• The Gamer's Gazette: Issue XII


    Issue XII

    Greetings fellow gamers! The year is slowly approaching its end and the Gamer's Gazette team have been hard at work trying to hammer the Game of the Year results from a few months back into shape, as well as write a review or two.

    It's been a turbulent year for all of us, with real life responsibilities taking time away from the publication, but hopefully this issue will signal a new, more frequent Gamer's Gazette. Before we begin though, I would like to thank Gen. Chris for his work as editor on the Gamer's Gazette. *Stop reading for a minute's silence please*

    Onto the future! In this issue of the Gazette Meelis has reviewed Mass Effect 3. We also have a review for Bioshock Remastered, as well as a a feature about some of last years indie gems, and Meelis and I decided to have a look at our respective favorite games of the year. Did I mention games of the year? We have the results from our annual Game of the Year competition of course! Gamespot this and PC Gamer that, we all know this is the award the developers really are drooling for.

    Last but not least; if you enjoy games and fancy yourself a writer, send me a PM! We'd love to have you working with us on the Gazette.
    Gamer's Gazette Director
    Mhaedros






    Mass Effect 3 Review
    Mass Effect 3

    Mass Effect 3
    Mass Effect 3

    So here it is finally. Last review of original Mass Effect triology and its story DLC-s. Entry to franchise that many seem to want to forget (mainly due to ending), but is it justified? Let's find out.


    Basic introduction

    Normandy SR2 is back- this time in Alliance colors


    Mass Effect 3 is last episode of Mass Effect triology, developed by Bioware (Straight Right for WiiU), published by EA released in 6th march 2012 for Windows, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 with WiiU release following in november 2012. It is action-adventure RPG, where you explore galaxy, kill some bad guys and do heroic deeds. Also, this is first in the series to include multiplayer, however i wont be reviewing that as i didnt get chance to play it to enough extent.

    System requirements (from EA help page):

    Minimum system requirements:


    • OS – Windows XP SP3 / Vista SP1 / Windows 7
    • CPU – 1.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo or equivalent AMD CPU
    • RAM – 1 GB for Windows XP / 2 GB for Vista or Windows 7
    • Disc Drive – 1x speed
    • Hard Drive: at least 15 GB of free space
      Internet connection is required to play
    • GPU – 256 MB with Pixel Shader 3.0 support
      • Supported chipsets: Nvidia 7900 or better; ATI X1800 or better. Please note that Nvidia GeForce 9300, 8500, and 8300 are below minimum system requirements, as are AMD/ATI Radeon HD3200, HD3300, and HD4350.

    • Sound – DirectX 9.0c compatible
    • DirectX – DirectX 9.0c
    • Please note that if using an AMD Dual Core CPU, we recommend utilizng the AMD Dual Core Optimizer, available for free download by AMD.


    Recommended system requirements:


    • OS – Windows XP SP3 / Vista SP1 / Windows 7
    • CPU – 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo or equivalent AMD CPU
    • RAM – 2 GB for Windows XP / 4 GB for Vista or Windows 7
    • Disc Drive – 1x speed
    • Hard Drive: at least 15 GB of free space
      Internet connection is required to play
    • Video – AMD/ATI Radeon HD4850 512 MB or greater / Nvidia GeForce 9800GT 512 MB or greater
    • Sound – DirectX 9.0c compatible
    • Please note that if using an AMD Dual Core CPU, we recommend utilizng the AMD Dual Core Optimizer, available for free download by AMD.



    Story

    Beginning of story- reapers invade earth


    Story kicks off about 6 months after Shepard and his/her (using her from now on when referring to Shepard) team hit the Collectors home base and destroyed it. Normandy SR-2 is in Alliance posession and Shepard is being detained on Earth either for working with Cerberus (human black ops organisation gone rogue) in ME2 events or- if you have Arrival dlc for Mass Effect 2- blowing up batarian solar system.
    Either way, Shepard is being suddenly summoned by Alliance parliament (located in Vancouver), while on the way she meets up with either Kaidan or Ashley (depending who you saved back on Virmire) and Admiral Anderson, wheter or not you chose him to be earth's representative in council in first game. Earth has lost contact with extra-solar assets. Reapers have arrived.
    In matter of fact, when Shepard is telling parliament that, when first reapers land outside the windows and parliament and everyone in the room except for Shepard and Anderson are killed in initial blast from reapers weapon. I have to admit, the destruction wave still gave me chills and i played it like 3 years after release...
    After escaping the Vancouver (with Anderson remaining behind to coordinate resistance) with Normandy SR-2 (with dynamic duo of Jeff "Joker" Moreau as pilot and his AI sidekick EDI guiding the Normandy), you make a quick drop on Mars as of request of Admiral Hackett, where you pick up another old friend, dr. Liara T'Soni. You also discover that reapers are not the only enemy you have to face. Cerberus is also increasingly agressive, seriously harming appetempts of galaxy-wide front and fight against reapers and like that wasnt enough- it is suspected they are also indoctrinated.
    Mars is also last you see Sol system for very long time as you then slip out of Sol system to create united front against reapers.

    Story is overall rather good, it is definetly deeper than previous two entries of series, but it would be a stretch to say it is perfect. As in previous games, you can shape the story to some extent with correct lines and actions (paragon or renegade or mixture) and to be fair, it changes some parts quite drastically, though in the end it doesnt have much difference if you are paragon or renegade, but more of how much war assets you've gathered (effective combat strength needs to be over 4000, if you want best possible endings). Without multiplayer, it can be hard to achieve, as by default, effective combat strength is 50 percent of actual combat strength, which means if you are purely singleplayer person (like me), you'd need to get basically every sidequest and scan item possible. DLC-s actually help as well here.
    In any case, troughout story you meet (and lose) some old friends, as well as make new friends. It can get really emotional at times without becoming corny while doing so, which is definite plus. You can see reaper war taking huge toll on Shepard with its wins and losses (mainly losses, because you get to see it on earth already, how overwhelmingly powerful reapers really are). Either way, it is really something to see the magnitude of struggle, front forming, few reapers getting taken down amazingly (my favourite- tresher maw!) and you start to get rid of that feeling of inevitable loss you had at start during course of game, when you see strength of entire galaxy being pointed at reapers.

    You also have more missions and sidequests than in either game before, giving you lot more time to go trough game and lot more content. I mean it- game feels huge with multiple separate plotlines in overall arc. I honhestly felt like im playing game where entire franchise is slammed into one game. Also, eavesdropping on conversations unlocks assignments like it did in ME1. Quite happy about that.

    And humor, classic Mass Effect humor. There is a lot of it- really liked EDI and Joker going at it for example.

    But thats all good stuff up to this point. Now.. to the bad.
    When Shepard escapes Vancouver, she sees small boy who later gets killed when transport hes on gets shot down by reapers. That causes Shepard to see nightmares where she is in dark forest, seeing shadowy figures (who apparently are her friends who died as you can hear them speak) with exception of boy who you have to chase before he is burning..
    Now, i aint against nightmare sequences, if they are done well, but these felt dragging and really forced on player with no actual point to the story. You run at moon-walking pace which takes it forever to complete and really, nightmare sequence overall could've been done lot better. I agree it would be great way of showing toll it takes on Shepard, but seriously, they did much better job without nightmare sequences. Maybe get teammates and friends you lost on the way to show there as there isnt few of them.
    There were some other stuff that disturbed me in story a bit, but really, that was biggest one and only thing seriously worth noting.

    As for its "legendary" ending, i try to discuss it spoiler-free, but read at your own risk:
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Endings were underwhelming, that much i agree, but truth be told, endings werent bad (though under the bar compared to rest of story). They fit the story of game enough to make sense and to be fair that is most important. Endings werent good, granted, but they did wrap things up nicely. Still, thing that bugs me about endings is that goddamn boy image it uses.. Also, while i dont think endings were bad, i also think that as far as Mass Effect franchise went up to that point, it didnt fit Mass Effect game- i mean previous games (and even in ME3) were all about you and your team facing unbeatable odds where you still won and walked away. So i see why people are upset. Extended cut helped a lot though.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    I'd compare it to GTA IV actually- if you think of GTA, you think of flamboyant story where you will work yourself up the criminal world and end up on top of everything. IV broke that streak (as did TLAD, but old style was returned in TBOGT). Story werent bad as wasnt ending itself, just expectation series has created to date. Same is the case with Mass Effect 3





    Gameplay

    Like reapers werent enough.. now you have to deal with Cerberus and Illusive man as well


    Gameplay is very similar to one found in Mass Effect 2 with some significant improvements. You still can choose same classes to play as you did in previous games (preferred soldier myself), you can still select only 2 companions to accompany you in most missions, but more on that separately.

    Combat and movement- This is one area game saw significant upgrades- game took ME2 base and built on it. You can now climb ladders and jump small caps which do come in handy lot of the time. You can also leap obstacles without taking cover behind it first like back in ME2. Action rolling is also included, making combat way more mobile, as before it was find a cover with good enough area cover and start blasting.
    Problem is that you use same button for sprint, leap, roll and cover, which does take some getting used to and it can cause some problems in combat.
    Combat mobility is one thing that you do have to master, however, due to enemies being lot harder in this game, especially some types (im talking about you, Banshees. goddamn, i hate these things).
    If you get Citadel DLC, i definetly reccommend practising in arena there a bit as early as possible, but more on that in appropriate section. Of course you can use range in the Spectre section of Citadel (found in embassy floor), but i prefer arena.

    Teammates- you can have total of 6 permanent teammates with few mission-specific ones. Permanent ones are:
    Kaidan Alenko/Ashley Williams- depends who survived Virmire mission in first game.
    Tali'Zorah vas Normandy- young quarian. Only she and Garrus have been part of your squad all 3 games (if both survived ME2)
    dr. Liara T'Soni- Asari scientist and now Shadow Broker.
    Garrus Vakarian- Turian soldier, former C-sec officer and one-time rogue known as Archangel
    James Vega- Alliance soldier.
    Javik- only available when you have "From Ashes" dlc. Last surviving prothean (and not a collector)
    EDI- Normandy's AI. Yes, she can accompany you.

    Other notable characters in Normandy crew include but arent limited to:
    Jeff "Joker" Moreau- Normandy's pilot
    Diana Allers- reporter
    Samantha Traynor- Normandy's Comm specialist
    dr. Karin Chakwas- medic (although you can get different one this time)

    Overall, i am quite happy with selection as each teammember has its own abilities in combat and their own witty comments (really like reference to shadow broker dlc on certain mission if you have named dlc for ME2 and Garrus and Liara on squad for that mission). Correct squadmember can make mission lot easier, but you still have to mop up most yourself.

    Customisation- Customisation is very similar to ME2- you can combine pieces of armour (well, in most part), color them and also select casual outfit (which you will be now wearing in Citadel as well). All that in addition of customising characters face of course. Still, armour customisation has some benefits- it not makes difference what armour you wear, giving you extra protection- now i admit, i cant remember if it was in place in ME2, but in here you can feel difference.
    Also, weapon mods from ME1 return, being absent in 2nd game. You can have up to 2 mods per weapon and it really helps if you want different combat experience, but while it is better than it was in ME1, i have to admit, i still left mods untouched after first playtrough and didnt feel any worse for it.
    Cabin customisation is also back from previous game with new items and fish. If you wish to get stuff from previous game back, then you need to have bought it in ME2 and then you need to search for items around the ship (they only show up as red circle in middle of nowhere). Same goes with hamster- you need to catch it near where Jack used to be. Space hamster for life, yo!

    Exploration- Again, reworked system of ME2. You still can go to different star systems (first game with entire galaxy map opened up) and search planets for anomalies. Resource searching from ME2 has been lost and replaced with war assets search (which you can find randomly).
    Things are bit more difficult this time around, however- you need to use pulse in solar system map to find something. Now, while this eases finding anomalies as you dont have to enter orbit anymore to see if planet has anomaly, that pulse also attracts reapers if you use it enough. And you cant fight reapers, so you have to escape solar system before they catch you. Good thing about it though is that you can go to planet or any object without reapers getting closer and when you figure out where you enter solar system, you are good.
    But still, you will need fuel for non-mass relay travels like in ME2. While visit to the Citadel allows you to fill up for free, there are precious few intact fueling stations. In the most part, you need to seek out remains of fuel station or ships (with pulse) to get additional fuel.

    Economy hasnt changed much. You get jobs done, you earn credits, for what you buy armour, weapons, mods, pets.



    Sound and Graphics

    Welcome to the land of Geth


    Music is overall quite good with same theme as Mass Effect 2. But that said, i cant recall any other theme than classic galaxy map one.
    Voice acting has improved even more, though. You can feel how much better voice acting is now- most of it feels just so natural, not rushed. Even jokes dont feel forced anymore as they did at times back in 1 and 2. I do admit though, that there is occasional slip-up, but overall, very good voice acting.
    Graphics are just gorgeous. While for many hardcore graphic fans, this might seem out of date, well, i guess you would be right, but it still looks fantastic to me. Even the nightmare sequences- which i otherwise hate- look good due to good use of graphics. But truth be told, new default femshep look doesnt look right.



    DLC


    As promised, i also take a look at DLC-s that add to story in some way. I am still not the fan how you have to buy them (bioware points) or the price (just divide point count with 100), but at least DLC-s are good.

    Story DLC list (excluding extended cut which is free) and price:
    From Ashes (included in N7 collectors edition, otherwise 800 bioware points)
    Leviathan (800 bioware points)
    Omega (1200 bioware points)
    Citadel (1200 bioware points)



    From Ashes

    Since i forgot to take picture of Javik, here's picture of Tresher maw about to own Reaper


    From Ashes doesnt give you as many missions or stuff as others, but they do give you permanent companion. Last prothean, Javik. 2 missions included are rather easy, but Javik is great ally to have and its fun to see him acclimate to new surroundings. Still, he is often rather.. rude.



    Leviathan

    Apartment you go to a lot in leviathan dlc


    Leviathan DLC adds about 10 missions and a war asset. Researcher on citadel has found something reapers seem to fear, called Leviathan. But.. researcher is murdered soon after revealing Shepard that he was on to something by his assistant, who then lacks any memory of it. This leads to discovering about origins of reapers..
    I fully enjoyed this DLC as it got really exciting at times. Also it nicely reveals how someone can be highly intelligent, yet not understanding simple fact due to arrogance. Cant say more, but definetly worth to play it.



    Omega

    Cerberus, be afraid. Aria and Shepard heading your way


    Omega DLC has Shepard teaming up with Aria T'Loak, self-appointed ruler of asteroid named Omega. Between Mass Effect 2 and 3, she lost Omega to Cerberus. Now its time to take it back.
    Fun DLC with rather dark theme, but ton of playtime (though beware- you cannot explore galaxy before finishing it if you started) and content and not only 1 but 2 temporary squadmates, as in addition to Aria herself, you also get female turian Nyreen Kandros under your control. Also, this dlc features new enemy type called adjutant. Not the most annoying enemy, but not far behind from Banshee.



    Citadel

    Anderson has given you his apartment. Have fun

    Citadel DLC is last DLC for Mass Effect 3 and unlike other DLC-s, it takes place over the course of the game (though i reccommend highly to play it at end). It is also unconventional because while it does offer few action packed missions against mysterious figure, it is mainly just chilling dlc. Definetly best DLC Mass effect series has to offer.
    I mean lets start at that you get entire large apartment which you can customise. Whole lovely area of Citadel to explore, where you can partake in many minigames and like said at start of review- combat arena, where you can practise against all sorts of enemies and test out weapons. Arena also lets you have few squadmates who you cant have otherwise in ME3.
    Large part of the DLC is also built on humor, as for example you see Javik being lured to play in a Hollywood action-type movie or Wrex having issues with women (no, not bad kind. At least one wouldnt think it would be bad kind until in that situation i guess) or Grunt escaping from hospital.
    Coming back to apartment, you can invite people over and at end of DLC, you have a party where you can invite everyone.
    Overall, its really fun, but the end scene is simply so damn sad.
    Of all DLC-s, get this one first.



    Summary

    Crucible being built


    Despite its ending and smaller shortcomings, it is excellent game. It has fixed many shortcomings of Mass Effect 2, but it has created few of its own and do what you want, you cannot escape the fact that ending- while fitting- is still dragging score lower as ending shouldnt leave you underwhelmed. It is great game nonethless with lot of content and one of most fun DLC-s i've ever played (Citadel DLC).

    Score: 9/10
    Meelis13
    Gallery


    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Forces of entire galaxy about to rain on reapers parade


    *insert biggest eyeroll here* That kid was probably most annoying part of the game


    Nightmare scene with same kid in it as last picture.


    Omega DLC. Meet Nyreen.


    Leviathan DLC. Seems too wet for my taste


    Citadel DLC. Shepard apparently loves hamster as much as i do



    Bioshock Remastered

    Bioshock Remastered Review
    Bioshock Remastered

    Would you kindly have a listen?


    Remember to clean your shoes!


    Bioshock Remastered was released last month, so as a fan of the first person immersive genre, who still had never played this now almost ten year old classic, I decided to see what all the fuss was about.

    Bioshock is a sci-fi first person shooter with some minor horror themes taking place in the 1960s, in the dystopian underwater city of Rapture, a free state founded by the businessman Andrew Ryan. Ryan wanted to escape the overworld’s politics and wars, for a utopia where every man war his own, “Where the artist would not fear the censor, Where the scientist would not be bound by petty morality, Where the great would not be constrained by the small!”. It was developed by Irrational Games and published by 2K in 2007, and re-released in September 2016.

    You are Jack, a faceless and voiceless protagonist, quite literally dropped from the heavens when his plane crashes into the sea. To his fortune (or maybe misfortune), he survives the impact and finds himself in deep waters next to a lighthouse in the middle of the ocean. Upon entering the lighthouse he finds a Bathysphere, an underwater elevator, which takes him deep under the sea, darling it’s better, down where it’s wetter! Deep under the sea!



    ​Who's the REAL bad guy here?

    These first 10 minutes also turned out to be one of my favorite moments of the game. The feeling of awe as you slowly descend towards Rapture, as a whale swims past the little window, as you spot the neon-lit advertisements on the sides of buildings that could not possibly exist, and yet here they are.

    Soon the jaw dropping vista has ceased, and Jack finds himself in the Medical Pavilion, with a very Irish man called Atlas speaking to him over radio. As it turns out, this hidden city of complete freedom didn’t work out too well, Andrew Ryan went mad and the populace got so jacked up on drugs they now attack anything on sight. And the drugs give you magic powers, or Plasmids, such as Incinerate and Winter Blast which..incinerates and freezes. As any sensible visitor to a strange city filled with insane drug addicts, Jack picks up the closest syringe and injects himself, thus giving him the ability to throw electric bolts. Using a Plasmid requires Eve (aka Generic Mana), which you pick up along with health packs along the journey.



    Don't do drugs kids. Don't be Jack.


    However, Jack’s arsenal is not limited to Plasmids, he has more conventional weapons as well. These include a wrench (for violently beating the drug addicts to death with), a revolver, shotgun, machinegun, flamethrower, crossbow and camera. The camera obviously doesn’t hurt enemies, but you can capture them posing scenes such as “violently trying to beat jack to death with a wrench” or “shooting at Jack” for research purposes. Doing this enough will result in a bonus to the damage you deal to the type of enemy you have photographed.

    Unfortunately the combat mechanics are not always as refined as you would like them to be. For example, you need to manually switch between using Plasmids and guns, which feels clumsy at first but you get used to it over time. And trying to balance shooting, temporarily disabling enemies with a plasmid and hacking can be very stressful if you find yourself in a bad situation, when your ammo is low and Eve is running out. Thankfully if you die, there is not only manual saving, but also a sort of checkpoint called Vita Chambers, that will restore your dead body to life again. Why? What is the in-universe explanation for this magical contraption that cheats death? There isn’t one! And it actually doesn’t benefit you to use it too much, as you’ll have lost all the ammo you shot, all the Eve you used and all the health packs you tried to save yourself with. Of course the enemies you killed will be dead, but I always found it easier to reload an earlier save and try again instead of using the Vita Chambers (which can be turned off).



    THE BEES, THE BEEEEEES


    As I mentioned earlier Plasmids require Eve; and where there is Eve, there must be Adam. Adam is the currency used to purchase and upgrade the active Plasmids, and other passive traits. Spread around every level of Bioshock are Little Sisters, genetically modified children, whose sole purpose it is to harvest Adam from the several corpses spread around Rapture. To protect them are the Big Daddies, genetically modified men clad in Victorian diving suits and armed with horrific drills whose sole purpose it is to defend the Little Sisters. Here is where the morality of the game comes in. When you first run into a Little Sister and Big Daddy, Atlas tells you to kill the child’s defender and harvest the Little Sister for a lot of Adam, which will allow you to upgrade several abilities at once. Here you are introduced to Tenendaum, who tells you you can exorcise the Little Sisters instead (the Big Daddy still has to bite the bullet though) in return for a little Adam, but with the promise of greater rewards later. When the choice is to kill a child or not kill a child, the choice came pretty naturally to me, and I only harvested one Little Sister because Atlas insisted. Even when you are merciful it is quite a horrific scene though, with the Sister screaming “No, no no no!” as your hand rests on the side of her head. If you kill her, she turns into a slug.



    Sorry Daddio


    The level design and atmosphere of the world is where Bioshock truly excels. Every level you enter, from the Medical Pavilion, filled with creepy doctors and the horrific plastic surgeon Doctor Steinman, to Fort Frolic, the masterpiece of Sander Cohen feels like they fit in this universe. My own favorite level was Arcadia, a great forest built to provide oxygen for Rapture. It is a beautiful(ly dark) level, filled with gorgeous scenery and dark cultists. Everything from the now revamped graphics to sound design and music works so well to create the immersion of this wonderful, twisted world. Most of the music is there to fill the background, with violins to indicate danger, sadness or calm. At other times there is a swinging 60s track playing, often at an ironic or inappropriate time.

    Each level is open enough to encourage exploration, so you can find anything from different types of vending machines for you to hack (the hacking minigame consists of a water system where you need to find the right pieces of pipe to connect two sides of a grid), to snack bars and audiologs. Audiologs today may be a dirty word in videogames, but they are necessary to understand the backstory of Rapture. Some describe the city at its height, some its descent into civil war and some the aftermath. Since there are no cutscenes, these audiologs do provide vital world building that even the exquisite level design can’t convey. It can be annoying when you are trying to listen to a log and Atlas or Tenenbaum speaks to you over the radio at the same time though. But you can always go back and listen to any logs you may not have heard.



    Why yes, I will have a creme-filled cake, thank you.


    “Now what’s up with this remaster thing?” you ask. “You’re just describing the Bioshock I remember from 9 years ago!”. Indeed you are mostly correct. The gameplay hasn’t changed, the level design hasn’t changed, bugs haven’t been fixed; for us on PC it mostly means a graphical facelift, and for those on current gen consoles it means they get to play one of the last generations’ great classics again. Unfortunately remastered version, at least on PC, has a lot of issues. I was lucky and managed to get through most of the game with only graphical glitches and a few crashes in the very last level, but for others it crashes every time they try to save the game. If you already own the original on PC however, you get the remastered version for free, so apart from the disappointment there isn’t any real risk to trying it out for yourself. Most of the graphical issues can be mended by some Googling and quick changes in the settings too. Another thing worth mentioning is the lack in the options menu, which actually has less options for graphics customisation than the original did. So even if the game is better on a graphical level, it ultimately lost more than it gained from the so called remaster.


    Are you...alright?


    When a game lacks on the mechanical side, it comes down to the story to decide whether it is one for the ages, or just another boring shooter. Bioshock is definitely in the former, with a fascinating story of impossible ideology, of greater than life characters who for different reasons turn insane and unlikely friends as well as enemies. There is the crazed artist Sander Cohen, who will do anything, sacrifice anyone to further his arts, be they photographs, music or dance. There is Tenenbaum, a holocaust survivor who in Rapture went on to become a mad scientist, and then found her redemption in the Little Girls. And there is Atlas, the voice that keeps you going from the moment you set foot on Rapture, not to mention Andrew Ryan himself, who will talk to you on a regular basis as you spread chaos through his already ruined city.

    This all conveyed in a game with only three cutscenes; the opening, the ending and a very significant, extremely spoilerific one in the middle. Had Irrational only had the courage to end it there instead of pushing through. Unfortunately the last level and the final bossfight are some of the least inspired, most tedious part of any game I can think of. It really is a shame such an excellent game was shot in the leg at the very last moment by lazy design.


    Spoiler for Spoilers for the ending!
    This is where the aforementioned harvesting or exorcising Little Sisters comes back to bite your behind. If you chose to harvest even a single Little Sister, the dialogue won’t change, but suddenly when you’ve killed the last boss, and the cutscene starts, you are called a monster who takes what you wants when you want it, and eventually invades the world above. Only 30 minutes earlier the same character described her confidence in me, because I had been so nice to the Little Sisters! If anything needed changing for the Remaster, it was this ridiculous excuse of an ending.



    I have to be honest, I enjoyed the first 75% of the game a lot, and the last 25% not so much. The remaster was lazy and bad, and more effort should have gone into actually fixing the problems the original had. Hell, more than a month after it released there has only been one patch, and as far as I can tell it caused the crash I had in the last level rather than fix anything!

    I’m negative, and yet I can’t help but recommend this game. It is a flawed masterpiece in atmosphere and worldbuilding and should be played by anyone remotely interested in these themes. Whether you play the original or the remaster doesn’t matter, but know that if you own one on Steam, you have access to the other as well.

    8/10 - Recommended
    Mhaedros




    Personal Picks of the Year
    Personal Picks of the Year

    Meelis' Pick of the Year 2015 was a year of many great games. Witcher 3, Assassin's Creed: Syndicate, the list goes on. But my personal pick of the year came somewhat as suprise to me. See, i hadn't even heard about this game (or even its developer) until just a few hours before I bought it. 10 seconds from one youtuber led me to this game.
    So what is my personal pick of 2015? Published by Square Enix, developed by DontNod, that game is called Life is Strange.




    As I said in my review, this game has fantastic story, great artstyle & fantastic soundtrack. Sure, this is another one of those "walking simulators", bordering on interactive movie, but if you ask me, there are far too few of such games. Furthermore, this game really has a great story even among walking sims- I can't stress that enough. A seemingly simple story with seemingly generic stereotypical characters turns into very complicated & multi-layered extremely quickly & every choice you make, does matter down the road. During all my life, I have played hundreds of video games, but never have I faced such an emotional roller coaster like in this game. This game is very capable of making you laugh and 5 minutes later shed a tear or be in shock, all the while encouraging you to pay attention to people in real life (for example, the game does feature a suicide hotline number- a real one). Heck, even not-so-good voice acting on some characters helps them get their own personality.
    This game also has a very interesting feature that probably wouldn't work so well in the majority of other games. In most areas, there are "moments of silence" spots (optional), where you can sit down & enjoy calming music & artstyle. I actually found myself using those a lot & enjoying them a lot. In fact I love the feature so much that I fire the game up every now & then just to get to those. Which is unique for me, as I'm usually a rush-trough-game type.
    And once you start playing this game, you just won't be able to rip yourself away until you have finished it. And even when you finish it, you get that empty feeling when you finish your favourite book or great movie. This game was first in my extremely long gaming career that I got very addicted to. After finishing it I struggled for few weeks to enjoy any game and I had to force myself thinking of LiS. It was just so good and it affects you more than you realise without you even understanding it does that. In fact it's very hard to describe the feeling, you just have to feel it yourself.

    All that said, I do have to say game isn't entirely without flaws, as episode 5 felt rushed & the quality of writing fell rapidly, throwing most choices out of the window (NB! that does NOT mean choices didn't matter- they did and it was felt troughout game) and left for worst possible ending(s) that didn't make any sense as well.
    But that also brings me to greatest quality of Life is Strange- the game was so good it really didn't feel like any worse of a game even after getting a badly written ending. My guess is that last episode got rushed out of the gate.

    And the best part? Episode 1 of Life is Strange is free on steam. So if you haven't tried it out yet, there is absolutely no excuse not to. I definetly recommend this game and not only is this my favourite game of 2015, but probably of all time.
    Meelis13


    Mhaedros' Pick of the Year


    When I first sat down to write about my personal pick, I thought it would be easy. It’s the Witcher 3 right? Because my game of the year is certainly the Witcher 3, in my mind it’s the best open world game ever made, a stunning world filled to the seams with excellent writing and characters that make filmmakers look incompetent. CD Projekt Red’s journey from an indie studio with a dream to one of, if not the best developer in the entire industry has been fascinating, and it gives me hope for the future of gaming as a medium, because these guys showcase just how ridiculously Polish(ed) a game can be when the team behind it is dedicated, skilled and ambitious.


    Not only is the game itself amazing, but the business practices of the company have been very consumer friendly as well. 16 free pieces of DLC, a marketing strategy sure, but a good one that only benefits the player, and two expansions that almost blow the main game out of the waters with their excellence. I cannot recall ever enjoying a game as much as I enjoyed the Witcher 3, from the thrill of the hunt as Geralt tracks a monster, to the conversations and characters you grow to love and care about, to the moments of calm when you just ride around in the world, looking at trees and flowers, to the feeling of desperation and peril as the storyline comes to a close. The Witcher 3 is a masterpiece in every regard, and if you have a chance to try it out, do it.


    I actually sat down writing this piece with the intention to make Invisible Inc my pick, but once I had the name “Witcher” written down, I just couldn’t help myself. Turns out writing this was very easy after all. Sorry Klei!
    Mhaedros


    Mhaedros' Indiewatch 2015
    Mhaedros' Indiewatch 2015
    Mhaedros' Indiewatch 2015
    The year is coming to a close, and the inevitable game of the year discussions have started. The year came to a close a long time ago and the inevitable game of the year discussions ended with it. I have a pretty clear idea of what I think is worthy of the title, but I’m not going to focus on that here. I thought to myself ‘what person reads a small publication like our own, but doesn’t already know all about the Fallouts and Witchers of this world?’, and so instead I’ll fill the next couple of paragraphs talking about some indie titles you might not have heard of.

    Blackguards 2
    The first of my favorite indies of the year came out in January, and goes by the name of Blackguards 2. Developed by Daedelic Entertainment, it is a tactical, turn-based adventure in the fantasy realm of the Dark Eye (I wrote a review for the original game in Gamer’s Gazette issue XI). The sequel takes the engine, intriguing characters and charm of the first game, and improves a lot of it. Instead of creating your own character, the player now controls Cassia, a defamed aristocrat who will go to any lengths to get revenge on her former husband, now tyrant. But what kind of leader is Cassia? Depending on the player’s choices, Cassia becomes a better or worse person, and practically everything you do will have some effect on the end of the game. Will Zurbaran fall in love? Will Naurim overcome his greed?


    Blackguards 2 is still a beaut

    Apart from a really interesting morality system, the game improves a lot on the originals overly complex level-up system. I’ve read some dislike the simplification, but for someone who is not familiar with the Dark Eye ruleset, the new system feels a lot smoother.

    Invisible Inc.
    May came with the full release of Klei’s latest stealth-athon, Invisible Inc. Again an isometric turn-based game (you will notice a pattern), but this time the objective isn’t to overthrow a tyrant, but to sneak and sneak your way to rebuild your spy agency in a cyberpunk future. Combatting a constantly ticking clock, you have to balance your greed - what if there’s another 100 credits in that safe? - and the safety of your agents - thought they can take a bullet and be revived, once left behind on a level, they stay dead. You need to stay hidden, avoid combat, find the exit lift and be quick. The excitement when you are one agent down, a camera is on you and you still have not found the exit lift is excruciating, but so worth it when you hack the camera, use a medkit on your fallen friend, and in a stroke of luck stumble into the last room.

    Stress-simulator 2015

    The story mode lasts for 72 in-game hours, which in practice means you have time for about 5-8 missions per game (it is meant to be played and replayed), but there are also other modes as well, including an Endless mode, which lasts, as the name suggests, until all your agents are dead. Every mission is procedurally generated, so no two rooms will ever look the same either, the game is obviously meant to be played more than once, twice or ten times; every time you complete (or lose) a game mode, you gain XP, and will gain new agents and hacking programs to use in the next playthrough.

    Anna’s Quest
    With July came another of Daedelic’s games, this time a traditional point and click adventure in the style of Deponia. You play as Anna, a headstrong little girl, who needs to find a cure for her sickly grandfather. To help her along the way is her teddybear friend Ben, as well as a suspicious fox, but they need to overcome evil witches, home-stealing bandits and alluring sea-creatures to achieve their goals. Just to get it out of the way..this isn’t a children’s game. The game is filled with really dark humour, torture chambers and one area is basically hell, but on a general level it’s not adult only. There is no grit or explicit imagery though, so it can be played with children if you want to teach them about the ways of the gamer.


    Anna's Quest may look childish, but contains traces of dark comedy

    Though the puzzles (for it is mainly a puzzle game, as the genre suggests) can be a bit too easy, there are also brain teasers. The story is interesting, if maybe not the most original, and the dialogue is good for the most part. Plain and simple, it’s a fun little game, and I recommend it to anyone interested in point and click adventuring.

    The Swindle
    July also brought us Size Five Games’ the Swindle, a stealth platformer taking place in a steampunk London. Theoretically this game looks a lot like Invisible Inc; there is a ticking time mechanic - a hundred days before the Scotland Yard introduces a new crime-fighting alarm that will make all burglary impossible in the city of London - procedurally generated levels and permanent death; where in Invisible Inc you lose the game when your agents die, in the Swindle you can keep playing until the days run out, but you lose any experience your last burglar had.

    The goal is to steal as much as possible, starting from the slums of London, then climbing the hierarchy of houses to richer homes, banks, casinos and finally the police station itself. You mainly do this by hacking computers, whacking robot-guards in the head and hopefully not raising any alarms. When an alarm is, inevitably, raised, you run like hell to the escape pod and return to steal another day. With the cash you do manage to take home you can upgrade your permanent skills, such as the capacity to carry bombs around, or the ability to double jump (a lot of things that are taken for granted in platformers are behind level ups in the Swindle, which makes the first couple of missions vital to get right).


    The Swindle is colourful and evil

    I’ll be frank; the game is very difficult. You will die a lot, not being entirely sure whether it was your own fault, or the game’s. You’ll set off alarms when you were certain you pressed the right button. But it is just so rewarding when a heist goes right, when you manage to clean an entire house without being spotted. Only to fall into a spiked pit on your way out..

    Shadowrun Hong Kong
    The summer still wasn’t done giving. In late August Harebrained Schemes released their latest installment in the Shadowrun series of games, a return to the classical genre of isometric, turn-based computer role playing games. I have heard the Schemes’ Shadowrun franchise described as graphic novels with turn-based combat, and thinking about it, that makes a lot of sense. Hong Kong is very much a story driven game, taking place, surprise surprise, in Hong Kong. The Shadowrun universe, for those unaware, is a cyberpunk world where mythical beings such as trolls, orcs and elves have been introduced to our own Earth. It is a strange blend of magicians, shamans and spirits and gunrunners, hackers and mega-corporations.



    Look. At. That. Art.

    You get to build your own character, choose their speciality (everything from hackers and deckers to shamans and street samurai), and the choices you make will change the way you can approach the game. You can often choose whether to take a lethal approach to your mission, or try to talk and sneak your way out of it. Let one thing be clear; there is a lot of reading in this game. Though it does have a fantastic soundtrack, there is no voice acting, and a lot of dialogue, so a lot of the 20-something hours I put into the game were spent just reading. But that’s not a bad thing in my mind, when the writing is good and intriguing, and separated by gripping combat. Harebrained, as showed by the Shadowrun franchise, certainly knows how to do their genre justice.


    Game of the Year 2015 Results
    Winners
    Winners
    Once more we are happy to bring you the winners of our annual Game of the Year competition, all nominated and voted for by fellow TWC members!



    Emperor Valkorion (Star Wars: The Old Republic - Knights of the Fallen Empire)


    Apotheon


    Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain



    Rocket League


    Cities: Skylines


    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt


    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt


    SOMA


    Hearts of Stone (Witcher 3)


    Total War Attila


    Fallout 4


    Prison Architect


    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt







    List of Contributors/Other
    List of Contributors




    Gen. Chris - Former Editor







    IlluminatiRex - Writer







    Meelis13 - Writer








    Radboud - GotY Art







    Mhaedros- Editor



    Comments 7 Comments
    1. Gigantus's Avatar
      Gigantus -
      Great effort - loved the reviews!
    1. Commissar Caligula_'s Avatar
      Commissar Caligula_ -
      Another award for Witcher 3 lols, it really was a magnificent game.
      Any particular reason for Hearts of Stone over the other expansion Blood and Wine? Both were great of course.
    1. Flinn's Avatar
      Flinn -
      awesome reviews, I'm glad to see the GG back and running!

      I did not have the pleasure to play TW3 and now I regret it, though in all due honesty I did not like the first two titles so that might be my fault here Also, I remember I enjoyed Bioshock (the original I mean) quite a lot in the past, so this one looks intriguing at the least. Finally, ME3 looks like an unbelievable piece of gaming, just huge stuff!
    1. Shankbot de Bodemloze's Avatar
      Shankbot de Bodemloze -
      Great issue guys, well done to the whole team!
    1. Alwyn's Avatar
      Alwyn -
      I agree with Shankbot, Flinn and everyone - great reviews!
    1. Mhaedros's Avatar
      Mhaedros -
      Thanks for all the nice words everyone! The team really appreciate them

      Quote Originally Posted by Caligula the Mad View Post
      Another award for Witcher 3 lols, it really was a magnificent game.
      Any particular reason for Hearts of Stone over the other expansion Blood and Wine? Both were great of course.
      Indeed it is, and there is Blood and Wine was released in 2016, whereas Hearts of Stone was released in 2015, and the GOTY competition was for last year I'll be surprised if Blood and Wine doesn't show up in next years awards though!
    1. TheDarkKnight's Avatar
      TheDarkKnight -
      I actually just picked up the complete edition of Witcher III since it was on sale. I shall have to try it out, sometime before Watch Dogs 2 is released