Category Archives: Games

HL2 Ready to Play

Half-Life® 2 Released For Play
November 16, 2004, 12:07 am · valve

Half-Life 2 is available now for purchase and to play. Those who pre-purchased their copy via Steam may access the game by double-clicking on the Half-Life 2 icon in their Steam Games directory. To purchase your copy via Steam, get Steam now.

We hope you enjoy it!

Finally the encrypted game that’s been sitting on my hard drive for the past month is ready to play.
And I’m stuck at work for the next ten hours or so.
Aurgh!!!! Frust!

Gish – fun little game

An interesting twist on the traditional platform game. Gish uses a 2d physics engine to put friction, momentum and gravity into the gameworld. You play an amoeba that can stick to walls, make itself denser or more slippery. The way you interact with the scenery makes for some quite different gameplay.

This is also interesting since the most recent independent game jam focused on 2d physics as well, but none of the short demos coded there came close to Gish’s simple innovation.

Free at last!

My nightly guilty pleasure for the past few weeks has been Freedom Fighters by IO Interactive – a Danish game developer. Guilty pleasure? Why? Well, it has a B-movie jingoistic plotline about the Soviets invading the US. You are the saviour plumber. The story leaves no clich unturned. But: it is fun to play – the controls are easy to master (basically “follow me”, “attack there”, “guard there”) in addition to the usual run-and-gun stuff. The camera sometimes flips (only happened on one particular mission for me really), and occasionally you point the camera where you don’t want it while trying to get a bead on someone.

For a run-and-gun game it really punishes running headfirst into combat. Cover and overwatch are key to fighting in manhatten. Lucky for you there’s plenty of boxes to hide behind. Cars explode if shot too hard, so you want to be careful where you hide. This is the first game I’ve seen that uses pie menus. It works really well. You use the d-pad to select a weapon by moving the d-pad in the right direction and releasing it. This becomes important because when the bullets are flying thick and heavy you need to re-charge health, lob a grenade and switch to the machinegun without mucking around in a linear menu.

Also part of the fun are your team-mates. The soldiers you recruit along the way follow you around like a beefy kindergarten group until you tell them to charge the guns while you sneak around the side to take out the machine-gun emplacement with a grenade or two. The areas you get to play around in are large, with lots of levels to them (elevated tracks, walkways, bridges and tunnels make exploring the environment rewarding and exciting).

I picked this up cheap – half-price. It’s short but meaty and lots of fun to play.

Max Payne 2 – The Fall of Max Payne

I’ve been playing this for a couple of days now. It’s beautifully put together – it uses literary techniques to layer the story: “Dick Justice” parodies the lone wolf vigilante aspect of your playing, while the in-game tv show “Address Unknown” comments on your paranoid delusions (or are they?). It’s like the Watchmen of video gaming.

But now I’m stuck – in the chapter 2 prologue where you work in the police station. I’ve gone down into the cells and talked to Mona Sax. I go back to the guard post to make the call to Alfred Woden, and a bomb goes off upstairs. The cops open the weapons locker and run upstairs. Now I’m supposed to grab a gun from the locker and shoot the cleaners coming through the cells, but the locker is empty… This sucks. It’s a bug. I upgraded with the 1.01 patch but this shouldn’t have corrupted the save game.

PS2 Online

The PS2 online experience sucks ass. The XBox does have this figured out much much better. I have to log in, and it’s been a couple of months since I last checked out the slow and garish home-page that Sony have. They’ve just upgraded the look and feel and I’m asked to log in again, with an alias this time, which I do not seem to have, and with a login name I can’t remember. The password recovery scheme is a joke. I’d like to meet the designer and beat them with a stick. Why are digits not allowed in the user-name? Why can I type them in the field then? UI mistakes I expect to see made by high-school hackers.

Thankfully you don’t have to use Central Station to actually play games. I’m pondering whether to get Hardware On-Line Arena, but the awful network code in SOCOM has made me wary. (SOCOM uses TCP for game-data transfer – network errors trigger TCP re-transmits, which cause laggy, jerky playing. It wouldn’t be so bad if they had decent compensation/prediction code, but they don’t – it plays like DOOM did in 1994).