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.