Posts Tagged ‘PC

10
Oct
08

Good Gaming Friday: Fahrenheit

…or Indigo Prophecy if you were unlucky enough to be born in the United States and have marketing people give the game a much less cool-sounding name.

Fahrenheit – PC/PS2/XBOX/360

As this was released relatively recently (2005), I would presume most people have heard of this game. Billed by the makers as ‘anything but a standard third-person action adventure’ * the game focuses on three main characters; two police officers, Carla, the female one, Tyler, the stereotypical African-American one, and Keanu Reeves Lucas, the more-main-than-the-others character. He is not a cop.

You may have noticed already that this review isn’t taking itself too seriously. The principal reason for this is that after a certain point in the game, it becomes very hard to take Fahrenheit seriously at all. Before this point, I would list Fahrenheit as one of the best third-person adventure games I’ve played, but afterwards, as a friend says: “It all goes a bit batshit.” The plot starts as a suspenseful murder-mystery, as you control Lucas evading the police and trying to prove his innocence, whilst also playing the part of the police officers trying to track him down. So noir, so good. You even influence the scenarios the other characters will face, such as whether you hide/find evidence, ask/answer questions, and build good/bad relations with friends and family members.

Do you hide the body? Do you wash your hands? Did you flush? Do you change your fashion sense to look less like a homicidal maniac?

Almost everything in-game is timed somehow, so that you act on the spur of the moment, and as naturally as possible. This includes having only a few seconds to answer questions in, or 24-esque split screen moments as you attempt to accomplish a task before the police arrive. Most of the game’s actions are controlled using the two analogue sticks on the controller, or (in what I found the easiest way) a combination of WSAD and the Arrow keys on the PC. This control method works superbly at first, meaning you can get involved in the game from the off, without having to worry about learning fiddly button combinations. Action sequences are controlled in a similar way, with either two flashing circles corresponding to a combination of the directions you can press, or a bashing of certain buttons to perform an action.

However, as you progress through the game, you realise that’s it. Aside from a shooting-range section, there’s never more to do in action scenes than match on-screen flashes, like a European arthouse version of Parappa The Rapper.  Then, as you start to get a bit tired of this, the ‘batshit’ kicks in, and the action scenes are a direct rip off highly influenced by The Matrix.

Lucas Kane. An average guy, hanging onto an average helicopter, in the midst of an average pre-apocalyptic blizzard.

Once things start going weird, the game falls apart very quickly. What was once a suspense-filled game, that drew you into the plot perfectly, is now a by-numbers videogame pile of rubbish, with important characters and plot-points ‘revealed’ no more than an hour before the game ends. It all descends into one of the most disappointing end-fights in gaming history, where it’s the same old action mechanics, and, (edited to remove the most stupid spoiler in history.)

I couldn’t find any action shots of Carla, so here she is in her underwear instead.

Overall, Fahrenheit is a rewarding game experience for the first half, and then unbelievably stupid for the second half. It’s worth the 1200 Points currently on the Xbox Live marketplace (approx. £10) but that’s all.

Pros: Strong starting story, easy-to-learn controls, non-pretentious nudity.

Cons: Weak second half, controls get repetitive, two annoying stealth sections.

Demo for the PC

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27
Apr
08

Sunday Catch-Up#2: Good Gaming Friday: System Shock

“L-look at you h-hackers, a p-p-pathetic creature of m-meat and b-bones…”

No, I haven’t suddenly turned into Gareth Gates, that’s the near infamous line quoted to you during the Sound Test part of the install to an all-time PC classic that nobody bought:

System Shock – PC (DOS)

System Shock is a name many PC gamers might know, a cult classic from 1994, that brought so many new ideas to PC gaming, that the reason it flopped sales-wise is still a mystery. The game itself is a first-person action/adventure game. If you want it that way. Or it could be a first-person shooter. Or a purely puzzle-based first-person adventure. One of the innovations System Shock included was the ability to assign four ‘levels’ to different aspects of the game, such as Puzzles and Combat. A ‘1’ would practically remove it from the game, for instance in Combat, enemies would ignore you, and be killable in one hit. A ‘4’ in Puzzles would give you the hardest variations of the puzzles available and set a time-limit on the game.

The reason for a potential time-limit is that the game is set on the Citadel space station orbiting Earth, circa 2072. The rogue AI, which you helped to remove the ethics-restrictions on, SHODAN, has taken over the station, killed or zombified the inhabitants, and plans to strike the Earth with the station’s giant mining laser. Thus, it’s up to you to thwart SHODAN, and also to survive.

The environment is rendered in full-3D, in comparison to Doom II’s 2.5D graphics, which allows you to perform a variety of actions not found in most games of the time, such as looking up and down, climbing surfaces, crouching and leaning, and more. There was even mouse-based aiming, numerous amounts of digital speech, and high-resolution graphics.

Look! Real 3D! Take that Doom…and your sweet, sweet deathmatch and..oh, yes, System Shock forever!

So, aside from the technical marvels, what makes System Shock so fun to play? Darting from corridor to corridor, low on effective ammunition, SHODAN contacting and taunting you at every step, the game is an early example of the survial horror, except viewed from a first-person perspective. It’s hard to beat the adrenaline rush the game can give you at times, and the, using an ominous-looking headset, the gameplay changes entirely, as you get sent into cyberspace.

The Internet: Apparently it *is* actually a series of tubes.

The cyberspace areas of the game can best be described as a wireframe version of another PC classic, Descent. Without wanting to spoil the plot of the game, I advise getting used to the different controls, as cyberspace is used to open locked doors and the like, as well as combat certain enemies. And yes, the plot. Unravelled over time via the personal logs you find dotted around the space station, you get to follow the last days of the crew of the Citadel, hearing their panicked voices contemplate what’s to come, and how they try to figure a way to defeat SHODAN, and was a device picked up in System Shock 2, and of course, the spiritual successor to the series, Bioshock.

You can also zoom the playing screen to full-size to remove that pesky inventory. Who needs health when you have a laser-gun?

Overall, System Shock is a game that needs to played not just because it shows how far PC games have really come in the past 14 years, which aside from advances in graphics, is not very much, but also because it’s cracking good fun to play as well.

Pros: Amazing content, even for today. One of the best computer-game villains ever.

Cons: Outdated graphics, one annoying platform jumping section near the beginning, tricky to get running on modern PCs.

22
Apr
08

Good Gaming Friday: Sanitarium

As part of my attempt to have my blog updated as much as possible, welcome to my first Good Gaming Friday. In this (hopefully) weekly article, I’ll take a look at the game which has impressed upon me the most in the past week, or a look at some classic games which deserve mentioning. This week’s inaugural edition kicks off with Sanitarium on the PC.

Sanitarium is a point-and-click adventure game, released in 1998, which features the player as an inmate of an insane asylum, who wakes up with game-convenient-amnesia in the midst of an evacuation, due to a fire in another section of the asylum. Straight off, the game’s rich atmosphere hits you in a face like a brick wall, thanks to the inmate who’s hitting his face against a brick wall nearby, and the cowering gibbering wrecks of your other fellow detainees. To get things straight, which is a slight oxymoron with this game, Sanitarium does it’s level-most best to keep the player perpetually in the dark about your own character’s sanity, with a constant barrage of surreal locations and situations, as well as flashbacks to the character’s past which begin to reveal why you’re there…or possibly not. You can expect to see sadistic laboratories, villages inhabited only by children, an incredibly evil-looking circus, and meet half-cyborg bugs fighting against a race of four-armed cyclops(es/i?)

Despite sounding like it could be an incoherent mess, the developers, DreamForge, have produced a tight narrative spanning nine chapters, and multiple characters, which all manages to neatly tie together by the ending cinematic. Seeing how the main character’s story and some of your fellow inmate’s delusions intertwine is a delight, though some of the characters you encounter do seem rather inconsequential to the grand scheme of things. One downside of the game is the variable quality of the voice-acting, with some characters being laughably bad, and others atmospherically perfect. The musical score however, is top-notch, and fits seamlessly with every location and event.

Overall, Sanitarium is a game that provides a good few evening’s worth of twisted entertainment (I personally took around 12 hours to complete it, thanks to some ‘duh’ moments with the puzzles), and deserves at least a try.

Pros: Highly atmospheric. Great locations, characters, and music.

Cons: Some corny voice-acting, short play-time.

Link to Sanitarium demo (also includes patch for full game).