Monday, 27 August 2007

Back with a Bioshock

Well, taken the last couple of weeks off modding to enjoy the summer and do some real life stuff. To be honest, I had spent so much time in the toolset over the last few months that I needed a bit of a break, not just from modding but from the computer itself.

Anyhow, I am back at modding now and I think part of the reason is the amazing game 'Bioshock'. Now, I am a bit of an experienced (read jaded) gamer, and it takes a lot to impress me. Whilst Bioshock certainly has it's faults, it is the first game in many years to keep me up 'till dawn with the 'just one more level' effect.

Warning - there are some light spoilers in the following. You would find them out in the first 10 minutes of play though, so the plot shouldn't be ruined for anyone.

Probably the best single aspect is the audio direction and quality. So many games skimp on sounds and music, and end up with cheesy bad voice overs and inappropriate scoring. Instead here the sounds add a huge amount, really portraying the 1950's huge underwater city of Rapture in the midst of disaster.

Talking about the atmosphere of Rapture, the graphics and level design further enhance this, with constant leaks and grindings and the various little details portraying a city populated by madmen. Whilst many other recent FPS offerings have a similar quality in graphics, here they are all congruent providing a consistent feel to the inside of this sunken asylum.

And the asylum is filled with some great characters. With ambient activities and a variety of conversation even the generic minions are raised above the norm, provoking pity even as you are forced to kill them. Indeed, the plot backs this up with both radio contact and tape logs filling in the history and eventual fate of a number of victims of the failed idealism of the underwater city. Ryan, the visionary and creator of the city is himself an inspired masterpiece, provoking both sympathy for his cause and disgust at his eventual methods - definitely a contender for the best realized game villain ever.

Each of the above would have been a good thing on it's own, but the true triumph of Bioshock is the way that they all fit together into a whole that is (even) better than the parts. Sure there are some faults - It requires a powerful computer to run well, and the game mechanics are in places unbalanced or over-simplistic. The last third of the game feels a bit rushed, with a drop in story quality, and a number of niggling plot incongruities. These are just minor issues though, and any gamer whom is not physically allergic to FPS's should give Bioshock a go.

There was a discussion over at Maerduin's blog about if games could constitute art. I think this game is a definite candidate to change doubters minds.

Anyhow, back to modding this week, although I have a lot of RL stuff still going on.

Monday, 13 August 2007

Sun, Sand and erm... not modding.

Just thought I would come on and give a quick update.

The last week saw an unexpected turn for the better in the weather department. In fact, it is the first decent week we have had this 'Summer' in Blighty. Rather than be the pastey-white computer nerd with no sense of style (or humor) , I decided to get a tan.

As a result, not much progress to report - although I did get a preview of some of the custom content I wanted to use and it is sounding great.
Back to modding as soon as the good weather gives up!

Saturday, 4 August 2007

Mini Spotlight

Ok, I know I said I would do a mid week update, but it is sunny outside and I was snowed under in work! Anyhow, as the Obsidian art contest is progressing well, I thought I would use this blog as an excuse to highlight my favorite entry so far.

This entry by Hellcow/Spajk really hits the spot for me. Not only is the art good and the characters immediately identifiable, but unlike any of the other entries I have seen as of yet, it portrays the character of the NPC, as well as the look.

Also, big worshipness to Berliad for helping promote this contest, yet again proving a valuable asset to the community. Obsidian itself has done a lot better on promotion than on the module contest (which I am still mildly annoyed at - Grrr...) hopefully the official judging for the art contest will be good as well.