Monday, November 28, 2011

Far Cry Review

Game:  Far Cry
Year (s):  2004
Company:  dev.  Crytek
            pub.  Ubisoft
Engine:  CryEngine
Type:  First-Person Shooter

Price (as of 11-28-2011 )

Regular price on Steam:  9.99
Lowest Buy-It-Now on eBay (new, with shipping):  6.99

Game Time:  31 hours, first time, default difficulty

Obligatory Trailer:


Former special forces soldier Jack Carver is hired by Valerie Constantine to sail her to a remote island.  While approaching, a missile destroys the boat.  Val is captured by a mercenary force.  Jack washes ashore and sets to rescue her.  While in the process of murdering mercenaries and making merry mayhem, Jack disrupts the island's operations enough so that the hyper-aggressive experimental creatures break loose.  The tropical paradise becomes a warzone.

The plot, in general, works.  There were a couple QUITE anti-climactic spots that annoyed me though.  A nuclear bomb blows up... exactly one building!  The island's volcano, we are told, has been kept from erupting by the bad guys.  After you defeat the bad guys... it continues to not erupt.  The game ends on a fizzle that easily allowed for a sequel.

Hi, We are Crytek

This was the first game by Crytek, so I'm willing to cut it some slack.  It had features not seen in other games, and was a success.  Wikipedia tells me that 730,000 units were sold within the first four months of release.

Far Cry runs on their fancy CryEngine, which was quite competetive at the time of release.  Far Cry grew out of technology demo made to showcase the capabilities of NVIDIA GeForce 3 video graphics accelerator.  Graphically, it had higher system requirements than other offerings.  I don't notice a big difference visually over the other top engines of the year (id Tech 4, Source, Unreal Engine 2/2.5) but for one thing: scope.  Areas between load points are relatively enormous. 

But the engine has major problems.  This game crashed every time I exit it.  I then have to have Steam verify file integrity and download some files.  Launching the game after that, I have to re-spec graphics options and key bindings.  Every time.  Additionally, the game sometimes crashed on launch, restarting the computer.  I had worse problems with Painkiller, but these issues are good motivation to not play the game.


This was one of the early open-world games.  You have some (limited) options for approaching firefights, so players might proceed a little differently.  Cover is a big deal, and there is a meter on the HUD to show how alert the enemies are to your presence.  It's hard to find (and evade) targets with the underbrush, but you have some tricks.  You can throw rocks to distract enemies, you have binoculars that give a rough location of enemies and put them on your radar, and you have limited use of infrared. 


This was the biggest inconsistency of the game.  Sometimes, I'd play for two hours and enjoy an intense, challenging experience.  Other times, I'd play for an hour on the same damn firefight.  I played on default (difficulty 2 of 5).  On a singular basis, enemies were easy to take out.  In groups, they will flank you, provide covering fire, throw grenades, and use cover.  Solid AI, that increases with difficulty.  The parts I got stuck on I eventually beat (after 10-30 attempts) after memorizing each enemy position and scoring headshots.  That's far too methodical (and frustrating) for me.  The last fighting segment was impossible and I watched the ending of the game on YouTube.

Expansions / DLC / Sequels

Far Cry 2, developed by Ubisoft alone, came out in 2008.  Far Cry 3 (also just Ubisoft) was announced at E3 2011 with no set release date.

A film based the game was released in Germany in 2008.

Final Thoughts

We have here a game that was very, very interesting at the time of release.  If there was a patch to address the bugs and allow quicksaves, I'd be a lot happier.  As it is, this is a bipolar game.  Fantastic for the first offering of a new company with a new engine, but a far cry from the phenomenally fun second offering, Crysis.  Skip this one. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Games I LIked 2011

These games might not have come out in 2011, but I've played them in the last year and they stood out from a lot of others.  I'd recommend them (I had a similar list in September 2010).  In no particular order: 

Good story telling, fast pace, and intense combat.  Character's Nanosuit powers allow for multiple different combat strategies in any situation.

Fear 2: Project Origin
Intense, satisfying firefights and a creepy-as-shit atmosphere, combined with a dark, twisted plot.

Unreal Tournament 3
Good for multiplayer.  Good for single player.  Campaign has more story than all other Unreal games combined, along with some humor, branching options, and some challenging maps.  Also, a great engine with lots of fan-made maps and use by other developers.

Dead Space
Quality survival-horror.  Freaky monsters, creepy atmosphere and story.  Constantly being low on everything makes gameplay frantic, and forces you to use more than just your favorite gun.

Max Payne
Surprisingly challenging combat and ridiculously over-done dialogue make this one a lot of fun, even if it's old.

Yet another game with some horror appeal.  BioShock also has beautiful water effects and myriad approaches to building your character, leading players to pick it up again.  The story is solid and has some great twists.

It's not as intense as Fallout 3 (or a sandbox game) but it has just as much game time, if not more.  This more laid-back approach is amusing, and the variety of character options give cause to play it multiple times.

Fallout New Vegas: Old World Blues
I really, really wish this could be a stand-alone game.  Old World Blues has the familiar gameplay of Fallout 3/New Vegas, but goes after everything with a great sense of humor.  I laughed out loud several times playing this DLC.  It's really good (Note: I do NOT recommend New Vegas... just this DLC for it).

There you go.  Right in time for the holidays.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Deus Ex Review

Game: Deus Ex
Year (s):  2000
Company:  dev.  Ion Storm Inc.
            pub.  Eidos Interactive
Engine:  Unreal Engine (modified)
Type:  FPS RPG

Price (as of 11/15/2011)

Regular price on Steam:  $9.99
Lowest Buy-It-Now on eBay (new, with shipping):  $13

Game Time:  30 hours

Obligatory Trailer:


You are among the first prototypes for a nanite-enhanced special agent of UNATCO (UN Anti-Terrorist Coalition).  A plague is threatening humanity, and terrorists have stolen a shipment of the vaccine.  You have to recover it.  Along the course of events, the plot evolves into a secret organization's vast conspiracy to take over the world.  Game is set in 2052.

Secondary objectives and other options throughout the game allow for some deviation from linear gameplay, and three different endings. 

Then and Now

I actually had a blog entry about this game before.  When I first played this game in college, my definition of a shooter game was defined by Doom, Quake, Half-Life, and a few other similar games.  Deus Ex is not like those.  Taken from the original (now deleted) post, "I got this game from someone that didn't care for it, for free.  I didn't enjoy it and gave it to my brother.  He didn't care for it and gave it to a friend, who didn't care for it and threw it away, or possibly set it on fire."

I just replayed this game and thought it deserved a better review.  I enjoyed it this time around.  There were a lot of elements that had not been used in shooters before (at least from what I've played), which made this a great game from the creative stand point. 

Modified Unreal Engine and New Stuff

Graphics are as can be expected.  The immediately noticeable result of engine modification is the amount to which the player can interact with the environment.  Break boxes, talk to people, read notes, enter codes, pick up items, a GUI inventory, hack computers, pick locks...  Most of these ideas went on to be embraced by other games.  This game also introduced me to sneaking around, which I generally don't have the patience for.

Skills and Augmentations

Lockpicking, weapon classes, swimming, and various other skills can be leveled up by spending experience points.  Experience is gained by progressing through the game and by exploring.  At master level for Rifles, the sniper rifle has no bob and 100% accuracy.  At the untrained level for Rifles, your sniper rifle bobs all over and can miss point blank.  There is not enough experience to level everything all the way, not even close.  Deciding what to spend the points on allows different ways to play through the game.

Augmentations are nanite super powers.  The energy to activate these is independent of ammunition.  Each augmentation allows only one of two choices.  For example, you can have an ability that increases your resistance to toxins, or an ability that increases lung capacity.  Once you pick one, you can't get the other.  Further, augmentation upgrades are occasionally found.  Again, there are not enough to max out everything, so this, too, allows different ways to play the game.


Each weapon has its own class.  Some weapons are silent, which is good if you want to sneak around.  Ammo scarcity forces players to use more than one weapon, while the inventory system only allows so many items/weapons to be carried at a time.  Furthermore, modifications can be added to increase a weapon's range, recoil, accuracy, clip size, or to add a silencer (these stack).  Many weapons have more than one type of ammunition, another first for me.

Expansions / DLC / Sequels

A sequel titled Deus Ex: Invisible War released in 2003.  Deus Ex: Human Revolution, was released in 2011.

Final Thoughts

I didn't like this in college because I refused to sneak around and didn't like problems that couldn't be solved with bullets.  Now I have more appreciation for the varied ways to complete objectives and progress throughout the game.  Still not my favorite PC game of all time (though it consistently ranks extremely high in publication lists for that), but there really are a lot of innovative gameplay elements considering when it came out.  This game is cheap with long game time and reasons to play it more than once.  If you don't mind dated graphics, this is considered by critics to be a benchmark of the genre. 

An article about the company, Ion Storm and some of its employees, will be forthcoming.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Duke Nukem Forever Review

Game:  Duke Nukem Forever
Year (s):  2011
Company:  dev.  3D Realms, Triptych Games, Gearbox Software, Piranha Games
            pub.  2K Games, Aspyr Media
Engine:  Unreal Engine 3
Type:  First-Person Shooter

Price (as of 11/7/11 )

Regular price on Steam:  19.99
Lowest Buy-It-Now on eBay (new, with shipping):  17.99

Game Time:  12 hours

Obligatory Trailer:

12 years after Duke Nukem saved the world, he's living it up as a celebrity.  Then, the aliens strike again, destroying stuff, killing people, and, worst of all, stealing our women.  Looks like Duke will have to save the day again.

Nudity and Humor

DKF has less boobs than the original.  Two consecutive areas have topless women, the rest of the game just has an occassional calendar on the wall or magazine on a desk. 

The sexual references though, are all over the place.  The humor is the same as the original.  I've outgrown a lot of the juvenile humor, but there's still something to smirk about here and there.

The Long Development

This game was in developed for fifteen years,  The engine was changed several times, the publishing rights were tossed around, and the original company went under.  Four developing studios worked on this game.  Taking that clusterfuck in to consideration, I'm pretty satisfied with how the game turned out.  After beating the game, you unlock concept art, screenshots, trailers, and a timeline spanning the years of development. 

Gameplay and Critics

I last played the original Duke maybe ten years ago.  All of the weapons and enemies I remember return.  The game adds vehicles, some platforming parts, and areas where you have been shrunk.  Different parts of the game look to be from other titles: physics puzzles a la Half Life 2, the "I can see my arms and legs!" from FEAR, and so on.  A regenerating health bar requires finding cover.  You can carry 2-4 weapons, and you have to reload.  This is definitely a sequel, but it is not a throwback shooter.  Anyone that says it is hasn't played Serious Sam or Painkiller.

Critics hated this game, and it has a horrible metascore.  Fuck that.  This is a fun, sometimes silly game.  Given the messy development process, anyone that expected some ground-breaking game was an idiot.  If you liked the first you'll like this.  It should have a metascore of around 80, if everyone got their heads out of their asses and played the game to enjoy it instead of playing the game to bitch about it.

That being said, the AI is basic, the combat easy, and the levels pretty linear.

Final Thoughts

This is not a great game, but this is an alright game.  It's better than a lot of the 12 hour forgettable crap that gets churned out lately.  Is it worth twenty bucks?  Well, it's short, so I'd wait until it goes on sale.  On the other hand, twenty bucks for a new game is dirt cheap.  To each their own.