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!
The COD 4.2 full trailer has been released and boy does it look good! I can’t wait to get my hands on this (although the preorder price of £45 is crazy!!!), for now – let me direct you with all haste to the Infinity Ward COD 4 MW 2 webste
26/05/09 Update: now hosted on youtube as well, so enjoy the embedded goodness
Happy New Year to you all! I have a real New Years treat today, regular (or sporadic) readers will no doubt have noted the high regard I have for some old console games (particularly from my long lost gaming youth days.) Goldeneye is a game that stands out in particular not just for me, but many others. I randomly came across a lengthy piece by Martin Hollis, who was at the time, Head of Software for the Goldeneye (and later Perfect Dark) projects at Rare. His account of the frantic months and years of work which eventually culminated in these masterpieces make for fascinating reading.
So, in the specific case of GoldenEye, and with the benefit of hindsight, the gameplay model was Virtua Cop with a bit of Doom, plus some Mario 64. The theme or setting was (obviously) the Bond universe and particularly GoldenEye. Many of the visual effects and kinetic moments I took from Hard Boiled or other John Woo flicks. Especially, things exploding. Visually, there’s more to that than you might think.
His accounts of the lack of discernable direction or ‘game plan’ for many of the elements speak particularly loudly to me as I am myself now in software development. It is frankly amazing that the project was able to organically mature into the final product given how late in the day some design decisions were ultimately made.
I compiled a list of about 40 gadgets from various Bond films, most of which were modelled, and then Dave and Duncan tried to find levels where we could use them. This is backwards game design, but it worked very well. These models were the game design; there was very little written down on paper. And the models were researched and milked extensively.
Even more incredible was the lack of any real development hardware to properly test their work. Whilst architecturally similar, the SGI Onyx machine they did have was sufficiently different (and underpowered) to make the whole project akin to stumbling blinding along a dirt road at night. From my own coding experiences, it makes me a little edgy if I have been working on a large project (or piece of code) that can’t be compiled or tested until completed. In this situation it is far too easy to make a mistake which could cause untold hours of grief later on. The fact that this lack of ‘comfort zone’ for the majority of the Goldeneye project and not even having the concrete hardware capabilities of the Ultra 64 (later n64) platform until close to completion speaks to the commitment and, frankly, the nerve of the development and management team.
I mentioned we didn’t have an N64 or anything like one. The closest we had was an SGI Onyx or two. Thankfully, as it turned out, the N64 could render triangles much faster than the SGI Onyx. This was shocking as the list price of the Onyx was $250K dollars, and the N64 launched for about 1000th of this price. That’s progress. And it totally saved us, as several of the backgrounds rendered at about 2Hz (2 fps) on the Onyx, without even drawing enemies, objects, or Bond’s gun. My attitude was always, well, if it runs at all on the Onyx, we can probably get it to run at about 30Hz on the final hardware.
As you can no doubt tell from the gushing commentary I am very much in awe of this team’s accomplishment. I can’t recommend highly enough that you read the whole post for yourself.
The Command and Conquer franchise has, since its debut been noted for its focus on high quality sound and FMVs. Infact, it was this production quality that initially drew me in to the first Command and Conquer when I saw it at a friend’s house many many years ago. It was the first time I had heard intelligible language uttered in a real time strategy game and coupled with the sound track I was completely blown off my feet. Since then, every other RTS game has embraced the class specific whimsical audio commentary with a gusto and yet, no-one seems to quite do it like Westwood Studios(now .. unfortunately … EA.) The FMVs (Full Motion Video, an acronym that reveals its age) have always been on the grand scale with fairly cheesy acting. Despite of this, they were literally the reward at the end of every level and sometimes gave hints of new units you were about to obtain as you progressed further and further up the tech tree.
There are many great examples and youtube probably (I have certainly seen the majority listed) has them all. In more recent games (read Command and Conquer 3) EA have tried casting big name scifi stars with varying degrees of success. I am a bit biased in this, as I am of the firm belief C&C 3 was a bit of a step backwards from Generals, but I digress.
Today, whilst browsing I came across this video showing cut scenes from a variety of videos from the as yet unreleased C&C: Red Alert 3. The cast list seems to include a more down to earth selection of big names and I must admit I am very excited about how C&C:RA3 is shaping up. According to trylobyte, the cast list is as follows:
Evil Communist Russian with cheesy accent – played by Peter Stormare (Prison Break, Armageddon), Andrew Divoff (Patchy from LOST) and TIM CURRY!! The clueless US president – played by JK Simmonsof Spiderman fame The old humble Allied General (Jonathan Pryce) Hot Communication Officers – Gemma Atkinson 8-0 Ivana Milicevic (the bad guy’s gf in Casino Royale) 8-0 and Kelly Hu (X-men2) 8-0 Tanya (now blonde and played by…Jenny McCarthy )
But anyway, for now.. enjoy and join me in giving thanks to the Church of Conquerology.. .
The game I briefly want to talk about was released over 15 years ago on the SNES, I played it back then and found it thoroughly enjoyable. I recently picked it back up and thought I would give it a whirl, given that my media center has a SNES emulator – and I must say I very pleasantly surprised. It is very easy to be carried away by simply drooling over improved graphics in new game releases. This can save all but the poorest modern releases, however, games like Portal on the other hand, bring us crashing back down to earth showing us that the way the game plays can (and normally is) far more important than any visual polish the game studio applies with a trowel afterwards.
I didn’t realise until I did a bit of background research for this post, but the Choplifter ‘franchise’ began way back in 1982 on the Apple II and has enjoyed a release on the gameboy as well prior to the final version on the SNES. The gameplay elements do not appear to have changed much, the game is still a sideways scrolling action shooter, but they have been perfected in Choplifter III.
So, what’s the story? Simply, you are a helicopter pilot who is tasked with rescuing a quota of downed pilots or hostages in each mission. This sounds simpler than it is, as the game throws you from Jungle to Naval encounters, culminating in a vicious city fight followed by an intense and unexpected setting for the final ‘world’. You pick up a variety of special weapons along the way and the enemies get progressively tougher as you go along. For those who find the game too easy, there is a non-‘practice’ difficulty setting which is a lot less forgiving.
Below is a video of some of the early action made by someone else.
All in all, the game is a little short – taking between 3 and 4 hours depending on player ability, but it is varied enough to be a lot of fun. I get the impression that it was not one of the major releases back when it came out and as such may have been overlooked by many gamers which is a shame.
Graphics: 8/10 – Nothing special, but fairly detailed and pleasing to the eye.
Sound : 4/10 – Unimaginative, the main let down of the game.
Gameplay: 7.5/10 – Simple premise, not enough reward for rescuing extra hostages.
Overall: 8/10 A classic, casual game that is worth picking up and trying.