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Preview: Hearthstone.

9 Feb

Hearthstone Beta

I’ve never been one for card games…until Blizzard made it fun. Hearthstone is currently in open beta, and I am loving every minute playing it at the  moment. You choose a class, can customise your deck and do battle with other players online, or just play around in practice mode.

You both start with 30 health and 3 cards, cards cost mana to play, which builds up with each turn.  At it’s heart it’s a strategy game, one which is easy to learn, but very tough to master, as the luck of the draw will always be a factor. I’ve come back from 4 health to win a game, and lost miserably due to silly mistakes. The first few games I played, I lost, all 4 of them, but something keeps me going back for one more go. Here’s my thoughts so far.

Hearthstone Beta Game

Things I love so far;

  • The range of classes on offer is excellent and caters for lots of different styles of gameplay.
  • The battle animations themselves are top notch, spells come with majestic twinkly noises, and hits from minions break up the board and particles fly up from the cards.
  • There is an excellent social aspect already, with a friends list, and easy to use chat features.
  • Play options on offer…you can practice, play online against others, or if you have extra time, battle it out in several arena matches for prizes.
  • Creating custom decks is simple to do.

Things that need a little work to make me happy;

  • First on my list would be a way to swap/trade cards with other players, even just people on my friends list would be great.
  • The cost of entering the arena is 150 coins…sure these can be earned in game…but that’s not cheap!
  • Having to unlock all the classes at the start can be a lengthy process.

The game looks great, the music accompanies well, and each battle is unique depending on your class, deck and opponent. It’s a deep and tactical game, that’s also fun and easy to jump into…Blizzard, I tip my hat to you on this one.

Hearthstone Beta Game

You can download Hearthstone and play for free by clicking here. I play mainly as Rogue but also as Priest or Hunter, and my battlenet ID is Astrocyte#2419.

 

Previews: 3DS Game Collection #4

21 Jun

Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D

Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D

This was actually my free game that I received as part of Nintendo’s too many games promotion, which meant that if you purchased 3 titles from a selection of 8 before the end of June, you could choose another one of the 8 free. The reason I didn’t buy this, is because I knew how much I would struggle to complete levels! It’s an excellent platformer, and lots of fun, until you fall or mis jump on the same part of a level for the 50th time. It’s a real old school platformer that’s been bought up to date with a bright, smooth graphical presentation, and the added 3D element…these features however, don’t make me any better at the game.

 

Animal Crossing New Leaf

Animal Crossing New Leaf

Confession time…I still play Animal Crossing Wild World, 7 years after it’s release. There’s just something addictively enduring about these games. It’s hard to describe the AC games to someone, I always want to say they are like a fun version of the Sims, but they are so much more than that, and to me at least, much more appealing. Basically, you play as a human living in a town full of animal characters, each with their own interests and differing personalities, and you choose how to spend your time, fishing, digging for fossils, taking trips to a tropical island and bug catching all earn you currency to upgrade and improve both your house, and your town. There are events all year round, mini games, and the villagers also give you tasks to do. When I write it down, it seems much less appealing than it is, so I highly recommend you give it a try for yourself. I’m currently loving visiting other gaming buddies’ towns, and seeing what’s for sale in their shops. (Shop content changes daily, and varies from player to player.)

 

Previews: 3DS Game Collection #3

14 Jun

Fire Emblem Awakening

Fire Emblem Awakening

 

This is the most complex game I have ever played on a handheld console, but this is a good thing. It’s a turn based strategy RPG, with a deep and complex story and challenging battles. Graphically I believe it’s the best looking title on the 3DS, the battle scenes especially, are beautiful. Each character has their own back story, and role within the game and battles, and your job is to position them to get the best from their different abilities, strengths and weaknesses. This game will be keeping me occupied years from now, and comes highly recommended as an essential title for all 3DS owners.

Luigi’s Mansion 2 (Dark Moon)

Luigis Mansion Dark Moon

Poor Luigi, stuck in mansions with nothing but a vacuum cleaner between him and all sorts of ghosts and ghouls. This game is an adventure game with puzzle elements, that doesn’t stray too far from the first game, with the exception of some nifty new tools and features for the sequel. A great game for both adults and younger audiences, with some surprisingly challenging puzzles for the completionists out there, who want to collect everything.

Preview: Marvel Heroes (Beta)

6 May

Marvel Heroes Beta

Let’s just get one thing straight before I start…I REALLY wanted to love this game. MMOs, along with RPGs are my favourite genre of game, and I love a lot of the Marvel universe…comics, films and characters, so I really wanted to love this experience…but honestly…I didn’t.

Marvel Heroes is in it’s Beta stage, and my friend and rather super sketcher HiggieBaby (Click his name to check out his work) was kind enough to pass me a Beta key, so when the game is officially released in early June, things may be a little different, but initally I was disappointed with what it offered.  I did eventually begin to appreciate it, (after trying a number of heroes and finding one that suited me best) but I can’t fangirl over it like I would like to. [The game does not support "screenshotting" at the time I'm writing this, so the screens here are from the game's official website]

Marvel Heroes is an MMO, in which you choose your character from the Marvel universe (26 are known to feature so far, including Thor, Hulk, Human Torch, Spider-Man, and Daredevil, and various other X-Men and Avengers) and play out a story in a massive online world, you are free to team up with other players, and you gain levels, which award points that you can choose to place on a skill tree. Think Diablo III meets DC Universe online.

The story is written by comic book author Brian Michael Bendis and deals with Doctor Doom stealing The Cosmic Cube (aka The Tesseract)…I assume to take over the world.

New Hero characters will cost money, as will customised outfits, however, Marvel do assure us all that anyone can unlock almost every character… simply from playing through the game. You can swap between your roster of Heroes at any time, which makes things tactical, interesting and potentially hilarious. The game uses the Unreal 3 Engine to render effects, so destructible environments feature, as do interactive objects.  The game has public combat zones, where players can gather and fight randomised bosses, social zones like towns, and solo or party-based dungeon instances that will scale in difficulty depending on how many players are in them.

Don’t get me wrong, there were things I loved about it, the motion comic cutscenes, the customisation that comes from building a skill tree how you wish, the choice of characters and combat styles on offer, and the dynamic boss fight events where a number of you all chip in, to rid the world of some well known Marvel bad guys. (Seeing Hulk revive a dead Wolverine is a little odd, I must confess.)

However, there is a lot of clicking involved, and using the keyboard to move your hero around is pretty impossible, the controls are clunky to say the least, and the less said about the camera angles and control the better. And all that clicking just didn’t feel justified, as at times, I felt unrewarded for my efforts and just wasn’t having fun. Different belts and coats, although supposedly enhancing my stats, did not make my character look any different, and the stat increases really didn’t make a difference in combat. This is something that is done well in so many other games, (hello Diablo 3 and Guildwars 2) so I really missed it. When I upgraded Wolvie’s suit, I expected him to be tougher and he just wasn’t.

Marvel Heroes

At first I was concerned that my love of Marvel would taint my opinion, but looking past the characters, this is a lacklustre MMO, it’s a grindy, click-kill-run around-pick stuff up-level up-repeat, kind of affair, and there is a part of me that can appreciate it for that. I’d love it to have more depth, and for me to care about the story, and become immersed in the experience, but I am yet to feel I can do any of these things. If you want a superhero game that functions on a story or character level, this isn’t it (so far). Marvel need to put in more of a feeling of humanity into game, they do it so well in the films, I have hope for the game yet.

In short I love that I can play as a Marvel hero, with friends, but the way the game executes this, makes it difficult to love in a world that has the likes of Diablo, Torchlight and Guildwars, which are all doing this kind of thing, much much better. That being said, I remember the launch of DC Universe Online (yes I went there) and that was very similar…it is now however, a pretty decent title…so my faith remains in Marvel…for now, just don’t go into it expecting an Iron Man film type experience, because it’s more of a Hulk film…but it’s definitely not a Daredevil affair, and since it’s free to play, I say it’s worth keeping an eye on, and trying out, as although it’s currently not very fun to play…something keeps me going back to it.

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