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.