28 January 2009

Postal: The Movie

Oh god. I just watched it. I am so, so sorry. I could have gone my entire life without seeing that. But I saw it anyway. Never again.

22 January 2009

THE SUPER F.E.A.R.FUL FORTRESS: Do you remember fear?

In case you don't get the joke in the title, scroll to the tl;dr.

4 years ago, we got a game from Monolith Productions, a venerable game development studio.

They started out in 1997 with Blood, a game that drew some pretty harsh criticism for some of the ads (The one I remember drawing the most vitriol is the one of a guy sitting in a bathtub full of blood, holding a gun. It looks like he's shot himself in the stomach, and he's smiling evilly), to say nothing of the actual criticism of the game itself... which was twistedly brilliant, just like several other post-Doom Build-Engine games, like Duke Nukem 3D and Shadow Warrior. Among other things, you could light people on fire with a flare gun, use a pitchfork as a melee weapon, and voodoo-doll people to death. All the weapons had a secondary fire, too, which was new. The success of an alt-fire would not really be exploited or noticed until Unreal Tournament, in '99.
After Blood, they released Shogo: Mobile Armor Division (a hybrid FPS/mech shooter, anime-inspired), Blood 2, Sanity (A 3rd-person adventure/ shooter about psychic powers featuring Ice-T as the main character's voice actor), No One Lives Forever (A swinging-60s/70s pulp spy FPS with oodles of style and polish), Aliens Versus Predator 2 (the first one having been handled by Rebellion. People still play AvP2 online today, it's that good), No One Lifes Forever 2 (A competent sequel, nothing new), Tron 2.0 (One of the best-looking games of all time, still. My favorite game of all time, pretty much). Afther that they stumbled a bit with The Matrix Online, which I alpha and beta tested, and continued to contribute to after release, even after Monolith kind of folded and was subsequently revived and bought by WB Interactive.

The same year, 2005, the newly revived Monolith released F.E.A.R.: First Encounter Assault Recon. The game cast you as a new operative of a paranormal investigation and neutralization force under the purview of the U.S. Army (my personal conclusion, since you work in concert with Delta Force personnel during the game). The story isn't important here, but suffice to say the game was highly acclaimed for many reasons. It was scary, very scary; it had intense, non-repetitive tactical combat, an inventive array of weapons, and was graphically advanced and pretty. The story was satisfactory, too. Nothing great, but good enough to carry the game and two expansions, developed by TimeGate Studios. In addition, the game's multiplayer component was released as a standalone game, F.E.A.R. Combat, which is free to download and play.

So what to we have today? The single-player demo of F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin. Dumb title, yeah, but that's what you get for letting fans choose your game's title.
Very simply, it is excellent. The engine is updated and all shiny... not that the original looks dated, actually. By today's standards, the first game is a little sparse and bare, with slightly odd lighting, but still looks quite acceptable. The new game looks stunning, with refractive water, bouncing particles, big explosions, and other graphical effects. The lighting is even better than before, and that's saying something considering how well it was done in the first game.
The gameplay is just as good, too. I felt a little restricted and cramped in the demo environments, but I'm willing to bet that they'll mitigate that in the retail game. The enemies are not quite as smart as the used to be, but again, I feel that'll be corrected. In addition, you get to pilot a suit of power armor, tearing up city blocks and blowing people away with heavy machineguns and drunk missiles, always a crowd pleaser. Most, if not all of the weapons from the full game are in the demo, including a pistol, SMG, shotgun, assault rifle, missile launcher, sniper rifle, and a tactical laser (!) that slices through enemies with the greatest of ease. All the weapons are well-detailed, excellently sound-designed, and fun to use, which is a good thing. The surprisingly detailed melee combat from the first game returns, as well, adding weaponless punching to your arsenal. You're a regular Bruce Lee without your guns, able to wreak all kinds of satisfying havoc on unsuspecting enemies. The grenade selection has been improved, also, adding electric, incendiary, and autonomous proximity grenades to the standard frags.
After playing through the first F.E.A.R. and all the expansions less than a year ago, it's like coming home again to find that the house has been remodeled and upgraded in my absence to be totally awesome.

tl;dr-- F.E.A.R 2 Demo is out. Play it. It's Really Good (TM).
Click the title for its explanation.

11 January 2009


I think I look better with a beard. But that's just me.

03 January 2009

First Post!

Happy New Year.
This post is coming to y'all, live, from my new MSI Wind netbook. I love this thing. It's only .5" larger than the eee in every dimension except thickness, and the screen is MUCH bigger. Keyboard also. And, best of all, it runs Windows. God, how I have missed having an OS that just works. I tried to show my dad how to use the eee this morning, and it did not go well. Linux is unintuitive at the best of times, and catastrophically contradictory at the worst.
So, anyone want to buy the eee? :P
Been loading the Wind with apps yesterday and today in preparation for the flight tomorrow back to Hampshire. Figures-- just when I get comfortable and start enjoying myself here is when I have to fly back.
Well, this coming semester and Jan Term promise to be fun and educational, in all the best senses of the words. Here's to a better 2009 than my 2008.