Tag Archives: video

BAM. Ride Along – GRID 2 (Hong Kong Touge)

Hello everyone, today you’re catching part of a new video series for BAM. where I (VX2) take on new and old racing titles within my Steam library. We’re checking out GRID 2 in a series of Touge races. Today focuses on Hong Kong’s Peak Road Descent in the daytime hours, it’s a street track that has a few twists and turns that throw off the weight of the car at higher speeds. In the later sections there are lower speed areas that lead into tighter corners where racers have to decide entry and exit strategy to keep up the fastest line until the last break on a long bending stretch of highway.

Personally for the Touge races I favor 4WD because I like to hang the car out a little more and make a show not only for the replay but for myself. The GT-R allows for this and in the rougher sections of Hong Kong I don’t stress the traction loss as hard as there are more chances to recover the car (although that didn’t stop me from hitting some walls in the replay at inconvenient times). It’s a personal preference although I’ve done well with RWD and FWD cars of other power levels and designs, when I want to have some fun it’s easier to do it here with that 5SPD transmission and have enough drag off the line to really put it to any opponent so I can grab that first corner in Tier 3 racing.

I hope everyone enjoys the video, there are more coming this season as I tackle more GRID 2, GRID Autosport, DiRT 3, DiRT Rally, Assetto Corsa and pretty much anything else I can get my hands on.

My setup:
AMD FX-8320 @ 4.4GHz
ASUS R9 290 DirectCUII @ 1000/1250
Gigabyte 990FXA-UD3
Logitech G27 Racing Wheel
DXRacer King Series – OH/KS57/NB

Black Ice – Cyberpunk FPS, Hacking, RPG begins a journey

Retro inspired games have a unique market, generally delivering 2D sprite based environments as a throwback to the early days of gaming. Black Ice goes in a different direction, instead focusing on the neon glow that haunted the 80’s with a dash of Tron inspired computer environments in a 3D world. It’s a game of hack and dash with RPG elements as players have to tackle difficult hacks to obtain crucial tech to advance and eventually take down the master system.

While it sounds potentially easy, it’s a mind boggling mess, shooting speed and ammo are based on available RAM (within the game world) cycle speed and other factors are crucial for survival. While it seems like a given to just beef up your memory and hacking  speed it’s not that easy, Black Ice provides an array of enemies including reaaally annoying spiders that slowly eat away at your soul / health. Normally I don’t care about insects of any level, suddenly I do and I can thank this game for that.

It’s not all trauma, the weapons are brilliant when you have the right stats, using a plasma cutter to mow through everything (yes everything) is magically rewarding given how swarms bite and chip away so often.

While words could go on forever about Black Ice in it’s early stages of development, I’ll leave it to the two current videos recorded to demonstrate what there is within. If you’d like to try Black Ice for yourself, head over to the website and grab the latest demo.

Review – Alien Rage (PC)

At E3 this year I was able to catch a glimpse of Alien Rage, an sci-fi shooter aiming to bring back some memories from the old days of Unreal combined with score counters, combo levels and heavy levels of AI swarms and massive bosses. This isn’t Gears or COD, its a massive solo assault on a horde of bad guys set on total annihilation.

Our review focus on the PC version in single player mode, Alien Rage is launching soon and as the servers populate with traffic I’ll have a feature for that. The game takes place on a mining rock where humans and aliens clash over the most powerful potential fuel in the universe.  Things go sour and soon the aliens are the only ones standing still, to even the score and keep the Earth safe, a lone soul lands and sets forward on fixing the score.

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Alien Rage focuses on discovery (finding audio files to fill in the history) and massive amounts of survival and scoring players on how well they can do it. While this might seem easy, it’s actually rough because the AI rushes, shoots longer and uses technology beyond what players have. It’s a bit stacked against players and then you get the big boys, the guardians who occupy the main transitions it’s just a massive stab at proportional balance as they have bigger guns and just general size.

Thankfully there’s a motivator, Alien Rage has scoring, combos, achievements and well, scoring. Every combo, every headshot, every melee combo and successive streak rings with badges, bonuses and rewards for taking down hordes, it’s excessive to the point where you can run around even a minute later and have the game catch up with how much damage and how many streaks and combinations you’ve executed in a short spree just prior. 

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Action comes from a variety of weapons, machine guns, shotguns, rifles, rocket launchers and so much more. Each possessing primary and secondary firing options, for pure players, the primary presents a unique challenge to progression but it’s possible. Secondary firing modes are incredibly powerful, they are the equalizer to any flood and they decimate anything in their path. Alien Rage offers tons of options and it’s up to players to manage ammo and the best gun for the job before death just pours in from all sides.

 

This quick impressions video drives home all the reasons I loved checking out this game, if you can’t take people talking on video just skip to about 40 seconds and watch what I assembled for you.

Performance wise, the Unreal 3 engine continue challenging PC’s, Alien Rage delivers intense environments with heavy particles, detailed textures, depth of field and so many other options. It’s a gun’s blazing joy ride through a world of eye candy. On the test system (Phenom II X4, 7870) there haven’t been issues going into launch for speed and the frame rate at the recommended setting of High post-processing, medium textures and medium shadows ran at 60fps solid with few dips.

Coming in at $19.99 (15.99 if you pre-order) Alien Rage is a great value on the PC, the single player experience is incredible and long and torturing even for experienced players, crank up the difficulty and it will simply induce nightmares for weeks. If you’re on Xbox or Playstation, the game does not include online play but the single player is strong enough to keep players engaged.

PC gamers can find Alien Rage on Steam tomorrow, I suggest lining up early for those $4 off while it lasts.

The good:

  • Intense action in single player that isn’t rushed along
  • Tons of weapons with their primary and secondary fire modes
  • Immense boss fights, incredible odds at stake
  • Gorgeous level design and details surrounding each area
  • Scoring allows players to challenge themselves when replaying levels

The not so good:

  • For difficulty sensitive players, Alien Rage doesn’t just roll over
  • Graphics really do benefit from higher level settings

Review – King of Fighters XIII – Steam Edition

The King of Fighters lands on Steam, bringing the latest engine packed with redrawn visuals, HD backgrounds and tons of goodies that make the game pretty exciting to play on the desktop, notebook or what keeps players gaming now. It pops in at $29.99 on the market and delivers online and offline competition to keep the challenges coming. For those wondering if it’s just a plain rehash, it’s not, the game also packs in Iori, Nests and Mr. Karate DLC to drive the roster to 36 characters. All the Xbox DLC in one spot for this celebratory installment so that really adds some extra value for a title I’m sure many didn’t see coming to the PC.

When KOF XIII launched on the 360 a while back, I enjoyed the game as it was a large improvement over XII which lacked in move variety and options. It’s not the perfect installment although they kept pushing to make up for it by including DLC characters to complete the fan requests and build a diverse lineup. My stance on KOF XIII remains the same, the story, AI, character moves and experience are memorable and are easy to return to. Players can beat the game with pure domination, come back a month later and get destroyed just because they were slow or missed a connection. It’s always fun, it’s always a challenge and learning new moves and combinations every time is just really rewarding.

The graphics are beautiful on the PC, crisp on my LCD’s and it scales surprisingly well in Eyefinity, character resolution in the art is able to scale heavily for the game it’s just fantastic. Those hoping for a vivid and crisp experience are in for a treat using classic 2D mechanics vs cell styling or a 3D engine trying to support classic fighting mechanics. The only flaw is a simple one, on my build I was unable to display subtitles, it made the cut scenes dry as those without knowledge of Japanese aren’t able to take note of the events unfolding.

Where it all gets a bit sideways is the online experience, SNK is working like mad to get this fixed and optimized but in the moment, it’s sketchy. The beta leading in had decent latency (not amazing but not awful) but at release I was unable to find players at all with the search stalling. People love competition, this is a huge item for SNK to tackle if they want KOF to really take off, it’s not the first game of the genre to launch on the PC and others have bridged this gap. If it’s a matter of days or week’s it’s hard to say, if they return to the netcode from the most recent branch it would return the game to an online playable state even if that includes some ghosting or glitching.

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Additionally, controls are suffering from issues when using specialty hardware, Hori sticks have reports of issues and those hoping to use custom keys for keyboard input face limitations in an awkward array.  Trying to use my arcade stick I wasn’t able to properly map buttons which neutralized the use of it in the review. I was able to use an old Logitech USB controller but that’s about it. Very unfortunate but it’s part of the ongoing patch list for KOF now, it is a hard disappointment but using at least some form of controller helped keep the delivery. Even having an ini file to manipulate would aid heavily.

I love KOF games, I have since they debuted in my hometown arcade, watching the series expand, experiment and evolve has been fun but gaming is moving into the personal space so KOF has to adapt to the times to survive. I just wish SNK was able to perfect a system that had suffered some setbacks even on the Xbox 360 for quality. Right now there are many hoping the net play to shape up again and that’s just a rough hit for everyone.

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King of Fighters XIII Steam Edition rewards players with DLC and a real arcade experience, unfortunately it now struggles to deliver on network experiences for online play and control. Fighting enthusiasts love their hardware and they love beating up on each other, both of those have obstructions and it’s hurting that word of mouth and hype train. I want to see the Steam Edition flourish with players and fans so we can see more installments but buyers need more than this and hopefully it comes through.

The good:

  • Beautiful visuals, detailed and crisp delivery
  • Fluid frame rate, 60fps solid with great response
  • Controls that work deliver quick movement and easy actions
  • Strong AI and challenges, keeping players on their toes constantly
  • Custom character options, design their look as desired

The not so good:

  • Netcode is buggy, matches are hard to find or lagging needs improvement still
  • Controller support is off, Hori, X-Arcade and other models are struggling to deliver
  • Subtitles enabled please? None available at 1920×1200.

Would I say it’s worth the investment? Yes, in general King of Fighters is a good bet, the SP campaign has lasted with the test of time and a full roster of 36 characters makes it extremely enjoyable. One can hope that SNK continues to heavily devote themselves to fixing the control and network issues and this release will stand out as a gem. Given their interactions with the community so far, it seems likely we’ll see brighter days ahead.

Link: King of Fighters XIII Steam Edition Product Page (Steam)