Archive for the Games Category

An Application to Double Fine…

Posted in About Me, Games with tags , , , , on May 4, 2010 by randomintermissions

... Double Fine ...

So it turns out I have something to post after all…

Having read the jobs page of the Double Fine website I found it hard not to apply. I expect to hear nothing back, ever, but writing this application email kept me busy for an evening: this is the additon of random blank text as wordpress wont let me format correctly.

Hey there,

The Buttering Up:

I only discovered the world of gaming two years ago when I finally got a real job and could afford such things as a ‘console’ / a PC that would run anything heavier than word pad. Since then I have been badgered by my house mates (both long term gamers) into playing Psychonauts and Brȕtal Legend; subsequently I have fallen in love with them both. This then led to a feverish night of excited discussion about E3 2010 and to me checking your website looking for any hints as to whether Double Fine would be announcing anything at the event. Although I didn’t find any news, I did come across your jobs page which brings me nicely to:

The Tentative Proposal:

Although I have a steady job and all the usual comforts, I am looking to do something a bit radical and crazy. Call it a quarter life crisis is you will, but I am very much in the mood for dropping the hum-drum life of dreary England, head somewhere more interesting and follow a career I am really passionate about before I sell out and follow the money to the grave. That’s where I am hoping you guys can fit in.

The Boastful Part:

I graduated with honours in Media Production from The University of Lincoln. Although the course covered all forms of media, as the course progressed I specialised in Radio, Sound Design and Audio Editing. This is where my passion is most keenly focused, although I have dabbled (on a freelance basis) in a range of other avenues since leaving University including writing (fiction, non-fiction and script based work) and a bit of design / website work. I have also had some rather interesting stints in my paid working life spending a couple of years working for Waterstone’s (bookshop) and even in a café. This of course makes me a jack of all trades, master of… well some.

I have tried hard in the four years since leaving formal education to seek work I would be excited about / not feel like I would have to drag myself out of bed in the morning to go, but most media based careers; radio, film and gaming alike, seem impenetrable at the moment to someone who doesn’t have several years industry experience, something which is very hard to obtain unless I am willing to work for free as an introductory thing. As I am sure you can imagine, this just isn’t possible!

The Pleading Bit:

Please give me a job! I am far too under qualified for the positions you are currently advertising on your site, but I would make a brilliant sound designer / audio type chap, and failing that, I have been told my tea and coffee making skills are superb. Understandably I have no industry experience and live a fair ol’ trek away, but I would be grateful for any help you can offer me (even if it’s just some advice, seriously, anything at this stage would be amazing)!

The Obvious Statement:

Attached is my résumé for you to review (should you want to).

The Sign Off:

Kind Regards,

Ben Chandler.

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N.B. If anyone is looking for an audio related chap, or even someone to makes damn good tea and coffee, then please feel free to send me a comment. In the mean times, here’s Goggalor:

... Goggalor! ...

Bioshock 2 (Xbox 360)

Posted in Games, Review with tags , , , , , , , on February 22, 2010 by randomintermissions

... no caption required ...

I deliberately kept my mouth shut after completing the original Bioshock. I am known amongst my friends for accidentally giving away spoilers, and although this has not occurred in a long time, and the fact that I played Bioshock long after realise, it was a risk I was not willing to take.

Therefore reviewing Bioshock 2 is a bit of a logistical nightmare. I want to rant, rave and scream about it for various reasons (pros and cons) but shall have to stick to a ‘broad’ overview without getting down to the nitty-gritty through fear of letting some small detail slip. However, be warned that some links may (and some certainly do) contain spoliers.

So, without further ado, here is a roundabout review of Bioshock 2:

The first and most important thing to note (and this should be common knowledge by now!) is that this time, you play a Big Daddy; not just any Big Daddy, but the original. This in itself brings a whole new feel to your movement through Rapture and the designers have done well to not only slap on a nice frame to represent your helmet, but also added a real sense of weight to the characters movements, most notably whilst jumping. Thrown in to boot are a host of different weapons, amongst which there is the iconic (and possibly my personal favourite) drill. Get a couple of upgrades on this bad boy and no splicers are going to want to mess with you, although they will probably give it a go just for kicks!

However, don’t expect it all to be roses. Even with all of this thrown in the game play still very much resembles that of the original game. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, just be wary not to expect too much.

... Daddy's Home ...

Graphically, Bioshock 2 is not too dissimilar from its predecessor. A few updated character modules (a few of which look considerably better in my humble opinion), but the environment itself remains in the most part untouched. Again I tread on uneven ground making reference to another “common knowledge” fact, but there are underwater sections that you must transverse to see you safely between certain areas. These in themselves are not added anything hugely exciting in terms of game play, but change your perspective of Rapture and give a scale for the shear size of this under-water ‘utopia’.

... Say What Now? ...

One vital thing that I must call to everyone’s attention is the change in transport system in the game. Bioshock gave us biospheres that allowed a user not only to travel forward to a new area, but also to back-track and re-explore certain areas for missed items (the franchise being all about exploration and discovering the world you have been thrust into). This is not the case for Bioshock 2, and although I will not revel the method of transportation, you will find it very liner, once you leave a level, there is no returning. This not a game for anyone hoping to blap through the story quickly and drop back in later to mop up the bits they have missed. So many of the pickups and audio logs (again a feature from the original game) reveal vital clues to the plot, characters, areas and the world of Rapture, truly immersing the player in the environment. Miss them and a key aspect of the games intention could potential be lost.

As if I haven’t gone on enough, there is also a multiplayer mode to discuss. Don’t expect anything fantastic here but it’s a nice little touch featuring the usual game play modes (all with rather clever names) and a very simplistic levelling up system. The most notable feature I have found to date is the pre-lobby section which sees you in your apartment in Rapture and allows you to customise your character and load-out before bloody battle.

... Just a Teaser ...

In terms of plot, there is very little I can say without giving away potential spoilers so again I am going to stick to generalities. I enjoyedthe game a lot; a small criticism being that, although many aspects have changed and there being a new plot (obviously) this does feel rather like Bioshock 1.5. The story is solid, with a host of new characters / enemies, developments, history lessons on Rapture, its people and progress since the first game. To top it off, some interesting elements are thrown in throughout that mix-up the game play and cement the developing plot throughout both games.

And my final thought? Well worth buying as it is going to take a couple of play throughs to truly appreciate everything that has been built in to drive the story along, but don’t expect anything hugely spectacular in terms of new game play style.

———————————————————————————————————————————-

8.5 / 10. (Two thumbs fresh seal of approval).

Left 4 Dead 2: Demo

Posted in Games with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2009 by randomintermissions

Last night I downloaded and played the Left 4 Dead 2 demo from XBox Live.

Left_4_Dead_2_Wallpaper_by_KillerZombie123

... 17/11/2009 ...

I was a big fan of Valves orignal game realised 21st Nov. 2008 (yup, that’s right, just one year ago) but after a couple of months, and having played the campaigns multiple times, I began to get bored. What had been a brilliant concept (online, multiplayer, zombie, survival horror) began to get stale.

left_4_dead_by_benkenobi88

... 21/11/2008 ...

Yes, there was the AI engine that monitored how you were doing in the game and either eased up on you or threw additional hordes if you were doing poorly or well respectively. And yes there was cleaver bit of programming tech that analysed all the music you had heard so far in your campaign and would ensure it played something different to keep the atmosphere fresh. And yes there were the cool “special” zombie types and the cool level designs and everything else that made this game so addictive to start. And yes there was the free DLC (downloadable content) which added a new game style; but time took its toll and I eventually traded it in for something else (Fallout 3 I believe).

I was therefore a little shocked when it was announced at E3 that there would be a Left 4 Dead 2 coming out exactly one year (well, give or take a week or so) after the originals release. Also, to my disgust there was no mention of Valves other massive and eagerly awaited title; Half Life 2, Episode 3, but that’s a whole other rant.

So, returning to the point in hand, L4D2. The developers have thrown in a load of new extras: extra “special” zombie types (N.B. this article seems to have missed out the roaming witch, but I was unable to find a comprehensive list of the new zombie types), extra weapons / ammo types, extra pickups (Boomer Bile, adrenaline shots and even defibrillators), but this just gives the distinct impression that they are trying to cover up the games lack of originality or spark. Don’t get me wrong, I throughly enjoyed my play through of The Parish (the first two parts of this campaign make the demo, much like they did for the first game); it was fun and exciting and scary all in the right proportions, but this does feel very much like it could have been handled better as DLC, extending on the original game instead of marketing it as a new entity.

left-4-dead-2-characters-poster-wallpaper

... The Parish - Demo out now ...

There is also one possible, and I do stress ‘possible’, downside to L4D2. Will peoples loyalty to the original game waver? I sit on the fence between being a casual and hardcore gamer, and as I have already stressed, I loved the original game, but I have no intention of picking it up again. I shall be picking up a copy of L4D2, play it until I get bored again and then move on to whatever the next big thing will be.

Having said this, the hardcore gamers / Left 4 Dead fans will own and continue to play and enjoy both games for many years to come.

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EDIT: Further browsing for details on the demo, infected and plot points led me to an interesting article. It turns out that some of those very cleaver gamers out there have developed a PC mod for the demo that allows you to play Verses Mode and try out the new special infected before the game comes out. I have been purely a console gamer for quite a while now (my home computer just isn’t good enough to allow me to run newer games, even with the marvel that is Windows 7) but it’s little things like this that make me miss PC gaming. There is also the added benefit of the price! PC games in general are always cheaper than their console counterparts.

Conclusions

Posted in Games, Review with tags , , , , , , , on June 25, 2009 by randomintermissions

As promised, here are my final conclusions on Prototype…

meh

meh

A week or so ago I posted my initial reactions to Prototype, and I feel that it is only fair that I follow up with some conclusions on the game now that I have completed it.

It is perhaps unsurprising that I have traded it in. That’s not to say it was a terrible game, blapping around the city, messing about with the powers, random fights with infected… all this kept me amused for some time, but I still feel that it lacked two fundamental points:

1) Originality: I struggle to find anything in Prototype that I could not get from a Spiderman game. Movement round the city, fight sequences, the upgrading system; these are all very reminiscent of any Activision sandbox / open-world game… and again I return to Spiderman. The only real difference is instead of web-swigging, you hover.

2) Plot: I found this very lacking and jumbled and obviously I shall not be going into details (spoilers and the such), but I did find that there was barely a thin piece of cotton holding the thread of this game together in terms of story.

I would recommend Prototype if you are looking for some mindless ‘ fun’ gaming; you’ve just got in from work, you want to zone out and mess around. But if you are looking for an emotive and gripping plot with a shred of originality you are in for a disappointment. Maybe I began the game with the wrong attitude and took other peoples rave reviews too literally, but I just didn’t feel the passion for the game I was expecting. Metacritic is beginning to reflect this, and Prototypes score is beginning to drop… try a rental and see how you feel.

Having said all this, Black Box Conversations [Rob Taylor] has very a very different opinion and he may post his own review on completion.

_________________________________________________________________

In other news, I picked up Call of Duty: World at War when I traded in Prototype, a game I have been avoiding for a long time as I was expecting a direct rip from CoD: Modern Warfare, just with a World War II setting. So far I have been pleasantly surprised, some of the set-pieces actually provoking a vocal response of wonder (you just cannot beat a good FPS in my opinion). Review to follow once completed.

Initial Reactions…

Posted in Games, Review with tags , , , , , , , on June 12, 2009 by randomintermissions
...is exactly how it sounds...

...is exactly how it sounds...

Prototype is the first of my “eagerly awaited games” of ’09, in fact I was so keen to pick it up and start playing that I didn’t even return home to pick up any old games to trade in, choosing instead to simple pay the £39.99 retail price.With glittering reviews flooding in left, right an centre I could sense a chill of excitement flood through my as I placed the scratch-less disc into my XBOX 360.

Please bear in mind that what follows are my initial reactions after 2 and 1/2 hours of game play, there will no doubt be another review upon completion of the game.

The reality of Prototype is sadly rather disappointing. Imagine GTA4 (without the complex and immersing story-line) crossed with one of the Spiderman games and you will have a close approximation of the generalised game play. Maneuver around the city using an incredibly familiar “running up the side of buildings” move (Spiderman: Web of Shadows) and a little bit of hovering before descending on an in-progress battle or being spotted and subsequently shot at. That’s not to say this is necessarily bad; I enjoyed the Spiderman games for sheer “running around a city and hurting people” funability, and it did keep my playing solidly for two and a half hours, but already I am beginning to sense the “once I have completed this, I should trade it in” feeling.

This feeling is intensified by the incredibly well thought out, but poorly executed plot [spoiler warning]. Without giving too much away; you are a prototype (shock horror) genetic experiment with crazy super human abilities including hovering, changing your hands into a variety of weapons and the ability to absorb / clone pedestrians / the military / other characters to gain knowledge and experience (known as EP) and as a disguise. Oh, and you have no memory, so you are piecing together how you came to be by absorbing peoples memories and putting together a “Web” of events. All sounds pretty fun right? Wrong. The in game cut scenes flow with all the grace and style of a a drowning cow with very little continuity and weak voice acting.

This may sound condemning, but so far Prototype has failed to live up expectations. Yes it’s fun, and yes I want to complete the game, smashing and bashing my way around, defeating foes, but it just doesn’t feel as immersing as the likes of GTA, COD or Bioshock had (and from initial reports, should have had). In fact it feels more like a prototype (pun almost intended) released for testing and to gage public reaction.

I aim to follow this up with another review once the game has been completed, so check back… but my current rating is as follows:

*** out of five, recommend rental (at least initially)

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Additional:

Modern Warfare 2 (COD4 2, sort of) 10/11/09

Bioshock 2, Sea of Dreams 30/10/09

GTA (DLC) The Ballad of Gay Tony Coming Soon

Jumping on the band wagon…

Posted in Games, Rantings with tags , , , , on June 9, 2009 by randomintermissions

Any body who reads Black Box Conversations’s blog should have seen his recent post about Valve’s E3 news; namely the reveal that they are launching Left for Dead 2 this year, and yet not a peep about the eagerly awaited Half Life 2, Episode 3.

I just want to jump on the band wagon to some extent and also voice my disappointment. I am not going to repeat everything he said, for that would be a waste of every bodies time (for the post [click]), instead I am going to focus on something Valve have got right… making damn fine games.

Untitled

...Lambda...

Half Life was released in 1998, and 11 years later I am still playing it, not because I fail at computer games (although to my recollection I have only completed the original Half Life twice), but because Valve make games with enormous re-playability factor. Time and time again Gorden Freeman has wandered the halls of Black Mesa and City 17, restarting the saga every time news is realised about the next installment. So, even in the absence of any news relating to Episode 3, I begin the Half Life from it’s routs, yet again.

I would put a review of the saga, explain why it is amazing, how it is a revolution in computer gaming story telling, graphics, yarda, yarda, yarda… but chances are if you are reading this, you have already played them and know all this…

Here’s to Valve… [although if you work for Valve and you are reading this, where is Episode 3?]