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Quake III on Nightmare

Hey guys, it's certainly been a long time since writing one of these, but I'm dropping one down because I'm actually quite proud of my efforts. :P

I haven't been playing too many new games, partly because of my uninterest in the current standard, partly because I don't have much time, and partly because my computer is dying by the minute. So when I do have the time, I usually jump onto Quake III for a quick round.

I've actually owned Quake III since 2000, when I was a wee tyke pwning noobs at a third grade level. Satisfied with completing the game on "I Can Win", I put it away for a time, but over the last three years or so, I've been playing Quake III reguarly (offline I might add, I have beautifully failed to ever play the game online), slowly building my skill over time. All times I've tried Nightmare has usally been for a laugh just to see how ridiculously hard it is to win. I remember getting extremely frustrated with the game when I couldn't even beat Crash on Nightmare. Intensley angering.

And with that, I convinced myself Nightmare was impossible, and only the most amazing gamers could tackle the AI. So over the last year or so, I've been convincingly winning Hardcore difficulty over and over - to the point of boredom, but never trying my hand at Nightmare, for fear of losing again. I usually stick to DM17 (The Longest Yard) and know the map like the back of my hand.

So, last weekend, I looked and the big Nightmare button, and thought - "Whatever, if I lose, I'll be expecting it. Let's try it out." So I started up for Nightmare once again - but this time, it was slightly different. This time, I was right up there on the scoreboard. I eventually lost, but I knew that, with a small amount of practice, I could do it. Three tries later, I had. I had won Nightmare for the first time. I had done the impossible task. And so I moved onto one map to another, and slowly won nightmare again and again. I was actually surprised that what I once thought was downright impossible, seemed so basic now.

So I know it may not seem like a very incredible task compared to others, especially coming off the Olympics, hehe - but I decided that an eight year struggle with my favourite DM game that I finally conquered deserved a mention. If anyone actually bothered reading all of that, thanks.8)

Duke Nukem has arrived!

1996. Duke Nukem 3d was released and changed the face of the FPS genre forever. Duke was worshipped as the top dog in the PC industry; expansion packs, mods, new stories and grand new ideas flocked the game, and became a massive success.

But back then there was stiff competition to the FPS market, and soon enough, with the release of Quake and Half Life, Duke Nukem 3d dropped away, having now reached legendary status and cemented itself as one of the greatest games of all time.

How then, could a sequel to this monumental game go wrong at all? Well, the evidence is clear. Duke Nukem forever was announced on April 28th 1997, to the cheers of thousands of rabid fans. Little did these rabid fans know that this newly announced game would not be released for at least another eleven years.

The game produced a teaser trailer in 1998 under the Quake II engine, then upgraded to the Unreal Engine in 1999 to the release of seven or so new screenshots. By 2001, many believed the game would never be released - it had been four years since the game was announced. However, a new trailer was released, looking absolutely stunning once again.

And since that day, the game fell into huge developement hell, and until 2007, nothing has been announced or released. It seemed that Duke Nukem had reached its final breath.

However, 2007 saw the release of three incredibly small screenshots of Duke Nukem Forever to prove to the world the original badass wasn't dead yet. Although small, the screenshots conveyed the amazing new Unreal 3 Engine graphics well, and suddenly Duke fans were whispers of Duke returning once again.

But today, finally, George Broussard, the head of 3d Realms officially announced the release of a new Duke Nukem Forever teaser trailer coming later today. Coupled with a brand new, high resolution screenshot, we could soon be reaching the end of this huge campaign spread over eleven years.

Most rejected the idea that Duke Nukem Forever will ever be released, and even if it was, it would be a crumbly mess. And although the game still hasn't been released, and no one knows for sure how good it will actually be, the future does look promising for Duke.

"Hail to the King baby." The king is back.

StarCraft II Announced

After weeks of speculation with friends, family, and anyone who knows anything about gaming, the dream finally came true for thousands of fans. For me, it's not just another installment in the StarCraft universe, or either another game in the Blizzard franchise - it's far more important. This is Blizzard's chance to hit back. As we all know, World of Warcraft has sold millions, and it appears Blizzard have found the way to earn a lot of money, without doing much at all. However, many believe, as I did, that Blizzard has sold out. They weren't looking to make the best game they could make anymore. They were simply looking at the profit.

And that brings us to around two weeks ago, when Blizzard told the world that there would be an announcement concerning a new game on May 19th. Frantic guesses. Was it StarCraft II? Was it a StarCraft MMO? A Diablo sequel, or just a new game all together? And suddenly, with Saturday just over the hills, the sequel to the near 10 year old, million dollar selling game, was announced. StarCraft II.

And with another of Blizzard's highly praised cinematics, we see a man walk into a huge mechanical room, suddenly being dressed with large chunks of metal armour, and cloth padding. His gun is fitted in place, gloves slid on, and we suddenly see a body shot, but not yet have we seen his face. Flashes of mutilisks flying, marines firing, and possibly a quick shot of Kerrigan tease us with more great action, and suddenly it flies up to the marine's face. And with the uttered line "Hell,it's about time," his helmet suddenly shuts tight, and the logo "StarCraft II" is revealed. It's about time indeed.

As blood rushed to my head, I could only hope this would be the standard for the rest of the game, and with the release of new screenshots, a gameplay trailer, and the Flash Website, one can only imagine how great this game could end up being. It shares a likeness to both the Warcraft games and the first StarCraft game, and although it doesn't break the mold in terms of technical graphics, it still looks great.

Although the release date is still fairly far away, with a 2008 speculation, we can still sleep tight at night knowing StarCraft II is in the works and in safe developer's hands. It currently looks just as high quality as any other Blizzard release, and if all goes to plan, we could be looking at another award winning title. And so as this post comes to a close, I've simply got three words for you. World of What?

New games, old games, and in the middle

Christmas onwards has been a killer experience, and the plague of Thief, Republic Commando, and Bloodmoon has spread to beyond just these games.

I've managed to whip out the original Thief: The Dark Project, along with it's sequel, The Metal Age, and am finally old enough, and ready enough to complete these great games.

They are simply amazing, and if anyone wants to know any more about what I think of the game, be sure to check out my review or Thief II: The Metal Age.

With Republic Commando in my brain, and my recent Star Wars marathon in the holidays (I know, I suck), I'm all Star Wars'ed out, but I was forced to bring out all the great Star Wars games. Believe it or not, I never got around to buying Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II, so I decided to get it cheap online. Now, I'm suddenly playing Jedi Knight, Jedi Outcast, Jedi Academy, KOTOR, Battlefront II, and Republic Commando, and I can tell you now I'm having a blast.

I'll admit that I haven't been playing as much Morrowind as I'd like to be, but I have been playing it quite a bit recently, and have been enjoying the original game, and it's two expansions.

This brings me to my final decision. Since I have so many games that I've been playing, and I just can't get my opinion of the game in one blog post, I've decided to write a review every 3-7 days about one of these games. It starts today, with Thief II: The Metal Age, so feel free to check that review out.

Christmas, The year in review, and the future beyond!

After all my praising, wishing, loving, and enjoying the games I have - as well as look at the positive sides of things on my blog here on Gamespot, it's time for me to do some real complaining.

In my opinion, 2006 has been a lackluster year for games in general. I've found that even with the release of three "next-generation" consoles, that I have not really seen one title that shouts at me - "I am doing something new!" Infact, in my opinion, the only game that's actually added something new to the table this year is The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and even that pales in comparison to it's 2002 predecessor.

Sure, I've seen some ball-tightening, incredible, killer graphics this year. I've seen some great physics capacities, and heaps of gory games - but this amounts to nothing in my books - hell, I could do with graphics from 2002 - just as long as solid gameplay is still intact.

Where's the Half-life of 2006? Where's the Starcraft, or the KOTOR, or the Duke Nukem? There have been games this year that all try to emulate these games, but I just don't see them going down as "the greatest ever."

Anyway, enough of the complaining, because here's the good news. Perhaps you've noticed by now that none of the three of the games I'm getting this christams are from 2006, and this is for the reasons I've stated above. However, I'm looking forward to these excellent titles, from 2005, 2004, and 2003 to add to my gaming collection, three games that I've been looking for for such a long time, and finally I've found them, cheap, and in working order.

Star Wars: Republic Commando, as the Star Wars fan that I am, is a game that adds that tactical, and user friendly interface and gameplay that so many have been lusting for, while covering it in a great Star Wars glinty coating.

Thief Deadly Shadows is the part three of the original and the best stealth series, where you take on the part of Master thief Garret, and are thrown into a magical plot involving Keepers, Hammerites, and loot!

Finally, The Elder Scrolls III: Bloodmoon is the final expansion to the Morrowind world, one that unfortunately I never got around to buying, but have finally found this masterpiece that reworks you into one of the most amazing worlds ever created.

I'm hoping and pleading that 2007 will be a better year for gaming. With the hopefuly arrival of STALKER, Half-Life Episode 2, C&C Tiberium Wars, Supreme Commander, Mass Effect, and some other exciting titles coming my way, 2007 is looking like a positive year.

Finally, finished Broken Sword 4

It's been a while, but I've finally completed Broken Sword 4, and only two months out of what I expected to complete it. Maybe this is due to the difficulty of the game, maybe it's due to the fact that I haven't exactly had enough free time on my hands - in any rate, I apologize, but I've finally completed the game, and not a moment too soon for christmas.

Ten years ago, one of the greatest games of our generation was released - this sleeper hit, Broken Sword, was an amazing piece of character, and created some of the most memorable characters to date. Ten years and 3 sequels later, the Broken Sword saga is still kicking in lively fashion, with the return of George, Nico, and the new love interest, Anna-Maria.

The game starts out when George is down on his luck, and has slipped away into a grimmy bail bonds business. He is suddenly met by the beatiful Anna-Maria, and she tells George that she is in incredible danger, and that only he can help her with this manuscript.

To cut a long story short, this sends George around the world meeting friendly faces, terrifying faces, and a whole host of bad guys from either sides. This complicates his life to a degree that he cannot choose to go with Nico or Anna-Maria.

The story itself is quite good, and it relates back to the Neo-Templars, ancient Roman history, and biblical references. George still has that wry humour and Nico is still bold and friendly - yet, they lack the team work they shared in the first three games, and this is probably due to the third woman entering the scene.

The graphics are surprisingly excellent, and they feature some great effects such as HDR, post processing effects, motion blur, and gaussian blur. This all creates life like scenery, and really brings the characters to life. However, quite often you will run into some slack character animations, where characters will just jump, or not fit in place properly, as well as physical animations that just don't add up. In the end this takes away from the final presentation, but the graphics are still respectible in their own right.

A few characters from past games make their returns, but I think the words "less than brief" are in order, as you really don't get a chance to meet the characters in full. However, there are quite a few memorable characters just as the past games have created, who add excellence to the already life like world. Especially the characters at the start of the game are particulary interesting, and it's important to note how they all act.

In terms of the locales, the places you meet aren't quite as breathtaking as some of the places you meet in the earlier games. You never really stand on the edge of a cliff and feel the wind gushing onto you, or you're never lost in a Mayan village where you feel completely alienated to. It's these feelings that have brought out the best in the Broken Sword games, and are unfortunately kept to a minimum in the fourth game. The worlds however are detailed, and contain just as many world items as you would expect in a realy life replica of the place you head to.

In the end, I think that Broken Sword 4 fits snuggly into the Broken Sword universe. However, it suffers from problems that I can't help feel could have been solved if given a longer design period. By the end game you'll feel like you've accomplished a lot, but somehow feel like you deserve a better ending for you're troubles. At any rate, the game is a brilliant addition to the BS universe, and if you overlook the problems it posesses, you'll find another magnificent adventure with George Stobbart.
 

Birthday 2006

Well, it's that time of year again. I can't believe it's been a year since I added the two Max Payne games to my collection, but it is, and my next birthday is literally less than an hour away.

This year, you may have already guessed what game will be falling under my wing this year - the next Broken Sword game, The Angel of Death. The entire week has been pure envy reading the posts about others and their experiences with Broken Sword 4, while I wait for a time for the sequel to the games that I adore to sit infront of me.

I will hopefully have a review up within seven days, but you never know what kinds of tricks these classic adventures pull on you. To gear up, for the past three days, I have taken the time to play the predecessors, each on their respective days, so I am now pumped, and practically have Broken Sword running through my veins. Therefore, the review I give should be a good comparison to that of the original games, as I have played them all at around the same time.

I am looking forward to this game immensly, and now, not even the Neo-Templars, Tezcatlipoca, or all of the Earth's power can stop me from playing this game.

The next Broken Sword: The Angel of Death

The Broken Sword series has returned for another gripping installment, and it appears that this game is every bit as exciting as the first three. Following the events of the third game, The Sleeping Dragon, George Stobbart has been thrown out of society. After fighting a dragon in the third game, George is believed by no one, and the only job George can find is the sleezy and tiring job of a Bail Bonds clerk.

But before too long, a mysterious woman, Anna Maria, appears, and in a way, saves George from is own doom. Hiring George to uncover one of the largest mysteries he's been involved in yet, Anna-Maria and George begin they're travels, but before too long, they are attacked, and the adventure begins.

Visit the new Angel of Death website here:
http://www.broken-sword.com/

There's a stunning amount of new information, screenshots, character info, secrets, movies, and background philosophy on the game, and where and how the history fits into it.
 

Wizard's Tower mod

The Wizard's Tower mod for Oblivion has recently hit the Elder Scrolls website, and I was luckily enough to buy one. As we all know, the decision for selling small plugins over the internet is controversial, and many have had a negative view.

My opinion is, no, it probably shouldn't be sold, and these features probably could have been implemented into the game at launch, but for the small price that it is, I'm really not worried.

Infact, the most recent, the Wizard's Tower, is quite a cool little home, and it's certainly worth the money. So the next time you're thinking of buying a coke, skip it, and instead jump online, and purchase one of these mods. They last longer.

Anyway, I'm actually here to explain and review this small download, for anyone who's looking for the buy.

In short, yes, it's worth it, and I'm having some good fun with it. Basically, as soon as you install this mod, and go into the game for the first time since, you should immediately get a message, and a letter, explaining you've just inherited a house in the Jerall Mountains.

Once you make it here, you may notice the constant rain. For some reason, Bethesda have given this area 100% thunderstorms. So if you're going to fix this, follow these instructions:
1. Head into the Construction Set.
2. Click on the 'Data' tab, and turn on 'oblivion.esm' and 'DLCfrostcrag.esp,' and set the latter to Active file. Then press okay.
3. Click on the 'World' tab.
4. 'Regions' tab.
5. Click down the drop down tab, and set it to 'Tamriel.'
6. The first region in the list should be Frostcrag. Click on it.
7. Click on the 'Weather' tab on the right side.
8. Where it shows 'Thunderstorm,' you may delete it, and then from the drop down box insert your own weather. Then, the numbers on the weather types are out of 100. So, if you have a 'Cloudy' weather, with 100 set to it, it will always be cloudy there. Set it to how you wish. I have mostly clear, with some snow, and minimum clouds.

With Frostcrag being the highest point in all of Cyrodiil, you can expect it to come with some pretty amazing views. And it certainly does. You can see The Imperial City, Bruma, and Cheydinhal all in one view, and beyond. It's quite impressive.

Anyway, let's talk about what's inside. You're lair comes with some pretty incredible stuff. You'll have to buy most of the contents at the Imperial City for about 10,000 septims, but boy is it worth it. You'll be able to enchant and create your own spells without having to join any Mages Guild. But if you are apart of the Mages Guild there is something for you too: teleportation to all Guild halls. Quite impressive.

As well as this, you have your own plants and flowers room, which features a wide range of herbs and things for seperate quests and the like. You'll have a bed, and your own alchemy table, which increases your alchemy skill as soon as you walk near it, so you can really get down to business. There are also a hell of a lot of storage containers.

And finally, you can create your own atronach army. You can have them walk with you, and fight for you. And they don't run out. They only die when killed from force. This is a very useful, and cool implementation.

All in all, I'm really happy with my spent money. It's a useful mod, and quite quirky and weird.

My Oblivion Review

 The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind was the only thing on my mind in the year of 2002. The huge game world and detailed environments were enough to get my hyped up. The towns were rich in life, the graphics were beautiful, and the gameplay value was monstorous.

Morrowind did come with it's faults, however. I think most would agree that the fighting system was a bit stale, with it mainly being a simple "mouse-button 1 mash". Also, at times the NPCs seemed less like living people, and rather like complex encyclopedias. There were also countless "crash to the desktop" bugs.

Enter The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. The sequel noted nearly every single flaw that it's predecessor was weighed down by, and modified them in some way. Infact, nearly everything has been added, modified, and advanced in a smart and inventive way. The game is bigger, no doubt, the fighting is incredible, and the characters are believable, smart, and have been brought to life.

The last point is the result of a new AI system called Radiant AI. This implementation allows for some of the most advanced NPCs the Role Playing Genre has ever seen. Each character has their own 24 hour schedule. They walk the town, talk to others, and hunt their own food. Gone are the days where you can simply walk into a house, and murder a single victim. Now, if you attack a character, he'll run out of his house into a new cell (that's right, they can do that now), and consult a guard. The guard will then approach you, and, well, your screwed.

A new, amibitious, and lively new addition to gaming will never be without it's flaws, however, and in Oblivion's case, it's no exception. There are a few bugs that come along for the ride. I was walking the Imperial City in my journeys and came across a Breton who approached a Redguard. The Breton announced "Hello", to the Redguard, and the Redguard replied with "Hello you filthy Breton." The conversation then continued without the Breton every showing any signs of anger. These bugs are, however, nothing to worry about, because it's both exciting to know it's happening anyway, and the experiences are sometimes hilarious too.

But walking towns and gazing at the AI is just a small part in the massive, enourmous, and damn right fun game. I myself, have walked so little of the large world that I wonder if I should even be reviewing this game at this early stage. At any rate, the game is simply monstorous. But isn't just a desolate gameworld, it's detailed! There are dungeons, elven ruins, gateways to Oblivion, bandit camps, small towns, mountains, fortresses, cities, blockades, wanderers, and forts all set up throughout the game. There's enough there to keep you going for years. Enough to keep you going for years without quests that is. Quests are another story.

There are four main guilds to join throughout the game: The Fighters Guild, The Mages Guild, The Thieves Guild, and The Dark Brotherhood. They are all far more interesting, detailed, and unique than in Morrowind, and each look different, play different, and the characters within ARE different. For example, to get inside The Arcane University, a library dedicated to the Mages Guild, you have to gain recommendations from each Guild Master in each main city. Some are easy, some are more difficult, but they're all unique.

On the other hand, it's a different story to get into the Theives Guild and Dark Brotherhood. Since they prefer to keep themselves hidden, it is harder join than simply approach they're base, and sign up. In the case of the Thieves Guild, you are forced to go to jail first, for any reason. Once you are out, you will be approached by someone offering you the chace to join the Guild.

The main plot line, from what I've seen (I have hardly begun my adventures there), is incredibly detailed, and matches that of any other linear game, maybe even a movie. There is excellent voice talent from our friend Patrick Stewart, and the exciting Sean Bean. They do an excellent job in the game, even though Patrick Stewart's role is quite brief.

The graphics are amazing. In the dungeons, they are dank, dark, and interesting. Outside, the world is vast, huge, and the view distance is incredible. This comes at a price of course though. The textures, looking at them from miles away, are pretty shocking. They are low, and crummy, but it really doesn't matter with a view like that.

The music is absolutely incredible. I have no doubt you will totally agree with me after seeing the intro cinematic. Following the lines of "And the final hours, of my life..." suddenly richocet into a bang, and the classic Elder Scrolls theme we know and love is suddenly travelling at full pace when you read: Bethesda Softworks Presents. But it continues getting louder, and more dramatic, and it feels better than a movie.

There is so much more I'd like to talk about this game, but I just won't be able to fit it in, like the expansive character creation to rival The Sims 2, the intuitive inventory system, and the different and diverse environments. Let me just say, that this is one of the greatest games of all time, and goes straight to the top as my favourite RPG to date.