Pages

Skyscraper ad

August 24, 2016

Inside Full Review


Take a look inside Inside.

Release Date: June 2016

Developer/
Publisher: Playdead

Platforms: Xbox One, PC, PlayStation 4

Genre: Adventure

Content Verdict: Caution Advised (C) for Strong Horror Elements and Gore.

Quality Verdict: Amazing (A) 


August 15, 2016

KVR Gaming Update 99: Coming Soon

 
(This image contains absolutely no symbolism. All in your mind. Totally. Yep.)


Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is the (hopefully) epic follow-up to the equally (absolutely) epic Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Set two years after the events of the last game, Mankind Divided features a world hostile towards augmented human beings. (Augmented meaning, people with mechanical limbs or robotic body parts.)

Adam Jensen, an augmented former private security officer, is recruited by Interpol as a means of tracking down a terrorist group of augments, all whilst working for a secret hacker group known as Juggernaut, helping him bring down the...ahem...Illuminati.

Filled with even more of what made Human Revolution special, can Mankind Divided top its predecessor and make a game worthy of the Deus Ex title? Tune in September for our full-length review of Mankind Divided, featuring an in-depth content guide and introspective review.

July 19, 2016

(QuickReview) StarCraft II Wings of Liberty


Everything you need to know about StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty in three minutes, or less. Have a quick read-through, and see if this game is for you.

Reviewed By: Kyle van Rensburg

Developer: Blizzard

Publisher: Activision Blizzard

Platforms: Windows, OS X.

Genre: Real Time Strategy
Review of Game:

Well, it took me long enough didn't it? I had a bit of a rough patch this year (and the last), to say the least. The blog was dragged through the mud with me due to my inability to confront the harsh truth that I'd changed as a person and my blog in it's current state, would eventually fall by the wayside if I didn't change it soon.

Well, here I am. No more unreasonable deadlines, no more articles about topics I felt I needed to write about but had no interest in, and lastly no...no more promises.

This blog is about gaming and the emotional impact it has on the gamers. The best reviews were about the most life-changing moments in our lives and how gaming lead to them. That was always the heart of the site, and that's how it will remain.

Anyhoo, I think I speak for everyone when I say we've wasted enough time. Let's get to the review...

Overview:

In case you've been living in a cave (like me for half of my teenage life), StarCraft is a Real-Time Strategy game set in a distant future on a distant planet in a distant galaxy. It features three races: The Terrans, a race of humans splintered into several conflicting groups, the Protoss, a highly intelligent race of creatures with psionic abilites, and the Zerg, a parasitic race intent on destruction.

The general story of StarCraft revolves around Jim Raynor, a hard-boiled sheriff with a strong sense of justice, getting involved in a conflict with Arcturus Mengsk, a dictator-like emperor of the Terran Dominion, the lead faction of the Terran race in the Koprulu Sector.

After a heart-wrenching betrayal, Jim Raynor's ally and love interest, Sarah Kerrigan, falls to the Zerg race and is transformed into the Queen of Blades, a terrifying creature with the ability to control the massive Zerg horde and turn them against whichever race she pleases.

Jim Raynor seeks to stop the Queen of Blades, as well as avenge her loss by bringing Arcturus Mengsk to justice. Jim Raynor has fallen upon hard times at the beginning of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, but the return of a former ally forces him back into action into a confrontation between Arcturus Mengsk, sects of the Protoss race, and the Queen of Blades herself.

Gameplay:

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty follows the RTS model of gameplay. The player starts off the majority of missions and all skirmishes with a command center, which is accompanied by a couple of SCVs, the "worker" units of SC2. Players build up a base, followed by defenses and offensive units, whether they be troops, vehicles, tanks, air units, or special units with unique abilities.

Each faction has a similar playstyle, but with individual twists. The Terrans find strength in their adaptability and agility in harsh environments, whereas the Protoss bring in the big guns, brandishing the heaviest hitters of StarCraft II. Last but definitely not least, the Zerg race brings up the rear with their strength in numbers to crush the opposition.

Since the Terrans are the focus of Wings of Liberty, we will mainly be talking about their gameplay in the campaign. The missions of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty are designed with precision, featuring a wide array of unique twists and turns whenever the player starts a new level.

The campaign spikes in difficulty as soon as the second act starts, with crushing levels made for gamers with nerves of steel. You may find yourself restarting a level several times or loading an earlier save state once you've gotten yourself cornered in an unescapable situation.

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty is about solving difficult situations, end of story. If you can't solve it, you will lose miserably. The game isn't shy to throw incredible challenges at the player when the time comes. You may find yourself wiping copious amounts of sweat from your brown during a mission once the game decides to throw a curveball you really didn't see coming.

Story:

Evoking strong 80s vibes, StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty features a cast of borderline-cheeseball characters who smoke big cigars and wield even bigger guns whilst spouting corny one-liners and having cornier bar fights.

Not exactly nuanced writing, but SC2 more than makes up for it with thrills. Jam-packed with reveals about characters old and new, Wings of Liberty keeps itself from plummeting by throwing reveals at you as the missions fly by.

Audiovisual:

While not the greatest of graphics, SC2 definitely has a very high visual quality due to its creative art style and flashy unit design. The environments of SC2 sell the game, ranging from volcanic, to desert, and to woodlands.

The graphics falters a bit in smoothness in some departments, due to StarCraft II's strange model of downloading the game while you play it. It's not uncommon to find a fully pixellated character staring at you in the middle of an important cutscene, which becomes more than a tad bit distracting after a while.

Conclusion:

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty reinvents itself with each mission, so as to not become stale. And it works. SC2 is enjoyable from beginning to end, throwing challenge after challenge at the player with each passing tide of Zerglings.

It's just a shame that the installation process is so drawn out, with the pauses while we wait for content to load dragging down what's an otherwise fast-paced game.   

Verdict: Great (B+)

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty gives players an excellent challenge from beginning to end, with memorable set pieces, creative levels, and superb replayability. The story is average, but Wings of Liberty more than makes up for it in sheer fun.

May 11, 2016

Safe-Zone Gamers


I'll be the first to say it: At this moment in time, I'm pretty much a safe-zone gamer.

"A gamer that avoids all form of objectionable content?"

Nope. I wish. Rather, I'm just a gamer outside the chaotic circle, otherwise known in modern culture as "The Gaming Community".

It's a topic I've spoken about a thousand times. I just "fell out" of the gameosphere and haven't managed to fully reintegrate myself. It's not for lack of trying, it's just for lack of a solid purpose. Like, when I'm standing in the middle of all the chaos, all the video games being announced and published and played and raved on about, what am I supposed to do?

Gaming has always been about the experience for me. Whether it be old or new, long or short, classic or modern, round or square, hot or cold (okay my comparative metaphors fall apart rapidly these days), none of it matters unless I have a genuine emotional connection with the game.

So while others might choose to run head-first into a speeding tornado, getting swept up into the chaos without so much thought as to where they're eventually going to land, I've decided to simply sit outside the rim and watch. When the storm clears, I'll take a long walk through the now barren wasteland.

And if there's something shiny amidst all the wreckage, I'll take it. But only once the storm's passed.

April 28, 2016

Thoughts of the Thinking Gamer: Emotional Attachment


It's strange how memories are formed. The most mundane of events can be remembered for years to come, but the most monumental of family gatherings is pushed to the outer rims of one's daily recollections. 

Once a memory has left a person's conscious mind, it lies there in your subconscious, waiting for the right moment, where it is brought to the forefront again. Sometimes, nothing except the emotions of a memory are left, leading to an object such an article of clothing evoking a strong feeling of sadness or joy for no discernible reason.

For some, this same feeling extends to entertainment. Movies can remind you of a time in your life, such as the grief from the death of a loved one, or the birth of a child, or the beginning of a relationship.

Television series' can evoke such memories as well. Music, especially, is good at provoking emotions, as is the nature of the medium itself. Ditto for books, comics, and the list goes on.

But does the same principle apply to video games? Yes, it does, for two primary reasons.

1. They're works of art.

2. They're time capsules.

Works of art naturally provoke emotions. Whether it be happiness, or horror, or excitement or curiosity, video games are just as emotionally compelling as other mediums of entertainment.

Take The Walking Dead for instance. (The video game version, obviously.) What started out as a simple adventure game set in the apocalypse evolved into so much more in its two season run, with the first season ending on a tremendously heartbreaking note bringing gamers far and wide to tears.

The oft-spoken about death of Aeries in Final Fantasy 7 comes to mind as well, shocking young and old gamers with its surprisingly brutality. The plot twist at the end of Shadow of the Colossus subverts all traditional video game endings and aims for a much more artistic one, proving to be highly effective and haunting.

And who can forget the insanely unsettling world of Silent Hill 2, a deeply psychological look at the mind of a man going through severe grief, manifesting itself in the many, many gruesome sights the titular town presents.

As you can see, video games are works of art capable of provoking strong emotion. Sometimes the emotions last upon multiple playthroughs, sometimes they don't. Sometimes they even deepen on more expeditions through their landscapes, due to changes in one's life prompting for a deeper connection with the material.

Which leads me to the second big emotional attachment one may form to video games; the time in which you played it. Speaking from a purely anecdotal viewpoint, there are certain games which, no matter what their quality may be, will always be of importance to me. Not because of their lasting value, but because of the emotions they bring back.

The crazy levels of MDK2 are compelling, sure, and the unique gameplay of Giants: Citizen Kabuto hold up pretty well considering its age. But that's not why I play them. I play them because of the nostalgic feeling I get from them.

Some more recent games evoke certain emotions which made me connect more deeply with them. Hitman: Blood Money is an interesting example. I first started up the game in 2014, whilst going through severe depression, so severe that I couldn't bring myself to play a game as intricate as a Hitman title.

Fast forward one year, and after making a commitment to getting over my depression and moving forward, I decided to try out all the things I previously abandoned and see if I could regain my passion for gaming. Hitman: Blood Money was challenging, but the feeling of finishing it was amplified by my feeling of personal triumph at overcoming a roadblock in my life. (For the time being.)

Video games are many things. They are fun, they are frustrating, and they are highly, highly entertaining. But some experiences can't be carried over from one player to the other. Sometimes, the emotions they evoke are as unique as the players behind them.

It's not something you can explain. Like the feeling of peace when one stares out the window, or the warmth you feel from a sweater you got last year, some things aren't physical.

Some things are just pure emotion.