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The end of Crysis

December 3, 2007

The actual ending to the game I mean, and no don’t worry no spoilers here.

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I finished it last night, and honestly I was a bit underwhelmed. For one thing the game was a lot shorter than I had expected and for another, the ending just wasn’t all that satisfying somehow. Imagine someone takes you on a beautiful drive through the countryside during which you cruise through gorgeous countryside, see wondrous sights, and stop at fun interesting places… only when you arrive do you find out this wonderful trips destination was your mother-in-law’s house. The end of Crysis gave me a similar feeling.

Maybe I was just expecting more, but without giving anything away there really wasn’t anything happening at the end that came as a surprise. I think it could have used a twist or something, instead of what I consider a rather predictable wind up. It was better than the ending of Half-Life 2 mind you so I shouldn’t be too hard on it. I guess just like in the rest of life, the journey is often more important than the destination anyway. I’ll try to keep that in mind the next time I end up at my mother-in-law’s house. <Insert shudder here>

Crysis was a pretty spectacular gaming experience, so a sort of run of the mill ending can be forgiven. I’ll likely play it through again just for the sake of enjoying the environments all over again. A good co-op mod would do wonders for the replayability.

Surprisingly enough, I didn’t even mind the alien parts but I’ll write about that later.

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Revisiting Bioshock

November 30, 2007

I picked up Bioshock back on release day, not because I’d been swept up in all the hype (and there was a LOT of hype) but more because I was curious what all the hype was about. The game didn’t disappoint in that it seemed to provide what was hyped, but the problem was I’m not much into what is so lovingly offered up.

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Don’t get me wrong I love a game with solid atmosphere, a rich backstory, well fleshed out environments, striking characters and original storyline. Bioshock has all of these things in spades. What I don’t like, is horror games… or movies for that matter. There’s enough scary crap in life as it is if you pay attention to it, and personally I’ve never found sitting down to willfully scare myself very much fun. That said, I’m sure Bioshock isn’t terribly scary at all to the desensitized gamers out there half my age, but to me it’s tense and… well… scary in that horror film sort of way and I don’t dig that. I realized I wasn’t going to like the game much as soon as I saw my first monster type thing, through the porthole of an elevator early in the game. I was trapped inside and this creepy looking, zombie thing you couldn’t quite see was outside trying to get in. The sense of claustrophobia was great for what it was, and from that moment on I realized what sort of game this was going to be. Very well done, but not my bag at all and I stopped playing after a few sessions.
Still, that was a couple of months ago on my old system. Now that I have a nice shiny new supercomputer I’m considering revisiting the title. Not because I think it will be any different in the sense of atmosphere with the graphics maxed out (I had to play it on medium settings and low res the first time) but because from what I’ve seen and heard the game really is beautifully built. So, I may be reinstalling and revisiting the undersea city of Rapture in the next few days.

Hopefully I’ll overcome my inherent dislike of the horror genre so I can fully appreciate what the game has to offer. If that doesn’t work out I’ll go back to killing Koreans in Crysis for a bit. At least I’m not feeling claustrophobic while running around in the jungle.

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Best online co-op experience… Swat4

November 29, 2007

More games need online cooperative play. Yes it’s fun to shoot your buddies in the head now and again in CS:S, and it’s equally fun to destroy the digital aspirations of AI bad guys in CoD4 single player… but what’s more fun is combining the two. Play with your buddies, and kill the AI bad guys. That’s ace and the best game for it? Swat4. Hands down.

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Swat4 is an older title by a couple of years now, but it’s holding up remarkably well. With a current machine it’s not hard to crank the graphics up full at a resolution of 1680+ and it looks pretty spiffy all things considered. It’s not Crysis, but that’s ok. It’s got co-op. oh and tasers.

There’s something to be said for getting on Teamspeak (or a VoiP of your choice) and donning your Swat gear to go bust some arms dealers together. I do this fairly frequently with a friend of mine and have been for almost a year now, it’s still not gotten old. Sometimes we take it less seriously than others, and we’ll mix it up now and then by playing pistol only maps, or the odd “Rambo” map where it’s a matter of killing all the bad guys as fast as possible. More often than not though it’s standard Swat play. Casing a situation, readying up by the door… breach, flash bang then clear. Swat 4 offers up countless gobs of replayability to the point that the same map played twice in a row will often give a different experience. Maybe the bad guy at the door will give up this time? Maybe he’ll give up then snatch his gun up off the ground as you are about to cuff him? Maybe he’ll have a hostage? Maybe he won’t even be there this time. It’s always nice and random like that, which keeps it fresh and interesting.

Add to all that the community map packs and mods available at sites like hot-swat-mods.com for instance and I really don’t see an end to playing this title. If you have at least one friend (online or otherwise) and are looking for a good game to play co-op, give Swat4 some careful consideration.

Oh yes, and as mentioned above the game does have tasers, although I’ve yet to hear an AI bad guy yell “don’t tase me, bro!” as I stick him with it. Repeatedly.

Maybe someone can make a mod for that.

-ab

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The cinema of Call of Duty 4

November 28, 2007

The Call of Duty series has something going for it. It’s not stunning AI, it’s not solid replayability… in fact the whole series has really lacked those things. What is has is a very rich sense of cinematic feel.

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As you play, you know the game is heavily (completely) scripted but you really just don’t care. In CoD4, like all the other games in the franchise, if you die and go back to a previous save you know full well the same enemy dude is going to pop out from behind the same wrecked car and shoot at you. This time though, you’re ready for the little bastard. That predictability is almost a part of it’s charm. You might find it frustrating that the enemy caught you out with a grenade the first time through, and the second time was even more frustrating… but by the third go through you are completely ready for him, and the little digital bugger doesn’t have a chance. Payback is a bitch.

Where other games put you in a free open area and give you many ways to get through a given encounter, CoD4 and the rest generally present you with a script that you get herded along to follow whether you like it or not. That doesn’t sound appealing, but it’s no different than a movie. You don’t go see the latest action flick and walk away disappointed that you didn’t get to choose how the hero killed his way through the plot. You’re presented with it, and you take it in as presented. CoD4 is exactly like that, but instead of watching you get to take part. Yes, it’s scripted but if done properly it doesn’t feel like you’re being told what to do so much as it feels like your actions are advancing the action movie along. When you talk about it with friends who’ve played you don’t ask what happened to them in the game, you know what happened… the conversations are more about “I liked the part when…” just like a film. That’s not a bad thing at all.

Sometimes it’s nice to be presented with an open ended sort of game where choices abound, but honestly sometimes you just want to sit and take part in an action movie. CoD4 is the latest in the franchise to provide just that, and it does so surprisingly well.

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Crysis and the coming let down

November 26, 2007

I’m still playing Crysis, which is a huge comment in it’s favor as I tire of most games very quickly. I think it’s the sheer beauty of the game on my new rig more than anything else, but regardless I’m still at it. The jungle fights are great, battling those pesky Koreans but sadly I suspect my enjoyment may be coming to an end. Yes, it’s because of the aliens.

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I’m still mostly alien-free in the game. I’ve seen glimpses here and there but generally it’s just me and the Koreans in the jungle and that’s the way I like it. I don’t want aliens, I don’t want giant mutant monkey-things ala FarCry, I don’t want zombies or undead monsters from the deep. Sue me if it’s politically incorrect, but I just want to shoot Koreans… well… people. Wow, that sounds bad.

The point is, I like the realism aspect to Crysis. The graphics, the physics and for the most part the AI are all great but when the aliens start appearing (as they’re sure to do soon) I fear my level of immersion in this game may fade away. It did with FarCry as soon as those damned apes started showing up.

That’s something Call of Duty 4 has going for it, no sci-fi/horror weirdness. Just people shooting at other people, as God intended.

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Skynet in my basement

November 21, 2007

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I picked up my new system yesterday, and compared to my old rig I’ve now got serious concerns about Skynet starting up in my basement. Well, it’s not the fastest machine in the world by any means but it’s the fastest I’ve ever had and a huge improvement over what I had prior to this.

My previous system;

Pentium 4 2.8ghz
1.5gb of some sort of ram
nVidia 7600GS
150gb worth of assorted hard drives

My new system;

Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 2.40GHz 8MB
Reaper 2GB (2X1GB) PC9200 DDR2-1150MHz
Dual BFG 8800GT OC2 512MB PCIe Video Cards (SLI)
Dual Western Digital Raptors 150Gb 10000Rpm WD1500ADFD

As I said, a decided improvement. Some real world numbers…

Old system:

Crysis
1280×720 (widescreen)
Physics and water detail – High
Everything else – a mix of low/med (mostly low)
FPS on average : 20 to 30

Call of Duty 4
960×700 (widescreen)
Settings – a mix of low/med (again, mostly low)
FPS on average : 20 to 30 with a generally laggy feel

New system:

Crysis
1680×1050 (widescreen)
All settings max + a tweak to enable very high settings in DirectX9
FPS on average : 40 to 50, with the odd dip down to near 30

Call of Duty 4
1680×1050 (widescreen)
Settings all maxed
FPS on average : 150 to 160

Very happy with my purchase so far.

-ab

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Ghostbusters gameplay footage

November 19, 2007

Younger gamers out there might not fully appreciate everything that Ghostbusters was. I was 15 when the original hit the theaters in 1984, and it was the first film I went back to see twice. The happening soundtrack, the characters with that great 1980’s lazy-adult vibe to them mainly thanks to Bill Murry, the storyline was fresh and interesting and the special effects were absolutely terrific. To a 15 year old in 1984, the movie really offered the full package. The sequels never really lived up to the high of the original, but now thanks to the miracle of modern computing we get another go at it.

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Ghostbusters is coming to every gaming platform you can think of… DS, PC, PS2, PS3, 360 and Wii. Take a peek at some gameplay footage over at G4TV.
Now it’s admittedly going to suck mightily, because movie games always suck mightily. Also, on a personal level I’m guaranteed to think it sucks because as good as Ghostbusters was to my 15 year old self back in 1984, it just doesn’t hold up well. This 38 year old me recently watched it again and it was… lacking in a lot of departments.

I wonder how long until we get a Back to the Future title?

-ab