(In)Decent Expo(sure) Part 1

You may have noticed that we had a bit of a hiatus last week because myself and a couple of my fellow tea baggers were attending the first two days of the EuroGamer Expo at Earls Court, Laaandan. We had an epic time and chatted with some equally epic people who were kind enough to take our promo cards and share their thoughts about the games on show. Oh yeah there were games there too and we managed to get round quite a few of them. Other than Halo 4 which will get its own post here are my first impressions of the games I managed to play.

Tomb Raider

So the first game I tackled on the Friday was the latest incarnation of Lara Croft, a re-imagination of the lady adventurer by developer Crystal Dynamics and publisher Square Enix. I spoke to a couple of people on the floor about this game and one made the very good point that Square Enix really should make movies, which pretty much summed up how I felt about this demo. In my opinion it was extremely cut scene heavy, I found myself watching in-game cut scenes more than I did actually playing the game. Personally I found this to be pretty damn annoying, I don’t need to see Lara whimper and scream with every single ledge she drops off or log she walks across. I do get that they are trying to drive the narrative and move away from the breastically enhanced super hero feel of the previous games which I think it certainly does but for me personally it was a bit overkill. She’s inexperienced and fragile I get it, but that’s enough. Having said that I do want to get this game when it is finally released, it looked bloody nice, the controls and action animations were smooth and the camera placement was spot on and the story will be a fresh take on the croft canon. I just wished the demo had offered a touch more action.

Hitman: Absolution

Next one on the cards was the latest Hitman which I have to say was only marred by my lack of skill. The colour saturation was pretty damn gorgeous, its set in a chinese market you really get the feel of authenticity from the level of detail that has been added to this environment, whether it be the neon signs or the more traditional building designs. The crowds react when you bump into them and even stare at you if you hold still for too long making you feel rather out-of-place as you stand about in that familiar suit that Agent 47 favours. As I say I probably would have enjoyed this a bit more if got the hang of it. My mission was to kill ‘The King of Chinatown’ who was located in a pagoda and on my first life I thought I would try to do it sneakily. I approached the pagoda and a few of his goons blocked the entrance in there, so I moved on and was given a rather vague hint about brittle chains but when pressing the button combo whilst pointing at it nothing happened, so I whipped out the guns and shot at it. Needless to say people started screaming and loads of people started shooting at me and dropped me like a sack of shit. Next time round I took a more direct approach and shot my target in the head straight off the bat. This went down like a cup of sick and soon SWAT were all over the shop, I managed to procure a police uniform but was recognised fairly quickly so I retreated down some dirty stairwell and hopped in the nearest dumpster. This is where I spent most of my time after that, I would get out and garrote a dude get his clothes and try to blend into the crowd to escape….except the crowd was now made up entirely of SWAT/Police/Gang Members so I would continously get spotted and have to leg it back to my faithful bin. This occurred for about 20 minutes until they saw me get in the bin and shot me to bits. I bet James Bond never had to put up with this shit. As I say I would probably enjoy this game if I was any good at it but any fans of this franchise will certainly dig on this a lot.

Doom 3: BFG Edition

I know this isn’t a new game it’s a remake but with added 3Dness. If you like Doom then not a lot else needs to be said really. With many games nowadays having more complex mechanics in it I could see this prehaps lacking for some players but on the other hand if you are looking for simple run & gun monster shoot em up then pick this up. The 3D effect itself was pretty sweet although it did suffer a little bit from the usual darkness you get with 3D games, you could look at this as adding to that horror element that was great in the many other iD games which I guess it did at times but I found it annoying not being able to spot where the enemy who was attacking me. The staff on this booth did push the value of buying it though, not only do you get this 3D remake but you also get every Doom ever made except Final Doom. Having just googled the price it seems they were right as its at most £25, so you are a hardcore fan and looking for some nostalgia this could be right up your poorly lit corridor.

So what do you reckon? Are you planning on getting any of these titles? Let me know what you think in the comments below. Come back and check out Part 2 where I will be voicing my rankly amateur opinions on The Unfinished Swan, Crysis, Farcry 3 and Carmageddon. Thanks for reading.

-MS Dosser

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Quakin’ in my boots.

When we wrote our Random Access Memory Lane series it sparked a lot of conversation between us and our friends both on the internet and IRL. The main thing we learnt from these conversations and even admit in the earlier posts is there are so many games we missed. So when we decided to bring the retro back the first game that sprung into my polygon obsessed mind was arguably the daddy of the 3D shooter. Quake.

Quake Box Art

For those of you who haven’t played Quake you really should. Any real FPS lover worth their salt should experience this game as the team at id Software brought a lot of seminal additions to the table with this one and as a result were instrumental in the evolution of the shooter genre. For example some of its weapons such as the Nail Gun or the Thunderbolt are iconic and I believe it’s the first instance of rocket jumping. The shooter genre wasn’t the only thing that Quake contributed to, it is also credited with being the godfather of Machinima.

When I think of Quake I always get a little scared. Looking back it used to freak me the fuck out a little and when I fired this up the other day via DosBox the memories came flooding back. The bit I speak of is the level difficulty screen which presents you with a couple of different portals and next to hard difficulty just where the lava is there are some still twitching mutilated bodies attached to the wall by meat-hooks moaning in agony. Now I am not a squeamish person I can happily watch horror films of the grossest variety usually cheering for the psycho. I think what shocked me a little was the fact that unlike a film where it shows you a finite amount of grossness, this grisly scene is ever-present. Coupled with the fact that this was the first time I had ever really encountered this level of gore in a game the image kind of stuck.

Quake didn’t not only did horror though, it uniquely blended elements of dark fantasy and sci-fi and even based the end boss on some horrible looking, obscure (to me at least) deity known

God knows what goes in his sausages

as Shub-Niggurath. As you navigate around the various levels you notice the inspirations from the various genres, crossing medieval drawbridges that are activated by futuristic buttons and hunting for keys and runes whilst slaying Doberman’s, insane knights and what look like unhygienic butchers. It’s a kind of weird mix but oddly it works pretty well even now, although I may have a rather flowery shade of lens in my specs.

Probably one of my favourite power-ups to be found in any game is nestled in this digital creation and it’s sequels. Quad Damage just makes you feel powerful, from the moment you pick it up and here that famous sound and every hideously overpowered shot you make thereafter. I think the best thing about it was it never lasted that long so it caused you to scramble through the level to cause as much blood spattered carnage as you could before it faded.

Quad Damage was equally devastating in the spectacular multiplayer mode that Quake provided, which brings me back to the first thoughts I have when I visualise the game. It takes me back to being thirteen again and my dad taking me to this computer shop in town where we got our first PC. It had a beast of a Pentium 166Mhz and a mammoth 16MB of RAM, utter dog shit by today’s standard but such an impressive piece of wizardry back in the mid nineties. Anyway my dad took me along to this shop probably to buy some floppy disks or something and the guys who worked there clocked my interest in the games they had there and asked if I wanted to play some Quake with them, having no idea what Quake was I acted as cool as a thirteen year old can said ‘sure’. So with my dads permission and this next bit sounds a lot more sinister than it was this random guy took me upstairs. What I was presented with was a bunch of PC’s hooked up on what I know now was a LAN and at a few of the computers were a few guys (all clothed, mostly spectacled and/or bearded) immersed in shooting each other and calling each other all kinds of rude names. I was invited to hop on a nearby station whereby I got suitably pwned (no mercy for the kid). I learned a lot from that skirmish, I witnessed some fine smack talk first hand, played on my first LAN and was introduced to true nerd culture for the very first time. Games I realised weren’t just made for kids but had a whole following in the adult world previously unknown to me. Quake didn’t just provide me with hours of fun in a game whose quality has rarely been matched since but also provided me with a peak into a culture that I proudly count myself part of now as a big boy.

If you would like to get all nostalgic and play Quake again, or try it out for the first time download all the stuff from the links below. It’s a bit of a fiddle to get it working but be patient.

Download DosBox – needed to run Quake

Download Quake from here I think this one is shareware, you might be able to find the full game somewhere else.

Tutorials for DosBox found here and here

-MS Dosser

Do you also hold Quake dear? What did you like about it? Or have you never played it? Let us know in the comments and as usual like/comment/subscribe. Thanks for reading.