Borderlands 2: Mechromancer Out Early!

Borderlands 2’s first DLC, the Mechromancer, has been released early and is available today!

Gaige, the Mechromancer, is a new playable character with her own skill tree and abilities as well as a summonable pet robot, Deathtrap.  Those who preordered Borderlands 2 will get this DLC for free; otherwise it costs £8 on PC, or 800 MSP on the Xbox.

A Virus Named TOM

A Virus Named TOM is an action puzzler by Misfits Attic, featuring the City of Tomorrow, filled with robot dogs and self-cleaning houses.. and a virus named TOM.

After using Dr X’s inventions to build the City of Tomorrow, MegaTech promptly fired him.  However, Dr X had also invented TOM, a little virus which he now sets loose to destroy his creations!  Spread the virus by rearranging circuits, but watch out for the anti-virus drones..

There are also two multiplayer modes, for up to four people: co-op, and competitive.

The game is due for release in March, but you can pre-order now, for $5.. this is 50% off the final price, and gets you access to the beta now, along with an opportunity to get your highscore on the final game’s baked-in leaderboard.

Also.. if you pre-order before Valentines, you can grab yourself an extra copy for a loved one!

Indie Gala 2 – Quick Overview

I grabbed my bundle of shiny new indie games from the Indie Gala 2 yesterday, adding Greed Corp, Roboblitz, Critical Mass, Fortix 2 and Bunch of Heroes to my Steam library, and to my ever-expanding backlog!  So on to trying them out, in no particular order..

Fortix 2 is a reverse turret defense game by Nemesys Games, an indie developer from Hungary.  The aim of the game is to capture the castle by capturing the land bit by bit, while avoiding the dragons, cannons, and other monsters..

I tried out the Fortix 2 demo a while ago, and found the gameplay rather easy.. maybe too easy.  At the time I resisted buying the game in part due to that, but also because of the backlog.. so I was rather glad to see it in the bundle and have a bit more of an excuse to get it 😉

I’m happy to note that the full game includes more difficult enemies, including Blood Bats which travel along the base line, meaning nowhere is safe!  Maps start to contain hazards such as bat caves, which when captured release more bats to plague you.. the added challenge was certainly appreciated!

One small niggle, though.. the game takes your name from your Steam profile, with no option for renaming.  Ordinarily I wouldn’t care, but with a character limit in place, it trimmed my name to “Sir CoffeeScam”!

Vanguard GamesGreed Corp is a turn based strategy, where you need to find the balance between harvesting the land for resources and preserving it. Each hexagon of terrain has a number of layers which collapse as you harvest the land.. these can also be strategically destroyed to throw enemy units and buildings into the abyss!

Combat between walkers is simple.. the larger force on each hexagon wins.. but when it comes to the buildings, you need to look at the layout of the map before doing anything!  Harvesters can be built on any land you own, then on each turn they generate resources out of the terrain they are on, as well as those around them.  However, this erodes a layer as well..

You can use these to sabotage your enemy by destroying the land under them; when a hexagon falls, any buildings or units on it fall too!

I only took a quick look at this game, playing through the tutorial to see how it all works.. I’ll be coming back to this one later, and maybe trying out the multiplayer: you can take on up to three other players across a range of maps 🙂

Bunch of Heroes was next: a four-player co-op shooter by NGD Studios.  Aliens are invading Earth, and summoning a Zombie army to assist them.. and the Bunch of Heroes are our last line of defense! 🙂

There are four playable characters in the Bunch, each with a different special attack:  El Comandante, the Cuban Commander, throws exploding cigars, while Jared Joe, the Quarterback, can make a touchdown for his special move.  Captain Smith, the Duke, can call in a bombing run to assist him, and Agent Liu, the spy, can set enemies on fire!  To use the special attack, you need to kill enemies and pick up the energy they drop.

There are three modes: Campaign, Survival and Timed Mode, with a few different scenarios.  Campaign mode consists of simple missions such as clearing enemies from an area, defending a point for a short time, and rescuing cheerleaders.  I found the cheerleader rescue rather funny, as you have to sling her over your shoulder and carry her..

Aside from screaming when you pick her up or put her down, the cheerleader dances at intermittent points while not being carried.  At one point I died while carrying her, and found it rather funny when she almost instantly started dancing at my corpse’s feet! 😀

The game is designed for four players, and as there are no AI bots, playing by yourself means being somewhat swamped.  After trying the first Campaign, I tried out Survival.. my first attempt was rather brief.. 😉

Roboblitz, by Naked Sky Entertainment, is a puzzle platform shooter featuring a little robot technician who lives aboard a Space Cannon Facility.  The Facility comes under attack from pirate robots led by the MegaNOAD, and Blitz has to get all systems up and running in order to fire the Space Cannon while fending off attacks from the various invading pirate robots.

You start off with only your grabby arms and a spin attack, which is fine for dealing with the Pirate Scouts, but ineffective on larger enemies.  Blitz can also gather collectible Upgradium, which can be used to purchase new weapons: the first of these is the EMP gun, which stuns enemies for a short time, but other weapons are able to destroy them.

I liked the variety of puzzles, spread across different areas which you can access at will, but I found the controls and movement occasionally quite poor.

Blitz’s item handling wasn’t as accurate as I’d have liked, and in getting close enough to pick some items up, I found myself bumping them away instead.  More frustrating was the jumping: in particular, I found jumping into one certain pipe in the Coolant Tower was more miss than hit, with a miss causing Blitz to get stuck on the edge, holding on by the arms.  After a few misses in the fan room, and having to go back to try again, this annoyed me enough that I decided to move on to the final game in the bundle..

Critical Mass, a 3d action puzzler by Manic Games Studios!  There are four modes: Classic, Survival, Meditation and Rush, but the core gameplay is the same in each.. destroy the mass by creating colour combos of four or more blocks.  Simple to understand, but difficult to master! 🙂

I tried Classic first, and quickly realised that this has the makings of an addictive game.. winning a level means proceeding to the next, slightly more difficult level, while defeat means retrying the level.  In this mode, the camera zooms in during play until the whole structure shakes and destroys itself.. producing a combo pushes the camera back and gives you just a little more time, while Survival ‘rewards’ a combo by throwing more blocks into the fray.  Rush mode times your efforts, with the object to clear the mass as quickly as possible, and Meditation is the calm, thoughtful mode where you can aim for the biggest combos on the board, without distraction.

The bundle came with music as well, and I have to note I don’t really listen to game music outside of the games themselves.  However, games without music wouldn’t be the same, so it’s good to see some support for indie music too 🙂

Blocks That Matter

Blocks That Matter is a platform puzzle game by Swing Swing Submarine, featuring a tiny robot, blocks and puzzles.. another game with blocks?  Minecraft really has set the trend.. 🙂

The adventure mode is called The Underground Rescue, and it starts with the story of Indie Game Devs in Trouble.  A pair of indie developers have been working on a secret project which their fans have been anticipating just a little too much.. they decide they don’t want to wait any more..

The devs are kidnapped and held hostage with instructions to complete their game overnight.. however, their secret project isn’t a game but a little robot, the Tetrobot, which is sitting de-activated in their office.  To help them, you need to get him up and running!

In the first level, you are only able to collect blocks by bashing into them with your head.  Once you have collected four blocks, the first upgrade station unlocks; going into it awards you the first upgrade.. the drill!

The drill allows collection of more blocks.. sand, wood and stone at this point, more types to come in later levels.

Your next upgrade teaches you to combine your blocks into Tetrominos, Tetris-blocks which you use to help you jump up to other parts of the map to gather other blocks, reach more upgrade points, or get to the exit portal.

Each portal moves you a little bit closer to the devs!

There are also a few enemies.. slimes!  The small ones can be jumped easily.. contact with them more than once will result in them triggering your nanoreset, and you start the level again.  You can trigger this yourself if stuck by holding down the W key: the first time you do this you get an achievement: Someone did it wrong!

The big one, though..

She chased me through one level.. a frantic dash for the exit portal, broken up by entering puzzle mode to create tetromino stairs and platforms to jump gaps.  Maybe she was mad with me because I killed some of the smaller slimes by dropping blocks on them 😉

Sand falls if there is nothing supporting it, so if you drill out the block underneath it, or explode a row of eight blocks, and the sand will fall onto whatever is underneath.  This can be used to kill slimes, to provide a step to climb on, or used in the construction of a tetromino where you don’t want all four blocks to stay put.. all depending on the puzzle you’re trying to solve.

I can see the game getting frustrating later, as any mistakes are punished with the need to nanoreset, and return to the start of the level.

In addition to the Adventure Mode, there is a set of chocolate-themed bonus levels, from the Chocolate Update.. starting with Chocolate Rain.  Many blocks have been switched out for chocolate, and the puzzles here involve having the chocolate blob enemies blow up the blocks 🙂

I found myself stuck after only a few levels, though..  I think I’ll come back to this after the main game!

While checking over the game’s website, I saw that Swing Swing Submarine have another game in the works: Seasons After Fall.  I actually noticed this game thanks to the early artwork, featuring a cute little fox sleeping under a tree..

Image by Djaoul..

Seasons After Fall will be more of a discovery-based puzzle game where you explore the countryside taking advantage of the changing seasons.  It looks as though this was meant to be out in 2011, but they now say it will be done when it’s done.. which at least means they’re concentrating on getting a properly working product together, rather than shipping something out full of bugs.. plus points to them!