All posts by Oscar Perez

When I emigrated from Cuba and arrived in the States the first thing I was introduced to by my Uncle was Pizza, the second was his Sega Genesis. Since that day I’ve been an avid gamer and have been collecting systems as old as the original Sega Master System and Atari so that I can pass on my love of gaming to my Son and we can grow closer together by having a great common interest to grow up with. With such a growing collection I enjoy just about every kind of game genre and can’t wait to see what comes next.

Mobile Suit Gundam Battle Operation Code Fairy Vol. 1 Review – PlayStation 5

It’s almost 2022; why aren’t Gundams and mobile suits already everywhere in society? Toonami really got me back in the 90’s with all those ads for “in the near future”. Guess I’ll make do with the release of Mobile Suit Gundam Battle Operations: Code Fairy Vol 1 developed by B.B Studio co and published by Bandai. Thank you, Bandai, for not giving up on us fans, in fact, give us more! Code fairy uses the Battle Operations 2 engine from the game of the same name released for PS4 and PS5. It’s been adapted to give us a single player experience in the form of Code Fairy.

The story is given to us in a multitude of ways such as audio snippets, anime style sequences including previews and opening and closing sequences. I found the anime sequences the most interesting because every chapter had an opening theme, a closing them and a preview as well, just like something you’d watch on T.V or more likely your favorite streaming service. I won’t deny that I got over those parts of it around the 3rd chapter when I realized it was going to happen at the end and beginning of each chapter. They had a great color; characters were appealing, and I could see them making a compilation of them and calling it a side story show or short movie.

You take the role of Alma, a rookie thrust into leadership of “Noisy Fairy” a covert all female squad under the Zeon side of the war. Code Fairy takes place during the one-year war from the original Mobile Suit Gundam anime, and the battles are in North America. As you progress through the story you will start to understand that Alma isn’t just your regular pilot.  It’s my understanding that she has some sort of special ability that makes her so good at piloting mobile suits. She is supported by two other pilots; an engineer called Mia and Helena who you pretty much leave to their own device the first couple of chapters until they introduce the ability to mark units for them to focus and pilot abilities which are special skills on short cooldowns such as instant repair of your suits, decreased damage taken and increased mobility to name the basics. As your pilots level up they earn more, but I hate to say it, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” really came into play with these.

Beating missions and completing certain objectives unlock parts to increase the stats of your mobile suit, so I was excited to try out the hard mode that you unlock when you beat the game the first time, hoping it would give me the chance to earn a new suit to pilot, but aside from making the enemies harder by having them take less damage and dodging more, nothing was to be earned. The part I did like was unlocking side perspective missions that you could play the same missions from the perspective of Alma’s compatriots, so you could play the game in a sniper role and in more of a support role. It gives you more insight into what was going on with them while you were off doing your own thing in the main story and also fight in a much different manner than what you were used to.

The battles consist of your typical kill all bad guys, defend the location and one where we got to destroy a convoy. At a few different points you did finally get to fight someone in the titular Gundam suits but nobody canon from the shows that mattered, and frustratingly I’d defeat them in one battle just to have them come back later in a newer suit.  Those named bad guys that never die sort of battles are frustrating and really took all the glory out of beating them. As this is based on the B.O games the battle triangle still exists of mobile suits being categorized as three types, Raid, General or support with each having a weakness and a strength against another, something I’ve never understood because if I get stabbed with a freaking beam saber it shouldn’t do any more or less damage due to my typing.

As I’ve said, the anime style visuals are great when you aren’t in battle, then it switches to the Battle Operations 2 engine that they have been using for the game that this is based on. I’ve played Battle Operation both on PS4 and PS5 and Code Fairy doesn’t really seem to improve on any part of it. The mobile suits, because that’s what they are actually are, that you pilot are essentially custom grunt unit models that the pilots utilize the whole first 5 chapters that Volume 1 is comprised of, near the end one of them gets a newer model but you as the protagonist/main character use the same suit the entire game with the ability to change your primary weapon from a rocket launcher to a machine gun after the second chapter.

Do they look good? I can’t deny that they look good, but compared to what is the question? They look the same as they do in Battle Operation 2. The issue that I’m getting to is that being called a Gundam game, hell even a Battle Operations game, I expected the ability to customize and change my suit or get a new one at some point, but I digress. Gundam Battle Operations: Code Fairy Vol 1 and Vol. 2 are out now with Vol 3 coming Dec 3rd.

Dustwind – The Last Resort Review – PlayStation 5

Dustwind – The Last Resort originally appeared back in 2017 as a PC team deathmatch/real time tactics game published and developed by Dustwind Studios and Zsoftware. Perusing the store page, it’s got mostly positive reviews and it’s gotten quite a few improvements over the years including the addition of single player, which the Last Resort version for consoles is based on. The Last Resort is set in a post-apocalyptic world whereas described you must make “quick tactical decisions if you want to survive”; never mind the fact you can pause the game and set up your commands and actions in advance right? Last Resort was ported from the original PC game simply named “Dustwind” and then stripped to focus on single player action. You’ll get about 10 hours of gameplay in the 16-mission campaign so don’t rush too much to get to it.

Since I never played the original Dustwind I decided to, of course, do the tutorial and what a nightmare that was to follow with so much going on with a controller. I understand why this game originally came out on PC; there is way too much to do without a keyboard at times.  Sure you could pause the game and plan your attacks, but that is if you can remember which button accomplishes what. I went through it and learned the basics and quickly was shown how to do all sorts of spiffy and crazy kills that I started to forget what exactly I had learned that mattered just a few minutes ago.  Call it old age but I call it trying to oversell a product with explosions. By the time I finished the tutorial I decided to put it away for a few hours before trying again because I was already so frustrated trying to remember everything that was shown and trying to make sense of it all during the campaign.

For a game that came out in 2017 on the Unity engine I expected it to look nice on the PS5 but really what could they even do to change it without a major graphical redesign? From the moment it loaded in I thought I was playing Fallout back on my Windows ME pc; it’s not a pretty sight. The UI, the terrain, almost every part of this says it. I’m not one to judge a game solely on the way it looks but this certainly isn’t what I imagined being released to utilize the power of the PS5 and still have ridiculously long load times on an SSD of all things, just to fight like 15 enemies and get to the next one.

You play the campaign following the story of an unknown woman who wakes up with no memory other than the fact she needs to get revenge on those who hurt her. You start doing missions with objectives to complete that may or may not always match up to what you expect and mostly end up just killing enemies as you get from one point to another while looting and scrounging for weapons and items to help you accomplish your goal. You certainly have many weapons to choose from as in some missions I finished it using flame throwers and rocket launchers and others just your good ole AK to bust up some bandits.

Gameplay wise I can see where the tactical aspect comes in with the weapon system allowing you to either shoot, melee, and even in some cases use vehicles to accomplish your missions. You will have the capability to choose what limb you are targeting as you mow down baddies and utilize terrain and buildings to your advantage to make sure you don’t get hit as well. You’ll be joined during your story by fellow mercenaries, but my favorite is the Dog who you can also assign to be your driver when in vehicles because THAT makes sense to me. You can command each of these characters to do specific tasks during combat or command them directly and play as them.

Would I recommend this game to my fellow PS5 buddies? No, not at all. Why would I when there are so many more better-looking games to take advantage of the PS5’s power? I want them to like their console, not wonder if it’s broken when they load this up. Dustwind: The Last Resort released on PS4 and PS5 September 15th, 2021, at a price tag of $17.99.

Boomerang X Review – PC

As I get older and older some games just make it obvious that my skills are starting to wane, my reflexes not as fast as they used to be, and yet I still thought I could handle that which is Boomerang X. Developed by Dang! and published by Devolver Digital, Boomerang X is exactly what it says it is; a game about a boomerang, specifically a magical boomerang with physic-bending abilities, but a boomerang nonetheless. Obviously targeted to a quicker demographic than I am Boomerang X shows off how even the simplest ideas show potential to be used in a video game environment when handled right.

There is no story that I could adequately relay aside from you showed up in another world after you wake up from being shipwrecked and find a magical boomerang that you must use to complete arenas standing in your way. As you progress through the game you unlock abilities that the boomerang bestows upon you such as instant recall of the boomerang regardless of location, a dash skill that sends you to your boomerangs current location and slowing time, just the usual hero abilities.

As you progress through the arenas, they get more complicated and the enemies more difficult to kill. The enemies are called The Mantid and as far we find out they are not native inhabitants of the land you are in. The Mantid are these black blob monsters that come in variety of shapes and sizes ranging from bee looking things to humanoid monstrosities, what their goal is I’m not sure, but they have conveniently set themselves up in arenas for you to kill and marked themselves with yellow targets saying which of them are the most important.

When you enter an arena, you are shown how many waves you need to complete and targets; not every enemy needs to be killed, only the ones marked with a yellow target. As the arenas get more complicated you are forced to use the abilities to reach your targets either in higher locations or more spread out. Once you complete the waves you are allowed to proceed to the next area. The areas where you aren’t in an arena are usually where you will find the story as told by a giant centipede character but there isn’t much else there to do, no hidden chests or secret areas or anything to really do other than just walk around and explore.  Anything that is important will be explained by your centipede friend called Tepan, which makes it pretty easy to keep track of if you can make it that far.

Boomerang X art looks great, the world looks straight out of a beautifully drawn canvas, but it is unfortunate that there isn’t anything to explore between arenas.  You can look at it and admire it but there is no hidden meaning or secret to any of it which is a shame, as I thought it was underutilized.

Gameplay wise I’d say you could complete it in about 5 hours going at a slow pace; something that is pretty obvious is not the intention here. Boomerang X is a speed runners dream, little story content and all action and movement. I do not see a casual gamer picking this up after the initial completion, if they even get that far, to play it again.

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Willy Morgan and the Curse of Bone Town Review – Switch

Willy Morgan and the Curse of Bone Town is a third-person adventure game where you are thrown into a 10-year-old mystery after you, Willy Morgan, receive a letter from your long lost father of 10 years telling you that something has gone wrong and, wouldn’t you know it, you need to go to Bone Town to figure it out. Developed by imaginarylab and published by LeonardoInteractive now comes to the Nintendo Switch on June 8th, 2021, after its initial PC/Steam release on August 11th 2020 to very positive reviews. Willy Morgan and the curse of Bone Town prides itself on its non-linear gameplay; once the game starts you can explore what you want and solve whatever puzzles you encounter along the way. This is very much a 90’s formula trying to resurface in an age where most gamers’ primary concern is graphics, time played and story.

As I mentioned, you start the game with a quick sequence of events that throws you right into solving the mystery of the note you received from your missing father.  Let me say this, Willy doesn’t bat an eye at the fact he got a note from his missing father at all; he instantly heads to the location dictated on the note and doesn’t once question at all why his dad hadn’t reached out before or anything that a normal person would do.  He just dives right into it no questions asked. You are given a tutorial on how to interact with the world at large, click everything, and fast travel which you will be using non-stop because who wants to walk back and forth when you can just teleport?

The world of Bone Town is inhabited by a whopping 15 NPCs, which you will interact with as you explore the town, the shops and homes are riddled with little Easter eggs such as Captain America’s shield sitting on a shelf while the blacksmith has Thor’s hammer sitting on the floor. The very pirate-like inhabitants of Bone Town seem out of place in a world of computers and science, their dialogue is pretty subpar and their jokes fall flat 99% of the time and don’t really push the game in any direction; they are just “alright”. Every interaction is just point and click so you can’t really divert from the story path too much, but there are a lot of clickable items and parts of the scenery that add humorous flavor to the experience..

Aside from the occasional cutscene every backdrop and location was a pre-rendered 3D picture that just kind of popped. The Aesthetics of Bone Town are wacky, a leaning Lighthouse across a ravine, most buildings are crooked in a way that just says, “something weird is going on”. To give credit where credit is due, never once did I enter a location and think, “bleh copy paste”; every location is detailed in a way that you can’t help but look at every part just to see if something is amiss, something you can use later on in one of the many puzzles Curse of Bone Town has to offer. Your character and the NPCs around Bone Town really stand out and the focus is on them when you see them in any area.

Speaking of puzzles, that is what you will spend much of your time doing while traversing the town…puzzles galore.  Items can be in the weirdest locations, so I found myself clicking everything searching for something I might be able to use later in hopes of moving forward with the story.  Lazy gamers can also hit a button to reveal all the interactive areas within a scene.  The one part I notice people looking up solutions for, which I did end up doing, was bicycle pieces, one of which ended up being in a dream catcher I had to click on.  A dream catcher was holding a bike piece, nobody said it had to make sense I guess; mind you this was one of the earliest puzzles and I’d already had to look it up due to just how uninviting it seemed.

At the end of the day Willy Morgan and the Curse of Bone Town is summed up simply as “alright”.  It’s not mind blowing, nothing would ever have me replay it, but it was “alright” in visuals, story, humor you name it.  Nothing jumped out at me; it just was what it was. With a total playtime of roughly 8-9 hours you can break it up into two days if you want but it’s doable in a single sitting or a long road trip. Fans of the genre will enjoy the classic 90’s style aesthetic and gameplay design, but with puzzles ranging from overly simplistic and sometimes too over the top, Willy Morgan and the Curse of Bone Town  is unlikely to bring in new fans who might stumble upon this in the Nintendo store.

MechWarrior 5 Mercenaries – Heroes of the Inner Sphere Review – PC

I would like to say, it’s about damn time we got MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries on Steam. Don’t get me wrong; being on a different platform changes nothing in regard to gameplay or anything else, but the Epic Games platform is just so frustrating to use I couldn’t wait to re-install MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries on Steam. I was even happier to find out that my progress moved over! Alongside the Steam release also comes the newest DLC called Heroes of the Inner Sphere, which gives you the option to expand your adventure from the campaign into a career mode where you travel the galaxy and allows you to continue to expand your mech collection and outfit them with even more weapons. The Heroes of the Inner Sphere was released on May 26th, 2021, by Piranha Games.

As mentioned, I was happy to see my campaign information came over from the Epic store but even nicer was that when I started career mode, I could import my mechs and my money to start a little bit ahead of the curve. Career mode has one big bonus compared to the campaign in that you can start into co-op immediately without having to finish the base campaign unlike the original. You might be asking yourself, what am I getting from this DLC? Is it worth it? Personally, I think so. Plenty of the new additions or updates affect the original game, especially in the visual updates on certain mechs and the way they have the updated the audio so that weapons sound better; they have more oomph when you hit with a rifle and lasers sound and look nice as well. The game performs much better as well since launch with better performance on PC due to Piranha Games previous update to enable DLSS and some new UI changes that streamline the game even  further.

Career mode allows you to start by choosing your house, which starts you off in a different part of the galaxy, a load out of mechs, and some money to get started.  You can additionally import your career save to get more mechs and money. The house you choose determines where you spawn on the galaxy map, and your reputation you will be gaining to discount your repairs and purchases on the map. The Career mode does not have a specific story to follow; you just start and do what you want, but it is still based on the core game concept where you are all about increasing your reputation and completing missions, but there isn’t a linear story you have to complete. At a certain reputation level you unlock cantina jobs which are short fetch quests for quick rewards.  These are easy sources of income and reputation.

Another interesting new mechanic is the achievement system, which impacts your mech performance depending on the achievement completed.  An example is “blow up 10 tanks in a mission” will unlock a permanent 20% jump jet cooldown rate bonus. Another new addition is the artillery system, which allows you to purchase an air strike on a location and watch the fireworks. The artillery system is powerful enough to blow up certain armor classes of mechs in a single strike.

In terms to Mechs added to the game Heroes of the Inner Sphere added 7 new mechs and an additional 50 variants to the original base game mechs. I have played MechWarrior for years and it still blows my minds that there can be so many variants that they can come up with. One of the new mechs is called the “Dervish” and it has got one variant that my friend and I came upon that is an all-missile slots on both torsos and arms, no lasers, no cannons, just missiles all the way. You will cause friendly damage with this if you play it as we found out. It would be impossible to talk about all the different mechs so if you want to experience them, buy the base game and the DLC.

Heroes of the Inner Sphere was definitely worth the wait.  Sure it’s got some of the things we were promised in the original game’s release, but at least they kept their word and gave it to us in the end.  Well “gave” isn’t exactly the right word since we had to pay for it, but the money is well worth it considering they lowered the base game price as well to compensate.  If you are a Microsoft Game Pass member you can play the base game for free on Xbox and PC or purchase for only $24, and this new DLC is even discounted $2, but there is no bundle unlike Steam that has the Dropship Edition for $50 that included game, DLC and some cool digital extras.

You can read my review for MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries here.

Override 2: Super Mech League Review – PC

As a fan of the Mecha genre I’m pretty much a sucker for anything with the word Mech, or Mecha in the title. Developed by Modus Studios Brazil and Published by Modus Games, Override 2: Super Mech League is a robot brawler where you take to the ring with 20 playable bots and duke it out to become the mech league champion.

The original Override game called Override: Mech City Brawl had you facing off against an army of creatures called “Kaiju”; if you have ever seen Pacific Rim, that’s the ones. As the game progressed you would fight against infected mechs whom the Kaiju had taken over. Override 2: Super Mech League takes place after the mechs have won and they are no longer needed to fight the Kaiju. What else to do with a bunch of giant fighting robots other than of course to turn it into a form of entertainment, thus the Super Mech League was born.

Straight off the bat, you will notice that your game modes are Quick play, Leagues, Versus and training. Arcade mode/story mode has been removed in favor of leagues. The last game I played that tried to show a story mode via PvP battles tanked hard; oddly enough both involved giant robots. That does not work if your game does not have enough people playing. Just today I played 10 matches and all 10 were up against A.I enemies. It is a horrible idea that developers need to stop repeating. If you cannot make a story, then do not try to cram one in via PvP battles where you must match up with other live players. Call your “league” the story mode, keep the bots and be done with it.

Regarding mech choices, there are plenty, about 20 plus DLC, which by the way, it’s freaking Ultraman from the Japanese sentai series.  If those words just confused you its not meant for you to buy. Something I was really surprised regarding the mechs is that while you have choices and each one has their own style of combat, such as Pescado, the giant mech with the fish head being more like a wrestler in his combat style when compared to someone like another mech called Watchbot who is well rounded in his straightforward mix of range attacks and standard fighting moves. What I really like about Override 2: Super Mech League, which is probably a surprise if you have read this far, is how the combat itself works. Four buttons to control the punches and kicks and each of those can be combined for projectile attacks or different super attacks with a bar that fills up when you gather energy and then use to unleash an ultimate attack ranging from a giant laser shot from the middle of your chest to a move that you can teleport to a location and then teleport back, mainly useful in 4v4 battles to give yourself a break if you are being ganged up on. Aside from all the zany moves going on you can also pick-up items during the battle such as shot guns, grenade launchers, swords, spears, and rocket launchers. It adds a nice mix to the standard melee combat.

Speaking of combat, right now you can do 4v4 online battles using the league or versus modes. The versus mode has different selections such as 1v1, 2v2, 4v4 and Xenoswarm mode which seems to be like the original in that you fight versus Kaiju versus each other. It also allows you to change weapon drop rate and ultimate charge rate. In all these you can invite friends or just matchmake, but I pretty much only fought against A.I while playing.

There is one big issue I have with Override 2.  After a bit of research on the previous game, since I had never played it, and now comparing it to the newest incarnation, they not only decided to remove the story mode, but they also removed the pilots from being involved at all.  If I hadn’t looked up some old gameplay footage, I probably wouldn’t have cared so much about the pilot part of it as much as the story but now I’m just a giant robot and no longer a giant robot pilot.  For me, this takes away from the core of the whole game. I saw dialogue mid-fights, I saw cutscenes where the pilots were discussing the battle, their attitudes. Its kind of a bummer to see something so cool get replaced by a mech league “manager” and never see your pilot.

Override 2: Super Mech League is entertaining for a few matches, then you realize you are going to play against bots most of the time and it quickly losers its luster. I give them props for trying to create something from their previous incarnation, but all the decisions regarding the multiplayer side of it really hinder its attraction.

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Faeria Review – PlayStation 4

2020 has been a wild ride, games getting delayed, consoles sold out, GPU’s going for 5 times MRC.  Seems like maybe we could use a little spark of magic to brighten up the rest of our year, and I think that’s where Faeria comes in. Developed by Abrakam and published by Versus Evil officially released on November 3rd for PS4 after three years on PC and getting beaten to release by Xbox and Switch in August of 2020. From what I’ve seen Faeria has been described as a “Living game board” in regards to how the board evolves and changes based on your decisions made during the battle. Faeria has gotten great reviews from some major companies for being a new and unique combination into the collectible card game genre. The biggest claim to fame is “earn all 300 cards in less than 50 hours” really pushing on the companies call that it’s not about the cards you have; it’s the board and how you use them.

To start off, Faeria has no story mode, so if you want to learn the game you’ll need to play the tutorial matches and then dive right into battles against A.I in either Pandora mode, Faeria’s draft mode where you collect cards and face off against A.I combatants or against real players. Drafting cards and getting better and rarer cards will help you in your battles but really, from what I’ve experienced it’s all about the gameboard and who controls it and has built it up properly to strategically play your cards. The draft mode is interesting because you have two different currencies to use; a practice coin and a Pandora coin. The game is played the exact same way, no changes are done at all, but the rewards are vastly different and also max out at different levels; Pandora at 9 wins and practice at 3 and the quality of rewards goes with using practice coins.  Pandora coins are the preferred way to increase your collection faster if you are a good enough player, which I am not. The A.I can hold up for itself but after awhile you start to learn their patterns and the cards they use.  PVP is also fun to use but if you aren’t about those stressful situations or have “PVP phobia” then stick to A.I; you’ll still love the game and enjoy your time played.

Expanding your card collection to keep up with their promise of 300 cards under 50 hours is very doable due to the fact you start crafting as soon as you finish the tutorial.  There is no currency to speak of, its all time based. When you level up you unlock rarer cards so all you do is craft a card and the cooldown begins before you can craft another. Your deck improves at your pace. You can be crafting legendries by your 20th hour of play or less depending on what you invest, and your only investment is time.

Building the board is key, as the match progresses you can build either land, forest, deserts or lakes. Each of those are used as a resource alongside your Fae, aka mana, to summon and play cards. Example is 6 Mana cost, 2 forest to summon an ogre monster. Without the forests it doesn’t matter how much you have in your mana pool. It’s an interesting combination of Hearthstone and Magic the Gathering, which I’ve played both and have mastered none. Faeria is still pretty fun to play.  It’s casual enough to play against A.I without going too hard into it. As with most deck building games, the board is important but you also want to have a bit of focus on your cards. You wouldn’t build a random amount of different lands and then try throwing cards in their willy-nilly. You want to focus, like in most CCGs on one or two “colors” or in this case Elements to focus on so that you get some heavy hitters and good support cards.

Faeria is fun, colorful and brings in an altogether different style of gameplay which solidifies its rave reviews since its release in 2017 and now again in 2020. It prides itself on being able to play and enjoy the game without having to spend any money. Faeria does have DLC, it’s a CCG after all, and they range from expansions that yet again expand your card library to just different card backs, and cosmetic changes. About the biggest gripe I had is a lack of story.  As amazing as the cards look and the lore cards that you can collect give you a tidbits of info, I want to experience something, not just read it.

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SpellForce 3: Fallen God Review – PC

Until recently I hadn’t heard the name SpellForce; it sounded really cool but I had no background information on it and I’ve played everything from StarCraft and Warcraft 1 through 3 to Supreme Commander, so I thought why not, lets give this a shot.  How much more different can this be than any other RTS I’ve played? As it turns out, its similar to some and stands out from others. SpellForce 3: Fallen God was developed by Grimlore Games and Published by THQ. This review will include some spoilers to the story so please beware.

SpellForce 3: Fallen God is an interesting mix of real time strategy and RPG, a combination I’d only experienced before with the Warcraft series and what got me hooked onto World of Warcraft in the first place. Fallen God is the second standalone expansion for Grimlore Game’s SpellForce 3. Being a standalone expansion is probably the biggest benefit for this game as I had no prior knowledge of the previous games and was really hesitant at first about jumping in, but Fallen Gods treats you as a first timer as soon as you start your campaign.   I just wish it did the same during the character creation process as well.

First off, I need to talk about the initial startup of Fallen God.  Immediately it asked me to log into my THQ account, which I don’t have and I’m tired of giving every single company my email and name, so I decide to skip it, but that has consequences. First, you can only play single player, fair enough, I didn’t mind that part as I didn’t plan on playing online at first. Second, it disables achievements, this one pisses me off.  I know achievements aren’t a physical item or something malleable but that is even more frustrating because I don’t want to share my personal information with you, you disable my ability to record my feats in your game.

Putting that aside, once you start your campaign you will create your characters which in this case are “Trolls”; I say “Trolls” because they look like giant freaking Orcs, but no, in this game they are trolls. I imagine Trolls as thin, athletic characters, but these guys are bigger than Thrall from Warcraft. You create their faces, body type, and so on then start allocating stat points and choosing talent trees. You can also go for preset classes with allocated points and talents. I went for the newbie route and went with prebuilt ones. As someone who hadn’t played a SpellForce game before it was a weird introduction; nothing told me I had to choose every single character’s talents and allocate points into stats, that I really had no way of knowing what I would need anyways, so kind of a rough start.

You start your story with three of the four characters that you created searching on a quest to complete “the devouring”, a ritual where you eat the old chieftain’s (your father’s) heart to gain his knowledge and gain the right to lead your people. This quest actually works as the tutorial for your character skill trees, crafting and equipping and also the RTS side of SpellForce where you build a small area up and learn the basics of gathering materials and recruiting warriors. SpellForce 3: Fallen God does a great job of making this tutorial seem integral to the story and not just something you are forced to do, you can actually choose to skip it, but it isn’t just a “do this because you need to learn how”.  It’s presented as “do this because it will allow you to do x,y,z”.  The logistics work the same as many RTS games but are presented in a story correlated way.

While you are learning all this literal world building you of course still have to handle your equipment. Each character has a certain weapon/armor they can use based on their stats you’ve chosen.  Don’t have enough constitution? Can’t wear that heavy armor you found. It’s a pretty normal system to find in RPG’s but one I’m not accustomed to yet. Finding a piece of gear may not mean you can use it.  It could belong to the human race and troll’s cant use it due to their vast difference in size. You can smelt down these pieces at a blacksmith and then craft new pieces for you and your party. I found a few pieces and was rewarded with some ready to use gear after certain quests but always keep an eye out for items to craft.

As you progress past this initial quest you will be given the next step to meet up with a “stranger” which also opens up the world map. At first it seems the world map will work in a linear fashion, allowing you to move back and forth between previously visited locations and new ones for you to traverse. This “stranger” will give you the quest that this expansion is named for, reviving a fallen god.  In doing so he claims you can fight back against the enemies that have destroyed your home and take charge. We shall see how that works out. One of the very important parts of each map are the “Godstones” that not only act as spawn points but also as a fast travel method. Activating/Finding each one can link you to another one on the same map and help you traverse it faster.  These make revisiting old locations a lot easier from what I can tell, as well as expedites questing in new zones.

So, its 2020, lets talk about the important thing. How does it look? Pretty damn good is my answer. As soon as I loaded in I was impressed by the level of detail in the first map based on a jungle area with caves to explore and ruins to find. The greenery stood out, the waterfalls looked fluid and smooth. The characters make a stark contrast with their brown/gray looks to all the color I saw around them which made everything else stand out that much more. Their villages were all detailed with skulls, bones, workshops that you could tell what they were intended for. SpellForce 3: Fallen God has also made the story cinematics keep some of the charm by making them look drawn on living parchment, to say the characters still move and fire still burns and moves; overall, very impressed.

Then we have the audio presentation; also top tier work on this. You hear your group of trolls have conversations as you walk around.  They mention old fights, things you encounter, story choices you have made come up and every interaction you have to progress the story or quest has great voice acting work.  Each character sounds like their role. The old shaman has a tired sound, the young blood is boastful, energetic and isn’t afraid to be loud. There is a caveat to this impressive work.  You spend a lot of time listening and choosing conversations. Be prepared to spend 40% of your time talking and listening.

Overall, I recommend any RTS fan to try out SpellForce: Fallen God, even if you’ve never played it as I did then even better, get introduced to a new IP just like I did. There is a solid 20-hour solo campaign and plenty of online PvP and co-op content with ranked play, four RTS factions, and even a level editor to create and share your own content on Steam Workshop. The online community is surprisingly large and active.  Just make sure you have a THQ account.

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The Girl of Glass: A Summer Bird’s Tale Review – PC

If you like to point and click your way through your adventures then The Girl of Glass: A Summer Bird’s Tale might be just the thing for you. Developed by Markus and Friends and Published by En Widenderlig Produktion follows the titular girl called Kristal, a literal girl of glass working as a sort of janitor in a circus run by a very small ringmaster who’s about to be shut down by the sheriff. You lead Kristal along your adventure in a true point and click manner solving puzzles by finding objects scattered about and using them in imaginative ways to complete your tasks.

The game starts with you, Kristal, on a train and caught without a ticket by someone who works for “the eagle”, the apparent villain of the game, and seems to be guilty of some crime regarding a young boy. Kristal then begins to tell the story of how she ended up in this situation starting at her home in the circus where she strikes up a conversation with “the boy” about running away together.  Thus begins a Summer Bird’s Tale. With this in mind you will point and click your way to complete tasks such as getting a key for a door, getting a clown to stop juggling a bottle of water and stealing some car keys to further your story. I’ve played games with my four-year-old with the same point and click system and he had me clicking on things just to see if anything would prompt that it was important.

Visually, I actually found the game quite appealing with its hand drawn and hand-painted look and style.  The backdrops are crisp and colorful while in the circus while also giving you hints into their dreary life with small details such as tattered tents, bottles strewn about and the disarray of their caravan. One character whose design I really liked was a bear that you battle called Giga Teddy who looked much darker while also keeping its cuteness intact as you fought it, while another character, the strong girl, looked out of sorts in her blue overalls and Pippi Longstocking hairstyle.

One very relaxing part of The Girl of Glass is its music; it is soft and gentle as the start of any adventure into your future should be. I wish I could say the same for the rest of the audio I encountered in this game, sometimes Kristal would have a line and it would be voice acted while the rest of the conversation was all text, which you had to read and click through, very much long winded in certain situations, and I started to run out of patience for it.

While at first The Girl of Glass tells you it’s a simple point and click adventure you very quickly realize that there is traditional turn-based combat involved in it. It’s simple, as it should be for this game but combat is really frustrating with no equipment, abilities, or stats to speak of.  It is all turn-based simple defend, attack, move position and in some cases a special ability such as a cat using “furry swipes” where he attacks three times in rapid succession. Honestly the combat is probably the biggest negative of this came right after it’s long winded conversations. I get that something was needed to stop it from being only a point and click adventure for the whole of the game but it’s just sometimes too demoralizing losing and having to redo everything all over again, long winded conversations included.

Overall, I find the Girl of Glass relaxing yet irritating in the way it progresses its story, and I found the combat aspect the be the least enticing part of the game.  While the overall story at least had a theme of going out into the real world and growing up, knowing that there was a fight about to happen that I had no option in improving Kristal or her friends kind of took the fun out of it.