Reviews by

Heroes of Might & Magic V
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Pleasantly Surprised

After reading a wide variety of reviews on this game, I was unsure: some people seemed to find it lacking, and for almost 5o bucks, I didn't know if i wanted to risk it.

Glad I did.

The game is a solid next chapter in the Heroes saga, complete with the gameplay style veterans will love. The graphics are very good, not overwhelming, but the main thing is it looks good and runs perfect on my Macbook black 2GHz w/2 gigs of Ram and the GMA 950. Not a drop of lag, hiccup, or crash. Beauty.

The story is interesting, the creatures and upgrades are varied and fun.

The quests are as hard as you want them to be: there are 4 difficulty levels, and you can take your time if you want...if an early level seems too hard, sit beside your town for a few "weeks" and gather a larger army.

Combining a sort of AOE style of resource management with that classic turn-based attack system, and a very customizable hero, the game entertains and delivers...even at 50 bucks. Go for it.

(note: I recommend reading the attached manual first tho...the first mission is sort of a "tutorial" but it is sorely lacking.)

by Aaron Dyck, USA - Jun 6th 2009
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FATE
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FATE Fills a Niche

Fate does exactly what it intends to do - fills the niche between exhausting, life and relationship-ending RPG's, and those lesser casual games that one can take or leave.

Its pretty, everything works, theres thousands of weapons, armours, potions, spells, you name it. You can't get board with the inventory.

You CAN get bored with the scenery: every level looks basically the same, and there is a tremendous amount of running around IF you don't figure out how to move with efficiency. There are ways to cut down on the running, and you can generally guess the layout of the dungeon after a time, and learn how to fight your way in a circuit that ends near the stairwell (exit).

Its complicated enough to make you excited you got your level 40, gem-encrusted, flaming sword, but simple enough that you can play for hours, forget about it for a month, come back, and pick up where you left off and be glad of this niche-filling little gem of a game.

It is what it is, and its pretty fun to kill an hour with once a week.

by Aaron Dyck, USA - May 13th 2009
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Age of Empires III: The Warchiefs
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Renews the Replay Value

AOE 3: the Warchiefs expansion seemed at first glance a tad pricey: an expansion pack that is as expensive as the original game? But once you get into it, you realize it alters the original game, and the way its played, enough to more than justify its cost.

First off, the single player campaign is as lengthy as AOE 3. Its an almost-as-engrossing storyline, with almost-as-interesting characters. The missions have been creatively remixed with never before seen win conditions. Its a blast.

Second, and most importantly, the skirmishes are turned upside down and inside out, in a GREAT way. The addition of the 3 new nations: Iroquois, Sioux, and Aztec totally changes the game. They are obviously not European, and therefore do not build fortresses, or advance in tech the same way. They are highly mobile, with all new classes and weapons, and town design is radically different. The "Warchiefs" (see Explorer) are now capable of becoming an army in their own right: they can "charm" treasure guardians to become theirs, and add buffs to surrounding units. They also can be upgraded to become formidable warriors with hitpoints up to 2000. Gone are the days of listening to your explorer moaning because an alligator killed him over 30 wood!

The native societies advance differently too: ceremonial fires provide an array of buffs to your town, warriors, production, etc, which allow you to really experiment with how to win a map. For example, the Sioux do not need to build any houses: they start with 200 pop...teepees can be built simply to give defenders a bonus! Iroquois huts have an attack!

Added to this are 3 other fun changes: there is a new victory condition - trade monopoly. If you control 2/3 of the trading posts on a map, you can start a countdown timer to win...if you can hold on to your trading posts! Another is the addition of NEW units to your existing European armies that revitalize playing them. Lastly, and most significantly, as a European nation, you can declare "Revolution:" break away from your home country, and place your entire society on a War footing, producing militia instead of settlers, new weapons, and as many fortresses as you can handle!

Warchiefs is slightly more graphics-heavy than the original, altho it plays perfect on my macbook with 2 GB's of Ram and the GMA 950 integrated graphics card.

All in all, it is worth the price, and will get you back into your beloved AOE 3 for months to come.

by Aaron Dyck, USA - Jan 26th 2009
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Legion Arena
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Better than expected

ok, the graphics are dated, you can't play individual maps after beating them, and its a little over-priced:

that said, Legion Arena is just plain FUN. Building and throwing vast armies at each other, utilizing Terrain (has a large impact on battles), unit type match ups (even larger impact), and moral boosters (huge!) makes the game very playable. Soldiers you train have dozens of upgrades, and can have a blast finding ways to outwit your enemy in the campaign: will my elephants break up their phalanx? Can my archers thin down the cavalry charge enough that my poor militia have a chance?

realistic enough to pass scrutiny, but the interface is simple, and you can be merrily slaying celts in no time. Not a bargain, but if you've got $40 bucks to blow, you could do a lot worse.

by Aaron Dyck, USA - Jan 5th 2009
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The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
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Still a bargain...

LOTR:Return of the King

First off, I thought I was buying "Battle for Middle Earth," so I was shocked to get a First person hack and slash in the mail...oops!

However, I was pleasantly surprised.

ROTK has very nice graphics and movie cut scenes, and loads of special features that should please any fan. Unlockable characters are very cool, and so is the added movie and art bonuses.

On my Macbook 2.0Ghz w/ 1 GB Ram (64 meg VRAM)I can only play it on lower settings, and 800x600 resolution. Anything above that and during melees or explosions it lags horribly. That said, at my moderate settings, it still is a pretty game with lots of eye candy.

The gameplay itself is not inspired when played with keyboard and mouse: this is definitely a game best played with a gamepad, as the "combo" moves (ie:LMB, f, L-shift, etc) are difficult to pull off without a double-jointed pinky. Never fear, tho, it still good, you just might not be able to use your more advanced moves in the middle of a frantic battle. (Macbook users will want to re-map some controls to make it easier)

The sound is pretty good, altho some cutscenes are not perfectly synced to the mouths moving on screen. But most sounds are right out of the movie. When loading some levels on your repeated attempts to beat them, it can get annoying that you have to watch the intro to a level over and over with no way to move right to the battle. (there is a workaround for PC, but haven't had luck with it on my mac)

The game has a tendency to crash ONCE IN A WHILE...not often enough to throw it out the window, but every few days just to keep you on your toes. Saving is not really handy...you cannot save in the middle of a level, or right before a boss. You can only save after completing a level.

Overall, a good game, not a great one, but for 14.95, a real bargain.

by Aaron Dyck, USA - Jul 26th 2008
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