Sunday, 31 July 2011

A very Nazi weekend

This weekend my media consuming habits were invaded by Nazis.

Firstly by Steam’s free weekend of Dino D-Day, a poor man’s Day of Defeat with the welcome (?) addition of Nazi dinosaurs. I dismissed this sometime ago after watching Giant Bomb’s Quick Look at the title but you can’t argue with free.

dm_gela_trex0000…or maybe you can, time is debatably more important than money. Besides the fact that there only appears to be one map (or at least one that anybody plays) the game is completely weighted towards the Nazis. Why would anyone choose Allies when they are limited to generic human classes whereas Nazi’s may play as those same classes alongside a multitude of dinosaur classes, including a T-Rex which very much riffs on Left 4 Dead’s Tank character. dm_gela_trex0004Servers are always stacked on the Nazi side - in my eyes it’s just broken. Allies could have been provided vehicles or power armour or something to even the odds. In this latest release they are given a “dino reject” and somewhere I read it was possible to play as a machine gun goat, though I never saw this with my own eyes.

I’m not sure how packed servers will be any time after this free weekend is up, as the game relies on it’s absurdity to garner any attention.

  • Play as a Dilophasaurus and toss goats through the air with your powerful jaws
  • Play as a T-Rex and Gun down countless allied threats with twin machine guns
  • Cock your leg and urinate on your prey for no reason whatsoever
  • Play as a woman in a team based online shooter

dm_gela_trex0002Unfortunately none of these points really interested me very much, any entertainment had was from the fact that it was a multiplayer game involving other people, where one can be fighting beside someone called “WankFactory” or see the term “T-Rex needs ammo” typed into a chat window.

I wouldn’t advise picking this up unless you can get in on the free weekend or find it heavily discounted.

Later I watched Dead Snow, a film featuring waves of Nazi undead running about the snow capped mountains of Norway.

Nothing new, a bunch of kids go up to a cabin in the mountains and get harassed by an unknown terror – in this case gold seeking Nazi Zombies. Some great moments of tension towards the start and a fair few smiles were had. It was rather low on the laughs although there were some particularly amusing gory deaths and the Zombie makeup was as gruesome as it was inventive.

Ein Zwei Die!

Give it a watch.

And finally someone on Twitter linked to a relatively new trailer to the upcoming sci-fi comedy, Iron Sky. It looks somewhat entertaining…

Provided there’s no slapstick or other such cringe-worthy comedy I’ll be all over that, supposedly there’s a game planned to support the release also.

Also, Monday bank holiday!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Stories from Black Mesa: Decay

Since the start of 2011 I’ve been plugging away at the original Half-Life and it’s various expansion packs (I finished the original Half-Life back in January). They’re either compelling, or I’m a masochist, but either way I’ve managed to get through the entire of the Half-Life anthology including the previously unreleased Half-Life: Decay.

Decay was originally an exclusive expansion as part of the Playstation 2 port of Half-Life, something I remember meddling with but to no real end due to a lack of interest in first person shooters using a controller - my, how times change. Decay was a split screen co-operative experience on the PS2 and put players in the roles of Gina Cross and Colette Green, scientists working at the Black Mesa Research Facility during the events of the original Half-Life. Eagle eyed franchise fans will note that Gina Cross is in fact the hologram from the Hazard Training Course in the original Half-Life (though her character model was updated somewhat for this outing).

Now of course I didn’t play the PS2 version of Decay for my most recent play though, instead I downloaded the network enabled PC version which was ported by Ukrainian developers, Vyacheslav Dzhura and Denis Zhatov (this can be downloaded for free here).

Decay is quick to the finish, most likely down to it’s single level format. Players move from level to level via menu rather than in one continuous sequence. Players are tasked with helping a wheelchair-bound Doctor Keller and Doctor Rosenberg (also seen in Half-Life: Blue Shift) by solving co-op puzzles that loosely tie into the events of the original Half-Life, eventually forming a narrative in it’s own right, though not a particularly strong one - though I give bonus points for omitting any levels set in Xen.

In solo play the player has to swap between the two characters with a key press, an action passable through the early portions of the game, but some of the later puzzles and combat sections provided more challenge than they needed to. One puzzle of note (because it seemed rather rough in implementation) involved one player having to crouch jump on the head of another player to access an overhead vent – rather frustrating when you have to rapidly switch between players mid manoeuvre. It’s a rough looking game, and I’m sure the fact that this is a port is a contributing factor. The overall low production quality was offset by the welcome increase of speaking, named characters, whom provided guidance and narrative throughout - with the exception of the annoying wheelchair-bound Doctor Keller who often got stuck during scripted sequences requiring the player to restart the level (particularly the final level of the game – very buggy, very annoying).

Upon completion players are treated access to a short standalone level known as “Xen Attacks”. Here, players take control of the green-electric throwing Vortigaunts. Their goal is to retrieve Xen crystals similar to those provided by Decay’s protagonists, Cross and Green for Freeman’s Resonance Cascade in the original Half-Life – it’s a loose way to tie the story together for a mission that translates simply to “kill a bunch of Marine bastards”. It’s a fleeting scenario, but a fun little extra for those who manage to finish the standard game and provides a vocal cameo from the Nihilanth, Half-Life’s primary antagonist.

Overall I enjoyed Decay – sure it’s rough and it’s not a patch on Half-Life or it’s other expansions but it’s another excuse to go back to Black Mesa and see the events of Half-Life from a different point of view, and for free, you can’t argue with that.

Rock Paper Shotgun wrote a little somethin’ somethin’ about it here, and for those that missed it, Half-Life: Decay can be downloaded for free, here. There’s also an apparent remake in the works – who knows if it will ever see the light of day. Check that out here.

I think I will save my waffling about Opposing Force and Blue Shift for another day – I have work to do!