Category Archives: PC Reviews

Review: The Settlers 7 (PC)

By Daniel Lipscombe

The Settlers 7 is a game about waiting, well; actually it’s a game about settling your people in a comfortable town and protecting them. But mostly it’s a game about waiting. I found myself waiting for much of my time with The Settlers 7. I started by waiting for hours while the game tried to install onto my PC.

Then once I’d installed the game I had to create an Ubisoft account and only then could I actually see the title screen. It’s a wistful one at that, full of hope and prosperity. Venturing forth from this moment I grinned from ear to ear at the wonderful character design and animations. Everything about the visual style of the game oozed charm, from the colourful cut scenes to the portly little men scurrying around town.

The same can be said for the games aural standing. The lilting bird call is only interrupted by the tutorial style voiceovers or occasional sounds emanating from your villagers. It’s all very pleasant, exactly what you want from an RTS style game. Although here’s where The Settlers differs so wildly from a game such as Age of Empires. There’s a lot of waiting around.

In a standard RTS you would have to monitor each of your villagers and make sure they stay on their path. If you point a citizen at a berry bush they will stay until there are no more berries, then you can point them elsewhere. In The Settlers they just sort of, well, get on with their lives. Which is great but it leaves you just watching.

If you want to build something that requires ten pieces of stone and you don’t have enough, you wait. But not just for a few minutes, for some time. Watching as the stone pile slowly increases and then you wait as the constructer waddles his way to the building site. Granted once he’s finished you have a lovely export office, but during those ten minutes, there is little else to do but watch and drum those little fingers on the desk.

There is a way to make them move and build faster, by giving them a better quality of food. To be honest I didn’t notice a vast difference and I learnt to watch snatches of DVDs whilst I waited. The overarching issue with the game is that, whilst it’s all very entertaining actually building these villages, once you’ve built what you want they just get on with things.

In a world with games such as The Sims, The Settlers flaws stand out far too well. These moments of down time could have been solved with a speed up button. Zipping through these waiting sections could have kept my attention for a lot longer. Another want would have been direct control over some of the people.

In one instance I found myself literally screaming at the monitor as the constructor stood outside his shack tapping his foot rather than working on the buildings I wanted. And it wasn’t even a lack of resources; he just stood there looking all smug.

When everything is running smoothly, The Settlers ticks along nicely with achievements popping up and the game congratulating you when you do something well. The mechanics of the game are deep and inspiring. It’s exciting to look through the build menu and see what will be coming up soon. It may be quite sad but I was genuinely excited to see that I could raise sheep, farm their wool and tailor clothes for trading overseas. But even when you open up more options later in the game, there’s more waiting and toe tapping than ever.

It’s only in skirmish mode that the waiting ends as you can move at more of a pace that you choose rather than one the computer dictates. And seemingly skirmish mode is a little more fun than the campaign. Given an expanse of land opponents of your choice and plenty of time, you can create lovely battles or devastating wars.

I could have enjoyed my time with The Settlers 7 a lot more if some mechanics had been implemented, but I was still blown away by how cute and approachable the game was on the whole. So would I recommend it? I’m torn by this game very much, whilst on one hand The Settlers is a solid game that is deserving of your time, on the other hand we have Ubisofts new DRM plan.

Now this is not the place to debate about such issues, but it needs to be considered. Playing on a desktop I only lost my internet connection once. The game froze and asked if I wanted to save the game in case the connection didn’t re-establish. Once the broadband had come back to life, the game continued. Now this isn’t an issue to me but a laptop user may struggle, Wi-Fi signals aren’t the best and constant drops in connection will hinder your progress.

This without even mentioning the Ubisoft servers going down leaving you with nothing more than a shiny coaster for your tea whilst you, once again, wait for the servers to reignite. Be aware of this when you approach this charming little game; remember that you can never play this game without your internet connection. But whilst the technology obeys, you can experience a gem of a strategy game.


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Lunia Chronicles PC – Ogplanet

Lunia Chronicles

I had never played a MMO, so when the opportunity came to try Lunia Chronicles, I had to accept it.

Unlike the World of Warcraft games in which you purchase pre paid time, Lunia is free to play, with money being made by players making micro transactions, this can range from buying equipment, or a spare character slot. It is not essential to make a transaction, you can still get everything you might want from the game. In fact I chose not to spend any money on the game and I do not think I suffered from doing so..

As is typical of these types of games, there are four character choices available from the start, however should the choice of being a knight, healer , wizard or thief not appeal, there are other choices available as a relatively inexpensive purchase.

I have long been a fan of manga style drawings, so I was please to see during the loading phases of the game, the art panels. I particularly like how the artist draws the eyes on the characters with the doe like appearance. The eyes are drawn almost to the point of exaggeration. The game has its own theme song, which is catchy to the point of ending up engrained in my memory. It reminded me of theme tunes from 1980 style cartoon series, such as Mysterious Cities of gold.

Like most RPG games, Lunia is centered on a mission system with various sub-quests attached. If I was to have a gripe, there was not enough variety to the missions. It nearly always was a side scrolling fighting game. Whilst it gave a feeling of nostalgia for lost days in the arcade throwing in 20ps to play the likes of Gauntlet and other similar scrolling games, it was as if as fun as it was, something was not quite there, perhaps the addition of a puzzle or two might have gave a feeling of more reward and satisfaction. Choosing a mission was quite straight easy, click on the map, choose the level and then the option was made to either venture alone or with your party.

The combat system initially is based on using combinations of direction keys with certain attack buttons, but when your character is at a higher level, it is able to use special attacks and magic to have more effect. The choice of enemy that you come across is very well balanced, ranging from blobs, to orcs and bears and wolves to name but a few. As your level raises, so to does the enemy. As is standard fair, there are the odd boss battles, taking more skill and planning to succeed. I enjoyed the Indiana Jones inspired avoid the boulders rolling down the hill section of the game. I liked that when a stage was completed, you received a ranking on how you performed ranging from A-F. This could result in a return visit to try and improve performance.

As someone with very limited experience of playing a pc game, I found the experience rather a joy to play. The controls felt intuitive and not daunting, I liked the fact you could quick map spells and attacks to various keys so you could access them quickly.

It would be wrong of me not to mention that I had infrequent server issues, disconnections or not able to connect to servers. It was only the odd time so was not enough to put me off from returning,

I get the impression, I will be revisiting Lunia on a regular basis, it is the perfect game to pop into when wanting to have a quick hit. I think one of the main advantages, is that ranking up happens quite quickly opposed to it feeling like a slog.

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An Open Letter to Terry Cavanagh – A VVVVVV Review

By Daniel Lipscombe

Dear Mr Cavanagh,

Can I call you Terry? I hope this is ok to do, because Terry, I’d like to talk to you about your videogame VVVVVV. Do you hate me? Do you hate all of the videogame community? I don’t believe we’ve ever met, if we have, I’d like to know what I did to you. Did I tread on your foot? Spill your pint? Why did you make this game that hates me so much?

I’m going to admit, I love it. The visual style is second to none, reminds me of bygone days and sitting at my Atari 2600 watching the pixelated colours dance by. What you have created here is a portal to my childhood and for that I thank you. Even the music reminds me of jaunts to the local arcade, with its chip-tune sounds, it’s hypnotic, vibrant and it taps into the gamer in my heart. The character design, whilst basic due to its style, is wonderful; the optimistic smile on the captain’s face despite the peril is charming. It also helps to see a smiling face whilst being tormented by your satanic creation.

VVVVVV is easily one of the hardest games I’ve played and as much as I hated you for every minute while I was playing, I sat down watching the credits and smiled. That was one the most intense and amazingly organic experiences I’ve had. From the simple mechanic you created, pressing the action button to flip to the ceiling and run around like a fly chasing the light, you’ve made a game that is so basic in its premise but stunning in its uses.

It’s an easy thing to learn, hit the action button and bypass traps on the floor by running on the ceiling, oh but then you pull the rug out from under me, now the area I’m in is moving upwards constantly. I’m scurrying around to hit the checkpoints as I dizzily jump from floor to ceiling manically and avoid the never ending spikes on the floor. Then you introduce those trampoline moments, bouncing from floor to trampoline, over some spikes, avoid the enemy and hit the ground onto a moving platform. Wow, you really tried to cripple my hand.

I have to admit, you kept me on my toes, or should that be fingertips? I had to stop every few minutes to shake the feeling back into my ever worsening clawlike grip on the WASD keys. You make it worse by designing each section, with the myriad of checkpoints causing me to break down and say for the hundredth time “just one more go.” But let’s get this straight, I played your game, collected my missing crew and I enjoyed each and every moment in the story, but it’s a shame it was so short. It took me a shade under three hours to finish the game; I could’ve played much more had my fingers allowed it.

But VVVVVV hated me from bizarre beginning to the haywire ending; I died 872 times all in all. I don’t think I died that many times in every 16-big game I’ve ever played added together. However with each death I kept on chugging away, I wanted to save that crew, I wanted to beat those puzzling platforming sections and I wanted to see what broke first, the game or my keyboard.

Thank you for such a wonderful game, thank you for hating me and the general gaming public. What you have created is a game that gives you a sense of achievement with every step, with every press of that action button. After dying 80 times on one particular section, I punched the air with satisfaction and felt a rush of adrenaline that pushed me through the next infuriating section. I thank you Terry, when I reached the ending screens of VVVVVV I left my chair in celebration, but when I came back down, I felt a little sad. It was over. Thank you for hating me.


A frustrated gamer in Awe

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