Tag Archives: FPS

Dead Island

I bought kind of a zombie console MMO last year, but then never played it because I was under the impression that it needed a lot of players instead of just me. I later discovered over Labor Day weekend that not only can it played single-player, but it’s also kind of hilariously over the top, what with the zombie rap song and the dozens of bikini zombie models to choose from and the significant number of decapitations and head-crushings and weapon modifications available. I guess what I’m saying is it’s just pleasant to swing a burning baseball bat at a charging zombie and watch it burst into flames.

As for the storyline, it turned out to be a lot broader and a little deeper than expected. Broader in that zomg, so many sidequests, none of which even involved requests to bring back… well, okay, that’s not true, there were totally collection quests, but they at least had no bearing on advancing any plots or changing any characters. Those folks never got tired of their cans of food no matter how many I provided. But anyway, the rest, in which the mysteriously immune people wander the island in search of ways to save everyone and untangle the mystery of where these zombies are coming from and why they can drown? It’s interesting enough to go on with, and I eventually cared about one or two characters.

But mainly it’s those super fun collectible, buildable zombie-splattering toys.

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin

I’ve played a lot of games this summer, you guys! And I’m seemingly not done yet, so, pretty cool. Anyway, this is a sequel to a game from back before the console revolution, F.E.A.R. The second entry, Project Origin covers the immediate aftermath of original game, from a new perspective and with some small degree of overlap. Basically, where the first game explored the mystery of how the creepy little girl was involved with Paxton Fettel and his army of psychically-controlled Replicant soldiers, the second game goes deeper into both the future and the past of the corporation that caused all of this to be as well as into the story of Alma herself, creepier than ever but no longer quite so little.

Of course, not much of the game by percentage follows that story, and what is revealed is on the whole unsatisfying by itself: this game has “middle of a trilogy” written all over it. And honestly I don’t think the enemy AI was as challenging as last time, though whether that says more about the game or me is impossible to determine. Luckily, it was still eminently playable and full of moody scares, which is really the number one reason I was here in the first place. At least as scary as I remember the first one being? So between that and the speed with which I breezed through it, I regret nothing and in fact still want to play the third (and final?) game in the series.

I should also admit that even though the whole game felt like a trap, the unavoidability of its execution reminded me quite a bit of a certain underwater allegory I played a few years ago, and I found the end of the game to be extremely satisfying. (The admission is due to my theory that most people won’t have cared for the ending, you see.)


The video game renaissance continues unabated. Earlier this week, I finished another shooter with the unlikely acronym expansion of First Encounter Assault Recon, a government organization called in whenever the military anticipates paranormal activity on a combat assignment. In this case, a psychic with control over a thousand clone troops has snapped, started eating people, and taken control of a military contractor’s facility. What’s a guy to do but strap on some guns and start hunting clones? Except, the little girl in the red dress who keeps incinerating the normal backup units is making things… complicated.

I was surprised by how good this game was. The AI thing is really starting to get a lot better, such that part of the strategy for surviving an encounter with an enemy squad is making sure there’re enough items around to heal you afterward, rather than the old restore from save if you get hurt any trick. On top of that, I never imagined playing through a Japanese horror film, but that’s what this was, despite the wholly Americanized plotline that encases it. Several genuinely scary moments in the dark room with those headphones on.

The really cool backgrounds and graphics were ruined for me by Condemned, though. I just finished playing it in huge screen HD glory before F.E.A.R., only to find myself in another game made by the same people, which meant that I’d seen a lot of the background items and some of the background buildings just before, but in almost infinitely better resolution. (It might be time to upgrade my video card, though I won’t. It’s definitely time to upgrade my CPU and maybe motherboard, though I doubt I’ll do that either. This is why consoles hold the market share. Much lower cost to maintain, as long as you were going to get a good TV for your monitor anyway.)

Doom 3

So, after that long Half-Life detour, I finally did get around to playing Doom 3. And then came a very frustrating interlude this morning when, less than 10 seconds from victory, my wireless/optical mouse crapped out and I had to start all over. (Well, okay, just the last battle all over. Still, though. It was stressful.) In any case, after a 20 minute struggle to fix the mouse and a 2 minute struggle to replay that end bit, I have now finished.

Was it exactly the same as Doom and Doom 2 and Quake and etc.? Well. It still didn’t have a story the way Half-Life does. I mean, it has a story, and a pretty good one. But it’s basically the story of everything that led up to the endoomening. Space marine wandering around the planet Mars shooting demons, that part is identical, but now it has prettier graphics and a backstory. Which is to say, the fun in the game is seeing the graphics, but not in seeing how it turns out. Still, the backstory part is an improvement over the original Doom. I’d compare it to Doom 2 as well, but that would require me to remember anything, anything at all about that game that would distinguish it from the original. As for the Quake comparison, well, Quake sucks as a single player game, so this is much better than that. So, to answer the actual question: it’s different, but only cosmetically.

That’s okay, though. Going into Hell with guns blazing to save humanity is its own reward. On top of that, the graphical and auditory enhancements have made it pretty spooky. Okay, there’s no good reason in-game why you can’t have the flashlight and a weapon out at the same time. But it would ratchet the tension way down, and the whole point of the Doom franchise is to be twitching around at every noise afraid of being blasted into a lava pit by a giant beholder (which we call a cacodaemon, because this isn’t Dungeons and Dragons, but I think I know a beholder when I see one, thanks). It succeeds masterfully at this aspect, and the backstory-gathering is all gravy on top of that.

I hope they wait for Doom 4 until we’re at another full leap forward technologically, because otherwise they’re really going to have to write an engrossing plotline after all, and id’s only real innovative strength (at least, that others don’t do as well at or better) is the iconic shock image, eg Doom’s missile-launching minotaur or Wolfenstein’s power-armored Hitler. Good Stuff, yeah, but only so good when games that are chock full of plot are in the same place on the store’s shelf, for the same price.

Half-Life: Blue Shift

Last night, I got around to hooking up my new computer speakers. Once you have an upgrade like that, your only choice is to dig out a new game. Conveniently, I had an old new game laying around, in the form of Half-Life: Blue Shift, the second and final expansion of the original game.

In the third perspective of the Black Mesa incident, security guard Barney Calhoun finds himself surrounded by a collapsing experimental facility, terrified scientists, impersonal military clean-up crews, and hideous alien monstrosities. In other words, if you’re looking for something new and different, pick up Half-Life 2 instead.

The game is short in a way that I haven’t experienced since Luigi’s Mansion. It doesn’t have any new monsters or weapons, or even all the monsters or weapons from either of the previous two games. It does have the same Half-Life charm, though. Puzzle-solving at its finest in a shooter, occasional scares, a well-realized world, and people to save who, unlike in previous episodes, you actually have a chance of saving. The only thing that makes it hard to recommend is that the G-Man has far too light a touch. But that’s okay. That’s what Half-Life 2 is for.