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Other PC Games Thread.
So with the film and music threads still going and being discussed... why don't we get some discussion going on something on topic to the board? What other games are you playing now?
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The game is really a bit to cute and fuzzy for me tastes, especially for the first two or three stages, all you get are cute giggles and woo'ing noises from your creature - it made me feel like vomiting all over my screen tbh... Luckily I managed to resist the urge and got to the space age.

It looks like the space portion of the game is where all the meat is at. You can basicly think of all the minigames before it as "customizing your ride, and picking the paint job" as that is essentially what happens there.

For instance, my race of dazpods (yeah, kill me) are hell bent on galactic domination and have just about made extinct every other race on their home planet in their evolution. If you take the path of war you get special tools that make you better at it, for instance in the civilization phase I got some nifty nukes to throw around, while in the tribal phase my leader could lay booby traps and throw bombs.

I'm gonna start another race soon and see what happens with the peaceful / trader / gatherer race choices... 
Good Old

Seems like a very nice service for purchasing and downloading old games without any DRM at all. Should be open to the public very soon by the looks of it. 
Serious Sam II Review 
Okay I'm gonna start reviewing every new game I play and put them on Ethereal Hell. I reviewed Halo a few weeks ago. Here's Serious Sam II.

After reading reviews from Gamespot & IGN that gave rather average ratings (6.9/10), complaining of cartoon-like design and repetitive gameplay, my expectations for Serious Sam II weren't high. However, I didn't have the option of comparing it to the first two parts of Serious Sam, as I only ever played the original demo years ago. This may have been a good thing.

As it turned out, the further I progressed in the game the more I realised this is a well underrated game. In particular, it was the level design that truly impressed me. Compared with other FPS' that have you plodding through the same themes for hours; eg. Doom3 and it's indoor base, Croteam throwing in a brand new world and theme almost every second level was very welcome.

Some players might complain that it's all too inconsistent (those some players probably complain that the gameplay is too repetitive), but it was all well tied into the story as to how they could present so many different themes and cultures.

Some of the memorable themes for me were the swamps of Deadwood, giant tree village of Woodstock, the Giant Junkyard, the entire Kleer chapter - very similar to Doom3's Hell levels, and the many little villages in different planets. Fantastic level design all the way through the game, all very colourful and bright. This may be the first game I've ever played where I didn't have to turn the lights out to see properly! My only nitpick in design was the lack of vertical design - it's all very flat and open.

Gameplay was all very enjoyable. I will say that those reviewers that complained about it being too easy on normal are very much wrong. The in-game menu describes normal as being for the "Experienced FPS Player" and that's exactly what I am. I found the gameplay to be pretty spot on. There were some parts that were a little tight on health, but ammo was always plentiful. I played through most of the game with the DBL-SG and Minigun, always with more rockets (and later cannonballs) left than what I should have. My only criticism is the final level, which went on far too long. By the time I managed to make it to the final arena, I felt it was already enough of a build up to bring on the final boss. I was wrong, it's time to battle around 20 giant spiders. By this time I was sick of it and ready to put god mode on just so I could finally get to the boss. The final level was also probably the worst looking level in the game, so it was a poor way to end the game.

One more strength Serious Sam II has is the humour, albeit sometimes too cheesy. Still, this beats NOLF/NOLFII as the funniest FPS made. And it actually had a story with two cutscenes after every single level. Good job for a game supposed to be about pure hardcore action. In fact, Serious Sam II probably has more cutscenes than Halo and Half-Life! Admittedly the story was rather straight-foward compared to something like NOLF.

Overall Serious Sam II is very good game, particularly if you don't take gaming too seriously (Halo & RTS gamers may not like this). Croteam are very tight-lipped on Serious Sam III, but I'm definitely going to be on the lookout. The Serious Engine III is said to be at least as good as Unreal Engine 3. 
Thanks Kona, keep them coming.

I liked SS1 but the enemy set was very limited. I finished it more out of bloody-mindedness than anything.

I probably won't buy SS2, but its nice to hear an opinion. 
Please don't say anything about review scores. 
Dirk Valentine 
decent flash platformer, nice pixel art, decent steampunk theme. 
Dirk Valentine 
Very nice! Film buffs in particular will appreciate some of the sound effects... 
Stalker : Clear Sky 
I'm about 10 hours into the game at the moment, so I figured I would let you guys know how it is.

1st off, I installed the latest patch before I even fired up the game, as I heard that is fixes a lot of bad issues the release version of the game had, and I am happy (and relieved) to report that I have had a crash free 10 hours of fun with this game :)

From what I can tell the game levels are made up from 50% entirely new areas and 50% revamped areas from SOC, the new areas are fantastic and full of atmosphere, while the old areas have been brushed up and repolished to come into line with the new standard. Things do feel more polished overall with better animations, ai, sound and a vastly improved PDA system that shows your inter-faction standing / quests / map / etc.

The new graphical options are very very nice, and the "enhanced full dynamic lighting" render is actually faster than the renderer in SOC despite all the new graphical features going on. Special mention must go to the "god rays" that the sun casts as it pops over the hill in the morning, these look absolutely fantastic and don't really hurt the framerate too much. Other additions are a depth of field effect that is activated when you reload or an explosive goes off near you. All good!

Gameplay has been enhanced but is still faithful to the original SOC, enemies now throw grenades at you (there is a grenade proximity warning on the UI now too) and take cover behind objects, blindfire around corners and over boxes etc. Mutants now work in packs much better and are very convincing.

Finding artifacts is now a little minigame in itself, and they are way more rare than in SOC, you have to equip special detectors to even find artifacts, and then strategically dodge into the anomaly holding them to retrieve them. You can buy better detectors as you make more money so that finding artifacts becomes easier, but retrieving them is still a tough job.

The other addition is you can upgrade your weapons and armour at a technican npc. There are tons of mods you can make and it works in a little tech-tree kind of way for each weapon / armour type. For example if you upgrade your weapon to fire a faster bullet and reduce its recoil by 20%, then the option to increase its rate of fire becomes available for purchase.

It seems like you are fighting other factions of humans now rather than mutants, I would say around 70 / 30 if you want a percentage. This is mainly because of the new faction alignment gameplay. Joining 1 faction will make you an enemy of certain other factions and you will receive dynamic objectives to take opposing faction bases as your teams move up and get pushed back. Its very involving stuff and enhances the replay value as there are like 7-8 factions in the game.

Some annoyances do remain, night time is now almost pitch black, and a real pain to see where you are going until you get a suit capable of night vision, sometimes the ai screws up and enemies will wiggle on the spot and not really do much, and pointing at a friendly stalker will make them say something to you and after 100 times hearing this line you will start to go a little bit mad.

The initial weapon set is really really inaccurate, to the point where the 1st few assault rifles you get are basicly useless beyond 40 meters or so, and watching as your perfectly aligned headshot bullet flies 2 meters wide of the target is a real source of frustration, but the later guns feel much better and are fun to use. 
Nice Review 
i loved the first few hours of stalker with the low precision weapons. really made fights nice and dynamic, because you had to get so close at them to kill them. 
Some Screenshots Too... 
Looks "tasty" :) 
Hey Daz 
what kind of rig are you running? i'm glad to hear not everyone is getting back to back crashes... i haven't picked this up yet because of the initial talk of crashes (and i've been replaying soc with some mods too).

i've got an e6300 cpu and an ati x1950 but only 1gb of ram which i think is the major chokepoint atm because i run out of ram for textures. :( 
hmmm in those screens it looks a little bland for a 2008 game. the lighting is nice, but level design average 
My rig is getting fairly old now... amd 2.8ghz (not dual core) 2gb ram and a 8800gts 320mb. Necros I would not try and run the game with 1gb of ram, it just wouldn't be worth it :)

The game runs great at medium but really chugs on high, im guessing the gpu runs out of memory :)

[Kona], I know what you mean. This is the strange thing about the developer... They can create this utterly absorbing gameworld with a great atmosphere but there are things about it which just dont feel right or simply just do not work.

Sadly, there are some quite sloppy game design decisions in there too, as I found out last night, once you enter Limansk (think Pripjyat from SOC) you can't go back as the exit is blocked. This means that if you had just done the story missions and wanted to go back and join a stalker faction and play that part of the game you cant, which is totally unforgivable on GSC's part. I can't see any reason to block the player from leaving Limansk...

Apart from these annoyances, I'm still having a blast though :) 
Stalker Clear Sky 
I started playing it, have a few hours in, and haven't had a single crash. I think I've just started coming across bugs though, some missions don't appear in my PDA, and at the moment I have no idea what to do as the people I'm supposed to kill just aren't there.
I had to put the settings on low for it to run on my 7600GTS (my 8800GT fried a while back) so it's kind of ugly.
Feels ok for now anyways, Stalker improved really. 
How the hell did you get your 8800GT to fry? I got one of those. I want to put in a second 1 just for added boost.

PS. who remembers Chaser (2003)? I just bought it so will be playing it next I think :) 
I heard most of the recent Nvidia cars 8x, and 9x mostly, have had lots of problems with faulty components... =\ 
Playing Clear Sky 
Not quite sure what to think of it so far. On one hand, there's great visuals, lots of small improvements and upgrades, and the game is far less buggy than it's predecessor. On the other, the flavour and charm of SoC seems to have largely been lost.

Clear Sky is not as fun as SoC. Combat is more annoying, weapons less effective, many of the voice overs are completely inappropriate, there's increased pressure on resources, and getting hold of artifacts is an exercise in waiting for the last quicksave to load. If that wasn't enough, the brilliantly creepy underground levels that were my favourite part of SoC are gone.

The only truly remarkable part of Clear Sky so far has been the trip through Red Forest. I turned up at night, low on medkits and antirad, and stumbling alone and terrified through that pitch black radioactive forest was some of the most enjoyably tense gaming I've ever done. And then just as I left the treeline, dawn was breaking.

That was pretty cool. I'm going to reserve judgement until I've played more. 
On the other, the flavour and charm of SoC seems to have largely been lost.

100% agree, and it is a shame. It is still a very atmospheric game but the atmosphere certainly isn't as deep and brooding as SoC.

the brilliantly creepy underground levels that were my favourite part of SoC are gone.

Yes this is a real shame, as they were my favourite areas also. Clear sky doe's add a couple of new indoor/underground areas but nothing approaching SoC.

One of the other major annoyances I have with Clear Sky is that every single enemy is shown on your map, so you know exactly where they all are at all times, I mean wtf was GSC Gameworld thinking? It really doe's totally remove the suspense of mutant attacks as you know they are in the area way before you even get near it.

I'll bet there is a mod that removes this "feature" already, I must go and look for it.

The random attacks / encounters involving other npc's seem to happen much less in CS also, almost to the point where they never happen at all. in SoC I loved being able to load in a new area and not being totally sure what I was going to find, even though I had been through it 40 times before. In CS there seems to be nothing happening at all in 99% of the areas, occasionally a bandit raid will attack a group of stalkers or a herd of mutants will get too close to an outpost and cause a shootout, but these are exceptions rather than the norm...

I'm sure there will be mods to breathe some life back into areas too, its just a shame that mods are needed at all for these kind of things.

Still loving the game though :D 
Very much looking forward to what modders do with the material in Clear Sky.

Unfortunately the game is now crashing upon entry to the Warehouses. I might have to play through from an earlier save. :( 
Finished Clear Sky 
The ending fucking sucked. As did the last few levels.

Nooooo Cave Story 
How fucking ridiculously hard are the Sacred Grounds? :D
That was really not worth the xth playthrough I think. 
Stalker Clear Sky 
So I reached a point where I've done quite a few missions, but I can never complete any of them cause no NPC seems to accept the fact that I have whatever bloody PDA they want in my inventory, so I stopped playing.

Fuck you stalker. =( 
Stalker is short for Shit Talker. Cuz apparently every one who plays it talks shit about it afterwards. 
But The First One Rocked 
That's what makes Clear Sky so disappointing. It's not just a crap game, it's a wasted opportunity to improve on the flawed gem that was SoC. 
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