Sometimes you just need to take a lot of screenshots of a game’s character ignoring the giant explosions going on behind him. We did this for Just Cause 2, and it seems that it’s happening all over again with Mad Max. So, for your viewing pleasure, here’s Max nonchalantly not looking at shit blowing up from a distance that really ought to be frying his bacon skin like bacon.
Posts Tagged ‘Explosions’
You might think yourself a real Top Gun, the next Dan Dare, or a veritable Buck Rogers. Kerbal Space Program has been out long enough for you, oh mighty pilot, to master space flight and possibly get a bit cocky. Don’t worry, the latest update has added new things to cock up. Your space centre is destructible now, for starters. It also bulks out the Career Mode a little with new strategies that might help you but can backfire, like unpaid interns. KSP’s on sale for a few days to celebrate.
RPS Feature Hey, look behind you
I’ve been replaying Just Cause 2 in my spare time of late. I remember my absolutely loving it, and then finding the ludicrous fun was spoiled by the difficulty ramping up far too far, and the game getting in the way of itself. So thinking it would be fun to muck around with it some more, this time I set things to Casual and began blowing everything up. I also figure that by this point there’s bound to be a trainer out there that can prevent the heat levels from going over 3. But I’m not here to write you an article yet. Not yet. For now I just want to share some of the snaps I’ve taken on my island holiday. Because sometimes it’s important to just look at pretty pictures of a two year old game in which the character is ignoring things going on in the background.
Pandemic Studios’ latest ludo-spawn, Mercenaries 2, is looking mighty explody. They’ve just released some new game footage with detailed developer-commentary over the top, which you can see beyond the click. The most sensible thing in there is also one of the more minor features, “vehicle disguise”, which makes so much sense, and yet breaks the logic of most action games ever. I’m sure the idea of using a stolen enemy vehicle as a disguise has been used in plenty of other games, but somehow I just can’t think of any.
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World In Conflict is the direct descendant of my favourite RTS, also by Massive Entertainment, Ground Control. You can download that ancient sci-fi strategy from here, and if you do you’ll see that it still stands up today. The way that it stripped away the traditional use of resources (eg Tiberium and base-building in C&C) left a kind of raw tactical challenge – just what can you do with a handful of units, and nothing else?
This acute challenge has mostly been lost from World In Conflict, which means that the single player will be a little disappointing for Ground Control veterans, and a lightweight but fun action sequence for anyone else. The fact that you can call in endless air-drops (as in Ground Control 2) basically takes away the tension. They try to add it with time-limits and so on, but it doesn’t always work. Massive have chosen a good single player map for this demo, however, and there are a number of such highlights throughout the game.
Of course multiplayer is where the meat is. WiC’s focus is on the up-to-eight-aside class-based battles. In case you missed the beta: you can play as infantry, tanks, helicopters, or anti-aircraft/artillery support, and pool resources with other players to bring in airstrikes of increasing magnitude, all the way up to a nuke. The tactical game is Battlefield 2 zoomed all the way out. You have to capture and hold points across a large landscape and doing that requires/demands teamwork. It’s the kind of game that I feel I could happily play as a part of a clan, and it makes me wonder whether it’ll be popular enough to be the Counter-Strike of the RTS. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
Oh and it’s very, very pretty. DX10 explosions do make quite a difference…
Stupid – releasing a version of DirectX (number 10, if you’re counting) that doesn’t work with Windowses other than Vista, and failing to provide any real reason why this should be so.
Stupider – Not having any games that show what DirectX10 is capable of over half a year on from Vista’s launch, compounding the many reasons not to invest in the troubled new operating system.
Pricelessly stupid – Announcing there’s to be another new version of DirectX already, which the expensive 3D cards people excited about DX10 already splashed out on won’t support.
Yes, if you want DirectX 10.1, coming in Vista Service Pack 1, you’ll need yet another 3D card. It beggars belief, it really does. Lost Planet’s the only DX10 game to speak of so far, and it both looked no better and ran worse under DX10 than it did in DX9. Meanwhile, artificially making DX10 Vista-only just pissed gamers off.
Regardless of its performance potential, so far DX10 has been a bit of a PR disaster. And yet Microsoft is to release a new version that requires new hardware, and thus can only confuse and annoy gamers further. While there’s nothing in it that’s going to make game developers convinced they must have it (salt in the wound in fact, as the update sounds entirely futile), the worst case scenario is that a big game like Crysis or Alan Wake goes DX10.1, ripping out 10 support entirely and forcing our pricy new GeForce 8s and Radeon HD cards down into hoary old DX9.
Rationality would have it there’s no way that could happen, but it just takes one graphics card company keen to flog a new range of cards (bet on the release of GeForce 9 coincinding with that of Vista SP1) waving a suitably-sized check at a publisher to ensure the switch happens. Most days, I’m not that honestly bothered about Microsoft’s chokehold on the PC as a platform. When a flat-out moronic move like this demonstrates just how absolute their power over the ol’ IBM Compatible is though, I feel sick to stomach.
Still, compounding my feelings of late that id are becoming golden boys of PC once again, John Carmack revealed at Quakecon that their new game, Rage, will not require DirectX 10 hardware or software, and was entirely dismissive about it. Historically, id have used the rarer but non-Microsoft OpenGL graphics API, so hopefully Rage will mean a latter day resurgence for it. Games for the people! And also a kick in the teeth for Microsoft’s continued arguments for DX10’s essentialness.
Like almost everyone I know I’ve spent too many hours capturing large red or white circles in the World In Conflict Beta. There’s something particularly compulsive about trying to hold a small area on your own, while the rest of your team mills about across the battlefield, attacking the enemy without rhyme or reason. I particularly like playing as infantry and fortifying a position as best I can, fending off tank attacks and napalm deluges with my tiny soldiers. Initially I thought that playing as infantry was the very worst option, but now I understand completely that in fact it is helicopters that are actually the least interesting option. If you want to challenge your tactical self, then you need to be support or infantry.
What I think WiC does, aside from create a palpable “battlefield” atmosphere, is allow you to feel like you can influence the battle outside of your direct area of control. Even if you can’t get units to an area that’s in trouble, the tactical support allows you to call in artillery or airstrikes to help out. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s been a while since an online first-person shooter has consumed all of my attention. That’s probably going to change. There are two reasons for this. One is called Enemy Territory: Quake Wars and the other is called Unreal Tournament 3.
Quake Wars will be the first of these we’ll be getting stuck into later this year. No confirmed release date, but the ongoing private beta suggests it can’t be too far away. It’s also the only one of the two (so far) that I’ve been fortunate enough to see first hand. There’s all kinds of reasons to be excited about this game, not least because the team that are making it are the epitome of excited, obsessed gamers. Splash Damage has hired from the modding community, and was originally born of the modding community, but they’ve also had Id Software as their technical support and Activision as their sugar-daddy. It’s not a recipe to be sniffed at.
As for the game itself, well, the asymmetric factions fighting on asymmetric maps makes for a unusual yet somehow entirely familiar experience. While people talk about how it’s like Battlefield in its overall vision and execution, the level of polish and design-insight makes Battlefield look quite clumsy. This is a game made by people who know what they want to see on an FPS screen. The HUD is perfect, and the vehicle controls can flipped instantly between realistic physics and vital newbie-friendly softness. This is a game of options and solidity.
The feature that excites me most is the way in which contextual missions are generated for every character, depending on his or her class. You might have no real idea about the tactics of any given game, but the HUD nevertheless offers you a couple of possible missions that will, ultimately, help the overall team. It might be to rescue a fallen comrade, or to build a turret. The missions are generated by the actions of your comrades (e.g. dying) as well as what the game detects you might need (e.g. more turrets.) You’ll get unlocks for these missions too, so even the most selfish of solo players won’t be able to help but help their teams.
Quake Wars will, thanks to this system, be an online FPS that is genuinely accessible. Of course you’re going to have to have some mouse-and-keyboard control skills to get along at all, but beyond that you can just do what the game tells you and definitely feel like you’re a part of the raging battle. It’s beautiful, and I expect it will mean that beginners have a much better time a year down the line, when we’re all Quake Wars veterans.
The Quake Wars community website has recently gone up (as if to counter the publisher’s content-free Flash-crap sites) and it contains all kinds of deeply obsessive analyses of the ways in which fighting will occur in the game.
Meanwhile Unreal Tournament will be offer very different, very special reasons to be excited. Look at this:
If that preview image is even a fraction of what you can actually do in the assault missions I’ll be a happy rocketeer. I really don’t expect this to be a great leap on from the recent UT2003/2004 games, but then they were so perfectly engineered, so solid and slick, and so utterly drenched in features, that I can’t see taking it further really being all that necessary.
Nevertheless the UT3 preview events (none of which I’ve been able to go to, sadly) are revealing more martial delights, like this from Eurogamer:
Unreal Tournament 3’s most eye-catching new feature is a two-metre-square block of pink gelatinous wibble that Epic is currently calling the “slow bubble”. Once deployed, it slows the pace of anything that passes through it to a crawl. You can fire a rocket into one end and then run round the side and watch it slowly carve through the centre, before resuming its breakneck pace as it exits. More usefully, you can also dump it in a corridor that chokes your enemy’s progress and use it like a flytrap, snaring the opposition and then blasting them at will. And, brilliantly, anybody stuck inside also gets to watch your bullets seep towards them at the same gradual pace that prevents them getting out of the way.
The Unreal Tournament series has become Epic’s playground for experimentation and clever shooter design. You’d never have guessed that this would be the winner when Quake 3 and Unreal Tournament arrived within in just a few months of each other, but I don’t think we can doubt that UT3 is going to seize the crown. Whatever Id’s other as-yet-unannounced new project is, I doubt it’ll be competing with Epic’s bloated baby. I suppose it’s just a stroke of luck that Id now have a young, dynamic British studio doing the multiplayer work for them.
The nature of both Enemy Territory and UT3 suggest the minimal, arena-based, pure deathmatch multiplayer of the era prior to and contemporary with Quake 3 is dead. I suspect there’s still a market for that kind of play, but the majority are going to be get carried away with the ludicrous weapons, the absurd environments, the thundering vehicles, and the preposterous sci-fi possibility of it all. And, ultimately, I can’t say that I blame them.
I’m just glad I can finally talk about this without breaking an NDA or eight.
Massive have launched their open beta of their Cold War RTS, World in Conflict. I was playing in the closed beta, and biting my tongue to avoid just lobbing an enormous essay up on my blog about why I think it’s perhaps potentially the most interesting RTS of the year. I suspect I’ll end up riffing on the game for the rest of the year, assuming it holds together. Which is always a big “assuming” to make, but let’s try being optimistic for once.
With any luck, this will be to Massive’s previous Ground Control games, what Battlefield 1942 was to Codename: Eagle. That is, a game that takes relatively obscure source material and manages to bring it to an enormous audience. I can’t see why not. The WW3 setting is criminally under-used (And, as an aside, when it has been used it’s lead to some fascinating games – cross reference the definitive Soldier Sim, Flashpoint: Cold War Conflict). Massive have always believed in RTS which are inspired as much by team deathmatch games as the traditional lineage – so we have short games, no-real economics and close-teamwork. It’s different enough to be interesting but based on mechanics so simple that I suspect I’ll even be able to get Walker to play a game or two.
Highlight so far: Sweeping my tanks into the irradiated zones immediately after a nuke’s hit, which is about as apocalyptic as gaming has got this year. The little fluffy mushroom cloud slowly fading as my tank treads crush the scorched remains…
End of the world as we know it. Feels fine.