Thursday, April 26, 2007

I Don't F***ing Get Guitar Hero

I don't fucking get Guitar Hero.

The fact the so many people are head over heels in love with this game is a complete mystery to me. I'll admit, I never got why DDR was so popular either, but at least there seemed to be other people on the planet who shared my opinion. Is it really possible that I'm the only one who fails to see the entertainment value in pressing a couple of buttons on a ridiculously shaped mock guitar?

Maybe it's my taste in music - every single song on every incarnation of Guitar Hero makes me wretch. Maybe it's that the only game of this type I ever enjoyed was Parappa The Rapper (Um Jammer Lammy sucked). Maybe it's that I actually play guitar - you know, the instument. Maybe it's all of the above but, whatever it is, they lead to the same conclusion:

I don't fucking get Guitar Hero.

Back with a real post next week, folks. Sorry about last week's no-post, by the way.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

I May Be Slightly Exaggerating

It turns out that my fascination with World Of Warcraft was incredibly short lived - I cancelled my account after the free month. I'll play it again, certainly, but I saw no need to pay the monthly fee unless I was going to play the hell out of it. So, it was back to the free MMOs.

I've mentioned Space Cowboy Online before, a game that would probably be much more popular if not for the silly name. My ANI I-Gear has ascended to level 39, but it was level 38 that was more important. You see, at level 38 I-Gears get the third level of their "Frenzy" skill, and it is at this level that the skill shows its true power. No longer content to simply increase the attack power of your missiles, the skill now allows you to fire off an extra volley of missiles with every shot.

With my level 3 "Frenzy" skill attained, I now felt ready to enter the large scale PvP the game had been promising to me from the start. I didn't want to simply charge into BCU territory and start dying immediately, seeing as I'm completely unfamiliar with the their maps, so I waited until I heard that we were being invaded. After waiting a few hours, the moment finally came. I swapped my Power Arrows for my Edrills (to increase my chances of actually hitting the enemy) and headed for the front lines.

Well, not exactly the front lines. The enemy had advanced to one map beyond where I had stationed myself, so I parked outside the gate with a dozen or so others and waited for the storm. At first they trickled in - one or two gears at a time - they were taken down by the mob before I'd even had a chance for my missiles to lock on. Then the attack started. The sky became a flurry of gears in a matter of moments.

I tried to stay on the outside of the battle, hurling missiles at the few stragglers who would venture to the outer reaches of the fighting. Bored, I headed in to check out the action for myself. Did I get shot down? Sure. Everybody did. We'd simply respawn and attack with added ferocity. By the time I took a break to check my inventory, I noticed quite a few Killmarks - an item gained when you down an enemy gear - and to my surprise, some of them had come off of gears much higher in level than my own.

Simply put, I believe that SCO has some of the most compelling player vs. player of any MMO I've ever encountered. I love the fact (and I've mentioned this before) that skill actually factors in to the equation. Even if your opponent is 20 levels higher than you - if you can fly better, you've got a chance, even if it is a slim one.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Made-Up Profanity Is So Much More Fun

News has been popping up here and there about Beyond The Red Line, a Battlestar Galactica themed mod based on Freespace 2. With a Linux version finally available, I decided that I'd give it a try.

Before I say anything, let me state that I am a huge fan of the series. I don't think I've ever been so excited about new episodes of a television show as I have with Battlestar Galactica. So, basically, keep in mind that, with my being such an enthusiastic fan of the show, you should probably take what I have to say with a grain or two of salt.

I've encountered a lot of mods for a lot of different games in my time, and I've got to say: I think the only other mod I've ever encountered that paid such attention to minute details was Alien Swarm. The difference in this case is that while Alien Swarm was clearly influenced by a few sources, Beyond The Red Line comes right out and says "this is a Battlestar Galactica game."

This admission gives Beyond The Red Line full reign to use anything the meticulously crafted Battlestar Galactica universe has to offer, right down to the slang. That the voice acting - usually a terrible choice for inclusion in a fan-made game - is (surprisingly) so well done speaks volumes about the attention to detail that fills this game to the brim. This is obviously a project that the people involved really care about.

Since I had never played "vanilla" Freespace 2 (which is not required, by the way, this game is fully standalone) I was very glad to find that a tutorial mission was included. Usually an afterthought in mods, or often not even included, a tutorial is essential to anyone who doesn't know their way around Freespace 2. The fact that the tutorial actually manages to be entertaining is just sugar on top.

The rest of the missions I've had the chance to tackle are similarly well crafted, and the radio chatter from your comrades only adds to the already deep immersion factor. It's often hard to believe that the game you're playing wasn't produced by a major player in the industry, albeit with tech that's a few years old.

If you're a fan of the show, definitely download the demo. The developers do warn that if you haven't yet seen all of season 2 (and it was season 3 that just had its finale) you may encounter some spoilers, so watch out for that. And let me reiterate: Freespace 2 is not required to play this game, it's entirely standalone. So, make sure to grab this as soon as possible in case the project is shut down for intellectual property reasons.