Mercenaries 2 – World in Flames Review

When Pandemic’s action game Mercenaries was released on the Xbox several years back, critics enjoyed the game’s open-ended structure and fun-oriented, explosive missions. The idea of putting money at the front of a game of this type was interesting, and the ability to work with various factions in North Korea made for some unique missions without the same old enemies you see in every shooter.

It’s unfortunate then that Mercenaries 2 is so similar to the original in terms of how it plays, looks, and works overall – well, other than the change in venue to a peak-oil-scenario Venezuela and a fight over the world’s last oil supplies. This game seems to have been made in a vacuum, one where the developers didn’t see what made Grand Theft Auto IV or other recent open-world action titles so much better than the games released in the last generation.


The game starts off with you choosing one of three characters, each with a slightly different edge over the others (Jennifer Mui moves faster, Mattias Nilsson regenerates health faster, and Chris Jacobs can carry more ammo). Then an intro mission kicks off where you will get to help put a sleazy guy named Solano into power and at the end of the mission, get double-crossed by him and left for dead. Your goal for the rest of Mercenaries 2 is to build up the power base and cashflow to be able to take Solano head on. To that end, you’ll go through many missions, most of which are sadly very derivative and chock full of brainless enemies who are content to stand there and watch you kill them most of the time. Hell, just trying to get allied troops to get into your vehicle can be a real pain.

Oh sure, this game does offer some of that wanton destruction that Rockstar held back on with Grand Theft Auto IV (who probably did it to ensure that the level of controversy went down rather than up). Since we’re in Venezuela in Mercs 2, well, that’s not a big issue, so here you’ll get access to a huge amount of hardware to blow your enemies away with. Once the difficulty ramps up, you’ll have to start doing some strange things to stay alive, like running away 30 feet and waiting for your health to recharge enough to take on the opposing forces again, or just charging enemies and meleeing them since it kills them faster than using many of the guns in your arsenal.

And that’s probably the game’s biggest failing: Pandemic didn’t have the budget – or, possibly in some cases, raw talent – to make this game’s story or characters really compelling or at the least comparable to other major titles, so they went for massive amounts of destruction instead. But you quickly will find yourself spending as much time out of combat, waiting for health to regenerate, as you do taking on the various factions vying for Venezuelan oil. Side missions that require you to punch through a guarded area to capture one guy quickly can be reduced to driving directly to the guy, grabbing him, and taking off. Missions are of the same type and style we’ve seen in so many action games, and there are no story elements or cutscenes to really speak of to keep players going. It feels like way too much was sacrificed in development in order to get the large amount of destruction going later on in the game, but if you’d rather have better-looking explosions than compelling dialogue, then you’ll at least be happy with that here.

money in the game

The money system does add a level of interest, and for those who racked up six figure bankrolls in GTAIV and found there wasn’t much to spend the money on, you’ll be happy to find that Mercs 2 has a ton of stuff for you to pick up at a usually hefty price. Of course, the developers didn’t really put the effort into making each vehicle really feel or handle totally uniquely, and many of the guns wind up acting like many of the rest of the guns. Sure, we’ve got some mini-games that challenge your shooting and, yes, helicopter magnetic claw skills (don’t ask) with money as a reward for finishing these bits, but that only lasts so long before you just want to leave your mansion and start blowing stuff up. Still, working the factions is some fun, as doing missions for a faction and killing their enemies gets them to like you more so you can use their bases and equipment. Randomly killing people in various factions will force you to bribe them to get them to like you more.


FIFA 19 Review

Soccer fans came out of the woodwork for this year’s World Cup. Heck, even U.S. citizens watched the cup, even though the hopeful home team had to take its international medicine.

Much of the new U.S. interest in soccer can be attributed to MLS, but I know this fan of the sport got into it for an entirely different reason: EA’s FIFA titles. I’ve been playing EA FIFA games before I knew that the clock never stops in “football”, so it’s not a surprise that I get excited for each soccer release from the gaming juggernaut. The latest is FIFA 19 – a current-gen offering that is jam-packed with features many soccerheads have been waiting for.

Let’s see if FIFA 19 is pitch-worthy…

Gameplay of FIFA 19

Let’s just clear the air right now : FIFA 19 for the Xbox is little like the 360 version of the same name that is coming soon to a gaming store near you. The Xbox version is the same game as the PS3 version for the most part, with the Xbox 360 version being an entirely different animal. This is good and potentially bad at the same time. You won’t find any of the nifty, independent ball/player physics as in the Xbox 360 version of FIFA 19. But you will find an Interactive Leagues area that is absent from the next-gen version of FUT 19.

The Interactive Leagues could very well be the showpiece of FIFA 19, as it takes EA into the uncharted territory that they should have been in a long time ago. Every review I’ve written, up until this one, has said: “Why no online leagues ?” We’ll, I finally get a break from that played-out query.

FIFA 19 features a rich, Interactive Leagues area that allows gamers to play who their favorite clubs are playing for real. The divisions are limited to the French League, the Mexican 1st Division, Bundesliga, and the F.A. Premier League (and the clubs within these divisions), but most of us will be able to find a squad within these elite classes. Every match is ranked, and places the clubs into standings for all to see. A market of transferts exist : you can buy players with fifa coins; but you nedd a lot of coins to buy stars like Ronaldo, Messi or Suarez… It’s the reason of the existence of a sub-market of fifa coins, in all the FIFA’ leagues : for exemple for Spanish syou can buy  “monedas fut 19 baratas” etc.

A weekly ranking system also exists, along with extras such as podcasts interviews of the better players in a given fixture. It is also possible to schedule matches with rival fixtures to spice things up a bit during the season.

Multiple users across the world can play as the same team, so winning is a collective event of sorts. When a real team plays a match, said match will be available online for two days prior in order for results to be tabulated. It is possible to play the same match over and over in hopes of increasing your club’s chances of finishing high. Each win is registered as a vote, with the team showing the most votes after the play window closes being awarded three points in the overall standings.

There are other modes besides the Interactive Leagues, but nothing new. There’s the Manager Mode, which is sporting a new player progression system and new simulation system (see the demo of FIFA 18 : ) . There’s a tourney mode and a quick play mode, plus normal Live play if you so desire. A long list of challenges is present in FIFA 19, which are tied into the different game modes. These challenges are like offline Achievements in a way, rewarding gamers with points for accomplishing specific goals.

On the gameplay front, FIFA 19 comes equipped to score new legions of fans. Sure, it’s not sporting the fancy ball physics of the Xbox 360 version, but the ball physics have been reworked a bit here as well. Although not independent of the handler, the ball physics are much more realistic in FIFA 07 Soccer. You’ll notice the ball curve more under a hard shot, hit the pitch and spin naturally into space, and generally act more “lively” when not being controlled.

The shooting mechanic has been revamped as well, taking player context and skill into effect. Having Henry blast one is a good thing, but not if he is well marked. Player skill will rarely outdo an open shot and one with momentum towards the goal. The power gauge is also more sensitive this time around, which means it takes a fair amount of skill to get one on net and not over-hit it. I’m not sure if the new system is more or less realistic (as the pros make it looks easy), but it will definitely take more patience to master shots in FIFA 19.

The passing dynamic needed work last year, and it has received the necessary attention in FIFA 19 Soccer. Holding in the pass button will now accurately send a ball toward a teammate, instead of weakly dribbling the pill in every instance. You no longer have to lob a ball to get it on a player’s foot, as the ground pass is now formidable (and more believable). Lofted balls come with reticles that mark where the rock will land, which is quite useful as you can use your left stick to jostle with a defender. Setting up just fore of the reticle and pushing your opponent back away from the incoming ball is now a valid technique, and one that makes any airborne situation more strategic.

Even set plays have been reworked in FIFA 19, allowing top or back spin on the ball to be set in an analog fashion.

Playing like Parking Warrior

Some time ago I came across the television show Parking Wars. I came upon the show while flipping channels and looking for a way to procrastinate. I’ve been hooked ever since. I would have to say that my favorite “character” is Tiffany.

Tiffany, whose nickname is Swoop, is a ticket agent. She was born in New York and has only been living in PA for the last ten years. I don’t know why but I find myself laughing out loud whenever she is in a episode of the show. I think it’s that sassy New York attitude.

Watching the show is definitely a lesson in human nature. People don’t like to be wrong. Most especially when they know they are wrong and they get called out on their bullshit. They bitch and complain about getting tickets and having their cars booted and towed but at the same time, if they would take personal responsibility for themselves, they wouldn’t be running into problems. But that’s a post for another day.

On the site, they have a cute fun game called Parking Warrior :

The object of the game is to get the cars into the parking spots without crashing into other cars, getting a ticket or getting towed. I did pretty good on my first try. I made it to level 3 before I got towed. I ended up with the second highest score of the day.

This is a nice easy fun online game that you can play when you want to while away a few minutes.

Rugby Game For PS3

Rugby World Cup 2011 Review

This game is the reason that I decided to start my own PS3 gaming site so that I could truly be helpful to other PS3 gamers. If you read reviews on many of the other popular gaming websites they trash this game. This is very disappointing as I have purchased many games that they reviewed and gave top ratings only to play the game for 10 minutes and then trade it in after feeling cheated about paying money for the game.

What I really like about the game was that it captured the spirit of Rugby and a world cup. The game has its flaws, but is nowhere as bad as what people make out. As a first attempt for a rugby game on a PS3 I was not disappointed with the graphics as what some other reviewers commented. If I compare it to other games like Madden NFL series which I once purchased and played for a minute as I hated the graphics they really are decent.

Lets get some of the bad points of the game out of the way first. The controls take a bit of getting used it. The first few games that I played I was terrible as you need  to first get the hang of pushing different buttons to do certain things on the pitch. This is no different to playing FIFA  for exemple. I remember when I first started playing FIFA it took me months to score a goal. However, whenever a new version comes out most people are already used to the controls so there is no reason to complain. Also not all the international teams are represented in the game.

However, once you get used to the feel of the controls then the game can be enjoyable. RUGBY game takes some practise, but eventually you will be winning some games. What I really like about the game was the look and feel of the game including the commentary that  makes you feel the spirit of the Rugby World Cup that is about to start. The online play was also a lot of fun. You can choose a quick match where you get an opponent of a similar skill level and there always opponents available to play. You also have the option of inviting another player like a friend.

Overall I really enjoyed my experience of the game and would recommend it to people who are rugby fans. The down side of the game is that it has limited replay value similar to the FIFA world cup game that you would play the next two months while the world cup is on and lose interest after the event.

Dead Island Review

There has been a space of a few months since Dead Island has been announced with a lot of hype and fanfare. The main emphasis on this game based on the zombie genre is one of action. It involves a huge open world infested by zombies that you need to explore and discover.

You get to choose from four playable characters. Your world is infested by zombies and these four characters are the only ones that are immune to infection from the zombies. There is very little in terms of character development with the main emphasis being on combat and exploring the huge open world.

Gameplay of Dead island

The action is very satisfying : . You get to use melee weapons and get to beat up hordes of zombies as they charge at you. In the process you get to chop off the heads and limbs. The use of sound is particularly excelent. You get to hear the head chop off and at some stages you get to hear the zombies scream. This makes the game very captivating as you immerse in the world of zombies. You also get to respawn after 5 seconds of dying.

Online play is limited to a co-operative multiplayer with 3 players on the PSN network. Players can drop in and drop out. It would be beneficial to use a headset for communication. Your energy is limited and you have to find energy drinks to top up your stamina bar. The longer you use a weapon the more ineffective it becomes. So you have to keep on looking for new weapons. At some stages you can hop into a vehicle and go on a smashing zombie darby.

Dead Island is very rough around the edges and I doubt it will receive any critical acclaim. It also takes a while to get use to the melee combat system as instinctively you would expect to use guns in a first person shooter type of game. Later on you get to use guns, but this is limited. There is about 25 hours of gameplay and it is very entertaing exploring the beautiful island bashing zombies.

Game Review : Borderlands 2

Where do I start.  I usually begin these posts with an apology for not posting more.  Yeah…sorry.  I have been too busy, or my dog ate my posts or something, it’s not important.  What is important is what I have to say about Borderlands 2.

I spent a lot to time playing the original Borderlands, it was an amazing game and it is hard to believe that a sequel could live up to the original.  Before we get into whether Borderlands 2 accomplishes this monumental task, lets talk a little bit about what kind of games these are.

Borderlands is about killing things so that you can get their gear so that you can kill more things.  It is very like a First Person Shooter Diablo, in that the gear is the game.  I read somewhere once that games like this are like a Pinata.  You smash things open so that you can see what is inside.  Finding out what is inside is the important part.  Anyone can go down to the store to buy some candy, but it will never taste as good as the candy that comes out of an exploding corpse.  Maybe that metaphor fell apart at some point, but hopefully you get the point.

So, as far as pinata type shooty games go, Borderlands was one of the best.  It had a great story, great game play, and a great sense of humour.  I spent no less than one million hours playing it.  I am only about 10 hours into Borderlands 2, but I would say that it is better in every way.  The story is much more involved, you feel like your character is actually playing an important role.  There are cameos for the characters from the first game, making the world feel more alive with the continuity.  The game play is much more solid, the enemy AI is improved, it feels like a very polished game.  The sense of humour is fantastic, having me laughing out loud at times.

I would say more, but this game is very new and in all honesty I want to get back to playing it.

Playing Runescape : Another Day, Another Level

I worked on Summoning once I got back to the computer today. I am also working on a few other things in rl……. but now I’m making mith bars so I can get that last blasted 14k xp for the level. Yesterday, I went to the Yanille shard trader and swapped pouches for shards. That helps a great deal but – as I said in a previous post – you will never be able to trade in the top five familiar pouches because of the 5 level requirement.

I set up the extras for what I can see is the best xp for the least shards and I am looking forward to the day I can make the Unicorn Stallion ! Talk about a nice pet ! I am saving up unground unicorn horns every time I go to the Catherby planting area. I love that unicorn! (They will probably mess it up graphically before I can do them though – remember how really adorable the black ones in wildy were ? I actually wanted those as a desktop pet because they were so dang adorable!)

Ok got the level !

Shoot – it’s over 100k to the next level. This is getting into tough territory – phew! Now I can make the Obsidian golem – and I will get one out to show it here. It adds an extra 7 invisible mining levels so I will take it to my slayer assignment of Dark Beasts and get more rune ore while I have the golem out. I did a few of those so now I have less than 100k to go – just “feels” easier now, snickering…………………..

I did not notice any difference in getting the rune ore with my Obby golem out. It seems the Dark Beasts no longer drop charms…… my my my……….. Ok they drop a few – maybe once every 10 or 15 – at least during this set.

I do wish the bank would let us set that amount after 10 – I would set it at 200 or 100 and love to keep it that way – why does it always have to be your last x amount ? It’s irritating !

Well, back to my assignment and we’ll see if we get a quest tomorrow !