Should I Buy? – LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga

Who doesn’t love LEGO or Star Wars? If you don’t, you might not be human. Not judging. Just saying. When I first heard the news about the first game being in development, I was really excited. The Complete Saga is actually two games stitched together into one, one based on the Prequel Trilogy and the second based on the Original Trilogy.

Thankfully, these interpretations of the Prequels are much more fun to sit through than the films. For those of you without a soul and ergo have not played the LEGO games yet, you (and a friend if you wish) control little LEGO versions of the characters as you play through the events of the films with all that plot and dialogue removed and replaced with funny cutscenes and puzzles.

And it’s really fun. It’s got a tangible affection for the source material and a light, breezy style. See, each character has a variety of skills which have simple applications in puzzle solving. Force users can build stuff, robots can use panels, guys with blasters can shoot targets etc. The levels don’t outstay their welcome but if you want something really deep and meaty you’re better off looking elsewhere.

There’s a few kinks, the partner AI is terrible and can’t kill any enemies, blaster characters from the Prequels can’t dodge at all (and Chewie, for some reason) and there’s vehicle sections which are…well, vehicle sections.

Where a lot of the replay value for this game comes in the option to replay levels with any available characters to find more secrets or to see Yoda kick Vader’s ass. There’s also a lot of fun to be had playing with friends, and the simple gameplay means that anyone from kids to adults can enjoy it together. Seriously, if you’re looking for something you can play with a young child like a daughter or a nephew or a little sibling for some ‘quality bonding time’, the LEGO games are great. And it means you don’t have to fall off Rainbow Road all the time.

So yeah, it’s fun, colourful, charming, family friendly and great for pick up and play sessions. Seriously consider investing in this. Just don’t get the one based on the Clone Wars TV series. That’s supposed to be terrible.

Price: (CEX) £15 – PS3
(CEX) £20 – XBOX 360
(CEX) £15 – Nintendo Wii
(Steam) £14.99 – PC


Should I Buy? – Poker Night at the Inventory

Do you like Texas Hold ‘Em but don’t get enough chances to play it in your everyday life? Do you like internet humour? Well then Poker Night at the Inventory is for you. This is literally Texas Hold ‘Em with a bunch of internet characters as the players.

You’ve got Tycho from Penny Arcade, Max from Sam and Max, Strongbad fromHomestar Runner and The Heavy from Team Fortress 2. How many of those guys you’re familiar with can be used as a litmus test for whether or not you spend too much time on the internet.

The main draw is being able to play Poker while listening to the interactions of the comically sociopathic players seated with you. The conversations are characterful and amusing, but there’s a fairly limited amount of them. After a dozen games or so, you’ll have heard every line the game has to offer twice at the very least.

It’s not too bad, but certainly noticeable. As for the rest of it, you get varying difficulty levels and every player has tells that you have to learn to read. The only problem is that Max and Strongbad aren’t exactly recognisably human, so it’s a lot harder to read them.

Occasionally you’ll get the opportunity to win an item from one of the other contestants that yo ucan then put to use in Team Fortress 2. It’s a clever incentive but I don’t really play Team Fortress 2 so I can’t tell you if they’re worth it.

I suppose I should also mention that there’s different table designs and decks to unlock as well, but that’s hardly important. I’m no expert of Poker sims, but this one is perfectly serviceable with some good humour added in but sadly lacking in multiplayer.

Price: (Steam) £3.25

Should I Buy? – KrissX

Despite the rather ludicrous spelling, this game is pronounced ‘criss-cross’. It’s another simple puzzle game Steam had up on sale recently and gosh darn if it isn’t an addictive one. Like Yosumin! there isn’t much to it, but its in the endless variability of its core mechanics that it becomes worth your time and money.

Basically, you have a crossword grid, like below. The catch is that each word is jumbled up. Hovering the mouse over each word gives you a hint as to what it is. For example, if you had CODIEL and the clue was ‘like peaceful’ or ‘unlike angry’. I’ll let you figure that one out though.

I'm not sure why the Owl is there either

Aside from word gird puzzles and occasionally being asked to put a jumble of letters in alphabetical or reverse alphabetical order, that’s all there is to it. As you complete more grids, the words get longer, the clues more tangential and the number of words gets upped. This means that you can pretty much keep playing until it gets too tough, then start a new profile and go again. Or just persevere with patience and a thesaurus.

There’s also a Time Attack Mode, special themed grids to unlock and a Create A Puzzle Mode to keep you occupied, but it’s all just spins on the same basic formula. How much, if any, enjoyment you get out of this is equal to how much you love wordplay. In my case, that’s a lot so the purchase is really justified to me.

There’s not much else to say, it’s well presented and calls you awesome if you do well which is always a plus. If you’re not sure just how much you’d get out of something as simple a KrissX, check out the demo.

Price: (Steam) £3.99

Should I Buy? – Yosumin!

And lo did we behold the harbinger of the apocalypse. Do you all remember how ridiculously addictive Bejewelled was? Well Yosumin! is just as ridicutive (my new word). It also seems to be some kind of military experiment in weaponising cute.

This is a colour matching tile game from Square Enix, better known for creating a series of increasingly androgynous characters than this sort of thing. Originally a Japan exclusive for the DS, it’s now been ported to Steam in an attempt to utterly horde your free time.

The story (such as it is) of the adventure mode is that a giant stained glass window the Yosumin somehow rely on has been smashed, with pieces of it raining down all over their domain. Your job is to go out and find them. This is done through entering an area and completing a variety of challenges therein.

Gameplay give you a Bejewelled type board in which the object is to create squares or rectangles which have corners that’re all the same colour. Doing so removes them from the board and spawns new ones. Simple enough. On each board you have certain targets you have to meet before time runs out. These can be things like getting a certain number one different coloured Yosumin, different sized rectangles or collecting a certain amount of fragments.

Playing through either Adventure Mode or Endless Yosumin will slowly introduce you to a range of things that shake up the basics like the Bigmin, Goldmin and Badmin. you might feel a little overwhelmed at times as you try to conquer a difficult board, but it’s quite well paced.

Yeah, I can see like half a dozen good moves in there.

Like Bejewelled, it’s simple enough mechanically but put together with enough spit and polish to make it infinitely playable. A lot of that comes from the Pavlovian rewards the game offers up. Beating a map gets you a nice fanfair, clearing the whole board at once makes all the tiles explode as the game shouts “Yosumin!” and clearing a set of challenges lets you see another piece of the window be remade.

Like I already mentioned, this game is cute sculpted to a near scientific degree. I found myself shouting “Yosumin!” along with the game and see coloured blocks when I try to sleep. A rent warning slipped under my door while I played this. The only thing that stops this from consuming the world like its predecessor is the fact that right now the most portable thing you can play it on is a laptop.

If you play Yosumin! my recommendation is to stay away from the Endless mode. The only reason I was able to tear away was the clearly marked stop points in Adventure Mode. Also, it has a demo available.

Price: (Steam) £5.99

Should I Buy? – Penny Arcade: On the Rainslick Precipice of Darkness Episode 2

Now I really did mean to get round to this sooner, but better late than never. For those of you who don’t know, Penny Arcade are a real web success story. From a webcomic started as a hobby by Mike and Jerry, it’s the biggest on the web. It has its own charity, its own merchandise, two annual conventions and have branched out into other ventures like a new comic, the Trenches, hosting shows like Checkpoint & Extra Credits on PATV even its own games.

On the Rainslick Precipice of Darkness was intended to be an episodic four game story, but the developer moved on to something else after the second game had disappointing sales. Let me assure you, that’s not because its’ a bad game. If anything, it’s better than the original. And luckily, Zeboyd Games are picking up the series! Yay for them. I like you now, Zeboyd games. Well OK, I liked you for making Cthulhu Saves the World, but now you get extra cool points.

Episode 2 continues the story of the first, with Tycho and Gabe still investigating the strange goings on of New Arcadia and once again drawing your custom character into the fray. Like Puzzle Agent and its sequel, this follow up works better overall despite being mechanically very similar because it has a tighter narrative than makes your actions feel weightier.

The gameplay is unchanged from the first (what ain’t broke), it’s still the limited yet fun JRPG type stuff. In a nice touch, you start the game at the first’s max level instead of being reset to level one. In response, the enemies are toughened up to match, but it’s only really cosmetic as you weapons and special skills have gone down to to their baseline.

At least the game has a reason for not using your kickass old weapons, so all is forgiven.

While the first game focused on hobos and mimes, here its the absurdly rich and the mad that get your grizzly attention. It’s nice to see the plot picking up the dangling threads from the last game and beginning to build itself a mythology. Though there’s still a really rather limited amount of environments, they tend to flow together better.

Again, the comic’s legendary humour is omnipresent, and Jerry’s writing style is well suited to the macabre, the occult and the dark humour. Fans of the comic will be pleased to see Dr Darktalon Raven Blood, Divx & Charles the Apple fanboy joining the cast under varying guises.

I really enjoyed the time I had with both games, and I really can’t wait for Zeboyd to deliver the third. I heartily recommend this game to everyone. And buy the first one too.

Actually, this week I’ve only reviewed sequels. I guess that makes it a ‘weequel’.

OK If Penny Arcade had done that joke they totally would have gotten away with it. Stupid Penny Arcade, with their money, success, talent, money, talent, respect, talent and money…

Price: (Steam) £8.99 – Combo Pack
(XBLA) 800 Microsoft Points

Should I Buy? – Freedom Force vs the Third Reich

The original Freedom Force was a fun, if sometimes repetitive superhero game that put you in charge of the titular crime-fighting organisation.

Freedom Force vs the Third Reich manages to bring some more plot cohesion and differing objectives to the table to liven itself up. As you can infer from the title, there’s some seriously silly time travel shenanigans going on here.

After you stop a superpowered Soviet called Nuclear Winter and his accomplice Red Oktober from starting an atomic war with Cuban Missiles, you arrive back at base to find yourselves under attack from Nazis. As you do. From there, you have to go back to stop the Nazis from ever conquering the world.

There’s no major change to the game mechanics. The interface has been tidied up a bit, and the Energy system for your superpowers has been simplified but that’s about it. There’s a handful of new heroes to help you out, the most prominent being the non-powered 30’s heroes you encounter. Though they’re fun, they’re not as strong as the guys that fly, shoot fire and alter the fabric of reality with their minds.

The others range from decent to useless, though the grim Tombstone is both useful and funny. All the old characters return, just as useful as before.

Yep, he's shooting flying Nazi brains. That happens. Remind me why you don't own this again?

From what’s above, you may be thinking that this game’s just a holding pattern. Not really changing anything and being only cosmetic in difference. That’s true, to a certain extent but the story is enough to earn itself equal footing with its predecessor.

In the original, you fought your way through a colourful Rogue’s Gallery but never really had a clear plot focus until the end. vs the Third Reich paces itself better by focusing on just a few supervillains and a greater emphasis on story arcs.

And if you’re wondering just how a colourful and goofy game about cheesy superheroes that make BIFF signs appear when they punch people addresses the atrocities of the Nazis, they don’t. The big bad Nazi guy is a demented psychic and the ranks of gun-toting soldiers is liberally sprinkled with altered gorillas and flying brains that shoot lasers.

There’s enough costumed campery and nasty ne’er-do-wells to give you another reason to pay your pounds for this extraordinarliy entertaining game that’s fully fond of alliterative acclamations.

Price: (Steam) £2.99
£4.99 (Double Pack)

( $5.99

Should I Buy? – Puzzle Agent

I can save you the trouble of having to read this. Do you like Professor Layton? Then yes. While Professor Layton is the respectable, well turned out gentleman of puzzle games, Puzzle Agent feels like its horror-fan little sibling.

Puzzle Agent is a so far two game series developed by the ever versatile Telltale Games and tells the tale of the only member of the FBI’s Puzzle Research Division investigating the mysterious closure of an eraser factory in Scoggins. Said factory is so important because it’s where the White House gets it erasers from, and you’re sent because all attempts to contact the sleepy northern town have been answered with puzzles.

Silly as all this sounds, the game somehow manages to play it all seriously, though it’s never afraid to make the occasional jab at its own lunacy. Instead, it’s more concerned with being a horror game. Telltale were fully aware that they couldn’t get away with big shocks or grotesque monsters, so Puzzle Agent instead goes for a slow burning sense of unease and mystery.

The influence from Twin Peaks and Stanley Kubrick is almost palpable, although it never quite manages the balance of mystery versus explanation that it needs, and the ending all but screams ‘sequel tease’.

Gnet it?

That being said, that my complaints with pacing all get quickly put aside when it decides to twist the screw and bring in the chills. The character of Tethers is also a surprisingly good lead, with a credible and strong character emerging from his initial nervous persona. The others are all weird townsfolk of varying levels of cliché, though I will give special mention to both the writing and acting of the character Glori Davner for managing to rise up from the rest of townfolk.

Now you may have noticed that I’ve spent a lot of time avoiding any mention of the actual gameplay, save for a brief comparison to the king of puzzle games. Really, Puzzle Agent is very much the same. It’s lacking in the sheer numbers of puzzles, but there does tend to be a better reason for you solving them.

So was mine by the time I'd finished

It has a near identical Hint system, but also lacks any additional puzzles or challenges. If I were to say the puzzles have one advantage, its that they tend to be explained better than some of those from Professor Layton though this by no means makes them easier.

It doesn’t present itself as well as its older brother, opting for a more simplistic approach with its art style and a near-absent musical score. Though the stripped-down visuals serve the tone, as soon as there’s a close up of an art piece the rough edges show quite clearly.

The puzzles do tend to repeat themselves, this may be an annoyance to you, but the ones this happened with were personally some of the puzzles I most enjoyed.

This game is cheap, widely available and while not overly long, certainly earns its price tag.

Price: (Steam) £3.99
(iPhone) £2.99
(iPad) £4.99

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