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Tag: Computer Games Page 2 of 3

Return to Team Fortress

Team Fortress 2After playing Valve’s last flagship multiplayer game, Team Fortress 2, on and off over the past year, I’ve had some of my initial thoughts change since my post earlier this year. A raft of modifications, patches and packs have tweaked the game’s dynamics and bolstered its features such that the game now exudes a certain amount more polish than previously. My earlier speculation that Valve would not have the time (or eventually the inclination) to produce ‘service packs’ for that other classes in the game, after the length of time the original Medic pack took to be released, seems to have been disproved, with two further releases in the intervening period. These packs not only added achievements and unlockable weapons to two further classes, the Pyro and the Heavy, but also added extra game modes and maps.

I had originally written this post, long lingering in the limbo of the drafts bin, pointing out a number of weaknesses with the game as it stood. The most recent patch has done much to address those problems, and is a welcome and rather unexpected update, given Valve had denied there would be any releases for Team Fortress 2 until 2009 on account of the amount of work going into their latest release, Left 4 Dead. I’ve gone through and added some comments or changes where necessary, to reflect the recent update, though on the whole this post retains its original state.

Assaulting the Team Fortress

Team Fortress 2

Valve’s Team Fortress 2 is already over six months old, so now might seem like an odd time to write a post on the games merits, but with the recent release of the Medic Achievement pack, and the rather surprising (though not unwelcome) news that Valve intends to integrate some of its popular features and improvements into the ageing Day of Defeat: Source, I decided I’d jot down a few of my impressions.

The release of Team Fortress 2 came as something of a surprise, after so little news about its development, with virtually nothing concrete after the initial revelations in 1999. The finished version bears absolutely no relation to those initial screenshots, instead maintaining much stronger links to the original modification Team Fortress Classic, with a strong glossy coat of The Incredibles style graphics and an uncut, Columbian-strength injection of humour.

Daily Links

Plugoo – Talk with your site visitors through your favourite instant messenger with this blog plugin. The idea’s a nice one, though there would appear to be plenty of potential for abuse.

Spheers – Fancy downloading your brain? Alright, that’s not quite the idea, but spheers.com, currently in beta, seems to be offering a way of keeping tabs on all that digital information which passes our eyes so we can come back to it later.

Super Cook – A site which offers almost exactly what I wrote about in this post. A few features they could yet implement, but overall a pretty decent site for checking recipes and getting new ideas.

TypeRacer – Nice little game to improve your typing skills. Practice on your own or go head-to-head in a race with other players.

Company of Heroes Review

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Company of Heroes

With some of the highest scores awarded for a real-time strategy, being one of the Top 20 Metacritic All-Time High Scores, Company of Heroes ended up being one of those games I had little excuse not to try out, given that my PC could (just about) run it. Admittedly I’m unable to comment on the graphical splendour which seems to have charmed so many gamers’ hearts, as every setting on my screen reads either ‘low’ or ‘off’, but I’ve played a fair few strategy games over the years, and despite my early cynicism, Company of Heroes has warmed to me after a little experience on the online battlefields.

Whenever a game is released with a major historical theme, such as the ever popular World War II era, cries go up about the loss of realism to the gaming gods. Such and such would never happen, this and that never existed. Of course, many strategy games don’t even attempt to pander to the pedants of realism, and have been all the more successful for it (take the recent Supreme Commander, or any in the Command and Conquer series). Company of Heroes is no saint in this regard either, but its efforts to create a game at once realistic and fun have to be admired. There will always be players who complain about how developers could have stayed truer to real life, but Relic have done a good job in creating a game which at least seems realistic enough, and in ways which make the game fun to play. Shells fired at tanks have a chance of only glancing off the armour, and depending on the situation might even miss altogether; units under heavy fire become surpressed, limiting their movements and actions, or even pinned, leaving them helpless unless pulled out or relieved; and the variety of weapons and vehicles keep the tactics fresh and varied.

Advertising Takes The Logical Next Step

Zool: An early example of in-game advertising

We should be clear about one thing. In-game advertising isn’t new. And not just the self-effacing, tongue-in-cheek form of advertising epitomised by the Loom™-toting pirate in LucasArts’ The Secret of Monkey Island. Anyone who remembers Zool from the early 1990s might recall the Chupa Chups sponsorship deal, and the FIFA series has been using advertising on their billboards for many years, though what with ‘image rights’ being big money for clubs and players alike, the football genre could be said to have entrenched itself in the realm of ‘reverse’ advertising.

Nevertheless, the presence of advertising in games has been pretty low key, considering the industry’s growth over the past decade or so. Advertising is not usually so slow to find its way into new forms of media entertainment, Internet advertising being the biggest example of recent times. So the news that in-game advertising rights for Counter-Strike (the ‘big one’ as far as non-MMORPGs is concerned) have been sold to IGA should only come as expected. Previously adverts for Valve’s flagship had been reserved for brief loading screens, an idea which apparently never took hold. Where Internet advertising has had much reaction to the point where many people block out adverts as a matter of course, this will be more difficult to achieve in such a gaming environment, and should it succeed, might result in future games featuring truly hard-coded advertising avenues.

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