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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Some things I've bee up to...


From Dust: Pretty damn fun. You are effectively "God" or whatever you might call it, and you manipulate the world, the goal being to help the nascent tribe under your watch to thrive. I keep messing with them though. Can't help it. Pretty slick physics here, particularly the water. Certainly a steal for fans of the genre, and deserving of a good hard look by those that have not played this type of game.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution: I don't normally go for highly story-driven games. Make no mistake, I want some kind of story in my single-player games, but it is not critical to my enjoyment. This game has a deep story. I find myself hammering the 'skip' during player-NPC dialogue, and when offered dialogue / response choices (that undoubtedly affect the rest of the game-play and storyline), I tend to hammer the fuck you / you're an ass / I will crush you / blow me selection. This will no doubt lead to my character having sex with the boss's poodle, but so long as I get to shoot something, so be it. I have not yet been drawn into the story enough to put up with watching a movie in the middle of my game. Not the game's problem at all - I just have short attention span for these kind of things. I'm sure those that enjoy such things, particularly if it continues some story from the earlier game iterations, will find it satisfying.

The combat reminds me of a combination of F.E.A.R. with a little Splinter Cell and Crysis (avatar enhancements) thrown in. Satisfying, and reasonably difficult. You take damage pretty quickly, and recovery also takes a fair amount of time, so that tough opponents warrant respect and thought-out battle plans. I've played about six hours so far, and from what I can tell, there is much more to go, and certainly had I perused every side-quest and explored every nook and cranny, I'd have even more time to go. It's clear that on a game-play time per dollar scale, you get big bang for your bucks here.

The soundtrack by Michael McCann is an enticing blend of electronica - I enjoy it in-game greatly, and listen to it out of game. The audio of the game is good, with some genuine LF content (e.g. transport takeoff) that provides satisfying rumble for those with subwoofers. The graphics are OK - nothing earth shattering, with fair avatar renditions and some nice effects. I'm not sure I understand yet the 9/10 or 10/10 ratings I've seen, but that may well be that I have not yet a full handle on the game. I'd give it a solid 7.5 so far, and I'm happy with the purchase. Check it out.

Tramua: WTF? Not sure yet what to make of this game. A flash based exploration game inside the mind of a comatose crash victim, you explore the world as a sequence of snapshots, finding clues and chasing a 'ghost' to recover memories of what has happened. Interesting, I jump in and out of it for something different. Cheap as hell, I'd say if you like artistic puzzle games, worth a look (as well as the most excellent Limbo).

Portal 2: Playing some community developed co-op maps with a gaming friend. Some of the creativity displayed has been most impressive (and difficult to beat). Some have been good enough to have been in the original game. The hard maps need to be played with a partner that knows what they're doing (mine has been exemplary, thankfully displaying very smart and clever play and thinking), or you'll get frustrated quickly. If you have the game, check out some of the sites offering community maps. If by some bad alignment of the planets you've not played the game, get it! It is getting cheap, and is tremendously satisfying. The single-player campaign brings back the goodness of the original, and the co-op mode is probably the most fun I've had in a game in the past year or so.

Section 8: Prejudice: A diamond in the rough. Not really my kind of game in general (HALO kind of play and environments), I picked up a four-pack during one of Steam's ludicrous sales to share with some gaming buddies. The little we've played in co-op was pretty fun. The single-player is a bit wooden, but still fairly fun. Given the price of ~15 bucks, worth it, and at the sale price a no-brainer. HALO fans will likely enjoy it much, and anyone that likes frag-fest co-op should find it satisfying. Nothing earth-moving in look or feel, but when the price is taken into account, like getting a decent ice cream cone for 25 cents.

On the subject a games, take a listen to the audio blog posts at Cynical Brit titled Entitled Gamers and Honesty in Games Journalism.  Refreshing and to the point. The latter should be listened to nightly by some reviewers and podcast hosts. The amount of corruption, back-peddling, and ass kissing in the industry can make it hard for the gamer to decide where their hard-earned cash should really be spent. If more journalists had the integrity talked about in the aforementioned blog, fewer gamers would end up spending money on hyped games that turn out to be turds.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Thanks, Electronic Arts!

Found a message from Electronic Arts in my inbox today. A free copy of one of a selection of games as a thankyou for my Battlefield 3 pre-order. I ended up getting Dead Space 2, a game I had not gotten around to ordering, but had planned on playing after finishing up some other games I'm working on. Saved me thirty bucks, the current price of the game.

So much for the oft-repeated entitled gamer's whine of EA being the big, bad publisher out to screw everyone...


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

From Dust released today.

The new 'I am a god' game From Dust released today. Created by Eric Chahi, the artist that brought us “Another World / Out of this World”, the game puts you in control of the world of an ancient tribe. You help the tribe to thrive by forming their environment and guiding them from afar. At least that's the idea - I couldn't help myself trying to drown my nascent tribe members with a huge blob of water. The privilege of being a god, I suppose.

The game features some pretty neat physics, particularly in modelling of water and water flow.

Pretty cheap at under $15 on Steam, worth checking out if that kind of genre is your bag. Fans of the "Black and White" series should find it particularly enjoyable, if simple.

I'm having a hoot...


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

F* me, now that's a game trailer...

Makes the latest RO2: Heroes of Stalingrad trailer look like, well, something an addled grandpa made...check it out.


Friday, August 12, 2011

Happy birthday, IBM personal PC

I still have mine. 30 years old today.

IBM 5150

Monday, August 8, 2011

TWI does the Tanya Harding with Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad

If you don't get the reference (and you might not if you're a younger gamer), Tanya Harding, currently often seen on truTV Presents: World's Dumbest... (funny as hell there, if I may say), is perhaps best known for her promising figure skating career and the later collapse of her personal and professional life.

She'd make a good mascot for TWI: 

Her orchestration (no pun intended) of the shin beating of her primary competitor in the Olympics mirrors TWI and their community's bullying and censorship of critical or questioning posts in ther forums.

Her "Wedding Video" reminds one of the sliminess TWI has resorted to to do marketing CYA (see my prior entries on the game and company to get an idea of how disingenuous TWI has seemed to become).

And of course, her infamous "loose skate lace" fall in the Olympics of '94 landing her flat on her ass resembles the announcement from TWI of a delay of two weeks in the release of the game, hardly more weeks than that away from the hyped official release date. This should be no surprise to anyone with a grain of intellect. Peers scoffed when I predicted this months ago. I should have wagered them.

The reasons are of course the usual suspects of "extra polish", and to "get it right".


It would be nice if they'd just tell the truth, known by the beta testers (closed of course, don't hold your breath for the "open" one if you're one of the unfortunate suckers that coughed up extra dough for the "deluxe" edition with promises of beta access).

The game is a mess. There's good reason you've not seen detailed footage of MP and tanks. And it's not because it's being saved for some magical marketing Kool-Aid bus...

Stay tuned, the leaky beta bangers are getting pissed...

In any case, the smart money among you will hold off on buying the game until it is released and you can get a non-hyperbolic review from a trusted source that matches your sensibilities. That will also give you time to see if the player counts drop as precipitously as the pre-sales position of the game. Particularly since TWI hasn't the balls to release a demo.

No one wants to buy a game that few are playing...


Friday, August 5, 2011

Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad presales plummet off the radar...

CEO of tripwire shot a premature wad with this tweet:

Usually, one waits to see some long-term results before making grand proclamations. You know, kind of how an announcer doesn't call the first to leave the gate the winner of the race, but waits to see the actual finish.

In not much over a score of hours, the game has completely dropped off the Steam top sellers list. Even old games like Counter-Strike: Source, widely panned recent games like Brink, and minor new games to Steam such as Limbo are beating it. So much for its blockbuster, COD:Black Ops beating (hello, PC Gamer magazine) hype.

Speaking of Limbo - even if it is the kind of game that you'd consider way off the path of your game preferences, I highly recommend you give it a look. A demo is available (unlike TWI, the developer / publisher Playdead has nothing to fear scaring off potential revenue by offering a demo of the game), and the game itself is a steal at under $10.00. Dark, ethereal, and haunting, it offers a beautiful environment with satisfying and sometimes twisted puzzles. System requirements are paltry - you can play it on a very low specification machine.

The best five hours I've spent on a game in some time.