Author Topic: FPS NIGHTMARES  (Read 32094 times)

Lemming

  • Short-Burst Underwater Crying
Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #30 on: November 19, 2019, 12:07:21 PM »
Status update: the next two games are pretty rough going. Both Wolf3D clones made by the same company, Capstone Software, and both a bit shit. I've played each of them for about an hour and Corridor 7 is pretty boring while Operation Body Count is absurdly hilarious. Might do them both in one post since they're basically both the same shit, though Operation Body Count is clearly the more interesting/ridiculous of the two.

Jim Bob

  • (aka Right Said Brett)
Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #31 on: November 20, 2019, 12:04:41 AM »
You've got pretty much all of the games I would care to see covered in your list already (much respect for the inclusion of William Shatner's TekWar, Star Wars: Dark Forces and Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight), but if you're interested in going through to 1999, I'd like to nominate Requiem: Avenging Angel and Kingpin: Life of Crime.

Lemming

  • Short-Burst Underwater Crying
Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #32 on: November 20, 2019, 11:57:10 AM »
Thanks! I'm hoping to go to 1999 and beyond. I love Kingpin and I've never played Requiem, I'll put them both on the list.

Meanwhile, I ditched Corridor 7 but progress on Operation Body Count continues. I hate this game so much and I want to move on to the much better games that lie ahead later in 1994, but something is driving me forward through each jank-tastic level to reach the finale.

Lemming

  • Short-Burst Underwater Crying
Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #33 on: November 21, 2019, 02:59:08 PM »
Operation Body Count (1994)



   

STORY: Terrorists have seized a United Nations building! Fuck! The only way to stop them is for one elite agent to infiltrate through the sewers, fighting off giant rats and slime elementals, and enter the building from below to battle up towards the terrorists.

MUSIC: What fucking music? This shit can't be called music. I was actually agape at this atrocious racket the game calls music, so I recorded a full minute of it for you. Click here to listen. You can hear me fighting off giant rats - nothing I could do about this, they just swarm you from everywhere. I've got a feeling they might have been infinitely spawning.

THE VERDICT: First thoughts were something like: "Christ almighty. Runs like shit, looks like shit, sounds like shit, plays like shit."

I did quick research on this before playing it and found that it's been referred to as "the worst shooter ever made". That was my first impression too - as mentioned, the game starts in a sewer. I absolutely don't understand this design choice - the game is clearly advertised as counter-terrorist action in an office building, not walking around grainy, muddily-textured sewers shooting slime monsters. This is a boring start to the game and goes on too long, but I did actually get a brief jolt of excitement upon turning a corner to finally see a human enemy with a gun opening fire on me. So I guess the sewer intro kind of paid off?

Also, here's a screenshot of the sewer levels. It's a particularly unflattering one, to be fair, but just fucking look at this:



Between that music and those graphics, I was seriously about to drop this game before even reaching the skyscraper. But when you finally get into the building, something changes.

Basically, from the point where you reach the ground floor, there are 40 floors to fight through as you ascend. The game has no keys, no real mazes, nothing of the sort. You can enter and exit each floor on the same elevator or staircase, meaning the exit to the level is always right behind you when you start. But to advance up a level, you've got to kill a certain percentage of the terrorists on the floor - a red light turns yellow to indicate that you've done this and may now leave.

This leads to a fairly unique gameplay loop. On each floor, your best tactic is to simply cause a massive racket by firing at everything, and then sitting back as tens of hostiles flood towards your position. Some levels literally don't require you to move more than a few feet from the elevator - step out, shoot, kill everyone who comes to attack you, turn right back around and head up to the next floor.

But there are reasonably large maps for each floor. This is where it gets interesting - you can technically explore as little or as much of the floor as you like, but eventually, you're going to get low on health and armour. In this situation, you'll have little choice other than to try risking the next floor, or heading out into the offices and storage rooms ahead to seek out supplies. And, given how heavily guarded every floor is, this gets pretty tense. The gameplay loop became genuinely addictive to me, and my respect for the game grew with it.

There's some interesting gameplay gimmicks too - booby trapped corpses, enemies playing dead (I think the next time we'll see this will be in Unreal), allied NPCs on some floors to fight alongside you (they're pathetic and their only real purpose is for you to shoot them to steal their armour), and more.

Combat is challenging but fair. As in the other Wolf3D clones, you can mow down tens of people with ease if you get the first shots in, but if anyone flanks you or you carelessly enter a room, it's over in a matter of seconds.

The graphics, after the atrocious sewer levels, are pretty good - you might not even guess it's the Wolfenstein engine. This is easily the most realistic environment in any of the games I've played here so far - some levels even lay out the offices logically, with central corridors, reception areas, bathrooms, private offices etc. This does a lot to help you feel like you're actually fighting in a real location, something we haven't really experienced in any of the other games.

There's also cool graphical touches, some of which this game might be the first ever example of in FPS games. Blood splatters on the screen if you get hit or blast an enemy at close range. Windows shatter from gunfire and walls switch to a different, bullet-riddled  texture if you or an enemy fire on them. These tricks are primitive, but they do give the impression of the environment splintering and shattering around you as you trade fire with the terrorists, and it's pretty cool.

There's a decent selection of weapons, but you'll just be using the Galil. Trust me.

So, technical side of things: the game is functional. It runs decently with some DOSBox fuckery, the controls are sound.

FINAL RATING: This is tricky because I don't think the game is necessarily good, but it kept me playing all the way to the end and I was having fun with it. Low production values and occasional glitchiness (the big one being that doors, any doors, completely break hit detection, meaning you can't fire through open doors) stop this from being straight-up good, but I can hardly say something I played to completion over several hours is worthless, and the gimmicky graphical and gameplay touches I mentioned really endear the game to me. I'm going to have to settle on 3 Abysmal Sewer Wall Textures out of a possible 5. Again, if we had decimal places, it'd be 2.5/5, but we DON'T USE DECIMAL PLACES IN SCORES. Oh, by the way, here's my Corridor 7 review, which I didn't complete: it's a Wolf3D clone with better graphics and worse guns and enemies. I don't think there's a huge reason to write a full review for it. What's interesting is that this and Corridor 7 are both made by Capstone Software, who also made Witchaven, which we'll be playing later. Anyway, next game is Doom 2 (1994)... but there might be a surprise extra entry before then, if I make my mind up about playing it.


Jim Bob

  • (aka Right Said Brett)
Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #34 on: November 21, 2019, 03:32:42 PM »
MUSIC: What fucking music? This shit can't be called music. I was actually agape at this atrocious racket the game calls music, so I recorded a full minute of it for you. Click here to listen. You can hear me fighting off giant rats - nothing I could do about this, they just swarm you from everywhere. I've got a feeling they might have been infinitely spawning.

I don't know how much the developer paid someone to produce that soundtrack and those sound effects, but I can guarantee them that I could have produced the same result for a far cheaper rate, simply by placing a microphone next to my toilet, the morning after a night of drinking beers and eating a vindaloo.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2019, 03:44:04 PM by Jim Bob »

Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #35 on: November 21, 2019, 09:52:26 PM »
loving this keep it up

Lemming

  • Short-Burst Underwater Crying
Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #36 on: November 22, 2019, 03:38:24 PM »
Here we go, special bonus thing. This game is not an FPS, but we're looking at it anyway. Explanation incoming.

The Elder Scrolls: Arena (1994)



(Look at that fucking cover art, it's atrocious)

   

STORY: Imperial battlemage Jagar Tharn has magically consigned  the Emperor of Tamriel to oblivion, and has now taken the throne, using powerful illusion magic to disguise himself as the Emperor (what the fuck?). Court mage Ria Silmane discovered the plot and was murdered by Tharn before she could warn anyone, but hope is not lost - Silmane's magical ability has allowed her soul to remain in the physical world, and she contacts a prisoner currently rotting in the Imperial dungeons, believing that this prisoner (you) is the one hope to stop Tharn and save the Empire. Why does she pick you? No idea, you're obviously just extremely hot shit.

MUSIC: It's so good! It's hard to pick a best track, but the character creation screen has incredible music, and some of the weather based songs, like this one for snowing, are incredible. I also love the inexplicably melancholic music that plays whenever you fall into a body of water. I just accidentally slipped into a small pool, it doesn't warrant this level of emotion. The music that plays when Silmane's ghost speaks to you is really good too.

THE VERDICT: Alright, why are we doing this game when it's not an FPS? Basically, I wondered if it might be useful to have first person action games that weren't strictly FPS in this thread, especially these earlier ones from the 90s, to see the progress of first person perspective games generally. I think it'll be useful to check some out - I'm also going to revisit System Shock (also from 1994) and possibly Thief (1998) and Deus Ex (2000).

Arena is a pretty simple game. I've played it more than a couple times before, so I didn't finish it for this review, playing only up to the third staff piece dungeon. Basically it's an RPG. You roll a character, allocate your stats, then get fucking wrecked for the first 20 minutes before deciding you've made a broken character and heading back to the drawing board. The only class worth playing as is Spellsword and I will not back down from this.

As an early attempt at blending first person action and RPGs into one game, it's a frantic, unbalanced, janky mess in terms of gameplay. The car crash combination of Wizardry/Might & Magic style stats-based dungeon crawling and FPS action creates a total mess where the game can never decide whether the player's action reflexes or the in-game character's stats are more important. That's pretty much the story of action RPGs in my opinion - you can still see this sort of conflicted approach in later FPS-RPG hybrids like Morrowind and Fallout: New Vegas, but it's especially absurd in Arena.

The bulk of the game is spent in dungeons. Tharn has broken a weird staff into 8 pieces, one lost in each province, and you spent the entire game asking people where to find them, then doing two dungeons in each province - one smaller, single floor dungeon and one larger multi-storey dungeon where you'll find a piece of the staff. The dungeons are ok. They're mazes filled with ambushes, streams of lava, underground and water-filled passageways, secret doors, sometimes keys, occasionally even living doors that demand you answer a riddle before they open. It's all pretty standard stuff as you carve your way through hundreds of enemies to explore each floor, but it's reasonably fun.

So, other than creating an early version of the Elder Scrolls setting, which would later become one of the most interesting and complex settings in gaming, what does Arena have to recommend it for? The answer is the dev team's ambition to use procedural generation to create a virtual world like never before - cities are sprawling procedurally generated metropolises, filled with back alleys and side streets. Hundreds of people fill the streets, and each can be stopped and talked to, offering a randomly generated response to question about their name, occupation, rumours they've heard. They'll even tell you racist jokes, where the game randomly selects an Elder Scrolls race and makes them the subject of a randomly picked joke. Fantasy racism, endlessly generated at random - fuck yes!

The overworld consists of fields that go on forever, an endless (or near-endless, maybe) generated patchwork of farms, houses, taverns and fields. Yes, there's nothing to actually do in any of the hundreds of houses that make up major cities, but the pure spectacle value of it is insane, and it's hard not to get swept along in the dev's dreams to create a huge thriving world, even if all you end up doing in that world is going into sixteen dungeons filled with enemies who will either curbstomp you or ineffectually swipe at you as you chop them apart, depending on how broken your character build is.

The other thing to recommend this game is Jagar Tharn. This guy is fucking hilarious. It's never clear what his plan actually is - he's imprisoned the Emperor in a weird cosmic void thing and assumed his identity to do... what? And, somehow, he's able to telepathically contact you in the same way Silmane is, but all he ever does is talk about how much he respects you, "worthy adversary" and all that. It becomes increasingly undeniable that Tharn just has a crush on you:



Look at his nails! Gorgeous!

The death sequence is also incredible - if you die before finding the first staff piece, Ria Silmane just sort of half-heartedly complains that you're a total disappointment but at least you tried. But whenever you die after coming to Tharn's attention, it immediately cuts to him declaring, with a delivery that Shatner would consider over-the-top, "YOU WERE A FOOOOOL TO CONFRONT ME!" It makes losing the game a lot of fun. Also, your MORTAL HUSSSSK is going to be his servant forever. Hmm.

Oh, there's a spell called Passwall too. Really cool - you can just straight-up disappear most walls in the game and walk through. I didn't mention it in my review, but Operation Body Count had this too. The grenade launcher could actually blast through certain types of wall, leaving rubble sprites where the wall once stood and allowing access to the room beyond. I think we won't see fully destructible environments again until Red Faction (2001).

Hey, here's a side note. You might notice in those screenshots that I created a female character for this one - and that makes the first female protagonist we've had so far... but this doesn't really count as an FPS game. Looking ahead, the first female protagonist we'll have in an FPS game, as far as I can tell, is Ripley in Alien Trilogy. But if we don't count Ripley since she's a film character, it'll be Hexen 2 before we get an original female character... but that game has a choice of characters to select from, mostly male, rather than a predefined unchangeable character. So, in fact, it looks like it's going to be Unreal (1998) before we finally get a canon default female protagonist - and even there you can change to a male character. Sad!

FINAL RATING: It's a clunky prototype for Daggerfall. You can read that positively or negatively - it's a clunky prototype, but it's a prototype of one of the most fascinating and exciting games ever made. It doesn't really work, it's unbalanced and weird, but the ambition is so high. When you shoot for the moon, you still end up among the stars, etc. 2 Strangely Obsessive Antagonists out of a possible 5.




Next game is System Shock (1994), another game that's perhaps not strictly a pure FPS (though it's much more of one than Arena), but will let us see some cool advancements in first person action games. After that we'll get back on track with Doom 2.

Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #37 on: November 22, 2019, 04:14:54 PM »
I would like to join the others in praise for you and this thread.

'90s PC games hold a certain fascination to me. As a console gamer up until well into the mid noughties, most of my experience of the PC market was from the occasional reviews on Gamesmaster and looking in wonder at the giant boxes in the local games shop. This was back when the difference between PC and console gaming was much greater as well.

I was given the entire Elder Scrolls series a few years ago, but I've been too daunted by the sheer enormity of it all to bother installing any of them.

PlanktonSideburns

  • time takes its toll, but not on the eel dicks
Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #38 on: November 22, 2019, 05:48:59 PM »
Great thread

PlanktonSideburns

  • time takes its toll, but not on the eel dicks
Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #39 on: November 23, 2019, 06:41:21 PM »
Trying to get future shock going on me laptop now

Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #40 on: November 23, 2019, 10:15:52 PM »
I was really into TES: Arena about five years or so back, got pretty far into it before I got bored and moved on. I had fun for the most part, it's insanely ambitious for what started out as a simple arena combat game (hence the name "Arena"). I even ran the music out through a real midi module, which sounded amazing.

Another thing to note is the sidequests in the game are random and infinite, so you could potentially just run around doing those for your entire playthrough and never set foot in a main quest dungeon. The dungeons that appear in non-storyline quests are also procedurally generated, so you go into one not knowing if you'll be stuck in there for minutes or days.

It was also riddled with terrible bugs that were never patched out and could completely fuck you over if you weren't careful. These include getting stuck in bits of the floor if you jumped in the wrong place, doors in quest dungeons locking behind you so you can't leave, or the game engine would just run out of memory and crash, which usually happens right after you've left a dungeon and forgotten to save beforehand.

Jim Bob

  • (aka Right Said Brett)
Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #41 on: November 24, 2019, 02:19:34 AM »
Sorry, just to add to the love in; hand on heart; this is one of the greatest threads which I have ever seen on the Internet.  Seriously, this is good stuff.  Please start a blog.  I would subscribe and encourage my friends to do so likewise.  Either way, lovely stuff.  You have my full and undivided attention.  Bravo.

Lemming

  • Short-Burst Underwater Crying
Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #42 on: November 24, 2019, 12:45:18 PM »
Thanks so much for all the responses, I'm glad people love discovering/rediscovering these weird old games as much as I do.

System Shock is turning into an absolute saga, since I decided to play with the time limit enabled and realised about an hour in that I severely overestimated how well I remember where to go and what to do in this game. Getting towards the end but if I lose based on the time limit I assume I'll basically have to restart the whole game given that I'm a dumbass who uses only one save slot.

In the meantime, let's run through who we've been playing as so far, in chronological order: a ridiculously musclebound WW2 American agent, a guy who's job is to go through time to kill Terminators, a ludicrously hyper-competent secret agent in the future, a ridiculously musclebound space marine who cannot be stopped, a "UN Elite Force" counter-terrorist who's job is to kill literally over a thousand terrorists, and a fantasy hero who can overcome impossible odds through strength and magic ability.

Now, we're playing as a kid in a Watchmen t-shirt with noodle arms and a 90s ponytail, who has no weapons training or combat experience, and only gets involved with the game's plot due to severely bad luck.



It's a change of pace at least!

madhair60

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Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #43 on: November 24, 2019, 01:16:01 PM »
I've decided you're getting a bit too big for your britches so just for balance, fuck this thread

Lemming

  • Short-Burst Underwater Crying
Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #44 on: November 24, 2019, 01:28:50 PM »
Agreed, thank you for the much-needed balance. However, System Shock has already humiliated me thoroughly enough that I have no ego left to demolish.

Restarting with the time limit disabled, the way a child would play it.

To make matters worse, this is essentially what ended the playthrough:


This took literally 10 minutes to solve.

Mister Six

  • Ridiculously teacakes
Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #45 on: November 24, 2019, 02:39:22 PM »
Wayhey! Love this thread. Couple of notes:

1- If you're doing FPSes that aren't quite FPSes, then you should check out Strife (1996), which uses the Doom engine to create a pseudo action-RPG, with interactive characters, factions, a city to explore, quests and all kinds of things that would go on to become standard features of such games but were groundbreaking at the time. EDIT: ah, you mentioned that in the opening post. Never mind!

2- Enemies faking their deaths will crop up sooner than Unreal, in the splendidly imaginative Rise of the Triad. Look up the Dog Mode cheat!

Lemming

  • Short-Burst Underwater Crying
Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #46 on: November 24, 2019, 04:49:20 PM »
System Shock (1994)



   

(I'm playing the Enhanced Edition, look how fucking good it looks! Runs perfectly in widescreen and everything looks so sharp)

STORY: After being caught trying to hack into TriOptimum corporation's servers, a hacker is blackmailed into performing an adjustment to SHODAN, a hyper-intelligent AI that controls Citadel space station. In return for this, charges against him will be dropped, but he's also given state-of-the-art cybernetic implants. He's put into a standard healing coma to complete the procedure, but when he awakens some time later, everyone on the station is dead, SHODAN has complete control of the station's systems, and anyone who's not been slaughtered has been turned into a cyborg forced to follow SHODAN's will. Shit!!! The hacker is trapped alone on Citadel, unarmed and with his cybernetics barely functional, but that's not even the worst part - SHODAN is going to fire Citadel's mining laser at major Earth cities in a few hours' time, and nobody else can reach the station without being shot down. Looks like hacker boy's the only chance anyone's got now.

MUSIC: Best track has to be the medical floor. Wait for it, about forty seconds in.

THE VERDICT: Something we're going to have to think about increasingly as we start to encounter videogames that attempt to portray more interesting settings and detailed stories than those of earlier games is how storytelling works in games. Videogames - at least, before the more modern technique of just putting a bunch of minutes-long cutscenes into games started - have to find unique ways of telling stories. In just about every FPS game, you're a floating camera with a gun attached, and you slide around shooting things. I don't say that disparagingly because it results in great gameplay, but the challenge for developers is to dress up that reality as something memorable and exciting.

As we'll obviously get onto later, my favourite game for illustrating the success of cutscene-less storytelling is 1998's Half-Life. I don't think it's ever been surpassed, but System Shock comes close. More than any FPS before it, System Shock really feels like you're inhabiting a real setting and taking part in a proper story - a slightly campy action movie story, but a thrilling one nonetheless.

Talking briefly about gameplay - System Shock has some great features. The hacker's cybernetic implants have tangible gameplay effects: one of the coolest is the camera installed in the back of your skull which lets you have a small pop-up on screen displaying a live feed of what's behind you (the framerate of this feed gets better and better each time you upgrade your augmentations). You can also use a motion booster system (self-explanatory, lets you go zooming around), change your eyes to infared cameras, and more. Fascinatingly, the actual user interface becomes a gameplay mechanic, as you quickly cycle between various augs to get the effects and information you need.

Augs and interface aside, this has some new features for the FPS genre. This is the first game where you can actually move your gun around on the screen, and I believe the first FPS where you can look up and down (this feature was in Ultima Underworld (1992) also, but that's not an FPS, it's clearly a game about learning to speak lizard language). There's a great range of weapons, and they feel unique. Additionally, you can switch ammo types for certain guns, allowing you to pick the best ammunition for the task, and you get a really cool phaser which has no ammunition, but instead draws power from your own body's battery. You can even adjust the strength of the phaser, although I'm not sure why you wouldn't just set it straight to maximum.

Movement far surpasses anything we've seen up until now. You can jump - it's weird to think, but jumping hasn't been a thing until now (Arena has something that I refuse to call jumping, because all it ever does is send you careening into a wall at 90mph). You can lean left and right, peeking around corners to look ahead or get a shot in on enemies before they hit you. You can become fatigued by sprinting, and the hacker actually starts limping when this happens. You can stand up and lie down and anything in between, allowing you to squeeze into crawlspaces and vents or take cover behind objects. There's a real attempt here to make you feel immersed, and the game allows complex interactivity with the environment to further this goal.

It's a great set of mechanics that make for one of the best shooters on this list so far, but the real reason this game is so beloved is the way it's all packaged. You can find logs detailing how SHODAN overtook the station, and you'll get contacted not only by Rebecca Lansing, an operative on Earth who's managed to get through to you, but also SHODAN itself, who taunts you and threatens you as you race through the corridors of Citadel Station. Whereas every other game so far has sought to make the player feel strong and capable, System Shock wants you to feel weak, at least at first. It's highly successful in making you feel like you really are trapped on a decaying space station, armed with crap guns with limited ammo and a scavenged lead pipe you seem to be barely strong enough to swing.

Though the events of the game are linear, the constant focus on story (and the fact the game forces you to figure out quite a lot for yourself) makes it feel like you're engaged in the world's most anxiety-inducing game of 4D chess with the crazed AI, and with Earth under threat, the stakes are high to the point of abstract. You reach the laser, but SHODAN has locked down any way to stop it. You raise the station's shields to reflect the laser back at itself, destroying it, but SHODAN reacts by preparing to launch the toxic botanical gardens at Earth. You race there to stop it, fighting off ambushes along the way, but as soon as you jettison the gardens SHODAN begins downloading itself into Earth's computers. Eventually you set the station's generator to meltdown, but SHODAN locks access to the escape pods right as you reach them. It's genuinely tense and sucks you into its world, even if all you're doing in reality is walking through corridors shooting people exactly as you did in Wolfenstein or Doom. Although, not exactly as in those games, because System Shock has a lot of metroidvania-esque backtracking and finding ways to open up new areas.

It's also got one of my favourite endings to a videogame ever, which I'll spoiler here in case anyone's still to play this for the first time themselves: SHODAN detaches the bridge of the station from the main part of it after you set the station to blow, and since the escape pods have been fucked, you have no choice but to rush to the bridge to escape the explosion. Citadel blows up, and you're trapped alone with the main SHODAN computer on a horribly warped version of what was once the bridge, flying away into deep space at great speed. On top of that, you're out of contact range with anyone on Earth who can help you, so your only hope of survival is to jack into SHODAN itself and fight it in cyberspace to stop the bridge.

This is all helped by the attention to detail in the setting. Check this shit out: this is Citadel Station, note the shape:


Now, look what happens if you put all the maps of System Shock together:


Yes, you're literally trapped inside a scale model of a space station. This definitely isn't Doom's abstract phobos base or Arena's borderline-nonsensical dungeons, or even Body Count's semi realistic office building. This is something that's meant to feel like it could be fully real (even if there are still a lot of twisted corridors and rooms that are downright inexplicable).

System Shock also includes puzzles. I'm shit at them. Connecting wires and circuitboards to bypass doors or bring systems online is common, and I didn't have a fucking clue what I was doing at any given moment. The wires need to be put in the correct orientation and then the correct socket, I don't know. You can find Logic Probes which solve the puzzles for you, and if you're a little shit like me, you can use the logic probe, look at the solution, then load the game and do it yourself, keeping the probe.

The difficulty is highly customisable - in my opinion, you'll want to tone down puzzles and cyberspace, because cyberspace is by and large bullshit. Even though I failed to beat the time limit, the game really should be played with it on, because the constant pressure really brings the tension of the story to life.

FINAL RATING: This is one of my favourite games. I wasn't initially going to include it in the FPS list since it's usually classed as an "immersive sim", but fuck it, it's basically an FPS and it's my favourite of the games we've played so far. 5 Taunting SHODAN Communications out of 5. I mean, it's not literally perfect, but I don't know what I'm going to use the 5/5 rating for if not games like this. We'll be seeing Looking Glass Studios again later with Thief: The Dark Project, another first person game that tries to do something that had never been done before (and arguably, never as well since).

I can't fit five of these in, so just have one big SHODAN:



Next game: Doom 2 (1994)


Lemming

  • Short-Burst Underwater Crying
Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #47 on: November 25, 2019, 04:48:09 PM »
Doom 2 (1994)



   

STORY: The hellspawn who attacked Phobos base have swarmed onto Earth and overrun it, killing billions. The remaining humans flee to huge evacuation ships to escape, but the hellspawn have erected a fire-field (or something) around the planet, and the people are trapped with time running out. Luckily, the space marine from Phobos base who journeyed to the heart of hell to battle the invaders has returned, and he's ready to rock again, making sure the ships can escape Earth and then kicking the invaders back into Hell.

MUSIC: Another round of top-quality music. Best track has to be The Healer Stalks, love that shit.

THE VERDICT: Better open this post by saying I really like Doom 2. Doom is fantastic and Doom 2 is more of the same, made with all the same level of level design skill and passion that shone through so well in Doom.

In fact, it's such a faithful sequel to Doom that you could pretty much just read my Doom review on the first page to see what I think of Doom 2. And that's both the game's great strength and its main problem. It's the same fucking game! There's some new enemies (all great additions, memorable, fun to fight and brilliantly designed) and the Super Shotgun but it's the same exact thing as Doom.

If you want more Doom - which I perpetually do - then it delivers. But at the same time, this is a period of fast innovation in videogames, and Doom 2 offers literally no improvements. Heretic, which we'll play soon, is a Doom engine game with some cool innovations - you can look up and down for a start, but it's also got an items menu which lets you pick up and keep power ups to use when you see fit. Doom 2 has no changes, as far as I can tell. No jumping, no crouching, no looking up and down, no inventory, no nothing - though again, I played on ZDoom which adds a lot of these abilities in.

I was interested to find out that this was a point apparently made at the time. According to Wikipedia, a January 1995 review by Next Generation (was that a magazine?) says: "Now that the first person interface has become the design of choice for the entire industry, Id will need to find new innovations, or it will quickly find it's playing catch-up in its own game niche."

It's crazy to think that Doom 2 was released on October 10th, 1994, since that's only 10 months since Doom (December 10th, 1993). It says a lot about the 1990s that a period of 10 months can turn something like Doom from being a revelationary innovation to being already slightly dated.

Now that the complaints are out of the way, Doom 2 is a great game... since it's Doom. The levels are mostly larger than those of Doom, and the new enemies all fit into the existing roster perfectly, and... actually, let's just talk about Arch-viles for the rest of this post.

I'm so fucking scared of Arch-viles. What even is it? It's like some kind of hideous emaciated flesh creature. The noise they make is horrifying, and every time the flame sprite suddenly appears on screen - especially if you haven't seen the Arch-vile that's trying to burn you yet - it's a proper shit-your-pants moment. I swear the amount of time it takes to go from the flame appearing to absolutely fucking you up is totally random. Sometimes you get about two seconds warning before having three quarters of your health suddenly ripped away.

Arch-viles are petrifying.


FINAL RATING: It's Doom! If I gave Doom 4/5, it makes sense that I should give Doom 2 4/5 as well. Doom 2 is the better game of the two, ultimately, but giving it the same score feels right.

4 Fucking Bastard Arch-viles out of 5.



Next game: Super Noah's Ark 3D (1994)

madhair60

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Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #48 on: November 25, 2019, 04:52:26 PM »
I don't think it's as good as Doom, personally. The later stages feel sprawling in a less than tight way.

https://retronauts.com/article/1341/doom-2-25-years-of-being-not-as-good-as-doom

Lemming

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Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #49 on: November 25, 2019, 05:05:31 PM »
A few of the Earth-based city levels definitely feel needlessly big with a lot of wasted open space. Downtown and Suburbs instantly spring to mind. I think Downtown is an interesting level visually since it's such an early attempt to make a large city area with skyscrapers and all that, even if it doesn't really work.

I love the gimmick levels like The Crusher and Barrels O' Fun though, even though they are absolutely stupid. Gotcha! deserves a mention too - the whole thing revolves around that one part at the start, but seeing the two strongest enemies in the game rip the shit out of each other never gets old for me.

Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #50 on: November 25, 2019, 05:27:14 PM »
I'd like to know what you think of this one if you ever get the chance to play it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Operative:_No_One_Lives_Forever

It's impossible to buy these days but I remember it being very charming when it came out and a welcome break from the gloom of a lot of other FPS.

Inspector Norse

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Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #51 on: November 25, 2019, 06:08:01 PM »
Cool thread bro

Interesting review of System Shock. There's supposedly a remake coming out early next year, and a remake of System Shock 2 that keeps running into crowdfunding issues. I only ever played a bit of the latter, coming off my youthful self's first proper FPS experience with Half Life, and found it a bit too creepy so never completed it. I should look into getting back onto it.

Lemming

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Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #52 on: November 26, 2019, 03:32:44 PM »
Went back and finished Arena for fun after getting proper pissed off at Super 3D Noah's Ark (review incoming). Made me realise I want to play Daggerfall, and that might as well go in this thread too, and if we're doing that we might as well do Morrowind. So I guess we're stretching the definition of "FPS" to "First Person Action Game" now, which we've basically already done with Arena and System Shock. With that in mind, BRING ME SUGGESTIONS. Only criteria would be first person perspective and a focus on real-time action (so not a point and click adventure like Myst or a turn-based RPG like Wizardry 8). Mirror's Edge, Dishonored, that kind of thing.

I'd like to know what you think of this one if you ever get the chance to play it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Operative:_No_One_Lives_Forever

It's impossible to buy these days but I remember it being very charming when it came out and a welcome break from the gloom of a lot of other FPS.

Thanks for the suggestion! I played NOLF quite a while ago but I've forgotten most of it, so it should make for a good playthrough. Don't think I've ever played No One Lives Forever 2, at least not to completion, so I'll mark that down on the list too.

Cool thread bro

Interesting review of System Shock. There's supposedly a remake coming out early next year, and a remake of System Shock 2 that keeps running into crowdfunding issues. I only ever played a bit of the latter, coming off my youthful self's first proper FPS experience with Half Life, and found it a bit too creepy so never completed it. I should look into getting back onto it.

Been following the System Shock remake closely, it's looking excellent. Hopefully after the myriad fuckups and setbacks the project has had, we're on track for a real release in 2020.

Chollis

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Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #53 on: November 26, 2019, 03:42:23 PM »
System Shock looks great

Dunno if you're planning on it but Star Trek: Voyager - Elite Force please (2000)

Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #54 on: November 26, 2019, 03:56:25 PM »
Condemned springs to mind. Also, while I didn't much care for it, Super Hot probably merits a look.

Lemming

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Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #55 on: November 26, 2019, 04:10:45 PM »
Cheers for suggestions, I'll mark them down for The List.

Speaking of The List, here's the next semi-finished bit, I'm sure it's missing a lot of good things:

1999
Redline
Unreal: Return to Na Pali
World War 2 GI
Requiem: Avenging Angel
Alien Versus Predator
Kingpin: Life of Crime
Hidden & Dangerous
Outcast (I don't remember this being an fps??? Wiki claims otherwise)
System Shock 2
Wheel of Time
Carnivores 2
Half-Life: Opposing Force
Medal of Honor (we'll have to see how it goes with the emulator)
Codename Eagle
Unreal Tournament
Skout

2000
Mortyr
Soldier of Fortune
Perfect Dark
Daikatana
Deus Ex
KISS: Psycho Circus: The Nightmare Child
Star Trek: Voyager - Elite Force
Catechumen (another Christian FPS)
Medal of Honor: Underground (again, depending on whether or not it's remotely playable on an emulator)
No One Lives Forever
Gunman Chronicles
Project I.G.I.

2001
Clive Barker's Undying
Serious Sam
Red Faction
Half-Life: Blue Shift
Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis
Legends of Might and Magic
Project Eden
Ominous Horizons: A Paladin's Calling (yet another Christian FPS)
Halo
Half-Life: Decay
Return to Castle Wolfenstein

Jerzy Bondov

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Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #56 on: November 26, 2019, 04:15:42 PM »
What about the 1994 Alien vs Predator on Jaguar? Not sure how easy it is to emulate.

Now you've broadened the remit a bit I can suggest Montezuma's Return! (1998) which is a first person platformer. I liked it even though it's shite.

edit: Hold on a minute you've missed Quake III Arena!

Lemming

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Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #57 on: November 26, 2019, 05:13:39 PM »
What about the 1994 Alien vs Predator on Jaguar? Not sure how easy it is to emulate.

Now you've broadened the remit a bit I can suggest Montezuma's Return! (1998) which is a first person platformer. I liked it even though it's shite.

edit: Hold on a minute you've missed Quake III Arena!

Shit, I knew I was missing some obvious ones! Q3 Arena is in. Montezuma's Return looks ridiculous and exactly like my kind of thing, thanks for that. I'll see if I can get AVP running on an emulator after Marathon.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2019, 05:25:02 PM by Lemming »

Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #58 on: November 26, 2019, 05:17:58 PM »
Outcast definitely wasn't a FPS, the default view was 3rd person. Strange but enjoyable game from what I remember.

Lemming

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Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #59 on: November 26, 2019, 05:25:11 PM »
Outcast definitely wasn't a FPS, the default view was 3rd person. Strange but enjoyable game from what I remember.

I think I remember it too. It appears on Wikipedia's list of FPS games for some reason, I guess because it's got a switchable perspective, but then they don't include other games with changeable perspectives like early Hitman games. Weird.

Anyway, here we go with
Super 3D Noah's Ark (1994)



(Yes, that's the SNES cover art, but there doesn't seem to be cover art for the DOS version anywhere. In fact, look how much they half-arsed it on the Steam store page - it's just the fucking SNES cover with "SUPER NINTENDO" badly cropped out)

   

STORY: Please refer to Genesis chapters 6 through 9.

MUSIC: Shit, I don't know. It wasn't bad or anything.

THE VERDICT: The first instinct is obviously to laugh. Not because there's anything wrong about Christians wanting to make a Christian game, but a fucking Wolfenstein clone?

But at the same time, Wisdom Tree had a vision and they went for it. They wanted to make a non-violent game for kids that's loosely connected to the Bible, and they did it. You have to hand it to them. And, perhaps surprisingly, this isn't even the last Christian FPS we'll be playing.

I went to download the game for DOS, sure that it would be abandonware, but no, it's for sale on Steam. £3.99! Daylight robbery.

So anyway, it's so obviously a Wolfenstein 3D clone, on the same engine. Doors opening have the same sound and, hilariously, I'm pretty certain that Noah's pain grunts when hit are identical to BJ's.

In case you haven't already seen this game mocked before, here's the concept - Noah is on his ark, but the animals (mainly goats???) have broken out and gone crazy fucking apeshit, ripping stuff up and now they stalk the halls of the ark, looking to beat the living shit out of Noah. Noah's only hope is to use a bunch of stupid contraptions to throw "feed" at the animals, which instantly sends them to sleep, because as any animal keeper will tell you, animals fall asleep after being forcefully hit in the face with food.

Why are they all so hostile to Noah anyway? The game isn't as "non-violent" as it claims. Noah doesn't hurt or kill anything, but that's not a two way street. The animals fucking brutalise him. Horrific scenes on-screen as Noah gets trapped in a corner by five wild goats who just wail on him as he moans in pain before his vision blurs and he collapses.

Despite being a reskin of Wolfenstein 3D, it's not as good. Goats can only melee you, so it's not as fast paced and dangerous as Wolfenstein 3D at first, where enemies can fire on you at range. This is only for the first episode, though - soon after that it turns into fucking mayhem as Ibexes and Emus (I think it's an emu?) and shit arrive and start shredding your health at great range, while you sit there with you pathetic "feed" launcher trying to get a hit in. How the fuck do the Ibexes attack at range anyway? Maybe they don't, but I'm almost certain my health dropped several times just by seeing one across the map. The game goes from too easy to too difficult really suddenly.

Despite being made for kids, the difficulty can get FUCKING MENTAL. You know what, even in the first episode before the chaos starts, the boss fight - a camel, you can see him in one of those screenshots - just tore the shit out of me. Relentless. I have that weird feed-throwing thing you see there (it's a reskinned chaingun from Wolf3D) and like 60 bullets "feed" into his face did jack shit as he spat at me for like 15 HP per hit. It took like three tries to get the bastard down.

Needless to say, this is not as well designed as Wolfenstein 3D. Corridors are stupidly huge with plenty of rooms just placed at random. We're also gathering Fruit, I think if you get 100 you get an extra life.

Weapons are the same as Wolfenstein 3D - three that throw feed and a melee weapon replacing the knife. I was briefly excited to see the knife replacement in action because it's Noah's fist, and I thought, having run out of feed, he'd just started punching the animals in the throat, but a closer look at the attack animation disappointingly reveals that he's using his fist to throw feed.

Why is the game called Super 3D Noah's Ark by the way? I get the Noah's Ark part, but why 3D? There was no 2D Noah's Ark game in the same series to warrant the 3D label. And "Super"? Did they just see "Super Mario" and think "yeah, fuck it, that's the way to name videogames"?

FINAL RATING: This isn't great. Not because I'm being smug and fedora-y and mocking the Christian theme (I actually applaud their attempt to make a non-violent shooter, even if the non-violence is completely cosmetic because you're still walking around shooting everything). It's because the game is just a worse version of Wolfenstein.

It's gonna have to get 1 Invincible Motherfucker out of 5. That seems harsh because the game isn't awful (I'm sure we'll come across worse games before long), it's a good challenge, there's actually far more enemy types than in Wolfenstein 3D and the visuals are really not bad at all for the engine, but there's just not much to keep you playing, and other than the non-violence gimmick it doesn't bring anything new to the table at all.

Wait no, that's not true, there is one new thing. It asks you bible questions sometimes and if you get them right you get a health and ammo boost. That's so stupid that the game clearly deserves a 1/5 rating.

But really, I don't know how to use a 5 point rating system. Does 1 mean irredeemably awful and 5 mean perfect? No games fit into those categories. Look, no use overthinking it, here's an invincible bastard monkey:



Next game: Marathon (1994)

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