Thursday, 13 November 2014

Chasing the Crownhole

It's been a while, so a bit of a summary post here. First up, I completed Chaser. It was a fairly standard FPS with more of a story than most. The themes are loosely based on Total Recall, with various mind-swapping shenanigans and an ending that leaves things open for the sequel that never was. Gameplay-wise, it's mostly standard, with some odd ideas that are thrown in once and never appear again. This leads to a few slightly frustrating issues, for example, there's one area you need to escape from by climbing a grate...that's the same as hundreds of other grates in the game that haven't been climbable. A similar thing happens with one section of wire you can blow up, but every other section of wire that looks like that in the game is invulnerable. Little things that could have done with slightly better signposting. There are maybe 10 weapons in the game, but they all perform in much the same way, and there were four, maybe five of them that I never used at all. There's a 'bullet-time' ability that is never referred to in the game and I didn't use it once - it feels like they threw it in there but didn't really know what to do with it. It's a long and varied game, though, with plenty of action to keep things moving at a lick. There's a good bunch of different levels, such as one set underwater in a ship graveyard (that plays a bit like Descent), one that sees you holed up in a light-house sniping targets miles away to provide your comrades with safe passage, another that has you in a mech suit defending a base from enemy mechs and planes. It doesn't work perfectly all the time, but it keeps up your interest in the game. The start of the game has you working in a mafia-led city (that felt a lot like Kingpin), then you're off to Siberia, a rocket launch facility, and Mars, amongst other places. I enjoyed all the travelling about, though it did feel a bit drawn out in some places. Some bits were also annoyingly hard, and there were a few too many places where I got hopelessly lost and was wandering around for ages before finally escaping. It really felt like with a bit more play-testing and polish, this could have been a fantastic game. As it is, it was merely a good one, but that's okay with me.

Next up was Manhole. I had this listed as the first game by the developers of Myst, but it turns out it wasn't that at all. It was instead a homebrew conversion of an old Game and Watch title, so you can imagine the gameplay was pretty simplistic. Essentially, there's a bunch of streets with manholes missing and you can temporarily place a manhole over one of these holes to prevent pedestrians from falling in. As the game goes on, the pedestrians come thicker and faster and it soon becomes impossible to save them all. A small, fun and addictive game to while away the odd minute here and there.

Finally, I also had a go at Defender of the Crown. I know this is one of the most beloved of Cinemaware titles, but I just couldn't get on with it. I think the big problem with all of the Cinemaware games is that they depend a lot on perfect timing and, as such, they don't emulate very well. I could spend ages tinkering with DosBox, but I just wasn't in the mood. I managed to win a few sword fights, but jousts seemed completely beyond me, and the computer seemed way overpowered in the standard game. He'd be attacking with super-armies made up of hundreds of knights while mine still consisted of about 10 footmen each. Ah well, I'll just have to assume it was better on the Amiga and leave it at that.

Next up on the Randometer is...Kick Off 3! Oh dear. I'll give it a quick go tonight, but I can't see it lasting long.

I've also been playing a little Ultima 4 but haven't got very far in it, Fate led me to a fighter this time, so I've been wandering around doing good deeds. Back in the old days we were convinced you had to be a shepherd to win the game, and to this day I'm not entirely sure if that's true or not. I don't think it is, but we'll see.

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