Thursday, 6 October 2011

TRAUMA Guest Review

This guest review was written by Ross Smith.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be trapped inside a dream? Well though not exactly the same TRUAMA gives you a pretty decent attempt, creating an atmosphere not usually devised in modern video games. This little indie game was created almost single-handedly by Krystian Majewski, with a handful of other people chipping in with sound and voice acting, who had hoped to create an almost biographical game that took a stranger turn.

The entire game takes place from the perspective of our narrator, a young women who is recovering from a near fatal car crash, as she passes from lucid dreams revealing deeper parts of her psyche too her conversations with an unknown doctor telling her about the progress she has made. Though the story its self might not be the most engaging, and rather simple, it’s the narrative that really captures the player’s attention slowly unfolding as you delve deeper into the game.

While the story is lacking and the narrative does its best to patch it together the game play and visual style is something else entirely, this is what makes this game different from your usual title, though it doesn’t exactly make it a good game. Game play mostly boils down to navigating through a selection of photo’s strung together in a strange panoramic style, with augmented reality like effects added on top of some of the stills, as you search for specific clues to help navigate to the end of the level. Though end is a term used loosely as there is alternative ways of finishing a level as you learn more symbols to paint over the photos that create different effects.

Now the painting mechanic needs a little bit of explanation as it’s something that’s not apparent when you first enter the game and it’s not massively diverse in the things you can achieve. When you first enter the game, though you can play the levels in any order which might confuse some, you will begin to notice Polaroid photos stuck in some strange locations throughout the levels with each detailing a symbol you can draw with your brush, a location to use one of your symbols or possibly a memory which sparks a little monologue from our hospitalised protagonist. You then take these symbols, for example the first major one will lift a strange type of stone that are found throughout various levels, and paint them using your mouse and clicking. Though don’t worry the game does its best to recognise the symbols no matter how bad you botch drawing them.

So we’ve had Polaroid photos within photos that you can paint on, which sounds a little like a graphic design student’s wet dream, but that’s where the games diversity and originality ends and even things like the painting mechanic are very reminiscent of other games such as The Void/Tension. So that brings us onto the last major component of the game which is the voice acting and for what its worth I feel it was done well. The protagonist often seems depressed and uninterested, like she is viewing her life in third person wishing she was somewhere else, throw in the fact she is struggling with her environment trapped inside a hospital it actually makes the voice acting feeling genuine, with only one occasions where I can remember the protagonist chuckling as she delivers a line.

So finally my thoughts on the entire experience, as its difficult to consider it a game yet it clearly is, I had fun and my curiosity was piqued whilst playing and I am glad I did. Though it’s very difficult to recommend to others with its relatively short play time, dull tones and semi interactive game play, rather I would say check it out if your more interested in a piece of visual art and try the version available for free at leaving it up to you to say if it deserves your money or not.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

ACDC Live Rock Band Review

As a classic rock fan, I love ACDC. Their energetic, feel-good music makes them, in my opinion, one of the greatest bands ever formed. That's what makes it difficult to say that ACDC Live Rock Band is a bit of a crap game.

The title of the game pretty much sums the whole thing up - rock out to ACDC songs by selecting them from a list and pressing coloured buttons on a plastic instrument of your choice as their corresponding coloured oblongs move down the screen, optionally while duckwalking around the room. It's the classic Rock Band/Guitar Hero gameplay formula. As always, it's a laugh, as you pretend to be Angus Young, sitting in a beanbag chair pressing buttons, like he does on-stage. Fair enough, it's been done in previous games, but if something isn't broken, don't try and fix it, or you'll just end up with nails and bits of shelf everywhere.

As Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock showed us, this method of gameplay is only fun if there's some good music in the game, rather than all that new-fangled indie rubbish that assaults one's eardrums like an audio barge-pole. Fortunately, as the first paragraph conveyed, this is ACDC Live Rock Band's strongest point. There are nineteen tracks in the game, all classic songs like You Shook Me All Night Long and Thunderstruck. They're all great songs, if you're into the genre, and most of them are a lot of fun to play. The exception to this is the song For Those About to Rock. It's not that it's a bad song, but  anyone playing guitar will have to put up with sitting around in the lengthy, non-guitar part.

So, great music and same old Rock Band gameplay. Why, then, the criticism earlier? I'll tell you why, guy who asks his computer questions - it's the fact that ACDC Live Rock Band is far too insubstantial. There are no songs to unlock, and the career mode is just playing through all of the already-unlocked songs one at a time, linearly. There's also no character customisation, only one venue, and only one set of characters on the stage in the entire game. Other than on the game's box, there aren't even any cameos from any of the band members. On the plus side, if you already own a copy of Rock Band or Rock Band 2, you can transfer the songs onto those games and sell this game to get some money back, but otherwise it's a rip-off.

While the game does have a great tracklist, there's very little content to be found. It's a minimal single and multiplayer Rock Band game with a small list of songs to play and no customisation at all. My advice to anyone interested in this game, or rather, expensive song pack, would be to pick up the far better Rock Band 2 instead, and put some ACDC on Youtube. It's sad when Green Day get better treatment from Harmonix, as there was potential for a far better game here.

Rating: 2/5

Where are the posts!?

Fear not, readers. The blog has not been destroyed. Due to a combination of a new reviewing style I was trying out, the fact that WWE Smackdown Vs. Raw 2011 is more addictive than Starbucks' new "Crackuccino" flavour, and the fact that Brink is more difficult in places than coming up with analogies for these posts, the blog has not been updated for a while. However, it's back on track now, so look forward to more humourous articles and comprehensive reviews as the blog is updated more frequently.