So, as you may have gathered from last month’s review, we at the Reticule rather liked the first episode of the resurrection of gaming’s favourite pirate Guybrush Threepwood. After setting such a high precedent with Launch of the Screaming Narwhal, can Telltale match the high standard for the second episode, …
If you claim to be fan of video games, and the names Ryu and Ken mean nothing to you then I put it to you, dear reader, that you are in fact a charlatan. However, you would be forgiven at displaying some surprise at seeing one of the best known franchises on PC. It’s not usually a platform that sees a lot of beat-em-up action, but Capcom being proud members of the PC Gaming Alliance resulted in them seeing fit to release the latest iteration of the long running series on Windows. Is it any good? I wish it was as easy enough for a one word answer. But it isn’t, luckily for my word count.
So the first thing you’ll probably notice about this transition to our platform of choice is the quality of the conversion. This certainly is not a lazy port like Capcom’s pre Lost Planet stuff. Of course it helps that the arcade version was itself based on Intel CPU technology, but it runs very well on all manner of systems and looks particularly unique. Rather than trying to take the much loved gameplay into 3D and risk wrecking everything, Capcom have wisely stuck with a 2D fighting gameplay system, but using 3D character models. This makes for some very satisfying action and making hits feel very visceral and sufficiently brutal. There’s some nice little touches throughout the visuals too, such as eyes bulging and the facial expressions of every character when you’re knocking them senseless. Special moves like Ryu’s fireball and Chun Li’s Hurricaine Kick are suitably thrown kicking and screaming into the 21st century, looking especially pretty and physical in their 2009 iterations. Another fantastic descision by Capcom is bringing back some of the classic stages from the older Street Fighter games and making sure that they too get a lovely lick of paint – there’s something comfortably familiar about seeing Blanka’s jungle again, only now with far more depth in those trees and that oasis in the background. As an added bonus for PC gamers, they’ve even thoughtfully included a couple of graphics filters for you to play with, although admittedly these are pretty superfluous. Still, it’s the thought that counts.
Street Fighter 4 offers several gameplay modes. Along with the usual Arcade mode and Versus mode there’s also a Challenge mode featuring Survival and Time Attack and Trial flavours, featuring a series of ever increasing challenges for you to test your skill with each of the 26 characters in the game. This provides a lot of replay value and indeed there’s a heck of a lot to do, as long as you’re willing to put in the time. And of course the big addition for this iteration is the inclusion of Online Play. Yes, you can finally go online and find out if your Sagat really can beat Ryu in China. This is probably the area of the game you’ll spend the most time in – a ranking system has been introduced including a ‘Championship Mode’ where you are placed against other players with ever increasing skill. Luckily you get points whether you win or lose – which is handy meaning you can rank up even if you are rubbish.
However there are some flaws with Street Fighter 4 – and they’re the type that really niggle at you. The first one is the difficulty. For some reason Street Fighter 4 seems to ignore the fact that there are some people, such as your reviewer, who are not that good at Beat-em-Ups, especially on the PC where the genre is not really a regular staple. Arcade mode seems to be stupidly hard even on Medium. And unfortunately completing it is required to unlock all the characters. Having to turn it down all the way to Very Easy feels a bit demeaning but unless you’ve really mastered the moves in this game you might have to do the same. The last boss is almost infuriating if you pick the wrong character even after you’ve adjusted the difficulty. Along the same lines then – the new characters aren’t really that good. A luchador chef and a fat American may have novelty value for a while but they soon become annoying. Not nearly as annoying as that announcer, whom for some reason you can’t turn off, but they just don’t feel like they have the same long term appeal as the classic cast.
Of course, another thing to point out should be really obvious – but if you’re thinking of playing Street Fighter 4 on a keyboard you might want to get your head checked. Due the nature of the game you’ll be wanting a joypad, but sometimes the new Ultra Combos are still incredibly tricky to pull off. Many times the game seemed to decide to decree my input of the Ultra and Special combos as correct only if it felt like it. Luckily there are arcade sticks available, and I would hazard that they may be worth a try, but to get them for one game may be a bit much. And finally on the problems side, it does use Games for Windows Live, which might be an issue if you have problems with it like Chris has lately, but it does mean you can get some nice extra costumes via DLC – for a price, that is…
So overall, Street Fighter 4 is a bit of a double edged sword. Is it the best beat-em-up on PC? Of course, but it’s not like it has any competition. Still, it’s a very enjoyable game, especially online. It has a very steep learning curve if you’re not used to beat-em-ups but is still really good fun. Definitely worth a punt if you are that way inclined, but occasionally the frustration might see you causing more damage to the joypad than your opponent.
Valve have began teasing their latest update. Strangely enough, it’s so far Classless. Whether it will remain that way remains to be seen – remember the previous update was only revealed to be both a Spy AND a Sniper update halfway through the reveal process – but for now day one’s tease of the new content for Team Fortress 2 is the inclusion of not one, not two but eighteen new hats, along with a new Arena map called Offblast. Details can be found as ever on the Team Fortress website and of course, stick with us all week for the rest of the update – we’ll be updating this post with more information as it’s revealed.
As for the release of the update, no firm date has been confirmed yet, but if it’s anything like the last update we can expect to see it some time next week.
EDIT: Already, some very clever people have unearthed some hidden stuff around the latest update – here are the links if you think you can decipher what they mean:
The history of hats.
The Zenith Mann & Son’s Co Quarterly Concern
Is Your Child Six Years of Age? (NB: this link can be adblocked by overzealous plugins. If this is the case for you: Click Here.
A Gentle Mann of Lesiure
Day two has brought news of a new game mode – King of the Hill. With only one capture point, teams have to hold it for a total of three minutes to win the map. And it’s cumulative, so that means if the opponents capture it back after say 1 minute, when the original team recaptures it they only have to hold it for a further two minutes. Also revealed are the first three maps for the game mode, an entirely new one named Viaduct which takes place during a snowfall, and the two Arena maps from the Spy/Sniper update redesigned for the new game mode- Sawmill and Nucleus.
and finally for Day Two, The Administrator would like you all to know that Valve take accusations of Plagiarism very seriously indeed.
Well, it looks like Valve have wasted no more time and have released the new classless update to the slavering hordes. The final two reveals, other than the full patch notes (including some interesting reading) are two new maps – a CTF version of Sawmill, and a new Capture Point map entitled Yukon. And as promised, here are the full patchnotes:
* Added King Of The Hill game mode.
* Added custom animations played by the losing team during the post-win state. They are moved into third person camera to enjoy them.
* Added lots of new hats.
* Added koth_Viaduct.
* Added ctf_Sawmill
* Added community map Arena_Offblast
* Added community map Cp_Yukon
Additions / Changes:
* Added “Auto Reload” option to the multiplayer advanced options.
* Clip-based weapons that reload a full clip at a time can now have their reloads aborted by firing.
* Pistol now fires at a fixed rate, not based on the speed at which you press the firing button.
* Added a color blind option to add a Jarate icon above enemies who are busy accepting a terrifying existence where they have no dignity.
* Significantly reduced the amount of network traffic being sent.
* Capturing the flag in a CTF game mode gives the entire capturing team 10 seconds of critboost.
* Sappers attached to a teleporter automatically place another Sapper on the other end of the teleporter, if it exists.
* Engineers wrenching a teleporter will repair the other end as well, and remove Sappers from both if they exist.
* Disguised Spies no longer trigger On-Hit effects (like the Blutsauger’s heal).
* Removed self-inflicted minicrits. Fixes Jarate’d Soldiers/Demomen having ineffective rocket/grenade jumps.
* Added an item panel to the spectator cam that shows non-standard items being carried by the player you’re spectating.
* Added an “Inspect” key that allows you to look at items being carried by your team mates.
* Backpack improvements:
– Added drag & drop to move items around. Item positions are maintained on the backend.
– Added multi-select, allowing you to delete multiple items at once.
– Added a new key to the key binding page that opens your inventory directly to your backpack.
– Fixed mouseover panel being incorrectly position when the backpack first appears.
* Cloaked Spies standing in valid backstab positions no longer raise their knife.
* Added current map name and gametype to the bottom right of scoreboard.
* Added class icons to tips on the loadout and loading screens.
* Improved visuals around flags when they’re being carried by a player.
* Improved critboosted visuals, making it much clearer when an enemy has critboost.
* Updated the loading panel to show the game type under the map name during level transition.
* In-game chat dialog now supports full Unicode characters.
* Added BLU main menu background.
* Added response caching for some server queries to help reduce the CPU load from DOS attacks.
* Teammates no longer block friendly radius damage. Prevents nearby teammates causing rocket/grenade jumps to fail.
* Update PLR_Pipeline
– Increased the starting advantage in the third round if a team has won the first two rounds.
– Fixed carts not continuing to the second round if they’re capped at the same time in the first round.
– Fixed being able to shoot pipebombs over the starting gates in the first round.
– Fixed being able to open the doors in the first round before the setup time was finished.
– Fixed players getting stuck in some doors.
– Fixed players being able to get onto rooftops and out of the map boundaries.
– Fixed other minor bugs and exploits.
* Update Arena_Sawmill
– Fixed DirectX8 bug where some models would not be visible.
– Fixed exploit with building teleporters outside of the map.
* Updated CP_Granary
– Made a few changes to improve balance based on competitive community feedback.
* The Force of Nature
– The enemy knockback now only `works in close range and behaves more like the Pyro’s air blast.
– Enemies cannot be juggled by the FaN’s effect.
– The self-knockback has also changed to respect the firer’s view angle. Looking up while shooting will no longer propel the enemy upwards.
– Knockback is now scaled by damage done.
* The Sandman
– A Scout will receive 1 point for stunning an enemy and 2 points for a long range stun.
– Stunned players now take 75% of all incoming damage instead of 50%.
– Übercharged players can no longer be stunned.
– Heavies spinning their mini-guns will continue to spin when stunned (whether the left or right mouse button is pressed).
– The minimum distance to stun a target has been reduced.
– The negative attribute has changed from “no double jump” to “-30 max health”.
* Fixed various issues around layout & presentation of items inside the Backpack and “X is carrying” item dialogs.
* Fixed an exploit that allowed players to work around sv_pure.
* Particle files are now protected by sv_pure.
* Fixed critboost effect getting stuck on when you die while critboosted.
* Fixed Timer HUD element backgrounds not being the correct color if you change teams during waiting for players.
* Fixed a couple of issues with the way critboosts affected The Huntsman and the Spy’s knife.
* Fixed an exploit where you could reload The Huntsman faster than intended.
* Fixed Heavy “civilian” exploit.
* Fixed a set of exploits using the DXSupport config files.
* Fixed r_screenfademinsize and r_screenfademaxsize exploits.
* Fixed sentries firing at a fully cloaked Spy if they’re still the closest target.
* Added a HUD element for hybrid CTF & CP maps.
– Supports 1 or 2 flags, and any number of CPs.
– Mapmakers need to place a “tf_logic_hybrid_ctf_cp” entity in their map to enable it.
* Added custom kill server log text “train” and “saw” for deaths caused by these environmental hazards.
Format: “%s<%i><%s><%s>” committed suicide with “world” (customkill “%s”) (attacker_position “%d %d %d”)
* Added new “medic_death” event for server logs
Format: “%s<%i><%s><%s>” triggered “medic_death” against “%s<%i><%s><%s>” (healing “%d”) (ubercharge “%s”)
– healing is the amount the Medic healed in that life
– ubercharge (1/0) is whether they died with a full charge
* Added “func_respawnflag” trigger entity. It will remove & return the flag if a flag carrier touches it, or if the flag falls into it.
And as a final reward to those whom had been seeking out the hidden treasure on the updates this week, Valve provided a special reward for the first 11, 111 people to discover this link on one of the hidden pages with an in game medal. Unfortunately:
Adventure games never went anywhere, but if there’s one developer that’s given the genre a massive resurgence of late, then it’s the guys at Telltale Games. Taking some well loved and fondly remembered classic properties like Sam & Max, Wallace & Gromit and Homestar Runner, they appear to be the only company that has truly made the episodic gaming formula work on a long term basis. Their latest treasure comes from the booty of a collaboration with the former masters of the genre, LucasArts with the bloody good Tales of Monkey Island series. So we at The Reticule decided to send some questions (in a bottle, of course) to one Mark Darin, designer on the new Monkey Island games. His reply washed ashore recently, and here’s what he had to say:
Ray, Pete, Egon, Ray and Slimer. These five names might provoke one of several different reactions to you, the PC owning reader of The Reticule. Ghostbusters: The Video Game will provoke a very similar set of emotions, closely linked to those same reactions you encountered of the former. Which makes the game rather difficult to praise. On the one hand, if you’re a fan you’ve probably preordered (or like me, got the game on import) anyway. If however you are nonplussed by Ray Parker Jr asking ‘Who you gonna call?’ then it’s quite hard to see you getting a massive amount of enjoyment out of this in the long term.
Ghostbusters – The Video Game is a third person action game that puts you in the shoes of a mute, nameless Rookie hired by the Ghostbusters to join the team just before a well timed event which sees Slimer released from the Ghostbusters HQ and return to his old haunt (pun intended) at the Sedgewick Hotel. Obviously you have to capture him again with the help of your fellow ‘Busters, and this serves as an opening tutorial level introducing you to the proton streams and the Ghost Trap you’ll be using throughout much of the game. To do the business of actually capturing ghosts you’ll have to damage them first before of course, deploying a trap and switching to capture stream to wrangle the pesky poltergeist into the trap. Actually using this equipment for the first time is a joy to any Ghostbusters fan. Terminal Reality have really managed to get the mechanics of using the proton streams right. They cause a suitably high level of chaos to their surroundings – encouraged by a measure of how much cost you are causing the city in repairs – and every level is strewn with plenty of physic-laden objects for you to slam ghosts into. There’s a certain type of glee reserved only for those who wished to walk along the streets of New York City with a Proton Pack on their back which the game captures perfectly.
Of course, for any game based on a film licence – especially one that bridges the gap between mainstream and cult as well as Ghostbusters, the plot and indeed faithfulness to the franchise is very important. The main cast (minus Rick Morains and Sigourney Weaver) are all here giving their likeness and voices to their characters (although it’s interesting to note that although they’ve got Annie Potts voice for spunky receptionist Jeanette, the model they’ve used doesn’t look like how she did in either of the movies). Wisely, the game’s script is also written by creators Dan Akyroyd and Harold Ramis – making for some very funny and entertaining dialogue throughout. One area where creative licence has been utilized is in your role as Ghostbusters new Prototype Weapons Technician – it’s a perfect excuse for the developers to come up with more weapons that never featured in the movies. It’s a smart if obvious decision, as you can imagine having the same weapon all the way through may get rather tedious, and it’s always fun to cover your buddies in slime.
However, there are some niggling flaws with Ghostbusters – The Game. Despite the attempts to keep the variety high with the new weapons, gameplay can feel very samey after a while. Almost the entire game is heavily focused on capturing ghosts – which is kind of obvious – but when it all ends in exactly the same way it’s a big task to put on the capturing/wrangle mechanic. If you didn’t enjoy capturing a ghost the first time, you sure are not going like the five hundredth time. Enemy variety is lacking as well. Whereas the description and look of most of your enemies is different, quite a lot of the time you’re actually fighting the same ghosts, just skinned to match the theme of the level. The upgrades system is a good idea but I can’t say when I played I noticed a huge difference when upgrading my equipment – some sort of visual feedback would no doubt have been a welcome addition. The game also suffers in it’s difficulty. On the lowest setting, it’s far too easy and you’ll probably complete it in about 6 hours tops, yet with high difficulty levels the AI of your fellow Busters can be stupid on the verge of annoying. There’s hardly anything more infurating than a stupid AI controlled Egon deciding to run right at the legs of a stone giant seconds after you’ve revived him and causing a Game Over because all the enemies concentrating on him are now attacking you. YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO HAVE A PHD, MAN!
This brings us onto the biggest flaw with Ghostbusters – The Video Game: it is a game that is crying out for co-op and multiplayer. And the fact that Threewave, whom did the MP for the console versions, chose not to include it for the PC is absolutely shocking. The Ghostbusters have always been about working as an almost functioning team, and while the AI makes an almost competent job for the most part, the fact that you can’t tangle the Marshmallow Man with four buddies leaves the experience with a gaping hole. Heck, we probably would have settled for even a split screen local option, but the omission is almost unforgivable. It’s even more of a shame when you realise how shallow the game really is to non-fans. Sure, it’s been an ambition of many children of the 80’s to be blowing up the Marshmallow Man with Ecto One’s sirens blazing in the background, or chasing the Gray Lady through the library with a Proton Pack on your back – but if Ghostbusters isn’t your thing you’ll probably find that this game suffers in a very similar way to most movie license games do, with an average game behind the fan service.
Even though it’s far from the best game based on a film license, it’s certainly a solid one. Fans will love all the little touches and nods provided especially for those and it would be very harsh to say it’s a bad game when it definitely isn’t. Overall Ghostbusters is a competent action game, and it’s easy to give them top marks for effort – there’s a lot of love gone into this license – how much you can ignore the niggles will definitely depend on how much of a Ghostbusters fan you are. If you love them then this is just about the perfect Ghostbusters game. I really can’t state enough how the lack of multiplayer on the PC is a real shame though.
In what might come as disappointing to news to Remedy fans, upcoming horror game Alan Wake may now not be emerging from the darkness on the PC at all. In a statement released today, the former Max Payne developers commented that they were working ‘exclusively’ on the 360 version of the title and that any simultaneous release with the 360 would not happen at this stage. Not wishing to leave their PC fanbase completely in the dark, Remedy said that they had a “deep heritage in PC gaming and would love to see a PC version available to its PC followers” but maintained that any decision on the fate of the PC version of the game would lie in the hands of publisher Microsoft Studios. This is all a slightly bitter pill to swallow for many PC gamers, especially for a game that was touted as a major posterboy for quad core processors back in 2006.
Looks like we may have to wait a while to get our being-chased-by-an-evil-JCB fix.
In an impressive bit of backtracking, Activision Blizzard have today revealed that the Call of Duty moniker previously dropped from the upcoming Modern Warfare 2 is to appear on the box after all. Revealed in a Tweet from a member of the Infinty Ward developer team, the box art clearly shows the Call of Duty name – albeit in a smaller font than usual – above the Modern Warfare 2 logo itself.
When questioned by Kotaku, an ActiBlizz spokesperson said “Infinity Ward’s Modern Warfare 2 is the direct sequel to Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare,” and that the company has “focused our attention on Modern Warfare in order to most effectively communicate the fact that this is the first true sequel in the Call of Duty series. Infinity Ward, the original creators of the Call of Duty franchise, has said from the beginning Modern Warfare 2 resides in the Call of Duty universe. This is reflected in the title’s package.”
It remains to be known as to why the name was dropped and then reattached, but it’s probably a safe bet to guess it may have had something to do with the loss of brand awareness according to this report from Gamasutra. Modern Warfare 2 is still set for a November release.