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AudioSoldier Blog

Edwardlovedotcom

My first journal entry for months is an advertisment for a blogger of mine. Yes, pitifully sad, I know.

www.edwardlovedotcom.blogspot.com is the address and although it's horrendously long, there are bookmark and favourites options on Firefox, IE and any other half-decent browser for easy access. So check it out. Comments are welcome. In fact, I demand feedback.

Playing Resurrection of Evil

I haven't got very far, about half way, but it's shaping up to be an excellent expansion pack of a game that was disappointing in my opinion. The additions to the enemies and weapons load out coupled with the new locales make this a more varied experience. The "Artifact" adds an extra dimension to the gameplay. I'm eagerly awaiting the final boss.

Far Cry Review

Far Cry does more than entertain during it's 20 hour plus single player campaign, it delights the senses.

Far Cry is, without a doubt, the best looking game ever made. Developed by Crytek, a rather obscure German developer, they’ve utilized every ounce of the latest graphical technology to bring forth a game that looks so much better than its peers, it would be unfair to compare. Yet, Far Cry is not a technical demonstration for there lies a very, very good game underneath the visual splendour, and it’s not hard to find it.

Far Cry does more than entertain during it’s 20 hour plus single player campaign, it delights the senses. Playing as boat skipper, Jack Carver, it’s your job to escort the sexy Valerie around several islands in the pacific. However, Carver’s small ship, “The Medusa,” falls prey to a vicious attack and suddenly Carver is alienated from Val and on his own to deal with the vicious happenings on the island. Carver is embroiled in a sinister plot involving a mad scientist, Krieger, who’s using the islands for his genetic experimentation. Obviously the game is not over until you’ve saved Val and prevented Krieger from continuing his dangerous experiments.

It’s a strange combination, some vicious gung-ho action taking place on a series of exquisite looking islands. For the first few minutes you’ll prefer to hide in a corner and take in the scenery, opposed to actually fighting the vicious mercenaries who want you out the way. However, soon you’ll find the battles so enjoyable that you’ll merely appreciate the graphics and thank the developers for making Far Cry such a beautiful game. It’s actually very easy to get carried away and enthuse about how good the game looks. After all, the game looks so good that it’s hard to fathom how a group of men sitting in an office in Germany could have created such beauty. Far Cry is a colourful game, certainly, so while it looks really nice, if you don’t like the idea of colourful tropical islands with sandy beaches, and only the occasional dark, dank cave, then this isn’t the game for you. If lush tropical jungles featuring dense foliage that consists of trees, plants and tall grasses appeals to you, read on. What’s really impressive is the immersiveness of it all. Yellow, sandy beaches blind you as the surf slowly laps ashore and the game’s character modelling really deserves a whole review by itself. Not only are these models richly detailed, but they feature fluid animation that’s literally jaw dropping. That game also incorporates real time-lighting and shading effects to an unprecedented degree, so when you traverse through the jungle undergrowth you actually see shadows from overhead trees flickering on your rifle. Or when an enemy passes a wall, especially one underground, the shadow accompanies him, larger than life and frighteningly realistic. Most impressive is when a rocket just misses you, and your vision blacks out for a moment and everything becomes eerily quiet, save for a distant ringing. Yes, the level of verisimilitude in Far Cry is one of the best things about the game, but it’s not the only reason Far Cry is the best first-person shooter since the original Half-Life.

Fire-fights are tough at first, but only get a lot more difficult as your enemies become more cunning, utilize more advanced weaponry and are outfitted in superior armour. Like in any recent FPS, you can filch items from dead carcasses, but even with full health and armour, the game still makes it difficult as a single shot can reduce your health a great deal. Depending on the difficulty you chose at the beginning there’s a scant number of health packs lying around during the game. Don’t expect Far Cry to be an easy experience then and if you’re a beginner to the genre, steer clear for the time being. Far Cry is definitely a game that would have benefited from allowing the player to change the difficulty on-the-fly. If you’re foolish enough to chose on of the more challenging difficulties at the beginning of the game, expecting Far Cry to be the usual FPS experience and subsequently can’t cope, there’s nothing for it but to start over again, choosing an easier mode and selecting AI auto balance. The latter varies the AI of your opponents depending on how well you’re doing, so if you’re struggling you won’t get finished off too mercilessly. It’s similar to what Max Payne did.

For the most part the AI in the game is excellent; there are very few occasions when an NPC does something unfathomable and it’s a testament to Crytek that they can get this aspect of a game right with their first title. People can criticise the enemies for being unnaturally alert; a slightest foot wrong can result in the guards being aware of your presence. However, looking at it logically, you can see them, so there’s no reason for them not being able to see you, and a lot of the mercenaries are equipped with binoculars. It just makes the game a whole lot more challenging than anything else on the market, and it makes for a refreshing change.

Progression is slow and rewarding, not only because of the difficulty, but because the game doesn’t allow you to save during the game and instead utilizes an auto save feature at various checkpoints. Getting from one checkpoint to another is sometimes very difficult, and it would be nice to see a patch come out to rectify this auto save feature, allowing the player instead to save when he feels the need. On the other hand this does ensure that the Far Cry experience is incredibly tense.

You can only hold four weapons at any one time, so, like Halo, you’ll need to juggle around with what’s on offer, bearing in mind what you’ll be facing in later missions. Far Cry’s missions are broken up by a chapter load and the occasional cutscene, but these are both very brief and for the most part, Far Cry is a seamless experience. You begin each mission, for the most part, with the same amount of health and armour that you had previously, and with the same weapons and ammo, so you can’t be too gung-ho. It’s definitely necessary that you make each shot count.

By the end of Far Cry you’re not only fighting mercenaries armed to the teeth, but also hideous, genetically engineered monsters named Tridgens. Tridgens are Krieger’s experiment and they’re a step up, a big step up, from anything you’ve faced previously. There are varying types of Tridgen, but they’re all deadly, even the smaller versions. It’s all very reminiscent of the 1998 game, SiN, yet the monsters are more convincing and animate a whole lot better. Doing battle with the tridgens is a hellish experience and if your weaponry didn’t get significantly better, you wouldn’t survive a minute. Soon Carver is stumbling upon serious kit, such as a rocket launcher and a hefty machine gun which is useful for clearing a group of mercenaries at close range. The tridgens are far tougher and you really need to make headshots count. No weapon is more effective at this than the sniper rifle, and if you become a good marksman with this weapon the game becomes significantly easier. Far Cry has a lot to do with fighting from long range; you really can’t afford to get into too many close battles because the enemies are smart enough, and good enough to beat you. They’ll use clever tactics and generally it just never works. However, there are a couple of cases when you find yourself indoors and the shotgun becomes a very useful item. You can’t avoid close battles indoors so you’ll need to lean around corners often and adjust your tactics accordingly.

A lot of what makes Far Cry so excellent is the variety. As aforementioned, you’ll fight indoors quite a bit, but Carver also gets his hands on numerous vehicles that enhance the experience. There’s a simple inflatable speed boat which is used a lot in one of the missions, as well as a more powerful gun boat. You’ll fight on boats quite often too, and there’ll be numerous occasions when you need to set bombs onto objects. There’re hang gliders that are useful for gliding across the expansive scenery and there are buggy’s that obviously make your journey on foot a lot quicker. Make no mistake, Far Cry is not a massively non linear game despite the open ended appearance. One of the reasons for this is that a lot of your objectives are pin pointed on a map which leaves you in doubt as of where to proceed. On the rare occasion that this doesn’t happen, it’s not difficult to find where to go, meaning you’re never out of the action for long. Also commendable is the relatively short load times between chapters, and the fact that saved games load in seconds.

The game will take you more than 20 hours to finish and it never looks like the developers are recycling gameplay mechanics. There’s always something to awe you around the corner, and the plot, though nothing special, unfolds nicely via some outstanding cut scenes. The voice acting during the cutscenes and during actual gameplay is of a high standard. Carver and Crow, the latter being another bad ass, both sound terribly “B” grade, but this is undoubtedly on purpose. A suave sounding Carver would be even more out of place. Valerie, Krieger and the other main NPC in the game, Doyle, all speak some excellent lines and considering Crytek is German, there are no hiccups in the English. Aside from the voice acting which is up there with some of the best, the ambient sounds in the game really help to promote the jungle atmosphere and give fire-fights a tactical edge. Because the jungle is so dense, you often can’t see enemies until you’re practically right on top of them. Sound plays an important part in these moments, as you can track your enemies by listening out to their footsteps, and they can do the same for you. You can throw a rock to cause a distraction and sneak on by, and while Far Cry is an action game at heart, you’ll survive a whole lot longer if you employ stealthy tactics once in a while.

As far as the sound effects go, there are some impressive insect noises and bird chirrups; when a helicopter approaches you can hear the thrum of the rotors getting even closer and it’s this kind of attention to detail that makes Far Cry the immersive experience it is. You can also eavesdrop on conversations by using the combination binocular-sound microphone featured in the game. These conversations tend to be enlightening because you can find out what the mercenaries are worried about or what's up ahead.

Expect to need a seriously hefty PC to get Far Cry looking the way it’s meant to be played. Even on a beefy 2GHZ system with a Direct X 9 compatible 3D card there’s sure to be a few slowdowns. This is especially the case when indoors and the seriously gorgeous bump mapping comes to the fore. There’s always the option to tone down everything, but sadly this means that you’ll miss out on a lot of the jungle foliage, and at the lowest settings Far Cry really loses out on its shine. If you’ve been putting off upgrading your computer Far Cry is the very reason to do so.

All the elements of the game work together to create one, superb single player package. The multiplayer side of things is far less competent and you’ll be buying Far Cry for it’s single player campaign. The multiplayer portion of Far Cry features three game modes, free-for-all, team Deathmatch and assault, as well as a limited number of maps for each mode. Moreover, the maps are large in size so if you only have a handful of players, you’ll spend a lot of time looking for someone to kill. Additionally, movement speed is also reduced by the specific weapon you’re carrying, and the weapons themselves are horribly unbalanced. The rocket launcher for instance can do a tremendous amount of splash damage and a sniper rifle can dominate a match. A few vehicles crop up during matches, but they’re not too useful during combat. For instance, the jeep has an open-air drivers’ compartment which means you’re not protected from gunfire.

On another negative note, Far Cry’s physics engine for both the single and multiplayer game is not quite as revolutionary as the rest of the visuals. Jeep’s and buggy’s feel horribly light and bounce around the terrain making them rather tiresome to commandeer.

Other than that there’s very little reason not to get Far Cry. If you’re a competent FPS player and are looking for a single player challenge, have an AAA computer and want a game that makes full use of your PC’s power, then don’t delay. Go buy Far Cry.

http://www.gamespot.com/pc/action/farcry/reader_review.html?id=2659683

Unreal 2

I bought Unreal 2: The Awakening today for a dirt cheap price. I've got quite far on the first mission but I must admit that the action is unconvincing. I'm not really diggin' the whole sci-fi theme. The game looks great, certainly, but the weapons feel underpowered and the enemies remind me of those found in the utterly atrocious, Daikatana.

In other news I got round to playing Far Cry and made it to the eleventh mission, Generator. I know I've had the game for several months now, and I still haven't finished it, but I'm taking my time as I do with all games (with the exception of Half-Life 2).

I also started up Hitman: Contracts for the first time, but barely got into the first mission because I was excited to try out Unreal 2. If it's anything like Hitman 2, I should be engrossed for a while to come.

I'm also making a mental note to pre-order Still Life as I need to have a review for Inside Gamer Online by the 20th.

Top five protagonists

1) Manny Calavera

Game: Grim Fandango
Manuel Calavara, (Manny) the hero of Fandango is a salesman working for the Department of Death (D.O.D.) whose job is to sell travel packages to the newly dead, so that they can start their journey to the Ninth Underworld. The latter is an eternal resting place that can potentially take four years to reach, unless you were a saint back on earth and are entitled to the Number Nine, an express train that completes the journey in just four minutes. However, this is a very prestigious package and very few are entitled to it. Fortunately there are other ways to reach the Ninth Underworld. If you were wealthy and successful back in the Land of the Living (but not quite a saint) chances are you’ll be travelling via a luxury liner, or maybe in your own sports car. Of course, not everyone is rich and saintly, and there are plenty of clients that don’t qualify for any of the above, and are forced to walk the journey, something that is extremely hazardous.

Now Manny hasn’t had a commission on a good client for ages and hasn’t been able to sell them any decent packages. Instead they’re forced to walk the journey, only accompanied by a walking stick with a compass in the handle. Because of Manny’s failures, he’s unable to pay off a little debt to the “powers that be” and is stuck in the Land of the Dead. So, as a last resort, he sets about stealing a premium lead from the company’s hotshot salesman, Domino Hurley.

2) Guybrush Threepwood

Games: Monkey Island Series

The sloppy, forgetful, amiable pirate Guybrush Threepwood is hard to not like. For all his inabilties is irresitible charm makes up for this and more. Having married Elaine Marley at the end of the third game, the two lovebirds enjoyed a steamy honeymoon on one of the tropical islands. With his steely sword and rapier wit Guybrush is my second favourite protagonist of all time.

I cursed my luck again as I slid down the monkey's throat. Have my dreams of guzzling grog and plundering galleons been reduced to this? "Three small trials and you're a pirate like us," they said. Fair enough. If only I could stomach the foul brew these scurvy seadogs swilled, the rest would be easy. How could I have known I'd meet a powerful and beautiful woman with a jealous suitor too stupid to realize he'd been dead for years? And how can I crawl through this great stone monkey to find a man who walks three inches above ground and sets fire to his beard every morning?

-Excerpted from "The Memoirs of Guybrush Threepwood, the Monkey Island Years"

I thought i killed the Ghost Pirate LeChuck for good. Wrong. How many times can that bloated old fool die? Other pirates tell me there is no escape. When LeChuck wants you dead, you're dead," they say. Legend has it that the treasure of Big Whoop holds the key to great power...I must find it before LeChuck finds me.

-Excerpted from "The Memoirs of Guybrush Threepwood, the Monkey Island Years"

I've sailed the seas from Trinidad toTortuga and I've never seen anything like it! The engagement ring I gave Elaine has a terrible pirate curse on it. LeChuck is behind it. I'm sure. I should have known that nothing good could have come out of that evil zombie's treasures. And if that's not bad enough, the clairvoyant I met in the mangrove swamp told me that if I am to break the curse and save Elaine, I will have to die!

-Excerpted from "The Memoirs of Guybrush Threepwood, the Monkey Island Years"

3) Cate Archer

Games: NOLF1 and 2

4) Larry Laffer

5) Roger Wilco

Discovering Dosbox

I've always loved adventure games, especially the old classics such as the Space Quest series. With this in mind it's a mystery to me why I've put off using Dosbox for so long. I tried to understand it a couple of weeks ago, but not being a computer genuis gave up quickly and it was only yesterday, once I had fiddled around for a good half hour did I work out how to get the old games working on it!

Now I've mastered the art of mounting drives and getting them to start, and work, on Dosbox, I'll happily be playing the Sierra classics for months to come, with sound! It's a revelation because now text doesn't go by too fast to read, the sound doesn't not work and I can generally enjoy these games the way they're supposed to be played.

I've already started up Space Quest 1 VGA, Police Quest 3 and 4 and had a dart at Kyrandia 3. Police Quest 3 is a revelation because now that the game runs at an acceptable pace, I can actually drive around Lytton without missing all the corners. Police Quest 4 worked reasonably well in windows but the short opening cutscene didn't work and simply quit the game when I tried to watch it. Obviously now that I'm using Dosbox all is fine and dandy.

The fact that I have all the Sierra classics (with the exception of Gabriel Knight 1) and all the LucasArts classics means I'll be playing these wonderful games for some months to come. Moreover Still Life is scheduled for an April release so it looks like I'll be delving into Adventure games new and old.


The Confrontation - A tale of paranoia by Edward Love

This is a fictional short story for school


The Confrontation – A tale of paranoia by Edward love

Through the thickening gloom Roland could just make out the discernible edges of the cottage. Its presence comforted him and he knew he was at the right place, he was sure of it, he had even seen the rickety sign pointing to it a couple of paces back. Progression wasn’t easy however; he couldn’t be sure that it was still uninhabited and the wet, sodden ground clung to his boots like a damp cloth.

Roland tugged at his orange sweater in distaste. He couldn’t wait to dump the prison clothes somewhere and find a new outfit to don. After two years in Ashville State Penitentiary he had grown to detest the fluorescent orange colour and all that it reminded him of. Roland had only escaped Ashville a few hours before, and he was still on edge, his ears pricked like a cocker spaniel, listening for the slightest indication that the police were on his trail.

He was a thin wiry man in his late thirties, capable of running away from pursuers, something he had spent a large portion of his life doing, he mused. He hated his status and the way people looked at him. The rich folk were scornful of his tatty outfits, of his dishevelled walk and lack of cologne. Yet he knew that once he had the diamond in his possession, he would be able to rectify his appearance, start up a whole new life and maybe even get married to a simple, country girl.

He edged forward cautiously. He was perhaps thirty metres away from the cottage now. The thought of the diamond drew him closer and he was sure he could even smell it, nestling under a floorboard in the lounge. He remembered vividly the night he had placed it there, so meticulously, with so much care and affection, knowing that if he ever was caught, he’d be able to go back one day and reclaim it.

Then Roland heard the bark.

He stopped in his tracks. His chest heaved painfully. He felt his knees shake. The world seemed to be spinning before him. He gulped in a mass of air and tried to regain some composure. The bark had come from the cottage, or at least somewhere in that vicinity. He stuffed his shaking hands into the pockets of his slacks, and knelt down to think. He had to do something. He couldn’t sit around all day. The diamond was waiting for him, he had to reclaim it. Blinded by greed he slunk forward recklessly.

About twenty meters from the cottage, Roland spied the dog. It was chained to a stout iron post right beside the cottage’s front door. Roland bit his lip. He knew he’d have to look for a way round the back. His fear had returned once more and he felt unsettled and nauseous and angry at the same time. Drat that dog! He thought bitterly

***

Herman Meyer, sixty-eight, a retired army veteran lounged in his plush couch, listening to an operatic requiem build to a crescendo. He bit his nails, fidgeted a tad and scratched his bald head; he could never settle. The doctors had said his general uneasiness was because of the war, and even though operatic music unsettled Herman, he stilled listened to it from time to time because he had loved it before the war. Before the war…

His life seemed to be divided into three categories: before the war, during the war and after the war. He got up, feeling a surge of depression cloud him. Hate had begun to blind his thinking. In his mind’s eye, he could see Private Winston Davis, not at all far away, pink and tan-freckled and radiating an unhealthy heat. He blinked his eyes. Herman was sure he had seen something peering through the grimy window. He shuffled over to it, perplexed. It was then that rheumatism got the better of his aged body, and he sunk back into his plush seat.

Herman had bought this little secluded cottage to be away from prying eyes. He had moved in two years ago after Emily had died, sick of family members consoling him for his wife’s death, as if they cared. Most of his married life had been spent away from Emily, training in the army, eventually doing battle against the Axis soldiers. Herman had often felt the urge to fire his twelve Gauge Shotgun again. He realised that he had begun to hate society, and everything to do with it. That was the reason he had moved into solitude, to be away from the snobs, the aristocrats, the pretenders, the consolers who really didn’t care, the beggars on the pavements, the lawyers, the dishonest. Lenny, his old German shepherd, was the object that made his life worthwhile.

Herman had many pictures from his war days. As much as he hated the commanders who had presided over him and the rest of his troops, he still felt bound by the code they had sworn to.

***
When Roland had seen the man’s grave, sunken old eyes staring at him, he had nearly fainted in fright. His legs had moved before his mind had comprehended what was happening and what would inevitably happen. Now, as he stood with his back against the cottage’s south wall, he played through in his mind all that would have resulted had he not acted sufficiently quickly. Roland shuddered. If he had been seen it would have meant waiting even longer for the diamond. As he rounded the corner he heard the dog barking ferociously. He felt a jolt of panic, but he had become accustomed to the feeling by now and reacted quickly. He dived behind a boulder that was placed conveniently near the cottage, and watched the old man stumble outside. The man calmed the dog, and then untied it from its leash. Roland trembled.

***
Herman comforted Lenny, troubled by the creature’s outburst. Lenny never, ever barked. There had to be a good reason for it. He told Lenny to wait, and went back inside for his shotgun. You could never be too careful. With shotgun in hand, Herman jumped back to the ground. The more organic air weighted with nightfall struck him like a smothering pillow as he surveyed his surroundings. There was nothing for it but to search the place, every boulder, every rock, every piece of grass. He was going to get to the bottom of this. First, that person by the window (he was sure it was a real person by now) and then Lenny’s barking; too many disturbances in one night!

***
When Roland spied the shotgun, he trembled. He felt his body press against the rock instinctively, as if it might prove to be a shield against the mad man. Anyone wanting to live in the secluded cottage had to be mad! He sobbed quietly to himself. He hung his head. He wanted to scream. He wanted to cry loudly. The diamond…the diamond…his mind had begun a delirious circle of uncertainties. Prison had taken away his ability to make rational decisions. What he did next wasn’t rational.

Roland picked up a stone rock by his foot and saw the man standing by a clump of bushes, poking through them with his rifle, alone. The dog was nowhere to be seen. Roland walked calmly towards him, and got so close that he could hear the man’s laboured breaths. Roland lunged at the man, bouncing him deep into the undergrowth. He nearly fell himself, but kept his grip on the old man’s wrist with his right hand. With his left hand he struck the side of the man’s head, hard enough to break his neck, he thought, yet kept his grip on the old man’s wrist. He had only begun.

The man was down on the ground, gasping, and Roland’s left hand found his throat and closed on it, crushing his outcry. He banged the old man’s body with his other fist, striking at the centre of his chest. Then he struck the man’s forehead and ear with the same regular hammerlike blows, and finally beat him under the chin with a resounding thud. Roland reached in his pocked for his knife that he had smuggled into the prison some nights before, opened it, and plunged its blade down – three, four, five times.

He concentrated on the man’s head because he wanted to destroy it, clouting the check again and again with the back of his closed fingers until his hand began to slip in blood and lose its power, though he was not aware of it. He was aware only of pure joy, of a glorious sense of justice, of injuries avenged, though he was not quite sure why. What he did understand however was that the man who had been barring his way to the diamond was now dead, the coast was clear. He thought of the German Shepherd that had scared him moments before, marvelled at how it could have frightened him so easily.

He stopped only when he was out of breath. He discovered himself kneeling on the old man’s thigh, and took his knees from him with distaste. He could see nothing of the man but the light column of his shirt. He looked around in the dark. The dog must have been off somewhere searching for the elusive intruder. Roland chuckled. There wouldn’t be much left of his master when he returned. He was quite sure the man was dead. Positive. He wished suddenly that he could see the man’s face, but he had no source of light with him, and the day had quickly turned to nightfall. He contemplated pulling the man onto the porch, where there was a light on, but didn’t want to strain himself any further.

Roland leaned forward cautiously, and put one of his small, whiskery hands with the fingers delicately extended, prepared to touch, and felt his loathing swell as his hand went closer. As soon as his fingertips touched the slippery skin, his other fist shot out, aimed directly beneath the fingertips. Then he stood up, satisfied, and made his way to the cottage.

***
The police found Herman Meyer’s dead body several hours later, lying in the undergrowth of a deep bush. The German Sheppard had been discovered by the font porch, a slug through its head. A shotgun, Herman’s shotgun, lay at its feet.

Roland was a wanted man. Not only had he escaped with the diamonds, all thirty-six of them, he had also murdered an innocent man and his dog and was well on his way to Mexico with them. Roland James Alcott Jnr. was never apprehended. He died a wealthy man in the outskirts of Nuevo Marrow, Mexico.


Comments?

Today...(a public holiday)

Today has been an eventful one. I woke up early in the morning and was lifted to my girlfriend's house where my other friends were waiting also. Then we all went off to Ratanga Junction, supposedly the biggest and wildest theme park in Africa (not saying much). It's home to some neat rides though, one of them being the Cobra, the largest, wildest ride in Africa (again not saying much). Here are some pictures of the Cobra:



At home now I've been playing some of the remade versions of my favourite LucasArt's adventure games. Here's the site

Too many unions!

OK, I appreciate GameSpot going out of their way and adding new features, but I'm not really diggin' this whole Unions idea. On paper it looks sublime, but I'm sick and tired of receiving pms asking me to join unions. I know for a fact that I wont post on these Unions very often, but I don't want to be rude and decline.

So what's my reason for disliking the Unions?

The layout.

Any comments?