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.
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1st January 2015 - A Flat Out Shame
So maybe this isn't technically a game you can finish, but I recently got done winning the grand finals of an oldish game called FlatOut 2, and that qualifies as a completion in my book.
I originally bought it as it looked like it would be a crazy fun game for LAN multiplayer, and after playing it the last few weeks I think it would certainly have been. However, as we found out, there was one massive flaw in the multiplayer mode: you can not add AI cars. What the hell were they thinking not putting that functionality in there? Even the best car racing game ever made would be a heap of shit if you could only have 2 or 3 cars driving round the track at a time. Such a shame.
Still, I was determined to get my money's worth, especially as I hadn't really played any car racing game since managing to break free of Grand Prix 3's hold on me a few years ago. And got my money's worth I did. Well, it was only £3.
So I decided to drive and smash my way through the single player career, and for the most part enjoyed it. However, there were a lot of things that also really bugged me about the game, the AI in particular:
- AI drivers seemed to correct themselves much faster than I could. After ramming one and spinning them round or off the track, on the next straight they often immediately overtook me again. They seemed to have much faster cars and acceleration, even when I was in the fastest car in the class with all the upgrades. This annoyed the hell out of me.
- This may not be true, but it seemed like the AI drivers often reacted dynamically to my skill. I could put in a crap lap and the AI drivers would remain not too far ahead, but I could then go and drive an awesome lap and they sped up rediculously so they would stay with me or even pull away.
- One thing that is definitely true is that the game didn't work out the results correctly after I'd crossed the finish line. Many times I saw a specific driver cross the line behind me, but when the results were displayed on screen it would have given that place to a different driver. It would also often give faster lap times to the cars down the back, which certainly seemed to make it look like it was just randomizing the results after the player had finished, rather than playing the race out properly.
- The physics on all the debris you could hit was also a bit weird. Very often I would ram through walls of tyres and my car would barely feel it, but holy crap if I hit a cardboard box I would spin or bounce up into the air or some other crazy shit. Sometimes it appeared I had hit something and I would spin or get knocked into the air when I'm sure there had been nothing there. All this debris also seemed to affect me more than the AI drivers, but maybe that was just my perception.
Still, it was quite fun, and the mini-games were bananas. I definitely didn't feel like it was a chore to reach the end of this like I have done with some of the other games I've forced myself through while making this blog.
Ramming my nemesis
I don't think I should be in these bushes
He shoots he scores
Someone's gonna get it
I don't think I should be this way up
Sparks of insanity
I win the trophy
On a more interesting note, and one much more challenging to my brain, I've recently started looking into making mods for Dawn Of War. I knew this was possible years ago, but all I did back then was make maps, badges and banners. Rather than use Relic's own tools, I've started learning Corsix Mod Studio. It doesn't help that there are hardly any tutorials for modding out there, and no full manual for either Relic's tools or Mod Studio, but I have managed to get a few things worked out.
I originally wanted to make a mod where all races were combined into one "Apocalypse" race, so everyone would have access to everything in the game, but this baffled me. I have instead chosen to apply my own fixes to the races that currently exist, and make the armies slightly bigger. It's proving fun so far.
That's a lot of Land Raiders
Much bigger armies make for more insanity
Yes, I think he's dead
7th October 2014 - The Ancient Crusade
A marathon of an entry kicks off with the completion of another old Amiga game, in the form of Space Crusade. The board game of this got me into wargaming back in the early 90s, and I also played the computer game a little bit with my friends. I don't ever remember finishing a single mission properly, on the board game or the computer game. But that has changed now with this completion.
I know it's old and simple, but the game was a pain to get through. It was just so slow, constantly switching to pointless little animations that got old real quick. I'd have preferred if there was an option to turn those off. There were other annoying things such as the Soul Suckers being present instead of the Genestealers for some reason, and a few graphics bugs, which may have been down to the emulator.
I went into this controlling both the Imperial Fists and the Ultramarines, not knowing that the Blood Angels are supposed to have the best cards. Still, it made it more of a challenge I guess. Overall it was quite easy, up until the last couple of missions anyway. That was when the weaker Imperial Fists got slaughtered twice when under heavy close assault from many enemies. But the Ultramarines with their better close combat cards and medkit managed to forge a path through every level. Kind of a shame, as I prefer the Fists to the Ultramarines, but oh well.
The Ultramarines deploy
Trapping enemies in doors
A Marine loses his head, and his body
That room is gonna be interesting...
A huge rumble kicks off
Gretchin beat up a Marine
Commander Keifer is killed by a Soul Sucker
That's a Dreadnought not a Soul Sucker. Silly game.
Commander Goldstock fights for his life
Launcher Marine cleaning up the town
In the final mission, the Fists are destroyed
The Ultramarines are able to destroy the Chaos Cube
Don't look so smug, you silly smurf
Another game I thought I could quickly blast through and tick off the completed list was Star Wars Dark Forces. I got to the last level of this back on my original PC in the 90s, but never managed to beat it. Recently I found there was a mod for the game called DarkXL which made it a bit more up to date. After installing the game using DOSBox, I was soon playing the DarkXL version. However, I came up against several problems which stopped me in my tracks. Firstly, the game's very loud music can not be turned down or off using the mod, and also the graphics were incredibly dark with no brightness or gamma control in sight. Also, reading the t'interwebs, there are many bugs with the mod that make the game impossible to finish anyway.
So instead, I booted up the classic game on its own, but had issues there also, particularly the lack of mouse control and the lack of targeting reticule. Just how did I play like that back in the day?
Hopefully, DarkXL will get updated, as it is still in alpha. If it does, I'll be back to this in the future, but for now it's going back to its forgotten corner where it belongs...
Here, have one of my red diamonds
Darth Vader argues with Colonel Mustard
Sit down nerd
The emulator got a further workout when I had a bit of a fad recently on good old Sensible Soccer. I played four leagues on the trot, each one including more and more teams as I thought of new ones to create. It was honestly quite a bit harder than I remember it when I was a kid, and I continually failed to win the title until the fourth league where I really knuckled down. Even then, throughout the course of the madness, I had a fair few second half meltdowns, playing very badly in the second half after doing good work in the first.
But it was so much fun to just go nuts on a fondly remembered game from twenty-odd years ago.
Angron scores passed me for Chaos Utd...
...so I fight Chaos with chaos
Scoring passed the DC comics team
Going for the lunge
Everyone's on their arse
Marvel's keeper tries to head it out
Only Marvel beat me on the way to the title
The midfield battle against the Skumsplattaz
Great save by Aquaman in the DC goal
Champions at last
Me and Scoob have continued in our efforts to find other interesting multiplayer games to play, but unfortunately none of them have really worked for us.
Up first, we tried Monaco: What's Yours Is Mine from Humble Indie Bundle 11. This was fun enough, but after a few levels we quickly got bored, and the blocky art style really spoiled it in my opinion. Had the graphics been created with a sharper, more up to date style, without all the blockiness, I may have continued a bit more.
We also tried Empire Earth which I'd grabbed from GOG, as I was hoping for an interesting strategy game after the failure that was HOMM 3. This thing was a bit of a ball ache to get into, and it seems to be one of those games that starts off slow and builds up to the action. It didn't help that it seemed very close in style to the old Age Of Empire games. I'm not ruling out coming back to this, but if we really fancy playing a game of this type I'm sure we would just go and play Galactic Battlegrounds.
And then we tried one that I bought a while ago, System Shock 2, that I was really looking forward to getting into, mainly because it can be played 3-player co-op, and I thought me, Scoob and JIK could give it a go. In the end, I got tired of waiting for all of us to be available, so me and Scoob tried a 2-player game. I think I'd built it up in my head far too much, and was greatly disappointed. This thing was all kinds of clunky, especially the HUD and inventory. The combat and controls were also slow and frustrating, and we had no real idea what was going on. I went in expecting an interesting FPS horror game, and got psychic monkeys shooting energy balls at us. Hmmph.
Ever since Riot activated intermediate bots in custom games in LoL we've been challenging ourselves more and more against them. The latest challenge, and as far as we can tell, the hardest one we can create, was to go against five burst champions who could root or stun while using fairly weak melee champs ourselves. When the enemy bots grouped up we could not touch them, and they beat us a few times until we changed tactics. Rather than try and team-fight them, we instead outplayed them and pushed the lanes to their base. We were easily able to take their nexus down before they touched our own, with just five kills in the entire game. We have since gone on to beat them with a host of different champs and in straight up fights, so we'll need to find a new challenge...
I see you, copper!
No idea what just happened
The not so scary ghosts of System Shock 2
The definitely not scary monkeys
Another challenge complete
Also had a bit of an RTS revival recently playing a few sessions with Mr. Gallear. Included were some games of Rome: Total War for the first time since my days as a Wild Monkey general. We also played some Soulstorm, with one 2v2v2v2 battle lasting nearly two hours, and another 2v2v2v2 battle where every army was Necrons. Crazy fun.
My wonderful pink cavalry ride to the aid of Mr. Gallear
Catching the enemy from behind
The massive 4v4 battle stretches down into the valley
The Living Saint takes a beating
The Ecto-1 sure looks different these days
March of the Necrons
The enemy Necrons stand no chance
10th April 2013 - The Great Crusade
Been having some pretty cool games of Dark Crusade recently. First, had a single player skirmish where my Eldar allies ran riot over the enemy, and I decided from then on to give the pointy ears a try. Scoob joined me for a 4v4, and we both went with newish armies, with me being Eldar and him running Chaos. In a monster of a battle that took quite some time, we eventually pushed through to take the win against the Necron and Guard enemies.
Tau and Eldar sort 'em out
The Avatar leads the attack
My Avatar gets backup from his bro
This Monolith won't last long
Then JIK joined us for a couple of beastly 4v4 games with us going against full Necron enemies. I ran Eldar again, with JIK Chaos and a Marine CPU ally. For the first game Scoob took Guard. We were under pressure right from the start as 4 Necron Lords tanked the hell out of our few troops, allowing their Warriors to attack unmolested. My base was at the front of our diamond and it soon fell. I started to build another at the rear of our formation but before it was up and running we were overwhelmed. In the second game Scoob switched to Marines. It went pretty much the same as the first game for a while, with my base falling. This time I managed to get the second base up and running, as Scoob with his favoured army and JIK getting back up to speed managed to hold out. I built up a big army and threw them in. It seems that masses of Dark Reapers, Wraithlords and the Avatar can turn a fairly balanced fight quite quickly, and most of their attackers were killed. However, with 4 armies worth of Tomb Spiders and Necron Lords constantly resurrecting in our bases, our defence had to be constant. It took just one lull in the fighting, and I charged my surviving Wraithlords and Dark Reapers at the enemy base, managing to take out one of their Monoliths. From then on we completely steam rolled them. But it was a long, awesome game.
Game 1 - my base falls easily
Game 2 - my reinforcements join in
Game 2 - taking the first Monolith
19th February 2013 - Storm Them!
Today me and Mr. Gallear had some games of Dawn Of War to try and remember how to play it properly. As usual I went with the Tau and their amazing plasma firepower. Gallear tried something different than his usual Necrons or Eldar, and went with Guard.
Up first we did an 8 player free for all, with 6 CPUs to fill things out. At first we each had our struggles against CPU players, but forged through them and started to fight each other. As the battle went back and forth, the last two CPU players sat staunchly in their bases, whereas they could have been attacking us and causing problems. Instead, they waited for me to grind Gallear down, and then I was easily able to finish them off.
Up next was a 4v4, and we teamed up to take on the Chaos scum and their traitor Guard allies. This time Gallear chose Eldar, and dominated the enemy from the start with his Wraithguard and Warp Spiders tearing it up.
The Chaos forces are taken out
Mayhem breaks out as Tau and Guard clash
The Guard's defences come under pressure
Eldar and Tau allies attack the traitor Guard
It had been such a long time since we had played it multiplayer. It was good fun just going nuts on the game again.
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