Review – The Darkness 2

2 minutes into The Darkness 2, I felt powerful. 10 minutes in, I ripped someone apart with demon arms, spewing blood everywhere. An hour in, I could tear apart an entire town.

This is how The Darkness 2 will make you feel, and it really is a amazing. Sadly, this power is basically the only thing really going for this game, and even though it does a great deal to help it, The Darkness 2 is not really as good as the first game – to me anyway.

The appeal of the first Darkness was it’s story, and how emotionally connected you felt to Jackie Estacado, the game’s main character. All the people you know and love make a return in D2, but they really don’t feel as real as they did in the first game. This is largely due to the poorly constructed storyline – one that both takes too long to take off and ends too soon. You’ll only really be playing the D2 story for ~6 hours to be honest, which is really quite pathetic. The story is still full of twists and turns, but it really lacks the intrigue of the first game.

Combat, though, feels much better than in the first game. Shooting is much more fluid, and a new host of Darkness powers – including Quad Wielding, makes for amazing violence. Every time you kill someone up close, beautiful cell shaded drops of blood splatter all over your face, making the overall experience that much better. The AI is pretty clunky, and even on the hardest difficulty you won’t have too much trouble with death, especially with the health that you regain from executions.

Another addition to the game is the new Vendettas mode, which is a Co-Op mode that sends you on various different missions. You choose one of four characters, each with unique personalities, and go on a killing spree all over various destinations. Some of the things that these people say are ridiculous, which is a very nice touch. Vendettas gets bland pretty quickly – it really lacks challenge, but nonetheless, it helps to extend the replay value of an otherwise short title.

Aesthetic is pretty nice – all the places that you go to all seem different enough, but again, you don’t feel as immersed in the world of Jackie as you did in the original. The signature eerie Darkness atmosphere has pretty much disappeared, replaced with something less inspiring.

One other major gripe I have is with level design. Each level is just so linear – the world isn’t even semi open anymore. Every level you play just rushes you from start to finish, and apart from the odd relic to find, there’s no more exploration.

On a technical level, D2 is solid, but the FOV, which is locked at 60, may cause some problems for a few players. Just something to take note of.

The Darkness 2 is a departure from the first game, and whether you should get it or not really depends on what you liked about D1. If you enjoyed the exploration and emotional story, you’ll probably want to skip the sequel, but if your favourite part about the original was ripping apart people with Darkness, this game has exactly what you’re looking for.

Score – 7.5/10

Demo Impressions – The Darkness 2

Hi, just a quick impressions today of the just released Darkness 2 demo. Going to be running down what I thought of the demo, so here we go –

The demo consists of a stage broken into a few parts with small cutscene segments in between. You start off in an enclosed room, where a cutscene plays out. Basically, the Brotherhood has captured you, and are trying to capture the Darkness. Each segment of this scene is around ~1-2 mins long, and in all it gives a pretty good impression of the art style and voice acting of the game.

The second part of the demo contains the Restaurant/Subway stage that you see in all the press demos. Gunplay feels much better than in the first game, and the Darkness itself also seems much more badass. This stage is very much on rails – the first part of it doesn’t even allow you to move, but whether or not the rest of the game will be this scripted is still yet to be seen. The art style is still very comic book style, but it looks good nonetheless.

Anyhow, I highly recommend checking out the demo for yourself, as it’s definitely worth the time.

The Darkness 2 Releases February 7th.

sycknesS’ Karma Build

Hi, this is the main build that I use when I play Karma.

What I’m trying to accomplish with this build –

Using this build, you end up with lots of AP, decent health if Rylais, good resistances, and sufficient mana/health regen – Perfect for Support-ish Karma that still does lots of ap damage.

Summoners –

Heal/Flash –  + 

CV’s overrated.

 

Runes –

 – Magic Pen Reds

 – Mana Regen Yellows

 – AP/Level Blues

 – Flat AP Quints

OR –

 – Magic Pen Reds

 – Armor Yellows

 – Magic Res/ Level Blues

 – Flat AP Quints

Masteries –

21/0/9

Main Build –

Start Doran’s Ring/ Faerie Charm + Wards/ Boots + 3

Philo Stone

Boots of Lucidity

Blasting Wand

Large Rod

Abyssal Scepter

Zhonya’s

Deathcap

+ your choice of 2 extra/support items

I prefer Rylais/Reverie

 

Review – Batman: Arkham City

Arkham Asylum was an amazing game. It’s fluid combat, great atmosphere, and memorable characters and plot made it a blast to play. After such a great debut, all eyes were on Rocksteady as they neared the release of their second Batman game – Arkham City. And I tell you now, Rocksteady delivered one of the best action titles of all time. Arkham City kept everything that Asylum did well, and made many huge improvements.

Arkham City’s story is extremely memorable. Set four months after the events at the Asylum, Quincy Sharp, now the Mayor of Gotham, has built a sprawling megaprison in the heart of Gotham City. He’s transferred all the prisoners from BlackGate and Arkham Asylum to the new prison, appropriately named Arkham City. The new prison is run by Dr. Hugo Strange, and Batman has to go in and figure out what’s really going on within the walls of the prison. If you buy the game new, you also play an extra four missions as Catwoman. These Catwoman missions tie into the main plot perfectly, and even change the whole beginning of the story, which is one of the best starts to any game within the past 20 years. If you want to buy the game used, you get the option to buy the Catwoman DLC for $10. If you choose not to get Catwoman, you still get a complete story, but it won’t be as enjoyable as if you have Catwoman unlocked. The ending is a little anticlimactic, as it feels like that the game throws too much information at you at once, but other than that the story is very compelling.

People who played Arkham Asylum will be immediately familiar with the returning FreeFlow combat system. The premise is simple – Left Mouse to attack, Right to counter, and #s for gadgets, and it works extremely well. You always feel as powerful as you should as Batman, and you’ll never feel overwhelmed by 20 vs 1 situations. The other half of combat is taken up by Predator style gameplay. Here, you’ll be swinging through vantage points, attempting to survey your environment as best as you can, waiting for the best opportunity to silently take down your foes. The games delivers a healthy mix of both Predator and Arena style gameplay, and in lots of other situations you can pretty much choose how you want to engage your enemies. While playing as  Catwoman, you really do feel like Catwoman. You use a much more agile style of combat, and your gadgets function differently from Batman’s. It’s tough to create two distinct playable characters in a game that centres on one, and Rocksteady pulled it off perfectly. Boss fights are a little on the easy side, but become drastically tougher in the New Game Plus mode on Hard.

Movement is extremely similar to the first game. You still grapple your way across buildings, glide through the sky, and sprint across the ground. You get a few more ways to fly around, such as grapnel boosting, but there haven’t been any drastic changes. As Catwoman, you pounce across rooftops, using your whip to cling to buildings before jumping up them. Since you don’t fly, it’s harder to get around the city at a fast pace, so you’ll be running and jumping the whole time.

One of the great things about Arkham Asylum was the way in which it captured the overall atmosphere of the prison. Arkham City also manages to pull this off perfectly. Hearing prisoners nervously chat amongst themselves really helps establish the dreary mood of the City, and everywhere you go there are broken highways, ruptured ground, and torn posters. You really feel like you’re in Arkham City, which is something that most games don’t manage to do.

After you finish the story, there’s still plenty to do. Riddler challenges return, there are side quests to complete, trophies to find, and a new game plus (which is a  to finish. There’s tons of replay value here, and you’ll be playing for weeks after completing the main game.

However, even Arkham City has one big downfall. There’s one fatal bug that exists that wipes away all your saves randomly. The chance of encountering this is less than being struck by lightning, but just in case, back up your files, and you’ll be fine. I did encounter this bug when I was around 40% done the main story once, but I actually felt compelled to play it again. This doesn’t happen with many games, but it did with this one, so that says something.

Overall, Arkham City is amazing. It is one of the best games of the past decade, and you should play it.

DLC

Nightwing Bundle – $6.99. 8/10 value.

Robin Bundle – $6.99. 8/10 value.

Arkham City Skins Pack – $4.99. 5/10 value.

Challenge Missions Pack – $2.99. 6.5/10 value.

sycknesS’ Top 10 Most Anticipated of 2012

Hello again. Instead of the usual review, this time I’ll be counting down my most anticipated (PC) Games of 2012.

From 10 through 1 –

The original Darkness was pretty cool. I only played ~6 hours of it, but what I played was highly enjoyable. It’s story was very emotional, and possessed a certain human like quality. From what I’ve seen of the Darkness 2, it looks to improve upon basically everything the original had, and add a lot more. Co-op should be really fun, and the addition of quad-wielding will be sure to open up a host of new Darkness powers.

Future soldier looks to be a grand return to Ghost Recon’s stealthy past. While most of the past few games focused mainly on CoD style Rambo gameplay, this game seems to emphasize on tactical, stealthy, team based gameplay. Of course, the option to lone wolf is still there for players who want it, but it isn’t the main part of the game anymore. Multiplayer is what I’m most excited about, as I feel like it might achieve what Brink didn’t – tactical team based gameplay. If this game delivers, it will definitely be one of my favourite shooters for a long time.

I personally just got into Hitman earlier this year, and loved it. I’ve only played Blood Money, but it’s deep, stealthy assassination cover style gameplay always got my adrenaline pumping. As one might imagine, I was pretty happy to learn that another Hitman was coming out. Here’s to hoping that it delivers an even better experience.

Borderlands was a great RPG/FPS with a big emphasis on co-op. There were a lot of varied quests, a big open world to explore (although you never got the chance to do so because everything was out to kill you), and a lot of loot to collect. Most of that loot consisted of lots of guns. ~100k to be exact. The original also packed in a ton of replay value, and if BL2 improves on that, it should be a ton of fun to play.

I’m really looking forward to ME3, but I’m not sure that what I’ve seen in previews has really excited me yet. The overall game looks better, but the combat seems to be more focused on 3rd person shooting. If they keep RPG elements as good as they were in previous games though, ME3 will be a thrilling conclusion to the series.

I really like Prototype despite all it’s flaws, so Prototype 2 has me very excited. From what I’ve seen of Dev interviews, they seem to know exactly what went wrong with the first game, and are working to improve upon it. Environments seem much more unique, combat looks to be slightly less difficult/annoying at times, and tendrils look amazing. The story seems to be the exact same as the first game, but the main character from the original is now the bad guy, which is kinda cool.

As a LoL player, any new (non HoN) MOBA is pretty exciting, and a Valve created sequel to the most popular MOBA of all time is as good as the genre gets. From what I’ve seen of the beta, the game is already very deep, even in it’s unfinished state. And as we approach launch date, I’m sure Valve is working hard to create a great competitive game that will be played for years to come.

If you aren’t excited for Bioshock Infinite, there’s probably something wrong with you. The newest title in the franchise is set in a completely different world, and looks to deliver everything the past games did and more. The world of Columbia looks stunning, and the characters seem very unique, each with very interesting pasts.

What can I say, it’s the sequel to one of the best games of all time. That is all.

And my #1 most anticipated game of 2012 is….

Guild wars 2! I’m not just excited for this game because of it’s deep gameplay or amazing open world. I’m excited because it may just change the MMO scene forever. It’s an AAA MMO without a subscription fee, running on a much better engine than WoW, and packing a lot more content than most modern MMOs. If this game markets well, it may very well change the future of MMOs.

Alice: Madness Returns Review

So here we are again with another “bad” game. This is Alice: Madness Returns, a generic 3rd person action game based in one of the most beautiful game worlds I’ve ever laid my eyes upon. After an hour of gameplay, you can immediately tell that the devs here put twice as much effort into the overall aesthetic vs. the actual game. What this results in is the best game this year that no one actually played.

Alice’s story is pretty unoriginal. You’re Alice, the girl from the fairy tale, and your mind is one messed up place. Alice’s parents died in a fire, and you now live at an orphanage with a psychologist. It’s still not clear to me what the point of the story is, but basically one day you’re walking down a road, and suddenly a bunch of monsters appear, and you fall back down the rabbit hole into Wonderland.

That brings me to my main point. As soon as you land in Wonderland, you wish that Alice was an open world game where you can explore endlessly, killing monsters and taking on quests. It’s just that good. Every piece of rock has had so much work put into it. Every wall distinct, every cave unique. Sadly, what you get is not an open world, but a linear 3rd person action/platforming crossover that makes every effort in ensuring that exploring Wonderland is as unappealing as possible. There are secrets hidden everywhere, but these are so common and easy to find that you just won’t go looking for them. In one stage of the game, there’s pretty much 10 looong caves around a foot away from each other, each containing a memory, which is basically a 5 second narrative of Alice’s dad speaking. That is not fun exploring.

Combat is also very tiring and predictable. I’ve fought 2 bosses so far, and they’ve been essentially the exact same thing. Every battle is basically this – Dodge, Slash, Dodge, Slash, Dodge, Slash, rinse and repeat. Enemies still look amazing, but again, are pretty much just the same. Once you figure out an enemy’s attack animation, all you do is dodge when it’s about to attack. There’s just no variation.

Then there’s the platforming. You’ll be jumping off mushrooms that look good enough to make a gourmet dish out of, but don’t be fooled, this is no Mario. Platforming is basically the polar opposite of combat – there’s too much variation. Moving platforms are way too common, and in some cases, don’t start moving until you’re right on top of them. This means that instead of aiming to jump on a platform, you want to jump around a foot left from it. And you don’t know that until you die and respawn. Luckily, if you die, you start right upon the last platform the you made it on to. This is very forgiving, but doesn’t change the fact that platforming is frustrating.

Oh, and one other thing – DO NOT PLAY THIS WITH KEYBOARD AND MOUSE. Keyboard controls make absolutely no sense at all, and even rebinding keys doesn’t help. If you want to play this game, I suggest you go buy a gamepad immediately.

Since I want to love this game, and want you to as well, I shall give it a pretty good rating and say this – if you play it in short bursts, you should enjoy it.