Sunday, November 10, 2013

Review: 140

Don't do drugs, kids.

While looking around for cheap games to try out on the Steam store, I managed to find an odd looking title that really piqued my interest. This game was called 140. With a $5 price tag, just 3 achievements, and a developer only listed as Independent, this seemed like a great opportunity for this game to get more of a spotlight on it.

The plot of 140 is, well, not anything really. You're a square who sometimes morphs into a circle when it moves and a triangle when it jumps. Not really much to it. Regarding the gameplay, there are 3 main levels, all with their own form of tricky platforming and puzzles. Regarding the actual controls, the arrow keys move the "character" while the spacebar jumps. Nothing really convoluted. Hell, the game doesn't even have a pause button. The movement is quite precise, and the jumping doesn't feel floaty in the slightest. When I accidentally screwed up a jump, I felt like it was my own fault.

Let me get this fact out of the way: 140 is incredibly short. I beat it in a little under an hour, and that was from me dying multiples times, so the average person could probably beat it in far less time with practice.
Despite its short length, 140 does a solid job of spreading out the puzzles and platforming throughout the three stages.

The main draw to 140 though is in its graphical presentation and music. These are the primary factors that really drive it home as an experience.

Sound design is an incredibly important factor in 140. Songs start off simple and unimpressive but gradually transition into a complex, technophilic eargasm (especially when paired with a good pair of headphones) Some games rely on realistic, mind-blowing graphics to convey their art direction. 140 is not one of them. The simplistic, colourful, not-even-8-bit backgrounds pulsate with the pounding beats of the surrounding puzzle blocks and jump pads. It's the video game embodiment of a drug trip, with it's only purpose being to ecstasize the senses. I found it to be quite hypnotic once I started to immerse myself.

Final Thoughts

140 is one of those games that you'll probably finish on a weekend, forget about it for a couple of days, then mention it to one of your friends in passing, only to forget about it again as it sits in your Steam library, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. It doesn't strive to be some absolutely memorable event like The Last of Us or other games. The $5 price tag justifies it's purpose as a one time experience, although I do wish that it could have been just slightly longer. Overall, 140 is something I would recommend trying. Kind of like how an addict would describe a drug trip, it's fun while it lasts. 

Final Score


Seth Boester is currently a sophomore in high school. You can follow him on Twitter @cheesewombat and listen to him proclaim that Scott Tolzien is the future of the Green Bay Packers, and then violently cry himself to sleep immediately afterwards. 

My Return

Hello all! After more than 2 months of absence, I have finally returned to the blog. The average person would wonder where I went during this time. Well, I should probably give a little bit of backstory.

Right after the September Mini-Update, I started to notice that something was a little odd with the blog. It appeared that only some comments were able to be posted, while other could not. I tested this theory by having several friends post test comments on the various posts here. Only some of them made it through. I immediately tried everything in my power to fix this problem. Changing the comments settings (They were set to allow all comments by default), looking up the problem to see any solutions. No dice. Eventually I just decided to stop trying, leading me to sort of forget about the blog. Days, weeks went by, and I kept saying to myself "I'm gonna try again." 

Finally, about 20 minutes prior to me writing this, I decided that I need to give this blog one more go. At this point, I don't even care if the comments keep messing up. That's not something that's gonna hold me back from doing this anymore. If people read my reviews and say to themselves "These are great", then that's all that matters to me. I love playing, talking, writing about, and reviewing games, and I'm gonna keep doing it.

Now, due to the fact that about 2 months worth of games have been released and highly covered since my absence, I feel that I probably shouldn't cover most of them on here, as there are still many more to be released in the following weeks.

My next review will be of a game that is pretty much the physical embodiment of the word indie, titled 140.
Look for the review this Sunday Nov. 10
[Pictured above: 140] So a circle and a triangle walk into a bar graph...

Seth Boester is currently a sophomore in high school. You can follow him on Twitter @cheesewombat to listen to ramble on about the Green Bay Packers and their *gasp* DECENT RUSHING OFFENSE?!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

September Mini-Update

Well I've got good news and bad news. The bad news is that the Mario & Luigi: Dream Team review has been postponed indefinitely. Due to my schedule, the untimeliness of the review, and the fact that a flood of new games will be coming, starting with Grand Theft Auto V on Sept. 17, (Which I WILL be reviewing no matter what) I see no reason to spend time on it anymore.

Now the good news is that a review of Madden NFL 25 will be posted soon. This review was actually supposed to be a sort of side review to hold you guys off for the Dream Team review to be completed. A sports video game instead of a 20+ hour RPG game means a lot less time commitment for me to really get in depth with the game. Look for the Madden review soon.

Bo Knows crazy 99 yard video game TDs

Seth Boester is currently a sophomore in high school and is convinced that the Running back Gods have put an eternal curse on the Green Bay Packers. You can follow him on Twitter @cheesewombat.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

August Update

Hello all. First off, I'd like to apologize for my lack of updating. School has recently started up for me, which sort of ate up a lot of my time in the past week. I've also had other things going on which have drained away some of my time. But now that storm has settled, and I'm able to continue the blog again.

While I don't exactly have an update schedule going on at the moment, I can safely say that you will see a review of Mario & Luigi: Dream Team in the very near future. The only thing holding me back is the simple fact that I haven't even beaten it yet. But, again, it's coming.

You'll get your time in the Sun soon, Green Man.

Oh and I might as well plug my Twitter while I'm at it. It's @cheesewombat. If you follow me, I guarantee you will instantly know when anything on the blog gets posted. You will also know when the Packers game is on each week, as I will be frequently shouting about it on Twitter every 5 seconds, so prepare your phone for that.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Review: Bioshock Infinite

Will the Circle be Unbroken?

With August around the corner, the annual flood of awesome video games is coming upon us. Whether it's the lovable niche Pikmin 3, or the massive event that is Grand Theft Auto V, we can all agree that 2013 is going to be one hell of a year for video games. Before the levee breaks, however, I'd like to kick off my blog with a review of Bioshock Infinite, a game which despite already being out on the market for four months, deserves another look in my opinion. Will Bioshock Infinite soar above to Game of the Year status, or will it crash to the ground like a faulty Zeppelin? (You probably know the answer to that by now.)


In Bioshock Infinite, you play as Booker DeWitt, a former Wounded Knee veteran-turned-Private Investigator who is tasked by a mysterious man to travel to the floating city of Columbia and rescue a woman named Elizabeth, hoping to "wipe away the debt" as the game states early on in the story. Elizabeth is the daughter of Zachary Comstock, a self-proclaimed prophet who founded Columbia in 1893 in cooperation with the United States Government as a symbol of American political and religious ideals. Due to its interference in The Boxer Rebellion, however, Columbia was annexed by the U.S. Government in 1901, continuing to float off into the clouds. 

Booker is a man with a dark and muddled past. Having taken part in The Battle of Wounded Knee, he has seen humanity in its darkest moments. It's apparent that in his mind, Booker feels that doing something as absurd as going to a floating city and rescuing a girl is plausible and can wipe away his mysterious "debt". Throughout the course of the adventure, Booker will cross paths several times with the peculiar Lutece twins, Rosalind and Robert, who always find a way to mysteriously appear at the right times.

Now, the bulk of the story mainly revolves around Elizabeth, seeing as how she has been prominently featured in almost every piece of concept art and trailer since the game's announcement. Despite Booker being the main protagonist, Elizabeth is where you will find the bulk of the personality throughout the story. Her awestruck responses to the people and the things around her harken back to the days of childhood, where even the smallest things like candy or a new toy can seem so amazing. Although Elizabeth's reactions to the environment are great, it's her relationship with Booker that really makes Bioshock Infinite one of this year's must-play games. It is absolutely astounding how lifelike these characters are when they interact with each other. Whether it may be mindless banter between them or important story sequences, I actually felt like Booker and Elizabeth were real, breathing human beings, albeit animated human beings, but still just as lifelike regardless.

While the exposition and climactic parts of the story are all fine and dandy (the middle feels a bit drawn out), the ending is definitely something that you'll want to re-watch and analyze. I won't spoil it here, but let me just say that the ending of Bioshock Infinite is one that will definitely be talked about between gamers for a long time (and has been talked about for the last 4 months).     

The things he'll do for Elizabeth


If there is one aspect of Bioshock Infinite that shines the brightest, it is by far the presentation. Columbia is an absolutely breathtaking spectacle of science and wonder at work. Its streets are brimming with statues, shrubbery, shops, and ecstatic city-goers. The locals are, for the most part, very friendly and talkative. Their conversations range from "Something something Father Comstock something something" to... well, that actually sums up their usual banter in a nutshell. The citizens in Bioshock Infinite are more of a quantity versus quality sort of thing. There are lots of them, but they don't seem to have much personality, until the middle to ending parts of the game, but that's for the player to experience. Columbia is, in a sense, almost the polar opposite of Rapture from the previous games. 

Now, just because Columbia seems like a happy, exciting place to be on the outside doesn't mean that it's not without its share of problems. While the original Bioshock had themes of free market and capitalism, Bioshock Infinite features issues involving religious cultism and racism, and it is VERY apparent throughout the game. With segregated sectors of the city, politically incorrect dialogue between NPCs, and the eerie religious fanatics in white robes awaiting the player at the city's entrance, Columbia doesn't hide its true nature to the player.

Graphics wise,  Bioshock Infinite is nothing short of drop dead gorgeous. The cotton candy clouds, the bright colors of the buildings, and the overall animated art style really help this game become one of the most gorgeous titles of this generation. 

Like always, the PC version of Infinite is graphically superior to the console versions. Textures and some landscapes on the Xbox and PS3 versions are not quite up to par with top of the line computer graphics, which is to be expected.

Don't get on the Handyman's bad side


If I had to choose one sentence to describe Bioshock Infinite's gameplay, it would have to be "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Combat and interactions with the environment are, for the most part, incredibly similar to the original Bioshock. That's not to say that the gameplay is boring and repetitive. It is still just as fun and engrossing as it was 6 years ago. This time around, however, Irrational Games has introduced some cool new features to help the gameplay still feel fresh and enticing.

Replacing Plasmids this time around are potions called Vigors. While their origins aren't exactly explained in the story, they are still a great addition to the combat. Plasmids such as Electro Bolt and Incinerate have now been re-skinned and renamed to Shock Jockey and Devil's Kiss. My point is that Vigors for the most part are identical to Plasmids. I personally found Vigors to be a lot more useful during combat, however, as they can also be used to set traps in the environment to really screw up enemies.

Probably the coolest new addition in gameplay is the Skyhook. It serves as your main method of melee combat, but also as a way of getting around Columbia. The Skyhook is magnetic, which allows Booker to grapple onto rails across the different parts of the city. This allows for absolutely crazy combat when trying to handle shooting enemies and direct Booker across the rails at the same time.

Replacing the Big Daddies from Bioshock 1 are a multitude of enemies. There are a lot more mini-boss style baddies this time around, such as the Hot-headed Fireman, and the Shaquille O'Neal sized Handyman. The Handymen are by far the biggest threat you'll face during points in the story. They definitely do not go down easily.

Every game has its share of collectibles, and Bioshock Infinite is no different. Throughout the main story, Booker will come across devices called Voxophones, which contain audio logs from various citizens of Columbia. These are optional, and only serve as a way to flesh out the story into more detail, and to give completionists a reason to come back to the game.

After completing Bioshock Infinite's main story, the player will unlock 1999 mode, named after the year which System Shock 2 (a spiritual prequel to Bioshock) was released. It truly lives up to its name. With  limited ammo drops, harder enemies, and no auto-aim, 1999 mode makes Bioshock Infinite feel just as brutally challenging as the 90's shooters of old.

"Cinematic Trailer? I don't know what you're talking about."


Bioshock Infinite doesn't exactly have a soundtrack. What I mean by this is that, for the most part, I didn't exactly hear too many notable tracks throughout my adventure. Yes there was the usual dramatic track when a large enemy appeared, or a somber one when Elizabeth shows her true emotions about her situation, but nothing really memorable came out of the soundtrack for me.

Seeing as how Bioshock Infinite takes place in 1912, it is quite fitting to include songs from the era. Radios throughout Columbia either have some form of propaganda news program blaring from them, or the jovial tunes of old lightening up the mood. It is sort of odd to hear bright and cheery quartets singing while a Fireman is trying to burn my face to a crisp, but it really adds to the atmosphere. 

Despite having actual tunes from the turn-of-the-century, the crafty Ken Levine has also managed to sneak in some modern tracks redone as various 1900s styles throughout the game. I was totally caught off guard the first time I heard some of these tracks during my adventure, wondering why Girls Just Wanna Have Fun was playing in an arcade, or why a little girl was singing Fortunate Son on a Finkton street corner. They're definitely a cool addition to the game, and going back to try and find all of the modern songs is yet another reason to replay the main story.

Final Thoughts

In short, Bioshock Infinite is an absolutely spectacular game. It is the perfect example of what a fun, story driven, and emotional game can possibly be. Even if the gameplay may not be your thing, the game is totally worth playing just for Booker and Elizabeth alone. Their relationship and chemistry in the game is the definitive example of how far video games have come in terms of storytelling and character development. This game is one of the few must-play games of 2013, and will definitely be in the running for Game of the Year. If you haven't already, get Bioshock Infinite. Now. 

Final Score


Seth Boester is currently a Sophomore in high school. You can follow him on Twitter @cheesewombat and listen to him to rant about the Green Bay Packers' mediocre defense after every Sunday's game.