The New X-COM

Here's the dealio; I think the original X-COM is overrated. I think it has fantastic atmosphere, and I love the art style, but I think it gets too much praise just for being in the hard game club. There have been countless attempts to recapture X-COM through spiritual successors, and direct rip offs, and they've all been met by a fanbase that refuses to accept anything but the same exact game that was released in 1993. I imagine you can re-make the original X-COM, doing nothing more than updating the graphics and sound, and it would still be rejected for not being X-COM enough. 
 
2K Marin is re-making X-COM, in the first-person perspective. I think 2K Marin does some solid work, and I loved Bioshock 2, and I will most likely buy and enjoy the hell out of X-COM. But I think they're setting themselves up for failure in re-making a game that does not want to be re-made. I think someone like myself who is familiar with the X-COM series and loves a good first-person action game will be pleased, and newcomers who've never heard of X-COM may even be blown away, but those old school hard game club X-COM fans will piss and moan over every single change from the original and they will be the game's loudest critics.

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Crysis on Delta

Crysis is one of my new favorite games of all time. It's not new at all but I only bought it within the last year, because I finally had hardware that could run it maxed out. It is amazing graphically, but I was surprised by just how much of a fucking PC-ass PC game this is. The controls are basically flawless. It is unbelievably smooth to transition between suit modes, drop prone, get up, crouch, modify your weapon options, switch firing modes, and consult the map and objectives. The only keys that are somewhat of a stretch are the melee and grenade buttons. And the levels in this game are ridiculous huge and detailed. I'm not shocked at all that this never made it to consoles.  
 
Crysis is one of those games you have to play at least twice. The first time through should be on normal or easy difficulty. This gives you a chance to goof off, screw around, learn the suit functions, and have a good time. Blast through it, enjoy yourself. But this game was made to be played on Delta difficulty. Delta removes a lot of the training wheels that get left on in easier difficulties. The Koreans only speak Korean, no grenade warning indicator, iron sights only, the binos function like normal binoculars rather than magic enemy finders. You're more fragile but your own weapons feel equally more lethal. You have to go a bit slower and you have to properly scout an area and plan out your assaults rather than running buckwild into enemy lines. Wheeled vehicles are basically deathtraps. Anyway, it's a shitload of fun to creep around cloaked, surprise the shit out of a Korean patrol before you blast them all to hell. The end game isn't very different from playing on easier difficulties but the ramp up really gives you a chance to take in your surroundings. It's amazing. 
 
I'm loading up Crysis Warhead now. I loved Crysis Warhead on normal difficulty, I can't wait to replay it on Delta!

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Things that make The Darkness awesome

  •  slimy New York
  • idiot manchild protagonist
  • tentacle buddies ripping hearts out of your enemies' corpses
  • tentacle buddies occasionally fighting over said hearts and thus blocking your view while being shot at
  • impaling dudes with a tentacle and tossing them around
  • hell is WWI. 
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Dear Interplay

 

Or why Descent is awesome and Earthworm Jim can go fuck himself.

Recently you've reopened and called for new developers to revitalize your classic properties. Names like MDK and Earthworm Jim have been bandied about. Let's be honest; those weren't your biggest sellers. The one people recognize is Descent.

Now Descent 3 was good. It had pretty graphics, fun weapons, and clever robots. But you spend too much time in Descent 3 looking for something to shoot and too often that leads to trips to the surface, outside of the labyrinth confines Descent is best known for. When (not if) Descent 4 is made, please take the game straight back to its roots. No helper bot, no outdoors. Just you, your weapons, a maze full of robots lusting for your death, and a really good soundtrack. These are what made Descent and Descent 2 great.

Furthermore, the Material Defender works best as a the silent type. I've gone over this before (somewhere), Descent 3 ruined the Material Defender by giving him a voice and making him anything more than a faceless mercenary. Using the lame story to string along the levels was lame. This time, keep it simple. There's the mine, there's robots in there somewhere. Here's your gun.

Please Interplay. Make this happen. And don't fuck it up.

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Shooting brown things that bleed brown in brown environments

 

No, I'm not deployed again, I'm just playing Clive Barker's Jericho! Ha!

Seriously. Can this game get more brown? I'm in the World War 2 period of it and I'm not shooting undead nazis, I'm shooting big brown monsters with chainguns and flamethrowers. At one point I was shooting a dead woman with a German accent named Lichthammer whom I assume was in nazi regalia but I can't be sure because everything was brown. I could only tell by her stylish hat.

And the voice acting. It's god awful. I want to strangle Father Rawlings and Delgado and I'm positive I only don't hate the rest of the characters because they don't talk as much as those two. The best one so far is Arnold Leach and he has barely spoken at all.

This is all such a far cry from Undying it's unreal. Undying was a colorful, well voiced, genuinely scary game. The best I can say about Jericho is that the fiction is pretty good (but not as good as Undying so far) and Leach is a well designed monster. He looks like he's straight out of Hellraiser. The concept art is impressive but seeing him in motion at the end of the first section of the game is damned near terrifying.

I know Undying didn't sell well, despite being a great game, so that probably limited Clive Barker's options for studios willing to take the risk in developing another game for him (especially after Demonik was cancelled) but I do hope if he has it in him to give us another game he shops it around until it gets picked up by a studio that can do him some justice and stays involved in it's development. Until I get further all I can tell is that he gave the studio a script and a couple of concept sketches and let them fill in the blanks and when his name is in the title, it really only hurts his reputation that this game turned out to be a big disappointment.
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I hate Deus Ex and Deus Ex hates me.

I game at work. Big shock, right? Only when there's really nothing going on though. Today I was revising the original System Shock. I've never beaten it but maybe I will this time. It's amazing. I get back to my room and I'm still hungry for more System Shock. I don't want to start over so I figure I'll fire up System Shock 2 and beat it again. I couldn't get the disc ripped properly so I downloaded it off bittorrent. It's cool, I bought the game ages ago, I just want to play it without having the disc in Iraq. But what I got wasn't the game, just a single executable that won't run. Awesome. So after I find another download and get that started I start to look at alternatives. Games that are often compared favorably to System Shock 2. I know! I'll try Deus Ex. Again.

I've owned Deus Ex for a long time. I probably even paid full price for it. I've never finished Deus Ex. Whereas System Shock deals with being a space hacker fighting cyborgs and mutants, Deus Ex puts you in the shoes of some superhuman CIA agent uncovering every conspiracy theory known to man. The games play relatively similar except that one of these games is fucking awesome and the other game fucking sucks. I finished the one that's fucking awesome.

Here's the myriad of problems I've found with Deus Ex:

  • The first fucking level. It might be the worst opening level to a game ever. It's huge, it's intricate, and you're thrown in there with little explanation why.
  • The graphics. I'm not a graphics whore. I'm playing System Shock enthusiastically and it's basically Doom era graphics, or worse. Deus Ex might be the ugliest Unreal engine game ever made. The model textures all look like they're rendered too big and the models themselves are incredibly blocky and poorly animated.
  • It's SO FUCKING HARD. There's never enough health packs, there's never enough ammo, and there's never enough energy to make use of all you're wiz-bang high tech gadgetry. There is a lot of neat shit in the Deus Ex environments that I would love to see more of, if I weren't always being shot at or spotted by a camera, or crawling around in the dark because I don't even have enough energy for my flashlight, which since I'm a cyborg guy IS MY HEAD. I need more batteries for my goddamned head!

So keeping these in mind since my last attempt to play through Deus Ex, I fired up the installer. Installs fine, patches fine, throw in the Shifter mod (which claims to take the Suck out of Deus Ex), fire it up. I fix my resolution (which maxes at 1024x768, what the fuck), fix the color depth (which requires the whole game to restart), and quit out. It quits with an error. Oh well, whatever. Back to desktop, which is noticably lighter. Like the gamma setting within the game is now stuck in the real world. Awesome. Start it up again. Name my duder (Hank Rearden), pick my skills (Advanced Rifle, Trained Lockpick), start the game. Crash to desktop. What the fuck. Do it again, another crash, fuck you Deus Ex. Uninstall.

Take a breather. Maybe the Shifter mod is doing it. Google the mod, find a newer version, find an enhanced OpenGL renderer. Awesome. Install Deus Ex, patch, start it. I do everything I did last time up to the crash to desktop except this time everything is working. Quit out, install Shifter and the renderer, start up again. It's working! Thank god.

I've played the first level a hundred times so I'm in no mood for sightseeing. I'm killing every NSF trooper that looks at me. I get to the upper base of the statue and I'm trying to disarm a gas grenade and it blows up in my face. Awesome. Chug a medkit, start up the stairs to the duder I'm there to kill and I get a communique from HQ. Hermann is still in the basement. Goddamnit. Go all the way down, kill some duders, break out Hermann. Back up the stairs, I'm spotted by a camera and now I'm being riddled with bullets by a turret. Run up some stairs out of its' range and it's back to getting to that duder I'm killing. Another communique, I'm not paying attention, I get to the top of a staircase and I'm greeted by two NSF agents. I backpedal down the stairs and one of them gets off a lucky shot and brains me and I'm dead. I haven't quicksaved since Hermann. Fuck this fucking game.

And that's that. I'm done with Deus Ex again.

(Crossposted on my blog)
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I've already got a blog.

It's called Dream of Waking. I've been blogging for a while. It's mostly just mindless crap about whatever I'm doing at the time. Maybe I'll do more games blogging here though. My wife says the gaming entries on my blog bore her to tears.

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