Thursday, September 29, 2005

Game(s) of the week

System Shock 2

This week I've been playing System Shock 2 again. It's an oldie, but one of the best games ever made, and one of the scariest. I don't mean in the way that Doom 3 makes you jump because every 5 feet there's an invisible closet that monsters jump out from. System Shock 2 is genuinely creepy and frightening, plus monsters jump out to scare you. However, they come from places which make more sense than Doom, and you can outmaneuver them from time to time.

If you like immersion, take a look at it. To compare it to Doom again, it features the same sort of PDA with emails and audio logs to advance the story. However, it did it first (by a few years) and better. It really is more of an Action-RPG, and is more comparable to Deus Ex (or the sequel) than to games like Doom.

Of course, it's old by now, and the graphics have aged a lot. If you look around online, various people have graphics upgrade mods. You can download an old package (from 1 year ago) that I like from my mirror of it. It upgrades most of the monster models and many textures. A warning, though, it has one particular creepy, risque model, though it fits the game. Or, look around online, and they've probably got better ones by now. People also continue to mod this game.

It takes some effort to make System Shock 2 work on Windows XP. Installation can be a problem. If you follow the link at the top, you can get to a forum with some posts on the topic. I mainly just set XP to use Win98 compatibility mode for both .exe files, and fixed the copy protection, and it worked.

If you want the game, go look on eBay, it should still be available from someone.

Vampire: Bloodines

I've also played Vampire: Bloodlines this week. A friend got into it, so I played it some more, as well. This time, I'm trying the Tremere clan. It's a fair amount different with that clan than my primary character, a Toreador who's good at unarmed and gun combat.

It's a great true CRPG, one of the best, even though it has a lot of action. It really is immersive, and fits the Vampire game, though I'm not an expert. I'm actually playing a bit to feel out a pen-and-paper RPG Tremere character I'm thinking to play, sort of.

The graphics of this game are amazing; hardly any game out of any genre can beat it yet. The conversations have voiceovers with lip-syncing, which is impressive to watch. It uses the engine from Half-Life 2, which also uses this lip-syncing, though not as well, as that's an action game. If you have a high-end system, Bloodlines is quite a sight.

These RPGs have a fair amount in common. They follow similar genres, are both dark and creepy, immersive, etc. However, they both share a downside. Both System Shock 2 and Vampire: Bloodlines have a poor ending, in my opinion. Vampire's is worse, but both work, I suppose. I just wish good games would finish as strong as they start.

Anyway, we'll see if I'm playing anything interesting next week. I may pick up Fable for the PC, or finish Dungeon Siege 2. When it seems at least marginally interesting to me, I'll post Game(s) of the Week.


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