Friday, 30 August 2013

Shrak!

I blasted through Dissolution of Eternity and finished it last night. Not much to say, really. It's basically Quake. The new levels are generally good, and it's nice to have some continuity through them. For example, the first part is based in a castle, the first level has you outside the castle trying to get in; the second part has you entering the grounds trying to make your way to the keep, and so on. It felt like there was a bit more believable architecture to the levels (if you can say that for an insane techno/fantasy world). The second part of the game goes a bit weirder. You're transported through a series of themed worlds - elemental planes, Egyptian pyramids, Aztec ruins, and so forth - on your way to destroy Quake's temporal thingummy machine (yes, I've forgotten what it was called already - It's Quake, story's not its strong point). This threw all continuity out of the window, but did mean a bit of relief from the dingy brown corridors of the base game (although there was still a phenomenal amount of brown to be found). It also introduced more 'boss' enemies; stronger creatures at the end of each set of levels. It was a good gimmick that the original Quake might have benefited from a bit more. The final boss of the game was the huge dragon that featured in the original Quake test level (I remember playing the death out of that!) and was a suitably tricky ending to the series.

I do have another Quake add-on - Shrak for Quake, so I thought I'd give that a go next while I had Quake installed. Unfortunately, something happened to the textures when I installed it and the game played with just white walls and shading, making it a surreal, but impossible play experience (see piccy). So I'll call it a day and skip that one, it's probably enough Quake for me.

Next up on the randometer is... The Great Escape. Yikes! It's an old Ocean game from 1987...sounds crazy.

In other news, I failed in my resolution not to buy any games this year.Crusader Kings 2, a game that I realllly want to play one day was in a pay-what-you-want bundle and I couldn't resist. It'll never be that cheap again so I had to grab it...I know, I know, I'm weak willed. I'll try not to get any more.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Suck it down, what is brown

I'm back from hols and continuing my journey through the brown lands of Quake. The KVM switch arrived well and good and works perfectly, so I'm very happy with that (it switched my headphones, too, which is good because my speakers are now in the attic!). I moved through the original Quake fairly quickly (on Normal difficulty). In some ways, it feels more like a tech demo than a full game - I'm not sure if that's because I'm so familiar with its levels or because that's the actual truth of it. There's some good design in there, but once you know all of its surprises then it starts to feel a bit bland. The terrible colour palette and frustratingly dark lighting don't help much either. Sure, it adds something to the atmosphere, but it really wears you down after a while.

Mission pack 1: Scourge of Armagon doesn't really change much in that respect - it still uses all of Quake's assets (there are some new bits, but they're generally brown) so everything is still the same dark and murky tone. The level designs, however, were fresh and exciting. You can tell that the art of level design had begun to mature by then, there are a lot more animations and natural pathways, and of course lots more fiendish traps. Some of this may be just because I hadn't played the levels before, but I definitely enjoyed my time with it a lot more than my re-play of the original Quake. Onwards to Dissolution of Eternity!

Friday, 9 August 2013

Rocket jumping the gun

I hit a small hitch after my Quake-led optimism...following a house reshuffle, I'm now sharing my little officeden, and that means no desk space for my two computers. I've Amazoned off for a KVM switch that will hopefully allow me to share my monitor and keyboard between both boxes, but apparently it's not going to get here for a couple of weeks. Rubbish! Ah well, I'll try and get a bit further through Kingdoms of Amalur in the meantime. One of these days I'll get back to finishing games again...I promise!

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Baseless

Ugh, so the slow quest continues. Ironically, I've played less of these old games because I've had more time in the evenings recently. So instead of booting up DOS, I've been settling down on the sofa playing Kingdoms of Amalur on the PS3. It's not a bad game at all - your standard Elder Scrolls-alike with a ton of things to do and time to waste. I've been doing my usual thing with these sorts of games and leaving the main quest as soon as I can and spending all my time doing pointless side-quests. It's the foolish completionist in me, I don't want anything to get locked out by my progress on the main quest, so I want to finish as much as I possibly can before moving on. Amalur is a game of serious side quests. There are hundreds of them and every new location you enter has some NPCs with more and more quests...then there are faction quests, hidden lorestones to find, reagants to pick (oh, sweet reagants), and much, much more. I've no idea how far I am in the game, but I'm enjoying bumbling through the world talking to folk and gaining the odd XP every now and then.

Anyway, the good news is that I'm done with Epic Baseball, the bad news is that it was rubbish. A couple of things, first up, it was a total stat-heavy management sim, of which I really have no interest. Secondly, it was only a shareware demo, so you could only play a couple of teams and had limited options. So, all in all, it was never going to grab me. I couldn't work out what half of the plays in the playbook were, or when I should be doing them. My boys managed to hit a few balls, but were roundly thrashed by the opposition. I gave up after a couple of quick games.

Next up on the Randometer is...Quake! Ooh, I've completed the base game a few times in my youth, but never tried the two mission packs, so looking forward to those. My brother was a proper Quake-head back in the day, so I played the first two games a lot, but I only have the first one on me now. It'll be something nice and visceral to get back into.

In other news, I'm still keeping to my no new games this year rule. I had to bite my fingers to stop them from spending money in the Steam and Gog summer sales, but I managed to make it through (I did buy a couple of bits of cheap DLC, but that doesn't count!). Just the end of year sales to go now...