The Regal Rat Dream

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Taking God Save our Gracious Queen to a whole new level.

That was the premise of the game. Not many people would have jumped at that. The games company should have fired their marketing team (and hired me instead!) But the chance to be an undercover detective with the prospect of high employability rates and the royal family’s eternal gratitude? You’re on to a winner!

This game required skilled detective work and strong willpower. In teams of three we were expected to uncover and terminate any plots against the queen’s life. I was picked last for my team, being the only female of the party. I was left with Johnny Depp and a man named Lewis.

We began in a basement, where an apparent clue had been left as to the identity of the latest plotter. I however, never saw any of the clues. The guys dealt with that. In fact, I never really did anything other than tag along. Any time I suggested an approach they looked irritable I’d spoken at all, so for the most part I just watched them.

When they found this clue, they discussed where to go next – without me, of course, and began the steep ascent out of the basement. It was a high gradient slope that led to the outside world instead of the ground floor of a house. At the top was a Metro-esque sign on curly black iron, enveloped slightly by the bushes and trees on either side.

Johnny managed one foot on the slope before a sound like thunder rolled above us. A singular rat ran towards us, large grey body covered in mangy wet clumps. Following him were his brothers, hundreds of them, all running straight for us.

Johnny and Lewis raced up the slope, with me following closely behind. I had to leap over several crowds of rats for fear of them dragging me down with them. One misstep, one stampeding rat stood on and it was game over. The thought of being stuck down there covered in those feral creatures was enough to get me out.

By the time I’d made it to safety Johnny had already gone. I walked behind Lewis for a while as he spoke to Johnny over his walkie talkie.

“Can I have one of those?” I asked.

He barely glanced at me. “No.”

“Why not?”

“Because you have nothing useful to say.”

I fell back behind him. He meandered along the roads for a bit, then struck off in a more purposeful direction.

“Where are we going?” I asked

am going back to the palace. You should go somewhere else.”

Despite his somewhat uncalled-for doucheyness I too returned to the palace. There was bound to be clues there from where the schemers had planned their schemes. The guys took to the restaurant whilst I went up to the royal chambers. I didn’t bother telling them where I was going, they wouldn’t care anyway.

The Queen’s bodyguard awaited me outside the royal apartments. He had a suit, shades and an earpiece like your average stereotyped secret service man. He held his palm out to stop me, then listened to the person in his ear before saying,

“The Queen says she fancies you. You have her royal pardon to search wherever you deem necessary in your quest.”

Awesome. Wasn’t sure how I felt about that, but hey, it worked in my favour.

I was about to proceed past the guard when I heard two annoyingly familiar voices. It was Lewis and Johnny, but they were nowhere near me.

“Yeah, but you wear it in your ear like this. No-one will suspect a thing.”

I doubled back and followed the sound of the idiots all the way back to the banquet hall, where they were surrounded by diners all staring at them. They’d found an upgrade to their walkie talkies in the form of a state of the art earpiece. I couldn’t believe they’d spent our whole team budget on something so unnecessary!

Somehow, they’d inverted the audio into a microphone. This resulted in their voices booming across what I could only imagine was half of London. I walked up to their table, trying to avoid the irritable stares and titters of the crowd around us.

“You idiots, we can all hear you.”

Johnny looked at me with disgust, screwdriver in hand and wires all over him. “We know. We’re trying to fix it. You wouldn’t understand.”

I ignored him. “Where’s mine anyway?”

Lewis vacantly tossed me his old humongous walkie talkie. “Go look in the basement, would you?”

My heart pounded. I knew what await in the cellar. It involved lots of fighting, and I could barely punch. “Can’t one of you guys go?”

They tittered like I’d told a hilarious joke. “If we went down there, who’d do all the important stuff?”

“Yeah, the queen would die if we left it to you. Then you’d be up for treason with the culprit when we catch him!”

I sighed. There was no way of getting round these stubborn bastards. But I knew the secret lay in that room. If I didn’t go we’d be here forever and other teams would get ahead. “Fine… but if you’re insisting I go, give me one of the earpieces. Carrying this big thing around will hinder me down there.”

They looked at me as if I’d asked them to suck their grandmother’s toes. I realised it was futile even trying, so I left them to their tinkering and sought out the basement.

Evidently it went horrible wrong because I found myself back at the start of the level in the cellar. I could sense the impending rat stampede. You’d think after the first time I’d be well prepared, but for some reason it took me a lot longer to get out. Several times I nearly toppled over but somehow I stayed alive and on my feet.

At the top I paused out of reach of danger to catch my breath. As I did, I saw eight of the largest rats carrying a dying rat towards the cellar. He was clearly of important rank; he had a pimp cane and cane rows and looked inexplicably regal. I think it was the Rat Prince, come to the end of his reign. This was a ceremony for the people to say goodbye to their beloved leader. So moving! I believed I saw his royal ratness moaning and holding his little paw to his head.

Woe is me!”

Something out of the corner of my eye caught my attention. There was no breeze tonight, but the trees still moved. Squinting against the darkness, I realised they weren’t leaves at all, but even more rats. Each of them held onto their comrades’ paws, making star shapes with their bodies like synchronised swimmers against the night sky.

After watching this religious rite of passage, it dawned on me that I hadn’t seen my teammates in a deliciously long while. I searched the nearby alleys and eventually found Lewis yelling at his earpiece.

“Where’s Johnny?” I asked. Lewis threw me a quick glance, then shrugged. “Trying to find him. This stupid thing ain’t working.”

Then without warning he he ran off again, down random alleys and off into the town. I tried to keep up but lost him.

Damn I wanted a new team. One with actual intelligence and less sexism. I sighed and set off for the palace again.

The Wonders of the Universe Dream

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My life is just one big game. No, literally. Or at least it was in this dream. I was on a team with the cast of Community, exploring a submerged and ruinous world in our little jet-ski-motorboat hybrid. The game glitched an awful lot (we were in Beta) so whenever there were waves or little pockets of land, we drove over them in a straight line.

We were supposed to be discovering the mysteries of the universe. Somehow they were the key to beating the game. In the final level we found four statues facing a wall with an intricate circular pattern. Abed studied the markings and decided it looked very much like a closed gateway. The exit!

Having played many games between us, we decided the key must lie with the creepy statues. Each had an intricate carving on their blank stone faces and unlike everything else in that city weren’t so much as chipped or scratched. They were each placed on unusual square tiles; the kind that blatantly need something heavy on to make the switch work. But they were already on them, and we couldn’t so much as budge the crumbling stone figures. Jeff  tried with all his might, but the only thing he managed was a broken nail and a blow to his ego.

In the end we decided the key must still be out there. We left Britta to watch the statues in case anything happened and the rest of us split up. I went with Abed on the jet ski. Sometimes the glitches would go from its straight line facepalmery to dipping us underwater and, of course, we got wet despite not properly going in.

After one of these soakings we stopped amidst a glorious turquoise sea to dry off. We could see many broken islands on the horizon. It was a wonder the purple sky didn’t affect the vibrant blue pigment of the sea. Was that one of the mysteries? Probably just science I didn’t understand.

“I think we should explore the nearest island and then work in a clockwise rotation from there so we don’t miss anything,” Abed said logically.

“Yeah? I just want to explore a bit. I might go for a swim, catch you up in a bit?”

Abed gave me a look. “You know what always happens when teams split up in movies.”

“I know. But this is a game. Dude, I’ll be fine. If I don’t find you in the next hour just go on without me.”

He sighed, then waited for me dive overboard before starting up the engine.

“Good luck!”

“You too,” I smiled reassuringly.

The water was beautifully warm and clear, and surprisingly shallow. I almost forgot we had a mission to complete, I was so relaxed just floating along. Something on the sea bed pricked my hand and brought me back to the moment. I looked underwater and saw nothing. There was no blood, no sign of anything. There wasn’t even so much as an urchin, just smooth sand. Something pricked my leg.

“First wonder of the universe,” I whispered excitedly. There was a grinding sound from somewhere in the distance. I swam to a nearby rock and prepared for a cutscene.

Sure enough, I watched in my head as one of the statues turned all by itself to face East.

One down, three to go, I thought. Abed would be mad he’d missed this. And about the fact I’d been right to go off on my own. Hah.

Someone coughed. Looking over the edge of the rock I saw an old man, knee deep in water and wearing nothing but a white loin cloth. He had a long stick in one hand and was covering his mouth with the other. During his coughing fits he was prodding at something out of his reach on another rock. As I approached I realised, impossibly, that he was prodding at an iPhone.

We conversed briefly, but I couldn’t get much sense out of him.Whatever language he spoke it wasn’t English. Not anymore, anyway. After a while he seemed to decide I wasn’t a threat, and shared with me the second wonder of the universe; the iPhone. I reached up and took it uncertainly. But when I turned it over, my breath caught. Somehow, in the camera lens, was a full-sized thimble. I grinned and thanked the old man. I had to show this to Abed!

I swam quickly to the nearest island, which Abed was thankfully still on.

“Abed look! One of the wonders! I think we have to find four of them to turn the statues!”

“I know,” Abed said. “I saw the cutscenes. I found something too.”

He led me to a crumbling old wall with centuries old Egyptian engravings. There were sketchings of robe-clad men on a long boat and lots of cats. Like, loads of cats. But in the centre of everything were four monumental figures commanding all. Abed gestured to take a closer look. Just above the four Gods someone had scratched something. The player before us had scrawled:

A/
ED

Abed looked at it thoughtfully. I could almost see the possibilities running through his head. “Do you know what it means?” I asked after several minutes of complete silence.

“Not entirely,” he replied. “But I have a vague idea. What was it you wanted to show me?”

I took the iPhone out of my pocket and handed it to him. He took it, looking horrified.

“We have to get to Britta.”

 

The models had already begun moving by the time we made it back. They marched slowly towards the gateway, which was already open and casting a striped shadow across the figures. The wind gushing forth from the other side made it all the more difficult to get there in time. We yelled at Britta to stop the statues from entering the portal. The wind carried away our words, but not our intention. Britta grabbed the arm of the nearest one just before he made it through. She pulled with all her might. Then suddenly everything stopped moving and Britta fell to the floor with the statue.

Silence.

We sat for a moment and caught our breath.That was a close one. Now we just had to figure out how to get the Gods through properly…

 

Godus Review: 7/10

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Godus

Godus

As soon as I saw the beauty and uniqueness of Godus, I wanted it. I just wasn’t paying the full £14.99 for it.

It went on sale at the beginning of January and I snapped it up right away. Godus is a game where you literally play God (if you couldn’t guess from the title). You can mould the land, build houses, farms and… well actually that’s about it.

No I’m kidding, there’s more to it than that. You begin in the Primitive Age, and your first aim is to get a certain amount of population, which when achieved gives you more land to build on, or upgrades for you people. Once you have progressed enough, you’ll move onto the next age.

It is partially a card based system, in that you collect cards, and once you have enough cards you can use your upgrades. You can find some of these resource cards in chests dotted around the vast map (I’m not kidding, the map is HUGE. I still get a bit lost sometimes).

But the primary focal point in this game is the land. It is the source of all your power! Crush homes, build homes, make pretty cliffs or even art…

Pacman Island

Pacman Island

It comes in several beautiful layers of colour, that you can shape to your heart’s desire… providing you have collected enough Belief from your followers, which is essentially your money.

This is a very clicky game. You have to click a lot to make the land go where you want, and even then it will sometimes pick another layer by accident. This can get annoying, but it’s not a major issue.

This is especially annoying with houses. I’ve lost count of how many times I accidentally destroyed a building with land whilst collecting Belief. And yet if you TRY to destroy a building in the same way, it won’t let you.

This game was addictive, and before long I’d racked up 21 hours on it, just in the Primitive Age. Because the game is still in Beta (and according to them only 41% complete), it only currently has two playable ages: Primitive and Bronze. Primitive I enjoyed very much: I got to explore and build and play around to my heart’s content.

The Bronze Age is not so fun. As soon as you reach it, a storm begins. This was terrifying because it was the first real change to happen in the game. The visuals were quite cool though. Until it stopped and you realised half your buildings were damaged.

So I set to work repairing them all, and found out instead of population goals, I now had agricultural goals. Apparently if you have a plot of land near a town, it will become a field for harvesting, and only the houses in settlements are safe from the storms (because we all know that farms are most common in towns, and wind can’t damage houses when they’re together).

So yeah. The storms come back. On a regular basis. Every night, in fact. There really isn’t a point in fixing your houses, and there’s not really a point in the houses at all in the Bronze Age. You just need to farm. This was where I got bored in the game. I knew there was nothing after the Bronze Age yet so there was no point in continuing with it.

There were a few glitches in the game, such as the three land expansion cards I received that didn’t do anything. I could see the unavailable land, and it stayed that way. It was quite frustrating because I’d run out of space and couldn’t do anything about it.

Another was the timers on buildings. They would randomly freeze so I couldn’t use the people in them, or during the AI challenges the clocks would reset when I needed those people most. The bots also glitched out several times. They would try to move land but it would be blocked by my houses. They’d keep trying and not get anywhere, which gave me free time to win the battles.

Another annoying thing were my followers. They need stairs made for them to get to any level higher or lower than they already are. But these stairs need to be perfect to them; many times they looked at my stairs, pointed at them, and then died after walking around doing nothing.

The Pointing

The Pointing

The noises in this game are also quite peculiar. There is a heartbeat sound effect when you near your goal, and it’s quite unnerving, like you’re about to be ambushed. Then there’s the noise if you collect a lot of Belief all at once and then stop. It’s the most disappointed sound ever, and I found myself taking it slowly when collecting Belief to avoid this noise. And the followers make a noise like a choking duck when they die.

And dare I mention the creepy conversation the bots have in the battle challenges! You get the impression someone rather old created these people and tried to talk like a youngster. There are even some on-purpose mistakes thrown in too for realism.

The main storyline is that one guy fancies a girl but gets rejected, and another girl’s cat gets hit by a car, then she gets made redundant and potentially commits suicide… and these are meant to be Godus players. Seems promising!

But all in all this is a really fun and addictive game. Because it’s only in Beta, the glitches and bad stuff are forgiveable, and I can’t wait to see what they do with the other ages and multiplayer. I would seriously recommend it.

Godus

Isn’t It Pretty!

 

Scribblenauts Shenanigans

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My boyfriend told me I would enjoy Scribblenauts Unlimited due to its wordiness and creativity. He was completely right.

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Super Massive Black Hole

I bought it when it was on sale on Steam for about £3, and it was certainly worth it. I’ve immensely enjoyed creating the most random objects I could to try and complete the objectives. From hydras to dead babies to black holes; your imagination knows no bounds (Well… other than the ‘no profanities’ thing).

And then on top of that, you can give them adjectives! Suddenly you have a fire-breathing dog, or a blind security guard, or a massive angry rainbow unicorn. It is extremely beneficial for you to give Maxwell – the main protagonist – the adjectives “superfast” and “flying.” Failing that, just give him a jetpack: you’ll need to fly to reach some missions.

But let’s rewind back to the plot; I got a bit overexcited. Your grandparents were great explorers, who discovered a magical notepad and a globe that transports you anywhere. These were passed down to you and your sister Lily. One day, a magical man curses you for not showing him any kindness. Over time, Lily will be encased in stone, and you need to do good deeds to get ‘Starites’ which somehow help unpetrify her. The magical notepad creates anything you want, so long as it doesn’t involve genitals, real people’s names, or curse words. The fast travel option is extremely handy seeing as half the time I got a bit lost.

The storyline isn’t that intriguing, but the gameplay is so fun you don’t really care – it is a kid’s game after all, and it’s all about the morals. Though how many kids know what adjectives are these days, I don’t know.

So who is the most powerful game protagonist of all time? My vote lies with Maxwell. Who’s going to oppose a boy who can summon a Cthulu, dragon and nuclear weapons, whilst making himself immortal and overpowered simply by writing that he is? Oh, and there is the little fact he could just fuck you up by giving you adjectives like “limbless” or “dead.” Failing that, he could just make you non-existent. I shit you not.

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The missions to get Starites can get a bit repetitive over time. They all consist of, “I want something that does job X. Create it for me.” And it is ridiculously easy to complete these tasks, so much so that I had completed the overall objective of achieving 60 Starites to free Lily before I’d even covered three quarters of the map.

However, there are so many types of people in various settings that you forgive the same-but-different missions and just try to complete them with the most random things you can think of. From pirate ship to haunted house to swamp – they have almost every setting you can possibly think of. They have ninjas, Santa Claus and Paladins wanting you to do something for them.

To name just a few, I’ve pulled a cart along with a hamster, fed a sociologist to a mutant amoeba, and given a religious nut God’s toenail. All of these completed their missions, and sent me into fits of hysterics when they did.

However, they don’t always work. When Neptune wanted something to help him rule the oceans, giving him a dictator wasn’t good enough. When the mountaineers wanted to find something at the summit, apparently God wasn’t what they were looking for. It is quite subjective, but in most cases it will allow you to choose amazing things.

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Invisible Penguins and Blind Security Guards

They have some great references in there too; if you type in “nerd” you are given Napoleon Dynamite. You want to Rickroll? Sure, summon Rick Astley. You also meet a certain Hobbit in a volcano who’s forgotten what he’s meant to be doing, and a penguin with a rubber glove on its head, trying to steal a diamond from a museum. It’s little touches like this that make me happy.

So overall, I give this game 6/10. It’s fun and inventive, but repetitive and the storyline is a bit drab. There is a creator system where you can create your own objects and put them on the Steam Workshop, but that too is quite limited, and I found it tricky to get the hang of.

For more in depth detail on my Scribblenauts shenanigans, visit my other blog: http://scribblenautsshenanigans.blogspot.co.uk/

Kthnxbai!

Would You Kindly Read My Bioshock Review?

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I never considered playing BioShock until I heard about Infinite. It was such a pretty, novel concept and I found myself eager to play it. I got hooked, and enjoyed every moment. The storyline was especially gripping, which not all decent shooters manage to accomplish. It persuaded me to try the previous two games.

BioShock

BioShock

The underwater city of Rapture is – in my opinion – nowhere near as pretty as Columbia (though I can forgive it, seeing as Rapture was invented five years prior), but the storyline is much darker, and fifty shades of fucked up. You get thrown straight into the action after surviving a plane crash, only to be attacked by psychopaths in bunny masks.

You get introduced to a guy named Atlas… and I fell in love with him straight away. Not just because of the picture on his recording, but that suave Irish accent was beautiful. I was willing to do whatever he said.

I love the recordings aspect of BioShock; I like the noise it makes as it plays them, and it gives good insight into the plot and the minor characters we never really see (in their sane state). There are some pretty nasty ones too, like Dr. Suchong’s experiments with mind control – we hear him telling a young woman to break a puppy’s neck, and her compliance several moments later.

The Little Sisters and Big Daddies are adorable. I hate having to kill the Big Daddies to save the girls, but it’s necessary. It gives you the option to acquire more ADAM to spend on upgrades by harvesting them, but I don’t know how anyone could be so cruel. Especially after hearing her say, “nooooo, Mr. Bubbles!” Besides, they leave you teddy bears with 200 extra ADAM for saving them, so you don’t need to harvest them. The only difference is a different ending… where you are horrible and practically take over the world.

Little_Sister

Little Sister

The camera idea was quite cool. It reminded me of the Dead Rising system, and it was an interesting concept that taking pictures gives you bonuses against enemies. However, I quite often forgot about using it. Similarly many of the weapons I didn’t bother using. They were superfluous when I have Plasmids, a pistol, machine gun and shotgun.I hardly used the grenade launcher, chemical thrower or crossbow.

The abilities were cool too. Admittedly I found some quite useless, like Enrage (which never seemed to work for me) and Security Bullseye. But the shock, fire, ice and wind Plasmids were all good. It was quite annoying that you could only carry so many of them at a time and had to go to your nearest gene bank to swap them, but I just left off the ones I disliked.

There were a couple of things I wasn’t keen on in the game. The hacking system was a right pain in the ass and no fun at all. It’s basically a timed puzzle, and you have to switch the panels round until the tubes align. Most of the time the liquid moved too quickly and the machine short circuited. It was easier just to find automatic hack tools.  Secondly, the wallet limit was annoying. 500 dollars wasn’t much when 40 rounds of machine gun ammo cost 60 dollars. Thirdly, those damn security cameras and their autobot flying turrets. They’re not very powerful, but they’re certainly annoying. However, without the cameras the game is much too easy.

atlas

The Dublin Dreamboat

I had been growing a sneak suspicion that Atlas wasn’t necessarily the good guy he was making out to be. But I hoped for the best so I could continue listening to his lovely voice. However, when I finally met Andrew Ryan, the so-called main antagonist of the game, he explained the truth to me: Atlas wasn’t all he claimed to be. He had brainwashed me with the phrase, “would you kindly?” A wash of realisation hit me and I realised he was right – the game had literally brainwashed me into not noticing the phrase. I was amazed. It’s probably something to do with me falling in love with him saying, “would ya coindly?” Yes. Yes I would. And then his voice was replaced by the rough American accent of Frank Fontaine. I had lost my lovely fictitious Irishman.

Although I was happy the Little Sisters helped me out and then led happy lives, nothing REALLY happened. The end of Infinite (I won’t ruin it for the people who haven’t finished it yet) had me reeling with shock with its ending. At least they’ve improved since Bioshock’s ending I guess.However, despite this shock revelation, I found the ending severely disappointing. Because they had this big reveal, the ending had nothing to give and it was very anticlimactic. I had to fight the League of Legends Brand character that my Atlas really was. Sadly, this was achievable with only 8 crossbow bolts, 4 injections to drain ADAM from him, and 1 first aid kit. It was one of the easiest final bosses I’ve ever faced.

Overall, I’d give this game 7/10. It was really enjoyable to play through, but the ending totally let it down. It had an intriguing storyline, good combat system and I liked the moral choice of saving the Little Sisters. I managed to complete the storyline in nine hours, but that was with thorough looting for diary entries. If they sorted out the hacking system too, I’d have given it higher, and I would have liked achievements to be available, but there weren’t (I played on PC). Definitely worth the time though.