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Archive for May, 2010

Today is Friday, May 21st. If you read this – Get yourself to google.com to witness something awesome.

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Lord of Ultima is a browser based Empire building strategy game, akin to Travian, but to the umpteenth degree. Very very loosely based on the Ultima universe (Some names get thrown around), the goal of Lord of Ultima seems to be building cities and armies, so that you can build more cities and armies. There is a quest system thrown in, some dungeons you can raid, and bosses you can kill to gain artifacts to make your journey faster. The game is based off of microtransactions, so those willing to throw cash at “Diamonds” will receive bonuses and get rewarded, and thereby have a competitive edge.

I have not paid for Diamonds, and have no intention of doing so. So I can’t speak as someone who plans on tossing some cash at the game. Having been playing for a couple of weeks now, since the game came out of Public Beta and went live, my early impressions are fairly mixed.

City Building and empire building can be fun, and it’s a nice passive way to game. You can set up the timer, go to work, come back and do it again. The game itself plays FAIR, there’s definitely some lag and slowdown issues, and the servers seem to go down a little more than I would like, but it’s more or less acceptable in terms of performance. I do have some complaints with the gameplay itself however.

1. Repetitiveness: Ok, so I’ve built my 5th city, and it basically seems like I am building my cities so I can… build more cities. Larger armies allow me to tackle higher level content, but the content itself is all the same, just with bigger rewards. Attacking a level 1 dungeons doesn’t require anything different than a level 4 dungeon, except more troops.

2. What’s the goal? Even after doing some research and reading the forums quickly for information on the “endgame”, information on this is spotty at best, and nonexistent in the game itself. The tutorial just tells you how to get set up and running, which is fine, but it doesn’t tell you what your motivation is, what’s going to happen, or how best to prepare yourself for it. Apparently shrines are going to pop up on the continents. And people battle for them. Or something. Something in the game itself that told you about this impending apocalypse and how best to prepare for it and what you might want to do when it happens seems like it might be a good touch.

3. Seems to be a fairly set way to do things. While looking at the forums, I also stumbled across people’s city plans. The experts of the community who have been playing since Beta have already determined the mathmatically best way to set up and operate cities for optimum performance. If you don’t do this, you’ll generally be extremely handicapped competitively. Not only does this ideal setup involve destroying all the natural resources in your town, it just ends up being very generic and boring. In fact, people just complain and insult other people whose cities they conquer if they are not set up this way. What’s the challenge in following a cookie cutter building plan? Or the fun, for that matter? This of course also just means the people are the most meticulous and have the most time to devote to setting things up in this one way will be in a much better position.

4. The game doesn’t really prepare you for PvP or combat. The tutorial gets you up and running, but again a major component of the game seems to be the ability to conquer other people’s cities (and defending your own from raids or being conquered) you can “opt out” of some of this by electing not to build a castle in your empire, but again, the game does a very poor job of explaining the advantages/disadvantages each path brings, and I suspect that those who choose the path of peace are in for an even more boring experience. But those who unwisely enter the realm of PvP and watch as their hard work for the last several weeks gets annihlated by those more experienced doesn’t seem like a lot of fun either.

So, as much as I have loyalty to the Ultima name, and I want to see the game be successful, I only play when I am at work – I have no intention of paying for it, and I am not sure if even a couple weeks the game will hold my attention. It just seems to take more time to play as you go forward without any sort of return in fun. While I find it a huge step forward from Travian, the game is still missing some key ingredients that would make me recommend it to anyone. Though, at free, it’s certainly worth a try. I haven’t hated it, but I certainly haven’t loved it.

http://www.lordofultima.com

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Stolen directly from 1up.com:

http://www.1up.com/do/newsStory?cId=3179313

You can only enter once, and they say “Be original” but I am sure that you will see lots of Boom Goes the Dynamite wanna bes and they will probably get voted on. I am sure they want to avoid lawsuits. But only the first entrant of any given quote counts, so don’t wait, get your Jam thing in.

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In advance of Portal 2 coming out, a very well made first person puzzler, Portal, is available for free on Steam until May 24th. If you’re looking for an excuse to play this title or to get in on Steam in general, here’s a fantastic chance.

http://store.steampowered.com/freeportal/

Or just log into your Steam account and download.

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And is worth the price of admission, especially since the price is whatever you want to pay.

http://www.wolfire.com/humble

This title alone well worth the price you choose to pay.

Two days left in the sale, don’t miss it to support a good cause and get some great games at a probably bargain price.

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Super Laser Racer is a a retro racing game released by New Star Games – It can be had off their website or from Steam. Since I love Steam so much I would marry it, I always suggest purchasing titles from there when you can.

Quick Facts:
Game: Super Laser Racer
System: PC
Players: 1
Price: $5
Genre: Retro Combat Racing
Released: 2009
Time to Complete: 10 hourish to do all difficulties/courses.

In freeze frame, it's impossible to capture the chaos that can ensue in this game.

Regular readers of my material know that I love a few things. I love cheap games. I love quality games. I love games with simple mechanics, and I love games with a classic arcade feel.

Super Laser Racer wins on all fronts. On a base level, SLR is a retro skinned vector graphics combat racing game, sort of a mix between Geometry Wars and Super Mario Kart (Even one of the racers is named Geo and shaped after the primary Geometry Wars ship) Your goal is to race against 11 computer controlled opponents in a series of futuristic courses, utilizing your own skill and reflexes, as well as weapons and speed boosts scattered throughout the course. The game offers 12 different courses and 3 difficulties out of the box, though the game also includes a level editor – so you can make your own courses or download some of the great ones that fans have made.

The game can be controlled via keyboard or gamepad, though I think serious gamers will prefer to use a gamepad for better control and arcade feel. The action is fast and furious, the intensity can be great, and the challenge factor (especially at high difficulties) can be great – the outcome of a race can turn in an instant. The AI of the enemy racers is quite good, though not unbeatable, and the speed of the game makes for easy replayability without much frustration.

In addition to the standard tournament racing, there are also addition modes like Survivor and Eliminator to add some replayability (and to make it a smidge easier to get some achievements for those concerned with such things), as well as a level editor to add even more depth. The game also features leaderboards, so you can try to compete to see if you can get the fastest lap.

As you can see from the screenshot, the game uses an eyepleasing retro vector graphics update, similar to Geometry Wars. It’s eye catching and fun, and the electronic dance music packaged with the game adds a great futuristic feel to the title.

So what didn’t I like? Well, this title begs for a online multiplayer component. Yes, the leaderboards are nice, but to actually be able to race against other people/friends would have been awesome and really have pushed this title into the must have category. Also, I thought the weapons were a tad bland, some were fairly useless. A little more variety would have been welcome. And this is nitpicky, but I would have liked a tutorial with the level editor.

All that being said, for the price, this is a bargain. This gives you everything you want out of a title of this style. As a side note, I would have loved for them to have released a Super Laser Racer screensaver. I’d definitely have let that bad boy run in my background.

Graphics:

Very eye pleasing, fun, bright vector style graphics. The explosions and weapons are enjoyable, and no slowdown at highest resolution play.

Sound:

The sound is standard, nothing that blows you out of the water, but the music is great.

Control:

Control is much better with a gamepad, so I suggest having one – though some players say they enjoy using the keyboard just fine.

Gameplay:

Fun, intense, fast paced racing action with some thrills spills and missiles. If you’re into racing or combat racing games at all, you’re going to enjoy it. If you’ve never dealt with the genre, I strongly encourage you to dip your toes into the SLR waters.

What I liked:

1. Crisp fun presentation.
2. Fantastic soundtrack.
3. Basic but challenging gameplay which keeps you coming back.

What I didn’t like:

1. The lack of online multiplayer is the glaring flaw in this title. For $5 though, we let it slide.
2. Admittedly, I didn’t spend a LOT of time with the level editor, but a tutorial of some sort would have been a nice touch.
3. A few more weapons/better weapon variety would have been appreciated.

Recommended:
Yes

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