Tag Archives: Half-Life 2

City Of The Daleks Adventure Game

Deep in the mists of 2010, the BBC started releasing Doctor Who games on their website. This series of games was entitled “The Adventure Games”. The first was released around the time of the Van Gogh episode, and the second coincided with Matt Smith’s first season finale.

These free games were only free to people in the UK, and they couldn’t be downloaded from abroad. I found this out by already being abroad by this time. I was provided a disc of the first Adventure Game, downloaded in the UK, but then I found out the other limitation: you had to be in the UK to install it as well.

I saw that at least some of them became available for purchase-download for those abroad, but I didn’t bother at the time.

I see the games are now available on Steam, currently about $20, though I did not get them from there. I checked Amazon recently, and they were a little more than that. I happened to see a disc version of all 5 games in Wal-Mart, for a few cents under $10.

Oh, go on then.

I installed all 5 on Windows 10, and ran the first one. It didn’t run very smoothly. Today I went back into Vista and installed them there, and the one I tried, ran just fine.

I played through the first game, City Of The Daleks. Kids watched the beginning, but creeping around trying to avoid detection by the metal meanies, at the beginning of the game, got a little scary for them. They spent the rest of the game with their attentions divided between the game, and shows on the laptop (3-2-1 Penguins and Strawberry Shortcake).

There were some moments in the game where timing was tricky, and I had to play some sections over, but all in all the game wasn’t too hard.

The game saves itself after significant points: if  you’re supposed to collect objects, it’ll save after you pick it up, for example, but there’s no save function that you can choose to use (“phew, I got round that corner, let me save here so I don’t have to start again from way over there”).

The launcher on the disc needed to be run each time I wanted to install one of the games, couldn’t just do them all at once. Similarly, the games are stand-alone, when you finish one there’s no in-game (or in-menu) button to load the next one now.

There’s several points where the game will tell you off for going the wrong way, so there’s that feeling that the game has laid out the path, and you must follow it. Some games get away with that better than others. I think this game leaned towards not faring very well, but I have played games that did a lot worse.

Having said that, there are a bunch of collectable objects hidden throughout the game, and I missed a whole bunch of them. It seems like there shouldn’t have been many places for them to hide, with the straightforward-path-ness of the game, so perhaps there’s slightly more ability to explore than I give it credit for.

I tend to have subtitles on for movies, TV shows, and games, when they’re available, as often the sound needs to be turned down, due to circumstances. Reading some of the lines as they appeared, one knows what is meant by the line, and the inflections needed to convey the right meaning through those words. It seemed that Matt Smith was, in places, just reading the words, rather than understanding them and conveying the meaning. I rather hope he put a bit more effort into the other ones.

There are cutscenes, and you can’t skip them. Most of the time this doesn’t matter as it’s part of the story, but when you’re dying for the third time on the same puzzle, it would be really nice to skip the dying animation. Or, if you started the game on Win10, and want to get to where you left off (the actual playing part) in Vista, there’s not a way to skip to that bit. Sit and enjoy it, or go make a snack. (I was fine watching that bit a second time, with the animations smoother and no lag between the voice and the animations). Were I to want to play it through again to get the collectables that I missed this fact might put me off doing it on the soonish side.

Most of the game, you’re controlling the Doctor, and Amy is following him. A fair chunk of the game you’re sneaking around, trying to avoid being detected by Daleks. At one point, I got the Doctor through, and Amy got exterminated and I had to do the part again. A bit later in the game, I got the Doctor through down one side of a corridor, while the Dalek was looking the other way. I turn round to see if Amy made it (though I would very much know if she didn’t), and after a few seconds she emerges from the other side of the corridor, having made her own timing decisions. So, AI not the best, but not consistently bad.

Oftentimes you have to duck into corners to evade detection, but then getting out of corners, particularly when there’s debris about, is awkward. Worse when Amy gets in the way and won’t get out of the way. The problems with this are more noticeable at the beginning of the game, I don’t know if I just got used to them, or if matters actually improved. At least the collision detection here wasn’t as fatally bad as in Destiny Of The Doctors.

I feel like I’ve made the game sound a whole lot worse than it was. The above problems were there, were noticeable, but ultimately were fairly minor. They didn’t make me want to stop playing and never come back to them. The low difficulty level can be put down to the game being aimed at 10- to 15-year-olds. To some up how I feel, I’d probably use words like “ok”, “average”, and “not too bad”.

Not in a rush to play City Of The Daleks again to find all the collectables I missed, think I’ll be happy to play the other stories. I feel more in a rush to return to my game of Half-Life 2: Update, to see if I can finally get across that stupid beach without stepping on the sand.

“If you go to Ravenholm, you will die”

I like playing games, though I don’t really make a lot of time for doing so. Playing Final Fantasy VII with Oldest hasn’t happened in a while. I’ve downloaded a few games that I haven’t tried out, yet. Got a way into Cut The Rope 2, and log in most days to get the prize of the day, most days I don’t spend more time than that.

I’m fairly competitive so with the Final Fantasies I like doing all the side quests and getting all the items, Cut The Rope 2 I like solving each level all 3 ways, otherwise I would probably be a lot further ahead.

And then there’s games with Achievements. My first encounter with something like this was in Command And Conquer: Generals, medals for doing so many of different kinds of maps, medals for defeating the different General types and so on.

Though I prefer games that just come on CD or DVD and one can just play without having to do a tedious download, or even worse an update right when you want to be playing, any Achievements you earn while playing games are tied to your account and you don’t lose them.

Actually, I think it’s the same way with games in the Windows Store, though I only have installed one game that has Achievements: Microsoft Sudoku. (Had it on for less than a month, and already have most of the achievements, though one will take 8 months to get and another 12).

After getting through Half-Life 2 on Steam, there were several Achievements I didn’t achieve, and the competitive person in me has considered going back and getting them. Well, I didn’t and didn’t, but then a remake with updated graphics, Half-Life 2: Update, was released to everyone who already had Half-Life 2. And the Achievements were the same.

This seemed the perfect opportunity to go back and start over. One Achievement in particular, that I missed first time round, involves finding the Lambda symbol, or some supplies near to them, through all the game. So I basically have to play through the whole game to get this one, and was a big one I wanted to get, but had kinda been putting off.

I’m doing OK so far on that one, but there was another that I tried first time that was Hard with a capital Difficult. Get through Ravenholm using only the Gravity Gun.

At this point in the game, you’ve only just got the Gravity Gun, with which you can pick up objects, then either drop them, or fling them at high speed.

Ravenholm is a zombie-infested hell hole. It has regular zombies, the insanely fast zombies, regular headcrabs (nasty little critters that jump on peoples’ heads and turns them into zombies), toxic headcrabs (let’s just say that they’re so much worse), and carrier zombies (have a bunch of headcrabs on their head and shoulders that they just throw at you).

The level is rather easier if you’re using the other weapons you have at your disposal. The shotgun is quite helpful.

Now, there are rather a lot of helpful objects around that you can throw at all these zombies and headcrabs. The circular saw blades are the most effective, as long as you hit. Flammable barrels can affect a large area. Bricks, and plain barrels can be helpful in a pinch.

There’s one human (half-crazed) inhabitant of Ravenholm: Father Grigorio. At a few points, he’ll show up and ramble madly at you, and also take out a few enemies with his shotgun. He has also set a bunch of traps around the town, which can help you out. Or kill you, if you’re not careful.

If you’ve not played the level before, you’re going to be dying and reloading (and hopefully saving, frequently) a whole bunch of times. If you’re going for the Gravity Gun Achievement, same applies.

Hence the Babylon 5 reference in this post’s title. The original line was, “If you go to Z’ha’dum, you will die.” Ravenholm may well be worse.

With the Gravity Gun, you can only carry 1 thing at a time. For a good chunk of the level, you can take it slow: carry a circular saw blade so far, go back and get another, take it to where you dropped the first, go and get a third. Less good is when you shoot one, need it again and can’t find where the stupid thing landed.

And that’s just in the buildings and in the streets: a fair chunk of the level you’re on walkways partway up the outside of the buildings. Very easy to lose stuff up there.

Oh no! Accidentally switched to the crowbar and swooshed it! Load saved game…

So there’s this part where you go into a door at the top of a building, and call the elevator to get down to street level, where a zombie horde is milling about. you close the door, call the elevator, and some of those insanely fast zombies break their way in through the skylight. The room, while not perhaps strictly small, is small enough to the point where, once you’ve picked up an object to throw, the fast zombie has knocked it out of your grip before you’ve had a chance to aim.

After several tries, one time making it into the lift, with the speedy so-and-sos also making it in, I figured it was really time to try something different. Before you go into the room, you can see down into the street you’re trying to get into. I found it safer to just jump down there, straight into the (for the most part, much slower) zombie horde than be trapped in a room with the fast ones.

Phew!

After that, the street was much easier: the fast ones showing up but not quite so close together, a trap that works once and then breaks, but you can Gravity Gun the broken-off part to good effect (repeatedly,as long as you can find the thing). Then you’re back onto the rooftops, and hey, there’s the cart I need to get across the gap, how do I get it here? Oh man, need to go back into the street into a building… OK, got it. Now back onto the roofs and walkways, further this time, Father Grigorio shows up for the last time, we can join him and he’ll accompany us through the graveyard.

But first, we have to wait on top of this building, for another little cart, that will carry us across the gap. And I have no objects to throw. (There are some ammunition boxes here, but throwing them does no good). And there are two fast zombies coming, one coming up the drainpipe (that you can’t knock down, though it be loose), and the other… Aargh! I don’t care! It’s coming!

So, defenseless (even if I had things to throw, the situation would be like being in the lift room, only there’d be a lot more losing the weapons off the side of the building), under attack, what do I do?

Run around, trying not to get hit. Jump in the cart when it arrives. Hit the button to be taken away.

Surprisingly, this method works, and the fast zombies decline to join me in the cart. Whew!

Comparatively, the graveyard is a lot easier. Then the mines.

Infested with headcrabs. And a few things to throw at them, but not quite what you would call an abundance. And then a barnacle (thing that lives on a ceiling, has a long sticky tongue that dangles down, if it touches you, it catches you and pulls you up to be eaten by the Big Pointy Teeth). This barnacle you have to use as a lift, and then not die.

The barnacle took a couple of turns, but was pretty easy to figure out. The mine workings, with elevated walkways and such, was harder with the many headcrabs running around on the floor. Managed to take a lot of them out with flammable barrels, then found a spot where they could get up to me one at a time, and sometimes the Gravity Gun blast will kill them (else it will just knock them away, at least on headcrabs the Gravity Gun will have an effect without needing an extra object to throw).

And then, after a much easier ascent, we reach daylight. There’s a little bit more to the Ravenholm chapter of the game, fortunately we get the achievement before we have to go through that.

Man, that was hard. But there’s an achievement on Update that I didn’t get on Original. Not in a rush to go back and get it there…

Here attached is a video of someone-not-me playing the level without going for the achievement: going with this one because there’s no commentary going on.
Warning: In case you hadn’t realised from everything I’ve said so far, there’s some violence.

Games and Processed Meat

I had a couple of spam comments the other day, but yesterday’s post on The Ra Expeditions really tapped into a vein (well, 21 spam comments). A couple of them mentioned “video”, I wonder if the YouTube link triggered it. Well, I’m throwing in a bunch more, today!

I played a couple of old games today: the first one to keep Oldest and Youngest distracted (it only worked for Oldest), and the second because it was easier to switch back and forth between that and dealing with kids, that trying to concentrate on something more productive and dealing with kids.

So the first game was Gran Turismo 2. Youngest loves cars (and trucks, he doesn’t have many words but he distinguishes between those), and Oldest does like playing games.

We were playing a 2-player game in Arcade Mode. This has a reasonable selection of cars, and a limited number of tracks (3 tracks in Road Race, 1 in Rally). You can add more cars by extensively playing in GT Mode, I haven’t played that extensively, and I’m not sure I even have any saves of it.

I won most of the games (as you’d expect), even with having to deal with Youngest (who would occasionally point and say “car”, but most of the time was trying to escape to be with other people).

Oldest almost won a round, running with a 200-odd horsepower car while I ran with the significantly less powerful classic Mini Cooper. Not only was the Mini the car with the absolute least horsepower available (61 IIRC, with a couple of other options clocking in at 63 and maybe 65?), it was also terrible to steer. This of course made Oldest terribly excited, he kept wanting me to use that car again. I did, after trying the other 60-something HP cars first, he won that one.

Funnily enough, after resisting the Rally option the whole time (I forced it on him at the end), he won that round, too. That time, I was running a 400HP car against his 200-something HP car. Thre were just points where my car wanted to do nothing but spin…

I wanted to find the part of the single-player campaign that acted a bit as a tutorial – a big yellow line on the track to help you learn how to take corners is a feature I particularly remember – to help Oldest learn how to play well/beat me. By the time I’d figured out what it was (going for licenses on GT mode), Oldest was done with Gran Turismo for the day.

The Rally track, and Oldest’s favourite Road track, both had “Tahiti Road” in the name. It’s a magical place.

I remember with car racing games on older systems (Commodore 64, Sega MegaDrive) scenery appearing when it was pretty close, you couldn’t see it very far ahead. I noticed that on some corners on GT2 this time round (“oh, this bit of track is visible now…. here it is!”), but thankfully it’s still far enough in the distance that you’re not basing your next few steering moves on it.

The second game is one I’m currently having a “reminiscence run” of, is Star Trek: Birth Of The Federation (download link). I have the CD, it’s nice to not need it.

BOTF is along the lines of the Civilization games. Expand your territory, make the other major races your friends, then squash them like the bugs they are. There are some minor races that you can befriend or conquer.

The opening videos aren’t very inspiring (and weren’t at the time), the “You Won” messages were something of an anti-climax as well, and sometimes the micromanaging (and doing the Exact Same Thing in each new system you colonise) can get tedious, but there’s still a lot going for the game as well.

I like how each race gets a different design for the game screens. That’s a genius move that I haven’t seen elsewhere (and if I’m forgetting a game that does that, then I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen anything that does it to the same extent).

The game has its own screensaver (that I haven’t seen this time round) – each ship in the game rotates around a few times before it gets switched out for the next one. And there are two models for the Borg Cube in that screensaver – on one, one side has a smiley face. Gotta love programmers having fun.

I like the Wormhole mechanic, the Outpost and Starbase mechanic, and the terraforming mechanic.

The space battles with the different tactics are pretty cool, don’t think I’ve seen that sort of thing executed in turn-based strategy anywhere else, and it’s not exactly easy to pull off in real-time strategy, either.

The Open Hailing Frequencies option never seems to be a good choice, sad to say.

And there’s something incredibly satisfying about having your 9 Romulan Warbird IIs decloaking and blasting the Borg Cube to pieces.

Fun times, and memory lane. Don’t have a lot of time for this now.

And I think I’m about out of time this evening for dealing with a Poison Headcrab