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PC Games (Games) First Person Shooters (Games) Media Movies Quake Star Wars Prequels

Old School Gameplay Collides With Modern Graphics 314

While console shooters like Halo have gotten a lot of press in recent years, I will freely admit to being a PC man first and foremost when it comes to the genre. Getting the chance to use mouselook and engage in some old-fashioned shooter action is a wonderful nostalgic thrill. While stories are nice, brainless, shiny, visceral action still has a place in modern games. Proving that tried-and-true formulas are still enjoyable today, Star Wars Battlefront II and Quake IV deliver visually impressive violence-fests that uphold their series pedigrees with distinction. Read on for my impressions of these two new games with thoroughly familiar experiences.
  • Title: Quake IV
  • Developer: Raven Software
  • Publisher: Activision
  • System: PC (360)
  • Reviewer: Zonk
  • Score: 7/10

Although Unreal Tournament has been the game of choice at most of the LAN parties I've been to, Quake 3 has always been my preferred way of dealing out rocket love. The game's combination of frenetic action and gothic trappings is something I've never been able to get enough of. Developed by my hometown's most well known player in the games industry (sorry Human Head), the most recent entry in the Quake series updates its look ... and not much else.

Quake IV is the story of a marine participating in the invasion of the planet Stroggos. After the events of Quake and Quake II, humanity has had enough and is taking the fight to the dirty space aliens that wrecked up our planet. The single-player mission that explores this story is well presented. The developers seem determined to have Quake stand up to more modern gaming experiences, and there are some successes on that front. Quake IV's AI is nothing particularly intriguing for most of the game. While both your soldier buddies and alien opponents will occasionally take some cover, for the most part they have a saturation-with-plasma-fire approach to combat. Towards the end of your combat tour, though, highly intelligent Strogg become your opponents. They're highly aggressive, have the same weapons you do, and know enough to get behind a crate when a grenade lands in front of them. It would have been interesting to fight more of these baddies throughout the game, as for the most part the average Strogg is cannon fodder.

The story itself features elements you'd never expect from a Quake title. There's a little bit of mission variety, for one, with some fetch the hoozle missions, escort missions, and rail shooting mixed in with the usual run and gun. While they all devolve into 'shoot things and keep moving' it's obvious that Raven put some thought into providing a variety of experiences. At least one level actually takes you out of the fighting and attempts to flesh out your understanding of protagonist Michael Kane's world. You're given the chance to wander around part of a dropship, encountering fellow marines and overhearing numerous scripted conversations. While it can't hold a candle to City 17, the non-combat detail is a first for the series and once again shows Raven's commitment to modernity.

The problem, such as it is, comes in the fact that the minute-to-minute gameplay is virtually unchanged from the Quake II days. It looks better, to be sure, but you run down a hallway, some Strogg jump out, you shoot them. Repeat until level clear, then repeat until game finish. While I personally have no problem with that venerable and highly enjoyable sequence of events, be forewarned that if you play Quake IV you're just not going to encounter many of the aspects that are hallmarks of modern FPS titles.

As you'd expect from something built on the Doom engine, Quake IV looks terrific. One reason that the graphics stand out so much is that, unlike in Doom 3, you can actually see the environments, objects, and creatures around you. While there are some dark sequences several of your weapons have flashlights built into them, making the darkness more ambiance than gameplay element. Character appearance and animation is top notch, and the scare factor of critters leaping at you is heightened by the sometimes disturbing ways in which Stroggification has warped your opponent's appearance. Composed sound elements plays a subdued role, with minimal musical cues doing their best not to get in the way of the action. Sound effects are loud and for the most part satisfying. Weapons have weight, and cries of anger and pain definitely get across success or failure as you shoot at an enemy.

If the last game in the series is any indication, there are a lot of you out there that couldn't care less about the last few paragraphs I've written. The multiplayer aspect to id games is always top notch, and this one is no exception. Quake IV is Quake 3 redux, right down to the jump-pads and the announcer. Weapons have no reload time, and level design is focused on making sure there are plenty of fragging opportunities. As with previous titles in the series Deathmatch seems to be the design focus. 16-player maps seem to be the order of the day, with several even lifted directly from Quake 3. Gameplay is extremely fast, and the twitch-bunnies you'll face online make the AI in the single player campaign look like statues. In order to get the kind of response I wanted from my online experience, I had to turn down some of the settings I was using for the single player missions. With some of the more expensive shinies turned off, the game responded quickly and I had no problems staying in the fight.

Despite the game's adherence to elements from previous Quake games, Quake IV somehow fails to capture nostalgia and comes off feeling retread. The modern graphics simply highlight the sometimes simplistic level design, and while there are some physics elements used in the game for the most part the Doom engine feels more funhouse than realistic environment. Gameplay, too, feels very much like the same experience we had in 1999. Nostalgia is one thing, but the fact that the Quake world has nothing new to offer after a six year lapse is frustrating. The bottom line: if you've played previous iterations in the Quake series and enjoyed them, you'll like Quake IV. It's a solid, fast, frantic style of FPS that is becoming far less common nowadays. The frustrating mix of new and old may throw gamers who aren't fans of the franchise and accepting of gameplay from the previous decade.

  • Title: Star Wars Battlefront II
  • Developer: Pandemic Studios
  • Publisher: Lucasarts
  • System: PC (PS2, PSP, XBox)
  • Reviewer: Zonk
  • Score: 8/10

The original Star Wars Battlefront (SWB) was the a traditional FPS title that did a competent job of capturing some of the essential atmosphere of the Star Wars franchise. Putting you in the boots of J. Random Clone, the opportunity to see the Battle of Hoth or fight in the streets of Theed was powerful mojo for Star Wars fans. Star Wars Battlefront II upholds the standard of the original title, and successfully expands its scope with new places to fight and new ways to go into combat.

With the exception of the Super Star Wars series of titles back in the SNES days, Star Wars movie-specific game titles have almost universally disappointed. The blending of the mythology into a more cohesive whole makes for a much richer and ultimately more rewarding environment to set a game, and SWB II makes full use of all six movies. The single-player campaign starts you off in the final days of the Clone War, filling the boots of a Clone Trooper under the command of a Jedi Knight of the Republic. If you've played the previous title you'll have almost no trouble getting into the thick of it. Gameplay is essentially unchanged, preserving the wise decisions from the original title's designers. You'll have the option of choosing from among several unit types to spawn onto the battlefield. Each has a specific set of weapons to draw on, such as a heavy weapons trooper or a sniping unit. The average Battlefront mission tasks you with keeping control of several nodes scattered across the map. Nodes can be flipped from one side to the other by occupying the area around the node with troops. Most maps are won when all nodes have been converted to one side or the other. SWB II"s single-player campaign switches this up a little with non-node mission objectives. One level, for example, requires you to hold just one node for a specific length of time as a massive force of droids marches on your position. Another has you fighting off the monstrous Acklay creatures before they can kill too many of your troops. This variety adds a little more interest to what would otherwise be multiplayer games played between you and a bunch of AI.

The biggest change in Star Wars Battlefront II is the inclusion of space combat. While it's no Tie Fighter, space missions will please the dogfighter in every Star Wars fan. Most of them are fairly quick, with just one or two simple objectives (destroy these ships, keep this ship alive). Gameplay is fast and enjoyable, with a more straightforward version of the controls you might expect from other Star Wars titles. The straightforward design makes it easy to just hop in a craft and blow stuff up. Some single player missions have a little more to them, requiring you to fight in space and then land for another objective. Dropping the shield protecting a landing bay, piloting a troop transport inside, and then stealing data from the ship's computer is a highly satisfying experience. To provide the entire range of Star Wars gameplay, Jedi characters are also available. They're fast and powerful, and a side with one available to them has a great chance of prevailing. Control is similar to what you'd expect from Jedi Academy, and there are several force powers available to the Jedi that makes fighting one as a normal ground troop a short and stressful experience.

Visually SWB II is an obvious improvement over the previous title. There's a great deal of detail, and the overall presentation of the game has been refined. Both the visuals and soundscape do their best to adhere to the Star Wars universe, and succeed admirably. Ships explode, battle droids splinter, and gungans gargle with the sights and sounds you'd expect from a licensed title. As with all Star Wars games, the sound experience is particularly enjoyable. John Williams scores strain to be heard over the zip and pop of blaster fire or the scream of a passing Tie Fighter. While there aren't any appreciable physics elements, playing SWB II also probably won't strain your graphics card overmuch. The feel and look are dead on, dropping you into the mythos of the galaxy far, far away.

While the single player game is enjoyable, multiplayer is really this game's strong suit. Extremely large battles are possible, and every aspect of the single player campaign is available to multiplayer combatants. Maps are fairly roomy and are usually set in extremely evocative locales. While fighting on the snowy ground of Hoth was done to death five years ago, some of the new levels offer a distinctly different experience. Kashyyyk, Dagobah, and Coruscant are all battlefields in this (sometimes continuity breaking) free-for-all environment. Action isn't nearly as fast paced as Quake or Unreal Tournament, but that's okay. The joy to be had in popping off shots at a fleeing droid or charging Rebel soldier means that it's fun to savor the moment. The 'hold-the-node' gameplay is the default choice, but just like in the single player experience there are space battles and objective missions to be had as well. There was very little slowdown or technical problems related to the game during battle I participated in, and the necessarily aggressive tone that teams have to take to win matches ensures both offensive and defensive players will have a blast.

Given that it's only been a year since the last Battlefront title, it should come as no surprise that gameplay still feels fairly fresh. SWB II improves on already enjoyable gameplay by expanding the scope of the title. More Jedi, and space combat completes the full arc of what makes the Star Wars universe unique. While I don't expect that SMB II is going to be knocking Half-Life off of the top of the server population list anytime soon, it's a satisfying update to a title that scratches a dorky itch. Whether on foot or in space, Star Wars Battlefront II puts you in the moment like few other license titles can.
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Old School Gameplay Collides With Modern Graphics

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 11, 2005 @03:47PM (#14010740)
    "With the exception of the Super Star Wars series of titles back in the SNES days, Star Wars movie-specific game titles have almost universally disappointed."

    Bullshit. Games like X-Wing and Tie Fighter were very, very good games and well received. Also Dark Forces, Dark Forces 2, Jedi Knight, etc. All excellent games.
    • That was a typo, he meant to write:
      With the exception of the Super Star Wars series of titles back in the SNES days, and games like X-Wing and Tie Fighter, and Dark Forces, Dark Forces 2, Jedi Knight, and Knights of the Old Republic 1 and 2, and the vector-based arcade classics, Star Wars movie-specific game titles have almost universally disappointed.
      Must've hit ^U or something.
    • don't forget KOTOR, that game was quite well-received, including by me :)

      Tie Fighter remains the best SW themed game "evar" :P

      • KOTOR isn't movie specific, though. It takes place well before the prequels. He wasn't talking about star wars games other than movie games. XWing, KOTOR, etc were good games, but I have to agree about the movie based titles, which pretty much all sucked...
        • Well, I have to disagree with him on the movie themed games... the "Super-" games on the SNES suck horribly. The play control is craptacular and the graphics are pathetic even by SNES standards.

          Oh, but, Pod Racer is GREAT! Especially on the N64 with 4MB expansion (with only 4MB RAM on the N64, the game is awful. Talk about pop-in!)

    • I loved Tie Fighter. That seems to be one genre of games that has vanished, the combat flight sim. There used to be so many to choose from. Now there are only a few. I would love to see a modern version of X-Wing or Tie Fighter. I dork around with the space part of Galaxies but it just isn't the same feeling.
      • I'm surprised that open-source projects haven't sprung in to fill this role. You're right, it was quite fun, and is relatively absent in modern gaming, for the most part. Nowadays, with excellent free graphics, sound, and physics engines, plus powerful hardware to run them, it could readily get all of the eye and ear candy modern gamers come to expect. Yet, most of your 3d models are going to be largely static, making them easier to develop.

        How hard would it be? Heck, after I finish major development wo
        • The OSS Project I've been watching is Vegastrike [] which is designed primarily as a single player engine, but which plans to incorporate multi-play at some point. Although there are a few commercial offerings (such as Vendetta Online [] (which has a linux client!)) I'm not aware of any projects that currently look to fill the void that XvT once filled, which does seem odd now that you mention it.
      • God, I agree. Combat flight sims, and specifically, space sims, I miss the most. Wing Commander is still one of my top games. Two was amazing, and three got campy, but, eh. :)
    • You're a dumbass. "Movie-specific". You even quoted it. X-Wing is not from a movie. Neither is KOTOR. Or Dark Forces. Or Tie Fighter.

      The "Phantom Menace" game is movie-specific, because it's, wait for it, specific to a movie. Also, it sucked. This is Zonk's point.
    • I don't care what anyone thinks..

      I liked Jedi Arena [] for the Atari 2600!
    • Don't forget Lego Star Wars! That game was awesome, takes you back to the old push button Nintendo days! Great game for relaxation instead of stress, and it follows the movies!
    • by Zonk ( 12082 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @04:38PM (#14011237) Homepage Journal
      "With the exception of the Super Star Wars series of titles back in the SNES days, Star Wars movie-specific game titles have almost universally disappointed. The blending of the mythology into a more cohesive whole makes for a much richer and ultimately more rewarding environment to set a game..."

      Name me one movie-specific Star Wars game that's been good, besides the old SNES games. Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Pod Racer, Obi-Wan? Yech. All the games you list (TIE Fighter, X-Wing, etc.) are great, because they don't tie themselves down to a single film. Star Wars games that use the universe as a backdrop are terrific. Jedi Knight II is still one of my favorite FPS titles *ever*, for the incredible sense of power you gain as you become one with the force.
      • Good article Zonk, you could have added COD2 to the list and made it a threesome, though. (New graphics, mostly the same old gameplay and old maps)

        I assume your post was referring to JK2 single player, but I'll ask anyway. I'm curious Zonk, are you involved with the online Jedi Academy community?

        Online play is still fairly popular. I go by variations of the onomatopoeic word, "Grr", who knows we might already know each other. :)

      • I think the problem there is that a lot of us read your phrasing "Star Wars movie-specific game titles" and parsed it as if it were "Star Wars franchise game titles". I know I did, and suspect the AC and those who modded him up all did. The distinction's a subtle one, and I think the way you phrased it understated it. Perhaps "Star Wars game titles based on a single movie" would be a clearer way of putting it.
    • The funny thing is that BF II *does* suck. I mean, it's not horrible, but it's kind of like BF 1.5. The original BF kind of sucked because the gameplay was unrefined and you couldn't play as a Jedi. Version II keeps the unrefined gameplay and adds space combat and player Jedis. So it's a fun game for a little while, but there is no lasting power here. The actual game kind of sucks.
    • The fact that you didn't even read what you replied to (hint: he said "MOVIE-SPECIFIC" star wars games), or the fact that you got modded insightful for being an idiot.
  • by Fizzlewhiff ( 256410 ) <> on Friday November 11, 2005 @03:47PM (#14010742) Homepage
    When I think oldschool I think of games like Kings Quest and Monkey Island or even further back to the old SSI and Avalon Hill wargames.
    • When I saw the words "Old School Gameplay", my first thought was "You are standing in an open field west of a white house..". My next thought was "The quagga hits! The aquatar misses!"
    • If you are looking for old school. God back to the PDP-1 and an oscilloscope and fire up Spacewar. Or if you're stuck with new fangled hardware download Ur-Quan masters.

      Without a doubt Starcontrol2 was the best multiplayer game and the best single player game ever.
    • I learned how to win at Monopoly by playing it on a Univac mainframe. And it was all text. None of that hippie art crap for us. OG, baby. Original Gamer. Open the mailbox, G. Load your cassette of Avalon Hill's B1 Nuclear Bomber and take out the Soviet Union. Star Trek on the the photon torps and find a supply station before you get Klingoned.

      Old school computer games sucked. I loved playing Panzerblitz and Third Reich on boards though. But I'll take Call of Duty over the whole pile.
    • SSI's "The Warp Factor". Oh, the hours spent on it.
      Not to mention Wizardry & Ultima (1-4 of course).

      Ah, kids these days...
    • No shit. When I think "old school" I think "Castle Wolfenstein". And no, I don't mean, "Castle Wolfenstein 3D".
    • Remember Castle Wolfenstein? Not the 3-D game, I mean the 2-D original game that the 3-D shooter was based on. Now that's a classic! I still have fond memories of pounding the option key on my atari 800 to launch grenades.
    • ...'oldschool' in the same sentence as a game that uses high resolution graphics.
  • by digitalsushi ( 137809 ) <> on Friday November 11, 2005 @03:48PM (#14010744) Journal
    I'm 26. I'm not even an old gamer. Some of you guys in your mid 30s, I bow to your TRUE old school heritage. What about me? Why the hell can't Nintendo crank out a 2D side scroller of Mario World for the cube? There's TONS of people like me with CASH now, that would be 50 bucks for a Super Mario World 2. I spent 20 weeks winning that game. I bet they would write one quicker! For that matter, why arent there Flash versions of new games in the older styles? Copyright be damned, those things float freely and uncredited. Why haven't I seen it yet? Nintendo CEO Mr. Miyagi could crank Mario World 2 out on the john some morning instead of reading the wall street journal. ARgh so frustrating. I have cash to spend on a near zero development cost product and it DOESNT EXIST. SOMEONE LISTEN TO THE RANDOM SLASHDOT MASSES WITH ALL CASH AND NO DRIVE
    • Thank you! I'm in my early 30s and I miss the good old fun games that I grew up with. I'm really growing tired of first person shooters and RPGs. Surely there has to be something else out there for people like me, but I sure can't find it.
    • Look around you! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Inoshiro ( 71693 )
      "For that matter, why arent there Flash versions of new games in the older styles?"

      You mean like Alien Homonid? Or did you want a 2D game like Viewtiful Joe? The problem is that these are not sellers. People do not buy them.
    • There are lots of independent developers doing just this for PC games. I've recently released my first indie game [], and lots of other people are doing great things. You really have the freedom to make games that are fun to play!
    • There's TONS of people like me with CASH now, that would be 50 bucks for a Super Mario World 2.

      I think you mean Super Mario World 3 []. But yeah, just imagine all the side scrolling goodness they could fit on a gamecube disk. It could have like 20 different endings or any number of non-3D graphical innovations.
    • Why the hell can't Nintendo crank out a 2D side scroller of Mario World for the cube?

      That was called "Super Smash Bros. Melee adventure mode". But what you're really looking for is a New Super Mario Bros. 2DSidescroller, right? The spot has details [].

    • Have you tried portable consoles? Such as the GameBoy Micro, it has a wide selection of oldies and new games in old-school style.

      Or you can wait for the Revolution to come out with downloadable games.
  • Quake has always been successful even to technically superior games because it always had a high fun factor which many people considered higher than technically advanced games like Unreal. At the end of the day many people just wanted a fast on line game which doesn't require thought or much else other than killing.
  • by WinDoze ( 52234 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @03:50PM (#14010766)
    Can I take a Jedi, lop Jar-Jar's filthy head clean off his shoulders, then have a Wookie come over and "mark his territory" on the still-warm corpse? Cause that would be, y'know, cool and stuff.
  • Old School? (Score:5, Funny)

    by statusbar ( 314703 ) <> on Friday November 11, 2005 @03:51PM (#14010777) Homepage Journal
    Here I thought Old School meant BattleZone, Joust, and PacMan.

  • Quake (Score:5, Insightful)

    by flynt ( 248848 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @03:52PM (#14010778)
    I still remember the first time I logged on to a TCP/IP Quake 1 server on my 33.6 modem. I knew it would be something special. I played Quake quite a bit, and always tried the new versions, but they never seemed to be as good as the original. Thinking back, it's seems amazing that I was able to have a quality online game experience over a dial-up connection with a game as intense as Quake. The new versions of Quake, they looked good, but none of them *felt* like Quake. The weapons weren't as devastating, the movement was all wrong, it just didn't feel right. I haven't tried Quake IV yet, but I'm expecting more of the same. Does anyone else feel the same way? Quake to me was one of the first games to have a real online presence, and I'll always remember it fondly. It was also a time where you could find servers not overrun with high school boys, since most of the good connections were only at universities back in those days.
    • Re:Quake (Score:3, Interesting)

      by drinkypoo ( 153816 )
      I wholeheartedly agree. It's amazing to me that you could have a great experience playing quakeworld on a 28.8k modem (or even slower!) but today you need fucking broadband just to play a FPS. The server requirements have gone steadily up, and for what? The net gameplay certainly hasn't gotten any smoother. I still play Q1 occasionally by myself, let alone on the 'net. Maybe it's just because I haven't played HL2, or because I'm just plain jaded, but I am still of the opinion that there is no finer FPS than
      • Re:Quake (Score:3, Interesting)

        Quake 1 had this goofy abstraction about it that made it fun. You have all of these pointy-headed guys, running around these lava-filled dungeons, shooting each other into bloody chunks of pot roast, all the while then the status says things like "Dysdic accepts BauM's shaft." Quake 1 was the last FPS that felt like a game and not some kind of training simulator.
    • Unfortunately, no, it doesn't feel like old school Quake at all. I remember when the id system was released in QuakeWorld, and I signed up, played once, and then went back to netQuake because I was on a T3 and had an unbelievable ping. And the differences between an LPB and HPB were HUGE. ah good times... *sniff*
    • Re:Quake (Score:3, Funny)

      by ak_hepcat ( 468765 )
      33.6? Luxury! We used to have to dial up some stupid ISP at 9600 baud and run a buggy IPX->TCP/IP bridge hack just to play doom online, and we loved it!
      • Re:Quake (Score:3, Funny)

        by Mr2001 ( 90979 )
        A buggy IPX->TCP/IP bridge? Ha!

        We got evicted from our buggy IPX->TCP/IP bridge. We had to play Quake by shouting out the window to our neighbor who had a fax machine and knew a guy who had a 1200 baud modem. A screenshot would start coming in, and he'd say "It looks like there's a demon coming!" and we'd shout back, "Use the grenade launcher!" He'd write it on a piece of paper and fax it back to his friend, and the friend would fax back a picture of his character lying dead on the ground because he h
    • Re:Quake (Score:3, Interesting)

      by KanSer ( 558891 )
      Oh I sincerely agree. You know the number 1 thing they never replicated that really helped the speed? The grenade launcher. It's timing, range, and explosion upon hitting a target was awesome. Wait for 6 guys to get in a shotgun war and just pop 6 in. Instant gibs. Quake was definitely the first great multiplayer experience. I remember as a snot-nosed brat of 12 shouting with glee over a 56k modem (What a terrible memory!), and logging onto my ISP's server. Good ole A year or two later I w
    • For single player mode:

      IMO, the game that is closest to a real Quake sequel is Painkiller.
      I love it.

      I haven't played enough multiplayer in either to be able to judge that
      (I play mostly Q3A deathmatch w/ mods and UT2004 onslaught).
  • by adavies42 ( 746183 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @03:53PM (#14010797)
    "Dirty space aliens that wrecked up our planet"--cute.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Only there's no sex and the light is less than flattering to my buttocks.
  • by American AC in Paris ( 230456 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @03:55PM (#14010817) Homepage
    The AI in SWB 1 was so bad they might as well have stuck 'em on rails. How substantially has the AI in SWB 2 improved? For example, do bots still dash for vehicles and fly in circles for the duration of the match? Will they still hop obligingly into your line of fire without so much as a batted eyelash? Will they wait patiently in your crosshairs as you unload on them with your sniper rifle?

    If they've fixed the AI, SWB2 might be worth checking out. If not, then there's really no compelling reason to grab it beyond the fact that it's Star Wars...

    • I have not yet seen anyone report if the AI is better; That's also what I'm waiting to know before I buy this game. I didn't buy the first Battlefront and I'm loathe to buy this one unless I know the single player will be fun.
  • Game AI (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ignignot ( 782335 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @03:58PM (#14010846) Journal
    Why is game AI in FPS's always defined as "they can hide behind boxes?" Does that define sophistication for us now? It has been around since at least Half Life. People still ooh and ahh about it though, and I can't understand that.

    I think the real test for an AI would be to guess where you are going to go and try to cut you off, time where you are and toss grenades at you without looking, perform ambushes on the fly, and so on. However, most of this can be done with scripting and I think it is easier to do it that way. So much of AI is game theory - the computer being able to guess where you are and what you are doing without actually seeing you. This is make-work in an fps though because the computer already "knows" exactly where you are, if the programmers want to take advantage of it.

    I don't know about the rest of you guys, but I feel like I've been playing against the exact same AI for the last 10 years. The only thing that's changed is more intricate scripting.
    • I don't know about the rest of you guys, but I feel like I've been playing against the exact same AI for the last 10 years. The only thing that's changed is more intricate scripting.

      Yeah... there's a reason for that. AI is hard, short of actually replicating the entire structure of a human brain. Unless the AI involved can actually learn on the fly as well as a human -- and no AI ever created can do that yet -- it will always have a limited ability space, and players (who are humans) will always be abl

    • Re:Game AI (Score:3, Interesting)

      by xtieburn ( 906792 )
      Have you ever looked in to games AI. It is truly awful.

      People have this movie type image of AI how it can think for itself and may one day rule the world killing us all with its machines of chaos and destruction!!!

      If that day is to come it wont be for a long long time. Currently we have rather large debates in AI on how to get from one side of a room to the other. A* most asuredly but how do you implement that? Depth first? Breadth first? Iterative Deepening? How do you make it real time? Break up the path?
    • by cosmo7 ( 325616 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @05:54PM (#14011882) Homepage
      Me: Where are you going?
      Grunt L4096: I'm rushing directly into the enemy's line of fire, sir.
      Me: Could you stay back here instead? I kind of want to win this time.
      Grunt L4096: At once sir!
      (Grunt L4096 rushes directly into enemy fire and is slaughtered)
      Me: Hello?
      Group of freshly-spawned grunts: What is it sir?
      Me: Follow me.
      Grunts: At once, sir!
      Me: We're going to flank the enemy and then under sniper cover we will probe -
      (Grunts all run directly into enemy fire and are immediately killed)
      (Game ends in defeat)
      Darth Vader: You disappoint me!
      (Darth Vader throws himself into volcano)
      (Enchantment with game ends)
    • Re:Game AI (Score:3, Interesting)

      by The OPTiCIAN ( 8190 )
      Why is game AI in FPS's always defined as "they can hide behind boxes?" Does that define sophistication for us now? It has been around since at least Half Life. People still ooh and ahh about it though, and I can't understand that.

      I remember that in Half-Life, and damn that was cool. I think a big part of the problem is that there's not a great deal of room for strategies. The level designs tend to be linear - sometimes it's cleverly disguised (again - I remember playing through early stages of Half-Life a
  • by thatguywhoiam ( 524290 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @03:59PM (#14010859)
    I lost pretty much all interest in FPS games somewhere around Quake 3/Unreal Tournament. It became apparent even then that these games should not have a sequel number after them, but a version. We have seen Quake, versions 1-4 now for instance. Its the same game.

    I looked with hope at Halo 2 (first one was, sorry to say, dead boring, apart from the neat little plot twist with the Flood), hoping that the famous sequel would be a sequel.. but no, its another version, and unfinished at that. I loved that game, but they are all That Game now, and I have played a hellof a lot of Unreal and Quake. So much that I feel like I never need to play it again, until the genre decides to stretch a bit and offer something beyond Grr! Skullz! and Hot Babe with Howitzer!

    I do see Zonk's point - of course there is a place for 'the twitch', and Nintendo does quite well in that area.

    But I will wait until FPS games truly do something new. Apart from easy questions like, why can't I blow a hole through a wall? (Red Faction came close to this.) Where is the weather? Why is the AI so mind numbingly stupid?.... there are harder questions, like, is this a good idea to have a single point of view for the entire game no matter what? A counter-example of this would be something like Metal Gear Solid, which could switch between views depending on circumstance... Valve looked like they were onto something with HalfLife 2, but that sort of turned out like a really neat tech demo, with the physics... seems obvious to me that they are selling an 'engine' now, with a game as an afterthought. Kind of like id.

    • Even on the medium setting, the combine soldiers in HL2:LC seemed pretty damn smart, at least on the cliffs. Flanking manuvers, well placed 'nades, shooting the bridge in front of you down... Then again there was the old school pop-up shooting gallery in the church.:P
      • Even on the medium setting, the combine soldiers in HL2:LC seemed pretty damn smart, at least on the cliffs. Flanking manuvers, well placed 'nades, shooting the bridge in front of you down... Then again there was the old school pop-up shooting gallery in the church.:P

        Yes, actually I had the opportunity to see Lost Coast just this past weekend and it does look impressive. My buddy - who actually owned the game - seemed to be of the opinion that it was really a 'top layer' of AI, but that they tended to ta

        • Well, its not as free as the rest of HL2, theres not a lot of options as to what you can do to pass the mission. 1 path, thats about it.
    • I do see Zonk's point - of course there is a place for 'the twitch', and Nintendo does quite well in that area.

      What does this refer to?
      • What does this refer to?

        My 'twitch' comment referred to the observation that Nintendo games tend to be, for lack of a much better term, 'game-y'. From Super Mario Bros. on up, these are games that often rely on reflexes heavily, with a fairly simple sophistication to them. Certainly there are departures in the library available, but I actually applaud big N for this approach - they keep it simple and fun. Zonk had made the basis of his two-review the concept that games can evolve and stay principally fun

    • "seems obvious to me that they are selling an 'engine' now, with a game as an afterthought. Kind of like id."

      Has a single developer actually licensed the Doom3 engine?

      The Unreal Engine v3 has already been licensed by many, with no game to act as a tech demo. []
      Unreal Engine 3: Microsoft, Sony, Atari, Vivendi, Buena Vista, Namco, Bioware, Gearbox, America's Army, etc.

      Doom3 Engine: ??

      If id's goal was to make the engine as ubiquitous with fps as the Quake3 engine(over 100 games) was then
    • Apart from easy questions like, why can't I blow a hole through a wall? (Red Faction came close to this.)

      I really can't fathom why more use wasn't made of "Geo-Mod". Why hasn't another developer either purchased or duplicated it? I still play Red Faction multiplayer occasionally, and the ability to blow a strategic hole in the wall or hiding place in the ground here and there is pretty fantastic-- and makes it so no two multiplayer games are ever alike.

      I never really understood why THQ dropped the franchi
      • I really can't fathom why more use wasn't made of "Geo-Mod". Why hasn't another developer either purchased or duplicated it? I still play Red Faction multiplayer occasionally, and the ability to blow a strategic hole in the wall or hiding place in the ground here and there is pretty fantastic-- and makes it so no two multiplayer games are ever alike.

        Yeah I am surprised by that as well. It was an interesting game. My biggest problem with it was: one got the impression that so much work went into "GeoMod"

      • My guess is that it's too hard for devs to prevent bugs when you can't rely on the environment to stay static. it'd be too easy to blow a hole in the edge of the world and fall through it, and other crap like that that people would demand that you fix. It really can't be fixed, but if you tell them that you're just lazy and don't care about your fans.
  • Great developer - they have not (yet) sold thier souls to EA or other huge publishers

    Quality staff as well and thier studio in SantaMonica is really nice...happy employees = good games/product
  • by (A)*(B)!0_- ( 888552 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @04:14PM (#14010986)
    One of the new gameplay modes in Battlefront II is hunt mode. In a hunt game, you select a planet and can either play as the native population or an invading force seeking to wipe out the natives. On Hoth, you can play as the Rebels and try to kill wampas or the other way around. Now, the beautiful aspect of this is that Endor includes hunt mode - the Empire moves in with sniper rifles and starts picking off ewoks.

    I've played this quite a bit and am always very satisfied to drop one of these stupid teddy bears to the ground.

  • "Old School Gameplay Collides With Modern Graphics"

    I was so hoping this was going to be a new uber graphics version of Nethack.

  • by mustafap ( 452510 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @04:27PM (#14011124) Homepage
    I guess he has never played zork on a mainframe :o)
  • Quake 4 continues the story in Quake II, but Quake II didn't have anything to do with Quake (other than, of course, the title). The Stroggos first appear in Quake II. (And there are contestants in the Quake III Arena that are from the Stroggos War, but other than that the similarity ends.)
    • i always thought the id naming conventions were weird:

      Doom: we all know this one
      Doom 2: direct sequel, same engine
      Quake: new engine, new story (borrows some plotdevices), different gameplay
      Quake 2: new~ish engine, new story
      Quake 3: new engine, new (no?) story, COMPLETELY different gameplay feel
      Doom 3: new engine, remake of Doom 1, completely different gameplay feel
      Quake 4: same engine as D3, sequel to Q2

      the Quake series is almost getting to Final Fantasy style naming, not many direct sequels, just a bunch o
  • interesting.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @04:31PM (#14011171)
    that the author should consider Quake 4 to be oldschool gameplay.

    I guess I'm showing my age by considering the definition of oldschool gaming to cover games like Pacman and Atari 'Star Raiders'.
  • I can't wait... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jbarr ( 2233 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @04:35PM (#14011218) Homepage see the Zork series in a new, and better interface!

    Seriously though, I have to admit that most games have lost my favor because they have simply become too detailed. For me, (and I admit I'm and old fart at 39) games are those things that are the most fun when they are limited in scope, provide diversion, entertainment, and overall, let me have fun in a short period of time. Challenges like Zork, and "classic" arcade games like Road Blasters, Tempest, and Centipede, really held my attention. Don't get me wrong, current games are certainly quite interesting, but to me, a "quest" or "campaign" or "mission" is not what I tend to look for.

    There was a great show on G4TV (Icons, I think) a couple months back that detailied the history of arcade games, how they have evolved into what are now current console games, and how the arcade industry is struggling. It was interesting to see that when arcades bring back the "classic" games, revenue spikes.

    But then again, retro isn't always the best thing. I'd like to see more innovation and new concepts and designs.
  • Good god man...MOUSELOOK is old school? People are getting nostalgic over mouselook and PC-FPS's?

    Oh lord....I've officially hit 'older then gaming dirt'.

    Guess I better start playing Hearts and Mahjongg.
  • Question for Zonk (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ninjagin ( 631183 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @04:44PM (#14011295)
    Just curious about something ... the description of SW-BF2 multiplayer didn't say anything about a co-op mode. Is there co-op?

    Just as a bit of opinioneering, I have been kinda miffed lately at the lack of co-op modes in games that have multi-player capability. Call of Duty would have been great with co-op. BF2 has a hacky kind of co-op, but not really. What gives? Is it a question of the quality of the AI or what?

  • by dindi ( 78034 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @05:06PM (#14011496)
    First of all I am for online games so what I write is biased. I am tired of fighting A.I. and just to run thru missions to usually get a totally uninteresting cutscene at the end summarising something you already knew when you got the game box in your hand. Most of the time the last few maps I either do not either bother or just fight thru it throwing up of boredom.

    However online play can be just as boring with some games, mor specifically game modes (or the lack of them).

    FFA: free for all, can be fun for some time, but makes me bored after 20 mins, running on a map, shooting everyone is fun, but I want more.

    TS: Team survival, can be real fun, when playing with normal people, with decent communication (such as a headset) but then again, make a 30 minute session with resplawns, and at the end you are just sick of it, and you hear the others on the mic saying the same...

    When you play SS on Ghost recon 2 or Rainbow six (without repawn) it gives you an appreciation of your life, so game turns a bit more intelligent other than a brainless fragfest, with people ending up with 200kills in 20 minute rounds, while others have -22

    Vehicles: yes, that can be fun. SW Battlefront, and FarCry can be really enjoyable, especially in multi-manned vehicles, or ones that fly.

    There we come to star wars bf II, which packs all the good and the bad together :
    nice graphics, and somewhat good space fights, some completely retarder annoying game modes (usually I just log-off when villans vs heros start)

    Now the critics: CTF is really uniq in BF II, and for the good, however it would be really nice to have an actual FLAG , call it Sample or container or a chip, whatever.

    Vehicles are really uniq (well it is star wars) and it is really fun to drive most of them...

    The space fight is however lackluster a bit. I have the XBOX version so the visual quality is somewhat determined already.

    However looking at the XBOX and the hardware I was running Xwing VS Tie Fighter on might suggest that the current version of flying should not be as simplystic as it is. The sense of speed or the lack of a cockpit is somewhat annoys me and I really wish that they made this part at least as good as the other game was 5+ years ago.

    But because I am the kind of guy who always wanted a dogfight with as many people as the bandwidth allows, I play with it and try to ignore the step that happened to be a backward one.

    What is really missing from the game is the "you can only die once" aspect that makes people actually use that mike and require a team effort in games like Rainbow Six or Ghost recon, and the "retreive the flag" type CTF which does the same in farcry....

    It is however a very entertaining "everyone runs and flies in chaos" kind of games that is really fun for a few hours in a row ... (I clocked 1:30 of battlefield play yesterday before my wife requested lower audio volume, and lights in the room, which caused me to stop as my projector sucks in daylight-strong fluorescent lighting)

    I cannot comment on quake, as I am not playing on the PC anymore at all (unless some rare occasion leads me o download a demo of something) and because I completely lost interest in the series a long time ago.

    And yes I am in my thirties, yes my favourite was chuck yeager's air combat, and yes I played some rpgs and text-mode stuff, and no I never liked them .... no KOTOR bored me to hell ...

    And no, Halo 2 sucks, because no one plays game modes that appeal to my taste and because there are 15 9-year-old kids are shouting into their headseds per game room at the same time "cool dude we are 3leeetz, we owned them, they are n0000bz" let's make 6 teams out of 10 people and shoot the shit out of each other on the smallest map ever...

    • I would have to agree that competitive play is really where PC games are headed, and this shouldn't be suprising looking at the current state of popular competitive sports.

      Competitive play vs other sentient beings just happens to be long term self-sustainable gameplay. hehe.
  • by Craig Ringer ( 302899 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @05:07PM (#14011498) Homepage Journal
    Some games that REALLY need a remake with polish, expansion, and modernized graphics but much the same core gameplay ideas:

    - UFO: Enemy Unknown / X-Com: UFO Defense / X-Com: Terror from the Deep (utterly, totally, completely awesome games begging for a version that doesn't need DOS, 320x200 graphics, and a few annoying bugs)
    - Master of Orion II (MOO3 was barely even a game)
    - System Shock II (already has updated graphics and co-op mod, but co-op is a tad flakey and it barely runs on modern OSes)

    Maybe Star Control II as well, though it's been updated to run on modern systems and is free now ( ). Great single player campaign.

    I'd say the Monkey Island games too, but really they just want an engine port to an OS from this century. I can't imagine how you could even fix up the graphics without ruining the game.

    Then, of course, there are some that've got updated versions that don't suck (eg the Civ games).

    So, let me echo the sentiments of the others here - "what do you mean, old school?". Hell, the ones I've listed are relatively modern too. I'll be there are a few folks out there begging for more Commander Keen games, and then there's the MAME crowd...
  • I still haven't found a more exciting online game than Quake2. I started playing it again, actually the Weapons of Destuction MOD, a few months back with some like minded folks, and damn, if that game doesn't get your heart racing. Yes, I had some of that feeling with Unreal Tournament, but not on CS, UT2004/5 or Quake3 even. I got somewhat hooked on RTCW, but still, it's not the same kinda crazy action, so I just don't play it anymore. Anyone intested in old school Q2 fun should check my server: http:/ []
  • I am very interested in getting this game. I have a pretty high end (top 3% on Windows Game Advisor) PC and I have an Xbox. Which version is better?
  • by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @05:49PM (#14011849)
    ... instead I'll play my older games until game programmers learn how to program again. It's absolutely insane that in order to get a new game to play these days, you have to have a $1000 PC with a $200 video card. That's simply bullshit. Back in the day (before the Net got big), games that one would buy in a store would play on most machines. These days, you gotta take out a second mortgage just to buy a machine just to play fucking GAMES on. These are just GAMES.

    Look, even console games get better over time because the programmers get better. Newer PS2 games look better and feel better than older PS2 games. The developers learn to do more with the same resources. Game developers these days simply don't give a shit, apparently. Do they really think that every potential customer is a spoiled 12 year old? I have a feeling that if they got back to programming again, that there'd be a lot of people such as myself who have to work for our money who'd be a lot willing to buy games again. Until then, I'll be happy shopping in the bargain bin.

As of next Tuesday, C will be flushed in favor of COBOL. Please update your programs.