Video Game Reviews – Game of Thrones Ascent (Free App)

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Nath sometimes reviews games. This is one of those reviews.

If you own a smartphone and you have regular access to the internet you may be very well aware of the free apps you can download that may be useful in every day life. However, if you’re like me you scour the app store for the best free games you can download. I decided to write up a review of some of the best free games I have managed to find and play for hours on end.

The first game I chose is called Game of Thrones: Ascent (from Disruptor Beam). It started off as a Facebook game but it has recently been ported on to iPhone and Android devices. First and foremost with this app, you will need to be patient and make very smart choices from when you start the game. As you can tell by the name, it is a game based in the Game of Thrones universe and I believe every fan should have a go at this game.

It is an RPG-Strategy game, where you start off as a knight in service to Robert Baratheon. The tutorial shows you some basic commands in order to win battles with enemies. After this win, Robert Baratheon grants you some land where you start building your little kingdom. The tutorial carries on with some basics, such as buildings, upgrades, sworn swords and fighting types. You also name yourself as lord as well as your keep. Did I play this seriously? Of course not. If you have ever played Final Fantasy XI or World of Warcraft and you came across a player called Youreatowel, that was me. So I named myself Lord You’re A Towel and called my keep The Towel Rack.

Soon after you name yourself and your lands, you are given a tutorial on the type of lord you want to be. You can be a lord that specialises in battle, trade or deception. Also you can pick your alliance and each alliance has it’s own perks. There is no real difference between the three types of specialities, however I went for battle and then looked for the best alliance for battling. I found that siding with the Baratheons gave me some excellent perks for battle so I went with them.

You then have a tutorial on sworn swords. These are characters that you send out into the world to perform quests for you. They can also specialise in battle, trade and deception and each quest may be better suited to one discipline.

Once this is done, you start building your realm and equipping items to better your house. There are also quests that focus on your house, the storyline of Game of Thrones and various other side quests. There are also player to player battles where you steal gold off other houses and take part in huge multiplayer events. Needless to say it is a fantastic app for any Game of Thrones fan. Now I bet you are wondering why you may need patience and to make smart choices. Each action such as building, making equipment and questing takes time, some times under an hour and others almost whole days. You just need to be patient with the game. Smart choices come down to what type of lord you want to be and how you train yourself and your sworn swords. You make one mistake, you can’t undo it without paying a fee. Silver is easy to come by in the game, but you do have the option of buying gold. Gold allows you to purchase certain items and units and speed up actions. However I haven’t bothered with it so far so you should be fine.

It should be noted that the game does require an internet connection to play the game as everything is stored on servers. It will eat up a fair bit of your data but its totally worth it. That’s one downside, there are a few smaller ones that you may encounter but you should be fine. In total I would give the game 9 out of 10 decapitated heads.

Nath

Industry Spotlight: Katsuhiro Harada

Kii turns her keen eye to various members of the gaming industry

In this segment I will highlight people in the games industry that I feel people should give a shit about. It could be developers, artists, professional players and even Let’s Play hosts. Whatever strikes my fancy because I hold all the power (ha).

This month I would like to focus on Katsuhiro Harada, the head behind Tekken and Project Soul (Soulcalibur). The reason I like Harada so much is that he doesn’t take the piss like so many Triple A developers can do these days. The video games industry is at a turn which has put many developers on edge, with free-to-play games becoming giants they seek to cover lost revenue in different ways. Many have begun to favour more unsavoury means of doing this, for example paid on disc DLC (A huge peeve of mine, I’m looking at you Capcom) and pay-to-win multiplayer strategies. However, Harada is different and thus is a hero.

Harada has made it known that he doesn’t like the idea of DLC. When his games are released they are complete. The exception to this was Tekken Tag 2 which launched with a few characters still in development, Harada issued an apology for this and the characters were patched into the game entirely free at a later date. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t extra ways to make money out of Tekken but everything that you can give Harada your hard earned cash for isn’t necessary for a complete experience of the game. Using Tekken Tag 2 as an example, the pay for items were the character movies and music from every previous Tekken game and silly costume items for the playable characters. Costume packs for characters were also on sale as it’s purely a cosmetic choice if you would like Jin Kazama in a swimsuit (I do) and the fact that the Big Bikini Bundle wasn’t restricted to the female characters made this little feminist giddy with equality glee.

Harada seems to care about his fans and his characters and thus treats both with respect. There is a reason he climbed from an arcade promoter to director of two of Namco’s strongest franchises. He’s happy to have a bit of fun and has a good sense of humour which is easily seen in the ‘fights’ he had with Capcom’s Oda on the run up to the release of Street Fighter X Tekken. So, if you like beat ‘em ups I urge you to support Harada’s games as he’s a dude.

Kii

Would You Kindly Get Me Into the Gaming Industry? Chapter Three – First Section Completed

Our contributor Nathan continues his journey into games design.

So it’s been a while since I wrote an article on my progress, mainly because I’d been struggling to manage my time between work and the course and therefore I am a little bit behind. However I have managed to carry on regardless of being sent all over the country for work.

So how is the course going? Pretty well actually. Still passing the tests which is awesome and I’ve started learning about the different types of software I may encounter during my time as a producer. The ones they are focusing on the most are the management applications where I keep everything under wraps such as sound files, graphics, storyboards and any other documents I may need (I should know this).

So after learning about all the software I needed, it was time for the big test. This was the first section test of the course. 1 hour, 100 questions and a 80% pass mark. I sat down and went for it. Sweating, shaking and a lot of swearing, I finished and I received my result a few days later. 82%, only just, but still I can take that as a pass. Its like getting a first or an A so win.

However there is a concern at the moment. There are certain areas in the course material entitled Self Marked Assessments (SMAs) where you answer question about the material and these aren’t marked but I give them a try anyway, but there seems to be a serious lack of coursework so far. Literally nothing, I thought I was building a portfolio.

So instead of sitting here moaning about it, I decided to be proactive and create a story bible for a game idea I’ve had for a while. So far I have the genre, the main character, the premise and the setting. Everything else will come in due course, but it’s great to get some ideas down. I won’t divulge too much, but will mention some bits as I continue to write the articles. So here is my first little taster: Genre – Survival Horror.

 

Nath

The Xbox One – Fancy Gimmick or the Next-Generation Console?

Nathan got an Xbox One. Here is his review. It includes a review of Dead Rising 3. Review-ception.

OK I know the Xbox One has been out for a while, but I thought it was time for a review as I’ve had it for about a week now I thought I’d better share my views on it. Luckily I don’t have to bring money into the equation as I won the Xbox in a competition (go me), so no need to worry if I wasted the money or not. So let’s get cracking!

So I immediately unpacked everything, console, controller and Kinect, and set it all up. I turned it on for the first time and had to the initial configuration and that was a ballache, but I guess it was to be expected. It failed to find my profile so had to create a dummy one and try again later so that was ballache the first.

The next step was to sort out the Kinect and learn about voice commands and motion control. This was ballache the second and third. The voice commands are good, but there are still issues with it. This maybe because I talk like a simpleton. However, after a recent update there has been some improvements so it’s not too bad.

The motion control isn’t so great. In fact its pretty terrible. They’ve ballsed up quite a bit here. It’s very clunky. I followed the tutorial and got through it fine, but I haven’t used it since. The scrolling doesn’t work properly, the selecting of apps and games is awful, using your hands to zoom and rotate objects also needs work.

So far not so good, however I thought I’d give one of the games a go so the first one I put in was Dead Rising 3. I’m a massive fan of the Dead Rising series, the games are simple and fun and you get to kill zombies. So I put the disc in and it had to wait until it installed. Needless to say this annoyed me a bit, but I guess I couldn’t do anything about it.

So as you can see, the game is pretty similar to its predecessors. You can customise weapons, kill scores of zombies and defeat bosses to gain awesome weapons. So what have they done to make it better? Well the graphics are pretty good for starters, the controls are more improved and there are a lot more weapons, weapon combinations and costumes to try on. Story is still pretty basic, but its OK. However, the biggest improvement has to be the use of vehicles in the game. Not a lot to choose from, mainly cars, but there are some gems like fork lift trucks and steamrollers. Oh there’s another bit too: you can customise vehicles.

Now that is a steamroller motorcycle hybrid. Need I say more. This pretty much sold me straight away once I saw it. I am yet to find more hybrids and other weapon customisations but they are pretty epic: sledgehammer twinned with batteries, teddy bears with light machine guns and machetes with chainsaws (somehow when you combine one machete and one chainsaw you get 2 mini chainsaws). I’ll give it 7 decaptated heads out of 10.

The Xbox One I’ll give 5 moving hands out of 10. At the moment it is just a gimmick, but I guess there hasn’t been anything developed to really utilise the graphics and the Kinect properly yet. Also I imagine there will be improvements coming up too, one I would suggest is proper voice recognition. It is a real ballache playing a video game and then your housemates come in and shout “Xbox Turn Off” and then it shuts down. Fucking bastards.

Nath

Kii3: An E3 Round Up

Kii brings us her round up of last week’s E3 expo!

So, the huge event of the summer is here. I am, of course talking about E3 and not the other thing with the kicking. There is an awful lot to cover and people will obviously look into the areas that they care about most; however, I’m going to sum up the conferences and announcements that were my favourites or that I feel need mentioning. Compared to last year the only conference that stayed steady was Ubisoft, everyone else has fluctuated from massive improvement to down right ‘Why did you guys turn up?’

  • Ubisoft:

Ubi have had a very strong conference every year since they picked up Aisha Tyler as a show host. Most of their on stage team don’t read from autocue and appear to be genuinely passionate about what they’re doing.

  • Sony:

Sony… What? The brotherly spats between Sony and Microsoft have always irked me as in my opinion; the joys of your company should speak loud enough without having to shit on your competitors during press conferences in the hopes of gaining more sales. Last year, Sony were not quiet about how little Microsoft talked about games compared to the other entertainment functions of the Xbox One. But this year they have a conference that is almost exactly that, very little time given to games and the game announcements they made were either not Sony exclusives or timed exclusives at best. Disappointing.

  • Microsoft:

Actually talked about games! And quite a variety of them! I was impressed by the range of genres covered in the MS conference instead of just shooty, shooty, halo halo. Also there was Halo. I’m not enthralled by the Super Master Chief Boner Collection but I would rather they do that instead of releasing an anniversary edition of every friggin game before releasing Halo 5. Some of the speakers for games were clearly on their first day out of the office and I really want to find a video of the guy turning WAY before camera cues to some sweet techno.

  • Nintendo:

Mother. Fucking. Zelda. Reddit has already exploded with conspiracy theories. Nintendo really showed up in comparison to last year. I feel like they’ve found their legs as a company now that they’ve realised that the gaming market has changed significantly since they started out. They made a bunch of great game announcements, specifically ones that people really care about and really wanted to see, though there were a couple of announcements that maybe should have been made in the main Nintendo direct instead of in their ‘Tree house’ event afterwards. A new Starfox game being mentioned off-hand took the entire audience by surprise.

  • EA:

EA seemed to forget it was E3? It’s like they flipped the calendar and suddenly went ‘SHIT!’ Barely anything they showed was beyond concept art including an announcement of Bioware’s new IP which seemed to be ‘Hey look, we rendered a tree’. If you’re going to tease, give me a teaser, if you’re going to announce, make a proper announcement. What was delivered instead just felt unprepared.

 

And now, what we really care about: VIDJA GAMES.

 

  • Scalebound:

DMC meets How to Train your Dragon. Sassy Punk kid with Dragon BFF fighting giant monsters. Oh, he can also ‘Flame on’ with matching dragon scale armour at will. It looks pretty, looks fun, seems to have a good sense of humour and also hints at multiple dragon classes and Co-Op/Multiplayer. My friend Timber literally threw his wallet at my TV.

  • Assassins Creed Unity:

It’s in France, looks fluid and you can have some good times with your chums in four-player co-op. The new Assassin sounds pretty good though the controversy of how much work it would have been to render some playable ‘Wimens’ I think they’re called, is tainting it a bit for me. Personally, it’s the first time I’ve cared for AC since Ezio’s introduction game but Ubi, don’t tell me that you can’t even be bothered to reuse your female multiplayer model to make one of the four assassins a Lady-face. Though they would probably give her Assassin garb a Boob Window.

  • Shape up:

Fitness disguised as a game is the right amount of psychological manipulation and competitiveness to trick me into doing cardio. It looks hilarious with things such as graphics of heavier and heavier items being put onto your back during a push-up challenge and a DDR cardio work out.

  • Sunset overdrive:

The humour of Saints Row, numerous ways of killing people of dead rising and the fluidity of movement of a Tony Hawk with some kick ass tunes. I was flagging on Sunset Overdrive due to it not being released after being announced at 2013 E3, however, the development team arrived in costume on a giant bus with a zombie/mutant on the fender. Yes. It’s bright, colourful and has comic book-esque POW, OUCH and BOOM graphics. Yes. Yes. Yes.

  • Amiibos:

Nintendo are very good at manipulating our addictive personalities hence why Pokemon has been going for so many years. Nintendo’s new idea is Amiibo, which are small models (similar to Skylanders) that you can add into various Nintendo games. Your little Amiibo is an A.I that you train yourself and thus even if you and your friend have the same one, they will fight completely differently. Oh yeah, you can make them fight each other and your friends. You can also fight them yourself by popping them into Super Smash Bros which is meant to provide a harder challenge than the Wii-U A.I. Essentially, you have your own friggin pokemon. A POKEMON THAT CAN LOOK LIKE LINK. I’M CALLING MINE WIGGLES.

Kii

The Anti-Nintendo Attitude

Kii tells us why Nintendo is still a great and relevant games company.

Even though all of us here at The Lost Lighthouse like games, I am the ‘Nintendo Fan’ due to the fact I actually own a Wii-U and 3DS. I’ve written about games on the Nintendo consoles before, but what I wanted to address this time is the ‘Nintendo is shit’ attitude that many gamers have developed. This isn’t Nintendo propaganda or bashing on Sony and Microsoft but more a genuine confusion as to why many people feel this way about what is one of the most successful games companies around.

For example, I was privy to many a Facebook status about how amazing Sony is due to the free games provided by Playstation Plus. It’s a great service that provides more up to date games in comparison to Microsoft’s Fable 3 freebie a while ago. When, Nintendo released that you would receive a free game when registering Mario Kart 8 with Nintendo Club (a free service might I add) I again saw an increase in game related Facebook posts. This time however, there was a lot of mocking about how Nintendo giving out free games meant that they were in the red and failing as a company. When it was pointed out that the Nintendo and Sony system was the same thing, replies were along the lines of ‘It isn’t, Nintendo are failing’. Cue my frustration at a name on the screen and yelling “BUT IT’S THE SAME FUCKING THING”. It’s become cool to hate on Nintendo and shit on their franchises without ever actually looking at what’s going on with them. There needs to be an attitude change.

I could go on a massive rant (well, more than I already have) and quote numbers of loss and sales to compare the Big Three console companies and prove that it is indeed a Three and not Two but that may label me as a fanatic with more love than sense. But let me ask you this, when was the last time you saw a twenty-something year-old become childishly excited because their favourite character has been added to a cross-over game? Or a franchise that has so much legacy that people will buy it just because they love it and they KNOW that it will be good without seeing anything about it? Nintendo’s power isn’t in having the biggest hardware in a console war, it’s in the utter joy that they can ignite in people just because the characters that have been in their childhood are still going strong. It’s the idea that multiplayer games can be played with your friends and family all cramming into your living room and playing for hours instead of having an American toddler call you a noob over mic. It’s not having the highest specs or the most gritty shooter, it’s having a great time. Except when you’re about to win and your FUCKING BROTHER USES A SODDING BLUE SHELL RIGHT AT THE LAST MINUTE AND THEN DRIVES PAST YOU, YOU LITTLE SHIT.

Kii

Who the Hell Picks Humans?

Kii tells us why humans are rubbish, and why they shouldn’t be in games

The gaming world is full of choice nowadays. You can choose to be a man or a woman (Usually with equal outcomes but that’s another rant for another day), be a good guy or a bad guy, bang particular members of your crew/team/posse. A wide variety of games also offer you the chance to be different races, which range from giant cow person to magical pixie elf to super powered biomechas and beyond. What I never understand is who the hell chooses to be a human when they don’t have to be? I’m a human all the damn time, my suspension of disbelief is already engaged enough to be happy fighting for my life in a galaxy far far away so I can usually stretch to being an immuno-impaired helmeted space hottie.

FirstHumanpic SecondHumanpic

Before the torches and pitch forks come out, I have no problem with gamers choosing to be human. What I do have a problem with is how most games that offer you a vast array of choice just chuck humans in there for the boring folks. Developers spend eons fleshing out their own races and are justifiably proud of them but I’m constantly saddened by the human characters special skills being classified as ‘not the other guys’. There’s no beating about the bush here, it’s lazy. I believe it’s the almost lack of development that fuels my confusion as to why people would choose to be the ‘sub-par’ race in a lot of games. Admittedly there are games where being human puts you on equal footing with the race of the races and I cheer them for their well-rounded world building, however I feel that these are severely in the minority. Thus, I would like to get up on my soap box (for all of the two people here that will listen to me) and petition that if a developer can’t think of a decent reason for humans to be in the world they have built or they’re going to be stuck as the Average Joe race then just DON’T BLOODY PUT THEM IN.

Kii