Posted on 9th Oct 2010 at 08:36 by Joe Martin with 36 comments
I completed Half-Life: Blue Shift for the first time last night and, I have to say, I was enormously disappointed with it. I’d heard it was supposed to be the worst Half-Life game by far – something which had put me off playing it until recently, when I picked it up on a whim, but even I wasn’t expecting it to be so totally…bland. It was too short, too easy and enormously lacking in character. It took me three or four hours to complete, during which I died once and didn’t get to see anything in the way of new monsters or weapons.
Compare that to Half-Life: Opposing Force, which I still maintain is the perfect expansion pack even in spite of the silly end-boss. Opposing Force has plenty of new content, including an entirely new race of aliens that have never been officially explained within the Half-Life canon. Plus, it has the barnacle gun. It’s a fantastic expansion pack.
What really makes Opposing Force better than Blue Shift though isn’t just the new guns and baddies, but the fact that it has a personality of it’s own which, while it draws on Half-Life, feels entirely distinct. Like the original Half-Life, both expansions open with the player sat in a moving vehicle, but where Blue Shift merely apes HL’s train ride Opposing Force differs in every possible way. HL opens with the start of the story, deep underground, with a sedate and lonely pace; Opposing Force’s Adrian Shepherd is in a helicopter with the rest of his squad, entering the plot at the half-way point in a rather dramatic fashion.
Posted on 3rd Dec 2009 at 10:32 by Joe Martin with 32 comments
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.
Posted on 8th Oct 2009 at 12:09 by Joe Martin with 17 comments
I was playing Professor Layton and Pandora’s Box
yesterday (in the course of writing the review) when I had a moment of utter brain failure. It’s embarrassing to even admit it, that’s how stupid it was of me.
The question was; if you have a rectangular piece of paper and fold it so that there’s an extra centimetre on one side and then you fold it the other way with a centimetre extra on the other end, then how far in millimetres would it be between the two creases when the paper is unfolded?
It’s a simple, easy question and the game gave me three spaces to write a number into. I quickly scribbled my answer down; 100mm and was told that was incorrect. Baffled, I got a piece of paper out and tried it out – measuring the gap as one centimetre. Again I put my answer in. Again; incorrect. It was only on the third go that I slapped my face and realised that there were only 10 millimetres in a centimetre – not 100. I was being a moron and had been led astray by the fact that the game gave you three spaces to put an answer in, not two. I’m an idiot.
That then got me thinking (as best as I was able anyway) about how my brain is stuffed with useless information that I use everyday and all the actual useful stuff that I never need to know has trickled away over the years. It’s ironic and twisted, but I can get more use out of game memory than I’d ever get from remembering how to do trigonometry properly.
Posted on 29th Jun 2009 at 10:37 by Joe Martin with 12 comments
I’ve always had a soft spot for the SiN games and it isn’t just because of the boobs in it. The original SiN was released around the same time as I started to move from being regular gamer to a real hardcore enthusiast. I’d been playing games most of my life, but it was around that time that I really started to get involved in games as a serious hobby.
That’s not to say that the original SiN was a great game though, far from it. It was buggier than a hobo’s mattress, uglier than the brown stains there-upon and cruder than the manners of the owner. It did however have an incredibly alluring and bountifully endowed villainess though, plus a lot of swearing and explosions and that was enough for my brother to cave in and buy it.
While the low-poly cleavage definitely helped sustain my attention in the game when I started playing it shortly after my brother the thing that really grabbed my interest was the branching storyline. Every time I played through the game it seemed different and I probably played it a good ten or so times (each time with God mode on though as it was a horrendously difficult game). Levels linked together intricately and by completing optional objectives early in the game you could end up visiting wholly new locations and exposing new plot lines later. One game might see you assaulting Elexis Sinclaire on her off-shore oil rig, or her underground geothermal plant, while others had you storm her house or follow her to an observatory.