The Masterplan

I got The Masterplan (by SharkPunch) as a surprise game in the December (or is it January?) Humble Monthly Bundle. I must admit, I had never heard of it but one of my new year resolutions was to try to play more games and blog more about gaming in-general so well… here I am! I’ve only played the first few missions but I can already see that this game has lots of potential.

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The MasterPlan In-Game Screenshot – Copyright Shark Punch

The game consists of you controlling Joey and his ‘colleagues’/goons on a number of heists with the aim of making money in order to fund even bigger heists. You have a number of actions at your disposal with more becoming available as you pick up more items from the environments. Some items can be found lying around others have to be extorted from a number of NPCs which you come across. The NPCs themselves exhibit scripted but intelligent behaviour. In one mission I had to wait for a mini market clerk to visit the toilet in order for me to hold him at gunpoint while Joey’s brother punched him relentlessly in order to knock him unconscious. This happened in the toilet so that the mini market customers could not see what happening and notify the police from the phone boot outside. All this happened after Joey’s brother sneaked in one of the backrooms and disabled all the cameras by bashing the camera panel… and so on and so forth.I guess the game can be described as a tactical real-time strategy game where your resources are limited and every action counts. The view is top-down and is similar to games such as the original GTAs and the Hotline Miamis. What differs from these latter two is that you can take control of more than one character in The Masterplan and sometimes even force NPCs to do actions for you while they are held at gunpoint. In this respect this game is more similar to games such as Commandos and Frozen Synapse.

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The MasterPlan In-Game Screenshot – Copyright Shark Punch

A nice feature of The Masterplan which I have to yet learn how to use properly is Slow-Mo mode. The game has two speeds: Slow-Mo and Normal speed. In Slow-Mo you can issue commands and the NPCs move at a more manageable speed. That said they do still move so you can get punched even while in this mode. This is something I need to explore more as it gives you more time to execute the perfect heist.

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The MasterPlan In-Game Screenshot – Copyright Shark Punch

Each mission has a total number of cash you can obtain from the establishment you are trying to rob. If a heist fails or you fail to obtain all of the cash you can try again. The game attempts to be ‘politically correct’ by giving you an incentive not to murder people unnecessarily: an unconscious shop keeper is better than a dead one!

Now for a few faults: I found the controls a bit clunky but that can be attributed to me not having learned the hotkeys yet. I also saw a number of UI-related bugs but these were minor and did not break the game. Finally, I encountered a crash when I attempted to replay a heist but no progress was lost.

All in all an enjoyable game you should definitely try if you like tactical games. 9/10

 

Diablo 3 and Starcraft II Heart of The Swarm

Blizzard you had me sorely disappointed when I played Diablo 3. You had re-hashed Diablo 2 but forgot what the nice things about it were. I basically played it once through on Normal and forgot the game completely. Don’t get me wrong it is still a good game but the only reason it was decent for me was because of the story and cinematics. The gameplay mechanics from the 2000 game did not live up to the expectations and hype in 2012. Maybe it felt too similar to World of Warcraft in some ways. Anyways I hope that the upcoming expansion will restore my faith. Blizzard, the Diablo universe has too much potential. Don’t let it go to waste! 6.5/10

Now to the real reason why I decided to actually update this blog at 1am: SC2: HoTS. I am still feeling psyched! I haven’t felt this good about finishing a game since forever. The gameplay mechanics are a testament to a true old-school real-time strategy game and the graphics are incredibly detailed and polished. However, for me, the actual magic comes from the story, the cinematics, the characters, the sound: everything here screams EPIC. Everything blends seamlessly. The final cinematic… wow. Thank you Blizzard for keeping that star-struck, magical feeling alive and for the gentle reminder of why I’ve always wanted to create games. I don’t think there is any other medium that is able to achieve this level of immersion when all the aspects are done properly. Kudos to Blizzard for managing this yet again. 10/10

Vessel, Shatter and SPAZ

Vessel

Vessel is a 2D puzzle platformer where the protagonist (you) gets to make use of a number of devices in order to progress. Each of these so-called devices are essentially puzzles which the game teaches you to use as you go along. The cool thing about Vessel, much like LIMBO, is that every puzzle seems mind-boggling at first until you try it a few times and you get that “Eureka” moment. Another nice twist about Vessel is that you can create AI helpers which assist you (or hinder you sometimes). Haven’t finished it yet but can confirm this makes for a good time-waster. 7/10

Shatter

Shatter is Breakout/Arkanoid on mega-ultra steroids. The basic idea is simple, hit the bricks with a moving projectile and make sure said projectile does not die by hitting it with your paddle. Some bricks are harder to destroy then others while others explode taking their neighbours down with them. You also sometimes get powerups and extra-lives from certain bricks. Not much different from the two previosly-mentioned games so far. What Shatter adds is a bunch of cool mechanics. Let’s list some of them:

  • You can push and pull the projectile allowing you to maneuver it into position.
  • As the bricks explode you can collect their remains by pulling these towards you as you do the projectile. The annoying thing is sometimes this makes you lose focus on your projectile…
  • As you fill up on brick debris you fill up a meter which allows you fire a barrage from your paddle.
  • Your paddle is NOT safe. Certain bricks come towards you and you have to shield yourself using an ability you have.
  • You can release as many projectiles as you wish based on the number of lives you have. This grants extra bonuses.
  • MEGA BOSS FIGHTS!

All-in-all a good tribute with a good twist. 8/10

Space Pirates and Zombies

With a name like Space Pirates and Zombies (or SPAZ) I was a bit sceptic. Yet another generic indie game? Fortunately not! I started playing at 1700hrs and ended up stopping at 1830hrs only because a friend of mine messaged me. Needless to say I was engrossed. The game’s main aim is to obtain as much as possible Rez or E-126. An element which is used for warping around planets. Various factions trade/mine/pirate Rez as it is the most sought after commodity in the universe. As the game starts it puts you in the pants of a falling apart mothership which you repair via various tutorial missions. The nice thing about SPAZ is that you get to play on both a macro and micro level. On the macro level you get to pick where your faction goes to mine and who to attack/befriend/trade with. You also get to choose which ships your mothership builds based on your current scenario. On the micro level you can outfit most of the ships you use and even pilot them to mine asteroids and attack enemy ships. When you are making use of more than one ship you can switch between them. The AI takes care of the ships you are not directly controlling and does a decent job. Apart from Rez there are other commodities which the game uses such as Goons (or enemy pilots you rescue) and Data (used to upgrade stuff)… I’ll be honest, I probably have just scraped the surface of this game but I find it really makes up for its cost. My only qualm about the game is its presentation and interface but it is something one can get used to quickly. 8/10