We have much respect for the great streamers and gameplayers out there with awesome flawless videos of excellent play, this isn’t one of those videos, but hey we got Call of Duty and he didn’t die too much so it’s not all bad.
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The problems with Fire Warrior, you see, are firmly rooted in its dirty console past. The game sports an incredibly annoying auto-save/checkpoints feature that forces you to replay levels again and again (only to be killed seconds before beating them), has pretty clumsy controls, very poor AI, astonishingly few tweaking options and an obviously tacked-on online multi-player side. ~Konstantinos Dimopoulos
Warhammer 40k: Fire Warrior
Now, why would you dear readers care for a review of a spectacularly unremarkable 5 year old game, that was released to public apathy and less than stellar reviews? And why would I bother with a game that dared tempt the PC crowd without a proper save feature, while offering only lackluster multi-player options? Why should we even care about the existence of another generic FPS instead of, say, the joys of Blue Lacuna? Well, simple really. It’s all happening because I’m oddly enjoying playing through Fire Warrior, that’s why. Shockingly for the second time in my life too.
Better start at the beginning then. Warhammer 40,000: Fire Warrior is -as you might have already guessed- a pretty standard FPS set in Games Workshop’s dark and gritty sci-fi/Gothic world of Warhammer 40,000, where -as is customary with these things- there is only war and apparently many interesting stories to be told. You, the player, assume the role of a young warrior of the Tau Empire and set out to fight for the greater good in general and, in a more specific way, against the rather fascist Empire of Man. Actually, you get to live through the frenetic first 24 hours of your service while battling through 21 hour-long levels, essentially making this a properly real-time FPS in the strictest of senses. Interesting innit? Regardless. It still is longer than the average shooter and that sort of makes up for the fact that the game is definitely showing its age. It was after all a 2003 release.
Fire Warrior also was the first pure action game set in the Warhammer 40k universe and, frankly, this must have been why I actually decided to give it a chance in the first place. Let me explain my train of thought like this: Shooting Space Marines? Yes, please. Walking through Tau spaceships in glorious 3D? Definitely. Being a nameless grunt in a war-torn universe? Sure. Playing a lazy PS2port on the PC? Well, uhm, not that I’m thrilled with the prospect, but guess I could put up with it.
The problems with Fire Warrior, you see, are firmly rooted in its dirty console past. The game sports an incredibly annoying auto-save/checkpoints feature that forces you to replay levels again and again (only to be killed seconds before beating them), has pretty clumsy controls, very poor AI, astonishingly few tweaking options and an obviously tacked-on online multi-player side. Then, it doesn’t even try to add anything new to the genre and its sole innovation is a rather failed copy of HALO’s shield system. And don’t get me started on the extreme linearity of the thing or the truly archaic need to collect color-coded keys…
On the plus side -and besides the setting- Fire Warrior does manage to do some things rather well. Or at least, well enough to help you relax, turn your brain off and enjoy many hours of frenetic shooting a la Serious Sam. You get 15 different weapons to experiment with, an impressively balanced difficulty curve, a great (or at least engrossing for FPS standards) plot, a variety of well-presented locations, bits of horror, a couple of smart set-pieces, boss battles and tons of enemies. What’s more, there are more than a few fantastic cinematic sequences and I bloody love fantastic cinematic sequences. I am quite fond of them unlockable WH40K artwork goodies too.
So, and in order to reach some sort of a verdict, should you grab a copy? Well, if you don’t mind Fire Warrior’s flaws and lack of originality, care for a simple though highly atmospheric and extremely addictive FPS to last you for a week or so, then, by all means, I think you should. After all, Warhammer 40,000 Fire Warrior is indeed dead cheap. Oh, and Warhammer 40k maniacs that can forget their miniatures for a while will definitely appreciate it too. Mind you, Amazon has quite a few well priced copies lying around last time I checked.
Half Life 2: Episode Two begins right where Episode 1 left off. The Citadel has come crashing to the ground, City 17 is in ruins, and your train out of dodge has derailed. You awake to find Alyx outside, thankful you’re alive. She helps you out using the Gravity Gun, and thus begins your mission.
Host to a data card that the Combine desperately wants and needs, Alyx and Gordon must rush to White Forest, the resistance’s new base in the wake of City 17’s destruction. The game follows Gordon and Alyx as they make their way across the countryside that surrounds City 17 and to White Forest, where Doctor’s Vance, Kleiner, and Magnusson are waiting for their arrival with the data, which is needed to launch a missile that will close the Combine portal, leaving the Combine trapped on earth without reinforcements.
The story is fantastic. The characters are well known by now, as is the struggle, and never does that struggle seem more important than in the final hours of the game, when the portal can be seen looming in the dark sky and striders are flooding the forest towards the resistance base and the missile silos.
The story is excellent, but, the journey to get to White Forest begins a little too slowly. After leaving the train we are treated to a stunning view of City 17 and the outdoor environment of Episode 2. However, the game quickly leads you underground, into Antlion nests where you feel confined and frankly, a bit bored. Antlions just aren’t fun. And tight spaces aren’t a whole lot of fun either when there beckons an entire world of forest and mountains above.
Nonetheless, Episode 2 throws you into the outdoors after about an hour and a half of crawling in Antlion tunnels, and you rarely venture back in. The huge difference in this game is the size of the environment. You are surrounded by wilderness, small towns, farmhouses and lone radio towers. There are rivers and stunning mountains rising in the distance. It’s liberating and it creates a feeling that the Half Life world is truly real. While playing, I was left with a very certain impression that the world had been abandoned with the Combine invasion fifteen years earlier. Everything was falling apart, buildings left to rot, and it was overwhelmingly awe-inspiring to see the world as a place where humans had been shepherded into ghettos and where the Combine used the earth as a mine, taking natural resources over time.
One of the main questions surrounding the game was the introduction of a new enemy: the hunter, which is a difficult foe in the different gaming environment. Episode 2, however, also introduces three more enemies as well: an acid-spitting Antlion, an Antlion guardian, and the Combine Advisor. While serviceable enemies, the Hunter steals the show. A vicious, fast-moving, and deadly adversary that stands about eight feet tall; the Hunter seems to travel in packs and it shoots electrical bolts that stick to surfaces and explode, zapping health and energy. It is a welcome addition the Half Life story, and I expect that we’ll see more of it in Episode 3.
The lighting and other graphical qualities are fantastic, and even though better graphics can be found across current-gen consoles, Valve enlisted such incredible art direction that the Source Engine’s age is barely showing. The environments look wonderful, the spaces feel appropriately vast, and the character models still look amazingly realistic. They display emotions on a level I’ve never seen before in a game, and I still don’t think any graphical engines model human characters so well.
Sound use is excellent in Episode 2. The music kicks in at the right moments and serves to inspire fear, excitement, or manic abandon. The weapons sound appropriately tuned, and the voice acting is fantastic as usual. And of course, the screaming of headcrab zombies is utterly terrifying and spine-tingle inducing.
There was some criticism of the length of Episode 1, and that has been rectified in Episode 2. Episode 2 offers a range of diversity that is unrivaled in gaming and is quite long. From the driving segments to the use of the Gravity Gun, to physics puzzles to shotgun diplomacy to huge battles from underground lairs to shaking valleys full of striders, Episode 2 is amazing. It is roughly six hours long, and it is well worth the journey (and the price).
Episode 2 isn’t perfect. Though the opening sections of the game make the eventual arrival in the forest seem incredibly liberating, they are a bit of a slog and they make it tough to begin the adventure. And though the story is enthralling, I still want to know more about the G Man and the seven hour war. Looking beyond those minor faults, Episode 2 is at least every bit as strong a Half Life experience as the game’s that came before it and has me excited for the final episode. No other game offers such a diverse, fantastic, and entertaining variety of puzzles, strategy, excitement, and story. Episode 2 is well worth adding to your game collection.
Final Score: 93%
+ Great gameplay – Opening section of game is a bit slow
+ Wonderful art direction – Story could still use some insight
+ Pulse poundingly exciting
Descent 2 Music
If you love techno, heavy metal, and music like in the cartoon Batman Beyond then the soundtrack to Descent 2 is for you!
I remember when I first saw the first Descent while I was in high school I thought that it was light years ahead of Doom and other FPS games that were popular at the time like Duke Nukem 3D. Although they kind of faded into obscurity the Descent series always had a special place in my heart for causing epilepsy and nausea in its players.
Although the Interplay that brought us this game pretty much disappeared you can still get Descent 2 from Good Old Games at this link. If you ever played them, I seriously recommend Descend 2 if you want to play a game that’s a real challenge, especially at the higher difficulties.
Anyways, here is the Descent 2 music, ripped from my original game CD. The soundtrack is an excellent blend of techno and heavy metal. It’s particularly effective the louder you play it, even with some other games! Enjoy it!
Mafia 2 Release Party Miami by Honorabili
Our friends Kevin Wasielewski and Hector Penton at OriginPC invited us to come to the club Grand Central Miami to celebrate the release of the Max Payne/GTA/Saints Row clone sequel Mafia 2. Grand Central itself was a nice club. It seems to be a converted train depot.
Here are some pictures of JA Laraque and some hot Mafia 2 models to get your attention. Hey, sex sells!
The event was free and open to the public.
I got a chance to play the Mafia 2 demo on the PCs that were doing the demo of the game by OriginPC. As far as my impression of it goes (just based on the demo and me playing and beating the original Mafia 1), the game seems a lot easier than the first game with your guy regenerating health if he doesn’t get hurt within a certain amount of time, a trend in many recent games. Mafia 1 was really brutal from what I remember in the last time I played it. Mafia 2 itself is nice eye candy and the version of the game I played was using the latest and greatest 3D gaming technology that was supplied by NVIDIA. I spent a good amount of time talking to Andrew Coonrad, the Technical Marketing Analyst from NVIDIA. He informed me (and I agree) that we will see this 3D technology implemented in a lot of future games. I think it works really well with games where stuff is being shot at you like FPS games or stuff like Descent as well as a lot of racing games.
The rest of the time I talked to a lot of local gaming people, drank about 7 cups worth of cranberry & vodka, downed a bottom of a local drink called Game Juice (which they make in Medley, FL and it tasted somewhat like Mountain Dew Baja Blast mixed with some other flavors), and talked about the future of gaming and a ton of science fiction movies with my friend Nery Hernandez, CTO of Monkey Plum Media.
For the most part they had a bunch of hip hop music playing really really loud.
As far as loot goes the event dropped a nice XL Mafia 2 shirt as well as a bunch of posters, stuff we can give away to you guys in the future. 😀 They had a contest where they randomly picked whoever screamed the most and gave them free shirts and copies of the game for PC, PS3, or XBox 360.
Overall, I will be playing Mafia 2 shortly (and probably comparing it more to the original game if I review it).
Steam Sale – Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare 1 for $14.99
If you are a fan of FPS games and you still don’t have Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare, you have been missing out. Now is a good time to pick it up for $14.99 from Steam.
CoD4-MW1 is a total hit of a game and it actually lived up to its hype. The single player campaign is a lot of fun and is exciting. My favorite part of the game being the sniper mission and another part which I won’t tell since it would be a spoiler. It is shocking, though. ;-]
The game is worth buying especially since you can find a lot of players still playing this game, although a lot will be playing its sequel, Modern Warfare 2. Still, since there is a problem with the people who made this game (they fired them), I’ll take as much Modern Warfare from the original Infinity Ward team as I can.
Games coming out April 2010 for PC by Honorabili
Not much is coming out this April for PC.
Borderlands Add-On Pack, April 6
This seems to be the DLC compilation all bundled together for Borderlands. Some of the content is already available such as the Zombie Island of Dr. Ned.
Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City, April 13
The PC is always slow to get releases of GTA as opposed to the consoles, although GTA originally is a PC game. Many console gamers consider these chapters of GTA to be some of the better ones. GTA: Episodes from Liberty City includes The Lost and Damned, and The Ballad of Gay Tony.
Splinter Cell: Conviction, April 27
The trailer reminds me of Max Payne mixed with Splinter Cell with an over-the-top action movie. It might still be a lot of fun. 😀 I myself will not buy it because this does have the Ubisoft DRM that requires an internet connection to play a single-player game.
Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter, April 28
Serious Sam kind of fills the void for me that Duke Nukem would have filled (sounds sick) but it’s the same kind of game. I guess it wouldn’t hurt to have more generic FPS games like this one. Good thing about Serious Sam is that they always sell it at a value price so a lot of people will actually buy it and you will have people to play it with, since this one has co-op.
Well, it’s a short list for April. If you are a game developer and would like your game listed let me know (so long as it’s a game that’s good). It’s also a good time for you to release a game for PC because of the shortage of titles this month. Keep checking these kind of articles because I update them with new release dates and new late-comers.