Handheld Heroes

Words on a caffeinated level

Not sure how you found this page but thank you for coming. My name is Andy Breeding and I have been writing about games since 2008. From the beginning of 2015, I am now creating video content on my YouTube channel as well as streaming on Twitch. If you would like to see the work I have done for myself in the past when I ran my own site:

My Work

If you want to see things I have written for other sites:

Work Done For Others

You can also visit my YouTube channel or Twitch channel to see all the new things I am doing today.

If you would like to contact me, I can be reached at andyb404 at gmail dot com or on Twitter.

Review: Dungeon Siege III: Treasures of the Sun DLC

Dungeon Siege 3 ended up being a really surprising game for me. I didn’t expect to have as much fun with its linear hack'n'slash style that at times seemed too basic. Yet, somehow, I got fully consumed in crawling all the dungeons to see every part the world had to offer. With Treasure of the Sun DLC recently released, it’s time for me to go back into the depths of Dungeon Siege 3. If you played Dungeon Siege 3 to completion, you can load up your endgame save to access the new area for the DLC. Just head on over to the causeway and you should see a new pathway open for you. Another way to get into Treasures of the Sun is at least make it to the point where you control the Stonebridge Chapterhouse, there will be a quest giver there that will open up the area in the causeway for you to enter. This is how I ended up playing it.

I would love to say the story was interesting but when it comes to these types of games, I breeze through most of the dialogue since I want to get to the killing. What I gathered from the times I forced myself out of the habit of skipping the dialogue seemed as good if not better than the main game had. I wish I paid more attention to the story in both since the voice acting is great.

Along with a whole new region to explore, new additions are also here. Some are welcomed while some seem not quite needed. One of the things I loved that was new in Treasures of the Sun DLC was all the new loot to grab. There are some pretty good equipment to find in the Aranoi Desert. I was happy when I would find another high-end item to make me that much more powerful, which I needed to be to fight off all the new enemy types I faced. Since I went into this new area at level 12, I got a challenge. it was so much of a challenge that I had to turn down the difficulty from Hard to Normal in order to stand a chance. Even after the drop in difficulty I felt like I was still having to fight for my life fending off mummies, sand monsters, sand worms and a assortment of spiders and skeletons.

The 'boss' fights that you encounter when doing the quests in the Aranoi Desert were really a blast to play. Constantly using all of my abilities to stay alive was a test to how well I used them and at the right time. It doesn't hurt to have an 'Ultimate Power' to use either. Being another of the new additions in Treasures of the Sun DLC, you get a choice of three different powers to pick. Shield, health regen or an AOE (area of effect) attack are your choices which at any point you can switch between, provided that you visit the shrines at the beginning of the Aranoi Desert. I only found the AOE to be the most helpful. When getting swarmed by enemies, I would rather kill everyone than heal only to be killed by being overwhelmed. One caveat to using this ability is that it will use up all of your power orbs. You build them back up fast enough to not worry about using them.

The two things that really didn't make sense for me were essences and transmute. Essences let you enhance your equipment to get better stats. The stats I saw it boosting were nothing that would benefit my character, I decided to never use it. Making that decision also saved me some gold since you have to pay to use essences. Transmute was also a let down. I thought it would let me pull off equivalent exchange and make something useful out of some of the junk I had in my inventory. All it really does is break down the item into gold and if that item had a certain attribute, an essence. At least I could free up some space and make a little cash in the process.

I want to go back to Treasures in the Sun DLC after I beat the main game of Dungeon Siege 3 to see if things scale to my level. Honestly I think I am just looking for an excuse to play more of this game and get to the new level cap of 35. Which is to say if you are looking to do just that, pick up Treasures of the Sun DLC. For $9.99, you get a good 5 hour jaunt back into the world of scouring every corner to find that next treasure chest in a exciting new area.

Review: Hard Reset

Flying Wild Hogs decided to try something different when it came to Hard Reset. They wanted to announce it, then release it, all in a very short period of time. This was odd for most to comprehend since games are usually announced way before they are even done or even started on for that matter. After looking at every video I could findfor Hard Reset, I found myself day dreaming of reliving my incredible experiences I had back in my past when shooters were frantic and unrelenting in its desire to wear you down. After the install was finished, it was time to see if all that day dreaming can become a reality. These days when gaming, I expect some sort of story that I can follow regardless of how ridiculous it is. I was a little surprised how vapid the story is in Hard Reset. Told in motion comic cutscenes, I gave up trying to understand what was really going on to get to what I was here for to begin with,the promise of shooting the ever-loving crap out of robots. Upon getting in the game, you are greeted with unbelievably gorgeous graphics. I have a decent machine (ATI 5770 1GB, Phenom II x4 945) and with the settings on "ultra", I was getting a solid 50-60 frames per second. Hard Reset is one of the best looking games I have seen this year. The detail of the world was down right amazing. Hats off to all the little things that went into the animation all throughout the game as well. Just the main menu for the game alone is indication enough that Flying Wild Hog loves them some animation.

Here is the one thing you must learn if you want to survive in Hard Reset, NEVER…..STOP…..MOVING. This applies to the combat portions of the game of course. There are breaks in the action long enough for you to rest your fingers and explore your surroundings. You don't have to explore if you just want to straight up kill things although it would benefit you to do so since there are secret areas that hold valuable upgrade points to get new weapon modules and new passive abilities. More on that later. The combat is hectic and fast paced with your good old buddy, circle strafe, becoming your best friend again. Something I noticed was that the movement speed was a tad slow for how many enemies are thrown at you during the levels. Certain robots will charge you and it makes it hard sometimes to time your movements to side step out of the way. There is a sprint in Hard Reset however its a short burst and you cannot use it again until the sprint bar fully recharges making a quick getaway not possible in crucial moments.

The weapons given to you to survive the onslaught of robots consists of a CLN gun that fires your traditional ammo while the NRG gun uses energy for its ammo. Using the upgrade points you find throughout the levels or by killing enemies at upgrade terminals, you can purchase add-on modules that will give 4 additional new weapon configurations for each gun. Basically, your CLN and NRG guns transform into different types of weapons which gave me a sense of relief knowing essentially I had more than 2 guns that you start out with at the beginning of the game. Coming back to the animation, I can't rave about it enough. It never ceases to amuse me when my CLN gun transforms into a shotgun or staring at the the glowing ball on the NRG gun. Besides the shotgun, I think the rocket launcher with the cluster upgrade were the ones I used the most when I had the CLN equipped. The clear winner using the NRG gun was the mortar blast and the smart gun. Having the ability to lock on to your target and home in on it is a blessing especially later in the game. Alongside the weapon upgrades, there are upgrades for your health, shields, ammo capacity and a enhanced mode which when near death, slows down time to give you that edge you might need survive.

Environmental hazards also play a big role in your survival. If you play it right, you can kill a mob of buzzsaw wielding robots with one shot to an electrical box, exploding barrel or even a car. Good thing the streets seem to be abandoned or else a lot of people would be killed in the mass explosion you can cause with the environment. If you are not careful though, environmental hazards can backfire on you since the enemies can set them off as well.

Only a few things held back Hard Reset from being that adrenaline fueled experience I wanted so bad. Without something keeping you invested in the world besides beautiful detail and crazy combat, which gets a little repetitive after 3 hours of the enemies doing the same patterns over and over, the boredom creeps in. It also doesn't help when the game ends with no indication that you are at the end of your journey. The abrupt ending made me wonder if the game didn't install correctly or if the review build I received was not finished quite yet. If you are looking for something to keep you coming back for more after the end of the story, you can always try to improve your score by seeing your stats at the end of every level and trying to top it by replaying the level. I can see people doing speed runs while trying to get all the secrets in the level. I feel Hard Reset offers just enough to make this nod to the olden days of PC shooters worth it for the nostalgia it will give seasoned PC gamers while still giving new gamers enough excitement for them to enjoy.

Review: Driver: San Francisco

Not knowing much about cars besides that I like driving and some cars are better, more expensive than others still doesn't turn me off most driving video games. The heavy sim racers are still hard for me to get into since I am not a gearhead and wouldn't fully understand the world the developers made for the grease monkeys. Driver: San Francisco fills in the gap of my love for cars but not knowing too much about them....and I had so much damn fun. Driver: San Francisco is a mix of one hell of a good time with some frustrations sprinkled in. The story takes place a couple of months after Driver 3 although I didn't have to worry about following the story since it held up fine without the backstory. The flow wasn't quite there in how the story unfolded, though once you see what I think the developer was going for in terms of flow, everything makes sense. I do like how the vibe of the story felt so much like a buddy cop movie with a little sci-fi mixed in. Yes, the story is a little out there and ridiculous but in a fun, enjoyable way. I hope I am not the only one who plays this game thinking your partner, Tobias Jones, looks like Sazh Katzroy from Final Fantasy 13. I kept waiting for a chocobo to pop out.

To help the 70's cop show vibe I was getting from Driver: San Francisco even further was the soundtrack. So much good music that need to remember to get the soundtrack when I am done writing this review. With songs from The Black Keys, Beastie Boys, DJ Shadow, Queens of the Stone Age you get a crazy mix of artists that somehow fit in the world of Driver: San Francisco. I did get annoyed at the end game credits music since it was one song on an endless loop, not that many people even look at the credits of the game to begin with. When driving around the city, you can switch the tracks being played with the press of the d-pad left or right.

As far as the actual gameplay goes, I never had this much fun in a driving game EVER! I'm usually the worst player when it comes to driving games since I always have trouble learning the physics to the car models in order to get control of the car and end up crashing every time I turn a corner. I found Driver: San Francisco's physics easy to learn and felt like a getaway driver whipping my vehicle around 90 degree turns with the handbrake without losing too much speed. Story mode seemed to end a little fast for me but that is not a knock against how short the game is, more-so it's how much fun I was having and I didn't want it to end. Of course there was some minor things that bothered me such as having to do city missions to unlock the story missions. That, to me, ruined the flow of the story a little. You do get some side stories from the city missions that loosely tie into the main story so I went along with it.

The "shifting" ability you get in Driver: San Francisco is a refreshing thing. It never gets boring shifting out of my body to jump into a tanker truck and use that to crash someone I am chasing. Having the option to cause a pileup so that the person you are chasing cannot get away or to stop would-be pursuers from getting you is satisfying every time I do it. I do wonder how the people I shift into survive head-on collisions at 100 mph though. There is a moment in the story mode where you have to control two cars at the same time. That really took me by surprise and I thought the developer who's brain it came from was insane. It was probably the most exciting part of the story mode for me. It wasn't ground breaking design or anything, it was just very unexpected and actually worked well.

Multiplayer was a great time for me but not for the reasons you may think. Most people play to win, especially in a racing game. I, however, had more fun wrecking everyone out of nowhere than trying to win straight up. Nothing like hearing 4 people scream "What the fuck!?" when a fuel tanker is barreling down at them. There are a lot of different modes to play so you can choose to play a straight up race with no abilities if you so desire. I am not sure why the multiplayer modes are locked until you level up though. You level up pretty fast so it's not too much of an issue (getting to level 9 unlocks the last mode) although I wish developers would just let people play whatever mode they wanted at the start. I love the freedrive area of multiplayer. It reminds me of the party mode for GTA 4 in that you can just run around town and do whatever you want with friends. Just driving around to check out the city with your buddies following you is relaxing and great for when you just want to chat about whatever while driving one of over 120 licensed cars in the game.

Driver: San Francisco was fun, pure and simple. Between the story mode, multiplayer, new game plus, and challenges (check out the movie challenges for themed challenges for Bullitt, Gone in 60 Seconds, Smokey & The Bandit just to name a few!) never once did I think I was bored. Even with some of the issues I had like crashing way too much during some of the city missions where you had to race in traffic. It was better to restart the race instead of trying to catch back up since the load times were fast. Another issue I had was just how some of the final story mode chapters were cheap and punished you if you screwed up just a little. Even with those issues, I never had this much fun playing a driving game ever. Driver: San Francisco is a game I will look back on later in life and think, "Man, I had so much fun with that game. Good times indeed."

Review: MindJack

I am here to jack your mind. Now before you say "jack what?" I am talking about MindJack, a game published by Square Enix and developed by Feel Plus. I was super hyped about this game when it was announced for, what I thought at the time, was an innovative idea. At any time, I can leave my body and jack someones feeble mind and use them to do my dirty work? Can I just hand you my $60 now? Now that I have finally got my grubby little hands on MindJack, I am quite saddened by what came of this at the time innovating idea. Wondering how this "Mind Jacking" got its start is hardly told to the player at all. In fact, the story is so non existent that I had no idea just what the main characters Jim and Rebecca are running from and why.

Well not totally true. At the beginning of the game, Jim is told by the voice in his clunky bluetooth device attached to his ear that he needs to follow a subject and observe. After observing for about 2 minutes, Jim sees the subject, Rebecca, talking to a man in the corner. As the voice in his ear told Jim to not make contact until he finds out what is going on and who the man was, he walks up to the man and snaps his neck! What the hell? After that, Jim and Rebecca start running. MindJack gives you no sense of the plot as well as why we should care about Jim and Rebecca.

Ok so the story is crap but what about the sweet sweet jacking you get to do? Well...that was also a let down. When enemies are brought down by what seems WAY too many bullets, you have a window of time to mind control the downed enemies to make them your allies. Once this is done, you will see a blue aura around them to differentiate them from the rest. There is a limit on how many things you can mind control at one time.

Yes I said things since you can also do this to machines. I still can't decide if this mechanic in the MindJack actually benefits the player in any way. Most of the time the things you control die so fast that it seems like a waste of time to try and control them in the first place. The "Mind Jacking" aspect of the game comes into play two different ways. The way that I always used was when I was knocked down to zero health. When you are brought down to no health, you get ejected from your body and float like an apparition in first person view as the action continues on. In this state, you can jack the mind of anyone you have control of, innocent bystanders, machines or even your partner.

I found the way you control moving around in this state clunky and disorienting. You can use the right and left bumpers to instantly cycle through the available bodies whose mind's you can jack although not knowing exactly where that particular person or machine is in relation to the battle going on makes it hard to choose just which mind to jack. No one wants to jump back into battle only to be cut down 2 seconds later due to poor location.

The biggest thing that irked me was the way MindJack handled your inventory. Every time you started a new section of the game, it would reset your loadout. What was the point of stockpiling grenades and ammo if you are going to just take it away from me? Another thing that was poorly implemented was the perks and rules that you acquire when leveling up. It took me until I was about 3 hours into the game to figure out that I had to back out to the main menu to equip the perks as well as set rules for the game. The perks are your standard fare of boosts such as accuracy, health, damage, etc. The rules change the way the game is played. From how easy the enemy A.I. is to other things that affect other players jumping in your game.

Yep, this game has multiplayer but not in the way most shooters have them. MindJack gives you the option to either host a game and have people randomly jump into your playthrough or you can join a game already in progress. You do have the option to turn off people jumping in your game, which is mostly recommended. Having to do a section of the game over 5 times in a row because of 3 people jumping into your game and dominating you is frustrating to say the least.

Although I am all for new and innovating ideas for games, sometimes you just have to say no. The overall story and mechanics of MindJack should have been given to a developer that could actually pull this off. Not saying Feel Plus is a bad developer, it's just that they couldn't completely make what they envisioned on paper to be an awesome idea. Unless you want to grief other players actually trying to beat the game, go and jack another game worth your time.

Review: Super Meat Boy

Every now and then I, like most people, want to play a game that is challenging to the point of snapping a controller in half yet have it also be a game that is really entertaining. It almost seems like the art of making that style of game is lost in current times, that is until Team Meat decided to make Super Meat Boy.

Super Meat Boy's story is that your one true love, Bandage Girl, has been kidnapped by the evil Dr Fetus and you must stop at nothing to rescue her. You have to love a game with the main villain named Dr Fetus. I honestly had no idea what I was getting into with this game. I heard rumblings from the internet that this game was amazing from all the press events Super Meat Boy was being shown but never looked too much into it. I am happy that I didn't look at all the previews for this game since it made my experience that much more sweet.

There are 7 chapters in Super Meat Boy with each chapter consisting of certain amount of levels with "dark world" alternates to each level that add or change certain things. At the end of the chapter you fight the boss for that specific chapter with hilarious cutscenes before and after the fight. The level map is laid out like Super Mario 3's level map is with Super Meat Boy moving from one square to the next after beating the level. This game will try your patience HARD. I walked away plenty of times cursing that little sack of meat, to only come back to it 5 minutes later.

The way the levels are designed in this platform puzzler is nothing short a beautiful insanity. There are par times on each level that when beaten, will unlock the "dark world" levels. On top of that, you have hidden warp zones in the chapters that sometimes unlocks characters for you to use. Yes, not only can you use what could be Meatwad's son, you can choose other characters from some of the other fantastic indie games like Commander Video (Bit.Trip.Runner), Jill (Mighty Jill Off) Tim (Braid) and the Pink Knight (Castle Crashers) just to name a few. Each character has different abilities that might make them valuable in getting past a level you are smashing your head against trying to figure it out. Commander Video can float while Jill can slow her decent may be just what you need to reach that bandage. Oh I forgot, there are collectible bandages in some levels that you can use to unlock more characters. Good luck with that since Team Meat decided on making those even harder than getting to the end of the level.

Super Meat Boy will have you dying over and over and over again to the point of exhaustion. Good thing is the way that this game flows, it never seems like time has passed since your 567th death. You also can't blame it on the controls since they are super tight. It also doesn't hurt that the music is fantastic. Classic 8-bit tunes with a hint of present day styles mixed in was a lot of fun to die to. It also never starts over when you die. Again, it keeps the flow going.

Enjoyable cut scenes, fantastic music, insanely creative level design mixed in with great flow makes Super Meat Boy a must buy for platform puzzle lovers everywhere. Now excuse me while I try this level again for the 568th time.