Monthly Archives: May 2015

Eighth Gen Talk – Continued Thoughts and MGS2

A while ago I wrote a 1600 word behemoth talking about my thoughts on the current generation of games consoles and the state of gaming. I recently played a game that made me feel even more strongly about this. Basically, it concerns the second-to-last paragraph talking about innovation in games. I’d like to talk just a little more about that. I promise: this article will be a little shorter.

Image result for firewatchThis all started last week when I was talking to my cousin about the seventeen minute gameplay video of Firewatch. That game looks incredible. Even if it’s not open world and more linear than it appears, I cannot wait for it to come out. If you don’t know what Firewatch is, I’ll briefly explain. It’s a game about you, some guy, starting a job as a forest overseer in the eighties, and things happen in the woods which you have to deal with. The gameplay video looks like I could absolutely loose myself in that world.

After our discussion about the video, I talked about my favourite game series of all time: Metal Gear. It had been a while since I played through all games, but I picked it up a few weeks ago and I’m up to Metal Gear Solid 2 as of now. Even though I have played this game several times, I was really intrigued by it this time. It has never been one of my favourites in the series, but in light of recent developments in the gaming industry, I now look at it with a whole fresh perspective.

The first section of the game takes place on a large tanker ship. It is here that I started to pay more attention to the game’s mechanics, looks and details than before. The first thing was the lighting. This game uses dynamic lights and shadows in many places. When the enemy is close to you and the flash light on their weapons shine on you, it appears like there are light shafts and your body interacts with it. I am sure this isn’t a true volumetric light source, since that technology was not in place in the early 2000’s and is very computationally intensive, but it still looks impressive. Especially considering this game was released in 2001. Let that sink in for a second. That’s fourteen years ago.

Sure, this game doesn’t have the most incredible graphics by today’s standards, but at the time (and especially for an early PS2 game), this game looked incredible. Frankly, I still think it does. It has an aesthetic, which is more important than graphics, and it’s what a lot of modern AAA-games seem to miss.

Truly impressive, though, are the details. On this tanker is a crew lounge filled with lovely little details that make the worlds feel so much richer. There’s a plasma TV playing and when you shoot it, it breaks. The screen doesn’t just go blank; it starts to go black in a circle around where the bullet hit and goes outwards until the whole screen is black. A magazine rack is also present. If you shoot the individual magazines, they fall on the floor. They might be upside down, open or lying on the front page, and when shot again, they change position.

There’s a pane of bullet proof glass (seen above), but when shot about twenty times, it breaks into a million pieces. Again, like the TV, it starts to break where you last shot and it goes outwards from there. In the corner of the room is a bar (also seen above), stocked with glasses and bottles that all break and fall differently. Shoot at the plants, and leaves fall off and they wiggle.

Later on there is a boss battle with a female character named Fortune. The explosions in that fight cause the lights on the ceiling to swing, making the shadows on the ground change and again adding to the believability of this world.

These things are not new in modern games, but they were then. This game tried to push a new system further than any other game of its time. Mind you that this game did not compromise on its resolution and played at 60 frames per second. Knowing this, makes it look even more impressive.

The current generation seems to rely too heavily on things that have been established in the generation before (PS3/360), and to some extent even the one before that (PS2/Xbox). Aside from looking prettier, there seems to be little new. Little that is pushing better hardware, and that’s sad.

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Quick Thoughts – Metal Slug X

For a while now I’ve been keeping a game on Steam on my wishlist, namely Metal Slug 3. I noticed yesterday (18/05) that both Metal Slug 3 and Metal Slug X were for sale at -50%, so my cousin and me decided to not let this pass us by.

This is probably the best purchase I have done in recent memory. We each bought a two-pack of one of the games and gifted the extra copy to each other. For about €6 each, we both have these two lovely games.

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We played about halfway through the (admittedly) short game, but we had a blast. I don’t think we’ll have to put more than two hours into it to complete it, but I don’t care. I love it. Visually it’s incredibly beautiful. The aesthetic is gorgeous, the 16-bit sprites are lovingly crafted, animations are fluent and impressive, and the gameplay is just tonnes of fun.

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This game is prefect to play with a friend, or even alone. It’s quick, it’s fun, it’s amazing. I highly recommend it.

P.S.: The sale ends the 22nd of May, if you’re interested.

Gamer’s Thoughts – Game Nostalgia: The good old 3D-shooters

HereticWhen I was younger, I found a website that allowed me to play demo versions of popular old DOS-games. From that website I got introduced to games like Heretic, Doom, Duke Nukem, and various other games. Somehow, Wolfenstein 3D was my favorite. I used to play the first few levels over and over again. Then I discovered Heretic, I fell even more in love with that game than Wolfenstein, since it started to speak to me on a personal level. I was always interested in a realistic-ish world with some (or a lot of) fantasy elements. Anyways, I’m rambling on, let’s talk about some old 3D shooter games and let’s get extremely nostalgic. I hope you guys and girls enjoy this read. And as always, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the games I covered and/or the content of this article.  

Wolfenstein 3D

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So, most of the times DooM is considered to be the first “real” 3D shooter. Which isn’t true. Wolfenstein came earlier.

I actually finished this game on the GBA. The only two negatives off that version are a lack of a map and no music. For the rest, it’s a really nice port of the game to play on the go.

I recently started to play it on PC, thanks to Steam. And with the music, I’m not really enjoying it that much honestly. The lack of music actually added to the creepy atmosphere. You are trying to escape a nazi prison.

On the other hand, I could see where people are coming from. A soundtrack like that could motivate you to finish the game and try to escape successfully.  It’s all up to your own preference.

The expansion pack/sequel were amazing as well. While I haven’t beaten those games, I’m really excited to see what it throws next at me.

Heretic

Heretic_-_DOS_-_USA

One of my most favorite shooters from the ’90. As I explained in my introduction, this game is one that I adore.

I’m not really sure what the story is behind this game, but to be frankly honest, I don’t really care. The concept is just extremely fun. While I adore stories in my games, to the extent that I sometimes don’t play games that lack a story, this game is a big exception.

I used to play the demo over and over again. Once I got caught in school since I slipped in a computer lab just to play this game and show it to some friends. Man, the teachers were pissed at me. Yet, it gave me great memories.

It was one of those games that my parents didn’t want to see me play, since I discovered it when I was around 10 years old. Shooters aren’t meant for those ages. So, yeah.

It’s also the game that introduced me to the interesting world of cheating. I was stuck in a level, and I looked up online what I should do next. When I read a walkthrough, I mostly read the part where I’m at, and I read a part of the solution. That way I still feel I have beaten the game on my own.

But at the bottom of the walkthrough, there was a section called “cheats”. My young mind couldn’t resist after reading it and trying it out in game. Now-a-days, I rarely cheat. Only when I have beaten a game to mess around with it.

Duke Nukem 3D

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I heard rumors on the play ground about this game. We are in the late ’90 where computers barely got into the educational system. The rumor was that a kid saw a teacher play some Duke Nukem.

As a kid, I was into Pokémon. When they explained and tried to convince me that it was a shooter and it was really cool, I actually didn’t really care.

It was only later that I realized what I missed out on. An amazing shooter with, now outdated, one liners that still get a smile on my face. My favorite is one of the most famous ones. Finish the quote when you know how it ends.

“I’m here to kick ass and chew bubble gum, and…” I’m all out of gum.

Yet, the truth is that I haven’t finished any Duke game to date. I have played a lot of them, but I play it at those times when I’m waiting between two big releases. Never a great idea, is it not?

Conclusion

Alright, I might have picked out three of the more popular old-school 3D shooters. Yet, those are the ones I grew up with.

Old-school 3D schooters have such an amazing charm to them. With hidden passages and secrets, they are something different. Rarely, I see games copy the formula today. A game where not every wall is solid and where you get a score card if you killed all the enemies in a certain stage, if you found all the secrets and things like that.

I have played more 3D shooters than the three I talked about. It’s just that those three are the ones I have the most fond memories off. Maybe one day I might write a follow-up article to this one where I talk about some different old school 3D shooters.

The thing is, I would love to review these games, yet I feel that I’m not the right person for that. I focus more on adventure, puzzle and story driven games. And I haven’t seen a lot of story driven shooters. I do know they exist, but I haven’t played them.

In any case, I think I’m going to wrap up this article right here. I hope you enjoyed reading it and my apologies for not writing an article for two weeks. Thankfully a buddy of mine actually wrote some articles in my place to give you guys something to read. Thanks man, they were nice reads.

Before I ramble on, it might be possible that in the future you will see an article of one of these games where I take a more in-depth look in to these games. So stay tuned. ~

Rant: Tetris, mobile versions and the dreaded square block

Tetris is one of my favourite games ever. It’s a practically perfect game. You can play it for hours or just for ten minutes. It’s brilliant in its simplicity and simply brilliant. Everyone knows Tetris. Only mention the name, and the soundtrack will be stuck in your head for the rest of the day.

Now you’d think a game like this would be great for mobile platforms. There’s a plethora of Tetris clones on the Google Play Store, but looking through all of them, I can’t seem to find a good one. I must’ve downloaded fifteen different versions. Either they take up 50 to 100MB (Seriously? For Tetris?) or they play horribly. Most of them use a poor algorithm that doesn’t randomise the blocks well enough and/or often give the same blocks three or four times in a row. That, or they speed up way to quickly.

Tetromino - screenshotThey often don’t show what block is next, have horrendous controls or just “feel” wrong. The “best” version I found so far is called Tetromino, but it’s a looooong way from perfect. Putting that aside and talking about the game itself right now, I abhor the square block. Some people hate the Z and S-shaped blocks, but I don’t. You can rarely actually use the square block and when you do, most of the other blocks can deliver the same effect. Often, when given the square block, you have no choice but to create holes. And I HATE holes.