<< PART FIVE
I remember getting excited about the game’s development, because FEAR is a bloody brilliant idea. If Dead Space is The Thing and Event Horizon, then FEAR is all those Japanese horror movies, especially Dark Water. You are a rookie soldier in a special unit designed to investigate paranormal military threats. Soldiers are dying in nasty ways, and a mysterious black-haired ghost-child seems to be responsible. Its heavy scripting is well done and it is all rather intriguing so far, although like Dead Space I find my interest waning after a few minutes of continuous play.
Most of the action stems from possessed soldiers turning on each other, so you’re just a soldier shooting other soldiers for most of the game (so far). The soundtrack is excellent, and the use of visual cues – seamless “hallucinations” and other phenomena – is very well done. There’s also plenty of silence and broad daylight, which I think undermines a lot of the inherent spookiness, though I’m absorbed enough to want to continue the story in a number of short, controlled bursts.
Return to Castle Wolfenstein
A lot of very long cutscenes to get through before you actually start playing, but they’re good. It would make a fine b-movie – Nazis training soldiers in the occult and trying to unearth evil artifacts. You have to escape from the titular castle, shooting Nazis and uncovering hellish experiments as you go. The graphics are very dated but it still could be a fun game – if only I could learn what the button is for reading!
This is actually the second time I’ve played Rogue Warrior. The other time was on the xbox 360. I told my friend I hadn’t finished it, to which he was incredulous: the game is only about two hours long, but I guess I just don’t have that attention span. I managed 11 minutes on PC. I raced through it, because I was already familiar with the game, and still ended up getting picked off by snipers shortly after getting past my favourite bit (launching the guy out of the window). Don’t get me wrong, it’s thoroughly deserving of its reputation, but there’s something enjoyable about its awfulness. You find yourself muttering “dear God this is a terrible game!” but playing on past that point. It’s Plan 9 From Outer Space, rather than crap-but-dull like Battlefield Earth. That said, on PC I had a weird visual glitch whereby it kept stuttering and I had blurry vision, so it was literally unplayable beyond the 11 minutes I endured.
The Ultimate DOOM
I played through one full level and I really enjoyed it. It’s exactly the same as the other Doom games I played, i.e. the granddaddy of FPSs, but is easy and intuitive to play despite its age and really quite fun.
The Witcher: Enhanced Edition
I bought The Witcher very cheaply, and it’s probably as well that I did, because it’s spectacularly unengaging. The gameplay is somewhere between Dragon Age: Origins and a single-player Guild Wars, and the combat is fiddly and uninteresting. The Enhanced Edition does include much-improved dialogue, and with me the game will live or die by its story. Since everyone’s banged on about it so much, I’m willing to give it more than the hour I’ve put into it so far, but I won’t rush to complete it.
Wolfenstein 3D: Spear of Destiny
Wow – it’s hard to believe that as recently as 1992, video games were still in their infancy. This one originally came on four 3 1/2″ floppy disks! This is what I remember games as being like – very arcadey. You just wander round very pixellated 2.5D corridors shooting Nazis and collecting treasure that is conveniently in the middle of the floor. Health packs are big boxes that you stand on to activate. You get three lives. It’s a game that revels in being a game, in comparison to Return to Castle Wolfenstein, which is a more modern type of adventure – a simulated experience rather than a points-chaser.
I’ve already mentioned Zuma on here, and it is one of my favourite PopCap games. It is also, it has to be said, BASTARD difficult at the higher levels. Like Peggle and Plants vs Zombies, it has that old-fashioned design where each level becomes progressively more difficult, so eventually it becomes impossible to play. I find that quite frustrating as a player because I’m used to completing games, though I’ve enjoyed starting Zuma several times.
I bought Deus Ex because everyone else has been harping on about how great it is, except for Him Indoors, who thinks it’s rubbish. It’s old, looking rather like the first Thief game after all these days – and it rather plays like it too, since I took a stealthy approach to the first mission. It’s a hybrid RPG-shooter based in a Gibsonesque cyberpunk universe. You’re an anti-terrorist agent in the 2050s, and the first mission has you infiltrating the Statue of Liberty, which has been taken over by terrorists. So it’s Die Hard with cybernetic implants, basically. I’m interested enough to want to find out more.
Based on my brief tasters of each game, the games I am most likely to play a lot more of that I hadn’t already played extensively are:
- BioShock 2
- Call of Cthulhu
- Left 4 Dead 2
- Monkey Island 2
- STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl
- Deus Ex