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Showing posts from August, 2007

Bioshock - Actually its a terrific game

I realise looking over my last couple of posts that it may seem that I have nothing but complaints about Bioshock. In actual fact I am really enjoying the game and the further I get into it the better it gets. The story is very good and intriguing, the gameplay is rich and complex. The system of upgrades allows you to customise the way you play to a very large extent. Earlier I complained about the lack of stealth in the game. It turns out there are stealth upgrades which allow for just the type of stealthy game play I love. On the issue of high system requirements and low frame-rate I should point out that after all my deliberations about resolution and framerate I have finally settled on 1024x768 high quality mode. In fact I am using the default out of the box settings and the game looks great and plays smoothly. Yes my humble 7600GT cannot stay above my desired goal of 30 fps at these settings but the game still feels very smooth and playable. I am still a bit sceptical about the

Bioshock- I just killed a Big Daddy with my wrench

Well actually I only got him down to 50% health before I got bored with the whack, die, resurrect and repeat cycle I was using to kill the monster with the humblest weapon in the game. However with a bit of persistence it can certainly be done. The point of this experiment is that I think the resurrection system is a big flaw in Bioshock. Instead of penalising a player for dying the game rewards you with an instant resurrect and a quick shot of health and eve. The enemy you were fighting won't even have recovered health by the time you get back to them so it is possible to whittle the toughest enemies down in a repeated cycle of hit, die and resurrect. If you reward players for dying then death has no fears. If death has no fears then the game loses most of its tension. This is a crying shame for a game which should be an edge of your seat nail biting ride through a nightmare. The recent shooter Prey made the same mistake of rewarding players for dying and in my opinion it totall


After finally struggling through the 2nd Mortain level I am taking a break from Company of Heroes to play Bioshock. As predicted I managed to scoop a pretty good deal by comparing high street shop prices - €45 all in for the special edition complete with toy Big Daddy. This matches the best price I found on the internet and when you consider that this includes Ireland's hefty 21% VAT (sales tax) it was a pretty good deal all in all. I won't give away spoilers but I will try to share some of my thoughts so far. First off the bad news: This game is an almighty resource hog. It brings my modest gaming rig to its knees. My rig has a AMD 64 4400x2 with 2Gb Ram and a 7600GT graphics card. At 1280x1024 high detail the game crawls along at between 15 and 20 fps. In my old age I have become kind of fussy and I find that anything less than 30 frames per second hampers game-play and gives me headaches. I can get this by running at 1024x768 in medium to low graphics detail or by running at

Company of Heroes: The Price of Complacency

Mission 13 (Mortain Counterattack) is somewhat disappointingly set on the same map as the previous mission but the objectives are different and thankfully there is no timer. Each side starts with a 400 point "life counter". Four victory locations are scattered about the map and in order to win you need to whittle the opponents life counter down to zero by holding a majority of the victory locations. Fair enough - following my usual instincts I grabbed the nearest two victory points and built strong defenses around them. The Germans grabbed the other two and then launched furious combined assaults at my victory points. After my stalwart defenders had beaten off numerous waves of armoured assault the Germans appeared to give up and intensity of attacks tailed off. After about an hour of playing time the Germans assault had reduced to a trickle of solo infantry units charging to their deaths against my strongpoints. Remember that at this point we still had an equal share of v

Company of Heroes: Hill 314 you are pwned.

Well I finally beat back the Nazi hordes from the slopes of hill 314 by dint of two strokes of stunning strategic insight: The first was finally learning the value of the half track unit. Previously I had ignored this unit because it has paper thin amour and dies easily. What I had overlooked is that the half track can be used a a mobile infantry re-generator making it the ideal support vehicle for groups of infantry fighting far from base especially when upgraded with a kick ass flack gun. Add in a bunch of engineers to keep the half track repaired and you have a very self sustaining mobile fighting unit. My second stroke of insight was to lower the difficulty level from hard to normal , cough. Pride having been well and truly swallowed I think I actually prefer normal difficulty level and am going to stick with it. Normal and hard difficulty levels seem to pit you against similar numbers of enemies who show similar levels of AI. The only difference I can see is that the enemy units a

Company of Heroes: The Battle for Hill 314

I've been working my way through Company of heroes for about a week now and I have hit a particularly bastard level where I am struggling to defend Hill 314 near the town of Mortain . I mentioned before that the enemy AI in Company of Heroes is poor. In fact it is often non-existent and most of the enemy actions in the game seem to be nothing more than responses to preset triggers. The computer starts off most levels with a huge superiority of forces, territory and resources. While an intelligent player in the same situation would throw everything they had at the fledgling opposition to wipe them out before they even got started the computer in CoH is happy to wait for a certain triggers before acting. This allows a player who knows the system to play a very defensive game. If you know that the computer will send a dozen panzers at you after you take a certain point then it is easy to put off taking that point and slowly build up your resources and army until you are strong enough

Bioshock PC Demo

Bioshock has been getting such good press that I just had to download the PC demo when it came available on Steam today. Its a pretty short demo - I played it through twice to make sure I didn't miss anything. First impressions: We would you believe immediate my first impression was a slight disappointment when I realised it was a shooter!!! I know. I know. It says its a shooter, it never said it was anything else but for some odd reason I expected something a bit more like System Shock 2 - with upgrades and skills and stealth and such. Aside: You could never call SS2 a shooter even though it had plenty of guns - my overriding memory of the game was there was always so little ammo available that actually shooting something was a matter of last resort. Anyway that misunderstanding aside it looks to me like it is going to be a very good shooter with tonnes of depth and (joy of joys) a rich and engaging storyline. The artwork is superb - a hauntingly creepy 1930's Art Deco styl

MMORPGs - What are they???

So I am back from the "holiday of a lifetime" (t.m.) where I spent a few great weeks on the far side of the world with my family. Being on holiday for so long was terrific, spending all that time with my family was terrific, not spending hours every day in front of a PC was terrific, not having to log in to play an MMORPG every day was terrific and actually not having to think about what to write in this blog was also terrific. So where does that leave my gaming and my blogging now that I am back? On the gaming front I am playing PC games again but I have avoided logging on to any MMORPGs. I played and finished Half Life 2 Episode 1 (so so) and I am working my way through Company of Heroes single player campaign (excellent in many ways but let down a bit by extremely poor enemy AI). It's great to be able to spend some time on single player games - a luxury that is denied me when I get heavily into a multplayer game. The timing is just right too because the interweb is ab