Steve's reviews and writings

  • Trine

    Full Review

    Trine CoverTrine is the kind of game you can't help but wish came along more often, as a rare legitimate platformer. Frozenbyte (along with certain notable indie developers) shows us that 2d platforming is in fact not dead and can be pushed as far as you'll willing to take it.  Perhaps most impressively, Trine is in elite company as one of the few download-centric titles that could be mistaken as a traditional retail release.

    For example, check a screenshot of some random game. You likely see an area with a background, or maybe walls or repeating buildings. Perhaps an enemy or two are in the frame and an interactive objects of note. Now take a look at random screenshot of Trine. You see a struggling forest that has been encroached on by both technology and a plague of death. The foreground partially hides you in sparse blades of grass, a handful of flowers, and a large warped tree root. In the background, multiple metallic gears are encrusted into the hill, which is itself overlooked by a towering mountain. The sunlight beaming from above onto wild mushrooms is nothing but welcoming as your knight just escaped from the cave and is heading to a well-constructed but still wobbly bridge up ahead. While one could say such lush descriptions could be extrapolated out of any image; to me, the difference is clear. Trine tries to feed your imagination and create an organic, living environment. While the experience does not stay fully fresh the entire way, Trine has more than enough creativity and character to deserve a second look, as noted in our earlier first hour playthrough.

  • Caelum

    Full Review

    Caelum CoverWhat would you think when told of a game combining elements of pachinko, Arkanoid and Puzzle Bobble?  Like me, you'd probably be a bit confused.  Probably something involving balls being shot and bounced around.  The concept was interesting enough to try when we received a request to review the Caelum by ApGames.  The upstart Swedish developers recently released their self-proclaimed "addictive physics-based arcade game."  So let's get right into it and see how the unique gameplay combinations measure up.

  • Building a Better Game Review

    Editorial

    Few things in the gaming world are as controvertial as game reviews themselves.  Fanboys and fangirls wait with bated breath to peek at the scores for their most anticipated games.  If these scores aren't as high as their expectations, some of them are apt to explode, whether at writers, publishers, comment boxes, or at developers themselves.  Unfortunately, what would seem to be a simple subjective scoring has now turned into an important industry, as the likelyhood of developers and publishers could be impacted by such things.  Thus we have our current situation, where games are often reviewed as exacting and objectively as possible.  However, does this even remotely mirror the experience of the end user and help the customer in deciding how to spend their money?  I argue that this is fundamentally flawed and that we can find a better way, both for the developers and the consumers.

  • Child of Eden Preview

    Preview

    Child of Eden CoverIt should be little surprise for anyone who knows me that my most exciting development from E3 was the unveiling of Child of Eden. Kept hidden for two years in development, Tetsuya Mizuguchi, Q? Entertainment and Ubisoft (with a little help from Joel McHale) announced the title to the world to start off the Ubi conference.  Mizuguchi took the lead, presenting a demo level paired with the 360's Kinect motion capture system. While most detailed information on the title is still sparse and hard to find, bits and pieces of information are beginning to sift around, most of which sound quite promising. Here is what we know so far...

  • Super Street Fighter IV Impressions

    Blog Post

    Super Street Fighter 4 CoverAs mentioned in my previous article, Street Fighter 4 has become THE fighting game phenomenon of recent years, and with good reason. Released to consoles early 2009 and backed by a fantastic media campaign, Capcom gave fans a stunning, well-balanced mix of old and new. Refreshing the memories of old fans while simultaneously creating new ones, the fighting game was resurrected.

     

    Its update/sequel/expansion recently hit stores in April, offering new characters, new ultras, and a fantastic replay system along with improved online matchmaking and play. As I do not actually own a copy of the game, this article will only be my initial impressions on these topics. Currently released on 360 and PS3, an arcade version is planned for the near future, with a PC version yet unannounced and conspicuously absent.

  • Trine

    First Hour Review

    Trine CoverToday's first hour review is for Trine, a unique sidescroller brought to us by Frozenbyte. Having known nothing about the company before now, Wikipedia tells us that they are a Finnish developer, founded in 2001 and consisting of around 20. They previously made two games for PC, Shadowgrounds and Shadowgrounds Survivor (apparently FPS with RPG hybrid elements).

    Their latest game, Trine, was released in 2009 for PC and later PS3 (with 360 version seemingly cancelled). I became drawn to the game by a cheap price on Steam along with pretty screenshots and a bit of positive word-of-mouth.

  • Why I still don't own any current gen consoles

    Blog Post

    ConsolesTo video games afficionados, it may seen odd to find a peer who doesn't own any modern consoles. In fact, I'm honestly frequently asked by peers, "Do you have a 360? Oh, a PS3?" Nope, only PC. "Why?"

     

    Normally this query would get a brief brush-off response as I really don't feel like talking someone's ear off about such silly things, but that's what writing is for, no? So here are the reasons why I still do not own a Wii, 360 or PS3 despite liking games enough to write on a website about them.

  • Number Munchers

    Gaming Nostalgia

    Number Munchers CoverPeople generally sit down and play games for fun and entertaining experiences. In contrast, they generally only learn math out of necessity or for financial desires. Rarely does "math" and "fun and entertainment" interact to any significant degree, as shown by the vast amount of the population who despises the various forms of math, if not outright sucking at them. Certainly we can find math in some gameplay, given say a choice between various equippable items, but modern games readily simplify the process, giving clear comparisons if not outright displaying the superior choice. Games are certainly rooted in math, down to the programming, but players are absolved of such things, witnessing only the shiny results. However, a time and place exists for such contradictions as math and fun, and Number Munchers is just that contradiction.

  • Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter

    First Hour Review

    Serious sam hd the First Encounter CoverSerious Sam HD: The First Encounter is a recent remake of the fps classic, Serious Sam, both developed by Croteam. While I own the original Serious Sam Second Encounter, I really never played it, being somewhat put-off by the seemingly cheesy nature and waves of ugly enemies. But I recently got the update fairly cheap and decided to give it another shot. After quickly running through the demo level, I start the actual game here, so here we go... and if you wish, you can follow along with the youtube playlist.

  • Psychonauts: An Audio Visual (Half) Experience

    Audio-Visual Experience

    Psychonauts CoverThis Psychonauts Audio-Visual (half) Experience contains and displays some of the vibrant, shiny, brilliant, and clever content that exists throughout the game.  Unfortunately, due to a variety of bugs that caused me crashes, missing graphical layers, strange periodic muted dialogue, control irregularities, memory leaks, and crippling fps drops, I did not have the heart to continue or even play the game for significant time each session.  But there is no question that the game itself has heart and some clever, varied visual design, thus here we are...

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