Tag Archives: Jon Ireson Journalist

Sorcerer King Steam Early Access Hands-On Preview

RealGamerNewz - Sorcerer King Beta 5 Stem Early Access

Now that the fifth Beta phase has been issued for Sorcerer King it’s high time RealGamerNewz drops our thoughts and feelings on the direction the title has been heading in thus far, the development studio’s vision for those who don’t know yet, and a general impression on how that vision is actually being delivered. Most importantly, whether or not this game is even fun. But first things first, there’s a few things you may not know about me which I’d like to disclose immediately.

A quick internet search will show you that I’ve had my hands on two of Stardock’s other games in this genre (4X Turn-Based Strategy), namely Fallen Enchantress and Elemental: War of Magic. My experiences were not pleasant and the Reviews I provided reflect that loud and clear while still giving readers an idea of their redeeming qualities. The first one, Elemental, even came with a full length book. This prompted me to attempt and bring Brad Wardell onto a Podcast of the publication I was contributing for when I made the Review. Ever the busy guy, Brad apparently never got a chance to respond. Looking back I sincerely wish that I had tried harder, since now a ton of controversy has rained down on the industry and I feel it’s all tainted the developer to press relationship quite a bit, while at the same time causing far more open transparency (albeit through callous methods). That is neither here nor there for the purpose of this Preview though, but suffice to say I found it odd when Fallen Enchantress was released and had almost everything wrong with it that Elemental did (despite clear attempts from the dev team not to) yet the press gave glowing Reviews with high scores. I might have been a bit too harsh on it, but I lambasted it for being a re-hash and even felt that Wardell himself just didn’t know when to give up on a concept after I had played it.

So with all of this personal history / bias in mind, on walks Sorcerer King to my doorstep. Is it different enough? Is it good enough? Or is Stardock Entertainment just really good at PR and Marketing now? I dug in hoping to find out… Giving every game a clean slate to be judged on regardless of who made it or the past iterations is a concept I take seriously a member of the gaming media. Forgive, but don’t forget might not be an accurate way of describing this – but let’s just say that doesn’t mean I won’t notice repeating trends nor ignore them. With that all in mind I’m thankful to be able to say that Sorcerer King is a lot better than the previous two games I have mentioned, while still stubbornly carrying out their legacy. Before I deliver some of how I feel the game has improved, I would like to speak about the developers’ vision for this game and the genre overall for those who might be reading and wondering what they’ve gotten themselves into with this abnormally upfront Preview.

RealGamerNewz - Sorcerer King Beta 5 Stem Early Access Gameplay

After watching many developer streams I’ve come to understand what the team is going for this time around. A more approachable game that gets things right the first time rather than asking the player to bend over backwards to understand it. As for my own personal thoughts, I am pleased with what has become of this turn-based strategy series. Sorcerer King is distinguished and very different from its predecessors in many ways. Most immediately recognizable is the fact that the game is simply much easier to learn, more clear and obvious in its functionality, and most importantly – it’s more fun. Even without cutscenes players will be able to grasp the story being told here. While a few very advanced strategists can point out features and details that need re-tooling, the game is finally complete in that any player of the Strategy genre will be able to approach it without prior knowledge of the series.

Stardock Entertainment has truly produced something worthwhile with Sorcerer King. Although some polish on balance can be expected before the final release, it feels almost finished already, which makes me feel confident in this evaluation. Normally for Previews we like to stick with being informative versus evaluative, but given the history of the franchise and the high price point of entry for users it felt necessary to be judgmental. Now let’s talk about the actual details of how Sorcerer King games play out mechanically speaking.

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– Build outposts to expand your territory, claim resources as your own in order to defend the world against prime evil

– Train units to expand your armies, stack them and bring dozens into each battle

– Upgrade your city with buildings that unlock a more advanced civilization, and enhance your army (among many other things)

– Gain spells, champion attributes, resource modifiers, and much more as your units and structures level up

– Craft potions, weapons, equip individual units with everything they need, auto resolve battles, or fight them out manually in strategy RPG grid style fights (some battles cannot be skipped)

– Come across interesting and varying random encounters with your choices impacting what happens in the immediate moment as well as eventual future such as robbing people, recruiting people, saving people from monsters, doing deals with neutral parties within kingdoms you wish to sway back to your side and away from the sorcerer king, and much more

All the while the Sorcerer King himself will continue to visit you and try to tempt you to join his side or at least accept his aid. It seems like a terrible idea and it’s probably better to maintain your honor in this quest since the world is depending on you as the last kingdom around. Engine performance issues are less than expected given the instability of the previous two games in the series, but there are still hiccups in frame rate and loading which is a shame. Of course, that could easily be a symptom of the game not being done yet, as it is still in Early Access, and I have not experienced anything game-breaking nor trudging along levels of slowdown.

Sorcerer King RealGamerNewz Early Access Preview

There is so much to say about this game and much of it is good. It’s very deep and diverse gameplay, lore, and beautiful presentation make it a must have title for strategy fans of any caliber. Finally it is possible to really understand what you are doing and function in the game without being a completely obsessed person scouring every detail. But this isn’t what everybody in the existing fan-base had wanted.

Some features have been “dumbed down” or removed entirely for the favor of making this game a better title for the overall gaming public. I want to personally thank Stardock Entertainment for making that difficult decision and executing it gracefully (most of what is lacking is actually in the game in some form, telling me that the dev team tried their hardest to avoid leaving things out) and while normally I’m against this practice in games, it made sense for this one. The games that came before it were simply not that good in my humble opinion and though I sympathize with strategy fans who meticulously frothed at the mouth over tiny details and statistical charts they were influencing, Sorcerer King is simply a better, more complete package.

Perhaps since the game is still in Early Access Stardock still has time to add back in some of the pieces that players are missing. But as it stands, this game is an amazing accomplishment bridging the gap between good design, responsible scope of core systems, and ridiculously ambitious scale. I look forward to possibly giving more Early Access Impressions, and definitely performing a Full Review upon release, though it will probably be around four thousand words or more because there is so much to cover in Sorcerer King. If you love the Strategy genre, buy this now.

Top 3 Ways GameStop Can Win Back Gamers’ Trust

RealGamerNewz - Top 3 Ways Gamestop Can Win Back Gamers Trust

I’ve had times in my life where I’ve gone hard against brands I disagree with, but perhaps I’ve gone too far because I saw unfulfilled potential and missed opportunities. I’m here today to provide what is hopefully much more valuable feedback and constructive criticism about one brand in particular. GameStop is the bane of many gamers’ existence, but it doesn’t have to be – and it wasn’t always this way. In my opinion the following three points are areas where GameStop needs to show improvement in order to win gamers back, and I genuinely hope that they do.

Number One: Stop telling people to pre-order games. This might sound like a really small thing but is actually the number one complaint that gamers have against GameStop. Believe it or not, this one small and simple change in wording could provide a huge impact on making people love the in-store GameStop experience again. Gamers feel like when they’re told what to pre-order they’re being forced into decisions that they’re not ready to make yet. Even worse, if the game disappoints them later, instead of blaming themselves for the purchase, they will blame GameStop.

Simply let people buy whatever they want to buy. Modern video game consumers are still going to pre-order games even without being harassed and have already educated themselves in most cases as to what they think deserves that risk. Maybe instead get to know them as individuals and be a better salesman by finding out their wants and needs and cultivating a friendship. Ask them what they like in a different way that is not so pushy and try asking what genres they like without immediately pushing for a pre-order the same day. This could be a way to open up conversations. Many people who still shop at GameStop say that they enjoy these types of conversations, but do not enjoy the pressure of the constant pre-order requests every visit at the check out line.

Gamestop RealGamerNewz Used Games

Number Two: Stop selling used games for so much money. What’s the point of buying a game used if you’re only going to save $5 or $10? Of course we understand that GameStop needs to survive as a business, but if they want to do that then they need to also understand that they’re competing with Amazon and eBay a lot more these days than they used to be. They also need to understand that gamers are aware buying used might not directly support their favorite publisher / developer, so a great bargain will go a long way to keep GameStop from losing that much needed profit margin with used game sales.

Number Three: Stop selling used games as new copies. Many GameStops open up games that haven’t been used yet to allow employees to play them. This is a great benefit for employees who work at GameStop, but it’s not okay for GameStop to sell these at the new game price. Just because a game is in great condition doesn’t mean that it is a new copy. If someone has taken it home and used it already and broken the plastic wrapping on the original case GameStop should not be allowed to sell that to gamers at new game price without the seal and act like it’s okay.

There are even extreme cases where GameStop has done this with very rare games sometimes resulting in driving up the price above $60 (such as when highly anticipated Action RPG Xenoblade Chronicles from development studio Monolith Soft was first released for the Nintendo Wii with an exclusive distribution agreement that saw the game only available in GameStop stores.) This caused a huge ripple throughout the gaming community, cost GameStop to lose a lot of their remaining reputation among skeptics, and overall left many gamers feeling upset or even betrayed.

There are many more ways in which GameStop could improve but before listing those I would like to see the company take an actionable interest in solving these three first. Only then will I be able to confidently provide more feedback and begin to take them seriously as a company again as well as feel like I’m being taken seriously as a consumer of video games. I’m not the only one who feels this way and hopefully they still care about what real gamers have to say.

Disclosure: The author of this article worked for Amazon on a confidential project during a six-month contract which was completed as scheduled.

Editor’s Note: The views expressed in this article are that of the author and may / may not represent views of the rest of RGN Staff / our audience. This article will not be removed and all takedown requests will be ignored.

Counterspy PS4 Review

Counterspy PS4 Review - RealGamerNewz

Counterspy is a crazy cool mix of side-scroller elements combined with stealth and shooting moments that work out well. Two dimensional and three dimensional art styles are mixed together providing the best of both worlds in this indie-style title developed by Dynamighty and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. Though this is the first game Dynamighty has ever created, the team is made up mainly of industry veterans from the days of LucasArts and the quality of it gives all of us here at RGN great hope that this team of ten will be a positive influence on the video games industry overall.

Respect is certainly in order for Sony who has often spotted great talent and given it a boost. In this case, millions of gamers have been able to play this title since it became free for PS4 on PlayStation Plus as well as a cross-buy deal for those who pay and receive PS3, Vita, and PS4 copies of the game all for one purchase. But that’s not what we’re here to talk about, time to get into the meat of what makes Counterspy great and where it can improve.

The game is focused on invading both the socialist (soviet style) and imperialist (allied style) forces of the world during an alternate, fictional version of the Cold War as they plan to launch nuclear rockets at the moon before the enemy superpower.

Counterspy PS4 Review RealGamerNewz Screenshot

Stealth in Counterspy is optional, but highly encouraged. I’m torn about whether or not this is a strength or a weakness. The fastest of speed runners could probably blow through levels without doing much stealth, and as long as the timing is right suffer very little consequences. However, there are consequences built-in for attempting such a behavior. Defcon levels are raised by a lack of stealth and will carry over to future missions causing them to be more difficult. That’s nothing a few fully automatic rifles won’t solve though. But if it reaches 0 then the political power you are currently invading will launch their moon missiles. Finding launch plans is required to progress through the game, not just run and gun – so that’s how the spy feel is kept intact.

Players can also find dossiers purely to enhance their cash flow which is later spent on weapons and ability formulas (unlocked by blueprints). Some of the abilities from these formulas include increased armor, or the ability to persuade your Defcon to a lower level (which can also be accomplished by holding Officers at gunpoint, not to be confused with soldiers who will just shoot you), and even the ability to disguise yourself against camera detection saving precious time shooting out each lens.

There’s a ton of optional side-content in this game, including elevators that take you to places you don’t necessarily need to go to with the stuff you need to get every upgrade / collectible in the game. Another side objective is that players see their friends scores and try to beat them. If this is accomplished, a reward is found on their body mid-mission next time around. This adds some nice replay value for sure.

Official Trailer:

Final Verdict:

Visual fidelity and fun factor are some of the great strong points in Counterspy. Some areas of improvement could be worked on would be a more in-depth experience with a few more optional complexities underneath the surface. That being said, it’s well worth the asking price if you don’t manage to grab it for free from PS Plus. Players don’t really need to do stealth, and the game’s a lot less enjoyable than it could have been because of that. It’s also easier and more accessible. Overall, Counterspy is a great game but it could have been even better.

Overall Score: 8 / 10
RGN Rating: Silver Game
Developer: Dynamighty

(Additional Work by SCE Foster City Studio)

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

Available On: PS4 | PS3 | Vita | Android | iOS

Played On: Sony PlayStation 4

Review Copy Info: A digital copy of this game was purchased by RealGamerNewz for the purpose of this review.