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...