A good game is one that is well-polished, easy to learn and has replay value. Much of my gaming occurs within the window offered by summer and winter break, where I actually have time to sit down and immerse myself in a virtual world. As I am generally busy during the academic year, I prefer playing time consuming games like MMORPGs and Simulation games only if time is available. However, if I do have a moment during the academic year, I will hop in to an online multiplayer FPS match. This is partially one of the reasons why I enjoy FPS games- they are designed such that I can choose a game, hop in and join the festivities without much thought, and act as incredible stress-relief mechanisms. I often find that during periods with numerous assignment and paper deadlines, my performance in a game will increase dramatically. The rush of success then relieves stress, allowing me to focus on my assignments.
James Bond 007 Nightfire is a first-person shooter video game that is based on Ian Fleming's British secret agent James Bond, of the secret British intelligence agency, MI6. This marked Pierce Brosnan's fourth appearance as James Bond before the release of his fourth and final Bond film Die Another Day, however, in the video game, his likeness was featured. 007: Nightfire was developed for the PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube, and Xbox video game consoles. A PC version would later be released, but this version would feature different elements compared to the console versions.
The story of 007 Nightfire is excellent, and integrated into the game exceedingly well. Unlike some games that are all about shooting, Nightfire is built around the story, being praised as one of the better 007 shooters (if not the best since 007 GoldenEye). The gameplay itself is very user friendly, the graphics are fairly nice, and the weapons are realistic. Conforming with 007 titles, Nightfire has plently of gagets, all of which have a useful function. In addition, you get to drive in a few levels. With all these aspects in consideration, there is definetely replay value.
Black Mesa (previously known as Black Mesa: Source) is a third-party total conversion modification for Valve Corporation's Source engine. The stated goal of the project is to recreate Valve's critically acclaimed 1998 video game Half-Life using the more advanced capabilities of the Source engine. Black Mesa is a first-person shooter that requires the player to perform combat tasks and puzzle solving to advance through the game, and has a story that is almost identical to that of Half-Life.
Black Mesa began development back in 2004 as a mod, and although it was highly anticipated by the community, the eight years it spent in this development stage meant that many people began to forget about it, at least until they released a statement saying the game was going to be released on September 17, 2012 at 0821 MDT. I myself had only heard of the mod a few days prior to the release date, and resolved to obtain a copy of the game (which is free) to experience Half Life. I have played through all of Half Life 2, Episode One and Episode Two, but never had the opportunity to play the original: my only exposure to Half Life was through Freeman's Mind, which was a machinema video which parodied some of the aspects in the original. The original Half Life was released in 1997, and a Valve-made update, called Half Life: Source, was released in 2004. However, Half-Life: Source did not add any new content, instead providing improved dynamic lightmaps, vertex maps, ragdolls, and a shadowmap system with cleaner, higher resolution, specular texture and normal maps, as well as utilisation of the render-to-texture soft shadows found in Half-Life 2's Source engine. While impressive, these improvements pale in comparison to what the Black Mesa team designed: the mod breathes into Half Life brand new graphics that rival those of Half Life 2, and reworks some aspects of the original game. The end result is a game that is distinct from the original, while simultaneously being familiar enough for it to be an update to a classic. Half Life was a revolutionary shooter when it came out, and Black Mesa successfully carries all of these strengths over while giving the game a more modern feel. It could be said that Black Mesa is to Half Life: Source, similar to how Halo Anniversary is to Halo Combat Evolved. In both cases, we have remakes of a classic game that add revamped graphics and sound, bringing the best of FPS into a world with sharper, better-polished graphics.
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is a first-person shooter video game developed by the Swedish firm EA Digital Illusions CE. Within the campaign, the player reassumes the role of Preston Marlowe, as his squad attempts to thwart a plot by rogue Russian forces to detonate a scalar weapon over North America. Multipayer is based around four classes, each possessing a variety of unique weapons and pieces of equipment, and serves a specific role in combat. Bad Company 2 heavily emphasizes destructible environments. Large sections of most buildings can be destroyed by explosives; some walls and fences break down under barrages of bullets. The game's physics engine realistically simulates the destruction.
The multiplayer of Bad Company 2 is likely what most people play the game for; there are more guns and options in multiplayer, although I personally enjoyed the campaign more. The story present in the campaign is a simple one and is fairly easy to follow: the objectives this time are to learn more about the mysterious "Scalar Weapon" and its whereabouts. The quest to retrieve it takes the player across the jungles and mountains of South America. In both the campaign and multiplayer, the guns are remarkably satisfying to fire, and the surroundings are beautifully rendered. This game was a superb experience for me, especially in the campaign, where I was treated to a storyline with suspense, comedy and of course, a lot of gunfire. Patient players will hear Marlowe's squad-mates discuss morality and religion at times, while at other times, make comments on popular movies. These conversations are interesting to listen to, and continue until the player fires the first shot at some NPC.
Battlefield 3 (commonly abbreviated BF3) is a first-person shooter video game developed by EA Digital Illusions CE and published by Electronic Arts. A direct sequel to Battlefield 2, the campaign allows players to take on the personas of several military roles; a Force Recon Marine, an F/A-18 weapons system officer, an M1A2 Abrams tank operator, and a GRU Spetsnaz operative. The campaign takes place at various locations, from Iran to New York, and follows the story of Sergeant Henry Blackburn and later, Dimitri Mayakovsky, as they try to recover nuclear devices stolen by hostile factions.
I typically play FPS to shoot awesome guns, and as a result, I do not regard the campaign of Battlefield 3 with the same outlooks as most players would. In fact, the presence of awesome guns, paired with a game that pushed the limits of graphics processing when it was first released, makes Battlefield 3 worthwhile. Similar to Bad Company 2, Battlefield 3 has a superlative multiplayer that is set on large maps accommodating up to 64 players and an oft-forgotten campaign. Immersive and engaging, the multiplayer engages players, allowing competing against others on large, open maps, where small arms and aircraft are both fair game. The campaign is decidedly the weakest element in the game in terms of story, being set up as a traditional "the bad guys have our nukes and we must recover them" type story. Thus, most players would buy Battlefield 3 for the multiplayer alone and pass on the campaign, although I contend that the campaign itself is a more relaxed alternative to the rush of multiplayer and thus, is suited for evenings where one would rather casually play through a familiar story rather than engage in a more exciting battle against other people. Featuring highly detailed sequences and visuals that look spectacular on a big screen, such as the HALO jump in the mission "Kaffrov", Battlefield 3 is at heart a shooter featuring awesome graphics and of course, cool guns.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is a 2007 first-person shooter video game, developed by Infinity Ward and published by Activision. The story takes place in the year 2011, where a radical leader has executed the president of an unnamed country in the Middle East, and an "Ultranationalist" movement starts a civil war in Russia. The conflicts are seen from the perspectives of a U.S. Force Reconnaissance Marine and a British SAS commando, and are set in multiple locations, including the UK, the Middle East, Azerbaijan, Russia, and Ukraine.
Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare delivers exactly what its name suggests: the campaign is set in the modern era, contrasting the World War II settings of its predecessors. Similar to Battlefield Bad Company 2, Modern Warfare is a squad-based shooter, relying on squadmates to assist the player with objectives, whether they be providing covering fire or breaching doorways. As far as storyline goes, the plot is a classical plot about radicals in control of stolen nuclear weapons. Thus, it's the heroes' job to stop them before they succeed in whatever plans they have. While it's not particularly innovative, it does form a good motivation for the events that occur in-game and permits for one additional bonus: squad interactions give the game a new layer of immersiveness, giving the feel of a sense of unity found between members of their squads, whether it be Soap and the SAS or the American SEAL teams. This element sharply contrasts other shooters; by giving useful squad members, players feel like they are genuinely part of a team instead of being a cool, but ultimately isolated, one-man army.
Half-Life 2: Lost Coast is a small additional level for the 2004 first-person shooter video game Half-Life 2. Lost Coast serves as a technology demonstration, specifically showcasing the high dynamic range rendering implemented in the Source engine. The level was designed with a variety of appropriate environments to emphasize these effects. In addition, Lost Coast was the first video game developed by Valve to allow developers to explain various elements of design by following Half-Life protagonist Gordon Freeman as he travels up a coastal cliff to destroy a Combine artillery launcher in a monastery, which is firing on a nearby town.
Lost Coast is essentially a short level that occurs concurrently with the events of Half Life 2. As a free download to anyone with an ATI or NVIDIA video card, I suggest pairing this with Team Fortress 2 as the stepping stones into the Steam community. The gameplay itself is identical to that of Half Life 2; you are equipped with several memorable weapons from Half Life 2, and pick up the rest of them later from the combine. The mission is short but entertaining; the vertical environments meant that I was forced to look for Combine units both above and below me while trying to stay on the narrow cliff ledge, contrasting previous games where I could simply run past groups of enemies. All of the weapons in Half Life 2 (minus the bug bait) make an appearance, so if you feel up for the challenge, try completing the level with different weapon choices. The main feature of Lost Coast lies in the graphics, which are rendered with HDR to boost the sense of realism in the environment. In particular, the water and the sun's interaction with water reflections look beautiful. Light also diffuses differently through the glass windows of the monastery. These extra effects make the game highly satisfying to play, and I would like to emphasize again that it is free to anyone with an ATI or NVIDIA video card.
Portal is a first-person puzzle-platform video game developed by Valve Corporation. The game primarily comprises a series of puzzles that must be solved by teleporting the player's character and simple objects using "the handheld portal device", a device that can create inter-spatial portals between two flat planes. The player-character, Chell, is challenged by an artificial intelligence named GLaDOS (Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System) to complete each puzzle in the Aperture Science Enrichment Center using the portal gun with the promise of receiving cake when all the puzzles are completed.
I picked up Portal as a part of a free promotional offer that was made in October 2011 during the Thanksgiving Long Weekend, and beat about half the game before I had turned my attention back to my coursework. I subsequently beat the rest of the game during my winter break. Portal was released back in 2007 and represented a revolutionary first-person puzzle game powered by the legendary Source engine. As such, Portal behaved very much like Half Life 2 in terms of UI. However, this is where the differences end: as a puzzle game, Portal encourages creative thinking to complete a course, requiring players place portals in the correct spots to reach certain locations and retrieve items to activate gates and switches, allowing them to access the next level. The early test chambers start out trivially easy, but eventually reach a point where neural power is required to solve them. Throughout the game, recurring elements of physics, such as terminal velocity and momentum, come greatly into play. A player can reach distant locations by using acceleration due to gravity to reach a higher speed and then create a portal along the horizontal to use this speed to pass over a pit. As the player progresses through the various puzzles, it becomes apparent that there is really no cake, and that GLaDOS is intent on killing Chell. The story elements give Portal an added element of depth, and combined with the refreshing take on first-person games, Portal is definitely worth checking out. There are no excuses, especially not in this age, when even introductory machines made for basic web browsing and word processing can run Portal.
Portal 2 primarily comprises a series of puzzles that must be solved by teleporting the player's character and simple objects using the "portal gun", a device that can create inter-spatial portals between two flat planes. The game's modified physics engine allows momentum to be retained through these portals, which must be used creatively to maneuver through the game's challenges. In addition to retaining most of the original Portal's gameplay elements, the sequel added new features, including tractor beams, laser redirection, bridges made of light, and paint-like gels that give surfaces special properties (e.g. accelerating the player's speed, allowing them to jump higher). Within the single-player campaign, the player returns as the human Chell, having awakened from stasis after many years. Chell must navigate the now-dilapidated Aperture Science Enrichment Center with the portal gun while the facility is rebuilt by the reactivated GLaDOS, an artificially-intelligent computer that appeared in Portal as its main antagonist. The storyline is longer than that of Portal's, and introduced new characters, including: Wheatley, a personality core voiced by Stephen Merchant; and recordings of Cave Johnson, the deceased CEO of Aperture Science voiced by J. K. Simmons.
Portal 2 is a worthy successor of Portal in every respect; it retains the puzzle-solving aspect while implementing new challenges for the player and delving into the history behind Aperture Sciences. I recall that things were far simpler in the first game, making it easier to run through the game and solve the puzzles, whereas in Portal 2, some puzzles (especially the ones later in the game) are nowhere near as straightforward as before and require a bit of creativity to solve. New implements in the game add an additional edge to gameplay, making for some truly innovative, fun solutions to some of the areas and give the game a sense of completeness that was absent from the original Portal, which comparatively feels like a lesser mod of Half Life 2. The refreshed storyline is astoundingly detailed, showing a hitherto unexplored side to the entire history behind Aperture Science and its ventures in the 1950s, including the gels and their experimentations with early test subjects. With excellent voice acting and careful pacing of plot progression, one feels immersed in this world as things go back and fourth between Wheatly and GLaDOS. The added recordings of Cave Johnson give a sense of nostalgia for the ancient experiments that were once carried out at the facility. Coupled with the refreshed graphics and new mechanisms, Portal 2 is a superb game and carries the title of 2011 Ultimate Game of the Year well.
Street Fighter IV is a 2008 fighting game produced by Capcom. Featuring models and backgrounds rendered in 3D, the gameplay remains on a traditional 2D plane, with the camera having freedom to move in 3D at certain times during fights, for dramatic effect. A new system called Focus Attacks has been introduced, as well as Ultra Moves. The traditional six-button control scheme returns, with new features and Special Moves integrated into the input system, mixing classic gameplay with additional innovations. The game has a similar feel to Super Street Fighter II Turbo, but also has a few features from Street Fighter III 3rd Strike. All the characters and environments in Street Fighter IV are rendered as 3D models with polygons, although non-photorealistic rendering was used to give characters a hand-drawn look, with visual effects accented in calligraphic strokes, ink smudges and ink sprays during the fights.
Street Fighter IV is a welcome addition; highly amusing to play and possessing colourful visuals, it brings back everything about the Street Fighter II series and, together with the updated graphics, takes the series into the modern era. The enjoyment found in Street Fighter IV is a result of how flexible the game is: new players will feel right at home and can simply dive into the fight without worrying about the controls, while there are new mechanics that veterans will need to learn and re-master, if they want to truly understand the gameplay. Of course, the arcade mode and versus mode makes a return, adding more details to the story of the Street Fighter Universe (which is presented in the form of anime cutscenes). Several characters will initially be locked; beating the game while satisfying certain conditions will unlock them. Those who have completed the game, and unlocked everything, may wish to try their hand at the new online battles, which pairs one with another player. My thoughts ultimately return to what I've initially stated: Street Fighter IV is simply a highly flexible game, which gives it a tremendous degree of replay value. Newcomers will marval at the fighting system (after a small learning curve, one should have no trouble executing most of the moves) and graphics, while veterans will see an old classic revised for a new era.
Team Fortress 2 is a free-to-play team-based first-person shooter based solely around multiplayer and was developed by Valve. There is no campaign, with the focus being around two opposing teams competing for a principal objective, such as capture the flag, king of the hill and territories. Players can choose to play as one of nine classes in these teams, each with his own unique strengths and weaknesses. Team Fortress 2 also features numerous "achievements" for carrying out certain tasks, such as scoring a certain number of kills or completing a round within a certain time.
Even before it was free, Team Fortress 2 demonstrates just how entertaining a purely online, multiplayer shooter can be. There isn't much of a story to TF2, except that two corporations, Red and Blu, have some sort of rivalry with each other, and slug it out in various online matches. For me, I admit that the main appeal about TF2 is how it is suitable for any gamer: a casual player will be able to walk into a server and blow things up for ten minutes, while more serious players will play to unlock achievements, weapons and hats. The class system is another one of TF2's notable points: each class (scout, pyro, soldier, demoman, heavy, engineer, sniper, medic and spy) has a unique set of strengths and weaknesses. Since no class is absolutely superior to another, a good team must consist of several classes. The graphics of TF2 also stand out; unlike most modern shooters, emphasis is placed on light-hearted entertainment rather than realism, making the overarching plot feel like a spy movie from the 60s with cartoon-like designs and inspirations. When all has been said and done, TF2 ends up being a game with no detractors: it is a free shooter that is suitable for most everyone, whether they have 10 minutes or 100 minutes.