Thursday, December 30, 2004


No, you didn't just go crazy. It's a new theme. It's almost the new year, a time for change. Sorry for any accidental deaths, murders, or deaths as the result of murders.

It's Anarchy Online Again, Sorry....

It's not like this hasn't come to be expected by anyone who reads this site with any amount of frequency. It's happened before, and it will surely happen again - deal with it. As you already may have guessed, instead of Part 2 of the Linux Free Strategy Game Roundup, I've decided to spend this week's post talking a little more about Anarchy Online. When I posted about it last week, I hadn't yet had the time to explore the intricacies and deeper areas of the game. That's not to say that I've seen everything the game has to offer, but now I definitely have a better idea of what's happening in the world of Rubi-Ka.

My character, at present, is a level 23 (male)Adventurer, which(as the link above confirms) is supposed to be one of the easiest professions to learn the game with, as well as one of the better all-around character classes. I've had quite a good time getting to where I am although, up until this point, I've played entirely solo. I've mentioned things before that, while based on a slightly different subject, still explain my reasons for being largely antisocial in a gaming world that encourages exactly the opposite. Much to my surprise, people in Rubi-Ka can do quite a bit to change that attitude.

A few days and quite a few more levels after starting my character, I was sitting near the mission terminals in Old Athens searching for a mission that I felt like doing, when a character who will remain as nameless as my own asked to see my pistols. Quite skeptical, after thwarting many a scammer in Eternal Lands, I did as I was asked. The stranger also asked how many credits I had, a question to which I replied honestly, "not many". As I answered, this mysterious character vanished and I assumed I was too poor to be scam-worthy; then they returned. A trade window opened, and my previous assumption that I was too poor quickly vanished, apparently anything was enough. A private message appeared - "Accept" - no cash request. I did, and what I received was a backpack full of weapons much better than my own and 1,000,000 credits. All the stranger asked was that, when I outgrew them, I would pass the weapons on to another low level Adventurer who needed them. I assure you, I will.

I'd quite wrongly assumed that outside of the free, open-source community everyone would be worse than they are in the free games; for all I know, that could be true. I'm not really so sure though, everyone I've had a chance to talk to was nothing but helpful, and I've not personally encountered a rude person since beginning the game. Even if it's not the paradise I'm describing, it's certainly a world worth exploring so, once again, it gets another plug. Again, it's only free until January 15th so, if you want it, hurry up. By the way, it's entirely possible to get Anarchy Online running under Linux, as long as you don't mind using Cedega.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Not That Kind Of Anarchy, Unless...

Although this wasn't planned, I'm taking a bit of a break from the Linux Free Strategy Game Roundup to touch on something that the majority of GNU/Linux users probably won't give a damn about. That something? The recent "free for a year" release of Anarchy Online.

Expansion packs excluded, the developer(or publisher, or whatever) of Anarchy Online has decided to provide folks with a Christmas present/gateway drug in the form of a free client/no subscription double whammy for the original, "classic" Anarchy Online. Being the type of person who really can't turn down something free, I decided to take a look.

My experience only being with the free MMOGs out there, I've always made sure to try to look past certain bugs and "issues". Sure, it's technically free, but that still doesn't excuse all the bugs and aforementioned "issues" that seem to plague Anarchy Online. Frequent crashes, unbearable lag, and a few much smaller problems were all mentioned in reviews when this game first came out, years ago. The fact that they still exist is annoying, but it doesn't keep Anarchy Online from being an enjoyable online experience.

I'm a fan of sci-fi and, besides Vendetta, Anarchy Online is really the online MMOG out there with the exception of Star Wars Galaxies, which is a big plus in my book. Even if I had to pay for a retail copy of the game, minus the monthly fees, it seems as if it would be a worthy purchase for a year. If it's totally free for said year, why not. Of course, that's assuming you have broadband to download it - over 800mb is quite a hefty download for dialup.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Linux Free Strategy Game Roundup: Part 1

Yes, once again it's time for another roundup. RPGs and UT2004 mods have had their share, now it's strategy's, ahem, turn.

This week, however, it's not turn based strategy, but the real time variety. Now, no free strategy roundup would be complete without a nod to the Stratagus engine(formerly known as Freecraft) and the one game worth playing on it, Invasion - Battle of Survival. Anybody familiar with Starcraft is going to feel very at home with what is presented on the screen after starting a mission. The graphics aren't quite as spiffy, but you definitely know what you're supposed to do as soon as the game screen loads.

Therein lies the one major flaw in Invasion - Battle of Survival. If you haven't played any of the *Craft games, you'll have absolutely no idea what you're supposed to do. Even if you manage to find out what the objective is(destroy all enemies..) - which by the way you have to look for - you'll still probably get trounced while you're gathering resources, assuming you've figured out how to do that by now.

I love Starcraft, I still play it all the time, so I knew what needed to be done right away. If you're familiar with the way RTS games work, than you'll probably have as good a time with BoS as I did. Once this game can get some sort of tutorial and/or campaign mode to slowly fill in those who aren't RTS veterans, it'll have it all.


I forgot to actually publish last week's post, so here it is:

This week I've been playing Scorched 3D, which is an open-source, prettified clone of an older DOS game, Scorched Earth. The game itself is a simple yet addictive "artillery combat" sort of game. You'd almost think of it as a strategy game if you could actually control more than one unit, but at it's core it's a turn based action game, as counterintuitive as that may seem.

As the name Scorched 3D implies, yes, it is in 3D. Quite lovely 3D actually, at least for the most part. The terrain, water, and skies all look great, as do some of the explosion animations. What isn't as impressive are the models for the units. While they do a good job of looking like what they're trying to look like, they just seem to pale in comparison to everything else. Some units you'd expect, such as tanks and helicopters, sit alongside other units you'd never expect, such as the grim reaper(I don't know, maybe the rockets come out of his ass). It's a cool feature, but it's one I wouldn't have missed in favor of some more highly detailed(or at least bigger) models.

The main bread and butter of Scorched 3D is in the online play, which I haven't gotten around to trying out yet. I've taken a look at the server browser, and some pretty filled out games always seem to be happening, but I'd like to get a better hand at aiming(which is controlled by rotation, elevation, and power - quite tricky) before I take on some real competition.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Hell On Mars: It's Vaguely Frightening

Well, last night I downloaded the Doom 3 demo. Why so late, you ask? Because I like to steadfastly remain behind the times. All of them...

When I first loaded the game up, I was a bit more impressed than I was prepared to be at the opening sequence, when you first arrive on Mars. More so than any other game I've ever played, the idea that I was in a outpost station on a strange world was thoroughly reinforced. Maybe somebody at id software decided the best course of action would be to simply travel into the future, see what it was like, then built it into the game and turned off all the lights. The creepiness factor of the station can not be denied although, at least in the beginning of the game, it's a very real kind. The same kind of creepiness you feel when it's your job to go into the freaky basement alone.

As soon as all hell broke loose and I was tasked with trying to make it back to HQ, my peers screaming in terror over the radio, I lost interest and went to sleep. Now, I'm pretty sure that was not the reaction that id was looking for, but the speed with which the game turns into a prettified Doom 2 with a stupid flashlight mechanic is startling. The flashlight issue has been maligned over many times by many people since the game first came out, so much so that mods exist that place your flashlight smartly on your gun. The second issue is more of an issue I have with games in general. Some RPG's aside, there is never a point in most games where things calm down again, you never get a break. I'm sure that a lot of hardcore gamers out there feel that they don't need a break, some may explicitly not want a break, presumably to keep up the intensity levels.

My realization was that I'd prefer Doom 3 without the monsters and combat. I could perfectly happy wander around the station for hours, performing the occasional menial task while I continued to discover the backstory of this strange place on Mars at my leisure. Of course, I'm entirely sure that id would not have had a very good time of selling the game in that state, except maybe to me.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Are The Clouds Iron?

This week, I decided to try out Beneath A Steel Sky, which uses the ScummVM virtual machine. Both are apt-getable if you happen to use Debian.

Overall, the game has me quite interested. I've always been a fan of point and click graphic adventures so, since that's what this game is, we get along fairly well together. The game came out back in 1994, so by today's standards it's nothing that you're going to lose bowel control over, but that's mostly to be expected. That aside, the art style of the game has an undeniably cool look.

The fact that the original resolution of the Beneath A Steel Sky was so low means that, if you can stand it, it's one of the few games out there that really should be played in windowed mode. On my monitor at least, blowing it up to fullscreen almost completely strips the visual appeal. While a game this old has got to start showing it's age at some point, it's actually surprising how well most of the visuals hold up.

The sound is a different thing all together. See, there was a time when voice acting in a videogame was cool because it was there, not because A-list voice actors were being hired to voice the characters. The part that I find strange is how bad the main character's voice acting is. While certain members of the supporting cast obviously knew a little bit about what they were doing, he sounds entirely emotion-less.

Anyway, the game is fairly large(around 70MB) for an older game of it's ilk, so 56k-ers may be more inclined to go for something else, but even then, it's still worth it.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

I Have No Rhythm

I've done something this week that I've thought about doing for quite some time now. I enabled comments. Sure, last week's controversial post would've been a better time to try out the comments, but it's far more likely that it's simply going to cement the realization that no one reads this site. Anyway, the link to leave comments is right at the bottom of each post, and anyone is allowed to do so, so feel free.

Tendrils has been around for about a year, and I've known about it for a couple of months, but it's only recently I've had the chance to try it out. It's an RPG with rhythmic combat, hence the title of this post. Of course, I do really have rhythm, but that wouldn't make as interesting a title, now would it? Anyway, Tendrils is described as a "remix game" since most everything is taken from other games. Artwork, dungeons, music - it will all seem very familiar.

The game is fun, I'll definitely give it that. There are, however, a few problems. The only one that really bothers me is that since you're so busy trying to hit the correct arrow keys at the right time, it's really hard to see how the battle is unfolding. This can be worked around by pausing the game, at which time you can also cast spells or use potions, but you're not going to do very well in a battle if you spend most of your time watching it. The only other problem, which could very well be intentional, is that it is often very easy to get lost, simply by forgetting where you are for a moment. Like I said, that may be intentional.

Anyway, I hate rhythm games, but I have quite a bit of fun play Tendrils, probably because I'm an RPG fan. If you don't like either, you may not like Tendrils. Everybody else, go get it.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Fuck Halo 2

Yeah I said it.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

"Not A Thrillzone"... Wait For It

So, Killzone - one of the most overhyped games of the year - came out and, quite unsurprisingly, didn't live up to the hype. Who'd have guessed that, huh? Oh, the guys who made Fable? Yeah, probably.

What's sad about the situation is that the very same magazines and gaming websites that provide the hype for a given product take a 180 in their reviews and complain about the game being overhyped. Last time I checked, previews were supposed to be based on the game that is actually being developed, not some flying monkey technicolor fantasy dream freshly pulled out of the reviewer's ass. What I'm doing here is not trying to stand up and defend Killzone, I haven't even played the game, and that is my entire point. Take a look back at gaming magazines and/or websites at past preview/review cycles, and you'll see the same thing happen over and over again:

Preview: "This game will basically be god in videogame form. Sell every other game you own and prepare for the awesome game that will be [insert name here]"

Review: "I don't know who ever said [insert name here] was supposed to be god(we certainly didn't), but this game more resembles a turd."

That's basically the situation. Of course, the smart reader(like the type who reads this site) has come to accept this as a fact of life. There are many others who see a preview, take it as a review and buy the game, then look at the smugly worded bashing of the game they were previously told would be great and feel lied to. You know what, you were lied to, they never played a preview copy...

I Type As Well

Last Friday I finally got the Nyko iType2 controller I'd mentioned ordering a while ago. What can I say? It does what a controller is supposed to do - and it has a keyboard.

Overall, I'm fairly pleased with the controller. Typing is only slightly awkward, and after a while I was completely used to it. Plus, for the most part, if feels just like a normal PS2 controller. The face buttons are a little stiff, causing me to think that some games which really use the analog buttons may suffer from the all-or-nothing feel, but otherwise they're fine. The keyboard works really well, but there are two problems. First, let me explain how it works. It's a "qwerty" style keyboard, but with no numbers or "?!@*&(*#!@" signs. To access these, you must press the Fn button, which is all well and good. The problem lies in that some keys, such as normal punctuation keys, seem mostly unresponsive while in this mode. You can get them to work, usually by pressing it a few times in rapid succession, but this is a slight pain in the ass.

My other major problem is that while it has four macro keys, for easy access to repetetive sayings, the speed at which it "replays" the macro can be a problem. At least with Monster Hunter, text comes screaming down the USB cable at such a fast rate that the game can't keep up. For example: the phrase "Hello" can often show up as "ello", "Hllo", "elo", and "Hell". I haven't tested this with other games, though, so this could be a Monster Hunter related problem. Even with the above, and the fact that the vibration isn't quite as smooth as a standard PS2 controller, I like this one a lot, and it's probably going to be my primary controller from now on.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

"The Turd Age"... Wait For It

So Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is out, and I'm supposed to be really excited about it. To an extent, I am. I'm certain that at some point in the future I'll own this game, and probably have a lot of fun with it. So why can't I muster up the same sort of excitement for this title that everyone else in the entire world seems to have?

Argument number one would be Monster Hunter. I still have yet to play anything other that what I described in the last post. The way my brain is wired right now, if there are no huge dragons to take down, or if I can't at least carve up a kill for new equipment, I have no interest in it. As a side note, kill carving(to a certain extent) could be pretty cool in a GTA game. Instead of having to buy clothes, you just kill somebody and you look like them from now on. Anyway...

Argument two would be the games coming out next Tuesday which may not have the mass appeal of GTA, are certainly a bigger deal in my book. Stuff like Killzone, and Lord Of The Rings: The Third Age. Killzone may kill zones, but it's not gonna kill Halo 2, no matter which is actually the better game. The latter simply has too much of a hype whirlwind built up around it to ever hit the ground at this point. Hell, there's no way Killzone is going to kill GTA: SA or anything else for that matter. It could be the best game ever created, and I can think of more titles than you can count with both hands that would probably out-sell it anyway.

The Lord Of The Rings: The Third Age is somewhat of an interesting subject to me being both a PS2 owner and a GBA owner. The game is coming out for both platforms(as well as those "other" two consoles) but the console game and it's handheld counterpart are entirely different. The console version is a pretty standard turn-based RPG, while the GBA version is more of a tactics style of game, which makes a lot of sense seeing how well games of that ilk fare in that medium. How good either will actually be remains to be seen, but I'm sure that those of us who always thought the games would be better as RPGs are certainly anxious to see how it all turns out. For my own sake, I hope they do well, or else we'll all be hearing a lot of "The Turd Age" jokes.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Yeah, I Went Back In Time... So What?

I've got to admit it: Since purchasing Monster Hunter a few weeks ago, I've messed around with the Full Spectrum Warrior demo once, and I think I played one round of Hot Shots Golf: Fore. That's it. Beyond that, my game-related time has been spent exclusively with Monster Hunter.

Want to know something else? I've barely played it online. My Hunters Rank is only 03, and that came from soloing all the quests I thought I could solo(which I did, successfully, by the way). That's right, I haven't played with any other people yet. Why, you ask? Well, I don't have a USB keyboard and trying to type with the built-in software keyboard is somewhat akin to trying to play a flute behind your back; it just can't work. That aside, I can also see how putting down a controller to type "Help!" while being raped by a giant dragon can be particularly cumbersome. I've found a solution to my problem in the form of the Nyko iType2 controller, which is more or less a standard PS2 controller with a baby keyboard sitting on it's face.

I can't tell you my thoughts on said controller yet, as it hasn't yet arrived. I'm sure it'll take a little time to get used to typing with my thumbs(guess whose never used a PDA), but it's got to be better than balancing a keyboard on my lap while the cable from the controller continually hits the F4 key.

By the way, if you don't understand the title, don't try to figure it out. If you do... um, sorry.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Gold Plated Turds Part 2: That Made No Sense

With the slew of new games that are supposed to be arriving in the next six months or so, and the respective hubbub surrounding each of the larger titles, I find myself more than a little bit surprised at how indifferent I am regarding most of them.

As I mentioned back around E3, most of the games that I'd be interested in picking up this year are sequels with colons in the title - Xenosaga Episode II: Jenseits von Gut und Bose, Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal, FarCry: Instincts, Call Of Duty: Finest Hour, LOTR: The Third Age, and GTA: San Andreas are just a few. In fact, the only two games I can think of off the top of my heads that don't fit in the above sentence are Killzone and Oddworld Stranger(which is a sequel and might as well have a colon in it's name). All of these games, albeit some more than others, seem like they'll be pretty fun to play, but do we really need so many sequels? Jeez, even this post is a fucking sequel. In an age where every game, no matter how worthy, turns into a franchise how are we supposed to know what's really worth it anymore?

By now, you might have caught on to the fact that I haven't played anything new this week - hence the rambling sequel to a post about sequels. Honestly, I've been too busy with Monster Hunter. I did manage to download the Dark Horizons: Lore Demo, but I haven't yet found a chance to actually play it. Maybe you can find the time to - I know it's built on the Torque Engine(the same one that Legends uses), and that it's a sort of mech-combat game with a persistent universe, giving it a very MMO feel. I might have something on that next week, but we all know how I work by now.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Once I know all, I can be at peace.

I downloaded the Full Spectrum Warrior PC demo this week and gave it a try. Overall, even though I have some wonky sound problems with it, I'm pretty impressed by the game.

What doesn't impress me is the fact that this is based on a tool used to train the U.S. military. I understand that changes have been made to make the game more friendly to the general public, but what crazy world do the designers live in when you are absolutely invincible as long as you're behind some kind of cover? There's that, and the fact that(as many reviewers have mentioned) the game often plays more as a puzzle game that a strategy game or "military simulator" or whatever the hell it calls itself. Stay behind cover, flank your enemy, and you've got a guaranteed key to success. Sure, those factors may be part of a good overall strategy, but it's nothing that's going to absolutely save your ass every time in a real life situation. But, anyway, it's pretty fun and if you haven't tried it but can, you should.

In other news, Monster Hunter still has a hearty grip on my life, and nothing really has a chance to shake it in the near future. Since I've finally taken it online a whole new world has opened up, and it's a world I'll not soon be leaving. Once I know all, I can be at peace. Until then...

Anyway, there are words that want to come out of me, I feel the need to somehow describe the wonder that one feels while exploring the world of Monster Hunter. I still have no way to translate the emotions that I feel while playing this game into words digestible by mere mortals who have not yet experienced the glory that is Monster Hunter. If only you could see those wondrous cat-like creatures gleefully robbing you blind, you would know the importance of what you'd just witnessed.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

UT2004 2: Electric Boogaloo

Well, it's clear that my copy of UT2004 isn't going to be wearing out it's welcome anytime soon. Whatever small bits of my gaming-related time that Monster Hunter hasn't gobbled up have been spent either playing around with the new Frag Ops I mentioned a few weeks ago, or the recently released ECE Bonus Pack.

The bonus pack is more or less(or exactly) like an upgrade to the enhanced retail version UT2004: Director's Cut, minus the mods that are included. Of course, since all the mods are freely downloadable anyway, that's no big deal. What is a big deal is the new vehicles in the bonus pack, they're cool. Damn cool. My current favorite, who's name I can't currently remember, is the mobile artillery type of vehicle - basically a cannon that moves quickly. There are also a few new characters and maps included although, much to my chagrin, the only new maps are Onslaught maps. Sure, it's a highly enjoyable gametype; it may even be my favorite, but I can't help but wonder why there weren't any CTF, Assault, Bombing Run or Double Domination(a highly underrated gametype) maps included. Of course, there are plenty of CTF(and just as many Onslaught) maps in the completely awesome Community Bonus Pack, but even there you'll only find one Assault map, and two each for Double Domination and Bombing Run. I know that when it comes to Assault, those maps take a lot of both time and talent, but anyone who can make a kick-ass Deathmatch map should be able to have a pretty easy time at a DOM or BR map.

Anyway, on to the Frag Ops 2.0 beta. What they've done here, and it's really quite clever, is taken everything that made the earlier releases of Frag Ops cool, kept that, and then(and I'm not sure if this was done on purpose or not) took everything that makes Domain 2049 cool, improved on it, added a pinch of RTS and made a big old stew full of gaming goodness. The Mission game type, which was the meat of Frag Ops for a long time, plays a lot like a better Counter Strike - that's all well and good. What really kicks it up a notch(Bam!) is the new War gametype. Like Domain 2049's gameplay, this mode is reminiscent of Assault mode, what with the respawns and everything, except once you have the resources, you can build structures RTS-style. Beyond that, it's an experience that really needs to be seen and heard - not read about. So, go check it out.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

It's About Monster Hunter... Who Needs A Snazzy Title

Well, I suppose I should get this post done while it's still Thursday, so onward. After crying myself to sleep over not picking up Monster Hunter the very day it was released, I was of to secure my copy as soon as I was awake. What do I think of it? Well, the fact that I've just stopped playing now to write this post as quickly as possible, lest I stay this far away from my new sweetheart much longer, is a pretty sound testament to my feelings about this game.

In a few words: It's everything I thought it would be, even a little more in some cases. It's actually a little strange is how much the game feels so close to what I imagined it would be like. Not all the reviews I've seen have been kind to this game, in fact, Gamespot totally trashed this game. That's something that would actually matter if they happened to be a credible source of game-related news, but c'mon; why kid ourselves here? I haven't even taken this game online yet, both for reasons previously explained and because I want to beef up my character a bit more first, and I've already had a lot more fun with this game in one day than I previously thought was possible.

At first, the control scheme takes a little bit of getting used to. Your character is moved with the left analog stick, their weapon with the right. My problem tended to be that I'd often be attempting to move the camera(which is actually controlled by the d-pad), and end up accidentally putting the smack down on some prehistoric bitches. It wasn't long before that problem faded away, however, and that's the one and only bad thing I can think of to say about Monster Hunter.

Anyway, earlier this week I spent some time playing around with the Frag.Ops beta, and I know I said I'd get on that this week, but I'd honestly forgotten that I had... ahem, plans So, let's say maybe look for some Frag.Ops 2.0 and a look at Monster Hunter online next week, but as I've proven this and many other weeks, that's subject to change.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Eagle? Yeah, That's A Birdie Too...

So I guess that lately, I've sort of been in a golf type of mood. Last week, it was Mario Golf: Advance Tour, which is like a gateway drug. Simple, easy to get into, most of all: Addictive. Eventually I found myself not wanting, but needing more, and Mario just wasn't coming through like he used to. I needed something harder, I needed: Hot Shots Golf Fore!?

Alright, so it's not like I'm hanging around the PGA tour trying to get Tiger Woods to sign my ass, but Hot Shots does play a tougher game of golf than Mario. Now, I've said it before and I'll say it again: If you're hardcore enough to be reading this site, chances are pretty good that you A). Read other gaming websites, and therefore B). Don't need me to review games for you. I'm sure that you already know what the reviewers have to say. Their two main issues with the game always seem to be it's cuteness level, and no new-school analog swing mechanism. Neither of these bother me; I've never even played a game that used the highly touted analog swing, and I actually find myself cracking up at this game's "cuteness" more than any person should really have a right to. Nobody, and I mean nobody , has complained that this game is too easy. That makes a lot of sense, because it isn't. Sure, I haven't broken any controllers yet, but my wins are narrow, almost never easy. I guess I should have suspected that Mario wouldn't tell me everything that's outside of his green little world.

The portion of this game that I almost exclusively bought it for, the online play, is the one feature I haven't had a chance to get intimate with yet. I simply don't feel as if I'm good enough to play online yet. If I'm nearly losing to the game's A.I., I'm sure to get my ass kicked online. Anyway, I downloaded the new Frag Ops 2.0 beta yesterday. I've only played with it a little bit, but the new WAR gametype(not sure if the caps were necessary but...) has surely got to be this mod's way of going "HEY! Look at me!! I'm not just like Counter Strike anymore!!! HEY!!!". I'll have more on that next week.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

I Thought An Albatross Was A Birdie

You know, there's almost nothing better than watching a gorilla or dinosaur type thing pick up a 9 Iron and take a swing. Oh, Mario Golf: Advance Tour is kind of fun too.

I'm thoroughly addicted to this game, that's pretty much all there is to say. If you haven't heard by now, the novelty in this package is not entirely in it's quirky golf, but also in it's RPG trappings. When it comes to this aspect, most reviewers have felt one of two ways about it: Either they think the RPG elements seem sort of tacked on, or that they're entirely tacked on. Some have mentioned that leveling up in a golf game is just damned cool, and it is this aspect that has got me so hooked. I'm the type of person who sincerely enjoys leveling up simply for the sake of leveling up, hence my attraction to games like Eternal Lands and countless logged hours with Golden Sun: The Lost Age and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. Here, upgrading your character is actually very similar to any D&D type game: After every level up, you're given a point to add on to any of your attributes which, of course, are golf related in this case.

It's not just your plain old golf here, though. If you get in the mood for something a little more wacky, there are a handful of different play modes ranging from Club Slots, where a slot machine mini game similar to the one in Super Mario Brothers 2 determines which clubs you can use, to Go-Go Gates, where you have to hit the ball through a series of gates on the way to the hole. When it comes to the more RPG-ish bits, where you walk around talking to other golfers, I actually find this a nice bit of downtime when you need a little break between matches or tournaments. It's here that you can really tell the engine at work is straight out of the Golden Sun games, but it seems as if they managed to cram in a little more beauty.

I'm really glad I picked this baby up, it's really helping fight off the ever-increasing twitches occurring as Monster Hunter's launch date nears. I have a feeling that by the day before it's release, I'll have lost all speech comprehension. That might make updates kind of hard.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

For Liberty!

If you read Slashdot, then you may have heard of a site that launched this week going by the name of Liberated Games. If you haven't heard of this site until now, you're probably wondering what's up.

Well, it's a site dedicated to cataloguing commercial games that have either been fully released for free(as in gratis), or have been open sourced. The latter are a bit trickier in that usually the game data is not "liberated" with the source code. In layman's terms, you still need to own the original game. In some cases, there are people trying to create game data to compliment the open sourced engines, like FreeDOOM or Open Quartz(content for Quake engines). Now you may be wondering, for every other game that has no project trying to provide free game data, what is the point of these liberated engines? Well, take a look at my post regarding the Doomsday engine a couple of weeks ago and you'll start to get the hint. Most of the time, the entire point is to allow the game to run on an operating system that wasn't originally supported, or to add snazzy new graphical features(or both).

I haven't really had that much of a chance this week to download and try anything, but my next move will probably be to pick up ScummVM and play around with some old school graphic adventures.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Yvan Eht Nioj

Those of you out there who own a copy of SOCOM2(and presumably the first SOCOM), may have noticed a little "bit" in the back of the game's manual asking you rather flatly: "Are you interested in a seal career?". I'm sure that there are people buying the game who very well may be interested in a seal career, but this poses the question: "Does anyone really want these people to be seals?"

You know, real life doesn't have exploitable glitches. It also lacks the ability for some recently killed person to bitch about how their death was entirely the fault of "lag". People don't "spawn" in real life either, therefore making spawn mining well, impossible. I think you're starting to get my point. There are probably, oh let's say, 3 people playing SOCOM regularly that could even physically pass the tests required to be a navy seal. Of those 3, I'm fairly sure that none of them are mentally qualified to be a seal in any way, shape, or form.

Now, don't get what I'm about to say wrong, I have a blast playing this game online. However, it's almost an impossibility to see any sort of actual teamwork taking place. That's probably due to the fact that whenever I've been on a team that actually tried to use teamwork it was actually just the two guys who were scoring the best ordering everyone else around. And you know what? Mostly every time I've seen this tactic used, my team lost to a bunch of people who were running around as they pleased, throwing grenades around like water balloons. I'm sure there are clans playing SOCOM who use teamwork to great effect, but, even they spawn bomb every now and then.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Doom 2. No, It's Not A Typo.

So last week I mentioned that all this Doom 3 hubbub has got me in the mood to revisit the original Doom games, and I have. Well, I have yet to find Ultimate Doom, but I know it's around here somewhere. I have, however had a blast playing my old copies of Doom 2, Heretic and Hexen.

Yeah, um, so what do I say now? It's not like I'm going to sit here and tell you what these games are about. If you haven't heard by now, then what the hell are you doing reading obscure gaming weblogs anyway, you fucking pervert? Anyway, there is a little bit of new in the stew(I just made that up), thanks to the nice spice(that too) that the Doomsday Engine adds to the recipe(that whole damn sentence, gold). Hey, leave it to me to talk about a source port of Doom like it's a new thing, or a particularly big deal for that matter. Hey, Slashdot did it too, why can't I?

Anyway, the Doomsday Engine, which is called jDoom, jHexen or, you guessed it, jHeretic depending on what game you're playing is basically a hardware accelerated revamp of the original Doom engine that adds some nice things like dynamic lighting that people have come to expect. Don't worry, the game doesn't look like something entirely different than the aging heroes we all know and love. At least not if you forgo the optional high-res texture and model packs. It's pretty hard to look cutting edge when everything from monsters to barrels are sprites that are perpetually facing your direction. Anyway, it's fun, and I'm sure my worn out old copies of the above games are more than happy to see some action again.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Xenosaga Episode 2 Needs No Mention... It's Implied

So basically, I've barely had any time to play any games this week. I've logged a couple of SOCOM2 matches, and I played a bit of Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance 2, but that's hardly news. So, instead of doing what I usually do, I'm just going to sit here and talk about some games I'm looking forward to.

Monster Hunter is probably number one on my list right now, and as it nears completion I'm finding it harder and harder to restrain myself from drooling at random times, just from thinking about this game. It's an online rpg, but it's not massive in the traditional sense. From what I understand their will be a central tavern of sorts, which is sort of the hub of the Monster Hunter world, and is basically the only part of the game that's not limited to 4 players or less. The rest of the time is spent, well, hunting monsters. Like I said in last week's post, this seems to me as if the game was custom tailored to fit my, and only my needs. Anyone else playing the game is an afterthought.

Another game that really has me going is Oddworld: Stranger. Sure, this isn't exactly an awful lot known about this game right now, except for that it has some pseudo-western(movie) aspects and is a bit heavier on the action than previous titles in the franchise, but who the hell cares? It's another Oddworld game for fuck's sake. Munch's Oddysee was basically the one reason I regretted the fact that I'll never own an Xbox, and now that another installment in the Oddworld series is hitting the PS2, I once again have no reason to own an Xbox. Good. Like I always say: Fuck Xbox.

Anyway, let's put ranting aside for now. You're probably wondering which camp I'm in: Those who have already bought Doom 3, or those who don't plan on buying it at all. Honestly, I don't know. In this case, I'm waiting for a demo. Everything thing has been too wishy-washy in a "well it's good, but..." kind of way that I'm just going to have to wait for myself. While I'm not sure it's intended, the main feeling I've been having since Doom 3 came out is the feeling to play the original Doom. Now if only I could find those old, dusty disks.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

It's Good To Play Together... Oh Wait, That's Xbox. Fuck Xbox.

After seeing the trailers for Monster Hunter, I thought "Hey, I've got broadband now, I should start doing the whole online console gaming thing". It's like somebody decided to make a game solely for me, but to put it online so that I'd have other people to play with whenever I wanted. So, last week I went out and procured a network adaptor, headset, and what are arguably the best two online PS2 games to date: SOCOM2: US Navy Seals, and Splinter Cell: Pandora Tommorow.

I haven't taken either online yet. Hell, I haven't even beat the first level in each. See, I have this sort of... anxiety when it comes to playing a game online. I feel the need to "train" myself in the single player game before I can even think of taking the game online. Even when I do for the first time, I'm sweating and nervous, sure I'm going to do something wrong as soon as I get the chance. So I decided to try to get a handle on SOCOM2 first, it being the less complex of the two. The first mission would be much easier to get through if my A.I. buddies didn't enjoy getting stuck in the level geometry so much. So fuck it, I'll try SC:PT. Oh, it's a trial and error stealth game, this should be... bewildering. Luckily this one has tutorials for the multiplayer, because I don't think I'm going to spend too much time with this in the single player mode. I'm no Tom Clancy fan, and the closest thing to a stealth game I've played lately was Far Cry. It's not like I didn't know this was a stealth game when I picked it up, but I really bought it for the multiplayer.

I'm sure that by next week I'll have had my way with both of these games online, and I'm sure I'll have something to say about it. I'm sure that most people will be busy playing Doom3, though, since it's out now and everything.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Let's Hope That These Lands Are Once Again Eternal

In the week since the Eternal Lands server poofed, thanks to quite a few hours playing the game, I've nearly brought my character back to the levels he was at before the... "incident". That either says a lot about my commitment to the game since the crash, or my lack thereof prior to it.

It was quite the crazy situation for a few days there, everybody pushing themselves beyond the need for sleep or nutrition in a mad dash to become the best at something. Thanks to those like me who A). have other things to do, and B). just don't have what it takes to put so much "work" into a videogame, things smoothed off after a little while. Some players stats took off like rockets, others like mine were more similar to a moped needing a pedal pump here and there to make it up a somewhat-sort-of-steep hill. While some things returned to a near-normal state within a few days, others are far from it, even now. No longer does anyone who's been in the game for more than two days have the best equipment attainable and no idea how to use it. In this respect the power-levellers should be happy, as they knew the quickest route to shiny, expensive, rare equipment and put it to good use.

How long this state will last remains to be seen, either certain items will stay rare and the prices high, or it will drop back to the price range of the in-game lower class. Honestly, I see myself as aside from all of this as the fact that "it's just a fucking videogame" is constantly in the back of my mind while these debates are at hand. Far be it from me to take the stance of the "normal guy" on any issue ever, but while you nerds are crying about your fantasy economy I'll be over here not being a pansy. Of course, I'll still be playing EL with you nerds, I just won't be a pansy about it.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

These Lands Are... Not So Eternal

A funny thing happened yesterday. I was just about to log on and play a little Eternal Lands, when I saw a message: "Can't connect to server : ( Press any key to retry." Well, that's a little weird... so my next step was to take a look at the EL website and see what's up. Turns out, the power supply on the EL server blew out, frying the hard drive in the process. Well, surely there's got to be a recent backup right? Wrong. This little message on the front page was my first clue: "Oh, and what backups?". As is turns out, the most recent non-corrupted backup was from February. Take a look at this archives on this site if you want proof, but I didn't even start playing this game until March and I didn't even really get to any good levels until very recently. So, as far as the backups were concerned, I didn't exist anymore. To tell you the truth, I was sort of happy to be able to start over from scratch, not entirely happy with my character's development.

I must have been the only one. The message boards exploded with a thousand posts from unhappy people how had spent too many hours of "work" building up their character's stats. A lot of people even vowed to immediatly stop playing the game, never to return again. Then, something even weirder happened: A debate on whether or not everyone's character's should be "reset". OK, so maybe I did something wrong and was accidentaly reading the posts from the game's developers with my head up my ass, but, to me it didn't look like we had a fucking choice! A whole lot of people went so far as to admit that they couldn't play the game anymore because they couldn't stand not being higher level than everyone else. "Now the n00bs are going to be just as strong as us!", they cried in utter despair, the thought of not being able to lord their high stats over the unwashed masses literaly making them cry tears of blood. So fucking what? If you're so god damned good at the game, you should be higher level than all the "nOObs"(god I hate that term) in no time at all anyway. I guess a lot of people just didn't see it from my angle, and those people are no longer playing the game, thank fuck.
But, for every person that slit their wrists when the server burned up, there were five people who were excited, no, exuberant to be getting a chance at redeveloping their characters. And shit, did they start right away. It might as well have been a race. One that, I might add, is still going on without me as I write up this post. I have to admit, I happened to recreated my character only minutes after the server came back online, and I was one many clammering from rock to flower harvesting all they could to be up much needed experience. By the time I logged off, I was up to level 18 overall, and was notching up quite a few various skills.

Sure, before the crash my overall level was well above 30, I was mopping the floor with goblins, and I had even joined a guild. But, it sure is nice not having to deal with that stupid Hellspawn perk anymore. Confused? Play the game, you'll see. Just don't get in the way of the power levellers, and don't become stronger than those who want to be the strongest. It will only anger them, for there can only be one, and that one can not be you. The fuckfaces have spoken.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

UT2004 Mod Roundup Part: Sports?

Yeah, so back to the UT2004 mods. This week it's sports, and if you know me, you know that I basically hate all but one sport. That sport, my friend, is paintball. Don't ask why I like it, I really don't know, it's just one of the funnest things I've ever done. When it comes to golf, I've always sort of admired a sport that has you driving little carts, drunk, carrying around a bunch of clubs. You may be wondering why I didn't wait to deal with Deathball in this post. Well, contrary to popular belief, Deathball is not a real sport, at least not yet.

Sure, Ultimate Survival is not really the peak of realism. It's super fast paced, plays a lot like a few standard UT2004 gametypes, and I've never seen a Skaarj or robot playing paintball. I suppose it could happen. Although, it sure would be nice to have some of that gigantic armor the next time I play paintball. In another ping to the back of realism's head, the ragdoll death animations from stock UT2004 are in place so, when hit, characters react like the paintballs are made of lead. Where it does totally nail the realism is the way the paint flies. When you shoot at an opponent you see where your paintball goes and, more often then not, it's a completely different direction than where you fired. Anybody whose actually played paintball will tell you right away that this is painfully realistic. This mod is pretty damn fun though, and it's a crying shame that there are no servers to play this baby online. Bots don't act like they're playing paintball, but I bet you could get people to.

Duffer's Golf is obviously a much more relaxed experience than the frenetic pace of the above mod. I have to admit it: for some reason, despite never having actually played the game, I am a sucker for golf videogames. This is a damn good one too. The beta only has one course so far, but it sure is a joy just whacking your way around it. The controls are really simple, you can play the whole game with just the mouse. Move the mouse to line up your shot, click once to start a power meter moving, click again to get the right amount of power, and click one more time as your golfer swings to let the shot go. As simple as it is right now in the beta stage: one course, one golfer, etc..., I have a total blast whenever I fire this mod up. Once this baby's got a few updates under it's belt it's definitely going to be one of my favorites.

These Lands Are Eternal

Playing Vendetta again last week got me to hankerin' for a little more massively multiplayer fun, and I remembered that Eternal Lands had recently had a client and server update. It was, in fact, that very same big server update that caused me to stop playing the game for a while, after losing all my hard earned low-level swank.But, fuck it, I felt like getting out of space for while so after spending a couple of minutes trying to remember my username and password I logged back on.

The main reason for the big server change in the first place was that the economy was getting way out of control. Everybody had way too much money to throw around, so you could get some pretty good gear just by being a "mule" for a high-level player with way to much cash to throw around. So, they took away all my shit. Therefore, my first mission was to make my ass some money. Fire Essences seem to be everybody's favorite easy way to make money so, being a fan of easy money, that was the route I took. 15 harvesting and 10 alchemy levels later I had myself some decent enough gear to start leveling up a little bit more in some other areas.

Fuck rabbits and beavers, fuck rats. I'm gonna go hunt myself some deer, yee-haw! Alright, that was a bit over the top, but anyway. The first time I had ever tried taking on a deer, I ended up in hell rather quickly, but that was before I had my swanky new get-up. Bing! Bam! Boom! Fucker went down like a kite in a windstorm. It wasn't long before I was killing all manner of deer, foxes, boars, and wolves. Then I tried taking on a puma and was swiftly sent to hell. I figured I'd better not try that again, so lately I've been taking on goblins. It's a little over my head at this point, but I can slice through wolves like a hot knife through butter and that was getting a little boring. Very recently I've been trying my hand at magic. That's right, card tricks out my ass.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Yes, It's Fucking Vendetta Again. Shut Up.

I've decided to take a break from the UT2004 mod roundup this week, to address a favorite of mine that has recently had some major updates. Sure, I've already got two full posts(check the archives) dedicated to Vendetta, but what the hell... It is my weblog after all, so if I want to cover a game 4000 times you can be sure that I will.

Anyone who played Vendetta six months ago will find a whole lot more to do than the game offered back then. Missions, both combat and trade, not only give you money but also experience which is used to pick up "licenses", granting access to bigger, better, more powerful ships and weapons. That may piss some of you off who remember the "good ole days" when you could get any ship you wanted, whenever you wanted, as long as you had enough cash to throw around. The fact that you just can't do that anymore is well balanced by the new pricing scheme on the ships. It sure is a hell of a lot easier to take when your perfect, brand new ship is blown to pieces by a way-too-hasty player with something to prove.

It sure is a good thing, though, that there is so much more to do in the game. Why? Because no one is playing this fucking game anymore! That's right, thousands of registered users(by the way, I think the beta is currently closed... sorry) and whenever you check out the active players list there are no more than 15-20 people playing at any given time. Couple this with the fact that the in-game universe has grown from a mere 18 to over 7000 sectors(no kidding), it sure is pretty damn hard finding anyone at all. That's not good news for Guild Software as these guys are talking about a summer release for this game. Um, isn't that like... now? It sure doesn't seem like good news for this game. Who the hell is going to play a massively multiplayer game that's sure as hell not massive, and barely multiplayer?

If you read my first Vendetta-related post, you may remember me having a not-so-friendly attitude towards guild software for even thinking they'd be able to sell a game as unpolished as Vendetta was at the time. Now though, I'd really like to see them succeed because Vendetta has turned into a very nice game, a very fun game. Sadly, I can't see how that could happen when only 20 people are willing to play the game for free.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

UT2004 Roundup Part 3: Yeah, I Know What I Said, But...

Last week I decided it would be better if I covered two mods in each post, seeing as it would take a very long time to write up all the mods I want to cover if I only did one a week. Well, that was all well and good until Alien Swarm came along and forced me to stop playing all other mods.

Lately, a lot of games and mods have been throwing the word "tactical" around with the frequency that most people use periods. If there's one mod that can freely toss that word about and be perfectly justified, it's this one. Just the sheer amount of ways there are to deal with almost any situation forces use you to quickly figure out and execute a plan, and when your planning pays off it's a damn good feeling. The A.I. for your squad helps this feeling along immensely, they're no dummies for sure. However, if they're just not doing what you want, feel free to take control of any member of your squad whenever you feel like it. Say you want to clear a room of alien scum. You could shepard your entire squad through one door, let the aliens rush you, and hope that your tightly packed squad doesn't get too hopelessly surrounded. Or you could split your team up, maneuver each half towards two different doors, and take on the aliens from both sides. There are other ways you could attack the situation, but I'll leave that up to you.

Now what I was talking about above is just the single player game, take it online and it's a whole different world. You may no longer be in control of the squad, just a single soldier or medic. You could be the leader of the squad, but that's no A.I. you're ordering around, and they may not think what you say is such a good idea. Who knows, a team mate could think they see something, prematurely freak out, and set the rest of your squad on fire in a matter of seconds. Better hope you have a medic in that situation. This is quite possibly one of the best co-op gameplay experiences I've had in any game, on any platform.

Now, if you haven't seen or heard about Alien Swarm yet, go take a look at a screenshot, I'll wait. Back? OK, so by now you know it's not a first person shooter... If you're still reading, do yourself an enormous favor and pick that shit up, you won't regret it. Probably... I didn't.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

UT2004 Mod Roundup Part 2

I realized sometime over the last week that if I were to only write about one mod a week, I'd take forever to cover all the ones that have me interested. Of course, there was a fairly simple fix to this situation: Write about two a week. And in that spirit, I'm going to try to cover games that have at least a little something in common. This week's theme: Round based, tactical, squad oriented games.

Upon firing up Frag.Ops, one can't help but draw tiny mental comparisons to Counter Strike. For one thing, Counter Strike was a major player in the introduction of round-based multiplayer games to the general public. For another thing, you buy your equipment at the beginning of each round; much like CS. Then there's the realism factor. This isn't quite Instagib, but you're not going to take so many bullets that a human body would start to resemble strawberry jelly before you go down. There are no health packs, you actually have to remember to reload your weapon, and you can't jump fifteen feet down while putting only a minor dent in your health. Even if you're not a Counter Strike fan, you're going to want this mod for your copy of UT2004. Of course the UT2004 engine looks a lot better than the dated Half Life engine, but where Frag.Ops trumps CS is in the feel of the game. A lot of people complain about (or praise) Counter Strike feeling more like a sport than a shooter. I for one tend to agree with them. Frag.Ops certainly concentrates a lot more feeling like a shooter than fucking basketball or whatever.

Domain 2049 doesn't owe anything to Counter Strike. If anything, this mod feels like a souped up, more realistic version of UT2004's Assault gameplay mode. Where it kicks it up a notch is in the execution. In the standard Assault gameplay mode, one team is trying to achieve a series of objectives (opening certain doors, blowing certain things up) while the other team concentrates on keeping these objectives from being pulled off (make sure doors stay shut, certain things don't blow up...), at least entirely. Domain 2049 adds to the formula by often having both teams tasked with certain objectives while trying to keep the other team from achieving theirs. This can often get pretty hectic, and can possibly result in a thorough pants-shitting immediately after being shot. Of course, in Domain 2049 there are respawns, even if you do have to wait a couple of seconds beforehand.

The bots in both of these games are fairly intelligent, although in a Frag.Ops botmatch once you're out you can be pretty sure that your team will not win. Your once active bots now just sort of run back and forth, waiting to be shot, while the other team's bots do what they were doing all along. I guess that once the bots get used to some sort of direction, they can't think for themselves ever again. This is actually a small issue in both mods, you just don't notice it as much in Domain 2049 because of the respawns. When it comes down to which one is better, that's a toughie. I'm sure most people would tell you Frag.Ops (it is one of the more popular mods out there right now) is the better game, but my personal preference leans towards Domain 2049.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

UT2004 Mod Roundup, Part 1: Deathball

I'm sure that most everyone has heard of this mod by now; it's pretty popular, with good reason. Now, I'm not a big sports gamer, in fact I haven't played a sports game since Tecmo Super Bowl on the NES back in the day. So why, I ask myself, am I so into this sports game?

Well, I guess the fact that you can kill the guy with the ball helps. So does the first-person view. You know what the best part is though, at least in my opinion? You're just one guy on the team. You don't pass the ball and instantly find yourself controlling the character who received the pass. You don't plan out what exactly everyone is going to do beforehand, in fact, there's no planning at all. When playing a botmatch, the quality of the bots helps out a lot. Of course, there have been times when I've seen bots get sort of "stuck" trying to use a jump pad that only the other team can use, but that has really been the only bot-related issue that I've noticed at all.

So what is Deathball exactly? Well, it's sort of like a mix between American Football and what the rest of the world calls Football, but with more bloodspray. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a super violent game; you can win a game (at least a botmatch) with out ever having to think about killing the ball carrier. And for those of you who think you're just going to play it exactly like a first person shooter, I've got news: The only person you can ever take out is the person carrying the ball, and they do respawn, instantly. No fragfest here.

All in all, I don't really know what it is that keeps me playing Deathball, seeing as I'm not a fan of sport games at all. But, you know what? I am playing like hell, and I have no intention of stopping soon. The game is just that fun and, as long as you have a copy of UT2004, it's free.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

No, It's Not Sarcasm...

I just read on Slashdot that Valve Software has had some arrests pertaining to the stolen Half Life 2 source code fiasco. I'd like to take this opportunity to personally thank Valve for their valiant effort.

You know why? Because I'm sure that if they hadn't used all that time to fish around for the "perps", the events immediately following would have been horrendous: 1.) "P1r4at3s r00l S0ftw4r3z 1nc" releases "h@lf l1f3 2" which, of course, is downloaded by the millions, everyone believing that they are truly getting a free copy of Half Life 2, but in reality... 2.) Every single person with a copy of "h@lf l1f3 2" immediately becomes infected with an unremovable virus. 3.) Said virus begins the process of constantly monitoring every computer Valve has running, including the design document for 2014's Half Life 3. 4.) "P1r4at3s r00l S0ftw4r3z 1nc" waits 15 years and releases "H@lf l1fe E(3)", 5 years before Valve ships Half Life 3. 5.) Rinse and repeat.

Of course: the reason I buy computer games in the first place is that I know the source code is completely closed so people can't cheat. It's not like anyone ever cheats at a commercial videogame. With open source software(or stolen code) anybody can read the code, and you know what? They can use that knowledge to (Gasp!) cheat! No, no, no. I need Valve's ever mysterious Steam to protect me from mean people with too much computer knowledge who like to break the rules.

All sarcasm aside, I don't buy computer games for the fucking engine. I buy them because of the large teams of artists, the extensive testing, the voice acting, and the fucking polish. None of that has a single fucking thing to do with source code. By the way, even if "preventing cheating" by rewriting the code was the actual reason for pushing the release date back, that shit still doesn't take a year.

I never had any intentions of buying Half Life 2 anyway, but now thanks to the double-headed assfuck of death comprised of Steam and Valve's lawyers, I wouldn't buy it if there was a segment where you could run through Valve's offices, guns blazing.


You know, it's a funny thing: I can actually feel the emptiness in the spot where my soul used to reside. Well, I could feel it until the tendrils of the internet worked their way into this newly excavated cavity, finally linking up with the already-existent wire cluster where my brain used to be. When a machine goes down, I know it instantly. When a site gets Slashdotted, I can feel it's pain. I am the internet. At least, that's the sort of feelings you start to have shortly after moving from dialup to broadbrain... um, I mean broadband. Fuck, I should really find out where in my brain the backspace key is.

At first, there were problems: Basically, the modem supplied by my ISP was a dick. It tried to tell my router what to do and, let me tell you, my router hates being pushed around. The modem wouldn't relent, however, so a couple of quick calls to the ISP brought a new, nicer modem that didn't try to tell anybody what to do. The router was in a bad mood for a couple more hours, obviously the bad-boy modem had said something that hurt router very deeply. After a little while though, router and modem got along like the best of friends, and my computers even joined the party.

First off, I played a 50 person game of Call Of Duty without any lag at all. It was beautiful, I almost wept. In fact, I did, but not before playing quite a few games of Far Cry, whose multiplayer wonders I could not witness while stuck in the dialup world. I started, as I always do, with a simple deathmatch; eventually moving on to team-deathmatch. It was a blast, but not half as fun as the Assault gameplay mode. I must have played half a dozen Assault games before finally calling it a night, and every one was an absolutely awesome experience. There's a strange, surreal feeling I get playing single-player Far Cry that's almost like deja-vu. I didn't expect this feeling to carry over into the multiplayer aspect of the game, but it does, flawlessly; and that rules.

Just to see how fast I could do it, I also downloaded a couple of UT2004 mods(it was damn fast, by the way) that I'm going to write about over the next couple of weeks, so keep an eye out for that. Also, if anyone happens to see an ISP employee with my soul, grab that shit for me.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

If I Had A Robot That Big, I'd Never Leave The House

I signed up for that thing where Square-Enix will send you a demo disc of Front Mission 4 a month or two ago and, who knows, it could be on the way. What I do know is that I got impatient, so I picked up a recent issue of Official Playstation Magazine, demo disc featuring Front Mission 4 included.

Just when I was starting to think that Square might have started to go downhill with the addition of that "-Enix" to their name, this game came along and rocked the shit right out of my ass. What can I say? I love giant, badass, gun-toting robots and I love turn based combat even more. This game is firmly rooted in the older-school, grid-style strategic tradition; alongside your Final Fantasy Tactics and what-nots of the world. However, not everything is from the tried and true book of the old-school. Grid-based combat has probably never had quite as much snazz as is presented here, with the camera closing in on the wanzers(giant robots) right before the inevitable exchange of gunplay in a very cinematic fashion. The game's not out yet, and I haven't played any of the other games in the Front Mission series, but it seems like if the robots are customizable enough for my liking, this is a game I'm sure to pick up.

Also on the same demo disc was a game I've only started to hear about recently, Future Tactics: The Uprising. This is also a turn based affair, except instead of the chess-like placement of units on a grid this game gives you some pseudo-freedom-of-movement by allowing you to guide your selected character around, platformer style, until you find a spot suited to your liking. The same approach is used for aiming and, while it does throw a change-up into the pace of gameplay, it's also quite a pain in the ass to even see where an enemy unit is unless you've already spotted them out in the first-person view. It's got a cartoony atmosphere and some bad voice acting, which is not to say that Front Mission 4 doesn't. When it comes to goofy voice acting of the week award, it's a toss up between FM4's stereotypical Italian and FT: TU's stereotypical British accents. Future Tactics is out in stores, and although it hasn't got the greatest reviews, it seems to be a pretty enjoyable title that I may end up adding to my collection.

By the way, next week I'm finally going the way of the cow into the slaughterhouse(OK, I guess that's a bit dramatic) and signing my soul over to the broadband demons. While this means that I will spend my afterlife eating naught but burning hot coals and drinking naught but burning hot cola, it also means I get to play Far Cry online for the first time, and not have to deal with the horrible lag issues with Call Of Duty. Another nice side effect is that I'll be able to download new games and mods a whole lot faster, meaning more reading enjoyment for you: the reader.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Everything Old Is New Again

Cube had a new release this week, and I've been playing quite a bit of it. There isn't really that much that has actually changed, but there are quite a few new additions and tweaks.

The main "upgrade" in this release of Cube is the single player maps. There are a lot more of these puppies than there were in the last release, and the maps all seem to be very well done. There is a very Doom-like feeling that you get playing the new(and old) single player missions that no game now, free or commercial, seems to be capturing as well. It could very well be that most people figure that if they want to play Doom, they'll play Doom, but it's still a refreshing style of gameplay.

When it comes to the multiplayer, nothing has changed(which is good) but there are a ton of new maps. Some of the older maps have been tweaked or added to a little bit, so playing the older maps again is somewhat like seeing what's new in your old neighborhood. The new maps are very well done, and a lot more are making good use of Cube's heightmaps(Terrain) than in the previous release. The one thing that I would really like to have seen done to the multiplayer portion is in the player characters. Everyone looks exactly the same, which I suppose can help people from being ganged up on, but I think people would like at least some amount of character creation beyond picking your name.

Even though the one thing that bothers me hasn't changed, I'm still going to give this release a thorough workout. There are lots of little bits and pieces of niceties that I haven't touched on yet: Nicer animations, waaaay better death animations, and lots of little bugfixes and polish. One more nice thing: Cube was Slashdotted for it's new release, so you'll probably have no trouble finding people to play with online. By the way, for you non-Linux people, Cube is available for Windows and Mac OSX as well.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Gold Plated Turds Are Still Turds

Usually after E3 is over and done with I, being the type of person who gets excited about these sorts of things, read about all the shiny new games and have something to be excited about... Not this year.

The only game that has me jumping up and down like someone who downed a six-pack and can't find a bathroom is Xenosaga Episode II: Jenseits von Gut und Bose, and I've been drooling over that game since I finished Episode I. Far Cry: Instincts may have interested me if my computer wouldn't run the PC version of Far Cry, but I have a feeling that the magic just won't be there on the PS2(or the stupid-motherfucking Xbox). The Final Fantasy XII previews look like someone took a shit on a Final Fantasy game, then painted up real nice and shiny. No more nice, familiar old-fashioned combat system where everyone stands in a line; it's new, it's super, I hate the very idea of it. People who play RPGs play them because they like RPGs, not because they wish it was an entirely different game altogether. Oh, and I could really not give two shits about Half Life 2 or Doom 3. I will however jump all over that Call Of Duty: United Offensive expansion pack. By the way, did anyone notice every single game I just mentioned was a sequel? I did.

When it comes to the entirely new original game front, or at least the ones I pay attention to, it's basically the two Guerilla games: Killzone and Shellshock: Nam '67. Sure, they may be new, but they don't look too impressive. With people actually taking a look at the game in play, it seems like the hype-machine behind Killzone is starting to slow down, and maybe it deserves to. I think the idea behind Shellshock is to preempt the immanent wave of Vietnam War era games and it will probably work, at least from a sales standpoint. I have a feeling that both games are going to sell like hotcakes regardless of how good they are. Oh well, I suppose that's the way it goes...

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Ghoul Hustled By A Pool Demon

If an invisible, disembodied presence entirely capable of holding(and using) a pool cue doesn't sort of freak you out, you're a much more brave soul than I am. If the fact that this disembodied presence brandishing a pool cue can actually make shots doesn't freak you out, you must in fact be a disembodied, pool-playing ghoul yourself.

Of course, I'm talking about FooBillard here, not anything spewed forth from the fiery depths of hell. You know, it's a fairly rocking game too. I suppose you have to be a pool (or snooker) fan, but if you are then there's quite a lot here to keep you busy. The A.I. (disembodied hell-soul) works very well, and even will make you think you're about to be hustled by the computer a few times. The physics, especially for an open source project, seem to be pretty damn good and the graphics are nice, shiny OpenGL. There are quite a few game modes here: Standard pool, snooker, 8-ball, 9-ball... I'm not sure if there are more. Either way, when you throw in the "two people on one computer" multiplayer, this is quite a complete package. Although the main focus for this project seems to be Linux, there are Windows and OSX ports available, plus: Even though the source may not be GPL'd, it is entirely free and open source.

Creepy soul-taking-invisibly-evil-ghoul A.I. aside, I haven't found a better game of pool (for free, no less) this side of an actual table.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Golf Ball Through a Garden Hose

I've been playing FarCry like hell this week, and I'll tell you it's quite the amazing experience. I'm not going to go into a full review here, as there are more than enough out there for anyone who wants to read them, but what I will tell you is this: In most of the reviews I've read the author did almost nothing besides shit themselves over the graphical praises of the game. Don't get me wrong; this is one beautiful game, but that's not all it has going for it.

When it comes to first person shooters, I usually prefer the team or squad-based types of games over the "lone badass taking out entire armies of evil, alone" schtick, but FarCry just nails it. I think what it is that FarCry manages to capture perfectly is this: If you're alone on some fucked-up island and run into a bunch of scary, armed bad-guy types, you're simply not going to run into the middle of them and start shooting everyone. If you don't agree with me, try to think of one situation in everyday life where you could possibly shoot at a bunch of armed mercenaries and expect to see the next time you blink. Exactly. In the case of FarCry, this is equally true. Sure, there are a few "Rambo" moments in the game, but they're balanced out by plenty of stealthy, hiding in the bushes, hoping that guard didn't just hear you fart fun. Now the thing is, I usually hate stealth based games. Like I said, FarCry just gets it right.

I wish I could tell you I have some sort of idea what the multiplayer in FarCry is like but, sadly, I have no broadband and FarCry hates me for it. Sure, most games for the past couple of years "would really like it if you had broadband", but in most of them you can still play online to a certain extent if you're saddled with a dial-up modem. Not so in FarCry: no broadband, no multiplayer. Not even a chance. Well, we've seen the crappy future, and it's in stupid-motherfucking-expensive-as-all-hell broadband. Fuck you, I'm out.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Wicked Sick!

I've been spending a lot of time this week with my recently procured copy of Unreal Tournament 2004 so there's nothing free to talk about this week... Unless you count the UT2004 Demo, or those bogus Windows XP-only levels that have got everyone so pissed off. By the way, I'm too lazy to search for a link for you right now, but those levels are available for ALL platforms. You just have to do a little searching around.

Now, I know that the Linux version of UT2004 is not officially supported by Atari, but the question still enters my mind: Why would a company that ships a game with a Linux installer crap out a few levels exclusively for one branch of one operating system? The only answer I can think of: unrelenting pressure from Microsoft on game companies to pull this kind of shit. I, for one, won't stand for it. Embarrassingly enough, I'm currently forced to run the game on Windows XP due to the fact that I don't have enough hard drive space on the Linux side of my box. But, you know what? I still downloaded the re-packaged versions of the levels... just 'cause. Well, that and the fact that I would eventually like to run the game in Linux.

Lame business practices aside, this game is simply awesome. Every game mode is great, every level I've played has been a blast, and the graphics are total eye-candy. Probably one of the prettiest games I've seen, in fact. That is, until I picked up Farcry. That game is just beautiful. I just picked it up late last night so I haven't had much time with it yet. I'll get back to you next week on that one. I'm sure the game will suck, that's why I bought it.....

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Linux Free RPG Roundup: Part Four

If you thought things were getting old school last week, check this out. I present to you: Nethack and Xenocide.

If you run Linux and don't know about Nethack by now, you're a minority to say the least. This game is damn popular, so damn popular that if I were to write a Linux RPG roundup and not include it, I'd be killed. The greatest thing about writing about Nethack is that even I have enough artistic skill to reproduce the game's characters almost exactly. For example, your main character: "@", or your little dog: "d" or a big, scary dragon: "D". Yeah, it's all ASCII text, bitches. As you'd imagine, with nothing to fall back on graphically this title has to make it's mark with pure gameplay, and it does it pretty well. If I were to sit here and describe everything this game has in it's bag of tricks, you'd be bored to death. I would as well, so I'll leave it at this: I don't play "rogue-likes" (which is the category Nethack would fall into), but I do play Nethack. Give it a go, it runs on almost anything and it fits on a floppy.

Xenocide is also a rogue-like, although unlike Nethack's fantasy vibe, Xenocide has more of a sci-fi feel. Maybe that's just because Xenocide explicitly tells you the first level is supposed to be a space shuttle, I can't really tell the difference between a "#" and a "# in space". Xenocide is also a lot tougher right off the bat then Nethack is; I can't count how many times I was killed by a Rabid Prankster in the first couple minutes of playing. Now the downside: there is no story to speak of(yet) so it's pretty much fighting all manors of "r", "w", and "m" monsters until you get bored and stop. Like I just did here, except with writing.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Linux Free RPG Roundup: Part Three

Things are getting old-school this week, both in terms of graphics and gameplay. I present to you this week's two games: Adonthell: Waste's Edge and Crystals Of Holy.

Adonthell itself is not a game, but an engine for RPG/adventure games to be built on. Waste's Edge is basically a demo game to showcase the engine. Not that this engine really needs showcasing; most GBA games blow this out of the water graphically, and I'm pretty sure I've seen NES games that looked better than this. That being said, there is a lot to like about this game. Even though the graphics are fairly primitive, there are a few nice effects like steamy air in a kitchen and "wipe" effects while moving between rooms. With a game like this though, the graphics aren't going to be what keeps you playing. Luckily, even though there's no combat to be found so far, there is a fairly engrossing story with some pretty solid writing. Sure, it's not a storyline of epic proportions, but I really enjoyed the fact that I never once heard a dwarf say something along the lines of: "And I was all like... no way!". You'd be surprised at how fast something like that can make you remember that you're not in a mystical land after all, maybe even quicker than shoddy home made voice acting can. Waste's Edge has none of that bullshit as far as I can tell, and it's much appreciated. By the way: if you want to try this game out you'll need both the Adonthell and Waste's Edge packages, which are available for Windows, Mac OSX, Solaris, and BeOS as well. For us Linux users the source, as well as .deb and .rpm packages are provided. By the way, Adonthell is fully open source.

Crystals of Holy is not open source. It's not even freeware actually, so I guess including it in a free RPG roundup is sort of bogus. Crystals of Holy describes itself as shareware, even though at this point in time there is absolutely nothing to pay for. Right now, this is only a demo, which seems totally free (as in beer) but at some point in time that could change. Anyway, besides moving way to fast (even with the "-timer" command line option that's supposed to slow it down) this game is pretty enjoyable, even though it is plagued by the "Dude, my stuffs(sic) gone and now I'm pissed" problem I mentioned above. It's very clear that this game is very much inspired by the older entries in the Final Fantasy series. Hell, the artwork being used right now is straight out of Final Fantasy IV (something the developer says is only a placeholder). So, if you've played any Final Fantasy game ever, you should have a pretty good idea what to expect. If you haven't ever played a Final Fantasy, stop reading right now and go play one. Anyway, besides a pretty non-intuitive control layout, this game seems pretty feature complete and even has a little bit of a graphical advantage on Waste's Edge (although it's not that much).

Both games are nice ways to kill a little time. Crystals of Holy has combat (which Adonthell will have in the future), Waste's Edge has better writing, and it's open source. By the way: when the Adonthell 0.4 demo comes out, check it out. It'll be cool.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Linux Free RPG Roundup: Part Two

This week I've been doing that whole massively multiplayer thing with not one, but two games: Eternal Lands and PlaneShift.

The beta for Eternal Lands is definitely the more playable of the two. The game is in 3D, but it's got an old-school isometric feel to it so it's not exactly eye candy. What this game lacks in graphical prowess, it makes up for in gameplay. With large areas to explore, lots of leveling up to be done, harvesting, manufacturing, alchemy, and magic casting to be done. You'll also get your ass kicked by a beaver if you're not too careful. It kinda sucks, but hey, that's to be expected in a game of this type. Here's the downer: While at least the basics of the game are expected to remain free, a paid "extra-features" version will be available for those who want to pay 5 or 6 bucks. I'm not a big fan of paying for things in general anyway, but this game just feels like a free game in it's current state. There's also a slightly sinister tone that goes along with downloading the game, thanks to a lot of hoopla on the message boards over at the Linux Game Tome about the author(s) of this game being assholes and some issues with the game's license. It sort of seems like bullshit to me, whatever, I'm still playing the fucking game. So there.

The more promising of the two games is PlaneShift: Molecular Blue (the "blue" thing is sort of a weird versioning system, the next release will be Crystal Blue). Now, it's just a tech demo so there's not an awful lot to do right now. Basically, when the lag isn't too bad, you're able to walk around talking to people, and search for rubies. It's not a huge area you get to explore, but it's not going to take you 10 minutes to see everything this tech demo has to offer either. This game seems a lot deeper than Eternal Lands when it comes to creating and customizing your character in general, but that's nothing but a theory right now as I can't really test that out in the current tech demo. I suppose I'll see when the Crystal Blue release comes out, which is supposed to (at the very least) add combat and try to fix some lag issues. I'm looking forward to it. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention: this one is and (hopefully) always will be free. And part of it (the code) is GPL'd,
the artwork is all under the PlaneShift license.

Here's how I'd put it: If you're looking for a game to play right now, go get Eternal Lands right now. It's fun, there's a lot of stuff to do, and most of the people playing the game are very, very nice people who'll be happy to help you out if you're in need. If you're looking ahead a little bit, PlaneShift looks very promising. One note about PlaneShift though, the binaries they provide for linux (there's a Windows version too by the way) didn't work for me, and they probably won't work for a lot of people. There is a guide to downloading/installing PlaneShift from CVS, and there's even a handy script available which will do everything for you.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Run Away!.... Again!!

With my computer up and running this week, I decided to celebrate by doing two things: 1. I've been playing the UT2004 demo like hell. 2. I picked up a game I've been meaning to get my hands on for a while: Call of Duty.

Now usually I don't buy PC games, especially if they're only for Windows, but I had to make an exception here. Call of Duty is simply one of the most intense games I've ever played. I can't think of any other game that has made me actually yell out "Ahhhhh!!" when something I wasn't expecting happened. You get scared, you don't want to go where they want you to go, then you remember since it's a videogame you don't have much of a choice. Another nice touch is that you're part of a squad, and a whole squad moving through a town blowing shit up just seems a lot more feasible than one superhero type character taking on an entire army himself. It's a damn fun time this game is, and I haven't even mentioned the multiplayer yet, so I will: It's good.

There are way too many World War II themed games out there right now, but this one just gets it right. Now quit it with the fucking WWII games, move along.

Linux Free RPG Roundup: Part One

I'm going to start this week with two games: Alteria and Freedroid RPG. Now, neither of these games are technically RPGs. The RPG-ness of Alteria is basically that you can talk to people (sort of), while Freedroid RPG is more or less a Diablo clone starring a penguin. Guess what his name is, I'll wait. You guessed it, it's Tux, how original! Get over the fucking penguin already, it's getting really old. Anyway...

Now, while I really tried to like Alteria, it's just not going to happen. In fact, I've already deleted it before writing this. Maybe it was the clunky, janky animations or the pretty-freaking-bad looking models. Maybe it was the quarter-assed attempt at a plot, or the way-too-dark levels, or the fact that you have to read the online manual to have any clue as to what you're supposed to do. I'm pretty sure it was all that, combined with one laughable trait that both Alteria and Freedroid RPG possess: ridiculous, muffled, barely understandable, home-brewed voice acting.

Now, I'm glad to see this sort of noble attempt at bringing some of the snazz of big budget video games to free ones, but getting a few of your buddies (and what sounds like someone's mother with a cold) to read the cheesy script you wrote up the day earlier is not the right way to do it. Instead of immersing you in the game environment, like I'm fairly sure the developers of both these games intended it to, the muffled, mumbling voices pull you right the fuck out of it almost instantaneously.

In the case of Freedroid RPG, this is even worse because, unlike Alteria, it's not a terrible game. If you're into Diablo, than this is probably your bag. If you really hate Microsoft, this game is definitely for you. Not only does it star that predictable penguin Tux, but when it's comes to the plot of the game, there's more Microsoft bashing than you can fit in one large cookie jar. Oh, sorry, I forgot: It's, ahem... MS, not Microsoft. My bad. Anyway, there's plenty of robots wandering around to try out your weapons on, plenty of GNU/Linux propaganda to be heard when you wander around towns, and plenty of new weapons and equipment to acquire.

So even though both games describe themselves as RPGs, and neither are, both are worth downloading for a laugh (thanks to that crazy voice acting), and Freedroid RPG even has a smidgen of gameplay to make up for it's fairly large download size. One word of caution though: Alteria sucks, you won't like playing it. I sure know I didn't.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

I Have Too Much Time On My Hands

I'm feeling a little nostalgic this week, mostly thanks to two GBA games I picked up this week: Metroid: Zero Mission, and Medal of Honor: Infiltrator. If case you were wondering, Infiltrator is not making me nostalgic for the bad old days of WWII, let me explain.

While the Metroid series is only three years younger than me, the Medal of Honor series is fairly recent, but this game definitely feels very old school. So no, this isn't another "try to make an FPS on the GBA but end up with something that looks like badly animated vomit" type of game, but an amalgamation of quite a few classic ideas. First is the top down action and stealth levels, which are much like a bullet-riddled stew made up of the best parts of a lot of classic shooters, not to mention games like the original Metal Gear. There are also some "shooting gallery" missions where you, you know, blow shit up. So that's how it goes, but along with the old school gameplay comes that distinctive Medal of Honor feel, complete with black and white WWII video (Yeah, it's pixelated FMV. No goofy sprites trying to look tragic here...), which adds just a bit of pizzaz. I know that I did just not write fucking "pizzaz". Damn it.

Anyway, Metroid: Zero Mission is... you know, Metroid. There has been a lot of niceties added since I played Metroid back in the day (when I was three...) that make it a whole lot easier, but it's still got that feel. I'm not going to sit here and try to explain to you what Metroid is, you should know that by now, but I do know that I've finally found something to draw me away from Final Fantasy Tactics Advance.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Hack!.... Slash! Woo!

Well, I was planning on playing and writing about a whole bunch of free Linux RPG this week, but the fan on my three day old graphics card died, so that's out until I get a replacement. And I was having a blast with the UT demo too. The new "Onslaught" game type is entirely addictive, leaving me twitching in the absence of my video card. Damn.

Anyway, with the main computer out of commission, I've been left with plenty of time alone with my PS2 and copy of Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance 2. Sure, a lot of people have been saying that Champions Of Norrath is better in every conceivable way, but I just didn't get that from the demo I played. Of course, I played the original Dark Alliance and thoroughly enjoyed it up to the pain-in-the-ass cliffhanger ending I was sort of itching for a Dark Alliance 2 anyway. Also, I guess I'm just not into the whole Everquest thing, so DA2 definitely has the advantage on Norrath for me.

It's a very familiar(in a good way) feeling, hacking and slashing through waves of enemies building up experience and plundering all kinds of shit, especially if you're playing the game with a buddy, which is really the way that this game should be played. There seems to be a lot more variety in the dungeons this time around, and even though you'll run into more than a few familiar faces if you've played the first Dark Alliance, there are plenty of bad-ass new enemies to tear through like so much cocktail shrimp. At least I have something to do while I'm waiting to play UT2004 again...

Thursday, March 11, 2004

So Pretty...

I've downloaded the Unreal Tournament 2004 demo for Linux last night/this morning and I can already tell I'm going to buy this game as soon as it's on sale for Linux. I haven't been too in touch with the series since the original Unreal Tournament, so a lot of stuff that was in 2003 seems totally new to me. I've had a chance to try the Deathmatch, Bombing Run, Assault, and Onslaught game modes of the demo so far and they're all completely awesome. I did have to drop the resolution to 800x600 to get the game to run perfectly smoothly though, which made me really glad the I just upgraded my graphics card.

I'm not a big fan of spending tons of money, so I got a GeForce FX 5600, which I'm pretty happy with so far. The nVidia driver for Linux seems a bit buggy, for example Vendetta now has a strange bug where about one quarter of the screen is garbled, but 3d performance is damn good (glxgears averages 3500 FPS). The UT2004 demo must be taxing something pretty hard, because even though both Cube and Legends at their highest detail settings and 1024X768 resolution run perfectly smoothly(even when I set FSAA to the max) UT2004 chokes up a bit at 1024x768(with no antialiasing). There is an awful lot of stuff going on in UT2004, so it's not too suprising.

Anyway, over the last week whenever I wasn't busy crapping my pants about how damn good Legends looks now, I found some time to download quite a few free Linux RPGs. Well, games with RPG-ish tendencies that describe themselves as an RPG anyway... I'll have more on that next week, if I don't just spend the whole time gushing over UT2004.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Vendetta? I see... I see!

It's a simple life: Fly around looking for cargo to sell and, if you can't find any cargo, blow stuff up until you do. Of course, if you don't like to put your life in danger as much as I do, you can buy some cargo from the station in your sector and fly to a sector where it's more in demand, making yourself half an assload of cash in the process. I was on one of these very missions, flying through the lonely space of sector 5, when I had to think to myself: "How could I ever have thought that this was a bad game?".

Maybe it was the barely readable pink menu screens, or maybe no one was playing on the first day I tried out Vendetta, maybe I just should have read the fucking manual first. Whatever it was, I read over at Happy Penguin that Vendetta had been updated to 3.3.19. Since Vendetta updates itself, I just launched the updater and sat back for a few minutes while it updated.

When the game itself first started up, I noticed that the ugly, unreadable, pink menu screens had been replaced with a nice, black, "I look like I belong in a game set in space" style. It helps a lot being able to read what you're clicking on, let me tell you. I got to the station, picked the free ship (affectionately known in the Vendetta community as "the bus") and went off in to space. This time, people were there. Who knows, maybe the first time I tried their servers were down, or I had some network malfunction I didn't know about. This time, it was PACKED, and I got killed a lot... at first. You just get better, it's the only way I can put it, and it's a damn satisfying game once you get past the learning curve. Although the game is limited at this point (Guild software still stresses that this is an engine test and that's about it), there's a lot to do. You can kill bots, kill other players(something I've yet to do), capture one of the other nation's flags, or my favorite: just explore. I've never encountered a game where you could just knock around space (as long as you're good at dodging/fighting bots/other players), and it's really cool.

Completely disregard everything bad I said about Vendetta in my earlier post. I might even pay for this one...