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Review: Legacy of the Beast

Iron Maiden’s well publicised RPG now available on the Apps Store and Google Play has been well promoted by the band during their latest world tour supporting “The Book of Souls”. The game draws inspiration from all the bands previous albums and combines the music and artwork that fans have come to love with the tried formula of a turn based RPG. As you might expect the gameplay isn’t anything unique for mobile RPGs with a simple levelling system and well throughout skill trees combined with a plethora of in app purchases. This was never going to be the draw of “Legacy of the Beast” as it has been a game designed for hard-core fans who would recognise every reference from the bands back catalogue.

The game is well conceived to take advantage of Maiden’s mascot Eddie as you must play through a series of worlds from the Ailing Kingdom (The Wicker Man), The Kingdom of the Sands (Powerslave) and The Underworld (Number of the Beast) in order to recover the pieces of Eddie’s soul. Playing through each world unlocks another portion of Eddie’s soul and an aspect of the mascot to add to your playable characters which are interchangeable during play to capitalise on  their unique abilities.

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Beyond the inspiration for each world it’s not surprising that the developers have managed to squeeze in as many references to the bands body of work wherever possible. The newest album features strongly in the games mechanics as the book of souls which you collect early in the tutorial phrase allows you to utilise soul shards in order to summon creatures to help Eddie as he fight his way an army of cultist. However, the others are all their somewhere in different ways like the equitable items called talismans (The Final Frontier) the ever present guide called “The Clairvoyant” (Seventh Son of the Seventh Son) or a line of dialogue.

The result is a real blast for any Maiden fan as you can’t help prove your knowledge of the band by picking up all the little nodes to individual tracks. A soundtrack of some of the bands greatest hits is just the icing on the cake but is the element that obviously has pulled everything else together.

Iron Maiden is getting its own RPG, coming to Android this summer

http://www.appy-geek.com/Web/ArticleWeb.aspx?regionid=3&articleid=56069988&source=wordpress

I saw this on my daily tech feeds and thought it was the perfect combination, gaming, tech and Iron Maiden. The uniqueness of Maiden’s catalog should make this intresting since each album either has a setting in a different culture, explores a supernatural entity or embraces science fiction. In addition the bands mascot, Eddie, provides a central character for gaming to utalise rather than band members. It’s not the first time Maiden has expanded into gaming either with 1999’s Ed Hunter, a rail shooter for PC. This experiment  complemented the bands greatest hits using the album covers as inspiration for each level much like ‘Legacy of the Beast’ plans to but hopefully as this is marketed as an RPG we can expect a little more from gameplay than Ed Hunter.

Normally I don’t use my phone for gaming but for this will make an exception since its going to have a killer soundtrack.

Up the Irons
Jono

10 best journeys to a galaxy far, far away

Considering The Force Awakens is still dominating the box office I thought I might do a countdown of my top 10 games that took us into a galaxy far, far away. Just a quick disclaimer as a console gamer there is only one PC game on the list and I haven’t played anything that predates the N64, so if one of your favourites doesn’t appear don’t hold it against me but would love your opinion in the comments.

10.Shadow of the Empire – N64 (1997)

I’m not going to argue that Shadow is a perfectly produced game but it had a really good bases as it allowed players to take on a unique character that shared traits with one of the favourite hero form the films without having a predetermined outcome. In addition, it was possibly the first Star Wars game which combined different modes of game play whether it’s plying on foot as Dash Render or piloting the Outrider. The opening stage is definitely a highlight and while most players find it drops away the longer you play it definitely opened up possibilities for the future.

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9.Republic Commandos – PC/Xbox (2005)

A unique chapter in Star Wars gaming as players take command of an elite band of clones rather than the usual role of a hero. This first person shooter developed using the Unreal engine has obvious similarities with other squad based games like Gears of War released a year later, as players can be revived by squad mates and issue commands. Therefor it’s no surprise the fast paced action left players wanting more and the only real drawback was the short length of the campaign and multiplayer.

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8.The Force Unleashed – PS2, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii (2008)

Excellent graphics, a good storyline and a well voiced protagonist helped this game establish itself as one of the best sellers for 2008. However, The Force Unleashed was well hyped before its release and the repetitive method of game play combined with the absence of multiplayer disappointed some fans. Never being much of an online gamer this was never that much of a drawback and I just try to change up my own tactics to keep it interesting, after all where else can you electrify your lightsaber before thronging it.force_unleashed_1a-1920x1200

7.Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga – Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PC (2007)

Combining one of the most successful toys and Star Wars started something as the Lego series has since expanded to including Indiana Jones, Batman, Harry Potter and The Avengers. These games allow players to jump into well-known story lines and regularly change amongst their favourite characters while experience a fun easy to learn method f game play. Star Wars was able to capitalise on this combination due to its wide fan base and the desire to play through the events of the films for less serious gamers. Lego Star Wars might not be anything special on game play but all the sequel means that it has definitely had an impact.

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6.The Old Republic – PC (2011)

The only exclusive PC game on my list grab my attention due to its console origins is an MMORPG based 3500 years before the films. On release it became the fastest growing MMORPG but after the initial surge it had trouble keeping subscribers and has since introduced a free-to-play option.

The game play draws heavily from its predecessors and distinguishes itself from other MMORPG’s through the introduction of companion system. These companions are linked to your chosen class which also offer a range of different builds to explore. The scale of the Star Wars universe has never been bigger and this is definitely a must for serious fans

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5.Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy  – PC, Mac, Xbox (2003)

Jedi Academy like its predecessor Jedi Outcast combines first person and third person shooters with elements of RPG’s by allowing gamers to customise their characters’ force powers. Academy’s main advantage is the story allows players to jump straight into combat with a lightsaber this allows players to develop their fighting technique and customise their lightsaber later on. In addiction the game brought an enhanced multiplayer which allowed players to take on each other using Xbox live. The drawback for me was the replay value of the campaign as the limited customisation did nothing to change the story or levels. Even so Jedi Academy ranks as one of my favourite due to partly to it’s application of force powers, being able to push storm troopers off a ledge never gets old. Jedi Academy is now available along with all its predecessors in the Jedi Knight series on steam so if you haven’t had the pleasure I suggest you check it out.

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4.Knights of the Old Republic: Sith Lords – PC, Mac, Xbox (2004)

Obsidian’s follow up to Bioware’s original lived up to fans expectations as it maintained the same game play while making an effort to expand and introduce new characters. In every way it feels like a sequel as some of our favourite characters like HK-47 return and the storyline links back to Revan and the Mandalorian Wars yet it does this in a way that is approachable for new comers. The game maintains the party, combat and levelling systems from its predecessor but does add some welcome tweaks such as the character’s ability to influence your companions. This evolves into your ability to change their alignment and their physical appearance and will also open up the opportunity to train several of your companions to use the force. Combined with the additional prestige classes this gives a sense that the player is able to take the next step beyond the original.

Like the original the storyline offers great replay value with a plethora of side quests each with multiple outcomes and several core decisions that can affect the progression of the main story. As expected with a sequel it expands our knowledge of the Star Wars universe by taking us to some new places while revisiting some familiar planets that have been left scared by the events of the original. My only real criticism of the Sith Lords is that perhaps more could have been invested into the graphics as they are not a massive leap forward but this has never stopped me playing on my Xbox 360.

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3.Star Wars Rogue Squadron – N64, PC (1998)

Back on my N64 Rogue Squadron was up there with Goldeneye as one of my favourite games. The arcade style action game allows players to pilot different rebel craft through 16 levels to fulfil different objectives and is set alongside the original trilogy. Using passwords or attaining medals on all the levels also gives players access to bonus levels from the movies including the Death Star run and special crafts like the Millennium Falcon. These elements combined to make Rogue Squadron an enjoyable and accessible simulation of aerial combated without focusing on it. Recently playing Battlefront on my Xbox One has remained me a little of Rogue Squadron but it lacks the mission objectives to keep me interested for long periods.

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2.Battlefront 2 – PC, Xbox, PS2 (2005)

A sequel that surpassed the original and has inspired the latest large scale console game in the franchise. Gameplay is based around third person combat with a collection of different playable classes available and a range of power ups based on in-game performance. Into this framework the game adds vehicles including full scale space battles and playable heroes awarded for meeting unspecified objectives. If this wasn’t enough Battlefront 2 includes the four major armies from the prequel and original trilogies which introduces players to a larger range of classes and different vehicles.

This last point contributes to what separates and raises Battlefront 2 above the more recent incarnation as it offers 2 different solo/co-op styles of play beyond multiplayer. Initially campaign offers players the ability to fight through the entire saga and develop their skills. It was the Galaxy mode which really impressed players and has probably been the biggest disappointment with the new version as players could choose an army and take over the galaxy one plant at a time. All this combined for a great experience with excellent replay value that appealed to hard-core Star Wars fans and was accessible to all levels of gamers.

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1. Knights of the Old Republic – Xbox, PC, Mac (2003)

This should not come as any surprise as the 2004 Game of the Year not only took Star Wars games to a new level but redefined RPG’S. Since the success of Knights of the Old Republic BioWare have continued to use the same companion, decision and dialogue system with a few developments in the Mass Effect and Dragon Age series. It was these elements along with a high level of customisation which has given all these titles their replay value.

However, none of these titles would have been successful without a great storyline, characters and an expanded universe to explore and this is where KOTOR delivers with spades. The overriding storyline of Darth Revan, Malak and the star forge is compelling with Empire style twists. The side quests allow players to explore some of the more well-known planets and aspects of the Star Wars universe while introduce new lore or building characters. The final piece of the puzzle is characters and while Carth can become a little tedious or Juhani & Jolee appear stereotypical the game delivers entertainment in the form of HK-47 and Canderous while Bastila Shan providing an unusual level of development for a companion. If you haven’t played KOTOR before it is a must for any hard-core RPG gamer or Star Wars fan and regardless of the dating graphics, it’s still one hell of a game.

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Would love to hear some of your views and hits of gaming nostalgia so don’t be afraid to comment.

Jono

 

 

Join the Inquisition

It took some time but Dragon Age Inquisition is now a fact of life and it is a contender for game of the year, but is it everything that fans like myself could hope for? Bioware have a strong history in creating a winning RPG dating back to Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic and setting the bar with the hugely successful  Mass Effect series.

However, Dragon Age has often been the unfortunate second son with handed down features from their earlier success. In Origins this was only too apparent if you compared the level up structure with KOTOR as both had points for attributes with a skills option and trees for up grading a huge range of feats, hell even the page looked the same. With Dragon Age 2 the game started to borrow more from Mass Effect with the addition of spoken dialogue in the form of a wheel at the bottom of the screen. Regardless of these short cuts the series has established a loyal following due largely in part to game play but more substantially to the storyline with a huge array of possible outcomes based on the players actions and elaborate world of Thedas. Even the repetitive dungeons with their brick walls, the wimpy voice acting and the heavily  restricted world of Dragon Age 2 couldn’t kill of the hunger of diehard fans like myself.

Along came inquisition which was a driving force behind my recent purchase of an Xbox One, I’d even spent months completing the previous games for the 5th and 4th time respectively. So to say that I had built up expectations would be a slight understatement. Thankfully it lives up to the hype. To start Thedas looks great from the cinematics to the different textures of  environments the game builds on one of the strengths of Dragon Age 2. This task is made more difficult by the scope of Inquisition which brings you in touch with more of the people that make up Thedas than every before as you recruit people from Ferelden, Orlais, the Imperium  and even a Qunari. Throughout the unfolding story you find yourself revisiting familiar places like Redcliff and Haven that are now more detailed but you also journey in to Orlais which has its own specific brand of style.

Game play is where the team has done the most to shake up the franchise as they have responded to the criticism of its of the sequel by creating a more open world experience. This is not to dissimilar from Skyrim with each new area heavily laden with  side quests, resources, collectibles and secret areas. However, Dragon Age brings its familiar party system to combat with the addition of the new tactical mode which brings a more strategic element to game play especially helpful if trying to pass the higher difficulty levels. If this was all Inquisition had to offer the game would be a disappointment as it would become a highly repetitive experience but thankfully it well balanced with regular progress through the story in familiar style dungeons. Throw in the war room and the developing relationships with your party members and there are in fact multiple ways to experience Thedas which keep the game fresh.

Inquisition builds on elements from the earlier games in the series and learns from the genre to satisfy almost everything I could have wished for. But it isn’t perfect as there are little areas for improvement that don’t effect the overall game play experience while being a constant source of frustration. To start the voice acting could still use work, especially for a male Inquisitor who I still found a little wimpy and more than two options would also have been greatly appreciated. Considering the amount of customizable element in your characters face this seems like it might have been sacrificed for time and money. On the same point I would like to see more of the in game customization options available in Origins as the huge variation in character builds was something that kept me coming back for more.

Despite these little criticisms Dragon Age Inquisition is a must for anyone who likes action RPG and might change the future of the genre. Now if only I can complete a few play throughs before Mass Effect later this year.

Storyline 9/10

Game play  9/10

Graphics 9/10

Happy gaming

Jono