Friday, June 29, 2007

Fun and Games

As I mentioned in the last post, I am painfully confined to Windows for the duration of my internship. The only upside is that I can play games again! Sam and I built my computer with gaming in mind, but my then-state-of-the-art graphics card (GeForce 6800 Ultra) is now three years old and showing its age. I gave the Quake Wars beta a go and it was a slideshow. I can still handle more moderately modern titles (anything on Source) with ease, but recently I'm playing a real technical relic: Natural Selection. Modding the 9-year-old HL1, NS is just a really fun game. The atmosphere and art are uniquely compelling. I'm on pins and needles for NS2. I'm also playing a lot of Geometry Wars. It's a great distraction while waiting for compilations (though I'm probably not speeding things along by playing) and it's ridiculously addictive. Best $2 I ever spent.

Around the time I picked up Full Pipe, someone drew my attention to another esoteric game out of Russia called Pathologic. I read a review which panned Pathologic for bad translation, frustrating gameplay and lackluster graphics, but praised the unique narrative paradigm which included near-Brechtian mechanisms of self-reference. I've actually given thought to the use of Brechtian techniques in games, so I was thoroughly intrigued. I acquired the game and have only just gotten around to installing it. I've played for a few hours and I'm still very much uncertain. The game may be deliberately calling attention to its "gameness," or it could just be really bad. It's hard to know just yet. I'll give it some more time.

Another unusual game has caught my eye and I'm debating its purchase. Vigil is a pseudo-adventure French game with a striking visual identity. The demo is ludicrously terse and the only review I've found claims the gameplay is severely lacking (which I doubt not), but it just looks so damn cool. I also like to support independent developers. It's supposed to be the first game in a series so I'd love to see the franchise improve, and it's only $8 for the next week. Maybe I'll get it.

I also need to finish/replay Oblivion. God that game is good. Anyhoo, happy iDay and happy GPL3 day!

Of course, no sooner did I publish this post than I bought Vigil. I'll let you know just how bad it is.