Thursday, 18 August 2011

Really Bad Rats

I knew it. I got half way through Bad Rats and gave up. One of the most annoying things about it is that although it's physics-based (or perhaps because of it) sequences don't always happen in exactly the same way when you run them. So you might set up a sequence and have it work most of the way then fall down at the end, so you tweak the end part and re-run it only to find that it now falls over at the beginning...for some completely unknown reason. Run it again and it might work this time. It's pretty annoying, and a real deal breaker for a game like this that absolutely depends on sequences running the same way every time. I guess they must have introduced some randomness to the initial ball drop, or something - whatever they did, they shouldn't have done it. Most ridiculously, even if you load the complete setups that the developers used (which you can see after you complete each level), they still don't work half the time because of the randomness...crazy.

Anyway, that wasn't what led me to quitting the game. I was doing pretty well and progressing through the game - to about level 23 (out of 44), I think - when the game sprang its timer on me. I'd never really noticed the timer except for the fact you get less points at the end of a level the longer it took you to finish it. Anyway, I couldn't figure out how to complete the level quickly enough and the timer ran out - fair enough, you might think, I'll get no points for the time factor at the end - but no. Time ran out and the game finished. I hadn't saved in a few levels because I didn't think it was possible to 'die' as it were, and there was no way I was going back through those levels with the whole randomness factor and all that entailed. Quit. Uninstall. Good-bye Bad Rats. I might return to it one day, but somehow I doubt it.

Next up, it's back to the old school with Bard's Tale 1. I used to have Bard's Tale 3 back in the day (and kept it until moving house last year...I WISH I hadn't thrown out all those games now, but I digress), but I never got very far with it. 1 looks very similar to 3 from what I remember. Flippin' hard, as all those games were, but okay so far. I've only had a brief run around the first town, though, so it could get much worse. Oddest thing so far is that it carries on playing even if you're standing still, so you'll have monster encounters while your party's just waiting outside a shop. I'm also dropping back into Avencast every now and then. More on that later.

Thursday, 11 August 2011


Oh, I forgot to say. I did a quick calculation the other day, and because of all the recent sales, it looks like I've bought an average of one game every three days from GoG. That's not good. (And it doesn't count all the Steam sales recently, either.) Definitely time to hold off on the purchasing and actually play through some of the stuff I've bought. It may have been cheap, but that's still a lot of games and a fair chunk of cash that I don't really have right now. Wrist definitely slapped.

...time to switch to 5 out 1 in? :)

King of Pins

That's Kingpin dusted and done. Fun for a short, sharp shooter. It felt quite different to the usual FPS - only really one type of enemy (humans - although they have different weapons, and some are quite a bit tougher than others...but visually they're pretty much identical), and none of the crazy, frenetic bursts of hundreds of bad guys that you often get. It had its high-velocity moments, but in general it felt a bit slower paced. It also felt like they wanted to do a lot of things that they couldn't - whether it was due to time or technology. The conversations with NPCs didn't really work that well (but I loved the Ving Rhames bad guy with half his lines lifted directly from Pulp Fiction), and your helper dudes weren't *that* essential (though the AI seemed good, and they did come in handy from time to time - the couple of lockpicking sections in the game were a bit throwaway, though). There were some nice scripted bits here and there (freeing the train carriage to run down the tracks and smash through a blockage springs to mind), but in general it felt like it could have been longer and more fleshed out. The fact that the final sub-boss runs away at the end setting up a sequel that never was confirms the fact that they had more ideas for the game that we never saw. Anyway - nothing that special, but good for what it was.

Next up is Bad Rats. Something I got in a Steam Summer sale a while back. It's a puzzler in the vein of The Incredible Machine, but with proper physics. I'm in two minds about it at the moment, but we'll see how it goes. Don't be surprised if I return to another half-finished game half-way through because I get bored/frustrated with Bad Rats.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Phantasmagor(i)a the Explorer

That's Phantasmagoria 1 and 2 done and dusted. The first was incredibly straightforward and fairly short - a bit of a first toe dipped in the FMV water. The second felt like a better game to me, but after I've thought about it, I decided that's probably more to do with the fact that it was a much better made film with higher production values than the first. The actual 'game' elements are still incredibly simplistic. In fact, they're possibly even more so in the second. For example, when talking to people you often have to click on them multiple times to get the full story from them. There's no dialogue options, they've just split the recorded conversation up into three parts and you have to click on them three times to get all of the options. It's just done to string the game out (or make it feel less like a film), and felt odd to me. In some respects it felt much more like a film than a game, but I actually enjoyed it quite a lot - definitely much more than the first one (which I didn't hate, it just wasn't as good as the second one). What with that and Gabriel Knight 2, which I finished a while back, I'm beginning to think the FMV-fests of the 90s weren't actually as bad as I always thought they were.

Playing Kingpin now for a change of pace. Sweary, shooty, FPSy bangbang. Fairly good fun so far, although the character animation is odd, giving people constantly wobbling faces.