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.