Monday, June 23, 2008

Emusic Q2 08 Recap

Here is what I got from Emusic this quarter:

Asteroid - S/T
Killdozer - God Hears the Pleas of the Innocent
Mammoth Volume - Mammoth Volume & Noara Dance
Melvins - Bullhead
Mos Generator - Songs for Future Gods
Roachpowder - Atomic Church
Sheavy - The Electric Sleep
Truckfighters - Phi
Turn Me On Dead Man - Technicolour Mother
Valis - Champions of Magic & Head Full of Pills
Zebulon - Volume One & Troubled Ground

Some of these I haven't had time to fully digest but like Zebulon and Turn Me On Dead Man a lot so far. Valis and Roachpowder sound good so far but I need more time with more song and replays to see how they go.

I have been listening to the Brain Police - Beyond the Wasteland, Red Giant - Devil Child Blues, Sasquatch - Sasquatch and Throttlerod - Nail from my last emusic batch a lot.

I was thinking of cancelling emusic this month until more stuff I really want comes in but I found a few more things so I still have stuff saved for later.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

HL1: Opposing Force (1998)

In my replay of the Half Life series before tackling HL2 EP1/2, I also replayed Opposing Force. Like HL, I still remembered a lot of this expansion. I probably replayed both of them alot back when I had fewer games to play. OpFor was a real good expansion and even though it was not from Valve (It was from Gearbox) it expanded on the HL world well and was fun to play.

Like HL1, the intro lets you look around while you enter Black Mesa. On your journey you run across folks from the first game. This Barney-ish guard sure has let himself go. At least he helps you with some of the invaders, unlike the coward scientists.

A nice part of the expansion is having squad members that join you. While you have limited control, its good to have some extra firepower or help opening doors. I couldn't ever get the medics to heal me though they seemed to help the rest of the team.

Its fun and interesting to re-see parts of Black Mesa from another perspective. Running into old friends is always fun. While I never liked Zen, at least here its brief and just a few jumps as you get zapped back to the main world. Lots of those pesky Black Ops to take out, as they again don't like you.

For some reason I still have the skybox bug. Only other issue I had was I couldn't correctly start the game so I used the console to load the intro and then used the quicksave/load to play the game. Each time I started back up, I had to use the console to load the autosave and then loaded the quicksave to get back to where I was. Wasn't that big of an issue though.

I don't have the Blue Shift expansion so now I go on to HL2. Though guess I could have skipped OpFor since it isn't part of Gordon's tale, but I still find it a fun expansion to a good game.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Half Life 1 (1998)

So I've now finished my replay of HL1. I feel it holds up well and I still enjoyed it. It does feel like a mix of different FPS aspects that one now looks for - puzzle solving, action, story and exploration. Quake 2 was more full on action as the puzzles were just grab the key. Unreal was more exploration mixed with action, but did have more advanced puzzles than Q2. Both of those were light on story and only had simple puzzles. HL1 throws it all together quite well.

The graphics still look fine even if things are sparse compared to current games. It does help one realize how much more effort is put into making even a simple room these days with all the objects one must add instead of just a few walls, a table and chair, etc. Nice amount of color and different environments, though I think Unreal 1 beats it (Though that might be because I ran it through UT).

While playing I noticed how the game was sort of broken into sections. You would have part of the story told in-game instead of cutscenes, then a puzzle section and then some action for it then to repeat again. The in game cutscenes help keep the game flowing and the action was always good thanks to HL1's squad AI. I liked how mercs sort of work together though I think one on one fights still have Unreal's Skarj as the best for this era of games. Playing too many tactical games also makes them easier to take out with a few quick nade tosses.

The puzzles were good because they were part of the environment. It was not just find the key or button to press though there were occasional buttons. Most were about manipulating things in the environment to get around the obstacle. Unreal had a few good ones (shooting chains to make a board float, etc.) but HL1 had more. A few times you needed help and the AI was not bad in defending itself as long as it had a gun. Of course one should never dispose of the AI help after their job is over just to get some ammo.

I'm unsure how often I have played HL1, but know it was many many times. I used to play it, Fallout2 and Red Baron 3D with my voodoo 2's. I remembered more of HL1 than I did Unreal or Q2. Even knowing it well it was still fun to go back through it. My xfire log failed me on the time though and shows only 3hrs, when I think it was at least 10 or so. Decent length for a game especially one you know your way around (I still took my time to enjoy it as I'm not into speed runs and still like to look in every nook and cranny).

The game ran fine for the most part except I did lose my skybox on the outside scenes. Not sure if it was always gone but I noticed it towards the end especially the chopper and tank parts of the game. I did skip the Xen portions as I don't like those as they become too puzzle jumpy for my tastes. Though this playthrough I think its because its more obvious the section is a jumping puzzle as opposed to previous ones in the game and something about the alien environment pulls that feeling out to me more than the nonalien sections.

I'm not going to mention any mods for HL1 as their are untold amounts - just check Moddb or Planethalflife or just throw in some quick google-fu. I've played way to much Action Half Life, Counter Strike, Front Line Force and Science & Industry with just a bit of Natural Selection. Also think I played some SP They Hunger and maybe a few others. Now to replay the expansion Opposing Force.