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Archive for the ‘retro’ tag

Games I Own: Fahrenheit / Indigo Prophecy

Posted on 13th Jan 2010 at 10:51 by Joe Martin with 13 comments

If you live in America then you’ll know Quantic Dream’s murderous adventure game as Indigo Prophecy, which it was re-named to in order to distance it from Fahrenheit 9/11. In Europe it’s released (in an uncut version that adds a bit of naughtiness) as Fahrenheit. That’s the version I own, so that’s what I call it. Fahrenheit; one of my favourite adventure games.

It’s not a perfect game, by any means. In fact it is downright bad in some places and the plot, which focuses on multiple characters caught up in the wake of a murder, unravels and strays hideously in the latter stages. It’s a sad result of the game, which was planned as an episodic title, being rushed to a retail release by the publisher before some chapters had been finished. It still makes sense, it just requires a bit of effort.

There are a few different characters you control in the game and the main one is a man called Lucas Kane who comes out of a trance in a New York diner to find that he’s just murdered a man. Unable to recollect the experience, Lucas flees – but not before players are given a window of interaction. The first scene of the game immediately follows the murder and lets players decide how Lucas acts. Will he hide the murder weapon? Wash the blood off his hands? Bolt out of the emergency exit and flee or return to his table, calmly pay his cheque and try to avoid suspicion?

Games I Own: Fahrenheit / Indigo Prophecy
Fahrenheit, or Indigo Prophecy if you prefer

Once Lucas leaves the murder scene the viewpoint switches to that of Tyler and Carla, the two detectives investigating the murder. You can switch between both characters and are given similar free roam as to how much evidence you collect – most of which you hid just moments before. You question witnesses and, for the bulk of the game, try to identify Lucas and track him down. When you aren’t playing as a cop though then you’re Lucas, desperately trying to discover the truth behind the murderous trance and to clear your name. Meanwhile New York descends into a permanent winter, more murders occur and the city empties as life grind to a halt.

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RE: Choose Your Own Adventure Gamebooks

Posted on 23rd Dec 2009 at 09:50 by Joe Martin with 17 comments

Joe Martin
I used to love Choose Your Own Adventure games and I’d regularly either rent them out of the library or pick them up before going on holiday. Lately I’ve been thinking what a shame it is that the medium has pretty much died out and I’ve been fighting back against this by having a go on some of the later interpretations of the idea.

For those not in the know, CYOA books are essentially multiple-choice driven singleplayer RPGs. You create a character according to the rules established in the start of the book, turn to the first passage, read it and then decide what you would do next. Each option available to you would point you to another passage in the book, creating a rudimentary branching adventure.

In the early ‘90s I remember them being all the rage and there were some long-lasting brands to come out of the short-lived fad, the most popular of which was the Fighting Fantasy series which included the likes of The Legend of Zagor and The Warlock of Firetop Mountain. My personal favourites however were the long-running Lone Wolf books by Joe Dever, - which had a single adventure running across multiple books - and the Fabled Lands series.

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In Search Of A 'B Game'

Posted on 3rd Dec 2009 at 10:32 by Joe Martin with 32 comments

Joe Martin
I’m on holiday at the moment, so I’m not really supposed to be working – but one of the virtues of loafing around at my parents house for a week has had me thinking about something lately. Namely, B Movies. I’m a big fan of them and I’ve been watching a lot lately because in my family the Evil Dead trilogy is treated with same amount of reverence and awe as Russian Ark.

So, what I’ve been thinking about lately is whether or not there’s a computer game equivalent of the B Movie. I’m not sure there is.

Maybe it’s helpful if I clarify what I mean by ‘B Movie’. What I’m talking about isn’t necessarily some tawdry and over-gored piece of dross with no script and a Bruce Campbell cameo. What I really mean is something low-budget and with obvious faults, but which overcomes them through some (probably unintended) humour or charm.

Basically; that old ‘so bad, it’s good’ factor.

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Recommend Me A Board Game

Posted on 27th Nov 2009 at 10:48 by Joe Martin with 49 comments

Joe Martin
My love of games extends further than just computer games, you know. I’m also something of a board game fiend – a fan of games in any form, to tell the truth. In the last few months I’ve especially enjoyed getting together with a few friends to play some board games, and that enjoyment is hopefully going to be buoyed further by a recent discovery of mine.

I found a really cool shop in the centre of nearby Reading – one which I’ve walked past many times but only recently investigated. It’s called Eclectic Games and is a board game and collectible card game specialist.

Eclectic Games is very much My Kind Of Place. It’s large and warmly decorated, with a huge selection of games, both niche and well-known. It also has a library of games - which you’re free to try out in the gaming hall out back - and the owners regularly organise events where you can meet other gamers and get involved in tournaments. It’s small enough to be charming and independent too – exactly the type of place I’d like to support with my patronage.

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I Have Never Played A Good Star Trek Game

Posted on 29th Sep 2009 at 10:05 by Joe Martin with 42 comments

Joe Martin
I’ve owned a lot of games in my life. I was also a bit of a Trekkie growing up. There have been points in my life where those two facts have overlapped and I’ve owned computer games that are based around Star Trek – but I’ve never played a good Star Trek game, ever. I’m honestly not even sure they exist.

I’ve played a lot of them, from idiotic non-games like The Captain’s Chair which offer a virtual tour of some of the ships in the series, to poorly thought out action games like Hidden Evil. The ones I’ve spent the most time with though are probably A Final Unity and Generations.

Generations is a particular sore spot for me, as I pressured my parents into pre-ordering it for me from America based solely on hype I’d read in a copy of the official Star Trek magazine.

Yes, I was that sad as a teenager. I like to think I’m a lot cooler now though, even if I still can’t grow a beard.

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Games I Own: Dungeon Keeper, Theme Park, Theme Hospital

Posted on 26th Sep 2009 at 11:38 by Joe Martin with 16 comments

Joe Martin
I was never any good at Dungeon Keeper – and when I say ‘not any good’, I really do mean that I was seriously pants at it. Something to do with being only 12 when the game came out and not really being interested in strategy games – which kind of begs the question of why I played it at all.

There are two answers.

Firstly, it wasn’t my game. It was my brothers and, while I can’t remember if it was a present or something he actually bought, I do know it was his. In the days when the family shared just one PC and my brother and I shared every game, it was inevitable that I would play it. Likewise, it was inevitable then when he stopped playing PC games and I moved out that I would steal it from him, along with about ten other games. Sorry, Sam!

Secondly, making people think that they liked strategy games even though they didn’t really was one of the things that made Bullfrog such a successful company.

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Games to play with your children

Posted on 3rd Sep 2009 at 15:16 by Joe Martin with 36 comments

Joe Martin
I don’t have children, but I do have a lot of younger siblings and nephews and nieces, and we've played a lot of computer games together. A lot of the experiences we’ve shared have been through the medium of joysticks and mouse clicks.

Looking back on that recently I’ve come to think that parents should definitely play computer games with their kids, even though a lot of parents are of the opinion that "games are bad for you" and "all games are violent". Absolute rubbish, every word of it.

Of course, some games are violent and there’s a huge amount of games out there which aren’t at all suitable for children – but violence, if handled responsibly, isn’t always bad and there are a lot of games that are good for kids. My parents had an inkling of this and I spent a lot of time playing either with my Dad or talking about it with him. It’s something I plan to do with my children too, heaven forbid, and something I reflect on every time I go into a shop and see a parent blindly buying Grand Theft Auto for their seven year old. Grrr.

This isn’t new thinking obviously – any number of child-rearing programs or handbooks will tell you it’s important to get involved and find experiences you can share with your children. The problem though is that if you’re not someone who’s ‘into PCs’ and your kid is then it can be hard going. Thus, here are some recommendations for games that are suitable for most children and which open themselves up to this kind of activity.

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Games I have made

Posted on 9th Jul 2009 at 11:31 by Joe Martin with 7 comments

Joe Martin
I once heard that most music journalists are generally people who got into the business because they lacked the drive or ability to actually be a musician themselves. Likewise, I’ve heard it said that games journalists are probably people who lack the drive to actually make their own games.

For me, that’s pretty true and it’s bred within me a massive respect for game developers, because making computer games is damned difficult. Not only are there the technical issues of knowing how to code and how to actually make the game, there’s the management issues too. You have to know what makes a game good and, if you’re working as part of a team, you have to be able to keep a group of people focused on a single cohesive vision. You need a logical mind that knows how systems should function and what redundancies need to be built in for every eventuality.

Over the years I’ve tried my hand at making a number of different games, starting when I got a copy of AMOS for the Amiga 500+ we had at home and I started tweaking the example games that came with it. I didn’t get far, but I got a basic understanding.

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I played Diablo 2 and I hated it

Posted on 5th May 2009 at 10:14 by Joe Martin with 32 comments

Joe Martin
So, I played Diablo 2, just as you asked me to. True to my word I got bit-tech developer Jamie to lend me his copy and I gave it a good ol’ go - by which I mean I played it until I didn't want to play it any more, then tried to persevere for another hour before giving up.

I was utterly underwhelmed by Diablo 2. It appealed to me even less than the very similar Titan Quest – and that’s saying something, considering how I enjoyed that game about as much as I’d enjoy passing a cupful of kidney stones all at once. I hated Diablo 2 because there seemed to be absolutely no need for me to be there. I actually felt that the game would play itself better if I just wasn’t there, as the entire role of the player is to click-click-click-click their character along a pseudo-random, utterly linear path that offers no real chance for exploration or involvement.

Playing Diablo 2 I was left with the impression that it didn’t matter what I did in the game, as fundamentally everything I did only ever had one logical outcome, so I may as well not do anything. I was stifled by the utter lack of room for player expression. You could level the same complaint against almost any FPS where players are funnelled through linear levels too, but at least those games are usually fast paced and full of explosions and a sense of interaction and puzzle solving. Diablo 2 didn’t feel that way to me.

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Games I Own: Doom 3

Posted on 15th Apr 2009 at 17:40 by Joe Martin with 6 comments

Joe Martin
In response to my last Games I Own blogpost someone asked me when I was going to start blogging about some of the really bad games I own. Well, now I am. I don’t like Doom 3.

Or, rather, I don’t like much of Doom 3. The first half an hour or so of the game is pretty good, despite being pretty much a straight rip-off of Half-Life, and there are some bits that really make you jump later on…but the rest of it? Bleh.

There’s three main reasons I don’t like Doom 3. The first is that it’s endlessly repetitive – dark hallways go on forever, punctuated only by utterly redundant outside sections and oh, another scared scientist. Worse, it doesn’t even seem like there’s any variation to the game; all I can remember of it is fighting endless bloody imps.

The second reason I don’t like it is that the game as a whole is massively contrived and manufactured. There isn’t a single part of Doom 3 that stands out as being an example of where game design and concept meet; this is a high-tech science base that’s supposed to be utterly self-reliant yet even the well-lit areas are dismal and dim. Everyone moans that there should be duct tape somewhere in the base, but I’m more concerned by the poor lighting conditions even before the demons appear. And a marine should have more important things to do then go fetch eggheads, right? And why doesn’t a single scientist decide to follow the man with a gun, or at least mug him for his weapons?

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