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Review: Stronghold 3

Oct 30 // Maurice Tan
Stronghold 3 (PC)Developer: Firefly StudiosPublisher: SouthPeak Interactive, 7SixtyReleased: October 25, 2011MSRP: $49.99/€49.99 Once again the Stronghold campaign mode is split into a military and an economic (peace) campaign. Although the same economy and resource gathering system is present in both campaigns, the former focuses a bit more on building troops while the latter is a bit more centered around tinkering with the most efficient economy. The Stronghold 3 economy itself should be familiar to fans of Stronghold. Food production buildings deliver food to a granary, other resource buildings deliver resources to a stockpile, and some buildings take resources from the stockpile to process them into things like bread, weapons, and ale. To support the economy you need peasants that appear as long as there is sufficient housing and provided your popularity is a net positive. Your popularity or peasant mood is affected by the tax rate, food rations, provisions of ale for the inn and candles for the church, spare housing, and certain ornamental buildings. These ornamental types of buildings offer a modest increase in popularity at the cost of productivity (gardens), or increase productivity at the cost of popularity (gibbets). If you do everything right, you should be on your way to create the castle of your dreams. That is, in theory. The systems behind Stronghold 3 are of the kind that should keep your playing for hours on end, watching your initially small hamlet turn into a well-oiled castle economy that you can look back on contently. Unfortunately, Stronghold 3 is riddled with so many issues and weird design choices that contentness is the last emotion you will feel while playing it. On the economy side, the balance between food and resource production is vastly skewed towards food production. Peasants eat a ridiculous amount of food, forcing you to be a bit of a douche lord and cutting their rations almost continuously, until you have the vast majority of peasants working in farms; it's almost as if instead of a feudal lord you are actually a Maoist governor. If you don't take care of the high demand of the food cycle quickly, you'll eventually run out of food and reach a very punishing stalemate where you lose population due to the negative effects the lack of food has on your popularity, even though you need more workers to increase your food supply. Managing this would be doable, if you didn't also need workers to gather the wood necessary to construct buildings and housing to support your economy and population growth. To make matters worse, you'll occasionally be struck by random events that can give you a positive or negative boost to popularity. Mostly, these are negative effects like a plague, fire, or wild bear attack. Some of these can be countered if you built the right buildings, to douse a fire or clean puffs of plague mist, but the game will often take a minute or two to realize you took care of it. Meanwhile the negative effect on popularity means you'll keep losing important peasants that you are almost always in short supply of, and these events tend to occur just when you were thinking things were going relatively smoothly for a change. The balancing act between food and the rest of your economy makes it hard to enjoy Stronghold 3, especially because the campaigns will throw requirements in your face that can take multiple tries to even get a grasp of what exactly you're supposed to be doing to fulfill them -- or in what order. After many hours, you'll start to get the hang of how to start and manage the Stronghold 3 economy in any mission, but the game will still troll you with random events to make your life utterly miserable. It's fine to offer a good challenge to the player in a game like this, but it's another thing altogether to make you feel like you have to work around the game to be able to complete a seemingly simple mission. Controls are plagued with another issue where Stronghold 3 makes you wonder if it has received any testing at all. Depending on how far you zoom out, the cursor may require you to move anywhere up to an inch from a unit in order to select its few clickable pixels. This becomes a nightmare when you want to make some units attack incoming enemies, especially if they happen to walk below some trees where it becomes a random click fest. If you don't zoom in and click exactly on that part of the enemy where your cursor turns into a sword, your units will often just walk straight past them as if there is nothing to worry about. The AI doesn't adjust to ongoing fights either; a group of units may kill a carefully clicked enemy, only for the majority to completely ignore a bunch of incoming enemies. When you have precious ranged units, you're better off moving them to a spot far away from the enemy followed by a sliver of hope they will automatically shoot at any enemy that comes within range, rather than trying to make them attack single targets from any camera viewpoint that provides a good overview of the battle. The AI problems -- or the lack of an AI that works -- sometimes make their way to the economy side as well. An apothecary can't be controlled directly so he'll usually clean the wrong building of plague mists, even though you want him to take care of a more important one first. Sometimes he'll just stand there and do nothing as you watch your popularity plummet due to a plague and raise your hands in frustration as your precious peasants leave your lands. In a lot of these city building games, the AI can do some crazy stuff and often veterans of the genre can work around them. But even this is hard to do in Stronghold 3. For instance, oxen can be used to transport iron and stone, but you can't direct them in any way. Stone is created faster than iron and often the oxen will transport the one resource you don't need, unless you build a ton of them so one is always available at the source. Military units offer no feedback on strength or hit points either, so it's up to you to guess and experiment to see which unit is good at what. That is, if you can even select them. Because of the control issues with selecting and directing military units, the military campaign is best ignored altogether until Firefly fixes the controls. Alas, if you just want to kick back and enjoy a stress-free economic campaign you are far too often confronted with harsh mission objectives, time limits, or enemy raider units to get rid of in a timely fashion that take the leisurely enjoyment out of it. It doesn't help either that the game looks rather drab, with some laughable grass and crop textures that look like they came out of a mediocre mobile game. Although the graphics are never the most important part, they are being touted as having great lighting and day and night cycles. These are alright, if unspectacular, but the graphics also obstruct placement of buildings. Groups of trees and buildings have a rectangular shape around them where you can't build, but this is indicated by a very thin black line that can be very hard to spot unless you zoom in far enough. It's another small issue that you'd think is hard to miss during development, especially when there are so many examples from other games of how to do it right -- making the obstruction's borders light up for greater clarity or something similar. Yet another issue lies with the pacing, which is well below an acceptable one even for a city building game like this. The Settlers 7 may have had some stressfully quick pacing near the end of the game with all its objectives, but even the Sunday afternoon pace of the first The Settlers goes at the speed of CERN neutrinos compared to the pacing seen in Stronghold 3. There's no fast-forward option, so for most of the game you'll be impatiently waiting for peasants to work and walk -- slower than it takes for a dinosaur to turn into oil -- and trying to raise your population enough to support the economy required to fulfill the mission objectives, only to fail an arbitrary time limit at the last moment; one that only provides you with the actual time when there is a mere two minutes left on the clock. Fans have not been blind to the myriad of bugs and issues and there is quite a bit of fan backlash after the long wait for the next Stronghold. Firefly has stated it is listening to the fans and trying to fix things as they go, but the issues that plague Stronghold 3 should never have been in a finished product in the first place. Even with an extra year in development, one has to wonder if it would've helped the title to achieve the lofty goal of a return to form after all these years of disappointment. The Stronghold I knew and loved was not about being frustrated with control issues and glacial economic development. It was about creating a smart economy to build an awesome castle the way you wanted, with walls of your own design and archers defending them from the battlements. There wasn't anything outside of Stronghold that gave you that experience at the time -- or at any time afterwards -- and somehow Stronghold 3 has removed the fun and joy of that core experience. What could have breathed new life into the Stronghold franchise has become a rushed, buggy, and ultimately extremely disappointing new entry in the series. It might be a niche franchise, but the Stronghold series still has its fans and they deserve better. The most hardcore of fans can only hope Firefly will fix some of the issues that plague this game, but it's hard to imagine that it will become more than halfway playable even with dozens of patches. Whatever the rationale behind the decision to release Stronghold 3 in its current state may have been, it can't have been a good enough reason for fans to have to deal with the final product. Buried beneath bugs, control issues, harsh mission design and even harsher economic balancing, there seems to be a shadow of the old Stronghold as we remember it; sometimes you'll even have a minute of fun here and there. Perhaps we remember the original through rose-colored glasses, but that memory is infinitely better than the wild disappointment that is Stronghold 3. Even if you do stick with the campaigns (and you need to be the most forgiving of souls for that), the few extra modes, and the multiplayer, there is just nothing here that is actually better than the 10 year old game it was once based on. It makes you wonder why it was even made, which is the one thing no game should ever make you do.
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2001's Stronghold was a very good, and very European game. Finally you could build up an entire castle from the ground up, man the walls with your units, and manage the feudal economy to support all of it. It was the kind of ...

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New Section 8: Prejudice maps hit PSN September 13


Sep 01
// Conrad Zimmerman
Section 8: Prejudice will be receiving a new DLC expansion on PlayStation Network in a couple of weeks, called the "Frontier Colonies Map Pack." On September 13th, players in the US will be able to pick up a pair of new maps ...
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Reserve Stronghold 3 and get the first Stronghold free


Jul 26
// Brett Zeidler
The Steam Summer Sale may be over, but the deals never stop.  Just by pre-ordering the historical real-time strategy game Stronghold 3 through Steam you get the exclusive single player level Tower of London, which sounds...

Review: Two Worlds II

Jan 31 // Jim Sterling
Two Worlds II (Xbox 360 [reviewed], PlayStation 3, PC)Developer: Reality PumpPublisher: Topware Interactive/SouthpeakReleased: January 25, 2011MSRP: $59.99 Two Worlds II is not the best made game in the world, and if you have even a modicum of intuition, you'd have already guessed that. Two Worlds II knows it's never going to be an Elder Scrolls or a Diablo, but it does its thing regardless, without apology and without remorse. This plucky, heartfelt, can-do attitude permeates the game experience to create something that, truth be told, is pretty damn great.  Yes, you read that correctly. Two Worlds II is a great game. Its animations are awful, its combat loose, its voice acting ludicrous and its story inane. Yet somehow, it manages to become a rewarding, engrossing, absorbing experience at the same time, and the most amazing part is that you'll never see it coming.  The first hour or so of Two Worlds II is downright terrible. The game starts with a tawdry prison breakout mission, as your nameless Hero escapes from the clutches of Gandohar, the series' sister-kidnapping, stereotypically tyrannical villain. The game is slow, the Hero is weak, and the enemies feel imbalanced. Not to mention, the combat is a dire case of random button-mashing with a targeting system that only works when it wants to.  Once the prologue is over, however, something happens. The game slowly, surely, starts to get interesting. Then it becomes quietly enjoyable. Then it's downright fun. Eventually, and without the player even realizing, it has become buried in the mind like a vicious little parasite.  It is rare for a game to start out terribly and then become great -- it usually happens the other way around. Two Worlds II bucks this common trend and only becomes more delightful as it opens up. Once the player learns a few fighting skills, the combat becomes a lot more involved, and the variety of eccentric missions, while still relying on fetch-quests and backtracking, each carry their own strange and often humorous narratives.  The game's sense of humor is one of its most endearing traits, with Two Worlds II never quite taking itself seriously. While some of the voice acting can be genuinely bad, a vast majority of the performances are almost knowingly silly and over the top. The game is full of strange in-jokes and dry wit, and the overall story is lighthearted, despite being about a kidnapped sister and a quest to save the world. Two Worlds II has a very strong sense of individuality about itself, and that's more than can be said for many games with twice the production values.  Customization makes up a huge part of the experience. There's a limited character creation option, although all roads lead to ugly, and you can even paint your armor to give everything a personalized flavor. You can sink skill points into ranged combat, melee prowess or magic, and you're free to combine your skills in whichever way you see fit. There's an incredibly robust magic creation system, in which you mix various cards together to create new and deadly spells. Unfortunately, Two Worlds II suffers from a problem most Western RPGs have -- a magic character is useless. Enemies close distances too quickly, and spells just aren't powerful enough to put them down. Plus, since you need to switch to a staff to use spells, you're defenseless without constantly changing equipment. Ranged or close-quarter combat is the way to go, so if you're hoping to be a powerful mage, you might want to look elsewhere. Reality Pump has put an impressive amount of effort into making sure you get to play Two Worlds II in your own particular style, provided you don't want to be a pure sorcerer. If you've spent a number of skill points on something you later regret purchasing, you can always visit a "Soul Patcher" to re-spec your character. Once I realized Necromancy was an awful skill to possess, my appreciation for a re-spec option was palpable. There's a lot of scope for character progression, with a huge range of weapons, bows and abilities to choose from, and if you ever get bored, you can always get your points back and start again.  This sense of personal progression is extended to your Hero's inventory as well. Weapons and armor can be stripped down to component parts and used to upgrade others. There's also a pleasantly simple alchemy system in which you combine thousands of ingredients picked up from enemies and plants to create all manner of potions, ranging from standard health items to more exotic creations, such as an elixir that lets you jump 500% higher than normal, or one allows you to walk on water. You're encouraged to just randomly throw items into the pot and see what you get, and you're never punished for playing around, nor do you have to spend hundreds of precious skill points to jump into it.  One major issue, however, is the rather awful inventory menu. Items are thrown into your inventory screen seemingly at random, and there's no way to sort through it. This issue becomes readily apparent once you factor in the propensity to collect dozens of alchemy ingredients and looted weaponry from just a single quest. Once you offload your loot at a vendor, it's easy to sell the wrong thing or forget what you're looking for, as you'll be absolutely swamped with inscrutable garbage. As the hours tick by, you'll get used to navigating through a veritable sea of inconspicuous swag, but it never quite stops being irritating.  Two Worlds II does get points, however, for being one of the very few games on Earth with a fun, simple and efficient lockpicking feature. I actually enjoyed picking locks, which is great because they're everywhere. It's helped by the fact that picking locks is mostly based upon a player's skill as opposed to pumping points into stats and building a dedicated thief character (that said, it's highly recommended you invest a little in upgrading your lockpick skills).  Once you strip away the customization and the quirky humor, you're still left with a game that's quite good. I barely encountered any notable glitches, and it's easily less buggy than a "Triple A" title like The Elder Scrolls IV. Its focus on loot, leveling up and simple hack n' slash combat is fairly standard for the genre, and it performs no worse in these areas than any other decent RPG. Most of the ways in which the game falters seem to come with the territory -- fetch quests, weak mage characters, and button smashing combat are issues that can be found in even the very best Western roleplayers, and it would be incredibly unfair to criticize Two Worlds II for committing these sins when bigger games get a free pass.  There are some larger flaws, of course. Navigating the world of Antaloor would have been more fun with a decently detailed map and markers that tell you how to get to places, rather than just point in a vague direction. There are random difficulty spikes that can make the game a cakewalk one second, and an overwhelming "three hits and you're dead" battle the next, which is absolutely aggravating when you become so confident that you forget to save. The character animations are almost distractingly terrible at times, and the console version has some rather miserable screen tearing.  While we're talking about graphics, I have no idea why the game is too big for a television screen, requiring the player to dive into the menu and locate an ambiguously named "Use Safe Area In Interface" option that'll re-fit the image. For the first thirty minutes I played the game with bits of the HUD and menu chopped off, until someone told me which hoops to jump through in order to get what should have been the default view. None of these problems, however, hamper the overall sense of enjoyment and involvement that Two Worlds II spawns, and that is a testament to just how right Reality Pump gets it in the areas that truly matter.  I played using a console version, and I have to remark upon the rather decent Xbox 360 controls. Using skills in battle is quick and efficient, easily accessed with face buttons and triggers. The only major complaint is that it seems impossible to un-map something once it's been assigned to a button. I had buttons randomly giving me different potions, usually when they weren't needed, and I'm yet to figure out a way to stop it. I am certain one exists, but the game itself doesn't give you any information on how it's done. In addition to a lengthy single-player quest, the game offers a fairly substantial multiplayer section. The online mode is treated as a separate entity, so you'll need to create a brand new character. You get a bit more freedom with this character creator, able to choose from a variety of stereotypical fantasy races and gaining the ability to play as a female. The various modes range from standard Player vs. Player matches to a series of co-op chapters that have their own storylines.  The co-op is where the online section really shines, as players can join a team of eight to tackle all manner of neat little sidequests. Matchmaking is fairly sluggish, however, and I found myself getting kicked from a lot of games as there's no player balancing and nobody wanted to play with a Level 1 Elf. If you can get into a game -- and there are quite a few people playing it -- you might find it just as absorbing as the story mode, if not more so.  The competitive modes suffer from the same issues as the co-op -- chiefly poor matchmaking and imbalanced opposition. My first match was against a ranger who could one-hit-kill me from a distance the moment I spawned. The combat is also exactly the same as the rest of the game, which means that most melee battles become rough, messy button-mashing that degenerate into a war of attrition. I can't say I recommend the PvP, as it's just not interesting or refined enough to be worth getting into. If you can earn enough cash, you can also buy and maintain your own Antaloorian village. I'll confess now that I have not been able to loot enough in the multiplayer to check this feature out, but I'm looking forward to it. It makes for a very nice overall aim in the otherwise unstructured multiplayer.  Two Worlds II requires patience and forgiveness, and many won't give it the chance it deserves. One cannot deny the lack of polish and the archaic, old fashioned interface and features, yet one also must acknowledge the powerful pull that this game has. There's an appeal to this game that far outshines the ancient husk that it is presented in -- a truly rewarding, rich and amusing experience that takes hold of a player and never lets go until it's over.  I hated my first hour or so of Two Worlds II. I believed I was in for a boring, dreary, aggravating eighty hours of wasted life that I'd never be able to get back. I was wrong. Two Worlds II is the perfect gaming equivalent to a diamond in the rough. It's ugly, it's coarse, and it's got one foot in the past, but it's just too damn lovable to be thrown into the trash.  Two Worlds II is better than Two Worlds. By several thousand miles. 
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Reality Pump had perhaps one of the most enviably easy jobs in videogame history -- create a game that was better than Two Worlds. When Naughty Dog needs to make an Uncharted sequel, it has an increasingly tough act to follow...

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Two Worlds II gets (tiny) delay on PC


Jan 24
// Jim Sterling
The PC version of Two Worlds II will receive a three-day delay, according to Southpeak. The postponement was first noticed by Destructoid reader Aaron, who had been informed by Amazon that the game would run late. We checked ...
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On today's Swagtacular, I get to do my very first special edition unboxing! I've never gotten to do one of these before, so this was a lot of fun. Of course, since I can't ever do anything properly, things go a bit ... spicy ... towards the end.  In fact ... I'm sorry. I'm very sorry. In this episode, I ruined videogames for everybody.

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Sordahon's Journey continues into customer service


Jan 19
// Conrad Zimmerman
I respect an organization which can poke fun at itself, something SouthPeak Games has always been more than capable of. Supporting my claim is this new video for Two Worlds II which sees the return of that lov...
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Two Worlds II dev diary talks changes


Jan 15
// Maurice Tan
In a new developer diary video, Creative Director Scott Cromie talks about the changes they made to make Two Worlds II a better game than the first one. From what I've heard, the sidequests have silly humor, the spell craft...
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Do you hear that? It's the Man, and he's coming. SouthPeak Interactive made a filling with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission on November 19th which revealed that the publisher's chairman Terry Phillips and ...

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A rock ballad for Two Worlds II's Sordahon


Nov 30
// Conrad Zimmerman
The folks at SouthPeak persist in producing these oddly charming videos to promote Two Worlds II centered around second-string villain Sordahon. In this fifth installment, we're given a visual recap of some of the events which have transpired on Sordahon's path towards videogame legitimacy. It is accompanied by a cheesy rock ballad, complete with mullet wig. Classy.
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Two Worlds II gets a new trailer


Nov 23
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Hey! A trailer! For Two Worlds II! Oh wait ... well, anything is better than the first game. But seriously, I've seen what TopWare has done with the new game a few times and it's going to be good. Five years have spanned bet...
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Nail'd is probably the best racer you'll play this year


Nov 10
// Tara Long
Monday evening was a special night for me for many reasons. I finally got Ben PerLee to agree to touch my breasts, but more importantly Deep Silver hosted an event here in San Francisco for their newest racing game, Nail'd. ...
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Two Worlds II delayed again


Sep 29
// Jim Sterling
Originally due out for release this month, Two Worlds II has been delayed yet again by publisher Southpeak. The promisingly not-totally-shit sequel to the totally-very-shit Two Worlds has now been shunted into 2011 with a vag...
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Two Worlds II's Sordahon does contract negotiations


Sep 22
// Conrad Zimmerman
I would expect that the process of hiring a celebrity to be in your videogame has the potential to be very frustrating indeed. Take Sordahon from Two Worlds II as an example. Here, the people at Southpeak are doing ever...
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Getting Nail'd with 'The Gaming Pope'


Sep 13
// Hollie Bennett
This is Nail'd, DeepSilver's new dirt-bike and ATV racing game. The man dressed as "The Gaming Pope" (a religion I can accept) is Geoff Blair, and he takes time from banishing our sins to tell us all about their upcoming gam...
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Battle vs. Chess hits shelves September 28


Sep 02
// Nick Chester
After reading ou r Battle vs. Chess preview, I know what you were thinking: "Who the hell is Tara Long?" and when can I get my hands on this fine original piece of software? The answer to your first question is… I don...

GC 10: An early look at Stronghold 3

Aug 18 // Ian Roberts
The first thing that impressed me was that the focus was on the core gameplay. Stronghold 3 will run on tech developed by outside sources as opposed to the internal development favoured for its predecessor. This, along with a streamline of in-game mechanics, will leave the development team free to strengthen the original's gameplay. With that established we were launched into the game and it soon became apparent the level of flexibility that will be available to players. With a castle constructed, players can fortify their possession by constructing battlements. It's the way in which they can be placed that is unique in that you can almost paint a labyrinthine construction to keep your foes at bay, with twisting snaking walls of solid stone should you so wish to do so. Stairs can be added that will allow your soldiers access to the battlements so that they can rain medieval death from above on those foolish to try and attack you. Gone is the grid based system of old as you are now free to position things with utter freedom. This can have consequences for your kingdom though. The amount of people present in your villages hovels is based on the distance to your castle. For example, a hovel some distance away will be a rotten shack capable of housing only one person. However, a hovel in close proximity to your castle will be a three floored structure that can hold up to ten people. Your actions as a lord will affect how you kingdom works on many different levels. The example that we were told was that a cruel and evil Lord will have a barbaric but unruly military compared to a benevolent Lord whose army will be noble and take less damage. Firefly are keen to use the Havok engine to create a battlefield strewn with debris and bodies. A castle we were shown was destroyed using catapults, causing it to crumble into pieces and roll down the hillside into the valley below. One catapult was shattered when it was too close to its target. The resulting detritus bounces off nearby buildings and landscape in a dramatic way that is sure to make any victory feel great and defeat feel crushing. The team at Firefly has listened to fan concerns and are promising a true Stronghold experience. It’s been a long time coming -- it looks as though Stronghold 3 will deliver a fun strategy game come April 2011.
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I had the pleasure of being shown a pre-alpha build of Stronghold 3 by the Director of Firefly studios, Simon Bradbury, this afternoon. He opened the demo by stating that he didn't feel Stronghold 2 was a bad game, rather that it tried to do too many things and lost focus of what made the first Stronghold game so popular. With Stronghold 3, however, the game is set to return to its roots.

Hands-on: Battle vs. Chess is not a simple game of chess

Aug 13 // Tara Long
Battle vs Chess (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, PC, MAC, DS, PSP)Developer: Topware Interactive/Gaijin EntertainmentPublisher: SouthPeak GamesTo be released: September 2010 Now, I can’t speak much to the game of chess itself. Too much critical thinking involved for my tastes. So let’s focus on the details, shall we? Battle vs. Chess was implemented using Fritz11! chess software, and has 10 different levels of difficulty to accommodate players of any experience level. You can test your abilities against a computer in single-player mode, or face off locally or online in multiplayer competition with the friends you probably don’t have. The game uses the Elo rating system, the world’s official standard in chess rankings, to keep track of your scores. So whether you’re a casual user just looking to improve your game or an aspiring eight-time Chess Master, this will provide hours of entertainment and a learning experience all bundled into one sexy package. Undoubtedly the most valuable feature in Battle vs. Chess is the option to have hints accompany each turn (along with a detailed explanation of why a particular move is optimal), making the game a great investment for any beginner looking to procure mad skillz. For intermediate players, there are a handful of modes designed to challenge and improve your existing skills, such as gameplay with a limited number of turns or pieces. There’s even an option that transports you directly into the seat of former chess masters, allowing you to compete in games that mimic actual famous matches in chess history. Other notable variations include “Madness” mode, where the computer randomly distributes pieces across the board. Then there’s the “Tactic” mode, where players have the option to arrange pieces on the board however they like while still abiding by the traditional rules of the game. What really sets this one apart from just another chess emulator, however, is “Battle” Mode. This form of fantasy gameplay puts a combative twist on the classic game by transforming the board into one of eight virtual battlefields whose pieces end up duking it out for the contending spot. The twist here is that rather than peacefully advancing an opponent’s square, the pieces come alive using distinctly realistic animations and the players must fight using weapons or strength. Though an interesting spin on the classic game, I don’t expect this feature to elicit much from the player other than a fleeting “Huh, that’s cool.” It offers no real advantage in terms of technique or strategy, and frankly, if I wanted to play a fighting game I’d bust out my Sega Genesis and rock Streets of Rage like it was 1992. Regardless, Battle Mode is interesting if only for its inherent uniqueness. I could see it being more suited for group situations, but if digitally-generated chess is a frequent activity at your parties, chances are you have bigger things to worry about anyway.
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Listen up nerds, it’s time to take off your robes and wizard hats for a second ‘cause there’s a new game in town, and it answers to the name of Battle vs. Chess. If you’ve ever found yourself wonderin...

Hands-on: Getting Nail'd never hurt so good

Aug 12 // Tara Long
Nail’d (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC) Developer: Techland Publisher: Deep Silver To be released: October 5, 2010 Still not getting it? No problem, let’s put on our brainstorming underwear and suspend reality for a moment. You’re flying through the Andes Mountains at 140 miles an hour, snow-covered trees racing past either side of you in a blur. A thousand feet ahead lies a ramp, immediately behind which is a 2000-foot drop-off. Two seconds later, your wheels leave the platform and you’re suspended in thin air, free-falling over a giant lake half a mile below. The front wheels of your ATV just barely graze the edge of the cliff as you escape certain death by mere fractions of a second. You stabilize yourself and get back on the road just in time to slide past the finish line, as flocks of women approach you offering congratulatory blowjobs on your crushing victory. I may have made that last part up, but you get my point. To put it bluntly, this game takes the word 'extreme' to the XTREME. A handful of exciting features have been added since the last time we previewed Nail'd. Single-player mode offers your typical Tournament and Quick Event style races, as well as a nifty new Time Attack mode which helps you gradually improve your time by racing against the ghost of a developer or even yourself. Multiplayer mode allows you to play against your friends locally or online with up to 12 players, and scores are tallied on both a universal and state-wide scale, in case you’ve ever wondered how you stack up against other drivers in Vermont or wherever the hell you’re from. The scoreboard even keeps track of your total time spent in the air. The only obvious omission is the lack of character customization features, which the developers promise will be added before the release date. Apart from that, Techland’s Chrome4 engine did a great job of creating surprisingly realistic terrain with 16 tracks to choose from, spread out among four different locales: Arizona, The Andes, Yosemite National Park, and Greece. All 16 tracks are available from the get-go so you don’t have to unlock them and Techland does plan to release DLC tracks in the future. The incentive to keep your score up lies in unlocking new customization features for your bike, allowing you to one-up your opponents with something other than sheer force of will. Players also have the option of choosing between custom bikes or ATVS, the latter of which provides a marginal increase in control at the expense of a slightly slower speed. It looks intimidating at first, but is surprisingly easy to grasp once you throw yourself into the game. And because logic doesn’t exist in this world, speed is the number one priority for players. Your success in this game hinges not on points, but on your ability to harness the power of the turbo boost, which replenishes itself when players complete various obstacles like popping wheelies or flying through rings of fire. The game even has something called Boost Madness mode, wherein each player has an infinite supply of “boost juice,” as I call it. Add on top of that a bitchin' soundtrack and you've got a solid game in the works. Perhaps the most appealing quality, however, which Jim Sterling also favored in his hands-on time at E3, is the surprising amount of control you have over your vehicle, even while flying through the air. Steering in this game appears to be far less sensitive than that in similar style racers, allowing you to focus on something other than not bursting into flames every time you round a corner. In short, make sure you’ve got a pile of diapers handy, because Nail’d is set to release on October 5 and it’s safe to say you’ll shit bricks. If you’re already a fan of racing games, I suspect you’ll have even more to be pumped about with this one. Its lightning-fast speed and non-stop, in-your-face action differentiate it from any other racer on the market right now and ensure there’s never a boring second, making it a great game for even the classiest of parties. And word to the wise, don’t be surprised if your hands are a little sore after a few rounds. It’s all part of the Nail’d experience. (That’s what she said.)
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[Publisher's note: Meet our new previews editor, Tara Long. On her first day at the job, she already filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Destructoid. Please join us in giving her an inappropriate welcome. -Niero] Ever s...

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The environments of Two Worlds II


Jul 30
// Conrad Zimmerman
Two Worlds was a game I was probably never going to like. Neither a fan of fantasy genres nor having the time and attention span for lengthy role-playing games, it just wasn't built for me. Nevertheless, I still kept ey...

Exclusive: Two Worlds II trailers make fun of Two Worlds

Jul 23 // Jim Sterling
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Two Worlds wasn't too hot. I know it. You know it. The people who made the game know it. One person who definitely knows it is villainous henchman Sordahon, who gave up the life of a mysterious brooding thrall to become...

The choices and consequences of Two Worlds II

Jul 12 // Hamza CTZ Aziz
Two Worlds II (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC [Previewed])Developer: Reality PumpPublisher: TopWare InteractiveTo be released: September 14, 2010 In the section I checked out, the hero entered a swamp -- which you quickly find out is kind of a big deal. It's been 15 years since anyone has been able to come into the area you're exploring due to a magical barrier that prevents people from entering or leaving. So yeah, big deal. You soon find out from the village priest that the barrier was put up by a witch, and you're asked to kill her in order to save the village. Just before you come across the witch, a cutscene takes place with an army of zombies surrounding the player. Things look pretty bad, but the witch suddenly appears and kills off all the zombies, thus saving your life. Turns out that the witch might not be evil after all. Approaching the witch gives you two options: kill her or let her plead her case. If you give the witch the chance to speak, she'll send you on a new quest that will uncover what actually took place 15 years ago. After this quest is completed, you'll then be given the chance to kill the witch again or work with her to end the real threat: the priest. The reason the barrier is up in the first place is because the witch is trying to protect everyone from the priest -- he's really a demon. Had you killed the witch, the barrier would have been destroyed and the demon would have killed everyone in the village. Whatever path you go with won't affect the ending, since there is only one. Rather, the choice system is about giving you different perspectives to the overall story. Siding with the priest will paint a pretty bad picture about the big-bad of the game. Side with the witch, and you'll see that the main villain of the game wasn't always a total dick. This also shows how the choices you'll be presented with won't be as simple as a dark path and a light path. It's more about your gut feeling and doing what you think is right in the moment.  A really awesome thing in Two Worlds II is how you don't have to deal with various character classes. Instead, you can swap on the fly from being a knight, mage, archer or another class with the press of a button. You'll be able to allocate different skill points to the different job types available and build characters as you see fit. I'm probably going to focus a lot of my skill points on my magic abilities, as the magic system is going to be very deep and fun. You'll be able to build magic spells with cards to create a seemingly endless amount of spells. One simple example is shooting a fireball. By adding a modifer to the card, you can shoot out three fireballs at once. Add more modifers, and you'll then be able to summon five fireballs that can track targets. Add yet another modifer, and you can have bees appear after the fireballs hit the target. An extreme example of the magic spells detailed to me involved a TopWare employee summoning a tornado. The person then applied a card to the spell so the tornado would move around wherever the character would walk. Applying another card then summoned random junk like crates to rain from the sky; the stuff would get sucked up into the tornado. As the player moved about, enemies would get sucked into the tornado, too, and get pummeled to death by all the junk.  This is just a simple look at a very, very deep game. There's more to be revealed, such as the multiplayer mode which features PvP battles and an eight-player co-op campaign that's separate from the main game. We're going to be seeing more of Two Worlds II in the coming weeks, so expect to see more on this RPG soon.
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Our initial preview of Two Worlds II saw TopWare and Reality Pump show off a game that looked nothing like its predecessor. The team learned from their mistakes and have created everything from the ground up for the seque...

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Developer TopWare Interactive visited the Dtoid HQ recently to show us some more of Two Worlds II. I got to talking about the game's narrative structure with TopWare's PR Director, Jake DiGennaro, when he revealed that a thir...

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Slipknot, Rise Against & more bringing tunes to nail'd


Jul 01
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
nail'd is the upcoming racing game from Deep Silver and Techland that gives a giant f*ck you to the laws of physics. A game as crazy as this should have a rocking soundtrack and that's just what we're going to get. Songs fro...
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Preview: Two Worlds II (it's actually fun!)


Jun 21
// Jim Sterling
There are children yet unborn who weep within the bellies of their mothers, knowing they are to be thrust into the same world that gave us Two Worlds. The original RPG from Topware Interactive is so atrocious, so unutterably ...

E3 10: Hands-on Nail'd

Jun 20 // Jim Sterling
Nail'd is essentially about quad bikes zooming through filth and getting into all sorts of high speed silliness. Realism has been thrown out in favor of unbelievably high jumps, riding on the roofs of trains, and going faster than anybody should. Its controls are standard, you don't have to worry about things like drifting, and altogether Nail'd comes across as a racing title for people who generally don't like racing games. It's pretty cool, actually.  I don't drive, and I hate worrying about realistic driving physics in my racing games. If I wanted a realistic driving experience, I'd get into a real car. Nail'd most definitely appeals to somebody like myself, a person who enjoys the speedy thrills of a racing title, but doesn't really want anything else.  Aside from the racing, the only other thing to be concerned about is a boost meter and the tricks required to fill it. Filling the boost is fairly simple -- you pull off certain easy tricks, such as jumping through hoops of flame, landing well after a big jump, or even landing on an opponent's head. The boost fills up pretty quickly, meaning you'll always have a reserve of extra speed nearby. It's pretty essential too, as Nail'd can wind up pretty difficult if you're not paying attention.  Steering is important, especially in the air, where you have to try and land without hitting anything dangerous. Crashing is a regular part of Nail'd, but the excess boost always gives you a fighting chance. With so much to avoid and watch out for, it's pleasant to note that the steering is really responsive and forgiving, again driving home the theme of not having to worry about anything other than the pure racing aspect.  My time with Nail'd was brief but encouraging. It's not the most refined racer out there, but it's very fast and it's pretty damn fun, which is what really matters at the end of the day. There's not really much else that needs to be said.
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I typically don't get along with "realistic" racing games, but I'll love any good racer that does something a little over-the-top. This is why I am somewhat drawn to Nail'd, a new bike racing game from Southpeak Interactive. It trades in realistic physics for sheer speed, and surprisingly it works out quite well. Read on for some hands-on impressions of Nail'd.

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Two Worlds II debut trailer is all epic n' stuff


May 27
// Jim Sterling
Two Worlds II is a game with a hard job. It's got to convince people it's worth buying despite its status as a sequel to the worst RPG made this generation. It's shocking to think Two Worlds ever got a sequel, but watching t...
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Here's who won the Dementium II/Astro A30 contest!


May 20
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Our second Dementium II and Astro A30 contest was a huge success. Every single entry was just beyond amazing. It was tough picking who would win but we were able to narrow down our choices down to Mitchell and Jenki. Congratu...
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This week we're giving away another copy of Renegade Kid's and South Peak's Dementium II. The survival-horror title is now out in stores and you can win yourself a copy, plus a signed poster for Dementium II and an Astro A30 ...

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We think Dementium II is trying to tell us something


May 11
// Jim Sterling
Southpeak just sent over a review copy of its DS horror game Dementium II, with a mysterious message attached. As you can see in the above image, it came packed with a diaper and a label that reads, "Seriously... just trust m...

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