Space Rescue

Tired of the strain that Alpha Centauri has taken? Brain draggin’ from trying to setup too many strategies in NBA Live? Take a break; grab the shareware version of Space Rescue from Gameday.

 

 
 

Space Rescue is essentially an Asteroids remake, well sort of a cross between Asteroids and the old game Defender. Asteroids’ style you control a little ship you zip across the void of space while zapping…well, asteroids. As you do this you must rescue astronauts, a la Defender, that have been sucked out of the space station, The Argonaut after the hull was breached during a massive asteroid storm. Simple little story, which is a relief because anything more than that would take longer to read than to play the actual game.

No need to configure a joystick here, the keyboard will suffice. No thinking required either; just leave your brain atop the monitor and save it for pretty much anything else. The game is as simple as pound a key to fire your ships’ gun and run over (rescue) astronauts and return them to the space station. Doing all this garners you points, points for blasting the asteroids and more points for rescuing and returning surviving astronauts. Don’t forget to avoid getting smashed by those asteroids.

That is pretty much all there is to it. Oh, and lest I forget, you can also shoot up UFOs’ for points…yee haw! Will the fun never cease?

Graphically you’ll be able to rest that GeForce card and break out the …

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Why Buffy the Vampire Slayer makes for Bad Gaming

Like many gamers – heck, most geeks – I’m a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spinoff show Angel. I was a fan of the movie, and after a season or so I finally checked out the show and was hooked. Granted, it’s not always the greatest thing since sliced bread – I’m beginning to get that uneasy feeling I got about the X-Files a few years back, where it seemed like they’d covered everything and there was nothing left to do but fiddle with the metaplot – but it has a lot of good moments.

 

 
 

Nevertheless, although I’ll do a future column on adapting the Slayer herself to various game systems, and explain why that column doesn’t contradict this one, the show would make for a horrible campaign. Examining why is a good exercise in the art of gamemastering.

On Buffy: Willow finds a neat orb and uses it to give Angel his soul back so he’ll be all broody and charming again instead of broody and evil.

In your game: Player characters spend the next two sessions tracking down as many of the orbs as they can find so they can make a whole bunch of cursed-with-a-soul vampires. The next time a PC dies, the player petitions you to let his new character be an evil dark vampire lord who’s been given a soul so he can fight on the side of truth and justice.

On Buffy: When Buffy “dies” briefly, before being …

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My Top 10 Best Xbox 360 Video Games of 2008

It is the season to reflect on the year gone by and to list the good things that have happened in 2008. Video games are a passion of mine and, with both the X Play video game awards for 2008 and Spike TV’s Video Game Awards 2008 being broadcast this weekend, I thought I would make a list of my own Top 10 Xbox 360 video games of 2008. My top 10 list is not based on popularity, sales or other reviewers, but is entirely my opinion based on the Xbox 360 video games I have played in 2008.

Exploding onto my top 10 Xbox 360 video games of 2008 at number one is Fallout 3. This crossover first person shooter and RPG game, released in October 2008, is set in a post apocalyptic world and as you might imagine this desolate landscape is filled with strange and scary mutant monsters. The open world environment of fallout 3 allows you explore the landscape as desired and the unique targeting system, created for this video game, allows you to choose which part of the mutant’s body you want to destroy. Both the graphics and gameplay in this video game are of the best possible quality and the cut scenes in Fallout 3 are awesome, especially the exploding monster shots. My rating for Fallout 3 is 10 exploding mutant heads out of 10.

Role playing it’s way into the number two spot on my top 10 Xbox 360 video games …

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A Chat with a Cornered Rat

A Chat with a Cornered Rat!

 
 

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Rodney ” Hatch” Hodge and Chris “Mo” Sherland of Cornered Rat Software. Hatch is the PR dude and Mo is the producer of WWII Online. WWII Online is a truly ambitious massively multiplayer online game due for release later this year based on, well…WWII. WWII Online will allow you to participate in land, sea and air wars. Some of the folks at Cornered Rat do have experience with this kind of endeavor, the teams’ last project was the highly regarded WarBirds! Read on to see just how WWII Online is shaping up and see how you will be able to participate in this truly unique game.

 
 

Q. First things first, let’s get that name out of the way. What does Cornered Rat mean? Is it some kind of private inside joke? It certain is distinctive.

LOL!!! It started as a joke based on experience but fit the bill so well that we decided to keep it..:)

As most of the online computer simulation community knows, we once merged our old company with another CD-ROM computer game company to help both companies through a successful IPO.

Unfortunately, it was pretty much an up hill battle from there. The long and short of the story is that we had a difference of opinion on the direction of game development, game quality, and community development, that unfortunately did not rear its ugly head until after the ink was dry …

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Unmasking Our Favourite Gaming Heroes

When we play a video game, we don’t want to sit there and fiddle with the controls; we want to be involved in the story, become overwhelmed and excited over our protagonist. Now, a new trend is entering the realm of video games. It seems the mystery buzzing around the real identity of ‘you’ is over. Revealing the face of the game’s main character seems risky, but it appears to be working in webbing a strong relationship between player and game.

Some developers do a subtle approach, such as Bioshock, plastering Jack’s face on a board with others from the game at its end. Others require gamers to put the pieces together. While you never saw Soap MacTavish’s face in Call of Duty 4, he was finally revealed as a Mohawked Scot in Modern Warfare 2. The same was applied for Singularity’s Renko during a flashback and Far Cry’s Jack Carver, whose faces were unveiled at the end of the games. Or some developers just throw the identity of ‘you’ right at you. One could name the Battlefield: Bad Company series as a culprit.

 
 

It was common and typical of first person shooters to keep the identity of the main character secret in order to maintain some imagination for the player, but even third person shooters are now getting in on the trend. Isaac Clarke of Dead Space fame had his face revealed at the game’s end, showing a battered, bruised and heartbroken man. This is continued in …

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E3 – the games

From the same ‘ol to nothing ever seen before

 

 
 

Today’s article is the second in a two-part feature on the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) held in L.A. May 11-13. Yesterday’s article gave a brief overview of what E3 is. Check it out if you really want to know. Today’s focuses on the actual games showcased at the expo – and mostly just the top game in each genre.

 
 

Sports 
Sadly, this area was possibly the least represented category at the Entertainment Expo. And sadly the top sports game is a sequel that will possibly rehash its last installment. Electronic Arts’ “Madden NFL 2001” will probably play exactly like the 2000 game, but its biggest gain is in the graphic department. Large tweaks – like higher resolution player models – and smaller ones – like including wristbands and other gear on each player – will make it look as good as the eye-candy PlayStation 2 version.

 
 

Adventure 
Another ill-represented category with its top game also a sequel. However, when the game is LucasArts’ “Escape from Monkey Island,” it’s easy to forgive. The funniest and most beloved series in adventure gaming will be getting its fourth installment sometime this year. It was unexpected but a joy to hear. It will also bear some remarkable changes. It will change from its two-dimensional (although quite impressive) graphics, to a three dimensional world. It will be running on the same engine that ran another of LucasArts’ adventure games – “Grim Fandango.” While the game play …

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Trends and predictions

The last couple of years have seen a revival in wargaming, due in no small part to the publication of Warhammer Ancient Battles. Based on the popular Games Workshop rules for Warhammer, this set of books (Ancient Battles, Armies of Antiquity and Chariot Wars) provides an opportunity to wargame large campaigns or small scale skirmishes with a range of ancient and dark age armies. It’s effect has been quite astounding. Stalwart historical wargamers, previously determined to ignore the Warhammer phenomenon have tried Ancient Battles and even been tempted to play Warhammer Fantasy or 40K! (see the recent editorial at Battlegames).

 

 
 

As with Games Workshop products, Warhammer Ancient Battles has a particular, closely related, miniatures manufacturer: Foundry. Beautifully painted examples of Foundry models are used as illustrations in the Ancient Battles rule book. Their 25 mm models are of exceptional standard and a widely available in blister packs in wargaming shops worldwide. I have found their mail order service to be helpful and fast, and as a first-time buyer was given a 25% discount on my first two orders. Unfortunately the Foundry online shop sucks. Alternative 25 mm miniatures can be obtained from many sources, but I recommend Gripping Beast for their range of Dark Age figures.

The success of this rule set has meant that the British Historical Games Society runs competitions using Warhammer Ancient Battles during its National Wargames Championships along side the more traditional De Bellis Multitudinis (DBM) and De Bellis Renationis (DBR) games.

Foundry were also behind …

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Strawhead’s Songs of the Civil War

Strawhead is a remarkable folk group from the north of England who have been providing their avid fans with a range of “popular music of the olden times” since their formation in 1974. The three band members have never turned “professional”, enjoying the freedom to choose where and when they play, as well as the opportunity to research and select the music which forms their repertoire.

 

“The selection process is mystical and always has been…we just play through the songs and things either work for the band as a whole or they don’t.”

In their day-jobs Chris Pollington is the head of music in a tertiary college, Malcolm Gibbons is an antique valuer, and Gregg Butler is an “unfrocked Captain of Industry now into consulting.” The creative process starts with a general agreement on what the latest project should be. Gregg, who maintains a database of broadsheet ballads, does much of the band’s initial research and sings through the tune to the others. The musical arrangement of selected songs may need little or a lot of work — “not many Parliamentarian Civil War songs or Pro-Monmouth tracks” are available out there. Thus Malcolm and Chris collaborate on the arrangement, and Gregg steps in to provide the strange instruments.

Songs of the Civil War was recorded in 1997 and is available on an extended cassette tape (roughly an hour each side). There are plans to convert the recording to CD format in the near future, but Strawhead already have a number …

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Reviews: Recent D20 Books for Horror Games

It’s been tough trying to figure out how to write about horror — and horror games, at that — since 9-11. I’m all for the escapist powers of gaming, but horror games haven’t held much appeal for the last month. So, what I’m going to do this time is review the games I’ve bought recently, since I’ve lucked out and ended up with some really nice stuff.

 

 
 

The Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting.

I was never a big fan of the Forgotten Realms, exactly. It seemed like the kind of thing that was hard to get into because there was so much out there, and the basic books were always out of date from years’ worth of regional sourcebooks and the like.

But I picked this up, in part because of the dearth of supported D&D; settings in 3rd edition and in part because gosh darn it, the book is just so pretty. And it’s worth it. It’s a $40 hardcover, and it’s still worth it. Honestly, this is the best single-product storebought setting I’ve seen for D&D;, and it’s $40 because there’s so much stuff in it. The much-ballyhooed regional feats are a great idea which I hope are emulated by other D20 publishers. The setting section is enormous, as it should be, and has more adventure and campaign ideas than you can shake a stick at. I have a pick-up game going with my ex and her boyfriend, whenever we happen to have time, and we’ve had a …

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Finding Inspiration: The Rest of the Books

So, we’ve covered Stephen King. What else should you read?

 

 
 

H. P. Lovecraft. Don’t plan on doing much with Things From Beyond and Dark Secrets Man Was Not Meant To Know if you haven’t encountered Lovecraft. Most people know him indirectly – there are Cthulhu pastiches in every corner of fandom – but it’s really worth reading the original. Pulp horror at its finest – one of the grandfathers of the genre, the Tolkien of horror. His Cthulhu stories are his most well known, but there’s a Lovecraft story in pretty much every big hardcover horror anthology (you’ll find them remaindered in the mall, often enough). I’ve picked up lots of his books at used bookstores, too.

Naturally, if you’re interested in a Lovecraft game, your best bet is Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu, which has supplements for the modern-day, Lovecraft’s own 1920s, and the Victorian era.

Anne Rice. For many people – too many people, in my frank opinion – Rice has the first and last word on vampires. The first book in her Vampire Chronicles, Interview with a Vampire, is good – you’ve probably seen the movie with Tom Cruise as Lestat. It was a nice change of pace for vampire stories – a sensual, almost effete vampire consumed by angst, the vampire as brooding sex symbol. The makers of Vampire: the Masquerade have taken this ball, run with it, and done a lay-up.

Peter Straub. Did you grow up reading Dean Koontz and Stephen King, …

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