Posts Tagged ‘Reckon Crew’

Game Review: Brink

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Brink slides in with a Busy Gamer 3

First Glance:
Objective based FPS that incorporates a parkour movement system which should change the way battles play out.

Short Story:
The objective based combat system has been hit or miss in the past and is a gamble on its own but now Bethesda and Splash Damage are throwing in a level based class system and the parkour movement scheme. Battlegrounds are confined to running in a straight line and in multiplayer, the team that doesn’t have a decent mix of classes played by people who understand their skills are going to suffer. A big risk game in a market flooded by CoD and Battlefield clones.

The Score:
A lot of people have come down really hard on this game for a variety of reasons. Chokepoints that are reportedly “insurmountable” and being “forced” to change classes during single player missions in order to get past a level are two of the major ones in regards to gameplay. There are still some lingering issues in regards to online play with friends with lag being a major issue in some games. There’s definitely some polish needed here but what we have at the heart of this game is everything Bethesda promised us.

Even in single player, this game is a bit of a time investment. Online matches can be quick and to the point in some cases but drag on and on depending on the mission objectives in others. Escort missions can be especially time consuming in the right circumstances. That being said, if you’re looking for a new FPS that doesn’t follow the “run for 30 seconds, get shot in the face with a pistol, respawn, repeat” philosophy, you might just be interested in this one.

Due to the potential for drawn out matches even in single player and an iffy matchmaking system in multiplayer, Brink slides in with a Busy Gamer 3.

Body of Review:
The Reckon Crew has been waiting for Brink since we saw it at PAX ’09. We’ve watched the videos wondering if the game would live up to its promise and our admittedly high expectations. As other gaming sites began reporting in on the issues they were having, we started to despair.

Then we played it.

I’m not saying this game doesn’t have its issues. It has some and they can be doozies. But all of the reports coming in saying Bethesda shipped a “broken” game are badly exaggerated.

When the Heavy hits the door, you'd be smart to duck

Character creation is a major part of any game for the Reckon Crew. As Crutchboy stated in his article about Daggerdale, we’ll spend hours tweaking the way our character looks until we have it just right. While there are some limitations on how much customization you control in regards to your character (notably color combinations), there’s a fairly good likelihood that you’ll be able to tweak your character to look different from everyone else if the mood strikes you.

One of the complaints that I haven’t been able to agree with in this game has where the gun sounds are concerned. I’m suitably impressed when I hear the whir of the gatling gun spinning up or the thump of the grenade launcher firing. When I run around with a submachine gun, I don’t expect it to sound like a cannon when it fires. Even with a silencer, many of the guns sounded impressive to me when they fired. Perhaps it’s the surround sound system giving the effects some oomph.

I would have liked to have seen some more customization with the weapons in regards to the cosmetics but there’s enough that I’m satisfied when I’m building a load out for my character.

The three body types (heavy, medium, and light) will modify how you play. Personally, I prefer the light body type on my Soldier. While most of the world likely wants to use the heavy weapons as the workhorse of the Brink classes, I like being able to move quickly, getting into spots the other classes can’t. Being able to scale a wall quickly at a point where resistance is light can change the outcome of a battle quickly.

The Heavy body type is particularly suited for my Medic in Brink’s gameplay. Slow and plodding but with substantially more health, I hang back with my heavy weaponry and help support my teammates with a hail of lead and move up to heal as I am needed.

The engineer is particularly deadly in this game. Where the class is often portrayed as a support class in many other games, a frontline Engineer in Brink can be very successful, particularly since there are machine gun nests that require an Engineer to build them before they can be used. With the turrets they have available, as well as the landmines, an Engineer can help quickly advance the offense in any type of match.

Last but not least, the Operative introduces a bit of chaos into the matches. Able to disguise himself, the Operative is able to often slip behind enemy lines as he doesn’t trigger enemy landmines or turrets unless another operative marks him as an imposter. Combined with the sticky, caltrop, and EMP grenades, as well as the ability to hack enemy turrets, Operatives can overcome a stalemate rather quickly when played by an experienced player.

Sadly, the single player campaign isn’t nearly as fun as playing with friends. The AI on your team seems intent on performing as poorly as possible until the last moment, causing matches to drag out for as long as possible. Even the enemy AI seems less polished even with the difficulty cranked up.

Rule #1 of Brink: Keep Moving. Stationary targets are dead targets.

There have been some serious lag issues since the launch of the game. They seem to get better with every patch and the Reckon Crew saw very little lag in matches where we played cooperatively against the AI in matches where there were four people on each team.

The story isn’t going to win any awards but the concept is just enough to keep my interest. I would have liked to have seen more of the Ark’s Council ordering around Security or Chen interacting with the Resistance rather than having them as bodiless voices present only through the comm system as I performed my mission tasks.

The AI is a little chatty for my taste but it does make the battles seem more intense with the comm chatter that goes on during firefights. Hearing someone yell across my comm that they’re wounded adds an element of intensity when I am playing my medic and I’m pinned down behind cover.

Many reviewers felt the weapon damage was insufficient but in conjunction with the parkour system, it means that a moving target is harder to put down. You might do some damage as someone slides behind cover but there’s definitely a feel of fierce combat when you are facing off against the enemy in Brink.

There are some things that need polish here. The multiplayer is still a bit underwhelming at times but when you land in a lag free match, Brink begins to shine. I’ve always enjoyed objective based FPS games and Brink did a lot of things right in this regard. I’m hoping the early DLC we see come from Bethesda will expound on the objectives currently in the game, building beyond “capture this point” and “escort this guy over there”.

My most sincere hope, however, is that Splash Damage and Bethesda don’t give up on this title. For a first outing into multiplayer territory, Brink is a good example of what can be done when you stray from the tried and true formulas of a genre. I don’t want to see this game degenerate into a Deathmatch downward spiral but rather stay true to the ideal set forth in its launch, building on team based combat and the parkour inspired movement I’ve begun to enjoy so much.

Gritskrieg – End of Line

Game Review: Borderlands

Monday, February 8th, 2010

Borderlands earns a Busy Gamer 3

First Glance:
Gun down some baddies in a futuristic wasteland, level up, gun down bigger baddies.

The Short Story:
Borderlands doesn’t try to do everything all at once. At its core, it’s an FPS with role-playing elements and it seamlessly combines those elements for a thoroughly enjoyable experience. You take missions and bounties as you wander the Borderlands as one of four classes. Level up as you shoot your way to your goals, making your character more powerful for the bigger fights. Team up with up to three other players to get the full experience.

The Score:
This game has quickly become a Reckon Crew favorite and even made it into our top five picks for 2009. Hardly a night goes by without a quick round of Borderlands being played. Cel shaded graphics bring the world of Pandora to light and some of the best voice acting in any video game to date helps to unfold the story of four adventurers who have come to this world to search for treasures beyond imagining. There’s a well told story here and it’s worth the time investment to see it to its ending. The multi-player feature of Borderlands allows for short play sessions and the controls are easy enough to learn and not forget after an absence from the game. Unfortunately, it is ultimately the length of the game and the necessity of some form of time commitment to see the game to its end that bring down the score. An utterly fantastic game, sadly Borderlands scores a Busy Gamer 3.

Body of review:
I’ve mentioned on occasion that there are games I shouldn’t be allowed to play due to their ability to make me lose track of time completely and utterly. Borderlands may very well be added to that short list of games in the very near future.

I had seen the commercials back when the game was released and I knew I was going to pick up a copy eventually. When I did, I was expecting the gorgeous cel shaded graphics and FPS controls. What I wasn’t expecting was how engrossed I would find myself with the game after only a few hours.

When beginning the game, you are offered the choice of four characters, the soldier, hunter, siren, and berserker. As we’ve come to see in games where you have to choose a class, each character has their strengths and weaknesses along with a unique special skill based on your choice. For example, the hunter, Mordecai, is primarily long ranged with the ability to summon his companion Bloodwing to help him fight for short periods of time while Brick, the berserker, is a terror in hand to hand combat and can, naturally, go berserk which allows him to heal rapidly and deal massive damage with his fists.

Our character finds themselves outside of a settlement called Fyrestone where we are brought up to speed on what our ultimate goal is and a brief tutorial which allows us the opportunity to familiarize ourselves with our character choice and then it’s straight into the action. The control scheme is easy to learn and the HUD provided is informative without being distracting. The inventory set up can be a bit daunting at first but once you’re familiar with it, you’ll breeze through it quickly enough.

As you progress through the beginning of the game, the tone is set quickly with the voice acting. Each character you interact with is voiced superbly and there is a humor to the conversations that is endearing. It quickly becomes obvious that the planet you are on is akin to the Wild West with the only law being one of might makes right… and most of the people who inhabit the backwater planet soon begin to contact you with tasks and bounties to complete as you make your way through the impressive landscape.

Where Borderlands truly excels is the multi-player experience. Setting up a game session is quick and easy and you can choose whether to allow just anyone to join or if you simply want to play with friends. The more people you have in the game (up to four) the more difficult your enemies become. At the same time, however, the more lucrative the rewards become.

The multiplayer is where Borderlands shines

The multi-player also allows for lower level characters to catch up relatively quickly to friends who may be higher level. While the lower level characters won’t be much help in the bigger fights, the experience awarded is substantial and may be the easiest way to help a friend get to the same point in the game as you.

Missions and bounties are typically fast paced though there are a few that have you wandering all over a map. Areas tend to scale to the level of your character so you don’t struggle when first entering a new map. The areas are self contained which means you can’t accidentally wander into another area without meaning to but the areas tend to repopulate fairly quickly so any place you take your time fighting into may mean you have to fight your way out again.

The weapons available in Borderlands are numerous and are pulled from “loot” tables in order to provide variance. The names of the weapons will typically indicate what traits they have while still managing to look and perform differently. There’s enough weapons to choose from that you will very rarely see the same weapon in a loot pile more than once, excluding unique weapons. And even with the unique weapons, there may be an elemental effect on yours that your friend’s doesn’t have.

Time constraints may become a factor as you start to enjoy the games. Typical multi-player sessions for the Reckon Crew often go longer than an hour as we help one another complete missions or just load up and go patrol an area and lay waste to some baddies. There’s a good sized world to be explored here and you may find one playthrough isn’t enough. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t play this game but you may want to postpone buying anything else for a while if you’re a typical Busy Gamer.

Gorgeous graphics, excellent voice acting and sound effects, beautiful scenery, and two DLCs since the launch of the game with a third on the way this month make Borderlands a solid addition to any gamer’s library, Busy or otherwise.

Gritskrieg – End of Line

Reckon Crew Outing: Dallas Comic Con

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

DCC : Rogue & Wolverine

This past weekend, the Reckon Crew packed up and headed for Dallas to visit the Dallas Comic Con and get some fan boy energy out of our system. We were excited to see the guest line up this year and managed to do some schmoozing with some friends of the site and meet some new ones.

The first person we had to visit, of course, was the talented artist Terry Parr. While we’ll be seeing Terry next month when he comes to Austin for Staple!, we’re always excited to see what he’s been up to and his new work is extraordinary. Once we’d taken up too much of his time and probably scared away more than a couple of his fans, we took in the rest of the sights the Comic Con had to offer.

In attendance this year were several big names. Among them were some names you’d know if you’re a Sci-Fi fan; Peter Mayhew, Herb Jefferson Jr., and Anne Lockhart. The list for the artists was no less impressive with names like Adam Hughes, Cat Skaggs, and Tim Sale. We were more than happy to peruse more than a few of their sketches. We even ended up with a couple of them in tow as we visited some of the other artists there.

Artist Terry Parr and Edward Scissorhands

We paid our homage to Adam West, the OB (Original Batman) and the Mayor of a little town called Quahog. That’s a “Family Guy” reference if you missed it. Pictures were taken, autographs were procured, and more than a little of that fan boy energy I mentioned was in effect at his table.

We were fortunate enough to attend the Q&A for Sean Patrick Flanery while we were there. I’ve been to more than a few Q&A’s and I have to say that Mr. Flanery’s was one of the best that I have ever had the pleasure to attend. Funny and self deprecating, Sean talked about his experiences on the set of Boondock Saints and the sequel, meeting George Lucas during his audition for the TV series Young Indiana Jones, and his favorite moments from the filming of Powder. The guy does a mean Christopher Walken impression as well.

We also met up with Jim Brown, a very talented photographer who has agreed to do some of the shoots for our lovely Gamettes this year. We were happy to finally have the time to get to know Jim and talk to him about matters ranging from photography to drinking misadventures. We’re happy to welcome Jim aboard and look forward to seeing more of his work.

All in all, it was a great weekend. We managed to defy death, meet some famous people, make some impressions both good and bad, and have a few drinks along the way… That’s just what we do.

DCC : Adam WestCrutchboy and Adam HughesDallas Comic Con

Gritskrieg – End of Line

Almost time to get Stapled

Friday, March 6th, 2009
Illustrator John Lara from RobotBully.com made this custom print for the BG Crew!

Illustrator John Lara from RobotBully.com made this custom print for the BG Crew!

Last year, one of the most memorable stops on our world-tour-that-didn’t-quite-make-it-outside-the-U.S. was actually pretty close to home. While we enjoy travelling, when an event is in Austin, Texas, it’s hard to pass up the opportunity not to visit. And while Staple! may be a bit less commercial (yeah!) than the other cons out there, we jumped at the opportunity to pay our respects at this event. Far more than what we expected, we found one of the largest gatherings of “indie” artists ever assembled in one location.  Needless to say, the Reckon Crew was in geek heaven.

It all started as a group of local artists in a coffee house and has grown to a full blown collection of some of the biggest names in webcomics and self-published comics. Last year’s gathering included Scott Kurtz of PVP Online, Danielle Corsetto of Girls with Slingshots, and Eric Powell of The Goon. We were able to land an interview with each one of them (Danielle’s was devoured by my recorder) and attended a couple of the panels and still managed to be “fanbois” for a large part of the day.

Staple! 2009, now in year five, will be held on Saturday, March 7th at the Monarch Convention Center. There will be several big names attending as guests, including Stan Sakai of Usagi Yojimbo, Jeffrey Brown, and Chris Onstad. Featured as well will be panels on Self Publishing and a Q&A with Stan Sakai. A complete listing of guests, exhibitors, and sessions can be found at www.staple-austin.org. And, no, your eyes do not deceive you when you glance over the exhibitor list, that is indeed the Reckon Crew listed.  Joining us will be the talented Terry Parr as well as Gamettes Amber Alert and Miss Genocide. We just thought it would be nice to have a place to set down the booze for a while. And sell some t-shirts. Terry will have his artwork up for sale and the Reckon Crew will be… wandering aimlessly.

Danielle Corsetto of Girls with Slingshots and the jerk who lost her interview

Danielle Corsetto of Girls with Slingshots and the jerk who lost her interview

Seriously though, if you haven’t had the opportunity to check out Staple!, you should take the opportunity this Saturday (March 7th) to come out and see what we’re so excited about. Drop by the table and we’ll make fun of your t-shirt, offer you one of ours, and send you on your way with a pat on the head and a koozie for the beverage of your choice.

Take note that there will be a pre-party for Staple! at Austin Books beginning at 7PM Friday, March 6th as well as an after party (March 7) at Red 7 (on East 7th street) in downtown Austin beginning at 9PM. We’ll spend both nights in the drink, I imagine.

If you don’t show up, you’ll be a bigger nerd than we are… and that’s hard to do.

Gritskrieg – End of Line

Find the Busy Gamer Reckon Crew at Booth #004 exhibiting at the Monarch Event Center, come grab some swag!

How many Parr-secs in a Kessel Spice Run? (An interview with Artist Terry Parr)

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009
Terry Parr and the fuzzy Gritskrieg

Fuzzy Gritskrieg and Terry Parr

At the Dallas Comic Con back in January, we had the opportunity to sit down with Terry Parr and get an interview out of him. We held off on posting it until we were closer to attending Staple! in Austin, Texas where Terry will be kind enough to share a table with us. Terry’s a talented individual with a sharp wit, a formidable artistic skill, and a Gamette for a girlfriend.

BG Gritskrieg: The first question we have to ask is how do you keep it so classy?
Terry Parr: How do I keep it classy? I don’t. I’m all about the trash. Actually, classy trashy.

BGG: What was the first comic that you ever read?
Terry Parr: First real comic that I really read and enjoyed or first comic…?

BGG: First one you really enjoyed.
Terry Parr: Well, the first comic that really got me was The Swamp Thing. I’ve forgot how old I was but when I read that, it was very dark, the writing was awesome and the artwork was just as awesome. When I first saw that, I was like, that’s what I want to do.

BGG: Was that comic the reason you decided to start drawing or what was the reason you started drawing?
Terry Parr: Well, I’ve always drawn, probably since the second grade. I used to draw stuff like Snoopy and all that. But when Dragon’s Lair came around and I saw that, that was what I constantly drew all the time. And then around that time was when I started getting into Swamp Thing, like middle school, and then I kind of dropped out. I still drew but I didn’t really have a focus. I mostly drew Iron Maiden stuff. I drew Eddie all the time. I probably drew him for like two years straight. I was always the Iron Maiden guy. Even in my high school photos, I was wearing an Iron Maiden t-shirt. But I started getting back into comics, right when conventions started up, and I was a huge Jim Lee fan. If you look at my old stuff, way back when, I drew just like Jim Lee. It was kind of sad. Right now, I’ve moved on.

Boba Fett as drawn by Terry Parr

Boba Fett as drawn by Terry Parr

BGG:It seems like you have a pretty free flowing style. You can go from some of your dark, gothic work right into the pin up styles. Is that something you’ve always been able to do or is that something that’s recent?
Terry Parr: I would like to say that I’ve done that all the time but I think it’s been the last couple of years. I try not to be classified by one style. I feel an artist has to grow. But I’m still improving on that and it’s pretty tiring.

BGG: What’s your favorite thing to draw?
Terry Parr: My favorite thing to draw has to be women. But again, that’s what I’ve been known to draw so just to be an asshole, I’m started drawing male characters. It feels weird when kids look at my portfolio and it’s a lot of women and I think it shocks them. I’m branching out more.

BGG: When you sit down to draw do you know what style you’re going to use or does it just flow as you go?
Terry Parr: It can happen both ways. Sometimes I’ll have an idea in my head on how I want to approach it but then again, once I approach it, I’ll just bug and won’t do that, I’ll do something else. It just depends on the need. Most of it comes out the way I want, others I end up altering and changing. 

(more…)

The Geeks come out at night… Geek Prom Night

Monday, February 16th, 2009
Sure, we brought dates. They're, um, in the car and stuff.

Sure, we brought dates. They're, um, in the car and stuff.

Once upon a time, in a magical place known as “Lone Star Comics”, two members of the Reckon Crew went to the Geek Prom. Where else could they hear a beautiful girl talk about “rolling for initiative” on Valentine’s Day? Lacking Timothy Danger and his impressive drinking skills, Gritskrieg and Crutchboy had to “work” twice as hard to make sure no beer was left orphaned from its brethren. It’s a rough life being a member of the Reckon Crew.

Lone Star Comics, our generous host for the evening, provided the locale and the booze as well as several very nice items that were presented via a raffle drawing. And as the smell of love (think the aroma of beer and graphic novels) filled the air, we admired some very lovely ladies and listened to the musical stylings of Mr. Pixie and, later in the evening, the Dirty Birds, both of whom were very talented and set the perfect musical backdrop for a Geek Prom.

The lovely Amber Alert and the always classy Terry Parr

The lovely Amber Alert and the always classy Terry Parr

It was a magical night, if by magical you would say ”I cast Fireball at the goblins”, and the Geeks came out for the music, the company, the beer, and most importantly, to donate to the Hero Initiative. Connections were made, new friends were met, and the food and beverages were consumed. And no paper products were damaged during the party which I consider an impressive feat. Especially with my talent for spillage.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank our gracious host, Lone Star Comics, for putting this shindig together.  It’s a pity Valentine’s Day only comes once a year because this is the kind of lovey dovey event the Reckon Crew can actually support… The kind with booze, a store full of comics and action figures, and some very good looking women.

Next year we might even bring dates.

Gritskrieg – End of Line

Too Geeky for the Prom? Not this one!

Friday, February 13th, 2009
Geeks need love, too

Geeks need love, too

You may have seen my semi-serious rant a few days ago about suffering through Valentine’s Day as a self proclaimed geek. You may have also noticed I mentioned that there was hope out there for us (yeah, I’m looking at you) in regards to dating. But what I didn’t mention is that the Reckon Crew will be spending Valentine’s Day in the geekiest fashion possible… hanging out in a comic book store.

You may want to take a moment to absorb that, I’ll allow it. Yes, the Reckon Crew will be hanging out in Dallas, TX at one of the largest comic book shops in Texas, Lone Star Comics. Once you wrap your mind around the sheer dork-itude of that statement, I’ll point out we won’t be the only ones.

No, Lone Star Comics, sweetongeeks.com, and Bawls will be hosting the Geek Prom on Saturday, February 14th from 9:00 pm till midnight. For a mere five dollars per person, guests can be surrounded by comics while engaging in potential romance, enjoy free food and drink and listen to live music from The Dirty Birds and Pixie.

And not only do you have a shot at romance with someone at least as geeky as yourself but all of the proceeds from the event will be donated to the Hero Initiative, a not-for-profit organization that provides a financial safety net for comic creators. So you not only get to flirt with some geeks while browsing comics, eating, drinking, enjoying music, you’re also contributing to a worthy charity.  Sounds like a win-win situation in my book.

You’re already tempted, I can tell.  If all of that isn’t enough, you get to see the Reckon Crew there in all our glory. Okay, so we’ll also be handing out some swag but we’re all devilishly good looking. Tell us how hot we are and we might just buy you a free beer. That’s how much we <3 you.

 

Gritskrieg – End of Line

Dallas Comic Con gets Reck-rolled

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

Crutchboy & Artist Terry Parr

Crutchboy & Artist Terry Parr


On January 24th and 25th, 2009, the Busy Gamer Reckon Crew made a visit to the Richardson Civic Center to pay homage to the Dallas Comic Con. In typical Reckon Crew fashion, we arrived late, left early, and drank in between. But not before meeting and interviewing Thomas Jane of Punisher and The Mist fame and the very talented Terry Parr, artist and creator of Gemini Force. And somewhere during the chaos, we managed to admire the artwork of some of the very fine artists who attended the event.

No stranger to famous folk, the Dallas Comic Con has been gathering some of the most geek and fanboi worthy names in the business for the last eight years and 2009 was no exception to the rule. On hand for the event were James O’Barr, Tim Bradstreet, Cat Staggs, and Scott Harben, just to name a few. We wandered amongst the various artist tables, saying hello to some old favorites and learning the names of a few new ones.

James O'Barr - Dallas Comic Con 09

James O'Barr - Dallas Comic Con 09


Several vendors were on hand with merchandise to tempt our pocket books and none of the Reckon Crew escaped without at least a couple of purchases. And then there was the sweet, sweet swag to be had for those numbers who had made their way to the event. T-shirts and movie posters from The Punisher movies, My Sweet Valentine 3D, and the upcoming Coraline. There were even free comics if one was so inclined to grab a couple when making their way past the Lone Star Comics table.

It should, of course, be noted that the very lovely Amber Alert, one of our first Gamettes, was there to offset the Reckon Crew ugly with her good looks and gracious nature. She even suggested a locale for Saturday night’s festivities and managed to get Timothy Danger to dance, no small feat. Or perhaps, no small two left feat.

After everything was said and done, the beers were drank,  and some monstrous burritos had been consumed, the Reckon Crew left Dallas knowing that there was a new stop on our list of worthy events to visit when the next opportunity (August 29-30, in case you were curious) rolls around, the Dallas Comic Con.

 

Gritskrieg – End of Line










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