Tag Archives: Wolfenstein

The Future is Now…..or soon….or at least ongoing.

2014 is a go ladies and gentlemen, we are rolling. The Earth continues to complete a single revolution on its axis roughly every 24 hours AND simultaneously orbit our Sun at around 67,000 miles per hour. Mash those to astronomical factoids together and you get science, apparently. But you also get time, or more accurately our method of measuring it. Anyway, what was I talking about? Ah yes, games…..

So as we stride forth into the 2014-shaped yonder, your Bioshock Infinite’s and your Shadow Warrior’s are but distant memories, replaced instead with things in the shape of Titanfall and Dying Light. Yes folks, let us look forward to what meaty juices the rich world of games, gaming and gameage has to offer us lucky monkeys this coming 365 planetary revolutions (which is a year, I’m reliably informed).

I won’t do a list of most anticipated titles – only idiots do lists. Besides, there are too many games I’m interested in to do any kind of meaningful list, so I’ll spit my words and see what comes out.

So, not a list, and in no particular order.

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One of the first games dropping this year which has got me reasonably flustered is Eidos Montreal’s reboot of Thief. The first in this series came out back in ’98, with a sequel in 2000, both of which were great games (I didn’t play the 2004 instalment). They almost, sort of, started their own sub-genre in the First Person arena, with the onus almost entirely on stealth, plus as I recall the medieval steam-punk setting was pioneering at the time. I can’t help but feel like this reboot is somehow competing with Dishonoured which in many respects actually felt like a reboot of Thief in its own right, or at least was surely heavily influenced by its legacy. Various reports of a troubled development is always the sort of thing to set the nerves on edge (first announced back in 2009 but reworked from the ground up thereafter) however Eidos Montreal did a pretty good job with Deus Ex: Human Revolution, so here’s hoping.

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There’s no doubt Titanfall is personally one of my most anticipated titles of the year. This bad boy is the first game from Respawn Entertainment, but fear not, those guys are seasoned vets, with co-founders Jason West and Vince Zampella both coming from Infinity Ward and can claim to be chiefly responsible for arguably some of the best titles in the Call of Duty franchise. This game looks to be First Person Carnage at its finest, with the added dynamic of jet packs enabling you to scale buildings in a single bound thus adding literally another dimension (that being vertical) to the battlefield. Oh, and there’s also huge fuckoff mech suits (Titan’s in fact) for you to climb in fight against and oooh it’s all exciting. Please be as good as I hope.

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The other title REALLY tickling ones floppy bits is Elite: Dangerous (Frontier Developments) which I’ve written in detail about before. Strange thing this, because it seems as if my gaming family and I are the only human beings on the face of the frickin’ Earth who are in the slightest bit excited about it. How exactly is this possible? I have trawled a dozen “Most Anticipated Games of 2014” run down’s and not a single one gives it a mention, not even Games Radar’s 100 Most anticipated…… I mean, are they seriously saying there are at least 100 other games scheduled for release this year which they are more excited about? Really? Elite was nothing short of pioneering and changed the shape of gaming forever, so why aren’t people getting giddy about the reboot, especially when the Alpha release looks so saucy? What irks me more is the fact that games like Star Citizen (Cloud Imperium Games) and No Man’s Sky (Hello games) are both similar in theme and are both regulars on said lists. OK, the comparison isn’t entirely fair but you get my point.

star citizen

As it happens, Star Citizen does look pretty sweet. From what I can gather it’s a kind of double-release in that the game is actually comprised of ‘Star Citizen’ which is an MMOG, first-person, space-combat game with trade elements (like…er, Elite) but also ‘Squadron 42’ which is more of a single-player/drop-in drop-out co-op campaign typa’ thing (and we looooooovvveee co-op campaigns in these quarters).

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No Man’s Sky also looks tasty, but in all honesty I’ve only seen a wee taster trailer from VGX and from what I can gather it’s still early days, although the ability to explore the universe from the deepest oceans right through to the furthest reaches of the galaxy is certainly a USP to keep an eye on.

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Dying Light is another title high on my list for 2014. Techland have a lot to answer for after the woefully disappointing Dead Island, and Dying Light could – could – right those wrongs. All the elements are there; zombies, fluid free running, day/night dynamic, co-op (although presently un-specified what co-op elements it will offer) and although the above sounds like a mash up of Brink and Dead island – two awful, awful games – I have hope for this game.

mad max

Mad Max from Avalanche studios is next up. Big fan of George Miller’s first two films that follow ole’ Max Rockatansky in a post apocalyptic down under. I’ve often thought it’s the basis for a good game setting and indeed I would wager id Software were influenced more than a bit when they made RAGE a couple of years ago. Open worldy, survivaly, post apocalypticy; what’s not to get excited about?

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Let’s talk horror. More accurately, survival horror from the Godfather of the Genre himself Shinji Mikami. The gameplay footage and trailers from The Evil Within (Tango gameworks) look suitably unbelievably-horrific with all manner of totally effed up shiz  going on. In fact, I’m not ashamed to say it, when I saw the gameplay trailer showcased at E3 it was dark and late and I was tired and yes fine it made me feel reasonably uneasy and getting to sleep that particular night wasn’t a pleasant experience. I look forward to many more nights of equally uneasy sleeping experiences this year.

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Wolfenstein: The New Order (Machinegames) will hopefully be a solid FPS with B.J. Blazkowics back in the saddle, this time in a mech-infused alternate reality future where Ze Pesky Nazi’s won the war or something. This is the first instalment since waaaaay back in 1992 that doesn’t have id Software involved although Machinegames are using the id Tech 5 engine, so there’s that. What can I say, I can’t help but get excited for this, and the teaser trailer set to Jimmy Hedrix’s All Along the Watchtower just set the moody mood. Plus, I mean, Nazi’s, big guns, c’mon.

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Sticking with Ze Nazi theme, Sniper Elite 3 developed once again by Rebellion has us in North Africa doing the obvious. Sniper Elite V2 was an awesome game which included full 2-player co-op campaign and then went and upped the stakes with Nazi Zombie Army 1 and 2 to the oh-so-brilliant 4-player co-op. There’s been no official statement on just how co-op SE3 will be but I think Rebellion will have missed a trick if they don’t make it 4-player drop-in drop-out. Plus I’ll be pissed off with them, which I’m sure they will be devastated about.

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Ubisoft had to make the list didn’t they? Will this be another year, with yet another disappointment from them? Let’s hope not. The Division, like soooo many Ubisoft games before it is brimming with potential. Don’t get me wrong, Ubi do make some brilliant games (Far Cry 3 a case in point) but they also have a habit of doing the worst console ports ever and just lazily dumping out PC versions without a care in the world and ruining what could be such amazing games. I am currently in the throes of wrestling with the PC port of Splinter Cell: Blacklist which has all the frustrating hallmarks of a Ubi port. I hope hope hope The Division isn’t the same because it looks like one of the few titles which could be considered ‘next gen’ (even though that phrase doesn’t apply to PC’s, but you get the idea). Plus it’s co-op and…..well, need I say more.

tales from the borderlands

I may have mentioned once or twice in previous posts that I’m a Borderlands fan. Have I? Well I am. A big fan. To say the least. Whilst we don’t have a new Borderlands game as such, we do have an episodic game ‘series’ in the vein of The Walking Dead and in fact developed by the same guys over at Telltale games. Tales from the Borderlands should begin sometime in 2014. Yay.

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A recently announced title has immediately registered highly on my excitometer – Evolve from Turtle Rock Studios pits 4 players (in co-op, of course) against 1 almighty alien (also player controlled should you so desire). Said alien starts off in an almost infant like state while the 4 players try and hunt it down and murderlise it before it grows (or ‘evolves’….see) into its adult form. A sort of hunter-becomes-hunted element is one of the games strong suits, but also the idea of every level kind of revolving around ‘a boss’ in some way is intriguing. Not to mention the possibility of having a human in the shoes of the boss in question. All very delicious.

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Another recently announced title also sounds and looks like it has absolutely ooooooodles of potential. Alien: Isolation from The Creative Assembly. I don’t need to go over the history of Alien related games and how they have on the whole fallen so very, very short of their potential (the wounds of Colonial Marines are still raw for me…..) but this looks…..different. Whilst we are still looking for a worthy successor to Rebellion’s 1999 masterpiece Alien Vs Predator in the form of a James Cameron-a-like action-fest, Isolation appears to be taking a different approach and is instead taking its lead from Ridley Scott’s classic 1979 horror-in-space. Still early days on this but it looks like The Creative Assembly have nailed the atmosphere (which is exactly what I said about Gearbox and Colonial Marines prior to its release). Please don’t be shit.

metal gear

Rounding off the list is kind of an also-ran for me but I do have the odd pang of excitement when seeing some of the visuals. Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes (Kojima Productions) serves as the first instalment in a double-release comprising Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain. All that doesn’t really interest me if I’m honest, the Metal gear games have been solid console performers since day dot but always felt very frustrating and repetitive for me, however early gameplay footage from ground Zeroe’s and an impressive film-like cinematic trailer just about gets it on the list.

So that’s it really. Or at least that’s the bulk of it.  There are other games which I am GAGGING to know more about and if they aren’t released this year then hopefully we will at least get some news on them. Such titles include Rainbow 6: patriots which underwent a root-and-branch creative overhaul after most of the senior players were ‘let go’ from Ubisoft. Rainbow 6 games always have potential and the premise for this looked outstanding, so let’s see what happens.

Furious 4

Gearbox has been schtum on Furious 4 for a while now but hopefully they will be ready to get the ball re-rolling on their 4-player co-op Inglorious Basterds-esque Nazi-killing romper stomper.

Among The Sleep is an indie-title I blogged about many weeks ago from Nordic Independent developers Krillbite Studios. I haven’t heard anything on this for a while but now that I have schooled myself in the world of non-violent first person games I am more eager than ever to get my hands on this.

Talking of Indie-games, The Dead Linger is a kickstarter project from Sandswept I’ve been backing and once again has so much potential.  Currently in its Alpha state, it’s a full-on, open world, 4-player co-op zombie survival game in the vein of Day Z. Who knows when this will be ready to hit shelves, but when it does, let’s just hope it’s good.

Lastly, and not leastly, this one is for Valve. This could be their year what with the imminent arrival of Steam OS and the Steam Machines, but must we go another year without any news on Half Life 3? What about Left 4 Dead 3? Will we see another sequel to possibly the best co-op series of all time? Do something amazing Valve. You know you want to.

And so that’s that. What more will the year of gaming offer us mere mortals? Hopefully lots of lovely stuff for me to play and write about.

You may now return to your lives.

P.S. I have never forgotten about Hidden & Dangerous, I just dare not utter the words…….

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Doomsday

December 10th 1993 – Doomsday.

Yes folks. Doom is 20 years old.

I’ve previously chatted my usual brand of word-shit over these here pages about the fact that only very few games can claim such an impact on the entire industry – the entire medium – as to warrant a chapter all to themselves. Well, I think perhaps of all those rare and mighty games, and there aren’t many of ’em, Doom sits above all others. I’d argue that no single other game can claim to have impacted the gamingverse like it (with the possible exception of pong). But before you all form an orderly queue to smash my face in with Space Invaders arcade machines, Mario Brothers cartridges and hadouken’s, let me explain why…..

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Gaming is a very rich medium, and just like other mediums it has genres and sub-categories and the like. Some of these are difficult to pigeon-hole and define, but others are not, and I would put it to you dear reader that the Titan of the gaming genre’s is the First Person Shooter.

Just to clarify, I’m not championing the FPS over all other genre’s; I’m not saying it’s a better style of gaming or superior in any way shape or form. True, my personal preference tends to lean toward the FPS over other game-types but I would hope like me the vast majority of gamers enjoy all the fruits from our shared and beloved tree. My point is that the First Person Shooter could arguably be considered the biggest, most popular style of gaming for varying reasons. Call of Duty and the like – whatever you think of that particular franchise and its various clones and forerunners is testament to just how big the genre is. I’m not even saying that’s necessarily justified, but this entire article kind of hinges on this point so go with it. Going with it? Good. Well then, if that is indeed the case, if the FPS is the Daddy, then Doom is the Godfather; Doom started it all…

OK so that’s not strictly true. Doom wasn’t the first FPS (proper), as I’m sure everyone knows. That particular honour is bestowed upon Wolfenstein 3D (also from developer id Software – more on them later). But Doom was the one that made it all proper, the one that hit it big, the one that made the impact.

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Wolfenstein 3D was released in 1992, a year before Doom, and was a sort of spiritual successor to the old Atari 8-bit/Commodor 64 game Castle Wolfenstein (and its sequel Beyond Castle Wolfenstein) released in the 80’s. Wolfenstein 3D put you in the shoes of ‘BJ Blazkowicz’, an allied GI Joe P.O.W escaping Ze Nazi’s notorious prison ‘Castle Wolfenstein’. It was a breakthrough game, a seminal moment. It set the benchmark and created a new playing field. Prior to Wolfenstein the closest video games (still of course in their infancy) came to anything remotely similar were very rudimentary – essentially wire-frame games like Maze War (first released waaay back in 1974 – Jesus that’s old). Wolfenstein was a piece of class for what it was. You’d think then that this article should be about that game? Why Doom? Because where Wolfenstein drew a map, laid foundations and drafted blueprints, Doom went right ahead and set that shit on fire.

Doom built on it all. Over the blueprints laid out by its predesessor, it created nothing less than a First Person Shooter Bible. It had the fucking lot. A decent pulp, sci-fi story; Demons unleashed from Hell onto the moons of Mars after secret government experiments went tits-up (it even had a back story for the main character which was fleshed out in the accompanying leaflet found inside the games box). A large array of interesting enemy types which were progressively revealed as you advanced in the game, all of which got increasingly more difficult to kill. A mighty roster of guns (Wolfenstein had only 3); pistol, shotgun, chaingun, rocket launcher, plasma rifle and of course the iconic BFG. It even gave you a particularly vicious and satisfying melee option in the form of a big fucking chainsaw, not to mention all the now-standard-issue FPS pre-requisites like body armour, medkits and the like. The thing even had night vision. It had a satisfying heft to its gameplay too which was helped by the weapons feeling like they really counted, there was blood, there were reloading animations…..and all of this wrapped up in a deliciously menacing atmosphere.

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^ Big F*****g Gun

That’s one of Doom’s trump cards; it really did have atmosphere. It was scary. You felt alone and outnumbered (because you were). The cries of the Demonic beasts that rang unseen through the levels kept you on your toes and ratcheted up the tension, which was then released perfectly in some of the earliest adrenaline-fuelled, pant-wetting carnage I can remember. And it really was you in there. There was never any character name (except for ‘Doomguy’). That was a deliberate aspect designed precisely for that reason. He doesn’t have a name, because he’s you. It’s a funny thing, because I remember thinking of the 2004 ‘reboot’ of Doom (er…Doom 3 I believe) that was one of the most disappointing things about it; a lack of atmosphere. id seemed to forget what atmosphere was and defaulted back to ‘darkness = atmos’ which of course isn’t the case; Doom had almost no shadows at all.

Almost all of those things that Doom did are still seen in the marrow of good shooters today. The elements in it play like a tick list of ‘must-haves’ for all the FPS games that followed. Indeed, the phrase ‘Doom clone’ was common during the 90’s as everyone wanted a piece of the bloody, shooty pie.

Jesus it even had controversy surrounding it. Due to its ultra-violence, it’s use of Demonic enemies, Satanic imagery and generally the whole ‘Hell’ thing, it was attacked by religious groups, branded a ‘murder simulator’ by some out of touch, self righteous prick, and just generally picked on by people who didn’t know what the fuck they were talking about. It was arguably the first ‘video-game nasty’ which was to inevitably corrupt the youth of the day. And not just ‘the day’ either; it’s ‘corrupting legacy’ was and is still wheeled out and dusted off whenever some fucked up kid goes on murderous rampage in a school. The killers responsible for the Columbine massacre in Oklahoma in 1999 were heavily into Doom and the tabloid press couldn’t shout about it enough.

All that aside, it wasn’t just the obvious ‘gamer’ things Doom pioneered. It was techy stuff as well. Engine development. Networking (which was a notoriously bumpy journey in itself). Multiplayer, and of course Modding. id released Doom’s source code in 1997 and since then it has been modded to Hell and back. Spaghetti Western Doom mods, Sonic The Hedgehog Mods, Ultra Brutal Mods, Ghostbusters, Mario, Batman, Aliens, they’ve all been launched into the Doom-world in some form or another.

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^ The infamous ‘Brutal Doom’ mod.

This is why for me Doom stands alone. It wrote the book on the First Person Shooter, the biggest selling genre in gaming today. The commercial dominance of titles like Call of Duty and Battlefield, the almost religious following and anticipation of the Half Life series, the unequalled carnage of Unreal Tournament. These all owe Doom everything.

And because of Dooms’ legacy on this genre, which has bought so much interest, so many new gamers, consumers, developers and cash to the industry, it is in fact the entire industry itself that has benefited from the impact Doom had. Without Doom the industry itself may be very different. Other genres may not have the interest invested into them. They may have not had the heart and soul and resources poured into them. Gaming in itself and the epic culture that surrounds it would be a totally different thing if not for those pioneers at id.

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Let me also just say this. No article or blog on the legacy of Doom would be complete without highlighting id software’s contribution to gaming and in particular the FPS genre. Wolfenstein, Doom, Quake, Duke Nukem; all id. The old guard that pioneered the genre with those titles have fragmented and gone on to other developers now; other projects, other games, leaving only one of the original Doom team to be involved in the next instalment (current title I believe is ‘Doom 4’) due for release…er whenever the fuck it’s ready (to paraphrase the remaining Founding Father himself John Carmack). That small team of programmers and software developers are as responsible – in my opinion – as anyone else for gaming being the goliath entertainment industry that it is today, not to mention one of the greatest, artistic and immersive mediums we’ve got.

It is for those gushing reasons that I believe Doom stands dominant as the single most influential game of all time. What Doom did is still being felt to this very day on the latest and greatest titles that gaming has to offer. And with the technology ever improving, the budgets increasing, the talent emerging and the industry as a whole going from strength to strength, that is no mean feat.