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Mac archive at Nerdtales
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Archive for the 'Mac' Category

Titan Quest in Motion

March 19th, 2008 by Marcel

A couple of days ago I fell for Shackhype and purchased Titan Quest Gold off of steam. You can’t do that much wrong for 12 Euros. It’s fun clone of Diablo. But I wrote this post actually only to test the video capabilities of this blog. Tell me what you think.

Click here for the video!

Cliffhanger

March 18th, 2008 by Marcel

Almost two years after it’s release Episode 1 felt a little shallow. It was not bad but I could feel how Valve was thinking more about episodic content and digital distribution than the game itself. But my hopes were high for Episode 2. Fortunately, Valve did deliver and made Episode 2 a memorable experience.

The game starts off were Episode 1 left. The Citadel exploded and the shockwave hit the train I was on. The train crashed and Alyx and I are going on by foot to White Forest, where Eli Vance and the other scientists are waiting on us to deliver the information gathered in the Citadel to launch a rocket that shall destroy the portal that connects the world of the Combine with the earth.

The first minutes included the only minor annoyance of the game. Why in hell do I start without all the weapons I had at the end of Episode 1? From a gameplay perspective this is clear to me. But this is supposed to be episodic gaming, similar to TV series. So consistency from episode to episode is very important. I should start completely as I have left off in the episode before. Stripping you from all your gear without any explanation just destroys the illusion.

However, this thought lasted only for a couple of minutes as Episode 2 is so good over all. I critized Episode 1 for rehashing older content, throwing only known enemies against the player. Valve did better this time and used a new unit called Hunter to lay the tracks for the game as a hunter hurts Alyx badly. A Vortigaunt steps in to heal her. Since Alyx’ wound is too bad, he needs the help of other Vortigaunts and a certain extract. With my help Alyx can be rescued and the journey to White Forest can be finished.

The levels are very varied this time and have a perfect mix of shooting and puzzle solving. The bridge puzzle is fine example of physics enhancing the game experience. You’re tasked to retrieve a car that is standing on the other side of a bridge. To get there you have to cross a river of toxic waste. Once you are at the car, the bridge starts to crumble and break at certain points. The middle part of the bridge stands askew with the near end elevated. Just driving over the bridge is impossible now. So you have jump on the middle of the bridge, get the car wrecks there on the elevated side so that it all evens out and you can drive to the other end. To be honest, it took me a while to figure that out. But it was fun.

Still the main focus is on shooting and there are a lot of very challenging and rewarding skirmishes in the game. And obviously no annoying “the battery of my flashlight is low” parts. The hunters are hard to fight and close the gap between the normal grunts and zombies and enemies like the striders. I bitched about the final fight in Episode 1, this time it is hell of a ride against a lot of striders and hunters which I have to stop from destroying the rocket before launch.

Story wise Eposide 2 is much for fulfilling. But I don’t want to spoil anything here. Just so much: G-Man is back again and his absence from Episode 1 is explained and his role gets a little bit clearer. The ending is sad and a huge cliffhanger that makes me want to play Episode 3 as soon as possible. So Valve, would you kindly finish Episode 3 for me?

Then there will be cake

March 10th, 2008 by Marcel

See, when I read all those rave comments about Portal, they sounded suspicious to me. How could a small bonus game to a huge franchise be even better than the rest? I couldn’t believe the praise it got. But boy I was wrong. Initially I expected the gameplay to be the main factor. While it truly is new, a puzzle game in a first person shooter environment, it was the presentation that really struck me.

Usually, good puzzle games work because they are addictive in one way or the other. While the possbility of the portals is a very unique element, it became at least for me trivial to the end of the game. It took me 5 minutes to inherit the concept so that even the later levels didn’t pose any problems for me. But never had a puzzle game more charm like Portal.

Turrets softly whispering “No hard feelings” or “I don’t blame you” when you take them out makes you want to give them a hug. The remarks of the AI make you laugh often. The companion cube with the heart at it’s middle is just lovely. So much love in game that is essentially full of traps to kill you. A very interesting contrast. And somehow I had the feeling that the credit screen with the now famous Portal Song is a statement for nerd culture.

Hopefully Portal 2 will be a little more of a challenge. I love cake.

And Then I Saw The Credits

March 2nd, 2008 by Marcel

Remember how I told you that I took just a quick peek at HL2: Episode 1? I finished it already. I had some free time on Friday night, not enough time to dive into the vast world of Mass Effect, but just enough to have another look at EP1. And all of a sudden I saw the credits. What a short experience. That’s episodic gaming now, huh?

The game begins where the original HL2 left off and starts in the ruins outside of the citadel. After stopping that from happening, it is all about escaping City17 as the the combine leads the reactor to explode again. The problem is that Episode 1 isn’t new. The levels are mostly rehashed from the main game, the enemies are the same ase are the weapons and the gameplay elements. This would all be okay if it at least gives more hints on the story. But other than the information that humanity has more success at fighting the combine and the speach of the doctor no further hints are given. Which sucks. I didn’t like some of the levels, too. Especially when the game leads into old buildings and multi-storey car parks. Those are dark so you are running around in Doom 3 style holding your flashlight up all the time. This is just too oldschool for a game like HL2 that can do better.

The boss at the end of Episode 1 is also a little uninspired. You fight against a strider, one of the enemies that you fought a lot of times in the original HL2, in a train station and to effectively beat him you have to go through some sort of jump and run section to get to the other side of the station where ammunition for the rocket launcher is hidden. It is too easy for a boss fight. The game ends with you standing at the rear end of a train watching the citadel explode and the screen going all white.

For all the flaws Episode 1 has, it is still on a very high level, technically and artistically. It is also a game that has to be seen in context. it was an experiment on digital distribution. To see, if episodic content could be a concept to bring games in a shorter form directly to the player. So when the game came out this played into the valuation. This novelty has worn of today and leaves a good, but not extraordinay game. It is a solid 8/10 and Episode 2, which I will play in the coming days, will probably smooth the flaws out.

I am too curious

February 26th, 2008 by Marcel

Today I had to bring Devil May Cry 4 back to the rental shop. I managed to beat Dante finally after many attempts but couldn’t finish the 11th mission anymore. As I don’t want to pay another 10 Euros for an additional week, the game has unfortunately to go back. But I’ll keep the save game on the HDD so that I can borrow the game in a couple of weeks from a friend and finish it properly. It may be not the pinnacle of gaming, hack&slashs are however pretty addictive.

On the weekend my damn curiosity led me to have a look in yet another game. I didn’t have a PC for 2 years now and my iMac never let me regret it. I hadn’t upgraded to Leopard yet but Saturday was the day that I bought the new version of OSX. With it comes Bootcamp which made a Windows installation possible. With the prospect of having Steam and it’s huge back catalog again, I decided to run Windows on the iMac. The installation was pretty easy, although it took some time. Having Steam installed the Orange Pack smiled at me alluringly. I am a weak bastard so I grabbed my credit card, entered the 16 digits and after a night of downloading I finally had the full HL2 goodness on my Mac.

I played HL2 when it came out 2 years ago so I was more than curious how Episode 1 would fare. And although the first 2 hours are not the best in the HL franchise they’re still on a very high level. The art direction is refreshing in a time, where the Unreal 3 engine dominates with it’s bright colours and shiny bump mapping everywhere. An apocalyptic yet comprehensible story finishes the good impression so far. I am still in the city, on my way from house to house looking for a way to leave the rotting town with the citadel in the middle.

Yet, Episode 1 (and 2 and Portal) will have to wait a little. From what I’ve read probably some weeks. A friend of mine gave me Mass Effect to play. Yeah, I know, the next game I started. But that is just how I am. Too curious to let a game just wait for it’s time. But I have the feeling that Mass Effect might be worth it. I played a couple of hours yesterday and it feels good, despite the flawed menus and the confusing upgrade system. I finished the first mission on Eden Prime which ended with the destruction of the sender I initially had to retrieve. Bad luck. I arrived at a huge space station called The Citadel looking for the next missions. As I’ve said, it feels great so far, even the localization - the game got synchronized for Germany - is surprisingly good and in sync with the motion of the lips.

Going Uphill

February 12th, 2008 by Marcel

Have I said something about FFVI being straight forward? Forget that. Today’s session with the game showed me again, why Japanese RPGs turn me off so often. I left the game the last time when I was on my way to South Figaro. I took the caves and went to the small town in the south of the cave’s exit. Arriving in this town I didn’t know what to do further. So i walked around and talked to all the people, bought equipment and other items, found some treasure chests, but no real hint for what to do now. All the people talked about was some Mount Kolts and some guy named Duncan. Although there was no real connection to what I had played up till now I figured going to this mountain was worth a try.

In the north of the town I find a lonely hut, nothing is in there, except some things remind Edgar of somebody. Outside of the hut is now an old man, that hints to the mountain. Well okay, I go to the mountain, now everything is straight forward again. Until I meet Vargas, who seems to have been the shadow that was jumping around the screen all the time. For whatever reason he wants to fight me, and in the middle of a fight a guy comes around and helps my party. I finish Vargas and that stranger turns out to be the brother of Edgar.

Wow, talk about logic here. I am pretty confused, especially because some of the names are different from the walkthroughs I’ve read. Mash for example is called ‘Sabin’ in the walkthroughs. Wonder why that’s the case. Anyhow. Now I am on my way to Sabin’s Hideout to get some clue’s about Tina’s fate, I think.

But that’ll follow next time. I am off to work now.

Final Fantasy Cussing

February 11th, 2008 by Marcel

Today I didn’t feel like I wanted to play Forza 2. In fact, I have had enough of the XBox and needed a little change, some variety. So I figured I could play a game that I never approached. Shame on me, but I’ve never played Final Fantasy VI before. I own the first 4 entries to the series, played most of the 3D ones, but never finished one. It is embarrasing I know, but those games only kept me motivated for some days until I lost my interest and played something else.

Time for another attempt as I’ve fired up an emulator and entered the world of Final Fantasy VI. I am only in the very first minutes of the game and I already remember what I always liked about the SNES times. Cute 16Bit graphics, nice midi tunes, simple control scheme, cursing. Cursing?! I was surprised about the heavy use of the word ‘bitch‘ in the first hour of the game. Now I usually don’t care but I didn’t expect it in a more or less family friendly SNES game.

Other than that, the game is still pretty straight forward. I got to Castle Figaro, fled from there and am now on my way to South Figaro. Let’s see how it all evolves.