Age of Empires II: HD Edition

I don’t just play games on the PS3 you know.  I dabble with iOS games and PC games.  In fact one of my long time favourite gaming franchises has to be the Age of Empires series.

I have many fond memories from round about the turn of the millennium playing online matches with friends and strangers alike over dial-up on the MSN Gaming Zone.  Those were the days!

Age of Empires II

In many respects, Age of Empires II was the perfect real-time strategy game.  The perfect historical setting, great single player campaigns, and the game play that was simple enough to pick up, but took ages to truly master.  In fact, there were so many units, different terrain, and strategies you could employ, there was more depth than you realised.

There was only one problem though.  The game was built on an old graphical subsystem (pre-DirectX) and soon ran into compatibility issues with modern operating systems a few years down the line.

Then there was Age of Empires III.  For me it was a bit of a let-down.  Everything from the time period, to the slow game play, and the high computer spec requirements.  More recently there was Age of Empires Online- classic Age of Kings gameplay but the game was more of a MMORPG than RTS.

What I really wanted was Age of Kings II.  What was my idea for Age of Kings II?  The same time period as Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings, but improved graphics, more civilisations, and new campaigns but with the same great Age of Kings game play.

I’ll therefore admit that Age of Empires II: HD Edition came as a bit of a  shock, but I completely understand why the developers have gone for this option.  Sure, the graphics are a bit dated by today’s standards, but the game play is brilliant, and the game behaves and functions much as it always has.

For me, the main improvements are: population cap increased to 500, improved water graphics, higher resolution monitor support, and Steam integration.  Classic Age of Empires- a game we can now play for the next decade.  Raise your goblet to the king of real-time strategy games!

What I’ve been playing: the better-late-than-never edition

Wow, it’s been a while since I last blogged about gaming, but it’s been a pretty hectic year for me, and I took a bit of a break from blogging (and gaming) in general.

I just about kept on gaming because so many games in 2012 were a disappointment for me.  So what did I get up to?

Gotta catch ’em all

I got the Jak and Daxter HD trilogy, but have so far only managed to play through the first game.  The game looks amazing, and the gameplay is exactly how I remembered it.  Naughty Dog make superb games.

Trying to collect every last Precursor is addictive, and well-worth the effort!

Back to Modern Warfare 3

I think I’m going to depart company with the Treyarch series of games.  Both Black Ops and Black Ops II have been nothing but disappointments, whereas I just can’t fault the entire Modern Warfare series.

Why you ask?  The usual- dropped games, errors, and the damn games freeze my PS3.  That’s almost unheard of.  Also, Black Ops II just isn’t as satisfying as a Modern Warfare match online.  It just doesn’t compare.

I may complete a bit of the Black Ops II single player campaign, but who knows?

Continue reading What I’ve been playing: the better-late-than-never edition

Recent extended downtime

Aaaand… we’re back!

Hi everyone.  Unfortunately this gaming blog was hacked on 2 June 2012, and went offline shortly after.  See, it’s not just O2 that’s been having problems!

Today (12 July 2012) I have managed to restore most functionality.  Please bear with me over the next few days as I make sure everything is behaving as it should be.

Los Havros will continue to be a small, independent gaming blog for as long as I can continue to maintain it.  We’re going nowhere!

Long live play!

Need for Speed: Most Wanted

Criterion Games are developing the new Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2012).  That’s all as I need to know.  Here Criterion, have my wallet.  It’s yours.

To be honest Criterion had me at Burnout 2: Point of Impact (2002), so trusting them to serve up another sublime racing game is pretty easy, and who can forget Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (2010)?  Superb.

Let’s not forget though that as far as big releases go, Criterion Games have put their ‘Burnout’ IP on ice for the foreseeable future and are continuing moonlighting under the ‘Need for Speed’ brand.  I honestly don’t have a problem with this as long as the top-notch quality racing games keep coming.

However Joystiq seems to have an interesting theory: ‘Need for Speed: Most Wanted is a secret return to Paradise‘.  Well-worth a read.  See also: Need for Speed: Most Wanted- Official site.

Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2012) will be released across the EU on 2 November 2012.  I can’t wait!

The Walking Dead (video game)

A guest post by Chantelle Porritt.

The Walking Dead

A few years ago, a friend recommended to me that I read a series of comic books called “The Walking Dead“.  And I was hooked!  The series was focused on the survivors and their reaction to the zombie apocalypse as opposed to how many zombies could get their head bashed in before the next chapter.  It’s a fantastic comic book series, and if you haven’t read it I recommend going out and picking up the omnibus right now.  So naturally, I was very excited to find out they were making a TV series based on the books!  GREAT!  As long as you ignore the majority of the second season.

So we’re going to ignore the show right now because the game is much better.  It is so true to the comic books.  I’m one of those people who when a book I love is adapted into a movie or a TV show or whatever, I want to see the story remain as much intact and not messed with as much as possible.  The Hunger Games managed pretty well, Harry Potter forgot about the existence of Peeves, and The Walking Dead series was adamant Hershel’s farm was worthy of an entire season and strange scientists who offered you showers in the middle of an apocalypse would also try and blow you up.

Continue reading The Walking Dead (video game)

PS Vita: Initial Impressions

A guest post by James Kanner.

Once upon a time, the handheld gaming market was dominated solely by Nintendo and its Gameboy brand. But now, with many iOS and Android devices offering cheaper and more accessible alternatives to the DS, 3DS, and PSP, the portable gaming market has become extremely competitive.

Sony has responded to this threat with the PS Vita, their second handheld gaming console. After spending some time with the Vita, I have been impressed with the system, and believe that it is capable of providing a compelling portable gaming experience.

First things first, the hardware is great. It is a robust machine with a sleek design that has managed to incorporate a lot of features. Along with a crisp 5-inch OLED screen, the PS Vita comes equipped with a d-pad, two analogue sticks (are you watching Nintendo), four face buttons, two shoulder buttons, touch screens on the front and back of the system, rear and front facing cameras, and a six axis motion sensor. Not bad for a system that measures 7.2 inches end to end.

Sony has made it abundantly clear that they wanted to create a handheld platform that can reproduce console quality titles. This means that no compromises were made when developing the Vita. As a result, the controls are tight, the system has excellent graphics, and the launch line-up is extremely solid.

Continue reading PS Vita: Initial Impressions

Back to Modern Warfare 3

After the glut of top quality games that came out in quarter 4 of 2011, my play through of Uncharted 3 in January (including snagging that elusive Platinum) and my brief attack of Arkham City in February (I’ll get back to it), I’ve spent the early part of 2012 teaching some punks a lesson on Modern Warfare 3.

I’ve actually got enough content in Modern Warfare 3 to keep me going for most of the year: there’s the single player campaign to complete on Veteran, the Special Ops missions that I haven’t even had a chance to look at yet, and multiplayer to prestige at least once.

Since coming back to Modern Warfare 3 I’ve found myself playing one of the new game types introduced in this iteration, Kill Confirmed.  I prefer Kill Confirmed to most other game types as it tends to favour my preferred gameplay style which is close-quarters with an assault rifle or sub machine gun.  Those afraid to get their boots muddy need not apply.

Continue reading Back to Modern Warfare 3