Thursday, July 28, 2011

Heretic Review

Game: Heretic
Year (s):  1994 (Heretic), 1996 (Shadows of the Serpent Riders)
Company:  dev.  Raven Software
            pub.  id Software
Engine: Doom Engine (id Tech 1)
Type:  First-Person Shooter
Game Time:  12-15 hours recently on default difficulty

Obligatory Video:


You should realize that these old games aren't plot driven.  Nonetheless.  The Serpent Riders came to your world and brainwashed everyone except for your race, the elves.  Your race was then labeled as heretics, hunted and scattered.  You, an elven wizard, set out to defeat the Serpent Rider D'Sparil and his undead army to free your world from his evil grip.

Is it like Doom?

Same engine as Doom, and a few of the same sound effects.  Most of the weapons have different models but are functionally the same as the chainsaw, pistol, chaingun, rocket launcher, and plasma rifle.  One enemy is nearly identical to the Pinky Demons, but the rest are more original.  You still flip switches, look for keys, and operate a special switch (or step in to a portal) to end  levels.

The main separation between Heretic and Doom is the inventory.  You can carry a variety of single-use items to use at will.  These include torches (light source), wings (flight), health vials, half-ass grenades, tomes that power up your weapons (or at least, makes them function in a different way), and other offensive/miscellaneous items.

As this runs on the Doom engine, I highly recommend zDoom.  The inventory system is too cumbersome to use without key re-binding, and I'm too out of practice from the old, contorted control setup to accomplish anything.

Expansions / DLC

Shadows of the Serpent Riders added two additional episodes to the original three.  Akin to The Ultimate Doom's They Flesh Consumed, these episodes feature more challenging maps.  While the original was easy on default, these had some tough spots.

Final Thoughts

Pretty much any game from the first and second generation of shooters is going to have parts where you'll get frustrated looking for the damn switch/key, and use a cheat to move on without it.  Heretic is no exception.  While new monsters and an inventory are nice additions to the genre, this is, largely, more Doom.  I bought this recently because I'd played it as a kid and it was cheap.  If you won't have any nostalgia going in, I don't think you'll get much out of this one.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Jokulhaups Deck

this deck might be tweaked after i play it more, but this is the general idea.

Jokulhaups Deck
60 Card Format
Black, Red


4 Jokulhaups
3 Obliterate
2 Devastation
3 No Mercy

4 Sewer Nemesis
3 Guiltfeeder
2 Mortivore

4 Black Market
3 Darksteel Ingot

2 Mana Seism
4 Dark Ritual
3 Seething Song
4 Rite of Flame


4 Sulfurous Springs
2 Blackcleave Cliffs
2 Peat Bog
2 Sandstone Needle
4 Darksteel Citadel
5 Mountains
5 Swamps

Ideally you cast Black Market,  then Jokulhaups (or similar), then use the mana from Black Market  to cast Guiltfeeder (or similar).  Failing that, there are enough mana sources to do alright anyway.

It's a fun deck because you get to blow everything up.  It's WAY better than the dozen  half-ass Jokulhaups decks I found with google. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Singularity Review

Game:  Singularity
Year (s):  2010
Company:  dev.  Raven Software
            pub.  Activision
Engine:  Unreal Engine 3
Type:  First-Person Shooter
Game Time:  10 hours, first time, default difficulty


In the 1950's, the USSR discovered a new element on the island of Katorga 12.  The island was then used as a research and development base until an accident killed the inhabitants.  The base was shut down and abandoned.

In 2010, unusual radioactive readings are coming from the island, and a few choppers of US black ops are sent to investigate.  An anomaly sends you back in time, where you save someone from dying in a fire.  An anomaly then returns you to an altered present, where the USSR has conquered the world.  You must use your military skills and a nifty Time Manipulation Device (TMD) to restore history to its rihgtful course.

Back story is filled in by recovered notes, audio recordings, and ghosts.


A short jog into the game, you'll find this item.  It continues to grow more powerful as you progress.  It can age enemies to death in combat, or shove them away.  It can be used as a gravity gun.  It can age scripted objects to decay, or do the opposite to rubble.

For the most part, the TMD is only particularly useful against bosses or in simple puzzles between firefights. 

Other Time Stuff

You move back and forth between the 1950's and the present a few times in the course of the story.  The sniper rifle, while scoped, has the ability to stop all enemies for a brief period.  One sniper rifle alternative allows you to steer rounds in slow motion.

Combat and Upgrades

There are a variety of weapons, but you can only carry two at a time.  Weapons can be upgraded.  You can also upgrade general things (like carrying more medkits) and TMD abilities.  There is a finite number of upgrades, so a second play could let you explore some different powerups. 

Combat is easy.  I blazed through this on default, even against the bosses.

Final Thoughts

Near the end, you can choose to be good or bad.  A second play would allow you to make the other choice here, and see a different ending.  I think it would have been very intuitive for the developers to incorporate several points where you can make a choice, and then you can see how it plays out when you're whisked back to the present.  It's a game about time!  But, they didn't. 

Singularity isn't bad; I had fun playing it.  That being said, it was short, easy, and some of the ideas could have easily been expanded upon for a more interactive, complex experience.

If you need something to do for a weekend and there's a good sale on Singularity, maybe give it a go.  If you miss out on this one, you won't be missing out on much.