Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Kate Reviews: Dungeon Siege III

Four heroes with stories of their own.  What will yours be?

Release Date: 6-21-2011
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Publisher: Square Enix
Genre: RPG
ESRB Rating: T for Teen (Blood, Violence, Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Themes)
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Reviewed On: Xbox 360
Original Sale Price: $59.99
Reviewer Purchase Price:$11.68@Amazon 

Back-of-the-Box Info
  • Players 1-2
  • Co-Op 2
  • 2 MB to save game
  • In-game Dolby Digital
  • HDTV 720p/1080i/1080p
  • Online multiplayer 1-4
  • Co-op 2-4
  • Voice
Game website: 
DLC available at the time this blog is written:
  1. Treasures of the Sun (avail 10-25-2011) $9.99

Now, I realize this game was released a long time ago and I am just now playing/reviewing it, but a good game is a good game, right? I got a sweet deal on it and I was a fan of the first in the series on PC in 2002, so I figured it was worth a try.

Starting point in Dungeon Siege III
Starting point in Diablo III
The moment I took control of the character I had chosen and headed up the pathway toward a dilapidated mansion gate, I got the distinct impression that this was a very Diablo-esque game.  Boy, was I right.  From the top-down perspective to the lighting in the dark environment to the join-in-progress cooperative gameplay, this game kept reminding me of Diablo at every turn; not that that's a bad thing.  Even my husband who has only watched me play Diablo III a few times and played the original one himself many years ago, asked if I was playing D3.  It was, in many ways, a departure from the gameplay of the original Dungeon Siege, but not to its detriment.  It kept enough to be discernibly Dungeon Siege but changed up some of the more grueling aspects of the original.  The pack mule and the difficult inventory limits are gone and there was even a comical nod to the beloved mule from the previous games.

"The pitiful corpse of a mule has been left at the roadside.  Other travelers have wandered off with the many suits of armor, sacks of gold, and impractically large battleaxes that collectively crushed the poor beast."

There are four playable characters from which to choose to start the game.  They fall into the typical archetypes:

sword & shield master
elemental magic / melee shape-shifter

magic user
long-range huntswoman

This game has some great RPG elements. 
Skills can be upgraded with an easy-to-learn system.  Better weapons, armor, and items are plentiful and are acquired though looting dead enemies, treasure chests, and from item shop vendors.  Each character follows the same overall tale, but the story is personalized to tell how the events have and will affect that character.  Dialog options will appear and will often affect another character's feelings and reactions towards you.  Your choices can also affect events in the game.  Even if you choose a callus or hard-hearted response it never feels like you made the wrong choice.  It feels just as organic to the character and story as if you were to choose a neutral or more positive selection.  I thought the story was pretty well thought out and it was entertaining and had the right level of drama and tension.  I particularly enjoyed the way in which much of the main story was told: with charcoal-type drawings and by a wonderful storyteller.  It was somewhat reminiscent of the storytelling in the Fable series. 

An interesting feature that I haven't been able to delve much into because of the age of the game is the co-op feature.   I did get into a few other players' games and it was pretty fun, however the camera angle becomes locked making it difficult to see exactly where you need to go or treasure chests that might be hiding just out of sight.  It was thoughtful design to make it so that if your partner got too far away or behind, they would be transported to your location.  Co-op was drop in-drop out which was pretty helpful.  Overall I like it, but it was a bit frustrating trying to find a co-op partner.  Local co-op was fun as well. 

  • Almost no loading
  • Nice visual effects
  • Decision-based story lines
  • Fantastic storyteller
  • Superb audio
  • No inventory shuffling
  • Plenty of replay value
  • No wrong choices
  • LOOT!
  • Square-Enix registration doesn't work (at the time of this review)
  • I didn't buy this sooner when more people were online to play Co-op with

The Wrap Up

This game was worth every penny of the almost $12 I paid for it and then some.  One of my biggest complaints is not really being able to play co-op which held the promise of fun adventures.  I absolutely recommend this game to RPG fans and gamers who just like a good story.  With 3 difficulty levels, this is a challenging adventure for most everyone.  Oh, and I definitely recommend playing it with your headphones on.  Even the main menu screen sounds amazing.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Kate Reviews: CastleStorm 

Knights Vs. Vikings


Release Date:  5/29/2013
Developer:  ZEN Studios Ltd.
Publisher:  Microsoft Studios
Genre:  Action & Adventure, Strategy, Simulation
ESRB Rating: T for Teen (blood, violence)
Platform: Xbox Live Arcade, PS3, PC, Vita, WinPhone, iPhone, Wii U
Reviewed on: XBLA
Original Sale Price: $9.99
Reviewer purchase price: $4.99

  • Offline Players 1-2
  • Offline Co-op
  • Stereoscopic 3D
Online Features
  • Online Multiplayer 1-2
  •  Online Co-op 2
  • DLC
  • Leaderboards
  • Voice Chat

I wasn't sure what I was getting when I downloaded CastleStorm on XBL.  It was on sale for half off of the regular price of $9.99 and seemed different from everything else in my collection.  Here's how the XBL description sold it:
It’s Knights vs. Vikings in CastleStorm, where medieval warfare meets 2D physics-based destruction! Controlling the battle in real time, players will harness the power of medieval artillery, manage a fearsome ground attack, and cast powerful spells! CastleStorm features a story-driven solo campaign, a custom castle editor, online multiplayer, co-op modes, and more. Building castles and knocking them down has never been so much fun!
Really all I read was medieval, destruction, and castle editor.  I was sold already; the rest was filler.  The description and the sale price were intriguing enough for a purchase.  As soon as the game loads it asks if I want to enable Stereoscopic 3D.  Hells YES!  I wasn't even aware it was 3D-enabled so this was a cool bonus as I don't have many good 3D games.  A first-world problem, amiright?
medieval destruction of a castle in CastleStorm on Xbox Live Arcade, XBLA

It starts slow since there are varied methods of play to learn and accompanying controls to master. 
Control a Ballista and use different types of upgradeable ammunition to knock down the opposition's castle.  It's physics based so if you are unfamiliar with the play-type, think Angry Birds and Wreckateer. The aiming is a bit hard to master, but crushing the Vikings' castle is so satisfying.

Control Ground Troops like swordsmen, paladins, archers, dragons, and priests.  That mechanic is a bit like a tower defense game where picking the correct types and leveling them can affect the results on the battlefield.  They aren't controlled directly; they are purchased using a renewing pool of resources and are set out at the foot of the castle where they traverse the path between the two castles and fight any enemy in their way.

Magic spells and the summoning of a hero (who looks strangely a bit like my brother) can be chosen to aid in battle.  Controlling the hero is quite a bit of hack-and-slack fun as he, like the magic spells, can be leveled up to do a great deal of damage.

These elements are interchangeable at any time and can be selected to carry out the strategy desired.

  • So freaking funny
  • Different ways to play the game
  • Some of the best 3D I've seen yet
  • Customizable castle, troops, spells, and ammo to perfect a strategy
  • Accurately aiming the ballista is more tedious than it should be

The Wrap Up

This game has a lot of corny humor that completely delighted me and was reminiscent of the Deathspank series which are some of my favorite XBLA games.  It jokingly referenced other games like Angry Birds and The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim.  I really enjoyed playing this in 3D and it looked spectacular.  I'm having fun playing this game and am really glad I got it.
Interested? Check it out and buy it on XBL HERE.

Monday, September 16, 2013

A Quick Look at My GameStation

AKA Where I Save The World From Evil 

I took a quick pic the other day to post in a thread about gaming setups on a forum I frequent for gamer gals.  It didn't take long to see that each setup said a lot about the chic who gamed there.  The girls who posted a lot about nail polish or makeup often had polish and lip gloss on their desk.  Some were tidy, some were messy.  Some had neat ways to organize their games.  Some areas were tiny and smooched into whatever corner they could carve out for gaming, but others were rooms dedicated to the hobby. 

Anakin Playing Games with Me!
I had all my junk out for doing my manicure.
 I move quite often (seven times in the last thirteen years, five in the last six), so I don't always spend the time or money to spiff up my gaming area the way I'd like; I keep it useful, organized, and easy to pack.  I was lucky enough to have a nice area in my last house and a whole room in this one for my gaming. I have the main wall for my collectibles rolling shelf (pictured here with a black lace shower curtain hanging from S-hooks to keep everything from getting dusty), my main gaming desk, and a small filing cabinet that I've had since I was in elementary school- hence the stickers...look close, you might recognize some!  I've added a few over the years; it's just a quirky way to remember my childhood!

I didn't take a pic of how I have the rest of the room right now, but here is one from my last place.  It's similar now.  I moved my leopard geckos to the pet room and ended up using one entire case for just Xbox 360 games.  So now to the right of my desk is a wall of these half-size bookshelves with my games in groups by console and in alphabetical order.  I also have some notebooks, pens, and PC software on them.  On top of the bookshelves is a Yankee Candle "Man Town" and over each is a framed poster- the two-sided pre-order poster that came with Black Ops II.  I had pre-ordered a copy for myself and one for my husband, so I framed them both so I could see each side. There's also a lamp and a few fancy boxes for little loose things like game authenticators, extra cell phone cases, and USB drives. 

The wall to the left of the desk is a wall of windows looking out at the adjacent pond and hillside of cows.  I keep the outer two covered with silvery drapes and the inner two tied back with simple satiny black bows.  This pic was taken in April 2013.  I keep an ottoman under the window and Ani likes to lay there and look outside.  Sometimes he wants to be right with me and to keep him from being in the way, I'll pull the ottoman beside me and let him lay there. 

Behind me is the office space where I have an old desk, the wireless printer, a cabinet for my mags, an oscillating fan (because I tend to get too warm when I am playing intense matches!), and a closet for out of use gaming equipment and the boxes that everything came in (to make packing easier and keep everything protected, I keep most of the boxes).  Hubby usually works on his laptop and household paperwork there.

So there is a quick look at my headquarters for Saving The World from Evil!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Dealio: Mass Effect 3 for $7.99

At Best Buy today only:

Mass Effect 3 for Xbox 360 is $7.99

Mass Effect 3 for Playstation 3 for $7.99

These are super-great prices on a super-great game.  If you don't already have it, seriously, jump on this NOW!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Kate Reviews: Bejeweled Blitz

Commercial break? Time to Blitz!

 I played this game on: Apple iPhone 4S          I bought this game for: FREE

  • Quick playtime
  • Great graphics & audio
  • Good updates
  • Occasional freebies
  •  It's not perfect but I don't think there's any "cons" 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Kate Reviews: Far Cry 3

Dip your toe into the crazy-end of this shark-infested pool.

You'll thank me later.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

$10 Store Credit- XBOX ONE Promo from Microsoft


Click HERE to go to the Microsoft page that will let you enter your email for a $10 Promo gift.

Here's what it says:
"For a limited time, get a $10 online store credit when you sign-up for pre-order notification*"


XBOX ONE Reveal 2013

     The XBOX ONE Reveal just ended at just over 1 hour long.  There weren't too many surprises, but I was glad to finally just see what the thing looked like.  It's a sexy beast that I will be happy to have on my gaming desk.  It reminds me of what the 80's thought "modern" looked like.  Not a bad thing in my opinion. 

Release Date: "Later This Year"-  Well, isn't that just a crock of shit.  I have anticipated that it will release with the PS 4 "this holiday" at least.  Maybe this means it will be sooner.  Lots of details were teased to be releasing at E3.  I hope the release date is one of them.

Specs: 8GB RAM, USB 3.0 and Wifi Direct, 300,000 servers, 1080P HD Camera on the Kinect, Cloud Content Saves

The gist of The Reveal:

Monday, May 20, 2013

Spring Cleaning Challenge!

I was inspired by the Raptr contest called

Raptr Spring Cleaning Challenge: Tame your 2012 pile of shame

 I'm a pretty organized person so instead of a pile, I have a shelf of shamefully yet-to-be-played/finished games.  Some of the them are still wrapped.  There are reasons.  There are always reasons. I have imaginary rules for everything and I feel uncomfortable and unsettled if I break them.

The Raptr contest is basically this: you get one entry for each game on the list that you complete within the time frame.  For a game to be considered complete, you have to have earned the story-ending achievement.  

Since I have several games on the list, I thought I might be able to bang a few out before the deadline.  I have completed The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, Far Cry 3, The Darkness II during the challenge, and am currently finishing Lollipop Chainsaw, Halo 4, Borderlands 2, and Call of Duty Black Ops II.  Unfortunately I finished Dishonored a few days before the contest started :(
The other games from the Raptr list that I have and could complete to get an entry:
  • Borderlands 2
  • Black Ops II
  • Final Fantasy XIII-2 (I seriously thought I had finished this one!)
  • Halo 4
  • Journey
  • Lollipop Chainsaw
  • Mass Effect 3
Most of those are tough and/or massive.  For instance, I accidentally deleted my super-complete Mass Effect 1 &2 save file when I started Mass Effect 3, and  I haven't been able to bring myself to replay them because it makes me furious at myself! And according to The Kate-Rules of Gameplay, I HAVE to replay them in order; ME is not going to happen.  I'm really glad I saw this challenge as I was inspired to play some of these great games that I have been putting off while I was working on other projects. Spring cleaning has never been so much fun!

If you want to join me on Raptr for this challenge or just to buddy-up,
Here's my Raptr Profile Page

Leave me a comment on this blog and let me know how your spring-cleaning pile is coming!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Kate Reviews: The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings


 The hottest guy on the block takes out whoever stands between him and his past.

The Pros
  • Interesting storytelling and lore
  • Stellar cutscene animation and dialog
  • Unique playstyle and mechanics
  • Several ways and difficulties to play
  • Different scenarios unfold depending on your choices
 The Cons
  • Rendering and sound issues for the first second of many cutscene animations
  • Setting selections are unclear and default settings are crazy-weird
  • About 5 seconds of -LOADING- for nearly every door opened
  • The invisible aiming reticule makes for haphazard loot pickups

     This was a lusty introduction to The Witcher series for me.  I am somewhat intrigued to play the first iteration in the franchise and try out The Witcher 3 that's currently in development.  I had no idea of what to expect when I bought The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Version on sale for $9.99 at Best Buy. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Kate-Rules for Gameplay

The Kate-Rules for Gameplay: 

  1.  Games suited for a certain season should be played in that season
    E.g. Amped 3 is a snowboarding game and so should be played in winter.  Baja Edge of Control takes place in a desert and so should be played in the summer. Anything with zombies or is scary like Alan Wake should be played near Halloween.  Except Dead Island because it's on a resort island so it's a summer-zombie game. (I didn't say that the rules make sense to anyone but me)
  2. Games in a franchise should be played in order
    You just don't play Assassin's Creed 3 before the original! Even if the stories aren't dependent on each other, I must play them in order.  I do like to see how the franchise has progressed and improved (or not).  And to miss a chunk of story? That is a heinous crime IMO!  Story telling is one of the biggest reasons that I love games.
  3. No flippy-flopping!
    I pick a game, stick with it through the end, and hopefully get all the achievements for it before I put in another game.  Here's what happens when I flippy-flop (and is the reason why I have so many unfinished games): I get a game, get really into it, get close to the end, get a new game on sale for a great price that I'm excited to play, put it in, play it a while, go back to the old game and can't remember how to play or what I was in the middle of doing, get frustrated at the thought of starting it over, shelve it.
  4. Don't be an achievement whore.
    I am totally an achievement whore as my Raptr profile can attest, but I am on the road to recovery. I refuse to play a game just for the achievement points.  If I am just not into a game (I'm looking at you, Dead or Alive 4 and PGR 3), I don't mind letting it sit there and collect dust as atonement for being so sucky. 
  5. Must be complete.
    Most games now have DLC, season passes, or expansions.  If I a get a just-released game (which doesn't happen often) that I know is going to RULE and I'm going to play all the time like whatever the newest CoD game is, I will get the season pass and stay up-to-date on DLC at a discount.  I completely hate playing a game that has DLC or an expansion that I don't have, so I will wait until there's a sale on DLC or the GOTY edition to play it.  E.g. I got Skyrim last Christmas with the awesome dragon statue and I played it for a couple of weeks but then DLC came out that I wasn't going to get right away so I shelved it.  Just this week it was announced that Bethesda will not be releasing anymore content for it and in June 2013 will be selling a Legendary edition with all the DLC that was available for it.  Sweet.
  6. Campaign Co-Op games get played with friends.
    Lots of games nowadays have campaign co-op.  I love co-op but only with RL friends who game, and I don't have many.  Hubby has his own Xbox360 too so I will catch a good deal on a second copy and cross my fingers that we have time to play together.  We never do.  We started Borderlands almost 4 months ago and only played via LAN twice.  Left For Dead is awesome in co-op but I only have one copy, so there it sits still in shrink wrap.  I'd like playing co-op with friends-list friends but I have a hard time understanding people sometimes because of my hearing loss, so even with using my Astro A-50 headset (which is sweet!), I feel like I don't always understand people and it's just frustrating.  Most of the time the problem is folks who use bad english or don't enunciate.
  7. Be thorough.
    If I don't have the time or patience to  thoroughly play a game start-to-finish with all the side quests and collectibles, etc., then I just wait until I do.
  8. Unfinished games get restarted.
    Sometimes I will go years without putting in a game and it's so awkward to feel like I'm coming into the middle of the story and this half-fleshed out character, so I'll just restart.  Time consuming, sure, but I will feel satisfied that I got the whole story in one sitting.
*Please note that my rules are a result of my perfectionist and neurotic self and not the way I think "normal" people should play ;)

Friday, April 26, 2013

iPhone Games I'm Currently Playing

Bookworm Heroes

You don't have to be a smarty-pants to be a bookworm.

This game is one of the best competitive games I've played on my iPhone.  I have other word games like Scrabble and assorted games that are somewhat fun to play in turns with friends like Skee-ball 2, but I can really see myself playing this game for a while.