Game Info:

Mount & Blade : With Fire and Sword
Developed by: Taleworlds
Published by: Paradox Plaza
Release Date: May 3, 2011
ESRB rating: Teen
Genre: RPG Strategy
Single  & Multiplayer

System Requirements
PC with 1GB of RAM
Graphics card with at  least 128 MB memory
Windows 98/2000/ME/XP/Vista
900 MB of hard disk  space

Thank you GamersGate for sending us this game to review!

Mount & Blade: With Fire and Sword is a story based stand-alone modifcation using the Mount &  Blade: Warband engine.  For those who enjoyed the original Mount and Blade, $15 can get you mutliplayer action and a good single player campaign.  If you already own Warband you may want to read the rest of the review before buying the expansion.

The Mount & Blade series is known for its open-ended single-player campaign. Fire and Sword is now tied to a story but you can follow it at your own pace.  When you start the game, you are attacked, rescued and given a rundown of the new factions available in this game. To begin the storyline, you will eventually have to align yourself with a faction.  Until then, you can attack bandits, join them, pursue vassalage, become a merchant or a mercenary, or take on a Robin Hood role; it's entirely up to you. You can even pursue your right to rule and become the king  and conquerer of Europe.

Quests can also be given to you by village elders, guild masters, Lords, their Ladies, and Kings.  The quests vary from delivering a letter, cattle or other things, to defending a lady's honor, or even performing espionage, and many other tasks.  When you complete quests, your relationship will improve with the person who assigned the task to  you. Quests usually have to be completed within a certain time frame; however, they're usually pretty generous, unless you're being summoned  for a military campaign.  And to keep track of it all, there's a handy journal to record your quests.


Strengths: Very reasonable price for 30 hours of single-player and unlimited multiplayer enjoyment

Weaknesses: Too many features removed from Warband

Moral Warnings: Blood and violence though blood can be disabled; minor language; sexual references

If you decide to become a vassal for a king, he will  usually reward you with a town's taxes for revenue.  You will also have the option to make improvements to your town, such as adding a mill, a school, or by hiring people like priests, marshals and treasurers. Castles allow you to garrison an army and collect rent from people resting there. Unlike Warband, when you own a castle, you no longer have the option to host a banquet to improve relationships with lords or women.  The option to marry has been removed as well. To go along with the "With Fire and Sword" novel, you're also limited to playing as a male character.  You can play as a woman in multiplayer though.

Battles are inevitable but you don't have to fight alone, you can recruit a war party from taverns and villages. However, the party size depends on your charisma and leadership  attributes. It's important to remember, there are disposable party members and hero party members. The hero party members will not die in battle; they will only get  knocked unconscious. In Warband you can have these heroes become your vassals after you are king, but this not an option in Fire and Sword. These heroes have attributes, weapons, and armor that you can customize as they level up. It's pretty easy to adjust  their skills and equipping them is pretty straight forward too. But you can't equip them with items that they don't have skills for.  They also  have personalities that like certain hero characters and despise others. If your party is mismatched, you'll get bickering and your morale will lower until someone eventually leaves.  If a hero party leaves, you can get them back at a random tavern.

Battles are quite fun and don't get tiresome.  The scenery and loot varies depending on who and  where you are fighting.  The enemies are challenging too, especially if  you are out numbered. You issue battle commands and if you want you  have the option to send your army to fight without you.  If you're in a  real pickle, you can leave a few men behind to help you escape, but that doesn't sit too well with some hero party members.


Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score 78%
Game Play 16/20
Sound 7/10
Graphics 7/10
Controls 5/5
Stability 4/5

Morality Score - 78%
Violence: 4.5/10
Language: 6.5/10
Sexual Content: 8/10
Occult/Supernatural: 10/10 
Cultural/Ethical/Moral: 10/10

New to Fire and Sword are guns and grenades. I don’t like the guns since I find them very inaccurate and they take too long to reload. When you besiege a castle, you now have options for poisoning the well or bombing a wall. However, I was only able to successfully bomb a wall. When it comes to fighting the AI is relatively smarter. They still attack in swarms but they will block your attack with their guns, swords and shields.

Graphically this game hasn't changed too much. It's not up to par with most AAA titles but it gets the job done. There are new textures and buildings for the new Russian, Polish and Swedish empires. There are also two different camera views in this game. There's a world overview where you can see villages, castles, caravans and war parties moving. When you go into a battle, village, or castle you switch to a third-person mode. The graphics engine is a little dated but it's easy to look past that. The battle scenes look pretty good; the game considers the time of day, location, and weather conditions, so the battles have some variety. There are many character types and classes but similar class types look identical.

The background music is pleasant and adds the appropriate mood. Some of the music is carried over from the original game but there are some new tracks added for variety as well. The battle noises are very realistic and are well done. I like the way the party cheers after a victory but when you talk to people in the game, it's all text. I guess I'm spoiled by Oblivion.

From an appropriateness standpoint this game is pretty good, but there are some things worth noting. There is violence, however blood can be disabled. There are some language issues such as da*n and being called an illegitimate son by some enemies. Religion plays a role now and you will see intolerance to various beliefs, including references to Islam and Catholicism.  When you enter a town or a castle you are given a brief rundown of the rumors and happenings there.  One of the messages said that a priest was giving communion to female parishioners all night long.
There is an active community supporting this game. There are lots of unique mods and enhancements available. Make sure you keep your game up to date; in order to play on the servers you have to have the same game version. The ability to export/import your character helps in the event of a patch rendering your game save unplayable. The try before you buy download is pretty nice. You can get the full version of the game for free, but there's a level cap unless you purchase it for $15. If you're used to the freedom of Warband you may want to pass this one up.  The storyline is about 20-30 hours long and ends abruptly so you cannot play your game after the last quest is completed.  If you have the original Mount and Blade and want to try the multiplayer for a reasonable price I would recommend getting this.  I have seen sales as low as $20 for both Warband and Fire and Sword.
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Game Info:

Portal 2
Developed by: Valve
Published By: Valve
Available on: PC/Mac/PS3/Xbox 360
Genre: Puzzle
ESRB Rating: 10+
Single Player or Two Player Cooperative Play

System requirements:
Windows XP or later
3.0 GHz Intel Pentium 4 or 2.0 GHz Dual Core Processor
1 GB of RAM on Windows XP or Windows 7 (2 GB on Windows Vista)
7.6 GB hard disk space
DirectX 9 graphics card with 128 MB RAM
Sound card DirectX 9.0c compatible

Mac OS X:
Mac OS X v10.6.7 or later
2.0 GHz Intel Core Duo processor
2 GB of RAM
7.6 GB hard disk space
ATI Radeon HD 2400 / NVIDIA GeForce 8600M / Intel HD Graphics 3000 or higher

After being trapped in cryosleep for decades, Chell, the defiant lab rat of the original Portal game, once again finds herself inside Aperture Science and is woken up by an unfamiliar robot named Wheatley. He will help you escape before the Aperture Science building collapses.  On your way out you’ll stumble upon your trusty portal gun which will help you escape the remains of many test chambers.  Like the previous Portal, you can make inter-connecting portals that allow you to travel between rooms and floors easily.

As you’re making your way out of the depths of Aperture Science you’ll be travelling through the beginnings of Aperture to modern day.  The décor changes as you work your way through the labyrinth.  There are offices with 70’s décor and main frames to the 80’s era with monochrome CRTs and desktop PCs.

Along your travels you’ll get to know Cave Johnson, the President of Aperture Science, through his pre-recorded messages and test findings.  The messages are pretty funny and make you wonder why people would willingly go through these “tests” for $60.  The humor in this game is top notch and there’s a funny new credits song after you beat the single player campaign.

The puzzles start off easy and get gradually harder.  Many of the same concepts are in place where you have to put weighted cubes on buttons to open the exit doors. When it comes to placing portals, there are times when you'll have to free fall and place a portal on the ground to gain enough velocity to make it across a wide cavern.   Some of the puzzles have multiple solutions but most can only be solved one way.


Strong Points: Longer single player campaign; new multiplayer game play.
Weak Points:
You’ll be called fat and insulted throughout the game.
Moral Warnings:
Mild language.

Exploration is rewarded and there are some funny achievements that you can earn by discovering some artifacts.  Both the single and multiplayer modes have achievements available.  While you can explore, there is not much environment interaction and makes this game feel rather "dated". There are plenty of tests this time around.  The original Portal game was fun but extremely short.  That’s not the case in the sequel.  The single player campaign took me twelve hours to beat.  Once you beat the single player campaign you can check out the multiplayer and the free downloadable content.

Some new additions to Portal 2 are the blue, white and orange goop.  The blue goop makes the surface it’s on super bouncy and allows you to jump far and high.  The orange goop makes the floors really fast giving you a burst of speed.  There are many puzzles that will be utilizing these paints and combing those two will get you pretty far in life.  Can’t place a portal?  The white goop can fix that by making surfaces paintable or allow portals to be placed on it.

Besides the new goop, there are light bridges and light beams that you can place to travel across deadly chasms of emptiness.  There’s also a new kind of cube that redirects laser beams. While the laser beams are not deadly, they can be used to trigger and unlock various sensors.

Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 94%
Game Play: 19/20
Graphics: 8/10
Sound: 10/10
Stability: 5/5
Controls/Interface: 5/5

Morality Score - 89%
Violence: 7.5/10
Sexual Content: 10/10
Occult/Supernatural: 10/10
Cultural/Ethical/Moral: 10/10

The multiplayer has some neat additions worth noting.  If you can’t decide on who gets to do what you can settle it in an old fashioned game of rock, paper, scissors.  Another helpful tool to communicate is the pointer.  Steam natively supports voice communication and it definitely comes in handy here.

The console versions of the game support split screen multiplayer. The Play Station 3 version can play against other steam players cross platform and save your progress on the steam cloud.  Also, the PS3 version of the game includes a steam key to use with your PC.  Sadly, Xbox 360 users only get to enjoy split screen multiplayer.

The multiplayer tests are fun and challenging.  The added game play time will vary depending on if you’re playing against an experienced player or not.  It may be extended even further with more DLC add-ons (for pay or free).  GLaDOS is back and she tends to favor one player over the other and her comments are rather humorous.  As you play the game you can unlock items and customize your multiplayer robots with unique looks and apparel.

The multiplayer has the same look and feel as the single player campaign.  The player robots have expressions and seem to be more human than robot in nature.  GLaDOS will call you a human as an insult.  The environments are rather dreary and falling apart in most of the maps.  While the graphics are good, the Source engine is starting to show its age.  The physics are still top notch however.

I love the voice acting of Wheatley, GLaDOS and Cave Johnson. They all sound so different and are all fun to listen to.  You definitely don’t want to miss a word they say.  My only complaint is that Mr. Johnson says the D word a couple of times and GLaDOS says hell in case that offends you.  Other than that, the game is relatively family friendly.  The only violence is from turrets, neurotoxins, and spiked walls that can smash you into a pancake.

If you enjoyed the original Portal, getting the sequel is a no-brainer.  I have enjoyed the single and multiplayer campaigns thoroughly and can’t recommend this game enough.  Even though the tests are similar in nature to the original game, the character development is what makes this sequel truly stand out.  While my kids enjoy the original Portal, I’m a little hesitant on loading this on their machines due to the mild language.  My kids are 6 and under so I’ll hold off until they’re a little older.  After all, it is rated E10+.
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Game Info:

Shooting Blocks (PC)
Developed By: Adore Studio
Released: April 2011
Genre: Puzzle
Single Player
ESRB Rating: N/R
MSRP: Free

System requirements:
OS: Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7
CPU: 800 MHz
RAM: 256 MB
HDD Free Space: 100 MB
DirectX: 8.1 or later


There are a lot of casual puzzle gamers out there, so Adore Games is looking to tap into that market by offering their game Shooting Blocks for free. That’s right, free.  There are no ads, bundled-in toolbars, or spyware with it, either.

The concept is simple: all you have to do is click on the blank ice cubes and once they are gone, you progress to the next level.  You start with ten lives and you lose a life for every pink-filled ice cube that is broken or falls off the edge.  If you get enough points in a level, you can earn more lives.  The challenging part is that your progress is cumulative meaning that the number of lives you have left affects all of your future progress.  If you find that one level costs you a lot of lives, it’s best to restart that level and give it another shot.  When you’re down to a couple of lives and on a difficult level, you’ll be in a world of pain.

If you break all the blocks without any mistakes you will get an extra life. Some levels have random bonus blocks that can freeze time or add barriers preventing the blocks from falling off the edges.  Sometimes these bonuses are completely random and other times they are hiding behind a specific block.


Strengths: Not only is it fun, but it’s free too; would be a great Android/iPhone game

Weaknesses: Limited to PC only

Moral Warnings: None!


As of this review there are three worlds; Prolog is the first and has 11 challenging levels. The other two worlds (Ice Age, Ice Cream) have twenty levels each.  It looks like there is room to choose one more area so the developers may add a new world later.

The 2D graphics are simple but they get the job done.  The fantasy backdrops are colorful and pleasing to the eyes.  The ice blocks are easy to distinguish but the bonus blocks are not always clear as to what they actually do.


Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 86%
Game Play: 16/20
Graphics: 7/10
Sound: 7/10
Stability: 5/5
Interface: 5/5

Morality Score - 100%
Violence: 10/10
Language: 10/10
Sexual Content: 10/10
Occult/Supernatural: 10/10


The music is charming and pleasant to listen to but it does get repetitive after a while.  I didn't get tired of the ice cracking sound effect though.

From a moral stand point this game is perfectly safe for people of all ages.  My kids enjoy watching me play it and I will put it on their computer too.

If you like casual puzzle games be sure to check Shooting Blocks out.  Since it’s free all you have to lose is roughly 30MB of hard drive space.  I’m curious what other games Adore Studio will be releasing and how they plan on becoming profitable.


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Game Info:

Publisher: Chronic Logic
Developer: Chronic Logic
Released: May 4, 2004
ESRB Rating: N/A
Available on: PC, Mac
Genre: Puzzle/Platformer
MRSP: $1.00

Thank you ChronicLogic for giving us this game to review!

Gooey, black balls in games are nothing new thanks to World of Goo, which paved the way for the loveable tar heroes. But before Goo, there was Gish. Way back in 2004 independent studio Chronic Logic created their own gelatinous hero, a 12 pound lump of tar named Gish. After his girlfriend Brea is kidnapped by sewer monsters, it's up to Gish to navigate the labyrinthine tunnels and underground traps of the sewer while defeating the monsters that stand between tar and his true love.

But unlike the black balls of World of Goo, Gish is a character of surprising depth. Not emotional depth mind you, but in his ability to morph into a variety of different properties.

Using "stick" Gish can extend spikes from his gooey body to climb up walls, pick up objects and creatures or even travel on the ceiling. "Slick" turns Gish into an extra gooey form that allows him to slide through especially small passages and "heavy" mysteriously adds density and weight making Gish fall faster to crush blocks and enemies underneath him.


Strong Points: Great lighting and physics effects; tons of content.

Weak Points:

Overly complex controls.

Moral Warnings:

Dark atmosphere; blood and violence.

The three main properties can also be combined to overcome a multitude of enemies and obstacles, including a handful of boss fights that will put your fingers and wits to the test.

However, jumping is something I found extremely difficult to learn. Eventually it becomes obvious that the trick is to hold the up arrow key until the apex of your jump, and hold the down key or even "heavy" as Gish falls. I also found using slick helps keep Gish squishy and easier to bounce when you hit the ground. The concept makes sense, but I still found such a basic maneuver needlessly complex.

Once you have the basics down the game throws a number of twists your way using a surprisingly robust physics and lighting engine. I was often impressed with the way blocks and platforms moved while obeying laws of gravity and momentum. And many times, the subtle lighting and shadow effects took me by surprise. However, the backgrounds feel plain and lack details which begin to reveal the game's age. While Gish himself has some excellent animations that sell the tar character, he also lacks details or definition.

Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 70%
Gameplay: 14/20
Graphics: 7/10
Sound: 7/10
Stability: 5/5
Control/Interface: 2/5

Morality Score - 84%
Violence: 5/10
Language: 10/10
Sexual content: 10/10
Occult: 7/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical: 10/10

Despite the cartoon graphics and seemingly cute animations of Gish, the game's tone is very dark and macabre. Enemies may also disturb younger players with their grotesque features and splattering of blood when squished.

The sound effects are satisfying as each plop and smack reverberates as you flop around the sewers, and flattening enemies is always rewarded with a solid crunch. The music is a collection of creepy yet jazzy tunes that compliment the dark, almost gothic art style, but I found the soundtrack lacks any stand out songs that might get stuck in your head.

But if you can get over the dated graphics, spiking difficulty and dark theme, there's a lot to do in Gish. The game comes with three game modes including 34 Single player levels, where you guide Gish through the sewers searching for his kidnapped girlfriend. Collection mode has Gish in a race against the clock collecting amber for highscores, and Versus mode contains six local multiplayer scenarios which pit you against your friends in a collection of minigames including Sumo, Pitfight and Dragster.

In the end however, a great concept and stellar lighting and physics can't hide the fiendish difficulty, complex controls and disturbing violence. Some gamers will relish in the challenge, mastering the pretzel like combinations of keyboard inputs, and are rewarded with a game bursting with content and hidden secrets to discover. But for others, the violence and difficulty may be enough to keep this tar hero in the sewer.


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Game Info:

Victoria II
Developer:Paradox Interactive
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Version Reviewed: 1.2
Platform: Microsoft Windows, Mac OS 
Release date: August 13th, 2010
Genre: Real-time grand strategy
Mode: Single-player, Multiplayer
MSRP: $29.95

Thank you GamersGate for sending us this game to review!

While some strategy games place you in command of a general/hero in relatively fast-paced action, Victoria 2 helps you create the bigger picture, by giving you the opportunity to create or change a country’s history during the Victorian time period.

Victoria 2 is a grand strategy game which places the player in command places the player in command of almost any country from the Victorian time period from 1835 to 1935. The tutorial partly helps the player conquer the steep learning curve and once you get past the first few years of game play the game gets addictive. The game places a lot of power through politics, diplomacy and warfare at your disposal.

The game consists of a Grand Campaign and Multiplayer, though multiplayer is for hard core fans that have a lot of time on their hands. The Grand Campaign is filled with events like reforming your nation, gaining prestige from a successful expedition in Egypt and improving relations with your neighbors, that will keep you busy and wanting more. Whether you want to free Britain’s colonies or just humiliate China through defeating them in an unjustifiable war, the globe is yours.


Strengths: The re-playability; game play depth; great variety of events; open ended.
Weaknesses: Occasional bugs; steep learning curve; requires patience; repetitive soundtrack.
Moral Warnings: None!


The game play interface is based on a regional based world map where the regions contain information regarding the population, workforce, ideology, culture and the amount of armies that can be built. The game uses a real-time system where the speed of the game can be set to the player’s liking. Armies are simple to command, battles are resolved by the AI and the resupply system is also automated. You can control the production, budget, research, politics, trade, diplomacy and the military of the nation. The production mainly consists of building factories to produce goods for trade or war. The control you have over your production depends on the country’s state economic policy. The budget interface lets you set the tax rate for poor, middle and rich classes.

The income provided from the mines, tax etc. is used to allocate spending for things like education, administration and the military. The technology interface shows the literacy rate and research points of your nation which determines the effectiveness and speed of research. The politics interface is used to implement social and political reform. The availability of the reforms mainly depends on the willingness of the Upper House to enact them. You can also release a nation, choose the ruling party and make decisions (which create modifiers, like an increase in population). The trade is automated, but there is an option to buy or sell goods if you don’t trust the AI. Diplomacy options include declaring war, forming an alliance, increasing/decreasing relations and requesting/granting military access.

Another important factor is influence - a degree of influence over what decisions other countries make, either because they like you a lot, or they fear you a lot. The current wars and great powers are also available in the diplomacy screen. Last, but not least, your military is one of the more exciting elements of Victoria 2. Unfortunately for some, the military doesn’t completely revolve just around buying armies, the country has to have a large enough population to sustain and build armies. Mobilization is possible, but the quality of the mobilized troops is not as effective as with sufficient troops. You also have to bear the Casus Belli system (war justification) in mind. When starting a war, you set a war goal and if you don’t have justification, whether you win or lose; you gain infamy which tarnishes foreign relations. Planning is very important when occupying territory, especially when engaging a large country, because of the siege process involved.

Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 70%
Game play: 18/20
Graphics: 5/10 
Sound: 3/5 
Stability: 4/5 
Interface: 5/5

Morality Score - 96%
Violence: 10/10
Language: 10/10
Sexual Content: 10/10
Occult/Super Natural: 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical: 8/10

The enemy AI is challenging and your allies tend to stay loyal as long as your relations are good. It is also notable that rebellions randomly rise up later in the game, but the 1.2 patch seems to fix it.

The game has a good soundtrack, but addicts may want to place the music on mute after a few days. There are some minor stability issues, but the game runs smoothly for the most part. The interface is user-friendly. The interface is user-friendly and the menus help the player keep a close eye on everything from construction to occupying/losing territory, though the pop up messages may become an irritation after a while.

Conclusion: with just a few minor problems and a looping soundtrack, the game offers a fun and satisfying experience. The replay value will keep fans coming back for more, though a lot of people might be put off by the steep learning curve and the patience required in becoming a true and virtuous ruler, sweet talking politician, or an egomaniacal tyrant.


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About Us:

Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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