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No-one likes the tuna here, asshole

June 28th, 2015

Written by: Rik

Hello there.

We return to the Need for Speed series for today’s review, of the 2006 instalment, Need for Speed: Carbon.

carbontitle

Strike Force Centauri

June 26th, 2015

Written by: Stoo

Terra Nova is on gog.com! A fantastic game that, as I recall, sadly went largely un-noticed and was a commercial failure. It really deserved greater success. My writeup from the elder days of this site is here.

It’s a sci-fi tactical first person shooter that puts you in command of a squad of elite soldiers. It also puts you in a suit of Space-Marine style power armour, loaded with lasers, missile launchers, sensor drones and rocket boots. The controls, whilst a bit clumsy by modern standards, actually work quite well with the gadgetry to give the game a bit of a hybrid feel, between shooter and one of the old big-robot games like Mechwarrior.

It also had a graphics engine that was rather advanced for the time – for example huge expanses of textured terrain with no fogging. Also, while it predates the use of 3d models for characters, each is built out of several jointed sprites, which at least adds a bit of realism and flexibility to the animation.

I recall I used to go charging madly amongst enemies using the defensive force field and madly firing short-ranged lasers to try and cut them down. There are probably more clever tactics available, especially if you use your squad properly. Other fond memories include rampant use of the rocket boots whenever in serious trouble. Also there are even one or two sneaky-stealthy levels where you’re in a more lightweight suit of armour on a recon mission.

Between missions there are a bunch of FMV cutscenes featuring out-of-work actors. Something about a remote colony fending off an earth-based dictatorship, and casting you as Commander New Guy in charge of the squad. They’re rather amateurish, but move the story along at least. We’re talking early 90s, back in the days when lots of video seemed like a good idea to make use of all that space on the CD.

So, bad acting aside, if this sort of your game is your thing at all, this is an oldie I thoroughly recommend.

Knee-Deep in the Dead

June 13th, 2015

Written by: Rik

Well, it took us long enough, but we finally got around to taking a look at Doom.

On a site as low-key as this one, it’s probably over-stating a case to call anything ‘much-requested’ or ‘long-awaited’, but in the context of FFG history, a very old request and a number of half-hearted murmerings in the comments sections of equally ancient blog posts does represent a significant level of anticipation.

*adopts movie-trailer voice* But now…the wait…is over.

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God dammit, Antarans

June 4th, 2015

Written by: Stoo

Thanks to the combined powers of laziness and convenient digital purchases have, I’ve ended up buying games on gog that I already own. Because oldies on sale cost less than I’d spend on my lunch, and I can’t remember where the original CDs are stashed.

So that’s how I’ve ended up playing master of Orion 2 again, which was my favourite of the old 4X strategy games. Being the “ffg strategy guy” I am of course an expert of this game and can offer much advice on matters such as production queues and ship design…

haha who am I kidding. Here’s my strategy: 1: get to Orion before anyone else: 2: build ships with heavy deathrays 3: hope the Psilons don’t already have a fleet of 200 Doom Stars.

Bloody Psilons. Anyway though, I was sat down at a new game, colonising a few planets, building factories. Hoping my one rickety tin-can cruiser didn’t actually have to fight anything. Then I heard that dreaded music, and saw a familiar “through the gateway” cinematic.

oh, crap

oh, crap

Periodically, the game will have Antarans appear and attack someone. These guys work differently from all the other races (player or computer controlled). They don’t appear to control any planets of their own, they just pop up out of nowhere, raid a planet, then if not defeated they disappear. By late in the game they’re not a a maor problem, but early on they can pose a critical threat. Their technology is way ahead of anyone else’s. Their ships are loaded with devastating weaponry. They laugh at your pathetic cruisers and fusion beams.

Or they laugh at mine, anyway. Do my ship designs suck? Write in and let me know. But I find they stand up about as usefully as I would personally in a fight with Vin Diesel. I send them hurtling in to try and do some small amount of damage, then rely on fixed defenses and hope. If the attacking fleet is small, I might just come away unscathed. If my colony is large enough, there may still be something standing in the case of a defeat. Otherwise, it’ll probably razed to the ground.

There’s always a brief moment of panic and hope when you first hear the wooshing noise. Who are the Antarans going for? If it’s you, a moment of sorrow or at best grim resignation. Time to decide if making a stand is worthwhile, or if you’ll just be picking up the pieces after the Antarans are done. If it’s one of the other races, there’s a monumental sigh of relief. You’re safe and one of your rivals, at very least, has taken heavy damage to one of their colonies. and you have a few dozen turns before this all happens again.

Several attacks in a row can feel like your empire is being pulled apart one colony at a time. It’s rather demoralising. Now you can, before a game, totally switch off the Antarans. However, if they are present, so is planet Orion. That’s the one with the fancy technology that normally can’t be researched. Such as deathrays, and I do enjoy purple beams of destruction that make bad guys go kaboom. So I always keep the option on, even though it makes the early game a bit more tense.

The funny thing is, it also makes the endgame potentially easier. You do eventually get the chance to attack the hidden Antaran world, and the forces protecting it are, by this point in the game, underwhelming in strength. If you conquer it, you win the game, regardless of the status of the rest of the galaxy. Also though, the other conventional races can go a bit crazy, building monstrously huge fleets. Rows, and rows of massive warships, filling the battle screen. I think that’s down to a combination of hard-mode bonuses to AI players, and me taking too long to go on the offensive. I’m not sure the developers even intended enemy fleets to get that big, as I’m sure I recall error messages popping up saying the game engine had hit a hard limit on how many ships it could throw around.

So Antara becomes an easy back door to victory, albeit one that feels a bit of a cheat.

File System Aging

May 31st, 2015

Written by: Rik

Playing Puma World Football again recently brought me back to the series of videos Rab Florence recently produced for Rock, Paper, Shotgun about “games, time and loss”.

The arty style and the slightly weird intensity might not be to everyone’s taste, but I did find them rather affecting, particularly this one:

It’s more about nostalgia in general than the featured game (Unreal Tournament) and I think anyone who’s played games for any significant period of time will be familiar with the sentiments expressed here.

I would love it if we beat them

May 24th, 2015

Written by: Rik

Hello there.

It’s the final day of the Premiership season, the kind of day that makes you think, “who’d be a football manager?” (Or more specifically, Steve Bruce, poor fella.)

Thanks to the world of gaming, though, you can actually be a football manager in your spare time, if you so desire. Here’s the 2006 version of the aptly-named Football Manager.

fmnewspost

I hate you, Conquilados

May 13th, 2015

Written by: Stoo

A few weeks back I wrote about one of the most frustrating battles from the venerable cRPG, Wizardry 7. Here are a few more that, for various reasons, have stuck in my memory all these years.

The Fiend of Nine Worlds

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Towards the end of the game, working through the vast, sprawling final dungeons, you enter a place called the chamber of Gorrors. It has six cells, each with an ominous sounding name on the door. A chest of rare treasures can be gllmpsed within each cell. You can if you wish carry on further into the depths and ignore the chamber. Instead, you decide to investigate one of the cells. “the fiend of 9 worlds”, it says.

Inside you encounter: a rat-man. You think, okay, This is endgame so let’s be careful. It could be challenging. But you have a high level party, led by champions armed with huge axes, the mighty Sword of Four Winds and what appears to be a counterfeit lightsabre. There’s a ninja who hands out critical hits like candy and a couple of magic users who can summon forth lightning, enormous boulders and even nuclear blasts. This should be doable. You queue up orders for the first round of combat, and hit go.

*fiend strikes LordJeff*
*hit! 99 damage*
*hit! 99 damage*
*hit! 99 damage*
*jeff dies*

*fiend strikes lolegolas *
*hit! 99 damage*
*hit! 99 damage POISONED*
*hit 99 damage*
*lolegolas dies*

*Zippy thrusts Muramasa Blade at fiend*
miss
miss

*fiend strikes Zippy*
*hit! 99 damage*
*hit! 99 damage*
….

a minute later half the party is dead and you’ve accomplished little more than singing the Fiends’ whiskers. You sit back from the keyboard, vaguely stunned at the utter thrashing you just witnessed. The game patiently awaits instructions for round two. Good luck!

I had a read around some forums, and wizardry players have shared tricks for dealing with this guy, a lot based on having everyone hiding. Which is great except only certain classes can learn hiding. So there will be a lot of tedious class-changing back and forth for anyone that you don’t want to be a thief, ninja or bard.

Conquilados

conquiladoThe Greater Wilds is a forest area accessible only from the sea, once you’ve found a boat. There are no quest objectives here, no characters to talk to, and no loot to find. Basically, the only reason to come to the Wilds is to get swarmed to death by giant millipedes.

A few Conquilados wouldn’t be a major challenge for a level 25+ party, but they tend to come in multiple ranks of eight each. The front row is steadily clawing away at you whilst the ones at the back spit poison, leaving you in a desperate, futile struggle to hack them down before you’re overwhelmed. Your best chances are if you can manage to fire off several Nuclear Blast spells before your spellcasters are dragged down by the screeching horde.

No wait, your best chance was to never come to this godforsaken forest in the first place. There are less stressful places to level-grind where individual fights are more manageable and in some of them you’ll get some loot for your trouble.

Survive a fight and, well, I suppose you do get do a get a shitload of experience points. Then a few steps later you hit another 36 of them. Or maybe you rest your party to recover health and spell points and then… there’s a surprise attack from another 36 of them. The Greater Wilds is basically a location that exists purely for old-school crpg sadism.

?Phoonzang?

statueWizardry is known for its challenging combat, but this foe is both impossible to lose against, and rather baffling.

So there are these witches in mountain caves that take on the appearance of other major characters from the game. So for example you fight a faux version of the Dark Savant (the main antagonist) and it’s a pretty decent challenge for a mid level party. Another witch becomes Phoonzang, creator of the planet you’re standing on.

Or rather, she disguises herself as a statue of Phoonzang, similar to the ones you see scattered around major cities. I suppose either Sir-Tech wanted to keep him a mysterious, mythical figure, or they just couldn’t be bothered to draw a new sprite.

It isn’t a terrible idea – we can easily imagine a statue coming to life, swinging mighty marble fists or maybe shooting lasers from its eyes. All this one does, however is cast the spell Dispel Undead. That is, as far as I can tell, literally its only attack. Quick check – any undead characters on your team? Nope.

So the statue stands there, casting its one spell that may as well be “conjure turnips” for all the good it’s doing. You scratch your head for a moment then order your guys to attack. They swiftly hack the statue to bits. The usual “VICTORY” fanfare plays but it really should have been replaced with a sad trombone effect.

Rik vs. Stoo: Part II

May 1st, 2015

Written by: Rik

It may surprise some of you to learn that Rik and Stoo of the famous games site A Force for Good don’t actually live together at a place called FFG Towers, playing old games at an incredibly slow rate with the intention of posting a maximum of two reviews per month. In fact, we’re rarely in the same place at once, at the insistence of the FFG board of shareholders, in order to protect the brand at all costs – and should some terrible fate befall one of us, the other would be required to maintain business continuity, to the extent that any news of death or serious injury would be concealed from the public altogether, with the remaining founder member keeping up the pretence by publishing articles under both names.

However, an exception was made last weekend, as we gathered to play games and eat pizza. We so rarely cover multiplayer, so here’s a veritable smorgasbord of brief and largely unenlightening thoughts about what we played:

Borderlands (Xbox 360) - Co-op seemed like fun but was undermined by the fact we had to play split-screen with joypads, and hence the fundamentals of walking and shooting proved comically tricky for us both. I’m sure it’s possible to get the hang of it, but in the words of my good colleague and friend, it was like driving a tank, and after peppering the dirt around some angry-looking dog things without causing much damage, we resolved to revisit it on PC at some undetermined point in the future.

Blur (Xbox 360) – I’ve played this a lot before, but the intervening years seemed to have robbed me of any useful knowledge and skills. We generally finished last and second last.

Eternal Champions (Megadrive – on PC, via the Steam Collection) – An old beat ‘em up. I chose a character who attacked using yoyos. Stoo won.

Golden Axe (Megadrive – as above) – We didn’t get to the end. I kept triggering magic by accident, often when no enemies were on screen.

Streets of Rage (Megadrive – as above) – We did ok on this, except for occasionally hitting each other and finding the bosses very tricky. At one point we seemed to be on the world’s longest boat, long enough even to allow us to call upon backup from a police car with no apparent logistical difficulties.

EA Fight Night Round 4 (Xbox 360) – after a gruelling 10 rounds of extremely untechnical brawling, Stoo’s boxer Jeff Banks was declared the winner on points. My fighter, Mmmbop Hanson, retired immediately. (I do love how the EA commentary team always echo their real life counterparts by insisting that whatever takes place on screen, however bad, is interesting or entertaining in some way).

Project Gotham Racing 4 (Xbox 360) – A non time-travelling Delorean may be a bit of a crap car, but it definitely goes faster than a Mini. Minimal Kudos points were awarded.

Lego Batman (Xbox 360) – A game clearly designed for children still proved too taxing in places for Team FFG. Although it was quite late and some beer had been consumed by that point.

Puma World Football 98 (PC) – it had to be done, and while in the past I’d had some difficulty getting it running, to my surprise and delight it installed and ran with minimal fuss. It was truly like old times, with keepers stopping shot after shot, but also contriving to let in some extremely unlikely attempts, such as a diving header from outside the area, while Stoo rolled back the years with a number of fouls deemed worthy of dismissal by the referee. The matches were light on goals and entertainment (for the crowd) but good fun for us old timers. (Indeed, once left to my own devices, I had to stop myself from launching into a single player league. Puma!)

Yep, this actually went in.

Yep, this actually went in.

A good time was had by all, although increasingly I felt that the phrase from Stoo’s Twitter bio (“terrible at all videogames”) should be our new site name.

Come on, we’re going for a ride

April 26th, 2015

Written by: Rik

Hello!

We were doing ok recently, weren’t we? Taking a look at a respected classic platformer here, recommending a new(ish) adventure game there, and trying to bring you the kind of quality content that loyal readers like you demand and deserve.

So what do we have for you this time around? Er, a game called Ford Racing 2. (Sorry.)

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Not Flashback

April 8th, 2015

Written by: Stoo

Hello everyone. It’s time once again for our semi-regular feature, the discussion review! The process we use for choosing games is not formally defined. Sometimes it’s about playing a genre one or both of us is unfamiliar with, or just wouldn’t have normally considered – like the time I made Rik sit through a JPRG, or our brave attempt at baseball.

This time though we’re looking at a game that, to earn our Retro Gamer cards we both probably should have played already. So here’s the scifi cinematic platform game Flashb- no, sorry. I still get these two games mixed up. Here’s Another World!