Ravenhoe's forum posts

#1 Posted by Ravenhoe (192 posts) -

Thanks for the comments. What the heck went wrong with the formatting there ? Need to look into that . . .

#2 Posted by Ravenhoe (192 posts) -

Here we go, what better way to kick off my new-born and utterly pointless (NOT!) blog that doing my own unnecessary list of my favourite Top 100 games. Yet, instead of trying to be fair, to the point, completist and neutral, I will just go down the moronic route and be subjective, partial and pretty much random. There are probably many games I have omitted from the list even though I did enjoy them a lot and like a true dandy, I am not so keen on keeping up with the times (I am actually keen, but cannot pull it off to be honest), so the game might miss many of your favourite games of today and instead constitutes a collection that would make a Dr. Frankenstein proud, lots of old stuff, obscure stuff, shitty games and old favourites of fine have joined the party. I hope you enjoy the read and try not to focus what is not there, but what is there, those are my wise words for you (works in life as well BTW). Here we go, games number 100-91 . . .

100.QUARANTINE

Way before young lads enjoyed running over and executing civilians on street in games like GTA (or Carmegeddon even), I tried my luck in maximising my kill ratio in Quarantine. As a foolish kid, I had no idea what the game was about, I am cab driver in some sort of whacko and bad-ass city that is locked up and I have to drive people around and make sure to kill everyone who tries to kill me first (why ? no idea). The game was great fun and the combination of high octane driving and shooting was great fun and I also fancied myself a bit of a cabbie too. The graphics were good and proper gory, I loved it as a kid, although I am not keen on games that make a bloody mess any more nowadays (maybe I grew old or maybe I am wise, who knows . . .). First time I ever encountered a Mini-Gun in-game and to this day, I am puzzled by who the fuck came up with such a cute name for a gun that pretty much annihilates everything in its wake.

99.MIAMI CHASE

Oh Boy, GTA mentions: Two out of two. It's almost like all games ever made inspired GTA to some extent. Put it down as a coincidence and move on, will ya ? This game was pretty much GTA (1&2 mind you) before there was GTA. Top down driving with insane speeds and thrilling car chases, cops and bad guys and cool cars . . . the works. I never really figured out how to win or progress in this game or maybe I just cannot remember. What I can remember is the awesome fun we had playing this mess of a mayhem on the Amiga. Old school and the game and way ahead of its time.

98.STUNT CAR RACER

At the start, and if you fall off, you are lifed onto the track by a crane.

I do have fond memories of Stunt Car Racer, most of them involve loud screaming, both for falling off the edges of the track and because the game had a fatal tendency to crash. As you might have noticed already, I do like games where you drive around in vehicles but it has to be about carnage, death or defying gravity and I am there. Stunt Car Racer was interesting because people could build their own racing courses, challenges each other to create the most insane and fucking annoying course in the history of fucking annoying courses. It was great fun to fall down the edge and slowly see the earth approaching, awaiting the lethal shattering of your precious skull in the silly buggy. The graphics were pretty rad for the time and I am glad to see that the basic idea is still popular in gaming (Trackmania!).

97.THE WARRIORS

To me, a game's setting, music, atmosphere, costumes, level design (as in visuals) is just as important as the gameplay. I am a big fan of The Warriors film and style and always wanted to be in a gang but I am not popular enough and the gangs here in London are also a bit too hardcore and don't want a gaming princess in their midst. This game is great fun and like most other Rockstar games, all about causing havoc in the streets. The best thing about this game is the option to play through the campaign with a friend. No bloody skirmish or deathmatch modes but the proper, gritty, leather-waistcoat wearing and afro-tastic campaign ! The controls are neat and polished and there are lots of little things to do like break into cars, spray your tag onto walls etc. and it features the same characters (and voices) and OST as the original film. What a treat, come out an play Warriors !

96.SKY SKIPPER

Now that I think about it, I have no idea why this mentally ill Donkey Kong clone made my list but I sure enjoyed the game a lot. It is about a dude in an airplane trying to rescue all sorts of critters (bunnies etc.) from a crazy monkey-Yeti-Tony Soprano kind-of-guy. The game was pretty much all about making sure not to crash head-first into the walls like some drunken mole in a car without windows. Great fun and of my favourite Atari-Games !

95.SPY HUNTER

It looks like I will have to rename this blog into 'The Dude who likes games about cars that do whatever cars never do in real life'. Spy Hunter is another prime example of great game design and I wonder why no one made a proper flash version of this game, which is pretty much an endless vertical scroller about a bloke in a fancy car who tries to protect civilians while getting rid of the evil people and their cars. Of course, the car has been stuffed with nasty toys for you to dispose of your enemies and if you fancy that you had enough of the tar, why not go for a boat ride and chase down the baddies on the water is well ? I will always remember this game to be the one that introduced me to the Peter Gunn theme and I still think of this game when I hear it playing somewhere. This game was very polished and better yet, very cool.

94.SHADOW DANCER

Shadow Dancer (the sequel to Shinobi) is at its core and very solid, yet pretty straight-forward beat-em up side scroller. The hero is wearing a blanket that pre-dates the Assassin's Creed outfit by about 30 years, rumbles around in a nondescript city and jumps, attacks and throws his way through endless hordes of enemies who have nothing else to do but to run from right to left (where are they going ?) and try to smack your dude around. However, this game came with a animal companion as well (you hear that Fallout and Skyrim ?), a white hound who could open a can of whoop-ass if you told him to and the dynamic of laying waste to piles of bodies while being followed and supported by your faithful furry friend made this game a great and thrilling experience for me and much more interesting than many of the similar games that flooded the Amiga and early PC market.

93.ROCK N ROLL

Most of you will probably not recognise many of the games included on this list (at least not the crazy mo'fo games that constitute the rear end of the list) for various reasons. Some of you might be too young and handsome and some of you might be lucky enough not to grow up in Germany ! Therefore, I did play many games designed by German developers who had quite a knack for game design back in the day, as well as video game music. Rock N Roll is such a game. The name does not make a lot of sense when you think of it at first but then you realize that you are actually controlling a rolling ball and are serenaded by a soundtrack inspired by many classic rock songs. The game is essentially a top-down platformer (does that make sense?) or a puzzle/racing-hybrid. The levels become increasingly more sophisticated and you need to find keys, avoid traps, make sure to collect the gems for points etc. The game could be hellishly frustrating but once you managed to beat it, it was a great experience! Rock on little ball !

92.BERZERK

The aptly name Berzerk has a premise that is a simple as it is awesome. A dude that looks like Luke Skywalker (on the cartridge, not in-game, the in-game figure looks like Ren from the Ren & Stimpy show) makes his way to a staggering 64,000 levels - so-called mazes - (which are pretty much rooms, let's face it) and has to get rid of a bunch of droids going Berzerk. The game was hard but the pacing and speed of the game was unmatched back in the day and you could hardly catch your breath and I almost freaked out every time when the robots started closing in on me, eeeeeeeeek. One of the funniest things of the game is a really bizarre smiling face that occasionally pops up and hunts you down, the so-called 'Evil Otto', which became somewhat of a Meme in my family whenever somebody took to long to do something we would always urge him or her to hurry up before Evil Otto shows up. A brilliant game, so simple, yet it works.

91.KIKSTART 2

Kikstart 2 (NOT Kickstart mind you, that is very important ! Very Important!) was one of the best two-player games on the C64. Played on a good ole' split screen (whatever ever happen to that concept?), the game puts the players into the driving seat (saddle?) of a motocross cycle and sends them on their merry way to try and overcome all sorts of fiendish obstacles. What made this fun was the fact that, unlike traditional racing games, traversing an obstacle course can be both challenging and hilarious, you can get stuck, over- or underestimate distances and get into all sorts of kerfuffles on your way, all the while keeping an eye out for the fate of your opponent. Another great addition was the build-in level editor, pretty advanced for the time so if you fancied yourself a bit of a level designer or played the game to pieces, you could always come up with new tracks for you and your friends to play. Lovely game.

Well, here we are, quite the bunch of weird games there, don't worry, the higher we get, the newer and probably more recognisable the games become (most of them anyway). But I owe a lot to his masterpieces and gems so they have a firm place in my gamer heart . . . I will continue this list sometime next week . . . until then, game on !

#3 Posted by Ravenhoe (192 posts) -

The year 2012 will quite appropriately (at least when asking your fellow Mayan) be all about the end of the world. One fashionable and rather exciting way to go would be an alien invasion. Ever since the alien scares of the 1950s, humanity has been obsessed with little grey men with large eyes and problems to find hats in the right size, pushing over cows, having anal sex with people and causing all sorts of other general mayhem (as well as showing an interest in backwater towns in America).

The XCOM games are probably still the best way to play out the alien invasion scenario on a home computer to this day.

The first game, XCOM - Enemy unknown, enjoys a devoted cult following due to its slick game design, interesting story and creepy atmosphere. Unfortunately, the follow-up games in the series never quite reached the same level of quality, despite an unusual and brave decision to set the sequel in the underwater realm. The second game (Terror from the Deep) is widely considered the ugly step-brother of the first game or something that you keep in the bottom drawer of your room (now who can guess what I have in my bedroom drawer, eh ?).

Steam recently put the whole XCOM-series on sale (including the spin-off games) and I highly recommend picking it up to gear up for the year of XCOM revivals.

As it is the way in the world of business, the very successful XCOM game(s) spawned many imitators, all of which more or less stuck to the formula and there are even some similar games in development scheduled for a 2012 release. Some of these titles include UFO:Aftermath, UFO:Extraterrestrials or Xenonauts (a promising game still in development). There have also been attempts to recreate the isometric squad-based formula in other settings in order to be sufficiently original and different from the UFO games.

Let's take Abomination for example, quite the abomination of a game indeed about a bunch of heroic mutants trying to save a city from a crazy cult. While not the worst game in the history of gaming, it is certainly no joyride and the controls make it quite hard to endure. However, it does have some interesting ideas, such as special powers for the individual characters and a non-linear storyline with random missions thrown in for good measure.

Or how about the virtually unknown little gem of a game called Shadow Watch ? A game that is actually based in the Tom Clancy universe (oddly enough, this circumstance has not been used in its marketing), comes along with gorgeous (!) visuals and solid gameplay, yet went more or less unnoticed and is pretty hard and nigh impossible to track down unless you pirate it from one of the usual suspect sites.

To cut a short story even shorter, I think we can all agree that there are many games that have been inspired by the XCOM series and that no game has managed to live up to the expectations or even surpass the quality of the first game. That being said, let's not be too unrealistic and delusional about the fact that XCOM itself did not invent the concept of squad-based / turn-based strategy in the first place, but it certainly mixed things up by adding a layer of macromanagement and base building to the genre as well as coating the whole shebang with an interesting and engaging theme.

Last year, 2K announced that they would release a new game in the XCOM franchise or a 'reboot' (to use one of the prevalent terms in pop culture). One of the first things to come to mind had been the unusual frequency with which terms like re-imagination and modernisation popped up all over the articles concerned with the new game in the alien-hunting franchise. Nostalgians all over the Internet shook their virtual fists in outrage over the fact that XCOM would be a FPS-game, even though it would still retain some of the original ideas (being squad-based, featuring a base etc.). Furthermore, the game is set in the 1950s and chronicles the origin of the XCOM organisation. This would not remain the only beloved squad-based franchise to be announced as a FPS remake, some time later, a new Syndicate-game was announced . . . also and FPS-remake.

Now hold your horses everyone, we cannot expect the industry and fancy developers like 2K not to go along with the dominant industry paradigm and it should not be a surprise to many (maybe older) gamers that it is common for the paradigm to shift from one generation to the other. Remember the transition from text-adventure to parser adventures (text-based commands) to the icon-based controls and ultimately the transition to 3D with Grim Fandango or even earlier with games such as Alone in the Dark or Ecstatica ?

The same goes for RPG games, I have fond memories of the well-sorted RPG-game screen with the first-person dungeon view taking over the most part of the screen, the convenienct and quite evocative party manager located in the bottom,top or right-hand side of the screen and all sorts of buttons and scrolls and bells and whistles spread across the rest of the screen. Then we had the console-dominated top-down view, followed by the good ole' isometric perspective used in many Hack & Slash games and immortalised by the Diablo series and now its mostly 3rd person or mixture of first and 3rd person (The Witcher, Skyrim, Mass Effect, WOW etc.) In fact, you can trace this whole development when looking at one of the most legendary and best RPG series ever, the Ultima series. The first few games were rogue-like adventure games, followed by games in top-down perspective and better graphics, isometric perspectives in Ultima VII and Ultima Online (RIP Lord British) and the newer games following the more modern formulas of visual depiction.

Now all I am trying to say is that the old games were great for what they were but we have to try and accept the new games for what they are trying to do as well and it is a commercial venture after all. And not all is bad for the new XCOM franchise, the visuals look stunning and like an interesting stylized version of Norman Rockwell paintings and old American interior catalogues, a blend of TF2 quirkiness and LA Noire's love for vintage detail. I think alien invasion themes work best in the 1950s, infused with the general scare of the nuclear threat and the explosion of popular sci-fiction.

The game will also take a non-linear and non-railgun approach to the game, missions will pop up on the map or in the HQ and you will send squads into the field to gather data and defeat the aliens. The designers made a bold decision to make away with the stereotypes and create an unique visual approach to the 'alien' race by making them some sort of gooey black soup flying around in cubicles. While that might disappoint some genre-enthusiasts, it is a good decision in terms of IP-value, making the game more unique and stand out from the common alien fare. I think one thing the new game will borrow from the old XCOM games is the pacing and the structure in which the story will unfold, beginning with reconnaissance missions, the game will become more and more about stealing alien technologies and ultimately defeating the slimy bastards with their own set of cutlery. Take that, bowl of black ink ! The squad-based concept also promises interesting multilayer skirmishes and I wonder whether the developers have the foresight to make the whole campaign playable as a team (Imagine playing through a whole strategic/FPS campaign with your friends!), to me, that sounds like Left 4 Dead meets XCOM ! Make it happen. In fact, I wonder why not more L4D-clones are coming out ? What gives gaming industry ? Aliens: Colonial Marines seems to be the most promising heir to the throne. The studio behind the new XCOM game is 2K Marlin, the muscle behind the first two BioShock games and I think they will get the job done, they already showed their knack for creating haunting atmospheres by evoking a fearsome blend of vintage-Americana mixed with dystopia fantasies (now that is a mouthful right there).

But that is not all news coming from the earth-defending camp that is 2K. It has just been announced that there is another XCOM game in development, by none other than Firaxis, Sid Meier's new stomping grounds (although he seems to take a back seat as far as the actual game design is concerned).

Better known for recycling Sid Meier's old games, Pirates, Colonisation and Civilisation with varying results, XCOM is an unusual detour from their formula and I wonder whether the decision derived from being bored with making the same game over and over again or the publisher's pressure to find a studio to take on the squad-based legacy of the franchise. Be that as it may, it remains to be seen what Firaxis will be able to do with the franchise. While their games are usually polished and fun, I have to say that they are far from being visionaries and the unusual and out-of-the-blue announcement of a new XCOM-Squad game sounds like bringing the red-haired stepchild to the birthday party, a necessity rather than a convenience.

It is quite an unusual decision for a publisher to release two games in the same franchise in the same year (Firaxis' XCOM is scheduled to be released in Fall, while XCOM has no release date, although many strores list it as early 2012, which is probably outdated information).

Some other game companies did similar things in order to promote their games, such happened with Bioware and the Dragon Age franchise, for which a Facebook game has been released (DA: Legends). Yet, all the efforts to cross-market the Dragon Age franchise through games on other platforms, tabletob games or involving the enchanting Felicia Day cannot shake off the whiff of viral marketing, rather than being full-fledged games in their own right. Yet, 2K seems serious about releasing two games that, apart from the legacy, don't go hand-in-hand at all. I wonder whether this decision was made in the very beginning or only after the outrage by the fans about how the new XCOM game would be a FPS games. Maybe 2K wanted to kill two birds with one stone, both reinvent the franchise but also 'cash-in' on the nostalgia surrounding the first title. The fact that the development time for the Firaxis XCOM game seems so short suggests that it will not be a triple AAA production at all, but rather a polished update but ultimately conservative game, paying its respects to the old XCOM game(s).

The question is, how hard can it be to make a new game based on a fantastic and working design in the first place - should not be too hard eh ? No one is asking you to re-invent the wheel, yet the fact that no other game ever managed to capture the spirit of the original game speaks volumes. Hold on to the squad-based formula, research, technologies, geoscape and base-building and you will have yourself a winner. Whatever you do Firaxis (and I am looking sharply at all the visuals from your other games), don't make the art style slightly cartoonish and family friendly. The original XCOM game(s) scared the living daylight out of me as a young lad and I look forward to being scared again, be it by liquid liquorice or isometric little fuckers, I cannot wait for the two games to come out, whosawitme !?

#4 Posted by Ravenhoe (192 posts) -
#5 Posted by Ravenhoe (192 posts) -

I don't think they will, the IP is not very popular (apart from us knowledgeable gamers) and enjoys more of a cult following. I think people are much more inclined to play the Marvel Alliance games, which are similar but sport a stronger license. Apart from that, I think that each generation has its paradigm of games and at the moment it seems its FPS and MMO games and squad-based tactical RPGs are not really en vogue. Look what is happening to XCOM and Syndicate, two isometric squad-based games, both are being turned into FPS games. Anyhow, I think the two FF games are great and many people are yet to discover and play them, good thing they're on Steam and GOG.

#6 Posted by Ravenhoe (192 posts) -

I always like the Sim City series, the CitiesXL franchise seems like a worthy successor to me. I played Sim Copter and liked it a lot, although it is less of a strategy game and more of an action/simulation game. I actually bought Sim Tower when it came out and never got into it to be honest. I did like Sim Earth back in the day and the Sims 2 !

#7 Posted by Ravenhoe (192 posts) -

Well, not to me personally but the best answer is probably World of Warcraft, it changed the industry quite a bit I date say. To me, well, Left 4 Dead was the first online game that really grabbed my attention so that was the defining game for me

#8 Posted by Ravenhoe (192 posts) -

My fellow gamers, like many of you, I have been captivated by the recent surge of amazing Indie and Flash games and whenever come across a particulary interesting Flash game I make a note for future reference. Here are some old and newish flash games I enjoyed and I would like to share with my gaming community, let me know whether you have played them and/or what you think of them ? If you an think of similar games, let me know as well, it is hard to seperate the good from the bad with so many games out there in the wild . . .

The Arrow Of Time

An interesting defense-shooter with a lovely illustration art **** taking place in various eras of human invention. The player is shooting arrows, which in turn can be upgraded to have fire damage, lightning damage, ice damage etc. Some special powers are particularly odd, like timewarp etc. The enemies range from quick and and weak to slow and powerful. The game is challenging but can be completed within an hour or so. It is great fun and you should try it !

Effing Hail

This is a funny game with interesting controls and neat graphics. It might get repititive quickly but it is fun as long as it lasts and the basic idea is just too good to pass on it. The player control the winds and needs to create big rocks of hail and hurl them against buildings, satellites and airplanes. The crux lies in the controls, it is not always easy to create those big rocks, let alone hurling them at the targets and mastering this is both challenging and fun and will appeal to all those who always liked to send arrays of catastrophes towards their cities in Sim City or kill their Sims, HA HA ! Good stuff.

Elona Shooter

Just in case you missed it, Elona is one of the best freeware RPGs out there, but this is a defense-shooter based on the same franchise. The player has to hold out and defend the tower against an onslaught of monsters and beasties firing weapons. The great thing is all the RPG elements, there are so many weapons to be found, upgraded and used, henchman to be hired and buildings to be upgraded, it is a great game and offers a rewarding progression pace. The controls are great for a flash game and very satisfying and the artwork is lovely too, with the stage in between the action phases showing a lovely little village and graphics, giving the player lots of stuff to do in between the attacks. I know there are other games like this out there (with Zombies) but this puts it up a notch.

The list goes on, but that will do for now, have a go at the games and let me know what you think !

Henrik

#9 Posted by Ravenhoe (192 posts) -

I reckon the people who just enjoy the game and have nothing (or only minor things) to complain about are just playing the game and not lurking on the forums and complaining. I have played for 14 hours and only experienced minor glitches and clunkiness but no major bugs etc.

#10 Posted by Ravenhoe (192 posts) -

Next time you go to your local gamestore, take a detour and go to the library instead and your questions will be answered