Christmas Gaming - My First Impressions

Left 4 Dead, Medieval II: Total War, World in Conflict, S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Clear Sky, Battlefield 2

I'd played the demo to death, so I really knew what to expect from this title. We (my friends and I) completed the demo numerous times on Expert, the hardest difficulty, but Advanced seemed like the difficulty to pick for the full game - simply because we felt it would be more... relaxing. We were wrong. The majority of the game is fairly easy on Advanced but for the final show down when your team of hapless survivors has to wait 10-15 minutes for rescue, we found it much much more difficult. As a result we voted to play the rest of the game on Normal. Really it's too easy for most of the time, but the final stands are still difficult. 

I've played a little bit of Versus with my mate Ben and it's a lot of fun playing as the "Infected". My only gripes are that if you're in a server that isn't full, the Survivors get the help of AI to fill in but the Infected don't get any help. Also, the Survivor AI is far too good - they somehow can sense when you're sneaking up on them and they can headshot you from miles away from any angle. Also, the AI doesn't see hedges, trees and grass as physical objects and, as such, they can spot you far too easily on some maps in situations where human players would not. Furthermore, the long waiting time to respawn as an Infected is quite tiresome.

Overall I'd have to give the game an 8.5/10. It misses out on some points because of the somewhat ill-balanced Versus mode and the short campaign. Yes yes; I know the "Director" makes it slightly different each time but it's still not great that you can play every chapter in an afternoon. I suppose some points could also be lost for some low-res textures, some dodgy animations and far too much recycling of props and models from Half-Life 2, Counter Strike: Source and Day of Defeat: Source.

Medieval II: Total War:

I'd always wanted this strategy game since it came out but never had the PC to play it. I must say I'm loving it so far but, myself not being particularly good at strategy games, find it hard to get into. I got the "Gold Edition" that comes with the expansion pack which includes many new campaign maps. For those who don't know, the campaign mode in Total War games takes place on a turn-based map of an area in which you conduct matters of economy, diplomacy and the movement of armies.

When armies meet the map zooms in to a real-time strategy in which you command thousands of men in battle. The detail in the turn-based gameplay and sheer scale of the real-time battles makes for very contrasting, and therefore refreshing, gameplay. There's nothing quite like spending time recruiting a huge army, spying on the enemy, assassinating their commander, declaring war and then moving in for a grand and victorious battle... and then slaughtering all the prisoners you capture. 

So far as I've got, I'd have to give Medieval II a 9/10. It can get a bit tiresome if you go for a long time without a battle but overall, it's great fun.

World in Conflict

Again, this is another game I'd wanted for some time but have only recently acquired the hardware to play it. I've already finished the storymode of WiC and have loved most of it. Like most strategy games, a few of the missions delve into pointless stealth sections with only a single infantry unit to command, but the huge battles are genuinely awe-inspiring. Set in the late 1980s, World in Conflict follows the story of a huge Soviet army invading the United States from the West-Coast, with a brief flashback to an earlier Soviet invasion of Europe. Gameplay-wise, WiC is your standard military-RTS. That is; no base-building, just lots and lots of combat. What really sets the game apart though is its visuals. 

This is one game that really does make use of Dx10 with its 3D, physics-based smoke effects. "Smoke effects you say? Great. As if I'd noticed that". Indeed, but due to the scale of the game you really do and the "Tactical-Aids" you can call in to the battlefield make sure you do notice the effects. Such aids include laser-guided bombs, cluster-bombs, different artillery and the all-coveted Tactical Nuclear Device. What's really nice is how each one is brought to the fight. They don't just appear out of the sky - you see all different types of aircraft bringing them in. When a massive battle gets going it's really cool to see jets criss-crossing the sky, vapour-trails in their wake, and smoke rising from dazzling flashes on the horizon.

The few downsides I can think of to the game is fairly weak section of the campaign that takes place in Europe. The missions seem to lose their tactical edge. Also, the voice-acting during this part of the game is horrifically bad and is some of the worst stereotyping I've ever seen in a modern video game. This is all because you take control of some "NATO" forces. I don't understand this. Why do American game developers seem to think that European nations fight with some crazy system where a single regiment can include German tanks, French infantry and a lowly British repair vehicle working together? The first time I saw this was in a Battlefield 2 expansion pack but WiC takes it to even dizzier heights. The voices for each unit are so irritating. You've got the Germans who all sound like Arnold Schwarzenegger, the French who swear far too much, the Englishman with the stiff upper lip and the dirty, dirty Scotsman (yeah, if you're British you're either a dirty ginger Scot or a posh Cockney apparently). 

Yeah... so apart from that massive rant about a really trivial point, good game! 9/10.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R - Clear Sky

I picked up STALKER in Steam's Holidays Sale a few days ago. At £9 I'd consider it a bargain. I'm glad it's a bargain too, because it's hardly the best game I've ever bought. Don't get me wrong - it's not bad... it's just a bit sketchy. For a start, and I don't know whether this is because it's a sequel, but the game really doesn't hold your hand at all. It pretty much pushes you into the wastelands and you get on with it. Now I don't expect it to tell me how to aim and shoot, like so many games do now-a-days, but I'd at least expect it to say "press "I" to open your inventory", or something, rather than me having to trudge through the rather long list of controls to work out how to do anything. 

The game starts off horribly difficult because all you get is a Makarov pistol and some terrible shotgun that, for some reason, can't kill a dude in two shots at point-blank range even on easy. The game got much easier once I found an assault rifle but I'm still dying quite quick, resulting in me carrying round kilograms of med-packs and bandages. 

I've played it for a number of hours but chances are I'm still really early on in the game. It's nice that it's a big long RPG/FPS... thing, but I can't help but think that I'm never going to invest enough time in it to complete it.

A number of little things make the game more irritating than necessary. For example, you can "fast-travel" to certain locations by talking to guides. When the guides ask where you want to go, be it the scenic burnt out farm or the lovely destroyed church, I have no idea where the places are. This is, one, because nothing on the map is marked with a name and two, because while this fellas is asking me where to go he doesn't care to show me a map. Little irritating things like this just mount up and get annoying after a little while.

On top of all this, the game-engine doesn't look very nice, except during a thunder storm when it looks amazing for some reason, and yet it's an absolute power-hog. I can run Far Cry 2 with all the settings as high as they'll go at 50-100fps, I can run Clear Sky with all settings maxed out at 20-30fps during the day-time (when there are a lot of shadows and the like) and at night it boosts up to 40-50fps. Considering the dated graphics and the small "free-roam" areas it's just not right.

Overall though I'd give S.T.A.L.K.E.R a 6.5/10, partly because I like the dingy art-style and partly because I like the use of obscure Soviet weaponry, rather than the expected military stuff.

Battlefield 2

I’ve always been a fan of the Battlefield series so decided to ask for this for Christmas. The game, plus three expansion packs all for £8 on a single DVD. Bargain! I intended to just dick about in the helicopters on singleplayer, not fancying my chances online against people who’ve been playing the game solidly for three years.

As a result... I’m really disappointed. For some reason you can only play singleplayer against 15 bots on the 16-player maps, rather than the huge 32-a-side games on massive 64-player maps that are used online. These 16-player maps only occasionally have helicopters, let alone jet aircraft. I’d download a singleplayer mod, designed to give the best offline experience, but since Virgin kindly upgraded my internet from 2mbps to 20mbps I can no longer download anything over 1GB-ish – the internet just crashes. I’m going to phone them soon and give them a good verbal slap. I don’t know what’s worse; incredibly slow internet, or incredibly fast internet but no big downloads. 

I also plan to pick up Unreal Tournament, Unreal Tournament 2004 and Unreal Tournament 3 for £12 off Steam today as well as Bioshock for £3. As if I’m going to play any Unreal games online – I’ll be massacred. Good ‘ol fashioned bots for me, thank you very much!

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The Steam Holiday Sale!

So Steam, the digital distribution system, is having a massive Christmas and New Year sale! Great! And, unlike many sales, there are some amazing savings.

STALKER: Clear Sky for £10
Bioshock for £3.
Every ID game (all of the Quakes and all of the Dooms) for £20.
Portal for £3.
All of the Warhammer: Dawn of War games for £15.
Every Unreal game (the series, not the engine) for £10.
Every Valve game for £40.
And some really retro classics for £1.

I'm thinking of picking up all of the Unreal games, mainly for the Tournament games (and their modding community), and STALKER - which I've always contemplated buying but never bothered because of the £20 price-tag.

So get on down to Steam... well you don't actually have to go down any where; it can all be done with a mouse and keyboard!

PS. The only real drawback to this is that Steam in the UK is now in Pound Sterling - a move made because of the ever declining dollar.

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Merry Chistmas to all!... and some other ramblings...

So Merry, Merry Christmas everyone and all that other festive stuff.

Now on to the nerdy bits.

What has everyone got for Christmas, gaming wise? I'm still yet to open anything (14:13 GMT, 25/12/08)! I'm hoping for Left 4 Dead off my parents, World in Conflict off my Brother and Medieval 2: Total War and Battlefield 2 off other people.

In preparation for Battlefield 2, and as a result of listening to some of the Timesplitters soundtrack (for old times sake) I've made a new fan-trailer, which I havn't done for some time!

  


I'll add in here too, that my Game Of The Year has to be Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots and the worse game I've played this year, even if it didn't come out this year, is Two Worlds.

So I'll ask again. What game(s) have people got for Crimbo? And what do you hope for in the January-sales?
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Some New Gmod Stuff Part III

Part 3! That's, like, bigger than Part 2!

I was inspired by the creepiness that is F.E.A.R so I made this:

No creepy little girl though.




























And some nice soul from Facepunch Studios edited one of my previous pictures with Photoshop. It's a little low-resolution but I still like it (the original version is in Part 1):

"Johnson's Down!"

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Some New Gmod Stuff II...

Yes I'm so big-headed I'm doing sequels to my blogs!

So I did a new Garry's Mod pose today... and tried to edit it really badly using GIMP (free photo-editing software, not as good as Photoshop but better than Photoshop Elements). 

It's one of the PMCs from Metal Gear Solid 4 sniping while a UH60 Black Hawk passes by behind. I took the screen on a Half-Life 2 level which is why there are Combine walls and The Citadel in the background. It didn't bother me too much as this is supposed to be kind of 'near-future'... and lots of crazy shit goes down in Metal Gear anyway so as far as I'm concerned; anything goes!

Comments and criticism please:

"One down..."

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Some new Gmod stuff...

Been messing about on Gmod a lot more recently and have found my self really getting into "posing". 

Basically this means you spawn a limp ragdoll of a character and manipulate every limb (including all of the fingers and utilising Source's fantastic facial expressions engine) to get them looking how you want them. Then you can mess with lost of post-processing effects and particle effects in-engine to get it looks just how you want it. Also, many people go on to use Photoshop or a similar program to edit the screenshots further.

Anyway, here's one pose I made on a remake of the Call of Duty 4 map, "Vacant". The saturation was changed slightly with GIMP (yes a funny name I know), a free Photoshop-style program:

US Marines under fire from Russian soldiers.





























This is another pose I made. This is Final Fantasy VII themed. It has been made on a completely empty map so I made the church floor and added in all the flowers, benches and the roof rafters and obviously the characters. This is currently my desktop wallpaper too! All in-engine (apart from the text):

"Will you be my bodyguard?"





























Hope you like these! Expect more in the future... well not after Christmas - I'll have far too much to play then!
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Game of the Year 2009 already...

Black Mesa Source has been in the works for at least three years now and there was a time when I thought this mod for Half-Life 2 had gone dead. Alas this trailer proves otherwise.

  


I seriously think this looks amazing and even if you care not for Half-Life, one must appreciate all the work that has gone into this mod, especially knowning that everything is done from scratch, even the voice acting, to avoid legal issues.

Forget mod of the year, I'm hoping this will be my game of the year.

PS. If this dissapoints I'm going to commit suicide. 
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I'm looking forward to...

... New games! Well... okay a few of them aren’t so new at all, but I have a lot of catching up to do with PC gaming.

The first older game is World in Conflict which came out in September of last year. It might be a year old now but WiC puts End War to utter shame. For those who don't know, WiC is a real-time-strategy game set in the 1980's and it tweaks history by ending the Cold War in a much less civilised manner; with the USSR invading the United States. The game is 100% combat - so no boring, tiresome base-building what so ever, just fast and furious action. World in Conflict is probably the first game to make real use of DirectX10 with fully 3D, physics-based smoke effects (look at some comparison screens between Dx9 and 10 versions of Crysis; they look different... but neither is better than the other). I really can't wait to get this game at Christmas (hopefully) - I'm completely hooked on the demo! 

The next old game is Medieval 2: Total War which came out around this time 2006. Much like WiC, the focus is on combat although in between huge, realistic real-time battles there is a turn-based map in which you must manage your armies' movement and political affairs (which usually entails declaring war or getting someone assassinated). Understandably, I'm more interested in the combat. The Total War series' fame is from its giant battles in which you can control thousands of men with realistic damage and movement. I always wanted this game when it came out and now I can finally play it I'm ignoring the thought that perhaps the visuals are slightly dated (especially when compared to the impeccable World in Conflict).

One of the NEW games I'm looking forward to (see: I'm not entirely cheap) is Left 4 Dead which I'll hopefully be getting for Christmas. I've already said enough about this in the previous two or three blogs, so I won't go into much detail. I'm planning to play the campaign through on Expert for a challenge... though with who I know not - I'm spoilt for choice with at least five friends getting it (so two will have to bugger off and sit out)!

Another new game is Mirror's Edge, which I've also banged on about for some time now. I'd have it already probably, but I'd rather wait for the PC version's release in January. Sadly, I'm waiting because they're sorting out some Nvidia PhysX thing that I won't even be able to take advantage on with my ATI video-card.

The final game that I'm losing sleep over is Empire: Total War. The latest Total War game takes place after 1700 and as such features a much more modern way of fighting battles with huge standing armies of musketeers and artillery backed up by cavalry. New features to the series include massive sea battles, a huge turn-based map spanning everywhere from the 'New World' to India and units being able to take cover and garrison inside buildings - a must for the small skirmishes that were much more common during the American Civil War, the Zulu Wars and other modern conflicts. Graphically the game has also had a huge upgrade from Medieval 2 but the giant battles that are the hallmark of the Total War series still remain.

So what are you looking forward to this holiday season, and what will be keeping you company in the cold, bleak months to follow? I know I'm gonna be just fine.

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My Year of Gaming - 2008...

Prepare yourself for a more than 2,500 word wall of text my friends...


March

Ah the New Year... is always such a mind-numbing time for gaming. Whatever it was I had gotten for Christmas has come and gone in my mind and the winter months had been slowly ticking away with no new games. Spring began and I just needed to play something new and the only thing around the corner was Rainbow Six: Vegas 2.

I picked up the first of Rainbow’s ventures into Sin City late, sometime in the autumn (or ‘fall’) of 2007. I enjoyed the demo but wasn’t exactly expecting the game to blow my mind. It didn’t. The singleplayer was quite enjoyable but having played the ridiculously realistic Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield to death on my PC, Vegas seemed rather arcadey to me. The online was pretty dreadful; the graphics were dumbed down and the hit-recognition was appallingly bad.

As a result of my past experiences, I wasn’t really expecting R6V2 to be much better, though it would have to do for me – I just couldn’t wait another month for something to come out. The singleplayer campaign, again, pleasantly surprised me by being in-depth, thought provoking and having a good enough story to back it up (unlike the much older Rainbow Six games). The online was greatly improved with much more interesting gamemodes, better hit recognition and generally less laggy games.

The character customization stole the show for me though – I just love being able to do what I like with my character both online and off. Vegas 2 was the ultimate setting for me to do this as anyone who knows me will understand; I’m a bit of a military nut. I probably spent more time choosing different equipment, weapons and perfecting camouflage schemes to replicate real-world military units. I found myself thinking “today I’ll be a US Marine” or “today I’ll be an SAS guy from the Iranian Embassy Siege” and playing the online a ludicrous amount of time just to get more and more options for my character.

Sadly though, the game came out still in the shadow of Call of Duty 4 to the extent where I was almost aghast to find there was no party system in the game. All in all though, Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 was a solid release that occupied me long enough until two much, much bigger games...

April

One of the most highly anticipated games in the history of the industry and I was hardly bothered. I picked it up regardless though. What? Grand Theft Auto IV of course.

I didn’t care for San Andreas’ storyline but it must be said that I played that game unyieldingly for months – flying jets and helicopters, doing stunts, riding bikes, doing races. That game had such a wealth of activities it was just a joy to play.

In comparison I have barely played GTAIV. I played the story through once and since then I have hardly touched the singleplayer at all. The Free Mode on the other hand, entertained me thoroughly with my friends, making up our own little games such as hunting a mate’s car in the helicopter gunship or our version of the film Speed where we’re on a bus that just won’t stop. It was so much fun. It got boring after a while though and we tried the races which entertained us a little more, but ultimately we all gave the game up after that. It sits on my shelf now, untouched since before the summer holidays.

A good game, but a huge letdown compared to the hours and hours I spent on San Andreas.

June

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. I think that one short and epic sentence pretty much summed up the way I feel about this game. Hideo Kojima very nearly achieved perfection with this game and quite frankly, anyone who thinks otherwise is mentally unstable or, more likely, you just don’t have a mind open enough to play this game.

The graphics, as we have become accustomed to with Metal Gear games, are pretty awesome. Although they might not be as technically proficient as, say, Far Cry 2, they are easily some of the best visuals in any game to date. They’re simple visuals too – no absurd amounts of bump-mapping and reflections (*cough* World at War) but just good old detailed textures wrapped around perfect models.

Obviously, the story is quite stunning but I can’t really go into that in any detail now. Let’s just say that every loose-end of any previous game has been tied up and, unless you’re really bad at following the plot, almost everything should be cleared up and explained to you. The controls really set this game apart in terms of gameplay and, although certain advanced moves can be difficult to master, the wealth of options is incredible for a controller. For example, going into prone you can role onto your back and aim down the sights or throw a grenade over your head for more distance and there are a staggering amount of CQC (close-quarters-combat) moves if you can learn the controls well enough.

I don’t even know where to go with these next few sentences if I’m completely honest... I think the best way for me to summarise my opinion on this game is to say it’s perfect, apart from what few bad things I can think up now:

  •  The plot is still farfetched in places.
  • Many of the plot details are explained by waving the magic plot-fixing wand called ‘nano-machines’.
  • There’s much less emphasis on sneaking and a more westernized gameplay style of run and gun.
  •  I definitely recommend you play Metal Gear Solid (or The Twin Snakes), MGS2 and MGS3 before trying to play MGS4.

Overall though, Metal Gear Solid 4 is, at least in my opinion, as close to artistic perfection as were going to see in a game for a very long time.

June wasn’t over yet though – I still had one more game to play. This franchise was probably the one that got me really into PC gaming. It combined famous World War Two battles with fast-paced, action-packed gameplay for multiplayer only. I was buying Battlefield: Bad Company.

I wasn’t planning on buying Bad Company at all, but after I played a bit of the demo online with a mate I found that there was huge satisfaction to be gained from working as a pair in a helicopter or tank. In retrospect it was probably a poor idea to buy a game only for two of the vehicles in it. Oh well, it was in the disc tray by the time I realised that. I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed the singleplayer strangely, as I hated it on the demo. It’s a funny world.

The graphics are fairly decent, though they don’t exactly stand out as being great. What are more impressive are the huge singleplayer levels that offer many routes of attack and, even though there aren’t many choices in tactics (it’s pretty much run and gun), it does keep the action fresh. The destructible environments that were so hyped were a letdown in the technical sense, though they do make the gameplay much more interesting and it’s still satisfying to watch. Graphically though, the destruction is just walls disappearing under clouds of dust and rubble.

What’s even weirder though, is that I hated the online. Much like the PS2 game, Black, Bad Company’s weapons have much larger clips than they do in real life so I assumed, like in Black, that that feature was just there purely for making it more action packed. Strangely though, players online can actually soak up the fifty rounds in your clip quite capably. This was just plain irritating for me and it led to me only ever picking the machineguns with their 200-round boxes. This ruined the online for me and although the vehicles were still fun, the abundance of people who would team-kill you for one was embarrassing.

All in all, a good singleplayer though lack of an engaging multiplayer experience has kept this game on the shelf for a long time.

September

I didn’t buy any games in September. What I did do though was purchase a £700 ‘mainstream’ gaming computer. This had been my sad and nerdy dream for the last two years and, until I worked over the summer, there was no way it was going to be realised. I’m very pleased with my computer as you may have noticed (I’ve mentioned it in almost every blog for the last two months).

My playing-time for September was chiefly occupied with a mod for the Source Engine (the engine that Half-Life 2 and, more recently, Left 4 Dead use), Insurgency: Modern Infantry Combat. Insurgency, or INS, is one of those games that can simply not be played on consoles. In other words, it’s a realistic first-person-shooter. I played Insurgency on my old computer with terrible graphics and horribly long loading times but I managed to enjoy it never-the-less. I’m rediscovering it now and enjoying it thoroughly.

The game is multiplayer-only and set in modern day Iraq. You either play as Iraqi Insurgents or US Marines. The mod incorporates many features seen in Red Orchestra, another realistic mod for the Unreal Engine 2. Insurgency has iron sights, free-weapon sway (the gun moves around the screen rather than remaining completely central so you can’t tell where you are aiming off the hip) and 3D-scopes (the scope is zoomed in, but the area around the scope is normal vision). It’s safe to say you will die in less than three shots in this game.

INS is probably the only game I have ever played seriously online and, as a result, I’m now in a sort of clan for it. I mainly got involved in that sort of thing because recently, INS was put onto Steam (Valve’s digital-distribution system) and since has been getting far too many new players who don’t have a clue how to play and don’t want to learn. Being in a clan gives me the chance to play serious games with serious players so I can enjoy it properly, as I used to before Steam came and ruined everything for me.

October

I remember seeing Far Cry 2 in a PC magazine when it was first announced two summers ago. I recall showing my dad the screenshots and saying something along the lines of: “How amazing are they? Imagine if you had a computer that could run that.”

I think I was expecting far too much of Far Cry 2; I’m still disappointed now that it wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be. It’s a good game, don’t get me wrong, but there are far too many things that hold it back.

The visuals are remarkable, the best I’ve ever seen in a video game (if you ask, “what about Crysis?” I’m going to hunt you down and kill you) and it’s equally amazing that those visuals are retained throughout a fairly huge world. Personally, I was more interested in the immersive animations and actions that you can perform in FC2. Big things like weapons jamming and cars breaking down, but also little things like the camera doesn’t simply just teleport you into a different position in car – you actually see your hands and your legs moving yourself into the new spot.

The fire in the game was overly hyped by magazines and websites and, although it looks very nice and it is useful, stories of being able to destroy as whole camp using one shot from a flare-gun and the weather are blatant lies. Also, it takes too many rounds to kill an enemy but as you go further into the game this becomes less of a problem.

One of the biggest irritants in Far Cry however, is the lack of useful fast-travel. There are bus stops that let you travel to four or five locations on the map, but five times out of ten these bus stops are no closer to where you want to be than where you’re standing. In the PC version you can save where ever you want, meaning that the safe-houses are really only useful for advancing time forwards for night missions and what-not. It would put far more emphasis on unlocking safe-houses if you could fast-travel to one. It’s not even the long travelling that’s annoying (I could simply watch the beautiful terrain go by my car window), but it’s the fact that an enemy patrol car or outpost stops you every ten seconds and apparently every African in the game is out to kill you even if you’re just bobbing along in a shitty sedan.

By far the worst set-back of FC2 though is its terrible amount of bugs. Most of them are the game itself: enemies that clip through rocks and then shoot you from the inside of them; generally buggy AI; broken ragdolls; animals that die if they walk into a stationary car etc. The most irritating bug for me though is a hardware specific one: Radeon 4870 (my graphics card) + Windows Vista 64 + Dx10 = mad stuttering. And by ‘stuttering’ I don’t mean low framerates, I mean the game just stutters. I’ll be running it at 50-70fps on all highest settings but it will still stutter every couple of seconds. I’m not the only one to suffer from this either, it’s been reported numerous times and there is still no patch from Ubisoft or ATI to fix it. This bug makes FC2 pretty much unplayable for me.

November

So, almost 2,500 words later we have reached this month and the end of my blog. So what have I played this month? Two of the most awesome demos to ever grace the Marketplace – that’s what! I’m talking about the demos for Mirror’s Edge and Left 4 Dead. I don’t want to say too much about these as they are only demos and perhaps, like with Battlefield: Bad Company, I’ll end up hating them when they’re released (but I highly doubt that).

Left 4 Dead is one of the best online experiences I’ve ever had. I would never recommend it to one who plans to play on his own or with strangers (the main reason I don’t plan to buy this for PC) but if you’ve got enough close mates to play this wit regularly then I must insist that you buy this. It’s not just mindless zombie violence – it’s built entirely around team-play. The ‘boss zombies’, for example, are made in such a way that if you’re on your own they will kill you straight away, no problem, but if you’re working together and sticking together they’re really easy to deal with. This is why finishing a map on L4D on the hardest difficulty is so very, very satisfying.

It’s not often that someone other than Sony or Kojima Productions dares to be different so it’s nice to finally see that DICE have finally ‘rolled’ away from the Battlefield series (see what I did there?... dice... roll?...hehe). Mirror’s Edge offers a completely unique style of game that combines Prince of Persia –style platforming with a realistic first-person camera. The special effects and sense of scale and speed really make playing this game something special and it must be played to really understand why everyone likes it. The art style is possibly the greatest aspect of this game and its quirkiness compliments to original gameplay style perfectly. I could just look at Mirror’s Edge and be happy, let alone play it... and this has led me to become somewhat obsessed with it.

Oh yes, and I almost forgot. I played Gears of War 2 today... *cough*... and um... I quite... I like it. YES I SAID IT! I LIKE GEARS OF WAR 2! It’s not perfect, it’s not special but by hell it’s a massive improvement on the original. For a start, there are more than three different types of enemies and the guns actually sound like guns now. Okay. No more of that.

Overall I’d say it’s not exactly been a great year of gaming for me. R6V2 was good enough, GTAIV was disappointing, Bad Company was average and Far Cry 2 was a letdown. Well done then MGS4, you managed only to make me cry with your touching and involving storyline instead of through being just another shit game.

So, finally, there’s the end of my epic wall of text. I hope you enjoyed reading this (albeit in small chunks) as I enjoyed writing it and trying to conjure up my memories of games that seem so old now.

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