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velvetkloud Blog


It's potentially a good few months for games. The lack of anything really decent this year was resolved with Human Revolution a few months back, then the awesome 'The Binding if Isaac'. We now have another wealth of treats coming, all of which I am looking forward to. The timing is going to be tricky though, I need to plan how I am going to get through this lot so they don't fall into the pit of my Steam account.

'Sonic Generations' has been released today, just waiting for it to finish downloading (due to a slight mishap with the pre-load). That's fine, I don't anticipate Sonic devouring too much of my time, I'm confident it will be an easy quick-play kind of game. Having said that, i thought the same of 'the Binding of Isaac'.

The real problem will come with 'Skyrim' on the 11th November. If it's as good as I am hoping, it will be a harsh mistress, I can see myself getting quite engrossed in it, just as I did with Oblivion. L.A. Noire is also released on the same day but I have waited this long I'm sure I can push it back a bit further.

Arkham City then comes on the 18th. Technically that only gives me seven days to dedicate to Skyrim before this will undoubtidly take over. Not to say that Arkham City will be the better game for me, but Skyrim will be sapping my life for some time, I'm confident I can get Arkham City done and dusted fairly quickly.

However not before Serious Sam BFE is released on the 22nd November. That's going to be a real problem, again if it is as good as it looks it could take precedence over the other four, like Sonic, I am sure it will be very easy to just pick up and play. With the others I will want to be more specific about my times so I can fully abosrb their worlds (or be fully absorbed into them).

During all this, I still have to fit in time for Bad Company, Left 4 Dead, Team Fortress...

AvP is a lost cause

Yes, it has its flaws and I really have no desire to indulge in the single player game but Aliens vs Predator still had the potential for fun with some good friends in a multiplayer setting. The only thing that was hindering this was the severe lag when hosting from one of our computers.

As a treat we decided that a month of dedicated server for roughly £4 was a bit of a bargin, until we realised the true extent of the lack of suport for the game.

All I wanted to do was to be able to set up the server, from a lobby, with the usual options you would expect such as the map, a password, the game type, etc. Or, at the very least, do this in game through some options or within the console.
I spent a good deal of time investigating the www to see if anyone could shed any light on how to achieve this relatively simple task but with zero joy. the only thing I could do was change the map in the server cfg file then restart the server and rejoin it.

I resorted to contacting Gameservers so they could offer me advice on what I actually needed to do. this was their response:

"Unfortunately our information on AVP is limited to what you've seen. There was not a lot of support for the administration of the servers for this game from the developers. We apologize for the inconvenience."

So basically, cheap as it was, we paid for a server that barely actually works as such. I am thoroughly annoyed with Gameservers, if you know the server is missing important aspects of support such as this then why sell it? At the very least why not warn potential customers? If I purchase a server I expect it to have the ability to manage the functions that are intrinsic to the multiplayer aspect.

More than that though I am extremely annoyed with the developers for releasing this piece of crap in this state, I knew it was a flawed game but thought I could gain some enjoyment from the multiplayer. Now I know that this is not the case it no longer deserves the space on my hard drive.

The six deadly sins of F.E.A.R. 3

"horror is extremely fragile ... you can kill it by spelling things out too clearly" - Craig Hubbard, Lead Designer: F.E.A.R.

I don't tend to keep myself religiously up to date with each and every happening in the gaming world. I will check up on something if it has caught my eye or keep tabs on games that I am already interested in or that are related to games that I previously enjoyed. Due to this F.E.A.R. 3 kind of crept up on me and I didn't even realise it was soon to be released until a few weeks back.
As I just started playing F.E.A.R. 2 I decided to have a look at some screen shots and trailers for the 3rd instalment and now wish I hadn't... Here's why:

The title: Obviously I was already aware that F.3.A.R. had adopted the now very stale "numbers replacing letters" trend and with the 3 just being a backwards E it seems like a no brainer, which is precisely the problem. It probably takes less intellect to decide to take this approach than to create a product and marketing strategy that doesn't have to rely on cheap gimmicks such as this.

The gameplay: This was the first I was aware that you would be able to utilise two characters, one being Paxton Fettel from the first game who could use telekinesis and all sorts of other supernatural crap. This is not something I have any desire to see in a F.E.A.R. game and just takes the game from a scary as hell, first person horror/shooter into the realms of bland cliché. Seeing Fettel using spooky red streams of psychic dribble to lift up unimpressed enemies just made me want to slit my own eyes.

The Co-op: Where on earth will the psychological horror be if you are traipsing around these dull environments with a friend? F.E.A.R. thrilled me with it's subtle and brief moments of "did I just see that" and "Oh god what's that noise?", How on earth can you get that effect with two of you playing it?
Actually it probably could work if done well, especially if things happened like you lost communications with your team mate for a moment while the horror occurred, but it would take a degree of excellence to pull it off which I doubt this game will have.

The music: I can't speak about the game itself but Marilyn Manson on the trailer? Seriously?

The Almaverse: Almas world, complete with stereotypical eyeless beasts and, what look like, zombie rappers. The name just says it all really.

The world as a whole: It all just seems so wrong, the atmosphere, genuine scares and constant, uneasy tension replaced by a gaudy, over the top and completely unnecessary monster-fest. Some screens I have seen just look like a bland Doom 3 wannabe or worse, and don't even get me started on the ridiculous voice acting.
It seems that everything that was wonderful about the original has now long gone. Another legacy probably ruined by incompetence and the inability to not revert to tired, predictable conventions in order to pump out another game.

System Failure

Well it would seem that there is indeed something amiss in the depths of my PC. It started a couple of weeks back when, upon loading Fallout NV, I would be greeted with a mess of colours and no other option other than to force a reboot. This only occurred once I started the game itself, there were no issues on the desktop or the Fallout menu screen.

I tried the obligatory driver re-installation and did a computer clean up to no avail. Fearing a hardware issue I ran ATI Tool which tests the stress of my graphics card. Sure enough, as the load increased i got the same result.After some system checks such as temperatures etc and cleaning the fans out the issue vanished.

However now I can't seem to load up F.E.A.R. 2...

As soon as it starts it freezes on the loading screen, again forcing a reboot is my only saviour. Generally the rest of my system is fine and appears as normal, things are just starting to go wrong when I get into the realms of 3D, as I have exhausted all other options I can only assume either my graphics card or my PSU are dying. The problem is I have nothing to effectively test them with, I don't own any other PSUs or GFX cards that will deliver the same performance for testing purposes, and seeing as its only occasionally happening, I need the specs to be the same to help identify it. I can't run my GFX card with any other PSUs and I can't put my PSU under the same strain with any of my other GFX cards.

I guess my only option is a PSU tester so I can at least rule that out.

Awful car-nage

As threatened I have just started playing F.E.A.R. 2 and so far it's not too bad. I still don't see that it can better the original and I have already come across a couple of issues but I think it may still be a fun blast which was all I was after.

It seems that they are over playing the shock moments a little, they still make me jump at times but there's too much emphasis on things like a dramatic sound and visual effect when they occur which cheapens it slightly. The timing is good on the few occasions it has happened but they seem a little too proud of it and overblow it slightly.
There are also some technical niggles which detract slightly like the fact that you can shoot the glass out of some windows but not others and some areas you should realistically be able to access but you are blocked. Just cheap barriers really which I find an irritant. The background 'world' looks shabby too, there are some bits where they have put roads with traffic on that are just laughable. The traffic consists of far too many instances of vehicles (actually just the same car and coach constantly repeated) which, when going over crossroads, have the amazing ability to just fly over each other. It does not look good, I would rather the roads were just empty.

None the less it is currently serving its purpose.

Killing time

It occured to me that it's been a while since I have plowed through a no brains, first person shooter. The nearest I have come recently is my dwindling time in L4D and BFBC2 and even those require too much thought for what I am after.The new Duke Nukem would have been ideal if it wasn't being thoroughly slated everywhere, certainly to the point that I'm not risking £30 on it. Not that I have £30 to spare anyway.

Then I remembered I had F.E.A.R. 2...

After playing the demo before it was released I never really had any interest in the sequel to F.E.A.R. (A fine game in my humble opinion) as it didn't seem to have the same spark, it wasn't as scary and the enemies AI was pretty laughable. But at some point in the past, during a sale, I picked it up on Steam and there, in my list of uninstalled games, it waited, dorment and unyielding to the fact that so many others were being chosen over itself.

Well now its time has come. It is the exact kind of game I need to play right now and I can finally establish if it is in any way worthy of its predecessor.

Reviews (again)

After posting my review for the SP of Portal 2 it got me thinking. I am quite obviously in the minority with my feelings on that game, and yet I believe my criticisms are all entirely valid and my sheer disappointment of the game actually made me question the 7 I gave it. I could have quite easily opted for a 6 but tried to maintain some objectivity.

It seems far too easy to get caught in the hype and lavish high praise and, subsequently, ratings on a game that probably doesn't deserve it. Looking back at my few contributions to GS I have certainly done it myself. 9.7 for Half Life 2 Episode 1? I don't think so some how, for one where is the room for improvement? I actually think Episode 2 is the better game out of the HL episodes, so should I give that a 10? No doubt I got carried away with the hype and the excitement, possibly in part due to this then new idea of episodic gaming.

Before guying a game I like to see peoples opinion on it, I usually bypass specific reviewers and head straight to the public to get a good idea of what the game is like. However, as confirmed Portal 2, this isn't always reliable. When I do read reviews I often go for the ones with lower scores as people are more likely to highlight issues in the game that I may not enjoy. If I had found reviews of Portal 2 that mentioned the horrific intrusion that was Wheatley, the lacklustre attempts at humour or the sad gaps in gameplay I may have been less curious and could have used my £30 for something more deserving.


Mass Effect 2 has just been released and there are already 300+ ratings stating how amazing (or otherwise?) the game is. That's great, seeing as the game has only been out a few hours. I know you can tell when a game is going to be particularly special and I have no doubt that Mass Effect 2 will be one such game but don't go rating the whole package when there is no way you can have experienced it. It could end up displaying bits that aren't the same quality as the rest of the game (Mass Effect) or it could have a really crappy ending (Stalker).

I know having a decent new game is exciting and I'm certainly one to rant to people about this when it occurs but if you are actually going to rate or review the game then it would be nice if the rest of us can be sure the simpering drool that you have posted is a reflection of the whole game.

Having said that I did exactly the same thing with Clear Sky and Age of Conan.

What a tit.

I hate Steam

Steam is a bastard to me, it takes full advantage of my inability to manage money effectively and of my constant need for gaming treats.

I already own more games through steam than I'll ever be able to play, and that list is forever growing.

The problem is that I love steams ability to hold regular sales and sell me games that I would never normally consider for a few mere pence. However I will compensate by purchasing several as they are such fine bargins. So in reality it is exploiting and buggering me soundly, therefore I hate it.

I love the steam community and how it can seamlessly integrate itself into my gaming so that I can join friends in multiplayer mayhem or chat to them while waiting to spawn in L4D. This makes gaming such a joy that I forget to do other stuff like eat, wash, pay bills, have relationships etc. Steam is turning me into a sad, screen burned hermit, therefore I hate it.

I love steams ability to update all my games for me instantly with no faffing around on websites looking for the latest patch. Out of the 80+ games I have downloaded through steam so far, 100% of them have worked with no issue. This saves me time and frustration and subsequently contributes to the above.

I hate you steam, you are ruining my life.

Having said that I'll still see you tonight, I want to try out those games i bought the other day.

List Part 2 (The List)

This list is not necessarily in order of preference, though it is nearly. Most were to damn hard to place above others.
If I had a big basket containing my favorite games, this would be the contents:

Cyborg Hunter (Master System)
Wonderboy 3 (Master System)
Comlumns (Master System)
Castle Quest (BBC Micro)
Half Life Series (PC)
Super Metroid (SNES)
Super Mario bros (SNES)
Kung Fu Kid (Master System)
Phantasy Star 4 (Megadrive)
legend of Zelda (SNES)
Mario Kart (SNES)
Space Invaders (Atari 2600)
Head over Heels (Amstrad PCW)
Fallout 2 (PC)
GTA series (PC)
Final fantasy 7 & 8 (Playstation)
Psycho Fox (Master System)

(XXX to be revised and finalised XXX)
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