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 :)
This weekend you can play Day of Defeat Source for free via Steam, it corresponds to the launch of the Palermo services across steam which greatly adds to the platform by adding unlock-able achievements for each game. So what is Day of Defeat I hear you ask? It started out as a FPS mod using the original half life engine and was set in the second world war era. What initially distinguished this game from other stand-alone games and mods of the same and similar genres at the time was how thought out it was. Rather then blindly killing the enemy, to win the round you had to capture (or destroy) strategic points as well as blindly killing the enemy. In essence, it was a slower paced Counter Strike with a lot more emphasis on teamwork and strategy.
I have not played DoD for a number of years which is surprising given the fact I have been playing it since Beta 2 and had a waypointing site dedicated to the mod. Back then it was a damn good ‘rough round the edges’ community mod with a lots of promise and bags of potential.
Beta 3.0 was released and everyone celebrated. It built on the strengths of the first betas- tweaking and balancing them as well as adding new features. For a while nothing happened, we all were content playing beta 3.0 and listening to rumours of the ever elusive beta 4.0. Then, in my opinion, it all started going wrong. The mod team struck a deal with Valve and the mod became a commercial game. Beta 4.0 was actually released as version 1.0. It was highly polished and improved, as one would expect from Valve’s backing. Unfortunately it also had a boat load of issues in particular 56k dial-up gamers (yes there still were a fair few back in 2002/2003) were hit hard with very poor gaming experiences for no tangible reason.
At this point I walked away from Day of Defeat, life was complicated at the time and I was about to start Uni so I didn’t have much time for gaming. So, today I eagerly launched DoD:Source which I had preloaded a few days earlier… and was sadly disappointed.
The game itself is largely unchanged apart from being Source-ified which is both good and bad. It was nice to know most of the maps already, despite their new and frighteningly stunning clarity, as well as the basic classes and the useful routes / camping spots etc. What irked me is that the game itself had been dumbed down somewhat. Features which, at the time, differentiated DoD from other Mods such as bleeding, slow paced objective based gameplay and side weapon differentiation were either dropped or drastically tweaked.
What I find inexcusable however is that many of the old problems still linger. Despite the servers I have played on today having between 4 and 16 players the game frequently juddered and lagged particularly during explosions. The hitbox issue, allegedly solved in Day of Defeat, also reappears with some rather odd damage and hit patterns which can be very frustrating. What is even more peculiar, the game designers have appeared to have focused on beautifying the graphical side of the game considerably, adding odd looking ‘film grain’ effects as well as a kill cam with ‘Press F5 for snapshot’ and other useless ‘features’. Some of these additions are almost pretentious in the flashy way they are implemented especially given how inconsistent the effort appears to have been across other aspects of the game.
This is not to say the game is not fun to play and you can currently buy it for $4.99 (half price until the free play period expires) which is an absolute bargain, but I still think beta Day of Defeat 3.0 was the best version to date. I may have to fire it up with some sturmbots at some stage.
Graphics : 6.5/10 – Good but mostly thanks to the engine and sloppy in places.
Sound : 6 / 10 – Reasonable, but not earth-shattering – somehow feels less meaty than before.
Gameplay : 7 / 10 – Same classic DoD, but a little dumbed down and sadly nothing to distinguish it from other modern games.
Difficulty : 7 / 10 – Shallow learning curve and a wide range of players out there.
Overall : 66/100
Worth playing, but won’t keep you occupied for long.
In a somewhat surprising move, ID Software today announced they had begun development of Doom 4. This is not particularly earth shattering in itself given the spate of recent rumours to this effect, however the reason it surprised me was that ID Software are already fairly far into a project named ‘Rage‘ which appears to be a post-apocalyptic vehicle slash first person shooter based on ID Software’s Tech 5 Engine, currently in development. Whilst is would not be unusual to ID to be working on two games at the same time using the same engine (Quake 4 / Doom 3 anyone?), given the rumours circulating about a new Quake game, I didn’t think we would be seeing another Doom game so soon.
Judging by the Careers page, the extra staff ID Software are taking on for this project will be require ‘applicable skills’ for developing for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 platforms indicating ID Software are looking to make this a multi-platform game in much the same way as Doom 3 which was also released on the Xbox. This is, however, just early supposition on my part at this stage.
Doom 3 was criticised for being too dark, too broody, too linear and having too little variation. I disagree, having found it atmospheric and a lot of fun to play, but what worries me, is where ID takes us from here. Quake 4 didn’t really do it for me, I preferred Doom 3 for a number of reasons. The story was simpler and more elegant as was the environment. Whilst being a colonial marine and interacting with other marines and military equipment was fun in Quake 4; it felt a little over done and I never really bought into the whole Quake universe past Quake 2. There were, however, moments which I genuinely enjoyed not just because they brought something fresh into the ID-style FPS genre but also because they were quite unexpected. (Those that have completed Quake 4 will know of the Hospital section I am referring to!)
Doom 3 really was a no brainer in that it was classic Doom style game play with a modern engine, I will be decisively underwhelmed if ID are planning to just update the graphics for Doom 4.