<< PART FOUR
Quake is really fun! I’d always said Doom and Quake in the same breath, thinking they were essentially the same thing, but they’re completely different. Doom is more like something like Bioshock – dark, scary, horror-survival stuff. Quake has a gentler pace and is more based around puzzles and discovery. Yes, you’re still doing a lot of shooting, but in common with something like Thief, you’re looking round all the time for anything that looks out of the ordinary, which may turn out to be a secret passage filled with treasure. Quake feels like a game rather than being a virtual adventure, but is still very playable in spite of its age.
Wait, Quake II is from 1997? Really? It looks incredible for a game that age! It’s more of a straightforward shooter but is very engaging right from the start, with an opening cutscene that must have been absolutely jawdropping at the time.
Quake III: Arena
I just played against bots, which mostly consisted of chasing them around the arena with a variety of weapons like something out of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I felt surprisingly invincible, having dispatched the first two bots rapidly and with ease, until I got a message of “I’m learning your tricks, Kickass” (my character name) before he started to whup my posterior. The soundtrack is pretty enjoyable, too.
STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl
STALKER is a funny one. It’s very, very Russian, with some pretty bad dialogue translations and thick accents to navigate. It seemed like a relatively engaging story so far and I think I’ll be playing more. At least to start with, it’s pretty light on combat and heavy on dialogue, but I like that in this instance because it’s doing a great job of building an atmosphere.
Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition
Even though I really, really enjoyed playing this “remastered version” of the 1990 classic last summer, I just don’t need to play it again. It’s basically a puzzle game: say you need to pin a notice to the wall, you’d have to find a hammer and a nail to hang it up with. The appeal is in the warm, witty dialogue and likeable characters. It’s inspired by the Pirates of the Caribbean Disney ride, and feels a lot like the Johnny Depp movie.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
I really have to be in the right mood to play KOTOR because even though the characters and Star Wars setting is enough to raise a smile, the actual gameplay is spectacularly unengaging. I managed to make it sort of playable by using the options to autolevel the characters and not pause the game during combat, but I still find the actual game part of the game rather boring. This is the Dragon Age side of Bioware (tedious and lumbering) rather than the Mass Effect side (tense and action-packed). I tell it worse than it is: when in the right mood, I can spend many hours enjoying it. I probably will complete the game some time. Today I loaded up a save from my second (incomplete) playthrough, where you have to break into the enemy base to get the parts for the bike race. It still tickles me that KOTOR did a much better job of recreating the magic of Star Wars than any of Lucas’s prequels did.
Tales of Monkey Island: Chapters 1-5
Last year’s episodic graphic adventure game – the fifth Monkey Island story – is unsurprisingly a lot more modern in look and feel than its (remastered) predecessors. Each chapter is only about two hours long, though I’ve not yet finished chapter one. I definitely will – probably in the spring when I’m impatient for adventures in the sun.
Team Fortress 2
I played through the tutorial level and it looks pretty fun. It’s just a basic capture-the-flag team game that would be ideal for Friday nights with your online mates, as you crack open a beer and munch on peanuts in between blowing holes in the red team as you fight for control of the colour-coded control points.
Time Gentlemen, Please!
The sequel to Ben There, Dan That! sorely lacks voice acting. The animation and dialogue is pretty cute – gameplay-wise it’s a Monkey Island-style point-and-click adventure game – so really all we’re lacking is voices to deliver the lines. It’s a low-budget indie game and quite charming. While I’m not in a hurry to complete it, I won’t be uninstalling it either.
Torchlight is great fun in small doses. I’ve played fewer than three hours total, but launched it on many occasions – usually for about 10 minutes at a time. It’s a Diablo-style dungeon hack-and-slasher with an isometric, cartoonish aesthetic. It’s very simple, moreish and gentle entertainment. You just pick up quests from the town and then venture into the dungeons, killing goblins by the armload and collecting loot. There’s a complicated inventory system and a lot of hardcore RPG nerd faffing to do if you like that sort of thing … or you can just blat your way through thousands of foes, Left 4 Dead-style. I choose the latter.
PART SIX >>