Football season is well and truly back under way; after the announcement of Football Manager 2013 earlier in the month, the demo’s for both FIFA and PES have been unleashed. While they are on my list of things to try out, I have personally been distracted by Armored Kill for Battlefield 3 and I am extremely eager to get my hands on Black Mesa Source which Edcrab has been playing this week. Meanwhile, Nick has been dabbling with Mount and Blade: Warband in a Lord of the Rings setting…
Whenever I watch a castle under siege, I’m often curious as to what the man at the front of the attack is thinking. As the first off the ladder, he’ll be alone against the entire defensive force. Perhaps he’ll be there only for a second before his colleagues join him, but for that one moment he is just one man against thousands. How must he feel?
Thanks to Mount & Blade: Warband, I can actually find out.
Due to the modding community’s work, our heroic assault was against the walls of Helm’s Deep, that last line of Rohan’s defence. Despite Théoden’s claim that “Helm’s Deep would never fall while men defended it,” our side was pretty confident that with teamwork we could take it. Where mindless orcs had failed, we would succeed. Moving and attacking as one, the defenders would have little chance against a ferocious and organised onslaught.
Instead, we all just charged in a mad disorganised rabble towards the walls.
Scrabbling up the siege ladder, a hail of arrows thundered into my shield. One snuck through, grazing my torso and for a moment threatening to dislodge me from my precarious position astride the rickety ladder. But finally I made it, cresting the battlements with my sword raised high above my head in defiance. I’d made it. I was that man. The one against thousands, standing alone against the entire defence of Helm’s Deep.
A dozen sharp and pointy implements pierced my body from a variety of directions.
I fell, darkness falling across my vision.
Bugger, I thought.
The darkness faded away and I found myself standing in a serene forest with a rickety old jeep a few yards ahead of me. I looked around and saw a lake to one side and snowy mountains in the distance. Feeling a desire to explore the area I climbed into the jeep and started to turn it diligently onto the dirt track which led towards a small hut a few hundred yards away. No sooner had I got onto the track I felt like I had just been smashed out of the way by a tank. It turns out I had been barged by a tank. It was then that I woke from my dream and realised I was playing Armored Kill, the latest DLC package for Battlefield 3. This new DLC pack features some of the biggest maps ever seen in a Battlefield title, I was playing on the quite monstrous Alborz Mountains in my jeep based escapade, a wonderful area with a valley and partially frozen lake leading to an unforgiving mountain range with a healthy dose of snow.
It was quite amusing to try driving my 4×4 straight up the mountainside, I could hear the wheels struggling for traction on the snow and I wasn’t sure I would make it all the way up. Fortunately I crested a small rise and came thudding down onto what passes for a road in the middle of a snowy mountain. From then on I had some of the best moments in the game I have had so far, even surpassing the Back to Karkand expansion. The vast playgrounds of Armored Kill brilliantly capture the classic feel of the franchise, I can’t wait to play on them some more.
I said I’d be playing Black Mesa Source and what do you know, that prediction somehow came to be. Granted it only released on Friday and due to some unforeseen consequences it took me a while to acquire it, but I’m hurtling towards the finale.
If you haven’t heard of it before it’s a fan remake of Half-Life with a few neat little touches made possible by the use of Source over GoldSrc. It’s been in development for about eight years, and even then this release isn’t complete, not including the final chapter set in Xen. I’ve got to say though, I’m impressed.
Sensibly most of the changes are optional (if you’re infuriated by the prospect of a .357 with iron sight functionality you can disable it entirely) but that obviously doesn’t apply to tweaks made to map layouts, so purists may well be affronted. I’ve encountered the odd scripting quirk and the odd hole in the map architecture, but considering the scale and scope of what I need to remind myself is an entirely free fan-work there’s frankly nothing else like it. All dialogue is re-recorded by voice actors who are (mostly) solid mimics of the originals. I’ve crashed twice, but hey, I’ve had worse performances out of professional Source-based titles.
The devs state it has about eight hours of gameplay and that sounds about right to me considering my current progress. And, uh, the number of times I’ve managed to die and replay a section. I haven’t completed it yet, but I’m not exaggerating when I say that some of the set pieces genuinely invoked the same sense of awe as they did when I first experienced them in Half-Life. The work of happy nostalgia? Yeah, probably. But whatever way I look at it, for all its flaws Black Mesa Source is an amazing piece of work.