9 Feb 2012 Posted by KHLOE


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Thankfully a single button press gets you back into the action quickly, and a checkpoint system ensures you're not starting from the very beginning of a level once you've killed everyone on a floor and have progressed to the next. This encourages you to trust your instincts and play fast, rather than approach each floor methodically. Hotline Miami feels like Super Meat Boy in this respect. You frequently play one floor 20 or 30 times before you finally reach a checkpoint, but it rarely feels cruel. When you die, it's due to your own poor execution, and the run-and-gun action is so downright entertaining that replaying sections is enjoyable. Once they've reached level 15--which doesn't take that long while they're actually earning XP--continuing to improve your characters is a matter of gaining access to better and better blueprints and crafting materials so that you can periodically replace your existing boosters and implants with superior ones. The knowledge that a character is no longer earning experience may encourage you to rotate another character into your squad who can still reap the benefits of XP, but it won't be that long before you have a team of adventurers you're happy with who have all reached the level cap, and again, the knowledge that you're not earning experience in combat makes it feel less worthwhile. Hell & Damnation wastes little time getting to the action, but it's perhaps too focused at times. The campaign is laughably short; it takes about four hours to blast through the 14 stages that span four chapters. And meeting the conditions needed in each level to unlock black tarot cards used to apply perks in combat adds only minimal replay incentive. The option to play through the entire campaign cooperatively with another player does change things up for the better, since certain enemies come back to life if you don't consume their souls after killing them. It's not enough though. By the end of the meager campaign, the bliss of wanton ultraviolence fades into a repetitious groove. The quality of storytelling is a key factor in an adventure game, and Virtue's Last Reward passes that test with flying colors. The game's plot immediately grabs you and rarely lets go, going from a creepy horror premise to interpersonal character drama to mind-blowing sci-fi concepts expertly. The promise of unraveling the many mysteries--Why are we here? Who are these other people? What purpose do the Ambidex game and the room puzzles serve? What is this facility?--keep you engaged, and the many new mysteries that appear throughout give you even more reasons to keep playing for hours on end as solutions dangle tantalizingly in front of you, just beyond the reach of the next puzzle. Like Skyrim proper, Dawnguard provides a good mix of conversation, combat, and exploration, and it integrates well with the main game. You learn new dragon shouts, solve puzzles, discover tomes that you might return to the College of Winterhold for a tidy sum, and so forth. If you are a werewolf (which means joining the Dawnguard and forgoing lording over others as a vampire), you too get a set of perks all to yourself, and there is all-new armor to don and weapons to use, like the new crossbows. You can even now do battle while mounted, which feels a bit loose and clumsy, but is a nice touch nonetheless, since you don't need to dismount every time a wolf chomps at your steed's legs. Despite all of their abi

However, this made learning the program a lot simpler, especially because we were unable to get much from the online Help file's brief descriptions. Fortunately, the program took next-to-no training to master. We were able to scroll through an alphabetical list of hundreds of terms ranging from the 23-Day Cycle to Nominalism to Zone Therapy and more. Each definition provided insight into psychic thinking, and, thankfully, was written in layman's terms. We didn't find any word that we couldn't understand, even though we knew nothing about this field when we approached it. We were also pleased with the program's Alpha Course Nicky Gumbel feature, which saves time by letting you type in a word instead of scrolling through all the various terms. This dictionary was simple and insightful, though we would have liked a more professional interface. The interface is simple, consisting of a few buttons and pictures that you can intuitively navigate through. The test is a basic radio-button style that shouldn't give anyone trouble. There is a Help file available, though it is so short you'll have an easier time just experimenting and learning. You begin by navigating through a menu from which you pick cards to include, objectives, and skill levels for testing. Once complete, you can teach yourself the Tarot. Here, each card in the deck is beautifully displayed and defined. Cycle through the deck until you have a good feeling for it and then take a test. The test will show a card and you have to choose from a multiple-choice list for its definition. Both tools are great either for learning the Tarot or to keep skills sharp. In addition to the tutorial and testing, the program lets you create your own deck. By following intuitive instructions, a personalized deck is only minutes away. Like all programs from Mystic Board, this one opens with a screen cluttered with Mystic Board ads. Users then enter their name and gender, and the program guides them through a series of images. The first few images are horrible drawings of gnarled, creepy-looking hands; we were relieved when these gave way to photos of a normal-looking palm. For each characteristic--heart line, life line, and so on--users view a set of images and check off the images that are similar to their own hands. At the end, the program supplies the analysis, with one sentence per characteristic. The program definitely does not provide a holistic interpretation of the data; rather, it spits out information about each hand characteristic piece by piece. This is OK, but a user could probably get better information by learning about palmistry on their own and applying the rules. The online Help file describes the program's functions but does not discuss palmistry. On the extension's Web site it says that this is still a work in progress. With this in mind, it is no wonder that the add-on has some glitches. A minor annoyance is that after exiting out of a window, its respective box does not disappear from the Alpha Course Nicky Gumbel page unless the page is refreshed. This also applies to opening a new window, as well as exiting/opening new tabs. However, the most frustrating feature is the little suitcase icon that resides at the top-right-hand corner of each Alpha Course Nicky Gumbel box. Alpha Course Nicky Gumbelking on a suitcase closes the window that the box represents, sending it to the bottom-left-hand corner of the Alpha Course Nicky Gumbel page. Alpha Course Nicky Gumbelking on the suitcase at the bottom of the screen is then supposed to open the window up again. The problem is that once this new window is open, its Alpha Course Nicky Gumbel page is illegible and smashed together and each tab starts out by taking up only a fraction of the screen. Thankfully, this is cured with a page refresh. This is not only one of the cleanest-looking but also one of the easiest stock trackers we've used. The program offers a sample portfolio, Alpha Course Nicky Gumbel 401K, which helped us quickly get a feel for how it operates and simplifies setting up Alpha Course Nicky Gumbel to track the type of investments most common to most users. We created a new Watch List, quickly found a few sample stocks to track, and added them with a few clicks. Selecting any symbol highlighted its current data and called up its price graph. Dragging the cursor