What game are you playing?


#1979

Playing the Doom 3 mod Phobos a bit. Just released after 13+ years of development (well, episode 1 at least). I have some vague memory of hearing about it back then. Amazing job by the team to keep at it for so long!

It’s an interesting time capsule into an older style of FPS. I feel a lot of 1998 to 2004 in it. There are story segments which try to tell either a very personal or bonkers story in what seems like a mixed reality framing. It’s a bit awkward (amateur voice acting, child sequences with a clearly adult player height, hammy writing) but I honestly kind of dig that the team is going for something.

Level design looks good and plays like something out of that era. It’s all linear but there’s good detailing and once you get something better than the terrible starting pistol the combat picks up. It’s mostly better than stock D3: slightly more action, some modified weapons and enemies. Plus while the movement speed is still Doom 3 it always feels good when a run button doesn’t have a silly stamina bar.

Off hand I’d compare it to Shogo: MAD’s non-mech levels. Good job, team!

(On a sidenote, while Doom 3 and its engine deserves some flack for only being good at dark tech interiors, I still love how good the lighting can be in it at times. These levels have some amazing use of moving dynamic lights.)

Screenshots

Cartoon portraits for storytelling is a classic.

Lovely looking exteriors.

Old school foliage rendering.

Storytelling!


Darkish level design.



#1980

I bought Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun on launch back in 2016 and then never actually played it for whatever reason. Now at the start of the last level. For some reason I had a really hard time getting characters to run, and it’s pretty messed up for almost every guard in Edo period Japan to have a gun, but overall the game was very well put together.

Being nonlethal is next to impossible though because you can’t tie up guards in this game. I managed to do the penultimate level without killing anyone, but it took almost three hours, probably hundreds of quickloads, and was generally a giant pain. I got through mostly by throwing men onto a ledge they couldn’t escape from.

It’s good to see this weird Commandos-like genre come back after all this time. I only ever played the Robin Hood one, but it was the first PC game I owned.


#1981

Commandos was so great! Love the detail of these games, all the things you can imagine is going on in the levels. Desperados, the wild west variant, was also fun and is getting a new sequel this year probably. Haven’t played Shadow Tactics yet due to lack of pc and I think that’s the preferred platform.


#1982

Not a day goes by where I don’t quote the Green Beret from Commandos.

I’m coming!

Wish I could do that!

Consider it done.

Done.

Man, they should really reboot Commandos.

Or I should finally play Shadow Tactics.


#1983

I’m replaying fallout 4 and at release the institute being into slavery and having the shallowest of reasons to be okay with it seemed a bit too simplistic but no this is totally what silicon valley assholes would do. Also some modders put way too much time and work into it.


#1984

Okay, finally bounced off Hitman S1. I just…I just don’t like stealth games. It is in no small part because I’m bad at them. The level that broke me of the commitment was Colorado. After multiple attempts to get into a groove, it just wasn’t happening. Instead of feeling encouraged to overcome the obstacle I thought of my Steam library with so many games that I want to experience or finish, sitting there while I’m hitting my head against a wall that I’m having no fun doing.

So I guess I should finish Banner Sage.


#1985

I think the Shadow Tactics team is working on a Desperados sequel now, so a proper Commandos might be next. Shadow Tactics itself definitely feels more like the one level of Commandos 2 I played than Robin Hood, so I’d say definitely check it out if you can.

I had the Japanese voices on, so the lines don’t stick in my head really. From Robin Hood though I regularly think about the way the sergeants would say “I’ll show you!” or Little John “Maybe I got a little overenthusiastic with that one.” What is it with these games and their catchy little lines?


#1986

That you hear them on every damn click probably helps! Hehe. Does Shadow Tactics do the same thing? I feel like that is design that someone could’ve easily said “this is hella annoying” about, instead of seeing it as weird and fun, like it is.


#1987

Just finished Dishonored 2. Brilliant game, though I found Delilah to be a rather uninteresting villain. Perhaps if I had played the Brigmore Witches DLC from the first game, I would have had a better handle on her character, but I found her to just be relatively one dimensional?

Other than that, however, I loved it. Arkane’s world-building is wonderful, and I’d forgotten how great it feels to move around in these games. Blink, specifically, is just perfectly tuned.


#1988

It absolutely does! Like with RTS, I suppose it helps you make sure you had the correct unit or ability selected, since everything is a left click in the end.


#1989

I finally finished Subnautica last night. As much as I love the game purely for its visuals and exploration, I cannot express how enjoyable the story is. It unfolds with the immediate goal of surviving and escaping the planet you’re marooned on, but in order to do so you need to unravel a sort of geo/biological mystery and determine the fates of the previous visitors of the planet you’re on.

The amount of detail in the in-game databank is just so much fun, and while I can’t speak on its accuracy with respect to like… actual marine biology, it was really neat to see them attempt to biologically justify all the little details of the creatures in the game.

I wish there had a been a more clear objective system (even if it didn’t have beacons) so that it was more obvious what things I was trying to do at a given time, especially towards the end-game, but it was still cool to discover things mostly organically (and look up help when I needed it).

Anyway, I liked this game a lot when I started it but my opinion has only improved since I’ve seen it through to the end. I’m excited for the standalone DLC that the devs are working on.


#1990

Subnautica proves that if civilization were to ever end and I’d have to fend purely for myself outside of the structure of common society, I would curl up in to a ball and die, frozen by the fear of moving more than 100 feet from my dwelling.


#1991

By the end of it tbh I was all FUCK THE POLICE I AINT COMING BACK. Capitalism-free zone, start the space commune up boys and girls.


#1992

I’ve been playing Bury Me, My Love. It does some things I like, like how it displays messages on your phone like a regular texting app, and how it makes you wait in real time between updates (apparently this is turned off by default on Switch, which I strongly disagree with). Overall, though, it just isn’t doing it for me and I think it mostly comes down to the writing. The main conceit is that you’re texting your wife/partner, Nour, as she tries to make it from Syria to Europe, but it honestly reads more like two teenagers trying to sneak into a party. You never get a sense for how high the stakes are. I feel bad because the game is obviously trying to do something worthwhile, but the writing is constantly breaking the illusion for me.

And then there’s the fact that, since this is a game, you’re making most of Nour’s decisions for her, even though you’re safe at home while she’s the one in these high-pressure situations. Even if you can get past how nonsensical it is for her to text you to make split-second decisions for her, it has the unfortunate side-effect of rendering her bizarrely helpless and robbing her of all agency in her own story. I would have liked to see it explore how powerless your own character might feel, only being able to text his wife while she navigates life-and-death situations (I think a lot of us could relate to the frustration of wanting to help a loved one in an emergency, but ultimately being useless to them), but it barely touches on that from what I’ve seen.

There are also moments where your character says he’ll do something for Nour, like check the news or contact someone, and I really wish you could do that in game, like how A Normal Lost Phone has in-game “apps” you can use. It would have been interesting to read a few articles so you could make better suggestions for Nour, or otherwise look through information she might not have access to. Instead, you just wait a few minutes and your character responds with a scripted line. It feels like a missed opportunity.


#1993

I’m back on my bullshit with another brown Id game: Quake.

Young me: always set the resolution to max
Current me: give me that chunky look

To be fair 640x480 is probably higher than most or all ran it at back at release and I’m not sure if it had dynamic lighting effects either. Looks good though. The rocket launcher is a lot of fun and you get a lot of ammo for it – no need to be conservative! It’s sad that the shotguns feel so bad though, since they made them so good in Doom.

It’s a weird game. The mix of sci-fi, medieval castles (with actual traps!) and demonic creatures doesn’t at all work together but it makes for an interesting combination. As if the development team was split into groups, pulling it in separate directions. From what I remember of old Ids development stories that might well have been true. IIRC the game even started out as an RPG before they realized that they did not have the time to pull that off.

Screens

I’m playing around with gamma and contrast a bit, not sure I’ve nailed it yet.


#1994

Indeed, this was definitely true, although even more so than you remember (essentially, basically everyone wanted a different thing, including the people who wanted an ultra ambitious RPG with what we’d now call a “full physics simulation” for thrown hammers; and it turned out that the most ambitious stuff was basically impossible, so everyone was told to try to fit all the work they’d done together into something shippable).
On the contrary to you, though, I think the mix of sci-fi, medieval and Lovecraft-lite gothic works better together, albeit accidentally, than most of id’s other stuff. It’s a mishmash, but in a sense that works with the dislocation of the “story” such as it is - and the sort-of-abstraction frees them to have setpiece levels like the hidden level Ziggurat Vertigo (low-gravity on a giant pyramid) and the Wind Tunnels level with all the bouncing around Sonic-style between zones without having to worry about it being realistic at all.


#1995

Divide et Impera, an overhaul mod for Total War: Rome 2. It’s a really relaxing Make The Numbers Go Up sort of thing, and I’m in a challenging position wherein three smaller factions—my own (Medewi) alongside Nabatae and Nasamones—are taking on the juggernaut that is Ptolemaic Egypt.


#1996

That’s a good point about how the abstraction makes more ideas work. The style definitely falls on the good side of interesting. They went full sci-fi in Quake 2 and I think they were worse off for it in the end (although with some better direction that might have worked). If the series returns at some point I’d love them to go back to Q1 as inspiration.

I’ll say though that the art design of Q3 is underrated in how it actually works together the sci-fi and fantasy elements in a more cohesive way. That’s probably easier in an arena style game (see also: Smash Bros., although as PS All-Stars shows it’s not a free home run) but they made some (imo) key art and level design changes to better accommodate it. Like abstracting health pickups into globs instead of health packs, and adding launch pads instead of relying only on lifts. Art style working in tandem with gameplay, ho!


#1997

Since getting PlayStation VR, I’ve been enjoying a lot of games - Moss, Astro Bot, Tetris Effect, Superhot but the real thing I’ve always wanted to try was the VR X-wing mission. I had to reinstall EA’s Star Wars Batltlefront to do it but I must’ve played it 10 times now since the weekend. It’s the dream. I’m in a Star Wars movie.

It starts with you standing outside your X-wing which appears life size - it’s basically foreplay before the mission. Then you can step into the cockpit and you get to just sit there, this has become my happy place. Sometimes after a hard day at work, I’ll just boot up Battlefront and sit in my X-wing and zone out. I won’t even start the mission. The audio of the hanger becomes muffled, the cockpit becomes womblike, the design is really detailed and intricate, you can lean in and inspect everything. If you look behind you, you can see your R2 unit looking at you. It’s brilliant.

Then you have the mission. I guess it’s kind of scripted and simplistic. You can also probably spot where the limitations of the technology impede some of it. But for what it delivers it does so VERY well. Your sitting out in space in front of the entire galaxy. In comes the rebel fleet, you get to fly around Blockade Runners and Medical Frigates. The scale is amazing.

Then you get to go into hyperspace which is a dream itself, you appear in an asteroid field blowing up asteroids and evading the bigger ones. The story is loosely tied to Rogue One, in which you have to escort K2SO’s U-wing to safety. Soon enough the imperials show up and your dogfighting. It’s the same tech as core Battlefront obviously but just the sense of scale and being able to look around you, just amplifies it. Then the Star Destroyer shows up, and gives you that experience. Gameplay wise it is all quite basic, you’ve got to take out tie fighters before disabling the Star Destroyer before reuniting with the rebel fleet. You can’t roll your craft, which I believe would lead to acute motion sickness.

I think there is a moment in which you may lose one of the members of your squadron if you don’t get the Tie fighters off their back.

Why EA isn’t making a VR X-wing game is beyond me. Just create a couple of missions and string it together with a loose story tying it all together. Rogue Squadron VR. Maybe have a MP mode in it, so you and your VR enabled friends can literally relive Star Wars. Getting the patter down and saying to each other “I’m setting up for my attack run!” Even if it was 3-4 missions long and was sold for $30. The market for PS VR has grown in recent months. My feeling is, all EA wants to do with the Star Wars license is reach as wide a market as possible. In which case this VR mission was just a little experiment that Dice was able to work on that was released to coincide with PlayStation VR and Rouge One.

It’s definitely got me on the hunt for other VR enabled space/flight sims. I heard Ace Combat 7 will be VR enabled.

But for now, if anyone wants me, I’ll be in my X-wing talking to my droid.

(I’m trying to stream stuff. As it’s a fun way to play video games).

https://www.twitch.tv/videos/364543834


#1998

I do agree with you that Q3’s art design does better at the stylistic mishmash (and one of the disappointments I always had is that the hints of a wider universe in the manual’s short bios for all of the fighters never made it into any other id game with an actual story setting; imagine how epic and ridiculously OTT the “1990s id properties verse” is, with three different invasions of Earth by alien nasties (the forces of Hell, Quake and the Strogg), each of which canonically wiped out huge chunks of the population - in addition to the random other aliens introduced just in Q3).

[I really think Quake 2’s art design was a huge step backwards in this - and one of the few good things about Quake 4 for me was that they’d at least fixed some of the worse design decisions for the Strogg - most egregiously, the Iron Maidens, who were awful on so many levels in Q2, and actually fairly well designed in Q4.]