Late to the Party: Crysis Warhead

19 08 2009

It’s been mentioned that I rarely have the money to buy games right when they come out. ┬áThe main disadvantages have been intellectual ones, as when I get around to buying, and beating a particular game, everything in that game is discussed and over with. This is why I decided to make a new post series, in my ever-increasing series, entitled Late to the Party. The inaugural edition will be about Crysis: Warhead.

I bought it at the Circuit City firesale way back when, a steal at $15. To put it into perspective, I’ve spent more on uncooked Chinese food, and that experience only lasted 8 hours. I knew that I was getting into a single-player game in the vein of an action movie. There is multiplayer, but I have no interest in it. My expectations were not low, by any stretch of the imagination, as I liked what I heard about the original Crysis from ex 1up staffer Shawn Elliott, even though he gave it a pitiful 8. Why so low, Shawn? Why so low?

A few weeks later, I installed it when I had a nice break after a brutal exam week, and it was impressive. At first, I was impressed that the game ran well on my 4Gig, Mild Core 2 Duo, and GeForce 7900GS machine. The game decided that my graphics were mainstream (oh noes), and set them accordingly. Honestly, they looked amazing. I can only wait until I get my new video card and a fresh 64-bit install of XP or Vista to hold me over until the Windows 7 release. Lately, in accordance with the Windows effect, the game has been running slower. I turned the shaders and textures down to the minimum setting. The game is still gorgeous.

Above: Gorgeous

Above: Gorgeous

This is what gamers have associated with Crytek, Crysis was a technical marvel, and Crysis became associated with high-end PCs that people don’t actually have, and the game itself was an afterthought. Having played C:W, I can say I’m a fan of the series, and all the technical criticisms need to be re-evaluated. I have a fairly modest PC. It was modest two years ago when I bought it. Like I said, the game still looks amazing.

What really amazed me was what it brought to the shooter table. Crysis puts you in the super-suit of a soldier, the suits grants you increased strength, speed, blah blah blah. That is the central focus of the game, but it’s been done. I hear you asking “so what? what’s the big deal, GAME did that, and that was TIME ago”. Well, douche bag, Crysis lets you choose between enhancing the speed, shield and strength of your character, or activating a cloak at any given time, adding a level of strategy to the equation. Yes, an invisibility cloak like in Harry Potter.

Boom goes the dynamite

And boom goes the dynamite

There is the ubiquitous energy bar that gets used up with these things, so you can’t perma-sprint through an entire level. This adds more strategy than your standard super-soldier shooter. ┬áThis favors combos, which are not only the best part of the game, but add variety in how you take down each wave. You can use super-speed to run past the front lines, then use the shotgun and blow them away. For the social outcast, you can activate strength, which increases accuracy, then trick out your gun with a rifle kit, and do some medium range sniping. If you just want to run in with a semi-automatic and run and shoot from cover, you can enhance your shield, for obvious reasons. Hell, the invisibility cloak and melee might be the combo if you like playing the rogue in WoW.

Why did I get the pistol?

Why did I get the pistol?

I haven’t beaten it, yet, but I doubt much will change. This is a really really fun game. From a pure shooter-porn perspective, this is awesome in the way a good Jason Statham movie is. Even a bad Jason Statham movie. There is a story, but it’s more of a premise for super-soldiers and aliens. There’s foreigners to shoot (Koreans?). There’s a main character from an exotic land (Australia). The most important part is that you have fun playing it.

Oh, the full version is my wallpaper. Why?

Oh, the full version is my wallpaper. Why?

It doesn’t have monotonous parts, it doesn’t try to work in environmental puzzles (so far), it knows it’s a shooter, and it stays true to that. If you like action games, definitely give this a try. If you play shooters, also give it a try. If for nothing else than to see what it brings to the table, and learn from it.


Why I Love Steam

9 08 2009

Every week, I make it a habit to check the Steam weekend deals. They have been good (Stalker for $4.99) to gooder (Dawn of War 2 for $24.99). This weekend, they happened to feature a whopping 10 indie games for $29.99, or 5 of those for $19.99. I was intrigued, especially when I saw the game list:

  • Audiosurf
  • Blueberry Garden
  • Braid
  • Crayon Physics Deluxe
  • Darwinia
  • Everyday Shooter
  • Gish
  • Mr. Robot
  • The Path
  • World of Goo

Wow. Even though I already have World of Goo and Audiosurf, I felt like I needed this. I couldn’t be more thrilled to have Braid, to see what all the hubub was about. Also, after I looked over the list, The Path is very interesting. I encourage everyone to support indie PC gaming and get this!

Battlefield Heroes Woes

4 08 2009

I was thrilled a few months back when I got into the, as it will be known from here on out, BF:H closed beta. I had this whole big write up I wanted to do on it, along with Quake Live. The first time I logged in, it was fantastic, the tutorial was fun, I liked the mechanics and everything. I go to start a game, and I get this:



Ok, no big deal. It’s a beta right? They could be fixing the servers, or updating something, right? Maybe it’s a client issue? For at least two months of straight trying once every few days, on two completely different computers, and in two different houses (3 hours away!) I get the same problem.


Michael Jackson

26 06 2009

Yugoslavia had a lot of problems: the economy, human rights, communism, the job market, to name a few. The most direct one I experienced was the lack of television programming. Most of the TV shows there, apart from news, were stolen from neighboring countries’ broadcasts. That statement is literal. The japanese game show Takeshi’s castle, or MXC on Spike TV, was dubbed in German for their broadcasts. The Serbian broadcast had three distinct audio tracks: Japanese followed by German a split second later followed by Serbian. The country didn’t have the money, for a long time, to afford silly things like broadcast rights.
This was apparent in their showing of a group of about 5 music videos almost daily. Only two of those stuck with me: the muppets performing wipeout and michael jackson’s black and white. This was years before I came to America, so my English was not very good. I couldn’t understand any of the racial themes going on. I couldn’t do much beside be amazed at how incredible the video looked. The few shows produced in Yugoslavia looked as good as public access, and that’s without your fancy shmancy cable. I ended up retaining a few of the words that I would sing to myself from time to time. That was my favorite song at the time, and when I came to America later on, Michael wasn’t really on my radar. I went through musical phases through adolescence, and it wasn’t until I returned to visit after 7 years in America that I would listen to any of his stuff again.
I got hooked after I visited an old family friend at a Serbian radio station. I dug through their backlog and got a whole mess of MJs old stuff. I loved it, partly from the nostalgia but mainly because it was pretty damn good. The stigma of the court cases, mysterious children and plastic surgeries was there before I fired up winamp. It felt weird, but when I hit the play, it was still really good.
I listened to random songs since then, keeping the music and the personality distant.
I could still always remember how his music really got me started. Serbian music was lame and black and white showed me how good it can be, how much fun it can be. This will always stick with me.


14 06 2009

Here’s what bugs me a lot on the iPhone. There are tons of different mmos that don’t have any compelling reason to be played whatsoever. I played a vampire one, an undead one, a mafia one and a racing one. They all seem to think that what people really like about mmos is the grind. What they then did is took away any social aspect of mmos and any reason to keep going, there is no “end game” at least not one that is defined and compelling in any way. So what you’re left with is an almost satirical reduction of the genre, every action reduced to a click of a box.
If you ask anybody that plays an mmo like WoW or Eve Online, the reason they subscribe to this game month after month is because of the social factor. That could be chat, guilds, groups raids, anything at all. I started playing WoW because my friends all play and it’s much easier to keep in touch. What keeps me playing is that I have something to aspire to be. And it’s not that I wanted to thwack more things, it’s that i progressed across the world with a purpose, whether that was taking out Edwin VanCleese in the Deadmines, trying to take out Illidan’s henchmen in the path to rid outland of his evil or storm Northrend to kill Arthas once and for all. There was not one point in the game that I didn’t feel like I was doing something that mattered.
Hell, I played EQ back in the day, before MMOs were good, and even though there was no obvious “point” i wasted days of my life taking a boat across the world just to see a new city and walk around it. That’s what EverQuest did right, they didn’t want maps published so you could get this feeling that you are discovering this world. They nailed that part because a city didn’t show up on any map, you didn’t know there was a Wood Elf settlement above you, and I remember finding it early on and just looking up at these platforms full of life and being amazed, i’d never felt this before.
It’s well-known that EQ was broken in many ways, but this is why it got big, and why people remember it. MMOs are supposed to give a feeling that the player occupies a world with other people in it.
The iPhone brought people the possibility to be on the internet everywhere people wanted it. The important stuff, not just email and crappy browsers that blackberry gave us. We can finally be on the bus, at a movie, in a church pew, or an Applebee’s restroom socially networking with our friends or shopping. Also looking at pornography.
The mobile game space could be changed too. What if there were thinned out clients for WoW, that could let you just chat or flag items at the auction house. Or maybe games like Lineage or UO could be re-jiggered to work on the device and supported by ads (bring me 5 bags of new tacos at midnight flavor doritos, your reward shall be a jubilee of flavor! Go forth, noble adventurer!) or people paying a dollar to gain a level or get a sombrero to show off to the bitches.
My nerd boner was throbbing, and nothing of the sort was even announced yet. I was sure that someone would do something with this.
What do we get instead? Games like the aforementioned MMOs where as a [mafioso, vampire, werewolf, zombie, pirate or race car] you have to [rob, bite villagers, storm castles, sodomize or race other cars] to get more [guns, weapons, pawns, acessories or parts] all in an interface like:
Storm castle
You get gold!
Then you have the joy of waiting for four hours to refill your action points! Woo! You can actually pay money to refill said action points so you can have more fun right away.
He worst part is, people want this! There are tons of downloads, and i'm sure everyone with an iPhone either is playing or has played some variant of this. You might even like them and think i'm nitpicky or annoying. The point is, the iphone can handle a lightweight mmo, maybe something with a text-based hub world and instanced dungeon crawling, like Diablo. Maybe the fate of flagship studios' Mythos could be in this new market. It would be nice.

Quickie: Divine Divinity

3 05 2009

I bought Divine Divinity from Target for $2.49. It was released in 2002, the game is an action-rpg with actual role playing when you’re not fighting (dialog and what not). It has been one of Target’s “budget” games for a while. Budget is quoted because of the stigma of being associated with titles like Prison Tycoon and countless diner dash knockoffs, however on this same rack you can find Civilization 3, Railroad Tycoon 2 and Galactic Civilization II: Dread Lords. It’s really not a bad place to spend a few bucks sometimes. Anyway, I live in a college town, so people don’t have the time to play video games, myself included, and the rest are … characters that wouldn’t want to play Divine Divinity. There were almost about 4 copies there for $2.49. I snatched it right up for that price, I’ve spent more on dysentery from Steak ‘n Shake.

Flaming rectum

Flaming rectum

I was excited, although felt the wahjah from taking a game with cover that could be mild biblical porn (rule 34) to the register. The baby food in the other hand might have helped, or exponentially worsened the situation, hard to tell looking back.

cue the let there be... jokes

Let there be side boob!

I installed it, got a no-cd fix and just started playing tonight. The game gives you three classes: warrior, wizard and rogue, in male and female flavors. Typical. I ended up choosing a female thief (rogue) because I felt sexy. Then I walked the character around for three seconds. Lowe and behold:


The front of the damn thing looked ridiculous enough, with every fantasy cliche being fulfilled, heaving cleavage and swimsuit cut chest armor, and yet gauntlets and knee-highs for armor value. Then I saw the back:

Yet shiny

Seriously? Fitting that I am literally spelunking for the screen shot. I mean the fiancee seeing the box art was bad enough, but got forbid she actually sees this. The game isn’t bad though, at least I’m enjoying the first hour I spent with it. The big complaint I have is your vision is limited to a circle the equivalent of 7 or 8 feet around your character, the rest concealed with the fog of war. It’s a real shame, the world actually looks really nice, the graphics aren’t as dated as I would have thought, the 2d style with 3d characters and details looks stylized rather than limited. I can see myself sinking quite a bit more time into it, at least until Good Old Games puts Baldur’s Gate up, at which point I might get drawn away for a while. One other complaint? These catacombs I was in, that may or may not be an accessory to demonic activities, presumably ruled by a maleficent ruler, has laying around, among corpses strewn about like garland in Macy’s on Christmas and spider webs that would make Jeff Daniels uneasy, the hell fiends thought ahead to lock their barrel. Singular. There is one locked barrel. The others are unlocked.

Oh, I see the lock now.

Oh, I see the lock now.

I saw this barrel twice. I just stabbed the barrel in the middle and it exploded, revealing it’s hidden gold to me. Nullifying the one advantage you might have to locking a barrel. Other locked things have you go through a manner of unlocking them: key or pick. I can stab open a locked barrel but not a door made from rotted wood that’s much less dense? I can’t show the blacksmith my heaving breasts and have him open the door? Dragon Age, how about we fix a few of those problems. Maybe even let me take off the steel thong once my dagger breaks and use it as a rudimentary Bat’Leth. I’ll settle for characters that resemble the average people they are portraying, not LA strippers or professional baseball players.

A Rod

Also: bulge

Also, if anybody knows a club that has dancers wearing metal thongs, please post it in the comments.

Games of Yore: Megaman Legends

14 03 2009

Welcome to the first installment of my new ongoing series: Games of Yore. What I want to do with this is look back at the games I played a ton when I was really young, maybe too young to know better. I know I endured some pretty bad games simply because I was broke, and made myself like them. The thing is, I’m not sure if these games were bad or not, I’d rather not tarnish my fond memories. There were the good ones too, I played Warcraft 2 and Descent and Doom and Commander Keen and Sonic the Hedgehog and at least two others. I want to look back at the games that kept me indoors on those summer days, let me develop this mole-person like aversion to the sun and sickly build. These are the games that, for some reason, stuck with me years later, and sometimes taught me a thing or two.

my house

my house

Anyway, the first game is Megaman Legends. I had a friend Mike who was obsessed with it, I went to my local family owned video rental place next to Eagle foods. We started going there after some family friends told us they had sega games for $2 a week. I spent great times with Clay Fighter and NBA Jam: Tournament Edition. Boom shaka laka. Good times. I graduated to PS1 later when the family sold the house for scrap (above). I’ll always remember it, although not by name, for it’s Bambi scene and Final Fantasy 7 poster hanging in the window, Thumper fading away with careless window cleaning of the staff. Where was I? Oh yeah, I rented Megaman Legends one day. I never had a NES or SNES, and I missed all the classic MM games until years later when I masochistically played them while choking myself. It was a dark time. I enjoyed the X series because the ZSNES emulator lets you save your state, so you don’t have to go back to the beginning of the level when you die. There is nothing wrong with ROMS. MML was my first prolonged experience with Megaman, besides the cartoon I saw a few times. That said, this isn’t weird to me at all, considering he’s a toddler that can destroy terminators with his arm-gun:

robot killer

robot killer

Despite my lack of familiarity, I still found it a bit weird that a treasure-hunter/miner would have an arm and a gun, instead of two arms. Apparently, mining in this world is somewhere between the soul-sucking bleakness trap of October Sky and the carefree whimsy of Zoolander.

ill-advised picture

ill-advised whimsy

The game has you looking for treasure, then something happens and suddenly there are a ton of robots that need to be taken down, MegaMan-style. There are also some kind of pirates, which might also have been robots. Also there are Lego people and some woman in a giant mecha suit.

my house had a lot of asbestos

my house had a lot of asbestos

What the hell? I’ll be honest here, my memories of this game include walking a big gray maze looking for some kind of keys, you know, for the stones that were locked, and kicking a can behind a food court shop in a mall to get money to upgrade my gun-arm. The real reason I remember this game was a pretty bad ass-scene where the town square was under attack and there were big ground robots beating on everything, and flying robots shooting on everything and smaller robots shooting other stuff too. This was the first time, in a video game, I was faced with an encounter that actually required me to think about the order of how I do things. I failed countless times trying to shoot the ground units first, only to get killed by the air robots. After some tries, I realized that by quickly dodging and constantly strafing on the ground, taking out the air units first would make the ground units a piece of cake. The aforementioned smaller robots might not have actually existed.

This experience always stuck with me, I feel it matured me quite a bit as a gamer. I learned that sometimes, it’s best to push pause and consider what’s going on, instead of running around pretending to know.