Author Topic: FPS NIGHTMARES  (Read 6087 times)

Jim Bob

  • (aka Right Said Brett)
Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #120 on: December 02, 2019, 07:01:18 PM »
Are light gun games classed as a First Person Shooter?

This was discussed earlier within the thread...

Alien Trilogy and Time Crisis are the only two FPS I've ever completed.

I'm not sure that I'd classify Time Crisis as an FPS.  I mean, technically it is, I suppose, in as much as you're shooting people from a first person perspective but it's better identified as an arcade lightgun game.  Sorry, I'm being pedantic.  It's kind of like the difference between a fighting game and a beat 'em up; both involve punching people from a third person perspective but both are very different types of game.  Anyway, I digress; Time Crisis is a very good game.  Alien Trilogy; eh, not so much (it's very atmospheric though).

Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #121 on: December 02, 2019, 07:05:55 PM »
Oh well Time Crisis is ace!

Lemming

  • I'm becoming the Fuhrer - the Fuhrer of laughs
Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #122 on: December 03, 2019, 02:16:33 AM »
Descent (1995)



   

STORY: The PTMC corporation, a mining company, is dealing with a strange alien computer virus that has caused the robotic machines in space mining facilities to go nuts and start shooting the shit out of everything. PTMC call in their top security agent, a fighter pilot, who is dispatched to scuttle the infected facilities and rescue stranded personnel. Before setting off, the pilot goes to a briefing and makes an absolute fucking dick of himself (I'm assuming the pilot's male, I don't think it's ever specified). The intro to the game is literally the hero whining like a teenager through the whole briefing - internally, no less, because he's too scared to say any of it out loud. Seriously I can't think of any other game that portrays its own protagonist in such a bad light so immediately. Anyway, the race is on to blow the infected bases to hell before the virus gets any worse. Oh, and the infected robots are planning to attack Earth!

MUSIC: It's not bad, but nothing stands out as immediately exceptional. It serves well as action-y background music to fly around getting the shit beat out of you to.

THE VERDICT: You're probably familiar with this game to some extent already, but in case you're not, Descent's whole thing is that you've got six degrees of movement. Your craft has the capability to navigate a real 3D environment, and you can fly in any direction you want, spinning your craft upside down or at any angle you choose. This leads to combat that's not quite like anything else at the time. Well, actually, System Shock technically did it already with the cyberspace segments, but they were a bit shit, so never mind that.

Enemies can come from any direction now, and you need to be constantly aware of the entire area surrounding the craft. When combat starts, you can do dramatic barrel rolls to dodge out of the way of projectiles, you can dogfight with enemies, you can swoop in from above or below to fuck enemies up while staying out of their weapons range - it's all extremely cool not just as a game but also as a technical thing.

It's very disorienting to realise suddenly that you've flown in a circle and ended up back where you started because you lost your sense of direction and ended up flying all over the place. Similarly, sometimes you realise you're not entirely sure which way you're facing, whether you're looking at the world the right way up or not. It's awesome and it brings a whole new dimension (literally) to the FPS genre.

Combat often turns into a sort of aerial ballet where the room fills with projectiles that you and your enemy/enemies dance around trying to avoid while firing at each other. When it comes off properly, it's truly great.

There's a decent selection of weapons. The Vulcan gatling cannon is wicked but the best weapon in my view is the fully upgraded basic laser. Level 4 Quad Laser messes up everything in mere seconds. Brutal.

You have multiple lives. If you lose a life - and you will because the game is hard as fuck - you lose all your weapons and ammo. You can recover them from the point at which you exploded, but that's a super fucking harsh penalty for losing the game. It gets worse - some levels have enemy respawning zomes that just shit out an endless stream of enemy ships. If you get killed here, which you will, you might as well give up because all your power ups are now floating in a zone where you'll get shredded to shit trying to reach them. If you lose all your lives, you have to start over again with nothing. It gets discouraging when you lose everything you've gained. Going from the quad laser back to the basic laser that lightly tickles enemies, and having to slowly build back up, is so sad. I'm not sure if I like it as a game over system honestly. I'm glad to play a game that properly punishes you for failure, but at the same time, it does it in a way that kills your sense of progression and momentum completely.

WARNING: DERANGED RANT INCOMING

Who the fuck thought the respawning zones were a good idea anyway? Yeah it's a cool trap if you fly into a dead end and suddenly find an unlimited supply of enemies flying at you, it's much less cool when they're respawning right next to the door to the fucking exit or in a central corridor you have to pass through ten or more times. The game's already genuinely difficult, it really didn't need this cheap bullshit. I'm not someone who normally complains about difficulty, I'm very much of the whole "GIT GUD" mindset, but the respawn zones just make Descent completely stupid at times. I have to fly through a narrow corridor and the respawn zone is necessarily BEHIND ME where I can't return fire, come on.

Speaking of being attacked from behind, sometimes when you pick up a key, the game will ambush you by suddenly having enemies arrive. This is fine when they come through the wall or through a previously locked door, it's not as fine when it SPAWNS NEW ENEMIES RIGHT BEHIND YOU WHERE YOU CAN'T SEE. Game over in seconds.

I also don't like the cloaked enemies. Fuck offffff. If two cloaked enemies get you from either side you might as well just uninstall the game.

Another big problem is enemy ships equipped with the Vulcan cannon, which hitscans you - in other words, you can't dodge it. What is the FUCKING point of spamming un-dodgeable attacks at you in a game ENTIRELY ABOUT MOVING AND EVADING.

Hey here's another notable problem with the game. There's not a huge sense of progression. The levels do change visually as you go on and obviously get larger and more complex (the idea being that you're moving to new planets/moons every few maps) but the game starts to feel endlessly the same after a while, an endless network of tight corridors with roughly the same enemies (new enemies are introduced throughout the game, to be fair) forcing you to do the same evasive maneuvers as you fire at them with the same weapons. The one sense of progression comes from your upgrades, but again, that can all be lost at a moment's notice.

This post probably reads like I'm salty at the game because it kicked my ass, and there's some truth to that, but I think the criticisms are sound.

DERANGED RANT NOW ENDING

Maybe some of my problems would be solved by turning the difficulty down, but Rookie and below seemed laughably over-easy to the point where you basically can't lose. The only viable difficulties are Hotshot and Ace (because Insane is unplayable), but Ace is still way too hard in parts.

Despite all that, though, when the combat works it really works, the movement system is endlessly fun, the levels might start to feel samey but they're still excellent playgrounds for all kinds of weird flying stunts, and the game is overall fun. Plus, taking it in context, it's got some amazing graphics and the 6D movement system is a great technical achievement.

Dodging streams of lasers in every direction as you swirl through the air weaving between enemies and getting shots off whenever you can is like no experience any game in this thread has offered up until now, and it's awesome. I just wish it wasn't immediately followed by HALF A DOZEN FUCKERS SPAWNING RIGHT BEHIND YOU FOR NO REASON WHILE 10 OTHER BASTARDS POUR OUT OF A SHITTY RESPAWNING BOX THING

FINAL RATING: Haven't finished it yet - on level 22 out of 30 - but I'm reasonably sure I finished it once before, ages ago, and I think I've refreshed my memory enough to give The Score. Here's 3 Phallic Missiles out of 5. I feel like I'm scoring it a little too low considering the amount of fun it does offer and the amount of innovation on display, but still, I'm not even sure what these scores mean! Plus, I'm just mad at the game - expect the score to go up to 5/5 literally the instant I beat mission 30.





Next game: Jumping Flash! (1995)

FerriswheelBueller

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Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #123 on: December 03, 2019, 03:15:42 AM »
I’d like to suggest TimeSplitters (2000) for a playthrough, and also TimeSplitters 2 (2002) because it is genuinely my favourite video game of all time. Cheers.

Mister Six

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Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #124 on: December 03, 2019, 05:15:45 AM »
I played the Timesplitters 2 demo but had to throw down the controlkr and turn it off the moment the shambling, tumbling zombies turn up. Something about them was just horrible. Never went back.

Isn't Timesplitters 1 basically just a very good multiplayer with a totally shit one-player mode?

Jerzy Bondov

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Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #125 on: December 03, 2019, 09:28:13 AM »
That Descent box art is beautiful.

Jim Bob

  • (aka Right Said Brett)
Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #126 on: December 03, 2019, 11:52:49 AM »
Descent is good, but I always favoured Forsaken.

Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #127 on: December 03, 2019, 01:11:39 PM »
For goodness sake(n), Descent is decent.

Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #128 on: December 03, 2019, 01:14:26 PM »
Timesplitters 2 is the best FPS multiplayer of all time.

Chollis

  • Master of Codes
Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #129 on: December 03, 2019, 01:56:08 PM »
It was seminal wasn't it. Loved the art direction.

Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #130 on: December 03, 2019, 02:05:42 PM »
Indeed, one of the few FPS where I would have fun playing with bots even.

Speaking of, if you get to Timesplitters era, i'd definitely recommend XIII, based on the french comic book of the same name. It's not like most shooters and the cel shading, the comic style representation of noise and split screen action shots are great.

Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #131 on: December 03, 2019, 04:32:47 PM »
Timesplitters 2 is the best FPS multiplayer of all time.
Tribes mate.

FerriswheelBueller

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Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #132 on: December 03, 2019, 04:50:50 PM »
I played the Timesplitters 2 demo but had to throw down the controlkr and turn it off the moment the shambling, tumbling zombies turn up. Something about them was just horrible. Never went back.

Isn't Timesplitters 1 basically just a very good multiplayer with a totally shit one-player mode?

...sort of. The multiplayer is excellent, but the 1 player challenge mode in the sequel is a work of genius - “congrats, you’ve completed this challenge... now do it with bricks” and suddenly you have to complete a level by throwing bricks at people and they’re shit and it took me weeks to do it. “Congratulations - you have unlocked ‘brick’ in multiplayer”. A game with a sense of humour, marvellous. See also the mapbuilder multiplayer. Big long corridor, infinite baddie spawn at one end, massive huge gun turret at the other, come at me you fucking fucks.

The story mode is fairly good, has its moments for sure.

Timesplitters 2 is the best FPS multiplayer of all time.

Yes

It was seminal wasn't it. Loved the art direction.

Yes

Indeed, one of the few FPS where I would have fun playing with bots even.

Speaking of, if you get to Timesplitters era, i'd definitely recommend XIII, based on the french comic book of the same name. It's not like most shooters and the cel shading, the comic style representation of noise and split screen action shots are great.

I really wanted to like XIII, but couldn’t get on with it. Looked great though.

Lemming

  • I'm becoming the Fuhrer - the Fuhrer of laughs
Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #133 on: December 03, 2019, 09:59:25 PM »
Thanks for suggestions! I'll see about console-exclusives when we get to them. We're pretty much banking on emulators, which could either go brilliantly or terribly.

Here's a case where it went brilliantly:

Jumping Flash! (1995)



   

STORY: When a profit-driven astrophysicist, Baron Aloha, begins slicing up huge sections of land from various planets to turn them into private holiday resorts, it becomes clear that something must be done. The people of these worlds call for help, and it comes in the form of a robotic rabbit.

MUSIC: Drove me up the fucking wall.

THE VERDICT: Difficult to know where to start, so I'll start by describing the basic gameplay:

Robbit, the robotic rabbit, can double (and later triple) jump into the air, achieving insane altitude. The entire game is essentially using this mechanic to traverse 3D environments to collect "Jet Pods", weird carrot things, and then bounce to the exit.

The 3D worlds are mindblowing. The fully 3D graphics are impressive for 1995 and a clear demonstration of the PS1's substantial power, but they're also fucking insane in the best way possible. It feels like the developers were just so excited about making a 3D game that they shoved absolutely anything they could model in there. Giant chess pieces, a house, pyramids, balloons, seagulls, skyscrapers, igloos, the Islamic moon and star...



I spent the whole game thinking about how giddy the developers must have been to model all this fantastic nonsense and couldn't help but get exicted over giant 3D chess pieces myself.

So anyway, the core gameplay is planning jumps and then pulling them off without careening off into the abyss or missing your target and plunging down back to the ground level.

The game changes up with a couple of more traditional FPS levels, where you're made to navigate corridors filled with enemies. You still have access to all the game mechanics you would in a normal level, so you can still try and bounce around like a maniac if you'd like.

You're equipped with a laser and some kind of projectile, and you can get bombs via power ups. This is the weirdest part of the game - there's no reason to shoot at anyone other than bosses as far as I can tell. Like, you're basically immune to enemy attacks.

Each world has a boss which is pretty easy to kill but offers a nice change of pace. Most of them have attack patterns that demand some use of your jumping skills, so it fits the rest of the game well.

And I can't think of much else to say. It's a game about a robotic rabbit that bounces through naff 3D landscapes picking up carrots and shooting lasers at enemies that can't really fight back. I really like it. It bears all the hallmarks of being a very early PS1 game in all the best ways possible. You can feel how psyched the devs were to be working with this relatively new tech and it makes the game a lot of fun to play.

FINAL RATING: Genuinely no idea how to rate it. I really like it, mostly due to how hilariously odd it is and how fun the jumping can be, but it's so basic and short (I think it took me under an hour to beat) that giving it a 3 or 4 would put it up alongside the likes of Descent and Doom, and it's definitely not Descent or Doom. The perils of the rating system strike again.

I'll abstain from a rating and offer a large Robbit instead.



Next game: After two less traditional FPS games, we're back to what looks like a more standard one with CyberMage (1995).

Mister Six

  • Half-masted, bass-boosted, sling-backed
Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #134 on: December 03, 2019, 10:57:29 PM »
Hooray! Really glad you enjoyed that, and that the bonkers levels hold up (in their own odd way). Tempted to dig up an emulator and play it again myself, although I know I'll never really get around to it.

Jim Bob

  • (aka Right Said Brett)
Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #135 on: December 04, 2019, 01:34:13 AM »
The only game better than Jumping Flash! is Jumping Flash! 2.  Fact.

Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #136 on: December 04, 2019, 09:03:30 AM »
Never played this and I really should

PlanktonSideburns

  • be outta here in a jiffy
Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #137 on: December 04, 2019, 10:43:27 AM »
That sounds so far up my street it's rattling my letterbox. Thanks for continuing immaculately Lemming.

Lemming

  • I'm becoming the Fuhrer - the Fuhrer of laughs
Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #138 on: December 04, 2019, 04:17:12 PM »
Has anyone ever played CyberMage? It's weird, not sure I like it so far. Does have vehicle segments though (first ever example of this in an FPS?) and a city hub.

Also runs like shit in DOSBox, wildly veering between being ultra laggy and way too fast to the point where you can't hit enemies.

Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #139 on: December 04, 2019, 05:54:41 PM »
Have you tried this one? Pre-configured: https://collectionchamber.blogspot.com/p/cybermage-darklight-awakening.html

This whole site is a fucking godsend

Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #140 on: December 04, 2019, 06:35:01 PM »
The only game better than Jumping Flash! is Jumping Flash! 2.  Fact.

There was a Japan only third entry as well.



Never played it myself but I should probably try and get on it via emulation. The jumping mechanics are so fun in those games, just the way you can float around the levels feels so satisfying. Must've replayed the first game at least fifty times in my younger days.

Lemming

  • I'm becoming the Fuhrer - the Fuhrer of laughs
Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #141 on: December 04, 2019, 09:01:18 PM »
Have you tried this one? Pre-configured: https://collectionchamber.blogspot.com/p/cybermage-darklight-awakening.html

This whole site is a fucking godsend

Thanks! Still odd performance issues (I'm thinking it's probably because of the engine) but the alternate key bindings in that download have made the game much more playable.

That site really is ace, I was elated to see they have Witchaven all ready to go with the mouselook mod already enabled.

Lemming

  • I'm becoming the Fuhrer - the Fuhrer of laughs
Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #142 on: December 05, 2019, 03:15:23 PM »
CyberMage: Darklight Awakening (1995)



   

STORY: In a future where the world is ruled by corporations, a man wakes up in a corporate laboratory with no memory of who he is. He quickly finds himself the centre of a manhunt, having a bounty on his head, but a strange gem embedded in his skull has apparently given him magic abilities. There's apparently a comic that came with the game which explains what exactly the fuck is going on.

MUSIC: Honestly not impressive, kind of annoying. You also have to turn it way down to hear NPCs speak.

THE VERDICT: There are a lot of features that I think appear for the first time ever (or almost first time) in this game that are now relatively commonplace. You have an in-game menu from which you access your weaponry, powers and inventory all on one screen. There are vehicle segments. There's a city hub area which you have to revisit several times as you travel to different maps and unlock new areas of the hub. There's a money system which you can use to buy power ups and ammo at shops. Friendly NPCs talk to you to deliver plot details and objectives, and fight alongside you in battle.

It's a game with a lot of innovations on show (no surprise for a game made by the legendary Origin, who already blew everyone away with System Shock and Ultima Underworld) which have become accepted staple elements of videogames in 2019.

Annoyingly, the creativity and innovation on show is by far the game's strongest aspect, because the gameplay itself isn't up to much. Incoming is a list of things that piss me off:

Auto-aim doesn't work, and you can't really aim manually. Sometimes bullets or powers randomly miss people right in front of you, and if you've got to hit someone on a rooftop or other raised platform, you might as well give up because getting the game to fire your gun where you want is borderline impossible.

Friendly NPCs are more annoying than novel, because most of them talk for a full fucking minute or more while you just stand there. The game must have known people would get bored and try to wander off, because you're often locked into rooms while people babble at you, the door out only opening after they finish.

The plot isn't interesting enough (subjective, obviously) to justify these massive soliloquys, so you spend quite a bit of time just standing around listening to people you don't care about talk about a setting you don't care about until the game finally lets you resume playing it.

Combat doesn't feel balanced. Guns are shit and you get no ammo for huge parts of the game, so you're relying on your powers. The mana recharge rate is pathetic and because of this, you'll spend quite a bit of time retreating round a corner and watching your mana bar very slowly go back up until you're ready to peek out and take a few more shots before repeating.

Powers also don't feel too well thought out. Some are laughable, others are insane weapons of mass destruction.

The game also feels very difficult in parts - mainly in the hub area, where enemies respawn, including police hovercars that move so fast that the autoaim literally can't hit them, and can destroy you in seconds.

Now that that's out of the way, there are a few good points:

Powers are gained by having them used against you - when a new enemy casts a spell on you, it soon appears on your own power list. That's pretty cool and it gives you an understanding of how each power works and the damage it can do before you begin using it yourself.

Vehicle segments aren't too well balanced, but the fact they're in the game is great. The tank is ludicrously powerful and it's a nice change of pace to go around blowing everything to shit.

The visuals for levels are mainly great. The city level has wall-mounted TVs (you can stand near them to watch and hear news reports), rooftops, backalleys, apartments and so on. Levels are also designed with vertical travel in mind, meaning the game expects you to leap across rooftops and climb ladders.

Levels also have clear thematic objectives for you to achieve, but sadly you need to listen to an NPC drone on for like three hours to figure out what these are. Still, you get to do cool stuff like break people out of a prison, gather money to enter and fight in an arena, and so on. The game wants you to do more than just run around shooting everyone, and it helps elevate the game beyond the dreaded "Doom Clone" label that every FPS was still trying to escape at this point.

A final good point is that you actually level up over the course of the game. There's no level system as such, but when you kill enemies they drop a life force or some mad shit like that, and picking it up can occasionally yield a permanent small increase to health or mana. This makes you stronger and more powerful as the game goes on, giving an important sense of progression.

Unfortunately, these life force things disappear after about 5 seconds. Why the fuck do they do that? There's no reason at all for this to happen. It also means long range guns are useless because you really, really don't want to kill someone across the room - you'll never reach their life essence before it vanishes and therefore you basically wasted ammo on the kill and might find yourself underpowered later in the game. So the game creates an annoying situation where every time you kill someone, you have to sprint out and touch their corpse before darting back into cover, and you essentially have to do this every time you kill someone. Bizarre.

FINAL RATING: Haven't finished the game, not sure I will, but it's definitely got a lot of interesting ideas. It feels rushed and unbalanced in parts, a lot of its fresh ideas don't come off too well, the controls are clunky and the engine seems to struggle under the scope of the game, but it's worth checking out as an interesting piece of videogame history and a decent game in its own right.

Can't go higher than 2 Endless Droning Unskippable Monologues out of 5, because the game wasn't a great deal of fun to play, but it gets a lot of points for creativity and experimentation. If I end up finishing the game and it gets better as it goes on, I'll come back to grovel and change the rating.



Next game: It was going to be Killing Time, but turns out there's actually two radically different versions of the same game, one for 3DO (1995) and one for PC (1996).

So, instead, we're doing Witchaven (1995). Prepare yourself for more CAPSTONE SOFTWARE GREATNESS

Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #143 on: December 05, 2019, 03:57:26 PM »
Fuuuucking Witchaven, christ.

Mister Six

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Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #144 on: December 05, 2019, 05:48:15 PM »
No Killing Time at all, or just saving for later? I'd be quite interested in a comparison.

Lemming

  • I'm becoming the Fuhrer - the Fuhrer of laughs
Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #145 on: December 05, 2019, 06:03:05 PM »
Saving for later, for 1996.

I hadn't thought of playing both versions to do a comparison, that would be cool. The same thing apparently happens with Powerslave/Exhumed, where the PS1 and DOS versions are completely different games built on different engines based vaguely around the same plot.

When we get to the PC version of Killing Time I'll see if the 3DO version will run on an emulator and check out what's different with each version.

Mister Six

  • Half-masted, bass-boosted, sling-backed
Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #146 on: December 05, 2019, 11:47:42 PM »
Cool, cheers!

Lemming

  • I'm becoming the Fuhrer - the Fuhrer of laughs
Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #147 on: December 07, 2019, 03:31:47 AM »
Witchaven (1995)



   

STORY: The island of Char has been conquered by a coven of witches led by a right bastard called Illwhyrin, using magic so fucked up that the island's volcano erupted in disgust (really, it says in the manual). After sacrificing everyone on the island and replacing them with hellish minions, Illwhyren hangs out in the realm of Witchaven, a gargantuan underground labyrinth extending far beneath the island, which I think is also in another dimension or something. She prepares to summon an army of darkness that will CRUSH EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE. A knight, Grondoval, has recurring nightmares about the place, and soon finds himself sent off on a suicide mission to stop Illwhyren before it's too late.

MUSIC: Left no impression, it's standard orchestral fantasy-sounding stuff.

THE VERDICT: Address the elephant in the room first: it's the Build engine! There's something resoundingly hilarious about the mighty Build engine being introduced with fucking Witchaven, but this is indeed the first ever Build game, barring some weird unlicensed unreleased thing.

As a result, the game has some cool features. Looking up and down, jumping, crouching, some nice lighting effects, reasonably large levels, all the good Build stuff.

Capstone Software (legendary creators of OPERATION: BODY COUNT) manage to make the game look mostly unappealing and shitty despite having access to a state of the art engine. Weapon sprites are okay, but level textures are grainy and muddy and all blend into the same vague crapness. Enemy sprites are, I'm pretty certain, clay models like in Doom or Fallout, but these ones were made by a child with Play-Doh:


Anyway, Witchaven is a game about battling your way through a hellish labyrinth to reach and defeat the evil Illwhyrin. On your quest, you'll encounter stupid fireball-shooting traps absolutely everywhere, spike traps with stupidly huge hitboxes that routinely kill you when you're not even touching them, bugged doors that won't open as they should, a host of evil Play-Doh bastards, and scary skeletons.

The good: There's a potion system. You can collect 10 of each type of potion and use them at will to achieve cool effects - Resist Fire is vital since half the game is just stupid lava/fire based traps. Invisibility is self-explanatory, as are Heal and Cure Poison.

You have access to spells, which you get by finding scrolls in game. You have some offensive spells, which are basically panic buttons for when combat is going tits up - Nuke will clear a whole room, it's awesome, very rare to find, and every enemy has its own special animation for being disintegrated by Nuke. It works on the final boss too!

But it's not just combat spells, you have utility spells too. You'll be needing Open Door to get past a couple of broken bugged doors you need to go through that otherwise don't open. Similarly, you'll get some use out of the Flying spell, because although the game has jumping and crouching, it's so clearly not designed around it and it's piss-easy to jump or crouch your way into a dead end that the devs never intended you to fall into and that you can't get out of without flying.

There's an experience system. Capstone ahead of the curve as usual, putting in shitty faux-RPG features before it became an industry standard! You level up with experience, but I couldn't really tell much difference in gameplay after gaining a level. I assume you do more damage, but I really didn't feel any impact.

Witchaven is mostly melee-based, with your only ranged attacks being spells and a bow and arrow with limited ammunition. Also a throwing axe, but it's so fucking shit. To be fair to Capstone, they tried to make melee interesting, since you spend the whole game doing it. When you hit enemies, they stagger, and there are even some gore effects where chunks of flesh and blood fly out of struck enemies. The gore even has its own sprites, which can stick to walls and stuff.

There are some really cool touches. There are different coloured goblins, representing different warring tribes, and they'll actually attack each other as long as they can't see you. Spike traps exist chiefly to fuck you up, but enemies can fall prey to them too if you knock them in - same for fireball traps.

Another feature: sometimes a screaming/laughing demonic face will appear suddenly on screen. This is nowhere near as scary as it sounds, it looks like something out of fucking Scooby Doo, it's pretty funny. This confused me for ages, because it seems to trigger for no reason and doesn't seem to do anything. No health or armour damage, no potions or spells missing, no sudden weapon breakage. Weird. What I noticed is that after the demon appeared, the game's difficulty - as in, the actual setting in the options menu - seemed to have gone up on its own. I was playing on the third highest difficulty but it switched to fourth. I set it back, and after the demon head appeared again, sure enough it was back on four. I'm still not sure if the demon head does affect the difficulty but there's no other explanation. So, if there is a demon head that appears from nowhere and ADJUSTS A GAME SETTING AGAINST YOUR WILL, I want to go on record as saying that's straight-up one of the coolest things I've ever seen. I mean, it's dumb as fuck and once you realise what's up you can just go and set the difficulty back to your preferred level, but there's absolutely nothing like it in any other game. Unless it's some kind of automatic difficulty scaling thing that kicks in if you're doing too well? But again, it seemed to trigger for absolutely no reason. I wouldn't put it past the game to be so buggy that the difficulty just randomly changes itself when you load your game sometimes, but then what the hell is the demon jumpscare for?

Another cool touch is that Illwhyren is located on several maps, and you can fight her every time. She teleports away when on low HP just like that DICKHEAD Diego from System Shock, but it gives a nice thread of continuity to the game, and gives the otherwise pretty lame villain a greater sense of presence and threat.

The bad: Obviously, the fucking weapon breakage system. Alright, so they're designing a game around melee, they can't ration ammo to balance the difficulty like most FPS games do, I understand that just letting you endlessly use the great-axe with no limitations would ruin the game. TES Arena had weapon breakage, but in Arena this only happened rarely, carrying a backup would be enough to negate it, and you could repair weaponry in towns. Witchaven takes the same idea, but makes all weapons last about half a minute before shattering. No joke - the short sword literally lasts for about 20 strikes, if that, before breaking to pieces. Particularly incredible is the fact that weapons break from being swung THROUGH THE AIR, not even coming into contact with enemies or walls. Yes, if you stand and swing your sword through the air in front of you for a minute, it will explode.

Luckily, enemies drop weapons and you can find weapons lying around on the map. Less luckily, you can only pick these up if your weapon is already broken (it becomes "damaged" briefly before becoming "useless"). It's so fucking dumb. Basically if you see a weapon on the map, the best thing you can do is switch to the version of it you're already carrying until it breaks, then run back to pick up the new one.

The devs seem to think giving enemies ludicruous amounts of HP is cruise control for great balance. Grey Witches (that weird fat thing with the tits you see on the enemy lineup I posted up there) are just completely fucking dumb and you could realistically shatter two weapons repeatedly against them and break the shit out of a third before they go down.

To compensate, you have access to some insane weapons like Magic Sword, but the weapon breakage system makes you reluctant to use anything because you have no idea when you'll get a chance to replace the weapon. It doesn't work the same way as ammo does in other games, because you have literally no way as far as I can tell to know how much "health" your weapon has remaining, so you can't even decide to use the more powerful weapons tactically. Short swords are dropped by the goblins who appear in every level, so you're basically nudged into using that for the whole game, and it's a terrible weapon.

There is another trick though. Your fists cannot break and are the fastest weapon by far, so you can actually stunlock literally every enemy with punches. As long as no other enemies arrive and you dont mind sitting there for while watching an endless punch-stun animation tradeoff playing, you can beat just about anything with your fists.

FINAL RATING: Very similar to Capstone's last epic, Operation Body Count, this is objectively a bit shit but I ended up really liking it for what it is. I think playing Body Count helped as well. Body Count was proper shit, whereas Witchaven is... it's proper shit, but more competent proper shit. If you don't mind entering the bug-ridden, janky, enemy-spam, cheap spike trap-laden dungeons of Witchaven, you can have a lot of fun here.

Let's go for 3 Incredible Example Of Enemy Design out of 5.


Next game: William Shatner's TekWar. It's another Capstone masterpiece!


Jim Bob

  • (aka Right Said Brett)
Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #148 on: December 07, 2019, 04:01:39 AM »
Coo.  I’d always assumed that TekWar was the first game released to make use of the build engine.  Also, whilst I was aware that Doom made use of clay models for its enemies, I never knew that Fallout did too!  The more you know, as they say.

Mister Six

  • Half-masted, bass-boosted, sling-backed
Re: FPS NIGHTMARES
« Reply #149 on: December 07, 2019, 04:43:55 AM »
I'm pretty sure that Fallout used prerendered 3D Models for its characters.