Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ms. Splosion Man: 60 Second Review

Don't have time for a review? Check out the video!

It may have been because I hadn’t played the original Splosion Man, but when I saw my first glimpse of the cartoony, textureless world and obnoxiously energetic main character of Ms. Splosion Man, I honestly wasn’t expecting much; but after hearing countless ravings about it I finally decided to pick it up. It was a good decision.

Ms. Splosion Man’s gameplay centers around the “sploding” mechanic. Everytime the player “splodes” it creates an explosion that propels Ms. Splosion Man into the air or off walls and can also be used to take out enemies. Sploding is used to both platform through levels and to solve challenging puzzles.

The controls of the game are rather generalized which is quite a change if you have played any hairtrigger controlled platformers recently. The game is woven so that if you’re good at the game your character gets a sort of “flow” going. In other words, if you know what you’re doing you will fly through the level with speed and elegance, if you don’t know what you’re doing it can feel like you’re moving through molasses.

Getting lonely playing Ms. Splosion Man by yourself? Grab a friend and play through the CoOp campaign on the same screen or over Xbox Live. The Co-Op campaign features completely different levels from the ones found in singleplayer and even has its own ending. Play with friends is both challenging and incredibly team oriented, as every Co-Op should be. Don’t have any friends? Well, that’s sad, but you can still play through multiplayer with the “Two Girls One Controller” setting.

Both the single and multiplayer campaigns are both impressively long, and the game also features extensive collectibles and hardcore difficulties. In other words, there is no shortage of content.

I wasn’t expecting much out of Ms. Splosion Man but I was immediately amazed. It is definitely one of the best indie games of the year... if you can stand the main character.

Video / Audio
Huevos Factor


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Bastion: 60 Second Review

Don't have time to read it? Watch it!

Something magical happens when first entering the world of Bastion. It’s something that’s hard to pinpoint, but it’s definitely there. Perhaps it’s navigating through the combination of art styles seamlessly flowing together whilst the deep-voiced narrator describes your characters actions. This is not your usual XBLA game.

If you grew up on any of the classic gaming systems then chances are you remember at least one classic RPG and how it made you feel. Bastion somehow harnesses that nostalgia while providing something that feels completely new and unique.

Bastion is simple to pick up and learn but difficult to master. It centers around simple mechanics and controls, the player is given two weapons, a shield, a special ability, and the ability to evade/roll. The player can chose their own weapons and ability, each of which has its own strengths and weaknesses. Each weapon also has a variety of upgrades to collect and chose from, making gameplay very customizable. If that weren’t enough, you can even augment enemies to add a challenge for a larger reward. Bastion steps away from the usual stats system and instead focuses on skill and customization, a refreshing change from usual RPGs.

The narrator following the player through every step of the game adds a mystical, story-like essence and makes it feel not like you’re following a set story, but creating one. The story itself is masterfully crafted and intriguing.

Bastion is, simply put, awesome, I just wish there was more of it, the campaign itself only lasts about 5 hours. The creators tried to supplement this with weapon challenges, leaderboards on certain levels and the New Game+ feature but ultimately, the game is still very short. Bastion exhausts itself long before it exhausts the player.

Video / Audio9.5
Huevos Factor9.5


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bastion First Impressions (Video)

We sat down and played the first few minutes of the new indie game, Bastion and to put it simply, we were blown away. Don't believe us? Check out the first 10 minutes of gameplay.

Bastion is a new action / RPG that brings back the nostalgia of classic SNES RPGs while still feeling completely pollished and new. You can play Bastion the way YOU want to play it with customizable  weapons, powers and upgrades. You can even activate certain difficulty heightening objects (similar to skulls in Halo) for extra XP and money.

Bastion has knocked us off our feet and we hope to have a full review up soon.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Ms. Splosion Man First Impressions and Gameplay

So I sat down yesterday and played the first few minutes of the new XBLA release, Ms. Splosion Man. I decided to record while doing so. Feel free to check out the first 15 minutes or so of the game for yourself.

Now I never played the original Splosion Man, but I have heard great things about it. I have actually already heard far more good things about Ms. Splosion Man and that is part of the reason I decided to get it.

From what I've seen so far I can tell that Ms. Splosion Man is a highly unique platformer with a distinct style and challenging gameplay. It's no Super Meat Boy, but it's definitely awesome.

I'd say you could probably expect a review up for this game in about a week.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Trenched Achievement Guides

Some of the achievements of Trenched may seem tricky but most are far easier than they seem. We've put together some video guides for the trickier ones.

Conscientious Objector
To get this one you need to complete one level without firing a shot. This, of course, doesn't count shots from your turrets.

This is an easy achievement to get. Simply select the first level and be sure to select an engineering trench and one machine gun turret. Place three machine gun turrets around the perimeter of the ship and focus on collecting scrap and avoiding blitzers. Upgrade the turrets as you have money and this should be a piece of cake.

To get this achievement you need to kill 5 enemies with a single explosion. Since knobs each count as an enemy, this achievement is very easy.

Just make sure you have some sort of artillery cannon equipped and go to the first Africa level, Oasis. There are plenty of Knobs here, one well placed shot will do it.

To get this achievement you need to kill an enemy with a sniper shot that has bounced 4 times. This is an achievement that sounds difficult but is actually very easy.

You need to make sure you have at least one sniper rifle equipped that has "Ricochet" as a special ability. Select the Europe mission refinery and position yourself in-between the two front paths the enemies take. When enemies come, shoot directly at the opposite wall and you will probably get this achievement instantly. Watch the video for more clarity.

Medal of Honor
To get this achievement you need to get Gold medals on all missions.

Once you have leveled up pretty far and have improved weapons getting gold medals on most missions is VERY easy. The main mission that is difficult to gold is the final boss: Farnsworth. It's not that the boss is difficult, it's the fact that the time limit for a gold medal is so short. This one is kind of hard to explain so it would probably be easier just to watch the video:

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Trenched First Impressions

A video describing our first impressions of the new XBLA title, Trenched.

Trenched combines the gameplay of a Mech assault game with the tactics and defensive strategy of a tower defense. It offers a new take on the common tower defense genre. Completely customizable mechs and turrets paired with versatile enemies makes for a strongly strategic experience. Definitely worth picking up for 1200 Microsoft Points.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

5 Myths About Energy Drinks

Now I know that energy drinks don’t directly relate to gaming but in my experience most gamers tend to consume vast quantities of caffeine be it through energy drinks or other means. I have also noticed that said gamers recieve a lot of grief from friends and family for it. For the most part, the disapproval is seems entirely unfounded and parents are very misinformed about energy drinks and caffeine in general. This post is meant to shed some light on several myths being circulated about energy drinks.

5. Taurine Comes From Bull Urine / Semen
I’ll be honest, this is one I hadn’t heard until very recently, but after some research I found that it is a widely circulated myth.

Taurine is a sulfonic acid that is a major constituent of bile. For those of you who don’t know what bile is, it is a substance secreted by the liver that aids in digestion. This simple explanation alone shows that it is neither derived from urine or semen.

Taurine is, however, named after the Latin word for bull, taurus. It was originally isolated from ox bile back in 1827. Of course, bull bile is not where taurine found in energy drinks is taken from. Taurine today is completely synthetic and is obtained from isethionic acid via various chemical reactions.

For those of you still sceptical about ingesting taurine, you should know that we actually take it in daily as it occurs naturally in many of our foods, especially meat. The average person consumes about 58mg of taurine a day simply through eating. That, by no means, is anywhere near the 1000mg per serving that many energy drinks supply, but it’s still there.

4.  Caffeine Stunts Growth in Children
I, personally, started drinking coffee at a relatively young age and was constantly bombarded with warnings of how I was going to stop growing. I actually fell pray to this one for many years. I truly believed that I was never going to reach to my full height potential. Today I stand over six feet tall, not exactly short by most standards.

This myth originates decades ago when it was thought that caffeine increased the chance of osteoporosis and thus reduced bone mass. Years of new research, however, have discredited these claims. Instead it seems caffeine plays little to no role in decreasing calcium absorption.

3. Caffeine Has No Beneficial Effects
It’s a common belief that the only beneficial effect of caffeine is the perception of energy by the individual consuming it. Non-energy drinkers tend to use this as a common mocking point. Of course, this is very untrue.

Many studies have shown beneficial effects in several areas of the brain. Caffeine increases activity in the frontal lobe, where part of the working memory is located. It also increases activity in the cingulate cortex, a part of the brain the controls attention. Participants who consumed caffeine performed better in memory tasks than those who didn’t.

The brain isn’t the only place of benefit, caffeine has also been shown to increase athletic performance and exercise recovery. Runners who consumed a post-workout beverage that was high in carbohydrates and caffeine increased their body’s storage of muscle glycogen by 60% over those with a solely carbohydrate beverage. In Lehman's terms, the caffeine helped them recover much faster.

If that weren’t enough, there is now evidence that caffeine may decrease risk of heart disease.

All of this is not to say that there aren’t downsides of caffeine, but we hear about those all the time. It is all about being smart with your caffeine consumption.

2. Caffeine is Deadly in High Doses
Okay, this one is actually true, caffeine really CAN kill you. The actual LD50, or median lethal dose, of caffeine is between 150 and 200mg per kg body weight.

An average cup of coffee has around 100mg of caffeine. This means it would take more that 80 cups of coffee to kill an average person. You try to drink 80 cups of coffee in one sitting! I know I couldn’t.

The only real way to overdose on caffeine would be to take large amounts of caffeine pills, and there have been a few reports of this. There are also rare individuals who may have severe reactions to it and thus their lethal dose would be MUCH lower.

Caffeine IS deadly in high doses, but it is nearly impossible to reach the doses needed under normal conditions. Still not convinced? Aspirin kills FAR more people every year than caffeine does. Think about that.

1. Caffeine Counteracts Alcohol
This is a myth that I really cannot believe is even around anymore and yet, somehow, at nearly every party I go to I see someone trying to sober up by drinking A TON of coffee. This myth is a very dangerous one. If a person thinks they are too drunk to drive but that they can sober up with a cup of coffee that person is much more likely to get behind the wheel.

People tend to get this idea by hearing that alcohol is a depressant (downer) and caffeine is a stimulant (upper). From here they infer that uppers + downers = sober. Biology, however, is not as simple as addition.

Alcohol works as an allosteric modulator of the GABAA receptor while caffeine acts as a nonselective antagonist of adensosine receptors. It works this way because caffeine is structurally similar to the aglycone of adenosine and therefor works as a competitive inhibitor.

Long story short, caffeine and alcohol work through different mechanisms and thereby do not counteract each other. Really though, you don’t need to look at the pathways to figure this out. Just look at Four Loko, an alcoholic energy drink. Do you really think it would have been popular if it’s ingredients counteracted each other?

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