Saturday, 1 March 2008

2007 – the best EVER year for story based games!

Balderdash! I hear you say. Well alright, maybe none of them are better than Balder's Gate 2, but they are gems in their own right. So if you have missed any of the below, then do yourself a favor and go play these delectable digitized diamonds. Now.

Yes, right now.

I already devoted a whole post to this amazing action driven story. Combining an empathic bad guy, fun game play and a unique setting (1960's underwater anyone!) this is a must play.

The Witcher
As it was built using the NWN1 engine, I expect that many readers already know a bit about this. What you might not know is just how fun it is. When the game started, I thought 'Oh no, not another amnesiac story' but this is downplayed (for a while) and you are hooked into a unique mature fantasy setting. Often original settings feel unrealized or cobbled together, but even the somewhat sporadic English translation doesn't do too much harm here. In places it even works to make the world seem otherworldly and believable.

What is more, you get a lot of freedom, some plot changing decisions, a heap of (generally fun) side quests and a combat system that although action based, is not too twitchy. Of course there are a few bad things as well. Too many 'trash' fights, some parts of the main quest drag on a bit and the collect-the-nude-girl-card gimmick is more than a tad trashy.

Overall, still a great game though. I will be keeping an eye on CDProject's future, erm... projects.

Yeah, it's another FPS. Well more like a FPP (first person puzzler). Clocking in at just under three hours, this gem is a great afternoon of fun. Just for it's totally original puzzle mechanic this would be tieme well spent. What really makes the game shine is the antagonist.

Think of a female version of HAL from the classic Kubrick film “2001 – A space odyssey” but more psychotic, with PMS, on LSD. GlaDOS provides 'Guidance' as you pass though an ever more complex (and deadly) maze of 'Test Chambers'. This is often darkly humorous, emphasised by the unfeeling monotone of the crazy computer. As for the ending, well that just takes the cake.

Mass Effect
The latest effort from Bioware, and this time (as with Jade Empire) they have their own world to play with. As expected, they deliver the usual high class of story, and a good dose of semi-FPS game play fun. Where Mass effect really stands out though is the cinematic feel. Many games have previously tried to appear movie-like, but none has come as close as Mass Effect. Combine a great musical score with full camera control, camera focus, motion blur and a large range of character choices and it really feels like you are in a movie (or maybe a TV series). As a modder, I am just drooling at the thought of getting my hands on something as powerful as that...

Talking about modding – as well as playing all these great games I have been working quietly on my Planescape mod. I now have a targeted release of end of March start of April. More soon.

PS: Also I forgot to even mention MoTB and HL2:Episode 2 in the above, both great story-based games. In fact, even the more classical shooter games like FEAR and STALKER are having a crack at telling more interesting stories. Many PC gamers moan about consolisation, but to me it looks like stories are becoming more important every year. And that is a a good thing in my book.

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