Friday, 11 January 2008


In case you haven't known, I'm working my way through 'games I own and should have played', and figured you may appreciate my thoughts on the matter. These are a little off-topic, but allow me to procrastinate while I look at the long and well-organised Unangband bug list that Mikolaj has put together for me.

If you want numeric scores with your reviews:

Call of Duty 4/10
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 9/10

I've really enjoyed S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - immensely so, and it has given me new appreciation for the ability of dynamic AI and monster re-population to keep a location feeling fresh. I would in many ways call this game a roguelike-like for this reason. A couple of things that didn't make the review cut.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. reminds me of why inventory damage in Angband is such a great mechanic. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. has equipment damage for thematic reasons - it means you can't get too attached to any item, and have to constantly throw away and upgrade your equipment. This fits the Zone: the only thing being made here is the weird artifacts and everything else is temporary and disposable including the people who inhabit it. The dynamic and frequently failed quests work well for the same reason.

Those people who install equipment repair mods seem to be missing the point.

I got quite attached to one of the stalkers, Fox, who appears early on in the game, and who you help out fighting off a pack of dogs. The first time, I kept my weapon drawn too long after wards, and he went from neutral to unfriendly as stalkers do when you threaten them and shot me in the head. Reload. Then he stayed by the fire in the lonely ruined building waiting for someone. I returned much later, and was horrified to see a body there amidst another pack of dogs: relieved when it wasn't his.

I also made the classic error that Sean Bean does in Ronin of trying to position men on both sides of an ambush. Result: I shoot the bad guys, and my Duty allies, they go hostile and return fire.

Let me know if you're enjoying these.

1 comment:

dbdkmezz said...

I have to say I really enjoyed both of the games. CoD4 is like a Summer blockbuster, it can be a very enjoyable experience as long as you are looking for the joyful adrenaline rush it provides and don't start questioning it. Ultimately is unfurfilling and you don't take anything of value to take away from the experience, but while you are experiencing it it is great fun.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. however is a very different kettle of fish. It is a rich and varied experience, which may not provide the non-stop adrenaline rush of CoD, but ultimately is much more interesting and furfilling. Your review captures many of the reasons why I loved S.T.A.L.K.E.R. so much, the depth of the choices offered are often quite breathtaking and show just how limited the choices in Bioshock actually were.
One of my favourite moments was right near the start when I'd just gone into the wilderness for the first time: I'd started off treating it like any other game, I saw the dogs as a threat, and so shot at any that came near me. But I soon realised that I was fast running out of ammo, and still had not yet reached my objective, so I stopped killing them, and instead attempted to avoid them. A little later I was walking over the crest of a hill to discover a large dog right on the other side, staring angrily at me, but, to my suprise, not attacking. I was left staring back, like a rabbit in car headlights, too shocked to think of attacking. Then a moment later it walked peacefully away, leaving me to ponder how such a thing had happened, in a computer game.