May
10
Posted on 10-05-2008
Filed Under (Game Stories) by NightCrawler on 10-05-2008

Pandora Tomorrow

Well the past couple of days I have been playing Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow and all I can say is “IT IS ROUGH“! Since everyone knows I like the single-player experience I am currently going through the SP campaign. Last night I played it from 6pm till about midnight CST straight through, since Dead and/or Whisper were both a no-show for our nightly rounds of BF1942. (**And sorry Skull for not being able to hear you much when you joined on VT, I was literally under a fast moving train at the time and it was very, very loud down there!**) 

However after my couple of nights of play, here are some of my preliminary findings. Let me first say that if you are a fan of “fast action” shooters, then this is NOT the game for you. Also if you are not a fan of “third-person shooters”, which means your primary viewpoint is directly behind or around your character, this may not be the game for you, as well. That point is where I forgot about till after I purchased it, till York made the point of it being a 3rd person. I really don’t think I ever played a PC 3rd person shooter before, I have played some on the Super Nintendo I played a few years back, but I don’t think I have played one on the computer before this experience. And with this being the first, it is a very challenging experience I must say. 

Well after I finally got used to the keyboard commands, along with making some alterations on keystrokes through my first training level, I now have the perfect feel and smoothness for the game while playing it. I have found so far that the majority of the levels that I have currently played through require you to be very stealthy and to NOT kill a sole, and if you do kill or get spotted, your mission has failed. Which means afterwards you either re-start from the last auto-save point (which is normally the starting point of the level) OR a quick-save point for which you select by pressing the F5 key. That quick-save point selection has saved me many, many times and I use it a lot during my play now. Because if something happens (normally getting spotted) I know what not to do the next time through that section, and to apply a different strategy or move in a different manner. You would have to have played this game to actually and truly know what I am saying here, because you can sort of wall-crawl, jump and straddle close alleyways, climb drainage poles, slide down/across overhead lines, and even crawl under moving trains, as I was accomplishing last night when Skull joined VT. 

But let me tell you right now that accomplishing your mission, to advance to the next one in this game, is tougher than I ever expected. Almost to the point of impossible on some, but there are ways and things to do to keep you out of view of policemen and the terrorists that you are hunting or spying on. It sometimes takes many tries, and this is where those quick-saves come very much into play, so you don’t get to frustrated. And let me tell you, I got frustrated several times last night because it seemed that everything I tried just did not work, but after closer looks and investigation, along with using my head, I found the way to accomplish the task. So I should have added in a paragraph above, that if “frustration” in accomplishing tasks within a game turns you off, then this is NOT the game for you as well. But it is actually FUN to play, even after I almost ripped the DVD out of the drive and broke it in half! 

When the mission’s start you are normally armed with an H&K silenced .45cal, your night-vision and thermal imaging goggles, your lock-pick kit, and maybe a flash grenade or two. However you do pick up along the way other items like a silenced 5.56mm rifle, explosive/camera de-activators, Frag/Smoke/Chaff grenades, a shock gun which shoots non-lethal spy tracker bullets, along with a small sticky camera, and other items including an Alarm snare which makes a whistling sound to attract enemies which is also fired by the shock gun. There are also the old standby medical kits on the walls in rooms/areas to heal you from any injuries that you may have incurred. Hell you can even whistle at the enemy to get their attention so they come your way. Why would this be done? I done it last night to get the attention of a guard, so he would walk right under me while I was straddling an alleyway, and when he passed I dropped down, grabbed and killed him. Got to love when a plan comes together. But this is just a small explanation of things that you are armed with, and I have not used half of the stuff that I have picked up along the course of a level. Probably if I did, the job would probably be much easier. 

The single-player game is everything but boring in my personal opinion. Yes there are areas for which a single shot is not fired, but then again stealth IS the name of the game, and shooting your enemies can only be accomplish if AUTHORIZED. You are always in communication with your commanding officer, for which is voiced by Dennis Haysbert, known for his role as the team leader in the CBS television show “The Unit”, along with being the President in a season or two of the series “24”. Sam Fisher, your character is voiced by the veteran actor Michael Ironside, which has been in many movies like Top Gun, Total Recall, and Starship Troopers. Both of these actors bring the game’s characters to life because their interactions are sometimes very funny and humorous. 

The graphics in the game are OK, being that they are not the quality of today’s games like Call of Duty 4, but since I knew this was an older game that has been out for a couple of years, I am not disappointed. Hey you get what you pay for, and since I only paid $10 at Wal-Mart, and I must say it is well worth that price for all of the fun and enjoyment I am having with it. The sound is spot on, there is a musical score for the game, and however it is not that noticeable and is used at the right time. The atmospheric sound is nothing but outstanding, and the sounds of those crickets in the grass will scare you at times. Most of the reviews that I have read about concerning this game run from like 8/10-9/10 rating, which is not bad for a game, and I must agree with some of the comments made from the majority of the reviews. One which addressed the “frustration value” within the game where I can totally agree with. 

In closing this personal mini-review, this single-player game is what ALL single-player games should be for everyone that enjoys this sort of gameplay as I do. The games of Half-Life, Half-Life 2, and FarCry take me on average, to this day, about a week and a half of gameplay to complete. And this game is currently looking like about the same as those above for time consumption. The storyline is also a BIG Plus within a game, and as like all three of the games I mentioned above, Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow does have an interesting story it is telling right before your eyes. However as I already mentioned within this review, if you are one that likes a lot of tense firefight action, one that does not like the 3rd person viewpoint, or does not have the patience to play at times a very frustrating game, then this game may NOT be for you. But for those that like stealth, sneaking around in the darkness, killing without even a whisper, this game will reward you to a point that you will always remember. 

Now I know, after this experience, I may be purchasing the newer game named Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Double Agent pretty soon!

Jan
04
Posted on 04-01-2008
Filed Under (Game Stories) by NightCrawler on 04-01-2008

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For everyone that frequents the SimHQ Website, the gaming website where I am a staff member of, we have just published our long awaited “SimHQ 2007 Year in Review & Awards“.  The article showcases and  addresses many facts and fantasies that you may have about Game Simulations that saw the light of day this past year. 

Please Read the Entire Feature Article RIGHT HERE!

Have a Great 2008 Everyone!

Dec
24
Posted on 24-12-2007
Filed Under (Game Stories) by NightCrawler on 24-12-2007

The Call of Duty franchise to me personally is a Love/Hate relationship, so that is where I will start this episode out.  Normally when the game finally got released, and I was lucky enough to find it on my local department store’s shelf the first time that I looked, I really ‘loved‘ it.  However, after several hours of immersive gameplay, locked into my PC game room, mostly in single-player game mode, I would completely game myself to the point of oblivion till the late hours of the evening.  After that experience I would move on to the multi-player mode and enjoy it for a little more time.  And I have to say with ‘little’ being the operative word here in that sentence, that I was normally bored out of my head in like 4-6 days of the game.  This basically means I would play it for a couple of nights, thoroughly enjoy the gameplay, and then normally move on to another game, which again was probably an older game that I liked to play.  That is the ‘hate‘ part of the equation.  Until the release of the latest edition of this franchise named appropriately Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.  But before I get to that game, let’s look at the previous versions of the game.

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The original, or the first Call of Duty (CoD), was released in the US on 10/29/2003, by a well respected publisher named Activision.  It must also be noted that CoD was the first game developed by a newly formed company named Infinity Ward, which consisted of game developers who worked on the Medal of Honor (MoH) series, which was published by Electronic Arts.  CoD is similar in theme and gameplay to MoH: Allied Assault, and like the latter includes various single player campaigns and missions.  However, unlike MoH, the war is seen not just from the viewpoint of an American soldier but also from the perspective of British and Soviet soldiers as well.  Those viewpoints were a very unique experience back in 2003 and drew rave reviews, along with the inception of the ‘killcam‘, through which a defeated player could view the last 5 seconds of their life through the eyes of their opponent.  This was also received very favorably by gamers, who saw this as a method to identify hackers.  But being a convert from playing MoH in the multi-player mode for a couple of years at the time, I guess I judged the CoD game from that experience, and it was not favorable to my personal ‘taste’.  I cannot say what that was that I did not like, but the movement of the in-game players just did not feel right to me, but I thoroughly enjoyed the single-player game mode of the game anyway.

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Then there was Call of Duty: United Offensive (UO) which is the first expansion pack that was released in the US on 09/14/2004.  It is developed by Gray Matter Interactive, with contributions from Pi Studios, and published again by Activision.  The biggest changes made by UO were in the multiplayer aspect of the game. There are new maps which are much larger than the ones in the original game, new weapons from the single player campaign, an in-game ranking system which grants additional bonuses with more points, and vehicles such as tanks and jeeps, which were similar to what you would see in Battlefield 1942.  This was by far the best component of the original CoD and drew more game players into the game servers and strengthened the series.  But again, the in-game player movements were not completely right for my liking, so it was that routine of play the single-player campaign about 3 times, play the multi-player for a couple of times, and then the CD was placed back into its container and back on the shelf it went.

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On 10/25/2005, Call of Duty 2 (CoD2) was released by Activision and again it was developed by the same group that gave us the original CoD, Infinity Ward.  The game again is set during World War II and is experienced through the perspectives of three soldiers in the Red Army, British Army and United States Army.  CoD2 was generally received well by both gamers and reviewers as alike.  The graphics and sound were widely praised, and the reactions to the regenerating health system were mostly on the positive side, with reviewers such as Gamespot and Gamepro stating it as an improvement over the previous health bar system. The PC version of the multi-player mode was highly criticized as being a step backward from that of the original games expansion pack, United Offensive.  Now CoD2 I again enjoyed both the single-player campaign, along with the multi-player mode, and even though it did have a very good feel to it, I was personally sort of getting tired of playing war in World War II.  You see after playing the MoH series for a couple of years, and then the previous editions of the CoD franchise, that war was getting tiresome to play for me.  I was looking for something up-to-date, and somewhat more current, than a history lesson running over and over and over again. 

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Now we finally come to the ‘cream of the crop’, in my personal opinion, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (CoD4:MW).  Infinity Ward again developed this award winning first-person shooter, which was published by Activision, and delivered to the US market on 11/06/2007.  Even though it is taunted as the ‘fourth‘ version, it is actually only the third PC installment in the CoD game series (Call of Duty 3 was only developed for consoles) and the first not to be set during World War II, which made this title way more appealing to many gamers around the world.  This is by far the best game of the series so far to be released.  As the name implies, CoD:MW leaves well worn locale of WWII far behind in favor of a more recent setting. Beginning in a fictional Middle East, where Russian ultranationalists are set on kicking off WW3 and remaking the world, a gruesome assassination triggers a series of missions that ping-pongs between an American Marine and a British SAS solider. The story is a step above most warfare, not afraid to make crucial choices without ever getting to political within the state of modern affairs.  Just recently in December it won the coveted Game of the Year 2007 award from GameSpy, and has garnered many other awards from leading magazines, along with other online entities. 

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It was report recently in the media that the next installment of the series, appropriately named Call of Duty 5, will be made by another developer named Treyarch.   The game is also disappointedly being reset back to the World War II era.  What I have also heard is that the game’s set in the under-utilized Pacific theater, which is a scenario, only one other major WWII shooter, the awful Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault has tried before.   While (if true) the move back to well-worn out WWII is terribly disappointing, if this game can branch out and explore some of the less “popular” aspects of the conflict (China, Burma, New Guinea), it might not be so bad.   But will I personally purchase it?  I have to say probably not.   That’s the most current up-to-date information that I have concerning the upcoming new CoD5, other than there is supposed to be a new installment of the series each coming year.  That will be great, IF they finally come back to Modern Times and finally put that sore and ragged WWII era to bed! 

Next Up:  The Medal of Honor Story……

Nov
03
Posted on 03-11-2007
Filed Under (Game Stories) by NightCrawler on 03-11-2007

As you might already know, I have been writing about serial PC games in my last couple of stories, with those being the Battlefield, Delta Force and Half-Life Series.  Well I will not disappoint anyone here that I would like to chat about another gaming franchise that has, or previously had, its own “cult” following within the gaming community, until at least one of the latest releases.  The PC game franchise that I am referring to is named the Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six series of Tactical Shooters (TS), which is somewhat of a First-Person Shooter (FPS) that has some added responsibilities.  And at this time I want to advise everyone that I own each and every title addressed here, except two, and when I get to them, I will try to explain why. 

First I have to explain that in Tactical Shooters you are set into play by first having a complete briefing of the mission, the ability to outfit your entire team’s equipment, and completely plan out your avenues of approach, waypoints, and actions within a specific area or room.  I know others may have a different explanation or definition, but this is mine.  Other games that are in this TS category are the Brothers in Arms series, Delta Force series, SWAT 3&4, the original Ghost Recon, Operation Flashpoint, and America’s Army.

200px-rainbowsixbox.jpgboxart_eaglewatch.jpgBut getting back to the “meat” of this column, the first game of that exciting series was appropriately named Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six, and it made its PC debut on August 21, 1998.  The author of the novel of the same name, Tom Clancy, placed his name on the PC title with the developer’s (Red Storm Entertainment) blessing, since he was actively involved in the games development, missions, and core theme.   I will make only one comment concerning what it did for the PC gaming community, because if I added more it would only be my personal opinion and may “set some people off“, but to me it changed the way FPS games were to be played from its inception.  I know this comment may also make some of the Doom and Quake players upset, however, in this type of environment you just cannot “run & gun” around a map, shoot everyone in sight, expect to survive, be successful at your primary objective, and be able to advance to the next map, without having some sort of preset plan in place.  This game made you “think” in more ways than just one dimensional.  In January 1999, the mission pack Eagle Watch made its entrance and gave us awaiting gamers more missions to complete and to keep the interest churning concerning Rainbow Six

250px-roguespear_box.jpgboxart_urbanoperations.jpgThe second installment of the series came out on September 22, 1999, and its name was Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear.  The game pits the same counter-terrorist unit, Rainbow, against global terrorist organizations that in some cases have taken hostages or have armed themselves with weapons of mass destruction.  In turn, Rogue Spear, like its predecessor, puts focus on realism, planning, strategy, and teamwork rather than arcade-style shoot-em-ups such as Doom or Quake.   The first expansion pack for RS came out on April 4, 2000, and was named Urban Operations, and it added 8 new maps along with 4 new weapons, and 5 classic Rainbow Six maps from the original Rainbow Six game. 

boxart_covertops.jpgIn August 2000, Covert Ops Essentials was released as a standalone product, I personally don’t think it was received well by the Rainbow Six community.  Why do I say that?  Because it was deemed by many as half Rainbow Six mission pack and half civil service test simulator, which did not sit well with many gamers including myself.  The 3 single-player missions contained by the Essentials Mission Disk were just were not up-to-par as the previous Rogue Spear maps were.  

boxart_blackthorn.jpgBut when the third official expansion pack for Rogue Spear was released on September 15, 2001, named Black Thorn, I believe everyone breathed a new sigh of relief that their beloved Rainbow Six was back!  Black Thorn featured 9 new single-player maps, 6 new multiplayer maps, 10 new weapons, and a new multiplayer variation called “Lone Wolf“.   I personally spent many hours planning, executing, and playing that expansion pack.  The one thing that I always liked about the Rainbow Six series in itself was the fact that different approaches, tactics, and even the way you cleared a room or area of terrorists, could be changed each time you played the same map and the outcome would be different than the last.  Was that good or bad?  I believe so, because it tought you what you could and could not do to gain a successful outcome to the mission.

boxart_sumofallfears.gifWhen The Sum of All Fears came out on May 31, 2002, I believe almost every Rainbow Six veteran choked, IF they actually purchased this game.  This game used a significantly simplified version of the gameplay seen in the Rainbow Six series and there was no planning phase to each mission, but instead the player’s 3-man team executes a pre-planned insertion with other anti-terrorist teams solely controlled by the computer.  The player also could not individually select the equipment each team member carries which was a basic system in each and every Rainbow Six title, instead, the player choses from a small selection of pre-defined equipment packages for the entire team.  Even the in-game play’s rudimentary commands to teammates, such as “wait here”, “follow me”, and “clear/grenade/flashbang the next room” was totally eliminated.  This game in my opinion was just something placed out to the community as a movie “tie-in” of the same name.

256px-rainbowsix3.jpgboxart_athenasword.jpg180px-rs3ironwrath.jpgAfter that bad taste in the mouth was finally over, Red Storm introduced to everyone Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield on March 16, 2003.  The popularity of Raven Shield was shown when it was nominated for many game reviewers’ awards, including Best Sound Effects, Best Action Game, and Best PC Game (at GameSpy, GameSpot, PC Gamer & Computer Gaming World Magazines, among others).  This installment of the game really made this game populartised the franchise to a point of it, in some circles, was catagorized as a “supergame”, if there ever was one.  Following up on the Raven Shield extreme popularity was its first expansion pack named Athena Sword, which made its appearance on March 9, 2004.  It expanded on the original by adding 8 new missions, 5 new multiplayer missions, 3 new multiplayer gamemodes, and 7 new weapons.  Iron Wrath was the second expansion for the PC version of Raven Shield and was in production for almost 2 years before Ubisoft, its developer, decided to release it as a free download on June 9, 2005 to Fileplanet subscribers. The Iron Wrath expansion featured a 7-mission campaign, 2 classic missions, 8 new multiplayer maps, as well as 6 new weapons.

230px-r6l_pc.jpgWhich gets me to one of the most recent, and by some within the community regards, and was considered at the time, possibly the final Rainbow Six PC game, but that was not the case.  On Febrary 10, 2006, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Lockdown was released to a very shocked public that was eagerly awaiting this title to see all the improvements that could be accomplished through modern technology.  I want to first say that I did not purchase this game, however, I have played it on a friends machine and I have to personally say that the feel in this release was more fast-paced and more arcadic than what a “tactical shooter” of the Rainbow Six genre or type should be.  The professional reviewers, along with the many members of the Rainbow Six Community, including myself, has rejected this title, in that it veered too far towards being an arcade style of game over a Tactical Shooter

tcr6vcov11.jpgOn December 12, 2006, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas, made its appearance and was hailed by many as a welcome edition into the Rainbow Six Community.  Vegas has won numerous awards, including “Best First-Person Shooter” and “Best Online Game” in IGN’s Best of 2006, as well as an “Editor’s Choice Award” from GameSpot.  It has also received many positive reviews from both online publications and the most popular gaming magazines around.  However, some in the Rainbow Six community, including myself, have expressed vast disappointment that the game requires a video card that supports Shader Model 3.0, thus preventing many PC owners with low-end graphics cards from playing the game.  And that is the only reason that I have not purchased that game is because I currently don’t have the video card to support it.  Hopefully soon down the road I will upgrade my PC to finally get to see what all of the fuss was all about. 

Today the question on everybodies collective minds is there going to be another edition to the Rainbow Six series?  There has not been any word from either Ubisoft, the publisher, or RedStorm Entertainment, the developer, if there is one either in development or in the works.  I would hate to see a very popular and also very good PC gaming series come to an end after so many years of entertaining us through the years.  But if that is finally the case, I can honestly say I enjoyed each and every Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six title that I played to the fullest and concerning the whole franchise, I did got my monies worth!

Thank You RedStorm Entertainment!

Next Up: Your Call of Duty….

Nov
02
Posted on 02-11-2007
Filed Under (Game Stories) by NightCrawler on 02-11-2007

To start out this story, I have to give everyone a short personal background.  If you read my story a couple of days ago concerning the Crysis system requirements, you know that I have been ‘online’ PC gaming since 1998.  Yes, I know what some of you are thinking, an adolescent when it comes to PC gaming, as I have heard, however, I am true to a specific game type.  That game type is First-Person Shooters or FPS for short.   I have immense knowledge of FPS games and own many titles of that genre, one of those being the Battlefield Series.

bf1942.jpgWhen Battlefield 1942 was released in September 2002, I was like a “kid in a candy store” when I walked into my local PC Game Store and this title caught my eye sitting high on the display rack.  That will be a day that I will hate for the rest of my gaming life.  Why do I say that?  Because that particular series of games has caused me many heartaches over the last 5 years since I decided to purchase it.  That game has cost me countless hours of time away from my family, friends, and something very simple as valuable sleep.  When I would start my nightly playing, it was hard for me to stop, till I was forced to by a family member sometimes holding a butcher knife in her hands.  As I said, I will remember when these games were put out. 

bf1942rtor.jpgSince I was sort of a history buff in 2002, and the World War II era of PC games were just coming out, Battlefield 1942 was the perfect game since it had everything that I liked.  It had both a worthwhile Single-Player game, along with a very rewarding Multi-Player component that elevated the competition between me and my gaming friends.  Yes, as many games are, it took several patches for the experience to be complete, but when they finally got it right, it was a game to be reckoned with.  I was so happy when The Road to Rome expansion pack came out, because with that release, it even got better.  My personal FPS gaming needs was so satisfied that I had finally more maps, weapons, and gear to play with on-line with my gaming friends. 

desertcombat.jpgEverything was great in my BF1942 world until the release of a mod named Desert Combat.  That completely changed my total outlook on playing BF1942.  I could not believe that they could make a modern combat game, from a World War II designed one.  I wasted many nights playing that darn game that I eventually passed up the next expansion pack to BF1942, named Secret Weapons of WWII.  I was completely “hooked” on the modern weaponry, tanks, armored personnel carriers, artillery, and the flyable aircraft & helicopters that Desert Combat provided me. 

bfvlogo1.jpgEverything was excellent until the arrival of the next game in the series, Battlefield Vietnam.   That game held a special place in my heart as I grew up in that era of the Vietnam War.  When it came out in March 2004, I had to purchase it because that was the time in my life that molded who I am to this day.  No, I am not a “draft dodger”, I proudly served my country, the USA, in its military for many years, the first part during the latter stages of that War.  But back to the game of “BFV“, I can say truthfully that it was not perfect, in any aspects of the word, but what PC game is.  It served its purpose for being an inviting environment for make believe battles with an enemy that was very elusive and cunning.  On a side note, I still play BFV today, and I still completely enjoy it like when it was first released.  I have even got some of my gaming friends to load BFV up again on their machines and we play it normally about 3-4 times a week.  Also today the gaming group that I am associated with, the JGC, has a Battlefield Vietnam Coop Server for which I proudly manage, and it is my primary PC game right now to the despair of some of my squad mates.

battlefield2box.jpgNow back in June 2005, a game named Battlefield 2 made its dynamic arrival into this series.  This game brought us modern combat, modern air & ground vehicles, in worldly locations around the globe, and brought with it a new aspect of gaming called STATS.  What is Stats, it is personal statistics that is compiled while you are playing on official EA partnered BF2 “Ranked” Servers.  These “stats” are everything that you do while you are playing BF2 on those servers.  I will not go into everything that stats encompass, because it is basically everything you do while playing.  Even though the game still has a great following, I personally believe that this aspect of the game will ultimately be its downfall.  The game taunts “teamwork” within a squad, but how can that be accomplished when lots of players are ONLY thinking about their “personal” performance because they are ONLY thinking about furthering their own ranking?

70100_mb_75.jpgTo add to the series, EA released its first expansion pack to Battlefield 2 in November 2005, named Special Forces.  It was a good title, but not a great one.  Players today seem to still prefer the original maps over the maps released in that expansion pack.  Special Forces did introduce several new weapons, aircraft, and devices to use, but I really don’t believe it actually made that much an impact within the BF2 community as a whole.  I purchased it, and did play it many times with my group, but it never gained my interest, because I always found myself going back and playing on servers that ran the original BF2 maps. 

70101_mb_75.jpg70109_mb_75.jpgIn March 2006, EA Games released to the Battlefield 2 Community a small “Booster Pack“, as EA called it, named Euro Force.  The expansion, at the time, was only available to the public by download from EA’s own “EA Downloader” game delivery service at a monetary price of $9.99.   That personally turned me off on getting this game since I want a disk with my games, and that service did not provide one.  Then again in June 2006, EA Games released another “Booster Pack” named Armored Fury, for which again was only offered through the EA Downloader Game Delivery Service, for which I again refused to get it that way.  However, early in 2007, EA Games finally released both of these “Booster Packs” commercially or retail packaged to the public, for which, I did go out and purchased them both together.  They gameplay and the maps provided in both were OK, but were not spectacular in my opinion.

ltbaaioavd.jpgIn October 2006, EA Games launched Battlefield 2142.  Well I am sorry to say that my travels through the battlefield have ended with the release of that title.  I was a member of the Beta Testing team and played the demo, however, the feel of the game for me personally was not there, and since EA was continually bolstering about “team play“, and still providing those damn “stats” upgrades, I chose to take a pass.  But today I am still completely enjoying the first two editions of the Battlefield series, BF1942 & BFV, that they will give me hours and hours of gaming joy for some time to come. 

I did not envision me saying this, but Thank You EA for at least those first 2 Battlefield Games EA!

Next Up: The Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Chronicles

Nov
01
Posted on 01-11-2007
Filed Under (Game Stories) by NightCrawler on 01-11-2007

Today we are going to talk about a PC Game that is very close to my heart.  This game has probably changed more gamer’s views on the way games are supposed to be played, than any other game that has been produced in the last 10 years.  This game was so innovated in its technology at the time of release that it made other companies stand up and take notice.  What game could that be you might ask yourself?  That game would be Half-Life.  When it was published in November 1998, I specifically purchased a computer system that would play this game at its highest settings.  Was I disappointed?  I would have to say a loud NO!  Half-Lifewas a landmark game that garnered about every award imaginable from about every magazine and internet site around.  It was given the coveted title of “Game of the Year” in most all of the gaming sites that I know of. 

hl-box.jpgWhat was my personal view of Half-Life?  I would have to say I wasted many hours and days playing that game just to see, experience, and witness every aspect of a PC game that was going to revolutionize the way gaming was going to be in the future.  I must have played through that game like 6-8 times, always doing different things, and also going in different directions.  I was never “bored” while I was playing Half-Lifeand I could not believe how a developer could place so much action and suspense into a single solitary PC game that would garner my full attention for such a long period of time.  And I have to say that same feeling, concerning this single PC game, is still happening today in its offspring.  But back to the original Half-Life, it was a game that “raised the bar” on how every First Person Shooter that entered the market would be judged.  If a PC game was not up to the standard that Half-Lifepresented, it did not last very long.  It took the single-player experience to such an elevated level that it was very hard for another developer to match its quality and immersive style of gameplay. 

opposingforce.jpgIn 1999, Half-Life: Opposing Forcemade its arrival and I was almost the first person in line at my local PC Store to get my hands on a copy of this much wanted follow-up.  This title in the series did not disappoint me, even though; a lot of the reviews on it were not as favorable as the original it still quenched my thirst for a continuance of that outstanding gameplay.  But being a devout player of this franchise I played it for many hours and enjoyed it to the maximum.  It was a different experience to play as a marine and play through many of the same levels that I just completed as Half-Life’sGordon Freeman.  It never got boring because you could go different directions, and still get to the area for which you were driven.

bsbox_sm.jpgWhen Half-Life: Blue Shieldwas announced, I was a little skeptical on this release, because I thought it was only just another vision from another aspect of the original game.  It truly was, but it too was very entertaining and enjoyable to play through.  I knew, Valve, the developer, was just trying to get as much out of this game as it could, but it did not make that much of a difference.  I wanted to play as “Barney”, the security guard; through much the same locations as I just went through with both the original and Opposing Force, and it was still a rewarding and enjoyable single-player experience.  I can honestly say that Valve, during the original Half-Life experience, did an outstanding job in providing us, the gaming community, with a very rewarding and exciting game for its time.

logo.gifWhen Half-Life 2was first announced I could not have been more excited at the news.  The mystical adventures of Gordon Freeman would be going forward.  When it was released I was again waiting at my favorite PC Store’s front door again, and purchased it on the day that it came out.  When I got home with the game in hand, I was so excited that I forgot not only lunch, but dinner as well, and was playing it till around midnight, when my wife came into the game room and asked “Hey, are you going to eat something today?”.  I have to say I forgot about everything in my life that day, even about some of the necessities in life.  I have to say, she still brings that up to me every now and then just to make me feel bad!  But I have to say that I have to this day completed the single-player campaign a total of FIVE plus times, and I think I am going back for another round soon just to see if I saw and experienced everything that I could have during this spectacular game. 

episodeone1.jpgWhen Half-Life 2: Episode Onewas released, I again was standing in line and was considered on “Cloud 9” when I walked out of my PC Store with my copy in hand.    My online friends ask me all the time why I am so much marketing this “expansion pack” and I have to say that Half-Life 2is by far a Quality Game, for which, I have to get, because “it is in my blood” to purchase this game to see where it goes.  Episode Onedid not disappoint me, however I did consider it sort of short in length (about 4-6 hours of SP gameplay) for the price that I paid for it ($19.95).  The developers, Valve, accomplished another outstanding job in furthering the story of that devout character Gordon Freeman. 

halflife2-episode2-blackbox-cover.jpgHowever with the release recently of Half-Life 2: Episode Two, I have taken a stance and I am very, very disappointed in the publishers on this release.  When Episode 2 was announced, it was stated that it would be delivered in two (2) “boxes“, the Black and the Orange “Box“.   The “Black Box” was supposed to contain only Episode 2, for people that already had the Half-Life 2 game, and the “Orange Box” would contain Episode 2, along with the new games of Portal and Team Fortress 2.  But a little after that announcement, came the news that Valve had made the decision that they would only put out the Orange Box for retail, which would contain the original HL2, Episode 1, the new Episode 2, Portal, and Team Fortress 2for the single price of $59.99.  Now I was angered at that decision, since I only wanted Episode 2, and why should I pay for additional games that I not only did not want, but would have no use for.  I already had HL2 and Ep1, and have completely no interest in the cartoonish TF2 or that stupid game of Portal.  I know you can purchase the game (Episode 2 ONLY) on Steam, the Valvegame delivery service, but I would be receiving the game by download with NO disk in hand.  I want the game on a disk, since that makes me feel that I own it.  So I have made the decision to wait until they either come down on the price, or some retailer has a gigantic sale of that Orange Box, that it would be a deal I could not refuse.  When will I think this might happen?  Probably not till late next year sometime probably.  But I can wait. 

valve.gifAt the beginning, this whole item that Valve had the idea of, in “episodic content“, saying that they could produce a “short” episodic game in a short amount of time, over making a brand new game, as a Half-Life 3, which would take about 2-4 years, is getting sort of old now.  I have came to the conclusion that they, Valve, have came to the conclusion that they could make more money from this “episodic content” theory OVER putting out a new game, as like a Half-Life 3.  It is sorry to say, but I am also aware, that PC gaming is a BIG business, and companies like Valve, are in the business ONLY to make enormous amounts of money from us consumers in the shortest amount of time.

team_fortress_2_group_photo.jpgI have to tell all of them that I have been playing this game of Half-Lifefor nine years now, and I can’t quit now!  But I have learned a new name in this “big business” and it is something called “restraint”.  I am not and will not cave in to a developer’s ploy to steal the money from me that I have worked very hard for to have in my retirement.  There are other games out there that make me happy to play both in Single-Player experience and in Online Multi-Player.

And what are my thought about a new Half-Life 3 game in the future?  Well I will probably be in-line for that too, as long as it does not try to package the “whole” Half-Life Trilogy into a giganticly priced “box”!  I said I was a Serial Gamer, not a Serial Killer! 

Next Up: My Travels Through the Battlefields…

Oct
31
Posted on 31-10-2007
Filed Under (Game Stories) by NightCrawler on 31-10-2007

This weeks focus will be on a series that appears “dead in the water”, so to speak.  The game that I am referring to here is the Delta Force series.  This majestic first-person shooter (FPS) game holds a very unique place in my “gaming” heart in that this game was my 1st venture into online gaming.  I have to say that this game has made me what I am today, because if it was not for this game, I may have not started online gaming probably for another year later.  And just to let you know I personally own and have played each and every one of the games described below and there are a couple that I still play today.  But without further upheaval, I present to you the story of Delta Force.

df_box.gifThe original Delta Force is a FPS game by developer and publisher NovaLogic. It was released for the PC on November 1, 1998 and was designed to be a military simulation loosely based on the Delta Force special operations force.  It also had a very “different” type of graphics engine that rendered terrain, objects, and vegetation in detailed form if being looked at from a distance.  The engine was referred to as the “Voxel” engine, in that; it would render details in voxels, other than in “pixel” form, as used in most games.  Voxels is a combination of the words volumetric and pixel which is used primarily used in visualizations for medical and scientific data by definition.  The engine did a good job in rendering screens that consisted of long distant shots, but when you got close up, there was a huge distortion that prevented too many renders from inside of buildings and such close in areas.  However, the game was truly enjoyable and since about the whole game took place outdoors, it made for a quite pleasurable multi-player experience in that snipers had the upper hand most of the time within the environments.

df2.gifThe second game of the series was named; you guessed it, Delta Force 2.  It was put on the store shelves, on October 31, 1999.  Delta Force 2 improved over its predecessor in graphics quality, and by improving game balance.  The game is in many ways was more realistic than the first-person shooters of its time. Very often, one shot is fatal, although occasionally the player would survive.  However, no weapons, even the M249 SAW machine gun, had any recoil or spray. This allowed players to play as a sniper and at medium-to-long ranges even with a heavy machinegun, when in real life it would be terribly inaccurate.  Delta Force 2 had an “improved” voxel graphics engine that rendered graphics a little better than its predecessor did, but was still a little grainy for some people. 

dflwboxus.gif Delta Force: Land Warrior was the third inception of this series and was published on December 1, 2000.  Nova was known for chronically poor AI in the previous 2 titles, and it still showed in this game as well. Some enemies would continue walking while you shoot at them; others may do nothing while you stand almost straight in front of them; some seem to have ESP and begin shooting at the player character even though you are out of sight.  This title also introduced into the DF game “classes” of its operatives, over playing as primarily a “rogue” element which had all of the weapons at their disposal.  It was a good title and had a very much improved graphics engine over the past 2 releases of this series.

dftfdboxus.jpgDelta-Force: Task Force Dagger is the fourth PC game, but to me it was not a true sequel to DF: Land Warrior, but when it was published on June 10, 2002, I believe it was as a direct gaming result and response to the 9/11/2001 tragedy.  Why do I say that?  Because Task Force Dagger had a different storyline when it was under development, and after that terrible event, the storyline changed to the front lines of Afghanistan, playing as Special Forces units deployed in the real, and today’s still ongoing, Operation Enduring Freedom.  You play any one of 10 Special Operations Groups from Seal Team 6, to Green Berets, to CIA snipers.  While playing the game each group has preferred weapons, but you can outfit yourself with whatever weapons you choose or want.  This was not a very popular game within the Delta Force community, for whatever reasons.

dfbhdcover.jpgDelta Force: Black Hawk Down (BHD) was the 5th and possibly the best game of the Delta Force series and was published on March 24, 2003. It takes place in Somalia during 1993 and was produced primarily in response to the popularity of a Hollywood movie named “Black Hawk Down”. The game uses a more realistic engine compared to the previous Delta Force games and does render the graphics in a way more realistic manner. The player starts out as a 10th Mountain Division soldier or an Army Ranger. For the majority of the Single-Player missions you have this option, however, it might also be noted that along the later missions, you play almost exclusively as Delta Force operators. 

dfbhdts.jpgDelta Force: Black Hawk Down: Team Sabre is the official expansion pack to Black Hawk Down and was published on January 21, 2004. Team Sabre added more weapons which could be used in servers that only had the Black Hawk Down game installed.  That was a first, I do think.  The Team Sabre expansion also gave the player a new operative to choose from, the British elite commando unit SAS. Team Sabre as well added a few more terrains which are mostly jungle and desert ones. The expansion pack also gives the player two more campaigns which are in fictional based areas in Iran fighting the renegade General Kalb and a drug lord named Antonio Paulo in Colombia, South America.

dfxtremeboxus.gifWhich leads me to the last of the Delta Force series of games and it was actually not a NEW game, but a remake of the original game if this series.  Delta Force Xtreme was published in April 2005 to bring together the so-called old timers of Delta Force 1, and welcome the newcomers to the DF community to Novalogic’s Joint Operations game.  DF Xtreme had three single player campaigns with a total of 20 single-player missions “similar” to those of the original game.  And it should be noted that when I played the Xtreme game, the maps were close to the original, but they were not made “exact” in any means, and what was stated above as “similar”.  However the main focus of the Xtreme game is its online feature which was very popular when it first came out, but currently is declining in player attendance.

It appears that the remake addressed above will probably be the last in the line of the outstanding Delta Force series.  It is very sad for me to think that a series had to “die” after a remake, after a very good “run” on the store shelves for 7 years plus.  And as I stated in the first paragraph, I still play the Black Hawk Down game, both single-player and online, on a weekly basis.  The BHD games are still heavily played on the internet, so that game may possibly “hold them over” IF they ever decide to make another one in the foreseeable future.  But along them same lines I can see that within the Joint Operations games, maybe NovaLogic “meant” that these games were to be considered as castoffs of the once great Delta Force series.  But as usual, who knows…

Next Up: My Half-Life Story…

Oct
29
Posted on 29-10-2007
Filed Under (Game Stories) by NightCrawler on 29-10-2007

Well here we are in the year 2007 and the release of a PC Game named Crysis is causing an enormous stir within the PC gaming community due to its elevated “minimum” system requirements.  I always read in many website forums, that I frequent on a daily basis, that many PC Gamers are upset that their once “high and mighty” PC is now just a mediocre system at best, and cannot play this game we call Crysis.  Gamers around the globe are saying that they only built their system last year and should be able to play any game on the planet, but are driven to their knees and given a severe dose of “reality” that their beloved system is not good enough to run one simple game.  Well I have to personally say, “Wake Up and Smell the Reality”; PC gaming within the next year or two is only going to get tougher on your adored PC.

Only speaking about myself, I have only been PC gaming since the year 1988.  I know what you are thinking already, that “old guy” must me “losing it” already after gaming for that long.  Well in one sense of that word I might be, I know I have lost some of my tremendous speed in the movement of my mouse, keyboard & joystick at times, but I still have the tactics, experience, and something called patience that gives me “the edge” over some gamers.  I have witnessed through the years many gamers, within a FPS (First-Person Shooter) game rush into a room or open area like a so-called “Rambo”, while I stand back assess the situation, think it over, and then go in and neutralize the enemy that just took out that impatient “Rambo”. 

commodore-a2000-1.jpg

Well I guess you want to know why I brought all this up.  Well I will start at the beginning of my PC gaming “career”.  Back in 1988, I purchased my first PC exclusively for gaming.  That PC was a machine called a Commodore Amiga 2000.  I was so proud of that machine back then because it was purposely built to be a gaming machine and the piece of equipment was in its time.  The IBM and IBM clones that stores were selling back then could not match the color schemes and the video performance of the Amiga.  In 1988-1991, it was the Cadillac of gaming machines, at least in my meager mind anyway.  Computer Stores kept on popping up selling software for the Amiga, and the machine sold like hotcakes wherever it was available.  It was sad time for me back in 1994 when I finally “retired” that grand old PC for a new pc that ran a new operating system called “Windows”.  (On a side note to this paragraph, I have to say I still have that “historic” machine today, along with all of its software that I collected over those years.)

So I guess you are now wondering where I am going with this aren’t you!  Well since that year 1994, I have personally purchased, sold, upgraded, given to needy relatives, and donated to different charities many PC “gaming rigs” that I was once also was very proud of during their short lifetimes.  I, along with other sad PC enthusiasts, also thought that my “current PC gaming behemoth” would “prevail over the test of time”, but unfortunately they did not.  There was always this darn new PC game sitting on my local department stores display shelf that I wanted to play but could not because my current PC could not run it because of one thing or another.  So when I read those forum comments, which I keep seeing again and again about the “minimum system requirements” for Crysis, I truly want to tell them that “I TRULY FEEL YOUR PAIN“. 

Next Up: The Moving Tale of Delta Force…