Beat Hazard is an action indie game that was released on Valve’s Steam platform (steampowered.com) in April of 2010. It is a shoot ‘em up game with the slogan, “Gameplay Powered by YOUR Music!” The game runs for $4.99 on Steam, with two available add-ons: one priced at $4.99 and another for $1.00. Steam offers a Beat Hazard Complete Pack for $12.99.
You may have heard the terms “manic shooter,” “maniac shooter,” or “bullet hell” before. If not, here’s a quick rundown. You control a unit – be it a character or battleship – and have to shoot your way through enemies. Here’s the catch, though: there are a lot enemies, and/or they shoot back, and you had better believe they shoot back with a vengeance. You survive as long as you can, sometimes with bombs to destroy everything on the screen when you get into a tight spot. Think Geometry Wars, or Space Invaders.
The point of Beat Hazard is to play your way through a song of your choice, shooting enemy fighter ships and asteroids that get in your way and gaining as many points as you possibly can. Enemies can drop multiplier bonuses so that you can gain more points per destruction, volume boosters to increase the intensity of your curtain fire, and power boosters to increase your damage.
The game would be simple and boring if it wasn’t for the driving concept behind it. It is the same concept that drives games like Audiosurf. The gameplay really is powered by your music. The intensity of your curtain fire, the number of obstacles you encounter, and the intensity of the visual effects are directly affected by the songs that you play. If you play a relaxed song, you’ll encounter fewer enemies and the visual effects will be easier on your eyes, but you won’t shoot that much, if at all. Likewise, if you play a high beats-per-minute song, you’ll encounter tons of enemies, intense strobes, and your curtain fire will be a stream of destruction.
You can even play this game with a friend. You can go head-to-head with them in the local two-player mode or play a co-op game with them. Make sure you have a controller handy, though; you can’t play with a friend unless they’re physically in the same location.
Graphics and Music:
Following up on the previous statement about strobes and intense visual effects; you will definitely want to avoid this game if you have any sort of issues with bright and/or rapidly flashing lights. The game displays a warning for those who can suffer from photosensitive seizures, so play at your own risk.
Risk factors aside, the graphics are above average. The flashing lights, explosions, and colors of the visual effects changing over time create a spectacular display.
As I stated, the gameplay is powered by your music. You choose the song you want to play, as long as it is an .mp3, .wav, .aiff, .ogg, .mwa, or .flac file. iTunes, .aac, .mp4 and .m4a files are supported via a download for a small fee to cover patented decoder licensing costs (this is the $1.00 add-on that was mentioned earlier). With that said, you ultimately decide how good the game music is.
Overall, Beat Hazard is an excellent pick-me-up game. Sure, it’s not a ninety-nine cent app, but five dollars for a game with replay value as large as your music library is worth it. Even with the add-ons, it’s definitely a bargain. The challenging gameplay powered by your music keeps the game from getting stale.
Gamer TheSpaceMonkey said, “As a game, Beat Hazard does almost nothing wrong. It provides quirky fun with no long term goal other than to allow your music to drive the game. If it's fast, expect fast moving enemies and lots of bullets. It just does its best to reflect the energy of the music.”
Good luck, and have fun!
Trendy Entertainment’s Dungeon Defenders title was released for the PC on Steam last week. The first version of Dungeon Defenders was released for the iOS and Android in December 2010.
The game is a 3D Tower Defense game, played in a top-down perspective. This can be changed to an up-close, over the shoulder view if you want a better look at the action-based part of the game.
Your main objective is to defend “Etheria Crystals” from attacking monsters. The beginning levels are simple, with few spots where monsters try to attack from. However, the more difficult levels require more in-depth planning because they require you to defend more than one Etheria Crysta. The monsters are also more difficult to defeat.
One player, whose screen name is “Tristarsownz”, commented on the game as being, "Quirky fun, hella unbalanced, good with friends if you look at it as a temporary distraction instead of something to 'beat'."
Dungeon Defenders combines the traditional tower defense genre with role-playing game elements. You can run around each stage attacking monsters and assisting your towers and there are currently four character classes - the squire, the monk, the huntress, and the apprentice.
The squire is a primarily defense-based character that can be built to deal massive amounts of damage.
The monk is a support class that uses both ranged and melee attacks in addition to area-of-effect abilities.
The huntress is a ranged class that deals massive damage, using traps as towers.
The apprentice is a ranged class that deals massive burst damage and has heavy-hitting towers.
As you can see, each class has its strengths and weaknesses, and not one has the same types of towers as the other. There are at least two other classes to be released.
That’s not all! Each character has its own talent tree. As your character levels up from clearing stages, you gain points that can be used to increase your character’s stats. The stats are not limited to just the character; you can upgrade your tower and ability stats as well.
In all honesty, the talent tree isn’t really as great as it could be. The only thing it does is make your character stronger, so if you spend hours upon hours leveling up your character, you won’t be getting new abilities per se. This is because more powerful abilities and towers aren’t unlocked via the talent tree; rather, you gain them according to your level.
To add to the RPG elements, the developers added the ability to upgrade your equipment. This ranges from your armor, weapons, and even the pets that you gain as you progress through the game.
You can upgrade your equipment via mana crystals, which are gained through defeating enemies. Mana is used as currency and you use it to either buy special items from a shop or upgrade your equipment when you’re in your tavern, which is basically a game lobby. In a match, however, mana is used to build towers. You have a mana bar that has a limit on how much of it you can hold, so the game forces you to think more before you build.
The game isn’t necessarily balanced, though. Once you’ve played the game enough, one can easily fall into the habit of just following the same pattern over and over again. It won’t even matter if you have a mana limit. A decently leveled up squire only needs to build enough towers around an Etheria Crystal and upgrade them. After they’ve done that, all they need to do is sit back and do something else while the towers take care of the work for you.
The same applies if you have a higher-leveled character that’s more action-oriented. Even if you’re in combat, it gets extremely boring having to kill thousands of the same enemies over and over again.
Dungeon Defenders’ multiplayer follows the traditional four-player maximum format. This means that up to four players can join an online game. If you have a group of friends that want to play, I suggest that you play in groups of four; and in the case your group’s larger than four, use a voice chat program like Skype to share in the shenanigans. Multiplayer can be difficult, though.
"Level differentials make it hard to play with friends who put more time in it than you, but it's an easily conquered hurdle if they help you level up to close the gap." said Tristarsownz.
Communication in-game isn’t that bad either. Players can use either text or the built-in voice chat to talk to their group members. Prior to Sunday, October 23rd, connections to Trendy Entertainment’s network (TrendyNet) were highly unstable. Fortunately, connection issues have been uncommon since the maintenance that day.
Graphics and Music:
The graphics and music of the game aren’t bad. While the graphics aren’t the absolute top of the line, they certainly don’t look like they were thrown together sloppily. The physics are working properly as far as I’ve seen, so there’s nothing falling through the floor or flying across the map. The music shifts according to whether or not you’re in the building phase or the combat phase, but eventually you just start to tune it out if you haven’t already disabled the sound effects.
Dungeon Defenders is definitely a fun game, as long as you don’t spend hours a day playing the game for the sake of leveling up your character, it’s much more fun playing with friends.
Given the week that I’ve played the game, I’ve decided that it’s really not worth the fifteen bucks they charge you for it but I would pay anywhere between five to ten dollars. Luckily, Steam offers a four-pack of the game for about forty-five dollars, so that effectively runs for about eleven dollars a person if a group of four pitches in to get the bundle. If you’re going to play with friends, there’s your deal. Good luck, and have fun!
Coldplay's latest release, Mylo Xyloto
, is their biggest attempt at being an arena rock band yet. The album, released on October 25, is loaded with grand alt-rock anthems and sparkling sound effects. However, the soaring choruses and electronic walls of sound, while very enjoyable, can often feel a bit cliche.
The first three tracks, not including the 43-second intro, immediately make the band's grand ambitions quite clear. The three all employ lush synthesizers and guitars with reverb to create a very immersive soundscape. "Paradise" in particular uses a great combination of strings, piano, and chorus-like vocals and synthesizers.
Anthem-like tracks like these would usually not be a problem. However, Coldplay seems to have developed a slight addiction to them. It certainly does not help that more than a third of the album feels like it was derived from U2's "Beautiful Day" in some way. "Don't Let it Break Your Heart" is the most obviously "U2-esque" song on the album, although it is still a strong track.
Luckily, the album changes up the pace regularly, stopping the U2 worship from creating any sort of monotony. Notably, mostly the acoustic tracks, "Us Against the World", "U.F.O", and "Up in Flames" allow you to relax your ears a bit, and hear singer Chris Martin emote without a blanket of electronic effects. My favorite of these was "U.F.O.", though all three break up the mood well.
Overall, Mylo Xyloto
is what you would expect coming from Coldplay, based on how they have evolved over the years. The album feels like a natural transition from Viva la Vida
If you have any problem with flamboyant arena rock, or you were expecting a less electronic album likeParachutes
or A Rush of Blood to the Head
, I would not recommend this album. On the other hand, if you enjoy a grand and immersive musical atmosphere, like I do, then you will enjoy this album.
My rating: 8.5/10
Favorite tracks: "Paradise", "Don't Let it Break Your Heart", "Major Minus"
Pictures from: http://cdn.theatlantic.com/static/mt/assets/business/coldplay%20mylo%20xyloto%20review%20615%20better%20crop.jpghttp://www.lintcoat.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Coldplay-Mylo-Xyloto.jpg
The sequel to the award-winning basketball game, NBA 2K11, was released last week and I’m a little disappointed.
The players move and flow with the ball realistically. For example, star players like Kobe Bryant or Lebron James have their own signature styles for shooting, dunking, and laying-up the ball that are shown amazingly in the game.
In addition of the current superstars of the NBA, you can now play as the all-time greats including: Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird, Patrick Ewing, Dennis Rodman, and much more. Michael Jordan also makes a return from the last game, featuring new moves and all of his signature shoes. This adds extra fun when you want to just pick up the controller and play a quick game with friends.
It has enjoyable game play and stays true to the franchise. Too true.
The presentation is great, with the realistic broadcasting and film-grain when you play in the retro era. While these new features are appreciated, not many things have changed from its predecessor.
The whole interface is relatively similar to NBA 2K11’s menus and it shares all the game modes of the game before it. Rather than being a brand new experience that should have blown me away, it feels like the same game as last year’s with a couple tweaks and add-ons. Other than the improved graphics and selection of the NBA’s Greatest, the game doesn’t have much to show. I believe that the company will have to make some bigger changes to the franchise if they wish to get more people playing their game.
Footloose will make you want to “kick off your Sunday shoes” and dance.
The original Footloose was released in 1984 and now, almost 30 years later, has been remade by director Craig Brewer.
Footloose tells the story of a boy, Ren McCormack, who moves from the big city of Chicago to the small town of Bomont. After the death of five local kids, multiple laws are passed restricting the teenagers of the town. Two laws passed made dancing illegal as well as playing and listening to any music that was not considered uplifting. It is a classic tale of teen rebellion and parental repression.
Even though the original movie and new movie are supposed to be the same, the new version had many changes to the underlying meaning of the original.
A large change that was made had to do with Ren’s mother. In the original, he and his mother moved to Bomont to live in his aunt’s house. In the new version, Ren’s mother dies of leukemia and that’s why he moves to Bomont. Having his mother die helps Ren relate to the townspeople and gives him the drive to challenge the ban on dancing.
The dancing in the 1984 version was very out of date, and I was surprised when the new movie had modern dance styles.
A pointless change in my opinion was that a change in location. In the original, Ren was from Chicago, but in the new version he was from Boston and has a subtle Yankee accent.
It’s definitely a chick flick, and by the end of the movie you’ll be yearning for a boy like Ren McCormack. So if you’re a guy and you’re thinking about seeing it or your girlfriend is trying to take you to see it, I suggest against it; it’s not worth your suffering.
The Nintendo 3DS, (Nintendo’s latest gaming system), has had a seemingly weak line-up of games since its release. However, the recent influx of new titles for it have provided renewed hope for fans of the system. One of the more recent releases for it has been Tetris Axis, the latest of the acclaimed Tetris series. I know what you’re thinking; “Really? Tetris again? Because it’s definitely NOT free anywhere on the internet”, but this version is different to say the least. Besides the obvious inclusion of the classic “marathon” mode that all Tetris fans are familiar with, this game has a multitude of new game modes and multiplayer options. The new fever mode has you race against the clock, giving you 30 seconds to score as many points as you can. However, a variety of items can be collected and used during the game in order to help earn more points, leading to extremely hectic, and admittedly fun, games.
Other game modes let you build pictures out of Tetris blocks, help a “climber” get to the top of a tower using the aforementioned blocks, and even race through maze-like obstacles. There are many more game modes included. In addition, there 3 ways to play multiplayer. The first of which is “DS download play”, wherein a cartridge holder of Tetris Axis can transfer game data to other 3ds owners, who can then play with the original game owner. Multiplayer method 2 is cartridge to cartridge play, where multiple people actually possessing the game can play with each other. This mode has more play styles and options than the simpler DS Download play. These two methods are considered “local play”, which basically means you have to be next to the person you are playing with. The last form of multiplayer in Tetris Axis is online play, in which you can battle it out against anyone around the world, with games ranging anywhere from 2-8 players. These online games can get very chaotic, competitive, and fun.
In the long run, Tetris Axis is just Tetris; and if you have any experience playing games, you know how it works, and just how fun it can be. This game certainly does not warrant buying a 3DS, but it is a great pick-up-and-play, providing hours of Tetris-y fun and entertainment. If you already own a 3DS, I highly suggest picking it up. Catch ya’ laters :D
Pictures from: http://files.planet3ds.net/2011/07/Nintendo-3DS-Tetris-3DS-Screenshots-4.jpghttp://files.planet3ds.net/2011/09/Nintendo-3DS-Tetris-Axis-Packaging-1.jpg
Leslie Feist's new album, Metals, is something of a departure from her previous albums. Gone are the playfully innocent and simple songs of previous albums. Instead, they have been replaced by slow, steady rhythms and much darker instrumentation and tones. Fans of Feist hits like "1234" or "Mushaboom" may be disappointed, as I was, by the lack of lighthearted tunes.
The album feels very unobtrusive; rarely speeding up past a gentle shuffle. The one notable exception is "A Commotion", a track entrenched in droning strings and a heavily accented chanting refrain that serves to break up the mood of the album. However, on the rest of Metals, Feist seems most comfortable with slow, emotive tunes and string work.
This tendency is immediately obvious in the excellent opener, "The Bad in Each Other". The track shuffles along steadily with a strong mix of claps and drums, a repeated guitar line, and the occasional accent from the string and horn sections. The song's instrumentals do a great job backing up Leslie Feist's unique voice.
Fortunately, the album employs a diverse sound that gives interesting changes of pace throughout. Standout tracks include the gentle, acoustic "Cicadas and Gulls", the softly tinkling "Bittersweet Melodies", and "Anti-Pioneer", which employs a stripped-down slow blues feel. One of my personal favorite tracks on Metals was "The Undiscovered First", which starts softly, with Feist's voice accompanied by a guitar, and then builds into a climax of percussion and lightly distorted guitars.
However, despite the varied instrumentation and Leslie Feist's incredible vocal technique, the album may suffer a bit from a lack of the playfulness that has become an essential and popular part of Feist's sound. A track or two like "Mushaboom" or "I Feel it All", though perhaps out of place in the melancholy of Metals, would contribute a touch of lightness that would take away some of the album's stiflingly serious mood.
Overall, Metals can be a bit of a mixed bag for some. While it showcases Feist's musical talent and control of tone and mood beautifully, it may not be right for everyone, particularly fans of "iPod commercial" Feist songs. I personally enjoyed Metals because of the difference in sound from Feist's previous albums. The darkness of the album as a whole is very compelling. The album seems perfect for a quiet, rainy morning or a lonely evening, but not for a trendy electronics commercial.
My rating: 8/10