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Top 20 Adventures games of all time - Courtesy of adventuregamers.com




#1: Day of the Tentacle (CD-ROM verison)

"But now, I know that I must go...back to the mansion!"

Developer: LucasArts
Release date: 1993


This Top 20 list has been through multiple drafts and revisions over the last four years, as I try to somehow come up with the perfect list, or at least the most fair. Through all the revisions, as you can imagine, games have been shuffled endlessly, constantly switching positions, being knocked off the list and back on repeatedly. But through every revision, from the original all the way to this 2003 edition, the #1 slot has never changed. It's never been a question for me. It's never been any sort of a dilemma. Day of the Tentacle, not a doubt in my mind, is the ultimate adventure game, the greatest ever.

Last week I said the Top 6 were virtually deadlocked with each other. That was actually a bit of a lie; #6-#2 were deadlocked. DOTT exists on its own level. I referred to those five games as "virtually flawless" but for this game, I drop the virtually part of it. The 1993 CD "talkie" version of Day of the Tentacle is a perfectly flawless adventure, the rarest of rare games, that which did nothing wrong. Nothing. There is no weakness in this game, no sieve. Stop waiting for the "but" because it won't come. This is the perfect adventure game, the one adventure that brought every aspect of great adventures together and created such an enjoyable masterpiece, it almost seems to transcend the level of computer games.

It's so great, from bottom to top, that it makes a case in every single possible area for being the greatest. The gorgeous cartoon graphics and the dazzlingly creative animation never stop amazing for the entire game. Ten years later, the opening animation of the bird flying over the mansion still looks fantastic. The musical score is perfectly suited, the voice acting is top-notch and captures the humorous essence of all the characters more accurately than most CD-ROM games could ever hope for. The jokes quite simply never miss, and hit right square in the belly most of the time. I don't know if I've ever laughed harder at a game than when the dazed and confused Laverne, the main female character, was travelling through a swirling time vortex and said, "This must be that Woodstock place Mom and Dad are always talking about." If you don't find that funny, you either haven't heard it in the game, or...well, I don't know. That kind of humor is just a standard in a brilliant script easily on par with any Monkey Island or Sam & Max, if not surpassing them both.

And of course, adventure games are all about characters and plot. I've commented earlier that I am a sucker for time travel, and no adventure game has ever utilized the concept better than this. The game begins with the funniest introduction sequence ever as Bernard, the nerd from the original Maniac Mansion receives a message (via hamster courier) from his good friend Green Tentacle, asking for assistance in dealing with the Purple Tentacle, who has drank some of Dr. Fred's radioactive sludge and become mad with power (he's grown arms too). Bernard, in heroic glory, stares out his window and declares that he must go "back to the mansion!" in another incredibly funny pop culture reference. What follows is the greatest opening credits sequence ever, as Bernard and friends Hoagie and Laverne jump in the jalopy and proceed to burn tracks to the mansion, driving through barns and around sharp curves. There's certainly no other game that I watch the intro to every time I boot it up, not even King's Quest VI or Full Throttle, but I laugh every single time at the sounds of our heroes driving chickens out of their home.

Through a series of events too amusing to really do justice, our three heroes end up in different eras. Hoagie finds himself dropped right into the site of the Constitutional Convention, alongside an arrogant George Washington, a snivelly John Hancock, a snooty Thomas Jefferson, and an insane Ben Franklin. Laverne is vaulted two hundred years into the future, where she unfortunately is suspended from a cherry tree. How do you get her down? Simple. Have Hoagie talk George Washington into chopping down the tree, probably my favorite adventure game puzzle of all-time and just another of hundreds of examples of this game's sparkling irreverence and brilliance. The puzzles are innovative and brilliant throughout, challenging but never once becoming frustrating, and always making clever use of the time travel ideas.

Words fail me; the words have not been invented for Day of the Tentacle. I've exhausted my meager vocabulary. All I can say is that from the moment I was enchanted by it nine years ago, the joy has never been lost. Replaying this game last month gave me the same magical feeling I had the first time, and reminded me why I love adventure games so much. In every aspect, every area, this game is one of the greatest. The greatest introduction, the greatest characters, the most innovative graphics, the greatest voice acting (certainly the best in a comedy), the greatest humor, the greatest story, by far the most creative and ingenious puzzles, and the greatest ending, a final touch that left me laughing for what felt like an hour. Laughing was all I could do during this game when I wasn't admiring the beautiful graphics.

There isn't a greater game, adventure or otherwise, in existence than Day of the Tentacle; I believe that with all of my heart, and if you have not experienced the game, you don't understand the heights that an adventure game can attain. Strong words? Absolutely. That's how strongly I feel about this game.

It's been fun counting down and reliving the great games, but amongst a magnificent array of great adventures, there is one that sits on the throne, head and shoulders above every other adventure, and seems to snicker as others try to reach its peak. None ever will. Day of the Tentacle is the #1 adventure game of all-time.

I'll be writing my responses to this list and compiling my own shortly.

Ex Sam & Max 2 staffers announce their new game....




This is taken from www.pczone.co.uk

Telltale Games, the California-based development made up from staffers on LucasArts' canned Sam and Max 2 project, has finally announced its mystery project.

And rather than picking up the Sam and Max 2 license as rumours suggested, Telltale has got its hands on Jeff Smith's Bone.

Jeff Smith, if you didn't know, is regarded as one of the true independent writers and artists working in comics today, having won numerous awards for his work, with current focus on developing a new Shazam (who apparently has a 'Ring of Power') miniseries for DC.

One of his greatest achievements includes the creation, writing and drawing of the comic Bone: a tale of three skeletal cousins known as Fone Bone, Phoney Bone and Smiley Bone.

In a recently issued press release, Telltale's CEO Dan Connors had this to say: "Detailed rich characters and incredibly immersive story telling are everything to us."

He then added, "We are proud that Jeff Smith and Cartoon Books have decided that we are the best partners to bring Bone to life in a series of PC games. The Bone world has so much texture and depth and combines a unique blend of superb adventure, mystery and humor - it is a great first license for Telltale."

He then passed on the hallowed PR quote pipe to Cartoon Books' publisher, Vijaya Iyer, who contributed, "We are very impressed with the work the Telltale team has done in the past. We're confident they can bring the fun and adventure of the Bone story to life. Bone has been a big hit with comic book lovers everywhere and reaching the PC market will allow even more people to boldly go where no Bone has gone before."

If you've stopped laughing at the various ways the word 'bone' can be taken into context here, we shall continue...

The physical nature of the game (third-person control or point and click?) and release date are both currently unknown, though we do know the game begins from the first pages of the comic, as per the copy taken from the official site:

"Lost in the desert and dying of thirst, the Bone cousins are separated by an angry swarm of locusts. Now Fone Bone, armed only with a mysterious map and his well-loved copy of Moby Dick, searches a strange valley to try and find his lost relatives. Along the way he will come face to face with its unusual denizens and begin to be drawn into the greater intrigues that surround the valley."

Otherwise, the image enclosed should offer a very unrevealing taster of what's to come. Meanwhile, you can educate yourselves further on all things Bone on the comic's website.

More on this as we have it...

No more LucasArt's adventures?

I don't know about you, but I loved the old LucasArt's adventure games, so this news saddens me:

This is taken from the discussion forum of Monkey Island, but I think it includes all LucasArt's adventures:

"Hey guys. I just received my March issue of Game Informer Magazine with an interesting article: An Interview with Jim Ward - President, LucasArts/ Vice Pres. , Marketing & Distributing, Lucasfilm LTD.
Read into this as you will:
Q: LucasArts used to be known for making really unique original properties like Day of the Tentacle, then fell back primarily on Star Wars products exclusively. Are original games going to be a focus for the company?
A: We have three main goals. One is to restimulate the Star Wars IP with high quality games. Secondly, we're going to reinvigorate the Indiana Jones IP, which has basically been stagnant for years. There's no reason that Indiana Jones can't be a James Bond and have a year-in, year-out great representation of that brand. And take advantage of the fact that, in the next couple of years, there will be a new Indiana Jones movie. The third leg of this is definetely new IP. There's a heritage built into the DNA of LucasArts, and that's creativity and innovation. We need to move beyond the IP that we have. We certainly lost that. We lost that as the console console marketplace came into being; it was very strong on the PC platform. Once the company missed the adaptation of the console platforms, we've been in catch-up mode ever since. But that's going to change.
And there you have it! Straight from Mr. Ward himself! Does this mean no returns to past glory, like Day of the Tentacle, Sam and Max, and Monkey Island? It sounds like it, but let's hope not!
Unfortunately, I do not have a link to the article at this time, but there should be one up on the web within a few weeks!"

Obviously if games like Grim Fandango and Monkey Island mean nothing to you, then this news won't either.

A Fictional Short Story For School - Please Comment

Incident at dusk

Roland could just make out the discernable edges of the cottage through the thickening gloom. The presence of the cottage 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 cocked like a cocker spaniel, listening for the slightest indication that the police were on his trail.

Roland 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 figure 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 three 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 dog 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 100 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, it was the cause of all his worries.

He walked round the back of the cottage, making sure he kept a safe distance from the dog, and peered through a musty window. His eyes widened in fear as he made out the form of a bulky man slouching in a plush couch. For a moment he stood rooted to the spot, and it was then that the man saw him, shouted in indignation and rose heavily. Roland, hearing himself yelp with fear, fled from his position, his heart thumping. Thumping hard. Thumping painfully hard. Thumping incessantly. He suddenly slipped and fell, and hearing the man’s crashing footsteps and the dog’s barking, he rose in terror, tried to steady himself and slipped again on the sodden grass. The man shouted something that sounded ominously like a death threat. Roland considered for a fleeting moment giving himself up, but then he realized he’d only be sent straight back to the police. No, that wouldn’t do.

He was running again, throwing himself through thickets of bushes, bracing himself against branches and twigs, and all along hearing the voices of the dog and the man behind him. Then, as he began to tire, he heard his own convoluted breaths more than the heard his pursuers, and that alarmed him because he couldn’t tell how close they were. He stopped, biting back his deep breaths. It was then that the shot rang out, and Roland felt a bullet pierce his orange shirt. He fell like a dummy. Rooted to the ground, he writhed in pain. The man had shot him, the man had shot him! These thoughts screamed out at him, until he heard another shot, and felt nothing but blissful quiet. Roland’s dead body was discovered shortly after, and he was identified as the master thief who had escaped from Ashville state penitentiary on April 1st, 1981.

 

My top 3 games of 2004

1) Half-Life 2: Really, what more can be said about Valve's magnum opus? It's thrilling sinuous gameplay, it's masterful storytelling, it's wondrous visuals and marvellous sound have already been praised to death. If perfection is possible, Valve has come damn close with Half-Life 2. I, for one, disagree with Jason Ocampo's review of the game. Sure, I have minor quibbles with the game, such as the lackluster buggy missions, but the game justified more than the 9.2 it received. If you're someone who doesn't read much into scores, then surely Ocampo was wrong in his detailing Half-Life 2 as a game that "....breaks little new ground."

At any rate, this game is a title that all FPS
aficionados would be mad to miss.



2) Far Cry: Valve's Half-Life was an amazing debut title from an originality standpoint. Cryte
k's Far Cry is an amazing debut title from a technical standpoint. The lush scenery and beautiful in-door levels make Far Cry a treat on the eyes. There are some wondrous cut-scenes and superb character animations. One of the three best looking games of the year, along with Half-Life 2 and Doom 3. However it has some great gameplay to boot too, and it's tough 20 mission single player campaign will rarely disappoint.

Quote from the official GameSpot review: "
Far Cry isn't just a stunning technical accomplishment. It's quite possibly the best single-player first-person shooter experience for the PC since Half-Life."- Jason Ocampo. Rating, 9.2.



3) Sims 2: Maxis has received it's fair share of
criticism for the Sims series, but it's not hard to see why it's sold so well. Having procured a copy a good five months ago, I'm still enjoying playing the game. It's addictive quality and replay value make this one of the creme de le creme of 2004, and earns it a place in my prestigious top three line-up. The Sims 2 also boasts one of the best engines seen in any Strategy/God game ever, and if you have a decent PC, you'll enjoy the game in all it's graphical splendour.

Quote from the official GameSpot review: "
The Sims 2 is a great sequel and a great game in its own right, and it's recommendable to just about anyone." - Andrew Park. Rating, 8.9.

Escape From Monkey Island Review

If Guybrush's escapades were to end here, LucasArts would be ending on a high note.


Aside from the Star Wars game series, the Monkey Island franchise is one of LucasArts’ most successful and popular series in their illustrious history. Guybrush Threepwood and his band of pirate mates have traversed the high seas on three previous outings, and they’re back for a fourth stint in this latest adventure game from LucasArts, Escape From Monkey Island.

GAMEPLAY

The plot sees Guybrush and Elaine returning to Melee Island from their long honeymoon cruise. So long, in fact, that Elaine has been declared dead and thus is no longer the governor of the island. To make matters worse there is an Australian land developer who has been acquiring every property he can lay his hands on, by challenging and defeating all the pirates to insult duels.

If you haven’t played the three prequels you will miss out on a lot of Escape From Monkey Island’s more subtle humour. The world that has been created in the previous three games and continued in the fourth game is certainly impressive and there are many references to Guybrush’s other adventures, so you’ll get the most out of the game if you know what has happened in the previous games, though I must stress that it is not a must.

Saving the governor's mansion, clearing his name after being framed for a bank robbery and obtaining the formidable voodoo Ultimate Insult are just some of the jobs Guybrush sets about completing. He meets almost all the characters from The Secret Of Monkey Island along the way, not least of which is his ever-present opponent the ghost pirate LeChuck.

The most essential component of an adventure game is the puzzles. Over the years Adventure games have always stretched the bounds of reason with their warped logic and very limited freedom that ensures that you only do what the game wants you to do. Perhaps the reason adventure games have been so far and few between of late is their failure to move beyond the 'use object on other object' stage.

Making it 3D and taking away the pointing and clicking doesn’t constitute as a progress. The massively underrated Discworld Noir is the only game of late to have tried something new, with a system of clues that could be used on each other to make logical connections, and a werewolf act where you used scents more than objects. But the game was almost wholly ignored and its inventive thinking went largely unnoticed.

Escape doesn’t do anything new in this respect and merely continues the tradition of earlier Monkey Island games with a heavy dose of Grim Fandango-ness. The interplay between the frustration of being stuck and the elation at finally solving the offending puzzle is at the core of adventure gameplay, and Escape manages to keep a nice balance most of the time.

The puzzles are mostly logical although there are those ubiquitous ones that require plain trial and error. For instance the file retrieval system in the Palace of Prostheses, but there are also some really inventive situations. While trapped in the Mysts of Time, a spook, mist filled lake, you see your future self on the other side of a gate. Following this is an amusing conversation and comedy swap of items that is pleasantly confusing.

What seems apparent, however, is that LucasArts are squeezing out the remainder of their monkey formula in their quest to make this as funny and original as the prequels. The resulting substance is a mixture of the traditional old gameplay and some rather anti swashbuckling puzzles, such as a diving contest and a bank robbery.

LucasArts are certainly doing their damnedest to go back to the roots of the previous games and re-enact the magic that was in abundance in The Secret Of Monkey Island and Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge. As I mentioned earlier, they have included characters from the previous games to try and lend the sequel that distinctive Monkey Island feel.

On the other hand, long-time fans are less likely to be impressed by what is largely a collection of old ideas. However, they are executed with so much class that it makes the whole thing more than worthwhile, and there are enough new ones to captivate your attention all the way through.

Ultimately, it’s the games attitude that will really suck in die-hard fans and wannabes alike. LucasArts gently mocks every stereotype in the movie book, rounding up staples of pirate fiction and whacking them around the head with an irony stick.

But, despite the cleverly subversive jokes that pop up now and again, you can't escape the feeling that LucasArts is playing it safe, resurrecting a big name instead of developing an original idea like it did with Grim Fandango. Maybe it was the only way the Ideas Unit could convince the Finance section that creating an Adventure game was, economically, a good idea.

What we should perhaps take into account is that, despite Ron Gilbert’s absence (the mastermind behind the first two) the main men behind Escape were the ones who brought us Sam & Max; possibly the funniest game ever.

GRAPHICS
LucasArts has followed the approach they took with Grim Fandango, and so Escape From Monkey Island is rendered in 3D and uses the keyboard. It also utilizes the Grim Fandango engine, albeit in a heavily modified state. Comparatively, Escape From Monkey Island looks nothing like Fandango. Whereas the former has bright beach yellow backdrops and curvy blue waves as backgrounds, and each of the characters are drawn like comic book characters, Fandango provides a much darker and brooding atmosphere and a different outlook on the world. It’s a personal choice to which one you prefer, but Escape does retain a few graphical glitches that were present in Fandango, and I feel these should have been ironed out before the release.

The keyboard control system has been changed ever so slightly. Depending on the situation suggestions will pop up. For example, if standing close to a bucket of fish the words ‘examine fish’ will appear. You can either do as such and press enter, or hit the hot keys, p and u, to pick up or use the fish respectively. This way it’s easier to determine if an object is of importance than it was in Fandango.

SOUND
Audio in Escape From Monkey Island is solid. There’s nothing genuinely special, the voice acting is good, the music is quirky and the script is funny without being hilarious. Overall it’s good, solid stuff.


CONCLUSION
Certainly, Escape isn’t a game that should be shunned. With some genuinely original touches and lusciously rendered backdrops combined with voice acting and a vibrant cast of characters, Escape From Monkey Island is a worthy chapter in the series. If Guybrush’s escapades were to end here, LucasArts would be ending on a high note.

Link to original review: http://www.gamespot.com/pc/adventure/escapefrommonkeyisland/reader_review.html?id=2688346

Commandos 3 Review

Throats and features alike have been ruthlessly cut in this third installment


It's ironic that in most cases sequels prove to be rushed rehashes. Commandos 3 is not a rehash, but a gaming travesty and Pyro have omitted many of the features that made Commandos 2 the strategy game of 2001.

Commandos 3 is essentially Commandos 2.5. It’s an attempt to bring something new to the series, but Pyro have inexplicably omitted many of the features that made Commandos 2 so compelling. For a start the interface has become more fiddly and complicated. Useful weapon and action hotkeys have been scrapped and instead you’re forced to scroll through the characters weapons, instead of a simple click of a key to get the weapon ready. In frantic moments, it’s very easy to lose control of the situation while fumbling with keys. When precision and timing is so vital in a game like this, it’s a befuddling omission.

Then take into account the fewer characters. From Commandos 2, Paul, Natasha and Whiskey have all been jabbed into oblivion, and even the diver only makes a cameo appearance. As far as we can see, this smacks laziness on Pyro’s part, though they maintain that they are merely trying to create a more focussed gameplay experience.

However you’ll understand why we think Pyro are getting lazy when you realise that Commandos 3 is a fraction of Commandos 2, with a mere twelve missions, and this time around, you won’t need to smack on the sun block and inject yourself with anti malaria vaccines as the adventures are all set in a troubled Europe. Sure Pyro make an effort to change the scenery, but its nothing compared to Commandos 2’s east Asian missions, which were not only atmospheric but made for interesting gaming. I.e. there was a lot to experiment with in your surroundings and you could even ride the elephants.

Video options are minimal, with a fixed 800X600 viewpoint, and the only scrollable option being high, or low detail. Granted, Commandos 2 didn’t have many options itself, but there was far more to adjust. In Commandos 3 case, if your PC isn’t up to it, then you’re going to have to live with it. It’s a shame. Fortunately while Eidos quote a recommended spec of 512 MB of RAM and a 128 MB 3D Card, these are optimistic, and you’ll get by with half that.

The Commandos series has always been criticised for being two difficult. The key was, and still is, to learn the game mechanics and take your time at the start of each mission to work out your plan. However a mission crops up about halfway through the game where there’s a time limit imposed. While this does provide some variation, many die-hard Commandos fans will dislike the addition, and feel rushed; their gameplay style severely hampered. On the other hand Pyro have eased the difficulty level a notch down, and you’re given more freedom in the way you wish to play. Now alarms won’t trigger instead end of mission losses but you have a very slim chance of success this way. Emphasis is still placed on patience, and your patience will be severely tested as you quick load for the fortieth time.

I mentioned the difficulty levels of the game, but I forgot to mention that there’s no difficulty level option. Obviously this will cause problems for beginners and novices alike. In the end all parties are left cursing Pyro’s stupidity; well, aside from those who find the game’s difficulty just right that is.

Another departure from Commandos 2 is the structure of the game. When you start playing you’re given the choice to play a mission from one of three campaigns. Obviously it’s best to play them in order, but you don’t have to, and it allows extra freedom. You may be stuck on the first mission in the Starlingrad campaign and instead of cursing the game and desperately searching for cheats, you can try the opening missions from the other two campaigns, and once you’ve completed one, you’re hooked. Yes, Commandos remains rewarding, and it looks the part too, despite the lack of scaleable options. In two years however, I expected more than just improved visuals. I expected more substance. More bite. More oomph. Sadly I’ve been left disappointed.

Blade Runner Review

Blade Runner will disgrace old favourites like Indy Jones with the calm elan that has hallmarked both the film and now..




It’s a relief to see a title like Blade Runner, which throws old traditions aside – in this case in the Adventure mould – and produces riveting gameplay while trying to do something new. Granted, it’s based on the film of the same name, but both protagonist and story is different. If you’ve seen the movie (which stars Harrison Ford) you’d expect Blade Runner to be an action game, akin to Tomb Raider in some respects, with a couple of taxing puzzles thrown in. Once you start playing however, you’ll realize that it’s a reversal and puzzle solving takes the centre stage.

Extraordinarily, Blade Runner is the work of Westwood Studios, little known for their Adventure games. In fact, it’s the first time the Los Vegas developers have strayed anywhere close to the genre, and let’s hope it isn’t the last time, as Blade Runner is the best Adventure game since Day of the Tentacle.

Aesthetically Blade Runner really excels, and persistent rain, flickering neon lights and airborne vehicles sets the 2019 setting excellently. However the character models are really pretty awful, especially by today's standards and look blocky and overly pixilated, though the numerous FMVs more than make up for this. Obviously, because Blade Runner is a very old game now, it's going to lose marks because its graphics don't stack up against newer games, like Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon. The sound on the other hand, isn't bad, and it's only really the cheesy chinese accents that brings the score down.

Lengthwise Blade Runner is very respectable and it will take up to a week to complete. Moreover the thirteen variable endings add longevity to the game, and ensure that you will still be playing Blade Runner even after completing it for the first time. Unlike Deus Ex, decisions need to be made even as early as the First Act, which will effect the way the game eventually pans out. Of course, as many esteemed journalists have mused, ‘who wants to miss sections of a game?’ Many people dislike having to make choices in games, and I admit I’m not the biggest fan of such methods. But I’m not a churlish person, and I’m not going to criticize Westwood for putting extra effort into their creation and trying to make Blade Runner very good value for money.

For all its snazzy endings though, Blade Runner has its limitations. As seems to be the norm today, Adventure game interfaces need to be as simple as possible and consequently Westwood have scrapped an examine button. For the most part, the difficulty comes when you’re wading through pixels searching for valuable objects. Amazingly you can’t even try items with NPCs; the computer does all the work for you. On the one hand though, this does do away with all illogical and laborious ‘try this with this’. What’s more, Blade Runner still provides a stern challenge, even for hardened Adventurers, and the Esper photo-enhancement machine is a nice touch; it actually makes you feel like a real detective, as does the option to work on several different cases at a time (thought they are all linked).

Blade Runner is a most untraditional Adventure game, which is perhaps why I like it so much. All its competitors are startlingly different, and Blade Runner is perhaps the first adventure game to allow you to die, thanks to the five or six action sequences that crop up throughout the duration of the game. Undoubtedly Charles Cecil would be proud of the boys at Westwood, the Englishman himself his adamant that ‘Adventure games need to change’.

Some might say that Blade Runner will only receive high scores because there is a dearth of Adventure games out there. I disagree. This game is one of the best of the genre I’ve ever played. Blade Runner will disgrace old favourites like Indy Jones with the calm élan that has hallmarked both the film and now Westwood’s small-screen accompaniment.

I don't really like the review. It's not bad considering I wrote it some years ago, however.
Link to original review: http://www.gamespot.com/pc/adventure/bladerunner/reader_review.html?id=2689800

Aliens VS Predator 2 review

If you love scary games you will love the Marine campaign, and merely like the other two.




I’m scared, oh very scared. I’ve welded my door shut, and now I sit on the floor, gibbering like a baby, shivering and spluttering with fear. I haven’t dared to crack through the sealant of my door because I know that something is outside, ready to pounce and rip my body to shreds.

A week before my nightmares begun I had been living a hermit’s existence playing Monolith’s new shooter AVP2. It reduces you to a frightened wreck, someone who daren't step out of his house at night, someone who sleeps with a light on. AVP2's marine campaign is really very scary.

The game remains true to the original by letting you choose between three characters. The aforementioned Marine, Predator and Alien. All three are as diverse as the next, and the atmosphere and tension is different with each character you play as. AVP2 is a twist-ridden tale that can only be understood by completing all three campaigns. Basically, the plot consists of this: Doctor Eisenberg has discovered a 10000-year-old hive on plant LV-1201 and has set up research labs to study the aliens. Unfortunately all havoc breaks loose when the aliens escape from the labs and a group of marines are brought in to clear up the mess, and stop it from getting out of hand. Predators hear of the carnage taking place on the planet, and decide to pay LV 1201 a visit, in the hope of bagging some alien and human trophies.

As a marine you control Harrison, a brave soldier who has the annoying habit of volunteering for suicide missions, such as rescuing a captured comrade who lies in a cocoon in an alien hive, and then making a rather hasty retreat with hordes of aliens in pursuit. Playing as Harrison you get to use a number of different weapons. It’s a well thought out collection, and it’s important to choose your gun carefully based on the situation you find yourself in. For example, it’s fatal to use an explosive weapon indoors and it’s equally fatal to use a shotgun against opponents who are outdoors, as a shotgun isn’t too accurate. The Pulse Rifle is very useful and sounds very much like the ones in the Alien movies. It powerful and good to use indoors. The minigun too is something that can be used to devastating effect. Unfortunately, it runs out of bullets all too quickly.

The Marine’s over sensitive motion tracker is back from the original, and it really adds tension to the whole experience. It’s terrifying to hear the machine beep indicating alien presence nearby and frankly the Marine missions wouldn’t be the same without it. Other marine accessories include a shoulder lamp, flares, hacking device and welding torch, useful for destroying bolts and padlocks on doors.

The marine missions are the most linear of the three species, also making them the most tense and terrifying in the game. Monolith has done well to realise that it should be about survival, not loftier goals like saving the world. The enemies you encounter as a Marine are all highly skilled and the aliens are particularly wily and quick. They’ll approach from ceilings and floors, and you have to have a steady and accurate hand to hit them. There are face huggers to kill, human soldiers, praetorians, (larger versions of the standard xenomorph) predaliens and the standard xenomorph.

Perhaps the most memorable mission in the marine campaign is the last, Saviour, where you gain control of an APC robot (like the one at the end of Aliens) that comes equipped with a flamethrower and minigun, the latter of which has grenades as a secondary option. Your task is to infiltrate an alien hive and rescue your teammates. There is no shortage of aliens and praetorians to kill and it’s extremely tense and exciting.

Once you’ve completed the marine missions you can then take control of either a predator or alien, and while there aren’t up to the standards of Harrison’s exploits, they are still pretty enjoyable.

The predator is very different to the marine. You’re a killing machine, a hunter, your aim is to kill, and you do exactly that as you traverse some large outdoor areas and perform huge leaps from treetops. The predator campaign feels more like thief, where the shadows are your friend, and moving quietly will help immensely. The predator comes equipped with some excellent gadgetry, such as the medicomp that heals you, but drains your limited energy supply. To compensate for this, there is the ‘energy sift device’, designed to ‘regenerate your batteries’. This is all very well, but it does become a tad easy when all you have to do when injured is use the medicomp to heal your wounds and then recharge your energy. Although you do need to find a secluded area to perform such actions, it does take away lots of the tension that was in abundance while playing as Harrison. Apart from the medicomp, a few of the predator’s weapons also use your power, weapons such as the laser cannon, which emits a powerful blue beam that is capable of blowing your enemies to smithereens. Beheading your human enemies will make you roar in true hunter style, and you can taunt vitctims.

One of the predator’s strongest points is that he can cloak himself and become invisible. Like a lot of other gadgets and accessories this slowly depletes your power, and you’ll de cloak if energy runs out. Water too will make you visible, and shooting some weapons will do the same thing.

Perhaps the main flaw with the predator campaign is that it involves rather a lot of jumping. Even though you can leap long distances by combining the crouch and jump key, it still becomes a tad frustrating, and doesn't feel suited to the First-Person perspective.

The predator has three vision modes to look through. One is a basic night vision, but the other two specialise at spotting cloaked predators and scuttling aliens. This remains very true to the film and the sound effects while peering through a particular vision is very atmospheric and eerie.

Overall I prefer the Marine’s weapons to the predator’s arsenal, but both are incredibly varied. You even obtain a net gun as the latter that bundles your victim up nicely, leaving him at your mercy. The predator’s arsenal is certainly unusual and you won’t find a machine gun or flamethrower amidst the collection. What the collection does include though, are weapons such as wrist blades, shoulder cannons and disc throwers to name a few.

Playing as the alien you first gain control of a small facehugger who must kill a human to grow. Once this has been done you’ve grown into a chestburster who must scavenge for food, amidst weary trigger-happy guards, who once they spot you, won’t think twice about putting a bullet through your small body. It’s important to stick to the shadows, and plays very much like a stealth game, adding even more variety to an already varied game.

However, one you’ve grown into a fully sized Xenomorph there’s no sticking to the shadows, and like the predator, you’re very much the hunter. The alien has three attacks, the pounce, claw and tail attack. The latter is more for stunning your opponent, but the other two are extremely powerful and can tear your foes to shreds. Unfortunately, reminiscent to the predator missions, it’s possible to regain extra life all too easily, just by devouring still warm heads (that, is, if the body still has a head left).

As an alien, you can wallwalk, and this is extremely important to master. Wallwalking plays an important role in getting around, seeing as doors cannot be opened. You’ll often be looking for vents in the walls and ceilings, and after a while you’ll soon become trained at spotting the way out. Although aliens can’t open doors, they can smash them in; although this can only be achieved on weaker material, not on doors made of steel. Unfortunately the chance of smashing through a door won't occur very often, and you'll be left with the frustrating task of searching for a vent to climb through.

As the alien you’ll occasionally battle predators, but more often humans are your target. Some will cringe in fear, and mutter, "oh god, oh god" as you approach. This all contributes to the sense that you are the dominant one, and really sets the missions apart from Harrison’s campaign where dominance is never felt.

Glue these three campaigns together and you have Alien Vs Predator 2, a diverse and exciting game whose story is told through three different viewpoints. The music is brilliant, blending in seamlessly with the action and changing according to the situation you find yourself in. The poor engine brings the score down considerably, as does the Alien campaign, ingenious as it is. Overall AVP2 contains individual components that SHOULD have made it a classic, but sadly, it isn't a particularly enjoyable experience. The Marine missions are easily the most exciting, but once you try the other two you can’t help but be disappointed. If you love scary games you’ll love the Marine campaign, and merely like the other two. It’s as simple as that.


Link to original review http://www.gamespot.com/pc/action/aliensversuspredator2/reader_review.html?id=2699819