PC Gaming = World of Suck

Mercutio

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#1
Since I just upgraded my game PC to something nice-ish (x2/3800, x800 GTS/256MB), I thought I'd go look for something new and cool to play on it.
Little did I know that all PC games on the market right now suck in ways that could only be explained by an analogy to gay porn that I don't feel comfortable investigating.

Looking at what's on the shelves, this is what I can see:

Half-Life 2: What's wrong with it? Steam. Too bad, 'cause it looks cool when it isn't eating all my upstream bandwidth (yeah, yeah, you can turn it off. Don't care. Shouldn't have to for a single player game that doesn't even need a network component).

something Tycoon: Holy crap, why are there 50 games to let you be a tycoon? I remember Railroad Tycoon, and that was OK (sorry, jtr), but what the hell is up with "Carnival Cruise Ship Tycoon" or "Pizza Tycoon" or "Zoo Tycoon 3". I like sandbox-type games but from my examination of the boxes, a prominent element in all these games is where you put restrooms. Gah! Bring back Civilization! Or Alpha Centauri!

World War 2 FPS: I saw, I dunno, five or six titles that let someone play a foot soldier with a machine gun. I couldn't tell any of them apart, and I'm not seeing a whole lot of appeal for that as a genre. Why the hell are there five identical games?

x-random-console port: First of all, just say no to consoles. Limited control. Vapid gameplay. Save positions doled out like favors from the Godfather. Horrible Japanese influences. No, thank you. There were a lot of games in this category, and to me that's criminal.

107 different Poker titles: Must be a trend. PC poker games were fine when they were freeware. Did someone forget to tell the gaming public?

Movie/TV licensed titles: Is there a big overlap between PC gamers and CSI:Miami fans all of a sudden?

MMO, MMO, MMO: Lots of these, and if there are swords and elves, they're all pretty much the same game.

Random non-WW2 FPS: The graphics engine of 2002, today! The main thing that's annoying about these titles is that they all pretty much focus on a multiplayer experience that I'm frankly not that interested in.

Rome: Total War: I'm guessing this is an RTS. I'd put Roman warfare simulation in a deep niche category. Who wanted that game? Where did all the cool RTSes go? Did the people who want to fully experience the tactical superiority of the shield wall steal the good games? C&C? Kohan? Total Annihilation?

Blizzard Crap: I've never been even remotely entertained by a Blizzard click fes... game, but everything they've ever made is still on the shelf. I even found the original Diablo and Warcraft games in the $5 bin.

The Sims - Orgy at Studio 54 edition: I hear "The Sims" is really popular with girl-type gamers, and I'm OK with that. But... wow there are a lot of for-pay expansion packs taking up shelf space. Couldn't they maybe make some of that crap free on the internet so my local retailer could maybe stock ONE good game?

I didn't see anything like a single-player RPG or an adventure game. No strategy games (something PCs are generally better suited to than consoles). No simulations worth having. Driving games bore me. Where are the giant ass-kicking robot sims? No first person shooters that don't look like unreal tournament (well, OK, or "Something crapped the third reich"). Nothing met my very basic requirements: Be single player, and look cool. Certainly nothing that looked like it needs an x800-anything.

I came home and spent 45 minutes setting up my game machine so it can boot DOS. Mechwarrior 2 looks like crap by today's standards, but at least it's fun.
 

Mercutio

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#3
Remember to play the DOS version. The Win32 version doesn't have the whole, cool score or a 1024x768 display mode.

PC games used to be good. I don't know what the hell happened.

I'm looking at my collection of PC games. I see some really great and creative stuff here. Games that didn't suck.

Descent - the ultimate midi-based soundtrack, and a game that required that you actually move in all three dimensions (often simultaneously).

Syndicate - More like an RTS game than anything else, you control a squad of cybernetic goons on missions of stealth and mass violence in futuristic urban settings. Game highlight: Standing in one place with Mind Control devices for a half hour or so, then using your own personal enraged mob to handle your mission for you.

Scorched Earth - The simple joy of Gorilla.bas, updated to include MIRVs and funky bombs.

Magic Candle - This is so old, my copy is on 5.25" disks. This is a fairly unique RPG. It has a time limit and an immediate, defined goal. Early on, your characters can't survive a fight with ANYTHING, so fighting is a last resort, and you don't know anything about the huge game world. If you aren't charming enough, people won't talk to you. Townsfolk keep a set schedule. Clues are written in languages made for the game... for being a 20 year old game, the realism level is pretty high.

Civilization/Civ2/Alpha Centauri - What more is there to say about these games than they're great strategy-fests? I like the nice, abstract military game best of all.

Starflight - OK, one, this game's manual is hilarious. Two, the scope of this game - one that fit on a 360k floppy, is mind-blowing. Your job is to survey the galaxy for another planet for your civilization to inhabit, since yours is dying. There are hundreds of planets, each one has its own 64x64 up to 256x256 map and lots of strange, random stuff everywhere.
I played Starflight on and off for 14 years until I finally won. THAT was an accomplishment.

The Lucasarts SCUMM games - Day of the Tentacle, Loom, Sam and Max, Full Throttle, Monkey Island... those games all had great, interesting plots and liberal dashes of humor. RIP adventure gaming.

Ultima games - Like the Magic Candle, the Ultima games had huge and fairly logical and realistic worlds. The real fun in those games was that you were supposed to actually talk to the world's inhabitants (actual text entry!). Also, as the avatar of good in the world, the games would punish your "misbehavior", often acts that were encouraged parts of other RPGs.

Pirates! - The original, or the 1995 remake (which basically added VGA graphics and soundblaster support), not the current blasphemy. Sail the Spanish Main for treasure and glory! The gameplay was actually very simple, consisting mostly of steering your boat around a large map of the Caribbean and very simple swordfights, but there is absolutely nothing more exhilerating than knowing that one hit is all that stands between victory and defeat you while you hold out to sack San Juan.
 

i

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#4
Merc, if you're starting your own game development company in Canada, let me know.
 

Mercutio

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#5
Honestly, it seems like a lot of really great stuff could be done, using Flash as a graphics engine. A lot of older, non-sucky games basically used tiles and sprites for everything, and that's pretty much what Flash is all about.

I mean, look at the FSM flash game I linked to, or all games on the Homestar Runner site...
 

sechs

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#6
Gaming has been really uninspiring lately. The accountants have wrested control.

The only game that I've bought in the last six months is Nintendogs -- and that wasn't for me.
 
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#7
I'm playing 2 games lately, and neither strctly meets your requirements.

Battlefield 2 - Yes it is primarily multiplayer and has no plot, but the singleplayer is still quite fun and the graphics are gorgeous.

C&C Generals - Single player is great and "Generals Challenge" on expert neigh impossible. Took me 2 years and a lot of luck to even win one of the 9 possible. The graphics aren't mindblowing, but turned all the way up it looks quite nice.
 

Fushigi

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#8
Sounds like the gaming industry is taking a page, or maybe a chapter, from Hollywood's playbook. Little creativity, lots of remakes/series, milk a franchise until it's worth nada, etc.

Makes me glad I'm not a gamer.
 

Mercutio

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#9
To me the biggest crimes are the fact that many games these days are ported console titles that don't take advantage of PC hardware and the sudden narrowing of allowable genres.
 

sechs

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#11
ddrueding said:
C&C Generals - Single player is great and "Generals Challenge" on expert neigh impossible. Took me 2 years and a lot of luck to even win one of the 9 possible. The graphics aren't mindblowing, but turned all the way up it looks quite nice.
My copy of Generals is permanently on loan to a friend. The single player just isn't interesting to me.

Have you tried Armies of Exigo?
 

Handruin

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#14
I downloaded Armies of Exigo (multi-player) and I found it to be an uninspiring rip-off of WCIII. The visuals are better, but WCIII came out over 3 years ago so I can't fault it. :)

Also, I don't know if the game is limited to 1280x1024 resolution just because it is a demo, but that is a dissapointment since my native res is 1600x1200.
 

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#15
Merc, if you enjoyed Scorched Earth, try to find a copy of worms 2, or worms world party (skip the 3d version). It's not original an idea, but it's very similar in concept to the original Scorched Earth. We play it at just about every LAN party because it's still that much fun. It doesn't need a local LAN connection to play mutli-player, but we do it anyway because we have our machines handy. If you ever want to play a game over the net, let me know.
 

sechs

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#16
Handruin said:
I downloaded Armies of Exigo (multi-player) and I found it to be an uninspiring rip-off of WCIII.
You have to realise that all RTS games of this genre are very similar. It *is* what they are all about. Armies of Exigo is a considerably more inspired rip-off of the genre than War Craft III.

I don't play a lot of RTS multiplayer as I don't have time to think. Basically, I show up and get annihilated while I try to figure out where to put buildings. Not a lot of fun.
 

Mercutio

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#19
Handruin, I loves me some Worms. Haven't played it in forever, can't find my install discs for any of the versions I have (2, World Party or 3), but I do think it's good fun. Ninja rope + Ming Vase for the win!

Farcry I will have to look for. Groltz also suggested Riddick-something-or-other, which is based on a very silly movie. I guess that one might be good, but at this point I do not know.

I'm also looking for a pirated copy of Halflife 2 that works. I don't mind saying that I'm looking for a pirated copy; I already own it. I just consider the original, "real" version unplayable. I've tried a couple that I've snagged from torrents. So far, all the ones I've tried have been not-working somehow.
 

Gilbo

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#20
I think Civilization IV is coming out soon. I haven't really looked into it personally, but it might be worth paying attention to. Of course this doesn't solve your present predicament.
 

sechs

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#25
Civ3 was only on the cusp of capturing my interest... Alpha Centauri still seems to me to be a better game.

When SMAC2 comes up, it'll merit much closer consideration.
 

Santilli

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#26
No One Lives Forever
Xfiles
Call of Duty

No one lives forever 2


But, my favorite game was

Tex Murphy, and I'd almost like to build a 98 machine just to play it...

Max Payne 1 and 2.

Lord of the Rings?

Quake 3?

gs
 

Mercutio

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#27
NOLF was funny. I played it through a couple times (once in god mode just to hear the random chatter from the underlings). Also played the sequel.
Call of Duty is a boring world war 2 game, or something.
Quake3 is basically a multiplayer-only game. That is not my idea of a good time.
Tex Murphy and Under a Killing Moon were cool. Personally I liked "Rise of the Dragon" better, and also "The Circuit's Edge".


Sam and Max are getting a new Game!!!!
 

Mercutio

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#28
I tried FarCry and Riddick last night.

Riddick is clearly doing neat things, graphics-wise, but I can also tell that it started its life as some kind of console title. The controls are annoyingly imprecise, and there's a lot of "use the mouse to point at something, instead of just typing on the keyboard" going on. Voice acting is good, but I got the impression I was being led around by the nose. Shadows look great and the neat little touch of being able to see dust in the air in brightly lit places is really cool. I give it a provisional Meh+.

FarCry. The jury is still out on this one, but so far it isn't bad. I know the big deal with this title is supposed to be the graphics, and indeed the outdoors look really good. Biggest plus of all is that it's an FPS that doesn't look like UT or World War 2.

Now if I could just find a decent new strategy game...
 

Mercutio

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#32
The guns in farcry all seem pretty crappy. I've got the hang of "aim at the feet and let the gun pull upwards", but a lot of the time you can empty a clip at something, see a dozen shots connect, and then watch as they don't die.
 

Santilli

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#33
Well, not to mention driving reactions aren't exaclty real time, either.

I agree with the shooting stuff. Shot placement is what it's all about, and I think, IIRC, it's head shots count, body doesn't. But that could be Unreal Tournament with the sniper rifle... I don't play often enough to remember...

GS
 

Mercutio

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#36
Handruin said:
The makers of FarCry's engine have a neat video of their new features. Worth a look if you got 5 minutes to spare.
Yay destructible environments!
Games are more fun when you can kill walls and trees and buildings.

Perfect example: Freedom Force.
I played that game a lot longer because, as my characters got tougher, I could knock down buildings and toss cars around.
 

Handruin

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#37
Another game that had destructible environments is red faction (and red faction 2). This made the game hilarious in LAN play. We still play this occasionally at LAN parties. Nothing is more fun than making an exit to a tight situation by destroying the wall next to you. :)


In that video, I also liked how the plants interacted with the player. The attention to details like this make for an awesome game sometimes.
 

Fushigi

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#40
I use the MX-1000 'laser' mouse and like it a lot. But I'm not a gamer so I couldn't comment on how well it'd perform in a gaming environment. I also use Logitech MX-700s and a 510. I've used nothing but Logitech mice whenever possible since about 1985.
 
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