Ben X

The Big FPS Playthrough CURRENT GAME: Wolfenstein: The New Order (2014)

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I'm glad you liked it.  I think it's one of the better Star Wars video games.  It certainly has flaws but I think the foundation is solid and a sequel could have smoothed out the rough edges while presenting an interesting non-Jedi side of the Star Wars mythos.

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Prey is really cool so far. The start is scary and exciting - you start off in a shitty bar, getting in a fight with the locals, then suddenly the power goes off, Blue Oyster Cult starts playing on the jukebox and everyone and everything is getting hoisted into a massive spaceship where fellow abductees quickly get gored by massive machinery. It's doing very well at creating an alien atmosphere - anti-grav paths, portals (which can lead to weird scale differences), massive, toxic-poo-spewing bumholes, weird weapons, not to mention the Cherokee spirit-walking layered on top - without overwhelming the player. Having said that, I do seem to have come afoul of some gravity-flipping and hit a dead end, so I'll have to reload an autosave and see if that's the case.

 

EDIT: a couple of Prey threads from 11 years ago! 

 

And I just realised that as this is in DooM3's engine, I may be able to fiddle about with the graphics settings like I did with that game...

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2 hours ago, Ben X said:

Prey is really cool so far. The start is scary and exciting - you start off in a shitty bar, getting in a fight with the locals, then suddenly the power goes off, Blue Oyster Cult starts playing on the jukebox and everyone and everything is getting hoisted into a massive spaceship where fellow abductees quickly get gored by massive machinery. It's doing very well at creating an alien atmosphere - anti-grav paths, portals (which can lead to weird scale differences), massive, toxic-poo-spewing bumholes, weird weapons, not to mention the Cherokee spirit-walking layered on top - without overwhelming the player. Having said that, I do seem to have come afoul of some gravity-flipping and hit a dead end, so I'll have to reload an autosave and see if that's the case.

 

I remember playing the demo and then watching the friend playing the full game, and the demo seems to have been a spiced-up version of the first hours of the game, up until shortly after the first gravity-flipping puzzle. As I understand it, the big problem is mostly just that it stops introducing new elements or even surprising ways to use existing elements, and is way too long for not doing that. Still, yeah, that atmosphere! Even as hokey as your character's development is presented, it's weirdly cool to have a First Nations dude as a video game protagonist in 2006.

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I'm about halfway through and still very much enjoying it. It looks great and there's loads of attention to detail (enemies turning off anti-grav walkways while you're on them in a firefight, the idle animation on your weapon where a little eye stalk protudes and stares at you, using a severed alien hand to open doors, the broadcasts coming from Earth as people call in to a talk radio station with reports of weird stuff happening, your spirit animal attacking enemies so you can shoot them while they try to swipe it away) and some sweet environmental story-telling, like suddenly hearing "Barracuda" by Heart in the middle of this spaceship and then realising they've abducted the entirety of your bar, before grav-flipping into it for a fire-fight, or seeing an entire airliner get abducted (which the abandoned Prey 2 was planning to use as its protagonist's back-story).

 

It's still currently throwing new stuff at me (ghost children! One-man shuttles you can fly about the place and tractor-beam massive objects around with! Using forcefields in a new way to chop a boss' gun-hand off and use it against it!), so currently I'm happy. It may be that it runs dry around here and the second half is utterly repetitive, we'll see.

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As can be seen from those old threads, I really loved Prey. Such a nice game, it's one of the fps games that has been in my replay list for a long time.

 

One cool surprise about Prey was that if you own the disc version, you can get it to your Steam library with the cd key. I don't think there are many games that had that enabled in Steam?

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I finish very few games but I did finish Prey way back when. I did really enjoy the start of the game and seeing the cool/bizarre enemies and weapons. I remember a couple of bosses being easy bullet sponges, which gave me bad Turok vibes, but in the main it's solid. It's tricky to remember now, but I think I got fatigued with the final part of the game which drags on a bit.

 

What do people think about the easy revival minigame? I didn't mind it, personally, although it made me play quite sloppily at some points. I figure people are gonna abuse quicksaving anyway, if they encounter a tricky patch, and this simply saves us a loading screen.

 

 

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Yeah, it's actually quite fun because you get a little shooting gallery. There's only been one instance when I've opted for quick-load instead, which was where I thought I had to do some precision platforming and kept falling to my death, so I just wanted to retry as quickly as possible (turned out it was a spirit-walk puzzle for which I needed some spirit ammo, so ironically I actually did need to kill myself and go through the mini-game).

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Alright, I finished it. It definitely dragged towards the end, mainly thanks to some bullet-sponge mini-bosses and mildly irritating puzzle-based boss fights where you can't avoid getting shot at while you try to figure shit out. And yeah, it does get a little repetitive although a few more new things got dropped in, like the asteroids you can walk all the way around. In retrospect, I think the revival mini-game is a bit of a band-aid over the fact that you're going to die a lot because the level design and shooting don't really match up - there's not a lot of cover to use and yet the enemies are really tough, so it's easy to get pinned down in a corner or take a while to figure out from which direction you're getting shot at. The shooting was intermittently fun, though, and at least they did create that band-aid - I probably would have rage-quit pretty early on without it, but as it was I never got too stressed out. And it never gets old having a firefight on an anti-grav walkway and watching the enemies tumble upwards when you kill them.

 

Story-wise, it continued to do some cool stuff. It felt very Valve quite often, especially when you're making your way upwards through the alien spire (which I think they may even have called the Citadel) while the female-voiced antagonist mocks you and moves level tiles around you to create new paths, or jumping in and out of vehicles to solve little puzzles (and this is aside from the orange and blue portals essentially identical to those in Valve's game from a year later). The female characters tick pretty much all the tropes - the damsel in distress, the sexualised exotic priestess, the bare-breasted alien mother with an HR Giger thing coming out of her stomach - and the damsel eventually gets melded with a monster which you have to defeat, at which point she begs you to kill her. Depending on how much credit you want to give the game, though, there's potentially some clever metaphor and foreshadowing going on, where Tommy's wish to 'rescue' Jen from their reservation and way of life to be assimilated by American culture (despite her telling him she doesn't want that) is mirrored as she is abducted and eventually turned into a monster by the alien race that comes in and literally takes their land away from them. The main antagonist is revealed to be an Uncle Tom figure, who assimilated with the aliens and wants Tommy to do the same. It's also really effective when the aliens start to invade the spirit realm - it's unexpected and feels like a real violation, and the ensuing extended firefight has Tommy screaming in anger as you mow down a wave of enemies. (There's also some ancient astronaut stuff which doesn't really fit in with all this but is cool nonetheless.)

 

It definitely is style over substance but it's solid and interesting enough that it overcomes the rough edges.

 

Brilliantly vitriolic retro-review from John Walker at RPS (I agree with all his criticisms tbh)

A slightly more forgiving retrospective from Eurogamer

 

A couple of Eurogamers have a playthrough (30 mins):

 

 

My next game is Dark Messiah Might 'n Magic, which I've already played. Again, I'll paste some Size Five posts from when I played that:

 

Quote

 

I'm enjoying Dark Messiah, but it's not very polished. It has a lot of crash issues (which date back to release - hopefully the patch will fix it, but it seems it's just not very well optimised) and basic fighting is a lot more annoying than it should be. I'm on a chase sequence now, and it's the most frustrating thing ever! It's almost completely based around jumping, which the engine is shit at!

 

I'm getting fewer crashes now and am enjoying it a fair amount, but I still dread getting into sword fights with the most basic enemies. It's really unforgiving. There are usually about three of them on me at once with no spikes or cliffs in sight :(

 

I've got to another level that crashes on loading every time, and the trick of turning all your settings down to get there and then turning them back up again isn't working. It's incredibly shoddy.

 

Dark Messiah is a lot better now I've got health regen. I've got all these different magic powers that I can't really be bothered to use, though, because by the time you manage to shoot one enemy with it, another two have charged you and you've run out of mana and you need to change back to your swo-oh you're dead. Plus, I'm now on a bit where I have to use ropes to climb up out of a well thing, and apart from the fact that rope climbing is even worse than platforming in this engine, I can't figure out how I'm supposed to get up any further and the light source is so bright that I can't actually see stuff above me anyway. So basically, this game had lots of cool ideas that aren't really executed very well (and a couple of shit ones).

 

I've got through the annoying rope bit and the annoying spider bit (way to not bother making sure I've got antidote, devs!), managed to kill the cyclops, which was pretty cool but took too damn long as does every enemy in this game (I should check to see if there's an easy setting mod, really), and am now on the orcs/cliffsides bit! I gathered some more weapons and powers, they are shit.

 

Tempted to give up tbh, I don't get the impression the game's going to get any better. I've just slogged through a massive zombie section, which took me ages because they're really hard to kill and shoot poison clouds at you. Now I've got my demon powers, which are a bit crap, and there's another cyclops to kill. According to a walk-through I've just started chapter 7 out of 9+epilogue so I might push through on this one. This could have been an ace game, but the difficulty curve is for shit, and there are far too many weapons and powers that aren't tuned very well or you don't get the chance to use because you're constantly fighting off six enemies at a time and you don't have the time to fuck around.

 

Okay, uninstalling. Fuck it. What's weird is that I keep seeing contemporary reviews and forum posts saying you should play on high difficulty, but then from their descriptions it sounds like the medium setting I'm on (there is no easy setting).

 

 

And here are allll the Thumbs threads, including some posts from me that echo my reaction above:

 

https://www.idlethumbs.net/forums/topic/4076-dark-messiah-demo

https://www.idlethumbs.net/forums/topic/4467-dark-messiah/

https://www.idlethumbs.net/forums/topic/3805-dark-messiah

 

And now onto STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl. I'm worried that this will be way too hard/complicated for me and I'll give up quite early, as it's a game that sounds interesting and I'd like to enjoy. I've got the two sequels as well, and I'm not sure whether I'll bother with those if I bounce hard off this one. We'll see...

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I played Shadow of Chernobyl a long time ago, loved it. I've thought about picking up one of the other STALKER games in the current Steam sale, modding it to the state of the art, and playing it, but I don't know which to pick or whether to bother. I think maybe some people think I've already played the best thing the STALKER series has to offer. Thus if you bounce off Shadow of Chernobyl I suspect there's not much else there for you, although I could be wrong.

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22 minutes ago, TychoCelchuuu said:

I played Shadow of Chernobyl a long time ago, loved it. I've thought about picking up one of the other STALKER games in the current Steam sale, modding it to the state of the art, and playing it, but I don't know which to pick or whether to bother. I think maybe some people think I've already played the best thing the STALKER series has to offer. Thus if you bounce off Shadow of Chernobyl I suspect there's not much else there for you, although I could be wrong.

 

I played and enjoyed Call of Pripyat a couple years after wallowing unsuccessfully in Shadows of Chernobyl for a dozen hours. I think it's generally agreed that SoC has the best plot and atmosphere, but CoP has much better (and better codified) gameplay.

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I played both SoC and CoP shortly after release so my memories might not be the freshest, but I think the games are significantly different. As Gormongous said, SoC is more focused on story and atmosphere. There's still a lot of freedom, but it's clearly intended as a well-defined journey through the story and multiple areas of the game. CoP is much more open, it's 2 large open maps with some safehouse areas in them + 1 end game area. I remember CoP being much more focused on providing a free-form experience with exploration and all the stalkery bits like hunting for artifacts being much better than in the previous games. Also it was pretty polished (at least as far as the Stalker games go) right out of the box, whereas SoC was pretty buggy in places.

 

I definitely think CoP is worth checking out even if you bounce off SoC a bit. Clear Sky on the other hand was a buggy broken mess with reused SoC areas and AFAIK not even modders could fix it unless something changed recently (whereas they fixed and improved the other games quite a bit).

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The STALKER complete mods go a long way to fixing the issues with the three games. As said about SoC is the strongest story wise, CoP is the strongest gameplay wise and CS is the sad middle child. I really like the stalker games and replay them from time to time. One of my most vivid memories of playing SoC is not wanting to do the second underground lab mission because of how spooky the first one was.

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I hadn't realised that the games were that different structurally....

 

Re. fixes, I'll have to look into a balance of patching bugs (which I'm happy to do) vs modding the gameplay/graphics (which I want to avoid)...

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I've played a little bit of this, and one of my first thoughts was "uh oh, maybe i shouldn't have included RPGs in this play-through", because I was getting some Deus Ex niggles here, like super-hard combat and missions that seem to dead-end or at least expect me to take an extra step that I'm not aware of (like being told there's a backpack hidden at a certain location but getting there and not finding it - is it near that location? Did someone else get it because I was too slow? Am I supposed to find some other information first?). Also, there were some translucent circles on my map marking areas of interest, but when I died and reloaded they disappeared - I'm not sure if that's a bug or if I'm mistaken about how I triggered them. And there's some stuff on my UI that has not been explained, which I'll need to find the manual for, I think.

 

So, rather confusing. However, it's also very intriguing and well presented. I've been eased into the world quite well on the whole, starting off at a mission/trade hub with a guy talking me through my PDA and giving me my first mission. It's also cool to wander around and encounter such a hostile setting - weird anomalies to be avoided, packs of wild dogs and boar, and NPCs wandering around doing their own thing. I actually wanted to wander around and do some side-missions, but the game seems to be pushing me along the main storyline, so I'm sticking with that at the moment (although it's also suddenly given me like three things at once, two of which seem to be the same thing though I'm not sure). Confusing.

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Might be a bug, the original release had tons of them. I'll second Cordeos in recommending the Complete Mod which fixes and improves lots of stuff.

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Feel free to do side missions, there isn't a time limit on the main quests from what I remember. The backpack could be very well hidden, those secret stashes can be hard to find

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STALKER is my favorite game series by far.

I can third the recommendation of the Complete mod, I wouldn't really consider playing the game in it's base state anymore simply because of weird bugs and instability and unclear quest text, and complete fixes those and doesn't really add too much out of line with the original game.

SoC is an inspired game if you can get into it. It oozes ambiance and has the best story of all of them. I actually like Clear Sky a lot more than most people, it's probably the most ambitious in terms of the A-life system (all the npcs are walking around doing stuff and looting and trading even when you're not around) and the faction system, while buggy to the point of pointlessly broken, would add a ton of vibrancy and life to the world. There were raiding parties going out to attack camps. There are some mods (there is also a clear sky complete mod, I believe all three have one) that smooth out most of the rough edges and fix and implement some of the systems that were cut. Clear Sky had so many ideas that just never made it into the game and it shows. Originally they intended there to be vehicles, if I recall, and parts of the main quest that require you to cross the entire map over and over were designed with that in mind. It's a tragedy it ended in such a sorry state, because it had the most potential of any of them.
CoP is by far the smoothest and cleanest game as a vanilla product, and the story, while not as weird and interesting as SoC (clear sky is pretty meh) still has some fun moments and choices and your actions can have consequences down the line. The end game in Pripyat is the tensest open world experience I've ever had. If you're finding SoC kind of hard it's not really for you, but CoP also has an utterly brilliant mod for it, the Misery Mod. It's brutal, it expands on and adds many systems without feeling out of place, it's my favorite mod ever. It creates an FPS, STALKER themed Dark Souls meets DayZ. It's fucking amazing. I cannot recommend it enough to people who like the whole STALKER world and gameplay, and it's also extremely polished.

I'd also tell you to do plenty of side missions, it's good way to get some knowledge of the map and where camps and patrols are likely to be which can be a big help in the main storyline or for just random emissions. Also, yes, that backpack and most stashes it tells you about are hidden nearby that marker, not on it (I think, they all blur together and it's been forever since I played a vanilla stalker game.) and that's pretty normal for most things. 

For bonus immersion, I'd watch Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker, which this game takes a ton of inspiration from, and also read Roadside Picnic, which all of it is based on. Fair warning, Stalker the movie is more of a '15 minute slow pan over a water covered tile floor while a man talks about futility' film than a film about a guy with a gun. But it has bolts you throw at anomalies and that's pretty good.

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I've decided against Complete because all I want to do is patch bugs, not have new graphics, AI etc in there. (I do wish these fan total-overhauls had the option of picking what to mod and what to leave alone.) I'll keep going with this until it bugs out or I do. Unless I end up loving it and playing a large portion of it, I think I'll take the other two off this list, partly to avoid repetition and partly because they really are far more RPGs than FPSes, even more so than the Deus Exes, I think.

 

However, if anyone's interested in risking a play-along, the games are all currently on sale on Steam (£5ish/$7ish for all three) and gog ($5 each except Clear Sky which is half that).

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I don't have time to write a proper post, but I'm glad you're staying away from mods, a lot of them alter the balance of the game too drastically.

 

My recommendation for these games is to turn off the crosshair, which for me helps a lot with the immersion (try it!). The default crosshair and the range indicator feel so out of place. Also, if you think you're bouncing off it, I would say to give it at least until the first underground area, maybe even the second. Those are the highlights of the game I think.

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9 hours ago, Ben X said:

I've decided against Complete because all I want to do is patch bugs, not have new graphics, AI etc in there. (I do wish these fan total-overhauls had the option of picking what to mod and what to leave alone.) I'll keep going with this until it bugs out or I do. Unless I end up loving it and playing a large portion of it, I think I'll take the other two off this list, partly to avoid repetition and partly because they really are far more RPGs than FPSes, even more so than the Deus Exes, I think.

 

I could have sworn that Complete or Redux or one of the total overhaul mods has a pick-and-choose installation mode where you can just do bug fixes, but I'm probably wrong.

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I only used one mod when I played, which was a mod which improved the accuracy and damage of all guns for both the player and the enemies. After that first section where you infiltrate the ramshackle compound, I felt like I really needed it to enjoy the game. I found that it wasn't any fun to me to take aim for a long time on a stationary target, then break my cover by firing only for my shots to miss, or if they hit, to barely do any damage. I get that the first pistol is weedy, but c'mon.

 

Obviously, that's just me. I loved the game after I made that tweak. Sadly, I don't recall the name of the mod, but there are probably loads like it.

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