Zero Lives - Episode 013: Dead Space 3

Preview: League of Angels

Casual and free-to-play games have surged in popularity over the past several years.  There’s no denying their ability to hook people who may have never picked up a controller in their life.  And when it comes to free-to-play games, many developers and publishers strive to find the next concoction that will whip the world into a frenzy.  And then there are those that decide to throw everything and the kitchen sink into their game.  By following the latter approach, did publisher Reality Squared Games spell success or doom for their new title, League of Angels?

Preview: Magic Barrage

What do you get with equal mixes of bullet hell shooter, odd 16-bit nostalgia, and a slathering of stereotypical fantasy?  A mess.  You get a mess.  Magic Barrage could be compared to Frankenstein’s monster when thinking about the parts that went into its creation.  So it’s little surprise that playing the culmination is just as horrific.  Developed by Gameguyz and published by Reality Squared Games, Magic Barrage entered beta on December 17th.

Scarlet Blade Unveils the Cyberblade

Faithful readers may recall that in February 2013, Gaming Climax was invited to preview an upcoming title from publisher Aeria Games called Scarlet Blade.  It earned a favorable preview and since then has seen final release.  One of the questions I had during the event was if players would ever see a male addition to the entirely female Arkana classes.  There were plenty of non-committal answers of “maybe” and “it’s possible”.  Fast forward to November and Scarlet Blade’s first playable male character has made his debut.

Preview: Aura Kingdom

With so many games constantly being released, it’s hard for players to pick just one title and play it exclusively.  And due to the nature of the typical MMORPG, the amount of time invested can range from a few hours a week to something more like a part time job.  And that’s why it’s so important to pick a game worth that time.  Because with the responsibilities of day to day life, folks don’t want to waste their precious time on a bad game.  And it seems that publisher, Aeria Games, has designed their latest title, Aura Kingdom, with this in mind.

There are certain key points that any enjoyable MMO has to hit on to make it just that, an enjoyable game.  And as I spent time with the game in its pre-closed beta state, I found myself having a grand time.  The polished writing of the quest dialogue, the pleasant and cheery visuals, the light-hearted music, and the engaging gameplay all culminated in quite the enjoyable experience.

Taking Aura Kingdom at face value, it seems to follow the standard MMO formula.  A fantasy setting with high adventure, fantastic action, and a heart-warming bond with an NPC.  But that’s not to say that Aura Kingdom is an average game or plays by the rules too much.  What it does, it does extremely well.  The hours that I spent playing were simple, pure, and most importantly, fun.  

The Gods of Smite: Thanatos

Every culture has their own embodiment of death.  Anubis and Osiris filled this role jointly for the ancient Egyptians.  Hel and Freya took on similar roles in Norse mythology.  Even today, we have the Grim Reaper with his black cloak and scythe.  But in the times of the ancient Greeks, one deity alone claimed the lives of the fallen, Thanatos.

While Thanatos is a fearsome individual, he rarely appeared in Greek mythology.  The son of Nyx and Erebos, Thanatos had multiple siblings whom were also embodiments of all things negative.  Despite being the physical embodiment of death and full of hate towards all beings, Thanatos has been outwitted on occasion.  But things didn’t end well for that individual and to this day Sisyphus is still rolling that boulder.

Thanatos fills the role of an assassin in Smite.  He is able to move swiftly about the battlefield and just as quickly eliminate players who fail to tread carefully.  Even prepared players can have a hard time fending off Death itself as his attacks are among the most powerful in the game.  His passive ability, Harvester of Souls, allows Thanatos to see enemy gods that are low enough on health to be killed by his ultimate ability, Hovering Death.  Killing an enemy also rewards Thanatos with health based on the maximum amount of HP his enemy had.  Enemy gods yield 20% while minions only yield half that.

App of the Week: UrzaGatherer

Publisher: David Catuhe
Platform: Windows 8, Windows RT
Price: Free!

Anyone that has played a handful of Magic: The Gathering Games can tell you the importance of having some form of counters.  There are so many statistics to track: life points, poison counters, buffs and debuffs, etc.  It can quickly become overwhelming, especially if a life gain deck is going against a beast deck full of buffs.  I've seen everything form using other cards, poker chips, and even change jars used as counters.

UrzaGatherer is a fantastic solution to the serious player's woes.  My primary use of the app has been as a life tracker.  More players than I would ever want to tangle with can be tracked on a single screen with both life and poison counters and color coding for each name.  There are dice rollers and coin tosses, further eliminating the need for any extras.  And if you're using a touch screen, it makes too much sense to keep UrzaGatherer up and running during a match.

If being a counter app was enough, UrzaGatherer would succeed with flying colors.  But it does so much more.  The primary feature is that of card management.  Spanning from the very first expansion to the most recent, players can track their collection of cards in a simple, easy to use, interface.  As cards are added, it also tracks the estimated value of a collection.  And as anyone who has even dabbled in MTG can tell you, keeping track of cards is incredibly useful.  And to make it even better, you can even recreate your decks within the app.  I can't think of anything that UrzaGatherer is missing.  It even allows importing and exporting data across devices for multi-platform management.

If you have Windows 8, like playing MTG, and have been looking for a great app that integrates the two, look no further.

Zero Lives - Episode 012: Dead Space 3

App of the Week: Gym PocketGuide

Gym PocketGuide
Publisher: Dominic W.
Platform: Windows Phone 8
Price: Free!

When it came to resolutions for this year, I shared one with many others: lose weight.  Shed pounds.  Shrink my fat ass.  I knew what I wanted to do, I just wasn't sure how to do it.  So I did what many others do, I looked for an app.  A few months in and I can say that I'm very happy with the results Gym PocketGuide has provided.

App of the Week: HERE Drive+

HERE Drive+
Publisher: HERE Europe BV
Platform: Windows Phone 8
Price: Free!

When it comes to smart phones, they're the go to, all in one, must have it because it contains the sum of human knowledge in my pocket device.  And on top of that, if you have a Windows Phone, it can even tell you where you want to go with narrated turn by turn directions.