Favourite computer games of all time. [2]

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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu Jul 11, 2019 10:43 pm

{{ Interesting because there is already an online LotR's game. }}

https://www.lotro.com/en/game

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Post by Forest Shepherd on Fri Jul 12, 2019 5:14 am

Well Amazon is not making an MMORPG, which is what LotRO is.

Oh, never mind, they are. Weird. Well, fine by me! Either it will be good and interesting. Or it will be bad. If the former, maybe I'll even play a little. If the latter, I can complain about it!

Edit: wait wait wait, I remember now, hearing about this last year or something. I don't think there's any news of it being an MMORPG, necessarily.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Tue Dec 10, 2019 8:49 am

{{ I just bought Minotaur Arcade Volume 1 from Steam and Tempest 4000. You've probably never heard of them. Minotaur works in VR but its perfectly fine 2D on a monitor or tv too. But VR is not why I bought it.
I bought it because its made by Jeff Minter. You've probably never heard of him either but he has been a constant in games throughout my entire gaming life.
He is bit of a programming legend to me and many Brit gamers.

A hippy and founder of Lllamasoft which is him and a mate these days and was originally just him with his mum doing the business stuff (he keeps llamas, and sheep among other things somewhere up a mountain in Wales). His games are often reworks (with inserted llamas, camels and sheep) of classic games, sometimes official like Defender 2000 and the game I want to talk about Tempest 4000, and sometimes unofficial like Llamatron which is a home version of arcade classic robotron, only you know with llamas.

Llamatron


Mr Minter as well as being a hippy and seemingly all round decent fellow started out on the 8-bit UK scene, programming stuff for the vic20, spectrum and c64 and the like. But he is continually put out games for various formats,computers, consoles, phones, just about every platform at one point or another. So as I grew up and went from my spectrum to my St to my Amiga and then onto consoles with ps1 and 2 the xbox and finally onto pc, so too has a Jeff Minter game popped up somewhere along the line on every platform I've ever owned.

There are certain things which mark a game as a Minter game, the appearance of llamas and camels and sheep aside. They tend to hark back to the glory games of the arcade shooter, when the aim was you against the machine beating that high score and gameplay was king. So expect super tight controls, well designed and thought out enemies and patterns, increasing arcade difficulty, and fairness - a hallmark for me of a Minter game, they can be brutally hard at times but they are always fair, they never cheat, you always know what you did wrong.
Oh and frantic, they are often that too with tons of enemies, particle explosions, all sorts thrown at the screen.

Though you may not know the name of Mr Minter if you ever owned an xbox360 and used the built in 'visualizer' which played trippy psychedelic patterns in time to whatever music cd you had in then you've experienced a little bit of Minter as that program, Neon,was his work and set the standard for such programs to this day.

Neon


His game philosophy is best summed up by the man himself-

'I work entirely in the abstract. I am really into this idea of bringing together the whole audio/reactive light synthesiser stuff and the video game stuff. And in doing that I make a different kind of game. I'm not making a game where I'm trying to tell a story. I am not trying to simulate anything or make anything realistic. What I am actually doing, when I design a game, I'm trying to get to a feeling, I'm trying to get to the pure essence of video game. It doesn't matter what the graphics are saying as long as what they are saying is nice. It doesn't matter what the audio is doing as long as it fits in with what the graphics are doing. I'm trying to make a feedback loop that includes you and the graphics and the audio and everything, and just gives you that experience of getting into the zone.'

I've decided to discuss Tempest 4000 (though this also applies to Tempest 2000 on Atari Jaguar) not only because its one of my favourite games, I'd say 2000 is slightly easier (slightly!) than Tempest4000 if not as sharp and with occasional slowdown when its super frenetic. But either version epitomises the Minter brand in many ways, but you might want to try 2000 first if only  because you can download and run the jaguar emulator, tiny program simple to use, the rom for the game and play it for free with ease.

For those who don't know the Atari Jaguar was the console that finally killed off Atari, an unmitigated disaster with too few games and even fewer that took advantage of the machines abilities. Of the few that shone however and probably the best game on the machine, is Jeff Minters Tempest 2000.
Tempest started off life as a classic Atari arcade machine back in the early days when the only way to do any sort of 3d was with wireframe graphics. Tempest used this to its advantage, using the wireframe to form grids, or webs. The player 'ship' was stuck on the edge of the web and could only go around it, shooting down the web at advancing enemies. And that was pretty much it. You completed a web and got a new shaped one and repeated against harder and more foes.

Original arcade Tempest


What Minter did to it was turn it into an ingenious twitch shooter with psychedelic graphics and a dance track.
He retained everything about the original game then improved it.
Its cunning lies in its design. Staring from the first web you begin simply. The controls are straightforward, you can move left and right. You can fire a weapon down the web at enemies, you have a one use per level kill everything on screen weapon, the Superzapper, and once you collect the powerup for it a jump button, which is so ingenious I'll come back to it. And an ai bot power up to help you out on a level.

Tempest 2000 (jaguar)


Each level follows a similar pattern. You appear on the edge of a web, enemies appear in the distance, at first they are off the end of the web and represented as coloured dots- this is hugely useful as before they 'land' on the web you have a chance to line up on the right line and pick enemies according to threat as each has its own colour.
Once you start shooting enemies they will drop powerups. These are essential. The first you one will upgrade your main weapon to be faster, the third one you collect will enable your jump ability. This lets you temporarily leave the web but you can still shoot (and be shot) but you cannot be grabbed, more on that in moment, or fried, that too. But the order of the powerups sometimes changes forcing you to adapt tactics.
Jumping is essential as if an enemy gets to your end of web they will start moving around it randomly and increasingly quickly till they find you grab you and pull you down into the web, jumping is the best way to deal with edge enemies.
Another great feature related to jumping are the enemies themselves, they come in great variety of types and all do something different. You have straight forward enemies that move in a straight line up the web shooting at you. You have ones that hop across the web moving on the edges of lines making them hard to hit, others split in two when shot, some create spikes that block of parts of the web till shot clear and will prevent you shooting enemies moving along the spike, and some like the yellow buggers Ive come to hate will electrify the line they are sitting on, making jumping to deal with them the preferred tactic.

The way this all increases as you progress is part of the genius of the design. Each new type of enemy is added one by one, allowing you to see what it does and to devise a best means to deal with it, a few levels later something else will be added to the mix and before you know it your dealing with multiple tactics on a single web in a frenzy of shooting, jumping and trying to plan ahead.
This isn't just a shooter its a strategy game at the speed of a shooter and its only when you release your brain is as exhausted as your trigger finger that you've been concentrating so hard.

Tempest 4000 (pc and consoles)


What Jeff Minter does better than anyone else is he captures the feel and aesthetic of those arcade machines and then he translates them to a modern gaming experience without destroying what made them good in the first place, their gameplay. Everything feels like its built from the gameplay level up and Tempest 2000 or 4000 are a great example of that. Even whilst particles are flying everywhere, scores are filling the screen, and mayhem is ensuing it somehow never gets in the way, never obscures your view or attention, when your playing there is just the game and the effects which all blend together to drive it.
Oh and no boss levels! In the words of Jeff Minter -

'I believe there should be a nice difficulty curve, it should ramp up nicely, I don't believe there should ever be spikes in difficulty curve such as you get with boss levels. I hate boss levels in games, its horrible.. bosses get right on my tits. So there are no bosses in my games, there are difficulty incriminates.'

On top of this how you progress is somewhat genius. Say for example you make it to level 7 with 5 lives (you start with 3 but can gain more as you play) but then you get annihilated. When you start the game again you can choose to start at that level with the 5 lives you have- it always retains as your starting point the best you've done. Conversely if you scrape off the level but only have 1 life left and die on the next level then though can restart from there you will only have 1 life when you do, making it very tricky, but encouraging you to go back and do battle on the previous one so when you get as far again you will have a new restart with more lives. Its an ingenious way to keep you progressing as well as adding incentive to replay a level or two to build up those lives and get further and gain a new start point with plenty lives for next time. This prevents the difficultly and freneticness of his games from ever becoming insurmountably frustrating, a few tries and you'll soon get off that tricky level and have a new start point with full lives (or more) to continue from.

So do yourself a favour, get a Jeff minter game- personal recommendations are Tempest 2000 or 4000, Llamatron, and Gridrunner.

Gridrunner (Pc and console)


Tempest 4000 and Gridrunner (under the Minotaur Arcade Volume 1 with the bonus of Goatup with it) are available on Steam and together shouldn't set you back more than about £15 all in. If you want to get to the very essence of gaming, you have to play a Jeff Minter game at least once in your life. But be warned they can be quite addictive and are exemplifiers of that 'just one more go' feeling.

}}

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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Tue Dec 10, 2019 7:37 pm

{{ Speechless.}}


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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sat Mar 28, 2020 3:27 pm

{{ Join me as I step into the shoes of a smuggler in the Star Wars universe who is having a very bad day!
Part 1 of me playing the VR experience Vader Immortal. }}



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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sat Mar 28, 2020 8:18 pm

{{Pt 2 for anyone whose watching! }}


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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sun Mar 29, 2020 7:20 am

{{Pt 3}}


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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sun Mar 29, 2020 10:33 pm

{{ Final part- not that anyone seems to be watching! Mad }}


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Post by Lancebloke on Mon Mar 30, 2020 2:14 pm

I watched the first 2.

I always feel VR doesn't translate well when you are not in there. Does it feel imersive? I haven't had my PSVR out for ages.
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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Mon Mar 30, 2020 2:28 pm

{ Yeah its certainly immersive though I wouldnt actually recommend Vader Immortal, I picked it for this mainly for the SW recognition in the hopes it might draw some eyes in (it didnt lol).
As a game, its not really, Id call it a VR experience. You pretty much cant move off the spot, and if you do the screen fades to black and you get an icon telling you to move back again. This is very annoying, especially when fighting with light sabers, as you cant move round an opponent.
You also cant die- ignore all the stormtroopers and just let them shoot you? The scene will still play out the same.
So whilst it got an ok SW story, and the visuals are cetainly immersive- Vader is quite intmidating in his shiny helmet!- its not really a game. Which is why I never bothered getting pts 2 and 3 of it.

Thanks for giving it a go anyway.
I can record it in 3D, so that it will play back in 3d if watched on a 3d device or 3dTV- but does anyone have one? }}

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Post by Lancebloke on Mon Mar 30, 2020 4:39 pm

Whats the most intense VR experience you have had?

I actually really liked the Ace Combat VR missions. Would definitely buy a whole game of that... particularly of Star Wars. Like a whole game of X-Wing vs TIE Fighter but in modern, AAA VR.

Some more horror games would work too... again AAA quality. Resident Evil was OK but it wasn't a real RE game and didn't really have the budget.
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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Mon Mar 30, 2020 6:06 pm

{ Skyrim is surprisingly good in VR- but you have to do some modding, not necessarily for looks, but for VR stuff- VRIK gives you a full VR body-



VR throw lets you chuck weapons at folk etc bung all those in and given the sheer size of it its a 100+ hours of VR goodness, in a world that despite the games increasing age now can still impress just on scale in VR.

No Mans Sky has turned out to be a surprise VR wonder. Its notorious launch as a pancake game minus most of its promised features, has been rectified since in a continuing series of free updates and patches, and now with full VR support. And it works really well too. I wouldnt call it intense mind you but its another huge expansive game full of impressive things to see.



Fighting games can be quite intense in the moment, Gorn if you want a more comic approach, and Blade and Sorcery for a more realistic but still fun approach. But they are both just arena games so you wont play them for long periods, but good to jump into for a bit of short combat fun and to work up a sweat.





If you want a huge detailed gameworld though GTA5 with the VR mod is the way to go. Stunning looking in VR, but you need a strong VR stomach for it, its very intense.



Alien Isolation is also terrifying with the VR mod. That goes in the so intense it makes me glad you dont wear underpants beneath a kilt or Id need to change them often.

Surprisngly, given how suited to it the fomat is there not that many horror games- Five Night at Freddies is quite good for jump scares in VR, it plays much same as its flat screen version only being in Vr you are sat at the desk and can look around at whats going on.



Likewise Paranormal Investigation VR has quite good for tension and jump scares. Normally I hate jump scares but they are worryingly effective in VR.



And again if you have the vr stomach for it driving games are quite intense experiences, Project Cars 2, Asetto Corsa and Dirt Rally are the three I have, with the later in particular needing a strong stomach.





Theres other stuff can offer intense moments- like Elite Dangerous, dog fighting in a space ship is a lot of fun. But theres a lot of grind too in that game now sadly.

And boxing games can be quite intense as well as good work outs, I have 2, Creed which is very much an arcade style boxing game, but youll still get a sweat on playing it, and Thrill of the Fight which is a much more simulation take on things and can be frankly exhausting!



And I mix that lot up with a lot of the more dip in and out shorter vr experiences, robo recall, Arizona Sunshine for zombie killing, theres plenty free or very cheap such games on steam and in ocullus home.
So I am at least not short of a VR game or experience to play, but only the first lot I mentioned are worth the full price and Id consider full gaming experiences as opposed to just an experience. }}

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Post by Lancebloke on Mon Mar 30, 2020 6:53 pm

Alien: Isolation is one I would have liked in VR. Not sure why they didn't make use of it on PSVR as an early unit seller.

I think a good survival horror game is needed. I think something like Jurassic Park would be a well suited IP.
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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Mon May 18, 2020 2:02 pm

Not sure why they didn't make use of it on PSVR as an early unit seller.- Lance

{{ That it shipped without the Vr option is a great mystery to me. It was 3/4 done before they decided to abandon it, which is what has enabled a clever modder to create the VR mod for it. Given the type of game it is, and how pantwettingly tense it is in VR (hell it can be pretty tense pancake) its a great VR fit.

Just started Half Life: Alyx. Will post a full review in due course, but having just played the opening set up levels its a stunning looking game, with great environments and interactions with your environment. But only just beginning (not even got to any combat yet) so will give fuller thoughts on it in due course.

For those who dont know Half Life is a bit of a legendary saga. The first game was released in 1998 and redefined narrative and world building in first person shooters. Influencing almost every first person game that followed it. Half Life 2 came out in 2004 and redefined world interactions with its physics and effects, allowing for puzzle solving by using your environment and things in it in creative ways. Likewise this laso was hugely influencial and changed again how these game worlds were made. It was followed by what was supposed to be 3 episodes, which would wrap up the overall narrative. We got ep 1 and in 2007, ep 2, which left the story on a huge cliffhanger- then nothing.
One of the most influential, popular and impressive narrative led fps games in the history of games, and they never finished it.

And now we have Half Life: Alyx, which seems to be setting out to do for Vr what it did with the first 2 games- break new ground and be the best there is at it. But its a prequal, so that cliffhanger we've been waiting 13 years for a conclusion for? Still hanging! Mad }}

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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Mon May 18, 2020 5:18 pm

{{ Inspired by a conversation with my little brother- he also likes his VR but has lot less experience with than me and gets motion sickness.
Now motion sickness is very commmon in VR as your eyes and brain tell you youre moving when your body says its not- the resulting brain confusion tends to lead to motion sickness.
But you can get round it! Much like my brother I am terrible for motion sickness, in real life let alone VR, I'm a terrible car passenger, especially on our windy up down country roads No (oddly never get sea sick) so I too suffered when I first got VR. To the point in many games 5-10 minutes was my limit at best before I felt ill.

So here are my basic rules I gave to him if you suffer motion sickness in VR and want your stupid ape brain to get used to it without wanting to throw up after 5 minutes!

1. Play a little bit each day to get used to it.
2. Open a window or put a fan on if you have one, overheating under the helmet can be a cause.
3. Start by playing something where you dont move much, or at all- beat saber or a wave shooter of which there are plenty are good for this, then move onto something where you are moving about.
4. The instant you feel ill, stop! Just quit playing then and there. DO NOT push through it, it wont work and your silly monkey brain will associate being ill with VR makingit increasingly worse every time you try to play. So do not do this!!
5. Never play on an empty stomach- this might seem counterproductive but youre actually more likely to feel ill on an empty stomach than a full one when playing.

Soon your 5-10 minute tolerance will become 20-30 mins then at some point it'll just be gone and you'll be playing no problems. I can testify to that as I mentioned I was particuarly prone to motion sickness at start, but its just a matter of getting your brain aclimitised to whats going on without it getting confused. Once your brain has got it sussed you are fine. Nod }}

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Post by David H on Tue May 19, 2020 5:05 am

Much of that applies to sailing ships in heavy seas as well, except of course #4 isn't an option.
Also in my experience, a full stomach can be as bad or worse than an empty stomach. I think the ape brain's first guess is that you must have just eaten something that's been dead too long.... pale




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Post by Lancebloke on Tue May 19, 2020 2:21 pm

Same for flying!

Distractions work well on transport as it is completely in the mind. That is why people who drive or fly tend to not get too sick as they are mentally preparing for the movement and concentrating on doing it, whereas as a passenger you are subjected to the movement and often focus on it.

I think that is similar in VR to an extent. When I play Ace Combat I do not get sick at all even though it probably has the most violent movement of any VR game. I am concentrating on finding enemy planes and blowing them up.

There is another game where you are a mech shooting things across some asteroids. You control only where you look and when you shoot... not the movement. That makes me super sick!

The fucking Simpson's ride at universal in Orlando.... I refuse to get on that after my first experience which left me nauseated for 3 days!!!!!!!!!!
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Post by halfwise on Tue May 19, 2020 2:35 pm

the only times I've ever gotten motion sickness was when drunk or hung over. My sister on the other hand is very susceptible. I wonder if the difference stems from the amount of rough and tumble as a kid. As a twin boy I had plenty of that. She's no shrinking violet, but didn't have a brother always looking to pounce on her. I think there's vital training in that.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Tue Jun 02, 2020 2:24 pm

{{ Got my VR gaming table sorted. Granted I do have to humph it in and out of the corner of the room whenever I want to play a driving/cockpit game or sim Mad but still its worth it. Nod }}

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Post by Forest Shepherd on Wed Jun 03, 2020 2:40 am

Oho, very nice! Is that how you steer your horse in Skyrim?

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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sun Jun 07, 2020 2:51 pm

{{ If anyone read my bit above that mentions Half Life 1 and 2, you may recall I mentioned that what made those games stand out, and what made them classics was their innovation. In HL one its the adding of a proper narrative told entirely through the gameplay with no cutscenes to take you out the moment for a second. They honed and perfected enviromental story telling in a first person shooter game. In HL 2 it was the gravity gun and the manipulation of objects.
So what about Half Life: Alyx?
Well I promised a review but this isnt it, as Im trying to take my time with it so havent finished yet, only about 3/4 way through, I think.
But its already clear what Valve have brought to the table with HL Alyx. And its not as revolutionary as before. In fact amost evey mechanic in the game has been used elsewhere in other VR games in some fashion. So what does it do?
Well it does it all so well basically. It works because the world they have created, set in the unnamed Eastern European City 17 after the Combine take over of earth, is simply believable. Stuff acts and reacts like youd exect it to.
It uses HL2 opening sequence style to show you whats going on in the city as you make your way though it, so youll witness the Combine forces in action through gates, windows and the like as you go along, adding to the world building.
But its in the detail and interactivity with that world where the game shines.
I've put together a short vid of me playing, not a playthrough or anything, just some stuff from the opening hour of the game (which is basically a big tutorial) that exemplifies the game. And Ive left out surprises and story elements with the small exception of a little scene at 4.50 if you want to skip any spoilers whatsoever)
And do bear in mind, whenever you see me interact with something, whether thats pressing a button, opening a door or drawing on a window, thats not press button 'a' and thing happens, its just me, standing in my room actually mimicking all the actions, acting them out.
So heres the vid, and heres some times to note certain events that show why HL Alyx is so damn immersive an experience.



0:35 - note how the hands are anmated to rest on the balcony- obviously there is no real balcony to put my hands on, but if you sit them where the balcony, or top of a wall is your hands will naturally rest there.

1:07 the beer bottle. Note not just how the liquid moves properly inside it, and how you can make it frothy and fizzy by shaking it, but also the way the light correctly diffuses through the glass. Its all these small things that add up to immersing you.

1:50- just to reiterate, I didnt press button a to pick up the cup, I just reached out a hand like in real life and picked it up. Its amazing how simple an act adds to the feel of being there.

2:05- same goes for drawing on the window, Im just standing in my living room mimicking drawing like a street mime! And the control you have is very close to reallife- excusing the quality of the drawing, I didnt exactly spend long on it.

2:21- note how when I knock the pens off the shelf they naturally fall and roll, and one of them gets stuck on the shelf beneath. Things reacting as youd expect them is suprisingly hard for a game to pull off, especially down to small stuff.

3:10 another example of the small things, the paint splattering form broken paint pots, where it splatters and the pattern changes on the location and how its thrown and hits things, note also the little bits in the paint, its not just a single white spray pattern, theres bits of lumpy old paint in it, bits of hardened paint  'skin'- in short, like everything else it looks like it should down to small details.

3:27 this room is pretty much just there to let you interact with things, and its a good exmaple of stuff that can be interacted with and that attention to detail, note the Vhs video I pick up, how the plastic looks like plastic and the cardboard sleeve like cardboard, right down to the way those sleeves used to scuff and mark from wear and use.

4:50 I left this in as an example of the world building through letting you see stuff happening youre not directly involved in.

5:43 this fuse box is a great exmaple of the detail they put into this, you can read the tiny voltage writing on the fuses, and note even the dust collected on top which is that powdery whitish dust you always seem to get on top of of fuse boxes in old buildings. A good example of even how just background envormental objects are detailed with attention to detail in mind and making a believable world.

6:22 yeah to raise your hands to surender you literally raise your hands in surrender. Again stupid small thing, but adds to the experience by making you interact and engage with the game world.

7:00 yes you can go on the slide too if you want.

7:18 the gravity gloves replace HL2 gravity gun, making it more interactive by having it tied to actions you perform. Its also a great way of making a vr game mechanic out of a game mechanic that wouldnt fly in flatscreen- it promotes the searchin gof areas by pulling stuff down from shelves and the like on the offchance there is ammo or something useful there. The simple act of pulling stuff off shelves becomes a game mechanic when you have to physically do it yourself.

8.50- the multitool is another mechnic that lets you puzzle solve but in a physical fashion, as you not only have to point the thing and folllow the electrical paths, you have to move about your playspace to do it.

9:24 even healing, something in a game which is normally a button press away, is now fully interactive, with you having to operate the machine yourself.

9:45 more liquid in bottles, note however how as its vodka this time its got different liquid and bubbles, and doesnt get fizzy unlike the lager bottle. Also another good example of how well the lighting system works as it diffuses through the bottle.

10:18- the barnacles, who hang tentacles to grab and pull up prey to their mouths are another good example of using the mechanics of physcially throwing stuff and the physics of the game to get by them.

11:02- again just to reiterate, when I am sidestepping the tentacles here thats not me pushing a joystick to move, thats me physically and tentatively sidestepping in my living room trying not to get grabbed!

11.24 another example of the puzzling, these are the starting basic ones to teach you how they work so are simple, they get more ocmplex as it goes on.

12:14 more hands on puzzling.

So what would i say HL:Alyx brings to the table this time? Immersion in short, the most immersive 'real' wold feel of any Vr game so far. Its not that its doing stuff that entirely new this time, or groundbreaking in itself, its just they have taken what everyone else has been doing so far in Vr and done it better.}}

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Post by Forest Shepherd on Tue Jun 09, 2020 2:19 am

Haha, nice, as soon as I realized you were drawing a tree (and not something else less savoury!) I knew you were doing something Forumshire related.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Tue Jun 09, 2020 2:29 am

{{Thanks for watching Forest- thats 1 view at least! And yes the urge to draw a cock and balls (particularly behind the backs of the Combine) is oddly compulsive. Shocked But I resisted the urge in favour of something more Forumshirian. }}

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Post by Forest Shepherd on Tue Jun 09, 2020 4:05 am

Good review of the technical stuff that stands out. The bottles are pretty cool, being such a small detail.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Tue Jun 23, 2020 3:35 am

{{ So Half Life:Alyx (this is largely spoiler free)
Having finished the game its time for my review.

Ill break it up simply into, good, bad and overall thoughts.

So the good first. Ive touched on some of the good, and the video I put up of me playing emphasis some of it, but what it comes down to is world building. Its an incredible believable world.
Now this is no small feat, the story is set between Hl1 and 2, the world has been taken over my an alien force, the Combine, and much of it is, well alien, weird fauna and creatures, weird gravity defying effects, in short a lot of strange stuff making a believable solid world hard to create. The way HL balances this is to set it in City 17, the same location as the opening of HL2. This unnamed eastern European city provides an everyday setting, all be it one that 'froze' on the day of the invasion, so that video tape and 1990's era computers and old tube tvs abound. But these locations, the overrun normal housing, the streets of the city, they are what ground the adventure and create the sense of reality the game is so strong on. All the weird is firmly embedded in the world of the everyday and mundane.
This is backed up by the interactivity of the world, whether it's pulling things from a shelf to get at an ammo clip, or pulling open drawers and filing cabinets to see what's inside, or feeding an alien bug in a jar. If it looks like an everyday thing you can probably interact with in real life, like opening a cupboard door, then you probably can here too. This leads to an immediate acceptance of the world unfolding all around you.
The next good thing is the gravity gloves. Anyone familiar with HL2's gravity gun will be in familiar territory here, but making them you actual hands, so that you use them with a simple flick of the wrist was a stroke of genius. They are intuitive, easy to use and become second nature in no time at all. Cleverly it also solves a problem that can arise in VR, that of the game worlds 'floor' not being perfectly aligned with your own. There is nothing more infuriating in a game than bending down to pick something up from the floor but you cant get to it because the game 'floor' is an inch or so below your real floor, preventing you reaching far enough The gravity gloves solve this in-game perfectly.
Guns likewise are handled well. Two handed weapons can be tricky in vr as you are aren't actually holding anything, Hl gets round this in the simplest way, it doent have any. All guns can be wielded one handed, you can steady a weapon with your second hand for a bit more accuracy but generally one hand does just fine. And keeping with interactiveness of the game all weapons require ejecting of used clips and manual reloading, which can add great tension to a fire fight as you desperately try to reload while he enemy bear down on you guns blazing.
And then there are the characters, you play as Alyx, and she is fun, brave, witty and occasionally a little sarcastic, ut she also doesn't talk too much, its well placed and nicely timed to events. And then there is Russell the voice in your ear guiding you through your mission, and he is also quite funny, with his reassurances being often anything but reassuring. The voice acting throughout is also excellent. It all helps keep the story moving along in a game where there is no interaction with NPC's. And the occasional chiming in from Alyx Dad, tying events to previous HL games in which he featured also builds the story well.
The story itself benefits from its seeming simplicity. At the start of the game you are tasked with rescuing your father from the Combine, but it quickly develops when the resistance learn of a Combine 'super-weapon' being held in a vault, and from then on your mission is just to get there and find a way into it to discover what secret the Combine are keeping there.
Essentially that's it for story, but it work as it keeps  the player focused on the task at hand and having a reason to push on. And when the revelations come about the Vault, and what it is becomes a bit more complicated it works very well.
And lastly I have to mention the graphics, which are stunning in places. Textures in particular are superb, plastic looks like plastic, metal like metal- that might sound straightforward but it really isn't, getting the light to react properly off objects is one of the things this excels at, whether its light diffusing through the liquid in a glass bottle, flames lighting up a destroyed underground car-park, or the way light shines of a CD, its all believably captured and replicated.
The last good thing are the sections that introduce all new creatures, there is a weird dog like thing that discharges electricity, and very creepily, especially first time you witness it,
Spoiler:
can crawl into and take control of corpses.
And then there is 'Jeff', who will chase you about one section, Jeff is blind but reacts very quickly to sound and will kill you instantly if he catches you, making for some very tense gameplay moments.


So the bad. Well I'll start with something which isn't exactly bad, just not as good as maybe it should be. HL Alyx up to very close to its official release only had snap turning and teleport locomotion (in short you point where you want to go and release the button and you instantly appear there, it reduces motion sickness for new VR users) and the continuous movement was added late in the day. And it kind of feels like it.
For a start its only partial full movement, you'll find you still need to transport on a few occasions to get to certain areas, you also move quite slowly compared to transporting
In fact during one section with  a particularly large foe that you have to just escape from as it shoots at you, diving from areas of cover to cover, I restored to solely using the teleport option of control as moving normally was just way too slow and kept getting me killed. In contrast using teleport I took almost no damage at all. So yeah, whilst teleport works fine, continuous movement is not without some issues on occasion
My second issue is with the story, or rather not the story itself which I put in the good bit, but in how its conveyed to the player.
If you have played through HL2 you might find the beats eerily similar.
As in HL2 you start in City 17 and you witness the Combine and there actions through seeing what they are up to, either through gates into other streets, or through windows looking onto the action. Just as in HL 2. Only for the Combine to catch up with you and you are captured in a hallway- just like in HL2.
You will then go out of that starting area and encounter barnacles, headcrabs and zombies, followed by manhacks and then Combine, and at the end you will be in a Combine base where all your weapons are taken from you and your gravity gloves get super powered so they can unleash bolts of energy- exactly as you lost all your weapons in the Citadel at end of HL2 and the gravity gun got charged to fire energy bolts. And just as with the gravity gun when that happens, and you have to grab orbs to fire, here its power nodules on walls to power them up.
But it can give a sense of deja vu at times, of having been here before as it strikes these familiar story beats in almost the exact same rhythm.
And lastly for the bad category are the interactive puzzles. Most of these are ok, and in the first half of the game make a nice break, but one type in particular becomes somewhat tedious from the midway point on- rewiring electricity. You will often find yourself faced with a barrier or a lift, or a sealed door, and the only way to open it is to follow the power cables and find where the power is coming from and reconnect it, which you do with a special 'muti-tool' and you have to follow the glowing lines along the walls and reconnect them. It starts off ok they are never too hard, and in fact that part of the problem as they become more time consuming and intricate, but never really any harder. And they come up a few times too many, giving the impression they have just been put in there to pad out the games running time rather than because they are particularly fun to do.
And that's it for the bad.

So overall thoughts? Well the good easily outweighs the bad, the game world, characters, story, interaction and set pieces are all of the highest quality. Its at times exhilarating as youget into a gun fight with Combine soldiers, shielding yourself physically crouched down from bullets behind a broken wall, or car door, and at turns terrifying as you creep in the dark with only your torch picking out the horrific shapes of headcrabs scuttling up the walls all around you to attack. You will have moments of genuine shock and panic playing this and that is great.
Its a little short, particularly if you factor out the puzzle elements, and if you used just teleport and weren't bothered mucking about with all the interactive stuff its even shorter.  It's taken me probably about 16 hours. I reckon if you did nothing but the main game stuff, ignoring all the other stuff you can much about with, and used only teleport you could do it in 10 to 12.  Maybe even less.
Is that worth a full price. In this case I would say yes, as all that interaction and mucking about is what makes VR so fun. And unlike a flat 2d game where you just hurry through a room of set decoration to the next one, in VR you want to stop and examine things, open cupboards, peer into boxes because its all there right in front of you. So if you do rush through it, and yes you could, you'd be missing a ot of what makes it so good.

So overall I'd give HL Alyx a very solid 8.5 out of 10.
Its quite the experience, but its not perfect. }}

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