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Brawl Review - PS4
Brawl by Bloober Team harkens back to the traditional arcade style games with an overhead point of view that resembles a twisted version of Guntlet. In the online mode, you find yourself running around boxes and various other barriers as you blow up pathways and try to lay a detonation of destruction upon your enemies. You can play against up to three other gamers in versus mode or play one other player in duel mode. A sheep or horde setting is also available.
The horror themed introduction coupled with the strange characters that are anywhere from disabled to maniacal, makes one feel like they have been cast into the role of a gothic inbred psychopath. You have eight characters to choose from and all of them are fractured or twisted in some way and believe me, the music combined with the horrific characters is enough to make your brain bleed and send you into a seizure. You can play anything from a psychotic clown that might be straight out of IT or John Wayne Gacy himself, to a blind child who is being possessed by an evil teddy bear (and no its not Marky Mark’s party Ted). However, once played, the game becomes more of a box of madness where frustration quickly sets in and overtakes your mind. The AI in the game is difficult and repetitive at the same time. I often found the enemies going in the same straight back and forth line and getting caught in front of boxes. It is quite easy to find yourself disinterested due to the low end budget of the game and its quirky controls. But let’s not be too picky, it’s a 20 dollar game that is best played with a beer in hand.
The game clearly focuses its main concept around the at-home multi-player mode. I like to blow up my friends and Brawl lets me do that. It is a party game but finding players online was difficult so when I say “party”, I mean it in its truest form. If you don’t invite people over to play a local multi-player game, you might not find anyone to play. The goal of the game is to trick or force your enemies into the bombs you have strategically laid around the maze in an attempt to send them to an explosive death. You must outsmart or trap your adversaries using the special skills that your chosen character has or by gobbling up the dropped enhancements – such as lightning and other bombs. As the time and rounds move forward, you will have more “goodies” with which to dominate.The only benefit to the story mode that I could see was that you were able to figure out which character is best suited for your style of play. Overall it is a lower-end version of Bomberman and clearly not as fun. It is a hard game for me to recommend but if you are into party games, it definitely has a beer appeal. 6.5 rating. A review code was provided for this review
Game of Thrones: Episode Four "Sons of Winter" Review - Xbox One
by: Alan M. Wasserman
The plight of house Forrester continues in this excellent additional to Telltale's, Game of Thrones series. In this episode many of the machinations of the protagonists move forward or begin to resolve in some way. Though as expected typically not in the way you would expect.
The game opens where it ended Gared and Britt’s swordfight on the top of the wall. Gared, who can’t seem to catch a break when defending himself or his family, is locked in a storage pantry to await trial, which to me seems like an odd place to throw someone who you are accusing of murder. There surely is a more secure location somewhere in Castle Black. Inevitably the two dumb guards leave Gared to get honey cakes since “he’s not going anywhere” and Gared with your help and some typical Telltale puzzle solving and his friend Cotter break out of the pantry and escape Castle Black along with Finn if you befriended him, out to find the North Grove. What will they find out there Wildlings? White Walkers? Will the Nights Watch catch them and kill them for deserting?
We then visit my favorite Forrester, Asher and his party of miscreants, as they continue to search for a way back to Ironrath. We open with the continuation of Asher’s conversation with Daenerys as he recounts the tale of seeing (and fighting) Drogon. After several flirtatious remarks from Asher and the thin threating responses from Daenerys, Asher finally asks for some of the Second Sons so he can return home and free Ironrath. Daenerys agrees but only if Asher helps free the slaves from Mereen, which is pivotal plot point in both the book and the TV Show, by going on a mission to disable one of the four warning braziers warn the city of potential threats. Asher volunteers Beshka to come along since she lived in and knows Mereen. As they leave the Queen’s tent Beshka continues to show her anger about going back inside the city walls but really gives no explanation as to why. Asher for once caught speechless watches as she storms off.
We travel back to Ironrath where back in the family woods, Royland and Rodrick train. Royland is showing Rodrick how to fight and deal with his injury. They dream up some techniques that will help take advantage of Rodrick’s limited mobility and balance by getting his enemy on the ground. While they spar Rodrick’s bethrothed Elaena shows up with her brother and the royal guard. They want to help Rodrick toss the windbag Gryff from Ironrath. The reasoning for this sudden move to violence; Elaena’s father has promised her to Gryff instead of Rodrick. As defiance daughters go, Elaena’s pretty high on the list. After Rodrick agrees they share a moment in the woods alone, which is a rare happy moment for any of these Forresters.
We finally catch up with Mira Forrester, about half way through the chapter. Her story has begun to bore me as it doesn’t really move the needle for the full house forward. Mira has decided, that even though Queen Margaery has told her not go to Tommen’s Coronation Feast she is going to sneak in and find out who is Lord Whitehill’s contact and who has the agreement to sell Ironwood now. We find out that contact is little know Lyman Lannister, who has a problem with milk of the poppy. Mira creates multiple scenes at the feast while angering Lord Whitehill and divulging Lannister secrets out in the open. My guess is Mira’s world is about to go from bad to worse. I would not be surprised to see her thrown in the Black Cells.
The game move along at a good pace, and as before, I will not provide spoilers to the main plot points. Especially because this far into a Telltale game my game may be radically different than anyone else who is playing it.
The climax of the game is the infiltration of Mereen by Asher and the Second sons as you take out several emplacements of guards. Combat, both ranged and hand to hand, come into play and the evolution of the combat system for this game continues. A lengthy sequence emerges as the Beskha and Asher take the brazier and keep the signal fire from going off. While the game keeps you on the edge due to carefully constructed choices and dialogue, it has not felt impactful during the combat scenes. If you fail, you die, you get a Valar Morghulis screen and you get to try again. While I didn’t fail during this combat I did get the more overwhelming sense of dread that something bad would happen if I didn’t succeed. I am eager to see what “rewards” I get for helping Daenerys. The other tense scene in the game comes when Rodrick decides to go rescue Ryon from the Whitehills at Highpoint. The scene takes a very Red Wedding tone when Rodrick’s group is surrounded by crossbowmen at elevated positions and Lord Whitehill pulls a knife on poor Ryon. In the end you get a some choices that help decide Ryon’s fate and your party returns to Ironrath to find creep of the world Ramsey Snow sitting at the table eating dinner with Talia Forrester. He says he's heard Rodrick is a man that can't be broken, and that he's decided to come see for himself.
I only had a few small problems with the game, the biggest of which was when starting out the game on the “Previously on Game of Thrones” recap scenes there was a lot of dialogue running without the animation. I don’t know if this was intentional but I felt like the game as going to crash because of it. Secondarily, and probably my biggest issue with the game as a whole is that we only get a new episode every 2 months or so and I frequently forget what occurred in the previous episodes or who lesser characters are and how they could play into the grand scheme of the narrative. The game continues to drive and tell a great story, but with it being so disjointed I feel like I am missing out a little on the entire experience.
I give this episode 7 out of 10. The more and more these chapters go on, they are clearly driving towards a grand finale where everything happens at once and the choices we made come back to help or haunt us. I feel though that this chapter lacked the Holy Crap moment when you just stare at the screen bemused and amazed at what just happened that we have had in several of the other episodes. Sure there were tense moments of combat and choice, but nothing that shocked me at the outcome. The payoff, like Winter, is Coming I am sure. And until then I will wait patiently for the next installment. To that I say Valar Morghulis!
Armello Review - PS4
by Luke Horn - 09/18/15
In a golden age of science fiction, RPGs and board games such as Pathfinder and Munchkin, Armello has found an ever growing niche that capitalizes on our social geekdomness - digital board games. The digital format for board games, while at one time scorned; has found a home with all of us new age geeks. Armello's beauty and mechanics provide a mix of play, making it one of the most visually pleasing and technically sound digital board games out there.
The plot of the game is fairly simple, the king of Armello has the Rot; a terrible disease that not only kills those it infect, but also turns them into an evil beings. The four clans – Wolf, Bear, Rabbit and Rat – are racing to the king to either take his place on the throne or save him. There are several ways in which to replace the king and depending on your nature, you can do this in a good or an evil way. Like most RPG games, each clan or character has strengths and weaknesses and it is up to you to determine their alignment.
The board setup is very reminiscent of Catan and provides a natural feel for avid board gamers. Like many popular board games, the way you choose your movements across the board is what provides the strategy of the game along with the cards you collect. Be sure to think about what card you are playing and why. This is the other strategic part of the game and makes for a fun and complex setting. Play the wrong card and it can have just as bad of an impact as a botched dice roll. Due to the vast amount of outcomes, Armello is able to stay fresh for its audience.
The luck of dice rolls plays in an integral part of the game but in my opinion it does not dominate the game, it actually adds to its playability. Many of us have played Risk and know a battle is won or lost on a dice roll. As Kurt Vonnegut would say, “And So It Goes.” What makes Armello so enticing is the fact that it has taken some of the best elements of the games we love and rolled them into one. Whether you like Magic, Catan, or Game of Thrones, you should be pleased by this multi-faceted digital board game.
Armello can be rather complex but developer League of Geeks has provided a fantastic tutorial that one can quickly learn the game with. With the tutorial it takes anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour to grasp the gameplay.
The multiplayer mode allows for up to four players and provides the heart of the game. We all love board games and make no mistake about it, being able to brag to your friends about how smart you are when you win is important. Luckily in today’s digital world we have been provided with formats that allow us to still do this even when our friends move away! Armello gives us the board game, without the drive that many of us no longer have the time for.
Let the dust keep settling on your cardboard board games and pick up a controller. Armello gives one both the convenience of no travel and the enjoyment of a vivaciously blended board game without the headache of waiting for that one time a year when the stars align and we suddenly find a day and time where everyone can meet. I give Armello 9 out of 10! See you online! A review code was provided for this review.