Monday, August 14, 2006

Flatout 2 - a very good stress reliever

It was a very busy stressful week, but I got to play a very good stress relieving game this weekend. It's called Flatout2 by Bugbear. It's very similar to the Burnout series which never came out to the PC. But now we have a very decent replacement for our destructive racing needs. The scenes are very destructable (unless you hit a tree). The game mode I like best is destruction derby which reminds of the classic game called Destruction Derby by Reflections who are known for their other classic Shadow of the Beast.

You need to try it out to appreciate the destructive nature of this game :)

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Cloud game - relaxing gameplay

If you want to try a relaxing game, then download the Cloud game. You will be in control of a dreaming girl that is able to fly and influence certain clouds. You need to guide this type of cloud near other similar clouds to enlarge the controlling cloud. You can then make any shape you want with the cloud or go near dark clouds to transform the clouds into rain and thunderstorms. It's a pretty relaxing game, and for being a university project, I must say it is very polished.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Narbacular Drop - unpolished portals game

Narbacular Drop is a game which is similar to what Portal's gameplay which will be distributed with HalfLife2 Episode 2. The major difference will be that you don't shoot to create a portal, but aim, click, hold and release.

The game's graphics are not polished, however the gameplay is there. If you want to grab the game, download it here.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

GTR2 - fun professional race driving

If you like racing games, then download the demo of GTR2 by SimBin. I usually don't like too-realistic games. But this racing simulation is awesome. It's so realistic that you feel like you're driving a real car. The view I prefer for racing games is a just-behind-car camera view. I don't like the first-person view. BUT for this game, the first-person view is so real and puts you right into the driving seat that once you try it, you won't go to another view. You will see the driver changing gears, pressing the clutch/gas/brake and the high-speed vibrations of the car which really give the finishing touch.

The demo starts with the default setting set to maximum help, such as:
- steering help,
- braking help,
- stability help,
- traction control,
- anti-lock breaking system (ABS).
The fun starts when you start turning off these one by one, and see how it effects your driving, especially when you turn off traction control. It takes lots of practice to master, but you will appreciate the professional drivers' skills. I suggest that you try this demo with a wheel jostick since you wouldn't enjoy it as much.

Call of Juarez

I tried out the demo for Call of Juarez which is a western FPS with cowboys, guns and horses. It has some interesting gameplay elements such as:
- focused shooting (where you go in a sort of bullet-time and you wait until the cross hairs are at a good point where you shoot, while you can lean to avoid the enemy's bullets)
- fire spreading
- horseback riding
- whip swinging
- duel quick draw (where you use your mouse to draw your weapons at a specific time to shoot your enemy... didn't feel like too much fun though)

Having pointed out these gameplay elements, it seems that none of them are polished enough. Hopefully it's because it is still a demo. For example, horse back riding felt a bit awkward. Whip swinging didn't feel right. The focused shooting feels like it's a bit retro. There's a part where you need to steel a horse. It was a bit irritating especially since when you get the horse, you only use for 20 seconds. Might as well walk it!! But nooo, you have to steal the flippin' horse!

The things I didn't like where the following:
- Facial animations where horrendous... it would have been better if they provided some comic strips instead of cutscenes.
- It takes way too much time to load. Hope they will fix this in the final release
- I don't have such an old system, and the graphics didn't seem like they were cutting edge at low settings, but still the frame rate was very low making the game almost unplayable (unless i look at the floor LOL).
- The weapons didn't feel too much responsive.
- If this was made 3rd person, it would have felt more like Max Payne and would be much controllable. Especially with the whip swinging and horse riding.
- You need a real high-end video card to enjoy playing the game at a decent frame-rate and enjoy the visuals of this game. But then again, the gameplay doesn't feel so polished.

If you try out the demo, don't forget to increase the brightness from the game settings since you won't be able to see the enemies.

The Ship - intriguing but slow gameplay

I tried out The Ship by Outerlight at a friend of mine. It is a combination between an RPG, an FPS but you are to kill a specific victim onboard of the ship. The gameplay is innovative, since it combines RPG elements (e.g. needs such as eating, sleeping, number 1 and number 2). But you must be a very patient player since you must explore a lot (you may get lost) and be careful to not get caught by some guards when you're with an axe in your hand for example.

Here are the things I didn't like about the game:
- too slow to explore the boat
- the environment is too dark and dull
- the needs get annoying (but I'm not an RPG kind of player :) )
- if you run out of money you can get stuck (couldn't buy food or drink)
- you won't know if someone is coming behind you to kill you
- takes too long to get some action

I'm sure that there are gamers who will like this game. But if you are an action gamer, you won't like this game much.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Dynamic portals not so new

There's some video dated back to E3 of 1998, where Paul Schuytema was showing off Prey at it's "early" stages. He shows some interesting stuff they were doing back at that time. They also showed off dynamic creation of portals which we are now seeing in Portal.

This is why games should be released much sooner. We should have been playing portal madness and destructable terrain since 1998!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Portal - now you're thinking in portals

Valve have released a video of the gameplay of another game called Portal which will be included in HalfLife2 Episode 2. The idea behind the game is that you can create a portal by firing a special bullet which when it hits some scenery the portal is opened. Then you fire another one to create the destination of the portal. Now this is new gameplay! Ok, we have seen portals in other games, but the possibility of creating portals yourself opens a new dimension. You start thinking in portals! The idea is simple, but it creates an interesting single player puzzle game. I don't think this can be a multiplayer game though. It would be too weird.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

ArkLight - breakout + shoot'em up

ArkLight is an action game with a combination from Breakout and shoot'em up games. You control this spaceship in a scrolling level, and you have to fire these energy balls that break the blocks in front of you to clear the path. These energy balls will bounce back and you can hit them back with your spaceship to bounce them somewhere else, or you could also direct them towards your ship to recollect them and restore your ship's energy.

It has a very shallow learning curve but addictive gameplay. At first the levels are quite easy but it gets hectic :).

Download ArkLight

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Wild Earth - virtual safari

Wild Earth has an FPS view, however you don't shoot and kill anything. You point and shoot photos of animals around you. At first I thought that it would be a dumb game, but after playing the demo I think it's quite a good game. At least the gameplay is different from the usual games. During the demo, I learnt a lot about elephants with the ongoing commentary. The game somehow hooks you to taking photos of animals and exploring. And at the end of the level, a web article is generated which can also be shared with your friends.

I must say, this game is a very good idea for edutainment.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Wii early in September/October?

Daily Tech and SCI FI Tech have reported that there's a big possibility that Wii will be coming two months earlier. They already started manufacturing the retail units! COOOOL. Unlike PS3.

Lets hope there won't be a shortage of Wii consoles when it launches.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

HalfLife2 Episode 1 - just finished it

Warning: possible spoiler?
I found some time to finish HalfLife2 Episode 1, and although there were no new gameplay elements, some levels where fun to play. Possibly coz the rocket launcher was introduced in the levels. I really liked the level in the warehouse where a Gunship hovers over the warehouse, shooting and destroying parts of the warehouse to try to hit you. All you have is a rocket launcher and gaps in the warehouse's wood panels. Nice level.

Another nice map was the one where you protect and rescue groups of allies to take the train. You have to go back and forth to rescue them. An APC comes along at one point and you have to take it down with the rocket launcher.

Also before you catch your train, a Strider tries to hunt you down and you have to hide and take him down with a rocket launcher. Yeah I admit, I love the rocket launcher. The guiding of missiles is a nice touch.

Lets hope that episode 2 will contain some interesting gameplay (and less creepy dark levels). I think that VALVe are now playing around with their technology to create fun-to-play maps, rather then introduce new gameplay ideas. Some complex physics puzzles would be nice.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Titan Quest - been there done that

Titan Quest is an RPG where you go through several ancient locations like the pyramids, parthenon etc etc. There's a lot of detail in the graphics, however there is no innovation in gameplay. It's the usual point-and-click-allocate-experience-points-do-magic-spells kind of game. Basically it's somewhere between Diablo and Dungeon Siege. If you liked these games, but want a different story and feel like you're a gladiator, then you will enjoy this game. If you were looking for something refreshening regarding gameplay in RPGs, it feels like quite the same as the others ... at least from the demo.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Armadillo Run

Armadillo Run is a neat indie game where you have to construct bridges made of cloth, metal and ropes and you need to make a ball (armadillo) roll over the bridge to arrive to a specific place. You need to be careful not to over-stress the parts of the bridge, coz otherwise it breaks down.

The user interface is very intuitive. You will start playing it in no time. Also you can create your own levels which is a great plus. You can also share your levels with others or download what others have created.

Grab the demo.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Indigo Prophecy

Indigo Prophecy (aka Fahrenheit) is now a bit old (released Oct 2005) however I got the chance to finally play the demo of this game. It is a thriller adventure game. Some guy apparently manages to possess other people and so is able to do murders at a distance. The interesting part of the game is the way you do actions which are done with mouse gestures. Another plus is that you can achieve a goal in a scene in many ways so there that open endedness feeling (but it's just a feeling mind you :) ). Also, you are shown what is happenning elsewhere while you're playing, like for example a policeman is coming towards the room you're in and so u have to hurry to do the actions required. The demo is quite short and you cannot skip cinematics if you want to replay the demo...argh!! I will try to buy a copy of this game when I have more free time on my hands :)

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Episodic content - not the holy grail for game releases

Ok, so far we have two games that have been converted to releasing of episodes: Half-Life 2 Episode 1 and SiN Episode 1. They are both available on Steam. Regarding SiN Episode 1 I still have to play it.

Valve had originally said that they will be releasing HL2 episodes every 6 months, but I've already read somewhere that the release date is Spring 2007. Now that isn't really 6 months away is it? I'm already not impressed by what I saw in HL2 ep 1, however Valve are promising that episode 2 will have something new. Sincerely I don't care much about either the G-man or the Vortigaunts. I remember in HL1 trying to kill the G-man but obviously they didn't attach any bullet collision detection with his mesh. Ok the story telling done by Valve is nice, but heck give me some new gameplay. It wasn't worth the 20$ IMHO. Maybe 10$ would have been better *grin*

I don't think episodes will become a major way of releasing games. They could have named HL2 episode 1 anything, HL players would have still bought it. Ideally the publishers should release an episode every 3 months. 6 months is too much (let alone a year). Gamers will soon learn that they play games to experience new challenging gameplay. If you give them the same gameplay but with an extension to the story they will get bored. There's already a statistic that only 22.75% have finished episode 1 although Valve has said that this could be a bug in their statistic collection. If new episodes just mean more story telling, I prefer buying the season of 24 or X-files rather than a 5hr game with no new gameplay.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Prey demo - nice ideas

I have to say I was very sceptical about Prey but after launching the demo I got hooked.

You start in a bar where your girlfriend works and some drunk guys try to grab her. So you take your pipe-wranch and BAMMM! Then the room starts to shake, a spaceship appears and starts sucking everything up. In the background Blue Oyster Cult's Don't Fear the Reaper starts playing which really sets the right mood for some action.(I remember hearing the tune in some Steven King movie)

You're sucked into this spaceship which seems like some alien torture chamber. The Doom3 engine really sets the right atmosphere with it's dark shadows, but at least the lighting is adequate in this game (unlike Doom 3...buuaaah...I remember installing a mod called duct tape which made possible the use of a flash light with the gun heh)

There are some weird things which introduce some interesting gameplay ideas in an FPS:
  • Gravity paths - these are paths which have a gravitational pull and if you walking it you may end up walking up a wall or even walk on the ceiling.
  • Gravity switching - you can shoot a switch and the gravity changes to that floor which hosts the switch.
  • Spirit switching - you leave your body to use your spirit to reach some places which can't be reached with your physical body
Then there are some other interesting things that happen during the demo. The game makes use of portals and at one point you see yourself through a portal and so can end up walking after yourself, weird feeling hehe. Another interesting part was that you get shrunk into a container and you see a huge alien coming towards this container and then decides to join the fun inside the container.

I can't wait to play this multiplayer with my friends. Should be interesting.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Videos of Wii-mote @ Gameworld Network

Gameworld Network has an interesting collection of high quality streaming videos of the Wii-mote in action. Check'em out.

HalfLife2 Episode 1 - no new gameplay?

HL2 ep1 feels even more like an interactive movie which at one point made me really edgy - i was with just a torch light (which damn it doesn't last long enough), hearing those zombines coming towards me and the ammo is not enough to kill them all. Yeah I admit, I'm scared of the dark ... and when I get too scared i hit Alt-F4 ;)

I'm still not convinced about the naming of episodes. Maybe it's about time that gamers stop expecting a 20hrs+ worth of gaming from an FPS. Valve are doing an excellent job at pushing the technologies to deliver an emotional experience while playing.

However I prefer games which don't play with my emotions and don't make my bladder explod. They should concentrate more on gameplay. Ok, so the gravity gun was an interesting weapon for HL2 and the use of physics with it, but now it's already old. There seems to have been a lot of attention to detail in the levels and the animations. Agreed. However I don't think you'll see any new gameplay in HL2 ep1.

I still have to finish HL2 ep1, once I get back some courage to continue it :) Then i'll add another post.

Monday, June 19, 2006

LocoRoco - bubbly action online

LocoRoco is very similar to Chronic Logic's Gish however LocoRoco looks more cartoonish and doesn't have a dark theme like Gish.

In LocoRoco you control an orange blob around a level - a sort of platform game but with more physics thrown in. The blob deforms and bounces realistically thanks to some physics acting on it. The controls are easy, and game concept is simple but it looks really fun to play.

Check out an online playable demo of LocoRoco (requires Flash) - see if you like it or not. Now if only I had a PSP ... hmmm.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Eets - interesting gameplay

Eets is a very interesting game where your task is to place objects at a certain place to make Eets, a highly-emotional cute animal, arrive to a puzzle piece. Some of these objects can be marshmallows that change how Eets will behave when they are eaten, e.g. when he's afraid he won't jump when he arrives at an edge of a platform, but just turn back. You can also place explosive objects and lots of other stuff. These objects are placed in a sort of sandbox controlled by a consistent physics engine which makes the game more interesting. You must try it out to see what I mean. Also, its cartoonish backgrounds somehow remind me of Day of the Tentacle.

Another cool thing about this game is that you can create your own levels with a very easy to use interface. Or you can download more levels that other people are doing and posting on the Eets community website.

Grab yourself a copy of the demo.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Wii to change how we play?

Most of you have already heard about nintendo's Wii which hopefully will be available in November 2006 :D

For those who don't know what's so special about the Wii, here's a video from E3 2006. There are some important people from nintendo who play a game of virtual tennis. You will see that this will open a thousand possibilities for new gameplay ideas.

For more interesting videos you can also visit's Wii's website.