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bobdog's Mini-Reviews Corner / Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Last post by bobdog on January 21, 2020, 07:51:04 AM »
The Flame In the Flood is an extremely frustrating game. I made just two trips down the River and quit in disgust after dying.

The game is a “rogue-lite” survival game that resets upon each play-through. You serve as a little girl who is trying to make her way down the River, but has to eat, stay healthy, and collect gear to keep her raft going. You are accompanied by a faithful dog, who also can carry some supplies. Each time I died, I got eaten by a wolf, because I hadn’t collected enough items to keep it away. This is a problem with such a game where you aren’t given appropriate skills or gear early on.

The mechanics of steering the raft between stops is generally fine, but your success very much depends on the randomization of what the stops are along the River, and what gear and supplies they may hold. Add in the survival elements, where you immediately start to die of thirst and hunger and illness, and it just wasn’t something I wanted to continue playing. 6.2 out of 10
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bobdog's Mini-Reviews Corner / The Flame In the Flood – February 2016 [Score: 6.2]
« Last post by bobdog on January 21, 2020, 07:48:01 AM »
The Flame In the Flood is an extremely frustrating game. I made just two trips down the River and quit in disgust after dying.

The game is a “rogue-lite” survival game that resets upon each play-through. You serve as a little girl who is trying to make her way down the River, but has to eat, stay healthy, and collect gear to keep her raft going. You are accompanied by a faithful dog, who also can carry some supplies. Each time I died, I got eaten by a wolf, because I hadn’t collected enough items to keep it away. This is a problem with such a game where you aren’t given appropriate skills or gear early on.

The mechanics of steering the raft between stops is generally fine, but your success very much depends on the randomization of what the stops are along the River, and what gear and supplies they may hold. Add in the survival elements, where you immediately start to die of thirst and hunger and illness, and it just wasn’t something I wanted to continue playing. 6.2 out of 10
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The Foxhole General Stuff / Re: IMPORTANT: Server Migration
« Last post by Hambright on January 16, 2020, 05:08:24 AM »
That was quick and painless, eh? Much like most of my deaths in EFT. haha
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The Foxhole General Stuff / Re: Not That Important, But...Once In A Lifetime
« Last post by Silver Sorrow on January 14, 2020, 12:30:51 PM »
I'm not sure what I was going for, exactly (volume or just sheer mass? numbers mean everything and nothing!)...regardless, yup: a whole lotta [her] boobs. :jumppad:
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The Foxhole General Stuff / Re: Not That Important, But...Once In A Lifetime
« Last post by bobdog on January 13, 2020, 01:01:36 PM »
Holy Shit -- that's a lot of Sophia Vergara boobs!!  :hammerhead:
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bobdog's Mini-Reviews Corner / Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Last post by bobdog on January 13, 2020, 12:58:48 PM »
What would you do to save the love of your life? Would you turn back time if you had the chance? Those are the ideas that Last Day of June explore in a short adventure game.

It’s hard to describe the game without getting into spoilers, so I’ll just provide some background. You and your wife live in a small village, with several interesting neighbors. Each character speaks gibberish and only has rudimentary eyes with no mouth, but you still understand how they are feeling – sad, elated, angry, etc. – by how their bodies move. It’s very effective at helping you pay attention to every detail, which is critical as the game continues.

Lush, color-saturated pastels provide glorious ambience as you wade in and out of the past, seeking some path to stop the heartless thing that destroyed your life. Just as you find some way to acceptably negate what happened, fate throws another wrench in your direction, time after time. The game mechanics can become a little frustrating as you have to replay videos over and over, but that repetition actually assists you in making your next choice because you understand how things happen.

Last Day of June is a lovely little game, filled with melancholy and heart. 8.4 out of 10
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bobdog's Mini-Reviews Corner / Last Day of June – August 2017 [Score: 8.4]
« Last post by bobdog on January 13, 2020, 12:58:16 PM »
What would you do to save the love of your life? Would you turn back time if you had the chance? Those are the ideas that Last Day of June explore in a short adventure game.

It’s hard to describe the game without getting into spoilers, so I’ll just provide some background. You and your wife live in a small village, with several interesting neighbors. Each character speaks gibberish and only has rudimentary eyes with no mouth, but you still understand how they are feeling – sad, elated, angry, etc. – by how their bodies move. It’s very effective at helping you pay attention to every detail, which is critical as the game continues.

Lush, color-saturated pastels provide glorious ambience as you wade in and out of the past, seeking some path to stop the heartless thing that destroyed your life. Just as you find some way to acceptably negate what happened, fate throws another wrench in your direction, time after time. The game mechanics can become a little frustrating as you have to replay videos over and over, but that repetition actually assists you in making your next choice because you understand how things happen.

Last Day of June is a lovely little game, filled with melancholy and heart. 8.4 out of 10
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Reviews And Reviews Announcements / Standalone: Thief: Deadly Shadows, part 2
« Last post by Silver Sorrow on January 11, 2020, 09:06:01 PM »
[Part Two.]


My Amazing Inflatable Shirt And Other Miscellaneous Stuff
[Reference: Again, I'm drawing a complete blank.]

Possibly the best feature of the game is the audio. From the footsteps to the music, this game shines like no other. I can’t say enough about it, but I might as well try...even though this review’s size is reaching proportions that James Clavell could only dream of.

As for the participants in your aural fun:

1) Stephen Russell is top form as Garrett, as well as his other roles (the dumb guard, a Hammerite, etc.), and he manages to make the cynical thief come to life even more vibrantly than in the preceding games, if that’s possible.

2) Returning to the role of the smart guard (and a certain “rock” we all know, among others) is Dan Thron...I knew they’d get Stephen Russell back as Garrett, but my biggest hope was always that Dan Thron would return.

3) Terri Brosius -- a woman who wears many hats (or so I assume) -- does a bang-up job as Shodan, and...wait...okay, never mind. Her role is plot-intensive, so I won’t spoil it.

4) Eric Brosius is a god, okay? Give him lots of money, game companies!

5) Et cetera.


1,001 Nasty Things To Do With A Dagger
[Reference: "Mad Magazine"? "Cracked"? One of those. Something about primers for the urban kids. "1,001 Nasty Things To Do With A Switchblade," I think it was called.]

In keeping with Murphy’s Law, your inventory and the available equipment have been truncated. Once again, thanks to the demands of the XBox -- where the first X = Pandora’s -- we find ourselves at the mercy of limitations so someone with a gamepad won’t get confused by all the options and have an aneurysm. Good riddance anyway.

Not that I’m complaining...much...but the inventory has been severely streamlined and limited; no more scrolling through seventeen thousand items, no. You’re limited to a handful of items, and things like keys, loot, special items and lockpicks aren’t kept in inventory anymore, but in some alternate-dimension inventory that you can’t access. You just have to take the game’s word for it that they’re available when you need them.

So, much of the useful (albeit non-essential) equipment from the preceding games are gone -- most notably the speed potions and rope arrows -- as well as the one piece of equipment that would have made a great deal of difference in gameplay: the gas mine. You do get an exploding mine, something that makes a hell of a lot of noise and kills your adversaries. I would have liked to be able to trap people with non-lethal means, which is possible with the new gas bomb, but I consider this weapon a last resort defense and thus nowhere nearly as satisfying.

A note about the absence of rope arrows in the game: This is the one omission that has had everyone turning their Fruit of the Looms into fudge factories and has kept the Prilosec people rolling in cash. However, since there are very few places in-game where a rope arrow would be useful, it doesn’t really matter if they’re in there or not. Personally, I think the people who were screaming the loudest about the absence of the rope arrows never had problems with rope arrow bugs...therefore, I’m not too broken up over their absence. If I want to use rope arrows, I’ll fire up the other two games.

The additions to your equipment include oil flasks (good for starting fires and causing the AI to pratfall), gas bombs (like flashbombs, but with KO gas), climbing gloves (useful, but poorly implemented) and holy water flasks (negating the need for holy water arrows).

The idea of climbing gloves in an interesting one. Although nice, it isn’t done very well. You can climb up some walls, but not others; apparently the devs felt that Garrett being able to climb up any wall he wanted...well...that isn’t good. So let’s limit him a bit, huh? You can’t climb around corners and you can’t climb over obstructions such as most ledges, either.

Which brings up the subject of ladders: despite being interesting (as in how you climb them), you’re severely limited in the ways you can dismount. You can 1) go all the way to the top whereupon Garrett automatically clambers onto the next level, 2) go all the way to the bottom and keep pressing the down/backwards key until he detaches from the ladder, or 3) hit your jump key and suffer the consequences of falling straight down. There is no way to jump from the ladder onto, say, a level to the side of the ladder.

I had mentioned earlier that the adulterated lean function, which in its unadulterated state was one of the most useful aspects of the other games, was crappy. Well, it is. It makes more sense to flip over to third person mode and check around corners instead of straining Garrett’s groin muscles. Some of us, and by that I mean me, have given up checking around corners altogether and simply run around corners all willy-nilly to collide with very surprised guards. Then the dagger comes out and the combat begins. So you gotta be careful, thanks to the de-improved lean function.

One other major change deals with Garrett’s choice of blade: the dagger. Some bemoan, others applaud. I can go either way on the issue; since I rarely get into fights with the AI, I usually have no cause to whip it out [screams from the townsfolk]** and so it really doesn’t matter to me. I like the preparing-to-backstab and backstabbing animations, so that made the transition easier. I think a compromise could have been made, however: put the sword back in, and let the player choose between that and the dagger. Or let the player choose both...or neither. That way everyone would be happy...for about five seconds. Then they’d find something else to complain about.

[** Blazing Saddles.]

As a side note, some of the objections I’ve seen to the dagger are ludicrous: some don’t want the dagger, or any sort of weapon at all, as they claim it interferes with their concept of the game...so they get on the message boards and piss and moan about having to carry a dagger around, eventually asking if there’s a tweak for this, etc. Okay. This is easily fixed without digging into the game’s guts: DON’T USE THE FUCKING DAGGER.


Ms. PacMan Keeps Dying...Why?
[I was never any good at the Pac-Man family of games.]

Apart from being able to select your desired level of difficulty in the missions, the rest of the game is perpetually stuck on the Normal setting; that is, when in the City streets you can kill anyone and everyone and not fail. While in missions, however, the most restrictive of the no-kill objectives is the directive to avoid killing non-combatants (i.e., servants, etc.). Oh, how far we’ve fallen.

I’ll explain that. Yes, you’re welcome. In the previous games, killing on Expert was an immediate failure of the mission; while I didn’t really agree with that wholeheartedly (I prefer to be able to defend myself if cornered), I certainly understood the reasoning behind such dictates. But in keeping with the console crowd, the stringent anti-killing measures have been softened considerably. Considering that many of the missions are largely free of non-combatants, this restriction doesn’t really have any great impact.

While I’m on the subject of useless goals, let’s look at the typical goals of a mission on the Expert setting. Previously when you played on Expert, the mission would be expanded somewhat; sometimes areas inaccessible on lower skills would be opened, more difficult goals would be assigned, the loot goals would be higher, the AI would be tougher and increased in number, and so on. However, having played through all of the missions both on Normal and Expert, I had no real problems whatsoever...the missions were almost exactly the same, with some minor differences.

Here are the Expert-only goals, in addition to the other goals specific to each mission: find 3 special loot items, don’t kill any non-combatants, and find 90% of the loot. That’s it. Since I am a map scourer, I usually found 96% of the loot (on average) as well as all of the special loot, and I avoided killing anyone...on Normal! I’m not bragging, no...I’m merely pointing out that once you get used to the movement and gameplay, you’ll find the missions no tougher than Lord Bafford’s Scepter on Normal.

I was hoping that we’d get expanded missions, etc. on Expert, but hope in one hand and crap in the other and see which piles up first, huh?

I suppose that for some people, that extra guard on Expert makes a world of difference, but I didn’t find that a problem at all. I’m not calling for more difficulty; I’m just saying that it’s irritating to realize that each mission is basically the same, regardless of difficulty.**  I mean, come on: the very first time I played the Bloodline Opal mission, I walked out with 94% of the loot and all three special loot items, all without killing anyone. Playing on Expert, I had to deal with an extra guard or two, but they were no problem even though their senses were supposed to be heightened.
[** In light of the AI bug, that remark makes more sense than I had thought possible.]

The AI bug, for those of you who were wondering, is something that will probably haunt Ion Storm forever...especially since it occurs on the XBox version, which does not lend itself to patching. Specifically, the bug applies to the AI upon loading a saved game. For example: You start a mission on the Expert skill. You save your game at some point. You eventually screw up and have to reload. Upon reloading, the heretofore heightened senses of the AI will revert to the settings found on the Normal skill level, essentially making the mission Normal with a higher loot goal. It’s a little more complicated than that (just like everything else in life), but that essentially it. Some people were distressed by this problem (who, of course, had to paste frowny-faces all over their posts to convey how saddened they were by such a MONUMENTAL problem [/venomous sarcasm]), and even though I don’t blame them, it’s not something that I let keep me awake at nights, for Azura’s sake.

All you need to know is that the v1.1 patch (supposedly) fixes the problem as well as a few other things that are extraordinarily minor. So download it and shut up about the stupid AI bug, already!


In The Rays Of The Sun, I Am Longing For The Darkness
[Reference: Opeth, "Closure."]

Lighting? It’s there. Shadows, colored light, other cool stuff. No need to get a stiffy over it, since we’ve seen this in DXIW. Well done, even though the vaunted hot-shit lighting engine is unnecessary. Moving on.


More Bugs Than The Russian Consulate
[Reference: none, just observing again.]

I am reminded of a quote by Professor Bobo (Kevin Murphy): “I found the motherlode of deer ticks!” [MST3K]

To offset my own boredom (thirteen MS Word pages and counting!), how about a list? I LOVE lists!

1) Thugs in the street eschewed the use of scabbards and chose instead to carry their swords, by the tips, in their armpits. I wouldn’t recommend the armpit as a place to store your cheese sandwich, much less your sword.

2) The purple spot thingy that remains onscreen after you put away your weapon. A little irritating, but nothing major.

3) The Museum: go to the second-floor in the Tesero Hall (outdoor) garden area. Inspect the large windows. Notice anything? That’s right: the windows aren’t actually attached to the walls!

4) Sloppy brushwork abounds, as you can see glimmers of weird light through the cracks in walls, the ground...

5) There are more bugs, but I think this is becoming a more negative exercise than I had envisioned, so to hell with it.


Ragdoll?? But I HATE Aerosmith!
[Reference: Aerosmith, "Ragdoll."]

My biggest complaint with this game has to do with the ragdoll physics. The tech fanboys may love it, but I loathe ragdoll physics...at least in Thief, that is. While it works nicely in such games as Painkiller and Far Cry (but even in those, it isn’t perfect), here it is a stupid, pointless concept that kills immersion with its ridiculous handling of bodies. Smack someone on the head with the blackjack, and what do you get most of the time? Someone who *folds backwards*, giving the impression that their spine is a Slinky™. Sometimes it works fine, but that’s the exception; the general rule is arms twisted backwards, legs akimbo, torsos bent in half, pretzel spines...it’s a travesty.

Look: the technology didn’t work right in Unreal 2, it was an embarrassment in DXIW, and it’s an eyesore here. A couple of months ago, while I was playing Thief 2, someone passing by my desk remarked on how natural the AI responded when you KOed them. (I get opinions like that all the time, although the comments are usually confined to the disparagement of my wallpaper.) This week: that same person, upon witnessing my blackjacking of a guard in TDS said, and I quote, “That’s stupid.” And they were right. It is stupid.

Oh, here come the pro-ragdoll people. “I think it looks neat!” they proclaim. And that’s okay; they’re entitled to their opinions. But keep in mind that we’re also the species who invented puce leg-warmers and embraced a cigar-chomping shill for a certain pudding conglomerate as “America’s Dad,” and it will all make sense.

[Bill Cosby's embrace of Jell-O Pudding Pops turned out to be the least of his sins...]

The so-called “realism” of ragdolling isn’t really all that realistic at all. Ragdolling theorizes that bodies are made up of rubber tubing; an explosion will send a body flying merrily across the room, where it will hit a wall and crumple in an amusing postion, or just flop around for a while as it tries to find a place to rest. That’s realism, all right.

I know Eidos wanted to keep the rating reasonable, but I would have liked to see bodies...well...come apart...realistically. Hit a guard with a fire arrow and watch his arms fly off? Now THAT’S funny! Bodies bleeding, falling apart, and otherwise leaving a nasty mess...sheer entertainment. But I suppose there would be some sort of opposition to that idea...some people are just like that, I guess.

My point? The ragdoll physics blow. Get rid of ‘em.


This Strange Engine
[Reference: Marillion, "This Strange Engine."]

Was the Unreal 2 engine the right engine for TDS? For the time, yes: it’s a wonderful renderer of...um...stuff...and it plays well; the engine really isn’t to blame for any shortcomings. Blame the XBox and Eidos. The Unreal engine -- and here I am using that as a generic term as there are several iterations of the engine floating about and I hate those anal-retentive weiners who jump on every damned thing you say with some sort of pedantic clarification until you shotgun their fucking kneecaps -- is great at taking care of outdoor-oriented games...the original Unreal, for example. It’s not the Far Cry engine, but so what? We don’t need to be able to see for miles (and miles and miles and miles and miiiiiiiiiiiiles),** although that would have been nice.

[** Reference: The Who, "I Can See For Miles."]

No, I take that back. If nothing else, the CryEngine would have been perfect for this game. The City is a big place, and being able to walk from one side to the other without too many loading zones would have been simply astounding. While I’m blueskying, I hope Bethsoft uses the CryEngine for their next installment of the Elder Scrolls...just to get rid of that “Loading Area” crap.

[They didn't. They used the same horribly aging engine up through Fallout 4. IDIOTS.]

Anyway, the only problem is that the Unreal engine is a system hog, and the outdated specs of the XBox cannot handle very much in the way of “things going on”...which is a common console problem anyway. So the solution is to cut the map sizes down considerably and add low-quality textures to the game. Hooray! Problem solved!

The drawback (not the only one, no) is that since these nimrod factories -- the game companies, that is -- expect to garner most of their revenue from the sales to the console crowd, the PC-specific audience is usually left with a substandard product that isn’t very good in terms of playability and looks.

It’s a tribute to the ingenuity of the developers that TDS rises above the limitations placed upon it. However, this only makes me wonder how great the game could have been without those limitations, and I can only sympathize with the people involved in the development of this potentially wonderful game, who had the misfortune of gazing at several years’ worth of inspiration and hard work being funneled down into XBox-friendly size. Kneecapped again. I won’t even go into the massive lay-offs (aka, “the final kick in the ass”), as it’s too damned depressing. Eidos...whatta company.

[Good riddance.]

So if you’re ever involved in the development of a game -- hell, even if you have an interesting *idea* for a game -- it’s better just to keep it to yourself. Stay home and see how many household items you can cram up your ass, because it’s better to do it to yourself than let Corporate America do it for you.


The Much-Promised List Of Pros And Cons! You Lucky Bastard!
And now for a Pro and Con list because...well, because I’m tired of editing this thing down into anything less than novella length.

In The Happy Corner:

- Thoroughly enjoyable missions.

- Excellent audio: voice acting, atmosphere, music, etc.

- Terrific models (except for the female civilians, who are odd).

- Great story.

- Atmospheric and engrossing.

- No rope arrows! [no rope arrows = no rope arrow bugs.]

- Garrett’s footsteps are more tolerable now...walking on tile isn’t as mind-numbing as it used to be.

- No swimming! Swimming is overrated anyway. Breath potions, awkward movement, and you just KNOW some ass-clown wants to put killer fish in the water.

- Shooting a member of the City Watch has never been more satisfying. Let’s put a Glock in the next game to make it even MORE fun. Or an RPG! The City streets awash in the blood of guards? I can live with that.

- Legitimate copies of the game have the required password (located in a readme file in the content\t3\books subdirectory) to disable the virus bomb hard-coded into the game itself; pirated copies, sadly, do not have this password.

- Naked breasts everywhere! Bouncing and jiggling happily away! All colors, all shapes, all sizes!

- The Rabbit finally gets his Trix.

[I don't remember which of those I made up. Just assume they're all totally real.]


...And In The Frowny Face Corner:

- Not as interesting the third time around. I only bring this up because I had to play through three times to get good screenshots. And speaking of which...

- Taking screenshots is an exercise in frustration.

- Quite a few bugs that should have been taken care of before release.

- Garrett’s awkward, jerky movement. As I’ve said elsewhere, if someone could please bring back the “camera with an arm attached” movement that the gaming intelligentsia (as such) were sneering at, I would be much obliged.

- The ragdolling effect, at least in this game, can be likened to a dog cleaning its unmentionable areas.

- Wall-climbing with the climbing gloves is a poorly-implemented affair.

- No rope arrows; the damnable limitations of the climbing gloves make rope arrows a nostalgic enigma, bugs and all.

- No swimming...literally. Apparently Garrett’s forgotten how to swim since T2, so a leap off the docks is very, very bad.

- There isn’t a sure-fire way to tell if bodies are alive or dead by picking them up, as in the previous games’ “unconscious body” or “corpse” descriptions.

- You can’t crouch while carrying bodies, and you apparently need 500 feet of clear space (minor exaggeration) before you can dump ‘em.

- While crouched, you don’t have footsteps; nor do your feet make noise while you’re lugging bodies.

- Out of the box, the lean function isn’t all that useful. And since leaning is laughable, you’ll probably end up running into guards more often than you like.

- Setting fire to the AI isn’t as much fun as in some other games.

- Sadly, the mission where Garrett visits Little Hanoi and gets his rocks off with a group of highly skilled “pleasure workers” has been omitted from the US release.

- Yes, the Rabbit gets his Trix, but the scene where he takes a colorful dump into the Trix boxes before the kids wake up...well, that’s just *disturbing*.

[Yes, I listed the absence of rope arrows and swimming in both lists. Confounding, isn’t it?]


Wait...Let Me Sum Up
[Reference: I'm...not sure. It was a Mel Brooks movie, I believe.]

Fun!


The Envelope Please, Ms. Randall
[In regards to Kelly Randall from the Abstract.]

4.25 out of 5


Technical Garbage

Minimum:
Something a little better than what you’re running now.

Recommended:
Something more than you can afford.

Supposedly Will Not Run With:
Win95/98/CE/ME/NT...say it fast, it’s funny!
Laptop systems.
Etch-A-Sketch.
Anything you’re running at this moment.

[And that's that for the main Thief stuff. Stick around for bonus material and some general just-screwin'-around crap I had laying around.]
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Reviews And Reviews Announcements / Standalone: Thief: Deadly Shadows, part 1
« Last post by Silver Sorrow on January 11, 2020, 11:30:44 AM »
Thief: Deadly Shadows


Review: Thief: Deadly Shadows
Lameness of Title: Moderately Lame
Developer: Ion Storm Austin
Publisher: Eidos Interactive
Reviewed By: Silver J. Sorrow, A Close Personal Friend Of [YOUR NAME HERE]
Price: Try GOG; you can probably find it for under $10.
Score: 4.25 out of 5.00
ESRB Rating: Mature 17+ (Blood, Violence and Explicit Use of “Taffer” And Its Variations)

[DELETED: three entire paragraphs dedicated to the subject of screenshots...how hard they were to take for the original review and what third-party program is best for taking them. Whoopty-doo.]


Abstract: In Search of Kelly Randall
In case you’ve been living somewhere besides this rock I’m under, Ms. Randall played the part of “Gayle” in the 1990 more-or-less-a-comedy flick, Ninja Academy. Other than her more...um...interesting scenes, the movie was kind of a blur to me. That happens when you have the fast-forward button taped down. Anyway, this movie proved to be her first and last, and she has since disappeared into the mists of complete obscurity.

Okay, maybe that isn’t quite true, at least from an existential standpoint. I mean, life doesn’t begin and end with Hollywood, despite what hundreds of useless celebrities would have you believe. There are many other things in life besides a lovely young maiden washing herself on camera, although admittedly very few of these activities are as noble. In this respect, perhaps she had abandoned the vapidity of celebrity (as such) for a more vital role as a vibrant, dynamic whirlwind of benevolence in whatever community she has chosen to grace with her sweet, sweet a...uh...self. Yes. You know: taking care of the homeless, feeding the hungry, helping wounded puppies, etc. This is assuming she’s alive, however...for all I know, she could be residing in a shallow grave out west somewhere. I can’t believe I just typed that.

Personally, I like to think she’s still kicking, an inspiration to the lives she touches. And even if she isn’t in attainment of the highest heights of community activism...hell, even if she spends the majority of her waking hours in a wine-fuelled daze, slumped in front of the TV as soap operas drift by, barely raising a flicker of interest in her eyes, I’m sure she’s the best darned whatever she is that she could be. And I mean that.

In short: Kelly Randall, where are you?

[No comment.]


Acronym Key
DXIW: Deus Ex: Invisible War
T1/TDP: Thief: The Dark Project
TG: Thief Gold
T2: Thief 2: The Metal Age
PUMA: People for the Unethical Mistreatment of Animals


Good Evening, Clarice
[Reference: Hannibal Lecter. But you knew that, didn't you?]

Welcome to the Official Silver Sorrow Review of Thief: Deadly Shadows, the only game to win the coveted Palm d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Or, as James T. Kirk would say, “KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!!!” In this review, I will attempt to explain to the reader (that’s you) the intricate workings of the Thief storyline in exhaustive detail, as well as quash all rumors of my demise at the hands of disgruntled cuckolds. Or maybe I’ll just do a bunch of bulletpoints and drink my lunch.

*hic*

As other brave souls connected to this site are doing their own reviews of this better-than-average game, I feel that if we cannot match other sites in terms of intelligence, then at least we’ll have them beat in the sheer number of TDS reviews.

[Uh...I know Doc Brown published his review of TDS, but I'm not sure anyone else did. I. Don't. Remember.]

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that this is the best game to come out this year...until Doom 3...and since we are assuming that it’s good -- if you haven’t assumed this yet, you will be given additional time to assume -- I will now point out a few things, good and bad, without worrying about besmirching the good name Thief. So read on...unless you’re reading this review backwards, in which case you should keep going up. When you hit the top, turn off your anti-virus software and start clicking banners...try it, it’s fun! Ad-banner roulette...gotta love it.


SecuROM, SUCK ON THIS!
[I hate DRM. SecuROM was probably the most irritating of the lot.]

Possibly the only completely unforgivable change to the Thief series embodied by this package is the stupid copy protection. As in Unreal 2 and DXIW, we’re treated to the moronic CD security that is SecuROM, a deplorable device designed to muck up your system in a no-frills kind of way. While I can’t legally endorse the use of no-CD cracks, I encourage you to think for yourself (for once) and come to your own moral conclusion: should you suffer the slings and arrows of paranoid game companies, or should you find a fix before the offending software hoses up your computer? You decide. As CD protection does nothing to hinder piracy or illegal copying, it’s no wonder it’s still in use by monolithic corporations increasingly out of touch with their customers. (Eidos, take a bow.)

[So GOG was a huge blessing, of course.]


We Put The “Menu” In “Menudo”
[Menudo was a Puerto Rican boy band.]

That’s one butt-ugly menu screen, isn’t it? A kind of bilious green...but slap my rear and call me Peggy, I liked it. I think. Maybe not. I should poll all the voices in my head and present my findings. Sure. I’ll get right on that.


That’s Interesting...My Interface Is Victorian Ironwork
[No reference, just an observation.]

Thanks to the dual-development of this game for the PC and the soul-sucking evil that is the XBox (not that I am biased), TDS has quite a few irritating interface problems. The most glaring on first glance is the absence of a slider for adjusting mouse sensitivity; this is easily handled via tweaking the values in the default.ini file, but we shouldn’t have to resort to such measures in a perfect world. Welcome to imperfection...here’s your noose.

Many of the things that others are irritated by -- arrow trails, loot glint, etc. -- I can live with, up to a point. The blue Saran wrap around the frobbable objects is something I do NOT want to live with. Anyway, I liked the HUD...mostly; the compass around the visibility gem is marvelous, as are the disappearing health icons. I’ve not sure about the weapon and equipment icons, but I suppose I can live with those as well. Overall, I would like the visibility gem and the other elements to be a tad smaller, so I’ll most likely be tweaking those. I’m a HUD minimalist at heart.

The size of the screen font was definitely chosen with the television in mind. They are quite large and garish, much like Margaret Cho.** However, I’ve come to accept this, as I find myself squinting at the screen lately. Time for an eye exam, I guess...but on reflection, I like the idea of large print games.

[** Sorry, Ms. Cho. I love you just the way you are.]

The bottom line is that it’s clear that Ion learned NOTHING from the complaints concerning DXIW, as far as customizable settings go. May the idiots who consolized this game be stricken with black spots and purple stripes...pink hearts...yellow moons...orange stars...green clovers...

[Hands off me lucky charms, ye bastards!]


Things Your Mother Warned You About
[Reference: who knows?]

You’re in the game, right? Good. Now look down. What do you see? Yes...ground, good. That’s good. But what else? That’s right: you can see your body! Garrett’s body, I mean. Why would they put YOUR body in the game? That’s silly!

And hey! You can see yourself in third person! How much fun can one person have, anyway?! I like the third person for peeking around corners, since the lean function is crappy; most of the time, I’m in first person mode. Seriously: looking back at the various forums, can you *believe* how much bile was spewed all over the place due to the so-called “controversy” of the third person option? That’s the beauty of the internet: it really puts you in touch with people who shouldn’t be in touch with anybody.


On The Next Episode Of Thief: The Animated Series...
[Reference: not a friggin' clue. Yet another head-scratcher.]

Now. Let’s get the story out of the way. I’d say that the story is excellent; as it’s closing out a trilogy, it HAS to be good, right? Right. Now let’s hope someone tells George Lucas that. To recap the entire series...would be folly. So forget that.

The short version of TDS’s story, sans spoilers: Garrett stumbles into a strange mess involving the Keepers and the glyphs and prophecies and then stuff happens from there. Of course, there’s a lot more than that going on, but I’m keeping mum. Who am I to divulge anything remotely useful in a review?

I liked that the story had a bit more subtlety than the previous game (T2, for those of you with linearity problems); its pacing was more like that of T1/G. TDS takes its time in letting us soak up the atmosphere and introduces seemingly disparate elements one at a time, which needless to say, tie together quite nicely. I can’t remember the last time I actually smiled after finishing a game. Additionally, at least it has a definite, *satisfying* ending. This is of course in dramatic contrast to standard practice, which is to end games on a depressing bummer, a disappointing anticlimax, or an irritating and/or ridiculous cliffhanger.

Also, I have to say that this installment is the funniest in the series, even taking into account the massive yet hilarious trauma the Trickster suffered when the fake Eye blew up in his crotch (as seen in T1/G...and on “America’s Funniest Groin Injuries”). That was probably a spoiler, but who cares? Anyway, from the slapstick fun of throwing an oil flask on the docks (quote: “splash!”) to the catch-you-unaware one-liners tossed off by random passerby (“Did that guy have *leaves* in his pockets??”), there’s plenty of humor to be found.


A Streetcar Named Larceny
[Reference: I dont care.]

The distinctive Thief-tastic cutscenes/cinematics are back, although they’re somewhat uneven in places. As they are an integral part to the Thief Immersion Factor™, they have to be done right. And they are...mostly. Garrett’s appearance, for example, may be wildly different from one cutscene to the next; apologists may point out that we never really know decisively what Garrett looks like, but that’s a copout. You can’t have a wax-mannequin Garrett in one scene (resembling a Muppet more than a human being), a hard-bitten, scarred-up Garrett in another, and a boyish-looking Garrett in yet another. Bottom line: DECIDE ON A LOOK. Me, I like the scar...but I think the purple mohawk was going a bit too far.

Despite this, the cutscenes are great. They have to be, since they’re all we get in the way of movies; the between-mission briefing movies of the previous installments have been ditched for various reasons (and don’t ask me what those reasons are...my laughter will drown out your cries**), so the cutscenes are given precedence here in propelling the plot along. I have no problem with this.

[** Reference: Marillion, "Three Boats Down From The Candy."]

One plus is that the movies use Bink! video, which guarantees (I think) that they’ll actually work. T1 and T2 used the .avi format, which has always been the turf being fought over by opposing gangs of codec geeks (the Blips and the Cruds, I believe). The downside is the inevitable flood of idiots who want exhaustive details on how to play the movies outside the game and post thread after thread asking for help. Ever heard of Google? USE IT!


The AI, The Missions, And A Half-Naked Vietnamese Woman On The Hood Of My Car
[I'd ask, once again, what the blippity-bloopity crap is my deal, but at this point it's academic.]

[Note: We regret to inform you that the half-naked Vietnamese woman scheduled to be draped over the hood of our car for this section has been abducted by Space Marmosets and taken back to their homeworld near the Pleiades to be their queen. As we were short on time, we could not find a suitable replacement model and we were left with nothing to drape over the hood of our car. So we bought a tarp. It’s really working out for us.]

[Note: We apologize for the preceding note.]

[The note in question was an excruciatingly complex chunk of bewildering nonsense; eons ago, Doc Brown gave me advice on how to make it better. So I took that advice and adjusted the note accordingly. Thanks, Doc. If I've learned anything over the years, it's how to be a better editor of my own "writing."]

Still here? Good. The missions are your main impetus for buying the game (Thief: Deadly Shadows...remember?), so is it worth buying the game just for them? I would say “yes.” Then again, I also say “zigackly” and “ferpectly” when tired, but that’s beside the point.** I’d also throw caution and my pants to the wind and say that there isn’t a clunker mission in the bunch. Contrast that to T2’s filler missions...hell, compare that to MOST games on the shelves, especially the ones touted as the “best FPS game(s) since Half-Life.”

[** For those who may have wondered when I used the terms "ferpectly" and "zigackly," wonder no more. They go back to Goscinny & Uderzo's Asterix and the Laurel Wreath.]

But it isn’t just missions; much of your time will be spent on the City streets in pursuit of various activities such as buying equipment, fencing loot acquired in missions and mugging innocent bystanders. After a while, it becomes apparent that a LOT of time is spent in the streets. One can’t help but speculate that in addition to the missions, the developers decided to eke out the gameplay...if only just a tad...with the streets. Just one of those unfounded suspicions, I suppose.

[You really do spend a lot of time on the streets.]

Let’s get the City out of the way before I go any further. We -- the players -- were led to believe that the City would be a large, opportunity-rich environment for the enjoyment of would-be thieves; it was made clear that TDS was inspired by the openness and non-linearity of GTA III. Let me puncture that particularly festive balloon with a disappointed “blah.” The City, in reality, is a claustrophobe’s nightmare; it’s cramped and not very interesting. The “multitude” of side-missions (meaning, the small distractions that have nothing to do with the overall plot) that were promised don’t really add up to a respectable number, and most of them aren’t very interesting either. A City Watch captain is extorting a bottle of wine from the local pub; your landlord is paying off a blackmailer and hides the money in a certain place. Whoopty-crap.

These “quests” (and I use that term loosely) are just a way of getting more money in your pocket. Several are amusing and/or interesting, but not worth jumping up and down in uncontrollable glee over. So while cramped and more or less visually nondescript, the City streets will pad out your gameplay nicely. In fact, it seems that most of the time you’re running from one end of town to the other...like it was planned that way, or something...

One important (or not) note about the City: a couple of the story-specific missions take place in the City; meaning that you can leave these areas and return to the streets at any time, although I can’t imagine why you’d want to do this without accomplishing your goals unless you were running low on equipment and/or health and/or GUTS...ya flamin’ sissy!

As I mentioned earlier, the missions are on the whole, well done; not a bad mission to be found. They may be tough (which is probably due more to the eccentricies of Garrett’s movement than anything else), but they’re not insanely difficult. This is more than I can say for such games as Far Cry (winner of the coveted Silver Sorrow’s “Middling FPS Retread Of The Year” award). I had very few problems even on Expert,** but it’s because this game is very much Thief, despite the myriad changes and design gaffes forced upon the game by principals who Just Don’t Understand The Game They’re Making. To single out specific individuals would be unwarranted. So let’s ignore the specter of doubt.
[** With good reason, as it turns out: there’s a serious AI bug, which has been addressed in the v1.1 patch. I talk about this further in a couple sections down thataway.]

I hate getting into specifics of certain missions; but several of them must be singled out as noteworthy of our highest praise. I liked all of the missions, which is a rarity for me...I hated certain missions in each of the other games in the series (“Casing The Joint,” for example), so I think I’m onto something here. Here’s a taste:

It is Ape Law: you cannot write a TDS review without mentioning the infamous “Robbing the Cradle” (aka “Good Old-Fashioned Nightmare Fuel”), in which Garrett must explore...and survive...an orphanage-turned-insane asylum (which caught fire at one point...) in pursuit of information relating to the main story. As the man himself puts it, “If there’s a way to cram more misery into one building’s history, I can’t think of it.”

Since T2 was missing a scary mission -- which was a relief to all the whiny widdle babies who had wet their widdle Pampers after pwaying the big scawwy wevels in T1/G, waaaaaah -- “Wobbing the Cwadle” ...uh... “Robbing the Cradle” brings back the sweaty palms and uncontrollable trembling that we knew so well from “Return to the Cathedral.” Or that may be my slavish crack addiction getting the better of me. Anyway, the audio (plus the AI) enhances the experience almost beyond endurance; while I’m usually level-headed even on the most atmospheric missions (like hell I am), this one made me jump more than usual.

While “Cradle” is an especial high point of the TDS experience, it certainly isn’t the only brilliant mission. Take “House of the Widow Moira,” for example, a mission that finds Garrett breaking into a seaside mansion in search of a certain item. The score (that’s “music” to all you musically-retarded induhviduals) is simply gorgeous; it put me in mind of the more contemplative of Gabriel Knight III’s piano pieces. It fits perfectly with the beautiful mansion and the sense of loss (explained in the mission); in short, it’s a beautiful, melancholic mission. In a surprising twist, it may even force you into a moral dilemma when it comes to loot-gathering...and you’ll even want to do nasty things to the money-grubbing leeches infesting the mansion as well.

[I sure can cram a lot of shit into a couple of paragraphs, eh?]

Other standouts include the Hammerite cathedral (“Saint Edgar’s Eve”); “Now THAT’S a cathedral!” I remarked to myself. Yes, I talk to myself. There were flying buttresses and everything. Primo! The Museum (“Still Life With Blackjack”) is a terrific mission, a spot of normal thieving before the Big Finale. I think I’ll stop with these examples because my fingers are very tired from typing right now.

[I believe the Cathedral mission was designed by David Riegel, who also created the fan missions "Cult of the Resurrection" and "The Inverted Manse."]

Oh, okay...a couple more: “Killing Time,” in which Garrett tinkers with the local clocktower, is a masterpiece of massive machinery. This remains one of my favorites. “Pagan Sanctuary” is terrific, with its highly-detailed depiction of a place that’s gone to the weeds, taken over by the Pagans. It’s also somewhat difficult, which makes it all that more interesting.

The final mission, “Endgame,” is quite good as well. No, no more spoilers from me.

Each mission is divided into at least two separate areas, connected by loading zones; you can travel between the areas as often as you like. Now, some people disparage the loading zones, but really: so what? We’re dealing with a new engine here, and it also has to be optimized for Mr. Gates’ rapidly aging console whatchamacallit. Of course, there’s also the standard headache of getting respectable performance out of Ion’s games on mid-level systems, so it’s reasonable to expect that they would carve the levels up into manageable chunks.

Yes, I remember that most other Unreal engine games have massive missions without loading zones, many of them outdoors. But here’s the problem: take the ridiculous overkill (for Thief) of the Havok physics engine, throw in a spectacularly useless lighting engine, add in a million little details, and...ah. Your framerates are now negative numbers and your video card is this close to wiping out all life as we know it.* So they cut the levels up...and they even work.
[* Because of the small plutonium slugs used to power the fan. What, you didn’t know about that?? You’d better get yourself to a radiologist, pronto!]


It May *Look* Like Intelligence, But It’s Artificial
[Reference: how many ways can I say "I don't know"?]

I’ve heard and read so much about how brilliant the AI is, but I’m not too impressed, really. I mean, yes...the AI is smart[-ish] and can distinguish certain things from other things and so on, but let’s face it: if they were really smart, they’d REALLY look for you...and find you...instead of just mumbling something about checking over by the chair. They recognize things, but then again, so do most six year olds.

Okay, the AI really isn’t stupid. Seriously, it’s quite a bit more on the ball than most games, and is even a marked improvement over the previous games in the series...although not by much: T1 & T2’s AI was pretty good to begin with.

[That is to say, comparitively so; they were not exactly Rhodes scholars.]

Besides the question of the AI’s perceived smartness...smartivity...what ever, I have one problem with the AI’s *existence*: I hate the fact that the City Watch respawns. It’s particularly bad in The Docks and in the Old Quarter. *Especially* down by the docks...one appeared right out of thin air and went on patrol. Sloppy. I HATE respawning AI. It’s stupid and should be stopped RIGHT NOW. With force, if necessary.

Perhaps you recall my review of No One Lives Forever 2 and my problems with its stupid handling of respawning AI. The well of bitterness is deep, my friends.

[You most likely do not recall my NOLF2 review. It was posted on the Hangar many moons ago. I'll be reposting it soon enough.]

In the streets, the AI come in two varieties: armed (City Watch, Hammerites, Pagans) and unarmed (aka, “those dirty son-of-a-bitching snitches”). A subset of the armed variety encompasses the thugs, who will generally leave you alone. With all this in mind, it’s sometimes a mind-numbing chore to get from one area of town to another, which you need to do in order to progress with the story. As with any errand, no matter how big or small, your main obstacle on the streets is people...just like real life, they’re always in the way.

The City Watch (damn them all to Perdition) patrol the town and hate you, but the citizens will leave you alone unless you do something really stupid. I’ll leave that to your imagination. Some of them carry valuables, so pickpocketing is encouraged. Most carry their loot on their belts, which only goes to show that while the people of this world/time/place can create a mechanical eye that really works, they are absolute primitives when it comes to pocket technology. Of course, due to a strange design decision, you practically have to stand on their [CENSORED]ing heels to pickpocket them, but remember that they don’t actually have pockets in the first place. This whole thing makes me very tired and very cranky.

Some of the NPCs wear jewelry, and you have to “mug” them, i.e., wave your dagger at them. That’s not a metaphor. I’ve never gotten this to work; my dagger is apparently ineffectual (that’s not a metaphor either), so I would just beat the shit out of them and pick their possessions up off the ground.

You can now ally yourself with the Hammers and Pagans, by the way. You can ally with either, both, or neither. It’s your choice, but the smart thief will make friends with both factions, mostly because it makes getting around the City a little easier. I only regret not being able to somehow form an uneasy truce with the City Watch, as they would sometimes top fighting larger threats (no spoilers here) and come after *me*...and I’d have to kill them. Sad, but necessary.**
[** Okay, not *sad*, as I hated them and chuckled with malevolence as I fired arrow after arrow into them, but...]

What? Run away from them...instead of killing them? Are you *serious*??

So getting past all of these armed idiots is your recurring nightmare. You can do this by either killing them (much noise and screaming and bleeding and crying), KOing them (the City Watch respawn, so this is pointless in the long run) or by sneaking by them (recommended). Sometimes, it’s just more satisfying to put an arrow in someone’s throat, and you can do that if you wish. There are no killing restrictions on the streets, although you might want to avoid killing members of the factions you’ve allied yourself to, as they don’t really like that sort of thing...you understand.

In the missions themselves, however, *everyone* hates you. Just like in the previous games, yes...you’ll have to watch out for the ubiquitous guards and various unarmed “innocents” (I’ve been skimming through their diaries, however, and utterly reject the notion of their innocence).** In some missions, you’ll face more...interesting...lifeform s, although once again, the Powers That Be have denied us the opportunity to rob from the Valley of the Nymphomaniac Amazon Vixens of the Moon.**
[** A good subtitle for that mission: “They’ll [CENSORED] You...To Death!”]

[** Dear god...buried that one, didn't I? Okay, it was in reference to Marillion's "Emerald Lies."]


[End of Part One.]
10
The Foxhole QuickViews / Terminator Resistance [2019 -- Teyon]
« Last post by Starfox on January 10, 2020, 08:27:02 AM »
The simple name Terminator conjures for many people (including me) some weird mental imagery from the 80s. As a teenager it was one of the iconic movies of the era. Since then I grew up... rather a lot, but movies from the era stayed with me and I actually watch them again from time to time.

Since then the Terminator franchise grew a lot too (movie wise) both in good and bad ways but the original movies The Terminator and Terminator 2 remains the founding principle of the whole thing. Through the decades, quite a lot of attempts were made to develop Terminator video games on various platforms. Unfortunately most of those efforts were relying more on trying to make money from brand recognition rather than making good games.

And today here's the latest officially approved Terminator game in the line, Terminator Resistance. So is it any good?

The events of Terminator Resistance take place during the final weeks of the "war against the machines" that is very partially evoked in the two first movies (mostly through the nightmares of Kyle Reese remembering his days on the front). Technically the story is tied to the events in the movies and ends with the capture of the time machine that allowed Reese and Model 101 to go back in the past to protect respectively Sarah Connor and John Connor.

But where does the player's character fit into that story? He's called Jacob Rivers and is a simple Private with the resistance, Pacific Division. As the story starts he's literally running for his life, pursued by Terminators after the total annihilation of the Pacific Division. He was on his way to rejoin the South Division under Commander Jessica Baron but finds nothing in Pasadena, where they were supposed to be stationed, except for more death, destruction and Terminators. He receives guidance in his flight by an unknown person over the radio and that guidance likely saves his life. Last survivor of his division, Jacob joins forces with civilians attempting to flee the area and finally escapes Pasadena with them always in search of the South Division.

He has an important message to give to the resistance. Because the thing is, the whole of the Pacific Division was annihilated by just one unit, a Terminator from a new model that no one had seen before, part man, part machine. A cyborg.

What Jacob doesn't know but will soon learn is that the Pacific Division was just collateral damage. This evolved machine had only one goal, Jacob Rivers termination. And so Jacob find his name on a very short list of people who are marked for termination by Skynet, like John and Sarah Connor. For some reason known only to itself, Skynet decided that Jacob, a mere private, had some very important role to play in the war and therefore was a primary target.

On the gameplay level, Terminator Resistance is a mix of FPS, RPG and survival game. The way you will play it though depends on the skills you choose to invest in. One can be a juggernaut of destruction by investing in weapons and endurance or rather the stealthy type investing in stealth, hacking and lockpicking or a mix adding things like crafting. The level cap is 28 though (which one can reach easily enough before the endgame) so 27 skill points (plus a couple more one can find in the field via skill books) which means one cannot get all the skills in the same playthrough but hey, that's a trademark of RPGs, so no complaining.

On one personal taste note, the hacking mini-game featured in here is one of the most lamentable I've ever played and I think I played most games featuring hacking mini-games. As for the lockpicking mini-game, apparently Teyon was completely out of fresh ideas because they went "hey, you know those games Fallout 3, Skyrim... let's copy that, OK? Good enough". In other words, chances are that you won't get your minds blown up by the mini-games in Terminator Resistance, be warned.

One can stealth parts of the game but certainly not every part. Even with a stealth skill maxed, you'll get discovered at some point so it's probably preferable to invest also in weapons and endurance because fights are unavoidable and Terminators are not kidding and some parts of the game are really punishing. That said, if you really know how to handle your stealth, you can use a "termination knife" (single use only but craftable and/or available at your nearest quartermaster) to definitely disable a Terminator. It only works on humanoid models though (T-800 and over).

The combat is OK. One starts the game with an array of low key weapons straight from the 80s era to stay in touch with the movies (Colt M1911, M16, UZI, Shotgun). Those weapons are fine for low level enemies like spiders, non armored drones... Against Terminators and above (yeah there's worse than a Terminator) those weapons are definitely not what you want. There come the plasma weapons to save the day. You get one for free as soon as you contact the resistance.

Plasma weapons can be tweaked. Killing Terminators (or most robotic enemy, really) allows to retrieve a skynet chip. Those chips can then be used to augment the capability of your plasma weapons. More damage, more round per clip, more stability or increased fire rate -- a secondary function of the chips is to allow to bypass the idiotic hacking mini-game so my advice is: use the high-level chips and keep the low level ones to bypass hacking. Plasma weapons are complemented by explosives (pipe bombs or the most powerful "can grenade" -- both are featured in the first movie) and two types of rocket launcher that only differ by the guiding system employed (laser or thermal).

Unlike the movies, in which the war against the machines happens mainly at night, missions in the game occur for one half during nighttime and the other half during the day. Which allowed the developers to re-use the maps. Generally you play one mission on one map during the day (or night) and then later you play another mission during the night (or day) on the same map. That's not necessarily a very bad thing as you really have to pay attention to actually see that it's the same map, however it's the occasion to remark that the game could have easily been much more varied and extended. As it is the total playtime clocks at around 12 hours for a first playthrough. And the game although offering multiple ways to reach a same goal (one of the things the game get right) is also not as open as it could have been.

Most of the time, Jacob accomplishes a mission alone but in a few cases -- because after all it is a war -- he will be accompanied by troops mostly in cases of a full assault on the enemy. Having troops with you really gives you the additional feeling to be engaged in a combat action and those are generally intense phases during which you don't really have time to think, especially because your soldiers tend rush into fire. Not having troops with you allows you to take it slow and develop your own tactics.

Character interaction is... well, basic enough. You have the choice to get to know your main acquaintances by talking to them in the shelter between missions which give you some amount of reputation with them (and in most cases it doesn't even matter what you say as long as you take the time to talk to them which is sadly another RPG shortcut taken in this title). This reputation may be important late in the game (especially for the two possible "romances" presented). However this aspect of the game seems rushed due to the fact that the game is on the short side. The romances in particular are virtually pushed into your arms because there was no time to develop something deeper which is a shame for a game that wants to be part of the "look I'm a cool cyber RPG survival post-apocalypse" thing. Unfortunately the game is far too short for the RPG genre even though the length is adequate enough (not ideal but "enough") for a shooter.

The thing that really... well not quite pisses me off but saddens me it's that this game could have been so much more than it actually is. The base project in itself was ambitious, unfortunately this ambition didn't translate well into the final product, possibly because of a lack of money and time. Maps could have been more varied, more extended and open, missions more numerous, characters interactions more meaningful and so on. Suffice to say that there is a lot of room for improvement here.

Still, despite its quite numerous shortcomings -- as far as RPG, mini-games, characters interactions and length are concerned -- I can't deny that I had fun playing this game and fun is the most important thing to expect from a game. Terminator Resistance successfully captures the look and feel of the old Terminator movies, especially during nighttime. It definitely scratches the nostalgia itch. Even the voice actor they chose for Jacob has some amusing voice similarities with Michael Biehn (whom for those new to the whole Terminator thing was the actor playing Kyle Reese in the original movie).

The game received poor to average marks from professional reviewers and, for once, even though I rarely agree with them, I can understand where they are coming from on this because they saw the same problems I've seen. Nevertheless it received quite good marks from gamers (and I guess especially those from my generation and Terminator fans) whom like me managed to overlook its flaws to retain the good.

In the end, appreciating Terminator Resistance is most likely a culture thing. Those who are too young to remember fondly the old movies and era (probably the same who are asking "Friends? What's that?") will possibly despise the game because -- and it's sadly true -- it falls short in a number of areas compared to other recent productions. But me personally? I like.

Yeah, call me biased and kick me if you will but... I'LL BE BACK.
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