Saturday, September 09, 2006

Road Rash

Welcome back to remember another old-school game on the Genesis, this time it's Road Rash, a driving game by the giant publisher/developer, Electronic Arts.

The title screen, very representative of the game.

Road Rash was a racing game where you had to do anything--ANYTHING--to cross the finish line first. These were illegal races on regular roads with traffic and many other complications such as cows on the side of the road and cops chasing you. Winning was not just a matter of driving good, but fighting just as well.

You are about to pass another bike and the guy punches you in the face, what do you do? You hit him back and he hits you back and you do so once again and the fight heats up until one of you go down. Some guys even have chains, and yes, you can take it away and hit them with it. It's recommended you still pay attention to the road while fighting though, incoming traffic is always a problem. It's also a good idea to check your rear-view mirrors for other riders trying to pass you, a kick usually does the job.

Choose your track!

Graphics were very very good back then. There wasn't a whole lot of repetition, and there were a lot of objects on-screen, all of them fairly detailed. The rear view mirrors were a nice touch too.

That guy is going to get it....

The best about Road Rash was definetely the gameplay, and it's probably because you actually had to drive/ride. If you remember old racing games, when you faced a turn, your car/bike would start taking the turn by itself, and in many easy turns, you didn't even have to touch the controller, so that kind of put me off about many of the old racing games. That wasn't the case with Road Rash, if you don't turn, your bike doesn't turn and you most likely end up hitting a cow outside the road and a long walk to get to wherever your bike ends up.

.....I did say it's a good idea to keep an eye on the road (check the lef rear-view mirror to see what hit me)

There was always something to worry about, and that's probably what made this game so good and addicting. In terms of difficulty, it wasn't terribly hard but yes, a couple of crashes means you won't win.

There, I won anyways, now stop laughing.

As you can see above, you get money if you place on the podium, unfortunately, I can't remember what the money was used for, but I'll look into that.

Lastly, I leave you with some footage of the game. I once again apologize for the quality of the video but youtube keeps giving me this crap. And it's not so much the image quality, it's not like you are going to see the bumpmapping or any of that, but the sound desynchronization as you'll see all sound fx coming very late and that pisses me off. So if you could please imagine everything was perfect and tell your brain that bump was 2 seconds ago, thank you.



Come back sometime later next week as we re-visit some (5) of the best old-school side-scrollers.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Before and After Episode 1: ShadowRun

ShadowRun turned from an RPG to an FPS--A complete change.

Many people disliked the change, some welcomed the change. The way I see it, they should have stayed in RPG form. There are so many first person shooters, so many of them are so average it's hard to succeed in this genre. From the looks of it, Shadowrun doesn't have what it takes to become an iconic fps like Halo, Half Life, or Counter Strike. It looks to me like one more of the bunch.

Seeing the original Shadowrun reminds me about BioWare's upcoming RPG, Mass Effect. One can only think we would have two amazing RPGS to look forward to if FASA had continued the series in their RPG form. Sadly they haven't, but you'll be judge, check out these videos and make up your mind.

ShadowRun, 1989 Sega Genesis



ShadowRun "Next gen", TBD X360 & PC



I apologize for the quality/sound/framerate issues, but that happened when uploaded to youtube, if you have any tips please let me know.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

"Never give up"

Does that phrase make any sense? It's been a long time, a long time since Altered Beast was released!!!

"Never give up", we were told that everytime the game started and everytime we died. So I'm fighting these weirdos and I die, I press start to play again and I'm told "Never give up"........hmn.....what a nice way to say "keep the coins rolling into the machine".

The "insert coin" screen. Notice the date '88, its been 18 years!

If you haven't played it, now you know it is a sidescroller, and in my opinion, one of the best at its time. It was also released for the Sega Genesis, in the huge movement of games from arcade to the home console.

In this game, it was all about becoming a kickass beast, an altered beast at that. Wolves, bears, dragons, tigers. If a second player joined you during the game, he would come out with an exotic color, like green, so the result was a green wolf as you see in the screen above. To get to that point, you had to kill a white, two heads wolf that would come your way every once in a while. Here it is.
Those purple guys live underground, but they happen to come out just to kill you.
And there's the white wolf as you see.

You kill the wolf and you become stronger........

A LOT stronger.....

By the time you kill 3 wolves, you become an altered beast. It was time to kick ass!

This was quite a memorable moment.

And for some reason, the wolf has the skills of Ryu from Street Fighter.

Oh yeah, check out that move

As any side scroller at the time, there was a boss fight at the end of every level. And as far as I remember, there are only 5 or 6 boss battles, yes, that means the game can be beat in 15 minutes, ha! And to think we whine about 8 hour games now.

It's been a while, long live Altered Beast!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

FIFA 06 RTWC HANDS ON PREVIEW

A demo for Fifa 2006, Road to Word Cup for the Xbox 360 has just been released into the marketplace. I have to say that EA has striken again.

The game is just bad, really bad. We all know EA likes to develop this cash-in projects, but this? This is just way too, too hypocritical of them? I don't know. So, I'm going to try and describe what I think this game had to offer judging from the demo.

Gameplay: Have you played Fifa 06? No? what about Fifa 05? No? 04? "Yes I have" --Well, it's basically that. With the same, horrible ball physics that's been with the series since.......since they started actually. The problem is that it's now "next gen", and we are still playing "the gen before last gen" so, it doesn't feel right. I didn't feel any difference between Ronaldinho and Cafu, making Ronaldinho feel like an average player when we all know he's one, if not the best player in the world right now. The AI, on both sides, feels cheap also. Well, if you really want to go deep into gameplay details, simply read a review for past games from a RESPECTABLE source.

Graphics: Graphics....where to start. Ok, the good things about it. The stadium looks decent enough, as does the grass, and that's about it. Things start looking grim from the moment you start the match, as the camera moves around the players in the introduction. The framerate starts...t-o-....ch....op. If the framerate is going down it must be one hell of a nice looking game right? No, it's just a very unoptimized game. But right when you think the framerate is the only thing wrong, you see the game making use of "deph of field" and it just makes things look worst. It's just badly implemented. The use of deph of field, for example when a player is the one in focus, creates this weird "extra image", something you would see when you are dizzy, it's not that bad but it is very easy to spot. Also things on the back look very aliased, very disgusting.

And what's in the back? The player models. Oh boy. The facial animations are pretty cool, they move somewhat convingly, but animations outside the face look bad. Not only that, but it seemed to me like all the players move the same. Things like Ronaldinho's pony tail had the tendency of glitching, as the hair got stuck in the player's body it would start shaking like crazy. The uniforms themselves, in fact, the whole body has this extremely unrealistic shine, they look like claymation characters dipped in oil, and then exposed to 1000 light bulbs (perhaps the sun is just too close or something). Like I said, players look like they are made out of clay, the uniforms being perfect recreations of clay. They look cartoonish, and I'm not sure if EA actually went for that look, but eitherway, it looks really bad, so bad, I prefer last gen's Winning Eleven 8 or 9 graphics. The uniforms have this very basic animation, they move slightly when the player is moving, but even that is not done to good effect. The facial models are mutant-like characters trying to represent real human beings. Out of the 22 players on the field, only one from each team looked great. German midfielder Ballack, definetely looked like him, Dida not far behind him. These two players look as they should, I think. By this I mean just the way the face is modeled, because regardless of how good they are modeled they have this extreme shine that just looks bad. Some players were a joke to look at, such was the case of Ronaldo from Brazil. He looked like monkey, it was just bad. Ronaldinho was fairly well modeled, but that brings us to another problem with the graphics. Although he looked fair enough, the game throws this ridiculous shadows that makes many players look even worst. In Ronaldinho's case, very dark shadows unders his eyes, and cheecks.

That's all I'm going to talk about as far as graphics are concerned. I think the point has gotten through by now.

Sound: Ha! And I thought EA had this nailed with the FIFA series. The demo did not have commentary on, but I've always liked the commentaries from FIFA games, so it's most probable going to be good. The problem here was the crowd and other sound fx. The crowd is just loud throughout the match, but unlike other games in the series, they don't react to the action at all. They only do so when something really happens, like a close shot, or a goal, other than that, there was no reaction or a reaction so subtle is not audible. In another instance the CPU almost scored once, the ball hit the crossbar to make this very unrealistic sound, that only contributed to the dissapointment.

And that's all, download and play at your own risk.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Is Test Drive Unlimited one more of the bunch?

The Test Drive series has been around for a long long time. During that time, we have seen unbelievable titles such as Test Drive Le-mans for the Dreamcast, as well as V-Rally, also for the Dreamcast. Other than that, well well, the Test Drive series has been pretty average to downright ugly.

The new Test Drive, Test Drive Unlimited is the next one in line. Could this be another great test drive, or just another test drive?

The title is to be released for PS2, PSP, PC and the Xbox 360. I'd say the most effort will be put into the PC and 360 versions, with the other versions being the watered down ports. Something like Ghost Recon AW, which is awesome on 360 and awful on Xbox.

Unlimited is being developed by Eden Studios which is a studio owned by Infogramed if I'm correct, who are these guys?

They are the ones who developed the great V-Rally for the Dreamcast and then the pretty good V-Rally 2, and 3. So it's safe to say the game is in good hands. They know how to handle a driving game, and can come up with something special. And since they are with Infogrames, the devs for Le-mans for the Dreamcast, we just can't complain. So there's a lot of expertise there. I have to say they have "deved" some really bad driving games too, but it seems to me that when they put lots of resources into a driving game, they create some AAA material.

So I guess the question is, are they really serious about this game? It looks like it, but we'll have to wait.

The concept of driving through an entire island and finding challengers as you drive, owning homes, the types of cars to own (Lamborghini, Zonda, etc), it is definetely intriguing, I don't know how any driving game fan could say otherwise.

Gamespot just posted three new gameplay videos and some things I didn't like. You can watch them here: http://www.gamespot.com/xbox360/driving/testdriveunlimited/media.html

I was somewhat dissapointed with:

*Graphics: For those of us who own PGR3, to be impressed with a driving game, that driving game has to do something very good. Unfortunately, the only thing I can think of Unlimited does better than PGR3 is the fact that you can race around a huge island. Other than that, nothing is done better graphics wise. It is a well known fact car models use very little amount of polygons when compared to PGR3, and it shows. The number is 10K for Unlimited and 100K for PGR3 from what I remember, but don't quote me on that.

And the devs have done a nice job at using those polygons, but there's only so much you can do with that. The in-car camera shows this perfectly, whereas PGR3 is using a lot of polygons for the interior, Unlimited is using mostly flat textures with the help of things like bump mapping and normal mapping so they look 3d, it obviously is not the same thing.

Test Drive
PGR3

The difference may not seem to be that big from screens, but it only takes downloading of some videos to notice the huge difference.

*Sound: The fact that the lamborghini sounded like your fake test drive car sent shivers through my body.

*The phsysics: This was the real bummer for me. In video number three the lamborghini drives too.....too fake? And I don't have a problem with arcade style driving/physics, the problem is that it looks too cheap! Burnout cars move nicely regardless of the extreme arcade style. This game is obviously not going for that extreme aracade, it's going for something along the lines of PGR3, but judging from "video 3" at that gamespot link I gave, the cars don't drive as good as I'd like to. No, maybe they drive well, but the way they move makes it look cheap. The Lambo was going extremely fast and then it stops in just a second. That made me turn my head right and left thinking, "what have they done with the game?"

*The roar of the engine muted when whoever was playing looked back from the in-car camera. That can easily be solved during development I know, but I don't see the reason why they would mute the engine while looking back in the first place.

I hope that once playing it that will become second terms, but it could be done much better, that I know.

I was delighted by:

*The way you can buy a car. You go to the dealer, buy the car, take the keys, drive the car.

*The fair customization of the car. You can change the exterior color of the car, but what I liked was that you can also change the color of the interior! Very nice.

*The race, I can imagine myself playing through that island for a long time. The roads are curvy but there are a lot of nice straightaways as well. I hope they can mix it up enough so it doesn't become boring.

*The sense of speed was great, good use of blur and of course, speed.

And those are my thoughts on the game so far. I'm hoping they can pull it off right, otherwise they won't get my $60!!! It's looking good, but it definitely needs some tweaking as of right now. That may be why the game is not released right?

-Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Holly Crap! Sony Unveils Some Info On PS3!

After a long drought of information, SONY finally gave its fanbase something to talk about, and a bit less to talk about for the analysts.

http://www.gamespot.com/news/6145972.html

"Here's the Live clone, in short it does what Xbox Live does and then some more"

Finally Sony brings a decent online service. Well, we don't know that yet. We know there will be a basic "free" version. And since Sony loves giving information in half, we don't know what that "basic" functionality will be like.

"6 million consoles before the end of fiscal 2006 (March 2007)"

I think there will definetely be shortages. A Sony console released in all three major territories at the same time? Japan included? Expect long lines and long waits. There will be shortages.

"Here's your new car John, you need to buy the tyres though, and the transmission too actually"

They are requiring a hard drive for games. Yet not confirmed it will come with the PS3, right out of the box. I think not including the hard drive would be extremely stupid no matter what. Ken had this to say, "We might end up installing it in all PS3s, though that depends on the market,"*rolls eyes*

"Games will play off the hard drive"

Why? Please don't tell me games will require install. I guess this is just more half baked info from Sony.


"I guess we are including a hard drive then, and I guess 60GB is enough"--Ken had once said they were not including a HDD because no matter how big it was, it would not be enough, good-ol Ken ¬_¬ ⌐_⌐

For once I hope they do broadband only for online play. No need for more lag than necessary.

"Sony is giving you a home server!!! "

What a joke!. A PS3 as a server? Basically no one will use that for many reasons, here are some:

*it's simply pathetic to use a PS3 as a server
*it'll be trouble in all ways:
-ISPs will not really like you to have servers
-It will not be easy to set up for newbies, because it simply is not.
-60GB for a home server? Pathetic
-Want to do add some mods to support a new 200GB HD? You would run into more trouble. Just get a real server, honestly.

This is a nice addition but not practical when you think about it. It'll also support "full internet" so I guess that means web browsing. I don't see that as practical either. 1)PS3 will use broadband, many people are still on Dial up, yes. 2)I don't see anyone using the PS3 for web surfing, it just seems "meh" to use a console for that. Anyways, I doubt it will be as functional as "real" web browsing. Let's say you want to run a program........oops! that doesn't running of Linux, too bad! (like the vast majority of programs)

That's the sad reality. And check back on November and tell me who's using these last two things, especially "home server" .

Monday, March 06, 2006

The Outfit Demo

THQ just released a demo of The Outfit to be released this March.

UPDATE: It seems like this preview is too on the negative side so I'd like to clarify. The game is good, expect many scores in the 8 range. It's simply that I personally was expecting more. It's good fun but not something I would pay 60 dolalrs for, that is, I will wait for a price drop on this.

UPDATE2: I've been playing some rounds online and the game is indeed very fun. The lag kills it, and I think that's the main and only real problem with the demo as of right now. The gameplay is good enough to set aside things like sound, graphics, etc. I'm thinking that if THQ is able to smooth the online play by release it should get pretty good scores, mostly in the 8 range.

My overall impression of the game in one word? "Alright"

Before anything else is said, the framerate seems to be 30fps, which is fine. What I didn't quite enjoy was the persistent lag throughout all the matches I played. This is only a demo but it's definetely not looking good since it was in all the matches--even for a demo, it's just too much.

The point of the demo is to capture enemy--and neutral-- bases until they have none left, that simple.

The gameplay in this game is simply solid, nothing beyond that. You have three to six AI buddies you can supposedly give some simple orders. I say supposedly because I never got them to do anything other than just follow me, which is done automatically. You can play a one on one match (you get six AI to control) or a three team match, where you get only three (or 4, I can't remember) AI buddies to help you. The AI is just ok. They follow you, they shoot at what you shoot and it's simply nothing impressive but not dumb. You get to choose a soldier to play as at every respawn. Each of the three soldiers differ in the weapons they carry and look only.

The weapons you get to use are what you'd expect. An American/German machine gun, pistol, rocket launcher, sniper rifle, etc. You can also make use of grenades with the left trigger, By FAR, the best weapon to use is the flamethrower, it is very effective and fun to use, but ultimately playing as a German or American won't make a difference until you get to the vehicles.

Unlike the weapons, vehicles from both sides differ in both, look and feel. There's a bunch of vehicles you can buy, but you can only buy one at the start of the round. As you kill more people (or capture bases, or simply find gold vaults) you get more points which you can then use to buy better vehicles. Whatever you decide to buy, your order is deployed in less than ten seconds by an airplane. The vehicles themselves are not as satisfying to use as I'd like to. The physics are cheap, very cheap (Update: In matches with no lag, they are actually quite decent) . They are rigid and not quite as maneuverable as I'd like to (Update: After playing some lagfree matches, it is much better). Shooting and driving is a real chore (again, I think it was the lag). They are not unplayable though, it's simply that it could have been done much better.

The graphics in this game are poor, very poor. The demo level is very small, although understandably as the game only handles six miserable players online!!! .....Uh....anyways, in that case, it's the right size actually. Things look average overall for an Xbox 360 game. Poor character models as well as terrain detail, foliage, water (good old mercury look) , and all kinds of visual effects, all look very average, very uninspired. In visual effects fire takes the lead and in objects, vehicles do. In other words, the game looks best when the German vehicle "X" with a flamethrower on top is making the rounds spitting fire infront of you.

Past trailers for this game have showcased the destruction of the level. Well... you guessed it, it's average at best. Yeah, you can run over a tree but at the time of impact it simply dissapears and three pipe-like things simulating to be pieces of tree trunk take the place of the long gone tree hitting the ground. Simply put, it looks cheap. (Update: this effect looked very pathetic, but lag is the one to blame) And that's how most of the damage is handled in this game. Most everthing can be destroyed, but is not rewarding at all. Did I mention it takes a LONG time shooting a building with a rocket launcher before it starts showing any signs of damage? Well, that's the situation.

Finally, the audio. Have you played the "Conflict" series? That's what this game sounds like, nothing special.

It was a fun game though. I have to say I played around ten rounds and I could play a few more. That is, this game is not bad bad, it's just nothing really special either. I'm expecting reviews in the 7's and 8's.