A Hands On With Ascend: Hand of Kul!


Lately I have been playing around with the new Free to Play RPG Ascend: Hand of Kul.  It is free for owners of the Xbox 360 with Gold Accounts.  It is the second Free to Play game for the system:  The first being Happy Wars.

In this game you play as a Chaos Giant in service of a new god, and you are trying to help them take down the Titians.  The Titians are the old gods that have gone mad and are just eating people.  So you hack and slash your way through the country side while occasionally throwing humans at the bad guys.

This game runs on the currency of souls.  The more you have, the more cool loot you can buy, and the more you can upgrade your spells and perks.  As you may have guessed you can get the souls two ways:  By killing bad guys and converting worshipers, or by just getting out your credit card and buying them.  They do a pretty good job of letting you earn enough souls in game to be fun, but they do taunt you with the idea of just buying cool stuff all the time.  In every menu you will see more stuff you can buy.

They also have a leveling system that allows you to gain more health and access to more powerful weapons and spells, but the catch is that you can only level up five levels unless you Ascend (It’s the title of the game!).  Every five levels you get a chance to pretty much kill your character and change him up a bit, and make him more powerful.  You can save your stuff if you want to spend the souls to add item pillars so your new character can have your gear from your last one.

The next big feature is that you are not playing this game alone.  Tons of people are playing the same levels at the same time you are and you can see them as kind of ghosts while you play.  You can curse them or bless them as you see fit, or you can even challenge them to a little one on one combat.  They of course can do the same to you.

Speaking of combat.  It is pretty standard hit with the ‘X’, hit hard with ‘Y’, spell with ‘B’, and interact with ‘A’, but it is still fun.  There are combos and stuff to mix it up a bit, but you will hit the ‘X’ button a lot.

I was surprised how much I liked this game, and I am glad that you can play it and advance without paying all sorts of cash, but it is unfortunate that you could just plop down $100 and win.  Which is clearly what they want you to do.  It is free, and that is a good price for a game, so I would suggest checking it out.

Shmee Plays Hitman: Absolution


Hitman: Absolution came out in November of last year, and it is the fifth Hitman game.  It was created by IO Interactive and published by Square Enix.  It was not the hit that Square Enix hoped it would be and there are some good reasons for that, but there is still a good game to be played in Hitman: Absolution.

In the game you once again play as Agent 47, but instead of taking contracts like in previous games, 47 is protecting a young girl that may be a product of the same genetic engineering that produced 47 himself.

The plot was a questionable choice for IO considering it places Agent 47, who is all about hunting, in a role where he has to run and protect.  I understand the desire to change things up in video games, especially after five games, but to have whole levels where the point is just to run away is kind of disappointing.

The plot wasn’t the only change.  They also decided to take out the planning before missions, so instead of buying weapons and pouring over maps to figure out what to do, now you just have to just wing it.  I understand shopping and cartography are not usually thought of as fun, but in these games it was always part of the intense problem solving required to get the coveted “Silent Assassin” rank.

They also decided to try and put a focus on special moves, so as you complete tasks you unlock cool skills which sounds fun, but most of them are shooting orientated, and much like the last games the shooting is still poor and draws attention, so you never use them.

That is it for the bad however because at its core it is still a Hitman game, so all the sneaking and problem solving from the previous games is still in there for the most part, but the memorable levels are just more spread out.  I also like that they got rid of the mini-map that let you see everyone in the level, and instead you get a kind of Hitman vision that lets you see though the map for a limited area which is more handy and more challenging at the same time.

Another change is that as you do stealthy Hitman-y things in this game you earn “Focus”, and you can use that Focus to add to disguises, so people with the same outfit as you do not get suspicious, or it lets you use your new special moves.  But for the above stated reasons it is mostly just for disguises.

Hitman: Absolution is not as good as the previous game Hitman: Blood Money, but if you are looking for a Hitman fix, Absolution is a decent game, and you can find it on sale these days for as low as five bucks, so it is pretty cheap.  I hope that they learn from this outing and bring us a great Hitman game next time.

Hang Out On The Monopoly Streets!


Thanks to the Xbox Live Ultimate sale going on now, I got to pick up the game Monopoly Streets for the Xbox 360.  It was released in 2010 and it was developed by EA.  If you are looking for a decent version of the classic board game then this could be for you.

The game play is exactly like the board game except that all the action is on the Xbox, so there are no little pieces to clean up, plus the board is now a 3D city that your onscreen characters run around in.

When you start the game you get to pick your board, your game pieces, and any custom rules that you may want to use: like getting money for landing on Free Parking.  The more you play the more stuff you unlock.

The controls are just a series of menus.  One to choose whether you want to end your turn, manage your properties, trade, or declare bankruptcy.  In the property management screen you point left or right on properties to remove or add houses, or hit ‘X’ on them to mortgage or pay off the mortgage on them.  This last menu is the worst part of the game because it is supper touchy and you may just be trying to go down to check on your properties, but it is adding and removing houses all over the place.

Still having the game on the Xbox means you can play the game in under an hour, and it makes it much more fun that you don’t have to pick it all up at the end.  You can get it right now for $10 on the Xbox live store.

Tour Albion in Fable III!


Having played both Fable and Fable II, I somehow totally missed out on Fable III when it came out in 2010, but thanks to Microsoft for giving it away during the end of June, I was able to rectify that.

The game takes place fifty years after Fable II, and your character has died leaving the oldest son, Logan you new character’s older brother, in charge.  He is an evil king and you decide to do something about it by leading the rebellion, and then becoming the king or queen in his stead, queen in my case.

The games core mechanics have not changed that much, you still hit X to swing your sword, Y to shoot your gun, and B to launch your magic attacks, and you can mix them up as you see fit.  Leveling up has changed, now you can open chests when you have gained enough followers to earn new skills and character interactions.  They also got rid of the start menu, now it is a room that lets you walk around and pick your options.

The game is kind of the same old Fable in the beginning with the same fight mechanics, and the same graphics, and even the same landscape.  It is still fun but feels very familiar, but once you become queen then all the fun comes in as you get to make choices that change the future of your kingdom.

Since the fist part of the game is the same as the other Fables it kind of drags in the beginning, but the game soon changes things up and gets much better, and since it was free I couldn’t have asked for a better price, but you can find it for around $10 on Amazon, and it is still worth it at that price.

Defend Against Zombies in State of Decay!


State of Decay came out on Xbox 360 yesterday, and it is developed by Undead Labs and published by Microsoft Studios.  Since the game just came out, this is more of an initial impressions instead of a review, but the impressions are great!

For those of you that don’t know State of Decay is a zombie survival game.  You have to find food, water, medicine, and other supplies, and rescue people with the skills you need to say fix cars, cook food, or provided medical services.  You take houses and fortify them so you can survive the zombies at your door.

The game is completely open world, and you save who you want, and you may not want to save them all because some people have draw backs like bad attitudes that ruin moral, or diseases that will eat up your medicine, but if they have a skill you want it may be worth it, but when people die they die for good, including your character.

This game is a ton of fun.  Doing quests and looking for more resources keeps you engaged, I started playing this game and quickly lost a couple hours, and it has that ‘I just need to do this one last thing’ addictiveness that is wonderful in a game like this.

There are some drawbacks.  The graphics are not the greatest, and the combat is a little wooden, and I think they made the draw distances just a little to far out, so the game can lag a little when you are driving in places with a lot houses and stuff going on, but the game is so addictive those are just minor things.

This game feels like you are playing The Walking Dead, and the stakes are just as high, so if that sounds like fun to you, and it is, then this game is for you.  Though I know some of you may want to wait for the PC version with the mod kit, but who wants to wait when you can play it now.