Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Dark Mysteries (A Gothic MOD) Review

Platform: PC
Genre: MOD (RPG)

MODs, they are one of the few things (beside fans) that can make a game live longer. Sometimes they give a few extra quests/levels, enhance (or de-enhance) the graphics, optimize the game or they are a total conversion of the game ... changing well... everything. But from to time, from the deepest bowels of creativity, a few people arise
in a golden aura while angels sing lullabyes at their feet. Oh yeah, and roses fall from the sky. THEY, are dudes gathered on the internet or whatever, who share a passion for one game and MODing. Combining theyr forces they will embark on a journey that will ... eat theyr time, nerves, but will make us all happy. These are the people who are able to make a MOD... a long MOD and blend it perfectly with the games story, setting, making you wonder if it's official add-on.

The MOD I'm talking about is Dark Mysteryes. A MOD for Gothic 1 (yeah that old crappy game that gets everyone saying "duuude, really?" when I play it over and over again) which introduces some new camps, a new and interesting secondary-main-plot-which-you-should-play-cuz-it's-absolutely-brilliant-hypen-hypen-hypen.

The setting is the same as Gothic 1, the penal colony, with some new magical caves that appeared out of nowhere... and other parts added, as you go through the story. The new camps added are the Miners Camp (near the Old Mine, you can actually join them), the Fanatic camp, The Smugglers camp, The Bandits Camp (actually it's the Gothic 1 bandit camp, but they don't all attack you on sight and there's actually something to do there) and the Orchunters Camp. The main story (of the MOD of course) consists of you finding out some Dark Misteryes (I'm not gonna spoil it) the only thing I'm gonna say is that you will meet the Primevils.

The zones added are absolutely brilliant, especially the Underground world. Some quests, things from gothic 1 that didn't make any sense got "upgraded". So anything you remember that didn't make sense, like dudes in a cave running away from u on sight... now have a role.

Of course this is just some heaven-descended people's ideas, but I liked them .. and they all fit the Gothic universe/setting, including the steroid-fed-catapult from the mine camp.

There are a lot of new weapons. From normal swords (some with new models) to weird 1 damage special swords and helmets have been included into the game. Besides the scroll and rune magic, now we have crystals (that work just like runes). I can't say much of the new spells, cause, as always, the mage/spelcaster class is the last one I play in a RPG, especially Gothic. Almost forgot, you can learn weapon forging and cooking as well.

Here is a list with all of the extras.
Personally I loved it, and I'm waiting for others.

the bad: some won't play it cause of it has outdated graphics.
the good: (damn it, i should give bad marks to games too) it blends great with the story of Gothic (the first :D )

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Need for Speed 3: Hot Pursuit (1998) Review

Platform: PC
Genre: Racing

Going through my CD's, I found this... I remembered having a lot of fun with it so I reinstalled it.

Well it doesn't have the flashy graphics, or realism, or ... practically it sucks !
NOT !!!
I didn't have so much fun in a while with a racing game. Maybe this is not quite factual.... because this is one of those games I played and replayed and rereplayed... for a few years in a row. It was those times when a simple button asigned to lights: on/off made me very happy.

So, reviewing this game....

It's structured into 3 different sections. No career mode. You can choose to do a championship, or a knockout or enter the hot pursuit mode. In championship you get to race on every track. The cars are divided into 3 classes. You choose a car from a class and all the opponents will be from the same class. Same for knockout, only..... obviously knockout rules apply. For those of you who grown up in a cave with no electricity and take Jurassic Park as a documentary, in a knockout race, the last player in a lap is eliminated. Last but not least, hot pursuit mode. You can choose either to finish a race while being pursued by the cops, or to be the cop and catch a whole grid of opponents (meaning 8). The easy part is that you can choose the number of laps a race has. But in this mode a mysterious force enters. For whatever reason you cannot choose Ferrari or Mercedes. Maybe the carmakers thought that their image would be stained by a police chase even in a game. dunno... anyway.

The game has a lot to offer. A large variety of cars (helped by the modder community, that still make cars for the game), challenging well-thought track, an in-car camera ...that worked when I was younger. Not even the Bible could make it work now... or my IQ just dropped in the last years.

I enjoyed the game again, as I used to... It's a tremendous source of fun that i would recommend for anyone.

the bad: Maybe some wouldn't play it for it's outdated graphics, the Ferrari-Mercedes mystery
the good: The fun it offers regardless of age

Mafia Review

Platform: PC
Genre: Action

'Now we that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak and not to please ourselves"

Spring 2003

I was in school, playing GTA 3... with cheats (of course).
Young and restless. One day, a coleague of mine said something to someone I didn't know.
Coleague: Did you finish GTA ?
Dude: Yes, long time ago.
Coleague: Damn it, how did you pass .... (some mission)
Dude: It was easy, you just have to ... (unimportant details)
Dude: But anyway Mafia is way cooler. Just finished it.
Coleague: I know. Wait you finished it ? I'm still trying to get the first mission done.
Me: What ? What's that ?

And so it begun. A beautiful love-story that lasts till the day that is .. today.

Anyway. It is a story-driven sandbox-game. You start as Tommy Angelo, a taxi driver. Soon, you get a offer you can't refuse... and you'll be joining one the Mafia famiglias in Lost Haven.

The cutscenes are well made (at least for that periodic), the faces are really expresive and detailed. There are a few long cutscenes, but i assure you they will never got boring (i've been through the game a LOT of times, and i never had to skip one because i got bored). The camera angle, the voice-acting (with some italian accent) and the scene itself makes you just wanna get them out of the game and watch'em all as a movie.

The city is interesting. It's bigger than GTA 3's Liberty City, it has a train that you can take to move around faster, a lot of pedestrians you can run over, but i wouldn't recommend it and working lift bridges. The police can cause you problems. They will come after

you if you run a red light, crash into another car or go over the speed limit (you can turn on a speed-limiter and not worry about this anymore). If you do one of these, and a cop-car or a cop is in your immediate area, you can just stop, pay the fine and go on. But if they hear gunfire they will take you down. The city has a little minus in variety. You can see the same Pepe's restaurant or other buildings one by the other. But anyway, it's not much of a deal. Also, even if you can drive around the city, in the career mode there's not much too see. No unlockables no nothing. You can enter some buildings and yards and so on but only during the missions. One nice thing is that the city has it's own countryside, where there are no cops... and it sorta looks better. I know that at my crappy computer which I had back then, in the city I was around 12-13 FPS, but in the countryside it ran smoothly ..purrrrfect. You can just walk through the town without bothering of the mission in free-ride mode.

The missions are .....well you just can't get bored ! They all start with a cutscene, than one the members teaches you how to steal a new kind of car (yes you can't just steal any car at the beginning of the game), then you get your gun/guns and of you go. You drive to the mission spot... Carefully... each hit/bump will reduce your HP.. shoot some guyz or something, heal, more shooting, lovely cutscene and come back (sometimes, on the way back you can do a side-mission). You can't save in this game, but it has some automatic checkpoints, and they are not veeery far from each other. At the end of every part of the mission there is one. Also i just have to mention the Fairplay-Race. It is one the hardest things I've done... (and I only got it done at the third playthrough)... till then I used a exploit.

The characters are well-made and you will just love them, or feel very sorry for some of them...The voice-acting is marvelous.. voices like Mike Sorvino or William DeMeo (from the sopranos) give live to the characters.
It looks great, it sounds great (the soundtrack consists only of 1930's jazz).

Oh... i forgot to mention, the game takes place in 1930. :D
The car-models, and any model actually make you really "feel" the era. The producers tried to make it feel very real. So if u shoot the tank of a car, it will run out of fuel
You can see all of the cars in the carcyclopedia provided in the menu. Also with the passing of time/missions. Each mission having it's own year/date.. and scripted weather/daytime (yes, it doesn't have a day/night circle) there will appear new and better cars on the street.

After completing the story a new mode (freeride extreme) is unlocked. This one consists of some mission (GTA Style.. you get to walk/drive to them) which will grant you crazy vehicles. These missions vary from shooting three snipers, to following a UFO, or freeing a stripper.... that's gonna be eaten by a sea-beast.

"You know, the world isn't run by the laws written on paper. It's run by people. Some according to laws, others not. It depends on each individual how his world will be, how he makes it. And you also need a whole lot of luck, so that somebody else doesn't make your life hell. And it ain't as simple as they tell you in grade school. But it is good to have strong values and to maintain them. In marriage, in crime, in war, always and everywhere. I messed up. So did Paulie and Sam. We wanted a better life, but in the end we were a lot worse off than most other people. You know, I think it's important to keep a balance in things. Yeah, balance, that's the right word. Because the guy who wants too much risks losing absolutely everything. Of course, the guy who wants too little from life, might not get anything at all." (Tommy Angelo - Mafia)

the bad: aaaaa.....
the good: It's existence