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Wargame Red Dragon PC Review

Wargame Red Dragon PC Review

Wargame Red Dragon is the latest real time strategy game from Eugen Systems that puts you in charge of an Army, Navy and Air Force to defeat forces of 1970’s to 1990’s Asia.

Graphics & Audio: 20/25
Gameplay: 18/25
Creativity 20/25
Fun 20/25

Total: 78/100

Wargame Red Dragon
Wargame Red Dragon

Wargame Red Dragon is the latest release from Eugen Systems for the Wargame real time strategy series with a focus on 1970’s to 1990’s Asian theatre. Real time strategy puts you in charge of forces across a large area with air, naval and ground troops in both single player and multiplayer games.

Red Dragon has a single player campaign and a quick battle feature along with multiplayer mode against real gamers online with up to 20 players fighting at the same time. This twenty player feature may seem extraordinary but it works out well even if you’re not that good at the game.

Wargame Red Dragon is the third release in the Wargame series and now uses ground forces, air support and naval forces to fight with but it’s not exactly an easy game to play. In both the single player and multiplayer the key to any of the games when using the variety of forces is covering your butt.

Wargame Map
Wargame Map

Warfare of any type depends on several factors but when you come down to a basic strategy it’s having the right forces to counter whatever the enemy throws at you. The game starts with recon but having a balance of forces is where the game is won or lost and you need to balance your forces when setting up the game.

Each battle starts with a choice of units and knowing a bit about terrain and the general area can help but you need to do some trial and error as well. The single player campaign is a great place to learn Wargame while the multiplayer gaming will be the real test as well as the real fun.

Units are given a point value with better units being worth more and at the beginning of each battle you are given a base of points to spend on units. During the battle you earn points for victories and spend those points on reinforcements that come from a specific direction as indicated on the maps.

Battle Overview
Battle Overview

During the planning phase you need to decide what units to buy and place them accordingly while being able to earn other units helps to keep your forces replenished. Instead of buying expensive units that are more able to fight using units that cost less but are less painful to lose is a much better strategy.

My first win in Wargame Red Dragon was an all naval battle but was the start to me actually enjoying the game because of the difficulty involved. Strategy games are inherently hard but when you understand a few basic concepts like recon and force balance the game becomes much easier.

When setting up your forces you need to seriously look at terrain and how you are going to both advance to your objectives as well as hold them against attack. Some of the battles will be easier when retrying because the computer uses similar tactics when playing the single player campaign or instant battles.

Wargame Red Dragon Detail
Wargame Red Dragon Detail

Sometimes it’s just the luck of the draw when you choose the appropriate forces to fight against the enemy that just chose poorly or made some bad decisions. Mostly the fun comes from not only overall wins but being able to make decisions and have good outcomes from them like just being able to hold onto an area for ten or twenty minutes.

Wargame Red Dragon has a good balance of forces and does make choices like those better tanks and planes difficult when starting a battle and buying units. I found that having any forces to fight against others even when they are the lower cost ones is more important than having fewer but better units.

That is basically what the game is about and an important part of any real time simulation but Wargame does a good job of keeping this point front and center. The Campaign adds an overall tactics map with a larger area where you position forces and try to block or advance forces.

Modern Equipment
Modern Equipment

The campaign also focuses on land, air and sea and when your forces occupy the same area as the enemy a battle ensues but you can offer to decide the battle without fighting it directly. This means less time spent on individual small scale tactics and a focus on the larger strategy part of the game if you choose to.

The multiplayer gaming is really where Red Dragon is fun and can be fought with two to twenty players on the same map so you have a very wide variety to your strategy. It took a while to actually come out in front of any of my multiplayer games and I have not won very many but occasionally I do get the upper hand.

The multiplayer is much like the single player with your overall strategy map and then battles with players down to the last unit or till the other conditions set before the match. The game can be fun but it can also be some work at learning with a sharp curve to actually understand the game.

Wargame Red Dragon is a fun game but it does take some effort to figure things out and using the games single player and campaign is the better way to learn. A few online guides also helped a lot with figuring things out and actually standing a chance at winning.

While Red Dragon does take some serious effort at learning it can also be rewarding when you do win a battle and an overall war. If you are into the serious strategy games Wargame: Red Dragon is well worth a look but this is not a game for the faint of heart.

Wargame Red Dragon Website

Wargame Red Dragon @ Steam

Baldurs Gate II: Enhanced Edition PC Game Review

Baldurs Gate II: Enhanced Edition PC Game Review

Baldurs Gate II receives a makeover with an enhanced edition that increases the size of your world among other improvements and extra content to boot.

Graphics & Audio: 20/25,
Gameplay: 20/25,
Creativity 15/25,
Fun 20/25

Total: 75/100

Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition

Baldur’s Gate is described as one of the best role playing games and has spawned the second edition and its expansions as well as getting a makeover years after it released. Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition is brought to us by Overhaul Games which is a division of Beamdog for Windows and MAC computers.

Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition is a role playing game using the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons rules with enhanced features over the first edition. The game includes the original Shadows of Amn and Throne of Bhaal quests and includes the Black Pits II arena gaming.

While the main quests have you adventuring for days as your favorite dungeon dwelling heros the expansion also has side quests and extras like the Gladiators of Thay arena fighting. The Enhanced Edition includes a larger area for you to be able to see what is going on with today’s larger monitors but also includes additions to the main quests and the extras like the arena fights.

Inventory Page

Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition for those that have not played this series is a typical role playing game with you choosing a character and outfitting them physically but not with much equipment. The game starts you off with a predetermined set of clothes and not much else but you do pick up weapons and other items along the way or purchase them using found loot.

While Baldur’s Gate II is a remake the same gameplay and tricks seem to work in the new edition that also worked in the base game and the expansions. Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition seems to be the same game with only a makeover and extras added in but the same base dungeon crawling is here.

Baldur’s Gate II Enhanced edition looks good and plays just fine for a role playing game but I really cannot compare it to the previous edition as I have not played it. Even if you just play the base quests you can easily spend hundreds of hours adventuring and leveling up your characters.

Typical Questing

You also get the arena game Black Pits II that has you fighting wave after wave of monsters in a simple hack, slash and cast type fight till your party is defeated. The game has lots of options for fun but it may not be for everyone if you have played the first edition.

The Enhanced Edition seems to be pretty identical to the first edition with the addition of characters, extras and an improved look. According to other reviewers that have played both editions the base game and gameplay is the same with an updated look and a new engine under the hood which works very well.

Baldur’s Gate II Enhanced Edition has plenty of content while the game at its heart is a tough one with plenty of adventuring Dungeons and Dragons style. The rules and general gameplay have all the boring details like rolling dice and checking charts taken care of for you.

Journal

You can spend plenty of time nitpicking through weapons and armor as well as fighting through each quest to help level up your characters but in the end this is basically the same game as the original edition. Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition does have plenty going for it for role playing enthusiasts and does make a great game but it does have at its root an older game.

If you played the previous Baldur’s Gate II the new game may not be all that fresh but with a new look and added extras may be worth a look.

Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition Website

Skylanders SWAP Force Wii Review

Skylanders SWAP Force Wii Review

Skylanders: SWAP Force continues the fantastic adventures and statue character swapping for the Skylanders universe which is a great game on the Wii and a more than worthy purchase.

Ratings:

Graphics & Audio: 20/25,
Gameplay: 19/25,
Creativity 22/25,
Fun 19/25

Total: 80/100

Skylanders SWAP Force Wii

Simple but diverse platforming forms the basis for Skylanders along with the feature of using toy figures to allow for easy swapping of characters in game. Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure started the craze of using small toy figures on a USB platform that changes characters in the game.

Aside from the great adventuring using the figures to swap out characters in game has to be the best feature of Skylanders because of the ease and time. It literally takes about ten seconds to swap a character and there is no clicking through menus or clicking on icons on screen.

Spyro’s Adventure started using the small statues used to swap out your in game character while Skylanders: Giants continued the adventure with larger characters both on screen and in game.

In the original Spyro’s Adventures there were 32 figures while the Skylanders Giants sequel added another 8 Giant figures and 16 new Skylander figures.

The SWAP Force game has added 16 figures that can be swapped out with each other to make 256 combinations from the sixteen figures. While not all of the newer figures can be used in the previous games any of the older figures can be used in the newer games for additional characters in game and unlocking new areas.

They have also released some previous figures again that include new abilities that the original figures did not have and are usable on those older games as well as the new ones. It may be a bit confusing about which figures are usable in which game but you can check out the Skylanders website for specifics.

Skylanders: SWAP Force introduces the two part Skylanders that allows you to combine different tops and bottoms of figures for even more in game characters. This allows you to combine the foot work of one character while using the upper body strength and attacks of the top half of the character for an additional mix of characters.

SWAP Force adds quite a few new characters where you get the variety of combining different parts but the main platforming is where Skylanders starts. These new abilities can make for some interesting gameplay but to actually finish the story of SWAP Force you can use just the figures in the Starter Pack.

You may not get to go in every area but you can finish the game and find out the full story of Skylanders SWAP Force only using three characters. The Starter Pack costs about $75 and comes with three characters while figures cost about $9 to $15 but are also available in packs of two and three figures.

Skylanders: SWAP Force like the other Skylanders games is a platforming adventure that has your character running around trying to complete the tasks given like defeating the bad guys or finding a special item. You run around beating foes and getting treasure using the figures to change characters in the game but you also add abilities in game for each character.

The levels are well laid out and only a few areas have the risk of falling off the ledges your running along so the game is pretty good for young kids. I really like the well done platforming that does not require such accurate jumping so you don’t have to spend lots of time repeating simple leaps or other moves.

Foes are not all that difficult to defeat while the first levels are as you would expect much easier then ones further on but even they are not all that difficult. The in game puzzles and simple puzzles that you have to solve along the way to move further in each level are also not that difficult.

Skylanders continues the excellent gaming experience with fun platforming that includes plenty of mini games and puzzles that add to the difficulty and adventure. Each level includes some mini games like the lock game where you need to puzzle through getting two in game characters together.

These mini games do have instructions so you have a chance at solving them but they do have a bit of thought to puzzle through before accomplishing them. Solving them for younger players may need a bit of help from someone older or wiser but the game does include a good variety of difficulty for all.

I keep referring back to younger players because this game does have the wide variety of age groups that it will appeal to mainly due to the cute figures used in the game. The games difficulty does not make it so hard for younger kids to play but it also has enough variety and adventuring to keep the game playable for more than just a few days for adults.

Levels are not just small areas either, you get to unlock more areas with more of the figures but even without them you can spend a good deal of time exploring and getting more loot. Activision sent me a couple extra characters and using them I did have some fun swapping out parts of figures which really adds to the fun and abilities.

One feature that was added in SWAP Force that really adds to your fighting and dodging is the ability for the characters to jump to avoid being hit. In a platformer this may seem odd but in the past you did not have the ability to jump but in the newest release your characters can bound around as well as run and fight.

You can also play with a friend being tethered to each other on screen but at least this allows for two to beat the stuffing out of the enemies. You can also go head to head in player versus player and arena modes where you fight against hordes of enemies to win the levels together or for high score.

The arena and player versus modes add a lot to the game and really make the game worthwhile for even more gameplay but you do have to find a friend. The multiplayer gaming is only local so your friend needs to be one sitting by you and not online but this adds even more to the Skylanders SWAP Force fun.

Skylanders: SWAP Force for the Wii has excellent video for the system with some really great looking cutscenes that really stand out. Video is top of the line for the system with bright colors and really well done effects that never had problems but the main look of the game is fantastic.

Audio is also excellent with great voice acting from prominent series actors Patrick Warburton and Kevin Sorbo while effects and music sound great. The game does well all around and is definitely a top rated release that is fun and has plenty of content.

While the game can cost a lot the Starter Pack is all that is required to successfully complete the story mode but you can find plenty of fun in player on player fights as well. You can fight one on one against others using the variety of figure characters they collect.

The Player VS Player uses any of the characters you have collected but also the in game abilities they have worked through. With the variety of collectible figures and the instant switching in game you have a game worthy of a purchase and even collecting those figures.

While you can spend quite a bit on new figures having a small variety would be easy and make for a fun time without costing too much. Activision has also required game developers to make current figures compatible with the new games so buying a couple figures now will allow their use in future games which Activision is working on for their Fall 2014 release.

I really enjoyed Skylanders: SWAP Force and highly recommend the game for adventurers wanting a fully-fledged game that has plenty for everyone.

Skylanders: SWAP Force Website

Skylander Figures

Pros
Swapping in game characters takes seconds
Game can be played with only a few figures
New areas and abilities added with new figures
Fun platforming adventure

Cons
Kids may get addicted and require figure collecting

Call of Duty: Ghosts PC & PS3 Review

Call of Duty: Ghosts PC & PS3 Review

Call of Duty returns for its annual offering with Call of Duty: Ghosts for all the current and next generation consoles as well as the PC but the game is just too familiar to warrant anything but a passing nod.

Graphics & Audio: 18/25,
Gameplay: 15/25,
Creativity 15/25,
Fun 12/25

Total: 60/100

Call of Duty: Ghosts

Video games are becoming more and more interactive movies with gamers not deciding moves or outcomes but merely deciding which weapons to use and using them. Call of Duty: Ghosts continues down this dark and endless nightmare of controlling only some of the action and less choice in how we accomplish our gaming goals.

I remember fondly the days when games like Ghost Recon allowed us to perform our final objective however we wanted and with a squad of soldiers equipped how we wanted. I would love a game that threw out the story other than a dozen or twenty objectives and had us move from level to level combating foes how we wanted to.

That would be a game I would pay money for but instead we continue to get these dramatic platforming action adventures that have us running down a tightly controlled tunnel shooting our way to the end. When the red overcomes our vision we are forced to back up a bit and try again with never a real choice in how we do things.

We can pick up a gun here and there and get a few more bullets but the path is ever laid out for us in a straight line where we are forced to follow like dogs. Speaking of dogs we do get to play as one from time to time in the campaign of Call of Duty: Ghosts.

As a dog you can sneak through the grass and attack the lone soldier who dies without much sound so as not to alert his fellow guards. Teeth baring and gnashing aside Riley is about the only real difference to this year’s Call of Duty release and the only real breath of fresh air.

The space level is not very fun and only adds a brief bit of novelty that is new to the series but not to gaming as other games have done this better. Levels range from the now familiar battle scenes of desert, jungle space and war torn city but nothing is really new to the series.

Whether it’s the single player campaign that is too narrowly focused or the small maps of multiplayer there is little in Call of Duty: Ghosts to bring a back. To call this release a first person shooter is an injustice to the much better games of the past that really allowed you choices in how you did things.

First person shooter gives you the idea that you will first and foremost shoot something and that you are going to control that shooter to accomplish some goals.  I really did enjoy the Ghost Recon of Tom Clancy fame and had fun revisiting but other games of the past show that it can be done well.

Call of Duty has spent numerous tries at making things different without accomplishing much in the way of new or innovative for years. Every year we get something new which under the cover of slightly better graphics and different looks to weapons is the same old linear platformer.

Yes, Call of Duty Ghosts is a platform adventure game and not a first person shooter as you spend whole missions just hitting buttons on command just to progress to the next section or objective. This means instead of deciding who to hit, where to go or how you are going to attack you are merely waiting for the game to tell you when to push a button.

This is not gaming in my opinion, it’s an interactive movie where you follow a closely scripted sequence and from time to time shoot your way to the next cut scene. Sure graphics look a bit better and the story is a bit different but you still follow closely in the same footpath your supposed to.

The game is also pretty much free of major problems other than that the boring path you have to follow and the button mashing so at least they got some things right. A few major problems are the cut scenes that are choppy and skip so you do miss some of the story that you are supposed to be getting.

There is also some break to this in the squad modes but we get no real sense that you’re playing anything different than the multiplayer modes but with only AI based squad mates which are not quite as good as the real thing. Multiplayer looks different than last year but is so similar that you could easily mistake it for last year’s Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.

Weapons and gadgets are also pretty much the same as the last few years with only a few differences that are not really enough to warrant anything other than a nod at how well the weapon looks or sounds. Sniper rifles and long range weapons are all but useless in the multiplayer and squad based other than to have something different to use but long range scopes just don’t work well.

Maps are at the very most eight players on a side which means in order to keep things interesting and fast paced they are also about eight blocks in size or smaller. Go around the neighborhood where you live and figure how two squads are going to fight it out with sniper rifles in an eight block section of your town.

The smaller map size does make for fast paced close quarters and medium range encounters but for larger groups and longer ranges you are not going to find anything in Call of Duty: Ghosts. Battlefield 3 and 4 has the longer ranges down pat and when comparing games Ghosts just does not have what it takes for larger maps.

If you are into those close quarters battles the game performs well but you do miss out on much including vehicles and sniper rifles which is a part of combat. Infinity Ward does a good enough job but they should take a year or two off to create a truly memorable experience in gaming.

They should also throw out the handbook and checklist they have been using to create their games and start out fresh and new with something that gamers are really going to enjoy. Call of Duty: Ghosts whether it’s the PC or the PS3 version is pretty much the same game as last year with a few differences here and there but nothing to really make it stand out.

Between both versions you have the major difference of a better system available in the PC and the more familiar FPS gaming mouse and keyboard available. The PS3 version offers the controller which may be a better choice for some but the game plays just as well on both systems.

The single player campaign is alright but too linear and uninventive while the multiplayer is just too small and close quarters only. You do have some coop missions and play against AI controlled squads but these are not enough to overcome a lackluster single player campaign combined with too small multiplayer maps.

Call of Duty: Ghosts will go down in history just like the last few release from Activision as yet another installment of Call of Duty. The PC version is so similar to the PS3 version that choice between them really comes down to what you prefer for control options and if you have a better computer to enjoy the graphics possible.

I hope Activision will change their tune in the next release and give gamers what they want instead of continuing to release a mediocre game that just follows meekly instead of breaking out with new and different.

Call of Duty: Ghosts Website