Marvel: Contest of Champions Review

Contest of Champions is a beautiful and fun fighting game for iOS and Android devices. The game takes your through a series of missions where you must compete against bosses, such as Kang the Conquerer, for a purpose that I would deem too spoiler-y to add to a review. The Collector summons you in to control a group of heroes and villains of your choosing to fight against other heroes and villains to inevitably be declared the victor or the battle realm. 

Contest of Champions is based on the 80's Marvel series of the same name. Given that the story already exists, it seems to be looked over that somebody has in fact written and modernised the story they use in the game. Dan Humphries, writer of Legendary Star Lord, has sat down with Kabam (the developers) and written the fantastic story that you learn as you play through the game. 

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As of now the game has 25 playable characters. I will include a link to their wiki page on each of the names, so if you need to do some research to learn more about each character, feel free to click their name to be taken to their bio. The characters are as follows: Abomination, Black Bolt, Black Panther, Captain America, Colossus, Cyclops, Deadpool, Drax the Destroyer, Gamora, Hawkeye, Hulk, Iron Fist, Iron Man, Juggernaut, Punisher, Rhino, Ronan, Scarlet Witch, Spider-Man, Starlord, Storm, Thor, Vision, Winter Soldier and Wolverine

The idea is that you collect crystals which allow you to unlock characters. You get several types of crystals. Daily rewards, premium currency purchases, multiplayer point purchases and rewards for completing missions. Some crystals unlock health/revives/energy, some unlock XP and some unlock champions. 

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Champions have a great way of working together as you put them in teams. Synergy bonuses are used to give you an edge. For example, Gamora gets an added perk when teamed up with Starlord, based on their history in the comics. All the heroes have other heroes they work well with. If you assemble the perfect team, based on that alone, your team will stand a better chance of winning. 

You can rank up your champions in the game. As you win certain game types you will unlock base crystals and IOS-8, which is basically XP. Those two allow you to level up and rank up your heroes. As your hero reaches a certain level, they will cap at that point and you will need base crystals to rank them up so they can continue to level up and get stronger. Confusing in text, but makes sense as you play the game. You can also do daily strikes to help upgrade certain hero types. 

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Along with hero levels are also stars. 1-4 stars are weakest to strongest, 4 stars being the top tier hero and extremely difficult to obtain. The most common is 2 stars, and 3 stars is rare. It is also unusual to obtain a 1 star hero after a certain point, but it can happen. 

There are 6 hero types throughout the game. Science, Mutant, Cosmic, Skill, Mystic and Tech. Each hero type is stronger and weaker against another hero type. This will give you advantages if you plan your team out correctly. 

You also have a choice to play "versus" which is usually PVP, but can sometimes also be events like 3 on 3. Playing versus is the only way to unlock the Punisher as a character. I was lucky enough to unlock him the day before writing this, which is good or I would of said it was impossible. Before unlocking him I had never even seen another player use him. However, as with cars, once you get one, you begin to see it everywhere. I still see people complaining that they could not unlock him, but it is indeed possible. Keep on hoping, true believers. 

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As you play multiplayer you will gradually unlock battle chips. They are used to unlock exclusive crystals, which can then unlock the Punisher as a character for you.

Each hero also has their own (somewhat) unique attacks. These are moves that build up as you fight and they can then be used at strategic times to help give you a leg up in a fight. They are little bars in the bottom corner that will fill up as the fight goes on. They go up slightly as you land a punch or a kick, and they go up a lot faster when the hits are done to you. Then will then allow you to launch a deadly sequence of attacks to drain the other players health. The stronger your hero is, the more powerful the attacks. Once you have 3 bars, it will begin a video sequence that will do an unbelievable amount of damage to your enemies.

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When you play the multiplayer modes you will begin against much weaker opponents and then as your win streak goes up, their difficulty goes up. Eventually you will fight people twice your strength. This process continues until your win streak is broken, and then it will start again. It becomes quite stressful, but it keeps things interesting. 

All in all it is a great game. I really enjoy it. It reminds me a lot of Mortal Kombat or Gods Among Us. I was always more of a Marvel fan than a DC fan, so this is a more fitting game for me, personally. 

I honestly can't put this game down. I really enjoy it. All in all, if you like fighters, Marvel, or both, then this is perfect for you. 

Overall Score: 10/10

Starbound

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This is one of those games that I noticed MONTHS ago. There has been quite a bit of buzz around it. I first heard about it in PC Gamer a few issues ago, and then heard a little more about it on the Yogscast and generally just around the web. I didn't have to look far to find information about it, and the more I heard, the more excited I got.

I'm going to try get this out of the way immediately, because I'll be decapitated by the Starbound community for re-vomiting the same information as every other company out there by saying this, but this game is hugely reminiscent of Terraria, and, to some extent, Minecraft. But, why does this have to be a bad thing? Those are two of the titles that I have spent the longest playing. Once I heard there were some FTL aspects drizzled on top, I was sold. 

It's important to point out that this is just a Beta version, and anything I judge based on this, I will have to re-judge once they game is officially released. Honestly, I'm just too excited to wait that long. This game needs to be played. 

Everything in this game is procedurally generated. You can create your character, but all the monsters and creatures and worlds you encounter is pretty unique to your game. I was pretty boring and created a human class, but let me justify my actions. I clicked on each of the classes to see what they looked like, and the randomly generator character for the human looked almost identical to my Minecraft character (only he is wearing a leather jacket, which my minecraft character is not), which, to some extent, is based on myself. I couldn't turn that down. However, there are 6 other classes to choose from. There are seven playable races in the game's beta:

  • Apex are ape-like creatures with naturally humanoid features. Due to a process that Apex researchers discovered, they are able to upgrade their intellectual state while degrading their physical state. There is much dissent among them, as individuals chosen for researching a better process never return.
  • Avian are bird-like creatures without wings. They believe that their wings were lost upon entrance into the mortal world from the "Aether", or their "Plane of Gods". They believe that they will regain their wings upon entrance into the "Aether", which they believe is achieved only by complete theological devotion. Non-worshipers are called "The Grounded". Avian weaponry was gained when an unknown race bestowed it upon them.
  • Floran are plant-like cannibal creatures. They have a peaceful appearance but are highly violent, engaging in wars with other factions of their race. They are exceptional at reverse engineering technology. It is not known if this capability has an effect on gameplay.
  • Humans are ordinary Humans. Not much is known about this race at the moment.
  • Hylotl are an aquatic species with fins on their heads. Not much is known about them at the moment, although from available depictions of the race the Hylotl culture appears to resemble that of feudal Japan.
  • The Glitch are robotic creatures stuck in the Medieval Age. They reproduce by physically building their offspring.
  • The Novakid are beings made out of solar energy. As the Novakids have little to no desire to record their history, little is known about their origins and any groundbreaking research is forgotten within a few generations. This race was added to the game when the pre-order campaign raised $500,000.

I began my game in my ship, above a planet. I had very limited supplies, and I could do nothing but grab them and head to the nearest planet and begin excavating and exploring. You get several quests to start you off. Easy ones, at first, like hunt down some food and build a crafting table and furnace. *potential spoiler until end of paragraph* After a certain point you get a quest to build an expensive (extremely expensive for such an early game mission) distress beacon, which, for me, called in an enemy ship which absolutely PWNED me. 

The space station in Starbound is sprawling and full of potential. I have not figured out how to do a lot of this, so what can be done at this point in the Beta is still a mystery to me. Throughout your travels you'll find ways to upgrade and repair your ship, restoring it to its former glory. You'll need to find a crew, conduct research, catch rare creatures, and unlock its multitude of facilities. From a factory capable of producing mechs to labs where captured enemies can be studied and trained, the space station contains everything you need to explore the universe... except fuel.

So far, the best fuel I have found is coal. I mine it, dump it on the ship, and mine some more. Typically you need 250 fuel to go anywhere interesting, in my game, but that's fine. I would suggest you avoid Ice and Snow as you will just freeze to death. An interesting point to this game is that you can freeze to death at night, or on colder planets. You can warm yourself up with enough torches, or a camp fire, or even a furnace. You can also starve, so you should really find food. Right now, there are two easy ways to make food. (1.) Grow crops and (2.) hunt with your bow and arrow and hope monsters drop meat.

You can only get monsters to drop alien meat by killing them with the bow and arrow. You can get a huge selection of tools an weapons. You have your typical swords and pickaxes, but you can also get more throughout the game, like guns and explosives. You can upgrade your old tools by encasing them in a slightly harder materiel. You will always require the downgrade to upgrade. If, for example, you wanted to upgrade your bronze armour to iron, you would need to have the bronze in the inventory, then upgrade it with the anvil. It means you can't just skip steps, you really need to earn your gear. 

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I have encountered different races in the game, as well as monsters. Sometimes I stumble across homes that these other races have built on the planet. I have yet to meet another human, but they're probably out there, somewhere. I have encountered a giant Apex prison. I made the mistake of going in guns blazing, and underestimated how big it was. I got absolutely decimated. You can just go in unarmed and everything is fine, but I just didn't give up trying 3 or 4 times until I thought I'd give peace a chance. It worked. I then robbed everything they owned, to get revenge. They didn't seem to mind, but they are just gun wielding apes.

There is a lot more to discover. Once the game is ready to launch, I will do a full updated review, but I just figured that this game is so good, it needed to be recognised. I haven't found any bugs, yet. Well, not glitches, anyway. Plenty of space bugs, though. This game is certainly worth picking up. You can get it here, and you totally should. If this review helped you decide in any way, please let me know in the comments. 

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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

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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