Saturday, April 26, 2008

Latest Artwork

Just finished my latest drawing and realized I didn't put the previous one up here yet either.

Brave New World At Dawn (25 Apr 08): While focused on space, its about man's desire to explore and the false sense of first discovery as someone else has probably been there before you. Klaus Burgle's 'Das Neue Universum 82' (1965) was the work's inspiration and model for my astronauts.

Thirst For Knowledge (10 Feb 08): Started as a riff of The Thinker. In the middle of OK on I35, is a guy sitting in The Thinker pose wanting to sip from the source of knowledge.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Prey (2006)

Picked up Prey a few weeks back when it was on sale. From reviews people seemed to like it or hate it. Most complaints were that it was a short game, lacked difficulty and not very innovative with its portals or gravity walking. Maybe since I picked it up cheap I was more lenient but I enjoyed it for a run and gun game with a few twists (Nice change of pace from the tac-sims I usually play). Probably helps that I dig sci-fi too. It took me about 9hrs to play which is comparible to most new games now so I don't see why its considered more short (Guess some rushed to beat it in 6hrs but I like to check out all the corners of the maps)

Prey's levels of a spaceship sometimes reminded me of Riddick though Prey adds a bunch of weird organic parts to the levels. Sometimes felt like I was running through a cyborg's colon or something. The gravity walking/flipping was a fun and different way to do in-game puzzles. Portals didn't do much except act as doors but they still looked pretty and were a logical source of enemies spawning as opposed to monster closets.

The story was decent and I liked the levels/atmosphere of the ship. Enemies were mostly brute AIs to be cleared. The soldier version seemed to get smarter toward the end of the game but for most of it they were clumsy fodder to get past. I knew this coming into the game and was mostly playing to enjoy the story and levels. I wasn't looking for the greatest AI ever as most games lack in that department anyways. The weapons were weird looking but most acted like most fps guns once you figured out what they were.

I thought the difficulty was fine and didn't mind the spirit death part. Helped the game flow smoothly since there wasn't a break in playing the game. Those that don't like it could just reload to skip it if they though it cheapened their victory in someway (I'm playing to enjoy the game not as some competition). Also liked the use of the spirit to find secrets and get past puzzles in the game.

Enjoyed it overall and still not sure why it was bashed by some. It wasn't the greatest title ever but it was good. Maybe it helps that I haven't played Quake 4 yet though my playing of Riddick didn't make me not enjoy Prey. I'm not sure what other games came out at the time so not sure what its new game competition was. It also helps that I got it cheap. I also don't bash it for not being super innovative as I don't feel most new games go much beyond what I've already played (Just slap a bit of prettier graphics/physics but not actual gameplay).

I did find a few mods but didn't really try them yet:

Filefront has a few mods that are mostly either weapon tweaks or AI mods. I briefly tried the AI mod after finishing the game and it did seem to toughen up the AI and the earlier soldiers moved a bit more. I didn't play with it enough to get a good gauge it the changes but it does seem like an option for those who feel the game is too easy.

Also found a level mod called Altered Reality on ModDB. Seems to be one of the few SP levels. I might try it one day but have other games I want to get to first.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Bioshock (2007)

I got Bioshock when it came out but I played Two Worlds first and then stalled about 1/3 way in due to the mouse acceleration and lag. While it was fun exploring and soaking in the environment, quick movements (needed for combat) made me spin/aim past where I wanted to and I'd lose my orientation. The patch and bumping my RAM from 1.5GB to 2GB smoothed this out for the most part. The leftover occasional lag was expected based on my old system.

The developers did an excellent job of the story, environments and atmosphere of the game. A lot of heart and soul was put into this game. Nice unique environment, good AI, variety of weapons/mods and decent length for a SP game this day and age (Took me probably about 14hrs though I like to explore all the nooks and crannies and not just rush to the finish). There is the idiosyncrasy of the city's penchant for stocking vending machines with ammo and combat focused plasmids. Probably other weirdness if one thinks about the city of Rapture too much and lets real-world logic get in the way of gameplay.

Since your in an underwater city, all the maps where indoors. Still, the maps felt open and even if there was one goal end point there were times when you could take different hallways to get to the goal. Even when there was only 1 path it was acceptable based on the closed environment, unlike the forced paths of HL2's city maps. Lots of little details throughout each map made the atmosphere come alive. In a ways it reminds me of Fallout's retro-future 50's style, but in a decadent underwater city instead of a post apocalyptic world.

The AI did a good job using the maps to its advantage. The humanoid types would dodge and use obstacles for defense. They would retreat, use health stations, and pick up dropped weapons/ammo too. The lumbering big daddies were not too bad after a while. Since they left you alone for the most part, unless you were aggressive, it was easy to get the advantage. Though it was a good idea to make sure you had space to manuevor and backpedal to so that you did not get stuck in a corner.

Its definitely a good game and worthy of a replay. I would have liked it even more if it was an actual FPS-RPG hybrid like System Shock or Deus Ex. While you did gain new items/abilities,etc. as you progressed, since they could be switched out at almost anytime (Just find the gene machine) it was like the usual FPS progression of items. You were not forced to make permanent decisions about your characters advancement.

Maybe this streamlining makes a better game since you can experience more of the gameworld in one playthrough. Maybe its just my nostalgia that misses what the old FPS-RPG hybrids offered. I think I still prefer what the old ones offered (Having a character strong in some skills and weak in others or middle of the road in everything depending on what advancement decisions you made) as opposed to a jack of all trades good at everything. I'm probably biased due to growing up on complicated sims and RPGs that seem to be a drying breed these days.

Still, its a great FPS even though I wanted more of a FPS-RPG hybrid. Maybe Bioshock 2 will improve upon this. In the meantime, I plan on replaying System Shock 2 and Deus Ex to enjoy the taste of the hybrids I miss.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Emusic Q1 08 Recap

Even though its not "all you can eat" anymore, I still find Emusic a great deal. I do the 50 downloads/$15 mo (~$0.30 per song)package. They have the sludgy garage rock I like and then some. They are also a cheap way for me to replace some old punk tapes I never got around to rebuying.

Acid King - Busse Woods & III

Blind Dog - Captain Dog Rides Again (I don't like the samples I heard for the 2001 record so only got this one)

Brain Police - Beyond the Wasteland

Daisy Chainsaw - Eleventeen (Replacing an old tape and don't like the sound of the other album)

fIREHOSE - Ragin', Full-On & a track or two from Fromohio & if'n (Replacing old tapes)

NoMeansNo - In the Fishtank (One of the few NMN I don't have)

Red Giant - Devil Child Blues (Already have Ultra Magnetic Glowing Sound)

Sasquatch - Sasquatch & II

Spiritu - Spiritu

Steel Pole Bath Tub - Some Cocktail Suggestions, The Miracle of Sound in Motion & Lurch/Butterfly Love (Already had Tulip and the not shown Scars From Falling Down)

Thrall - Life (Already had Chemical Wedding)

Throttlerod - Nail (Other album samples not doing it for me but I might relisten to them)

I've also been listening to The Glasspack - Powderkeg a lot, a previous emusic purchase. I keep playing "Mrs. Satan", "Mopar Fire Paint", "Demolition Derby" and "Jim Beam And Good Green". I dig the whole album but those 4 songs even more, especially MFP.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Shogo: Mobile Armor Division (1998)

Had one other old school replay before starting up Quake 4 and Prey. Missing the mecha love so I loaded up Shogo. Think this was the first Monolith game I played. Even with the early Lithtech engines quirks I still enjoyed the game.

There is nothing quite like stomping around in a huge mech. Though while the height felt bigger than on foot and you could stomp cars or people, there wasn't really a sense of inertia. You were able to take a lot more pounding though as I found the mech parts easier than the on foot parts. This is definitely not a sim like Mechwarrior or Heavy Gear but a run and gun FPS. Still fun for the setting though.

While the AI wasn't that great, the weapons are brutal and often 1 or 2 shots takes you down as a soldier. If you hit an enemy first they seemed to not shoot back as long as you kept hitting them so a first strike usually means victory. You also gain back some health on critical hits while as a mech you can collect armor and energy from defeated mechs.

Lots of powerful weapons to choose from. Lots of explosions, smoke, debri and other effects. Its always fund watching the Bullgut's lazy missiles hit a or mech. Took me a while to remember that hitting the weapon's key a second time brought up the zoom feature when applicable.

Levels were good but not great. Story was OK. I remember the game being hard especially the museum level. After the replay I think it was the frequency of 1-2 shot deaths. Still think the main greatness of the game was the setting. While I like Unreal and Half Life more which outshine it in many ways, I still like Shogo for some reason. Would love to see Shogo 2 using the latest Lithtech engine especially after the greatness that was the NOLFs, TRON 2.0 and FEAR.

This was the most horrible death I suffered during the game. I touched an open door and exploded. A few reloads before this I also got squished when a similar door opened and I died. That is not a way for a soldier to die.

I didn't come across any mods of SP worth for Shogo only MP stuff. As its not what I'm interested in I didn't check it out so I have no clue how active anything was.