Category Archives: Video Games

GAME REVIEW: Star Trek: Generations – Beyond the Nexus

Tony Wilkins proves that he is not a blind fanboy as he reviews Star Trek Generations – Beyond The Nexus for the Sega Game Gear


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I am going to come out and say this right off the bat; if this had been a generic space adventure game I would have tossed it to the wind a lot sooner than I did. As anyone who has been following this site knows we at the Order of Trinity love our Star Trek and it is for that reason I gave this game more of a chance than it deserved. So let’s discuss Star Trek: Generations – Beyond the Nexus.

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Firstly it’s not just one game. It is in fact three games rolled clumsily in to one. The first game is a space sim, the second is a puzzle game and the third is a shooter. The space sim involves you piloting the ship and either having to reach certain checkpoints or destroying enemy ships. While the checkpoint race is not that bad, space combat (usually the main appeal of a game like this) is a painfully dull affair. In fairness to the developers they took the bold step of actually making the combat take pace in all 3 dimensions and that would have been fine had the map they included not been so cumbersome. It was actually a leftover from a previous Star Trek game and that wasn’t any better. To make matters worse the enemy ships are very difficult to hit and even when you do get them in your field of fire they take forever to destroy.

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After that you hit the puzzle segment. You get given a story about why you are having to do this but ultimately the puzzles just take on two forms – they are either a rip off of Mastermind (in which you have to find the correct sequence) or its a pipe game in which you have to direct the flow of energy somewhere. Both of these puzzles are annoying and seem to drag on forever. The pipe game is perhaps the better of the two if I had to pick which I preferred to have to take on. The other game however makes you want to give up on life. The biggest problem is you cant see all the sequences you’ve already tried so you end up wasting turns repeating previous combinations.

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The final type of gameplay is the top view shooter. This is very basically a survival game. You take charge of a character and have to fight your way through levels against hordes of baddies. In truth this is one of the most exciting aspects of the game although I use that term loosely in that it’s still pretty slow and while the character seems responsive to control inputs moving him about is still a clumsy affair.

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What I will say in this game’s favour is that some of the artwork depicting scenes and characters from the movie is exceptionally good for an 8-bit console. One mistake that was made (and is why I included the picture above) is while the early story is set aboard the Enterprise-B (as in the movie) the ship depicted on screen is actually the USS Excelsior. While both are Excelsior-class ships the Enterprise-B had additional segments to distinguish it.

Perhaps this game has had the last laugh however. Having spent what felt like days swearing and cursing at the small screen I immediately messaged fellow member of the Order, Mark Berryman, and told him all about it and that I was going to write this review. Intrigued, Mark immediately took it upon himself to have a go as well and therein proves that bad games can still be successful financially through the reputation alone of how bad they are.

Thanks for reading…

 

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GAME REVIEW: Xenon 2 Megablast

Tony Wilkins reviews one of the classic arcade shooters from the late 1980s, Xenon 2 Megablast


 

The 1980s were awash with vertical scrolling shoot’em ups. There were hundreds of titles because the limited processing power of game consoles those days only really allowed for these kinds of games. They more often than not followed the format of a space fighter having to destroy countless enemies running down the screen with the player able to move around a continuously moving map of obstacles. Sadly the vast majority were so similar you could be forgiven for believing they were all part of the same series.

Years of this prompted game developers to try and distinguish their own products in some way by introducing special moves or weapons but for me the pinnacle of this type of game arrived in 1989. The Bitmap Brothers took all the lessons learned from gamer’s frustrations with this type of genre and produced Xenon 2 Megablast. At first glance it looks like the countless other types out there but soon you get a feel that this is different.

Firstly the animation, for a game destined for 8-bit and 16-bit consoles, is excellent. Rather than just being objects to be destroyed the enemies are almost all fully animated in some fashion giving the impression these things are making an effort to move. The same goes for a few of the power ups that rotate surprisingly smoothly. The player’s ship starts off as quite a basic looking little craft similar to the Colonial Viper from Battlestar Galactica (sadly however it doesn’t look like the badass ship on the cover). As you progress through the game however you get to acquire add-ons that give your vessel awesome firepower causing the screen to explode with enemies buying the proverbial farm. While this was not unique to Xenon 2  the sheer range of options coupled with the smooth 8/16-bit animation made it stand apart.

Perhaps one of the most distinguishing features of Xenon 2 Megablast is the ability to force the scrolling screen to move backwards. In 2014 this seems quite insignificant but back then it gave the player freedom not really seen on previous titles. It was still limited in that going backwards was slower and the ship never stopped facing forward but it became an integral part of the gameplay with the player often having to chose to go up the left side or right of the screen then finding themselves in a dead end and having to go back. To really emphasize this new feature one of the first add-ons is a rearward firing weapon to attack any enemies you missed that are waiting for you to come back.

Addictively simple fun.

Thanks for reading…

GAMES: World of Tanks X-Box 360 Battle

By Stationmaster84 (Gamertag)

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Depending on your own mood WoT can be either the most fun you have ever had or the most frustrating game in the world. I like to think of myself as a bit of a military buff and so this game appealed to me from the start. I therefore committed myself to the hour long download process (the game had been available for a while so I also had to contend with updates as well as the game). Straight away I learned how quick you can get killed in this game. I know its going for realism but it seems a little unfair how you start off with some truly terrible tanks and the longer you play (or survive) the better tanks you get and therefore the easier the game becomes. This is the reverse order of how I am used to gaming with games increasing in difficulty over time.

As I said it really depends on the mood you are in when playing this game whether or not you enjoy it. If you are in a good mood then this is a lot of fun. Even getting the steel crap blown out of you can be hugely entertaining. However this is not a game to de-stress after a lousy day at the office (unless you have some of the higher tier tanks). This has been my experience anyway. I don’t wish to sound overly negative because I am really enjoying this game but it has a steep learning curve. Don’t expect to just jump into a tank and blow everything away on your first go because that is just not going to happen.

Once you are settled in you can start to have a lot of fun with this. To exemplify this up-and-down experience I am going to tell you about a battle I had recently. I was commanding an M5 Stuart fitted with a 3.7cm howitzer (that will ruin someone’s day if used properly). I was playing a map called El Halluf and was taking cover on a hilltop over looking the valley with the enemy force’s base on the opposite hill. It was me and two other vehicles, a Panzer III and an M3 Stuart, and as we came around the top we found three enemy vehicles coming up the other side with the same idea as us.

In the span of a few seconds both my buddies were taken out, their charred wreckage becoming a useful roadblock however. I found myself facing an M4 Sherman coming up the side of the hill with his weak underside exposed so I aimed for it and put a shell into him taking 75% of his health. As he came to bear he threw a shell my way but missed during which time I reloaded and turned his turret to tin foil. At that moment a Tank Destroyer appeared behind his flaming wreck. I fired at him but missed although this discouraged him and I saw him retreating away. I felt great that I had killed one enemy without support and scared another (even if I had used my buddies as cannon fodder and a road block).

I stayed in this area taking position near a clearing for shoot-and-hide tactics against enemy vehicles advancing from their base on the opposite hill which more of my allies were now attacking. I had clearly made myself a target for an artillery gunner because every few minutes a high explosive shell would land nearby shaking me like hell. From this position I supported my team’s advance on the enemy base; by damaging or discouraging them from breaking cover. Then I started taking direct fire from the opposite hill so I felt it best to relocate.

I drove back towards where I had the earlier battle. I came around the corner and BANG! That fecking Tank Destroyer I thought had retreated had actually just taken cover and was waiting for me. The patient git had been there for about five minutes (an eternity in this game). Whether he was just waiting for me or whether he was sniping my allies like I was doing against his I don’t know. All I know is he won the day but by that point I’d had so much fun that I simply saluted a fellow gamer. That being said I was devastated that I couldn’t carry on in the battle. I had earned a hell of a lot of points and loved scoring every one of them.