Well, of course, since I`m workin’ like a DOG on book 2 of the Humanity’s Fire trilogy (The Orphaned Worlds) it is completely and utterly and utterly completely verboten for me to be playing any computer games which, for me, means FPS or First Person Shooters. Which is why I’m writing this post as a kind of yearning, a psalm to frenetic gameplay tactics, a paean if you will to the beauty and the breathless brutality of such games. You`ll know how much I loved Bioshock, a game with a meaningful and gripping narrative; well, others that have really got my attention have included Medal of Honour: Airborne in which you play a paratrooper sent on various missions through WW2, and the great thing about it is that each mission begins in the skies with you having just jumped out of a plane. And you can control your parachute and steer yourself towards anywhere in the territory you’re descending to. So different from almost every other shooter I`ve ever played, where you start where the level designers want you to start; in MOH:Airborne it can be different every time, thus the replayability is fantastic. I wish other developers would offer similar options.
Another game which I enjoyed immensely, and which had a solid, dramatic storyline, was Dark Messiah, which introduced me to the joys of the kick as employed up high, on ledges or building walkways without rails. Sure, the old Duke Nukem shooter had a kick ability but only in certain circumstances – in DM you can use it as and when. Terrific game, especially the fight with the cave troll, and the climb up the orc-busy cliff faces.
What I`m looking forward to – Fallout 3 which I am told is topnotch; Necrovision, the demo of which was an absolute hoot (zombies and more kicking); Cryostasis (horror survival onboard a huge Russian icebreaker trapped in the ice); and Three Cards To Midnight, a graphic adventure/puzzler game coming from the guys who were behind the Tex Murphy games back in the 90s, from their new outfit called Big Finish Games. I really hope this one makes it out of the trap cos then we might get to see a new Tex Murphy for the 21st Century, which would indeed be a cool thing.
A couple of other games slipped my mind, like Stalker: Clear Sky, the sequel/prequel to Stalker: Shadow Of Chernobyl whose gameplay was free-roaming, almost freeform, although there was a main narrative spine of missions leading onto further missions, along with various sidequests. Stalker SOC was notorious early on for being bug-ridden and was patched something like 6 times by the developers to clear up various issues, such that by the time I got round to playing it the most recent patch spared me the agonies and frustrations that the first players encountered. Not really an early adopter, me. The other sequel is, of course, Bioshock 2: Sea Of Dreams, of which we`ve seen no more than an enigmatic trailer. Bioshock, like Stalker, was set in a fully realised, highly individual, detailed and consistent environment. However, it has emerged that the original Bioshock team will not be involved in Bioshock 2; a shudder goes through me, recalling how something similar bedevilled the development of Deus Ex 2 Invisible War, which gobbled its way across the gaming universe on a fast trajectory to the bargain bin. Also, there has been talk of the Bioshock ‘Franchise’, and once more my spidey senses tingle, alerted to the presence of corporate marketing vernacular, that money-grubbing, dead-eyed lingo which sucks the life out of anything vaguely artistic and worthwhile. Though I could be wrong.