Saturday, 9 November 2013

2013 - Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon

What is Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon?

Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon is a Far Cry 3 expandalone (God why does this word exist?) which means it's an expansion pack for Far Cry 3 and reuses its assets to create a different game, however you do not need to buy Far Cry 3 for the game to work. At its roots, Blood Dragon is Far Cry 3 all over again. You shoot bad dudes, loot their bodies, do missions and side quests, level up and upgrade your weapons with various attachments. But the game is actually more than that. They changed the entire demographic from teenagers who like open-world RPG shooters to people who were born in the 70s and remember all the cool and cheesy 80s and 90s sci-fi with all the lasers and bad jokes and puns (like seriously who the hell thought "knife to meet you" was funny?) to bring out the nostalgia about all those sci-fi shows. As a result, the game is chock-full of references. In fact I think even the jumping is a reference to Deus Ex Human Revolution's leg augment which allows you to jump 9 feet in the air. There are countless other references to things like Terminator, Star Wars and a lot of others I can't think of right now. The game is very dumb too and offers countless stupid jokes and laughs, even the loading hints are funny. They're not even hints to some extent.


Gameplay in Blood Dragon is identical to Far Cry 3, with some minor movement changes and weapon modifications. For one thing, you move extremely quickly while sprinting, at superhuman speed which almost makes cars a liability unless they have a mounted gun on them (ie. a laser minigun with no overheating penalty) and you can jump very high too, high enough to make effective use of the overhead takedown which originally was meant to be done while jumping off of something onto people, making it easy to kill individual targets even if they've seen you so you can't do the regular takedown. The game still focuses on main story missions, side missions which are either kill someone/thing or rescue a hostage, finding collectibles and liberating outposts (garrisons). The collectibles aren't mandatory but they do unlock various gun upgrades so they are important, and you can buy 25% of the map for $500 when you liberate a garrison in that quadrant which reveals all the collectibles in that corner, making it easier if you're not determined to find them by yourself and you just want them for the upgrades. There are a lot of them though so it'll take you a while, but that's a good thing. Trust me. The side missions are fun the first few times you do them, but they can get kind of repetitive and tedious after a while, as there are usually around 2 per garrison and there are a lot of them. The kill things missions actually involve two different types: kill a specific special animal just like the original Far Cry 3 which looks different to other ones, and the other kind is to kill a specific "elite" guard, which is the same as those missions which you kill a commando with a knife, except you don't have to use a knife this time. The rescue missions tend to focus on stealth, though it is not vital, however it makes it a whole lot easier. There are some guards set around the place guarding a hostage, and you have to kill the guards without being seen, or they kill the hostage. However, it is not instant failure if you are caught, for if you are caught, they will just shoot him until he dies, giving you the chance to kill them while they are distracted, but he can't take many shots so you have to be fast. The hostage is always a scientist, and so is every other ally that isn't a major character, so everyone looks the same, which can get kind of weird at times, but they have those Star Trek eye glasses and gas masks on so it's not entirely weird. It's understandable that the enemies all look the same as they are "reanimated cyber soldiers" which are dead people turned into cyborgs, and they all have helmets on so you can't see their faces anyway. The heavy minigun carrying guard is a blatant reference to Robocop though, with the distinctive helmet. The main story missions however, is where the game really gets into its stride, as these are the most insane and funny, and actually involve doing something other than rescuing people or killing things. I won't spoil anything, but they are every bit as enjoyable as they are insane, and they're pretty insane, with the first mission being a turret segment, however it's a genuinely fun turret segment because you're attacking a garrison for no apparent reason with a laser minigun listening to Long Tall Sally and everything is exploding and lasers are flying everywhere, making for a pretty crazy turret segment start. People who hated the crafting system in Far Cry 3 will be overjoyed as the entire crafting system has been eradicated and replaced with buying stuff. Also the skills system is out the window and you just unlock specific stuff at a specific level, disallowing character builds.


Graphics in Blood Dragon are exactly identical to the original Far Cry 3, which are absolutely beautiful, however the game is permanently at night so it's always dark and the lighting was probably what made the game look exceptionally good. But the graphical fidelity looks almost the same on low as it does on ultra, except the performance is much higher, so the engine is pretty good. I can't currently get any screenshots, but the laser effects are pretty and that's what's important.


The music in Blood Dragon is exactly what you would expect from a 90s throwback, with all the oldschool electronic music which may sound cheesy to people who didn't grow up around that time, but brings back nostalgic memories in people who did. Overall the music is great across the board, but that of course is subject to taste. You can listen to the entire soundtrack in this video.

What is missing from that soundtrack is Long Tall Sally, but you can easily find that on Youtube somewhere.


In conclusion, if you really enjoyed Far Cry 3 but you're tired of it and you want more but different, Blood Dragon is an excellent game to pick up and cheaply, only £11.99/$14.99 on Steam and other places like Uplay. However even if you buy it on Steam, they still force you to use Uplay, just like the original Far Cry 3. You do get to unlock some of the tracks in the soundtrack through doing some of the achievements though, which is pretty cool. But even if you didn't play Far Cry 3 or even enjoy it, but you enjoyed 90s sci-fi, you'll definitely enjoy Blood Dragon. I highly recommend buying it if you like either Far Cry or 90s sci-fi.

Friday, 1 November 2013

1996 - Duke Nukem 3D

What is Duke Nukem 3D?

Duke Nukem 3D is at a very basic level, a Doom clone. The premise is the same - you're some dude in a labyrinth shooting monsters and picking up items and bigger guns and keys. However, Duke is a different game entirely besides the premise, as the environment is much more interactive, the monsters are more intelligent and actually pose a bigger challenge than the measly zombies with guns and Duke actually feels like a real person rather than a mute space marine, though he doesn't really have a character, more like a voice to spurt pop-culture references that only 30 year old people would get today.


Gameplay in Duke 3D is very similar to Doom, hence the term "Doom clone". This doesn't mean it isn't fun though, and in fact Doom clone should mean the game is very fun, and in most cases it does, especially in this case. There is a lot to do in most of the levels, such as kill quite literally hundreds of enemies in a level, tip strippers, play pinball (press space while next to a pinball machine and listen to the sounds), play pool and much more, though the actual level of interactivity is fairly basic due to technical limitations. Duke Nukem Forever does offer more interactivity in its distractions, allowing you to actually play the minigames with a proper pinball table, realistic pool table physics and generally more of them, however DNF is a much worse game for reviewing another time. Duke 3D is a very fun shooter with fairly meaty and loud guns, with tonnes of variety between each of them, much more so than Doom. For example, there are 9 guns and a kick for melee. There are fairly generic guns like the pistol, the shotgun and the chaingun which all do what you would expect them to, but there are also things like the rocket launcher and pipe bomb which also do what you would expect, however after the shrink ray, is where things get interesting. The shrink ray shrinks monsters (obviously) which allows you to stomp on them while miniaturized, however this more often than not is a last resort as you are still open to being shot while stomping them. The Devastator is possibly the best weapon in the game, as it is quite literally a rapid fire mini rocket launcher, with two barrels firing two rockets at a time, with 99 shots maximum, which do tonnes of damage. The Freezethrower also does what you think, throwing balls of ice shards at enemies, which then freeze them, but it's often a time-buyer as you have to kick them or shoot them with another weapon to smash them or they will thaw and it doesn't really have another use. Also bosses are invincible to both the shrink ray and freezethrower.


The graphics in Duke 3D look incredibly similar to Doom, however it is a technically more advanced engine with a very interesting and amazing backstory, being developed single-handedly by a 17 year old Ken Silverman since the early 90s after Wolfenstein 3D came out. You can watch an in-depth video on the history of the engine here:

The premise of the graphics engine is similar to Doom's too, using sectors for both the shaping of the levels, lighting effects and use of textures on the walls, however it is much more advanced, as it allows for native use of ramps, forming ramps, conveyor-belt floors, swimming underwater and much more stuff that nerds will be interested in knowing, which can all be viewed in the Shadow Warrior test map, which is more interesting than a test map in Duke 3D since Shadow Warrior's engine is more advanced and allows for more cool advances. Again, like Doom, there are multiple graphics mods which greatly improve the fidelity, usable in the biggest used source port, eDuke32.
Every Duke player recognizes this level:

Of course, this is the first level and it is the second thing you ever see in Duke 3D. However, below is a screenshot from Duke 3D HRP (Hi-Res Pack) which greatly improves the look of Duke, including 3D models, HD textures and OpenGL lighting effects:

As you can see, the graphics are greatly improved and brings Duke to the present with great looking graphics. Obviously the engine is still limited so the models at times can look pretty ugly, but then again the enemies are aliens so that may well be an intention of the devs.


The music in Duke 3D is good, but not really anything to write home about. It doesn't particularly sound like anything you would listen to, and does a better job at being ambient background music than anything else. However, I am obligated to post a video link to the E1L1 song so here it is:

However, the main theme song is the most iconic theme song from the 90s, including Shadow Warrior and Doom 2, so here it is if you want to listen to it, both in its original Grabbag glory and the DNF remake by Megadeth, which is much better.

Duke today

Duke Nukem 3D is still thriving via a few multiplayer source ports, mods being made available to download from 3D Realms' website and ModDB for use in eDuke32 and a redux available on Steam which includes the atomic edition and 3 different expansion packs all in a brand new OpenGL engine and the original DOSBox version packaged together, and multiplayer is currently in development for it. Though it is less appreciated today than Doom, it still has a very active community.


In conclusion, Duke Nukem 3D is a very good shooter, a good Doom clone at best and is well worth your time and money, offering hundreds of hours of fun and is in my opinion, one of the best shooters in history alongside Doom. I highly recommend picking it up on Steam more so than anywhere else like as it comes with a better source port and the expansion packs, but you can still download eDuke for the mod support.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

1993 - The Ultimate Doom


Doom. Where do I start with Doom? Well first off, it's the first game I ever played in my entire life. One day when I was about 2 or 3 years old, I came home and my dad sat me on his lap at the computer and he started up Doom. I saw this amazing art of some badass dude holding a gun (I didn't know what that was at the time but it looked awesome) and he was kicking some demon ass. My dad pressed buttons. I was thinking "OH MY GOD BUTTONS DO STUFF ON THE SCREEN THIS IS AMAZING ALREADY!" and then he got into the game. I was instantly blown away by how amazing the game looked. Despite the year was some time in the late 90s, I had never seen anything this amazing before. My toddler mind was thinking that this was the best thing in the history of anything. He walked into the room in the left and the weapon was moving at the bottom of the screen, and it looked like a little face was staring back at me. There were some dudes in this room on the left seemingly attacking me. My dad pressed a button and POW POW they were toast. I instantly fell in love with Doom.

What is Doom?

Anyway, nostalgic sentiments out of the way, let's get onto what Doom really is. If you don't know what it is by now, then what the hell have you been doing for 20 years now? If you're not a 90's kid, or not that much into computer games, I probably forgive you. If you are 13/14 years old or you never really played games all that much back in the day, let me give you a brief description. Doom is a first person shooter which changed the way the world saw first person shooters and moulded the FPS genre as we know it today. Without it, we wouldn't have FPS games in the same format. It's hard to tell what it would be like without it, and of course, without Wolfenstein 3D as its predecessor, the true first FPS which combined all the elements of an arcade game with the elements of what we now call a FPS, making it the first great leap towards modern FPS games. Doom being the second, was much improved, with greater technology and therefore, greater gameplay.


Gameplay in Doom by today's standards is rather simplistic. All you really do in Doom is run around, shoot things, find keys and bigger guns and ultimately, the exit across four different episodes, roughly taking one hour each to beat if you know what you're doing. But there's more to that. The gameplay is fun because you are in a maze. This maze is filled with challenge in the form of monsters that are out there to kill you. However, this maze is also filled with supplies which will help you overcome these monsters, with things like medkits, ammo, bigger guns and keys to unlock doors blocking your path. The gameplay can be somewhat repetitive however it stays interesting as the enemy variety is fairly large enough, especially in later episodes, however it leaves a fair bit to be desired. There really aren't all that many enemies when you count them and you really notice it, especially in the first episode where all you fight is 2 kinds of zombies, imps, demons and that's it really until the boss fight, where you fight 2 Barons and some invisible demons. The level design is absolutely spot-on for the game. The levels come in two kinds of variety: The first and most common kind is a huge labyrinth which sometimes can be fairly difficult to navigate, but that's part of the fun. The second kind is a very fast paced run 'n' gun type of level, which tend to have levels which compliment the fact Doomguy can run at 53 mph (Yes this is actually true) and a lot of enemies which lead to hot fire-fights and not a huge amount of tactics required other than circle-strafe the shit out of that room and fuck everything up with your chaingun, and personally I find these a lot more fun than the other ones, and unfortunately these are less common. The weapon variety also sadly leaves some to be desired, with only 8 weapons, including your fist (which can be powered up to roughly 10x its regular strength with a powerup which lasts the whole level), a chainsaw, a pistol, a shotgun, a chaingun, a rapid fire rocket launcher, a plasma rifle and the almighty holy grail of weaponry, the BFG9000, which is the most powerful and interesting weapon in the game. The weapons are rather self-explanatory. With the fist, you punch things. The chainsaw cuts things. The pistol, shotgun and chaingun shoot stuff. The rocket launcher shoots a big explodey thingy of death. The plasma rifle rapidly fires blue pretties that rapidly murder everything and the BFG fires a big green pretty that just fucks every mother fucker in the room with its rather OP effect, only balanced by the fact it fires extremely slowly, has a charge-up time and uses 40 cells per shot, which is shared with your plasma rifle. Though despite this may seem like a lot of weaponry, you'll probably find yourself sticking mostly to the shotgun or chaingun, as the ammo for these is most plentiful, and only using the rocket launcher or plasma weapons in bigger fights, as the ammo for these weapons tends to be quite rare to find, most commonly in secrets, in single packs laid around or in large amounts near boss fights, such as something like 20 boxes of rockets could be found near the start of a Cyberdemon battle.


Finally some screenies, yaay! The graphics for Doom at the time in 1993 were mind-blowing. The weapon sprites were incredibly detailed, the monsters looked terrifying and you could mutilate said enemies into bloody corpses on the ground which stayed there until you left the level. Nothing like this had ever been done before and even to this day, people are still making graphical mods for the game so it looks modernized, since today, for obvious reasons, it looks extremely dated.
Take a look at the screenshot below and you will see the first thing that is hard-coded into every Doomer's memory.
That is the legendary E1M1: Hangar. Tears of nostalgia are dripping down every true Doomer's cheeks right now.

This is a screenshot from Classic Doom 3, a very faithfully created Doom 3 mod, which creates the first episode of Doom rather well in the Doom 3 engine and looks absolutely stunning in the ID Tech 4 engine, which even by today's standards still looks pretty good.


The music in Doom is absolutely mind-blowingly awesome. It is by Bobby Prince, who is now hailed as one of the best game music composers ever. The music fits the gameplay perfectly, with each song fitting each level's theme, pacing, style and everything.
Every Doomer has these two songs hard-coded into their memories.

Not enough good words can be said about these two songs, but of course that is subject to taste and you will have to see for yourself if you like that style of music. I have never come across a Doomer that doesn't like Doom's music, however, so if you don't like it, you must be new.

Doom today

Doom is still alive today with a highly active community online, with Zandronum allowing people to play Doom over the internet, countless online forums such as Doomworld, Newdoom and many others, and quite literally billions of mods have been created since 1994 and are still being created today and being downloaded from sites such as ModDB, Doomworld's WAD section and many FTP servers which host hundreds or even thousands of WADs which people download from hundreds of times daily. It is still going strong after 20 years and hopefully will continue to be strong in the coming 20 years.


In conclusion, Doom is an absolutely brilliant game. It defined the genre, absolutely destroyed its competition such as Rise of the Triad and a few others and it offers thousands of hours of fun with its community-made content which never gets old, despite the technology is extremely dated. It isn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, and is indeed not the best FPS ever created, and has its problems. However in my opinion, it is my favourite FPS ever created despite not being the best one. It is extremely highly recommended that you buy Doom, with your best bet to actually finding a copy is via Steam, and it is incredibly cheap to buy the complete classic package or the individual games.

Starting out game reviewering

I've decided to start writing game reviews because I wanted to. I can't do videos because that involves thinking on the spot, but if I write it, I can edit it how I want. I hope to get out reviews for games that I like to advise people to buy those games and also filter out shitty games that you shouldn't buy at all. I'll (try to) sort the games by year of release, and I won't do them in any particular order, but I'll try to concentrate on newer releases and some obscure releases so people know about them. If I don't review a game, that either means I haven't played it or I just didn't find it interesting enough to review. I'll start out with my favourite game, Doom sort of as a tester to test if I'm any good at it and if anyone likes my stuff.

A shoutout to Clonehunter of Doomworld forums for reminding me that I was thinking about doing this.

First off, a bit about myself. I like old-school games and I am very biased towards 90s FPS and games that are trying to copy those games. However this is not the only genre I like. I like stealth games, adventure games, platformers, racing games, RPGs if they don't have a subscription (haha laugh at me because I'm cheap) and a multitude of new and different games I didn't even know existed. This will mean that number one, I'm human, therefore I fall towards bias every now and then and I will often think a game is poopy but I will state that is my opinion and that other people might like it, such as the way of a reviewer.

I don't call myself a "professional reviewer", more like "that mate down the pub who tells you about games and whether or not to buy them" in the vaguely ad libbed words of Nerd³, my favourite Youtube LPer. I'm not linked to any official company and I don't pretend to be professional. I'm simply here because I like games and I want to write about them. That is all.

At the end of the day, I'm just some guy on the internet who makes videos, plays games and now writes reviews and you probably don't even give a damn. That's great, because I don't know who you are and you only know I exist because I'm posting media online. You don't like it? Fine. You do like it? Stick around.