I came across a great video showing the Portal 2 in-game level editor which is being released soon as part of the Perpetual Testing Initiative DLC. Whilst I was intending on embedding it in this post, it seems the video has been mysteriously pulled from YouTube. For now the following image will have to suffice – I’ll update this post when I find a working video link.
Having seen a demonstration of what can be done, I’m extremely impressed by the clean interface that couples simple geometry manipulation with WYSIWYG design. In the past I have made levels using a number of tools including Deathmatch Maker, QuARK (for the original Quake) to the first version of Hammer for the original Half Life engine. But irrespective of the tool used the basic principles for map creation were the same, as was typically the (rather steep) learning curve. The beauty of this Test Chamber Editor is the player doesn’t have to understand the theory behind binary space partitioning nor worry about leaks or striking the right lighting balance. They simply choose from prefabs of the small number of elements that make up Portal test cambers and see where their imagination takes them. Without trying the editor myself I can’t say much more; but from the video, it looks like a lot of fun.
A rather cheeky 2D rip off (yes, I think that’s justified given the identical art assets) of Minecraft called ‘Crafted’ has popped up on the iOS app store. I’m tempted to give, what appears to be the crossbreed between Minecraft and Terrania, a go, but I don’t really want to reward what amounts to intellectual property theft in my opinion.
Payday: The Heist is the result of mixing three cups of Left 4 dead with a whisked quantity of Modern Warfare and glazing the resultant cake with generous portions of awesome. Payday: TH takes the four player cooperative approach so brilliantly executed by L4D and adds wads of cash and rather irate Police officers. Sure, there are still guns and enemies that assault you in unrelenting waves but apart from that the presentation and style of the game are very different and exceedingly compelling.
There are six missions (of which I’ve only tried two so far) which are designed to never truly play the same way twice. Each is concerned with some sort of get-rich-quick style encounter the title of the game alludes to and the reward for in-game achievement is currency. This forms the experience and progression system unlocking new and better equipment progressively for the three distinct player types, each of which feel different and nicely mutually complementary.
The only minor negative point is the story – not much is explained and any inter-character banter feels largely there to cynically dispense with the story as quickly as possibly and make way for the action. In this game however, that’s absolutely fine by me.
The price and the quality of the experience and overall finish mean no second thought should be required here, I heartily recommend Payday: The Heist.
I finally took the time to complete Metro 2033 (it was only sitting on my shelf for around a year..) and I loved every minute of it. A lot of new games feel quite similar these days but being produced by a Ukrainian developer has really imparted a unique feel to this title. The visuals are spectacular and the gameplay has some unique and interesting elements.
Despite the developer 4AGames having a bust up with the GSC chaps (the developer behind the STALKER series) over originality of technology and IP, Metro 2033 is a very different game from STALKER. Ok, sure it is set in a post-apocalyptic world irradiated by the folly of man, but therein the similarities stop. Metro is a linear and highly polished romp through the tunnels and factions of a destroyed Moscow with a psychological gameplay element thrown in. These give Metro an almost FEAR style angle and my main criticism is that these were not developed further.
That said, the game is a competent, challenging and engrossing eight to ten hour gas masked adventure through some truly memorable areas which I have no hesitation in highly recommending.
My thanks to Nick for the snappy title ;-)
Steam have a rather timely offer given my last post on STALKER 2, buy both STALKER Shadow of Chernobyl (SoC) and Call of Pripyat (CoP) for £6.24 !! Interestingly the offer doesn’t include Clear Sky but that is another story ;-)
This is a real bargain and a perfect opportunity to experience these fantastic games, so go and grab your copies.
Remember, to get the most out of Shadow of Chernobyl get the STALKER Complete fan made spruce up mods.
STALKER 2 in the works, STALKER 2 in the works, STALKER 2 in the works. … (calmly reclining) and I’m mildly excited about this. :-) Not a huge amount is known about the follow-up to the first trilogy of STALKER games yet, the original press release was somewhat short on details. However, we do know that the same studio (GSC) are already working on it and it might use the Crysis engine.
I found the original trilogy to be somewhat of a flawed gem – breathtakingly exciting, compellingly authentic and very engrossing; but sadly each title lacked a certain ‘something’ that ended up detracting from the experience. Luckily a number of talented community members have released various spruce up mods which (especially in the case of Shadow of Chernobyl) really make the games feel MUCH more complete and enjoyable, greatly enhancing what is already a phenomial gaming experience.
If you’ve not played a STALKER game before I can’t recommend enough grabbing a copy of Shadow of Chernobyl (£9.99 currently on Steam) along with the STALKER Complete 2009 fan made spruce up mod and Call of Pripyat (currently £19.99 on Steam or £14.99 if you own either Shadow of Chernobyl (SoC) or Clear Sky). Somewhere between these great titles is pure gaming gold, I really hope GSC find it for STALKER 2. Roll on 2012!
I discovered a rather exciting new UFO: Enemy Unknown remake project a few days ago called UFO: The Two Sides. What makes UFO:TTS different from previous remakes is that the team are aiming not just on reimplementing the fantastic gameplay mechanics of the original but extending the possibilities with online multiplayer.
Multiplayer remakes of UFO: Enemy Unknown are not new, I remember playing something called XCOM: Gladiators back in the early 2000s (gosh, yes we can now say the ‘two-thousands’ – I refuse to say naughties .. eek), a project that became known as UFO2000 – a fairly well-known and mature open source game. What separates The Two Sides from UFO2000 is simply grandeur, whilst UFO2000 sought to reimplement the turn based element of the game to allow for player vs player gaming, The Two Sides seeks to reimplement the whole game (both geoscape and battlescape) such that it can be played from either the side of the Humans (as in the original) or the Aliens. I’ll let that sink in for a moment. :-)
The best thing however about this remake is that there are already early downloads available to play with. At the time of writing, version 0.90 was available and, whilst having a few bugs and missing functionality, is still playable and hints at some of the ideas the TTS team have in the pipeline. It has been a while since I have been excited about UFO: Enemy Unknown (or X-COM: UFO Defense as the US chaps call it) but this project has definitely rekindled my interest. I strongly recommend you get over to the UFO: The Two Sides site and check out their progress.
Image credit to the XCOM:TTS site.