Tag Archives: Computer Games

Kerbal Space Program: The Eagle Has Landed


d1uEBThis particular Kerbal Space Program has been running for just over a week and has already seen a remarkable reduction in average life expectancy of kerbal test pilots, astronauts, scientists and engineers. Previous “test flights” have stranded at least four kerbals on the moon, one in lunar orbit in a spacesuit and one in an elliptical orbit around the inner planets. Not to mention many an exploding rocket, parachute failure and crash landings.

It is with much kerbalish pride that we can report that we have finally and successfully designed, built and flown a space rocket to land three kerbals on the surface of the moon; and most importantly brought them back to Kerbin completely not dead. From that achievement we quickly stepped up the challenge level and using the same technology and rocket design managed to achieve the same on Kerbal’s second and much smaller moon, Minmus.

Next then, we will try to open the doors to constructing a space station, only as a stepping stone to the other planets. All shall be in awe of our fledgling space empire!

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In The Grim Darkness Of The Future There Is Only Xbox


When it comes to flogging successful product lines the Sheriff seems to always do pretty well in the video game market. Well games based on their intellectual properties at least; I don’t think there’s a snotling computer lab somewhere in Nottingham churning out software.

Little plastic men? Pffft… digital bloodshed is where the real money’s at nowadays. Make a nice little shooty pew pew game and the fans will come flocking to the stores to pick up battalion boxsets. Unfortunately, personal experience shows that that might not happen.

Space Marine, the Xbox 360 game has been hotly anticipated by the more mobile-thumbed of the crew for quite some time. Was it worth the wait? Hell yes! Step into the almighty blue armour of Captain Titus and slaughter your way across a planet in what I describe as one of the most violent video games I’ve ever seen. Gone are the wussy auto health regenerations of the COD generation, here is a game which forces you to physically pull limbs off, eviscerate and decapitate your opponents in sprays of violent gore in order to keep going. All in very good looking, suitably gothic and appropriate surrounds.

Are there any downsides? Well of course. The usual bunch of twelve year old Russians will still own you in competitive multiplayer, but rumour has it that soon cooperative multiplayer will be available. Flufftards are also going to hate it because its about the blue GW poster boys, rather some more deserving chapter, and the main character Captain Titus isn’t actually listed in the Ultramarines order of battle. Personally I wouldn’t have cared if it were about Captain Flower Applejack of the Rainbow Warriors.

Anyway, if you want a real review rather than my random thoughts go check a real review site. I certainly like this game.

Will it influence sales of little plastic men? Well since getting this game I haven’t touched a single figure!

Six Of The Greatest Computer and Video Games Ever


Ever since I could hold a dial contoller and make the lines go up and down on a pong machine I’ve been playing computer games. Not that that qualifies me at all to make any kind of judgement upon what makes a good game or not, it simply shows that I’m getting old and still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.

So anyway spambots, I have been thinking long and deeply about some of what I consider the best of gaming… EVER!!! Obviously as I write this in the middle of October 2010 it may not be valid for very long… Indeed I might well have changed my mind by tomorrow, but here goes:

6) Mass Effect 2 – This game truly is a work of genius. Just about the only adventure game I’ve ever played where I actually gave a stuff about what NPCs had to say. I must have sat through hours of dialogue and not got bored, wore out the continue button, fell asleep or went off in search of food once. Remarkable. In addition, I don’t think I got lost in game either, saving literally tonnes of virtual shoe leather. Good adventures? This is how it’s done!

5) Modern Warfare 2 – The second sequel on our list proves the point that video games are utterly unlike videos. For those of you who are 20 years old or less a video is an archaic device used to store films and movies. They were big plastic bulky things, and if you were posh you could put them in covers that made them look like books from the side. Anyway, most movie sequels are about flogging the dead horse in a vain attempt to cash in. Game sequles are about taking a game and making it better. MW2 happens to be just about the greatest FPS game, technically and especially playability wise. Single player – great, multiplayer – amazing, co-operative – a right laugh. Yes PC owners whinge that it doesn’t have LAN support. It’s best played on a console where the playing fields are level and victory cannot be bought at your local PC component store.

4) Grand Theft Auto 4 – I know a guy from eastern europe who happens to be called Niko. He also looks like the protagonist of this great game. Fortunately he has never tried to carjack me or rob a bank. I did pay him to help paint my house and assemble a bathroom though, and I would say that maybe he’d be wise to keep his options open for a career in crime. Regardless, GTA4 is amazing. The attention to detail is fantastic. Even if breaking the law is not your thing you can spend hours watching the TV, going to shows and surfing the internet in game. It’s seriously hilarious. The game proper though is a great high quality adventure into the seedy underworld of Liberty City, with enough freedom to keep you playing for days. It’s the jewel in the crown of Rockstar Games, but also recommended are the similar Grand Theft Cowboy (Red Dead Redemption) and Grand Theft School (Bully).

3) Gears Of War 2 – Want a game with sex drugs and rock n’ roll? Pfff… that’s for wimps! Get up close and personal with one of the most brutal and excitng games you’ll ever play! Once you’ve hacked, slashed, blasted and sawed your way through an excellent single player or co-op campaign, you then have the further fun of brilliant multiplayer options. Gears of War 2 has a serious ace which will keep you hacking, slashing, blasting and sawing for years to come. What? Two words – Horde Mode.

2) Bayonetta – What the heck is this doing at number two? I’ll tell you what, it’s a veritable feast of awesome. Everything about this game is absolutely stunning and I’d say that even if the main character was a fat bloke called Dave who walks around with his wang out. Visually it’s incredible, aurally it’s amazing and it all glues together with such seamless effortlessness and flow to produce the ultimate beat ’em up. Give typewriters to an infinite number of monkeys and eventually they’ll produce the full works of Shakespeare. Give computers and hallucinogenic drugs to an infinite number of programmers and I don’t think they’d come close to producing something this crazily amazing.

1) World Of Warcraft – The greatest game ever made. Seriously. Hmm, I am beginning to doubt my own sanity. But just look at it, Warcrack is so immersive that it’s very hard to find a regular player who hasn’t had some kind of addiction to the game. It’s phenomenal once you get into it, all you need is a PC with GameBoy type specifications and a smattering of social skills and you are off into this crazy world of adventure which can and literally will suck your life away. The repercussions of Warcrack will become apparent in a few years as a generation comes of age lacking in qualifications and suntans, having squandered the best years of their lives holed away in basements doing the safety dance and grinding their Hodir rep. Good? – definitely. Addictive? – dangerously!

Things Not On This List:

1) Old games – Populous was great. Notice the WAS. Resident Evil was incredible. Again notice the WAS. They’ve all been redone, a million times better on far superior hardware. Only a true masochist or someone living at the bottom of a swamp would think that Elite is still the best space opera game ever. Groundbreaking, yes, the best game ever to grace the BBC Micro, sure. Possibly the best game on the planet by a long way on it’s release. Take off your rose tinted spectacles, play it on an emulator and see how it pales in comparison to games you can even get on your mobile phone.

2) Nintendo – Run by plumbers? Never played any of their games in any serious measure (well not since they refused to add blood to Mortal Kombat on the SNES, a bit like doing a wrestling game without the spandex). I do own a Wii, which is revolutionary in terms of game controllers but its a kind of fun thing for social gatherings. I don’t rush home from work to get in a round of Wii Sports Golf. Oh yeah, Goldeneye 64 was the best game of it’s day, but see ‘1) Old Games’.

3) Any Other MMO – Warcraft is far more popular. Admit it, you invested 3 months in levelling a toon in a game people only play when the WoW servers run maintenance.

4) Sonic The Hedgehog – Haha not a chance you spikey freak!

Five Of The Worst Games I’ve Ever Played


There are many ways to misspend your youth. Some people get in trouble, some people eat too much, some people spend their entire youthful summer holidays reading books, some people spend their days giving atomic wedgies to nerds. Others even spend their time pushing wet paint rollers over space marines before getting in endless arguments at the local sherriff store. Personally, I played computer games. My first computer was the ancient ZX81 Spectrum. No, not the one with rubber keys and the little rainbow in the corner, I mean the badass abacus that could kick your digital watch’s butt.

So I present to you, dear googlespiders, a collection of my faded and jaded memories of some of the lowlights of my career in lamerness. It is by no means a complete list or even slightly authoratitive, but just a selection of those games I remember!

5) Shadow Of The Beast II (Amiga)

Seriously, this game pushed the boundaries of what we thought was possible. We would huddle around our ‘female friends’, jaws agape at the phenomenal intro, the life like graphics and sound effects, and we were stunned. It couldn’t get much better than this. It was like you were really in this fantastic world. Then the gameplay started. It was impossible. It would be game over within three minutes, if you were good. The only reason anyone actually played this is thanks to some unknown superhero called Roger. If you walked up to the first person you encountered on your right and asked him about ‘TEN PINTS’, he would say something like ‘THIS ONE’S FOR YOU ROGER!’ and make you invincible, which made the game a tad more playable. To be fair, it was quite a good game with the cheat on and definitely wouldn’t make the list if someone had told me about this cheat before the game spent ages languishing in a cupboard.

4) Spirit Of Excalibur (Amiga)

This was about as close to a workout as many nerds got back in the day. Spirit Of Excalibur was actually quite a decent game, set in an exciting land of knights and dragons. The problem was that this game made disk swapping into an olympic discipline. Seriously, you think installing the likes of Diablo II off 3 cds is tough… well thats just peanuts to SOE. It would require a disk swap at least every five seconds, and the airy fairy old english language about magic boxes and gold medallions (drives and disks) made the whole experience unbearable. Ever see a 90’s teenage boy with one muscular arm? Could be Spirit Of Excalibur!

3) Global Effect (Amiga)

This game came out amidst one of the regular reoccuring waves of eco-friendliness. It was basically SimCity for hippies. Do you SimCity thing, but beware the wrath of mother nature should you allow your ecosystem to get out of balance, man. All sounds good in principle right? Well there was a problem. Maybe it was just me, but no matter what I did in game, I always managed to trigger an ice age within about twenty minutes. Game over, this land belongs to the inuits, innit? Even spending all resources to build hundreds of coal fired power stations failed to avert the freezing of mankind. If this game was actually based on scientific fact then get that jumper your nan knitted you out of the loft NOW!

2) Car Tycoon (PC)

Apparently this game was made by a bunch of Germans affiliated with a famous puzzle maker. What is puzzling is that it seems no-one actually tested the game before release. I’ve seen less bugs in a siafu nest. Just stay away and stay sane!

1) The Fabulous Wanda And The Secret Of Life, The Universe And Everything (Commodore 64)

At the time I don’t remember this being such a bad game. The premise is easy enough, you have been coerced, under threat of death by an alien called Bruce or something to find Wanda and get her to reveal her secrets. You end up on an alien planet, and must play several simple minigames to make some cash. Once you have enough cash you can go and buy Wanda a drink or something. The problem is that you can never get enough cash. It is physically impossible. If by chance you win loads of money, Wanda’s drink simply gets more expensive, so inevitably you always lose. An interesting game no doubt, but an incredibly cruel, cruel trick to play on a ten year old.
/cry

Computer Games – Now With Added War Crimes


I know what you’re thinking. “Does this guy have anything to do other than sit online blogging?” Well, sure but sometimes you need to get things aired and there is no better medium for finding people who are willing to agree and disagree with you than the highways and byways of the Interwebz.

Therefore, I’d like to direct your collective attentions here. This has the potential to be a highly charged topic. I know this isn’t specifically a video games blog but  every single contributor here spends time playing them and as it’s our blog we’ll damn well post what we want! So, perhaps a civilised discussion about this then?

To be honest, it may be perceived that I have a bias as I’m sitting in the video game playing community side of things, I don’t own Modern Warfare 2, nor do I plan to. However, we see more and more in the media an attack upon video games as a form of entertainment. Just like rock n’ roll in the 50’s we have a new media being accused of the corruption of our youth. I’d like to think by now that humanity would have caught up with that people are free to make their own choices and sometimes they choose badly. This is nothing new but as society has aged and grown we have now entered this amazing era where someone else is to blame. Your kid goes out and tries to car jack some dude on the street? Must be GTA IV’s fault, after all, he’s been playing that for weeks.

Well, perhaps your 13-year-old shouldn’t be playing a game that is rated 18, you could also do some crazy thing like interact with your kids rather than let a console do the job of raising them… outlandish idea I know, I fully expect to be burnt at the stake for such radical and dangerous thinking. However, let’s have a proper look at just what the article linked to is saying.

War crimes are capable of being committed in computer games. You could argue that regular crimes are committed in computer games all the time and yet not all gamers are repeat offending compulsive criminals. I’ve pickpocketed stuff on my Rogue in Warcraft but have never lifted anything (nor tried it) from an actual person. We could also look at real warfare, war itself is a brutal act of destruction and invariably good does not come out of it. I’m not going to go into history and pick specific examples of anything but I do not believe that war is good, we consider ourselves an enlightened species yet we still fight each other over perceived differences. Being able to commit war crimes in a computer game is, to me, no different from the often seen lack of regard for the so-called rules by many parties engaged in armed conflicts. If you want to show through a media such as the computer the true decisions that are faced by a man on the ground then obviously they are doing a grand job. It is even possible that if certain acts are performed covertly enough or with enough like-minded individuals that in real life it is possible to get away with these things. There are many armed forces around the world today that are committing what are defined as war crimes and yet we get all hissy over a game that allows someone to make those choices. Yes, perhaps there could be some repercussions from those choices (more traditionally RPG territory though) but you tend to find that it is only the west that really and truly abides by these conventions in the conflicts going on in the world today.

Now, is this really about war crimes or, more likely, just another attack at the video games industry to create sensational headlines that will help to sell copy? I’ll leave that to your judgement. However, not everyone that plays these games is a sociopath. In RPGs that allow you to take different moral routes I will often play through at least twice in order to experience both sets of outcomes, I personally find it a lot harder to go through the bad as opposed to taking the good. Yet, in video game land, I can be an uncaring, insensitive person without having to face the consequences myself, however, the character inevitably does. Is it really any different than reading certain works of fiction that portray these kinds of things, or watching a movie?

Yet, while these kinds of media are accepted as soon as something appears in a video game everyone is up in arms. Perhaps this is due to the fact that video games are so prevalent in our homes that society feels compelled to yet again cry out with “won’t someone think of the children” well, in my opinion the person that should be thinking of the children are the parents and they should exercise discretion about the media that their offspring are subjected to. This may not be the preferred method of parenting these days but I think we can all see the consequences of that right now.

I imagine this story will have its moment in the sun and then vanish into the ether alongside all the other “computer games will bring about the apocalypse” style stories. I’m just stunned by the fact that people are bemoaning that a game allows you to commit war crimes (something that isn’t new to video games) when so many real life armies flaunt these “rules” anyway. If everyone agreed and fought the same way, then perhaps they’d have a case, by something that is supposed to represent the real world being labelled as bad because it does a good job of mirroring real life… well, I have no coherent answer to that.