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.