Black Mesa


Gordon Freeman is iconic to the FPS genre. The crowbar wielding theoretical physicist that battles aliens is the lead character in Valve’s claim to fame, Half-Life.

Even today Half-Life stands up as nothing less than incredible, showing signs of the old style exploration in FPS with the more modern flavor of current gen games. Of course, after all this time, the fourteen year old game shows its age in the visuals, but who better to remedy that than the fans themselves?

Welcome, to Black Mesa. A full on remake of Half-Life in the Source Engine.

Every bit of the game has been touched upon, bringing it even more to life than it was originally while keeping the story alive.

For someone like myself, tired of the short, linear FPS that plague the current market, Black Mesa provides a new way to experience a game that most everyone knows and loves.

Amid all of the nostalgia that is invoked with Black Mesa, only one glaring issue presents itself to me: jumping was nerfed. Every crate that looks easily jumpable actually requires a crouch jump, making the game a bit more clunky than necessary, taking into account the large amounts of platforming required, though this is a minor complaint when I can enjoy a game that brought me into the gaming world with oh so much more atmosphere.

While this mod doesn’t include the Xen levels, it’s still very much worth a look considering its low, low price of free and the fact that the devs are working on expanding the Xen campaign to be released separately.

Pick up the mod here or grab the excellent soundtrack here.

If you have the time to try it out, go for it and relive the glory of the first, because we all know that a new one is a long while away.

Bigger and Better: Planetside 2

Auraxis. A planet consumed by war between three rival factions. The highly militaristic Terran Republic in red and black. Their soldiers are well oiled bullet spewing machines who believe in loyalty until death. The rebel New Conglomerate in blue and yellow. Their high powered weapons show no mercy in their quest for a free future. The technocratic Vanu Sovereignty in purple and cyan. Their soldiers use alien weaponry to prove that technology equals might.

Planetside 2 is the long awaited follow up to the original Planetside, released back in May of 2003. One of the very first – and still one of the very few – MMOFPS games out there.

While most FPS games place you and a few other people in a small map to battle until the round is over, Planetside 2 offers a totally persistent world. You can play for an hour and come back to the same raging battle a while later, or you could end up finding that you lost the territory you were fighting for, but gained new territory in a separate part of the map. Borders between the factions are constantly changing as people log in and out. This is a battle that truly never ends.

There’s so much to do. Whether you fancy aerial  bombing runs, or hit and run ATV attacks. If you want to dog fight in the sky, or set up an organized defense against the enemy. Combine arms with others to crush your opposition with an endless amount of play styles to choose from.

So far in beta, Planetside 2 offers one continent for players to fight over, with more in the works. Each base on the map adds a certain amount of resources to your faction, which are then spent on things like vehicles, extra grenades, or new weaponry. Some larger bases allow your faction to access different types of vehicles to aid your cause.

Also on the list of features are six different classes with unique roles.

  • The Infiltrator, armed with a sniper rifle. They are skilled saboteurs with the ability to cloak and hack enemy vehicles, converting them to your faction.
  • The Light Assault, wielding a carbine and deployed explosives. They are also equipped with a jetpack to give them increased mobility.
  • The Combat Medic, armed with an assault rifle, is responsible to healing and reviving downed comrades.
  • The Engineer, using a carbine, is able to deploy mounted machine guns, as well as repair friendly vehicles and MAX units.
  • The Heavy Assault, equipped with a light machine gun and an anti-vehicle rocket launcher is good for clearing out areas.
  • The Mechanized Assault eXo-suit (MAX), armed to the teeth with two heavy weapons, such as miniguns, flak cannons, or flamethrowers. These infantry move slowly, can’t be revived, and deal some serious hurt.

You can switch between these classes at any resupply terminal or between lives, meaning you can switch classes to adapt to situations.

On top of this are ten different vehicles to utilize on the field of battle. There are two vehicles per faction that are specific to each faction, and four “Nanite Systems” vehicles that can be accessed by any faction. These include;

  • Flash ATV. Fast and barely armored. Used for hit and run or simple transport between two areas. Nanite Systems.
  • Sunderer APC. An armored troop transport vehicle with two mounted machine guns. Best for supporting other vehicles with a repair and resupply aura. Nanite Systems.
  • Liberator bomber. A medium armored, three passenger bomber. Includes the passenger, the bomber, and a tail gunner. Great for softening enemy defenses. Nanite Systems.
  • Galaxy Air Transport. A large armored, twelve passenger dropship with four mounted guns and the ability to deploy into a spawn point and resupply area for friendly infantry. Nanite Systems.
  • Lightning tank. A lightly armored tank, capable of equipping a fast firing cannon or a flak cannon. Very quick ground speed. Nanite Systems
  • Scythe. A lightly armored air to air or air to ground fighter. Alien technology allows it to be highly maneuverable. Vanu Sovereignty.
  • Reaver. A lightly armored air to air or air to ground fighter. Has very hard hitting weapons. New Conglomerate.
  • Mosquito. A lightly armored air to air or air to ground fighter. Has the fastest air speed of the three fighters. Terran Republic.
  • Magrider. A heavily armored tank. Utilizes hover technology to allow it to strafe while firing and travel over water. However, it’s forward mounted cannon cannot be rotated very far, forcing the driver to turn the whole vehicle. Vanu Sovereignty.
  • Vanguard. A heavily armored tank. Known for it’s hard hitting cannon. New Conglomerate.
  • Prowler. A heavily armored tank. Able to fire two shots at a time and is quick moving. Terran Republic.

On top of the base classes and vehicles, new weapons with varied stats can be purchased with in game currency, Auraxium. There will also be cosmetic items available with Station Cash – real money.

Now, I should probably talk about my experience with the beta. It can easily be summed up with this: I’ve never been this excited for any other game.

Between the aerial raids on enemy bases and the organized defenses against both opposing factions, I’ve yet to find a game that gives me a bigger thrill than this. Watching ten tanks, a wing of fighters, a couple of dropships and a whole lot of infantry across the desert is incredible. Even better is when your own faction deploys air superiority fighters and bombers to wipe them out.

The day/night cycle brings new depth to the game as it gets dark – and I mean really dark. Each faction’s colored tracer fire lights up the night sky as explosions rumble all around you. The sound of tanks firing upon the entrenched enemy while you and a few other infantry flank them.

These experiences are unique to this game.

Battlefield is going to have to step aside in the combined arms front. Planetside is here, and better than ever.

If you’re in the beta, feel free to add me as a friend. Always looking for more people to squad up with.

Amalthea: DVSEhkoe

Do you believe in magic?

The mumbling ambiguously gendered psychotic arsonist that the Team Fortress 2 community all knows and loves finally got his/her/its “Meet the Team” short yesterday, and what a way to round off the set it was.

Valve’s Meet the Team shorts were created as promotional tools for their, at the time, unreleased class based FPS. They were simple videos of the character explaining a bit about themselves, just to add a bit more flavor. Case in point: Meet the Heavy, the first of them. However, over the years they’ve changed. Become more focused on telling an entertaining story. Meet the Spy was the first to really amp things up, telling the story of our chain smoking rogue through the eyes of the BLU team instead of the RED team. Then came Meet the Medic, which took it even further. Here we had a video that explained a game mechanic, teased a new weapon, and topped it off with moments of humor and epicness. All in four minutes.

And now, on the final day of the long awaited Pyromania update, we’ve been given this gem. Vision through the eyes of this abomination – the eyes of my favorite character. And you know it’s bad when the Heavy is scared.

Words cannot describe how I feel about Meet the Pyro, so I’ll give you the link and let you come up with your own explanation.

I’m here to talk about the update as a whole. New items that look fun to use. No obviously bad or over powered weapons that I can see, each having their own uses (though the one weapon with new stats that the Pyro got is debatable). A new map with a new gamemode that I have yet to see anyone complain about, unlike a certain other gamemode (coughmedievalcough). New hats created by the community. And lastly, a whole host of balance changes that make my heart fill with joy.

Oh, and pyrovision. Pyrovision cannot be described any other way but “ridiculous and silly”. An all class pair of goggles (or a balloonicorn) that sends you to Pyroland.

I can’t talk about the fabulous reskins of the stock weapons that Pyro got without saying “rainbows and sparkles”, so “Rainbows and sparkles” is what you get on those.

This updates makes me happy but at the same time leaves me conflicted about this game. It was never meant to be super serious, but this.. This silliness is going so far that it’s disturbing. But that at the same time supports my view of the Pyro being a psychotic manchild.

I suppose I just never expected the Pyro to be that far gone from reality. A perfect example of Light not being Good, whereas the medic was a good example of Dark not being Bad.

In other news, Tribes: Ascend is F2P on Steam now! Download it from here! Gotta Go Fast!

Also in other news, Super MNC is still my favorite game on Steam, find it here! Gotta Gorilla Fast!

As always, you can find me on Steam here.

Believing in magic,

Steve.

Super Monday Night Combat

Almost a week ago now, I got into the Invitationals for Super Monday Night Combat (Shortened to Super MNC). The sequel/follow up to Uber Entertainment’s Monday Night Combat (MNC).

MNC was released in early 2011 and was advertised as a “Class-Based Third-Person Shooter”. It sported game play that reminded me a lot of a popular Warcraft 3 mod, Defense of the Ancients (DotA). DotA’s success as a mod spawned numerous games that emulated and built upon it’s unique style. These games, now forged into their own sort of sub-genre of Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) have become increasingly popular and notorious for their high skill levels and highly elitist communities. MNC was not an exception to this rule. Slowly but surely, it’s poor community seemed to have ridden it into the ground, the fact that the game required purchase not helping it in this regard.

From the looks of it, Super MNC seems to want to build upon the original and create an over all better game. This time as a Free to play with micro-transactions to buy things like taunts, alternate uniforms, etc. So long as they don’t sell anything that disrupts balance, I can see this working quite favorably.

Currently, Super MNC is in an invitational stage and will be released spring this year.

After getting my invitation code, I jumped into the game as soon as I could. I queued up for a quick match and quickly glanced over my options for characters, or “Pros” as they are called in-game. Selecting the Monocle wearing robot named Karl, I saw my teammates and opponents selecting their own pros. Shortly after, the game began and Team Hot Shots was pitted against Team Ice Men in a jungle looking arena. Two lanes of bots started moving down predetermined paths past friendly turrets, meeting up with enemy bots that, of course, passed enemy turrets. They happily shot at each other while stationary, a common thing for MOBAs, while the Pros ran around killing bots for Experience to level up and upgrade their skills, occasionally clashing with enemy pros. A few minutes of this and most of the players were up to level 3 at least. I had finally gotten a feel for the different abilities and figured out their key bindings in time for an announcer to tell all of the players that the “annihilator” would be ready in thirty seconds. I watched as my teammates scrambled to the center of the map, going head to head with the enemy players and ignoring the bots, and for good reason. Those thirty seconds determined which team would activate the annihilator, destroying all of the opposing team’s bots and severely injuring their pros.

Every five minutes this would occur, with teams pushing hard to secure this scale tipping device to let their bots progress further and hopefully destroy the enemy turrets, gaining much needed money and moving ever closer to victory. Taking part in team battles to secure a neutral objective is something that isn’t quite common for MOBAs.

Killing enemy pros is still an important aspect of the game, as it removes said pro from the game for a certain amount of time, depending on their level and gives the killed a sizable amount of money which can be used to activate the annihilator, summon additional bots, or buy temporary boosts.

Eventually my team pushed passed the enemy defenses and escorted our bots the opponent’s Money Ball, where they took down it’s shield and allowed us to take it’s health down until it exploded in a shower of money, declaring our victory.

After this, we were taken to a post game stats screen, detailing how much progressive experience I gained and how much money I gained towards unlocking new Pros.

Overall, I’ve had a fantastic time with Super MNC. It’s a MOBA game that is more accessible to people, like myself, who have more experience with shooters than RTS. I can see this game becoming much greater than its predecessor and a reasonable competitor to other popular MOBAs, so long as the micro-transactions don’t become buying power and the community doesn’t become as elitist as MNC.

Check out Super MNC on the Steam Store or sign up for the Invitational.

If you care to play a game with me, I can be found on Steam here.

Until next time,

Steve

Tribes: Ascend

Just recently, I cracked open a beta key for Tribes: Ascend.

For those of you who don’t know, Tribes is a series of FPS titles that have heavily emphasized speed and skill. You have to know what you’re doing to maintain your speed while aiming your shots correctly to kill your opponents.

Ascend is the latest game in the series, currently in closed beta. It sports a high skill ceiling, all the momentum you could want, and my personal favorite, a distinct lack of hitscan weapons. Almost everything in the game is projectile with momentum, flight pattern, arcs, etc.

Anyway, I jumped into the game, went through a basic skiing tutorial (skiing is a mechanic that allows you to maintain momentum when moving over vast landscapes), and then jumped straight into a Deathmatch.

What awaited was far from the simple futuristic looking FPS that I expected. Instead, I was hurled into a wide open map with players engaged in fast paced chases, struggling to defeat their opponent. As soon as I got passed my first few clumsy lives spent getting used to the skiing and jet pack, I immediately started to rain explosives onto an unfortunate Pathfinder. The glorious rush as he skied over hill after hill, trying to hit me with his own weapon until he finally ate enough to fall over was incredible. The kill was unspeakably clumsy, as I spent almost all of my ammo on just one target, but it was incredibly satisfying despite dying soon after. Soon, I was traveling at ludicrous speeds, roaming around the map until I happened upon an ally chasing an opponent (or the other way around), whereby I jumped in and tipped the scales of that skirmish in my favor.

I didn’t care about my K/D ratio or how clumsy I was, I was having an absolute blast.

I left the group of players after a few matches to look into the class upgrades, finding a total of nine classes, each with their own specialty. I looked at the Soldier class, the one that I had been playing so much and spent my gained Experience to upgrade my Thumper DX to have more ammo. I also pumped points into my armor and energy reserves, before diving into some Capture the Flag.

All I can say about my experience with CTF, is that I will never go back to Deathmatch. The frantic rush as you swoop the enemy’s flag from right under their noses, dodging automated turrets to the musical cue that makes you all too aware of the entire enemy team chasing you, trying to get their flag back. And then realizing that your teammates are jumping in and picking them off, distracting them long enough for you to get back to your own base and then making a glorified entrance to your base, capturing that banner. The feeling is incredible, and you know that isn’t all the mode has to offer. You can sneak into the enemy base and destroy their automated defenses and resupply locations, giving openings to your team. You can hang back at your base, taking down enemies who seek to sabotage your defenses, upgrading them and repairing damage done. Or you could even spend earned credits to purchase vehicles so that you can hit the opponent harder.

I have been left stunned by Tribes: Ascend. And to know that the game is still being refined and improved during it’s time in beta makes me all the more excited. I cannot wait to see where the game goes next., but I hope to be there for it.

Go ahead and check out their website, or get your own beta key by heading over to their Facebook page.

And feel free to add me as a friend in game, where I go by Renzar.

Steve, out.