I AM ALIVE… and totally worth playing BTW

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I Am Alive features some gritty scenery, just find a ledge and climb aboard!

Many games claim to be about the post apocalypse, where some weird event has tragically ended life as we know it and us humans are now forced to scrounge for bullets or use strategy to out wit a group of foes, but I AM ALIVE takes it to the next level. Through the use of cut scenes filmed by a hand held camera, You play an unnamed survivor trying to make it back to your hometown a year after the “event” happened in search of a family he hopes is still alive. Just getting back into your town will be a bit of a climb, taking bits from Dead Island (a system where exerting one’s energy drains the stamina bar) and the Uncharted series, where you have to climb and scurry up and down the sides of buildings, over passes, and collapsed caverns. When you do finally reach town, you see that you only have a camcorder and an empty gun. In the distance, you see who you think to be your daughter, and you give chase, only to come across a group of people with machetes and guns of their own. This is where gameplay takes a turn; you can point your empty gun at the group of men and they will start to back off, but dont get to close or they’ll see that you are actually holding an unloaded gun and attack without stopping. Collecting a machete, while saving a young girl, will be your first task when you reach town. You are able to make enemies get on their knees, allowing you to execute or knock them out. Enemies drop very few valuables, usually only a few bullets at a time or a quest item. Let me stress that bullets are RARE in this game, but the threat of shooting someone lives on for a while. 

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It sometimes comes down to button mashing to over-power thugs with your machete.

This game has a great story that is well presented, but some of the quests seem more like fetching something and bringing it back, just to go back to the same area to search for something new, as earthquakes always open new areas. Going out in dust storms causes problems as well, as it saps your stamina continuously and you can run into gangs if you aren’t careful. Later in the game, you gain access to a bow and arrow (yes, one arrow) and through a series of mini quests, you help a family get out of the city you tried so hard to get into in the first place. This whole time, you are left wondering, just where is his family, and what is the deal with these cut scenes where someone is watching the tapes youve been making? This all leads to a heart-smashing end as those who pay close enough attention throughout the game can almost guess the outcome, but Im much to classy to spoil it here. I will say that it is a gut punch.

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Just who is watching these tapes? Are you some sort of narcissist?

I am Alive may have its faults, but its still a great game for a great price (about 15 dollars) and had me immersed in a story while waiting for other games to come out. It doesn’t hold up to any replay value, nor does it show any indication that they’ll continue with the series, but if you are a fan of movies like “The Road” and games like “Uncharted”, you should give this little gem a try. It’s sure to wash the taste of Drake out of your mouth. Available now for PSN and XBLA

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Whoa there, cowboy. Let’s not bite off anything we can’t chew here.

 

Cheap pick of the week! Realm of the Mad God

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Steam’s latest forte into free 2 play territory is nothing more than a simple point, click, and shoot game, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a lot of fast paced fun!! Heavily pixilated and dubbed a “fantasy-themed, co-operative bullet hell MMORPG”, you start off level 1 with only one class to chose from. Once you’ve reached level 5 with your cute little pixel warrior, you unlock a new class with new powers! You can only carry so much with you at a time and some of what is dropped can’t even be equipped to you, but that wont stop you from spending countless tens of minutes looking through loot.

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Take a look at all this loot!!

You see, in the spirit of Diablo and Dark Souls, when you DIE you lose your progress, lvl, and inventory! This game’s brutality is part of what makes it so different from games offered now, the thought of a permanent death (with information about your dead character and everything) is daunting. Unless you have reached lvl 5 on that particular class, it was all for naught, as you will have to start all over again. In some cases, you’ll have to reach level 20 to unlock a particular class!

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Poor guy died, but he unlocked a class and got some fame points!

Realm of the Mad God is an online game where you can team up with others, and as long as you take part in killing the monster, you are allowed to access the bag of loot it drops. A tiny mini-map allows you to see where you’ve been, places you haven’t reached, and where the other 79 players are in the realm! It also allows for instant transportation to a  specific person in the realm as well! At any time, you are able to leave the dungeon realm to go back to the starting gates, known as The Nexus, where you can buy various things such as: dyes, weapons, armor, pets, and even join guilds and team up for a stronger team. The Nexus is always crowded, so keep an eye out for the shops or  people offering a trade!

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whoa, this place is a bit crowded for me… time to find a dungeon to fight in!

From one class to another, each with different attacks and specials, you adventure the realm, killing both monsters and their minions as you level up, unlock classes, and earn gold points to buy helmets or other goodies, something this reviewer hasnt been able to do yet. What I have done is have fun with a free 2 play game, not even cracking open my wallet for the spiffiest of rods or swords. If that’s your bag, the game does accept money and will let you buy some of the various items Ive mentioned, but be warned! Some items might disappear if you die!

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Everyone had a hand in taking the monster down, so everyone got a bit of experience!

Realm of the Mad God has its faults, its very simple, frustrating, and can become a bit tedious if you just cant reach that certain level or find that right group of adventurers, but for the money, I call it my Cheap pick of the Week. Challenge yourself to unlock each class, try out each of their specials, and get back to me if anyone has reached level 20! This game is brutal.

Online is needed for this game, of course, and it can be downloaded through Steam or played on a web browser.

The Walking Dead: A New Day Review

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TellTale delivers blood, gore, and plenty of drama in this first installment of a 5 arc series for PC, Steam, PS Network, and XBLA

This week’s videogame review features zombies, choices, and a lot of heart. Telltale’s latest game is so much more than just the “point and click” of its earlier works like Sam and Max or Back to the Future, and allows the players a bit more choice over what action they would take in similar situations. Oh, and did I mention that there are zombies??

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These zombies are more like the ones that appear in Robert Kirkman’s monthly comic. Yes, The Walking Dead was based on a comic…

You start off as Lee Everett, a man convicted of murder with a dark past, but you get little more information on than that. While traveling down a stretch of highway OUT of Atlanta in the back of a squad car, the officer driving doesn’t keep his eyes on the road (as he is more concerned with talking your ear off) and gets into an accident, knocking your character unconscious as zombies appear to stagger towards the wreckage.  Upon waking up, out of a daze, you realize you are free to move. Using the left stick to look around and the right stick to move, you now have to navigate an injured Lee to safety, which is no easy task. From looking out the broken window, calling out to the police officer who appears to have been thrown from the wreckage, to kicking out the window so you can pull yourself out of the car’s cab, and even finding the keys to unlock your cuffs, suspense and drama seem to be what Taletell was going for, hitting the nail on the head. Lee then comes across Clementine, a young girl who hid in her tree house who seems to have been abandoned. Clementine essentially acts as the players conscience, fully trusting Lee yet still letting the player know how she feels about you or certain choices you’ve made..

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Clementine is as helpful as she is a hindrance, even in heated debates, don’t let her out of your sight! 

Without giving too much away, as you explore the world and find useful items in it, you will be better prepared for the next “zombie encounter”, but that isn’t to say that this is your average “shoot em up, kill em all” zombie game. Unlike games like Left 4 Dead or Dead Rising, most items are single use, improvised, and very limited. A good aim and not getting ahead of yourself is key in this game, as most encounters consist of you “mashing” a button to try and free yourself from a zombie’s grasp or of you aiming the camera angle at a shotgun you find, placing the cartridge in, and cocking it to prepare to fire.

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Hammers sure are effective, but boy is it messy. 

Choices made in this episode will be remembered in later episodes (5 in all) so be prepared to play multiple play throughs, and with 3 safe files, who wouldn’t want to replay? Leaving during day or night will have you walk into different groups of people, get help in different ways, or lead you down a different (yet still similar) path all the way to your first stop: Hershel’s Farm. Now, for fans of the comic, this is the comic version of Hershel, not AMC’s. He’s crass and judgmental and makes poor young kids sleep in barns. At times while stories are told or people ask you questions, you have split seconds to respond with your buttons anyway you seem fit, but remember: You are asking this man for help. Maybe he can sense you are lying. Listening is key in all of the cinematic cut scenes, as is responding. Silence is a choice in the game and some could take that response as unseemly. While at the farm, you can speak to other characters who made their way there and find out new and interesting things about them, sometimes adding to the story in ways you wouldn’t understand at the moment. This game pulls at your heart strings and your survival instinct when it calls you to make your first choice of who to help and who to not.  Characters will die as a direct result of your decisions, just as you will make friends or enemies, all from the choices you make during your adventure. The dialog really adds to the choices and decisions you made, further immersing you into the world of The Walking Dead.

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Lee, Clementine, and a new character on the farm named Kenny. Always listen to what is said so you don’t miss out on key information!

You meet up with a new group at the farm and decide to travel together with a hot-head redneck named Kenny and his family, stopping at, surprisingly enough, a drug store from Lee’s past. The more you play, the more you unlock about Lee Everett as a person, not just as some rendering TellTale came up with. Unlike the hero of the comic, Rick Grimes, Lee is on the opposite side of the law when the zombie apocalypse strikes. Clementine isn’t his real daughter and he’s not chasing his family down. Lee is just a man trying to make sense of this new world and survive in it. This is about the area you’ll meet the next guest appearance, Glenn! After a heated argument, you are finally accepted inside the drug store, but just what kind of people are in there already? And what do they know about Lee? How is he connected to the owners of the drug store? After a series of minor adventures, including taking out about 5 zombies in stealth mode, you are met with yet another choice of letting someone chose suicide over becoming a zombie. Like I said, this game is about choice, and it doesn’t cut corners, and people WILL react to your decision.

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Making too much noise in this game or being spotted by one of the walkers means death! Love that axe. 

Clearing this area also gets you an axe, much more effective for killing zombies with, and, after a near-death escape where you are forced to make THE BIGGEST decision of the game yet, gets you a new safe zone to stay at.  All cards are laid down at the table at the end of the episode, as it is revealed that someone in the group knows about Lee’s dark past and has threatened to expose him if you aren’t careful, all leading to a real kick in the pants moment with the words “to be continued” across the screen. You’ve made your choices. You see where you stand, a man trying to survive and keep a little girl alive. But can you live with what the game made you do to get there?

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Keep that door shut! Help out Glenn! Wait… Where’s Clem!? Dramatic, suspenseful, and button mashing madness awaits! Make your decisions!

The Walking Dead: A New Day has amazing voice acting paired with life and death situations and chaotic events that make it something not to be missed. The only real down sides to this game that I see are frame rate issues and the fact that Telltale can’t seem to keep a promise on when the next episodes will be delivered. It was originally slatted as a monthly release, but with 2+ months later, a lot of people were upset at buying the season pass and that there was zero response from Telltale about the delay. The gameplay actually reminded me a lot of Heavy Rain, but with such better voice acting and an in-depth story that leaves you craving flesh… I mean more episodes!

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Lee is a powerful man with a powerful swing. Take a look at how TellTale is pulling no punches when it comes to the gore and blood. 

The first episode averages out about 2 hours long the first play through, but like Ive stated, with multiple responses and multiple choices, you are going to want to spend a little more than 2 hours on this game. Stay tuned after the episode for an amazing “Next time, on The Walking Dead” preview that is full of screams, hunger, and blood… aptly named “Starving for Help”. The first episode is available now, while the second is promised to be available for download later this month.