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7:17 AM on 07.07.2012

Bastion (PC) Review

Note: This review was original on The Red Sector and remains there with any graphics in place. You can find the original review here.

Here’s a game that caused quite a stir as it was making it’s way to release. Between the way the map sort of floats into place before you and the promise of a narrator that reacts to you rather then repeating the same tired line as long as necessary till you get past point A B or C, a lot of dungeon crawler fans were watching. While it looked interesting, it wasn’t something I personally was hyped up about. However, as I put down my controller for the last time I have to admit, those guys were really onto something.

Story: The boy awoke in his bed, and the world as he knew it was no longer there. The Calamity had struck and taken the world with it. How he survived, how long it had been, and why he stayed, the game never says. But really, it’s not important. What is far more important is that he is the last human in the city, which is currently floating above the world and held together by an item known as a core. Of course taking that core means running like hell before the kid falls to his death… and at the end of that run is the Bastion and another survivor will narrate the story for you, the player. He also tells the kid that the Bastion can fix the world.

But in order to do that, the kid will need to travel to various locations held afloat by the very cores the kid will need to fix it all. While this sounds straight-forward, it will surprise you as you go along and by the end, you will have to nod to yourself as a video game just told you a pretty damn good story about what happens after the end of the world.

Graphics: Prepare for your jaw to drop. For the first time in what seems like forever, we are looking at a completely 2D sprite based game. There are no 3D backgrounds and no items, enemies, or characters rendered as models. Just lovingly painted backgrounds with equally lovingly painted sprites running around in a bird’s-eye-view that hasn’t been seen like this since companies pretty much decided gamers love 3D things only sometime last decade.

So how does it look? In a word beautiful. The art style is bright, vibrant, and colorful in a way that most games today seem to want to avoid like the plague. The style behind it reminds me a lot of Braid but that could just be the faces of the humans in the game. The characters look bulky, and a little bit cartoony, but they carry their own personalities that also transcend into their behavior on the screen. Add this to supporting most native resolutions available today and perfect frame-rates, and there is literally nothing I can say bad about the look of the game, at all. 2D sprites are an art-form, and here, we can see a few masters at work.

Sound: Just like the graphics, the sound in this game really stands out… and in a good way. Most people will immediately adore the sound track and with good reason: it is simply amazing. From the light guitar-work to the actually sung songs, there is nothing to complain about here. Yes, you heard me right, this is one of the few games where the sound track includes vocals, AND is good enough steam sells it as DLC.

But this is not the real star for your ears in this game. Instead, I give you, the Narrator. As mentioned before, he is a character you will meet early in the game, but his job goes well beyond when you see him on screen. As often as not, he lays out commentary to your actions and the things happening around you like this is his story to tell and you are sitting at the campfire listening to him. If you rolled your eyes as I describe this, I can completely understand, but in this case, you would be completely wrong. The narrator is a great addition to the game, partially because he doesn’t repeat himself… ever. So you never get bored or annoyed of hearing him say the same things over. Furthermore his voice is just about perfect for the job. The only ways this could get better is if it was Morgan Freeman or Patrick Stewart who played the role.

Gameplay: Bastion is a top-down dungeon crawler, and as such carries a lot of the tropes you would expect from the genre. You will run around each of the levels killing enemies and gaining XP while hunting down the cores you need to complete the game. However, if you play these kinds of games looking for loot dropped by the enemies you face, you may be in for some disappointment. No enemy is going to drop anything outside of cash, health potions, and “black tonics,” but we will get back to those in a moment. Instead, everything you find is pretty much in a pre-determined place on the map, making your hunts for loot turn up a little leaner then you would probably like.

That is not to say the game should be avoided though. Combat is action packed, and relies on learning rhythm, both that of your enemies and that of your own weapons, whichever ones you choose at that moment. And you will have a healthy selection to pick from, ranging from hammers and blades to dueling pistols and mortar cannons. Between the variety and the ability to upgrade them with items you find in the levels/buy at the store, there is plenty of variety to choose from. And with each weapon having it’s own mechanics, you are sure to find a combination that suits you well.

That combination will be made up of two weapons and a special technique. Some such techniques will require a specific weapon to work, but others will be completely independent of the weapons you equip. Most of them are very effective, but they each require you to use a black tonic to use, eliminating your ability to rely on them over your main weapons. At first, you will start carrying 3, but considering the game give you your max when you enter any given level and can be very generous with them via drops, this is hardly an issue. This is also how health potions work, so do not be afraid to use what you need.

The only thing I can say against combat is that you should probably play this one with a controller. Yes you can play with a keyboard and mouse, but this game was originally made for the 360. And while it controls well enough on a mouse, small annoyances like your dodge following the direction of your character instead of where the mouse is on the screen will throw off a lot of gamers used to the standards set by the Diablo franchise for mouse control in a dungeon crawler game. You will save yourself a lot of frustration and frankly enjoy the game a lot more if you just plug in a controller and lean back.

Between levels, you will also have the option to do various things at the Bastion, be it upgrade weapons, change weapons, buy things from the lost & found, or even select different spirits from the distillery (to give you bonus effects). These are not all available to you right away, but you will open them up in the order of your choosing as you bring back cores and make the Bastion stronger.

Bugs: Honestly, I never found one while playing this game. It ran perfectly and was a well-tuned piece of software.

Overall: If you like dungeon crawlers, there is no reason not to dig this one up. This is one of the better ones we have seen in a long while, and you will have fun while running around to fix the Bastion… and the world. If you are into old-school action games, you will probably get a lot out of this too, since this is a very action oriented game, complete with the keys to success being to learn the patterns of your enemies. It is a pretty short game, but at $15, this shouldn’t hold you back. It’s worth the price.

Source: Steam   read

6:13 AM on 06.27.2012

Dr. Who Adventure Game: City of the Daleks (PC) Review

NOTE: This post was original on the Red Sector. The original post is here:

I’ve been eyeing this title for a long long time. At first, when it was offered on D2D, I decided since I didn’t know the publisher, it was likely not worth my time to try on that service. And besides, I had only seen a few episodes of the fairly new series, and didn’t have a real need to play a game based on the Doctor. A few years later, that changed thanks mainly to Netflix and a new Dr. Who game on the horizon. Seeing the series again in the Gamestop library, I was interested. Seeing each episode sells for $5, I had to try. Listen to me, so you don’t feel the need to follow.

Story: While I am unable to determine when in the season of Dr. Who this takes place, it takes place with the 11th Doctor during season 5 of the new series. At this time Amy and the Doctor decide to visit the year 1963, a time when everything going on makes London not only the coolest place on Earth, but the coolest place in the universe.

But what started as a joyride through time with the worst issue being the Doctor not understanding why no one ever wants to meet Ringo besides him, it quickly turns a lot nastier. The London they arrive in is not the London they expected, but a shambled ruin overrun by Daleks! This was not how time is supposed to work. There should not have been an invasion of this nature, and they sure as hell should not have wiped out almost all of humanity on the planet! Somehow they have altered time, despite no Dalek technology with the ability to do that. So how did it happen? How can it be stopped? It’s up to the Doctor and Amy to figure it out!

The story to this game is structured to be an episode in the series, even if it isn’t actually part of the season… right down to the opening and ending credits. It doesn’t push as many interesting conversations or as much character interaction, however. This was moved aside to make room for the game part and to still keep this game short enough to be an episode instead of a full game. Yes, the plot will feature villains and allies behaving in character, but there really wont be enough of it to make it pop. Compared to it’s TV counterpart, it’s kinda bland.

Graphics: A few years ago, this would not have been top notch graphics, but they would have been fairly standard… and by a few years I mean around 2006-2007. This game was made in 2010, putting it well behind the curve, and it shows. Don’t get me wrong, the world looks pretty good and the Daleks look amazing, but people, especially people who you are used to seeing in the TV show, look more like puppets of themselves then the actual people. Sure you get the expression and the general facial features, but it’s simplified and looks fake…. very fake.

But as I said, that is only part of the game’s look. Everything non-human actually looks good, some pretty good, others (like certain city-scapes) look absolutely amazing. It’s just a shame your two main characters can’t carry the same quality look, but then games have always had a harder time showing humans then monsters or machines or anything of either nature.

Sound: In the sound department, no expense was spared. ALL the voices of all the characters from the show are here and EVERYONE sounds in character to how you would expect them to be. Couple this with the music fitting as it would on TV perfectly and the few unique sound effects fitting just as well, and the sound is about as close to perfect as I’ve heard in a game. This is the one place where this game really shines, so enjoy the really authentic sound of the show. It’s absolutely perfect. Sadly, it’s about all that is really great in this game, however.

Gameplay: The Dr. Who Adventure Games are supposed to be Adventure games. After all, it’s right in the name and what I expected. Sadly, it is not what I got. What I got was a very linear experience which was primarily made of stealth sections, mini games, and the occasional item puzzles which always stayed in one room and almost always resorted to “use sonic-screwdriver on panel” to win. Occasionally the game tries to vary these particular puzzles, but generally that just means doing some simple and fairly obvious thing before using the sonic screwdriver to signify you are done.

The mini games are not much better. Most of the time they take the form of a maze with electrified walls that you must drag-and-drop an item through to either assemble an or extract some device the Doctor is working with. When they do vary from this formula, it is usually even worse.

And finally we have the stealth mechanic, which works well enough. You will see the areas the enemy can see you in as well as a color code to show you how alert they are. Your job will be to get across these areas without entering these fields. But the patterns are exceptionally easy to figure out and really rather boring. But then they have to be for this game to work. The controls are clunky to put it mildly. In an attempt to make the game playable completely by mouse, you basically have turning done by it and the left mouse button walks forward. If you want to interact with something, you have to turn the camera to focus on it till it glows as the selected item. It makes for a very clunky interface, ESPECIALLY as you realize the developers meant for it be used on a POINTING DEVICE. To put it mildly, this game took absolutely no advantage of the very controls it is designed for. It would have played just as well with a controller as it did with the keyboard with literally no adjustments… and I mean a controller with one joystick and 3 buttons, not the modern day stuff we have today.

Bugs: Actually, there were no bugs to speak of in this game. For all the bad design choices, it ran like a top… aside from loading times between the 3 acts.

Overall: This game was a cheap game. In fact, in the UK, it is available for free. It’s us in the States that have to pay anything to play it. And while it MIGHT be worth your time if you have nothing better to do and feel like downloading a free game, it’s not even worth the $5 pricetag it gets here. I do not recommend this game for anybody who has to pay for it. If you can get it free, I still don’t recommend it, but at least I can understand if you are really really really bored with literally nothing else to do.

Source: Gamestop   read

6:09 AM on 06.23.2012

An Apology: Diablo 3 NOW is DRM

Note: The original article is on the Red Sector. You can view it here.

Friends, and dear readers, I need to apologize to you. Many of you, Im sure, have looked at Diablo 3 and said it was utter garbage due to “DRM.” I have argued against you, and I still do not believe always on is so much DRM as how the game was designed. In fact, I actually favored the game on launch. However, your words have proven prophetic in a way I could never have seen coming. And now, I am forced to agree with you.

I am now writing after reading the startling news. First on Gamespy, then on PC Gamer, and even on Destructoid. There can be no denying it. Blizzard has opted to punish their audience by forcing a portion of them to wait 3 days after they buy their game before they can play beyond what we all saw during the open beta.

Excuse me, but what? Why? Why the HELL would any developer treat any of their audience like this? It’s not like the game was DESIGNED to make you wait for 3 days to finally play the full game you bought with your hard earned cash… and that would be a stupid design choice to make with absolutely no benefits for the player. But then why?

According to all sources, the answer is "combat fraud and other malicious activities that can weaken everyone’s play experience." So in short, THIS is DRM of the worst kind. It was designed not to try to lock the game from people who didn’t pay for it (however annoyingly heavy handed some get about that), but to make people who bought the game prove they wont be criminals with it. It’s soul purpose is to put legitimate customers who PROVED THEY ARE LEGITIMATE on trial so they don’t become UNLEGITIMATE later. This has to be the biggest dick move I’ve ever seen any game company do, and frankly, Blizzard has proven themselves in one move worse then anything anyone else at Activision or at EA is.

Personally, I have thought about re-installing the game and playing a few friends who were just about to get the game. I already finished it on normal, and so I’ve seen what the bosses are like and all the cut-scenes. It was one hell of a weekend, actually. But this pretty much kills my need to play ever again. I do not want to encourage a company pulling this kind of shit, especially when they offer me nothing new. And to take it one level further, this was the only franchise Blizzard had for me. When this game ended, I was already pretty much set to count them out of my gaming life. Now, they have set it in stone. If they are willing to do this to their customers, they have lost any chance of regaining one… even IF they announced Diablo 4.

DRM is not abuse by default. It is not pleasant to have to use a key to unlock any door, but that is the reality of the world.… However, this is everything critics of DRM claim it to be. I’m done with Blizzard, curse their black vile hearts.   read

5:44 AM on 06.23.2012

Alice: Madness Returns (PC) Review

Note: This is a copy of the article from the Red Sector. You can see the original here.

I have a confession to make. Many years ago, I actually bought and played the original Alice game on PC… well, as far as I could. I was really skimping against the minimum requirements on my Pentium II back then, so after a certain point, the game ceased being playable. Still, I liked what I had seen, so to see another shot at this magnificent world, I was more then interested. Alas, this rabbit hole went nowhere good, but it’s time to show you exactly where it did go….

Story: The story for Alice: Madness Returns pretty much begins where the original Alice PC game ended. If you remember the original, you will not need this reminder, but if not, everything starts in fire. Alice’s home burned down and took everything, including her family.

Unable to handle this, Alice simply went mad and ultimately catatonic for a while. The original game took place while she was recovering. During this time, the Rabbit had come to her from Wonderland again. His world was in danger as the Red Queen threatened to turn Wonderland to enslavement and horror. Alice was needed to save it, and save it she did, and her reward was to wake to this world again, and shortly after, she was able to leave the insane asylum.

This sequel takes place a few years later. It turns out that while she can function for the most part in the normal world, Alice is still insane. A doctor is taking her case in his own private practice for children. At the moment, he seems to think the best thing for her is to let the past go and forget all about it. To this end, they are having sessions to help her forget. And yet it is that past that will not let go, for Wonderland has begun to creep into her ordinary life she is trying to lead. And for reasons she can not comprehend it is not just being enslaved, but rotting and falling apart before her very eyes… and the source of the corruption is a train that seems to be from Hell itself.

While stopping that train will save Wonderland, it will do a whole lot more in the process, including perhaps answer questions that no child should ever have to ask…

The general plot from here plods along in a rather unobtrusive way, leaving you to assemble the pieces and figure it out for yourself. What is the train? Just what is Wonderland really? And even just what might have happened to cause everything to start. But if you don’t get it, don’t worry. The game will explain everything it’s been hinting at towards the end… but be warned. This is probably one of the darkest stories I have seen in a video game since playing the White Chamber…

(spoiler alert: White Chamber is about the captain of a space ship who murdered everyone on board out of fear of them turning on an alien artifact and greed for the same machine, only to find one of her victim’s hate for her at death activated it and forced her to repeat a nightmare vision of her own actions until she either redeemed herself by genuine regret or damned herself to Hell for a lack of it… and their were endings for all three possibilities.)

Those who are feint of heart may not really want to go where this game goes by the end of it. To put it bluntly, this is not your father’s Alice in Wonderland story.

Graphics: I can say nothing bad about the graphics of this game. Simply put the artists lovingly rendered anything and everything within the game to fit the mood, style, and theme of the part you are playing. There is a theme for each chapter and one for the normal world of London, each of which is completely unique and shown with both absolute beauty and absolute depravity. The world’s look is just going to wow you.

For example, when Alice first enters Wonderland, it looks like a fantastical paradise a child might dream up, complete with giant toys and gorgeous lakes to play in and around… and then it' starts to change. That water in the lake becomes black and brackish goo while globs of the gunk with baby-doll faces begin to wander the world crying in distorted baby mewlings… and that’s before the really interesting changes.

In time to the story, you will watch Wonderland go from amazingly gorgeous to horrifying. As you get closer to the end, the insanity and nightmarish style get bad enough you would swear the artists had to have dug the things you will see out of their very worst nightmares after watching Hellraiser movies one too many times. And you will be awed by it all.

Sound: Like most games these days, the sound effect overall fit, but few stand out. Apart from the monsters that use doll parts, the normal grunting, groaning, and roaring you expect out of video game monsters are all present, accounted for, and filling their role admirably. But then when things meet you child/baby voices, they tend to stand out… at least until that trope of horror monsters gets overused and ineffective. But for now, they stand out and you will remember the detail.

And while the music stands out no more then most of the sound effects, the voice acting is solid and will leave you with a great view of each character. From the generally uncaring people of London right down to the Red Queen, everyone is pretty spot on. My one complaint is with the Cheshire cat. Having played the original Alice game, I would have liked to have seen the original voice return. The actor did an admirable job, but he just didn’t rival the original in any way at all.

Gameplay: Sadly, this is where the game begins to fall flat on itself. That isn’t to say it’s all bad. At it’s core, Alice: Madness Returns is a 3rd person platformer, and this it does very well. You will face challenges in how to move around the map that in themselves are tense and challenging, but far from impossible. Aside from a few of the later rooms, the game has nothing but good to offer in this area.

But sadly, that is about all it offers that is good. The combat that comes with it tends to be rather cumbersome due to relying on a lock-in mechanic that can easily get in the way of the crowd control you will have to do… and that is when it works.

Further complicating this issue is the dodge mechanic which seems to have a mind of it’s own from time to time. When this happens, it will seem like the direction you choose to go does not matter since the dodge is going just fling you either at or around the enemy you are targeted regardless of how much you might have wanted to run away before it eats you (in some cases literally). Needless to say this can make combat with large groups an exercise in patience and frustration when it really need not be.

And while variety is indeed a strength to this game, it is also a very real weakness, as the game will start throwing mini-games at you which get more and more annoying as the game goes on. From slides with masses of corrosive goo that have TERRIBLE hit boxes so you can touch them from a foot or two away to slider puzzles, to a pinball game of sorts featuring a doll-head as the ball you control directly, this game will try to throw everything at you it can to keep your experience from getting repetitive to the point that you will long for simple jumping rather then the next stupid puzzle with no real point.

But the absolute worst of the worst is in chapter three. Part of the chapter is “learning the history” of the Wonderlanders you are saving… and they do so by making you jump into pictures like this is Super Mario 64. Sadly, the other side of the pictures are not nearly as good as Nintendo’s title. Instead, they are side scrolling platforming levels in which you can not die and everything is static. It is stupid and it feels like the game is trying to bore you until you have the patience to finish each part and get back to the real game.

Bugs: Sadly, I found a number of these while playing the game:

The Amazing un-growing Alice: One of the key mechanics to finding your way around in this game is that Alice can shrink on command, and while she can’t jump shrunk, hints and hidden platforms/items glow to visibility, making this a vital power to finish the game. Occasionally, though, she wont return to normal when you release the button. I'm not sure why, but it has to be something about spots in the map because moving around usually fixes this.

Alice doesn’t want to turn around: Once after collecting a key item, Alice refused to face the map again… instead stuttering till I could shaker her free of this issue. It only happened once, but it made me wonder if I was going to have to reset the game.

Render issues: This game is a port from the console versions, and while they did a great job porting it and telling the player how to use the keyboard and mouse to do things a controller would do (even as I will recommend you play this game on a controller anyway), it still shows the same limits put on the engine you see in many modern console games…. including the Darkness II, actually. If you spin too fast, you will see white quickly be replaced by the graphics it should instead of already being there. I suspect this happens because the game was designed to take up as little RAM as possible to handle the bottleneck consoles are restrained to.

Glitchy Boss Encounters: While this game has almost no bosses, it has a few encounters which play the part… and many glitches with them. The two that immediately come to mind are in Chapter 4 and Chapter 6. In 4, you will eventually be in a room with a bunch of cards and one monstrous one with a scythe who is unkillable. But that’s ok, because killing everything else is supposed to bring a cutscene to end the encounter… only it didn’t for me. The first time I fought this room, I killed everything, then spent the next 15-20 minutes playing peek-a-boo due to his inability to jump a small ledge that I could and forcing him to run around the room to catch me. The pattern could have gone on indefinitely, with no hint that something had simply gone wrong. The other major glitch was with the last boss, in which for reasons I do not understand, I could not lock onto the boss when I needed to. It just wasn’t in the cycle of enemies to target.

Overall: I WISH I could recommend this game. You have no idea how much I wanted this game to be good. The story is deep and about as sinister as it gets while the environments really are something to behold on your screen, but between the poor combat and mini-games completely needless existence, I just can’t. If you have the game already and a 360 controller you are not afraid of breaking before you finish the game, then by all means play. Just don’t waste money on it you haven't wasted already.

Source: Steam   read

8:59 PM on 06.19.2012

Platforms of a Platform: Redux

NOTE: The original of this article is on my own blog: The Red Sector.

While this may be the first time you are seeing this type of article on the Red Sector, it is not the first time I have written about it. That was one of my earlier articles on Front Towards Gamer. However, in under a year, the landscape described there has changed dramatically. For the sake of anyone who plans to enter the PC gaming world in the near future, it’s time to revisit this topic and bring everyone up to speed.

Steam: As to be expected, Steam is still king when it comes to digital gaming in the PC world. With a fairly simple yet organized interface, Steam offers you a convenient way to buy, download, and play any of thousands games supplied through their library (over 2000 of which are at or below the $10 barrier). On top of this Steam is simply THE go-to community for PC gaming with the ability to connect to and chat with friends (text or mic, your choice), keep track of what achievements your friends have completed, setup and join gaming guilds, and even setup gamer nights with a calendar built in. Simply put, Steam offers everything a modern gamer could ever want! Add to this the new ability to buy cash cards at retailers and avoid even putting your credit card online (if that makes you nervous or you don't have one) and there is nothing really left to want.

Seriously, the only people who are going to be disappointed by Steam are achievement junkies who can't comprehend each game having it's own achievement score instead of a total they can treat as a singular e-peen to swing around and claim is the biggest. Achievements here are individual game only, so if that's your bag... well frankly I think that's kinda sad and you are missing out on one of (if not the) best online service there is in the gaming world.

Suffice it to say, if there is any one service you should have on your PC, Steam is it. You can get it here.

Origin: Origin has not changed much since we last visited the topic. Just like Steam, it is still a solid system, though not nearly as necessary. And a nice touch on their part is that for the most part, games bought on Origin do not need it running to play, offering a very nice companion to Steam. But if you like major EA titles (like Mass Effect and Battlefield, for example), you better be ready to have this one... EA tends to like to make it mandatory for them.

And since games bought on Steam do the same thing, I really do not have an issue with that. If I have any issues with Origin, is that it's under-featured and using the title Beta as an excuse still. When I play Mass Effect 3, I especially feel the lack of a recently played with list and the ability to take screen shots if I like. It works, and it works well, but it is missing these as well as achievements and pretty much anything else in the social part of gaming outside of text chat. To put it bluntly, it has a long way to go. But if you are interested, it is available here.

Gamestop: Gamestop was for me the dark horse of this race when they re-entered it. To understand why, you just need to look back at their history with PC games. For as long as I can remember, Gamestop and several of the companies that were merged with Gamestop had set aside shelf-space specifically for the used-game market. This was a great thing, for it allowed gamers to trade in old games, as well as assured a longer life-span on the shelf for the classics that everyone should play. But then, two things happened.

1) A few years after the merge, Gamestop began to make their business model depend more and more on used game sales... reducing their dependency on publishers to fill their shelves in favor of taking massive profit off of gamers trading in games.

And 2) Doom 3/Half-Life 2. Doom 3, as the first PC game to not need the disc in the drive to play, made selling used PC gamer hard. After all, it was suddenly REALLY easy to take the game home, install it, return it, and keep playing your copy. The only way you could pick up on a game being pirated is if the person who did this was playing with their PC online, so your used copy suddenly decided not to work for a while. This was not easy to detect because at the time, constantly online computers were still not common. Half-Life 2, on the other hand, made resale outright impossible. When you installed the game, you registered your copy on this new thing called Steam. At the time, it sucked and was nothing but DRM... and it also meant once a key was used, only that steam account could use it again.

Gamestop saw what was coming, and it clashed with their model. Their solution was simple... starve off PC gaming in favor of the devices they could sell used copies on... consoles. At the time without any really good online delivery systems and with Gamestop having a near monopoly on retail sales, this was a serious blow against PC gaming, and I seriously believe this more then anything is why we have many console gamers to this day who believe PC gaming is dying or dead. Gamestop in short, almost did kill the PC gaming industry.

And yet, the very thing they almost killed it for turned into it's savior. Steam's evolution into the powerhouse gaming platform it is today has been a big part in PC revival. And while it may still not have any shelf-space in Gamestops anywhere, the company has taken notice. To this end, they bought Impulse and have been using it to get their hands into the profitable world of PC digital distribution.

As of now, their software has gone through major renovations since we last saw it, ditching almost all of the unique features Stardock had put into the software when they owned it. Gone are almost all the social features and videos. Instead you have a nice looking store, the ability to browse games by catagory, forums, and the option to install your games bundled in basic almost toy-like window. However, in return for this, the service is now fully integrated with their physical stores. They may not give PC games much shelf-space but they have a library of over 1700 titles available at any store or online.... and in both cases, your PowerUp cards you have from being at retail, as well as gift-cards for the store are useable.

In short, while they may have cut features on their store, Gamestop has shown they mean business competing in the digital world, and considering no game installed from their app needs it to run, it is again a great companion to Steam. Once again, you can download it here.

GOG: Good old games hasn't really changed much since we last saw them at all. Made and run by the people we know and love for their Witcher games, GOG is a web site where the team gets old PC games working on modern rigs and sells them DRM free for a few bucks. There is almost no outside software involved, and really, it's your choice if you want to use the downloader they offer. If not, they are perfectly fine with you choosing to just have your browser download your game.

While the selection is only big compared to Origin on here (who only has 200 or so PC titles on it), that selection is the most unique in that it tends to be games ranging mainly from the DOS age to the Window 98 age. Ever get a hankering to play Descent, Duke Nukem 3D, or something as obscure as Phantasmagoria or Under a Killing Moon, or even Sanitarium? These are all titles that you will find here and ready for you to play, which frankly is a lot better choice then going to amazon or ebay and hoping the person selling you their old game treated it well, will sell at a good price and that it will work native on your rig. This site is only on the list last because it's a bit of a niche site. It's a great site, don't get me wrong, but if you are not interested in older PC titles, you have no reason to look at it. If you love the classics though, getting an account here is far from a bad idea.

Now for those of you asking why I am not covering Direct2Drive this time, I have some sad news. A few short months after I wrote my original article with FTG, they announced Gamefly had bought them. At first, I was actually excited. I mean, this was a rental company who was looking to join our business and even was exploring ways to rent PC games! It was new! It was exciting! It was.... total shit. I do not wish to repeat my story since I already covered what happened on FTG, but you can read about it here. Long story short, I wouldn't put these guys on any list of must have or even recommended services anymore. They are thieves and really the only reasons I do not actively seek a lawsuit are that being out about $50 or so tops makes it not worth my time to start one (let the guys they REALLY fucked over start a class action, then we can talk), and I figure I can do far more good by warning people to stay the hell away from them in any article I have to put their name on.   read

10:42 PM on 06.16.2012

First Post.... and a little bit of history....

Hi everyone! Megabyte here, kinda new to the community, but far from new to blogging. If you've seen me on the forum, glad to meet you there, too! I still have to do some work on my bio (I just opened it literally 5 minutes ago) which I will get to, but for this, I just figured "why wait?"

The Red Sector as mentioned in the title of this entry is my own gaming blog. It's not a lot really, and I've maybe been running it as a side project for about 6 months, tops, but since someone on the forums suggested adding my reviews here too, I figured that may be a very good idea. (Thanks, TurboKill!!!!)

But that can all wait till I finish filling in the bio for the main site, for now, I just wanted to reach out and say hi. If you want to see what I've done so you can have an idea of what to expect, you can find it here but otherwise, Im signing out.

It's late, I need sleep before things begin for Father's Day tomorrow, and Im shoving off to bed.

Goodnight Dtoids! See you all later!   read

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