Vampin' Gamer Statesboro

// Review: Unfinished indie game, Unturned, taking Steam by storm//

An indie game created by a 16-year-old game developer named Nelson Sexton — but more widely known by his alias, Greg Stevens — is taking the Steam market by storm. Nelson’s game “Unturned” is among the most popular new games found on Steam, and it’s still in development.

“Unturned” has been pre-released to the public while it’s still being developed, yet it has found great success because the PC gaming community has supported it. The game is a survival game that takes place during an unknown apocalyptic event, where most of humanity has been wiped out and zombies have taken their place. Players take control of the lone survivors as they gather supplies and live off the land while defending themselves against other bandit players, zombies and radiation poisoning.

The game’s visuals are similar to the hit game “Minecraft,” but the gameplay has a lot more to it. Although the visuals and sounds may be quite simple, the gameplay has a deep crafting and weapons system. There are tons of items scattered throughout the world’s map for players to scavenge. Players will have to monitor their health, hunger, thirst, radiation levels and stamina. “Unturned” supports both single and multiplayer options.

Since the game is still in development and released as an early access version, “Unturned” is very rough. Multiplayer isn’t supported by Steam’s servers currently and players have to either port forward or use third-party options to connect to one another. Also, like “Minecraft,” players are thrown into the game without any directions on how to craft items, which may frustrate some newcomers.

Although the game is early access, reaching the Number 3 spot on Steam in just three days is a testament. Very few games accomplish this feat and it shows how fun and entertaining “Unturned” can be, even in an unfinished version. Hopefully the final version of this game can come out this year. Until then, gamers can check out a free-to-play early access version on Steam.

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// Review: ‘Guacamelee!’ delivers old-school experience//

Popular during the 80s and 90s, side-scrolling action games seem to be making a comeback. DrinkBox Studios has developed an action platform video game to add to this comeback called “Guacamelee!” Drawing inspiration from traditional Mexican culture and folklore, “Guacamelee!” is an open-world action game that delivers an experience similar to the old-school “Metroid” video games.

Exploring a nonlinear map, players take on the role of Juan Aguacate in a small village in Mexico. After a harrowing battle with the evil Carlos Calaca, Juan is given a mysterious mask from a luchador named Tostado. The mask transforms Juan into a great luchador with significant powers and the ability to save his love, El Presidente’s daughter.

“Guacamelee!” has stylized graphics that work well with the characters and locations. Also, the Mexican-themed soundtrack works very well with the game. The open-ended nonlinear map makes for a great experience and is one of the better features of the game. Players will find an assortment of basic punches and kicks that are complimented with tons of unlockable skills. The game has RPG-like elements to unlock new skills, more health and stamina, which are bought with coins collected. Also, later in the game, players unlock a living/dead split skill that allows Juan to move between the living and dead world. It adds an interesting dynamic that is required to solve the many puzzles throughout the game.

There aren’t many negatives to be found in this game, but my biggest complaint is how short it is. The game can easily be completed in one five- or six-hour sitting. Because the game is so good, this amount of time seemed entirely too short for me. Also, some of the puzzles may seem a bit confusing and take some time to figure out.

With great character designs and a non-linear world that encourages exploration, “Guacamelee!” proves that the side-scrolling game genre is very much alive. An imaginative, amusing storyline will keep gamers engaged and laughing throughout the playthrough. And because this game won’t hurt the wallet (free for Xbox One users with a Gold account), “Guacamelee!” is an amazing title to add to your action platform game collection.

Read it on Connect Statesboro

// Review: Nintendo does it again with ‘Mario Kart 8’//

Nintendo has done it again with the entertaining kart-racing game “Mario Kart 8.” The eighth main installment in the series and 11th overall in the franchise, “Mario Kart 8” sold 1.2 million copies within the first four days of release and 2 million copies in the first month, according to Nintendo.

Like the previous installments, “Mario Kart 8” continues with the same enjoyable gameplay that allows players to choose characters from the Mario universe to compete in go-kart racing. While racing, players can attempt to hinder their opponents or improve their performance using items found inside boxes that are thrown across the race course. In addition to go-karts, there are motorbikes with which to compete in a 12-player competition. Some updated features found in “Mario Kart 8” include antigravity racing, new characters and new items inside the boxes. The game also supports online multiplayer mode with friends or strangers, both regionally and worldwide.

With 16 new additions to the tracks, “Mario Kart 8” is cool and exhilarating to play. The new art style suits the game very well and has very good visuals for next-generation consoles, even outside of the Wii U. There are tons of unlockables, including characters, vehicle customizations and more. Also new to the game is Mario Kart TV, which allows the player to record, edit and save highlights to share online or upload to YouTube.

The biggest letdown with “Mario Kart 8” is Nintendo’s failure to bring back the highly popular battle track mode in which players could battle in an item fight instead of racing. Hopefully, Nintendo will decide to bring it back in a future DLC update. Outside of this, the game seems to be a strong hallmark of excellence.

With stunning visuals and excellent track design, Nintendo has another massive hit that will keep gamers entertained for hours with “Mario Kart 8.” Adding new features to an already solid video game, the newest title in the “Mario Kart” series is a great, family friendly game that will deliver many hours of amusement.

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// Review: ‘Outlast’ will have you jumping out of your seat//

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I don’t think I’ve ever genuinely been scared while playing a horror video game, but Red Barrels got it right when they designed the first-person survival horror game “Outlast,” a game that literally had me jumping out of my seat during gameplay. Not only is the game downright scary, but it’s entertaining as well.

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“Outlast” tells the story of a reporter who is given an anonymous tip that a corporation is doing heinous things to mental patients at Mount Massive Asylum, a psychiatric hospital in which the game takes place. Incapable of combat, the gamer must use sneaking and vaulting to survive and unlock the mystery within the asylum. The player also uses a video camera with night vision to utilize in low-lit areas. Use of the camera depletes battery life, but more batteries can be scavenged and replaced throughout the story.

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Set in a creepy asylum, “Outlast” does a very good job at keeping players stressed and afraid. Probably the top reason the game is so damn scary is the absence of weapons and combat. The player is left only to hide and survive, giving them a high-stake, tension-inducing feeling while playing the game. Another factor that raises the scare meter is the darkness. Lighting is done wonderfully in the game to give it a creepy and chilling feeling. There are also other spine-tingling features like doors opening and closing as well as terrifying patients within the halls of the asylum. The game is full of horrific gore and disturbing images, with blood and body parts scattered most everywhere. The audio works superbly with the images, and all of this adds up to the most perfect horror game I’ve ever played.

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I didn’t find many shortcomings with “Outlast.” Although players aren’t given any weapons, the game is relatively easy when it comes to hiding from threats. Also, the replay value is nonexistent once you’ve beaten the game; however, there is added downloadable content that adds to the story and gives a few more hours of gore and mayhem. This game isn’t family friendly and should be played only by mature audiences.

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“Outlast” is well worth a play-through if you enjoy scary movies, the horror genre or just a great game. It delivered on the horror and was well worth the purchase. If you are ready for a terrifying experience, I suggest you pick up “Outlast” and its “Whistleblower” DLC immediately — and I dare you to turn the lights out while you play.

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Read it on Connect Statesboro and Statesboro Herald

// Review: ‘Max: The Curse of Brotherhood’ features fun Pixar-like graphics//

With something that looks like it’s straight out of a Pixar movie, developers Press Play have created a Microsoft exclusive side-scrolling platform video game called “Max: The Curse of Brotherhood.” Max, the main protagonist, one day searches online for a way to get rid of his younger brother, Felix, and finds a spell that he reads aloud, which opens up a mysterious portal from which a monster’s claw emerges and kidnaps Felix. Without hesitation, Max jumps in after his brother and enters a dangerous, magical world controlled by the evil Lord Mustacho.

“Max: The Curse of Brotherhood” is a physics-based puzzle platformer with Pixar-like graphics. Max’s Magic Marker gives players interesting ways to approach and solve the games’ puzzles. While playing through the game, the Magic Marker gains new powers. Some of them include earth pillars, tree branches, vines and water streams.

By far one of the greatest features of the game is the Pixar-ish graphics, which give the game a very cinematic feel. The environments are beautiful and enhance the lush graphics found throughout the game. Players also will find an interesting story with superb voice acting as well. Mixing in the puzzles with the platformer feel of “Max” has created a cool new game that is family friendly. Best of all, the game is totally free for Xbox Live Gold subscribers on the Xbox One right now.

Although the puzzles are fun to decipher, after a few hours of playing the game, they become somewhat repetitive and easy to conquer. Also, at times, the controls can become very frustrating, especially while using the Magic Marker during cinematic sequences. As great as it is, the drawing mechanic feels like it needs more precision and freedom than its current interface allows.

Filled with humor and a family friendly story, “Max: The Curse of Brotherhood” is a great addition to the Games with Gold collection and gives gamers the feeling of drawing a magical world within the gaming environment. Although somewhat short, it is a pleasurable and inoffensive game that delivers on its puzzles and story with an exceptional narrative.

Read it on Connect Statesboro

// Review: Hack your way to supremacy in ‘Watch Dogs’//

Ubisoft’s open-world action-adventure game “Watch Dogs” finally was released after a long delay, much to the amusement of many gamers, as it was released for all consoles, PC and even mobile devices. The game is set within a fictional version of Chicago and centers on hacker Aiden Pearce.

Played from a third-person perspective, “Watch Dogs” follows Pearce on a revenge mission in which he must use his hacking skills to find a resolution. Players hack into Chicago’s centralized computer system, ctOS, using Pearce’s cell phone to control everything from street lights and citizens’ cell phones to cameras and even billboards. Players have a choice in the game to play as law-abiding vigilantes or cold-blooded criminals. There are also several online modes that enable players to compete against both friends and strangers.

“Watch Dogs” is filled with tons of fun content in which players can indulge. In single-player mode, the game offers a cinematic story along with many side missions — so many that I haven’t yet tried them all out, and I’ve had the game for a week now. There are mini games like chess and poker and even some alien and soul-devouring augmented reality missions. Players can check into 100 hotspots for a Foursquare-type check-in service, complete with mayors and all. On top of the immensely insane number of single-player missions is a multitude of multiplayer types as well. Players can tail other players, hack them or play with a team to see who hacks an object first. There is even a mode in which players on the console or PC can compete against mobile players.

However, a few of the mechanics in “Watch Dogs” do seem off. For one, the single-player story is a bit erratic and hard to follow initially. Also, money in the game is so easy to come by that it is not at all valuable. The constant hacking UI pop-ups can become distracting and annoying. Finally, vehicle control is a bit loose and awkward for a game that features a lot of vehicle chases, but it does get better with time.

Perhaps not the hyped-up game most gamers thought it would be, “Watch Dogs” does bring an impressive amount of content and a new take on open-world gaming. Hacking feels very natural, not gimmicky, and the game features a fluid and flexible combat system. Also, the multiplayer mode is integrated wonderfully without being invasive. Although not revolutionary, “Watch Dogs” is worth your time as you hack your way into supremacy.

Read it on Connect Statesboro or Statesboro Herald

// Review: ‘Powerstar Golf’ a light, challenging simulator//

Xbox One’s cartoonish-styled golf simulator “Powerstar Golf” is now a free-to-play title. Developed by Zoë Mode and published by Microsoft Studios, “Powerstar Golf” has dropped its $19.99 price tag and is free to download from the Xbox Game Stores, with separate extra courses that are available for purchase. Giving an alternative to Tiger Wood’s realistic models and locations, the arcade-style approach of “Powerstar Golf” gives players a laid-back but entertaining title.

The game employs a three-click system that has the player line up his or her shot, press the A button, hit the A button again to set the power of the swing, then press it again to control the aim of the swing. Timing is crucial with the power gauge, as any small margin of error could send your ball way off in the rough. Putting is a bit trickier, as it will take time for gamers to read the slopes of the green well. I didn’t mind putting in the extra work of replaying some holes to get better, though, because “Powerstar Golf” actually is pretty entertaining to play. The courses are saturated with rich colors and complimented by a jazzy soundtrack that goes well with the title.

The in-game characters (which have to be unlocked) are zany, but their personalities are humorous to me. Not only do they have their own personality, but, depending on which of the six golfers you choose, they all come with a unique ability, like rocket-powered swings or magnetized balls that swerve toward the pin. To keep these abilities from being overused, their availability is limited. Then there are the microtransaction pieces of the game in which players can use real-life currency to buy booster packs that include new clubs, balls and other temporary advantages. Fortunately, players can unlock these items simply by playing, just at a much slower pace than purchasing them instantly, of course. Another nice touch is that data for every putt, drive, swing and chip-in is stored in “Powerstar Golf,” which the game compares to your friends’ data. This gives the game a competitive feature that is not too invasive but keeps you in competition with friends, even when you aren’t actively playing against them.

The game is very easy to pick up and learn. However, the timing of the power bar is very unforgiving and may take some time to master. Also, as mentioned, the slopes of the green on some holes are pretty tricky to master. As with all free-to-play models, some gamers with deeper pockets may have an obvious advantage.

“Powerstar Golf” does a great job of bringing a light but challenging version of a golf simulator to the Xbox One. As your skills grow the more you play it, the more you will appreciate the hours spent mastering a hole. Players even can have some friendly competition between their gamer friends, regardless of whether they are online. “Powerstar Golf” truly captures the triumph and grief found in the game of golf.

Read it on Connect Statesboro

// Review: ‘Amazing Spider-Man 2’ anything but amazing//

Published by Activision and developed by Beenox, developer of three previous games in the series, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” was released alongside the film of the same name. One of Marvel Comics’ most famous superheroes once again finds himself swinging through the city of Manhattan to fight crime and more.

Although the game was released alongside the movie, Beenox decided to create its own narrative. Spider-Man, who is still feeling responsible for his Uncle Ben’s death a few years earlier, is looking for Ben’s killer when he finally swings upon a lead. Peter Parker goes on to find more than just Uncle Ben’s killer when he stumbles upon a series of murders committed by someone who leaves the initials “CK” at the crime scenes. Spider-Man proceeds to investigate the deaths, all while handling the cameo appearances of various characters and villains.

“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is an open-world action-adventure game in which players can transverse as Spider-Man in a free-roam area of Manhattan. The game features a morality indicator labeled “Hero or Menace” that issues the player an appropriate title depending on his or her crime-stopping abilities. Unlike the past linear version of the game, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” allows players to choose how they handle a mission: They can be sneaky and stealthy, or they can go all-out attack mode.

The game is quite an improvement over the previous title when it comes to Spider-Man’s swinging and traversing. Unlike the old version of the game, Spidey now actually has to be near an object or building to web swing. Also, there is now a button for each hand to shoot out a web swing, either left or right, giving players more control while navigating through Manhattan. The combat is pretty good, as the system is very similar to developer Rocksteady’s “Arkham” franchise. Fighting becomes a combo multiplier of precise timing of button presses; even a novice should feel capable.

Although Beenox corrected some issues found in the last game, it feels like a slew of new problems were created because of those fixes. For example, at times, Spider-Man will not swing to an object, even though some are visible, because the player isn’t targeting at the correct angle. The targeting system is by far the worst problem with the game. Also, the fighting becomes very repetitive because of the simplistic nature of the timed button presses. Not only is combat repetitive, but the game and its side missions are, too. Even though Spider-Man is in a huge, free-roam city, it feels somewhat empty at times, as the nonplayable characters aren’t fully engaged as in, say, “Grand Theft Auto” or “Saints Row.”

“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” did little to exceed the original game, even adding some afflicted game mechanics. For me, it wasn’t as fun as it should have been and lacked a lot of depth given the size of the city Spider-Man can transverse. Unlike the title, it was anything but amazing.

Read it on Connect Statesboro


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Personal gaming experiences, critical perspectives on games culture, videos, images, and much more.