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Thoughts on State of Decay

State of Recay Review

Zombie games are rapidly approaching levels of overexposure similar to WWII games. Of course I can still enjoy them just like I could all the old WWII shooters, but even I’m starting to feel like I want something else to shoot at. State of Decay does do some interesting things to shake up the formula, though. Well, at least from my perspective. I’ve heard people mention it’s somewhat similar to Day Z but I wouldn’t know since I’ve never tried that particular game.

In State of Decay you aren’t just looking out for yourself. Sure you can run around killing zombies and collect useful weapons and supplies but you also have to help take care of the people holed up in your home base. This means keeping them stocked with food, medicine, ammo, construction supplies, etc. The numbers tick down every day and while I’m not entirely sure what happens if you run out, I do know that it obviously can’t be a good thing. You will also need to use these resources to upgrade your base and create various objects. The tricky part is that supplies don’t respawn so after you’ve already looted all the surrounding houses and sacked the local diner you are kind of a little screwed, forcing you to move on. It kind of creates the feeling that you aren’t necessarily trying to win so much as trying to hold out as long as you can before you lose. [Read more...]

Happy Wars

Happy Wars for Xbox Live Arcade

Attack the enemy team’s base, build and destroy defenses, cast spells, and brawl in this all-out-melee.

A really fun game called Happy Wars released recently on Xbox Live Arcade .  Happy Wars is a crazy third-person melee with up to 30 people divided into two teams.  The goal is to reach the other team’s base, break down the door (siege style), and destroy the objective.

There are three classes: Warrior, Cleric, and Mage.  The Cleric is perhaps the only class that doesn’t play exactly how you might expect because they can also build things, whereas the Mage and Warrior are purely offensive.  There are a few ability choices, and they’re utilized in a very beat’em up fashion.  Happy Wars feels a lot like Fat Princess — if that reference means anything to you then you’ll know.

Happy Wars is freemium.  The game itself is free, but you can buy upgrades and cosmetic outfits from their cash shop.  Pay-to-win is probably inevitable.  You can also use in-game currency earned by playing the game.

Matchmaking is currently borked.  Sometimes it takes a while to get a match, despite there being a ton of people playing, and other times one of us will be thrown out of the match when it starts syncing teams. Hopefully that issue, the only real problem we have with the game, will be fixed soon.

Happy Wars is very simple, cute, and worth checking out for free if you have Xbox Live Gold membership.

Spelunky

Spelunky, now synonymous with a dozen expletives in our house, released for XBLA last week.  It’s an addicting platformer with randomly generated levels, monsters, traps, and a ton of freedom to beat levels in your own way.  The trick is, it’s SO SPELUNKING HARD!  Death is so fast, sometimes so unseen, and absolutely mind-crushing when you can see the exit to the level but die to a poorly thrown rock or a ill-timed jump.

The goal is to make your way through levels to the exit while earning money, obtaining gear, rescuing damsels in distress, and discovering secrets. There’s a surprising layer of depth to the game, and as you play enough (and die enough) you come up with strategies for beating monsters or quickly progressing.

Shotguns, Freeze lasers, bombs, climbing gloves, spiked boots, hobos with shotguns, cavemen, ghosts that force you to keep moving at a faster pace, and dozens of annoying monsters make the game feel different every time you die. Break blocks to create shortcuts, use ropes to repel, whip each other playfully, buy from shops, sacrifice your friend damsel enemies on the altar of Kali, find hidden characters, and so much more.

We’ve had a blast with the same-system Co-op (2-4 players). Watch as we fail miserably. I may or may not scream like a girl at one point… or two.

There’s also a deathmatch mode that allows you to battle with your friends on the same system. It’s ridiculous. At this point our only complaint is that we wish there was an online multiplayer option.

Definitely check it out. It’s an amazing little game.

This is why I can’t leave Graev alone…

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light

Totec walking across Lara's Grappling Hook.

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is available today on XBLA (and not on PS3 or PC until Sept 28).  Graev and I picked it up for 1200 microsoft points, completing out summer collection which essentially awards us 1200 points so we semi-somewhat justify it as free.  It’s an isometric platformer/action game with puzzles, boss fights, hack n slash, upgrades and other forms of minor character progression.

Even if you don’t like the source materials, or like us know very little about Tomb Raider games of the past, there’s a very fun coop experience to be had here.  The game gets going very quickly with a brief still-movie/explanation of why you’re on this adventure.  You’re joined by your Mayan buddy Totec to stop the bad guy Xolotl who stole the Mirror of Smoke.  Here’s where coop comes in.  One player chooses Lara and the other chooses Totec.  The two have to make their way through the levels while killing bad guys, finding ways to get powersups/unlocks/artifacts, and work together.

Both characters have abilities that are required to advance in the levels.  For example, Totec can throw his Mayan spears of awesome into the wall and Lara’s light and nimble physique can jump on them to reach things or for whatever you would stand on spears to do.  Lara can shoot out rope which lets Totec grab it and swing or even tightrope walk on it when Lara has it attached to something.  Totec can raise his shield above him and Lara, again with that nimble balance, can stand on it to reach ledges.  Each character also has several other abilities or tools to help them on their own or as a duo. (Note: If you play solo it’s only Lara and she has the stuff needed to progress but the puzzles are different on coop to make it different and fun.)

There’s rumor of a multiplayer patch coming to Xbox 360 but for now, and even without it, it’s worth it to buy the game and play with a friend if you’re looking for some very solid coop gameplay.