Manchester Comic Con

To kick of summer, Insanity’s resident gaming expert, Syed, went to Manchester Comic Con. 

Intro:

This year, Insanity had the pleasure of covering Manchester Comic Con for the very first time. Despite the smaller size of the event, it was quite enjoyable. The event had two halls, one was a sellers hall and the other focused on cosplay. The event also had several guest that had not attend an MCM Comic Con event such as Solid Snake from Metal Gear Solid, or as he’s known in the real world, David Hayter.

Pros:

The event was organised in way that promoted movement and to allow you to easy get around, with several different paths to get to each of the different halls. Furthermore, re-entry was rather quick, especially in comparison to the London Comic Con. This may be due to the size of the building as it is a lot smaller than London’s ExCel Centre is far bigger so a longer re-entry time is expected. Another major positive was the variety of options for those in cosplay, for example there was a booth that would provide you a 3D print of your cosplay (which is really cool!). As well various sellers that you would not see at London because of the high demand for stalls there.

Con:

I would say the only con for Manchester Comic Con would be that, despite of mentioned, there is actually very little to do, as you could only shop, see the guests or go to panel talks. There were plenty of seats, but very few games to try and play out, something London Comic Con has in abundance. However, I am certain this could be changed by perhaps allocating a few extra sections to the general seating area as it would help give some variety to the show.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, I would recommend going to Manchester Comic Con, if you live nearby to the event or have someone you can stay with. I would also recommend going with friends otherwise you would be rather lonely through much of the event due to the limited ways you could actually interact with people.

                                         

Words and photos by Syed Ali

Written 2nd August 2017

Photo by Syed Ali
Photo by Syed Ali

MCM Comic Con – May 2017

The final weekend of May saw the biannual convention, MCM Comic Con, grace London’s ExCel Centre. Here Insanity Radio’s Syed shares his views on the event.

Intro:

MCM Comic Con has once again come and once again proven to be the biggest event of the summer calendar, showing some of the best cosplayers in the UK, Europe and beyond. I had the pleasure of attending the event and covering it for Insanity Radio 103.2FM, as well allowing me access to some of the many guest on show.

Pros:

The main pro of the event was the wide variety of cosplay on show, with franchises ranging from Marvel and Doctor Who, to more obscure and less know fanbases such as Berserk or JoJo’s bizarre adventure. Another pro was the variety of guest on show such as, Lou Ferrigno (the original Incredible Hulk), Veronica Taylor (Ash Ketchum from Pokemon) and  Manu Bennett (Deathstroke from Arrow) to name a few. This was a rather amazing opportunity due the chance to meet and discuss what drives them as well to see what inspires to keep doing the roles they do. We also had the pleasure of doing a bit of shopping as well enjoying some of the games at show such as Agent of Mayhem. This was nice turn of pace as the floor was managed in an efficient manner that allow for quick and easy movement.

Cons:

The only major con that I can think that comes to mind, would be the time it took to enter the hall, this was largely due to the increase in security as a result of the horrific Manchester attacks. This lead to a much longer system of checking being need, however this was justified downside but one that I felt should be mentioned due to the time delay it to look for entry and re-entry.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, MCM Comic Con May 2017 was an amazing convention should you want to do a little shopping, chill with friends or just have a fun time. With the only recommendation being finding a way to try and have more security to ensure an easier re-entry for those with weekend tickets.

Words and photos by Syed Ali

Written 30th May 2017

GAME REVIEW: Killing Floor 2

Background

Killing Floor, when it was initially released back in its mod form in 2005, was a very simple game. You and a group of friends would shoot zombie-like creatures. Over time, it evolved and in some ways become the British answer to Left for Dead (Despite being initially released before Left For Dead) and this trend has continued with the newest entry being the craziest, most glorious entry so far for the franchise. With even more money jokes, more slow-mo moments and more silly British stereotypes than you can swing a cat at.

Story

The basic premise of Killing Floor 2 is to kill/wipe out “not zombies”, which are cloned humans that formed from a clearly evil bio-tech company (since in horror games the bio-tech companies are always evil). As such, you spend much of the game killing zombies and kick ass in simply the most awesome of ways, either with conventional weapons or hacking and slashing your way through. This makes up for much of the story. Furthermore, some may argue that I am being somewhat more lenient than with say Infinite Warfare or Eternal crusade. This is largely due to the simple fact that this game is more fun than the other and its retail price is far lower. Despite this I will say that this game is based played with friend to gain the fullest enjoyment.

Mechanics

The mechanics of the game work like many wave survival games do, in that you kill monsters in order to gain money. This allows you buy new upgrades for the class you picked or even new guns to help fight of the horde. As such there is no major change in terms of mechanics for Killing Floor; instead the sequel focuses on taking what was learned from the original game and placing in new locations and improving upon what was there. This lead to the game to be even more fun than the previous version of the game.

Sound Design

The Sound Design for the guns and music in general is superb. The music has a more metal feel than DOOM at some points, which helps fill the scene with mayhem and glee when you find yourself filled with ammo and in a room full of clones. Furthermore, the guns feel powerful and impactful as each of their sounds feels fitting for the gun.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Killing Floor 2 is amazing to play and well worth the amount to pay for it. However, I would recommend this game to be played together with friends, or else your missing out on an amazing experience. As such I would give this game an 8 out 10, as it is competitively priced for an amazing game despite being multiplayer online.

Score

8 out of 10

GAME REVIEW: Battlefield 1

Background

What Battlefield 1 succeeds at doing is something of a common thread among gaming in this current year. That is, to focus on a certain element that is core to the franchise and build the game around this idea. For Battlefield 1, this focusing on team based combat on a grand, almost soundbox style battle. Something that is iconic to the Battlefield franchise. As can be shown when Battlefield time after time get its right in the moment, such as when you have destroyed an enemy zeppelin; or leading a devastating bayonet charge against a group of well entrenched enemies. It’s these moments that Battlefield 1 has succeeding in doing better than any previous entry I would argue up to Battlefield Bad Company 2. This is only the cause due to the somewhat limited story mode or ‘War stories.’

Story

The story mode or ‘war stories’ for Battlefield 1 are something of a mixed bag. As the very first one you play is arguably one of the greatest moment of gaming, not just for this year, but perhaps in gaming as a whole,aAs it does something that most video games just about fail to do (for some noble reason). It shows the horrid, brutal nature and in this case the vicious combat of World War 1, even going so far as to humane both sides of the war. However, this moment is somewhat lost as the game’s war stories are affectively prolonged tutorials teaching you the basics, but have a heavy focus on the Allies’ viewpoint in the war. In fact, the Ottomans in the Lawerence of Arabia storyline have a rather interesting female lead, but make the Ottomans to be almost cartoonishly evil, and this war story lasts for about two hours at best. Nevertheless, I can understand why this might have been a better option for DICE over doing a traditional campaign, as the last few campaigns for the pervious entires had been somewhat lacklustre. In so making, the story mode goes about teaching you mechanics of the game, such as how to drive a WW 1 truck or fly a plane. Sounds good on paper.

Mechanics

The mechanics of the game are somewhat the same for the last few Battlefield games, but they make some small but noticeable differences. The biggest of which is the removal of a large number of optical weapons; this make it a lot harder to sniper people across the map and so shifts focus to close quarter combat. As such, the importance of knowing your weapons most effective range is one of the many smaller features to Battlefield 1. However, the last part I should mention that is tied to mechanics is that of operations mode. Which is a love letter to conquest, rush, and fans looking for narrative and context. It provides a thrilling rush in your first mode and for me it is still as fun as when I first played.

Sound Design

The sound design is nothing short of amazing. As it truly provides that lethal early modern industry feel. Whether it be from the fire of a machine pistol, or the manual loading of a rifle, or the pump action of a shotgun after blustering your way through bunkers. It feels amazing, meaty, and powerful. The music helps keep you pumped, moving, and motivated. All of which is vital for Battlefield 1 and help keep the game’s longevity.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Battlefield 1 is an amazing game. However, due to the fact the story mode is somewhat barebones I cannot with good faith give it the ten out of ten it deserves but instead the nine out of ten, as everything else in Battlefield 1 is refined and perfected to a tee. I look forward to future Battlefield entries if the same amount of polish and perfection (but a bit of Bad Company story would be perfect).

Score

9 out of 10

 

GAME REVIEW: Dishonored 2

Background

When the original Dishonored back in 2012 was released it appeared to have failed a gap that was missing in the video game marketing: a stealth game that can make the importance of choice ever present and a key factor to who you would approach a situation. It would either award you for being a silent almost batman level vigilante, while also making the game more difficulty should you decide the back-door approach is not your cup of tea. Four years later, now the game improves the small flaws that are held in the game but in some ways, feel more of a return than a brand-new adventure. This helps the game but does not quite give it the same feeling of mystery as was the case when it was first released in 2012.

Story

For those who have not played Dishonored the game allows you to take the role of an assassins called Corvo Attano who has set out to right a grave wrong. The main element of the game was the heavily inspired steampunk design and the hints of a Lovecraft deity. These elements came fully forward, as in the game you can either play as Corvo Attano or Empress Emily Kaldwin, each with a different style of play with Corvo being more a sneaky assassin akin to Assassin’s Creed, whereas Emily is more focused on speed aiming to move faster than other people. Depending on the choice you make in the game, it will determine how the rest of the game plays out for your character and again, the theme of consqeuence through game design is ever present. The game then tasks you retake control of your empire while dealing with a every menacing threat in the background as you rebuild yourself for the final confrontation.

Mechanics

There are no major changes in terms of mechanics, as you still have a heavy focus on using the supernatural powers of the Outsider to great effect. However, the addition of new powers helps create new tactics and ideas to complete the mission to complement the new risk you need to face in the game. These nevertheless do naturally lead to some powers being preferred to others, and thus you have been set on a certain style of play. Thid does however add for an interest in replay value, which is key for the longevity of this game.

Sound Design

The sound design in Dishonored 2 allows for you to understand the key moments in combat and to how to react with certain musical charms, quatrain, and elements that allow to feel organic, responsive, and fundamental to the world. The music, as a whole for the game, could be difficult to pull off in terms of design for such a different world in pseudo-steampunk with hints of Mediterranean, due to the city being so focused on whaleling and the closeness to the sea. However, the game is able to do it with such grace and class it is amazingly suited to the world.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Dishonoured 2 is more of the same as even through it does not quite capture the same charm and awe the first game had, it still is able to be an amazing experience that is well worth picking up should you have the opportunity, as there is no game truly like in the market for the current consoles.

Score

8 out of 10

 

GAME REVIEW: Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade

Background

Ever since THQ collapsed the Warhammer 40k licence has been used by several companies with some games making amazing entires, such as Battlefleet Gothic, and some making somewhat less than stellar games, such as Warhammer 40,000: Storm of Vengeance, which was so panned that it was removed from purchase on the Steam Store. Nevertheless, with Eternal Crusade, I am somewhat conflicted about it, hence why I took another month to try and fully immerses myself in the game, as the game when initial discussed was meant to the Warhammer answer to World of Warcraft. However, as development was changed and new heads were put in charge, the game evolved and changed. It would be less of an MMO and more of a multiplayer game with MMO elements (akin to Planetside 2), to which the game succeeds as it takes the style of combat as was used by Warhammer: Space Marine and polishes it to some level and adds tank elements. Despite all this the game never quite lives up to my expectation.

Story

Something of a shame for a Warhammer 40k game is the somewhat lack of a story, this in part due to the MMO elements the game’s story is ever changing and so even given the extra month I can’t say exactly what the story is. What can be understood is that, the four main factions of the 40k universe Space Marines representing the Imperium of Man, Chaos Space Marines represent Chaos, Orkz and Eldar each fight for control of the planet. What this translates into is that each of the different multiplayer battles have an aggerated effect on the world. This I believe is something borrowed from the Tabletop game it is inspired from and so it feels somewhat fitting that this implemented.

Mechanics

The mechanics of the game take heavily from Space Marine and to the point it succeeds but it adds certain elements I do not approve of, such as micro-transaction which pay for cosmetic upgrades but for a Warhammer game, customising your units is as important as the story. As with the Tabletop game you would take your time painting and making up silly stories as to why your units are Space Canadians or why your Chaos Space Marine likes the colour pink on everything but his left horn etc. So, while the game does help levy the issue by allowing you access to all the units at launch and from buying the game as well giving you some customise options, it feels like something of a missed opportunity.

Sound Design

In the 40k universe, everything is Gothic, over the top and meaty for a lack of better word. This is very much the case and perhaps one of the games more strongest elements at times. Bolters feel like heavy powerful guns, more like the rapid-fire RPG that is than the machine gun copy that people perceive them to be. However, Rhino’s, those most infernal of metal boxes, feel somewhat weird as they make a huge amount of sound and raw energy but can sometimes run over 7 to 8 foot men in huge armour without a major nose to be had. It’s these differences that play to the game’s weakness and why I am so lackluster to the game.

Conclusion

In conclusion, this game is pretty much designed for something you and your friends play every now and then and not something to be played constantly. Either from the confused sound design, the bizarre Micro-Transactions, or even how boring the game flat out is due to the lack of lore in a 40k game. I am rather sad but I must give this game a 6 out of 10; it is something of miss chanced but could be improved as the game is being updated constantly.

Score

6 out of 10 at this current time

 

MCM London Comic Con October 2016

Comic Con has come and like always been a thoroughly enjoyable event to those who attended. My crew and I were required to go and interview various people of interest which include voice actors that include Nolan North and Troy Baker from games such as Uncharted 4.

Bryce Papenbrook and Trina Nishimura having provided their amazing voices to the Attack on Titan English Dub. I had the opportunity to talk with four of the key voice actors for Roosters Teeth amazing show RWBY, namely Lindsay Jones (Ruby), Kara Eberle (Weiss), Arryn Zech (Blake), Barbara Dunkelman (Yang). We were also able to talk to Tomska from Tomska, Geoff Ramsey and Jack Pattillo from Rooster Teeth about the future of YouTube.

The vast majority of my time at Comic Con was spent running back and forth between various interviews and meeting various cosplayers. As my aim was to have the maximum amount of time in both areas, you cannot truly enjoy Comic Con unless you understand what the mood on the Con floor is like. What this meant for my time at Comic Con is that Friday and Sunday were rather quiet, but Saturday was one of the busiest times I had ever seen Comic Con. This was despite having almost booked up the complete centre, which just shows how amazing and bustling Comic Con can be. Friday become the day I would scout out stalls and certain points of interest. During Saturday I conducted the the bulk of interviews for me, and Sunday functioning as going to various meets and greats for various franchise and cosplayers.

Perhaps the greatest gem of going to Comic Con is meeting the people, as you get to encounter people who have a truly astounding amount of passion. They would recreate various characters with such authenticity it is best experienced either in person or from the pictures shown above.

My only major gripe was that for those that didn’t have either a weekend band or a press pass (at least to my understanding), the only way to reenter is through the side route. I can understand this has a major impact on the flow of the Con and more so on Saturday. However, I feel this was done well and I personally never had to deal with these issues.

In conclusion, as always London Comic Con was bigger than its pervious success as shown by the sheer number of people that attended this year. As well the general mode on the ground was that of enjoyment and the feeling that there was always something to find, something that only you would discover; that one stall with amazing merchandise, that chap who gives you an honest deal, or that one amazing Asuna cosplayer who perfectly matches how you she appeared the anime.

GAME REVIEW: Civilization 6

Background

Civilisation 6 is one of games I have had the most fun playing this year largely due to how this game harkens back to previous version of Civilisation, with its loading screen reminding me of Civilisation 4 (my first knowing attempt at the game). To the more cartoonish design from Civilisation Revolution, all this culminates in a more in-depth strategy game and one that Civil fans benefits from it.

Story

In Civilisation 6 there is no real campaign mode. Instead you pick a civilisation with certain buffs and unique units in which you then choose different ways to in win the game. For example, you could play Brazil and focus on building all the monuments and winning a culture victory; perhaps you want a science victory meaning you would win the space races. You can even play as the aggressive and war-like India, leading to a completely nuclear devastation of the world. As such the game does not have traditional story in that sense, but the game allows for you to create your own narrative each time you play.

Mechanics

There have been a number of changes to the Civilisation formula over the years but Civilisation 6 must have been an entry in the franchise with the greatest of amount of changes under the hood. As there is a myriad of changes, such as Casus Belli being needed to legitimise war, the various city developments, even the formations of units are entirely different. Wereas Civilisation 5 felt it borrowed heavily from Civilisation 4, this does not to seem to be the case. A key example can be found in how cities are developed. In Civilisation 5 you would build certain improvements that would give you certain resources that would buff or allow you develop certain units. In Civilisation 6 instead, you would have to think ahead about how you develop, not just your empire, but your individual cities. For example, you may have a city that is on the border to a rival empire so you would have to make it a massive military keystone, and as such you would develop encampments to help defend your city. However, you would need to ensure trade is following through and so you would need to build trades, and a city that is next to several important resources would prioritise commercial and entertainment centres. Leading to harbours, more encampments, more wonders, more defense etc. There is natural progress and response to how the situation responds, however my biggest critique of the game is how anti-war the game can be, but how aggressive the barbarian and AI can be. Perhaps this is due the fact that many of my AI had agendas (certain traits that dictate the AI’s response) that were focused on war, but I even tested this on a lower setting and still found myself unknowingly overwhelmed by how aggressive the AI was and had to fight many a bloody battle to push them back. Nevertheless, upon winning this war I was constantly denounced and constantly ashamed. Perhaps this a known choice stopping people from just focusing on a military victory, which was a common concern among players in Civilisation 5. This makes some sense but would seem odd on my part that I am being considered a massive threat by everyone for fighting a defensive war.

Sound Design

I will say that the sound design in this game is amazing, this mostly comes from the amazing soundtrack that Geoff Knorr does an amazing job with. With the opening being almost as iconic to the Civilisation 4 opening, to the little touches such as the slight changes in the different faction’s music as the ages progress. My personal favourite being the Arabian Atomic era, as it felt drenched in cold war paranoia of an enemy at every turn and the world turning on its axis. This music truly feels fitting for Civilisation 6 and shows how amazing Civilisation 6 is compared to Civilisation 5.

Conclusion

In conclusion, at this current moment in time I can find no major faults with Civilisation 6 and as such I would considered it worth of a ten out of ten. Seeing as the mechanics add great depth to the game, a more challenging approach meaning that you would have different options each time you play the game as one of the many factions. It is truly worth of being on every player’s wish-list.

Score

10 out of 10

 

GAME REVIEW: SHU

Background

SHU is something I was not expected this year, a platform from an indie development team that interest me a great deal. With it being the newest game to be developed by Coastsink, it is something that I believe all gamers should at some point enjoy as its unique art style along with a different approach to level design is something I had a great deal of fun with.

Story

SHU’s story is something that has seen with many platforms in that there is a “great evil” coming and the main playable character must go forth into the vast world of SHU and prepare. However, this “great evil” comes in the form of the “Storm” which is constantly harassing you, and on more than one occasion made me drop my controller in sheer panic of his huge appearance corrupting the colours and filling the screen with sheer despiser. However, perhaps it greatest feature is on the different characters you encounter along the way who help you deal with the myriad of puzzle you may face in a given level.

Mechanics

Leading on from my pervious paragraph about the idea of there being numerous puzzle you must face, and you deal with them by having different characters help you. This is something that in most video games of this style would be attribute power ups or merely just being one shot wonders. Instead SHU’s approach is to teach how each of them work and so should you want to speed run the game, you understand exactly how they all act, and when this does happen it is something of beauty in terms of how smoothly you can progress through the game.

The last major mechanic I feel that needs to be mentioned is the importance of time, as the game gives you a limited amount of lives and it makes you focus on being quick and agile more so than anything else. As such you are given a limited amount of time but is increased should you meet certain checkpoints within the map.

Sound Design

The sound design for SHU is one that focus on and achieves matching the style and tone of the backdrop that much of the game takes place in. It suits the game extremely well to the point it would feel almost naturally until the “Storm” occurs, in which it proceeds to just full wreck everything causing a huge change in the musical tone and sounds occurring on the level.

Conclusion

In conclusion SHU, is an enjoyable game that any fan of platform should buy as there is no major changes or faults with the game but it still remains fun. I would give it a 7 out of ten, as its aim is to polish and improve on certain mechanics that have been used in the parts and succeeds at doing it in an effective standard.

Score

7 out of 10

 

GAME REVIEW: Mount and Blade Wardband Console Release

Background

Mount & Blade: Warband, was the second entry and the most popular in the Mount and Blade franchise. As it improved upon the previous version by the addition of multiplayer, the ability to carve out your own kingdom and just being a tad bit more graphically pleasing to the eye. However, the PlayStation 4 for the game is the very first time the game has been ported to the council and as such I was overjoyed to see that the game that I had sunk over one hundred and ninety hours into was as brutal and hard as I remembered it to be.

Story

In Mount & Blade: Warband, there really isn’t a ‘story’. However, the game is a true sandbox in the sense that you could play as a merchant for twenty hours or you could be a pillaging bandit lord that goes after rival merchants. You could even dream of becoming king (or queen) of the entire game world. The option is left entirely up to you. In the twenty hours I spent with the game I was able to raise a small band and start hunting bandits, only to become the hunted and end up being captured, freeing my old party and pledging myself to a lord as a mercenary. This true sandbox feeling is something that many games that I know of have tried and failed at doing but Mount & Blade: Warband succeeds in doing not only on the PC but also on the console port.

Mechanics

Perhaps my greatest concern prior to receiving the review copy was how well the port would be, as Mount & Blade: Warband had generally considered to be one of those games that controllers could never truly succeed in doing. However, when I finally got my hands on the port I was able to put my worries to rest as the melee combat style of being a mix of skill, timing, and luck still is in play and switching between weapons is actually easier on a PlayStation 4 controller than on a mouse. The transition felt natural and fluid. Furthermore, battles are much smaller affairs compared to the PC versions of the game which can been numbered in the hundreds on both sides.  Other than this, the port of the game has no major changes to the PC various of the game and such it would seem rather unneeded to go in depth of the various mechanics. As such I will simply state that the console port in terms of combat, questing, and diplomacy is on the level to the PC port. However, I am rather disappointed there are no ways to mod the game including many of the mods that are on offer on the PC versions of the game.

Sound Design

The sound design still has the medieval style combat and music that, although not rather that noteworthy as separate entities, they truly come into their own when combined together in the grand melee of combat that can occur in Mount & Blade: Warband. Again, I would like to state there is no noteworthy difference between the console and PC port in this regards and that the console port is on par with the PC in this level. However, due the lack of option to change music is something I miss as I would always like to change the music to make the game unique to myself.

Conclusion

In conclusion the game succeeded in being a smooth and amazing port for a game that had never been ported before by a company (to the best of my knowledge). However I would give this game a 8 out of 10 due to the technical limitations stopping it from being a true port of the game.

Score

8 out of 10

 

GAME REVIEW: Deus X Mankind Divided

Background

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is the latest entry in over a decade long series dealing with themes of trans-humanism, conspiracy, and snarky one-lining protagonists. Mankind Divided’s aim in the game is to show the slow fall of the golden age that started in Deus Ex: Human Revolution and the start of the dark age to come in the form of the original Deus Ex. This is heavily implied in seeing Adam Jensen descend to the Earth in way similar to Icarus losing his week in the age old Greek myth. However, the game plays very similar to the Deus ex: Human Revolution and despite there being very little change in the mechanics shown in the previous iteration, it still tells a compelling story that somewhat ends abruptly and rather frankly sequel baits to extreme levels.

Story

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided takes place two years after the events of the original series. It shows Adam Jensen trying to get closer to understanding the greater conspiracy at hand as well dealing with the segregation that has occurred with mechanically augmented individuals. The allegories which are common in the Deus Ex franchise always feel relevant for the time. These themes could easily be applied to either the racial Apartheid that occurred in South African or even to the stigmata that is applied to Muslims in certain countries in the global north. Regardless, the story always has you question your loyalty and to whom you should be trusting in the game and this makes for a great Deus Ex experience.

Mechanics

The part that somewhat drags down Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is in the form of the limited new game mechanics that are implemented. As the game somewhat leans on the pervious iteration of the game rather too heavily, and even through there are new and rather awesome mechanical augmentations, it does not change the game that much. Instead, the game is able to polish issues that occurred with Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and as such this is worthy of praise, as even the different bosses can be dealt with in various ways. This was a major complement in the Human Revolution iteration.

Sound Design

If the Human Revolution took its sound design inspiration from the Ghost in the Shell and the original Deus Ex was from the Matrix, the current sound design is from Akira, with a grimmer and darker appeal, but not one that has transitioned totally to the techno style of Deus Ex. Its music queues and notes make it appear as though the game suggests that there is no hope and that the fate that occurs in Deus Ex is a given and cannot be stopped despite the best efforts of Adam Jensen.  However, Mankind Divided still lacks a certain core theme that both Deus Ex and Deus Ex: Human Revolution had. As Deus Ex: Human Revolution had Icarus, wereas the original Deus Ex had its iconic main theme. To my memory I cannot think of a certain track that feels iconic to this entry in the franchise.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the game succeeds in polishing and fixing the errors that had occurred with the pervious entry in the franchise and as such it should be remembered as an intermedium entry in the series linking the events of Human Revolution and the original Deus Ex. However, its story and themes give it a certain level of staying power which is why I would give this game a 7 (seven) out of 10 (ten). The game somewhat feels that it was cut short ; yet somehow implies that Adam Jensen plays a critical role in the fall of the illuminati and the rise of Majestic – 12 (the main antagonists as of Deus Ex).

Score

7 out of 10

Hearts of Iron IV screenshot
Hearts of Iron IV screenshot

Game Review: Hearts of Iron IV

Background

Hearts of Iron IV is the fourth entry in the Hearts of Iron series from Paradox Interactive, the developers behind Europa Universalis, Crusader Kings and Stellaris. The year is 1945, on September 1st the old world is under the control of the resurgent Neo-Ottoman Empire. The old imperial powers of Britain, France and their allies have been pushed to the bottom of the African continent. The Americans are fearful of involving themselves due to a nuclear bomb having been detonated on New York, Washington DC and Boston: the prelude to the invasion of the Turkish Island hopping campaign. The Soviet Union and Nazi Germany have collapsed along with all major resistance in Europe. Today is only the start of the new empire of sons of Otto. This sums up my first 15 hours of my third campaign of this truly wondrous game: a game that lets you think and plan as a military planner would need to.

Story

The backdrop of the game takes place in either 1936 or in 1939. In 1936, you can push your nation state in certain ways that in 1939 would be impractical to do. This could be factors such as improving infrastructure, researching certain technologies and planning ahead of time. As such, for those more interested in the grand planning, it would be best to play in the 1936 era as you could look at your nation state and research how to progress in a way that would suit your playstyle. For those more interested in the grand conquests then picking a powerful nation in 1939 could be more of what you are looking for.

Mechanics

The mechanics feel at times like a more polished Europa style but at the same time feels like the game is trying to be overly complex. What the game aims to be is to as close to reality as possible but still be enjoyable as a game, a feature reflected in the game’s mechanics in many ways. For example, the game makes sure that you understand the importance of ensuring your forces are supplied with fuel, replacements and other logistic equipment – if you lack in some of these areas your troops could be hindered or beaten even if you outnumber and outclass the enemy. However, my biggest annoyance is how hard and tedious it can be to launch sea and air invasions. If you were to attack the United Kingdom, for example, you would need to have 75% control of the air as well almost complete control of all the parts of the sea you would need to send your troops. If you compare this to a game like Europa Universal IV, if you were to launch a sea invasion you would only need to put the troops on a transporter and send ships to defend it, however, in Hearts of Iron, you need to defend sections of sea and put yourself at risk to a massive sea invasion. I can understand the need to have this but with my experience with Stellaris and Europa it seems really weird in compassion.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Hearts of Iron IV is amazing if you are willing to have the patience for it and attempt to enjoy the game. The game is at its best when you can either become a massive superpower as a minor and weak nation, or when you finally defeat a nemesis that has long since been needing a good conquering.

Score

8 out of 10