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Category: Games

Call of Duty: Black Ops by Activision

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cover ArtI bought this game from Steam and played it in Windows 8 on a MacBook Pro.

I love me some Call of Duty. Most of the games in this franchise have been very good even if a little bit mindless. Solid shoot-em-up entertainment. I am sorry to say that Black Ops does not rise up to that level, in fact it falls WAY short.

I finished the entire game in 7 hours and feel very ripped off.

COD has always been a "rails" driven game, meaning that you cannot wander about freely but must follow a prescribed path to complete each mission, but in Black Ops that rail is ridiculously thin allowing no thought and very little tactics by the player. Most missions have to be completed in very specific ways. That gets old very fast.

I should have read the reviews on Amazon before buying this game, and you can bet before I buy another COD title I will be reading those reviews closely. I think the only reason it currently has 2.5 stars at Amazon is because someone paid for positive reviews at some point.

From the publisher:

Call of Duty: Black Ops is a first-person shooter with stealth and tactical play aspect that puts players in the role of a shadow soldier fighting in a variety of historically representative fictional Black Ops missions of the Cold War era. Created with the input of actual Black Ops soldiers from the time, the game mixes traditional Call of Duty tactical shooter gameplay with new gameplay options designed to expand the players’ experience. Additional features include extensive multiplayer options, along with new vehicles and explosive new weapons.

I rate this game a 1 out of 10 and do not recommend it. If you can pick it up for $5.00 and are a fan of the COD series then give it a try.


Tomb Raider: Survival Edition by Square Enix

Tomb Raider Cover ArtI bought this game on sale at Steam and played it in Windows 8 on a MacBook Pro.

I remember first finding the PC video game Tomb Raider in 1996, I was hanging out with a friend and I had just download the demo and was eager to give it a try.

We were immediately mesmerized, at the time most games were based on comical over-the-top characters doing wildly fantastical things that no human could ever do, except jump or climb. But here was a game with a female lead with a realistic name that could not only jump and climb but she could jump high in the air and draw a pair of pistols and start firing at the same time. Wow, that was amazing.

Tomb Raider is now “quot;old hat”quot; we have had many games based upon the character, some were good and some were absolutely awful. I have only played 2 or 3 all of the way through, but I have always like the mechanics of the game.

This new Tomb Raider is one of the better ones.

Laura is young and just starting out, the game is supposed to show a progression of her life from college student to hardened survivor and tomb raider. But for me the transition is so fast that I missed it, the character goes from being timid to using a bow to kill bad guys in the blink of an eye. So the story is a bit flawed, but the game play is pretty good.

There are a LOT of cut-scenes in the game and a lot of times that you cannot look where you want to look, the game takes over and will only let you view a very limited area. Also there were many times that I felt like she was on a rail that I could not escape from, that really killed the overall feeling of freedom that most of the game had. That frustrated me, but it did not ruin the game.

It took me about 21 hours to complete the game with a 90% complete score which I am very proud of.

After finishing the game, I played multi-player for about an hour, getting a game going was frustrating with very little feedback on what was going on, how may participants were required for each type of game, nothing at all to tell me which game types people were playing, really just a mess in trying to find a group to play.

After awhile I finally got into a match of “quot;Rescue”quot; with a group of around 8 players, and it was ok, but not great. And again, much of the interface was really confusing. There were multiple people asking how to do certain actions because it is far from obvious how to do them.

Overall, I feel like I got my money out of the game and I may even go back and play it a little more at some point.

From the publisher:

Tomb Raider explores the intense and gritty origin story of Lara Croft and her ascent from a young woman to a hardened survivor. Armed only with raw instincts and the ability to push beyond the limits of human endurance, Lara must fight to unravel the dark history of a forgotten island to escape its relentless hold.

I rate this game an 8 out of 10 and recommend it to fans of Lara and first-person shooters.


Borderlands 2: Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep by Gearbox Software

Borderlands 2: Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon KeepI have been playing a lot of Borderlands 2 lately and my favorite place in Pandora has been Dragon Keep.

After you and the merry band have defeated The Warrior you all sit down to a game of " Bunkers & Badasses" together… haha.

So basically it is a first-person-shooter inside an old-school role-playing game full of orcs, dwarves, dragons, wizards, and even a unicorn.

Full of humor, action, violence and a touch of compassion Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep delivers a solid 10-20 hours of great Borderlands game play. The ending of last quest tears me up, the developers have done such an amazing job bringing these characters to life and the performance by Tiny Tina is absolutely fantastic. This is the best downloadable content released after a games initial release that I have ever played.

Now if I could find a multiplayer group to defeat the raid boss with everything would awesome!

From the developer

Sorcerers, Wizards and Crumpets, oh my! Join vault hunters, old and new, in Tiny Tina epic quest of revenge and redemption. Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep, the biggest and most inspired add-on content in Borderlands history, features a game within a game, as Tiny Tina takes on the role of Bunker Master in a game of "Bunkers & Badasses". Travel through a dark and ever changing world of castles, dungeons and magic forests as you fight off skeletons, orcs, dragons and more. Explore side missions and answer riddles as you roll your insight stat to gain new and amazing loot. Join with friends to save the queen and restore peace and order to the world once more.

I rate this DLC a 10 out 10 and HIGHLY recommend it to anyone who plays Borderlands 2.

I bought Borderlands 2: Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep on Steam and have been playing it on my MacBook Pro. I have also reviewed Borderlands 2.


Borderlands 2 by Gearbox Software

Borderlands 2I bought Borderlands 2 on Steam and play it on my MacBook Pro.

I have been playing Borderlands 2 for a long time now and have mostly been loving I, there have been some parts of it that really frustrated me and I am beginning to get burned out on it again.

After 250 hours or so of playing I have completed the main storyline 5 times, played all of the downloadable content, completed almost every quest available at least once, and have leveled up a Sniper to 52 and a Commando to 64. My current plan is to get the commando up to the highest level, which is currently level 72.

Lately I have been playing a lot more multiplayer. It is a great way to level really fast, it is not uncommon for me to gain an entire level every hour-and-a-half or so even at levels as high as 60+. But it is really hard to find a good group, there are so many "Squids" that just run around drawing agro and dying that all sense of fun is drained out of the game.

Some of the most fun I have had recently has been with a group of mixed characters all within a level of each other that work closely together as a team. With one such team we completed the last couple of quests of Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep and it was amazingly fantastic.

One part of the game I have missed out on so far is group raids. There are a bunch of them in the game but I have not found a group to do any of them with.

From the developer:

Borderlands 2 furthers the distinct blending of First Person Shooter and Role Playing genres to create the true evolution of the Role Playing Shooter. Team up with up to three other players for four-player online goodness or go old-school with two-player split-screen couch sharing mayhem as you spend hours leveling up your character and equipping them with one of the millions of badass weapons. Borderlands 2 features a new visually stunning array of procedurally generated guns, shields, grenades, artifacts, enemies and more. Choose one of the four new character classes to be taken through a carefully crafted and connected story to all new and surprising environments across the living planet of Pandora. Make new friends, arm them to the teeth and fight alongside them on your relentless quest for revenge and redemption.

I rate this game a 9 out of 10 and think that 250+ hours of playing a game is crazy!


Crysis by Crytek

I bought a bundle of Crysis games from Steam while they were on sale and am playing them on a MacBook Pro using Bootcamp and Windows 8. It was developed by Crytek and published by Electronic Arts.

Crysis was released way back in 2007 and at the time it really punished the PC hardware that was available. It took a very solid gaming rig to play the game at anything other than its lowest settings.

I played through the single-player game of Crysis using an Apple MacBook Pro laptop with an Intel i7 2.3GHz processor, 16GB of DDR3 RAM, and an AMD Radeon HD 6750M with 1 GB of memory on Windows 8 Pro 64-bit. And even with all that hardware, unbelievable specs back in 2007, the fans on the computer ran at full speed even on the main menu screen, so it is still a punishing app.

The game played well though, I let the game automatically choose its settings which is always a nice feature, and the only time I experienced some stuttering was in the endgame when there were a lot of very large object on the screen at once.

I liked Crysis quite a bit, it only took me 11 hours of sporadic playing to make my way through the storyline, but for the most part it was a fun experience. I ran into some bugged places where I had to be very careful to avoid places where I would get stuck time and time again. Flying the “plane” was a chore for me, I didn’t like that part very much, but it was over fairly quickly.

As a straight-up first-person-shooter I liked it, but in 2012 there is nothing here I have not seen before.

Check out some screenshots I took while playing the game.

From the publisher:
Adapt to Survive — An epic story thrusts players into an ever-changing environment, forcing them to adapt their tactics and approach to conquer battlefields ranging from newly frozen jungle to zero-gravity alien environments. Suit up!

I rate this game a 7 out of 10 and recommend it as a cheep FPS fix.


Portal 2 Video Game

I really enjoyed the first Portal video game, it was a much needed break from the first person shooters I had been playing that were focused on violence.

Portal did not disappoint, the levels grew progressively harder as the game went on and the payoff at the end was spectacular. The GLaDOS song at the end of the game is fantastic.

Now we have Portal 2, I played it using Steam from Valve on a MacBook Pro. There were no slowdowns, frame-drops, or stutters during the game, and the audio was great.

It took me about 50 hours to play through the game, there were only a couple of levels where I got stuck and spent more than 20 minutes trying to get past. There were also plenty of levels where I died a number of time, but death in Portal is no big deal, you start over in the same puzzle close to the place where you dies, you even get to keep a lot of your progress in many of them.

Another great feature of Portal 2 is that it is easy to create your own puzzles and share them with the world. There are tons of player created levels available to play and they are a great way to add re-playability to the game.

From the Portal 2 web site:

The sequel to 2007’s Game of the Year, Portal 2 is a hilariously mind-bending adventure that challenges you to use wits over weaponry in a funhouse of diabolical science.

Using a highly experimental portal device, you’ll once again face off against a lethally inventive, power-mad A.I. named GLaDOS. And this time you won’t be alone. Meet an expanded cast of characters as you think your way through dangerous, never-before-seen areas of Aperture Laboratories.

Break the laws of spatial physics in ways you never thought possible, with a wider variety of portal puzzles and an expansive story that spans a single player and co-operative game mode.

I rate this game a 9 out of 10 and recommend it to anyone who loves first person shooters and puzzle games.


Metro 2033 Video Game

I played this game on a MacBook Pro using OnLive and had no technical difficulties.

This first person shooter has a lot of problems, it starts out slow, takes a long time to get going, and then at the very end throws some odd control issues at you. It is definitely “on a rail” and appears to only offer one pretty flat story to tell.

Maybe its biggest problem is that it is trying to tell a story. It may have been a better game if there was more than one way to get to the end and something in all the dialog that let me know that the end was coming.

But for all that, it is not a half bad shooter and it is available for less than $10 when on sale.

From the publisher:

Set in the shattered subway of a post apocalyptic Moscow, Metro 2033 is a story of intensive underground survival where the fate of mankind rests in your hands. In 2013 the world was devastated by an apocalyptic event, annihilating almost all mankind and turning the earth’s surface into a poisonous wasteland. A handful of survivors took refuge in the depths of the Moscow underground, and human civilization entered a new Dark Age. The year is 2033. An entire generation has been born and raised underground, and their besieged Metro Station-Cities struggle for survival, with each other, and the mutant horrors that await outside. You are Artyom, born in the last days before the fire, but raised Underground. Having never ventured beyond your Metro Station-City limits, one fateful event sparks a desperate mission to the heart of the Metro system, to warn the remnants of mankind of a terrible impending threat. Your journey takes you from the forgotten catacombs beneath the subway to the desolate wastelands above, where your actions will determine the fate of mankind. Metro 2033 is a gripping, atmospheric first person shooter experience powered by cutting edge technology to deliver incredible visuals. Witness the everyday horrors of a broken society living in constant fear. Brave the darkness of the tunnels, where mutants hunt their prey and ghostly spirits lurk. Explore the desolate city-surface, trusting your gas mask and rifle to protect you from a poisoned world and the creatures that roam there. Steel your nerve and prepare to face the terrors that await.

I rate this game a 7 out of 10.


Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition

I bought this game on Steam and played it in Windows 7 in Bootcamp on a MacBook Pro.

There were a lot of crashing with the game initially; apparently the default install is a horrible experience full of crashes and blue screens for many, many players. It took a lot of searching and a lot of fiddling around to get the game to play for more than 10 minutes without crashing but eventually I found the right combination of settings and the game played great.

When the developers say that this is an open world game, they are not kidding. You can go almost anywhere at any time and while wondering around can be solid fun, later in the game I found it annoying. I would stumble upon things that were obviously a part of some quest but I had not found the guy that would give me the quest yet.

For example I found a violin in one of the Vaults (a place where people lived to get away from the radiation), it was definitely part of a quest as I had found nothing else like it in my travels, but I had no idea what to do with it or who could possible give me such a quest. With the help of the Fallout Wiki I found out where to get the appropriate quest and the game did a great job of giving me a good option to complete the quest easily once I found the right person.

That is one of the most impressive parts of this game, how it compensates for the user not following the main quest arc. I did all kinds of things trying to see how I could break the game and felt that I never did.

I really enjoyed this game and look forward to playing the next in the series, Fallout: New Vegas.

From the official web site:

Vault-Tec engineers have worked around the clock on an interactive reproduction of Wasteland life for you to enjoy from the comfort of your own vault. Included is an expansive world, unique combat, shockingly realistic visuals, tons of player choice, and an incredible cast of dynamic characters. Every minute is a fight for survival against the terrors of the outside world – radiation, Super Mutants, and hostile mutated creatures. From Vault-Tec, America’s First Choice in Post Nuclear Simulation.

I rate this game an 8 out of 10


Deus Ex: Human Revolution – The Game

I played this game using a MacBook Pro and OnLive. It took me 33 hours to play it through on the medium setting; I earned 2,050 of 5,000 points and 28 of 49 achievements.

I really enjoyed the original Deus Ex back in the day, at the time the idea of “augments” that allowed you to update your player as you went along was pretty unique feature of the game. In Human Revolution the augments are brought to a new level.

The only places I feel this game stumbled is in explanation for how certain augments function and the number an location of side missions. There are a few augments that I thought would be always-on but instead require activation. I felt like I did a LOT of running from place to place for no good reason, just lots and lots of running. Not so much that it ruined the game but enough that I spent some time being bored out of my mind.

Also, I was unable to find any side missions later in the game, they may be there, but I did not find them. I enjoyed the early side missions and really appreciated the extra cash, weapons, and augments I was able to earn and would have really appreciated more later in the game.

From the game’s web site:

You play Adam Jensen, an ex-SWAT specialist who’s been handpicked to oversee the defensive needs of one of America’s most experimental biotechnology firms. Your job is to safeguard company secrets, but when a black ops team breaks in and kills the very scientists you were hired to protect, everything you thought you knew about your job changes

Badly wounded during the attack, you have no choice but to become mechanically augmented and you soon find yourself chasing down leads all over the world, never knowing who you can trust. At a time when scientific advancements are turning athletes, soldiers and spies into super enhanced beings, someone is working very hard to ensure mankind’s evolution follows a particular path.

You need to discover where that path lies. Because when all is said and done, the decisions you take, and the choices you make, will be the only things that can change it.

I rate this game a 8 out of 10 and recommend it for any fans of first person shooters.


Red Faction: Armageddon

Recently Onlive had a special offer to play Red Faction: Armageddon and Homefront for the 4 day Thanksgiving weekend. I didn’t like Homefront very much, the violence was a to much for me, but Red Faction: Armageddon was more to my liking.

Unlike Red Faction: Guerrilla, this version of the game is pretty much on rails with very little chances for the player to choose his own path. This is partly explained by the change in location, Armageddon takes place mostly underground instead of on the surface.

I did enjoy the new weapons, a few new mechs, and loads of new mobs.

I took me 11 hours to play all the way through the game at a medium setting. I was able to acquire 2,275 points and complete 25 of 48 available achievements.

From the Red Faction web site:

Half a century after the Red Faction resistance and their Marauder allies freed Mars from the brutal Earth Defense Force, harmony on Mars is again threatened but this time by a lethal force shrouded in mystery.

When the massive Terraformer that supplies Mars with its Earth-like air and weather is destroyed, the atmosphere turns to chaos, super-tornados and lightning storms engulf the planet. To survive, the Colonists flee to the underground mines and build a network of habitable caves.

Five years later, Darius Mason, grandson of Martian Revolution heroes Alec Mason and Samanya, runs a lucrative business from Bastion, underground hub of Colonist activity. Mining, scavenging, mercenary work–if the job is dangerous, Darius is your man. Few sane people now venture to the ravaged surface, aside from contractors like Darius and the smugglers who run goods between the settlements.

When Darius is tricked into reopening a mysterious shaft in an old Marauder temple, he releases a long-dormant evil and unleashes Armageddon on Mars. As Colonist and Marauder settlements are torn asunder, only Darius and the Red Faction can save mankind. The battle will take them across the storm-blasted planet–and below it, to the very heart of the unspeakable threat.

I rate this game a 6 out of 10 and recommend it for anyone looking for a quick FPS on rails fix.


Trine, The Game by Frozenbyte, Inc.

I bought Trine as part of the Humble Bundle 3 and played it on a Mac using Steam.

I really enjoyed Trine, it is my favorite game from the Humble Bundle 3 package, it is the only one I have had enough interest in to play all the way through.

The game is a side scrolling fantasy game with 3 characters, a fighter, a thief, and a wizard. You use only one of the characters at a time to complete the puzzles, fight the bad guys, and make your way through the maze of world. And what a beautiful world it is.

I took a lot of screen shots, but none of them do the game justice. There is always something to look at, the static artwork is amazing and the animations are glorious. Looking at the screenshots on the Trine web site also fail capture the beauty of the world.

If you want to see a good representation of what the gameplay looks like check out some of the video in 720p on Youtube, they look great. The abilities of the players in the demo put my game skillz to shame, especially with the wizard, the idea of being able to make a plank that is falling then use it to run and jump over a gap is jaw dropping to me. After watching some of these videos I am eager to play through again trying to use some of what I saw.

From the game’s web site:

Trine is a physics-based action game where three characters allow clever solutions to challenges created by hazardous puzzles and threatening enemies. The gameplay is based on fully interactive physics – each character’s different abilities and tactics can be used to invent new ways to overcome obstacles and save the kingdom!

I rate this game a 9 out of 10, it would be a 10 out of 10 but the last level was beyond me without dropping the skill level to easy, and then it was to easy.


Games I’ve Been Playing

I was thinking about it this week and even though I am a casual gamer I have been playing a lot of different games. Between playing Steam games on both Mac and Windows, OnLive games on the Mac, iPhone, and iPad games I realized I have been playing a lot of different games. Here are my thoughts on some of them.


I bought Trine as a part of the latest Humble Bundle and play it on the Mac through Steam.

This is such a great side-scroller. You play the rolls of a thief with a bow, a fighter with armor and a sword, and a wizard with the ability to create and move objects. You can switch between the three party members at any time, only one character is on the screen at a time, to complete the tasks presented.

The graphics are amazing, the music is mesmerizing, the voice acting sets the mood wonderfully, and the challenges presenting are a lot of fun.

I am not finished with it, only played for 4 hours so far, but am really looking forward to finishing it.

Red Faction: Guerrilla

I bought this game as one of OnLive’s $5 Friday deals and play it on Macs.

I am enjoying this game, it is ok, and it was a good value at $5, but… it is not great. After about 5 hours of gameplay I am getting a bit bored at the repetition of it.

It is a first person shooter (FPS) with drivable vehicles and multiplayer support. I am playing through the single player campaign. The single-player story has you on Mars as a miner turned rebel fighting to free the planet from the rule of the EDF who treat the miners poorly.

For an FPS the plot is ok, the mechanics are ok, the weapons are ok, but I am finding the effort to get new weapons and upgrades tedious.

I am not sure I will finish this game, but I plan on playing it at least another couple of hours before dropping it.

iPhone and iPad

I am playing the usual games of Sol Free, Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, Infinity Blade, ReBounce, Rage, and Azkend.

More than any other game though I am playing Zynga Poker. It is ok on the iPhone and very cluttered/confusing in a web browser, but on the iPad it is great.

Trine I rate a 9 out of 10
Red Faction: Guerilla I rate a 5 out of 10
Zynga Poker for the iPad I rate a 9 out of 10, on the iPhone a 7 out of 10, and in a web browser a 4 out of 10.