SUPERHOT

SUPERHOT

As I was checking out new indie games which I could play on my dying laptop, I came across SUPERHOT, supposed to be one of the most innovative game of last year. Of course I was intrigued by this description, and decided to try it out myself. So, is it worth playing?

When you first boot into SUPERHOT, you are greeted by what is supposedly another player of the game[in the game world], urging you to try out the game. Once you boot up superhot.exe from the  game menu, you are thrown into a few random situations where the game’s mechanics are explained to you, in what is ostensibly a tutorial. Here you are introduced to how time works in the game. Basically, only when you move, does time also. This lies at the core of SUPERHOT, and the most important thing to keep notice of, is how you’re going to utilize this mechanic.

Because even though the game is a first-person shooter at the outset, you absolutely have to be on your toes trying to figure out which ones among the red guys you have to focus on. The one who’s firing at you with a shotgun, or the one who’s right next to you and will punch you in the gut? Or is it the location from where you just heard a pistol pop off? All the varied possibilities and choices one can make, make for interesting dynamics. This game is essentially a puzzle where the pieces move as you do.

Not to say that it doesn’t have a story as such. We start off by just trying out this game at a friend’s recommendation, but the soon after everything goes sideways. At the start, we cannot get into the full game because the later game levels are password-protected, but then we manage to somehow get in due to some glitch. Soon enough, the game turns into something else entirely.

All of this is neatly packed into a short but satisfying 2.5-3 hours of the game. Yes, SUPERHOT is pretty small, but is totally worth every second of it. And the fun doesn’t end once the story is finished; you can try out the Endless Mode which gets unlocked after the story completion.

In the end, I’d like to say that this game is nothing short of marvelous, and is worth trying out. Anyone who is even remotely into indie games would find this a worthy buy.

RATING : 9.7/10

PROS :
– innovative mechanics
– great concept
– story

CONS :
– campaign is too small
– frame rates were occasionally bumpy[maybe because I was streaming]

Watch me play SUPERHOT on my twitch channel flamenfeed.

Call of Duty : Black Ops III

Call of Duty : Black Ops III

It had been more than some time since I’d played a first-person shooter, let alone a CoD game. Advanced Warfare I found to be one of their more innovative efforts, although Ghosts did feel a wee bit on the generic side to me. Bit more importantly, I found the second iteration of the Black Ops games to be really good, with our choices making some impact on our playthroughs. So how is Black Ops III?

On first look, the plot seems somewhat generic, with the regular fps-style of using a futuristic world and high-tech weaponry. But closer observation over the span of its 8-9 hour campaign will show you otherwise. In the very first mission, the player goes on a rescue mission, but gets grievously injured in the ensuing firefight. But we are somehow saved by our comrades, then inducted into an elite team who can more or less time-travel. The objective : stop the terrorist attacks from ending in tragic losses, by preventing them from ever taking place. That’s how it starts off, but in traditional Modern Warfare-style, betrayals abound; it gets to the point where we cannot even trust our own team-mates, that’s how deep it runs. Up till now, the game seems to run in the traditional  CoD style of explosions and what feel like random plot twists, but get to the end and your mind will be surely blown. When there are entire threads devoted to discussing a CoD single-player story, it means something epic has happened.

Shooting in Black Ops III is as fluent as it has always been in previous CoD games. There isn’t much left to talk about the game’s shooting mechanics that hasn’t already been said by most other fps-players. But the real change is in traversal and the introduction of something called DNI [Direct Neural Interface]; similar to Advanced Warfare, Black Ops III also offers the players multiple ways of approaching our objectives; you don’t always have to do the guns-blazing routine to get to the next checkpoint. And BO3 goes one step ahead of AW in this regard; it has wall-running. Weapons are all linked to the user’s DNI, so no picking-up dropped weapons here. These abilities add a new dimension to combat. Has the enemy soldier hunkered down behind an impenetrable object? Just wall-run to a location behind him and gun him down. Maybe use your DNI to hijack an enemy turret and kill him with it. Or maybe let loose a swarm of nanobots which will devour him in seconds; the possibilities are all varied and incredibly exciting.

The environments in BO3 are diverse; you fight in places as varied as Munich, Singapore and Cairo, among others. And as expected from CoD games, the set-pieces are pretty cool, although they aren’t as bad-ass as, say, a somewhat well-known tower in Paris crashing headlong into the advancing army.

The fun doesn’t stop with the completion of SP campaign, though; you unlock a new mode called Nightmare, where you get to play through the campaign once again, with zombies as your enemy this time. And apparently the story has also been tweaked to suit the zombie apocalypse setting. I haven’t played it myself though, so I can’t really say much about it.

The game looks pretty good, maybe. I don’t know because BO3 wouldn’t run smoothly on my PC until I lowered the graphics settings to medium. Considering BF:Hardline, Witcher 3 and other games ran on Ultra without any hiccups, I found this somewhat irritating. Another niggling point for me was fighting those ASPs [you’ll know what they are about two hours into the campaign]; it’s annoying to do the same old routine over and over again to dispatch them. And I fought them way too many times for my liking.

I never thought I’d say this, at least after the first MW game that is, that you could actually play a CoD game for its story; well, this may be an exception to the rule. Treyarch has done a fantastic job in making a CoD game which actually has a good story to back up its shoot-em-up formula we’re all so accustomed to.

RATING : 8.4/10

PROS :
– multi-layered plot
– modified traversal system
– DNI abilities are awesome

CONS :
– fighting ASPs is annoying
– frame-rate issues [at least on my PC]

 

 

BORDERLANDS 2

BORDERLANDS 2

It had been only about a week since I had finished the Borderlands at the time of playing the sequel, but I (like many others, I think) was hungry for more of the shooting and the looting, not to mention the witty humor splashed liberally throughout the game.

First things first; this game looks gorgeous in its own way, much better than the first game, which looked more like shades of brown than anything else. The sequel, however, addresses this issue to a T; the world looks more vibrant, a far cry from its elder brother. However, it takes a toll on the system, too. If your PC/laptop is equivalent to an entry/mid-range gaming computer of two-odd years ago (like mine), you WILL suffer from unstable frame-rates, and would be forced to play it on medium settings, with shadows turned to low. However, I don’t imagine it could trouble the new mid-range segment much.

The sequel is a direct plot progression from where you left off in the first game. The protagonist is one of the four vault hunters who have arrived at Pandora to hunt for vaults. But since the opening of the vault in the previous game, the world has been taken over by the Hyperion Corporation (the one which brings you back to life every time you die), led by the charming AND malevolent Handsome Jack. The goal : stop Jack from opening a second vault (to which he already has the key) and hence stopping him from achieving the ultimate power, or so I am led to believe. In any case, the story is decent, much better than Borderlands, and you often work for, and sometimes alongside, the protagonists from the previous game towards the purpose of stopping Jack. It’s a fulfilling experience, and their entrances are amazing, to say the least. I was especially thrilled to see Lilith, as she was the character I had chosen in the previous game, so I can only imagine how awesome it must have felt for those who actually waited patiently for Borderlands 2 to release.

AAAnnd OPEN!

The dialogue-writing for this game must have been a blast for the writers, because this game is funny as hell. The antagonist Handsome Jack and Claptrap, the robot which was “made to open doors”, are especially hilarious. There were at least a few moments where I went into Last Stand, just because I was laughing so hard at the dialogues. Also, do NOT listen to Claptrap’s “advice”, as it would most likely put you in danger, as you find out the first 2-3 hours into the game. During one memorable moment, Claptrap tells you to try running through an electric barrier so as to reach a circuit-breaker on the other side. Not a good idea, of course. Angel, the voice-from-above in the previous game, actually suggests to us to ignore Claptrap’s advice.Clapninja

Yeah, right.

Which brings me to Handsome Jack.His witticisms and anecdotes, which we get to hear a lot throughout the game, are extremely funny, and his satires on the vault hunters are unparalleled, to say the least. The villain anybody would just love. Not to mention so many other characters with their own quirks, scattered throughout the world. The player gets to choose one of the four classes at the beginning of the game. Commando and Siren return, while there are two new classes to choose from, Gunzerker(a variation of the previous game’s Berserker class) and Assassin, a mixture of sniper-cum-melee fighter. According to the class you choose, you get a special “Action Skill” which gets unlocked after the player reaches level 5. I played as a Commando, so my action skill turned out to be a Scorpion turret. I often utilized it in an offensive manner, putting up suppressing fire from my turret, while I would get up close and personal with my buckshot pellets, without worrying about getting flanked by a shotgun-wielding midget. On the other hand, you could use it as additional firepower when the situation gets too hot to handle, and you urgently need to find some cover.

The shooting mechanics are similar to the previous game, and have been
considerably improved. Of course, there is something immensely satisfying about sniping an enemy and watching his head explode. Actually, more important than the shooting, it’s the looting which encourages you to explore every nook and cranny for better weapons, shields and what-have-you. Maybe that cliff which you felt too lazy to climb happened to house an amazing shotgun, or maybe had about 50% more capacity than your shield…you never know. The thought one puts into calculating damage inflicted, the weapon’s accuracy, and elemental effects(if any), all while considering that your inventory doesn’t exactly sport 50-odd slots, it’s awesome. It just is.Borderlands-2-pre-PS-Vita-dost-image-812

Characters from left to right : Axton the Commando, Salvador the Gunzerker, Maya the Siren and Zero the Assassin.

 

The game is best played with friends,as co-op on LAN is seamless, and the fun you
have is amplified. It’s an awesome feeling when you are in the Last Stand condition and are unable to find close targets, but then a friend revives you back to half-health. It’s even more funny when your friend also ends up in Last Stand while trying to help you, with both dying seconds from one another.

Which brings us to what I think is the only weak link in the game. Travelling. It’s a real pain in the neck just how much you have to run/drive to get to your next mission, or turn in your completed one. Fast-travel does help somewhat, but it still pisses you off when you have to do some of the game’s tedious fetch-quests, and have to drive long distances just because the fast-travel portal is eons away from your mission objective. The Catch-A-Ride has improved in some ways(nitrous is much better now), but there still is a lot of room for improvement. There is nothing that can deprive you of enjoyment more than just driving towards your objective, with absolutely nothing else to do. The game-world is no GTA for the player to mess around and have some unadulterated fun crashing into pedestrians or other vehicles.

All-in-all, the game is an absolute blast to get through, and will leave you laughing for days after you finish the 25-30 hour long campaign, with all those anecdotes and conversations. A great game.

RATING : 9.2/10

PLUSES :
– liberal splashing of humor throughout
– likable characters
– decent story
– LOOT(of course)
– co-op

CONS :
– painful fetch-quests
– travelling is a chore