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Battle Beaver Custom Controller Review

A video game controller is the most important tool in a serious gamers collection. It is the portal into other worlds that allows players to traverse fantastical realms and share the experiences with friends. That’s why it’s essential for everyone that loves video games to have the right tool for the job and the custom controller company, Battle Beaver, is committed to providing exactly what people want on their device. We recently purchased a new PS4 controller through their website and decided to see how this small business holds up against some of the bigger competition.

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Battle Beavers mission statement is “Here at Battle Beaver Customs, we focus on improving our customer's gaming experience through custom gaming controllers, DIY parts, and instructional videos.” To stay in-line with this goal, they offer a variety of upgrades for gamers to experience their video games in new and interesting ways including; Tension upgrades, custom logos on home buttons, smart triggers, rear buttons, custom thumbsticks, and an assortment of colors.

The only upgrade we found necessary was rear buttons mapped to X and O to help give us an edge in shooting games. We wouldn’t ever have to remove our thumb from the right joystick while jumping or crouching again. What stood out about Battle Beaver, which also helps set them apart from other big name custom controllers, is that their rear triggers are not paddles, but instead a round button as you’d see on the front of the controller. This is an amazing difference for players that hold the controller with a tight grip and struggle with the sensitivity of the standard rear paddle.

Battle Beaver is definitely a small business and every email customers receive after ordering their controller makes sure they’re aware that a lot of work goes into manufacturing these devices. The company also lets you know that every purchase is greatly appreciated and all of their work is done painstakingly by hand. Unfortunately, quality takes time. The order was placed on August 8th and didn’t arrive until September 10th. While this may seem like a long time for a controller that cost around $110.00, the craftsmanship that goes into the controller is clear.

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The only issue we had with the Battle Beaver controller is that the right stick began to stick after a couple days of playing, but the issue seemingly resolved itself after a little more time. While this could have become a much greater problem on an expensive new piece of technology, the company will gladly fix the controller if you email them about the issue and explain exactly what happened.

We love our Battle Beaver custom controller and will definitely utilize them if we need any other devices. Our favorite part about this small business is their dedication to providing a quality product and their understanding that these tools are important to the people using them. For more information on Battle Beaver or to order your own custom controller visit their website and see if they’re the right fit for you!

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INSIDE Review: For Love of the Game

INSIDE Review: For Love of the Game

Review by, William Griston, For Love of the Game – Gigamax Games Contributor

INSIDE is the spiritual successor to Playdead’s previous game, LIMBO, and it wears that mantle well. INSIDE was released on Steam, PS4, and Xbox One in 2016 by Playdead. This game is a “trial and death” game much like what Playdead had labeled LIMBO. Thematically both games are dark, but most of LIMBO’s grit comes from the ambiance, whereas INSIDE’s melancholy is tied to the themes that it presents.

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At its’ base, INSIDE is a side-scrolling 2.5D puzzle game with the story being told through set pieces that you encounter on your journey through the remarkably detailed world. While it’s not as difficult as its’ predecessor, INSIDE has a few new mechanics that keep things fresh.

Much like the previous game LIMBO, INSIDE starts off with a small boy running through a forest. After a short trek through the bush, you burst out into a clearing, where you learn that your character is trying to evade some NPCs(Non-Player Characters) armed with flashlights and tranquilizer guns.

INSIDE Gets Dark

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As you venture further and further into the game, the NPCs get more aggressive. The world itself takes a dystopian twist, each death functioning as a checkpoint as you stumble blindly through Playdead’s wonderfully crafted and terrifying world. You’ll find yourself holding your breath as you attempt to evade NPCs, pulling your hair as you try to figure out the path you’re supposed to take and a surge of joy when you finally solve an especially difficult puzzle. Much like LIMBO, there’s also a modicum of macabre humor to be found within the venue that Playdead has granted us. The sad state of the protagonist’s world is told through both the extremely creative set pieces as well as the beautiful art style. You will die, a lot.

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INSIDE’s graphics are not as rudimentary as the previous game. LIMBO was a black silhouette on a black landscape, INSIDE’s world is one of color, still draped in an atmospheric shadow and somber grays. The oppressive landscape serving as a terrifying backdrop to the gameplay, the story of the wheres and whyfors playing out in the background and sometimes in the foreground as you attempt to surmount the plethora of nefarious puzzles that have been placed in your path.

INSIDE is great, but LIMBO is better

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While INSIDE is a great game, I think LIMBO is the much stronger title out of the two.

If we’re being totally honest, I feel like INSIDE would probably feel more original if I hadn’t touched LIMBO first.

In the end, I’d say that if you like platformers and Puzzle games: Pick up both LIMBO and INSIDE. If you have to choose between the two, I’d get LIMBO because the puzzles feel less labored than they do in INSIDE. I just did not get as much from INSIDE as I did LIMBO, it’s still a great game, it’s just not as fantastic as the previous outing by Playdead.

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Surviving Mars Review – For Love of the Game

Review by, William Griston, For Love of the Game – Gigamax Games Contributor

Surviving Mars was created by the Bulgarian Haemimont Games and published by Paradox Interactive from Sweden. It was released on Windows, OS X, Linux, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on March 15, 2018. The game follows in the footsteps of Cities: Skylines (Another Paradox game) and SimCity (Maxis).

Not quite what I was expecting

After spending almost a hundred hours on the indie company Magruda Works’ Planetbase, another game that’s eerily similar to what Haemimont and Paradox have offered with Surviving Mars, to say I was excited for the game would be an understatement. I pre-ordered Surviving Mars, I never pre-order games anymore. I have been burned one too many times, this game was not any different. While Surviving Mars had originally piqued my interest because the game looked like it was Planetbase++, that is, Planetbase with more substance.

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What I got was a flashy game with very little substance. Which honestly should not have surprised me considering that it was published by Paradox, the kings of DLC. Paradox has a habit of releasing half-assed games and then making them better over time with DLC (See: Hearts of Iron IV, Crusader Kings II). Don’t get me wrong, I like Paradox games (I’ve played the shit out of both Hearts of Iron IV and Stellaris, as well as dabbling with the extremely complicated Crusader Kings II), I just I don’t like their business model.

Various Shades of Boring, with a side of Ho-Hum

Gameplay wise, you will spend a few hours collecting materials and then building windmills and solar panels so you can generate air and water and drop your first dome. After that, you call in your first batch of colonists which aren’t enough to staff all of your structures. Later on, when the games design to allows you to recruit more colonists it will automatically assign people to the jobs, but they are not assigned correctly. It assigns Engineers to the Farms, and Botanists to the hospital, and so on. This leads to a lot of tedious micromanagement with you attempting to track down individual colonists and telling them what building to work on.

For some inexplicable reason, the colonists sometimes ignore those commands and go back to the job they were working before, even though you’ve eliminated that shift which leads to even more tedious micromanagement. There honestly isn’t a lot to Surviving Mars. It’s basically SimCity/Cities: Skylines on Mars with a stricter ruleset. Graphically, the game isn’t really all that spectacular, either. Granted, the setting is Mars, which means that the terrain is various shades of red and brown.

Hot Garbage

In the end, I would honestly pick up Planetbase instead it is half the price of Surviving Mars. Even with the wonky AI in Planetbase, I had more fun within the first 3 hours than I did with the eight I put into Surviving Marts. I hate to trash on a game, but, Surviving Mars was a disappointment.

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On The Eighth Day, Iguana Created Turok…

For Love of the Game: Turok: Dinosaur Hunter

Review by, William Griston – Gigamax Games Contributor

Originally released on the Nintendo 64 in 1997, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter was one of the first FPS games designed explicitly with a console in mind. While it did receive a port to the PC, it was not as well received as the N64 version. Turok: Dinosaur Hunter was crafted by the now defunct Iguana Entertainment and subsequently published by the now equally defunct Acclaim Entertainment. Turok: Dinosaur Hunter was given new life on the PC in December of 2015 and on Xbox One in March of 2018 by Nightdive Studios

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Nightdive has succeeded in bringing a beloved game from many of our childhoods into the modern era. They seem to have a penchant for bringing old games from defunct studios back from the dead, and I feel that we all owe them for this great service. Keep fighting the good fight Nightdive.

The Setting

Taking on the role of Tal’Set as the current Turok(in the later games of the original series, you play the role of Joshua Fireseed). All Turoks function as protectors of the barrier between the Lost Lands and Earth as well as participating in an unending struggle to stem the tide of the nefarious Campaigner’s bid to rule the multiverse. Based upon a comic book series that ran from the mid-‘50s to the early ‘80s, the Turok games are one of the few game series to feature a Native American protagonist. It’s the only one to feature a pure-blood one, which is somewhat surprising given the rich lore in their culture. I would love to play through a game similar to the setting/events in the movie Apocalypto as an example. Pre-European conquest Tomb Raider? Yes, please.

The Gameplay

While the gameplay is fairly rudimentary by modern standards, that is, you point guns at bad guys and press fire until they die. Strafing in circles is your best strategy for almost every enemy in the game with few exceptions. You can also attempt to make your foes attack each other, a feat that is much easier with the ranged enemies than it is with the melee based enemies. The caveat here is that like enemies will not attack each other, except for humanoids armed with guns. That is, Raptors won’t fight Raptors, Pur-Lin won’t fight Pur-Line.

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You are given access to a veritable cornucopia of weapons with to dispatch the various flora and fauna of the Lost Lands. Most of them are stock standard FPS fare but there are few standout weapons like the Particle Accelerator, easily one of the most unique weapons in the game, hell, in any FPS game that I have played. The Particle Accelerator charges up before automatically discharging, or you can unleash a torrent of directed plasma in front of you and most enemies hit by it will be burned to a crisp before finally exploding flinging giblets every which way.

The final weapon, the Chronoscepter is only available if you find all of the missing pieces scattered across the levels. The Chronoscepter goes boom in the most satisfying of ways, at least for the era that the game came from, for modern games, it’s rather lackluster even with the updated particle effects from Nightdive Studios’ remaster. I think the only major issue I have with the weaponry is how weak the shotguns are, especially on the higher difficulties.

The vast majority of the enemies you will face in Turok are humanoids, but there is a sprinkling of non-humanoids such as the goliath Pur-Lin(Giant Ape-like creatures, that look like angry mutant frogs) and dinosaurs such as Raptors. There’s even a small handful of bosses (Four total). The amount of dinos you face is rather minuscule considering the suffix of the game is “Dinosaur Hunter”, but I guess “Turok: Hunts Dinosaurs Sometimes” isn’t as catchy.

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The enemies are not the only threat you’ll face on your trek through the multitude of interconnected worlds. There are a bevy of hazards sprinkled liberally throughout each level from the mundane and primitive stake traps (Long branches with sharpened stakes attached to them that swing out horizontally), flesh-eating plants that fire spikes at you, and the occasional falling rock, all of which serve to bring life to a mostly empty world.

Inexplicably, there are a series of jump puzzles across a few levels in Turok. Whose idea was it to put platforming into an FPS game? They deserve far more scorn than I can muster, maybe even more scorn than the entirety of gamedom can muster (that’s a lot of scorn for those keeping track).

Exploring The Lost Lands

On your quest to collect all the pieces of the Chronoscepter and defeat the Campaigner will find you venturing through a massive and ancient temple complex. Delve into the claustrophobic depths of a mazelike catacomb, run across bridges through a village high in the trees, trudge through a wasteland filled with fields of lava, and finally the assault the Campaigner’s fortress which is a labyrinth of steel corridors. Every level has a few secret portals that pop up from time to time, given away by the telltale throbbing hum.    

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The journey starts out in the lush* jungles on the outskirts of Lost Lands, which functions as a hub for the game itself. After collecting the first few keys, you’ll find yourself in a giant cave with slightly raised stone floor with a series of stepping stones marked with glyphs that correspond to a specific key for a specific portal on the cave floor leading to an archway that become active portals to each sub-world of the Lost Lands once you insert the needed keys into the corresponding mounting affixed on the central platform.

*There are trees, some vine covered walls, as well as few monkeys, boars, and deer.

Caveat Emptor(Let The Buyer Beware)

This is an old game, that means much of Turok’s content was limited by design choices of the original team (Iguana Entertainment) due to the technological constraints of the system it was created for in the first place (The Nintendo 64). The AI is pretty abysmal, the textures are low res, and the models are janky. The fog was initially used as a stop-gap to keep the framerate at a playable level, but it was put to good use by adding some much-needed atmosphere.

If were not for the fog, you would not be treated to seeing the monolithic structures that poke out of the mists at you as you approach them, nor would you have to tangle with dinosaurs charging at you from unexpected places. Even with Nightdive Studios stellar job bringing this game back from the abyss, there’s only so much polish you can put on a turd. I enjoyed my trip through memory lane, while I am honestly not sure how much of a factor nostalgia was, I expect it did play a rather large role in my enjoyment of the game so there may be some positive bias in my thoughts to the game as a whole.

Play Turok: Dinosaur Hunter if you want to see what helped influence the acceptance of the console FPS. Games like Turok, Goldeneye, and Perfect Dark all laid the foundation for games like Halo and Destiny.

If you want the flashiest of graphics with the gibbiest of gibs, I would just play the new Doom.

This review was written based off of the PC remaster of the game that was released in 2015 by Nightdive Studios and may not be applicable to the Xbox One version of the game.
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For Love of the Game: Superhot Review

Superhot is the most innovative shooter I’ve played in years.

Review by, William Griston – Gigamax Games Contributor 

Designed by the Superhot Team from Poland, Superhot was initially created for 7DFPS in 2013 before being worked into a more fleshed out game by the aforementioned

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Superhot has you enter a matrix-like grey-scaled world where the only bits of color are the endless hordes of Red dudes. The gameplay is centered around controlling the passage of time with key presses (or the lack thereof), time still flows even if you are not pressing any buttons or looking around, albeit at a pace even a snail would find painfully slow. Essentially, you will feel like you are playing through a John Woo movie. This is a game where you can literally dodge bullets. You can even, if you so choose, play the game like a stock-standard FPS game by pressing your movement keys constantly keeping the flow of time active rather than relatively inert. Superhot is easily the most stylised shooter that I have ever played, every level is black and white, all the Bad Dudes are Red, and your Dude is Black. All of the various Dudes are made of a crystalline substance that chips, cracks, and eventually shatters when hit by various objects ranging from baseball bats to pool balls, monitors, bottles, to bullets.

An Interesting Start

The game starts you off staring at a reasonable facsimile of MS-DOS.

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There is a surprising array of options for a game like this (Or any game in recent memory, really), some of them quirky (my favorite is the Chat Room), and a couple “games within a game” one of which is very self-referential. There is also a few easter eggs that are only accessible once you have completed the main game. The tree chopping mini-game is pretty charming.

I could honestly see that Superhot was a labor of love for the Superhot Team, and I can really appreciate the effort that they have put into it.

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The campaign is roughly two hours long, without spoiling anything important (Is there a way to spoil a two-year-old game?). The campaign starts you off with a text conversation with a friend, who after extolling the virtues of the same, sends you a copy.

Memorable and Engaging

I found Superhot’s campaign to be pretty engaging as a whole, or at least engaging enough that I played through it in a single sitting, even if Superhot is somewhat predictable.

There are a few really memorable set pieces as you progress through the game, which I want to talk about, but I would rather not tarnish the experience for those of you who have yet to play through Superhot.

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The Endless Mode moniker is a case of “What’s on the tin, is what’s in the tin.”, and is unlocked after completing the main game. The Endless Mode gives you the ability to play through a selection of stages you played through on the main game, albeit with endless waves of Red Dudes coming at you from every angle until you are taken out and repeat the process. Killing a fixed number of Red Dudes on a given stage unlocks further permutations of that stage, such as Time Attack, or “Katana Only” challenges, the number is cumulative so you don’t have to worry about doing it in one go, as I had initially thought was required.  I think my only complaint is that there’s too much focus on the gunplay in the Endless mode as a whole, you’ll see ARs and Shotguns in the second and third waves rather than a gradual introduction of better-armed opponents. It’d be fun for it to be primarily melee with the occasional pistol wielding Red Dude for the first 5-10 waves. I bet there’s a mod out there that accomplishes just that.

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Simple Is Beautiful 

Although simplistic, the graphics are able to convey the world that they wanted to show you in a manner that fits the narrative of the game. There are reasonable facsimiles of real-world objects (Cars, Bar Counters, Pool Tables, Toilet Stalls). There are Red Dudes, and various items that you can pick up and throw, use to beat or shoot the Red Dudes until they shatter. The Katana is a personal favorite, cleaving Red Dudes in twain and the way that the Katana sticks into the ground after you throw it is oddly satisfying.

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If you want to try a shooter that is as unique as it is stylistic, give it a shot.

If you are leery about trying it, grab it on a Steam sale.

Now For a Joke

A joke made by one of the streamers I watch on the regular made is that there is a hidden challenge mode in trying to beat the game before you can return it on Steam. I enjoyed the game enough that I did not return it, and have sunk a few hours into the Endless Mode.

Really, if you enjoy shooters in any fashion you should give the game a shot. I feel like you will not be disappointed. I know I was not, I just wish I had played the game when it was new rather than waiting a couple of years due to unfounded misgivings. Superhot is one of those games that really makes me love indie game developers.

The Author has not played the VR version of Superhot, as such this review is not applicable to that version of the game. Find the Superhot VR review from Gigamax Games!

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