Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Doom & Doom 2 Reviewed

Game:  Doom and Doom 2: Hell on Earth
Year (s):  1993 and 1994
Company:  dev.  id Software
            pub.  many
Engine:  id Tech 1
Type:  FPS
What I paid:  0, present
Game Time:  varies by difficulty, familiarity with levels, and percentage    completion


Doom:  Facilities located on the moons of Mars are researching teleportation.  Demons invade through portals.  You are a space marine.  You were left to guard the ship.  Your comrades went forth and died.  Now it's just you with a pistol.

Doom 2:  Demons invaded Earth!  You have to save humanity and go to the other side to stop the invasion.

General Comments

I'm writing about these because:

1.  It's the start of a franchise, and the break of id with Apogee
2.  They are iconic

This game came out the same time as the Apogee-published Blake Stone series.  As a result, Blake Stone did not do as well.  id had worked with Apogee on Wolfenstein, but for Doom, they were not together.  Both Doom and Blake Stone had a shareware version that featured the first episode.

Graphically, this added "vertical" to the shapes geometry established via Wolfenstein.  Note, this has only 90 degree angles, and while you can fall, you cannot jump.  Animation is still sprite-based.  Aside from doors and the end-level swich to throw, Doom/Doom 2 had other buttons to operate elevators, bridges, etc.


Midi music!

What is Unique?

This has a SLIGHT edge over Wolfenstein's "You're in a prison cell!  Nazis!" plot. 


It's not very revolutionary in combat, because it's setting the basics for combat for further games.  As compared to Wolfenstein, it introduces different ammo types.  And a chainsaw.

Actual fighting isn't very hard, with some strafing and running all the time.  Most enemy projectiles are slow and easily dodged.

Final Thoughts

This was a great game for the time.  Some Doom 2 levels (Barrels o' Fun, Gotcha, Tricks and Traps) are still fun to play.  Mostly, these are not as engaging as what we have come to expect, and as such, are more of a chore to play than they seemed at the time.  I would only recommend these out of nostalgia.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Unreal Tournament 2004 Review

Game:  Unreal Tournament 2004 (UT2K4)
Year:  ...2004
Company:  dev.  Epic Games, Digital Extremes
            pub.  Atari, MacSoft, Midway
Engine:  Unreal Engine 2.5
Type:  FPS with multiplayer emphasis
What I Paid:  $20 (?) on eBay
Game Time:  as long as you want

A Bit of Explanation

The second of the Unreal Tournament games was UT 2003.  It was titled as such because Epic thought to imitate sports games in releasing similar games annually.  Thus, UT2K3 used the Unreal Engine 2, and UT2K4 uses Unreal Engine 2.5.  These two titles have many similarities and share several maps.  As such, they are considered together to be "Unreal Tournament 2," justifying the most recent 2007 UT title to be called Unreal Tournament 3.

The Engines

Unreal Engine 2 and 2.5 are used in a whopping 80+  games, including the BioShock franchise, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell games, Red Orchestra, and the upcoming Duke Nukem Forever.  I suspect Epic may make more via licensing than by selling games.  Non-game simulations also used these engines.  From Wikipedia, "Until October 2007, more than 500 companies had an Unreal Engine 2 Runtime Licenses."

Lighting, water, and particle effects are decent for the time.  Everything is a little blocky, but you have to remember, this is BEFORE Source and id Tech 4 redefined expectations.

Game Types
With both a single player ladder campaign and ELEVEN built-in multiplayer game types (custom maps allow even more types, like Vehicle Capture the Flag), this has the most variety of any UT title.

This is by far the easiest game to LAN that I have ever played.

Mods and User-Created Content

In addition to coming with a variety of game-altering mutators, a slew of custom created mutators were created.  The most notable was the "RPG mod," which allows all characters to level up, gaining different bonuses as they kick ass.

Gobs of custom maps exist, most of them suck.  The best custom assault maps I've found are the half-hour, vehicles everywhere Confexia map, and a hard-to-find map called Utopia.

Horsehell Commons is a good Vehicle Capture the Flag map, also, one that starts with A that I do not currently have. 

Final Comments

UT2K4 might not be the prettiest game out there, but it's definitely worth the price for the amount of content.  I've probably played this more than any other shooters I currently own.

Unreal Tournament 4, which will use a new engine, is planned to come out along with the next generation of consoles (PS 4, Wii 2, etc) so it will probably be a couple more years before we see another Unreal title.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Unreal Tournament

Game:  Unreal Tournament
Year:  1999
Company:  dev.  Epic Games, Digital Extremes
            pub.  GT Interactive
Engine:  Unreal Engine
Type:  FPS with multiplayer emphasis
What I Paid:  ten bucks
Game Time:  from 12 hours to infinite

The Engine
Epic Games doesn't just make games, they make engines.  Licensing their engines for third party use might be worth more than game sales.  The first Untreal Engine was used in 25 games total, including Deus Ex, Star Trek titles, and Harry Potter titles.

Graphically, Unreal Engine was pretty comparable to other engines of the time, like id Tech 3 and the Halo engine.  Which brings us to our next topic of conversation.


For multiplayer PC shooters of the time, the big players were Unreal Tournament, Quake 3: Arena (and the expansion, Team Arena), and Halo: Combat Evolved.  They each have a single player campaign.  Of the three, Halo has a plot and has by far the best single player experience.

For multiplayer, Unreal has six game types, Quake 3 (with Team Arena) has 7, and Halo has 7, HOWEVER, Halo is the only one that does not have computer-controlled bot support.  Bots are easier to set up in Unreal than in Quake 3.

Changes from then to UT 2003/2004

Most of the weapons, with minor adjustments, carried through to later Unreal games.  Two were discarded, and one was nerfed.  The Ripper, that circular-saw shooting, ricochet-happy head chopper, gets eighty-sixed.  The melee... whatever it is, gets replaced by the similar but easier to use shield gun.  The Pulse Rifle is replaced by the nearly identical, but much weaker, Link Gun.

Some of the combatants carry on, such as Malcolm, Xan, Kragoth, Barktooth, some of the Skaarj, and a handful of other names.

And, the sniper-friendly map Facing Worlds returns later as "Face Classic."

So, Anything Else?

Well, I can leave a lot of things unsaid, because this franchise, and modes like deathmatch and CTF,  are pretty well known across the board.  It's a fun game, just like all the UT titles, and gives you something to kill time, with friends, or with bots.  If you don't have any FPS multiplayer games, this wouldn't be my first recommendation.  But if you're feeling nostalgic, it's something to do for a weekend or two.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Borderlands Robot Revolution and New Patch

Borderlands Claptrap DLC and Newest Patch

1.  Claptrap's Robot Revolution

If you've beaten the original game, you'll remember a claptrap turning in to a interplanetary ninja assassion robot.  Well, in this DLC, that robot starts a claptrap uprising.  Soon, claptraps are turning bandits, skags, Hyperion soldiers, and anything else in to cyborgs to fight you.  A few bosses (mostly from other DLC) return in cyborg form as well. 

After completing the main quest, you gain access to a bunch of loot that you can get to in about a minute after loading the game, and you can do it over, and over, and over.  MUCH better than Knoxx armory raids!

Some of the achievements are collections, based on random enemy drops.  I have spent at least twelve hours just killing claptraps, and still haven't earned them all.

The Robot Revolution offers about a weekend's worth of content, and it's priced around ten bucks, so it's about what one would expect.  Or, it's included in the Borderlands Game of the Year edition with all DLC (fifty bucks on Steam).

2.  The Newest Patch for Borderlands

...which you have probably already read about if you own Borderlands.  It ups the level cap by another eight, for a maximum of 69 (or 58 if you only have the main game).  The patch also levels all enemies to match you, so you'll never be overleved on a quest.  Higher level enemies means better loot, so this is a good thing all around.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Zero Casting Cost Deck

(edited Jan. 26)

The Zero-Casting Cost Deck- 60 cards

Zero-Cost Artifacts


4 Ornithopter
4 Memnite
4 Phyrexian Walker
4 Shield Sphere

(non-creature artifacts)

4 Welding Jar
4 Dark Sphere
4 Urza's Bauble
4 Mishra's Bauble
4 Tormod's Crypt

"Free" Creatures

4 Salvage Titan

Affinity Artifacts

4 Frogmite
4 Myr Enforcer
4 Tooth of Chiss-Goria
4 Scales of Chiss-Goria


4 Teetering Peaks