapons, and tonics; Gathering ADAM is a great addition; Many moral decisions and rewards that really impact the story; Improved hacking system; Extremely intense soundtrack; Improved research method; Audio diaries provide addictive side-plots; Engaging and rewarding online multiplayer

Cons

Weaker story than original; Majority of weapons and plasmids are carried over from the first; Not many changes in gameplay; Rather short; Playing as a Big Daddy isn’t satisfying at all; Less suspenseful and surprising than original; Big Sister fights aren’t innovative or enjoyable in any way; Underwater sections are rather dull and useless

Introduction

Bioshock 2 CoverBioShock is one of the greatest games I have ever played. It completely abolished the typical FPS rules and regulations and featured a groundbreaking story. With a game as perfect as that, it raked in millions of sales. Of course the Publisher, 2K Games, wanted a sequel. Unfortunately, the original developer, Irrational Games, wanted to focus their efforts on a new idea, and never intended to work on more BioShock. 2K Games turned to one of their other companies, 2K Marin, to handle the job. Enormous pressure was put on the team, for it was their job to do the impossible: make another perfect game.

Graphics/Audio

One of the greatest attributes from BioShock was its breathtaking visuals. The sequel’s graphics are nearly identical to the original’s, with minor improvements here and there, although sometimes they will even appear worse. For 2007, these are fantastic graphics, but they just don’t work well in 2010. However, the art style still remains incredible. All of Rapture remains similar in style to the first game, fortunately, and the adventure really feels like it takes place in the 50’s. The developers did a fantastic job with the culture and environments, and the old music was a great touch. This is a game that will make you impressed as you play it, and you’ll feel truly awed.

Besides the amazing art and level design, the voice acting is just incredible. Some standouts are Augustus Sinclair, who serves as your guide throughout the game; Stanley Poole, who used to run the newspaper; and Mark Meltzer, who is trying to rescue his daughter from Rapture. While the voice acting you hear from the main characters is well done, it truly shines in the audio diaries. The old voice actors of Andrew Ryan and Atlas return, and they are truly wonderful to listen to. Seeing how there are 129 of these to listen to, everyone’s needs will surely be met.

Character design has also been greatly improved. Splicers are now much more individual and unique, although some voices return from the original. It is really a mystery to me why so many of the splicers have the same exact voice and say the same commands, but their outward appearance is definitely worth noting.

Story

Bioshock 2 Screenshot 1Ah, the story. The first BioShock truly had one of the most engrossing, interesting, and well-written stories I have ever witnessed in a game. It was completely unique, and gamers had never seen the like of it before. To their credit, 2K Marin delivers another enthralling adventure that will please most. Is it on the same level as the first? No, but it gets close. Returning to Rapture slightly ruins the feel of the game. The city is no longer the mysterious dungeon it once was. You expect the unexpected, and know what you will find around the corner. However, the story is filled with an amazing cast of characters, plot twists, and awesome moments that will encourage you to keep playing. Furthermore, the story keeps up at an impressive pace, and will not bore most players.

When you first start the game, you take the role as Subject Delta, the first successful Big Daddy prototype. You are on a quest to find your “daughter,” Eleanor. While slow at first, it picks up momentum more and more throughout the game. This is a huge step up from the original, where the plot sagged towards the end and felt like a drag.

Gameplay

In addition to the revolutionary story, the BioShock games are known for their innovative spin on the FPS gameplay. Rather than the run-and-gun style of play traditionally used in most shooters, BioShock 2 presents you with a far more intelligent and rewarding style of play. There are roughly nine “levels” in the game, and you can travel across the entire level as many times as you want until you choose to leave the place. This is where the RPG elements arrive. In the level, one can find upgrades and items to make themselves stronger. Enemies don’t simply rush at you; oftentimes you’ll see them in groups of two or three, and won’t come near you until you startle them. Of course, there are many variations of enemies.

The most common enemies, splicers, are unfortunately very similar to the original. Leadhead, Houdini, Spider, and Thuggish splicers all return and are exactly similar. However, the Nitro splicer has been replaced by the Brute splicer, a massive, mutated beast. In addition, more variations of Big Daddies have been added. Along with the Bouncer and Rosie from the first, there are now Rumblers and Alpha series Daddies. The amount of enemy types feels just right for the game, with splicers appearing frequently throughout the game, and with Big Daddies still sending chills down your spine.

However, the newest enemy type which is one of the main focuses of the game is the Big Sister. These are young women who have grown up from being Little Sisters. Their job is to kidnap young girls from the shore to bring them to Rapture, and to keep the flow of ADAM, the game’s power and energy, flowing. Whenever you harvest or rescue every Little Sister in the level, you’ll need to face one. The developers were hyping these fights like there was no tomorrow, even so much that they had to delay the game to improve the experience with them. Unfortunately, the Big Sisters are nothing more than a standard fight against a really powerful enemy. They are certainly not more fun than any other fights, and are not difficult to kill. This was, by far, one of the biggest disappointments of the game.

Of course, the weapons have been improved, with the game’s stronger focus on combat. Some guns return, while others have been changed. The Tommy gun is now a massive Gatling gun; the crossbow is now a spear gun; and the wrench, pistol, and chemical thrower are gone. Instead, we have the rivet gun, one of the Rosies’ weapons, and the drill. The drill is a wonderful new weapon that is extremely enjoyable to use … while it lasts. Unfortunately, the drill is powered by gas, which runs out quite quickly.

In addition to weapons are plasmids. Plasmids are enhancements to your body that grant you the power of using mystical abilities. For example, plasmids allow you to do a number of actions, such as shoot bolts of electricity and fire out of your hands, or set up a decoy to lure splicers away. However, the plasmids are nearly the exact same as they were in the first BioShock. The same applies with gene tonics, which give you more abilities. One great improvement, on the other hand, is the capability of dual-wilding plasmids and weapons at the same time. This allows very smooth combat, and will definitely give you an advantage in Rapture.


Another improvement is hacking. In the first game, hacking was a ridiculously complex activity that resulted in minimal reward. In this game, hacking is now much easier, and the rewards you receive are fitting. Additionally, hacking takes place in real time, adding suspense.

Thankfully, researching has taken a turn for the better. Rather than having to snap photos at every enemy you see, research is now done with a video camera. Simply start recording the enemy, and fire everything you have at it. Eventually, your progress will level, presenting you with fulfilling awards.

Bioshock Screenshot 3Because you’re a Big Daddy, you have the outstanding ability to interact with Little Sisters. Tagging along with these little girls will result in you getting a great deal of ADAM. While your buddy is gathering the sweet juice from a corpse, you’ll need to defend her (and yourself) against a horde of splicers that will come for you, eager for ADAM. At any time, you can choose to harvest her. Harvesting Little Sisters is another word for killing them, and collecting all their ADAM. Choosing to rescue them will only result in half as much ADAM, but you will receive compensation for your good deeds frequently.

Yes, moral decisions truly shine in BioShock 2. In the game, there are three main characters that you can choose to assassinate, or walk away from. Couple this with the ability to have your way with the Little Sisters, and the story becomes yours to shape. Your decisions have an enormous effect on the outcome of the story in the end; the game itself offers six different endings, based on the moral choices you made.

Finally, you play the entire game as a Big Daddy, the mascot of the series. These beings were enormous threats in the first game, leaving gamers (including myself) eager to play as one. However, what I found was a huge blow to me. You are, in fact, weaker than you were in the first game, where you played as an average human being. The game in noticeably more challenging than the first, and you’ll be finding yourself taking many trips to the Vita-Chamber. Your weapons won’t feel very powerful against splicers. The only differences are your ability to use the drill, and the ability to travel outside in the ocean. Like the Big Sisters, the ocean sections were enormously overhyped. They entail walking along the ocean floor for a few moments, only to return inside Rapture. These moments offer nothing exciting, nothing rewarding, they are only included to add a bit of variety. Playing as a Big Daddy had massive potential, but unfortunately, it fell short of being a great change from the original.

Replayability

As I stated before, the game is shorter than the first. It will take approximately ten hours to complete, but you will add a few hours if you’re hunting for collectibles. Speaking of those, there are plenty of items to find, such as the 129 audio diaries and the fourteen weapon upgrade stations. The game rewards you for playing longer and taking the time to explore the world and make your character more powerful. I have also found the game to be almost equally fun the second time through as the first time, and to be honest, I could go for a third.

Besides the singleplayer campaign, the online multiplayer was included for the first time in the series. At first, I was understandably concerned with how this mode would turn out, due to the first game being completely focused on the story. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find this an overall enjoyable and rather addictive way to experience Rapture.

The ten maps it features are all based off of areas from the first BioShock, and all of them capture the feeling from the original game, and I certainly loved playing on them. The multiplayer is somewhat story-based. It takes lace about one year before the first game, when the civil war between Atlas’s followers and Ryan’s. In an attempt to make money, Sinclair Solutions is sponsoring the soldiers by allowing them to test out their plasmids and tonics. You can choose one of six characters (or eight if you pre-ordered) to play as, each with their own back-story, melee weapon, and catchphrases.

The various modes include the standard FPS ones, such as team deathmatch, free-for-all, capture the flag, etc. Of course, all have different names to enhance immersion. However, there are a few standouts, such as ADAM Grab. There are even a few plasmids and tonics unique to the multiplayer, making the online experience a must-have for all fans of BioShock. Overall, it’s a fun, crazy encounter, but it will get you addicted and you’ll love playing it.

Final Recommendation

If the original BioShock had never been released, and this was released in its place, it would have been hailed almost as well as the first one was. The game can be viewed as fantastic, or mediocre. While it is, in fact, an amazing game with great combat and gameplay, it copies nearly everything from the first game. There are simply not enough structural changes that are necessary to make the game stand out. Fans of the first and newcomers alike will enjoy the game, but may be left feeling somewhat disappointed. For all it tried to be, it ended up becoming too much of the same. Yes, there will be a BioShock 3, but I sincerely hope it is not another rehash such as this. Then again … Who could resist another trip to Rapture?


Ratings

Graphics – 9/10

Audio – 10/10

Story – 8/10

Gameplay – 9.5/10

Replayability – 9/10

Final Score – 9.1/10

System Requirements

Supported OS:

Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7

Processor:

AMD Athlon 64 Processor 3800+ 2.4Ghz or better, Intel Pentium 4 530 3.0Ghz Processor or better

Memory:

2GB

Graphics:

NVIDIA 7800GT 256MB graphics card or better, ATI Radeon X1900 256MB graphics card or better

Hard Drive:

11GB

Sound:

100% DirectX 9.0C compliant sound card or onboard sound

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Rating: 9.8/10 (6 votes cast)
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Back Up Games with Game Copy Wizard

Filed under: Game Copy Wizard — Tags: , , , , — Adon Garuda @ 18:12 January 28, 2010

After an avalanche of emails querying whether Game Copy Wizard actually works, Computer Game and Console Reviews has decided to release this statement…”YES IT DOES!!!”

Game Copy Wizard

First of all, we are only endorsing backing up games that you already own. This is entirely legal and we recommend it. It is your right to back up any software that you already own. By doing this, you are saving your original version from getting scratched and lets face it, it always happens. As games are very expensive, anything that stops you scratching your discs is a worthwhile investment. You get to preserve your game in mint condition, whilst playing it to your heart’s content.

All formats are covered, be it PC, PS1, PS2, PS3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo GameCube or even the Sega Dreamcast. DVD’s and Music CD’s are also provided for. You literally will never ruin an original disc again. Regarding the whole process, it really is easy. All you need is a PC and blank DVD’s. After installation, just run the program and presto, your back up is complete. The software comes complete with manuals and the support offered is excellent (you won’t need it though as everything they give you works exactly as they claim), we just asked a question as a test and were very happy with the response. As games are always evolving, so will Game Copy Wizard. Buy purchasing it, you are covered for life with automatic updates.

With some old games which are small, its possible to actually put more than 1 onto a DVD. The software also acts as a video file burner, so you can convert any video file on your PC to DVD, and watch it anywhere you choose.

Game Copy Wizard is a must have program for Gamer’s. You can visit the site here. If you have questions, please leave a comment below and one of us will get back to you.

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Rating: 9.3/10 (4 votes cast)
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Batman: Arkham Asylum – The End To A Reign Of Comic Folly

Filed under: Batman: Arkham Asylum — Tags: , , , , , — Kellen Beck @ 02:00 January 11, 2010

Format

Xbox 360, PS3, PC

Style

Third person Action Adventure/Detective

Modes

Single player Campaign, Challenge Mode

Pros

Great graphics, original gameplay, voice acting fans can appreciate, unique blend of combat, detective work/puzzles, and stealth.

Cons

Not much replayability, get stuck every once in a while, Batman died back in January 2009.

Batman Arkham Asylum Screen Shot 1Introduction

After years and years of unsatisfying Batman games, Eidos puts out Arkham Asylum, a stunningly brilliant superhero game of which the likes has never been seen before. Batman has always been near and dear to my heart as an avid reader of the comics, and the games have always been sub-par. But come late August, a revolutionary new Batman game set in a unique environment has risen from the depths of nothing: Batman: Arkham Asylum.

The Start Up

The opening scene is grim and dark, as rain pours on the Batmobile, spanning across the city to Arkham Asylum, Gotham’s own psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane. When you get inside with the Joker in hand, you follow him and a few guards down to the depths of Arkham, where things get interesting. It seems as though the Joker had been planning this from the start, as he escapes his captors and gains control of the Asylum. Starting off with a quick intro to combat with the new FreeFlow™ Combat System, you battle several thugs and progress through the grounds, searching for various people and things. You quickly learn about your Detective Mode, where you can see inmates through walls, follow trails of various substances, and find otherwise hidden things, such as vent grates and weak walls. It’s an easy game to get into, and can be played respectably by both hardcore and casual gamers.

Gameplay

Batman Arkham Asylum Screen Shot 2Of all the superhero games I’ve played, I must admit that this is the best of them. Never has there been such attention to detail, back stories, and personalities in a comic-based game. I’ve always been an avid Batman reader up until the day he died (rest in peace, Dark Knight) and know Batman and the Gotham crew like my own friends and family. The game plays like you’re classic third person action/adventure game with a small bit of RPG elements. You play as Batman as you go through the Asylum fighting inmates, solving puzzles, and advancing through the story to take back Arkham Asylum from the Joker and his accomplices. Immediately you are thrown into combat with the basic inmates, which is a sort of free flowing punch-and-kick type of combat with counters and take-downs. Starting off you have your Battarang and grapple, the Battarang can be thrown to daze enemies and hit the Riddler’s chattering false teeth toys. Pretty soon you learn about your Detective Mode; this is a modification to your sight that shows various things previously mentioned. It’s very handy when you are stuck somewhere, before you walk into a room to check for enemies, or want to find hidden things. At some points it’s used to follow substance trails such as alcohol in the air, blood and hand prints while tracking people down on the grounds, which you seem to be doing a lot of.


Unlike previous Batman games, Arkham Asylum blends combat, stealth and detective work on a superb level. The stealth is great, although sometimes it feels like you’re completely invisible during times in which you shouldn’t be. All over the Asylum there are convenient gargoyles in which you can grapple up to to observe a room and stealthily kill inmates who are perusing around waiting for you. To render enemies unconscious (Batman doesn’t kill people) in stealth you can do a flying kick form a gargoyle or raised structure and a take down or sneak up and do a sort of silent choke out. If you are caught by armed inmates, you are reduced to hiding up in the shadows and avoiding gunshots which can get pretty annoying.

Since 1948 the Riddler (Edward Nigma) has been using riddles and clues to lead Batman to his meticulously planned crimes. In Arkham Asylum he has left riddles and trophies everywhere and are a nice bonus if you feel like taking a break form the story and do some searches and puzzles. As you collect trophies and solve riddles you gain experience, which you also get from incapacitating inmates and bosses. After an amount of experience is reached, you level up and get to pick an upgrade; upgrades include new weapons like the Sonic Battarang, new combat moves, and armor increases. None of the upgrades are essential to the game, like “you need this upgrade to get to this part in the game”, but they do help a lot.
Batman Arkham Asylum Screenshot 3Progressing through the game, you meet a lot of classic characters including the Joker, the Riddler, Commissioner Gordon and Scarecrow. Scarecrow plays an interesting role in the game in the aspects of his psychoactive gas. If you don’t know, Scarecrow (real name: Jonathan Crane, a psychiatrist who specializes in fear) uses a variety of toxins that make people hallucinate that their worst fears are real and present. In the game, you encounter his gas multiple times; the room begins to shift, things begin to distort and move, and an eerie music plays as you walk onward to unknowing terror. As you pass through your hallucinations, you eventually come to an event where you have to avoid Scarecrow’s gaze. He grows exponentially, and you have to hide and run as he looks for you in a torn apart, circular version of the Asylum. This adds quite an enjoyable twist to the game, and briefly takes you away from the normal game.
Besides the regular story, you can do the Challenge Mode. The Challenge Mode is a series of unlockable, short challenges that involve combating inmates for points and stealthily taking down inmates which is timed. While combating inmates, you earn points through combos, counters, and special take downs, and in the stealth challenges you take down armed inmates as quickly as possible using your various acquired techniques. When you finish, your points are added up and are submitted to the online leaderboards. Challenge Mode is a nice addition if you feel like honing your skills and taking a break from the story.

Overall, the gameplay is phenomenal and Eidos has finally achieved making a good Batman game. There are only a few faults in the game and they don’t pop up too often. At some points, there’s no clear indication of what to do next, and you’re reduced to looking around everywhere, trying to figure out or remember what you have to do. Having said that, there isn’t much else to complain about in Arkham Asylum.

Audio/Graphics

Batman Arkham Asylum Screenshot 4The audio of Batman: Arkham Asylum is fantastic, with great voice actors and environment noises such as the music during Scarecrow events. It’s good to see that they didn’t take any of the recent movie actors for voice acting (apparently Heath Ledger wasn’t answering his phone) and instead went with the fantastic voice actors from the Emmy award-winning 90’s cartoon show Batman: The Animated Series. There seems to be a general lack of interest from movie actors that are asked to voice games. Besides the voice acting, the music and environment sounds are done wonderfully; every drip of water and intense fighting score just adds to the enjoyment of the game.
As far as graphics go, Arkham Asylum is one of the best looking games that has come out in the past year. The look of the Asylum is grim and rigid, and the whole darkness of the game adds so much depth. Characters are rendered greatly, and the emotions seem life-like at some points. Motion is fluid and overall the game looks great.

Ratings

Graphics – 9/10

Audio – 10/10

Story – 8.5/10

Gameplay – 9/10

Replayability – 8/10

Final Score – 9/10


Required Specifications:

CPU:

Intel Pentium 4 3GHz or AMD Athalon 64 3500+

Memory:

1 GB (XP) 2 GB (Vista/7)

GPU:

NVidia 6600 or ATI 1300


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Rating: 9.9/10 (9 votes cast)
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