We wrap up another week of games with another very important first-person shooter called Half-Life. The first game developed by Valve is important for many reasons, the biggest being how it changed the way we think about single player experiences. The dialogue, storyline and overall gameplay was very different than anything else at the time. But it’s importance does not stop there, the mod kit for Half-Life eventually lead to three new series for Valve. The Counter-Strike, Day of Defeat and Team Fortress series started life as mods before being acquired by Valve.
Grim Fandango is another classic point-and-click adventure game released by Lucas Arts. Like other Lucas Arts adventure games up to date, the art style, dialogue and puzzles in Grim Fandango are simply great. Despite it’s praise from day one, the decline in popularity with the point-and-click genre would turn the game into a commercial failure. Lucas Arts would give the genre one last try with a new Monkey Island, but it would be over a decade before new title in the genre would see the light of day.
One of my concerns with this video series was that certain games would be quite a hassle to get working. Things where looking good as most games moving forward should not have too many issues running under Windows 7 or XP. Falcon 4.0 is the first title that no matter what I tried, I could not get it working at a reasonable performance due to compatibility issues. From the brief time spent on the game, I can see that it is a pretty solid combat flight sim. However without being able to play it at reasonable performance I cannot give it a final judgement.
This week ends with a first-person shooter and real-time strategy hybrid called Battlezone. This game developed by Activision takes the best parts of both genres and combines them into one great overall package. I don’t have a whole lot more to talk about beyond this either. The game is pretty solid and it’s quite fun too, the only complaint is that we do not have a modern title that resembles this.
Our last fantasy RPG was way back at episode 11 where we played Ultima. Lucky for us we break out of the typical shooters from the past few weeks with another RPG called Baldur’s Gate. The game is based on an Advanced Dungeons and Dragons ruleset like the majority of role-playing games at the time. What made the game different from others was the strong emphasis on story and dialogue with other characters. Not only was this well done, BioWare handled it in such a way that you can see a direct evolution from Baldur’s Gate in their latest titles like Mass Effect 2.
Like most of the games on this list, Total Annihilation did something special compared to every other real-time strategy at the time. One of the most obvious would be the massive scale battles where you could have up to 5,000 units on the map at the same time. Another neat thing was how the resources where handled in this game. Instead of having harvesters going to work, Total Annihilation depends on structures which provide a steady stream of metal and energy. What makes this mechanic interesting and complex is the fact that different structures and building units will have different rates at which they consume both resources. Overall, what do I think about this game after all these years? While there is a definite nostalgia factor, I would have to recommend the much more modern Supreme Commander.
As usual, today is the third and final video of the week. Today’s game is an open world RPG called Fallout 2. The game is based on an alternative history which started around 1950. With a scare in resources, almost all technology ground to a halt as nuclear power was needed for survival. This scare in resources would eventually lead to all out nuclear wars in the 2070’s where most of the United-States became a barren wasteland. You begin your quest in this post-apocalyptic world about 150 years later where the effects have only just started to settle down.
Dungeon Keeper is quite the interesting real-time strategy. It features all the mechanics from your typical RTS, but the way those mechanics are packaged and presented is totally unique. I really enjoyed playing this game, and it is quite easy to pickup too. As this is a video series, I will let the visuals do the explanation.
Continuing our weekly series, we kick off this week with Close Combat: A Bridge Too Far. The game is a real-time strategy which focuses heavily on squad based tactics. To focus on the tactical aspect the game is paced very slow, so much that your patience will be tested several times. Close Combat does have several other tactical elements such as stealth and line of sight which will hide enemy units until they come into vision. The art style does help hide units in the environment which can make them very difficult to see. Overall the game does have several neat ideas, however it’s pacing and heavy focus on slow and long-term strategy is not my kind of game.
We wrap up the week with today’s video on Blade Runner. The game is a point-and-click adventure game that heavily relies on your detective work. Your first task is to investigate a pet store where several animal where murdered. Due to the rarity of real animals in this universe, the crime would almost equate to killing a human. Within minutes of playing around, I got sucked into the game and it’s universe. The sharp art style, the fitting atmosphere and some communicative story telling made Blade Runner massively attracting. The game may not be flawless, but an excellent all around execution revealed a previously unknown gem of a game.