• Gamer's Gazette Issue V (Originally published June 5th, 2013)

    Summertime and the livin' is easy. Fish are jumping and the cotton is high. Or whatever variation of the lyrics you know. I've always heard catfish are jumping and the river is high, but catfish are bottomfeeders that steal my bait and...what? A new Gamer's Gazette? Looks like the fish are going to have to wait, because we're closing in on summer, which means E3 and its gaming wonders are nearly upon us. To hold you over until we get ahold of that gaming goodness, the Gamer's Gazette is proud to bring you yet another steller collection of gaming articles. Up first is Leonidas the Lion with part two of his Mass Effect Marathon. After that we have a slew of reviews, from big releases like SimCity and Metro: Last Light to smaller but just as interesting games like God Mode and Dust: An Elysian Tail. If you're on the fence on a game, or are looking for new and exciting games to purchase (or what games to avoid), then the Gamer's Gazette has you covered. We also have two guest articles this issue; Gen. Chris has the Tyranny of King Washington DLC for Assassin's Creed 3 reviewed just for you, while Lord Insquitor Derpy Hooves has put his first hour and a half with Ys Origins to words in his First Impressions. With so many excellent choices you can't go wrong, so stay a while and read the Gamer's Gazette Issue 5!

    Lastly, the glorious GED has provided us the means to have yet another Gamer's Gazette giveaway! This time, the prize is two Duke Nukem Forever keys. Posting once in this thread will enter you into a random drawing for a chance to win one of the keys, so we'll have two winners. Good luck!

    Gamer's Gazette Editor
    Confederate Jeb


    Mass Effect Marathon Episode 2
    Mass Effect Marathon Episode 2
    Mass Effect Marathon Episode 2

    God Mode Review
    God Mode Review
    God Mode Review Hello, well the Spirit Guide would say this better, "Oh hello, welcome to Hades. That's Hell in a toga." God Mode is a very humorous third person co-op shooter with arcade elements, advertised as having "non-linear" and even RPG elements. You are essentially put up against a wide variety of the monsters and tortured souls of Hades. You will be able to unlock several different weapons, clothing, upgrades, and even abilities to use to your own satisfaction and for the destruction of those seemingly endless hordes of monsters, while working your way to Godhood, or God Mode. All this at a great price too!
    God Mode Review
    God Mode Review
    The Fire Beast

    God Mode has some simple, but very exciting, gameplay. There are currently five maps, or "mazes," you can play on. You are thrown into these mazes and must fight your way to the end of this maze to win, of course. The maze is essentially just surviving each and every wave each zone throughout the maze throws at you, but to change things up each zone will have a different, and random, "Tests of Faith". Most of these tests will provide some sort of imbalance for the zone of the maze, spanning from being a buff for you or the enemies, to being things like simply enemies wearing hats.

    You can tell these tests of faith were an attempt to exemplify the game's claim of, supposedly, "non-linear" game play (along with Oaths). The only problem is the gameplay itself just seems completely linear. These tests are literally one of the only things that aren't linear, but don't get me wrong I really enjoy the tests of faith. Waves in each maze are exactly the same as they were the first time you played each particular maze, even after changing difficulty. The only difference difficulty seems to do is make pickups less effective and enemies hit harder. There really doesn't seem to be any modifier at all. It took me awhile just to figure this out and took me several times on each map to figure it out, like playing a linear game. You will always see that same cyclops coming out of that gate, you will always see that same breeder running down those stairs.

    It is almost essential to play co-op just to try and get some replay value, and the public co-op is absolutely horrible. You must have a group of friends if you want to play this game at it's full potential. On top of the horrid voice chat system in place, although fixed in a very recent patch, after completing each maze you will be transported to a bonus gold room where you steal the treasure of Hades. This does sound like a good thing, but it can also be a curse, and it was meant that way too. Players are now able to team kill each other and steal each other's gold for doing so. As said, this can be a good thing, with a group of friends. It is actually encouraged to kill each other, your spirit guide says it himself! Though, I cannot say I can count this as one of the flaws of this game. This is completely dependent on player behavior, and also depends on how you look at it.
    Watch where you're pointing that thing!

    Before entering each maze you will have the option of choosing from a variety of Oaths which will enhance your gameplay quite a bit. These Oaths are another attempt to add to the replay value of the game, like the Tests of Faith, and both work out well. Oaths will add to the difficulty to each map by adding set debuffs for you and or buffs for the enemy. These include enemies dealing poison damage, health and ammo pickups being less effective, and you doing less damage. You can play with none, a few, or all. It is all your choice. Even suggested in game is to set all these Oaths on for the most challenging playthrough. I still wish the difficulty setting would have done more than just the usual, but Oaths do make up for it, to an extent.

    The goal for the game, of course, is for your character to ascend to God Mode by battling against the armies of Hades. To actually become a "God" you must level up to maximum rank, which is currently level 24. Every time you play a maze you will earn experience and cash for killing enemies, picking up drops, and simply just completing objectives. With this cash you will be able to buy and unlock a fairly wide variety of preset clothing, weapons, upgrades, and abilities, with each having their own level requirement and price. There isn't really any other use for leveling up except for unlocking all these and obtaining your Godhood. Levels would almost only be cosmetic if it weren't for the unlocks. Don't expect any RPG'ish or in depth leveling system in God Mode. Your character is exactly the same as you were at level one, just now you have prettier weapons.
    Unlocking my Minigun!

    Everything is pretty simple in God Mode actually. Even unlockables, like I said, are all preset. As far as clothing is concerned, however, you can mix and match whatever you want with whatever you want. You can run around like a zombie, or a dead murderous clown if you so desire! Everything you can unlock in the game is unlocked just like how you buy your clothing. If you really want an ability just scroll down and choose one! There is a nice little cosmetic feature when you unlock the tier 2 upgrades for your weapon, your weapon will actually look upgraded! The game could have used more in depth customization of course, but as far as cosmetics goes, I love it all.

    God Mode in the end is one of my favorite game purchases I have made in recent memory. Especially, for it's price. The game is currently just a mere ten dollars! With all it's flaws it is a very solid and mindlessly entertaining game. Offering some very beautiful graphics the scenery on some of these maps and just the effects are awe-inspiring. This game is literally just pick up and play, there isn't really much to it. Get ready to kill a lot of enemies, not think much about it, and have a lot of fun! Hey get a friend to play with you too! That just makes it all the more fun. I wholeheartedly recommend this game to everyone I know.

    SimCity Review
    SimCity Review
    SimCity Review

    EA’s SimCity franchise is one of PC Gaming’s oldest still-running franchises, with semi-regular releases since its initial release in 1989. SimCity 5, or simply SimCity, as it has been rebranded by EA, is the latest iteration of this popular city building simulation franchise. The game tasks you with being the mayor of your very own “SimCity”. As the mayor of your little city, your responsibilities include managing roads, water, waste disposal and treatment, electricity, education, transportation, trade, zone residential, industrial and commercial zones and managing your city’s finances.

    SimCity is a fun game. At least, on the surface it is. There is a point in the game where you realize that you’ve been doing the exact same thing over and over again. Create a city, map out roads, get water, get power, zone residential, zone commercial, zone industrial farther away, wait for your city to grow, start over again because your city filled up all of the space in the tiny land plots.
    The game is beautiful.

    On the surface, the game seems to be just another SimCity game, but with all of the micromanagement taken out. The game has taken many departures from the level of depth that the previous iterations of the game had. You no longer have to actually map out where your water or power goes, you just put down a water tower or power plant and bam, your buildings have power or water. There’s no complication what so ever with the game. You can play through an entire game on max speed without ever having to un-pause to think about what’s happening to your city.

    The gameplay is fairly solid, as repetitive as it is. Its lack of difficulty means anyone can learn how to play it fairly quickly. The zoning, building and management aspects of the game are all quite fun to do the first 2-3 cities you make, but each city gets filled to the brim with buildings and people within an hour or so, meaning you have to constantly remake your cities. Everything is very straightforward and is put in fairly obvious locations, due to the game’s fantastic interface. In all honesty, the best part of SimCity is probably the user interface and information screens, they are some of the most well designed ones I have seen. Watching the sewage interface is actually far more entertaining to do than playing the game itself.

    The graphics are very The Sims-esque, which I guess is a good thing for a Sims game, but they feel like an odd choice for a game that seems to want to be taken as a serious city management simulator. That’s not to say that they’re bad at all; they’re fantastic, in their own stylized way. The game also uses a tilt-shift graphical option, which accentuates the game’s already very stylized look. The graphical style is one of the more shocking departures from the previous SimCity games, which had opted for a more realistic, albeit 2D, graphical style.

    Perhaps EA's biggest departure from the previous SimCity games is the game has been built to require an always online internet connection to the Origins servers, even for Single player gameplay. This is supposedly to encourage multiplayer gameplay, but the multiplayer gameplay is no different from the Single player gameplay. You can trade with your neighboring player cities, but there’s no real incentive to outside of trading for trading’s sake. All of the resources are painfully, boringly easy to acquire without any serious time or monetary expenditure. No, the real reason for the always online requirement appears to be to market DLC to you. Every time you launch the game, you are bombarded with DLC offers. All of the DLC offer you buildings with no downsides whatsoever to them. They have no cost, make everyone happier and are also conveniently brightly branded with ad placement. For example, one of the DLCs is an electric car stop, which makes all of your people happy, all economic classes use it, and costs nothing. It is also conveniently branded with a giant Nissan sign that is visible from the farthest zoom option.
    An example of EA's many connection issues.

    All in all, SimCity is a beautiful, repetitive, boring attempt at remaking a respected franchise for a broader audience. An attempt it succeeds at the cost of alienating more hardcore long term fans like myself. If you are looking for an entertaining city building/management game, there are far better and cheaper options you can go for that SimCity. SimCity 4, SimCity’s vastly superior predecessor, is much cheaper and has far more depth than its more recent brother does. If you can put up with its admittedly aged graphics and clunky interfaces than it provides a far more entertaining time than SimCity can.

    Pros and Cons
    Beautiful stylized visuals
    Fantastic easy to navigate interfaces
    Easy to pick up
    Very repetitive
    Always online
    Terrible, ad branded DLC constantly shoved in your face
    No difficulty at all
    Require’s EA’s Origin service
    Overall Score5.5/10

    I wouldn't recommend buying this game unless it had been drastically dropped in price, and you had already exhausted all your other city builder options.

    Guest Article - Assassin's Creed 3: The Tyranny of King Washington Review
    The Tyranny of King Washington Review
    The Tyranny of King Washington Review

    Assassin's Creed III: The Tyranny of King Washington (2013)

    The Tyranny of King Washington picks up several months after the end of the Revolution as portrayed by Assassin’s Creed III, and finds Ratonhnhaké:ton awaking to a strange world. Instead of an America free of the British influence and free to follow its own destiny, America is under the despotism of a new king…George Washington. Washington seized power with the help of an Apple of Eden, and has established his rule brutally over the nation. In this world, Ratonhnhaké:ton never met Achilles Davenport, never took the name Connor, and never even helped end the Templar influence in America nor lead the colonies to independence. Despite all of this, Ratonhnhaké:ton remembers everything from the past reality: the events, the people, and the skills he learned as an Assassin. With the knowledge he has, the powers he will gain, and the allies he will assist, Ratonhnhaké:ton sets out once again to do whatever must be done in order to free America from the tyranny of a king.

    Ratonhnhaké:ton, awake and confused by this new reality.
    (Despite not taking the name in this reality, Ratonhnhaké:ton will be called Connor for the rest of this review for the sake of simplicity)

    Consisting of three episodic updates, The Tyranny of King Washington is a DLC for Assassin’s Creed III that sees Connor, the protagonist of that game, return to an alternate reality where he was never an Assassin and never did anything to aid the Revolution. Washington has seized power and rules the so-called Kingdom of the United States with an iron-fist, driven mad with power due to the influence of an Apple of Eden. Connor must utilize everything at his disposal to end the influence of King Washington over the three locations (Frontier, Boston, and New York) that are visited in the original game, typically by eliminating Washington’s lieutenants. Gameplay wise, this game is mostly the same as its parent game, but with a couple key additions that sets it apart.

    King Washington, addressing his people

    The largest difference between the two games is without a doubt the addition of various “powers” that Connor utilizes. Throughout the three episodes, Connor gains supernatural-like abilities through the drinking of tea made from the boughs of a red willow tree. After making a journey to the “Sky World” in each episode that function as introductions towards each respective power, Connor is able to use the abilities in the main game. These abilities are utilized to aid Connor in his missions, and function in several ways.

    Connor drinking the tea, soon to gain a new power from his journey to the Sky World

    The first ability Connor gains is called “Wolf Pack”, and is simple in that it allows Connor to summon three spirit wolves to kill people that Connor targets. This ability is highly useful for aiding Connor in a tough situation, or for beginning a confrontation on a more even footing. The wolves continue to attack others until they disappear. They have essentially replaced the Assassin Recruits from ACIII. The second ability that Connor obtains is called “Wolf Cloak”, and allows Connor to become invisible for a short period of time. This can help Connor avoid detection, and Connor can stealthily kill guards without other guards noticing and the alarm being raised. In addition, it can help Connor escape difficult situations. You learn these two abilities in the first episode.

    Learning "Wolf Pack" in the Sky World

    "Wolf Cloak"

    The third power that Connor gains (in the second episode) is “Eagle Flight”. This ability aids Connor in traveling short distances by turning into a spirit eagle, which lets him fly between various objects relatively easily. These short distances can turn into much longer ones by chaining together multiple flights. Besides just using this ability to traverse the map, Connor can also use Eagle Flight to get out of combat quickly, or he can use it to assassinate people in a similar manner to the air assassinations. You learn this ability in the second episode.

    Eagle Flight

    The final major ability is “Bear Might”. Connor can use this ability to create a shockwave around him, sending all people around him flying away from the center of the shockwave. Additionally, the power can smash objects that are obstructing Connor’s passage. You learn this ability in the final episode, and it is quite a useful one in some of the situations.

    Bear Might

    All of these abilities (with the exception of Wolf Pack) come at the cost of decreasing Connor’s “health” temporarily, so their use is limited and too much of it in certain situations may do more harm than good. Wolf Pack must be recharged with each use, so its use is advised only when necessary.

    Connor learning a new ability

    Aside from that, the game is much the same as Assassin’s Creed III. Combat has not changed at all, though the aforementioned abilities are added to the “weapons and items” wheels in order to efficiently switch between them and others. Connor’s enemies are now the Blue Coats and King Washington, along with several other notable characters from the original game, and his allies are Red Coats, natives, and other characters. Due to the madness of Washington, his soldiers are a mixture of fearful and fanatically devote, willing to kill or main unarmed civilians who have either done something to wrong the “Kingdom” or are just being made an example of. They are also much less tolerant of Connor's actions, and with no way to remove notoriety like in ACIII, they often attack on sight. Connor assists the Revolution in a variety of missions and side missions by participating in activities that range from feeding hungry civilians, assisting those that are oppressed directly, tearing down statues of Washington, killing fanatical officers, raiding prisoner convoys, or even starting a riot. Connor befriends notable figures such as Samuel Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and even Benjamin Franklin, whom he knows from the alternate reality but they are ignorant towards him and his actions. Connor moves throughout the same maps as Assassin’s Creed III that are for the most part unchanged with the exception of a major addition to the New York map that will not be discussed here for the sake of spoilers. Additionally, Connor can collect objects known as “Lucid Memory Fragments”, which, when all collected, reveal how the alternate reality came to pass.

    Connor retains all the skills he learned in the previous reality, and does not hesitate to use them.


    Connor, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson.

    Overall, I would say that the game is a solid addition to the Assassin’s Creed franchise. Even though Connor is not strictly an Assassin in this DLC, I believe the game does much to improve on the flaws that many saw in Connor as an Assassin. The cries of him not being passionate or not having a personality or beliefs beyond his desire to be more of a freedom fighter than an Assassin should be silenced by this game. Tyranny of King Washington portrays him, in my view, as a true Assassin. His personality as a whole, from Assassin’s Creed III to this game, really improves dramatically. His dedication towards resolving the conflict without further bloodshed, his passion, and his beliefs in America as a new and different nation shine in this game. Furthermore, many of the characters that were in the original game seem to be much more interesting compared to their ACIII counterparts, Washington in particular, in his madness, really standing out.The story is refreshing in that the enemy is not a Templar: it is a man that Connor, for better or worse, considered an ally in the struggle to free America. The abilities are also a refreshing change, and are allowable within a franchise that portrays two brotherhoods, Templar and Assassin, as powerful and influential enough to change the outcome of major events in history. This is also completely disregarding the fact that the franchise has a large, overarching science fiction element concerning the Pieces of Eden and their origin, as well as the fact that the events of this game never truly happened within the story. The story is once again aided by the powerful soundtrack, composed by Lorne Balfe. Longer than the original, the soundtrack really sets the mood of the game, with tracks such as “The Redemption” really standing out. The DLC was a very fun one, and really improved on the original, making the entire purchase worthwhile, I feel.

    King Washington with the Apple


    Dust: An Elysian Tail Review
    Dust: An Elysian Tail Review
    Dust: An Elysian Tail Review

    Ever want to make a game but didn't know how? Then you share something in common with Dean Dodrill, the creator of Dust: An Elysian Tail and game developer Humble Hearts. A self-taught illustrator who had experience drawing cinematics for a game, Dodrill decided to create his dream game...by learning how to design and program games himself. With such an interesting backstory, you might think the story ended as just a testament to what you can do when you put your mind to it. Fortunately for us, Dust: An Elysian Tail is a combination of Dodrill's anthromorphic creation and Metroidvania gameplay that results in an original game that is well worth your time and money.

    Yes Fidget. That's exactly where it is.
    Our story begins with the titular character, Dust, awakening in a forest with no memory. He is soon greeted by Ahrah, a magical talking sword, and Fidget, its nimbat guardian. Together this unlikely trio searches for information on Dust's past and purpose, all the while protecting the people of Falana from both monsters and an ever encroaching threat. When written down this seems like a simple, cliched plot, but make no mistake; Dust: An Elysian Tail is an excellent piece of storytelling. The use of amnesia, typically an overused excuse to get to the fighting faster, pays off well when the reveal comes around. The trio of heroes are deep characters that play off each other nicely; Ahrah's seriousness and hidden knowledge, Fidget's lighthearted comic relief, naivety, and occasional 4th wall breaking, and Dust's reserved tendencies and sense of compassion produce some amazing conversations and interactions. The secondary characters are also colorful, though not all of them are as memorable as the main cast. Completing side quests for the assorted cast is a fun addition, with only a few of the objectives being "collect 10 ingredients." The only real letdown is the main villain, who isn't nearly as fleshed out as the rest of the cast.

    Since I'm not much for revealing story spoilers, let's get down to gameplay. Dust:AET is a Metroidvania style game (a portmanteau of Metroid and Castlevania, for those not in the know), consisting of platforming, puzzles, combat, and abilities that unlock hidden areas in previous areas. RPG elements are also included, with four skills that can be upgraded with each level up and both food items as well as equipment. The latter reveals one of the game's unique features. As Dust kills enemies, he gains currency as well as ingredients and blueprints to make new items. Rather than continuously kill monsters for ingredients, Dust can sell one of each ingredient to the shop; over time, the shop will gather more and more of the item for Dust to purchase for use. Though the blacksmith early on is located deep within a level, Dust will eventually unlock a transceiver that will allow him to not only buy ingredients remotely but have the new items made as well. What could have been an irritating item grind is now a time saving and enjoyable feature. Both items and money are also obtained via chests hidden throughout the world which result in a short, simple minigame when a key is used. Keys are not used up unless the chest is opened, so the number of keys in the game match (or are slightly over) the number required. Other items such as teleport stones for use when at save points (which are amply placed in every level) and revive stones round out the rest of the game's inventory, with other secrets hidden throughout the map (you'll get no spoilers from me!).

    Dust Storm in action.
    Where the game truly shines, however, is in its combat. Dust utilizes combos to both damage enemies and avoid damage; the more hits and damage caused without being hit, the more experience earned. Counters and later abilities further increase Dust's fighting prowess. To go along with chain attacks, Dust also has two important moves; Dust Storm, which has Dust spin his sword around to damage enemies (and even sort of fly with it) and Fidget's magic which, though weak on its own, is amplified massively when combined with Dust Storm. As the game progress, Fidget learns new magic to go along with Dust's new abilities. The majority of the enemies of Dust:AET tend to rely on quantity over quality to combat Dust's combos, with more specialized enemies presenting more unique challenges for the player. Combat is fast and frenzied, and though the fights may be short, there is no shortage of them. However, there is once again a downside; boss fights are pathetically easy even on harder difficulties, though the last boss can be more challenging on difficulties above normal.

    The art of the game is another strong point. Hand drawn entirely by Dodrill, the game gives off an organic, watercolor feel. From the movement of character models to the background reacting to the Dust Storm's wind, life teems in the world of Falana. Each character is also animated for a few postures in dialogue, though these specific animations, as well as the couple of animated cutscenes, lack the polish and look of the world itself. Speaking of the world, the obligatory variety of areas (snow level, fire level, etc.) is the perfect way to show off the sheer visual splendor of the game. Audio wise, the music (by HyperDuck Soundworks) is broad and powerful, with each tune matching the excitement and emotion of each scene and zone. The scaling "musical combat" in the style of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker is another small but beautiful touch. The voice acting for the heroic trio is well done, as well as for the more primary characters. I'm sure some people will find Fidget's voice annoying, but I personally feel that it fits her character to a T. For the supporting cast, however, the voice acting is hit or miss.

    Originally released as the headliner of the Xbox Live Arcade Summer of Arcade promotion in 2012, Dust: An Elysian Tail was just release for Steam on May 24th. I'll be honest; I have no idea how the controls work for the PC. But if they are as responsive as the controls for the Xbox 360, you are in for a treat. Though Dean Dodrill got some help along the way (co-writer Alex Kain joined later, with voice acting and music being hired out), his forty-two month work of love resulted in a game that is well worth the experience. Here's to hoping that this new world gets more games in the future, and that it doesn't take nearly as long.

    - CJ

    Dust: An Elysian Tail
    ConceptCombine one man's creation of an anthropomorphic world with Metroidvania gameplay.
    GraphicsFluid, detailed environments make Elysium a vibrant world.
    SoundA diverse soundtrack produce by HyperDuck Soundworks. Sound effects bring even more life into a thriving world, while the "musical combat" is a neat addition. Voice acting can be hit or miss depending on the character, but the main actors do their job well.
    PlayabilitySome of the best controls for a game I've seen in a while. Long combos are simple to create.
    EntertainmentBetween the heartwarming, comedic, and saddening moments, Dust: An Elysian Tail manages to cover a wide emotional scale without a cliched story.
    Overall Score9.00

    Metro: Last Light Review
    Metro: Last Light Review
    Metro: Last Light Review

    The original Metro 2033 was an undervalued rough gem. It has a fairly large fanbase among the more involved parts of the gaming world, perhaps even to the extent it can barely be called a cult classic, but among those who approach gaming more casually it's more or less a noble unknown lost among the more high-profile triple A FPS games. The reasons for this are many: low marketing budget, Eastern European developers and style, the way its graphics turned your system into a smouldering heap of plastic... and it resulted in reasonably low sales despite the critical acclaim and the popularity of its genre. Personally however I was a big fan. The game's dense world and focus, combined with an incredible regard for detail and immersion, reminded me why exactly corridor-shooters shouldn't go the way of the dodo and simply can exist alongside the more freeroaming-oriented FPS's that have been in the limelight for quite some time now. Never mind that I'm a sucker for bleak post-apocalyptic settings, and that this particular one painted a very bleak and very post-apocalyptic picture indeed.

    A hard rain has fallen
    It's not all doom and gloom...
    The original Metro 2033 put us in the shoes of Artyom, one of only several ten thousand survivors of a vague World War III-like conflict. Those survivors took refuge in the Moskovian Metro system when the bombs fell; completely isolated from the outside world – whatever outside world still remains that is not an irradiated and alien frozen wasteland – and now try and eke out an existence in the old Soviet-era reinforced stations and tunnels dozens of meters underground. Humans being humans however, instead of banding together to survive have simply turned the underground into a new battlefield. Not even a host of deadly, mysterious mutants and strange, possibly supernatural events and apparitions can dissuade them from stabbing any and everyone in the back.

    Artyom himself hailed from a metro station commonly referred to as Exhibition, which had lately come under duress due to the appearance of the enigmatic Dark Ones; mutants that had been responsible for a string of fatalities and cases of insanity. Tasked by a senior member of the Rangers, the politically neutral guardians of the metro, to inform said Ranger's command of the strange happenings in and near Exhibition, Artyom sets out to try and find help for his home. A task for which he is uniquely suited thanks to his natural marksmanship and as it later turns out, his immunity to many of the Metro's less mundane dangers. Along the way he comes into contact with a respectable selection of the evils humankind has to offer, from the constant warfare of the Metro's – literal – Communists and Nazis and their iron grip on much of the underground to the rabid bandit scum that infests the tunnels and preys on the weaker travelers. All in their own way much more monstrous than the actual cretins he encounters in the tunnels and his few surface expeditions.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Editor's Note: HERE BE SPOILERS

    Eventually he joins up with these Rangers and attempts to eradicate the danger the Dark Ones pose. Which ultimately proves foolhardy as these Dark Ones were in fact not hostile, but whose attempts to communicate with the human survivors had the unfortunate side effect of turning their brains to mush. A realization that comes too late as Artyom, the single human who could have communicated safely with them and was to be the herald of Dark Ones and human cooperation, is the one who actually launches a remaining nuke to destroy them. (technically you had a good ending where the realization came before the actual launch and everyone was saved, but hey, that's not the canon ending and perhaps too much of a thematic deviation from the rest of the game).

    ...but most of it is

    The sequel, unlike its literary equivalent, once again has us follow Artyom, now a full member of the Rangers but also guilt-ridden and horrified of his own actions. The underground is in turmoil as the existence of D6, the Ranger's new base and an old Soviet secret facility, has been leaked and caught the attention of the major factions in the Metro. Meanwhile word has spread that a surviving Dark One has been spotted and our protagonist and a partner are sent out to eliminate this possible threat once and for all while the Fourth Reich and The Red Line prepare for war.

    Metro 2033's plot focused on the cycle of war and destruction that appears inherent to humanity and created this hostile world. As a case of applied Darwinism, the question was asked whether humanity was still fit to survive, and if the answer was no, would they drag the rest of the world along with it? As a result the game portrayed an extremely bleak world where life was cheap, where those few braves who scavenged the surface for essential supplies littered the place with their bodies while their fellow humans were busy recreating WWII underground and fear of the unknown even misled the most well-intentioned. MLL however, while affirming the bad ending where indeed the answer was no and humanity's violent reaction to the Dark Ones had condemned them to a slow but seemingly inevitable decline, is essentially a tale of deliverance. That perhaps there's always another chance, that at the end of the tunnel, despite all evidence to the contrary, there is always the eponymous last light. That light isn't easily won though, as the tunnel before you is truly and decidedly dark. Much of the first two thirds of the game you are being pulled into a major faction war whose major players seem to be dead-set on convincing you that the human race needs to wither and die. When the time finally comes for Artyom to confront the results of his actions and the sole survivor of them, you'll see them mirrored in the game's events and wonder whether the offered redemption that's so easily and temptingly declined to others, is in turn deserved by you yourself.

    The Future's So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades The game's predecessor was often touted to be one of the most demanding but also one of the prettiest games out there. And even with my fairly middling system, I can safely say that MLL has upped the bar considerably. I'm not too versed in all that graphical gobbledygook with terms like SSAO, FXAA and what not flying around, but the end result is a damn pretty picture. Just like the last time, especially the lightning is of note with the warm hues of cooking fires almost making the Underground's shanty towns look cosy, and your steadily weakening flash light bathing tunnels in a rather eerie light. Remember to turn down the brightness and/or gamma down though, otherwise it's less spooky shadows and more mildly annoying dusk. There are a few things that bothered me, unfortunately those few things can be quite jarring to the visual experience. As in most games these days that cater to both consoles and PC's, some concessions were apparently made in regards to textures. A shame, but not what irked me the most. That honor goes to the NPC models,whose faces and eyes are few steps too close to the uncanny valley for my liking. Perhaps a bit pedantic of me, but it really hurt the immersion in several cut-scenes. 3D animated films have finally lost the dead eyes-phenomenon, games aren't there yet.
    The Future's So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades

    Here, pretty, pretty!

    Speaking of immersion, that and the general atmosphere are far more important aspects than the technical side of things in my opinion. The original was a small milestone in that regard, while obviously still dealing with mutated monsters and even the odd ghostly apparition, everything had a certain aura of groundedness – to not use the ubiquitous and cheapened term grittiness. In most ways the sequel is cut from the same cloth. The weapons, most obviously fictional, are little marvels of design. I have no degree in engineering or experience in arms manufacturing, and the experts will find loads of inconsistencies I'm sure; none the less, to the layman's eye these apocalyptic, almost steam-punky tools, usually of death, look functional. The same thing can be said for the design of the stations and game world in general. Of course concessions had to be made, this isn't pretending to be a fully functional model of the subway and is still a corridor-shooter pur sang. But an obvious effort has been made to make it look as if this sort of long-term survival is in some way possible. Little things like how they talk about mushrooms being the main food source and people attempting to entertain the children to showing an entire station being quasi-dedicated to fishing. Likewise for the decrepit external areas,the world is no longer in perpetual nuclear winter and the first rays of sunshine make sure going outside is a welcome change of scenery. There's a slight thematic faux-pas in the whole experience if you ask me, at a certain point you enter a brothel. Nothing wrong there, in a society this desperate, prostitution is certain to be there. But my problem is that this could've been a perfect moment to showcase the bleakness of the setting: have the exotic dancer/implied prostitute in some way hint at her fairly precarious position, that it's not choice that brought her there. Instead the scene is approached rather exploitative, just a chance to see some tits 'n ass. Sure, we could have come upon a woman who thoroughly and sincerely enjoys the sex business, but in that case I wonder about the relevancy of said scene. Besides that it's all stuff I can only love; the only thing I really, really miss is the way you gathered supplies. While ammo and medication is still distributed semi-logically – think corpses and lockers – you just press a key to gather everything. In Metro 2033 you had to literally search bodies visually to get all the goodies. It might have been a hassle for many, but it was a bit of charm that greatly contributed to the immersion. Have I mentioned I can be a bit pedantic?

    Rose Goes To Yale A rather more disappointing detriment to immersion is the sneaking mechanic, which quite frankly verges on broken in my opinion. And while this is an FPS and can be played by blasting away everything with superior fire power, and the chaos of explosions and gun fire sounds that accompanies that play style is certainly worth it at times; a more stealth-based approach is perhaps the more default attitude to MLL meaning broken stealth might even mean broken game to you.
    Rose Goes To Yale
    Summer might be an exaggeration

    To put it simple, shadows are too dark and too frequent. I have no problem with being completely invisible in utter darkness – because you know, that's what darkness basically amounts to – but in MLL even the tiniest bit of shade renders one nearly impervious to detection. Combine that with a few of the more silent weapons to destroy lights and put out flames, and you can safely boogie dance in the middle of a populated bandit camp without worries. I wouldn't be surprised this problem is somewhat alleviated with higher difficulties, but I don't believe in testing a game the way it “should” be played, but rather how it will be played by default by most of the gaming population. Especially considering a certain DLC fiasco involving exactly that. This isn't the only inconsistency with the AI. At times the enemies seem to react to their compatriots disappearing, for example one sentry yelled out for two colleagues that had gone off to check an abandoned – by everyone but me – side tunnel, but 5 minutes later a sole survivor not realizing he's now alone rather than surrounded by a dozen of his mates makes one wonder whether said reaction was scripted or not. Luckily during the actual fighting, they are quite a bit cleverer and can at times give you a run for the money.

    On the whole it seems the game's become quite a bit easier. In a post-apocalyptic society with no true manufacturing base, you'd expect scarcity. Yet near to the end-game I still had all my medkits and was positively packed with gas mask filters, ammunition, grenades and military grade bullets. Turning what should be a fight for survival into a walk in the park. Though the one true walk in the park in-game is actually one of the few places you'll need all the ammo you can get. The lowered difficulty means some players will be able to breeze through the game. Don't spend any time exploring and enjoying the scenery, and the game's shelf-life is fairly short. Not exploring though would be quite a shame, much of the game's background is explained and experienced in areas that aren't absolutely necessary to dally in or traverse. Skipping all that is essentially depriving yourself of a large part of the game and robbing your own wallet. Personally it took me about 13 hours to play through in a semi-completionist manner.

    Countdown to Zero While I personally find the original a slightly better game, I thoroughly enjoyed Metro: Last Light. Reading back, most of my misgivings are fairly minor issues. The one true downer was the difficulty, exacerbated by the lackluster sneaking. But if you value immersion and atmosphere, it has those in spades to make up for it. Add some decent gun play and a story that while perhaps not the most original is still engaging, and I can give this game a thumbs up. If you're hesitant to drop full price, be it because of the length or the abundance of FPS's, be sure to keep an eye out for any sales.
    Countdown to Zero

    Gameplay: Stealth has become a lot less thrilling, but in the end still a solid gaming experience that easily rivals its competition
    Atmosphere and plot: There's a surprising amount of detail in the world-building if you're willing to look for it and savor the experience.
    Sounds and visuals: True to its reputation, no punches are pulled.This will be one of the prettiest games you'll play this year, and all that accompanied by an impressive chorus of gun blasts.
    Replayability: Not this game's strongest suit. There are technically two endings and you'll easily miss some collectibles or interesting areas, but essentially a single run will be enough to satisfy your average player without withholding anything essential.

    Guest Article - Ys Origins First Impressions
    Ys Origins First Impressions
    Ys Origins First Impressions

    Ever since I saw the Ancient Book of Ys OVA (Original Video Animation) series a couple years ago, I have desired to play the games. However, the translated versions of these were only available on the Playstation consoles and devices, but back in March 2012, XSEED Games released Ys Oath in Felghana, and later in May released Ys Origin, on Steam. The choice to release these games rather than the first two Ys games, Ys I and Ys II, are interesting. Ys Oath in Felghana is a remake of Ys III, whereas Ys Origin is a new story, which canonically occurs before Ys I.

    When I first saw these games appear on Steam at the price they were at, I was very hesitant to purchase them (Ys Origin $19.99 USD and Ys Oath in Felghana $14.99 USD). They looked rather simple and did not seem like they had much to offer. I finally bought them during the Steam Summer Sale when I could get them for much less than their normal price. I put off playing them for a long time until in December; I installed Ys Origin and started playing it from midnight to 1:30.

    So what is Ys? Ys is a series of JRPG (Japanese Role Playing Games) created by Nihon Falcom Corporation, that began with Ys I in 1987. In game, Ys is a floating isle where in days of old was home to what is described as a utopia created by the two goddesses Feena and Reah. Like the Legend of Zelda, not every game focuses on the land of Ys. In fact, only Ys I & II and Ys Origin focus on Ys; all of the other games takes place all over a map that looks very much like Europe. This is expected since there exists in mythology a city called Ys located in Brittany that was lost to the sea. While the floating isle of Ys has not been lost to the sea, it has certainly been lost; this is based on the fact that only a couple people in Ys I know of Ys. For every Ys game, besides Ys Origin, the hero has been a red-headed warrior named Adol Cristin who, unlike Link from the Legend of Zelda, is the same person in each game he is in. The reason for his lack of appearance in Ys Origin is that it occurs several hundred years before Ys I.

    Ys Origin is, as previously stated, the first game in the Ys lore’s timeline, but was released in Japan for the Windows XP in 2006, and was later translated and released on Steam by XSEED Games JKS in May 2012. Ys Origin stars three characters each with their own playstyles; in addition, for those that are familiar to the Ys series but have not played Ys Origin, you will find yourself chuckling at the familiarity of the surnames. Yunica Tovah appears as the first option to choose from in the list of characters. She is a knight in training and for some unknown reason she does not have magical abilities, which is apparently unique in the land of Ys. As a result, she is a strong melee fighter who can deliver strong blows with her axe then quickly get away. The second character option is Hugo Fact, who is the opposite of Yunica. Hugo is wizard who deals ranged damage with his Eyes of Fact which spew out magic missiles. Hugo is not training to be a knight; rather he is training to become one of the six great priests of Ys. The third character option is unknown until you have beaten the game with one of the other two characters; however he is a character that is worth finishing the campaign once to play with. Playing with the third character is a very exciting experience, however the game will tell you “Experts only!” but do not be put off by that. By the time I beat the first boss, or I guess minor boss, I knew how to use the character. His campaign is a bit longer since his campaign is canonical.

    As an impatient gamer, I like to get into battle sooner rather than later. For this reason, I chose Yunica Tovah. Her playstyle is well suited to mine, as a melee fighter she has to get into battle quickly before taking too much ranged damage. This makes sense for boss battles, as most if not all have range attacks though few enemies outside of boss battles have range attacks.

    Starting the campaign you are greeted with a monologue spoken in French. I was taken aback by this. Odd, French in a Japanese game translated into English, why? Later research revealed that since Ys is based off the lost land of Ys which was located in modern France, the makers thought it relevant to do the monologue in French. Following this is an anime style introductory video that gives you a prologue of what happens right before the game. The video can be quite confusing as no words are spoken throughout its entirety, though it is accompanied with a fantastic opening tune. Only after having completed the game have I gained an appreciation for the opening. Every scene in the opening animation was necessary to provide the gamer with the knowledge of what is going on. Yet, the barebones nature of the prologue causes the before mentioned confusion of what is going on.

    After the animation ends, the game begins. It starts off with Yunica talking to a tree. Players of Ys I will be pleased to know that this tree is none other than one of the Roda trees. Even with the introduction that the animation, the tree gives you another introduction to the game, this time less confusing. When the Roda tree and Yunica finish conversing, she runs off in the direction of Dharm’s Tower, which is where the entirety of the game takes place.

    When she arrives at the tower, two people who are part of her group that got split up in the prologue are seen surrounded by some enemies. So Yunica joins in to defend her companions, who as to be expected do absolutely nothing but allow Yunica to defeat their foes. It is this part that provides a small tutorial for the player. The instructions on how to fight shows up on a slate that appears right before the player fights the enemy. In a way, this feature is kind of irrelevant considering that the user can change the controls through the configuration application. Changing the controls is highly recommended since the default controls are rather inefficient. Both mouse and console video game controllers are viable for use in the game, I have not used a video game controller but a mouse is a great option for those who play games that rely on using a mouse.

    A cool feature of the gameplay of Ys Origin is that it shows the damage Yunica inflicts on her enemies. Obviously, such a feature is not new to the world of videogames, but for a series I have only just jumped into, it is an encouraging aspect. This aspect is useful to see the progression of Yunica’s stats over the course of the entire game. While fighting these enemies the player is introduced to a power that temporarily increases Yunica’s stats and halves the damage she receives from enemies. Recharging the power requires Yunica to fight. There is, what seems to be, a bug for the recharging; Yunica does not actually have to attack and hit enemies to recharge, instead I found out that you can recharge the bar by simply hitting the attack button.

    Character Stats
    After the short fight, Yunica meets up with the two characters that were under attack. She is basically told by them to wait for the others to arrive since she is apparently still a novice warrior, however she is persistent about going ahead to “scout”, which we all know means that it is time for the real fighting. It should be noted that, predictably, you do not actually fight with any of your allies; they’re really just there to advance the plot. Something that is not all that rare, it appears in many games where at the beginning you start out with a group of companions and you start thinking that these guys are your bros and will help you through thick and thin. However, once the game begins you never fight with your supposed companions. It is something that has always annoyed me which is why I appreciated the squad in Battlefield Bad Company (despite the fact that it is you who does all the work in that game) or Rainbow Six Vegas 2, the squad actually listens to you!

    Before the player waltzes into the tower, he is given something called Lila’s Shell, used to contact the female character Eolia who apparently provides wisdom to help you out…she really does not. Here replies when the player uses the shell are not that helpful, in fact her replies only points out the obvious. She is the complete opposite of Navi: not annoying and not helpful. The other item is the Crystal, which looks like a dagger with a crystal blade. This item is actually useful. What it does is transport you to different levels of the tower that you have passed through. So if you missed something passing through one of the tower levels, you can teleport back to the level you missed something to grab it. Or, you can do what I did; go back to the first level to clear each level again just to get experience points to level up. The character who gives it to you then shows you how it all works, name blank on the character because let’s face it he is forgettable. In fact, all of the “good” characters, besides those who are playable and the two goddesses that you have to find, are bland and forgettable; though I must say I loved the character designs.

    With both items in hand the player heads into the tower to start the fun part of the game. In the first room of the tower the player is introduced to the way door accessibility is unlocked, which is to defeat specially highlighted enemies. The highlighted enemies are in a reddish purplish color and have heightened stats to make unlocking the door a more difficult task. It seems to be a way to prevent players barreling through levels, shortening the game by a lot, and games such as this are meant to be enjoyed. After eliminating the highlighted enemies, the player proceeds to go through room after room fighting enemies as well as picking up a few items, the Celcetan Panacea which increases max health and the Cerulean Flabellum which is a very useful weapon that not only enables the player to jump farther but also can make the player go faster. Furthermore, it is an addicting weapon as it can propel the player immediately to the next enemy which in the case of the playable characters is quite literal meaning that as soon as the key is pressed the player will be instantly move to the next closest enemy without having the player the enemy when the Cerulean Flabellum was used. The Cerulean Flabellum’s ability paired with Yunica’s fast “axeplay”, fighting monster after monster does become tedious but rather something enjoyable to look forward to, though this does depend on the enemy the player is currently engaged with. The Cerulean Flabellum is just one of three weapons the player picks up throughout the game. Each of the three weapons are useful and do have their own specific purposes. Furthermore, one can be more useful in defeating an enemy than the other, the same goes for the boss battles. The variety of weapons is a great benefit to the game. Just having one weapon can make for a boring game, and better yet since all of the weapons have their own intended uses, the previous weapons you picked up do not become obsolete.

    Soon enough, after teleporting to another area to neutralize a “tractor beam” the player comes into contact with the two of the main antagonists. Really, only Epona is memorable, as she has two purposes; for Yunica she acts a rival, while for other characters she appears to be almost like a love interest. The other is a typical ultimate warrior archetype, a warrior that wants to be the greatest of them all and in order to do that he has to beat the best (much like the Shinomori Aoshi and Himura Kenshin relationship from Rurouni Kenshin), but unlike Shinomori, this antagonist does not exactly have a memorable backstory. Yet, like Shinomori in the Shishio Makoto arc, the antagonist is willing to do anything to be the best.

    The antagonists do not think the player is worth their time so they summon a demon to deal with the player. At first it is kind of annoying that the game has resorted to forcing the character fight a distraction foe, but to be fair the game has only so many main antagonists that the player will have to fight, so getting rid of one (or beating one only to beat them later for good) is a bit too early, especially since there are like ten boss fights. However, do not worry, each boss battle plays out much differently than the last and it takes different tactics to tackle all the bosses.

    The Invincible Bat Demons!
    The demon the two antagonists left behind acts like a mini-boss. It is a bat-like demon that can transform into invincible bats and can use melee and ranged attacks. Yet do not let that title fool you, it took several tries to defeat him. My first tactic was to go in charging guns blazing; this obviously does not work for boss battles. For me, who has not had to fight boss battles in the recent games I have been playing it was rather difficult to defeat him; I believe it even took me a few tries to figure out the best way to attack the boss. Eventually I did defeat him, and though it took me a while I enjoyed myself during the fight. I was really forced to strategize, figure out why I died and where the flaw in my tactics was. This is true for every single boss battle; I died many times and was forced to come up with many plans to neutralize the bosses. For players who come back playing as a different character, they should know that the tactic that was successful for one character will not successful for others, which goes to show how different the playable characters are in their fighting styles.

    Afterwards the player is treated to an intro of four more bland protagonist characters who are supposed to be knights (whereas Yunica is just a knight in training). They are angry with Yunica, and for going alone into the tower, being a knight in training, all four knights chide Yunica for her supposed recklessness, despite the fact that she just took out a powerful demon. These characters are just terrible; they come in right after a boss battle and chide the player for his recklessness being in a danger zone, despite the fact that the player just destroyed a boss. After the four leave (hoping Yunica will go back to the base of the tower), Yunica says, “Maybe I’ll explore a teensy bit farther before heading back…” Funnily enough, at around 1:30 am, this applied to me almost exactly. I really wanted to see what new enemies I would face. I did see the new enemies in the next room, and as Julius Caesar might have said, had things been different, I came I saw and I was conquered. Soon after I went into the next room I was killed, and that’s why you always make sure you save, otherwise you might lose an hour and a half of progress.

    Ys Origin Gameplay
    That was the extent of my hour and a half play through of Ys Origin. It was mostly to try it out, as it looked like an intriguing game. Despite the unfortunate consequences of forgetting to save, the next day I tried playing the game again and I became addicted to it. My addiction to the game though did not shorten it. It took me roughly 20 hours to finish the campaign of Ys Origin, and on the second run through it took me roughly 15 hours, which goes to show just how long it is (almost as long as Mr. Bones Wild Ride). I do love this game, but I do have my own gripes about it. First is that changing the controls appears to be impossible, because most players expect to be able to change controls in game rather than using a different application and the other gripe is the blandness and predictability of your compatriots in the game, but I did not continue to play this game because of the characters, I continued to play because of the addicting gameplay. For the Yunica character, the gameplay is incredibly fast paced with her hack and slash fighting, making the player eager for the next fight. While the campaign is long for a fighting game, its longevity does not hurt the game since the campaign levels are very different from one another, more so than the dungeons in Ocarina of Time. As such, the game basically guarantees that if you liked the first few levels, you will love the next ones. Along with the difference in levels also comes the music which is as amazing as the soundtracks for the Halo series. However, the Ys Origin soundtrack, like all Ys soundtracks, is not as atmospheric as the Halo series’ soundtracks; instead the Ys Origin soundtrack is almost telling the player “Gotta go fast! Gotta go fast!” Like the fast paced fighting throughout the game, the soundtrack is fast paced. The only times when the music is slow is when the characters are speaking to each other, however when the player goes back to fighting enemies, the fast paced music returns.

    Despite the handheld video game console look to the graphics, Ys Origin really is a fantastic game. With its addicting fast paced gameplay and the epic soundtrack, it is a game that has made me play through it twice (I could even be convinced to try and beat it on its hardest difficulty: Nightmare).

    List of Contributors/Other
    List of Contributors
    Confederate Jeb - Editor/Writer
    More news, notes, and interesting tidbits from across the interwebs.

    - I wrote a review of Halo 4 for the last issue, and though I gave it a good score and had praise for it in many aspects, I was trying to keep an objective perspective of it as a game. As a game it is an interesting shooter; as a Halo game it does a good job of merging the expanded universe with the game but continues the trend of Halo become less and less Halo-like. A 9.25 may be all well and good, but compared to what I'd give the other Halo games it would only manage to beat Reach. The reasons for this are numerous, and have been put into words by members of the professional community as well as groups such as Halo Council. 343i also does not do a good job of defending itself, with quotes such as "We hired people who hated Halo," "We want to make Halo more accessible and easier to succeed at," and "Halo always had a steep learning curve that threw players off, we wanted to change that." As someone who considers them self to be semi-skilled, I'd like to at least give you that perspective without it resulting in a completely biases review. Rather than provide links to the millions of threads from places such as Halo Council that list off issues great and small, I've decided to link a comment from the first source made by a Halo fan that I think does a good job of summarizing many of the complaints long time Halo fans have raised against the more recent Halo games.

    - Ever wanted to see a health bar in real life? Thanks to an engineer/programmer, now you can. Using pipes, lights, a fishtank pump, and Arduino Uno (plus other technical stuff I know nothing about), Youtube user bfayer has created a liquid life and mana bar, that responds to in game health and mana levels. You can check it out here.

    - Nintendo has rereleased Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons for the 3DS. Both games are currently $4.99 until 6/20, when they become $5.99, so if you never got the chance to play either of these games when they were released for the Game Boy Color, now is a great time to pick up Capcom's first forray into developing Legend of Zelda handheld games.

    apple - Writer

    SturmChurro - Writer

    Adamat - Writer

    Daily- Writer

    Manco- Writer

    frozenprince- Writer

    Akar - Writer

    Leonidas the Lion - Video Content Master

    Chloë - Contributor
    Special thanks.

    Gen. Chris - Guest Writer
    Special thanks to Gen. Chris for his Tyranny of King Washington review.

    ☩Lord Inquisitor Derpy Hooves☩ - Guest Writer
    Special thanks to Derpy Hooves for his Ys Origin article.

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