A bit of time off from work recently allowed me to wrap up three FPS games.
Three games, three different genres of FPS and three different experiences.
FEAR Extraction Point ... I thought this was the sequal to FEAR but although the story follows directly from the end of FEAR it is not considered a sequal per se ... go figure. Well not apparently an official "Monolith" sequal, whatever that really means. That said it's cracking good fun and very much an "expansion pack" or extension to FEAR. Essentially its more of the same moody experience in the horror/survival genre of the original FEAR. My score of 8.5 is only slightly less than FEAR, as while it's "more of the same" in terms of look and gameplay it does not grow stale as quickly as other FPS games which have sequals (official or otherwise). The scares are still effective and enigmatic. All the good elements of the original FEAR are retained and there is development of the relationship of your nameless character with the spectre-like Alma and her son Fettel. Sometimes the action is so intense and the health upgrades seem so far apart that you just seem to make it to the next transition point. Oozes tension and the eerie visitations by Alma and other spectres make this a game to play with the lights on ... well, it's not a game for the young ones.
The ratings of FEAR2 and FEAR 3 (the official sequals) tend to suggest that they are not as good as FEAR and from what I have seen and heard on the GameSpot review videos both are still excellent FPS games but less so on the creepy horror scale. Not that I was a horror/survival genre fan (at all) before, but I did enjoy FEAR and Extraction Point lots. Anyone care to let me know of their experiences (good or bad) with FEAR2 or F3AR?
Red Faction ... this is essentially a journey back to FPS 101 and indeed not a bad sci-fi journey. You play as a miner, pushed too far by the harsh overseers, that becomes a key player in a workers' revolt on Mars. The game is very much mission-centric and it is relatively difficult even though you can carry a veritable array of weapons and can find numerous health boxes. Essentially you are a one man army/operative who needs to complete sabotage and other missions to assist the revolt. The game is very much a corridor shooter, although there are some open areas you do spend most of the time under ground in tunnels or facility corridors. The final part of the last mission of the game ... defusing a bomb is somewhat painful unless you have a good short term memory.
Graphics are quite good for the era ... which brings me to a very important point, namely getting the game to run on newer PCs or recent (post-2003) graphics cards. There is a "patch" (or add-on) called Pure Faction which replaces certain key files, including the executables, in vanilla Red Faction (and which additionally must be set to Win95 compatability if using XP or more recent). Without Pure Faction you will get a graphical mess on your screen (feel free to YouTube and see for yourself). You can find Pure Faction readily on the internet and version 3.0c seems to be the latest. I'll be playing Red Faction II and Guerrilla in a short while to see the story unfold further.
Hell in Vietnam ... I have no one to blame but myself. I had read the reviews and even looked at YouTube videos and decided that this was probably one to avoid. But alas my eBay alert indicated that a pre-loved copy was available so despite misgivings I bought it, being somewhat of a completeist. As some of you will know I enjoy the Vietnam-themed historical shooter and indeed am the proud owner of two of the best Men of Valor and Vietcong (plus sequals). These are two ofmy favourite military FPS games despite the passage of time as the narrative and gameplay were exceptional and after playing you felt as if you had learned something about the Vietnam war.
Alas, Hell in Vietnam, despite eight (rather short) missions, fails to deliver any sense of immersion ... this game could be set in the jungles of central America, like other City Interactive titles using the same graphics engine. While the game looks reasonably OK, it is essentially another Terrorist Takedown (Colombia or Covert Ops) in gameplay and seriously flawed AI (yes, another case of whack a mole appearances of the enemy). The voice acting is as with other CI titles of the era ... very lame indeed. The game itself is highly scripted, though a better script is sorely needed. I can think of no redeeming features in this game which ends with a whimper. If you have any interest in the game at all ... play the demo, which is set during the battle for Hue. It is the longest mission in the game and its depiction of Hue as a (very small scale) version of Stalingrad with conrete and steel buildings is at odds with the look of Hue in 1968. Much seems incomplete the last part of this mission you clear the building of VC /NVA, ending up in a great vantage point and find a sniper rifle and then ... mission ends. The very first (training?) of the eight mission can be played in under 2 minutes, no ... seriously! Anyway this is now the holder of the equal lowest ranking (5.0/10) of any game I own, incidentally both CI titles. AVOID or play the demo and stop there. A blessing is that the missions are indeed very short and the pain/embarrassment is over quickly.
Yes, City Interactive has improved, as indicated by Sniper: Ghost Warrior, but Hell in Vietnam suggests this is a relative improvement from a very low base. Still their Code of Honor: French Foreign Legion remains a guilty pleasure.
So that's another wrap up of recent gaming. Currently playing Freedom Fighters and the odd click & point adventure game.
I now have the entire STALKER collection and will play, starting with the original with the Stalker Complete 2009 (2012) upgrade/mod referred to in Azghouls recent review, after Freedom Fighters is completed. I installed vanilla STALKER and gave it a go for a look (very open world, "bizzaro world" that is), then added the mod and indeed it looks much better.
Tony Montana (Scarface) will just have to wait before I tackle the streets of Miami again.
See you around!