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Archive for the ‘games i own’ tag

Games I Own: Atmosfear The Video Board Game

Posted on 18th May 2009 at 10:29 by Joe Martin with 17 comments

Joe Martin
The usual joke computer game journalists make about board games is that it’s good to have a few around in case there’s a power cut and your handheld is out of battery, but other than that why bother? It’s a joke I’ve made before when the topic has come up, but the reality is that I love board games. It isn’t cool to say so, but board games are cool.

Board games were a huge part of my childhood. I come from a family of seven and my mum worked nights, which meant we often had to be quiet during the day; of course board games were a significant part of my childhood. My dad would even make up little alternate reality games where we’d run around in the woods, solve ancient riddles and search for ‘hidden’ things, with the final ‘treasure’ usually being a board game for us all.

I can still remember fighting my brother, who was wearing a huge papier machie helmet to make him look like a centaur, with a wooden broadsword over a ‘treasure chest’ containing The Legend of Zagor boardgame. That particular ARG went on throughout all the summer holidays…but now I’m getting off track.

The point is: one of my favourite board games growing up was Atmosfear: The Video Board Game. It was a horror-themed game for up to six people where players had to go round a graveyard collecting keys as fast as possible. The game came with an accompanying VHS video, so you played in front of a TV which had a clock counting down on it and you’d collect Time cards that told you to do certain things at certain times. You had one hour to get six keys and escape the cemetery or the Gatekeeper would claim your soul.

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Games I Own: EVE Online

Posted on 16th Apr 2009 at 11:34 by Mark Mackay with 41 comments

Mark Mackay
We’ve all got those games that we keep coming back to in life. You play for a few months, a year or maybe more until your attention and enthusiasm ends up elsewhere for a time. Eventually though, you get this burning desire, like a flame rekindled, to dig out and fire up that classic for some nostalgia gaming. With its recent re-release I thought I’d talk about one such a game that I always end up coming back to, EVE Online.

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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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The Game That Made Me Cry

Posted on 6th Apr 2009 at 14:42 by Joe Martin with 24 comments

Joe Martin
Beyond Good and Evil is one of those games I have to actually restrain myself from talking about – and anyone who knows me will confirm that it’s very rare for me to be prevented from talking, so I guess that’s saying something. No pun intended.

Giving myself free reign for a minute or two though, Beyond Good and Evil is probably one of the best games I’ve ever played, though it bears the distinction of being one of the only games I can say that about but have only actually finished once. Unlike the other games on my list of favoured titles (Planescape, Sands of Time, etc), once is enough when it comes to Beyond Good and Evil. It also has one of my favourite game trailers ever.

Beyond Good and Evil has a more unique distinction though, one which is a whole lot more damning and which I can’t recall ever really writing about in detail before. Beyond Good and Evil is the only game that’s ever made me cry. I’ve got misty over a lot of games – but Beyond Good and Evil pushed me over that breach and made me actually start sobbing.

I’m going to explain why now, so if that idea interests you and you think you might be interested in playing Beyond Good and Evil at some point then I implore you not to read any further. There be spoilers beyond!

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Games I Own: The Thief Series

Posted on 27th Mar 2009 at 15:07 by Joe Martin with 12 comments

Joe Martin
First, a confession; I wasn’t going to write about Thief originally. I was actually trying to write a blog post about the gaming achievement I was most proud of, which for me was completing Bookworm in classic mode. In the course of writing that post I started talking about Thief though and before long the game was dominating the post. I love Thief.

I got introduced to Thief back when the first demo came out on a PC Gamer cover disc, though I actually only tried the demo as a matter of curiosity. Even back then the graphics were too ugly to attract my attention straight away.

When I got in to the demo though, which was the entire first level of the game, I was hooked. Not just hooked in the way that I played it three or four times either; I was physically addicted. I’m confident that, if someone put a gun to my head, I could play that level with my eyes shut. Lord Bafford’s Manor was permanently etched onto my brain with the kind of furious heat that only comes from eyes that burn from staring at a screen so long.

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Games I Own: Grim Fandango

Posted on 23rd Mar 2009 at 14:03 by Joe Martin with 11 comments

Joe Martin
Grim Fandango has three distinctions in my games library. Firstly, it’s one of my favourite games. Secondly, it’s one of the only 3D adventure games I really like (Escape from Monkey Island is a disgrace to the series, I reckon) and thirdly, it’s one of only a handful of games that I’d label as a romantic game.

Romance is, I think, something that isn’t explored enough in games – probably because of a weakness in the medium that doesn’t make it hugely capable of displaying that emotion. I can only think of a half-dozen games that actually deal with matters of the heart so openly and most of them are Leisure Suit Larry games! Despite it being a fairly small niche though, Grim Fandango stands head and shoulders above the masses as perhaps the most singularly romantic game I’ve ever played.

The story for the game is a masterpiece of noir fiction, set in a imaginative take on the Mexican afterlife and with players cast as unlikely hero, Manny Calvera, salesman for new souls. When somebody dies in the real world it’s Manny’s job to assess their soul and try to find them the quickest way to the true heaven. If someone has been good in their life then they can take a quick train through the afterlife straight to heaven. If they’ve been bad then they’ll be lucky if they’re even given a map, but it’s Manny’s job to help them as best he can.

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My Guilty Secret: The Games I Haven't Played

Posted on 17th Mar 2009 at 13:20 by Joe Martin with 30 comments

Joe Martin
I’ve got a guilty secret when it comes to gaming, several in fact, which I’ve carried for an awfully long time and have occasionally haunted parts of my professional life. There are times when I’ve confessed these things and the result has universally been one of shock and disappointment. Quite simply; there are games I haven’t played.

Well, obviously. There are lots of things I haven’t played; awful tat like Imagine: Petz and so on. What I’m explicitly talking about here though are the reputedly great games out there which I’m expected to have played, but haven’t. Things like Diablo 2, for example.

It doesn’t sound like a huge issue, but it actually is. There’s a huge assumption out there that as a games journalist I should have played every game, ever – or at the very least I should’ve played every game that’s scored a 7/10 or more. There’s a consensus among readers and peers that a qualification for being allowed to review something is that a familiarity with every game like it. How can I write a story about Tomb Raider: Underworld if I skipped from Tomb Raider 2 straight to Legend and never even finished the first two games?

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Games I Own: The Lost Mind of Dr. Brain

Posted on 16th Feb 2009 at 15:09 by Joe Martin with 11 comments

Joe Martin
The Lost Mind of Dr. Brain is a game I should be ashamed of owning, but I’m not. You know why? Because it’s an enshrinement to my life as a gamer and it’s damned fun, that’s why.

Produced by Sierra Entertainment back in 1994, this was one of the games which came with my family's first PC. It was one of the dividing lines that marked my move from an Amiga user to PC gamer.

Apparently the third game in the series, the story revolves around the titular Dr. Brain, who manages to swap his brain with his lab rat. It’s up to you, at the direction of his rather useless niece, to restore the good Doctor’s intelligence – done mainly be solving strings of puzzles in one of ten different areas of his brain.

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Games I Own: No One Lives Forever

Posted on 11th Feb 2009 at 09:24 by Joe Martin with 19 comments

Ah, No One Lives Forever. Definitely one of my favourite games ever and it has been ever since I played the singleplayer demo ages ago. The demo was three full levels long, which I remember thinking was unprecedentedly lengthy at the time.

Mostly though, I remember being wowed by one level in particular that takes place on a pilotless passenger plane, which you have to jump out of without a parachute. The aim of the next level is to grab a ‘chute before your freefall comes to an abrupt end.

Essentially Austin Powers: The Game, Monolith’s super-spy extravaganza is set in the middle of the sixties and casts players as Cate Archer – the only female operative in the secret Unity organisation. Also, after a string of assassinations from a group known only as HARM, the only operative actually left alive.

What makes NOLF such a great game, other than its length, is the sheer irreverence that it treats itself with. Everything is a stereotyped caricature of itself, from the leather cat-suited Cate, right through to the cycloptic Russian assassin, Volkov.

Games I Own: No One Lives Forever

To dismiss No One Lives Forever as nought but a humorous shooter though is to do it a great disservice, in my opinion. There’s so much more to the game than that.

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Games that break themselves: Hitman 2

Posted on 9th Feb 2009 at 06:58 by Joe Martin with 12 comments

Joe Martin
I bought a game last week – the Hitman Triple Pack. It’s got Hitman 2, Contracts and Blood Money in it, all for £15.

It’s an odd, old purchase admittedly, but the buying habits of game journos tend to be quite different from regular customers in my experience. I already get sent and get to play all the new games as they come out, so any money I spend in stores is dedicated to collecting older games I missed out on before.

Hitman 2 though is a game I have a turbulent and colourful history, mainly because of one aspect of its game design. I've tried to complete it four times now and each time I've given up when I got to the Japanese levels.

Playing Hitman 2 over the weekend, I again got to the second Japanese level (the one with the ninjas, where you have to infiltrate the castle) and I thought of giving up on it again.

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