Thursday, June 16, 2016

Back From The Park - Thoughts About Crysis 2

I finally sat down during my time off and both played and finished Crysis 2. I did play the first few levels of the game when it first launched but the DX10 version had some annoying glitches, such as a flickering effect that took place in any outdoor day time scenes. I recently found out that the reason for this glitch was because I am using a dual graphic card setup. So a patch was released and I downloaded it, and it fixed it.
So when I knew I had two weeks’ vacation coming up, I always book the week of E3 off, I looked at my PC pile of shame list and decided it was time to take another crack at Crysis 2. For those who are wondering, I played the game on the normal difficulty. I played it at 1920x1200 and all settings set to “Extreme”.
My setup is:
  • Intel® Core™ i7 Processor 960(3.20GHz,4.8GT/s,8MB)
  • 12GB 1333MHz (3x4GB) Tri Channel Memory
  • Dual 2GB ATI® Radeon™ HD 5970 graphics card
From the outset Crysis 2 is story driven. Unlike Crysis, which has the bare basics of a story, which was purely for setup, Crysis 2 is set after an Alien invasion of New York City, and the heavy story hand of the game is played from the beginning. The first Crysis biggest fault was for about two thirds of the game, the gameplay was open and the story was slowly told to you. For the final third the game became extremely linear and the story was way too heavy handed and it totally spoiled the final act of the game. Crysis 2 finds a far better balance between story and gameplay, it’s not perfect by any means, but it’s a big step forward from Crysis.
When Crysis 2 was been previewed and promoted Crytek spoke about the game been set in an “Urban Jungle” and would bring New York’s vertically into the gameplay. While there are moments in the game when you are about twenty to thirty stories above ground and you can see the war between the humans and Aliens been fought below you, I much preferred the open world feel of Crysis then the vertical world feel of Crysis 2. I do love the little details of Alcatraz grabbing onto a ledge and pulling himself up, or seeing his feet kick up when you are knocked down by an explosion.
The controls have evolved too. In Crysis you use the middle mouse button to access your suits abilities and while you can still do this in Crysis 2. The three main abilities have been mapped to the keyboard, “Q = Armour”, “E= Stealth”, “Shift = Power”. At first I found it a little awkward to get use to the keyboard mapping and continued to use the middle mouse button to access the abilities. That was until I was in the middle of a battle and then the keyboard mapping clicked with me. When I was using the middle mouse button I generally or naturally stopped moving to take a look at what I was selecting, but the keyboard mapping I found the battle sections became far batter and felt more natural as I was able to easy switch depending on the situation.
The main issue with Crysis 2 are the set pieces. The game pretty much boils down to you entering an three or four levelled area, and pretty much get from A to B, and sometimes for variety you may to do X, Y & Z  on the way to B. Yes it is cool and impressive to run up three flights of stairs and then jump out of a window and deliver a crushing fist stomp to your enemy. But I much preferred the openness of the first Crysis that really allowed you to create you our path. Crysis 2 does give you a larger path to traverse then most first person shooters today, it’s just feels more linear compared to the first game.

Photo Blog: Dublin 22nd July 2011

Was in Dublin last week for the Irish Premier of Horrible Bosses and I had a full day to myself so I took out my Sony Alpha and took some pics
Hope you enjoy them.

For the complete set CLICK HERE for the slideshow via Flickr

What Is Your "30 Minutes To Kill" Game?

I was thinking the other day, what game do I always play just to kill time? For example, I was waiting for the Arsenal v Liverpool game to kick off this morning and I had just over 30 minutes to wait so I turned on that game that I always turn to in times of boredom - Team Fortress 2.
I know most people debate whether Halo or Call Of Duty give the better online experience, sometimes the Battlefield series is thrown in there too, usually by the PC community; and while I will admit that all those games are great online in their own way. I have always found Team Fortress 2 to be the most accessible and most fun, and isn't that the whole point of a game? To be fun?
When I decided to get back into PC gaming back in 2007, I decided to first get myself a laptop, and then I went online and asked around what should I get for it, and about 99% of people said The Orange Box, and through this I was introduced to Steam.
So I played through Portal, then the 3 Half Life Games, and then I went to play something else. It wasn't till about late 2008 till I first sat down and played Team Fortress 2, and since then it has been my go to game for boredom. I love the cartoonish art style that was inspired by by the art of J. C. Leyendecker, Dean Cornwell and Norman Rockwell.
I don't have to explain to anyone what the game is about. I love how well the game is supported, the PC version has been patched over 190 times while the XBOX 360 has 4 patches (the last one on July 21st 2009) and I don't even think that the PS3 version has even been patched. Oh Yeah, and the game is completely free.
So my question to you dear reader is, What Is Your "30 Minutes To Kill" Game?

Is Too Much Of A Good Thing Actually A Bad Thing?

Yesterday I got the blu-ray of "Senna" which is so far my favorite film of the year. When I put on the disc last night to watch it, I noticed that this disc also included the "Extended Cut"; since I had already seen the cinema cut I figured I might as well check it out.
The cinema cut of "Senna" is give or take 100 minutes, which is a fine length for a documentary. The extended cut runs to nearly 3 hours. The main difference between the two cuts is what is know as "talking heads." The original cut of the film featured only archive footage and voice over and it created a really strong emotional narrative, because of the talking heads the extended cut feels clumsy editing and suffers from poor pacing.
When I originally wrote about Senna, I said that:
"Where Kapadia's 'Senna' documentary works is in its ability to appeal to wide array of audience members. For the fans of the Formula 1 racing there is a copious amount of footage documenting select races and the events taking place around his career. Rather than use cutaway segments to show various celebrities and sports men and women discuss their memories and recollections of Senna, Kapadia instead utilizes a voice-over to accompany the archive images on-screen. By allowing the voice-over of the various people associated with Senna (most notable this consists of McLaren's team principal Ron Dennis, his mother, father and sister, F1 team Doctor Sid Watkins, and Brazilian commentator Reginaldo Leme) to supplement the footage, it both preserves he power of the on-screen image and provides the audience with additional information regarding the situation or event that is being presented.
To the regular viewer, you feel emotionally attached to a man who affected the lives of millions positively in his home country of Brazil. A perfect mix of a movie, in which you can watch as either an auto-racing fan, or someone who has never heard of Senna; It delivers on a highly emotional level, surrounding you in the warmth that he brought to many."
And this I still believe to be true. If the extended cut has shown me anything, it's just how perfect the original cut was.

Thoughts About The Official PS3 Keyboard

The other day as I was browsing through my local Game, I stumbled upon the official Playstation Keyboard. My first thought when seeing this was. "Why wasn't this available at launch?" And before you jump in and say "Paul, that's been out for awhile and it's a piece of shit" I'm not talking about this keyboard, I'm referring to this one:

First off I didn't even know that this was out, after a few searches Google, I found nothing. So I decided to search the one place for Playstation news, The Playstation 3Page at IGN (BEYOND!!!) but still nothing.
So anyway, here's my thoughts about it.
It's a wonderfully small keyboard, that's about 2/3 the size of my Alienware keyboard, but all the buttons are nice and big and feel good when press, not cheap like a Hori keyboard. The keyboard connects to your PS3 via blu-tooth so at least you are not loosing a USB port.
The keyboard uses a "Fn" button next to the "crtl" one like a laptop to access the Playstation controller buttons as you can see from the picture below:
In the middle of the keyboard is your mouse stick for navigating through web pages. It's nothing special, does the job well and that's about it.
My only issue with the keyboard is when you are switching it off. You hold down the PS button as you would do on the controller, but the up, down, left or right buttons don't work. You have to press and hold the "Fn" button to navigate this menu. Makes no sense to me why you have to do this, and it seems like it was put their purely for awkwardness.
I do wonder though, now that Valve have said that the next Counter Strike is on PS3, and I assume will use Steam like Portal 2 did, can we use the keyboard to play Counter Strike? In fact if Sony released a Playstation mouse or even let you use any USB/wireless mouse with the PS3, then what's to stop developers patching in keyboard and mouse controls? Also, it would make games like Red Alert 3 playable on PS3 if I could use the mouse & keyboard. Even if it was just an official version of this design.

Sorry For The Delay...

Sorry for the lack of blogs over the past few months, been super busy with a project and have barely enough time these days to play games let alone blog about them.
But thankfully after a few months of hard work I finally have some free time to sit down and tackle some games. So the first thing I bought this morning was an upgrade for my PC, I picked up two Sapphire HD 7970 Graphics Cards, cost me just over $1200 but I am really looking forward to play games like The Witcher 2, Crysis 2, Battlefield 3 & Skyrim on the highest visual settings.
I've also been adding to my blu-ray collection and recieved this this morning:
Which contained these:
So when I reveive them later this week (could be next Monday) I will make a blog post about it. But it does feel so good to be back here at 1UP blogging again, it's like meeting up with old school friends.

Do Review Articles Really Matter If There Is A Score At The End?

This is something that has always bothered me about the whole game journalist scene. If you spend your time writing a review for a game and it's a game you really liked and want people to play and it receives a score of (for example) B-. Yet when someone opens the article on 1UP and just scrolls down to the bottom and sees the B- and goes: "B-?!? Why so low?"
When did a B-, on a scale of A to F be considered low?
Maybe it's a hype thing, maybe it's because we as consumer receive too much hype for a game, and this leads to an expectation that, if "1UP keep writing about it then it must get a A+ or an A at least." I know that sites like 1UP need articles to create traffic so that they can create revenue and pay their employees.
But what if 1UP just ditched the review score. As a site across the board just said "No to scores" and if someone wants to know if they should buy a game, then they can read the review article and then make an enlightened decision instead of basing their purchase on a letter and then if the game fails to meet their high expectations because of the knowledge passed on to them by that letter with its added plus or minus they feel let down by the (a) the reviewer and (b) the site.

Some Old PC Games

I was cleaning out a press at home when I was moving my PC from it's old location to where I now have my home office and I found these:

Games I Love: "Digger T. Rock: Legend of the Lost City"

Digger T. Rock: Legend of the Lost City is an NES game developed by Rare, and released by Milton Bradley in February 1991.
Digger T. Rock, a brave little miner who dares to dig where no shovel has gone before! He just loves to uncover underground wonders. And he dreams of discovering a buried city bursting with golden treasures and ancient relics. On this very morning, deep within a craggy, slippery cave, Digger stumbles upon a half-hidden sign pointing way, way a Lost City!
You control the title character, who is searching for treasure hidden in various caverns. Digger has multiple tools which are found and can be used to explore and uncover new areas. A timer in the game represents the time remaining until the door to the next level closes, but the timer can be reset by standing on a special pillar. Monsters such as moles and mosquitoes seek to kill the protagonist. The game is notable for the animation of the character's death, which shows a presumably time-lapse view of his body decaying with only his helmet remaining. It is noted among the most difficult games on the NES. I have never completed this game and have always got stuck at level 5.
And since the game is so short here is the complete game for those who wish to see what the game is actually like. I do love the music in this game, especially when you complete a level and you get the bonus stage, which were quite popular back then.

Games I Love: "The Last Ninja 2"

Lets go way back reader, back to the 80's, well late 80's that is.
Back to a time when gaming computers couldn't render complex images like circles and instead used squares.
The game I will talk about today is my favourite game for the Commodore 64, and your opening display was this:
This was the concole I had before my NES and we used tapes to load our games. I still remember the command to start loading a tape, press "shift" + "run stop" = "press play on tape" The counter on the tape would then load up to 10 or 11 and then you were presented again with the opening scene but with the name of the game you were loading, in this case "Last Ninja 2"
When I bought this game I had not played the first one. I actually bought it as part of a 4 in 1 series called "100% Dynamite." Which looked like this:

and here's my copy of the game itself:

Anyway, lets talk about the game.
The Last Ninja contains a blend of exploration, puzzle solving and combat. The object of the game is to journey to the palace of the evil Shogun Kunitoki to destroy him and retrieve the sacred scrolls. As the player progresses, Kunitoki's henchmen become more challenging as they learn the ways of the ninja.
The interface consists of the opponents' energy and collected inventory (on the right) and player's health (on the bottom). The world is viewed in an isometric perspective allowing the player to move in eight directions. Movements are relative to the direction Armakuni is facing but restricted to predefined paths (the scenery being inaccessible). Composure and precision must be used when navigating and jumping around obstacles, traps and fatal features of the terrain. By approaching and kneeling at certain landmarks, such as shrines to Buddha and water fountains, an indication of what to collect next is revealed. These items are often hidden in trees or bushes and flash shortly after a new screen has been entered.
Attack moves are executed by combinations of directional controls with the fire button for attacking the opponent's head, torso and legs. Weapons like the sword, nunchaku, staff, shuriken and smoke bombs, can be equipped.
So lets take a look at how the game look and played.

I know what you're thinking, "Paul where can I get this game today?" and the answer is yes. There are plenty of ways for you to play this amazing game.
It was re-released on Wii Virtual Console in Europe in April 2008 as the fifth Virtual Console C64 title, and in North America in February 2009 as one of the first three C64 titles.
But what if you don't have a Wii?
Well head over to The Last Ninja Archives, where they have the game, screenshots, and the soundtrack all ready for you to download.
Puffy64, who is known for making hard rock cover versions of old Commodore 64 games, released an online CD called Last Ninja 2 Tribute CD containing hard rocking interpretation of the musical score of Last Ninja 2: Back with a Vengeance, originally composed by Matt Gray. The album also contains one original tune by Puffy64 called Last Ninja 2 - Hymn.
Dragonforce is known to use the Last Ninja 2 theme as an introtape to their concerts.