Game Preview: Star Trek

March 13th, 2013

After a reasonably quiet January and February, the past two weeks have been so massively busy. I’ve been to a ton of interesting events (Stemettes, WOWhack, various PR events) and I seriously need to catch up on blogging about all of them.

Star Trek Game

Two weeks ago I got invited to the Science museum for a special hands-on preview of the upcoming Star Trek game. Now I hadn’t heard much about the new Star Trek game; I kind of assumed it was yet another cheesy movie tie-in game, but seeing as it was held at the Science museum I thought I’d give it a chance. And I’m glad I did. It looks like a fun game and a good addition to the Star Trek universe.

The event started with a presentation by Brian Miller, senior vice president of Paramount Pictures and producer of the Star Trek game. Hearing Miller speak so passionately about the game, you really got the sense that this isn’t just a movie tie-in and cash-in. Development started three years ago, and they’ve worked hard to create a game that belongs in the Star Trek world. Unlike most movie tie-in games, the plot of this game isn’t just an obvious rehash of the upcoming movie (which I really dislike; why “spoil” the movie by playing the game first or vice versa?). Instead the game has its own new standalone storyline set between the two movies, although I suspect that the end of the game might give a reason as to why the start of the upcoming movie seems to be set on Earth.

So what is the new game about? From what I can piece together the Enterprise is called to examine haywire experimental tech on a Vulcan space station and when Kirk and Spock go on an away mission to investigate things go wrong. Obviously. Miller stated that most of the game would take place on New Vulcan and that the main enemy is the Gorn, but how that exactly relates to the initial away mission I’m not quite sure.


You can play the game completely as Kirk or Spock, and each character allows for different gameplay techniques. Spock, for instance, will be able to mind meld with enemies and use the Vulcan nerve pinch on them. Besides playing it on your own in single player though, the game will also allow co-op, which I’m quite looking forward to.

All the actors in the movies were involved lending their voices to their game counterparts. Miller added that they gave Simon Pegg free rein to improvise whatever he wanted during the recording and that they did their best afterwards to include most of those bits into the actual game.

After the presentation, I got to try out the game myself. There are parts of the game that I so far really like and other bits that I don’t. For starters, I love the look of the Enterprise. I didn’t get to explore that much, but I think it looks great; you really feel as if you’re walking around a proper starship. I didn’t like the look of the characters though. The likeness of all the actors were used and yes, they do look like them, but there’s still a bit of uncanny valley going on.


Gameplay is obvious, but still quite fun. The demo mainly had us running around traversing stuff, but we also got to try out the handy tricorder. It pretty much works like Batman Arkham Asylum/City detective mode, giving you extra onscreen info about people, locations (== find secret places) and weapons (== giving you extra bonuses). There’s also an in-game “hacking” puzzle, where you have to match up frequency signals (I wonder how quick this gets old though). We were told that there were over 20 different weapons in the game, but the demo level that I tried out didn’t involve any battles.

So far I quite like the look of this Star Trek Game. It not’s going to be the-best-game-evah, but it’s definitely a step up from the typical movie games and something I think is worth investing my time in. It feels like the team have done their best to make it part of the Star Trek world and from what I can tell I think they’ve succeeded.

I can’t wait to get my hands on the new Tomb Raider! It came out a couple of days ago and I’m so curious to see how it is. From what I’ve seen it still feels too much like Uncharted rather than the Tomb Raiders of old, but I’m willing to give it a shot. I won’t be getting it straightaway though; I’m still playing Bioshock 2 and haven’t even gotten around to starting Dishonoured and a ton of other games. As much as I want to play Tomb Raider, I think I’m better off playing the stuff I haven’t finished yet, before buying a new game.

I am tempted though by these tops from the official Tomb Raider store. I love that for once there’s quite a good range for women, and not just the obvious tee. I think my favourite is the Sisters of Artemis pullover; I think that would look great with shorts and boots!

Icon T-Shirt ($20):


Sisters of Artemis Slouchy Pullover ($40):


Shield T-Shirt ($20):


Skilled Fighter T-Shirt ($20):


Survivor Dolman ($24):


Escape Raglan ($32):


Again I kind of want to get one of these tees, even though I still haven’t played the game yet. Which one is your favourite?

Movies. Games. Books. TV shows. I love all of them and I wish I had more time to watch, play and read all the things I want to. I do notice though how I tend to go through “waves” of each of them: some weeks (like the weeks leading up to the Oscars) I’ll be mainly watching movies, while other weeks I’ll be mainly hooked on certain books and games. I’ve had this idea for a while now to do a visualization of all the stuff I’m addicted to, mashing up my movie data from Letterboxd, my gaming data from Raptr and my reading data from Goodreads. The only thing I’m missing is my TV show data, but I think that one tends to be quite consistent through most of the year.

When it comes to games the past two months, I think I mainly played in the first 2 weeks just after Christmas. I was pretty much playing Assassin’s Creed III and Darksiders II simultaneously, cause I had to share AC3 with Cristiano. The more I play though the more I notice how easier it becomes to switch to different controller controls: it just takes time!

Assassin's Creed III

Assassin’s Creed III

I’ve always enjoyed the Assassin’s Creed series. I loved the overarching scifi-y story with Desmond, the scrambling over rooftops and monuments with Altair and Ezio, and just that sense of history while you’re playing. And while most of that was in AC3, it was also the first game in the series that I’ve been disappointed by.

I wouldn’t say it’s a bad game. There are some annoying glitches, but overall it’s a fun game to play. I think the main reason I was disappointed by it is because of the protagonist Connor. He’s just so booooring and bland, there’s just no way to sympathise with him. Part of me wonders how much that’s got to do with the bad voice artist; would Connor have been more likeable in the hands voice of someone else? Or is it really a problem with the story? You never get a real story reason to do anything beyond the main missions. There’s this weird disconnect between the main and side missions, as if each side was written by someone else who had different ideas of who Connor was.

Despite that though I did spend hours wandering through the forests hunting animals and navigating the high seas completing missions. Both of those were a lof of fun and surprisingly relaxing. It’s weird though that it’s the new elements that made me like this game, while the old elements left me rather disappointed. Today’s news of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag sounds like it will be focusing more on the parts I did like and will hopefully be better than this one!

Darksiders 2

Darksiders 2

I can’t talk about Darksiders II without first mentioning how sad it is that Vigil Games is no more. I really liked the Darksiders games and would have loved to have seen a Darksiders III, especially cause that one would finally feature Fury, the whip wielding female Horseman of the Apocalypse. It’s such a shame, cause I think they had some great ideas and they were definitely games I enjoyed playing.

In Darksiders II you get to play as Death, our second Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Just like in the first Darksiders, the game is a nice balance of fighting battles, traversing areas and solving puzzles. As the story progresses, Death finds gadgets granting him special abilities like grappling and portal jumping. I loved discovering the new abilities and trying to use them to solve the different puzzles. Some of the puzzles can be quite tricky, and I quite like that most of them aren’t completely obvious at first glance. The fighting I struggled a bit more with, but once you get the hang of it, it can be quite fun.

Bioshock 2

Bioshock 2

I still haven’t finished Bioshock 2, but so far I’m sort of liking it. I mean I think I’m only about one third in, but from what I’ve played it seems very much the same as the first Bioshock. Weapons? Check. Magic Plasmas? Check. Tonics? Check. Research Camera? Check. There are some minor tweaks in equipping abilities and skills, but again most of it seem pretty much copy-paste from the previous game. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I was hoping for something a bit more than just a rehash of the first one.

I again love the look and feel of the game; it’s so cool exploring the different sections of Rapture and they’ve again managed to create some creepy yet gorgeous locations. I just wish there was something new, something innovative, something a bit different, than just the “same” game again.

I’m still addicted to Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer. It’s been almost a year since it came out and I’m still playing it weekly! They just keep adding new characters and levels, and it remains fun and interesting to play. I also want to replay the main story line, but this time with a different backstory and make different choices. The first time around I played as a paragon, but renegade is most of the time way more fun!


So obviously I love these pendants from etsy store Land of Rapture. Which one would you choose? Paragon, renegade or in between?


I’d have to go with the Paragon one. As much as I’d like to go with the Renegade one, I’m more of a stick-to-the-rules type of gal.


I only played Bioshock a few months ago and still need to finish Bioshock 2, but I’m so looking forward to Bioshock Infinite! I loved the style of Rapture, Bioshock’s underwater city, and Columbia looks just as unique and interesting.

If you’ve read my previous posts you’ll know that one of my New Year’s resolutions is to write more reviews. I really should try and write a review for each game I’ve played, or at least round ups like this one (just a bit more often than every half a year though).

I think the main reason though of why I don’t write reviews for just one game is that I mainly play oldish games; I rarely play games that have just come out, preferring to wait until they’re the price I’m willing to pay for them. And then I just don’t get around writing about those games cause there’s no hurry in writing a review for something that came out ages ago…

mass effect 3

Mass Effect 3

The Mass Effect 3 multiplayer is the number one reason why there aren’t more games on this list. I already put this game on my 2012 January – June list, but I had to mention it here again. The multiplayer is a lot of fun, especially when you’re playing with a group of friends. Since they’ve launched Bioware have put a lot of time into making the game even more addictive.

Back in October they introduced the new Challenge Awards which is pretty much a specialized in-game achievements system, with a ton of challenges tied to weapons, power and character usage. It made me actually want to play with different characters each time and try out different ways to combine weapons and powers. Plus in the 8 weeks leading up to Christmas they released a new character each week. And the only way to unlock new characters is to play more, earn credits and buy packs (which may or may not contain a character). Anyhow it’s turned out to be waaaaay more addictive than I initially expected it to be.

Mass Effect is currently £17 on for both Xbox 360 and PS3.


Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

I played Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune earlier last year and wasn’t super impressed with it, mainly cause I was playing it 5 years after it came out. The story was fun though, so I was curious to see how its sequel would be. Uncharted 2 again has a fun story and it enjoyable to play, but… I can’t put my finger on just quite why, but there’s nothing in either of those games that makes me go “awesome awesome awesome best games ever”. Is it cause I’m just playing them some years after they came out or are these games just not for me?

Uncharted 2 is currently £16.98 on



This was the first game I played back in 2009 when I finally got myself a PS3. I actually didn’t like it all back then, mainly cause I sucked at the battles and kept on dying and dying. Fast forward to 3 years later when I tried it again cause the sequel was coming out, and turns out it’s a whole lot of fun. I really enjoyed the balance of puzzles, battles and item hunting, and love the design of the worlds and the characters.

Darksiders is currently £13.99 (PS3) and £14.99 (Xbox 360) on



I somehow had this idea that Bioshock was massively creepy and scary, which was why I was a bit hesitant to play it. Sometimes though you want to get that creepy, scary experience though, so I finally sat down to play it last month. And got hooked instantly. Turns out it isn’t even that creepy. The levels right at the start of the game are slightly creepy with dark corridors and creatures popping out at you, but as you progress that starts to lessen (although come to think about it: does it really start to lessen or are you just less likely to be creeped out?).

The game is set in the 1960s when your character crashes in the middle of the ocean and discovers Rapture, an almost-abandoned 1940s style underwater city. I loved the style of the game, and the story complements it completely. I definitely wish I had played it sooner.

Bioshock is currently £17.90 (PS3) and £24.99 (Xbox 360) on

So those together with these games (Game Reviews: Janaury – June 2012) are all the games I played last year. 2013 is already off on a brilliant start: I’ve already play bits of Bioshock 2, Assassin’s Creed 3 and Darksiders 2. So what games have you played recently, dear readers?

Time for the second of my Christmas Gift Guides! Today we look at gifts for the Gamer Girl. Some of these gifts would of course also work for guys, but at least half of these are definitely more aimed at female gamers. If you want to check out my first gift guide, it’s for the Fantasy Reader.

The main things to keep in mind when buying gifts for a gamer is the following:

  1. What console does she play on? An obvious one, but worth repeating for completion’s sake.
  2. What games does she already have? Check out her bookcase/box/benno/floorspace-around-her-console to find out what games she already owns. Or if you don’t have access to that, friend her on whatever console she owns network, and take a look at the games she’s played (not going in specifics here, cause it does depend on whether she uses Xbox Live or PSN). If she uses, you’re in luck; if she’s set it up right, you can easily see which games she has, what achivements she’s gotten and how many hours she’s played (here’s my raptr profile).
  3. What games are her favourite? If you don’t know, try looking at the amount of achievements/trophies she’s gotten in the games. It’s not always a good indicator of which game is her favourite, but it will tell you a bit about how many hours she might have put into them. Again if she’s uses raptr, take a good look at what games she’s played the most.


Let’s start with the obvious one. Gamer girls of course will want more games to dedicate their lives to. If you have no idea what game she wants, keep the three things from above in mind: what console, what games does she already have and which ones are her favourites. Try to pick a game from the same genre of games she already has; does she like first-person shooters, role-playing games (RPGs), racing games? Are they all fantasy based, or sci-fi based, or set in the modern day world? Don’t just pick a game in a shop cause the cover looks pretty or cause it looks similar to another game; google it and check out the reviews to see if it’s any good (Wikipedia tends to do nice overviews of how a game was received).

Also take the price of the game into account. There are certain games that I would never get for myself when they were full price, but that I wouldn’t mind trying out when they got cheaper. Besides that take a look at older games; I prefer playing a good game from 5 years ago, then playing a crappy game made this year.

Here are a couple of games that I enjoyed playing this year, but of course as I’ve said above it all depends on what your gamer girl likes. If you’re really stuck, feel free to email me or tweet me and I’ll see if I can help.

Official Merchandise

The next step would be looking at the official stores of your gamer girl’s favourite games. There are a lot of game studios that do great tie-in merchandise, like t-shirts, hoodies and accessories: the Valve store (Portal, Half-Life, Team Fortress, Left 3 Dead), the Bioware store (Mass Effect, Dragon Age), the Ubisoft store (Assassin’s Creed, Splinter Cell), the Halo store, they all have some great products.

I love for instance this N7 Hoody from the Bioware Store and this plush Companion Cube from the Valve store (anything Portal related will make me happy though).


I love showing which games I love by wearing cute necklaces and earrings! There are a ton of awesome designs out there, covering most of the current popular games. You’ll of course need to know what the favourite games are of your gamer girl, but if you do, jewelry will make a great present.

My favourite etsy store for necklaces is Land of Rapture. They do a lof of different cameo necklaces, with designs from Assassin’s Creed (I’ve got the one below), Portal, Mass Effect, Bioshock, Half Life and Dragon Age. They also do custom designs, so if you have an idea message them and they should be able to make it!

Another etsy store I like is The 17th Bit. I’ve got my eye on the Companion Cube necklace from Portal pictured below, but they also do various cute rings.

Also take a look at the ThinkGeek Jewelry section. My current favourite there is the charm bracelet (you can buy each charm separately though). I love the little bling mushroom and the cute companion cube:


These awesome custom painted heels are from etsy store magicbeanbuyer. The left pair is $115, the right pair is $75, but this doesn’t include the cost of the actual shoe (you need to send a pair for them to paint).


Besides the official merchandise stores, there are a couple of t-shirt companies out there that do great game designs too. Check out the following stores, they all have a great selection: J!nx, Insert Coin, Split Reason, Nerdy Shirts, ThinkGeek and Threadless.

Custom Controller

Who doesn’t want a controller in their favourite colours? If you’re confident enough in cracking gadgets open and messing around with them, just head on over to ebay to find all the parts in the right colours. I first heard about changing the buttons of your controller on explodedsoda’s blog (check out her blog posts about her custom PS3 controller and her custom Xbox controller) and have been dying to try it out for myself.

If you’re not that handy with gadgets or just don’t want to be bothered doing it yourself, there are a couple of companies out there that will do it for you. Evil Controllers has their own controller creator where you can specify the colours for each part, with a wide range of different colours and materials, and they also have a section with already fully themed and modded controllers. ControllerModz is a UK based company that provides a wide range of custom modded controllers and also allows you to send your own controller for modding to them.


When I came across GeekChicCosmetics I just knew I had to include it here. They do various ranges of eyeshadows and lipsticks, all inspired by games, movies and TV shows. There’s a Portal range with eyeshadows like Portal blue, Portal orange and Companion Cube pink. Or the Mass Effect one with Element Zero blue, Archangel sage (I would have chosen a dark blue to represent Archangel though) and N7 red. My favourite is the Babylon 5 one; all those colours look so shiny!


This one is sadly not an option for Christmas, cause it takes too long to be shipped. I still wanted to include it here though: hand painted bras! There are a couple of Etsy shops that I could find that do them: SceeneShoes (the bra on the bottom left), RainbowKidShop (the bra on the bottom right) and HeartMyGeek

So what else can you think of for a gamer girl?

Me Wantz: Mass Effect Artwork

December 2nd, 2012

I love the Mass Effect series; despite the ending of the last one, they are my favourite games of the past few years. And I’m still playing the multiplayer which I wasn’t expecting to enjoy quite as much as I am. Bioware is producing limited edition art giclees of 10 of their prints and they look gorgeous!

I’m a bit puzzled as to why they’re all artwork from the ME2 though… I would have loved to see an EDI print! My favourites are (of course) the Garrus and the Tali ones; they’re still my favourite characters of the series.

The Team – $2500, limited edition of 12

Archangel – $325/$940, limited edition of 50

Tali – $325/$940, limited edition of 50

Miranda – $325/$940, limited edition of 50

Aria – $325/$940, limited edition of 50

Thane – $325/$940, limited edition of 50

Normandy – $325/$940, limited edition of 50

Citadel – $325/$940, limited edition of 50

Earth Alliance – $325/$940, limited edition of 50

Cerberus – $325/$940, limited edition of 50

Which one is your favourite one?

Assassin’s Creed III is coming out tomorrow! I loved the previous 4 games and I can’t wait to get my hands on it and play it. This is a completely fanmade video, but it looks pretty good. The acting is not super (and WTF at the end credits!), but the choreography of the fights is pretty cool and not what you’d expect from something fanmade:

Event Report: Playful 2012

October 29th, 2012

Two weekends ago I attended this year’s Playful at Conway Hall. I’ve been attending the Playful events since they started in 2008 and they’ve always been a lot of fun. It’s a one-day conference all about games, play, interaction, behaviour and everything that comes with looking at the world through fun eyes. Each time they bring a cool group of speakers together to talk about games and play from unique perspectives.

I said “I attended” this year, what I actually mean is volunteered. That meant arriving at the venue at 8:30 and helping out with setting various things up. As usual I also headed registration, trying to make it as quick and easy as possible. I’m not really sure why, but I really love doing registration at events. Here we had about 300 people all arriving within the first hour, but I think we dealt with them all quickly and nobody had to queue for too long.

#Playful12 badges!

Because I was volunteering though I didn’t get to see all the talks. I ended up seeing 9 out of the 12, only missing 3 talks, which isn’t too bad a ratio. I should have planned it a bit better though, cause looking back two of those talks seemed to be quite interesting to me (Mark Sorrell’s talk on Computer Games (Not Video Games) and Siobhan Reddy from Media Molecule presentation on Learnings from New Ideas). The other 9 talks were great though too; here are the ones that stood out most to me:

Mint Foundry — Toys With Purpose

The Mint Foundry is Mint Digital’s graduate scheme and this year it had tasked four designers to “Make a toy that has a reason to exist”. They came up with Dough Globe: a sourdough game controller. It’s a hollow ball in which you can “grow” your sourdough and then uses an accelerometer and ethanol level to control a custom built game. The game features Doug, the little guy that lives in your Dough Globe and by playing the games with Doug you can unlock recipes for your sourdough.

Holly Gramazio — Clapping Games

I used to love clapping games as a kid; there were so many different ones that I sort of remember playing. Holly Gramazio from Hide & Seek talked about clapping games, their origin and how we should be playing clapping games more. “They’re Guitar Hero without the technology”. At the end of the presentation she explained the rules of the Danish Clapping game, which I now really want to try out.

Bennett Foddy — Confusion & Frustration in game design

Bennett Foddy is an Oxford University professor and the creator of iOS games QWOP and GIRP. Foddy talked about how games need a certain amount of suffering in them to fully enjoy them. He gave an example of a friend buying an iPhone game and being disappointed in it when he finished it in one go. It’s the suffering in the game that makes failure matter and makes you want to play on and master the game. Games need different dimensions of suffering to be fulfilling: pain, frustration, confusion, humiliation.

I really enjoyed Playful this year and definitely look forward to next year’s one! Did you go to Playful? What was your favourite talk?

Tags: Events, Games