Sir Hammerlock's Big Game Hunt

The story behind Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt starts off by the player taking a trip with Sir Hammerlock to hunt down some of the biggest and baddest creatures on the planet. Things goes somewhat wrong thanks to a Hyperion scientist by the name of Professor Nakayama. Probably the most needy of all villains. However, his dialogue is hilarious.

Nakayama is obsessed with Handsome Jack, and his plan is to clone him and bring back the reign of evil he wanted to bring upon Pandora. It's unfortunate that the main quest is over before it really begins, I thought Dr. N had a goofy charm and was hoping to face increasingly ridiculous bosses. On the plus side, however, is that there are few extra side quests to occupy your time, but considering how much this DLC would cost without the season pass, I'm left to ask the question "is this really worth it?". 

Though you can access Big Game Hunt at any time with fast-travel posts, it’s much much smarter to save it for when you’re either suitably leveled up, level 30 is a good start.

The setup for Big Game Hunt is absolutely with opportunity. Sir Hammerlock has invited you out to his cabin in Aegrus for a quiet weekend of hunting and boisterous humour. The new area called Aegrus is very African Leading the way of the new bandits and psychos wearing tribal masks and throwing tridents, the humanoid Witch Doctors are a huge threat as they can both heal and instantly level up party members. This makes gameplay incredibly difficult when you're being outnumbered, as the enemy is healing quickly and coming at you quite fast. Aside from their support capabilities, Witch Doctors are also capable of turning into elemental tornado if players get too close, surrounding them in a whirlwind of fire, acid, or even vampire bats that can cause confusion and panic along with a trigger happy, ammunition eating, response. Another enemy that will cause you difficulty is the Drifter, an enemy that fans of the Borderlands 1 DLC will remember. These tall 4 legged creatures are an absolute pain if you're not a high enough level.

Fortunately, that's not all of the threat that Aegrus has to offer. There is the completely new scorpion-influenced scaylions which can come at you in any size, and the boroks who can stomp the ground and cause considerable damage. The most threatening and formidable are the silent but deadly Giant Spores. These elemental balloons float high above players, approaching at the worst possible opportunities to make their move. They often fire smaller spores at you, each one has limited health but can do a lot of damage if they land an attack. When the giant spore is destroyed it will split into smaller spores, often distracting you from imminent threats around you. 

It’s difficult to recommend Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt for gamers who aren’t receiving the DLC as part of their already purchased Season Pass, as the content feels like it is missing something in its overall presentation and execution. No level cap increase, no increased storage, and only a few of new non-legendary guns are hardly selling points. Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt is not the best Borderlands 2 DLC I have played, but I did enjoy it. If you're a diehard fan, you've already gotten this DLC. If you're unsure about spending the 800 points this will set you back, then this DLC is not for you. This DLC is really just aimed at the people who adore this game. 

Overall Score: 7/10

- Ken Seiler

True Skate

trueskateboardlogo.jpg

True Skate is a skateboard app with unbelievable control and physics. The game is an insanely realistic designed skateboard simulation. I've never played anything quite like it before, to be perfectly honest.

You swipe your finger on the ground to skate, and control the board by swiping along the deck. A downward swipe along the board sends you airborne, while left and right swipes on either the center or tail of the board, will control your kickflip or pop shove-it. Combining tricks and grinds racks up points that map to a few in-game achievements. There are missions to perform certain tricks or to “follow the leader” along a path or series of tricks. But after these basic tasks it gets a little boring and repetitive. 

It can be tricky, and will take some practice before things start to work the way you expect, but eventually they do and you'll be surprised with how many different tricks are possible by combining the various flips and grinds in the game. Now, True Skate does a better job than any other iOS game that I've played at making you believe you're really in charge of something, but the flaws in the game are so damn frustrating. The fact that there is only one small skate park you can use makes it very repetitive, alongside repetitive missions. It gets a little bit boring. The little things like the rewind button activating when you don't mean it to and the board not quite reacting the way you want it to can get really frustrating, too. They have since fixed the rewind issue, to their credit. The jump swipes also occasionally fail to register.

The physics and tricks in True Skate seem a lot more realistic than in other skating games I have played in the past. They're solid and genuine. However, missions can be so insanely frustrating. You get punished so much for straying off the path even a little bit, and following the ghost board just is not easy as it is. You turn a little off the track and suddenly you're down 75 out of your 100 points. Tricks are fun when you’re letting loose and going crazy in the park, But not when you need a specific trick to land you facing exactly forward.

I had the advantage of skating for most of my teen years, so it was actually almost like a friendly reminder of my past when I got to play this. It reminds me that skating is not easy, and that you actually have to work to improve. Like in real life, when you practice it will get easier. The more you play True Skate, the more you can notice yourself improve. 

There are a few things I would like to see change in the future. There's just the one skate park in True Skate. It's a great park, with a great design and mix of different obstacles to hit, but it's just boring after a few hours of on and off playing. I'd really like some sort of board customization, as you're currently limited to just the generic True Skate board. I'd love to import my own board, or even just pick some from a selection of board skins or something. More boards with different attributes or even an upgrade system could really be a fantastic way to keep people interested for longer.

Overall the game is actually quite good. They physics are perfect, they really nailed it. But there is a huge lack of variety and there is just no real reason to keep playing after a while. If they fix this, maybe I'll redo my review in the future. All I can say now is that if you have ever touched a skateboard or even played a skating game, this is worth getting just purely because of the physics and fun of learning to control your board. However, if you're easily frustrated or bored then this game is just not for you.

Overall Score: 6/10

- Ken Seiler

Borderlands 2

Since Borderlands 2 was announced I have been sitting with my wallet in my hand just waiting for this to drop. Every trailer, every teaser and every reference just got me more excited. I didn't know what to expect, I just knew that it would be incredible. The day it hits I get it, sit down and play it for an hour and BOOM, I'm right back where I left off. I'm shooting guns, using powers and watching heads explode. 

Borderlands 2 is probably the best sequel I have ever played. It feels like the first one, but nothing is the same! The most obvious difference is that Pandora now feels like a vibrant, living place. What once was a vast wasteland filled with savage psychos and beasts is.. still a planet populated primarily by savage psychos and beasts. But it isn't so lonely anymore, thanks to an expanded cast of diverse and entertaining characters.

My favourite familiar faces return! Claptrap, Scooter and Moxxi are all there, and are better than ever before. The four playable characters from the first game are back as well, and they each play a huge role in the story and have way more spoken lines than ever before. I didn't even realise they had more than 3 or 4 expressions each. There are some amazing new additions too! The main villain, Handsome Jack, is such an awesome character. I found myself laughing at him, furious with him and really being pulled in to the overall character, which doesn't usually happen with me. 

Tiny Tina might be the best character they put in that game, just purely for the dialogue. Random townsfolk also have a few things to say, no longer content with mute or monosyllabic responses, and even the bandits you fight have a broader range of context-sensitive taunts. I love the Skyrim easter egg "I used to be a vault hunter like you until I took a bullet to the knee".

The huge amount of high-quality voice acting required to bring this world to life is fuelled by excellent writing, which provides some genuinely incredible verbal abuse and surprisingly tender and soft moments amid the avalanche of genuinely laugh-out-loud funny lines. I would be playing along and I would ever hear chuckles from my girlfriend and the onslaught of amazing one liners. The breadth of personalities invigorates your adventure and makes Pandora a lively and very interactive place. That's not to say it wasn't before. I never noticed something was missing until they added so much more to the new game. The only drawback to the sheer volume of communication is that sometimes conversations are cut off by other incoming messages before you can hear them through. This doesn't pose any barrier to progression, but with dialogue this good, you don't want to miss a word. I found myself actually upset that I didn't get to hear the end of sentences. 

Borderlands 2 will keep you busy for a very, very long time. The environments of Pandora are more vibrant and diverse this time around. I spent hours on hunting down the easter eggs alone. The original Borderlands title was phenomenal, entertaining and one of my favourite titles. It had a compelling storyline, characters that needed serious psychiatric therapy and comedy that I wish every game would exhibit, as I have already explained. So let's look at the characters:

Brick, everyone’s favourite Berserker is replaced by Salvador a gnome-sized Gunzerker who is somehow the smallest character with the biggest guns. He can duel wield and it just makes him looks so baddass. Lilith is replaced by Maya, also a siren, who is able to freeze an enemy in place. It makes it easier to pick away the other enemies before your health hits zero. Speaking of, Mordecai has been replaced by Zero, an equally range-styled character with an unequally vicious ability to create a decoy of himself in close combat, go invisible and land a critical hit on any enemy nearby. This was my reason for choosing him, plus Zero is totally badass which in the is never a bad thing. Finally Roland is replaced with Axton who is exactly the same and relies on his turret to destroy any enemies.

There is a fifth class which is available for download that I had actually gotten with my pre-order, Gaige, a delightful and positively cute girl who when annoyed summons a scrap robot called Deathtrap who for lack of better wording is a robot that hates everything equally holds nothing back on arsenal and ammunition. Gaige is a class known as “Mechromancer”. Instead of creating completely new characters, the characters have just been improved upon, but lets face it, that's because they are nearing perfection as it is. I was pretty sad that the Mechromancer wasn't released when the game was, as I didn't wish to start again with a new character. Still, she is insanely impressive, I highly recommend her.

More than in the first game, the abilities fit together nicely in co-op. the Gunzerker can be more reckless with friends around to revive him, the Assassin benefits hugely from distracted enemies, and it’s a relief for everyone when the toughest enemy in a fight is suddenly plucked into the air by the Siren. The interface for joining a co-op game is much nicer this time, and it’s better at handling how quests are shared. 

In addition to missions, there is an expanded array of challenges. These goals are automatically tracked and reward you for actions like taking down a certain number of skags or getting a lot of elemental kills. New location-specific challenges give you further incentive to find hidden secrets in each area. Every challenge completed increases your badass rank, which in turn gives you small bonuses to various attributes (such as gun damage, fire rate, and shield recharge delay) that apply to any character you create, not just your current one. Tweaking challenges and introducing cross-character bonuses aren't big additions to the game, but they serve as a nice acknowledgement of the fact that many players want to play as multiple characters. It certainly gives me reason to start the game again, even if just to make my baddass rank even higher.

This review is coming to you quite late so I've actually had a chance to play the first instalment of the 4 DLC's that will drop. This one is titled "Captain Scarlett and her Pirate's Booty. This couldn't of come at a better time. I wrapped up the game and came to do the news for KJBcast that day and the DLC had just been announced. It could not of been better timing! 

There’s a pretty straightforward story to this expansion that has you looking for four compasses that, when put together, will lead you to a secret treasure.Captain Scarlett tasks you with exploring every corner of the vast desert plain of Oasis. As you hunt down these compass holding targets you will run into new faces, and that’s pretty much the main mission in its entirety. There are a few side quests, but unlike the main game, this won't take long.

Captain Scarlett does, rather nicely, reward you for finishing the main story by giving you a lot of treasure chests containing rare items, not unlike the secret armoury of General Knoxx from the first game. The best part about this is that you have the option to redo everything again once you’ve finished it once before which gives you yet another chance to reap the rewards. This is a great place to just farm experience points since enemies are in the hundreds. 

I will say this, though. Unlike many DLC packs out there, this is not confined to a few new maps or an entirely linear story tacked on to the middle of the game. It's not just them offering you some small thing that is completely inconsequential. This DLC is extremely fun, I just expected more! The repetitive nature of the side quests can be a bit much, but it's worth it. The new enemies, weapons, and environments, not to mention the new cast of characters, all makes for a great reason to dip back into Borderlands 2 - if, that is, you ever stopped vault hunting in the first place.

For this, and more, I think that this game couldn't be better. There is nothing I could/would change about it! I'm waiting eagerly for the other DLC's to drop, and you should be to! This game is nothing short of perfect. I do wish that the Mechromancer came out on the day, but I'll let that slide.

Overall Score: 10/10

- Ken Seiler

The Simpsons: Tapped Out

The-Simpsons-Tapped-Out.jpg

As some of you may know, The Simpsons Tapped Out has recently re-launched on all iOS devices. If you were one of the lucky few to get it when it was originally launched at the start of the year before it was suddenly taken down, you will be rewarded with 60 doughnuts (alongside any other doughnuts you may have purchased in the time between than and now). Check out the release trailer:

So, as you can probably tell from the trailer, the artwork and voices are done by all the real cast and crew of the Simpsons. I should really start by saying that I am a HUGE Simpsons fan. I have been watching them (over and over) since I was incredibly young, and I love every last episode. As a huge fan, I LOVE this game. I love all the references to episodes and I adore all the typical Simpsons jokes that I have grown up with. 

The basic story is that you are tasked with rebuilding the town of Springfield after Homer accidentally destroys it in a nuclear meltdown. The game is almost a parody of games like this. Planting crops and waiting for jobs to be complete is funnier through the Simpsons typical attitude and jokes which accompany you throughout the game. The character library isn't that big, but it still has enough familiar faces to please any Simpsons fan. Although it does lack some of the faces you see in most episodes, like Barney Gumble. But it makes up for it with Flanders, Krusty and even Comic Book Guy. There is an even greater selection if you're good at managing your doughnuts, or simply just purchase some (some = TONNES).

Basically, this title has two forms of currency: good ol' fashioned American dollars, which you earn frequently by completing tasks and collecting from your many houses and shops; and Donuts, which you earn in small amounts as you level-up.

This is part of EA's new FREEmium gaming initiative. The game itself is free, however, the in game purchases cost so so so so much. If you want people like Hank Scorpio, Professor Frink or even Hans Moleman, you will need to either save the 2 doughnuts you get every time you level up and occasionally you receive as a gift, OR, you will need to spend money. Professor Frink will set you back 150 doughnuts. Below is a price guide:

A Dozen Donuts (12) costs $1.99 (or €1.59)

A Stack of 60 Donuts costs $4.99. (or €3.99)

A Tray of 132 Donuts costs $9.99. (or €7.99)

A Truckload of 300 Donuts costs $19.99. (or €15.99)

A Store Full of 900 Donuts costs $49.99. (or €39.99)

A Boatload of 2,400 Donuts costs $99.99. (or €79.99)

You will be given a few free Donuts while cleaning up Springfield in the opening stages of the game with Lisa, as well as one from reaching your first level. This is primarily to get players hooked on the idea of the Donuts, and to encourage them to spend money on more! Some players have reported getting another Donut after the initial, first run of cleaning, but certainly they are incredibly rare after the first stages. You can also find some from the Mystery Prize boxes, if you're lucky. This is an aspect of the game which seems to be glitched as a lot of players report getting the same item each time from these.

Every time you collect revenue from your various homes and businesses or complete a task in The Simpsons: Tapped Out, you'll receive XP as a reward. Like in almost every other game ever, XP is needed to level-up, which allows you to purchase additional content from the in-game store. You also have to think about your conform-o-meter, which ranks you out of five stars and grants you permanent Money and XP bonuses, so long as you can keep the stars up. To increase your star rating, you have to boost your indolence, consumerism, tree-hugging, vanity, obedience, gluttony, righteousness, and socialism stats.

This is a lot easier than it sounds. Simply tap your star rating, which is located in the bottom-left of your device's screen, and you'll be able to tap on each stat for tips on how to improve it. You can boost your tree-hugging stat, for example, by planting more and more trees, and increase your gluttony stat by constructing restaurants. While you shouldn't focus solely on boosting these stats, I suggest you keep an eye on them as you play and improve them when you think you can do so without any real effort. You're likely to enhance a few of them through general play, anyway.

Each character you unlock can be given a job. Homer, for example, can be instructed to spend a couple of minutes playing with his myPad tablet, or told to break into the neighbour's house and watch their TV. Jobs take varying amounts of time to complete, and award varying amounts of Money and XP. Naturally, the longer a job takes, the bigger the rewards you'll receive. With that being said, if you don't think you'll be playingThe Simpsons: Tapped Outfor the next four hours, don't give Homer a job that only takes 12 seconds to complete. The rewards will be minimal and he'll be standing around doing absolutely nothing for a few hours until you return to the game. Put simply, it's a waste. If, however, you're going to be inside the app until your iPad's battery runs dry, quick jobs are the way to go. You'll earn more rewards from constantly doing 12-second jobs than you will from a single 24 hour job. 

Realistically, this game has only a few flaws. There is not enough characters. Once you reach a certain level, you won't be able to level up further and you will just have characters doing quests with no real goal. The game just needs a few updates to become a little more impressive, but it is clear that they are working on it. Yesterday, for example, I received a free car simply for playing when the new season is about to premiere. They also added some small things (including characters) last week, however, one of those costs a lot of doughnuts. I think that they desperatelyneed to include a bakery where you get 1 or 2 doughnuts a day for playing. It encourages daily playing and routine, and it rewards the player fairly.

800px-DAILY5.PNG

As it stands you get daily rewards now, but they aren't super awesome. Day 1 - $150, Day 2 - $250, Day 3 - $500, Day 4 - $1000, Day 5 - Mystery Box. A mystery box can give you one item from the game. It could be an awesome premium item or it could just be a fence or newspaper dispenser (which is far more likely). It CAN even give you doughnuts, but I have yet to see it happen in person (beyond the first time it happens as part of the story). There is also a Homer Buddha which costs 15 doughnuts, but PROMISES a premium item. It is still a risk, though, as there are many premium items worth less than 15. I did it 3 times yesterday with all the doughnuts I had saved up and I got the Squeaky Voiced Teen, an apple tree and a bench. The tree and bench do add to my overall rating, and their worth was more than I spent, so it does work out most of the time. 

The game itself is a lot of fun, it just needs updates. I would highly recommend trying it if you're a Simpsons fan, and probably even if you're not but you're a Farmville fan or something. It's a great time waster and it's a game you can take at your own pace. You can play it all day, or once a day. It truly is a work of art, and when it updates it will be even better. As it stands, however, I will have to judge it as it is. D'oh! 

Overall Score: 8/10

Edit: With recent additions to the game and a complete overhaul to the glitchy system, I have changed my review. The have fixed and issues I once had with the game. 

Overall Score: 10/10

- Ken Seiler