Sunday, September 25, 2011


I've been killing a lot of orks lately. Yeah, it's spelled with a K in the 40K universe. Since my last entry, I've finished both Kill Team and Space Marine, both melee and shooting based action games set in the grim, dark future. Kill Team was really just a diversion--a cheaply done couch co-op only blast and bash fest 5 stages long. Nothing serious. Space Marine was a much bigger fish to fry. It's a full on retail release, and as such, has to compete with the best in field, and being as it's on the fence between two fields, it's got to measure up to two titans of gaming: Gears of War and God of War. Even for a future where there is only war, that is a tall order.

Space Marine won't wow you like either of those titles, either in terms of spectacle or overall quality, but it does a pretty good job, considering the competition. As Ultramarine captain Titus,  you lead the charge in fending off an invasion of orks on a valuable world that houses the factories that build Titans, the giant death robots of the Warhammer 40K universe. You will shoot/slice thousands of greenskins--and later minions of Chaos--on your way to the game's finale. It's good fun. Space Marine combines the gunplay of Gears with the simple combos of God of War, but does away with the stop 'n' pop of the former and the ponderous puzzles of the latter. It's a very lean concept, so it's probably best that the game isn't too long, coming in at about 8 hours or so, by my estimate. My favorite sections of the game were the jump-pack sections where Titus is armed with a giant power hammer and rocket jump ability. You know where this is going, right? Ground pound. It's too bad that those sections are few and far between.

Space Marine also has a multiplayer mode, but I haven't gotten around to checking that out just yet. Going off of Relic's (the developer) track record, we should see some good post-release support for the game, so I'm looking forward to trying the multiplayer and whatever else they might add to the game. I'm also down for an eventual sequel, supposing they are able to make one. The story didn't leave it hanging exactly, but our character was bound for something interesting in the epilogue. Check out Space Marine if you're into action games or Warhammer 40,000, especially.

I've played a bunch of other little things, too, including Dead Nation from PSN (twin stick zombie apocalypse score mechanic/upgrade system shooter), Track Mania (PC stunt race/time trial/mini-golf esque racing game), and Shining Force (Genesis proto-SRPG).

Also, there's a whole other post's worth of writing I need to do about Jamestown, Sengoku, Warhammer 40K: Squad Command, and Tactics Ogre, but if that is ever written, it won't be tonight. Sleep for the Sleep God!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

God From The Machine

     After three or four long weeks, I have finally wrapped up my playthrough of Deus Ex, the Warren Spector created classic first-person RPG/Shooter from Ion Storm. This is a game much hallowed and spoken about in hushed tones around the PC gaming elite. Deus Ex laid out a style of game design not often emulated in games, even to this day. The degree of possibility, and freedom of choice in how you develop JC Denton and how you accomplish his goals are rare in an industry that nowadays seems to be all about the yearly iteration and that next cash grab.
     It's still a great game, even after 11 years, though the graphics and sound are somewhat painful to experience at times. The combat can be quirky, and the enemy AI is pretty bad, but you're not exactly forced into having to deal with those. The best part about Deus Ex is the fact that there are usually two or three ways to get to a given place and do what needs to be done, so if you're partial to a stealthy approach, that option is available. When that approach doesn't work out, you can always decide to go weapons hot. Much like Metal Gear Solid, it is even possible to play through the game without killing anyone save a few rare exceptions.

The VersaLife Building
     Deus Ex is a regular in the top 5 of so and so's Top 100 PC games lists, and even if I might not personally rank it quite that high, I can see the reasoning behind doing so. I'm sure if I had been there playing it back in 2000, I would have come away astounded, whereas now I merely admire the game and can appreciate the grand things it was going for during the heyday of the run and gun FPS. If the recent release of Human Revolution has you curious about the series' history, don't hesitate, it's well worth playing if you can ignore the bad production values.
     Valve's Steam Trading update went life this week, and so I've been again getting back into TF2 to have fun with that and earn items to trade with other players. Now that it is possible to trade items straight across for Steam games, I'm hoping to try that. Maybe I can get someone to trade me a copy of Deus Ex: Invisible War for a highly sought-after TF2 item of some sort.
     Borderlands also got an update this past week, adding Steamworks integreation--basically just cloud saves--and also some stat tracking stuff so that Gearbox and see how people play the game, and use that information in development of Borderlands 2. I remain a fan of the game despite it's lackluster PC port, unplayable multiplayer (GameSpy), and the fact that I've already beaten it once. I've started a new game playing as the Siren, even though my loot-hunting-in-a-shooter time might better be spent on TF2!