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Well for those people who didn’t know I was planning it – I got Bioshock today. Wow oh wow.

This game is amazing and awesome. I love the huge amount of detail and scale of the game. It has a truly engaging story and interesting characters.

For those who are not familiar with the basic set-up of Bioshock, you play a man who survives a plane crash in the mid-Atlantic ocean in 1960. You find that you crashed at the base of a lighthouse in the centre of the ocean. Swimming to the lighthouse, you find a Bathysphere and descend into an underwater city called Rapture.

Rapture is the brainchild of a man named Andrew Ryan, who obviously read WAY too much Ayn Rand. He gathered some of the greatest minds and business people he could find to build this Art Deco city under the water. Unrestricted by “petty morality” and laws, the scientists create genetic wonders that defy belief. Unfortunately something went wrong… (OMG! A city built on Ayn Rand’s philosophy collapsing?! Who woulda thunk?)

Anyway – you find the city in the middle of a genetic civil war. Currently it is hard to figure out the sides of this war, but clearly one side is Ryan’s gene-perfected splicers – people who have gone absolutely mad, and worship the ever present “big brother” Ryan.

It has an amazing world where everywhere has the clues of what is going on. Upon arriving in Rapture, you find protest placards everywhere, newspapers strewn about with headlines such as “bloodshed causes demand for mass departures” and the like. Everywhere is evidence of how this city is falling apart.

Unlike most shooters, a majority of the levels are just open plan locations. Rarely is there one route to take – the game provides several places to explore during the play – with a handy map that shows where you can head off to.

I’m just constantly amazed by the scale and scope of things – and how freaking beautiful the game looks. It is just gorgeous. Sometimes I just stop and stare out at the underwater city, or the posters – it is a game that rewards you for taking the time to appreciate the level of detail and work that has gone into the game.

There are literally dozens of plasmids (the genetic superpowers) to choose from, and I’m getting the impression that the game has a lot of other hidden surprises – it isn’t just as simple as ten different weapons. There are scores of alternatives and options that make the game truly unique. Learn to watch the environment, as you can take on your opponents via a variety of environment traps (exploding oil slicks, water combined with electricity, gun turret death traps…)

Needless to say, Halo 3 definitely has a hell of a fight on its hands for single player value…

Heck, I’m off to play more now… and then maybe get some sleep before work!

Love and Huggles


Currently Reading: Changeling: The Lost
Currently Playing: REIGN, WFRP
Mood: Very pleased with his purchase…

“Hail Suppressor of Free Jester Speech!”

I’ve been hearing that a lot lately. That’s what you get for kicking Jester Minions in the teeth for jingling too much while I wander around my imposing throne room.

No, I haven’t gone over the edge, it’s my favourite Xbox 360 game that has taken over my life.

Overlord is the highly popular new Xbox 360/PC game of evil domination. You take on the role of a suspiciously Sauron-like overlord who commands armies of gremlin-like minions to help with his quest to subjugate and control the populace of a nice little fantasy realm.

See, the good guys defeated the last Overlord and without anyone to fight, they have fallen victim to the classical seven deadly sins. So while being people of good heart, they have become corrupt and it’s up to you to show these goody two-shoes what REAL evil is.

Ironically, you can be “good” evil or “corrupt” evil. Good evil is basically being evil by necessity – the classic, I’m a villain because there needs to be a villain. The people worship you because you get things done, and if it is at the cost of a few freedoms, so be it. At least ghastly little halflings aren’t stealing your food anymore and invaders are wary of messing with the realm.

Of course nobody talks about how you massacred the entire halfling population and fed their carcasses to your minions… but, hey, they were grotty little bastards anyway. 🙂

Or you can go corrupt evil. Rather than having the ignorant peasants cheering you on, they cower at your every step and offer up their daughters for sacrifice – just don’t burn their farms and kill their sons! Please!

Overlord is absolutely GORGEOUS to watch. The detail is amazing. Every blade of grass, every flare of the sun, the rippling water – this game is stunning to play. Your overlord avatar is a bit wooden, but he is supposed to have just emerged from a crypt… however the real stars are the minions. They are simply amazing to observe.

There are essentially four “races” of minion – each with their own specialty. Browns are the chaotic fighters, Greens are the expert battlers and assassins, Reds are ranged support and Blues are healers. You are given various loose missions that involve rebuilding your trashed Dark Tower, gathering the four lost tribes of Minions and generally grinding everything else under your heel.

The minions have an amazing AI – they can be controlled at the same time as your own avatar, but they will often interpret their instructions based upon their own personalities. Each race has a certain “trait” of behaviour. Browns are cheeky little buggers who will grab anything they can find to use as a weapon, to the point that they will grab pumpkins and rat carcasses for helmets. Greens will convert weapons into suitable shivs and wolverine type claws, while Reds and Blues will hunt out armour.

While the minions start out all looking the same, it is this cheeky AI that will soon have them turn into a hilarious motley of characters. I’m constantly amazed by the results of their rampages. After one fight with an oversized halfling king, one of the little tykes grabbed his crown and began pushing his way to the front of the horde. Another time saw them trash a kitchen, and I found five or six of the minions running around with an assortment of pots, pans and frying skillets that had been beaten into helmets.

This means that even though the game has a constant need to back-track over previously visited zones, there is always something hilarious and new to see. The minions keep surprising you with their antics – from grabbing beer mugs off tables and getting drunk to riding sheep while batting the animals on the head with clubs, sticks and axes.

Furthermore, combat is rarely tedious. While it is tempting to simply overwhelm an enemy with numbers, often tactical planning works better. Organising your horde into ambush, bait and ranged attack makes for some impressive options.

And all done with an incredibly intuitive control system.

But that’s not all. The game also has a remarkable amount of depth with the Overlord himself. See, it’s not enough to control ravening hordes of gremlins. After all, what self-respecting Overlord would want to live in a ruined tower? You can customise the appearance of your throne room and external tower segments with spikes and buttresses, imposing statues and a variety of tabards.

Then you can go down to the forge and produce new armour and weapons, with the aid of your ever loyal minions who happily throw themselves into the molten metal to imbue your creations with their dear little essences.

Not enough? Well there is also the grudge match dungeon where you can face off against hordes of previously defeated enemies to gain resources, weapons and life-force with which to create more of your insane hordes.

Overlord is a game that never grows old. There is always something new around the corner. It has a great sense of humour – kind of Fable mixed with a nice sarcastic touch. The opportunity to completely trash hobbiton is incredibly cathartic. Watching the hobbits – er, halflings – flee for their lives as your minions rampage through their town, smash down the doors of their houses and pillage all the gold, weapons and booze before relieving their bladders so as to cause the buxom waitresses to run off screaming is a sight to behold.

This is the game that convinced me to get an Xbox 360 more than any other. Much like Fable convincing me to go to Xbox a few years back, this game is a real stunner! 😀

Love and Huggles


Currently Reading: REIGN
Currently Playing: REIGN, WFRP

August 2007

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