The lesson that Crytek must have learned by now is that advertising your game by boasting that its graphics engine is so powerful that it will bring most computers to their knees is probably not a good idea. Everything in Crysis’ pre-release marketing hype heavily touted it as the game to get to show off your ultra-powerful and expensive system that puts gaming consoles to shame. But as Bill Harris noted in his blog, it didn’t even manage to sell 100,000 copies in its first three weeks of release while the 10th rated console game sold over 300,000 copies in the same time. It is a telling fact that Crytek recently announced that their next game, a sequel to Far Cry, will be available on both the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3 as well as the PC.
The sad thing here is that Crysis is a game that does deserve to sell better. It has the greatest graphics ever seen in a game thus far, yes, but it also has a huge playing area that allows an open-ended approach to solving tactical problems in-game, it gives the player a cool set of abilities that combined with the nifty physics in the game makes all sorts of wacky actions and situations possible, emergent gameplay of the most spontaneous kind, and it’s the kind of game that, innumerable flaws notwithstanding, make you sit back and grin when you think of the crazy shit you’ve just managed to pull off.
Ever since lead designer Cliff Bleszinski famously posted photos of himself hobnobbing with celebrities at E3 while promoting this game on the SomethingAwful forums, I’d been predisposed to dislike Gears of War. It didn’t help that the look and feel of the game leans heavily towards testosterone-fueled machismo of the worst sort. So it came as a pleasant surprise to me when I finally got my hands on the PC version this month and found it to be a more than decent game.
The machismo is all there of course: huge guns with chainsaws for bayonets, grunts with big bulging muscles and anatomically implausible jawlines who make frequent references to kicking ass and toughing it out while the only female presence is a lieutenant who is mostly heard and not seen. The well above average dialogue however manages the difficult task of making it seem familiar rather ridiculous. Combined with the excellent duck-and-cover mechanics and satisfying shooting action, it adds up to a very playable shooter.
So, I’ve been messing around with Dwarf Fortress for a while now. Its full name is actually Slaves to Armok: God of Blood, Chapter 2: Dwarf Fortress but I figure the game, with the kind of graphics it has, or lack thereof, doesn’t need any more strikes against it. The game has been available as an alpha-state, free download since August last year, but the ASCII graphics intimidated me too much to try it. However, I’ve been hearing plenty of good things about it, and since Bay 12 Games recently added a Z-level to it and other players have made it easier on the eyes with modded tilesets, I finally plucked up my courage to give it a whirl.
What you’re seeing there is a project by the Tampere University of Technology in Finland to create the world’s biggest game display by using the windows of an apartment building as pixels. Here they’re implementing a version of Tetris specifically written for the project, though I must admit that the player playing it isn’t much good.
Pretty amazing project though and it would totally rock to see it implemented on a larger scale on skyscrapers.
This new service for WOW players seems ridiculously cool: select a character on any server, select what items you own that you want displayed on the character and the service makes a customized figure of that character. It won’t be available until December 11 and at US$120.00 including freight charges it isn’t exactly cheap, but this is exactly the kind of business idea that makes stupid sense retrospectively. Considering the amount of time that MMO players spend on their characters and how important it is to most players that their characters look cool, it’s pretty obvious that this is exactly the kind of product that would appeal to a big segment of the market.
I’m still playing WOW on and off but mainly because it’s the only game I can play together with my wife. We’re still at level 64 after a few months of Burning Crusade, so that’s some super-casual playing for you.
I’ve been playing around with Armageddon Empires that I briefly talked about last week. Despite the presence of a fully-fledged deck editor and its collectible card game mechanics, it seems pretty clear that AE is much closer to being an old-school wargame / turn-based strategy game than a CCG. That’s not a bad thing of course, and playing AE brought back fond memories of games like Fantasy General. Like FG, AE plays out on a hex map, though the map is randomly generated in AE’s case. Unlike FG and similar wargames however, AE plays more like a 4X game in a post-apocalyptic setting. Each players starts out with a single base and limited resources and must send units out to control the map to gain additional resources and to scout for the locations of the enemies.
More Malaysians by now should be aware of the ridiculous spat between Indonesia and Malaysia over who owns the rights to the song Rasa Sayang, a popular folk song. It seems that its use by the Malaysian government to promote yet another tourism campaign triggered protests from Indonesians who claim that they rightfully own that song.
What most Malaysians probably don’t know that the argument has claimed an unlikely victim, the website of The Software Boutique, a Malaysia-based online games retailer. I’m in the market for some new games and have been trying to access the website for the store for the past few days without success. Curious, I dug around a bit and found this. It appears that angry Indonesian hackers hacked the website for Tourism Malaysia’s Rasa Sayang campaign. In the process, however, they seem to have also hacked every website that used the same hosting provider, and The Software Boutique was one of those. According to the same source, their store remains down until they manage to find a new hosting provider.
Considering that TSB is only one of two online games retailers that I know of in Malaysia, I’d be glad to see it up again. TSB has always had very quick customer service for me in the past. The other retailer that I know of, PC Game.com.my had much slower customer service, though they seem to have improved somewhat lately.