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Author: the.gray.fox (the [dot] gray [dot] fox [at] hotmail [dot] com)
Date: 12-Dec-13, 10:19:12
I can not stop with Legend of Mana -- haha
That game has cast a spell on me.

So cute-looking, simple to learn, and yet so complex and hard to master -- and with soo much replayability!
A game worth more than its weight in gold, in my opinion.

The soundtrack is especially addictive. It lingers in your mind -- something you keep whistling during the day :-)

So here is my Christmas present for you:
I found this youtube clip worth over 2 hours of Legend of Mana music, the whole OST in fact. Just let it play and listen to the music while you do other stuff.

At each song threshold the clip displays the current song's title. Other than that, the video portion of the clip is a static background and will not suck your bandwidth.

Enjoy!


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HtYEt0H1Wuk


-fox
 
Author: Jultknight|TheBlind (Facebook Search for :: Julien David Mondoux Lepage)
Date: 22-May-13, 04:59:40
i like all game of squareenix!! i dont know if you having playing same style but its more old the name are Secret Of Mana and Seiken densetsu 3 on snes... if you like legend of mana its sure you like secret of mana and seken desentstu 3 on super nintendo for seken desentsu you can find a rom2 patched in english
 
Author: the.gray.fox (the [dot] gray [dot] fox [at] hotmail [dot] com)
Date: 07-May-13, 17:12:29
Really,
every game I talked about in this thread is very nice and
sets itself apart from the endless junk (the copy of a copy)
that fills the shelves today.

But Legend of Mana is about the only thing I can play on my
laptop for the moment (using the "ePSXe 1.8.0" emulator).

Between FAQs and hard-earned user knowledge bases, I have
collected ~539 KB of things to know about this game (and it
is all _pure_ ASCII text format).

Talk about contents to dig :-)

Did I say already that this game is a gem? And that it goes
deep? And that there is a universe of stuff hidden in it?
Oh wait, I did on post with Date: 13-Jun-12, 17:09:43.

And the music for it is the perfect supplement. When I fight
a Boss I refrain myself from killing it too quickly, or the
music ends -- imagine that.


-fox
 
Author: Jultknight|TheBlind (Facebook Search for :: Julien David Mondoux Lepage)
Date: 05-May-13, 06:50:04
i know legend of mana i remember on ps1 and on ds very nice game
 
Author: the.gray.fox (the [dot] gray [dot] fox [at] hotmail [dot] com)
Date: 29-Apr-13, 15:03:16
Hello.

A year ago or so, in this thread, I wrote about a playstation
game that I liked very much. Game name is "Legend of Mana",
from Squaresoft (creators of the Final Fantasy series).

When speaking of the music accompanying the game I just said
it was "cool". I want to rectify that. It was not a proper
definition.
In hindsight I should have said that Legend of Mana has
likely one of the most powerful OST (original sound track)
ever made for a game.

Legend of Mana OST was released In 1999 on two CD.
Worth over 2 hours of epic tracks it is a display of japanese
artist Yoko Shinomura's ability to compose memorable pieces.

For a taste of the OST tracks, here is a link I came across
very recently:

http://www.emuparadise.me/soundtracks/highquality/Seiken_Densetsu_Legend_of_Mana_OST/93

Each track is in .flac format (Free Lossless Audio Codec)
which is a heavily compressed counterpart to the bloated .wav
format. Flac compression algorithm was specifically designed
for audio data, and that is how it manages to squeeze so much
audio is so little space without altering the audio quality
(unlike .mp3 and other Lossy codecs do).
Flac is a widely supported audio format which you can listen
to with a number of players, including Winamp and Windows Media
Player (assuming that your WMP is up-to-date).

In the page I linked above, the links to download the track
are under the "Links" heading. Do mouse hover the "Download"
word and open the link in a new window.
Have care to not download too many files at once, or you may
end up receiving a stub worth 1 KB. Just download the tracks
one by one and make sure their size is greater than 1 KB.
Note that their declared file sizes do not quite match the
ones you end up with. For example the download page states a
download size of 20 MB, instead you get a file worth 19.4 MB.
It is okay, I checked it. The files you receive are complete
(so they are not the 1 KB stub).


Then listen to the music and agree with me that it is one of
the best things you ever heard out of your speakers :-)

Hm. A couple tracks have lyrics ("Song of Mana" is one of
them -- CD1 track #4). The words you hear are svedish -- and
the vocalist is the blonde valkyria Annika Ljungberg.

If you happen to like the soundtrack, know that you can still
buy it. Along with the original game. Then for an emulator to
use to play Legend of Mana on your PC: google for "ePSXe".


-fox
 
Author: the.gray.fox (the [dot] gray [dot] fox [at] hotmail [dot] com)
Date: 18-Mar-13, 01:41:05
Another upcoming explore/trade/fight/suityourself space game soon to appear:

-- Limit Theory

http://ltheory.com/


Successfully crowdfunded through kickstarter, this game should see the light relatively soon. Meanwhile you can check the monthly updates on the development, supplemented by long videos on youtube, with the author commentary as he shows things.

This looks very promising.
The author is not targeting particularly powerful hardware, yet the game already shows lots of eye-candys. A treat for the eyes (have a look at the movies).

The main characteristic of Limit Theory is that the game universe is generated "procedurally".
That is, there are no prebuilt assets and the universe is virtually infinite (for once). Star systems, nebulae, planets, asteroid fields, even the space stations, everything will be created at the moment you first visit the place. You may pick a direction and keep going, the game will generate new content around you, which will persist on your hard disk and slowly build a unique universe.


-fox
 
Author: the.gray.fox (the [dot] gray [dot] fox [at] hotmail [dot] com)
Date: 06-Dec-12, 12:58:31
Seriously, how can they prefer this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4UCN6pMGNNM&list=LPoQD2PdrwSA8&index=1

Over this? :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_za-vX_EpYw


Sadly all youtube clips render more justice to M:TG than they do to
Etherlords II. Etherlords is kin to a high definition game, but it
suffers from the video compression of the clips.


But wait. here is a HD video for Etherlords II:
(you must manually switch it to 720p, though)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nISnA9yS_Yc

The author has accelerated it, because it is a long battle.
Almost epic in fact. But it is a good example of the
gameplay. Notice how the male mage seems destined to
helplessly lose, instead he eventually gains the upperhand.
And wins!
Not all battles are this long, of course.

In these games you can not say "I win" until the foe is
flat and the battle is over. So long you stand with 1 Hp, you
are dangerous. The same goes for the AI.


Darn Nival, make Etherlords III. My old eyes want more of
Diamanda!!


-fox
 
Author: the.gray.fox (the [dot] gray [dot] fox [at] hotmail [dot] com)
Date: 06-Dec-12, 12:16:50
Life can be so strange...

I have recently discovered a new strain of collectible card
games from Wizards of the Coast.
Talking of the new "Magic: The Gathering" PC videogames. They
are three, currently, and are dubbed:
- "Duels of the planewalkders"
- "Duels of the planewalkders 2012"
- "Duels of the planewalkders 2013"

As the numbers in their titles imply they are indeed very
recent games.

What puzzles me about these games is that they are modern, yes,
but all the 3D to look at is a non-interactive side-scrolling
main menu background.
In game instead the 3D is limited to a... a table. A table!
The table around which you and your opponent sit. To play cards!
But there is no opponent to be seen. Only the cards, afloat
in the air. They *are* 3D cards, alright, but that is ALL they
are: *flat* *inanimated* *pictures* of cards floating over a
table. Nothing more than 2D quads rendered in Direct3D9.
Glorious! -- Haha.

Where is the technology in that?? How can these games be
liked so much? And then I have seen *massive* bug lists
compiled by angry users, and no patch is out to address them.
No. To be correct, one (1) patch was out, and it did not
address a single problem of those reported. It addressed other
things entirely (7 or 8 in total, as opposed to a list of 200+
some of which game-breaking. Unbeliavable).

And then there is the usual catch of the microtransactions.
These games proliferate on microtransactions (what a plague).
So if you want your deck of cards fully unlocked, you have to
pay money. *Real* money, for *virtual* cards. I will never
understand that. Maybe I am just an old dinosaur.

These games are being very popular. I mean, people play
them. And pay to have their cards unlocked. And keep paying
to play a game that is stubbornly un-patched.


What puzzles me the most is that nobody seems to remember the
excellent Etherlords games made by Nival. Their gameplay
borrowed much from "Magic: The Gathering", such that if you
knew M:TG you indirectly knew how to play Etherlords, but there
were (are) the fundamental differences that:

1) you actually see your cards taking life in 3D, with
monsters summoned to the battlefield, beating each other,
spells going off in sparks and colored lights, et cetera...

2) latest versions are completely bug-free.

3) last, but not least: you do not pay anything to have access
to the full game. There is no such thing as having to unlock
"cards" or other game features. It is all there, just play.

4) They are moddable games, complete with map editor (at least
Etherlords II is. Multiplayer too.


Not to mention that Etherlords 1 and 2 made excellent use of
3D. In fact they could teach a thing or two to many a modern
3D title. Their creatures are all splendidly detailed and
animated, complete with high resolution textures and plenty of
sounds to accompany every their action. Definitely not a cheap
production.
In fact I wonder why Nival is not working on Etherlords III.
The time is ripe. The audience is out there. Nival just needs
to step forward. An Etherlords 3 done with modern technology
would erase the present M:TG games, hands down.

Really, in a world where people look mostly at graphics, I do
not understand why they are content with a sad game like M:TG
and ignore the gem Etherlords that not only had the addictive
gameplay typical of card games but also the graphics to
accompany it.


Everything is downside up. Maybe the sign that the world really
is coming to an end?


-fox
 
Author: the.gray.fox (the [dot] gray [dot] fox [at] hotmail [dot] com)
Date: 24-Nov-12, 23:28:20
Hello,
new post, new game(s).

(Warning: this one is really long)


Long ago there was a genre of games in which you would roam
the space, free, and do whatever you wanted -- more or less.
With time the genre nearly died, mostly because of lack of
worthy titles to keep alive the interest in it. The lack of
technology to really bring to life such ambitious type of
games also had a role.
But one or two good titles have survived to this day and
carry on the delicate flame of the genre that can be so much
entertainment if you find the title right for you.
Today I want to talk about a past gem from the year 2003:

-- Freelancer

Now, if you feed this word to your favourite search engine
it will spew a lot of unrelated junk -- so here are some
links to get you started with. You can dig more material on
your own after that.



Official website at Microsoft:
http://www.microsoft.com/games/freelancer/

Wikipedia page:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freelancer_%28video_game%29

The starport (a website hosting Freelancer mods):
http://the-starport.net/modules/wfdownloads/viewcat.php?cid=3

Gameplay clips on YouTube:
(*None*)
sorry. Those I found are terribly uninteresting and may give
you the wrong impression of the game. The "first impression"
is so important, you should make one yourself. There is more
than just shoot, click without purpose and use of autopilots.
Those players were lazy, or anyway lazily playing just so
they could capture something with fraps.



Freelancer's original concept is to be credited to a man
that is considered by most aficionados of space games: the
Guru of space games. This is Chris Roberts, father of -among
other things- the famous "Wing Commander" series.
If you must know, Chris Roberts is currently working on a
next generation AAA title. According to the few previews
that have been seen so far it will be the killer of anything
space related. We shall see... up until now it DOES look
promising, but it is too early to commence the "drool"
routine. And his game is not scheduled to be ready anytime
before 2014. If you want to search for it, the keywords are
"Star Citizen".

__THE__ special detail that should rape your attention about
Star Citizen is the fact that the game is not being funded
by a Publisher. Instead they use the formula of Crowdfunding.
Basically the people make donations to see the game done.
This should grant Roberts and his team the free reins
necessary to develop the game EXACTLY as they conceive it,
with no publisher breathing on their neck and rushhing it
out as soon as sellable, cutting on features because they
would take too much time, et cetera.
We shall see if this ambitious project sees the light.
I certainly hope it does. It could start a new era of game
developers that finally get to program the way they want,
take all the time they need to do it, and actually deliver a
game worth every penny.

Here is a link so you can see what Star Citizen is about:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhsgiliheP0

Yes, that man is serious.

[added later] Amazing! Only 3 weeks ago the funding was less
than 2.2 millions of dollars. At the time of this writing it
has roofed past 6.7 millions. This is enough funding to
guarantee that the game shall be done WITHOUT cutting on
any feature. And the more money they raise yet the more extras
they can include on launch -- at least it is what they say
on the website.
Crowfunding worked better than expected. Now remains to be
seen if Roberts can deliver the promises he made. If he can,
this truly will mark a change in game development for the PC.
And for once, for the better, for the players.
That man *IS* serious for real!


Now back on track with Freelancer.
This had to be a very ambitious title. It was really meant
to. But as with all promising things, Microsoft had to kick
in, shower everybody with money, assume control, then steer
the boat to bearing zero cheap zero. And aye aye cptn...

Still, despite their interference, Freelancer came out to be
an entertaining game. When you think to "space" you imagine
4 things mostly: cold, silence, void, black. Do you not?
Haha.
I probably should not say this, but allow me to share 1 bit
of truth. Space, the outer space, the big boring void past
our atmosphere, is a place less desolate, less uninteresting,
and less black and white than they let you believe.
Our very moon is not the totally gray rock you are used to
picture, speaking of which, it is so easily corrected.
But yes, it is true that space is a cold, airless location.
Where there is not air. No place is perfect I guess...

But back on Freelancer, again.
Roaming space in Freelancer is not a boring trip with
nothing to look at and nothing to do. All the contrary.
There are star systems to explore. These always contain at
least one star (of course, "star" system), plus a number of
heavenly bodies (sadly not womenly) scattered around. We
have planets, asteroid fields, and clouds of various nature.
Planets may or may not be colonized. Many are, and you can
descend on their surface to visit the settlement there. In
orbit there are a number of things. There are space stations
of various size and shape. Battleships to maintain military
presence. You may also find "Jump Holes", for inter-system
travel, but these are usually out of the way and you will
have to find them on your own. The official way to travel to
a different star system is to use the "Jump Gates", found at
the ends of the intra-system highways know as "Trade Lanes".
Trade Lanes are like accelerators. You dock with them and
get accelerated & pushed to the other end of the lane. This
makes you cover great distances in short time. But if you
feel to travel the canonical way you can certainly do so. It
will simply take more time.
Oh, there is also a lot of space traffic going on everywhere
at all times. Mainly you see Freighters and Fighters. The
former to transport goods around, the latter to fight, act
as police, provide escort to transports, et cetera.

You have to carve a living in this universe. Basically you
can choose to be a trader or a fighter pilot. I am not
talking of a "career" to follow. You are supposedly a
"freelancer", a jack-of-all-trades. You decide what you want
to do, and you are free to change your mind and job anytime.
And... the catch?
Of course there is a catch -- haha.

Whatever you want to do, you will need money for it.
Buy your space vessel, mount weapons on it, buy accessory
equipment such as shield and thrusters, countermeasures to
fool missiles are never a bad investment... these things
cost.
You have two ways to fund yourself.
The first, be a fighter pilot and get contracts: the pay is
quick and is usually adeguate to the risk.
The second, be a trader and trade in goods, or "commodities":
buy low sell high. Of course anything you want to sell will
fetch a higher price in places where that commodity is not
so readily available. Basic market laws. And you may be
jumped by bandits of all sorts along the way. However, if
you make it, the cash rewards can be juicy.

Whatever you do, you may or may not receive help from the
other ships. Depends on you. There is a very large amount of
factions in the game and you build a reputation with each.
Also, factions have allied and enemy factions. By aiding a
given faction you gain positive reputation with it, but also
some positive reputation with its allies. At the same time
you gain negative reputation with its enemies.
Once you start meddling with factions, people that are
initially neutral to you may become your enemies and attack
you on sight. Others instead may see you as a friend and
will come to your help if you are ever attacked in their
presence. You can not be friend with everybody, but you can
with most, such that in some systems you may witness battles
between two rival factions, and both factions are friend with
you. It gives a strange feeeling to cross a battlefield
knowing that you are granted free passage while people
explode all around.
Just remember that your reputations are not set in stone.
Through actions you constantly alter your status with the
factions, to the extent that you may turn an enemy into an
ally -- and vice versa.
There are multiple ways to gain reputation with a given
faction (trade goods, take contracts, kill enemies, bribe a
hacker...). Just remember that all medals have two faces. As
you make friends, so you make enemies.

One of the most rewarding activities in Freelancer is the
exploration. Go around, see what is there to see, visit all
the star system you find a jump to. Visit the asteroid
fields and the clouds, often there is hidden stuff in them
(as well as enemies, so be on your guard).
Your starmap will automatically register and update with
your finds.
That is how you get to know that on planet X the commodity Y
is sold cheap, and then only a couple jumps away you can
resell the same stuff at a fat price.
Watch out in case you find outlawed commodities. Contraband
will earn you sweet cash, and cannon fire from friendlies
just as well. Police patrols may scan your cargo anytime,
and if they catch you...

Exploration is also the way to find places that sell new
ship types. In time you will want a freighter wih a greater
cargo bay. Or if you are a fighter pilot you may want a more
capable fighter.
Either ship type can be used in either role. But fighters
have a tiny cargo bay, while freighters are not meant for
combat. The game will not impose you a choice anyway: you
can trade using a fighter, as well as fight in a freighter.
But life will be simpler if you employ the right tool.

In this game there are Levels. You gain a new Level as you
hit a given threshold of money earned, but in single player
your Level is also bound by the story, meaning that until
you take part in plot-related missions you will not be able
to advance. Plenty of fun all the same, do not worry :-)
Spacecrafts have a Level requirement as well. For example
you may not be able to buy a Level 7 ship until you are at
least Level 7 yourself.
Weaponry too has a Level. If your ship allows for Level 4
cannons at best, you may mount on it only cannons with
Levels 1 to 4. Even if you find better weaponry you may not
mount it.

Speaking of mounting, you can swap hardware pieces on your
ship completely free-of-charge (assuming that you have
spare parts), but you can only do so when landed or docked.
There is no such thing as in-flight hardware change. It will
be important to learn to make proper use of the hardware at
disposal. Buy smartly, use wisely, shoot responsibly.
Different weapon types are effective versus different shield
types; and the rule is that everybody may mount more than
one gun, but nobody can mount more than one shield.
In this game you have to do more than point your guns and
open fire.
Speaking of pointing the guns, your weapons shall be visible
on the hull and they will rotate and track your aim point as
you hover the mouse cursor on your screen. A nice touch.

Hm. If I keep talking about thow things work I will spoil
all the fun. Fortunately there is much positive stuff I am
leaving out. It will be a pleasant surprise if you decide
to pick this game.

I should spend the last words on the User Interface and
system requirements to run Freelancer.

Freelancer has a somewhat spartan UI. I can not quite decide
whether it was naive design or a stroke of genius. It is so
simple, at its heart, that a grandmother may learn to use it.
And yet they have compressed many powerful functions in few
buttons, leaving your screen almost empty, free to appreciate
the beautiful setting of each star system.
The overall first impression is that of a simplicistic game.
But it is not. There is more going on under the hood than
transpires by the looks. So take the time to dig the fine
details and you will not be disappointed.

As for the controls to fly your ship, a mouse is all you
need. Joystick is neighter needed nor supported.
Optionally you can redefine your controls to steer using the
keyboard. Suit yourself. But the mouse will give you such a
natural control over the ship that you may wonder why other
developers of flight sims have not done the same in their
games. Not everyone has a joystick, and Freelancer superbly
demonstrates how a mouse can provide the same functionality
of one.

Here are the:


<<<<--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS:

::Minimum Configuration

-- Windows® XP, Windows Me®, Windows 2000®, or Windows 98 SE® (Windows NT® and Windows 95® are not supported)
-- 600 MHz processor
-- 128 MB RAM
-- 4x CD-ROM/DVD-ROM drive
-- 1.3 GB free hard disk space plus space for saved games (additional space required for Windows swap-file and DirectX 9 installation)
-- 16 MB video card with DirectX 9 compatible driver.
-- DirectX 9 compatible sound card
-- Keyboard
-- Mouse
-- An Internet Connection for Multiplayer (56k v.90 or faster required)



::Recommended Configuration

-- 1 GHz or faster processor
-- 25 MB RAM
-- 8x or faster CD-ROM/DVD-ROM drive
-- 32 MB video card with DirectX 9 compatible driver



::Recommended for Serving Multiplayer Games

-- A Broadband Type Internet Connection or LAN Network: DSL, Cable, T1, T3, etc.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------->>>>


Know that this game still has several active online
communities. Each pretty much host their own servers wherein
they play with their own big mod. Mods download and server
play are free of charge. But be warned, the original Freelancer
uses shader-less graphics, while most mods (if not all) have
added an optional bloom effect to the game (optional because
you can disable it, should your card not support shader
model 2.0).

Freelancer is version 1.0 out of the box. The latest patch is
version 1.1 and is optional. Only required to play on a
server and only if you have experienced problems of sort.
However, most community servers will require you to have a
"clean" 1.0 installation as a base for their mod. Long story
short: if you want only the single player, just install the
game and play (no patch required).
If you want to play online, just install the game, then apply
the mods (no patch required, again).

This is one very fine game. There is to explore, there is to
dare, and there is to fight. Combat can be fast and furious,
and you can have as much as you want of it. It is the perfect
counterpart to an otherwise relaxing trip from one trade
location to another. You can avoid combat most of the times
if you are a good pilot.



If you are into space ganes I can name you a couple more,
just so it can not be told that I am trying to sway you to
follow my opinion. Though you should.

There is an "indie game", a one-man-development, that is
known as "Evochron Mercenary". Graphics is not top notch,
but it is improving constantly. And the mechanics are not
too well defined either, but those too are improving
rapidly. Sure the developer is hard at work on his baby, and
there is quite a following to keep the overall interest
high.
One majorly spectacular feature I found in EM is their
implementation of newtonian physics. It is perfection
incarnate. Your ship is equipped with a series of thrusters
and inertial dumpeners. A fly-by-wire computer interprets
your input and transforms it into commands to activate the
thrusters all over the hull of your ship. And your ship
simply turns to face and fly straight in the direction you
are pointing. That is space flight for dummies.
But you can inhibit this mechanism at any time (just press
Spacebar), and gain full control of each thruster. This
becomes a true newtonian flight model in which your vessel
can drift eternally along whatever vector you last applied
force to. You will not consume fuel and you can reach
extremely high speeds to cover huge distances. When you want
to apply corrections you can either act on singular
thrusters or momentarily switch the fly-by-wire on and let
the onboard computer apply corrections to your flight vector.
There. It is "newtonian physics for everyone". The universe
of EM is extremely vast. And there are places the beauty of
can leave you breathless.
Oh, and you can descend on planets!, flying manually from
high orbit all the way down to the surface, where there are
settlements of interest.
As we speak the author is working to add more interesting
stuff to do while on a planet surface (I think I have read
something about driving land vehicles. But you should ask
to the beta testers for more info).


Another famous and widely acclaimed space game is the "X"
series. X2 the Threat, X3 Reunion, X3 Terran Conflict...
Ever heard of them? Somebody has compared X3TC to Freelancer
on steroids. In that you do pretty much what you do in FL,
just more of it and better. And it has more modern graphics.
One sure thing is that their spacecrafts and space stations
are quite a sight. Each of them. There is no single
"less than spectacular" 3D model in the X games.
Butt! If you ask my opinion, the X series errs too much on
the "build your economic empire throughout the Universe"
side of the game. And focuses too little on flying the
ships. Strangely enough these games offer no newtonian
physics model. All ships are artificially capped in their
speed. which you can improve by buying and installing engine
upgrades, but the ships remain pretty slow all the same. It
is not uncommon to have to cover distance in the order of 25
Km at a speed of 80 or 90 meters per second. Maybe I have
not understood the spirit of these games, but for being
spacecrafts of a thousand years in the future I find it
rather weird that they fly slower than a present day Cessna!
The X series however will shine in the economic aspect of
the gameplay. The economy is dynamic, with wares changing
their worth according to "supply & demand", and the player
is given a lot of tools to help you manage your empire.
To think that you can start from a single cheap vessel with
just 1000 credits in your pockets, and can reach the point
in which you own whole fleets of capital ships, space stations,
trade routes, and inordinate amounts of gajillions of
credits.
To the point, maybe, that the game feels a little bit too
much like a colossal spreadsheet with pretty graphics thrown
in as a bonus. Unlike Freelancer and Evochron Mercenary, the
X games are not multiplayer. only Single Player. Or at least
their latest incarnations are ("Terran Conflict" and its
recent expansion "Albion Prelude"). Currently they are
working on "X4", which should be called "Rebirth". And they
say that Rebirth will feature several radical gameplay
changes, some of which borrowed from other games of the genre,
such as Freelancer (to name one). Oh, there are planets in
the X series, but you do not get to land on them. They are
mere scenic additions (unlike FL and EM).


-fox
 
Author: the.gray.fox (the [dot] gray [dot] fox [at] hotmail [dot] com)
Date: 22-Oct-12, 17:57:47
Hello.
A quick return to the roots of this very topic.
Subject is again:

-- The Witcher, Enhanced Edition


When I first posted about it I was not aware of a few very
annoying problems that were still lurking in the last patched
game version 1.5
They are three problems. One is common to everybody, one is
maybe common to half the players, and one is common to few,
luckily, but still as annoying as the other two.

I kept searching the www for solutions to them, and I have
finally collected them all. These have been tested by me,
personally, and are guaranteed to work without side effects.



++
++ THE FIRST PROBLEM
++
Geralt can only run when in OTS (Over The Shoulder) Camera
mode.
-
The OTS camera is no doubt the most comfortable for
exploration, but they forgot to allow players to walk while
in it! If you wanted to walk normally you would have to
switch to one of the other two camera modes and Shift-Click
on the ground, as you would in Neverwinter Nights.
As they say: this gets old fast.
-
At last someone made a mod to rectify the problem.
It introduces a new control binding in the list of controls.
You bind a key to it, and Geralt will be able to walk even
in OTS camera mode.
Mod name is: Walk_mod_v1.0.zip



++
++ THE SECOND PROBLEM
++
Loading a module is liable to randomly modify the movement
speed of Geralt and any other NPC. This includes naturally
reloading a previously saved game. By reloading multiple
times it is possible to observe sensible differences in
movement speeds, estimated in the range [0.5x to 1.5x].
VERY annoying.
-
Not every player experienced this. Apparently the problem was
introduced with the Enchanced Edition version of the game.
Prior to it, in fact, the oddity was completely unheard of.
Someone made a mod to address it.
Mod name is: Geralts_moving_speed_FIX.zip



++
++ THE THIRD PROBLEM
++
The Video and the Audio of the Intro and Outro movies can get
out of sync, badly.
-
The movies are in Bink format. In the Witcher\System subfolder
you have a binkw32.dll file, from the RAD Video Tools company.
-
The Witcher provides you with version 1.9.8.0 of said dll,
whose codec wants lot of processing power, else you run into
Video/Audio desync problems during playback.
It has been discovered that with the older 1.9.1.0 version,
no desync problem occurs as the codec is less powerhungry.
-
So the solution is to get yourself a copy of binkw32.dll
version 1.9.1.0, which you may well have on your hard drive
thanks to some other game. Otherwise you have to download it
off the www. When you get a hold of the file, extract it in
your Wicther\System folder, overwriting the dll you already
have.



++
++ LINKS
++
These are the only links I know of. Unfortunately to access
the first 2 files you must register on their forums.
Hopefully it is not a problem.

-- Walk_mod_v1.0.zip
http://en.thewitcher.com/forum/index.php?app=core&module=attach&section=attach&attach_id=6515

-- Geralts_moving_speed_FIX.zip
http://en.thewitcher.com/forum/index.php?app=core&module=attach&section=attach&attach_id=6514

-- binkw32.dll version 1.9.1.0:
http://www.gamefront.com/files/15120447/Witcher-Bink-Audo-Fix.zip





There would also be a fourth, potentially annoying, problem...

++
++ A FOUTH PROBLEM
++
One bad bug remains to be fixed in the Witcher. Fortunately
the story does not even remotely force you to run into it.
But if you do, it can be very annoying.
Geralt can apply Oils to enhance his blades. Oils are long
lasting effects.
There is 1 specific oil, called Hanged Man's Venom, which is
reported to permanently get stuck on your sword if you:

1) Apply Hanged Man's Venom oil
2) Save the game with the oil still active
3) Reload the savegame made at point #2

Currently the only workaround for it is to _NOT_ reload a
game saved when you had Hanged Man's Venom active on your
sword.
Let it expire, first, and then you can save (and later reload)
without worry. No other oil produces this bug.

Anyway, recently enough someone came up with a mod meant to
remove an oil from a sword. It currently is NOT known whether
this mod successfully removes Hanged Man's Venom after it has
got stuck on your sword.
Here is a link to the topic, read for yourself:

-- Sword Oil Remover
http://en.thewitcher.com/forum/index.php?/topic/27605-tw1-bugfix-sword-oil-remover/


As I said, it is unknown whether the mod can clear the bug.
But it is known, and I can confirm it, that the bug is real,
as it forever overpowered one of my swords, which was a unique
model I could not replace with a "clean" one.
Hardly needs to be said, it ruined my game experience making
things too easy to be fun anymore.

I believe that is all for today.


-fox
 
Author: the.gray.fox (the [dot] gray [dot] fox [at] hotmail [dot] com)
Date: 04-Sep-12, 18:59:23
Are you interested in one of those games that has made the
hystory of videogaming?
Then you should try:

-- Unreal

Not Unreal Tournament. Not Unreal 2. But Unreal, the first.

When this game saw the light its technology was so ahead of
everything else that it was indeed "unreal".
Graphics wise it was the first to do a lot of stuff that
later on (much later on) became a standard for all modern
games.
Lens flares. Coronas and streaks. Dynamic lighting. Detail
textures. Reflections. Translucent waters. Waters with varying
degrees of friction (making it easier or harder to swim into).
Volumetric fog. Particle systems. High detail indoors coupled
with huge outdoor sections. Skyboxes. Procedurally generated
animated textures. Natural looking waterfalls and other fluid
effects.
To this day Unreal is the sole FPS title to have shown all
that in a single game. This stuff used to run on a Pentium 200
with acceptable framerates. It was indeed "unreal".
Even the enemies were something. They had the precursor of
what you would call today: intelligence. They could learn
basic tactics from you, and use them against you. Unreal
monsters were also the first to showcase "idle" animations,
and social behaviors! I bet you can not name me 1 game in
which you have seen a group of aliens sit in circle and
killing time by playing dice. In Unreal they do. That, and
more.
Each weapon had an alternate mode of fire (one in particular
had a devastating 3rd mode, obtained by combining the second
with the first), their munition packs would come in multiple
sizes and shapes. They were also animated models, not just a
static mesh. And one of your weapons could be permanently
empowered by collecting several special powerups. The player
also had a basic inventory of miscellaneous items (flares,
flashlights, portable forcefields, scuba gears and more).
The list goes on...

It was groundshaking in every aspect. Even the sound and the
music were something to listen to.

It did receive an expansion pack, called "Return to Na-Pali".
And it was later on repackaged, along with its expansion, in
a single release, "Unreal Gold", already patched to the
latest version 226b.

Unreal is now an old title. Old in everything, for everything
it does you have seen it done in other games. It is important
to realize that they all took inspiration from Unreal.
some people kept working on it, and have dedicated a great deal
of time to it. They still do, as we speak.
They have redrawn its textures, making them high resolution
for today standards as well, and they have further patched
the game, also giving to it more renderers that could take
advantage of modern DirectX versions, such as Dx8 and Dx9,
so making the game compatible with any modern graphics card.

Visit www.oldunreal.com to find packages to enhance the
standard Unreal Gold, along with their latest patch 227h.
Then buy Unreal Gold from Good Old Games (www.gog.com).

Install the beauty, then patch it to version 227h. Decompress
your high-res texture packs, and launch the game. This now
works on every modern windows system (XP, Vista, 7), with no
need for compatibility modes. Just launch and enjoy.



-- The story:
The player impersonates a prisoner. Prisoner #849, on the
prison vessel "#254 Vortex Rikers" en route to a prison moon.
No details are given on the player's past.
On the voyage the Rikers is caught in the strong gravitational
pull of an uncharted planet, and crashes upon its surface.
Most of the ship crew and prisoners die on the impact.
It is the beginning of an odissey. A struggle for survival on
an alien world. But perhaps not all hopes are lost, and there
could be a way to leave the planet as a free man.
The backgrounds of what happened before and after the crash
are communicated to the player through personal logs and other
mediums, such as books, that he will find. Often he will come
across dead bodies of other human beings, and reading their
last personal log entries may give a clue on what happened
there.
Prisoner 849 wants to go home, but he (or she, if you like to
play with a female character) is an unwanted guest, and will
have to fight for his/her life, facing all kinds of threat.



Unreal is a long game. It takes weeks to complete unless you
sit in front of it all day long, and even so it would still
take days.
All levels are ideally connected to one another, giving you
the sense of a continuos journey through the planet.
You will traverse canyons, mountains, mines, alien invaders'
bases, natives' towns and temples, other spaceships... there
is A LOT to see in this game. And no single location is
boring.
The game levels tend to alternate between small/short ones
and huge/long ones, with the occasional exception.
Often there are hidden or out-of-the-way powerups to discover.
And often there are secret places normally inaccessible,
unless you find a way to open a path to them.
As I said, this game was ahead of its time, by several years.
And with the use of the high resolution textures you will not
notice that it is an "old" title. Believe the fox.


-fox
 
Author: the.gray.fox (the [dot] gray [dot] fox [at] hotmail [dot] com)
Date: 23-Aug-12, 19:42:22
This time I will be super brief.

One more game on the subject of mechs. Sure they sparked a
lot of software. Have a look at:

-- MechCommander 2

Again a mech game, but this one it is of the RTS type.
Hm. No. This is of the RTT type (2nd T = Tactics).

As far as I know there is no base to build in this game. And
no units to produce-as-you-go either. It is more a "what you
have is what you must make do with". Sort of a commando squad.
But do not get me wrong, the game is very much like an RTS,
and you will surely enjoy its innovative gameplay.

This would be the sequel to MechCommander 1 and its expansion
Desperate Measures, titles which had not that much success,
due to many technical problems that summed up to ruin the
experience.
With MechCommander 2 they have polished out all the problems,
and they also made it completely 3D, as opposed to the 2.5D
that was MechCommander 1.

Must be said, it is a very clean and crisp 3D. Coupled with a
clean and functional user interface, the game takes very
little effort on your part to learn and appreciate.

Also there are 5 very well done tutorial missions in which a
pleasant female voice caresses your ears as she explains you
the basics.
Oh, and there is a fully functional mission editor.

If I have read it right, MechCommander 2 has gone freeware
too at some point, but I have no idea if that is true nor
where to download it from. Looks like part of the source code
for it was released as part of the samples suite accompanying
the XNA SDK. But I do not understand when -after that- it has
supposedly become freeware -- nor it is really has.

Oh well, you can always buy it new for little money, and you
are sure to have something okay to play with.


-fox
 
Author: the.gray.fox (the [dot] gray [dot] fox [at] hotmail [dot] com)
Date: 18-Aug-12, 22:16:43
-- Small update on MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries.



>>>>
>>>> Training/Tutorial:
>>>>

I forgot to mention that the MekTek studio release has made
a change to the main menu voices, and that the "Training"
selection has disappeared for good.

"Training" is gone, but the training mission launched by it
is still there, and plays as intended. You just have to
launch it _manually_, through the "Instant Action" Main
Menu choice.

At the Instant Action screen, at the center of it, are the
Launch button, and below it two pulldown boxes.
You first open the top pulldown box and select Training.
The bottom pulldown box will change automatically -- no need
to touch anything else.
Then hit the Launch button and your training will begin as it
would have if you triggered it from the Main Menu.

Please note that at some point into training the instructor
will demonstrate the effects of overheating on your mech,
which will shutdown... and it will stay offline for a long
time that may feel like forever.
It is not forever. Be patient and your mech will resume on
its own, then you can proceed with the rest of the training.

The longer shutdown time is one of the changes made by MekTek
studio to the original game. In the original game's Training
mission the shutdown lasted only a few seconds. While the
change made by MekTek is welcome (turns overheating into a
SERIOUS problem as it should have been from the beginning),
it has the unhappy inconvenient of making the Training
mission look like it locked up. Just that :-)



>>>>
>>>> Screen Resolution and Refresh Frequency:
>>>>

The in-mech screen resolution is customizable to anything you
want, but the Main Menu screen is fixed to 800x600.

As for the Refresh rate frequency of your monitor, the game
locks to the default dictated by DirectX, which natively is
60 Hz. And you can not change it -- from the game.

But you can change it from _outside_ of the game.
Here is how:

1) Launch DxDiag (yes, that very DxDiag.exe).

2) At the top of the window, activate the rightmost tab pane.

3) Press the bottom button, the one the description of which
-on the left- mentions DirectDraw and something about expert
users.

4) In the new smaller window there is a blank text field.
Therein you can type an integer number which is supposed to
be the NEW default screen refresh frequency (in Hertz) that
you wish to be enforced whenever a game does not make any
specific request to the DirectX layer (as is the case with
MechWarrior 4:Mercenaries).
Right now in that blank field it is like there is written 60,
for 60 Hz. So, if you type -say- 72, then you are setting it
to 72 Hertz. It is that simple.

5) Finally, press the Ok button and close DxDiag. No need to
reboot your system. The change has immediate effect. Just
launch the game and notice that your monitor is now locked on
the refresh frequency that you have modified in DxDiag.

^^ A word of caution:

It is recommended that you set your new refresh frequency to
a value that you know your monitor can support. Otherwise
it is said that DirectX may ruin your monitor by having it
work at a pace it can not sustain.
I do not know whether that is true or not. For a fact I know
that DirectX has the means to check on the supported screen
refresh frequencies, broken down by screen resolutions (how
else do you think your games know what they can ask to your
hardware? haha) So I would cautiously say that this is a
false alarm.
However, my past experiences with MS software have taught me
a thing or two, and if I were you I would "err on the safe
side" and make sure to specify a Hertz frequency that your
monitor can work with. Go look in your Windows (or also the
nVidia) control panel for a list of the valid frequencies
for your monitor, and then make your change.


-fox
 
Author: the.gray.fox (the [dot] gray [dot] fox [at] hotmail [dot] com)
Date: 15-Aug-12, 16:48:13
Hello.

New visit, new game.
This time it is about a game that was once commercial, but it
has gone freeware. Hm. Not because "it sucks". Haha -- its
freeware-ing was a marketing move to promote something else
to come. But then...

Let us explain this in order -- all will make sense.
Do you like big robots? I always liked mechanisms, and the
subject of robots has always fascinated me. If you also like
flashy weapons, HUDs, and boomy stuff going on your screen,
then you might enjoy:


-- MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries


It is a rather famous title, but maybe you never learned what
it is about, just like me. Or maybe you also thought it could
not be interesting. Just like me.

Some brief hystory first.
Decades ago now (pre 90s) two highschool kids invented a
futuristic sci-fi setting in which giant bots, heavily armed
and even more heavily armored, would fight in big battles.
"BattleTech" was born. It had success. And over time it
sparked board games, pen and paper games, books, action figures
and what not.
At some point a PC game based on the BattleTech universe was
made, and it was -unoriginally- called: BattleTech.

A sort of cult was born. Anyway, someone with lots of money
to burn saw potential in all this, and thought to develop
many a game based on the BattleTech universe. The MechWarrior
series was born. And the "someone" was a reknowned software
company based in Redmond. I am positive that no names are
needed, and I surely will not make them free ads.

One day, years ago now, MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries was made.
Pause. At this point it is required that you make a quick
read for a recap of the MechWarrior franchise's troubled
story from 2002 to 2011. A short read -- 4 minutes at most.
Here:

http://voices.yahoo.com/the-status-future-mechwarrior-5-3015-reboot-7649942.html


^^ Now that you have read the above, I can continue.

About a year ago "MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries" was given the
go to become a freeware. This was done to promote the
upcoming title "MechWarrior 5".

"MekTek studios" (which through a series of free mods to
MechWarrior 4 heavily contributed to keep the game "alive")
obtained all the legal authorizations from the copyright and
IP holders to repackage the original game and redistribute it
-digitally- along with their own modifications to it.
All 100% legal and free of charge.

Here is a link to their download page. Pay attention to the
instructions, you do not need all the listed downloads since
you are installing from scratch. So read what your downloads
say before you flood yourself with redundant stuff:

http://www.mektek.net/index.php/home/articles/Mechwarrior4-Mercenaries-Downloads-r1204

(Open...
On this page are mostly torrent files. You will need a client
to download the actual resources you want. The seeding is
generous and you can get away with it all in a couple hours.
As for the resources you will want to grab:
Basically you first FULL install the version 0028, then
upgrade it to versions 0029, 0030, then hotfix 0030a and
finally 0030c. Finished. The trick is that you need to get
their MTX Extractor, which is an app required to expand their
proprietary archive file format containing the full install.
Consider it their own WinZip. And to install the Extractor
you need the Dot Net Framework 3.5 (just in case you do not
have it already).
Admittedly they could have made it easier and just repackage
the whole in 1 slick install. Sometimes common sense is
murdered in the process. The end result is worth the trouble
anyway, MekTek Studios did his stuff properly and you will
not notice a difference in quality between their new content
and the game original content.
... closed)

Meanwhile it happened that MechWarrior 5 was officially
canceled over a legal dispute with Harmony Gold (holder of
the Macross/RoboTech franchise in the US).
"MechWarrior Online" was announced in its place, and as far
as I know it is in active development as we speak. But who
knows when it will see the light...
In point of fact, MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries is the last and
most advanced official MechWarrior title to this day.
And it is FREEWARE.


Alright, what is a MechWarrior? Or a Mech?

For starters, Mech is actually written 'Mech, with the ' thing
in front. 'Mech is short of BattleMech (right, as if you could
find ShoppingMech, GardenMech or other variants...)

A MechWarrior is a pilot of Mech. And a Mech is a futuristic
tank mounted on legs. It can carry assorted weaponry, it can
walk virtually any ground, and it can blow stuff up.
Mechs size, shape and weight can vary greatly. A mech is not
necessarily anthropomorph, it is not necessarily tall, and
its weight can range from 20 to 100 tons. There can be a lot
of variety on a battlefield.

Much like tanks, Mechs are split in categories based on their
tonnage (Light, Medium, Heavy, Assault). Unlike tanks, Mechs
are customizable.
Their weapon types mainly fall in three categories:
- ballistics (bullets)
- energy (lasers)
- self propelled (dumb rockets/guided missiles)

In MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries the player plays the role of a
mercenary. A mercenary that is the squad leader of a squad of
mercenaries like him. A squad of mechs is called a "Lance" in
the lexicon of MechWarrior.
In this game you literally make the life of the mercenary.
You get contracts, you deploy your squad, you do the dirty
work, you get paid. If your mechs are damaged, you have to
repair them, which costs money and time. In any case your
mechs have a maintenance cost. And each member in your Lance
wants to be paid regularly. Often enough you can salvage
chassis and weaponry from the battlefield of your last
mission. At anytime you can choose whether to keep and use
the salvaged stuff or sell it for credits. Sure, you can also
buy new stuff (pilots, chassis, weapons). But of course the
better your pilots and mechs, the more expenses you will have
to cover, so watch it.

There are different star systems to travel to. Each provides
opportunities for work. One star system in particular (Solaris VII)
holds gladiator-like competitions in which mech warriors can
compete for fame and -most importantly- cash.
That is a good place to make money (if you win), as there is
always something you can wish to burn your credits on: be it
a new chassis, a better pilot, or specific weaponry.

(Open...
Actually MekTek studios is working on their own version of a
MechWarrior game. The gameplay will focus on the competitions
held on Solaris VII. This game, if I heard it right, will be
called "Solaris". Of course all is being done with top notch
modern graphics. I have no idea of _when_ this will be ready.
... closed)

Some missions are more risky than others. The higher the
risk, the better the returns if you get out of it in one
piece. Some missions can take place during the night. There
is a variety of environments to play in, and there is a
variety of camouflages to paint on your mechs before taking
on a mission.
By the way, if you get rich enough you can assemble a second
Lance at your orders. Of course this implies more chassis to
buy and maintain, more pilots to hire and pay, and more
weapons to outfit your mechs with.

Proper mech setup is key to victory with minimal or no damage
in this game. Each mech can only carry so much weight to
operate, and whatever extra armor plating, heat sinkers,
weaponry, subsystems and engine upgrades you wish to mount on
a mech have all to stay within the tonnage limit allowed by
the chassis.
Of course you can not maximize everything. It is important to
find a good compromise between mobility, armor, firepower and
heat sinking.

(Open...
Heat is a very important factor in this game. All weapons
generate heat as they fire, and if you do not let things cool
down it will eventually overheat to critical temperatures,
leading your mech to a forced shutdown until it cools enough
to resume operation. A shutdown in the middle of a battle can
be disastrous.
You may flush the coolant to dissipate heat more quickly, but
you can only flush so much, and the more you throw away, the
less effective is the remaining coolant. Or you may enter the
waters to help your heat sinkers (assuming there is water
around, that is). A snowvy environment will naturally augment
the efficiency of your heat sinkers, while a desert environment
will hinder their performance.
The smart MechWarrior will take all this into account when
outfitting his mech and make the due adjustments to his
equipment.
... closed)

Luckily the game interface makes it easy to see how much
weight can be added/removed where. But mechs can only be
outfitted _outside_ of a mission. And you can not save the
game _during_ a mission.
Here the game is really nice, as it makes a named autosave
before every mission you take and also one upon returning
from your last mission. Basically you have a chronology of
what you did and where by just looking at your save game
filenames. And it will be easy to revert your status to any
specific point of your career.

Speaking of career, with each mission your mercenary unit
will build up a reputation of infamy/nobility and will
improve (or the opposite!) the relationshsips with either of
the two factions at war in the Single Player campaign.
Your relationships with the factions will affect which
missions they may ask your services for. And if things go
real bad with a faction they may decide to never ask/accept
your help again.
Do not forget that you are supposed to be a mercenary, loyal
solely to your wallet and whoever can fill it the most. But
if you feel, you can play the noble guy or the infame villain.
My advice? Play in whatever way you feel.
The game will have different endings according to what you
did during the story.

Although having a mech suited for the job at hand _is_
important, by all means victory and defeat are not dictated
solely by your equipment. There is room for applying your
skills as a pilot, and make judicious use of your mech and
the environment, which will amply offer opportunities to find
cover and sneak by.
While mechs are like tanks, they are not meant to charge an
enemy dead-on, nor stay in the open where they can receive
fire from everywhere. Tactics is to be employed, by circling
around and strafing your target, taking advantage of higher
ground, hiding behind obstacles to interrupt line of sight
and staying constantly on the move. You may even turn off the
radar to cut your emissions and become stealthy.
A still and visible mech is an easy target and can be the
receptacle of a world of damage quickly.
This all may sound easy and logical, but once in the cockpit
your situational awareness changes quite a bit, and it can be
tough to notice that somebody is sneaking behind you.
Mechs can withstand lots of punishment, but only so long their
armor plating holds. When the armor is pierced, systems
begin to fail, weapons can be lost irrevocably, legs can be
crippled making your mech limp and move at a much reduced
speed...
Be smart as you play this game. The MechWarrior series has
often be regarded as a Mech Simulator not without reason, and
MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries is the epitome of it all.
Smart players can get much fun from it :-)


I conclude with a due note.
MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries was horribly criticized for one
thing: its opening movie. This is not the good looking
production high quality computer graphics movie that the
series used his fans to. In Mercenaries for some reason they
have sent to production what was meant for the draft of the
actual movie... meaning that they used as opening movie a
movie made with the very game engine. The end result looks
REALLY bad, and is inexcusable. Were I to judge this game
from its cover (the opening movie) I would give to it a very
poor vote. Fortunately I decided to look past said cover and
have seen quite the worthy product.
So do look past the opening movie and be confident that the
game is very enjoyable and well made.


APPENDIX:

-- Do you like mods?
A group of talented modders has created a high quality total
conversion for the game Crysis. This total conversion is
called "MechWarrior Living Legends". It is only multiplayer
(as far as I know), but the work they made on it is stunning
and of professional quality. Google for it.
If you have the game Crysis, and if you like MechWarrior, you
may want to try this total conversion (freeware as well).
Graphics wise, MechWarrior Living Legends is the closest
thing to what "MechWarrior Online" (developed by Piranha
Studios) and "Solaris" (developed by MekTek Studios) will
look like.

-- Similar games?
There was once the "Heavy Gear" series. They only made 2
games of it, and the second one was generally regarded to be
the best. Unfortunately "Heavy Gear II" has rendering
problems on all nVidia graphics cards that are more advanced
than a GeForce 6. Such rendering problems can really make it
unplayable, which is a shame. However some people have found
a solution to play Heavy Gear II on "Windows 7". But only
on Windows 7. The problems are unfixable on Windows XP.
Anyway if you have a GeForce 6 or lower (even a GeForce 3
will handle the game perfectly) you can play it on any
windows system.
A "Gear" is not a "Mech". Gears are much smaller and lighter
and with much more mobility than a mech. A Gear is like an
armed and armored exoscheleton shelling the human pilot
within. Know that the "Stompy Bots studios" has very recently
announced the aquisition of the Heavy Gear IP, and they are
working on "Heavy Gear III" as we speak (finally!)

-- For your eyes only
There is also the famous "Armored Core" series, but this one
is only for the PlayStation 2 and 3 consoles. If you want to
see something totally unbelievable, then I urge you to search
youtube for the opening movies of the Armored Core games!
They look SO REAL-THING that you get the suspect that they
have built those big robots for real just so they could tape
them for a believable clip -- Haha. Go have a look, you will
not be disappointed.


-fox
 
Author: the.gray.fox (the [dot] gray [dot] fox [at] hotmail [dot] com)
Date: 11-Jul-12, 13:05:03
Time to recommend another game, this time a Nival game:

-- Etherlords II

Published in 2003. Recommended system requirements are low for today standards; do not even worry about them.

As for the game... in truth I had a big long lengthy bloated text for it, composed over days. But I am unable to write a proper review for this title. So much to say, and it has to be said properly.
Thus I will only give you generic informations:

-- Demo available.
Let us start with this. A demo is available, so you can try the game firsthand rather than seeing it in some low resolution low fps youtube clip. The demo is only 200 MB size. Google for it :-)

-- It is fully 3D.
The graphics are highly detailed, both in polygon count and texture quality. All creatures are fluidly animated, complete with "idle" animations and sounds. A real treat for the eyes, especially when the camera pans real close to an actor (any actor) revealing a level of detail you would never suspect to find in such a game.

-- It is of the "Collectible Card Game" type.
Just without the boring it-is-only-a-static-2D-to-look-at part (Magic: the Gathering, anyone?). And there are no cards, but there are spells. Lots and lots of them, with colored lights, puffs of smoke, special powers, and summoned creatures to beat each other.

-- Single player story.
Worth ~100 hours of gameplay, spanning over 4 distinct factions and 5 campaigns.

-- Multiplayer support + skirmish (Duel) vs AI.
With the added ability to record and playback your own duels against the AI. What more do you want?

-- Part Adventure, part RPG, part Chess.
Just without the lengthy thinking.
And this is no D&D. There is no tome/manual to memorize before you play. The "learning curve" is actually a "flat line". Two well-made short tutorials and you are good to go. And there is an excellent in-game encyclopedia (with pictures and sortable headings), and everything is right-clickable for a descriptive tooltip anytime you need reminders on whatever is on screen. Truly all informations are made available to you in the moment you want them, leaving you only the pleasure to play the game.

-- Health Hazard: Addictive Battle System.
And I mean it. Not kidding at all. If this game hooks you, you will need some willpower to unglue your bottom from the chair. The battle system is innovative, entertaining and challenging. The AI knows how to make proper use of spells, for a change. The computer wants to win just as much as you do. And you will not see it making embarassing mistakes. So every victory you achieve is definitely earned. And every foe flat on the ground shall be a display of your (brains's) superiority. But no matter how much you win, never underestimate your foe. Even a low Level opponent has the means to teach you a lesson.

-- No game over.
In case of defeat, you can retry anytime at no penalty. Sweet! That is Challenge Without Frustration!
But unless you change your selection of spells or learn to make better use of them as a whole, you are not going to fare much better than the last time.

-- Bugfree, latest patch (1.03) needed.
If you buy the full game, you will need to apply patch 1.03 (~9 MB size). You can see your current game version at the main menu. Version number is displayed in the bottom right corner of the screen.


This is Quality software :-)


-fox
 
Author: the.gray.fox (the [dot] gray [dot] fox [at] hotmail [dot] com)
Date: 13-Jun-12, 17:09:43
Hello.

Taking a break from some brain intensive stuff, I discovered
a little gem. Today I want to recommend an RPG game from the
year 2000:

Legend of Mana

I do so with a bit of hesitation, because this is one of those
games that you either love or hate. There is no mid way.
Unfortunately, given the nature of the game, it is easier to
grow to hate it than not to love it. The fact is that the game
does not really explain itself. It will only give you a basic
amount of informations, leaving the rest up to you to discover.
The problem in this is that in Legend of Mana there is a whole
UNIVERSE of stuff to learn about, so much more than you could
ever suspect by just looking at it. And depending on how you
played it may take you a while to realize how deep the game
goes. Until that moment you will think that Legend of Mana is
just a below-average RPG like there is so many already.
Trust the fox and believe that this game goes deep.
Consider that after 12 years and dozens of FAQs written by
knowledgeable players, there still are parts of the game that
are shrouded in mystery.


Now some preliminary info about the game. This is it: if you
get past these, you are in for what probably is something you
can enjoy to no end.


Developer is: Squaresoft.
The very same that owns the famous "Final Fantasy" franchise,
I am sure. Funny that today it is called Square Enix. They
must have changed name after 2000... I have read good things
about Final Fantasy. At least up to the ninth chapter. Then
looks like the series was steered more and more towards the
cheap/commercial direction, bleeding fans along the road.
Now Final Fantasy sells good mostly because of the graphics.
Anyway, developer is Squaresoft.


Platform is: PlayStation.
Keep reading, do not go away! Yes it is the first PlayStation
console. Some abbreviate its name in PSX, others in PSOne or
PS1. I will use PSX. LoM is a PSX only game. There is no
version for the Personal Computer (PC). But there are PSX
emulators for the PC ;-)
The best PSX emulator out there currently is: "ePSXe 1.7.0".
And it has been perfected to the point that it can hardly be
made any better. Google for it. It is small, it is freeware, it
works flawlessly. It is just like playing on the console, but
with added bonuses that the console can not offer. There is a
bit of configuration to do before you can use it. Trivial stuff,
like setting up the graphics preferences, or personalizing your
game controller (sure, you can use the keyboard -- no worry).
At any rate I can offer assistance in the matter.
Worry not about hardware requirements. A single core CPU worth
a GHz speed and a GeForce4 (or equivalent) already let you
play any PSX game without problems. If you have better, you
can even pump up the graphics beyond the PSX standards.


Media is: 1 CD-ROM (~550 MB).
LoM stays all on 1 CD. You may even download it from the www.
I would buy it original, truly, but I have not found it so
far. Too bad, I have seen it has a very cute and colored CD
case. Anyway I will not provide links for the download.
Not that they are hard to find...


Graphics is: 2D.
Completely. The most colorful, roundest, cutest, high resolution
hand-drawn 2D ever to grace a monitor. Some complained it is
childish-like. Well, maybe it is a little. And maybe this has
contributed to turn some people away from the game. Or maybe
those people did not understand that the graphics were
purposely made so. Because as far as details go, this 2D
graphics is second to none.
Ehh, judging things from their looks is a recipe for throwing
away great stuff without even realizing the mistake. Tragic.


Sound is: Respectable.
It is not epic. It is not Wub Wub and Boom Boom. And it does
not ring in your head after you stop playing. But it is not
the kind of sound that gets on your nerves either. It does the
job it was conceived for: that of the sound. Enjoyable.


Music is: Cool.
The range goes from relaxing to exciting. How can I describe
music with words? I can not. You will like it. Trust me. Some
tunes are so nice that you will linger around just to listen
to them a little more. And some are the type of music scores
you loosely whistle during the day when not playing.
Definitely enjoyable.


Difficulty is: Easy.
Many online reviewers complained about this. All failed to
understand why it is easy the first time around. Clearly they
did not like the game. And when you do not like something you
can not objectively give it a positive judgement.
To enjoy it to the fullest, this game is to be played multiple
times. You should use the first time you play to learn as much
as you can from the game. Because when you finish it, you are
given the chance to restart it at a higher difficulty and
retain all your stuff from the previous play. Now things get
sensibly harder. If you complained that the game was easy the
first time around, you will wish it stayed that easy the
second time as well, despite your flashy equipment.
For the hardcore types that really enojy suffering there is a
3rd difficulty "No Future" mode that makes the tough monsters
from the enhanced difficulty look like numbed nuns. Plenty of
fun and challenge lurking in the game for those who seek it.


Gameplay is: Open + Free + Deep. Um... Not-linear.
I do not know how to describe a gameplay that allows you to
shape the very world you play in. The placement of the pieces
that make up the world map have an impact on many aspects of
the gameplay: from monster toughness to quality of stuff sold
in the shops.
But there is so much more to say, how can I compress it in few
words? I can not.


If you love to experiment, take notes, and discover by yourself,
then this game can keep you pinned for months and years. Such
is the amount of "extras" lurking underneath the candy-candy
surface of LoM.
If -instead- you want a game in which every gameplay aspect is
known to you from the start, then this is the wrong game.

Comes to think of it, LoM is the kind of game that could be
made into a MMORPG of success. My guess is that they did not
want to create an in-house competitor to the best-selling
"Final Fantasy" franchise.
The "Mana" franchise stopped with this title. Legend of Mana
would be the 4th installment of the "Seiken Densetsu" series.
More precisely:
- "Seiken Densetsu 1" is "Final Fantasy Adventure" in the US.
- "Seiken Densetsu 2" is "Secret of Mana" in the US.
- "Seiken Densetsu 3" never reached the US.
- "Seiken Densetsu 4" is "Legend of Mana" in the US.
Seiken would mean Holy Sword, or something, and Densetsu
would mean Legend. Seiken Densetsu would mean Legend of the
Holy Sword. But you should ask a real japanese about it.
Here I am only reporting what I have read about.

LoM is such a different game, if compared to its previous three
incarnations, that we can consider it a stand-alone. I read
that many fans of the series rejected the idea of calling
Legend of Mana "Seiken Densetsu 4". I imagine that the problem
is all in the title. Were it called something different,
probably nobody would have complained, because the comparison
would not be automatic. But never mind all that. The positive
aspect is that you require no knowledge of previous titles to
appreciate this one.


Still reading? Then you are interested. Good.


Critics of LoM bashed it because it has no plot. The truth is
that the plot is there, but it is very atypical. And it is no
1 plot. It is 3 plots. And they do not cross/meet. And they
can be advanced all three at once. Eventually you will reach
a point that we can call the Endgame.
Anyway, plots are not "announced" either. There is no game
window popping up telling you that you have chosen to follow
plot X. No. You will recognize that you are following a given
plot because you will see that the quests you are taking,
often have you to do with NPCs you have already interacted
before.
Otherwise most sub-plots (side-quests) in LoM are one-timers.
The involved NPCs are usually interacted with once, and when
the quest is done, that is it. There are exceptions, of
course.
Probably this so-atypical narrative structure is what had many
an online reviewer tag the LoM game as weak and plot-less.
Truth be told it takes a bit of dedication before you understand
how the story goes. Meanwhile you are given plenty of stuff to
get your hands full with.
You can add another piece to the map (more on this shortly),
or you can re-enter a previously visited piece, or you can
just go fight in search for experience/money/loot/<secret1>/<secret2>,
or you can... get yourself busy with more mundane, but no less
important, activities such as growing vegetables, or crafting
useful things.

As I said, LoM does not explain itself readily. It will give
you a basic set of informations just before you get to put
them to use. But then it is up to you to dig up for more info
and discover the advanced secrets. There is no shortage of
monsters, items, and what not -- so you are encouraged to try
and discover things. And if you lose stuff, no problem.
Collect more items and try different things. Or just reload.
There is a sort of encyclopedia in the game. As you discover
things and facts, they permanently enter your knowledge base
which you can freely consult once you are back at Home. The
encyclopedia spans from item types to material types, from
monsters to fighting techniques, from world hystory to NPCs
you have met, from vegetables to golemology...


Still reading this? I kidnapped your interested, I see.


A good question at this point could be: how much of LoM is
RPG and how much of it is Action? Initially I would say that
it is a 30-70. Mh, no, maybe a 35-65. Excluding the starting
bit of wandering around to talk with NPCs, get acquainted with
the place, and get your first quest, usually you spend more
time fighting than you do in interacting with NPCs.
Battles are generally quick. And they happen in real time,
with you maneuvering around on the field, slashing away at
your foes until they die and drop loot.
Loot which you have to grab fast!, or it disappears. Loot also
includes Experience gems (which give you experience points)
and Lucre (with is the game currency).
Indeed, you do not get EXP by killing stuff. You get EXP by
picking up the gems scattered around. This often forces you
to get near live monsters in order to collect the gems before
they vanish. And of course you may get the occasional hit.
It is not as bad as I make it sound. Quite the contrary. This
battle system keeps you vigil and entertained. Battles hardly
have any "dead moments". They are very fluid, as you are
constantly moving around either to pick up dropped stuff or
to get a good position to strike at the enemy. Some enemies
will make use of magic. That is a 3rd good reason to move
around all the time: you do not want to get caught in most
AoE spells. And yes, you can cast magic too... once you meet
some prerequisites.
Know that this is not a game for "mashers". If I get it right
a masher is the type of player that repeatedly hammers on the
buttons. If you do that, you only make things worse. For you.
Battles have their own rythm. Learn to press buttons at the
right time (it is easy) and you will get the most out of your
character.

You have direct control over your avatar. There is no menu
Command to issue (such as "Attack"). You move around, and you
hit the buttons to have your character swing the sword (or
other weapon). You can make combos too, for greater damage.
And there are lots of special attacks (Special Techniques)
which you can learn by use of other techniques (the list is
over 200 entries long, just so you get the idea). Your avatar
is not confined to one weapon type. You can make use of any
weapon type. Every weapon type will have pros and cons.
Your battle commands are customizable. You can assign up to 2
basic actions, and up to 4 special actions, be them Special
Techniques or Spells you can cast. Use of actions leads to
the learning of more actions. Rinse and repeat :-)
Outside of battle you are free to organize your equipment and
controls however you like. But during battle it is all fixed.
Should you ever forget which button does what (according to
your last customizations), pause the game, then hit any of
the programmable buttons to see the associated command name
displayed. Then Unpause and fight.

Once you get to cast spells, you can cast them as many times
as you like. Casting spells is not an immediate thing, though.
There is a brief charge up time in which you stand still,
defenseless. If you are hit in that time, the spell is
canceled. Otherwise you can release the spell as soon as it
has finished charging. Spells can have different impact zones,
which vary in shape and dimension according to the spell you
are casting. During the charge up period you get to see which
zone of the battle field will be affected by the spell. You
can not move around while charging up a spell, but you are
not forced to release it immediately either. This means that
you can back off to a safe distance, charge up and hold the
spell until the enemy steps into the spell zone.
Spells are best used when you are not alone, however. Need
some cover from an ally so he buys you time to charge up.

There are regular monsters and there are Boss monsters. Boss
monsters have lots of HP and usually possess some nasty attack
you do not want to suffer too often, even if the game is so
easy (at the default difficulty, that is).
Game name is Legend of Mana but there is no Mana, Mana bar,
nor Mana Potion. As for your Hit Points, there is no Health
Potion. If you are hurt in battle, your HP will recover over
time (yes, during battle). There are ways to make them recover
faster. Outside of battle your HP are instantly recovered.
Once a Boss is defeated, it is defeated for good. It wil not
reappear. Later on, once you meet some prerequisites, you may
find something else in its place. No location in the game
ever ceases to be useful in one way or in another :-)


Alright, how about some notions on the game story?


The background story (the antefact) is not explained terribly
well, sadly. You will read about it eventually, but it would
not hurt to know all of it from the beginning, as it makes you
better appreciate (or outright gives a sense to) all you are
doing from the very start.
Here is a spoiler-free concise version of the background
story:

<< About 900 years ago, on the world of Fa'Diel, there was a
huge tree called the Mana Tree. It was the source of all Mana.
It would produce Mana and release it in the air, for anyone to
make use of it.
Then some events occurred that lead to a war. Which destroyed
the Mana Tree. The same War would have destroyed the rest of
Fa'Diel... if only some powerful people of the time had not
the idea of sealing -through powerful magic- the very world
pieces into Artifacts. For preservation. Artifacts are items.
Objects. Even small ones, such as a Book. Objects which
contain the very essence of the world pieces, called Lands,
that were sealed within them. >>

Fascinating idea, no doubt :-)

Your avatar is class-less. You choose if s/he is Fe/Male.
(Just remember: if it is not Female, then it is Male -- Haha.)
Then you write a name. You also choose a weapon type to start
the game with. This is only your starting equipment. You can
switch to other weapon types as you like.
The appearance of your character is not customizable.
The menu interface is a bit confusing the first times you look
into it. Keep playing and, with use, all will make sense.
As far as I can tell the size of your Inventory is unlimited.
At least I have yet to reach a limit. Also, items have no
weight.
The weapon type, instead, will dictate how fast/slow you can
move/attack in battle.
Your avatar is also past-less. You do not know anything about
him/her. I suppose they wanted to let you imagine whatever you
wanted about your character.
Your stats are not customizable directly. But I suspect that
they change according to the weapon type you are using. Every
weapon type will develop you in a specific way. This is an
example of the hidden knowledge that you have to gather by
yourself. Know what? Just play the game and try to spot/deduce
things. Enjoy things for what they are, without trying to
achieve perfection from the start. If they wanted you to be
perfect from the "go", they would have documented every aspect
of the game -- do not you think? :-)
This is a game to enjoy, and not to play with a "scientific"
approach.

As a player and hero of this story you have to restore Fa'Diel
by finding the Artifacts and releasing their power. This in
turn will recreate the long-time sealed lands. Which you can
then explore, to meet NPCs, receive quests, and obtain more
Artifacts...
There is a world map, initially empty, onto which you place
the Artifacts. Each new world piece you restore will open up
new possibilities. Lands can vary greatly, from a quiet
country village to a whole desert populated with assorted
foes. Mainly there are 2 types of lands, which we may classify
in "Towns" and "Dungeons". In towns you meet NPCs, interact
with them, maybe get quests, buy/sell stuff. In dungeons you
explore and fight the monsters, get the loot, maybe meet more
NPCs, maybe obtain and complete more quests.

While lands totally differ from one another, so leading to a
world map made up of completely unrelated lands placed next
to each other, every land you place WILL subtly affect the
neighbouring lands you already placed.
This can have drastic effects on many things. Just to make two
examples, it can influence the monsters strength and the
quality of the stuff you get to find in the town shops. Once
a land is placed, there is no turning back, short of
reloading.
A bit of planning is required in effective lands placing, and
you can not do that until you understand how the lands-system
works. And you can only understand it by playing. Consider the
first playthrough as a big self-taught tutorial :-)

Eventually you will solve quests that will open up the
possibility for you to craft your stuff. That is where the
best fun begins. You can craft wonders. But you have to work
to get your materials. Some may be purchasable. Others may
have to be found. Not only you can craft/enchant armors and
weapons. You can also raise pets, which you can use as
companions in battle. Or you can sell for profit. Pets are
not bought. They are found. First you have to be lucky to
find them. Then you have to catch them -- haha.

For those who think that they got money to burn, there is the
most undocumented aspect of the game, that goes by the name of
golemology. No nerd on the www can actually tell you everything
about golemology. In fact they can tell you very little.
The catch is that there is such a sheer amount of customizations
possible, in creating a golem, that nobody ever really tried to
document it.
Basically you can build your own golems. Which are tools of
destruction. Now these can be very crappy tools, or can be
unstoppable killing machines. All is down to how good you
understand golemology. Even their AI patterns are to be
programmed by you, using a very clever system that -quite
honestly- you would never suspect to find in a PSX game (of
all the pleasant surprises).
We may say that building the ultimate golem is the epitome of
LoM. If you can achieve that, it means that you are:
1) insanely rich,
2) insanely knowledgeable on all game fields, and
3) insanely lucky at finding the rare stuff.
In short: you have mastered the game.


Give it a try.
Will you hate it or will you love it?


-fox
 
Author: the.gray.fox (the [dot] gray [dot] fox [at] hotmail [dot] com)
Date: 13-Mar-12, 22:58:28
Continuing the promotion of Falcon 4.0: Allied Force, at this link:

http://www.simhq.com/_air5/air_160a.html

can be found an excellent 14-pages review article of the product, with lots of clickable screenshots to accompany the paragraphs.

Enjoy the relaxing read.


-fox
 
Author: the.gray.fox (the [dot] gray [dot] fox [at] hotmail [dot] com)
Date: 09-Mar-12, 17:30:06
Did compose this a while ago. Never got to post it for this or that reason. So I do it now.



Are you into military flight simulators?
If so you might be interested in:

-- Falcon 4.0: Allied Force

Released in 2005, last patched in 2009 -- and it still rules.
Whatever you may have heard (good or bad) about Falcon 4 -> forget it. Allied Force sits in a category of its own. Stable, fun, and with a replayability factor that borders the infinite.

Aside from being the closest thing to the real F-16 (if you want closer than that, fly the real jet), the main strength point of this simulator is its Dynamic Campaign engine.
There is no bunch of scripted missions to fly. It is a dynamic theater of war which evolves in response to actions and inactions, results and failures. You can even setup your own "missions" if you think it can help the war effort (provided that enough hardware and personnel is at disposal to satisfy your request, that is).

This is no game. It is a simulator. It just "looks" like a game.
The "player" is no specially gifted dude destined to savemrpresident/savethecheerleadersavetheworld. No, the player is just 1 pilot. And if he does good, good for him. And if he gets shot, that is his fault entirely.
You are not expected (nor required) to successfully complete every mission you take. Things can go bad, fast and all of a sudden, just like in real life. Or they can go smooth and easy and all per-the-manual, just like in real life.
The thing is, you will not know until you are up there. And you are expected to know your businees when the time comes. Dedicing to abort the mission and go back home because you are facing some opposition that you have no hope to dive-in do stuff and get out in one piece is also something you can do. you see, better fail a mission than losing jets and pilots (which is going to hurt the next missions even more).



Hm.
Look, I could talk about this for hours and it would only scratch the surface. What other flight simulators you think you know, I tell you they are dwarfed without mercy by this one. And this is no joke.
Visit the official website:

http://www.lead-pursuit.com

There you find System Requirements (do not even bother to read them: any sucky half-broken laptop a decade old can run this sim), Screenshots, and an extensive FAQ to answer every your question. Make sure to read the FAQ, and believe every word it says (I double-checked and they do not tell lies -- for once).
The latest patch (1.0.13) is also in their downloads section (along with more goodies), so you do not have to seek for an hour into the www maybe wondering if you are being up-to-date.


Hm.
As the FAQ says, the learning curve for this simulator is fairly steep. The positive return of it is that the simulation is deep like you have never seen, of that you can be sure.
This does not mean that you can not enjoy the game unless you have some relative that is the pilot of a real F-16, no.
It means that you are required to learn about controls, instruments, procedures and parameters.
It all sounds terrible, does it not? :-)
You would think that this is going to take ages.
Think again.
There is a very well written PDF manual that teaches you everything you need to know. There is a training course articulated over 25+ scripted missions. Read up the mission in the manual, then fly it.
The missions in the training are quite short. They stay focused on the subject, without burdening your brain with unnecessary stuff.
It is in the Campaign that you get to "put it all together". And the personal satisfaction for it, I assure you, is priceless.

So have the courage to cross the doorstep and see with your eyes what is inside. This simulator is "hot stuff", for a reason.



I add only one personal recommendation:

If you look at the screenshots section you can get glimpse of what the terrain in-game will look like. Truth be told it is not "spectacular".
With about 2.2 millions of square kilometeres of terrain to be textured you can not really ask for much better without sacrificing a big slice of your hard disk and selling the paternity of your firstborn son.
You see, they had to make a choice, at the time, and they chose to favor the Simulation aspect over the raw Prettyness of the terrain.
Fortunately for us all, someone at a later date thought to come up with much better textures to treat the eyes.
For this reason there is a separate Add-On that contains high-resolution textures to look at, and that improves the terrain visual appeal -- by far.
I have such Add-On and I confirm that it is an absolute must. It even features the 4 seasons. Did I say already that this simulator is hot stuff? When I say hot stuff, I mean hot stuff. Do you think I say hot stuff without a reason?
This Add-On (name: "HiTilesAF") is not freeeware, though. If you look at the NEWS page of the Lead Pursuit website...

http://www.lead-pursuit.com/news.htm

... you find a yellow banner at the top that you can click and reach the HiTilesAF website, for the purchase.
The Add-On is ***cheap***, and integrates flawlessly with the game.
Alternatively you may find some unauthorized download of it on the www (the compressed package is about 127 MB) -- but I will not provide links for it.


Fox tested and approved.
Falcon 4.0: Allied Force -- winner of the Paw of Quality Award 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011.


-fox
 
Author: the.gray.fox (the [dot] gray [dot] fox [at] hotmail [dot] com)
Date: 05-Dec-11, 19:04:34
Since I am still here...
... you may want to look at this youtube clip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6PUJRSJv20

How great looking Homeworld 2 is!
Who made this video added some post-effects here and there.
No matter -- I can say that 99% of what you see is actual in-game stuff.


-fox
 
Author: the.gray.fox (the [dot] gray [dot] fox [at] hotmail [dot] com)
Date: 05-Dec-11, 18:21:12
Today I recommend you a game from the past:

Homeworld

This is a Real Time Strategy, fully 3D, set in outer space.
Developed in 1998 or so by Relic Entertainment, this game
was a best-seller.
It sits on 1 CD, takes little HDD space, and its last patch
is version 1.05
This game has some unique flavor that is unfound in any other
RTS, not even the acclaimed StarCraft and Supreme Commander.

For starters, Homeworld does not put on you the stress
typical of all RTS games. There is no time-limit task to
accomplish ever, and there is hardly any mision (if we can
call them so) wherein you are liable to repeatedly find
yourself starting over.
No.
Homeworld makes yourself at home. You are welcomed in, and
invited to play at your own pace.
This does not mean the game is a happy walk in the prairy
and you can stick your fingers in the nose all the time.
No, it has its difficult moments, and -as you can expect
from an RTS game- there is to fight a lot.

But looks like the developers had some poetic view of what
outer space should be like. And they managed to transfer
this view of their into the game. Oh, it is hard for me to
describe this. I just do not know the correct words.
But while playing the game, and listening to your units
chit-chat, and listening to the music tracks (many and
beautiful, by the way), you feel somewhat relaxed all the
time. Except when you are battling, of course.
Homeworld is no boring game, let me make this clear, but
it has its peaceful moments that you will appreciate.

Graphically it is an "old" title by any modern standard.
It is one of those games that still provided several
Renderers (OpenGL, DirectX, Software mode) and you could
pick the one that worked best on your computer.
On my Windows XP and with my modern graphics card I had to
play with the DirectX renderer. The OpenGL renderer could
not be used -- apparently my video drivers have dropped all
support for the way_old version of OpenGL used by Homeworld.
I also had to enable the compatibility for Windows 98, else
I would suffer performance issues. Maybe it is just me.

I could play at high resolution in DirectX mode, and enhance
the graphics to the top from the in-game options, then further
enhance them from the nVidia Control Panel.
The end result looked so cute :-)

It was a joy to play it. Especially because it has a strong
and original and intriguing Single Player story.
This is not just an RTS with some poor excuse of a plot to
justify the endless slaughter of opposing units.
There is a deep story to motivate the whole.

Homeworld differs from most RTS games because each "mission"
(I keep call them like that but it is not the best term) in
the Single Player story continues from where the previous one
ended.
This reminds of RPG gameplay.
What units are with you at the end of a mission will follow
you in the next mission. The same goes for the technologies
you have unlocked. All your units are spaceships.
From small fighters, to progressively bigger corvettes, then
frigates, and up to destroyers, carriers and juggernauts.
You can group them, and set formations, and also influence
their "modus operandi" (for example you can order them to
divert more energy to the weapons so they deal more damage,
but at the expense of the engines output).
Some ships also have a special ability (call it like that).
For example the Scout (fast moving fighter-class vessel) can
temporarily boost its own travel speed to intercept someone,
or also to outrun a pursuer.
There is also an array of support ships to cover many
different roles. Fighters and Corvettes have small-sized
chassis and so their engines can not spark a self-sustaining
vectoring torch. Thus they have to burn fuel, which is
limited (of course) and depletes as they fly/fight around.
These small vessels shall require periodic refueling -- there
are support ships for that.
Oh! Almost forgot. On top of fleet is the huge Mothership,
which is the unique spaceship you can not afford to lose.

The game follows a sort of rock-paper-scissors rule system.
Units of a certain type will be effective against units of
another certain type, but will find their nemesis in units
of yet another type.
What type works best versus which other type is for you to
learn. But then there are units specifically designed to
kick the butt of those other units that would naturally
predate them.
Then we have the bigger spaceships, with their menacing
arrays of guns and turrets, and fearsome armor plating in
the front and side sections... but poor plating on the top,
bottom and rear sections. So you can have your vessels take
advantage of the 3D and maneuver to hit where it hurts the
most.
Vessels may even collide with one another. The one with the
bigger mass shall inflict greater damage. It is possible to
insta-lose your expensive ships because they maneuvered and
slammed into something too big for them (the AI will take
advantage of this as you give her the chance).

Now now, you do not have to keep all this in mind in order
to win. If you do -> you have an easier time.
Otherwise the game is pleasant all the same :-)
Homeworld accomodates both the Casual and the Strategist
types of player.

You begin with a small and weak fleet, and by the end of the
game you have amassed some gargantuan and threatening force.
In the Single Player story the player has limits to the
amount of ships per ship type that he can build.
I suppose this was to avoid that the Single Player could
become too easy. In fact in Multiplayer mode you are given
the option to suppress such limitation, so allowing players
to build _insane_ fleets. Multiplayer also features a number
of options to introduce diversity in your play sessions.
You may activate periodic resource "injections", or make so
that killing enemy units earns you some resource amount, or
other interesting things. Sure, you can combine the whole.

Anyway...

One feature (of many) that I have particularly liked is in
the Audio Options of the game. You can set the amount of
chit-chat heard from your units as they go by their business,
whatever they are currently doing.
This little touch makes you perceive them as alive and manned.
Set the option to maximum, and you will see :-)

The amount of different units in game is vast.
And your units design is but one of the many from other
cultures that you get to meet as you progress through the
story.
Of course you will not be alone out there, so this is hardly
a spoiler :-)
Speaking of units design, you can even customize your "social"
colors. Your units will be painted with a pattern. You can
not modify the pattern itself, but you can modify its two
full-spectrum RGB colors to any tint you like.
One of the two pattern colors will also apply to the engine
trail of your vessels (the engine trail is another of the
distinctive traits of Homeworld), so that the units built by
you can be recognized from a great distance as well.

The camera is particular.
The player observes the action from "within". Sort of.
Your camera is always tied to a vessel. Not necessarily one
of _your_ vessels. Can be any vessel.
But you just can not detach the camera and have it float
"free" in the void.
Do not worry. This is quick to get used to, and there are
several ways to quickly "jump" the camera to vessels of
interest, whenever they are.
Sure, you can quickly zoom in and out by a lot, and you can
orbit the camera all you want around the "anchored" vessel.
There is also a strategic view of the whole volume of space
you are playing in. You will switch in and out of this view
quite a lot.
After a while it becomes second nature.
At any rate, any and all game controls and how to play are
explained in a series of step-based tutorial missions you
can take at will before starting with the Single Player.

Hm.
I think it is enough info on this game.



------------------------------------------------------------
About one year after Homeworld, a sequel that is not a sequel
was made. Homeworld: Cataclysm.
Cataclysm was not developed by Relic Entertainment.
And it shows.
It uses the same engine of Homeworld, but it introduces a
number of new game mechanics and some radical changes over
the gameplay of the previous title.
The Single Player story is also good, but the unique feel of
the original title is lost completely.
Cataclysm is a "spin off" of Homeworld, and its Single Player
story is a Sci-Fi Horror (nothing to share with the poetry
that was Homeworld).
Cataclysm brings the Homeworld game closer to the typical RTS.
It is also made more difficult than its predecessor.
At times it is plain frustrating, and (in MY opinion) some
of the choices made for the plot were rather unwise.
But I can not comment them without spoiling the plot.
Well, I did not like Cataclysm -- at all.
Cataclysm too sits on 1 CD, and takes little HDD space.
Its last patch is version 1.01



------------------------------------------------------------
About four years after the first Homeworld, Relic Entertainment
finally developed a proper sequel: Homeworld 2.
This time they used a completely new graphics engine and
showcased many times better graphics than the first Homeworld
did. It is great-looking for today standards as well.
The ship designs are completely changed. And there are less
ships to play with than there were in Homeworld 1.

The Single Player story is not as good and innovative as it was
that of the first title. But I suppose it had to happen.
Nobody can make two masterpieces in a row...

The story of Homeworld 2 resumes from some time after the
story of Homeworld 1 ended. Interesting to note is that they
make NO mention at all of the happenings from Cataclysm.
As if Cataclysm never existed.
I imagine the developers did not like what was done with it.
Just like this fox -- But nevermind that.
Homeworld 2 also features a new AI for your spaceships.
It makes your units much better able to fend for themselves.
Also, many game elements from the first Homeworld are gone,
and new elements are introduced.
Homeworld 2, like Cataclysm, is made closer to the typical RTS
game.
But with the difference that Homeworld 2 is purposedly made
harder than it was Homeworld 1. _Much_ harder!
Whether or not you could master the gameplay from the first
Homeworld, you will find yourself in trouble from the start.
The initial 2 or 3 missions in Homeworld 2 are like hell.
Then maybe you can adapt, and the rest of the game will not
be so damn hard as it was in its beginning. But still hard
all the time.
The trick is to understand _what_ is it that makes Homeworld 2
so difficult (because there is a specific reason that is not
revealed to you).
You perceive that, and you can even turn it to your advantage.
Else, you are in for one of those games that can stress you to
no end, and you scream and curse "every odd minute" -- as they say.

Homeworld 2 sits on 1 CD, and takes about 1 GB of your HDD.
Its last patch is version 1.1

Several mods, tiny and huge, have been made for Homeworld 2.
These can still be found around, and some of the biggest
are still maintained today. They introduce many new ships,
many new game mechanics, et cetera.


I think that is all.


-fox
 
Author: the.gray.fox (the [dot] gray [dot] fox [at] hotmail [dot] com)
Date: 19-Nov-11, 13:04:24
The Hunter, the Soldier, the Siren, the Berserker.

The four vault Hunters are in search of the mythical Vault,
supposedly hidden on the planet Pandora and supposedly
holding untold richness.
Legends aside, Pandora is a wanted rock for other reasons.
Its deposits of Eridium are extremely lucrative, and many a
Earth corporation has funded expensive colonization and
mining operations over the decades.
Human convicts were "volunteered" as miners. All went well,
until the day pretty much every corporation decided to
abandon their project... most likely because not enough
Eridium was left to justify the stay.

The actual Pandora is not exactly a vacation spot.
A gun will be closest thing to a friend. Luckily, guns abound
on Pandora -- what do you think those uber-rich corporation
were? Weapon Manufacturers of course, who else could possess
enough money to estabilish a trade route between deep space
and earth?

The game is:

Borderlands

from Gearbox software, 2009, published by Take2 Interactive.
(Borderlands 2 is in the making as we speak)

And it is a crazy game. A First Person Shooter with some
elements of Role Playing Game.
The Role Playing Shooter (as they called it) is served.
Some black humour permeates the title. The casual kid may
not perceive it, but the adult will not fail to notice it.

In this game there is to shoot a lot.
It is said that Borderlands has 87 bazillion guns.
That is, between all gun types and all gun parts combo
available, the diversity amounts to 87 bazillions.

No, you do not craft your gun. There is no such thing as
frankensteining gun parts to stich a new kickasser.
Instead you find your stuff.
Either you buy it, or you loot it, or you peruse of a
"five fingers discount" off the nearest corpse.

Foes do scale up in level, much like you do, and so does
their power. Therefore you are constantly in search of a
better gun.
The local bestiary is not limited to the human leftovers from
the previous colonization. Several indigenous life forms are
there, and not a single one is friendly.

The game world is split in several big areas. You will be
free to travel from one to another at your leisure (whatever
that means), though initially you will spend some time in the
first area. Soon you will be able to travel around, no worry.

Every area is stuffed full of lootable objects. Hundreds of
them per area -- loot-nuts have their chance to go crazy in
this game.
Especially if we consider that all foes do respawn after some
minutes, and -even better- all lootables return lootable when
next you launch the game (it is a game feature, yes).

There are "automated" shops a bit of everywhere. You may buy
Guns, Ammunitions, Shields, Grenades, Grenade Mods and also
Class Mods.
Yes, you can also sell your junk for cash.
Your inventory is initially limited, but it can grow
considerably. No worry there.

Your character can be customized. He/She has Skills.
And a Skill Tree.
Every class has 1 special skill called the Action Skill.
This is the skill you activate when you need it. It is your
most peculiar ability.
Then there are 21 sub-skills you can spend Skill Points into.
These sub-skill do power you (and/or your Action Skill) in
various ways.
Skill points are limited to 1 per character level, starting
with the 1st skill point at character level 5.
Should you misallocate a skill point, or should you change
your mind at a later moment, you can -anytime- recollect all
of your skill points and spend them anew -- for a small fee.
Experimentation with skills is encouraged.

Each of the 4 classes (listed at the top of this post) leads
to a very different gameplay. And each features its very own
peculiar Action Skill, as well as its own 21 distinctive
sub-skills.

On top of that, each class has its own innate preference about
gun types. For example the Soldier will be more effective
with Combat Rifles and Shotguns.
Regardless, any class may employ any of the gun types.
The more you make use of a gun type, the better you become at
using that gun type, gaining things such as shorter reload
times, increased accuracy, or augmented fire rate... et cetera.

During all your permanence on Pandora you will be on a mission
of some kind. The Single Player story has a huge list of
missions, both primary and secondary.
At the end of each mission is a reward of some kind.

When all missions have ended, you have finished the game.
You may stay and play and roam freely (in search of ever
better loot), or you may try a greater challenge and start
the Playthrough 2.
In Pt2 you get to repeat the whole story (missions included),
but all is done at a greater difficulty. Foes also scale up
in character level, of course.
You get to retain all your belongings from Pt1.

Once even Pt2 is ended, something special happens.
The game will immediately put you in Playthrough 2.5 mode.
Now you are done with the story.
But ALL enemies from ANY corner of the world now have a
character level that matches yours -- or even exceeds it.
This makes them lethal.
Now anyone may tear you apart easily, if you let them do.
And once more you will need better gear (and the quest for
ever better loot keeps going).

For the lovers of Multiplayer, yes Borderlands is also
Multiplayer. Actually there is no clean distinction between
single and multi-player. Up to 3 friends may join your game
anytime, in fact.
More players -> tougher enemies -> better loot.

Nevertheless, you can enjoy the game 100% by playing solo,
as I do.

Borderlands is moved by the Unreal Engine 3 technology.
Its system requirements are not too high anyway, for the
game is mono-version and it was conceived for Consoles as
well as for the PC.
The graphics are cartoon-like. I think the rendering technique
is called "cell shading" or something.
Just look at some screenshots and you will understand.

But keep in mind that a screenshot fails to catch the beauty
in motion. Borderlands looks times better than that.

Well, this is a modern game and it should run on any
O.S. platform. As far as stability goes (crashes, lockups,
freezings, et cetera) I experience none.
Just do not Alt-Tab out to windows. The game does not like
that, and is liable to crash.

By default Borderlands does not Vertical Sync with your
monitor. This is somewhat bad, because it makes the game
abuse of your video card by having it compose and display
more frames per second than you are able to look at anyway
(incidentally this favors hardware overheating).
So you should force the Vertical Sync ON by the nVidia
Control Panel.
Aside from preventing the ugly phenomenon of image "tearing",
in my case this cools the video card by 5 to 6 C° degrees.
Vertical Sync is never to spit on, listen to the fox :-)

Visit www.borderlandsthegame.com to learn more.


-fox
 
Author: the.gray.fox (the [dot] gray [dot] fox [at] hotmail [dot] com)
Date: 01-Nov-11, 16:27:38
I would like to signal another quality game:

Dead Space

I played it last year.
Dead Space hardly needs presentations -- famous as it is.
But for those who have lived out of civilization (even more
than I do) in the last few years...

This is a "survival horror" game, a Third Person Shooter
with the camera fixed behind your right shoulder.
The game setting is in some non-specified future, somewhere
in a non-specified region of deep space. Short story: you
will not be home for the week-end.

The player is Isaac Clarke, an engineer (electro / mechanic
engineer, I suppose) part of a repair crew sent to investigate
a rather big mining spaceship, the USG Ishimura, which has not
been heard from in a while.

Isaac is no trained space marine. He is a civil.
A perfectly normal average John that makes a [normal] job for
a living.

Here I stop with the plot.
The rest is an avalanche of surprises.


Ever played a Resident Evil?
Forget it.
Dead Space is different stuff. Of Quality -- for once.

Sorry but I do not have copy of the Readme file at hand.
However the system requirements are surprisingly low, despite
the cinematic quality of its graphics.
(Open...
Actually this is typical of all games that take place in closed
or narrow spaces anyway. The techniques to display uber graphics
for such ambients are quite low-cost.
... closed)

As for what the game plays like, you can read plenty of it in
any online review. And for once they do not tell lies nor
exagerate in praising the product.


Here I will give voice to the most untold aspects of this
game.
There are only four:

1) Game has no patch. It is good to go as you install it.

2) Game wants the DVD in the drive. And online validation
every time you start to play.
It is interesting to note how these "anti-piracy" measures
only end up annoying the honest persons. In fact pirates will
quickly develop ways to bypass these things.
And they did. Seek it on the www. Psst! Or you may privately
ask to the cleverest canine being to ever paw the soil of this
world.

3) Other than for its inarguable quality, Dead Space gained
fame for having made hundred of thousands of victims worldwide.
It turns out that you are likely to experience severe motion
sickness only minutes after start playing.
This is caused by heavy "movement lag" affecting the camera.
I myself fell victim of it, and it is something I wish to
forget about, as it "trashed" me for the rest of the day.
Anyway, the camera lag can be cured:
First, set the Vertical Sync OFF from the in-game options.
Second, force the Vertical Sync ON from the nVidia Control
Panel.
This eliminates the "movement lag" completely, yet preserves
the benefits of playing with Vertical Sync. Flawless.

4) Did I say already that Isaac is no space marine with
feline reflexes and nanosecond reaction times?
He is no Rambo and does not move with the grace of Jet Lee.
Looks like people have a problem to understand the concept
that Dead Space is no Unreal Tournament-like game.
To play efficiently and get loads of fun out of it, you only
need Cold Blood and a Steady Hand. So sayeth the fox.
So do NOT complain that your beloved Arrow keys can not be
remapped to move Isaac around. The Arrow keys are already
mapped, hard-mapped, to other important game functions which
you will use nearly as often as those to move around.
By default Isaac moves with the WASD keys. You may change
them, of course, just not to the Arrow keys.
Still, kids have cried and held their breath until their faces
got blue. And their moms got worried sick.
_IF_ you can not survive a minute without the Arrow keys, I
have the means to allow your game to use them. This is a
3rd party software, not developed by me, that is not too easy
to find. Had to turn over a website (or twenty!) to fetch
copy of it.
And you know what? It sits on my hard drive -- unused.
Oh, the irony :-)
In the end I could adapt to WASD no problem (me: belover of
Arrow keys). And if this old crank managed to do it, you
youngsters can do as much -- smiling in the process, no less!
Anyway, if you want to remap the Arrow keys -> ask to me.


Game known bugs:


Only one.
There are 3 difficulty settings, Easy, Normal, Difficult.
Or are they Easy, Medium, Hard? Haha, I forgot.
At any rate, the bug makes so that you start a new game at a
difficulty setting, and sometimes in the future you find
yourself at another difficulty setting.
This is not supposed to happen, because the difficulty gets
locked the moment you begin a new play -- makes sense!
Yet the bug makes it possible to switch to another difficulty
level "as you go".
I myself managed to trigger it, and I have no idea how I did.
I started in Easy, and days later I noticed I was playing at
Medium.
Never managed to replicate the thing.
According to the www it is not something so easy to trigger.
I probably "guessed" some complex procedure to spark the bug,
as I have this habit of fiddling with games and their options
in the early stages.
By the way, for those who complete the game, a 4th difficulty
unlocks, "Impossible", along with the possibility to restart
and retain all your belongings from the previous game, plus
one more special (but optional) upgrade to your equipment.


I think that is all.
Dead Space is a fantastic game. Fox tested and approved.
Its technical level is above-excellent and it shows from
minute Zero.

Do resist the urge to look at the screenshots on the www.
For 3 good reasons:
1) They mostly pertain to Dead Space 2 and its Multiplayer.
Dead Space 1 is only Single Player, instead.
2) A still image fails to catch the beauty that this game has
to offer. It can not catch the accompaning audio anyway.
3) You risk to stumble on spoilers.



One more thing...
The way it is meant to be played:

1) In a big dark room.
2) All alone -- nobody around.
3) Nothing in your arms' reach (except mouse / keyboard).
4) Audio system 4.1 or better.
5) Nothing to eat / drink

Optional:
If you can satisfy points 1 through 5...

6) Wear a diaper!
7) And keep a replacement at hand.
8) Not kidding.


-fox
 
Author: the.gray.fox (the [dot] gray [dot] fox [at] hotmail [dot] com)
Date: 25-Oct-11, 17:24:25
Hm.
On youtube I previewed a couple of The Witcher 2 famous "explicit" sex scenes.

All I saw were two hi-poly 3D meshes, with the consistency of wood, moving and pretending to be persons having sex.
Even the audio was arguable...

Sex in computer graphics does not "work".

I prefer the way it was handled in the first game.
The "not seeing it" made you imagine it the way you wanted it to.


Hm.
Maybe they will release a _censoring_ patch, to remove the explicitnes and make justice to sex? Haha.


-fox
 
Author: bbKing (arsnova30 [at] hotmail [dot] com)
Date: 22-Oct-11, 04:58:53
Ever played Dragon Age?
Now, that is a nice, good-looking and fun game.
I enjoyed playing especially Dragon Age 2.
Single-player also.
You can play as mage, rogue or warrior. Male or female, fully customizable.
Much more fun and better looking characters than Witcher.
I've played full campaign with all 3 characters and really enjoyed it, especially if you pick the more humoristic dialogue.
Good storyline too.
And if you use a few mods you can have all the tits and arses you'd like. Not censored in any way.
Now that is different from anything I've seen so far in any game. :P
 
Author: bbKing (arsnova30 [at] hotmail [dot] com)
Date: 21-Oct-11, 17:27:26
Oh yes, I've played The Witcher and the Enhanced Edition. It was a great game and I replayed them a few times.
So I was looking forward to The Witcher 2, Assassins of Kings.
Graphics may be nice and all, but it's the gameplay that counts in the end. And what a disappointment Witcher 2 was. I haven't even bothered to finish the game. It was in June, so I don't remember what exactly put me off.
If I ever regretted the money for a game, Witcher 2 is definitely not worth the money.
Wicher 1 and EE is a different story though.
 
Author: NOVA (KINGKOTA666 [at] HOTMAIL [dot] COM)
Date: 21-Oct-11, 03:15:59
Indeed. Lunfal recommended this game several years ago (for those of you who remember Lunfal from the good old days of ROM2). Witcher 2 is out and Lunfal is playing that.

I've never played either, but I have seen demos. Search YouTube and you can see people playing the game and you'll see what it's like. The graphics and the game mechanics are truly amazing. And alas, as you say, the game only has single player. But the world in which your character can roam is gargantuan in scope.

-NOVA
 
Author: the.gray.fox (the [dot] gray [dot] fox [at] hotmail [dot] com)
Date: 20-Oct-11, 16:36:51
Hello.

I have redone my Operating System.

Too old the install was.
More fragmented than a grenade.
Too much software.
Too fat the Registry, if not obese -- et cetera.
It was time to scratch everything away.

I backed up the sensible stuff, of course.
But I take this chance to test new software -- and games.



I would like to signal an interesting game:

The Witcher - Enhanced Edition.


Game is from 2008.
Developed by a polish game studio, the: CD Projeckt RED.
The game engine used is a modernized version of the BioWare
Aurora engine (the same that moved Neverwinter Nights 1 and 2).

I must say, polish people do know how to program.
Their version of the Aurora engine is a marvel.

I have maxed the graphics settings. All but the Antialias
filter. Then I made sure to force the Vertical Sync ON from
the nVidia control panel.
The game looks superb. The framerate is granitic, yet the
graphics card stays _cool_.
If this is not a miracle of programming, I do not know what
it is.


Alright, what is a Witcher?

A Witcher is a monster-slayer.
Trained in the arts of the sword. Some magic too.
(Open...
Actual combat is more entertaining and rewarding than the
online reviewers made it sound. Trust the fox and not them.
... closed)
He uses special potions to enhance himself in various ways.

This is an RPG game. It is not D&D. But it is sufficiently
complex to keep your brain moderately busy all the same.
The result is a nice blend of rules and action, truly.
There is to talk with people. There is to discover and
complete quests. There is to travel and explore.
And there is to kill the bad guys. Humans and Monsters alike.
There is loot to collect. Stuff to equip. Traits to improve
ands LevelUps to perform.
There also are 3 Difficulty Settings, and each sensibly
changes the game experience.
For example at the hardest difficulty you have no hope of
beating some enemies without the aid of Alchemy (I will not
disclose more details on it).

Oh.
And there is to lay down the ladies -- I am not kidding.
In fact this game is not for kids.
As far as online reviews say, pretty much every "babe" you
meet can be conquered in the bed. For each, you get a nice
"card" to look at anytime -- and remind you of the conquest.
No porn involved.
Yet not suited for kids. Some cards I have seen, dangerously
border the "hard".



Technical info:
(for those interested)

The original release was "The Witcher".
It had many problems and bugs. It needed many a patch.
The developers dutifully worked on their product, after
release, to make it better and better.
One day the developers released a special patch, dubbed
"Enhanced Edition", worth ~1 GB of stuff.
This patch is still available on the www.

However...

Some time after that, a proper new repackage of the game was
made. This was dubbed "The Witcher Enhanced Edition".
Logically enough, it is the original The Witcher game, but
already patched with the Enhanced Edition patch. Great!
The game now sits on 2 DVDs.

The Witcher Enhanced Edition is natively patched to game
version 1.4. Only one more patch is needed.

After the repackaging, the final patch was made: 1.5
The 1.5 patch further improves the game.
Among other things, it removes the DRM protection, allowing
to play without the [original] DVD in the drive. How nice.
So yes, patch 1.5 is something you want (371 MB).

Several versions of the The Witcher Enhanced Edition were
distributed in different parts of the world, as is often the
case with games of success.

Worth note is that the American version of the game was _censored_.
Why are americans this gay when it comes to media, I wonder?
In the U.S. they think that displaying nipples on a computer
screen is kin to porn.
But more nipples, and from real ladies, no less, can be broadcast
on the public TV anyday at any hour of the day, and it is not porn.
Silly americans...
Oh yes. Blood is also taken away in the censored version.

Anyhow...
At a later date a special patch was released, called
"Director's Cut" patch (264 MB).
This special patch reverts the American version to _uncensored_
status.
Of course, if you get not the American version, you do not
need the Director's Cut patch at all.
For example, I got the European version.
To learn which version you get, either look at the game box,
or read at the Copyrights section at the end of the Readme file.
If it mentions Atari U.S., it is the censored American version.
If it mentions Atari Europe, it is the uncensored European version.
There is also an International game version. I ignore what the
Copyright states for that. I guess that so long you do not find
written Atari U.S. all is fine. But even if you find it written...
just grab & apply the Director's Cut patch --> Problem solved.

The Witcher Enhanced Edition comes on 2 DVDs.
Disc 1 is 6.00 GB.
Disc 2 is 3.37 GB.

You may torrent them in 3 hours or so, such is the seeding
still done.
But I am not saying you should obtain the game from some
honorless pirate source. Actually I promote to buy the boxed
version of it, because they made a really nice package with
manuals and other bonus printed material, like those they make
no more.

Disc 1 is for Install and Play -- though with advent of
patch 1.5 there is no longer need to keep the disc in the
drive, so making disc 1 only for Install.

Disc 2 is a Bonus disc, containing many language packs (english,
spanish, french, italian, polish...) for both voiceover and
subtitles, as well as a couple of additional modules to play.
It also contains a game editor, with which one can make his
own mods (do not forget this is an Aurora engine-based game).
Upon installation you can choose which language packs to
install at all.
Then, in game, you can dynamically switch between any combo
of voiceover + subtitle (for example, Spanish voiceover +
French subtitles).
Sure, you can play without subtitles :-)
As for the voiceover, looks like every single insignificant
spoken line of text received its own voice. How nice, it keeps
you immersed.

I have not opened the editor yet -- I know nothing of it.

At the very minimum the game install wants 8 GB of HDD space.
If you install everything (including every language pack) you
can climb to 13 GB of HDD space.

What more there is to say?
Ah yes: there is no Multiplayer.
This game is only Single Player. Which is good. Every bit of
attention went into it, and it shows!


No game is perfect, however.
The readme document accompanying the game is worth to read.
I trust I break no EULA if I post bits of the 1.5 readme.
Here are the most relevant parts:



--------------------------------------------------[ BEGIN ]----------

======================================================
The Witcher 1.5
ReadMe File
July 06, 2009
======================================================

IMPORTANT:
Please download Microsoft hotfix from the following location when playing the game on 32-bit Windows Vista: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/940105



[...homissis... -fox]



======================================================
1. Minimum System Requirements
======================================================

OS (Operating System): Microsoft® Windows® XP Service Pack 2, Vista (Operating System must be up to date with the latest fixes)
Processor: Intel Pentium 4 2.4GHz or AMD Athlon 64 +2800
RAM: 1024 MB RAM for Microsoft® Windows® XP / 1536 MB for Microsoft® Windows® Vista
Video: 128 MB Video RAM or greater with DirectX9 Vertex Shader/ Pixel Shader 2.0 support (NVIDIA GeForce 6600 or ATI Radeon 9800 or better)
Free HD Space: 8.5 GB available hard drive space
Sound: DirectX 9.0c compliant soundcard, plus speakers or headphones
DVD: DVD-ROM

======================================================
2. Recommended System Requirements
======================================================

OS (Operating System): Microsoft® Windows® XP Service Pack 2, Vista (Operating System must be up to date with the latest fixes)
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo (dual core) or equivalent AMD X2 processor or better
RAM: 2048 MB RAM
Video: 256 MB Video RAM or greater with DirectX9 Vertex Shader/ Pixel Shader 2.0 support (NVIDIA 7900 or faster with 512 MB of memory)
Free HD Space: 8.5 GB available hard drive space
Sound: DirectX 9.0c compliant soundcard, plus speakers or headphones
DVD: DVD-ROM



[...homissis... -fox]



NOTE: You no longer need to have a game disc inserted into DVD-ROM in order to play the game.

======================================================
4. Performance Tips
======================================================

1) The following video cards should be set to run at 800x600 with Low Detail settings:
ATI RADEON 9800 Series, ATI RADEON X700 Series, ATI RADEON X1300/X1550 Series, NVIDIA GeForce 6600 GT, NVIDIA GeForce 6600

2) The following video cards should be set to run at 1024x768 with Medium Detail settings:
ATI RADEON X800 PRO, ATI RADEON X850 XT, ATI RADEON X1600 Series, ATI RADEON X1800 series, ATI RADEON X1950 Pro, ATI RADEON HD 2600 XT, NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GS, NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Series GPU, NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT, NVIDIA GeForce 7600 GT, NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GS, NVIDIA GeForce 8600 GT

3) The following video cards should be set to run at 1024x768 with High Detail settings:
ATI RADEON X1950 XTX, ATI RADEON HD 2900 XT, NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GTX, NVIDIA GeForce 7950 GX2, NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTS, NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX

4) NVIDIA advises to download latest drivers: http://www.nvidia.com/object/winvista_x86_163.69.html



[...homissis... -fox]



======================================================
6. Known Issues
======================================================

1) The Witcher may exhaust virtual address space when running on 32-bit Windows Vista. Microsoft has released a hotfix that addresses this problem. Please download the hotfix from the following location when playing the game on 32-bit Windows Vista: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/940105
2) The following video cards are not currently supported: S3 Colt, S3 S27, S3 S8, Intel GMA 950 based cards. Audio: Hercules Muse 5.1 (C-Media Audio).
3) The following processors are out of range: AMD Duron Series, AMD Athlon XP 2400+ through 3200+, AMD Sempron 2400+ through 2800+, and the INTEL Celeron Series.
4) Some bugfixes mentioned above will work only if a game is restarted from scratch, for some others a corresponding act needs to be restarted.
5) The Witcher supports only Creative EAX 4.0. If your soundcard uses other EAX version, use “Environmental Effects” option instead.
6) The Digital Distribution version of The Witcher (v.1.3) is not supported by Vista 64-bit systems.



[...homissis to the end of the file... -fox]



--------------------------------------------------[ END ]----------


Off I go.
If you want to try a different game, this is a worthy candidate.


-fox
 
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