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Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning (PC DVD)
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning (PC DVD)
Offered by Digitalville UK
Price: 7.38

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Big Surprise, 17 Mar 2012
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
Firstly, Kindoms of Amalur uses Origin, EA's own version of Steam, which means you have to register your keycode online and install the Origin software. Secondly there is no manual in the box, there is instead an ingame manual option where the basics are covered but I found the whole thing rather unsatisfactory.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is a third-person action RPG game, it is designed to be played with a controller - you do not have to do thid but the interface is clearly designed for it - which is focused primarily on fast paced combat.

If I had actually read a good description of this game before I ordered it then there is no way that I would have ordered it. A made for console real-time action RPG that focusing on button-mashing action?? There is no way that I would have even considered it.

I would then have missed out on what is a genuinely very good game.

The most notable thing about Kingdoms of Amalur is that it is a fully-formed world. Clearly a lot of thought has gone into framing the game properly in a lore-filled world. There is a lot of content there to explore that is not part of the main questline, and an enormous amount of equipment to experiment with. I would say that the world itself and the lore of the world are at least the equal of games such as Dragon Age: Origins.

The story is actually quite clever. Basically (without giving too much away) the story revolves around the concept of fate. You are playing a world where everything is governed by fate, things happen because they are fated to happen and they cannot be changed. The twist is that the player character exists outside of fate (for reasons that are explained at the start of the game) so can forge his/her own destiny and can alter the destiny of every other character in the world. This ends up being quite an interesting concept to play with and adds a fairly entertaining element of player-choice in the game. The story also unfolds gradually, you do not actually know entirely what is happening until the very end, which works suprisingly well.

In terms of gameplay it is real-time action - you press attack and you attack, you press block and you block - but there is a fairly extensive role-playing stats system to back all of this up. The benefits of this is that you have very good feel control of your character and can link together some well thought out combination attacks. The reason why this works, in my opinion, is that it is not ultra-quick button mashing, it is sensibly paced button pressing giving you enough time to think and not requiring lightning quick reflexes to survive. I never died in-game because my fingers were not moving quickly enough.

Another good point is the class system. There are the three basic Rogue, Warrior and Mage classes that you have in virtually every game but these are not binding. The way the levelling system works means that characters are freeform, you develop your character with the skills that you want from each of the three class branches. To be honest I actually found the game much more difficult playing as a pure character from one class than playing a cross-class character.

Kingdoms of Amalur is quite consoley. I found that it is by far best to play the game with the Xbox for Windows controller rather than with keyboard and mouse and the graphics are decent console graphics rather than decent PC graphics, I found them to be perfectly good enough, but if you require your PC to be worked hard by games (which is fair enough) then you may well not be too keen. However it is by far the best console-port game (I presume it is anyway, it does not feel made for PC) I have played.

That all being said this is not a perfect game. it is not a super well-written game with masses of well formed characters and a story that holds your hand throughout, it is a game with extensive lore, an interesting set-up, good enough characters to keep you playing and quite a lot of freedom. The other thing that needs to be said is that the lore has a strong Celtic influence which means that there are quite a few incredibly stereotyped Irish accents - it's very 'fiddle-dee-dee' in places which can be irritating, probably very irritating if you are actually Irish.

In conclusion, Kindoms of Amalur is set in a big, fairly open world packed with lore and the game plays very well. It is not perfect by any means but it manages to be, and to stay, very good fun.

Mass Effect 3 (PC DVD)
Mass Effect 3 (PC DVD)
Offered by NextDayEntertainment
Price: 6.21

43 of 50 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Patchy. At times excellent, often average and sometimes just plain awful., 16 Mar 2012
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Mass Effect 3 (PC DVD) (DVD-ROM)
Mass Effect 3 is a third person action shooter role playing game which, as you all know, follows on from Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 and promises to finish the story of Commander Shepherd. The plot itself is standard RPG stuff, you gather your allies, have a few setbacks, and then fight the bad guys. Two things: It requires Origin, EA's own marginally less irritating version of Steam, so you need to install Origin, connect to the internet and register online, and it does not come with a manual which I really hate - you instead get an ingame manual option (identical to Kingdoms of Amalur) which contains a far from comprehensive explanation of things.

- The strength of Mass Effect has always been the story, and that just about remains the case in Mass Effect 3. The story is well written but the depth in which things are gone into is wildly inconsistent, some things are explained and resolved properly while others are touched on briefly in a very unsatisfactory way. Characterisation remains good, but quite a lot of things happen without any real build-up or explanation, and the way you interact with characters has changed, they have far less to say and you can only have a full conversation with them at specific points. I found this element to be very unsatisfactory and disappointing when you are dealing with characters which in the past have been rather better written. Basically, what there is of the story is as superb as you would expect, but there is a hell of a lot that simply is not there, which you would not expect.

- The element of 'choice' is rather too cosmetic. For a start the world you are in is the world from the books, so it is quite possible that you the world you played in Mass Effect 2 will bear no relation to the world you end up playing in Mass Effect 3. Choices in-game hint at being important and galaxy defining but they turn out to be totally irrelevant, the only choice that matters is at the end, and the choices you are given there are so weird and out of touch with previous games as to be, frankly, bizarre.

If you want a comparison for the story, it feels like an episode of Sliders. Shepherd has slid into an alternate universe which is the same in some respects to the one you have played in before but also very different.

- In terms of gameplay I kept feeling like I had played this game before. Mass Effect 3 from the start felt to me achingly similar to Dead Space and Dead Space 2 and also has the cover system (and one or two other things) from Deus Ex: Human Revolution thrown in for good measure. It is reasonably competent gameplay but as I say, I could never quite shake the feeling that I had done it all before in other games.

- The core action gameplay is a little patchy. There are moments where it is superb, when you are charging across no-man's land under heavy fire from multiple enemies with mortars exploding all around you, or you are in the dark with only the light from your gun-light to find your way around, you think, "fantastic, more of this please", but you don't get much more of it. Instead you spend far too much time in an enclosed environment moving from cover to cover, you know, like you did in the original game, although Mass Effect 1 did it better. There is some wonderful stuff there, but rather it isn't really there often enough.

- Level design in general is a little disappointing. Because they have added a multiplayer option they have made quite a few of the levels (all of the non-central storyline ones) double-up. So you frequently end up in a (very short) level which is effectively a circle of winding corridors with plenty of cover to pop into and out of while waves of enemies come at you. On far too many occasions your objective is 'Survive'.

- Character,and particularly companion, AI is awful. I spent quite a lot of time having to fight on my own because my companions were nowhere to be found and even if I directed them it took an age for them to actually go where they were supposed to. There appears to be a few bugs in there as well, as some companions do not use powers while others rarely even fire their guns. Enemy AI is also poor with everything effectively relying on either hiding in cover (badly enough for you to still be able to shoot them) or all charging you at the same time.

- The 'Galaxy at War' feature is largely unnecessary. Basically you go around collecting military assets, through main missions, side-missions and scanning planets (something they've managed to make a hundred times worse than in Mass Effect 2), these get a numerical value which is divided by your 'Galactic Readiness' score, this defaults at 50% and can be increased by playing the rather bad multiplayer co-operative part of the game. In multiplayer you and three others are in one of the small fairly circular levels from the game having waves of enemies coming at you. You do not need a Galactic Readiness score of more than 50% if you get all of the resources in-game (i.e. do all of the missions and explore everywhere, which most people are surely going to do anyway). If people want to play multiplayer they will, it is not a feature that has to be shoe-horned into the single player part of the game in the way it is here.

- A lot has been written about the ending, and I have to agree that it is badly done. For a start the 'take back Earth' segment, which is supposed to be what the game is about, at the end is incredibly short and takes place in a very generic uninspired environment. The actual ending is equally short leaving many questions unanswered about the central plot - the (rather odd) reason why the Reapers periodically turn up and destroy advanced organic life is given, but that is about it - and quite a few questions about what has actual happened outside of the central plot are left hanging. There is then a very short cut scene that leaves even more questions unanswered, the credits roll and then there is a very cynical attempt to make way for DLC. Mass Effect 3 feels like a game about the journey and that is not what it is supposed to be, it was supposed to be about the destination.

In conclusion then Mass Effect 3 suffers from quite a few problems but is still just about worth playing - the core gameplay and the story are just about good enough to paper over the many holes you will find. Do not however expect some brilliant well-reasoned ending to the story of Commander Shepherd, and do not expect a game that is as good as either of the other two entries in the series, because you will not get either.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 15, 2012 6:24 PM BST

Deus Ex: Human Revolution - Limited Edition (PC DVD)
Deus Ex: Human Revolution - Limited Edition (PC DVD)
Offered by The GameMonkey
Price: 2.97

9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good, but.........., 26 Aug 2011
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
Firstly, this uses Steam to install so you need an internet connection and have to put up with Steam if that is a painful experience for you.

I have had no problems with install no freezes, CTDs or anything else - no excessive load times which have been mentioned. It also installed fairly quickly by Steam standards (less than half an hour). The game didn't however have a manual, the keycodes were on inserts, which meant there was no backstory, character introduction, key mapping or anything. The in-game tutorial system is very good - as far as it goes - in that for the first couple of levels you get an (optional) in-game video explaining how to do what you are about to do. This never quite compensates for the absence of a manual though as the tutorials aren't totally comprehensive.

Secondly, there has been lots of fuss in the media about this being a return to the original Deus Ex, but I don't agree with that at all. This game is more in the vein of Deus Ex Invisible War but far better designed, written and made.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution is an intelligent FPS with some roleplaying elements. It's very difficult to give a summary of the plot without giving massive spoilers, but basically you play a man in the midst of a conspiracy in the world of bio-mechanical engineering of the first two games, you can bio-modify your character and gain various special abilities as you gather experience points, and you travel a path, although not exactly of your choosing, that you have some influence over the direction of. There are strong - but mostly optional - stealth elements and the combat mechanics are pretty good. Basically there is lots of cover to cover stealth or FPS action with a few moderately interesting mini-games.

These things to me should make a fantastic game and the elements for a fantastic game are there in this Deus Ex, however for me it just falls short. I think the problem is that although the story is very good, the way it is delivered to you isn't. There is virtually no backstory at the beginning - you pick that up through datapads and electronic books as you go along - and it just doesn't unfold as you go along very well, it jumps after lagging for a while. They have periodic cutscenes - which are good - but each of them needs to be much longer and advance the story more. It gets much better later in the game but after playing 6 hours over the course of two days I was bored with it and although I really like stealth games, from then on found myself blasting through levels because it was taking far too long for the story to move along.

If I was to compare this to another game it would be as an FPS Alpha Protocol. Deus Ex: Human Revolution has much longer gaps between story advancement, weaker characters and slightly better gameplay, but that kind of thing though.

I've given it an overall 4 stars because it is very well put together as a game, it just hasn't really done it for me (hence the 3 for fun).

The Good.

The controls are well thought out and the taking cover element is excellently realised.
The world has very strong cyberpunkish feel to it - which is good.
The main story is incredibly well done once it gets going and when it stays going.
There is enough 'choice' for there to be replay value - once anyway.
I haven't found any major bugs - which is rare in a new game.

The Bad.

Graphics are good console graphics rather than good PC graphics. Perfectly proficient but not awe-inspiring.
The storyline is incredibly well written but far too slow moving which means it doesn't build up enough tension or too much interest early enough.
It for me isn't one of those games you lose hours at a time in. It is not unputdownable by any stretch of the imagination.
The main character is a bit dull. Actually make that a lot dull, and you never get to influence his motivations.
They pull the Fear 2 trick of keeping you in visually samey levels for just that little bit longer than is interesting.
There is an enormous amount that is not properly resolved at the end - particularly your relationships with other characters which don't seem to matter in the slightest.

So in conclusion there are no major problems with this, out of the box it is probably the most reliable unbuggy game I have played for a long time and alot of the gameplay mechanics are excellent. I would guess that if you like more intelligent first person shooters then you will really like this. It didn't and doesn't grip me though, it's OK in small doses but I won't be worried about Steam tracking the amount of time I play.

Mount and Blade with Fire and Sword (PC DVD)
Mount and Blade with Fire and Sword (PC DVD)
Offered by NextDayEntertainment
Price: 2.85

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More and better Mount and Blade, 17 May 2011
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Firstly the game installs via Steam, which will be significant if you are one of those who hates Steam with a passion.

The original Mount and Blade was basically Pirates! (the original, not the Disney style remake) on horseback crossed with a miniature Total War. The player wandered the game world with your band of warriors fighting pitched battles on your horse and with your sword in what was basically a sandbox environment until you either got bored or conquered the world. The game is also incredibly moddable and there were and are a dedicated community of modders playing with it.

Warband added more flesh to the bones of the game in the form of a little more story and slightly better and added a really great fun multiplayer feature.

If you have never played any Mount and Blade previously then it is a game where the player controls a hero in third person view (there is a first person view but it isn't really practical to play the entire game from it) and commands his army in battle (in a limited fashion) while fighting alongside them. Combat is carried out third person shooter style using the wasd keys to move and the mouse buttons and mouse to attack and block.

Fire and Sword has a lot in common with the two earlier games - the basic set-up, Lords, wandering bandits, recruitable heroes etc are very similar - but in a few key respects there is a much larger change than between the original game and Warband. The game is set in 17th Century Eastern Europe and has two key features that are different from the two previous offerings.

Firstly it has firearms, which add a fun element to battles. Guns are incredibly powerful, so you have to be very careful in how you attack enemies as a volley of Musket fire will take your character down very quickly. You have to be far more tactical in your approach, attacking from the flanks and rear while making sure as to target Musketeers first. I find this quite challenging and like having to think a little more as it adds a whole new aspect to battles.

Secondly it has a plot and some structure, whereas the first two versions left the player almost entirely to his/her own devices in Fire and Sword there are a central plot that evolves through various quests. You can wander the world just fighting people if you wish but it is intended that you pay some attention to the story.

Important points:

The story is not fabulous, it revolves around reading lots of text - but I'm old so remember that as being a good thing - and there is very little (i.e virtually no) voice acting or characterisation to speak of.

This game does not have super-shiny graphics so if that is a key part of your gaming requirements - and there is nothing wrong with that - you will probably not like this game. The visuals do seem improved over both the original and Warband but it is the same engine so don't expect much beyond the original graphics which were slightly dated on release in 2009.

The Essence of Mount and Blade has always been that the battles and various political maneuvers are fantastic fun, and it remains that way. There is more added to the role playing environment in Fire and Sword but I still would not call the game an RPG as such. This is very much an action game.

Fire and Sword should be treated as an expansion, which is how they are marketing it (it is standalone so you don't need any of the other games to play this), because it is not a new game, it is very much part of the evolution and improvement of Mount and Blade. It is a positive evolution but there is a lot taken directly from the earlier games - the price of course reflects this. I would say though that as an expansion this compares extremely favourably with the kind of expansions you get for games such as The Sims.

If you haven't ever played Mount and Blade then I would recommend that you do because it is an innovative idea by an indie developer and it is just fantastic fun. I would certainly recommend Fire and Sword as the one to play as the influence of firearms adds a little more tension and excitement to battles and the slightly more fleshed out plot makes things easier. This is one of those games where you wish that Steam didn't track how many hours that you play for because they number ends up being absolutely huge.

If you own the other Mount and Blades then it rather depends on whether the idea of firearms, a story of sorts and a slightly more tactical experience pique your interest. I personally am glad that I bought Fire and Sword because I really like the way that firearms change the way how you approach battles and it is nice to have a little more purpose to the adventure than in Warband.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 19, 2011 9:57 AM BST

The Witcher 2 - Premium Edition (PC DVD)
The Witcher 2 - Premium Edition (PC DVD)
Offered by games-wizard
Price: 11.75

62 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great sequel, a great RPG and a great game., 17 May 2011
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
As with the original Witcher the player plays the role of Geralt, a witcher, a magically/genetically modified monster-slayer, who is a master swordsman and can use a variety of potions to give him various buffs and special abilities. In the Witcher 2 Geralt's character evolves from the first game and he really does turn into a great video game protagonist.

After install there is an online activation screen which proceeds without hassle, the game then downloaded a patch which all proceeded quickly and without problem.

The game starts with an excellent tutorial and then seamlessly progresses onwards.


- One of the first things that you will notice (mainly because you are supposed to notice - there is a Fallout 3 style 'this is the world' moment at the start) is that the graphics are really very good. Also the overall 'feel' of the world is superb - they have really nailed the setting and how it is realised.

- Usually in games I turn the music off because I find that it always grates rather after time but The Witcher II is one of the very few that I have left on because the soundtrack - not just the music - is quite superb.

- The voice acting script and characterisation of The Witcher are really excellent, I would suggest that they are up there with anything that Bioware have come up with. This really adds to the sense that the player is part of a story in a fascinating world rather than just walking around whacking people with a sword.

- This all adds up to give the sense of drama you get more in a movie or in one of those fantasy-historical TV series laced with nudity that are so popular at the moment.

The control system is massively improved over the first game and far more intuitive and easy to use. It is one of the best I have encountered in an RPG over recent years. The only thing I can think of that some people may not like is that the game is real time using the WASD keys, mouse buttons to strike, E to block etc - I personally prefer this way of doing things but I know that some gamers prefer the more click and wait method of control.

- Combat - which let's face it is a core part of the game - has been greatly refined and flows superbly with the player feeling totally in control of what is happening. The sword fighting is great fun - because it is real time you are far more in control of it and Geralt also has a few new weapons to play with.

It really does feel like you are in a living breathing world, the way life carries on around the player is very well done. The Witcher 2 really is very immersive.

I must also add that there is enough scope for player choice and moulding your character to keep RPG players happy

In conclusion The Witcher 2 is a study in what a sequel should be like. It is vastly superior to the original game in every way, and when you take the foundation of a very good RPG and make it considerably better you are left with not just a genuinely great RPG but a genuinely great game.

Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 21, 2012 7:33 PM GMT

Brink (PC DVD)
Brink (PC DVD)
Offered by Startup Media
Price: 3.81

8 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Plenty of eye candy, they seem to have forgotten the content though., 13 May 2011
= Fun:2.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Brink (PC DVD) (DVD-ROM)
It must be said that the gameplay videos look brilliant - the first one that you encounter in-game gets you nicely excited about playing - the setting also looks brilliant, and the character customisation looks very promising. Then you actually play the game and you are left very disapppointed. It looks good and the physics seem OK but the gameplay just isn't there.

The way the game is advertised you would think that there was actually a storyline to play through; there isn't, don't for a moment think you can play it single player - you theoretically can but there is no real story and the AI is awful so you won't bother - or even that you can play through a story co-op, there are a small number of arena maps with a cinematic introduction attached and that is it. Multiplayer is OKish (yes it lags horribly but it seems that every new game released does that for a while) but I remember playing Counter Strike: Condition Zero many years ago and I really fail to see what exactly Brink offers that wasn't in that all that time ago. To be honest Brink doesn't really add anything to pretty much any decent team FPS that you could name.

It is very difficult to write a proper review of this game because there is so little substance there. It looks great and there is the germ of a good idea there but everything is so under-developed - where is the content??? Unless you absolutely love team FPS' and have not managed to find one that you like (which is pretty unlikely) then I wouldn't bother with Brink. I am really regretting buying it, there is just nothing worthwhile in there.

Brink is a good looking but terminally uninspired team FPS with very little content. There is nothing more I can say.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 17, 2011 9:49 PM BST

Two Worlds II (PC DVD)
Two Worlds II (PC DVD)
Offered by findprice
Price: 4.19

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good solid RPG, 18 Mar 2011
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Two Worlds II (PC DVD) (DVD-ROM)
I am running the game on Windows 7 too and it works fine.

Two Worlds 2 is a third person role playing game working on the wasd controls, the left button is used to attack and the right button is used for blocking, in addition the number keys are used for a variety of learned rpg style special attacks. In terms of gameplay style it is highly reminiscent of Risen, or perhaps Gothic 4 Arcania - it is however superior to both in my opinion. The game follows on from the first Two Worlds and the basic gist of the story (I won't give spoilers) is that you are the hero trying to save your sister and stop the big bad guy - standard rpg stuff. As in many fantasy style rpgs the player has a choice of playing a warrior, ranger, thief/assassin or a mage - but there are not specific classes so it is more a case of developing the skills that you want your character to have.


- The combat system works very well. It is intuitive with some nice rpg additions.
- The world is large and fairly interesting to explore, there is a wide range of differently themed locales and the game is essentially free roaming.
- If the player has had enough of free roaming then there are teleporters all around the world that can be used for quick transport. This is not revolutionary by any means but it avoids you having to endlessly repeat the same journey, which is always a good thing.
- There are a good range of trade skills and crafting is fairly well implemented. There are also a good range of combat skills.
- The various mini games are very well designed and include such things as lock picking, pick pocketing, horse racing and bizarrely busking. Stealth is also well implemented.
- There are a wide range of quests available covering the full range of traditional rpg tasks. Because there is a fairly wide range the side-quests remain interesting as the game progresses.
- The Graphics are pretty good and the general 'feel' of the world is positive.
- The story trots along quite nicely and keeps the player involved.
- Customisation of your character through items, skills and appearence is fairly good.


- In game characters are fairly two-dimensional and under-developed.
- Voice acting is patchy and the script (as in what is being said) is rather bland.
- The story isn't fabulously written - the game is a little bit sandboxy at times.
- Because the game follows on from the first Two Worlds you don't get to choose your character - you are a male human.
- Very occasionally I get a ctd (I have the game patched up to date).

Overall I would say that I really like Two Worlds II. It is in many respects an old-fashioned RPG in that you are not making choices that necessarily change the game rather you are (think Morrowind) following a path that is laid out for you but in your own way. That is enough for me to be honest when it is as well executed as Two Worlds II is. I have not given this game 5 stars because there are things wrong with it - as I've said it would be nice if there was more story and better written more fleshed out characters - but the game itself really appeals to me, I could happily lose myself in it all night and I would recommend it.

Dragon Age 2 (PC DVD)
Dragon Age 2 (PC DVD)
Offered by Gameseek
Price: 9.68

16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nowhere near as good as most people expected., 13 Mar 2011
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Dragon Age 2 (PC DVD) (DVD-ROM)
I cannot quite understand the thought process behind Dragon Age 2. Bioware produced one of the finest RPGs ever in Dragon Age Origins and with the various add-ons - particularly Awakening - seemed to indicate that they were intending to take their concept and improve on it in future. They haven't done that though.

I suspect that the thinking behind it was to try and achieve the results of the changes between Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 (both games I really liked) in simplifying the equipment, skills and various interfaces and focusing on the story. The problem with Dragon Age 2 is that there was nothing with the equipment, skills and various interfaces in the original so they've tried to 'fix' what wasn't broken, and the story is not very good. Instead of the development from Mass Effect to Mass Effect 2 they have mirrored the development from Deus Ex to Deus Ex: Invisible War - there is still a playable game that has a few good moments but it feels rather dumbed down and superficial.

Some observations:

In graphical style it reminds me strongly of The Last Remnant - the slightly manga influenced cartoony style - which is not necessarily a bad thing, it isn't really my cup of tea but you get used to it.

I like that there isn't too much walking about between areas, you just choose a destination on the map and most of the few random encounters fit in with quests.

The story is not very good. There is a weak central narrative that kind of stumbles along but most of the time you aren't really taking much part or influencing the central storyline. The consequence of this is that it all moves too slowly and gets boring. I would be very surprised if many people can get even half way through the third act without being bored. The third act in particular slows down to a snail's pace. Side-quests are also not very well written, it seems like the writers were given about 6 months less than they needed and just told to adapt. Also in smaller ways there are things that feel rushed - there are no written details for all but a few items and no graphical representations of many items - just a small thing but it adds to the feel of time pressures impacting development.

The characters - particularly companions - are nowhere near as well written or developed as in Origins (or Mass Effect for that matter). Most of the time I found myself only talking to them because they had a quest marker over their heads, there was no really well written back story or personality to uncover. It doesn't help that the voice acting is nowhere near as good as the original, although I think that is in part because the characters are nowhere near as well written.

It's buggy. Quests don't work and a lot of people have problems running it. It works fine for me for about an hour and then I have to reboot it otherwise it starts slowing down and locking up.

There is limited character choice. You can play a human male or female in one of the three classes who all have the same back story. Not unusual in an RPG I know but is slightly disappointing after Origins.

They have left gaping holes in the game - it seriously skips to 'years later' in Fable style and then you meet people that you met over that period - which feel like intentional gaps to be plugged by cynical DLC.

You really don't have much freedom of action, the game is very linear. Bioware make a fuss about player choice but apart from the end it is difficult to see quite where this comes in. You don't seem to get all that many choices and when you do they don't really matter.

In conclusion I would say that Dragon Age 2 is not a bad game. Unfortunately it is also not a particularly good one. It feels very much like Bioware desperately rushed the game out so there was clear air between this release and Mass Effect 3 and didn't have time to develop it properly. It's OK, it will kill some time, but it won't live in the memory like Origins and it may take you a number of sittings to actually be bothered to finish it.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 14, 2011 9:13 PM GMT

Alpha Protocol (PC)
Alpha Protocol (PC)
Price: 5.55

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A missed opportunity, 16 Oct 2010
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Alpha Protocol (PC) (CD-ROM)
Like most other people who bought this game I thought that the whole espionage thriller with rpg elements sounded great, and frankly it could be.

The storyline which sets you in an marginally alternative present day as a secret agent for a secretive US agency has great potential and is fairly well told. The characters are reasonable and the whole story side of things runs along quite nicely. The whole 'your interactions with others determine the story' doesn't really work, all that happens is that you have a slightly different ending and occasionally there may be a different character perform a role. To be fair though how many games do more than that?? Anything with a story will be fairly-linear, so it is wrong to single Alpha Protocol out on that. All in all the setting and story are very promising.

The problem with the game comes in the gameplay. If you read the product description on Amazon it says, "Accomplish your mission with stealth, firepower, sabotage and charisma." and that is correct. The use of the word 'and' is vitally important and is where the game falls down. The setting requires it to be "stealth, firepower, sabotage OR charisma". Alpha Protocol can't quite decide what it wants to be. Is it a stealth game?? Is it an action game?? Is it an RPG?? Is it a shooter?? It tries to be all of those things and undurprisingly fails to be any of them.

- You cannot play the game as a stealth game - such as Thief for example - because sooner or later you will have to fight a traditional 'end of level boss', at which point stealth is totally useless. Whereas in a stealth game you need to be able to avoid fights or fight them on your own terms, in Alpha Protocol you cannot. On a number of occasions you are locked in a large room with a boss and have to fight it out in the style of games such as Max Payne. The stealth mechanics in themselves aren't terribly good, but it wouldn't matter if they were as you still couldn't use them.

- You cannot really play the game as an action game - such as Max Payne - because the combat mechanics are not good enough. Firstly, aiming is just plain bizarre - your character remains a fairly terrible shot throughout the entire game. Secondly, the controls are terrible and cannot be adequately redefined, one button/key does more than one thing and you cannot split those functions. The whole thing just isn't intuitive enough.

- The RPG side of the game is largely irrelevant - choices you make in the story have no real impact on the the actual gameplay, while the character you build needs to be one to get around the limitations in the gameplay rather more than the character you want to build. It isn't in the same league as something like Mass Effect.

Had Alpha Protocol been either and all out stealth game or an all out action game then it would be very good, because the story and setting have great potential, it would doubtless have sold far more copies and made far more money for the developers and publishers. As it is the game is OK, it is mildly diverting, there are some very frustrating points and it has limited replay appeal. I suspect that it will remain that way because the problems can't be fixed by patching.

The Guild 2 (PC)
The Guild 2 (PC)
Offered by Gameseek
Price: 6.50

27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unfinished and unplayable., 10 Oct 2006
= Fun:1.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: The Guild 2 (PC) (Video Game)
Before you buy this game check the jowood site and see when/if they are going to release an English patch for it. At the moment you have to fiddle about with the German patches as the in-box version is riddled with bugs and crashes - even the latest German patch still does not fix a flaw in the AI (your standing with all NPCs falls overtime regardless of your actions) which means that the game becaomes unplayable fairly quickly.

I spent money on this and wish I hadn't, I would urge you all to wait until there is an English language patch available that fixes the disastrous flaws in the game.

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