All 25 entries tagged Games

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November 03, 2005

Call of Duty 2


I'm sorry but I can't be much more coherent than that right now. You thought Call of Duty was great right? Well, this is like…MORE Call of Duty, but much prettier. And with added…stuff. As i said, lacking coherence. There be Nazis to kill. My hands are actually shaking right now, due to the intensity of it all.

Possibly the first 10/10 game I've played in 3 and a half years.

October 25, 2005

I broke your game

Writing about web page

I have the utmost respect for SI Games and the great job they do on Championship/Football Manager every year. But I just did this to Football Manager 2005 (yes, I know there's a new one, but I haven't got it yet).

Silly programmers didn't think anyone would manage to score over 127 goals in a season…

October 20, 2005

F.E.A.R. Kills

I was under the impression that I have a pretty decent gaming PC. It's not cutting edge, but it's certainly above average. I have a Geforce 6600 GT and a 64-bit Athlon 3000+. But F.E.A.R. (or First Encounter Assault Recon: Random Acronym (you've no doubt heard that gag already)) just made my computer cry like a baby, in a way that Half Life 2 never managed.

It is a game with stunning visuals, if you can afford a £400 graphics card. If not, it is a game with decent visuals, which jerks when you try to look left or right. And for something trying to build up an atmosphere of, well, fear, this is a rather large setback. Every time a paranormal event occurs the jumpiness causes annoyance and frustration, obliterating the mood the game tries to build. And of course we all know that small girls wearing blood-red dresses are really scary don't we?

So my first impression is that F.E.A.R. is just another in the long string of PC FPS games – prettier than most (if you can afford it), but following that same old familiar Dark Warehouse setting of which these types of game seem overly fond. Its redeeming feature, and the reason I will keep playing regardless of its otherwise generic nature is the much talked about bullet-time. It's been done before in Max Payne, a game I loved with a sequel whose only let-down was that it lacked the freshness of the idea.

So bullet-time in first person? Sign me up, for now at least.

October 16, 2005

Oh please kill me now

Writing about web page

Why? Why would he do this? Why would any "passionate and avid gamer" want a deal with EA, besides money? And it's not like he NEEDS any more.

I forsee 3 cinematic adventure games featuring bad english, bling and EA Traxxxxxx. I can only hope that one of them is base on a plot to cull chavs from the face of the earth, giving the gamer the option to play as their savior or destroyer. I wonder which I'd choose….

I also present you with the true form of Neil Young, head of EA's LA studio.

August 17, 2005

Beyond Good & Evil

5 out of 5 stars

Ok so I'm jumping on the game review bandwagon, now that it's here in an official capacity (thanks Mat or whoever was responsible). I'm not going to do a full review, but I want to draw your attention to one of the best games of recent years, and one that was sadly overlooked by so many people.

Beyond Good & Evil is a game unlike any other I have played. While on the surface the game mechanics are similar to those of Prince of Persia: Sands of Time (Ubisoft's other much-overlooked Christmas 2003 game), the actual experience is completely different. Beyond Good & Evil is an adventure game – an interactive story about war, propaganda, friendship, and the struggle to expose the truth. As Jade, reporter and photographer for the IRIS network, your job is to do just that. (On a side-note, Alyx from HL2 looks suspiciously like Jade's less interesting sister.)

The game features wonderfully stylised graphics (which obviously look better on a PC than any console), some great set-pieces, and in my opinion, the best music in any game ever.

It isn't perfect – there are times when the controls are a bit annoying, and the PC version can have an annoying bug about half way through – but it comes closer to perfection than anything else I've seen in the last 3 years. That the 2 sequels which were originally announced seem to have been shelved for good is a crying shame, and I would encourage everyone who enjoyed the game to find and sign as many internet petitions requesting these sequels as possible (and there are quite a few). Rarely does a game provide this much innocent pleasure.

9/10 (Yes, 5/5 can = 9/10 dammit)

August 15, 2005

Minesweeper Challenge

The above picture tells you two things:

  1. I have 1337 m1N35w33P3r 5k1llz
  2. I have waaay too much time on my hands

Anyway, how do you fair?

July 06, 2005

Splinter Cell Chaos Theory – Review

This is an offline review only. Seeing as I'm on dialup at the moment I can't actually play it online, but from the Versus mode tutorials it seems that they have at least sorted out the differences between on and offline (which were so noticable in Pandora Tomorrow) to some extent. I've also dabbled with co-op mode on Xbox, and it was great fun, albeit rather confusing. I would very much like to try both online modes, preferrably on a LAN. Hopefully some time soon...


Sam Fischer, aging US super-spy (and if this is anything to go by, the world’s greatest user of Just For Men) returns to save the world from information and electronic warfare. Yet again. It's a miracle anyone survives past puberty, what with all these global crises.

This time the action climaxes in Korea and Japan, with a spot of globe-trotting beforehand as you attempt to discover what is actually going on. Sadly the plot is rather predictable and not particularly interesting. You will know who the bad guy is from the first time you encounter him, because he looks evil and has a scar – a rather depressing level of characterisation. I should maybe apologise for giving that away, but it will really only be a spoiler to someone with less than 5 brain cells to rub together.

That said, it should be pointed out that Splinter Cell Chaos Theory is by no means a bad game – the concept of the Splinter Cell games is such that it would probably take more effort to mess them up than to make them enjoyable. Sam has some new equipment and moves this time too, most of which come in handy throughout the course of the game, although not often enough for my liking, and I still never found a use for the split jump. The levels are generally well designed, and while not of the consistently high standard of the original, they offer more choice over how to complete the missions. As well as this, the whole game looks_ fantastic_, and the voice acting as impressive as ever, with Michael Ironside yet again providing the perfect support for Sam's dry wit.

There are a couple of dialogue atrocities however, particularly Lambert's response of "This isn't a video game Sam" when asked if the mission will be terminated if three alarms go off (which was exactly the case with Pandora Tomorrow), and a guard advertising Ubisoft's own Prince of Persia game in such a terrible and exploitative manner that it nearly made me weep. This also ties in with some fairly dire product placement which, particularly in cut-scenes, is jarring enough to disturb your immersion in the game world. Other than that the dialogue is pretty solid, although the guards' phrases could do with some more variation from mission to mission.

Another problem is with the level design. I said it was generally pretty good, and it is. For a game. Consider things from the viewpoint of realism however, and cracks begin to show. Everything is just way too staged – there are always crawl-spaces just where you need them, regardless of the fact that no one would ever design a building like that. Corridors are often shrouded in darkness before you even begin to shoot out the lights. Important power switches are located on said corridor walls, rather than hidden away in some kind of maintenance room. And so on…

This lack of realism is also reflected in the game's most important flaw – the guard AI. Stay silently in the shadows and they will ignore you. Make some noise or move out into the light and they will come and investigate. Fine. The problems don't appear until they are actually alerted to your presence. To give an example – you creep up on a guard and he spots you a split second before your well-placed fist renders him unconscious. He didn't even have time to scream, and yet somehow – apparently by telepathy – guards in nearby rooms suddenly know you're there and alarms start going off. Equally bizarre is the way you can knock out a guard with a sticky shocker – causing him to cry out – and his mate 20 meters away won't notice. But shoot him with a bullet – a silent, one-shot kill – and you're instantly being shot at by the other guard, despite being deep in the shadows which stopped him seeing you at all just a second ago. This has always been Splinter Cell's Achilles heel and after 3 games, particularly in this post Far Cry and Half Life 2 era, we really expect better AI.

All that said, I still return to this simple fact: Chaos Theory is a good, enjoyable game. While not reaching the consistency of the original Splinter Cell, it is the sequel we've been waiting for. Pandora Tomorrow has been shown for what it really was - something to pass the time until this arrived. If you enjoyed Splinter Cell, then Chaos Theory is a game you must play, if only to get some new variation on the old theme. If not, then you are missing out on something that, despite its flaws, is still better than the majority of games out there at present.


May 18, 2005

Because it needs to be said

Writing about web page

This is the website of the afforementioned Dave (Star Wars fanboy, see last post), current Production Lord of the Warwick Boar, as well as Games Editor. While I do not have particularly strong feelings about consoles, as I've never owned one and the only serious time I've spent using one is the XBox (his) currently sitting 10cm away from me – the evil genius has lent it to me to corrupt me and distract me from revision (as I think I have already said). Oh wait – that isn't a sentence, I'll try again. While I do not have particularly strong feelings about consoles, I completely agree with his point. A website who I read daily and whose judgement I usually trust (Eurogamer) has been extremely one-sided in its E3 coverage. Maybe they really think that the Xbox 360 cannot compete with the PS3, and maybe Microsoft are a bunch of rhetoric-spouting bores, but I can't help feeling that David is going to be proved at least a little bit right in this case.

Oh, and he thinks he's "too cool to blog", so posting a link to him here will a) annoy him and b)..erm..annoy him. I had something else there but it disappeared :-S

Anyway. Yeh. Back to Computer Graphics revision. Yay.

April 01, 2005

Good News

In a press conference today, Electronic Arts announced that they would be closing their marketing branch. A spokesman said "It's for the good of gamers all over the world. We want them to be able to make up their own minds about what they want to buy, rather than forcing our products on them through brain-washing. We feel that this move will increase competitiveness in the gaming industry, and the quality of all games will improve because of it."

Oh what's the point. It's after 12 and I'm just depressing myself now.

March 14, 2005

Darwinia – Review

Back in the day, computer games were simple. They generally involved pressing a maximum of 6 buttons, and maybe moving the mouse a bit. They were innovative, and more importantly they were fun. I remember with great fondness the classics of Worms and Lemmings – the opposite poles of wanton destruction and benevolent rescue – where enjoyment (only occasionally mixed with frustrated screams of "Dig you little blue and green bastard!") was the only aim. The graphics are terrible, the sound comically bad, and yet the entertainment they provide keeps you coming back, even all these years later.

However, things have changed since those early times. Games became much more popular, and suddenly greater substance was required – storylines and audiovisual advancement started to take priority. This was perfectly fine until the point when designers seemed to have forgotten why it was that they made games in the first place. Since that day we have seen a mind-numbing sequence of sci-fi first person shooters, demon-summoning RGPs, and baby-oil coated racing games, with very little in the way of interesting originality.

It is into this arena of generic saturation that Darwinia finds itself thrust, to be joyfully embraced by anyone looking for a different gaming experience which harks back to those simpler times. Darwinia is nostalgia at its best – from the techno played during the intro (last heard in Lotus Turbo Challenge 3, if I remember correctly) to the graphics, mixing old and blocky creatures with much newer-looking landscapes to create a wonderfully stylised world, to challenges and satisfaction of the gameplay itself.

Notice I didn’t mention anything about a story – there is one, but it is peripheral to the game’s enjoyment. A virus has taken control of an online theme-park, populated by AI creatures known as Darwinia. You, with the help of the theme-park’s designer, must take control of a number of programs – engineers, squads (soldiers) and so on, and progress through the various areas on the park, completing tasks to bring it back online and destroying the virus in the process. It doesn’t sound particularly amazing but, as already stated, this game is much more about enjoyment than plot development. Squads are controlled by mouse clicks – left to move, right to fire, and both at once to use their heavy weapon, rather like in Cannon Fodder. The Darwinia themselves are rather harder to control, as they are individuals programmed to ignore outside interference. They can, however, be converted into Officers, who then shepherd the other Darwinia to locations of your choosing. Indeed, shepherd is a good description, as the Darwinia have a tendency to wander off or get stuck, due to the game’s only noticeable flaw – the total lack of pathfinding. However, this doesn’t matter all that much, as almost everything in the game is expendable – programs can be destroyed and recreated (by simple mouse gestures) and more Darwinia can be born through a process of killing a virus entity, then getting an Engineer to collect its “soul”, and bring it back to an incubator for conversion. None of which makes much sense, but then it doesn’t need to – all such details are superficial and the actual enjoyment comes from studying each level, deciding your tactics, and successfully implementing them.

While there are only ten levels, Darwinia is challenging enough not to seem short, and as you progress the problems presented change repeatedly, insuring that you won’t get bored. Starting with a simple squad versus virus mission, Darwinia cranks up the difficulty, confronting you with tougher viruses (in the form of caterpillars and spiders), the extermination of an ant colony – particularly difficult as the ants collect “souls”, allowing them to respawn – and an army of evil Darwinia, corrupted by the virus. Along the way there are also research programmes to collect and upgrade, increasing the number of units in your squads, the range of their weapons, and so on, so you should always be able to overcome these challenges, given a sufficient amount of tactical creative thinking.

Darwinia is a game written by gamers for gamers. It is not perfect – it crashed a number of times, losing some progress as it did so, but it is easy to get into, enjoyable to play, and much easier to experience than to describe. Which is exactly what I suggest you do.


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