Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sniper Elite and American Nightmare

I have updated "the first post."  This includes dates of reviews and has been rearranged.  Here is the link:  http://fpsandmtg.blogspot.com/2010/08/first-post.html  I don't update that as often as I should.

Game:  Sniper Elite
Year (s):  2005
Company:  dev.  Rebellion
pub.  MC2 France
Engine:  Asura
Type:  Stealthy Shooter
Viewpoint:  Mostly Third-Person
GameRanking Score: 73
My Score:  Why did I buy this in the first place?


At the tail end of WW2's European theater, you take on the role of an American sniper, disguised as a German, dispatching Russian targets.  The cold war began before the world war ended.


Rebellion has continually used, and improved, the Asura engine since 2003.  Graphical quality, therefore, has a large range.  As a 2005 game, this was not a contender.  While I didn't hit any glitches in the brief time I played this game, the graphics were, at best, comparable to UT 2K4.


Army-crawl from one point of cover to another, take a couple of shots, and then crawl away before the enemy pinpoints your position.  Ideally, fire in sync with bombs or thunder.  Optional aiming problems include wind, bullet fall, and breathing.  I found this game style, while more realistic, tedious at best.  Everyone has their own line between challenging and stupid, and this crossed it for me.

Expansions / DLC / Sequels

Sniper Elite V2 was a remake that came out in 2012.  It looks better, and has at least one DLC.

Final Thoughts

I'm not good at sniping, and I don't like being forced to sneak around.  This game just wasn't my type.

Alan Wake's American Nightmare

Alan Wake's American Nightmare has a few things in common with Alan Wake's DLC: the plot is garbage and the game is short.  This is compounded by cakewalk combat and poor writing.  Play Alan Wake.  It's good.  Don't play anything else associated with the franchise.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Alan Wake Review

Game:  Alan Wake
Year (s):  2010 (XBox 360), 2012 (PC release)
Company:  dev.  Remedy Entertainment
pub.  Microsoft Game Studios et al.
Engine:  MAX-FX 3.0 using Havok physics and Umbra occlustion
Type:  Survival Horror, Shooter
Viewpoint:  Third-Person
Metacritic Score: 83
My Score:  A refreshingly good game.

Price (as of April 8, 2013)

Regular list price on Steam:  $29.99
Lowest Buy-It-Now on eBay (new, with shipping):  $12.99

My Game Time:  23 hours, first time on easy, including both DLC

Obligatory Trailer:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AF2ZdvBtp1k


Alan Wake, a successful author a la Stephen King, has writer's block.  His wife, Alice, takes him on a retreat.  After getting to their cabin on Cauldron Lake, the two get in an argument, and Alan goes down to the dock to cool off.  Some time later Alice screams.  Alan runs to help, and dives in to the lake.

The next thing you know, Alan's in a wrecked car with his head bleeding.  He fights shadowy figures that disappear when defeated.  He gets to a gas station to call for help, to find that a week has gone by.  The sheriff picks him up, and tells him that there is no cabin on Cauldron Lake.

It's a great start, and the plot really motivated me to keep playing.  This has more story than I've come to expect, with nods to Twilight Zone, Stephen King, and others.  The ending ties up most of the mystery, but leaves a couple of big questions unanswered that could be addressed in further games.

The plot is told in acts.  Each act ends with an song to sum up events.  This is a cool idea and they implemented it well.  Oh, by the way, the plot is by the Sam Lake, the same guy that wrote for Max Payne.


MAX-FX 3.0 is the newest engine from the developers that brought us Max Payne.  Graphics are significantly better than the last Max Payne title, while the third-person view, some of the sounds, level design, and the general look feel familiar.  As a port of a 2010 console game, it is not in the running for cutting-edge beautiful, but it works and I didn't snag on any bugs.

Save System

Manual Save? No
Quick Save?  No
Area Load Save?  Yes
Checkpoint Save?  Yes


Enemies are protected by The Dark Presence, so you'll have to burn their darkness away before you can hurt them.  Flashlights, floodlights, flares, flashbangs, anything will do.  Then a limited arsenal of firearms finishes the task.  This allows for the novelty of R to reload guns, and Q to replace flashlight batteries.

I tried playing the game on normal, but ran out of ammo.  There is no melee attack, so I started over on easy.  I'm not sure what I could have done on normal; I don't play a great deal of survival horror, limited-ammo games.

Expansions / DLC / Sequels

"The Signal," and, "The Writer," are two very short DLC.  These add a small amount of additional gameplay, but don't do anything to move the story forward..

Alan Wake's American Nightmare, "is not a sequel."  It take place after the first though, with the same gameplay and some of the same characters.  This came out in 2012.

Remedy has said that they are not done with Alan Wake yet, and there is a lot of speculation for Alan Wake 2, but no information yet.  There was a web-based miniseries prequel to Alan Wake created called, "Bright Falls."

Final Thoughts

This was a longer article because Alan Wake has more to offer than a lot of the cheap games I grab on sales.  While the DLC were pretty limp fare, I thoroughly enjoyed Alan Wake from start to finish.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Far Cry 2 Review

Game:  Far Cry 2
Year (s):  2008
Company:  dev.  Ubisoft Montreal
pub.  Ubisoft
Engine:  Dunia
Type:  Open-world, Shooter
Viewpoint:  First-Person
Metacritic Score:  85
My Score:  Average enough to play something better.

Price (as of March 24, 2013)

Regular list price on Steam:  $9.99
Lowest Buy-It-Now on eBay (new, with shipping):  $10

Obligatory Trailer:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMTDjKusVqY

See Also- Far Cry Review:


You're a mercenary sent into a war-torn African region to kill an arms dealer.  You catch malaria instead, and get caught up in the civil war, all the while hoping to track down and kill the arms dealer.

Dunia Engine

This looks ok, but not the best at the time.  AI is much dumber than in Far Cry.

Save System

Manual Save?  Yes
Quck Save?  Yes
Area Load Save?   Not sure
Checkpoint Save?  Yes


Grab three weapons and some medkits, get in a vehicle, and start killing.  Standard fare for the genre.

Far Cry 2 does a couple of things that really turn me off.  First, the setting, plot, characters, environments, and enemies have abolutely nothing to do with the first game.  Secondly, Far Cry 2 had a different developing company.  As is sometimes the case, the gameplay was starkly dissimilar to the first.  These factors all together left me disappointed and wondering why it had the Far Cry name at all.  

Expansions / DLC / Sequels

A DLC called Foturne's pack added some new weapons, vehicles, and multiplayer maps.

Far Cry 3, also by Ubisoft, came out in 2012.  It had gotten fairly good reviews and has been described as, "Skyrim with guns."

Final Thoughts

This here's an average game at best, with the added satisfaction-level of such sequels as Highlander 2, Fievel Goes West, or The Lion King 1 1/2.