Tuesday, 30 September 2008


I went back to Tf2 last night. Played one game and I was hooked. Did quite well, considering I was being a Demoman. It was amazing. I can never get over the community, It's simply the best I've ever seen. Everyone has a competitive edge, whilst remaining friendly enough to talk to. 

So if you'll excuse me, I'm off to play it a bit more :P

Monday, 29 September 2008

Golden Oldie's

I hate it when people talk about "putting on the rose tinted glasses" and how old games are only worth playing because of the nostalgia they generate. Personally, I find it rather degrading. Old games are good in one of  two ways. Their either still good today or you have fond memories of playing them. Both, mean that at some point they were enjoyable.

When discussing old games I always have to mention two. Firstly, Dungeon Keeper as it was the first game I ever played and adored. Secondly, Theme Hospital as it was a game I actually despised as a child yet grew fond of it as a teenager. What really interesting, is that their both developed by Bullfrog. That's not the point of the Blog but it's worth a mention. 

So recently, Theme Hospital has found it's way into my computer and I'm hooked again. I'm already halfway through and the pressures on. What's so great about old games is that they were always so challenging, so unique. They always had the right amount of features and worked perfectly, unlike most modern day games where I'm normally sitting there wishing that the developer had included X Y and Z.  Although, this was only true for certain games between around 1997 and 1999 in my humble opinion. 

Sunday, 28 September 2008

A Flawless Victory

I was playing Bad Company last night, and as I was getting decorating the wall behind me with essence of brains and my ears were filled with the piercing screech of a grenade that just went off in my face something occurred to me. The FPS genre has been perfected. 

Lets go back four years ago. The FPS genre was milked like the worlds fattest cow and my God was that cow tired and barely alive. We had "Innovate" new features such as bullet time, real time weapon switching and weapon upgrading. While most of this is now the standard (apart from the hideous bullet time) it wasn't exactly executed perfectly back then.

But like all things, I believe that all this experimentation has helped craft the perfect FPS formula. COD4 is probably the perfect example of this. Unforgiving enemies, complex AI, weapons that pack a punch and breathtaking online modes. Can you honestly imagine any FPS's not using a ranking system in online for the next few years? I can't. It just works so well. 

Bad Company's a good example too. Sandbox warfare, powerful weapons, vehicles. It works well because, quite frankly, DICE perfected vehicle warfare as well as a sandbox battlefield for online modes. 

In my opinion, the FPS's days are numbered. But until then, were going to be playing near perfect versions of all the classics. 

Saturday, 27 September 2008

In Our Darkest Hour

Fallout 3 looks good. Very, Very good. 

I wasn't that excited about it until the other day. I've never played the originals, and to be honest I've never had a good relationship with Bethesda. I personally found Oblivion quite stale and unimpressive (although many, many people will care to argue with that view.) But Fallout 3 should make me and Bethesda best friends. I hope. 

But I downloaded the latest trailer for it the other day and fell in love, and I think It was all because of the opening. A 1950's infomercial, filled with a hearty dose of black comedy and fantastic Bioshock esqué animations. Oh and robots and nuclear war. I love the idea of the Vaults and Vault boy could already be one of the greatest mascots ever made and he hardly does anything apart from giving the camera a hearty thumbs up every once in a while. 

What out me off about Fallout 3 in the first place was the landscape. It looked too grey, even for a post apocalyptic version of the Earth. But now it's OK, because along with all the grey there's also going be a lot red. Lots and lots of crimson red blood, spewing from the shattered carcasses of zombies. And this friends, is why I'm becoming REALLY excited. 

No I'm not some kind of serial killer by trade, but the story looks to be fantastic. Promising radiation, zombies, gore, civilisations of trapped humans and a really simple RPG system. Could Fallout 3 be the game of the year? Well if Bethesda realise where Oblivion's faults lay then yes, yes it could. 

Friday, 26 September 2008

The Future?

Just a few quick thoughts today. I think I've discovered the future of videogames. I downloaded the Demo of super stardust HD the other day and realised something. You can download additional levels, modes and even an Online function separately of the PSN. Is this how games will eventually be played? Will games be available for download only? Perhaps we'll find ourselves only downloading a "base" package of a few levels for a cheap price, then choosing to pay for additional levels, online features all for a small fee. Surely that way, games will be more accessible to play? Especially with the price of new games these days. Personally, I'd like to see this happen. 

Thursday, 25 September 2008

A Little Respect?

I'm pretty sure all owners of a next generation console will be able to relate to this post.

Since I got my PS3 around a month ago, a lot of people have turned their noses up at my decision. Now I'm not being.... Erm.... Consoleist (!?!?) but I find this quite immature. It's mainly Xbox 360 owners, claiming they have superior online, a better selection of quality games and that overall their console "Pwns" in all areas unlike the PS3 which is "teh Suxxors". 

Now what really bothers me is this. Firstly, I have no problem with the Xbox. I think it's a great machine, offering crisp HD and a fantastic online community. What bothers me is that I give their console praise, they smite me down for my decision, urinating all over my personal preferences. Secondly, I'm content with my decision and personally very happy. But for some reason, a lot of people can't accept that.  

So this got me thinking, why is it that there's always been rivalry between consoles? The SNES and the Megadrive? The Playsation 1 and the N64? The Playstation 2 and the Xbox? Why is it that no-one can accept that both consoles have  enough cons that neither are technically "Superior"? Is it down to what games are exclusive on the console? How good the graphics are? Maybe it's down to just how darn good the console looks in general, or maybe even which controller is more "Comfy" (God I've heard that argument so many times). 

These days, the main factor is surely which console pumps out the best HD, and which console has the best Online community and both the PS3 and Xbox excel in both categories. Only the Elite Xbox has HDMI, while it's standard on all PS3 models. However, Xbox Live offers a far simpler online community than the PS3, yet the online on a PS3 is standard. 

I'm not here to argue, it just bemuses me that people will fight till their wits end over consoles that are clearly the same... Yup, I said it. 

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Hang Ten

Sometimes, a game comes along that just blows your mind. It's always a simple one, almost arcade like in style yet  manages to leave a lasting impression unrivaled by most high budget games. Also, it's normally addictive to the point that it should be a class A drug. Audiosurf, manages to fit into all those categories. 

The premise is so simple and executed so perfectly that it's mind boggling that Audiosurf wasn't made a long time ago. Ride any music file, avéc Guitar Hero. I mean come on. It's insane. Any music file boots up in mere seconds and yet manages to deliver a near religious experience (yea that quotes nicked. So what).

The best way to describe Audiosurf is this: Imagine Guitar Hero, crossed with Burnout mixed with the Winamp visualisations. That sums it up perfectly in my opinion. 

The greatest selling point of this of course, is that this game does not become a new experience when a new update is released, or when a new mod is created. It becomes a new game whenever you play a new album, a new song or an audio book (OK that may seem slightly farfetched but people do it for the achievements)

If you don't at least try this game, then your missing out on one of the most innovate and refreshing PC games to date.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

The Little Game That Would

Let me tell you a story. It's called "The little game that would". This little game would become the pet project of legendary game designer Will Wright. This little game would generate more hype than any other game in the last three years. This little game would be eight years in the making. This little game would promise more than it surely could ever deliver. This little game, is Spore.

Sim Everything. I laughed when I read that but it's what Spore was originally going to be called. Sim Everything. Well, I say that's what it was going to be called. It was working under that title in 2000. Eight years ago. That's a long development time, a one that even Valve can safely snigger at. But a long development time means nothing, it's the finished product that matters. All a long development time does is generate immense hype (something Spore did better than any other game to date). But that's not important.  Yesterday I discussed the last great game and Spore didn't even get a mention. Why was that? 

You know what, I was going to go into the history of Spore in detail but I'm not going to. I'm just going to to tell you my opinion in one word. Average.

Spore begins like a dream. It's everything you've ever hoped for. Colour, customisation, online features, a scale so big the human race is a mere blip on the screen. In fairness, it does remain exciting for a few hours. Maybe six or seven at the most, and that's if you take the first three stages slowly (they can be done in around two hours if your quick enough). 

It all went downhill for me when I hit the Civ stage. It became.... Repetitive. The tribal stage (third stage) sees you managing a small amount of tribesmen, befriending ,or beating the shit out of, the neighbours, while the Civ stage is that again but more tedious with added moustaches. The Civ stage feels like it was rushed, like it HAD to be there and no-one on the development team really cared for it. 

I hit the Civ stage on my sixth hour, and had finished it on the seventh. According to my timeline, I'd been in the Civ stage for 50,000 years . That's the thing about Spore. It's.... Confusing. Why is it it took me 25 minutes to evolve out of the gene pool? Why is it it took me 2 hours to discover fire? How come it took me an hour to discover how to build complex building structures? Why did it take me 20 minutes to discover space travel? I know this may seem like a weak argument, but It feels like the whole game is a limited experience, like it's nothing but filler until you hit the space stage. 

The Space stage however, differs from Spore so much it may as well be a completely different game. Firstly, it's huge. Secondly, IT NEVER ENDS! I swear, I've played the space stage for around 20 hours so far and I'm nowhere near the centre of the universe, never mind powerful enough to defeat the aliens that surround it. It's also very, very dull.

OK I've rambled a lot today. Let me summarise. Spore is limitless, yet limited. Flawless, yet Flawed. It could be the perfect game, but cannot. Why? Well that's the thing. I can't explain why. Spore lives up to the hype. You take a single celled organism, take through every stage of life from primordial soup to the centre of the galaxy, creating a scale no other game could achieve. Yet in some ways it doesn't live up to the hype thanks to some god awful design choices, such as the space and Civ stage (they could have been oh so much better).

Spore, in essence, is science. While gaming is religion. The two can never coexist. 

Monday, 22 September 2008

What WAS the last great game?

A friend of mine struck a conversation topic I seem to have been avoiding as of late, last night. He said to me "What WAS the last great game?". Instantly, being me, I said Bioshock

But then I thought myself, hang on. I got Bioshock in September... Surely I've played better games since then. Well the Orange Box is probably my most played game of all time, Team Fortress 2 especially. But why didn't I say that straight away? Surely that must be the obvious choice? Well, thinking of it in hindsight, it didn't move me as much as Bioshocks story did. There wasn't as much thrill as exploring rapture for the first time. (It pains me to say that, it honestly does. But Bioshock beats Orange box by a mere millimetre) 

So then I pondered some more. I got loads of games for Christmas, one of them must have beat Bioshock and the Orange box? Surely it hasn't been almost 11 months since the last truly enjoyable game was released? I got Crysis, Unreal Tournament 3, Super Mario Galaxy, Mysims, Metroid Prime 3 and Sim City DS for Christmas. Not one lived up to expectations, and to be honest not one gripped me enough. Crysis got boring very quickly, as did Unreal Tournament 3. As for Mario Galaxy, well it was fun but it was just another Mario Game. 

It seems to me that the games market is becoming stale. Super Mario Galaxy was the first indication. It was meant to be a completely new Mario experience. It was just Mario. In space. Unreal Tournament 3 was just UT2004 with a healthy dose of LIQUID MUSCLE. And It was also, rather boring compared to the others. 

"But what about the others!?!" I hear you cry. "What about Grand Theft Auto 4? Metal Gear Solid 4? Surely these are sure choices!". Well, no. GTA4 is GTA3 in essence, but I can't argue that it's not a good game. Personally I love it, and I'm currently playing through it for the first time and enjoying myself immensely. But it's nothing groundbreaking, nothing immense. It's a good game. But not a great game. Oh, and Metal gear Solid 4? I haven't finished it yet, but It's still the same formula as the others. 

So now I've established there hasn't been a great game in around 11 months. That makes me rather cynical to be honest. Especially with games such as Resident Evil 5, Left 4 Dead, Little big planet, Tomb Raider Underworld and Mirrors Edge coming out. Will these games live up to expectations? Will they manage to make me feel an emotional connection to the game like Bioshock did? We'll have to see, because right now I don't even want to think about it.

Oh, and I didn't mention about Spore. I'll talk about that tomorrow

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Always a believer

I never thought online games could work on consoles. 

Yes I know what your thinking. Of course they can. With the possibilites of the internet today, online gaming is the norm. If a game dosn't have online features, it's often shunned from the publics eye. But up until four weeks ago, I didn't believe it could happen. 

You see I'm a PC gamer at heart. I played Team Fortress 2, Half Life 2 Deathmatch and Unreal Tournament online and considered it the closest thing you can have to a religious experience without seeing Jesus. I honestly thought that those "console" types would never know an experience like this, with those "Controllers" I thought It would be too slow. 

I was an idiot, basically. 

Then one day, I saw the light. I played Call Of Duty 4  on a mates Xbox and fell in love. The matchmaking! The gameplay! The stunning HD graphics! The controller! 

So I got a PS3 a month ago, with a copy of COD4 and well.... I'm in love. I really am. You see, there are  main differences between console gaming and PC gaming. With PC gaming you step into a world of the hardcore and often hit the gorund running. It's confusing, especially on VALVE games. I remeber trying to play Counter Strike Source when I first got Half Life 2, and ended up joining server consisting of God and his associates. I got my arse wupped, and consequently didn't return. Ever. 

With COD 4 though (and pretty much every Online game I've played so far on Consoles) it's all down to matchmaking. Oh so your a noob? Cool, well here's 8 other noobs to play with. Your a cyborg anteater with controllers for limbs? Well here's a badger with teething problems, an elephant that kills and a 14 year old boy from alabama with a headset. Enjoy.

So yea. I thought this would be a good starting post :p Every day, a different rant. A stroke of genious. A youtube video. A picture of mario eating a bagel. As long as it's game related, I'll talk about it.