Category Archives: PC Videogames

PC videogames – I love PC games, so this will be a pretty full category.

This Week I’ve Mostly Playing…Indie Demo Goodness

3726
This week I have been mostly playing…

I have been playing other things since my previous “This week”. A lot of things in fact, all full of numbers – Fallout 3, Left 4 Dead, Civilization 4, Dawn of War 2, and other sequels like Pokemon Mystery Dungeon 2, Empire: Total War and Max Payne 2…but enough of all those. I’ve got various posts in the works for most of them. πŸ™‚

I’d like to otherwise briefly look at two indie games I’ve played the past week – Depths of Peril and Mount&Blade – both demos at the moment, my time before GDC is so limited I’d not have time for the full games yet! Continue reading This Week I’ve Mostly Playing…Indie Demo Goodness

Oh, Assassins Creed, How I Loath To Replay You

Lazyest Gallery cannot access Gallery/Videogames/Assassins_Creed/

With my PC reinstall, which is pretty much done except for me losing a odd few programs’ settings (where my Filezilla settings disappeared to I have no idea, sigh), I’ve started reinstalling games. Assassins Creed I decided might be worth replaying – I got installed, patched, and copied my old save into the bizarre place they put saves (It’s in a folder named “Ubisoft” in the Application Data folder in your Documents and Settings/Users folder).

Then I tried playing it. I realised, while I had enjoy the game, it was only when I had played it for long amounts of time and for the first time. Mandatory logo screens on boot up, slow progress through menus to get anywhere, and unskippable cutscenes (fine the first time, horrible any other time). Luckily I know the exit shortcut of Alt-F4 – exiting manually takes an amazing amount of effort (several menus to find “Exit” – it was made for the Xbox primarily, and it shows).

The game also forces 16:9 widescreen (hilarious if you’re on 4:3, and just annoying on 16:10 – the Steam overlay stays on screen in those black bars. Sigh).

The killing blow, I think, to me fully getting around to replaying the game is the insistence on only allowing me to reply entire chapters from the beginning…so I have to do all the minigames (although hopefully not explore the city fully), sort the civilians and so forth, before doing an assassinsation – the one part of the game which was awesome, and which I wanted to replay.

Poor decisions from the Ubisoft team on this. Lazyness is all I can account for the decisions (especially the insistence on unskippable cutscenes and 16:9 resolution), since they seem relatively easy things to solve – let me start at save point X, where I can immediately start an Assassination, just like how the game allows you to replay from that point if you die.

I wish I had made backups before each assassination now. If only I had known in advance πŸ™ It seems I’ll be forced to do the bare minimum of minigames for each one, and go through a good 15-25 minutes of cutscenes per assassination, to have the 5-10 minutes of fun doing the actual task. I do like the game, as I’ve said before (beautiful looking, the character is cool, assassinations great, exploration relatively fun), it’s just painful to replay any part of it. This has been said before, but it’s worth saying again. πŸ™‚

Halloween Team Fortress 2 Medic Costume

10229|300
My complete costume, although I should have tidied myself up a bit before the picture

I forgot to post up how I did my rather quick and dirty Team Fortress 2 Medic costume for Halloween. It required the use of sewing, which I got help with from my mum (luckily for me, since it required a sewing machine). I also had some relevant bits already lucky.

So, a quick run through, what I aimed for was to get just the costume part done for a Team Fortress 2 Medic – not really any props (such as the bonesaw, backpack or medigun). To get a half decent setup I’d therefore need:

  • Thick rimmed glasses
  • Lab coat, appropriately changed (patch, buttons, etc)
  • Gloves of appropriate colour
  • Trousers of appropriate colour
  • Boots
  • Belt and some attachments
  • Shirt and tie of appropriate colour

Read on for how I did each part… Continue reading Halloween Team Fortress 2 Medic Costume

Max Payne

8353
Best way to improve Max’s psyche is to frame him for murder!

Dun-dun…dun-dun…dun-dun…dun-dun…

I’ve just finished (for the third time?) Max Payne, released in 2001. It is kind of one-of-a-kind in videogames, using a mix of graphic novel and in-game cutscene work. It’s also a damn difficult game, even with the main feature – bullet time – which can slow down time for a limited amount allowing the player to aim in real time.

The story really stands out as something unique. Totally over the top (it’d be over the top as a graphic novel to be honest!), and entirely apt for the strange situation the game puts the protagonist Max Payne in. He’s constantly spouting off clichΓ© lines and over the top vocabulary, parodied in one of his dream sequences, although this is all in his mind; it fits beautifully, filling the narrative with actually quite sane things considering the insane situation. A man must cope, and Max sure finds his way.

8433
This is not a game for kids. Some very unsavoury characters in the game…

The actual plot could be considered bare-bones. It’s got it’s own minor complexities, and it all fits together well enough once the pieces are arranged. Most of the plot points are excuses to shoot more bad guys, to be honest, and it’s entirely fair that most of the time Max points this out. I won’t spoil anything here though.

The game also parodies itself, twice. Take that! The humour is spliced throughout – gangsters and enemies do small, pop-culture heavy conversations before Max shoots them dead. There are homages to The Matrix (noting the game was in development before the film was released, although the main feature was renamed Bullet Time to match the film, it wasn’t the initial inspiration), and other films in several scenes. Most of Max’s own dialogue is darkly funny, considering what’s going on. There are also a few (Lords and Ladies, and Mystery Unknown) TV shows (which are used to better effect in Max Payne 2), with soap-opera style acting and parodying Max’s own situation.

8403
Vinnie Gognitti returns in Max Payne 2, here he’s not happy to see Max…

The gameplay is tough – tough, and quite quite unfair. The game’s own designers have said there is no difficulty slider – the games lowest difficulty is meant to alter the AI’s accuracy and health automatically if the player does badly, but in truth this just meant after the first few enemies it went from “Not quite so tough” to “insanely tough”, while the other difficulty levels just automatically set it to “insanely tough”. If you can persevere and learn your way around the controls and weapons, it works quite well, although too many times a freak grenade or a close range shotgun blast ends the game early. Keep your hand hovered over F5 to quicksave (which, nicely done, has 2 slots incase one really puts you in a worse position!).

There are some nice setpiece parts though – such as getting through some Gangsters to a weapons cache basically unarmed, larger battles in mansions, on boats and in banks, and when an entire restaurant is blowing up and you have to get out. There’s little “key finding” to open doors, so it’s almost always a linear game, which as long as you don’t pay too much attention doesn’t matter as much as you might think (seeing where I was previously after 15 minutes annoyed me a bit).

The AI, since I’m interested in it, is basically non-existent to be honest. There are times it even gets stuck in the most simple situations. It’s entirely scripted in a nice cinematic way – to a fault usually – so a replay needs to be spread out by a few years, like I have, since otherwise you remember exactly what will happen next. The AI generally ducks and aims for where you’ll be, and might take a second or so to turn if you run past them, which is of course to allow bullet time to actually work. While they don’t run out of the way of grenades, they do realise someone’s attacking them at least if they see one. Basic, but acceptable. Any harder, and the game might become unwinnable. For comparisons sake, Max Payne 2 lowers the toughness of enemies and gives them generally a bigger AI boost (with more open areas and suchlike), which makes it more run-and-gun, where as this game, AI flaws are sometimes the only way of getting past a situation πŸ™‚

On the technical side, the graphic novel side still looks great today (and this is with the Remedy game team doing all the acting), and the game engine itself can hold up still for the most part. The sounds still works fine, and seems to cope somewhat well with surround sound. The freaky dream sequences are frankly, quite scary – the sounds are the worst part. I’ll say it holds it’s own compared to some 2001 titles – shame it doesn’t support widescreen though, and there is no lip synced models. Max Payne 2 likely will hold up better over a longer time, since it improves the visual quality a fair amount, but this game isn’t too bad for the time.

8648
“Congratulations!” – I almost half-expected it to be spelt incorrectly πŸ™‚

Well worth another play though, and it’ll be much more fun then watching the film version I bet, which according to the Max-Payne stylee graphic novel video, looks to be almost, but not quite completely unlike it. Oh well! Check out my screenshot gallery if you have no qualms about spoilers – although I tell you, capturing any action shots in this game is massively difficult. I must move my screenshot key somewhere different πŸ™‚ If you want to see the game’s intro, check the Internet Archive where I put a copy of it.

Give the game a shot if you ever see it cheap, I think it’s worth persevering through. πŸ˜€

This Week, I Have Been Mostly Playing…

3726
This week I have been mostly playing…

I’ve obviously played a lot since my last post, Red Alert and Deus Ex (which is still in progress) for instance, but also I have played Halo 3‘s campaign in Co-op, and the Half Life 2 engine mod Age of Chivalry and Half Life: Decay (read on for more). Continue reading This Week, I Have Been Mostly Playing…

Deus Ex Vintage Game Club Playthrough

4951
Training and onwards!

I’m currently playing through Deus Ex, in the Vintage Game Club. I’ve pretty much put what happened and the goings on in three posts for the first three areas, which link to my gallery of pictures I take which have even more detail. So much detail in fact I can’t really add a lot by making a new post here πŸ™‚ so if you’re interested in my method playing this rather open RPG, or on how the game plays, you can read my posts and see the gallery. There’s around 3 area’s a week, to space the game out some more, so I’ll stick to that kind of schedule and post a weekly update – maybe a bit more in depth in future.

Oh, but if you do want to play this game, I recommend the beta HDTP for a bit more improved graphics (and updated OpenGL renderer, so choose that for your rendering). You should also remap a lot of the keys, it’s not an FPS so I found stealth melee my preference (hit stuff a lot with a baton, they fall down unconscious. Or a electric prod. Hit them in the back well and they go down in one!). Also you can never sell anything, ever, or really store anything anywhere, and stores are also rubbish, so keep that in mind πŸ™‚

Well worth playing so far, I’d recommend it to anyone – I played the sequel, and it’s much better (more open, better RPG stuff, and just plain better for not being an outright FPS).

Red Alert: Gameplay and Singleplayer AI

5221
Red Alert!

EA recently released the original Command & Conquer: Red Alert as a download, both discs meaning the full game, as ISO’s. It is a promotion for Red Alert 3, but since I loved the game and after going back to it, still do for all it’s flaws, it was a good excuse to replay one of the campaigns.

I decided, why not write about the gameplay and AI in this classic? Well, why not indeed! This might also tempt you into trying it, if so, it does work on XP, with a note it can also crash for no reason, which I found out rather tediously. If you decide to play this on NT-based systems, prepare for saving a lot, since there are no autosaves. WINE is meant to work well with it too, which is nice. Continue reading Red Alert: Gameplay and Singleplayer AI

Rough Guide to Hydro

I decided on a whim to enter The Guardian Gameblog’s “Rough Guide to Videogames” competition, and I actually won one of the prizes! I decided to not to a typical “guide”, but a classified report on Hydro. Since they couldn’t include all my snapshots from the game (with real letters on them and everything!), I decided it’d be worth posting here.

June 1968 declassified US Government Intelligence Report
Area codename: HYDRO
REF: ZYZZY/01304

Located in the Nevada desert, the Alpha Electric Dam (Fig. 001) powering the local farms is the front for a Builders League United (β€œBLU”) run intelligence gathering facility (Fig. 005) located in the engineering area, where the vast majority of the hydroelectric power goes to BLU radar operation (Fig. 002).

Reliable Excavation Demolition (β€œRED”) instituted a underground base (Fig. 006) hidden at the main entrance used to stage a take over the facility. RED had previously detected BLU's spying activities, and so tunnelled a secret entrance without their knowledge to counterspy before attacking the facility outright.

Constant fighting to take control of the entire facility took place once RED attacked half the facility, the Dam (Fig. 001) and Radar (Fig. 002), cutting off the main entrance to the facility in the process. BLU retained control over the Turbines (Fig. 003) and engineering area (Fig. 004).

Special security doors (Fig. 007) were put into action by BLU to stop RED's access to all areas apart from ones BLU wanted to retake, although they also stop their own movements. Access to each of RED or BLU's hardened bunker facilities is only allowed once the rest of the facility is taken due to the power required from the Dam to force open the entrances to the intelligence bunkers (Fig. 005, 006). Even once the facility controlled, reinforcements from the opposing side airdropped in to retake half the facility again, restarting the battle afresh.

The entire facility was finally destroyed when the Dam was blown in a espionage activity by both RED and BLU personnel simultaneously (Fig. 008) leaving the area flooded (Fig. 009).

Intelligence pictures obtained from BLU and RED agencies, contracts SPY/083875 and SPY/083876.

5160 5165 5170

5175 5180 5139

5145 5150 5155

Hope it sums up well the general feel of the map, since it hasn’t got much “backstory”, and obviously nothing to interact with as such in it, I made up what I felt was right. πŸ™‚