The Walking Dead Season Two, Episode 2 Review (PC Version)

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/ by Lexi Nave

Human beings at their worst are scarier than the zombies of the apocalypse. It’s a terrible truth that The Walking Dead has been able to show us from the franchise’s beginning. The second episode of Season 2 is no different and brings human conflict back to the forefront of the game and the narrative. William “Bill” Carver, the main antagonist of the episode, is brought to life — disturbingly — by Michael Madsen and may offer a greater threat than hordes of the undead.

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Review: Lighting Returns Final Fantasy XIII — A Majora’s Mask

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/ by Jason Rose

Lightning. Connotation suggests that the character of the same description elicits a definite response with gamers. Empowering, beautiful, strong, or just bland, shallow, and style over substance, all have been used to describe the titular matriarch. This is Lightning’s game and after fans claimed there wasn’t enough of her in the previous sequel, the star returns to play dress up, wield god like power and save our souls.

Blamed for the downfall of a series, its death even, the third game in the Fabula Nova Chrystallis saga heralds the conclusion to the most controversial chapter in Final Fantasy’s legendary history. Amidst all the hurt feelings, betrayals and perceived sacrileges against the franchise, has the trilogy finally succeeded in validating its creators original vision? That depends on who you ask and by turning an already divisive formula on its head, Lightning Returns alters yet again what we know as an RPG today.
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Grizzled Veterans Podcast EP#22: 2013 year in review + our GOTY!

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/ by Jason Rose

Another year down the tubes and with it comes GV’s second annual year in review episode. After initially thinking we’d hold off until January, all that changed with a few rum and egg nogs. In our longest main-lined episode yet, Donovan and I touch on our highs and lows from the eventful year of gaming that was 2013.

The 3DS and Wii U represent both realms of the spectrum here — as well as next-gen being a success on the whole — leading into our biggest disappointment of the year: games journalism/coverage on the whole. It’s time to upgrade our expectations for how this pastime and passion is covered, ladies and gentleman!

Direct Download/Streaming Link here or Subscribe on iTunes by searching Grizzled Veterans!

After a quick musical interlude, we return in the second half to award our 2013 Games of the Year by category. Covering everything from soundtrack and DLC of the year, all the way to the inevitable game of the year, Grizzled Veterans gives you our take on the best the year has to offer.

Of course, and as always, we bring to you the top-notch editing and sound quality you’ve come to expect from us, but also, a personal touch on just what the holidays means to us and how it can remind us of the best and the worst of times as well.

In closing, 2013 marks our second full year of this audio adventure and we’ve watched it grow along the way and it’s all thanks to you, YES, YOU! Without our listeners, we wouldn’t have a reason for doing this and whether you agree, disagree, love, or hate us, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for giving us your time and downloads every episode. Peace and love friends and let 2014 be your best year yet!

Special thanks to Gaming Enthusiast Nintendo Enthusiast for supporting us and be sure to hop on over there and check all we’ve been up to. Look for GE’s relaunch next year!

Grizzled Veterans backlogPast episodes

Follow us on Twitter as well. Jason- @JasonRoseEh Donovan- @EyE_roB0T

Tired Self

Jason Rose is a criminally underutilized features contributor/freelancer. Recently, he’s been acknowledge as an IGN All-Star. Continue the conversation by following him on Twitter @JasonRoseEh and be sure to listen to his podcast, Grizzled Veterans-The most seasoned podcast in existence. Don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes.

The Walking Dead Season Two, Episode 1 Review (PC Version)

/ by Lexi Nave

Ninety-three minutes of tears and terror was exactly what I got when I sat down with the first episode of Telltale’s The Walking Dead: Season Two. One of the more gripping titles I’ve tried in recent years, I could barely contain my excitement when I started playing again, as the main menu and music immediately drew me in. While a season one recap was playing based on my save files, I couldn’t help but notice one error: it showed Lee sparing Danny in the St. John barn when, in truth, I had gored him with a pitchfork. I didn’t notice any other inconsistencies in the dialogue for the rest of the chapter, but it did make me wonder if they existed with other dialogue options or may have somehow affected other issues in successive chapters in ways I couldn’t anticipate.

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As the introduction started, this thought was immediately purged from my mind. All that mattered was surviving the zombie apocalypse again. Season Two is played from Clementine’s perspective. A little older and wiser, it was still different to be put into the role of a child than a grown adult. My emotional connection to Clementine was as strong as ever. I still felt protective of her, yet I was now in her shoes. I felt a little less secure than I did playing as Lee; the fear of being a child in the woods with zombies walking about, not to mention marauding survivors, took the first chapter to a slightly more intense level.

Christa and Omid have returned, being all that remained of Clementine’s group. If you didn’t play Season One, it shouldn’t really have any effect on your ability to enjoy Season Two. The recap was sufficient and the narrative easily stood on its own. Playing as Clementine instead of protecting her was, as I said above, a very different experience.

Within the first couple minutes, I had to ask myself, “What kind of people let a little girl go into a public bathroom alone during the zombie apocalypse without checking it first?” Clementine may have been braver than I am, however, for she made no complaints and, throughout the chapter, was capable of quite a bit of grit. While you could choose dialogue and action options to keep her a scared little girl, it’s rather emotionally rewarding to play her as stronger and hardened. Some of the best lines and scenes were spawned this way.

There was also some harrowing material and it wasn’t for the weak of heart or stomach to watch a young child endure. Animal lovers, beware — it may get pretty emotional for you as well! A scene involving a minor surgical procedure left me white-knuckled and biting my lip. Animals and children involved in this sort of story will do that to you and by now, players should be aware that this series isn’t for small children.

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The art design is just as well done as the first game, if not improved. The stylized graphics are gorgeous, and motions and actions seem to be slightly improved. There were a few technical flaws, but these seemed to be limited to objects floating in the hands of characters. A rifle wiggling is a little distracting, but surgical instruments bobbing back and forth while you’re trying to use them was flat-out disconcerting!

The music is exceptional and I was particularly struck by “In the Water,” which played during the end credits. It’s a beautiful, stirring song and brought more tears back to my eyes. The sound seemed to be improved over the last game as well. The ambience was a little creepier, the foley was sharper, and the voice acting was smoother. I didn’t hear any bad editing with lines, where someone dropped off suddenly or you heard an unintended pause.

The controls have seen a lot of polish. Everything is more streamlined and faster or easier to click or access. The control scheme itself has stayed the same. The gameplay has been polished as well; puzzles and problems are a little bit more obvious and intuitive. In the first season, I’d find myself stumped or walking around for ten minutes, wondering what I’d missed. Now, everything came naturally. You still need to think, but you won’t have to bash your brains in like you’re trying to put down a Walker because you overlooked something.

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The first episode of Season Two has given us more of what we loved and improved on the technical aspects of the series. The episode doesn’t give us a clear idea where we’re going in the story and I think it’s a brilliant move, particularly when our protagonist is Clementine. We’re trying to keep her alive in a world of monsters and adults telling her what to do. We might not see the big picture like Lee did the last time, but that’s fine with me. The frustration and concern for Clementine only enhances it. After all, we’re in the zombie apocalypse and, if the game can make us feel a sense of helplessness (without hopelessness), then I’m very much impressed.

The technical flaws are noticeable and memorable, but ultimately ignorable. My only concern is the error in loading past choices and it’s difficult to say how much this may or may not affect the overall gameplay and story development. All in all, the series has gone in the right direction and will undoubtedly leave you yearning for more.

Low Score – 8.5

Mildly distracting floating objects

Uncertain how much of a problem the inconsistency in importing Season One saves will cause

High Score – 9.5

Emotionally gripping

Strong narrative and sense of concern and helplessness for Clementine

Refined  and improved game-play mechanics

Great sound, voice acting and music

Final Score – 9.0

Resogun Review: Heaven Is A Shooter

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/ by Jason Rose

What may seem to some as little more than a pit stop on developer Housemarque’s fast track to bigger things, free-to-download Resogun blasts onto the PlayStation 4 with sweaty, palm-inducing fervour. Yet, by recalling what came before, we’ve been given what may be the finest the future has at launch.

Resogun hearkens back to a genre that once ruled gaming landscapes and days when shooters were just that and a quarter equaled three lives — until you scored high enough to get one more, that is. Whether they’re played from a horizontal, vertical, or, in this case, cylindrical screen perspective, the how-to’s of the carnage are similar. While shooters seem simplistic upon first glance, each offers nuanced additions, such as power-ups, speed bursts, and wrinkles, changing the gameplay entirely of each game. Resogun is no different. Make no mistake that behind the wonderful colour palette and coma-inducing particle explosions, gameplay is paramount.

While changing terminology dictates that I refer to them now as “Schmups, Twitch shooters, or bullet hells,” I refuse to do so. Before the moniker was hijacked, these were what shooters were and always will be to me.

Here comes the boom!

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Of course, the goal is to shoot all the things and each of the three ships afford you ample ways to do so all while keeping your score multiplier continuous. Along the way, you’ll gain power-ups to your weapons, ship agility, and Overdrive, one of two key nuances to master in Resogun.

By filling your Overdrive and unleashing it, time seemingly stops while you wield an unstoppable single-columned laser, decimating all in its path. Timing is key when letting this rip, though. Do you save it for the end level boss or use it to ramp up your multiplier pronto? The choice is yours, but you can never go wrong with unleashing Overdrive when the going gets tough ..

“Resogun smashes through perceived barriers giving us that arcade experience we never knew was missing.”

.. unless your other ability, Boost, is at the ready, in which case it’s generally the better option. It affords you invulnerability and a speed increase for a brief moment, allowing you to gain your bearing, escape harm, kill quicker, and get to humans in danger as fast as possible. It recharges quickly with time — or quicker still by smashing into enemies while it’s engaged. How you use these tools will be the difference from barely completing Veteran difficulty to mastering Hero. Just remember that, when the things go boom, try not to be enamoured by the perfect chaos your eyes are witnessing. There’s a game to play.

Saving humans is not a prerequisite to progressing through the game’s six levels, but doing so adds to your score, gives you more bombs and extra lives, as well as giving you much-needed power-ups. When your DualShock 4 controller speaks, telling you to save a human, you best heed its command!

Using its arcade-like approach, Resogun teaches you to improve level by level, death by death, growing from rookie to master along the way. Engaging and gorgeous, you and your friends will keep coming back for more. Shoot, score, progress or blow up, repeat, such is the cycle of Resogun and it’s rarely been done better.

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And on the 7th day, Resogun was created….

8.5/10

A mash-up of old-school meeting new-gen technology, Resogun smashes through the perceived barriers, giving us that arcade experience we never knew we were missing. Some things never go out of style and, at least for one more game, shooters are once again king. Long live the shooter!

Review: Goodbye Deponia

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/ by Jamie Ward

After two previous adventures, Deponia (2012) and Chaos on Deponia (2012), Goodbye Deponia is the last of a trilogy by Daedalus Entertainment, so is this game better than its predecessors or worse? Short answer: this is the best of the bunch.

Goodbye Deponia picks up where Chaos on Deponia left off. You control an anti-hero named Rufus, an imaginative and, quite frankly, reckless inventor. You’re still trying to save the world of Deponia from destruction while impressing your possible, maybe girlfriend, Goal, a young woman from the floating city far above the planet surface, Elysium. Their ultimate goal is now within reaching distance: finding a way to Goal’s hometown and saving Deponia from an almost certain destruction.

This is essentially the same goal as the previous two games, which is a little disappointing. You would think that, after two other games, the goal might be different (Lord of the Rings doesn’t apply to this thought process) but alas, this at least means that each game genuinely ties in with each other rather than going from one thing to another without nothing in between.

The graphics in Goodbye Deponia haven’t changed since the first game and this is not a bad thing; it still looks amazing, cartoon-like and brilliantly animated. Each screen is wonderfully detailed with objects pushing up against the foreground and pushed back all the way in the background. Little details, such as birds moving on roofs in the distance, create liveliness to each place you visit and makes sure that the environment is not a completely static image that you can move around on.

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The gameplay also has not been tampered with, providing a fairly standard point-and-click mechanic akin to something like Broken Sword. Left mouse moves Rufus around and lets him perform actions, such as in one scene where he interacts with a baby’s outfit on a clothesline in order to trick a grandmother and grandfather in to making them give you a lollipop. Clicking the right mouse lets you examine things so you know what they are or can do before you interact with them. Again, it’s a fairly standard point-and-click mechanic, but it works just as well here as it does on the best point-and-click games.

Moving the mouse wheel lets you open your inventory, in which you can right-click on an object to examine it or left-click to hold it and try to use this object in the current scene to progress further in the game. Pressing the spacebar shows you all the hot spots in the current scene you can interact with and examine and, while I found this to be somewhat cheating, it certainly would be helpful to those who might need it. It’s all fairly standard stuff and most players would just be able to jump straight in and understand the gameplay, but I would recommend watching the tutorial, anyway, just because it’s so funny and breaks the fourth wall more than once.

Goodbye Deponia includes a mixture of inventory-based puzzles — like the aforementioned left-click option to utilize an item — and mini-games, where you have to move things around to achieve a goal in order to progress. There are a few puzzles that can be a little bit far-fetched sometimes and these are the ones I struggled with the most. Luckily, these puzzles are not frequent enough to ruin the experience and they, for the most part, are wonderfully executed. The mini-games are usually fun; they involve things like helping Rufus distracting security cameras, so they’re looking at Rufus instead of Goal, thus allowing Goal to hack into some computer consoles. They are also better presented here than they were in the earlier games. They even have some instructions, but if you do have any trouble, you’re given the option to skip them completely.

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For the most part, you’re allowed to visit numerous places at any given point and the game can throw lots of different puzzles at you to tackle in whatever order you want. Goodbye Deponia is not a linear game and it benefits from this; you’re given a wide range of options most of the time, so if you are stuck on one particular puzzle, you can choose to go after another puzzle instead. It helps keep you interested. If you do get stuck and start trying to combine random items together or put items in a wrong hot spot, the game often makes genuinely funny comments that’ll make you laugh, despite being stuck. Sometimes, I found myself just doing this on purpose to see what the game would say.

Conclusion:

My verdict is that I had a ton of fun playing Goodbye Deponia. It looks gorgeous, it’s challenging, and its one of the funniest games I have ever played. If you thought the other two games in the series were funny, you haven’t seen anything yet. Each of the voice actors do a really good job in making each character unique and you can get a sense of their personalities that text alone does not give you. In the inevitable sequel, I would like to see Daedalus create a totally different story. For now, though, if you enjoy point-and-click and adventure games, I probably couldn’t recommend any other game more than the Deponia series right now. It is one of the best titles and series in this category we’ve seen in the past ten years.

Low Score – 7.5

A few puzzles are a bit silly
Story is still the same after 3 games

High score – 8.5

Genuinely funny
Makes you really think about the puzzles
Looks beautiful, sounds amazing

Final Score – 8

Review: Football Manager 2014

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/ by Alex Foote

Everyone has an opinion on football, especially when it comes down to the team they follow. It’s fair to say that all football fans have – at one point or another – asked, “What are you playing him for?” or “Why have you bought him? He’s rubbish!” or just shouted at the TV or at the manager with wise words of how the team should be operated. So here’s the newest installment of Football Manager, the game that tests your knowledge of the beautiful game.

Every year, I’m impressed with how in-depth SI Games makes the entire experience and this year’s FM is no different. I loved Football Manager 2013, even though it wasn’t hailed warmly by every fan, and clocked over 2,000 hours’ worth of gameplay. Only after playing Football Manager 2014, I realized how much FM13 needed improvements that appear in FM14.

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I’ve played a lot of FM over the years, I could tell what changes were made and greeted them with a “Whoa, that’s a great feature to have,” much like a giddy schoolboy. One of those  new features is being interviewed for vacant job positions in other clubs. If you’re doing well, a bigger club invites you to interview with them. Like any job interview, you’re judged on your answers. If you’re a manager with a good record and you have a high reputation, you’ll fare better and even be able to be more forceful with your demands, expectations, and philosophies.

The new interface is less complex with everything pretty much done through you news inbox or your manager profile. The main improvement comes in the form of the match engine, however, which was needed after FM13. When planning your tactics, before and during a match, the first thing you notice is: there are no sliders on there anymore. You no longer have to go through the mind-boggling process of deciding how ‘deep’ your defense needs to be or how far to ‘push up’. You just click ‘push up’ or ‘defend deeper’ and the players respond accordingly.

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Last year saw the introduction to the assistant giving advice during a game in order to help you get an idea of correct decisions being made and what might need improvement. This was quite frustrating last year when you’d instruct your players based on his advice and discover it’s completely wrong. This year, you can just ‘apply advice’ to automatically tell your players what they need to be doing.

There aren’t any massive issues to note with the exception of when you tell your players what to do and they do the exact opposite, like naughty schoolboys craving attention. It’s all good and well until you end up losing the ball. I found this to be a problem with goalkeepers refusing to play the ball short when I have short center forwards who tend not to be able to get on the end of lofted balls.

Player morale plays a massive part in FM13. Your players often get upset by how training is going, so you may need to keep one eye on your coaching staff and training program. When playing classic mode, there are things obviously missing from the normal manager mode. But there are some things I feel should have been put in there: the assistant taking control of friendly games, for example. This mode is supposed to be a quick version of manager mode, yet it pretty much forces you to play pointless friendlies games, which I often get the assistant to care of.

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I’ve not yet tried the online. I assume it’s the same as the previous years where you and a pal or a number of pals fight for every cup on the game until getting bored and starting a new game every other day. What else is there to do? Well, if you think you know what you’re doing, why not take up one of the challenges? Guide a team to league victory using nothing but U21s or stop your favorite team from being relegated with only a few games left to do so.

9.5/10

Football Manager 2014 is a much better effort from FM13. The improvements may seem slight, but they are considerable in terms of their relevance to the beautiful game and how it operates. FM14 is a quicker, fuller experience because of the aforementioned updates. The manager mode is worth delving into, but if you don’t have time for all the stuff that some people find linear and you just want to sign players, the soon to be cross-play classic mode is for you. I expect I’ll be registering more than my 2,000 FM13 hours on Football Manager 2014.