It's been a long while since the story section last had any attention. A while back, I gave up on the idea of ever finishing my Star Wars stories, so instead have typed out a rough outline as to what may have happened during the rest of the saga. I've also expanded the names & characters section with images where possible.
Did some work behind the scenes of the game blog page so that the game filters now work much better.
A couple of months back I found loads of old notes about all the old Epic Space Marine games we played, starting from back when I was in high school. I thought it would be a good idea to type them all up as best I could, and upload them all. While I was at it, I also converted the Epic-S and 40K battle reports from their PDF state to HTML, and they can be found on the Warhammer 40K page.
This is where you can read any of my irregular wafflings about computer gaming. The whole point of this blog is to help motivate me to properly finish games, whether they be recent ones or older ones I played when I was younger that I never managed to beat.
Much like this time last year, I've been finding it really difficult to get into any computer games. However, unlike last year, I've actually been trying really hard to find something to get my teeth into. As most of these games are quite old, I've been plunging in to the deep depths of emulation in order to play them, and having some interesting adventures along the way.
Now, I've never really been tempted at all to play over-the-shoulder style Resident Evil games, but all the hype surrounding the remade Resident Evil 2 got me wondering. I grabbed a very cheap copy of Resident Evil 4 from ebay, as it is widely considered to be the best of that type.
As it is an XP game, I first installed it on my old XP laptop, but couldn't get any more than 15 frames per second. Thinking it may be something to do with mobile graphics, I dusted off my old XP tower that has been in storage since the mid 2000s, and tried to play it on that instead. First I had to sort out a very noisy graphics card fan, which needed some much needed oil, before I could even stand to give power to the old monstrosity.
Unfortunately, after installing, I was again faced with a very clunky and slow game that just sat at 15 FPS. I ended up having to install it on my current computer, and luckily it seems to work ok. However, I'm unhappy that it doesn't have mouse controls, and the mouse control patch I downloaded doesn't seem to work, so I'll have to use a joypad. Sigh.
I've only run around a bit at the start of the game, and I'm not sure if I'll get around to this any time soon, but at least I know it will be playable.
I only have three PS1 games that I never finished, and about 6 months ago I had a look at trying to do just that with one of them, which was the very first Grand Theft Auto. When I first picked it up in the late 90s, I had a few weeks when I played it quite a lot, but I never tried to finish it. I just spent time driving round, being an idiot and getting into trouble. I think I only remember getting on to the second map once, and didn't like it as I was so used to the first one, so never bothered getting any further.
Fast forward to last year, and I booted it up on my PS3 to give it a long due proper attempt, but I just couldn't play it. The frame rate was so low, and its weird constant zooming in and out style just made me feel so sick.
A few weeks back I had the plan of trying the PC version, so again got a cheap copy from ebay, and installed it using DOSBox. While it's a little better, it still has all the same issues sadly. I think most of the slow down and jankinees is because of the zooming in and out, and while I found a cheat that let me zoom in and out manually, it only seemed to work while I was stationary, and when I started to move, the game resumed the auto zooming.
Also, for some weird reason, the game (or DOSBox) pays no attention when I try to limit the frame rate, which I tried to do just to try and smooth it out a bit.
Oh well. Whatever. It's not like I haven't got dozens of other games to try and finish instead.
I had a look through my PS2 game collection, and found I only have one that I have not finished. This game, which I don't remember even playing (it was a gift) is True Crime: Streets Of LA. It was about this time I started thinking about emulation, as I've always got on quite well with WinUAE for my old Amiga games. I also like the idea of getting some screenshots, which I can't do on the PS2. I quickly discovered that PCSX2 is the main one that people use for PS2 games.
After reading how to set it up and going through all the steps, and using ImgBurn for the first time rip my discs, I was pissed to find that True Crime is one of the few games that the emulator does not like.
Again, oh well.
However, I had mentioned to Scoob a while back that I really fancied playing a bit of an old PS2 wrestling game we used to play a lot called Smackdown: Here Comes The Pain. This one loaded up no problem, but the game was really blurry, and on screenshots there was this really weird "ghosting" effect, that I think was from the interlacing from games back then.
A bit more reading was required, but I eventually learned how to not just turn off that weird doubling effect, but also turn the rendering resolution up so the graphics look better than they are supposed to. In this regard, the emulator seems to be pretty cool, and I'll have to create my own character again so me and Scoob can do some stomping.
Thinking about it, it's a shame I didn't look into emulation back when I played Resident Evil: Code Veronica. Probably would have been a lot better on my PC than on the PS2 itself.
Continuing with this trend of emulators, I thought about a PS1 emulator, so maybe I could get that version of GTA running better as well. I discovered RetroArch, which not only emulates the PS1, but can also do so for loads of old consoles. However, it was the PS1 I was interested in.
This one was a bit more awkward to set up than the very simple PCSX2, but I got GTA working on it eventually. Unfortunately, the game was no better on this either, so I just gave up on it entirely.
While I had got the emulator downloaded and running, I decided to try another one of my old PS games that I never finished, being Gran Turismo. In fact, I barely touched this back in the day, which is kinda weird as I used to be really into racing games.
I got this one booted up and had a few simple races, before starting to tweak it a bit. Like PCSX2, it's possible to turn up the graphics, but it only seems to be able to go a little way before the sound craps out and the game starts to lag. Still, it's better than its default appearance, and it might be something I try to complete at some point in the next few weeks or months.
Over the last couple of years I've picked up a few fighting games from places like Humble and GOG, but I've never gotten around to giving them a go yet. The only time of my life I ever really bothered with fighting games was back in my early-mid teen years, and I didn't really play a whole lot even then. The most popular game of the genre for me was Tekken 2, by a long way, but it's not the only PS1 fighting game I own.
As it is my intention to at least try and get back into the genre, even if just a little bit, I decided on trying Dead Or Alive on the emulator as well. This game never got much traction with me back then, so I thought it deserved another chance. Also, who knew, a bit of a punching-and-jiggling combo may have really got me back in the mood for it.
Like Smackdown on the PS2 emulator, this thing threw out some serious ghosting, but added in a whole lot of interlaced lines into the mix as well. Unfortunately, there's no way of turning off deinterlacing in this emulator like there is in PCSX2, so I couldn't get rid of the effect. There are some de-interlacing shaders that are available, but they only seemed to slightly reduce the lines, and did nothing for the weird motion blur going on.
In addition, this game did not allow me to crank up the graphics even a little bit, as when I tried, it just pasted a thick black band of more obvious lines across the middle of the screen.
Nah, I don't think this game will ever get much more time out of me, but it was worth trying it again, just in case. I guess.
After all the tinkering I've been doing recently, I decided a game needed to be finished. To that end, I ran through a very short game that released about a year ago. This thing, which is called Chuchel, was an absolutely bizarre experience. It's supposed to be a point and click puzzle game, but it didn't really feel like that to me, as there was very little to work out. You just have to click on a few different things on each screen, and the weird little characters would do their thing and let you advance to the next level.
The basic plot is that a strange little creature really wants to eat a cherry, but things keep transpiring to prevent him from getting to it. Very reminiscent of Scrat after the acorn in the Ice Age films.
The art style was very fun, and strange, almost in a Monty Python kind-of way, and it was a refreshing change to go through.
Just got done with another short puzzle game from a couple of years ago, that goes by a very strange name.
The weird name is because it's named after the game's setting, a huge hotel/casino called The Sexy Brutale. In this casino, the same twelve hours play out over and over in a Groundhog Day-style event, during which all of the guests are murdered by the staff. You play as Lafcadio Boone, someone who up to now had been just like any of the other guests, murdered over and over, but who has now broken free of this cycle of death with help from a strange ghostly woman who is covered in blood and looks like she is missing her skin. Lovely.
As Boone, it's now up to you to travel around the location as the day repeats and do whatever you can to prevent the murders. If that wasn't tricky enough, you have to do all this without being seen by any staff or any of the other guests, instead changing the surroundings and manipulating events to achieve the goal.
I've got to say, for the most part, I really liked this game. It was a very interesting idea to have to follow the NPCs around for a day or two, learning their patterns and who they interact with, and trying to figure out how to save them when the day inevitably resets. I don't think I've ever played a game even remotely like it before.
There were one or two frustrating things in terms of the puzzles, mostly because I didn't have my thinking cap on at the time, and they all seemed so simple when I realised the solution. If there were any real problems with the game it was just with the narrative in general, as when it's all explained at the end, I thought the story was pretty crappy.
There were also some things that didn't make mechanical sense. For example, most of the items you could pick up during the day would be lost when the day reset, and could be found back in their original positions. But some remained with you through the reset, and I didn't understand why.
I also didn't understand the significance of all the masks. See, every character in the game is wearing a mask, and when you save them, they take their mask off and leave it for you to find. Each mask gives you a special ability that was possessed by its owner, such as lockpicking for example, which will then help you progress and save other people. I just didn't get how putting a mask on could give you powers. It was a bit weird.
But then again, the whole game was weird, especially when you find out what the whole thing is all about at the end.
Overall, certainly worth a play through, and hopefully I'll play it again in a few years when I've forgotten it all.
Today we got done with the Dying Light expansion, which is called The Following. We didn't really like this as much as the base game, and so after a while just focused the main story and completely ignored the side missions.
We both felt like it was mostly ruined by the massive map and wide open spaces, all just too different from the city setting of the base game, and we hated having no buildings to jump around on. The map was so large that it required the use of buggies to get around.
Now, we enjoyed some of our time in the buggies, especially when we found a horde of zombies in a field and just plowed them all down.
But relocating from one part of the map to another in the buggy was a pain in the ass, as the game insists on spawning exploding zombies right in front of you, the noise of which then instantly lures hordes of aggressive viral zombies to your position. Just made no sense how they could get to you so fast when you're driving high speed down a road.
And the game constantly forced you to go all over the place to do its missions. It was a ball ache.
Like the base game, the story and characters were kind-of pointless. It has you tracking down a potential cure for the zombie virus, only to throw some weird shit at you like a cult, prophecies and weird revelations at the end that leave you with a choice to make. Like the base game, it does not allow you to play the final mission co-op, so Scoob and I were able to take opposite paths and see how the two different choices play out.
I gotta say, they were both pretty shit, and the story ends (with either choice) making you feel like playing the whole thing was a waste of time. It's just a good thing that the story for this game is really not its selling point.
Just quickly blitzed through a very short puzzle game that I recently picked up from GOG, called Gorogoa. The game's design, and the concept of its puzzles, are all very interesting.
The entire thing is played out on a 2 by 2 grid, with each square acting as a sort of picture frame. Within these squares, you drag around and manipulate the provided images to build a path for a small boy to move through the strange landscape, as he tries to collect five coloured fruits or stars that he has seen on a monster or dragon. Well at least, that's what I think was going on, but to be honest I have no idea.
All in all it was a pleasant, short, brain-bending experience. Though even on sale at £6 it was still quite steep, as it only took about 2 hours or so.
As I didn't really get into Fleet Ops either time I've tried it, I instead played a couple of games of the base Armada 2, just to see if I still liked it as much as I used to.
At first, I put on a 3v5, thinking I'd do that quite easy as I used to be able to 1v7 the AI back in the day. However, with my lack of practice, and two allies that did absolutely nothing all game, I was soon spanked by some very angry enemies.
Not wanting to be held back by stupid AI allies again, I immediately threw on an 8 player deathmatch. For whatever reason, none of the computer enemies really seemed to get up to speed in that game, and other than a cheeky attack on by base by some Romulans, it was a boring slog to wipe them all out.
Maybe this game is no longer for me, in any of its forms.