Monday, November 17, 2008

World of Goo

Though i got my Wrath of the Lich King expansion on time, i discovered another highly addictive world, and not the World of Warcraft with all it`s glory and fame, but with World of Goo, with it`s ... Goo`s.
As a gamer i`m not particularly fond of puzzles and idiotic games which require somewhat more than average brain usage, but when it comes to funny games i immediately put my brain to work and start enjoying the game. World of Goo is mostly a game for kids, a game without a real storyline, without any meaning at all for that matter, it`s basically a physics emulator with goo`s in it.

Just a few moments after i started the game i was already having fun, and i mean laughing my lungs out, though the main objective of the game is to get the goo`s to a pipe ( as simple as i gets ), i never got tired of building "ladders" for my goo`s, and even when it all felt in my face ( thanks to gravity ) it didn`t bother me. The game is so cute that even when I failed to do the simplest of things the game had a nice, almost funny way of saying Fuck YOU!
One of the great things about this game were the levels, enjoying every level, though the main quest is the same, none of the levels repeat themselves, each and every level had it`s one way of saying : I`m unique but most likely the next one is better. In most levels -The Sign Painter occasionally gives hints, never tells what to do, but tries to help out.

Finishing the game was in fact easy, building large structures of goo in order to save the other goo`s was tons of pure fun, and why not? The graphics are cute, the effect are more than cute, and the sounds are hilarious. Seeing some of the goo balls burst into flames or explode may generate laughter, Watching them pop up as the gravity or the wind throws them into a windmill can also be classified as fun.

The lack of a real storyline here is amazingly compensated by the feeling that something is or will be happening, though the goo`s generally tend to go, and while i suspected that the game will end up with a massive goo made "building", i was wrong. The ending of each and every chapter simply blew my expectations away, they were part silly however but still, fun.

If i think about it, world of Goo managed to do what other games failed. With it`s pure simplicity and flexibility one could actually get addicted to the never ending fun.
Sadly the piracy rate of this game is more than 90%, not too good for the 2D Boys to be honest, but the game only has 70 mb and clearly it`s worth playing, and paying 20$ ffs.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Apocalypse Evolved: a Fallout rant

No surprise that i'm writing this since Fallout 3 went live several days ago, so i'm gonna cut it short on the intro. This is both a review, and an old gamer's perspective on Fallout 3 versus its predecessor.
Let's chill out a bit and go way back, to the era of games that didn't have million-dollar budgets, when consoles didn't each have their own code and when people made games because they had a passion for it rather than to gain popularity. That was the era in which i started gaming, and the time when i experienced some of the best moments of my life. Let's go back to when a tiny little company called Interplay got it into their heads to make a game about a post-nuclear dystopia where everything was ruined, desecrated and basically fucked up. But they did more than that: they added 2 of the most basic yet defining elements a game can have: violence and humor.
So take a really violent game with lots of humor set in the ruins of a post-apocalyptic universe, and you have something that kinda follows the idea of Fallout. Make that game have one of the best atmospheres, settings and feelings that ever graced the history of gaming and you have Fallout. Now i didn't play the first Fallout, and this is why i won't be talking about it here and now. However, its sequel, Fallout 2, i have finished a total of 4 times and still consider the best game ever made for the PC. Let's get this straight: it was not perfect. It was far from perfect, in fact it had craploads of bugs, the story wasn't the size of Legacy of Kain or even Baldur's Gate, but the game flowed on through all its problems. The bugs were more game-making than game-breaking(well if you saved a lot), to the point where you actually used some of them to have fun. The story was not the best there could be for its setting, but because of that very setting it was perfectly balanced. And the universe sucked you in, it dragged you down to the point that it was no longer a game. It was beyond a game. And that oppinion has been shared by countless people who have waited for a sequel ever since.
Enter Fallout 3. At first, everyone was dismayed that Interplay had dropped its own F3 project, but people continued to hope. Not until the license was brought by Bethesda did people start to fear: fear that Fallout would not in fact be Fallout, but rather a cheap Elder Scrolls copy. But you know what, The Elder Scrolls was a nice series, which proves they aren't totally idiots when it comes to games, and if they keep the Fallout essence intact, there's a nice chance it will be Fallout. So up until i finally got to play it, there was this burning question in my gut: will it, or will it not be Fallout?
So is it a cheap Elder Scrolls copy, in the end? Yes, and no. More like an incredibly well-done Elder Scrolls copy, because it's better than Oblivion, but NOT better than Fallout.
Let's start with the basics of what makes Fallout Fallout: mechanics. I think everyone who's played Fallout 1 or 2 remembers the interface's ease of use (when you mastered it) and the useful, fun options you had to customize your char. Well, how about Fallout 3? I can't possibly explain this without writing a wall of text so let's make a list.
Fallout 2:

  1. Skills can be raised up to 300% and get more expensive to raise starting at 100%
  2. Skills can be used frequently in a variety of unconventional situations
  3. Tag skills get raised twice as fast and a tag increases the base skill by 20 points.
  4. Background traits can drastically modify the way you play
  5. Each point in a stat contributes to a very important aspect
  6. Perks are gained once every 3 levels (by default) and offer unique, powerful and game-changing bonuses
  7. There is no maximum level, and you can still play the game as you like after finishing the main quest
  8. Weapons/armor don't degrade, and you can get your own travelling "stash" in the form of a car.
Fallout 3:
  1. Skills can be raised to 100, after that, fuck you.
  2. Skills are rarely used in dialogue, and very rarely used outside of dialogue with the exception of using them exactly for what they're supposed to do. If Fallout 3 was Fallout 2, you could not repair the well in the first village.
  3. Tag skills are a 15 point bonus for that particular skill and nothing else.
  4. Background traits do not exist
  5. Each point in a stat gives a measly contribution to 2 or 3 skills and a non-skill feature (like weight limit)
  6. Perks are gained every level and 90% of them offer either a skill bonus, stat bonus, exp bonus, more dialogue options, accuracy bonus, money bonus, damage bonus (both situational and usual), action point bonus or a combination/variation of the above. The only truly unique perk is Explorer, but getting that means throwing away other good perks.
  7. The maximum level is 20 and it's only attainable if you stray far, far away from the main quest for a long time and no apparent reason. After the game ends, you can go fuck yourself because you're not going back, no matter what ending you chose.
  8. Weapons break themselves like you were hammering them with a super sledge instead of pulling a trigger. Not much different from Oblivion, that is. This wouldn't be so bad if you didn't need copies of the same weapon to repair them. The car is gone, replaced by Oblivion's fast travel. Surprisingly, fast travel doesn't have a fucking trunk.
There are lots more i could add, but we're talking about game mechanics here. Bethesda has changed Fallout's skill and stat system to a state which would have been unrecognisable if the game didn't throw the word S.P.E.C.I.A.L. on our heads every fucking time, and if the game didn't make use of the same names for perks/skills. Which leads me to the next bit: if you ever play F3 after F2, you'll clearly see that Bethesda has tried hard to keep the Fallout humor and atmosphere. Sometimes, i think, too hard. First off, F2 never told us anything about SPECIAL, i remember discovering that the stats make up that word by myself. Second, some things seem exaggerated. For instance, the sound. Fallout 1 and 2 each had (if i'm not mistaken) ONE single old-school Jazz song attached to them. One GOOD song, which made sense in their given setting and were right on the spot where they should have been: the intro. In Fallout 3, you can choose to listen to a radio station that plays a crapload of these songs. And while i've been watching the Fallout 2 intro over and over just to listen to Armstrong's "a kiss to build a dream on" one more time, there's only SO many raiders i can kill while i'm "hackin' and whackin' and smackin'". So eventually i really feel the need to turn that shit off because it actually cripples the atmosphere instead of making it more integrating. And that's just an example... there's vaults everywhere, you use the same drugs (even though Jet was invented by the Mordino family far away on the west coast), but it just doesn't do it as good as Fallout did.
Then there's VATS. Vault-tec Automated blah blah. Basically, a very cheap re-enactment of the old turn-based action-point-based system. It's overpowered enough to make you use it (how i was able to shoot a gun 16 fucking times with pinpoint accuracy in what could qualify as half a second is beyond me), it feels awkward, it looks awkward, and it pretty much takes you away from the FPS experience and into the RPG. It completely eliminates all idea of tactics and using your action points in a smart way, making the game a "click the body part and shoot" thing, but at least it's entertaining in the form of violent slow-motion deaths.
I remember one particular pattern i used to follow in Oblivion: ride around, find dungeon, enter dungeon, kill everything in dungeon, loot dungeon, exit dungeon, find more dungeon. Then i played Fallout 3: walk around, find dungeon (cave/factory/office building), enter dungeon, kill everything in dungeon, loot dungeon, exit dungeon, find more dungeon. To the point where it's becoming pretty clear that they only put those dungeons there to extend the playtime. There's only 3 vaults of any significance in this game, the 3-4 remaining ones don't have any story to them and aren't related to the main story in ANY way. Sure, one is full of clones while the other is messing with your brain but overall it's just the same sequence i outlined earlier.
Which makes it kinda sad since that was the element that alienated me from Oblivion in the first place, and it's coincidentally also why i got bored of Mass Effect. Are people losing inspiration so much that they have to take simplistic MMORPG elements (aka the dungeon with no soul) and insert them into single player games as a way of extending playtime? Well, wake the fuck up and stop calling yourself game designers. Get a new name, like FAIL designers.
Ok, i've nitpicked the bad parts of the game long enough, and i think we can all agree that it ain't Fallout by now. Yet the fact that it ain't Fallout doesn't mean it can't be a good game, all things considered. Let's start with the obvious: the game is gorgeous. I've looked closely at the details and they've recreated the game pretty close to its predecessor. The first-person view is fine when you get used to it, and it doesn't obstruct the morbid beauty of the Wasteland. The soundtrack is good despite what i said about the old songs (well, as good as depressing music can get, i guess). The dialogue is nothing compared to Fallout 2, but it's vastly improved over Oblivion, as is much of the storyline and many of the quests. I finished the game, but reloaded and went back into the waste to see what i've missed, and i'm still not bored with it yet. At one point while i was exploding ghoul heads with my shitgun, i suddenly realised something: i was actually having fun. And i had as much fun during the robot sequence near the end of the game: you know what i'm talking about if you got there, and i dare say it's one of the most exhilarating experiences ever felt in gaming. So as non-fallout as it is, the game will still be worth a shot, especially if you have no idea what fallout is and/or played fallout but didn't like it (in which case i welcome you to the museum of rare people). So that's mostly it... i hope they don't decide to push the franchise further because i really don't want a Fallout 4 now. And if they do make Fallout 4, then let it be this. Take a look at it and see what the true Fallout 3 looked like. This, with all its ancient and fucked up graphics, is Fallout.
And despite what's happened to the game, it wasn't the worst thing that could have happened. Fallout, no matter what happens, will still live on in our hearts and in our minds as the game that gave us one of the best adventures in gaming. Because even if Fallout itself may change, we all know war... war never changes.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Dead Fantasy

So there i was working when a friend showed me this, i just love it :D

It`s not that bad, but then again, there`s more :

Thank the gods of gaming for GT and their good video quality.