Thursday, October 30, 2008

Playing games on the new computer

Was the new machine worth the $2000+? I.. well possibly yes! I've never been able to say "I have a top-of-the-line machine" and by golly, now I can. It is a joy to be able to move those detail sliders all the way to MAX and enjoy pure processor goodness.

So.. games! My first acquisition was Far Cry 2, that sexy beast straight from Montreal! Graphically, yes, dripping sweaty incredible detail yadda yadda. The original Far Cry (2004) placed the player on a series of islands but which were otherwise quite open for exploration. You could go anywhere and spend lots of time just creeping around the place. Much of that is gone now, with areas cut off from each other by impassable hills and many buildings requiring an extra load to enter and exit. I mean, yes technically you can go anywhere you want but it feels a lot less open. Perhaps it's because the missions keep you to populated areas and so I haven't given much time to just wandering around.

A huge difference is that now there are interactions with people, although in conversations this is limited to either you saying yes (by clicking the "Interact" key) or you saying no (by walking away). So yes, there are quests now. And money! You can purchase upgrades to weapons and get these restocked whenever, which is probably the silliest part of the game. I also don't like the easter egg aspect of finding diamonds during your travels. Instead of feeling like you're a virtual world, you rather get the sense that you're playing what could've been a fun game until they decided to cater to console gamers and other decidedly non-Far-Cry features.

But let me speak of my latest love, Fallout 3. It too had to live up to a fan-favored franchise, Fallout 2 (1998) being immensely popular by those who played it (including myself). And did they stray from that turn-based, darkly comedic, nerdly-referencing RPG? It might be too early to say but YES THEY DID. Fallout 3 feels pretty much like what you'd get if you took Oblivion and switched the magic and swords and elves with radiation, guns and mutants. The more I think about it, the closer this analogy holds since I just learned that Bethesda did both games. They also console-ified it greatly, making the interface annoying to us mouse users since we have to (most unnecessarily) scroll through EVERYTHING -- inventory, conversation options, skills etc. This is greatly tedious when, like me, there is plenty of screen real estate for more information (and less eye candy). Haven't come across any of the humor or cultural references that Fallout 2 managed to pack.

Having said that, it's still damn fun running around the Fallout world, avoiding roving bands of mutants and battling psychopaths. The VATS battle system, while kind of silly, is enjoyable to use. The graphics, like everyone says, is startlingly excellent -- everywhere I go I want to get close to things to see how far the texture detail goes. And the draw distance is far, so far I wish I had some binoculars to check everything out. They kept the PipBoy and RPG mechanics, which I consider one of the more fun systems out there.

So, a yay to Fallout 3 (fun but entirely different) and a tentative nay to Far Cry 2.

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