Entry 112: A pre-November taste ( in no particular order)
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
The single player demo offer a night mission in a Saudi Arabia town. Gameplay is fluid, and an exact copy of previous WWII CoDs - no more no less: meaning you advance, duck, shoot, complete an objective and so on until the end whereas you witness two Cobras making the rest of the job. Fast, furious as expected, yet a rather linear gameplay in which you're still responsible to complete the objectives, but always a strange feeling to be a small part of an uncontrollable war. The environments are OK but not fully HD ( ugly skybox; standards explosions); yet an excellent animation graces the experience. Character models also remain a good standard, without reaching true HD. Though the graphical experience will be toned down further more online, I suspect CoD4 to garner a much larger success due to its multiplayer instead.
Pros: fluid controls; action; stressful environments; tank buster. Cons: overall graphics not truly a leap forward to true HD; linear mechanics; washed out atmosphere of déjà vu.
Unreal Tournament III
At first sight, some people are somewhat disappointed of the revamped visuals, user interface and the absence of a Warfare map ( new mode ). The more I play it though, the more I'm impressed and now the beta demo almost fulfill my initial expectations of what Epic can do best. The new environmental formulae still respect the Unreal atmosphere but within a grittier, much less colorful construct: cartoony aspects of UT2004 have been discarded. Epic evidently want to entice a broader audience. Even without AA support ( the full game will support it under DX10 ), the demo looks full HD in 1920x1200 - even if coloring becomes too bland. Details are already staggering, especially characters and armors. Most importantly of course, the gameplay keeps a steady pace and weapon balance seems to me near perfect. Special moves have been tweaked by community demands, namely the double jump.......again, the more I play it, the more I adjust to the welcomed change.
Pros: little gameplay tweaks; weapon balance; fluid controls; layouts; still a carnage Unreal but more realistically gritty; HD graphics. Cons: for a beta demo, only little nitpicks. UTIII deliver for the most part. Coloring too bland perhaps; and please nerf the speed of the hoverboard ( too easy to carry a flag ).
F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate
TimeGate isn't Valve, Epic, or even Monolith who made the original Fear: this standalone episode just seem to run like the expansion Extraction Point. Some lags. Some stuttering. Some polish problems. Some optimization the developers have difficulties to implement in an OK construct that still looks slightly inferior to the original. That said, as a Fear fan I find some good stuff in it. The same good slo mo mechanics work well again, some additional particle effects grace the boring - yet realistic - layout, and I like the two new weapons.
Pros: Fear atmosphere kept intact; good balance; new particle effects. Cons: optimization and stability problems; aside effects, static graphics have not evolved; strong feeling of déjà vu.
That one's a surprise that may well become a sleeper hit. The extra year of development definitely pays off. I'm impressed by the gameplay flow, the graphics near true HD, and most importantly by the slo mo effects: three time shifting types. They are perfectly displayed. One type slow time, à la Matrix-Fear; another stop it briefly; and the third type REVERSE it ( useful to pass certain obstacles ). Give it a try. It's still somewhat linear, conventional, and so cliché ( the game is a nigh plagiarised blend of HL2, Fear and Quake ) YET it delivers a great flow. The shattergun is joyful to use. It looks better than CoD4 and has the same fluidity.
Pros: action balance; weapons; character details and water effects ( only BioShock has better ). Cons: layout; lawsuit material? ( HL2: ''benefactor'', dictator speech à la ''Breen'').
P.S: just finished HL2 Episode Two once, and Valve never cease to surprise me by additional gameplay twists. The final frantic combat against Striders and the Hunters was incredible.
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