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Still dodging making reviews

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Spoiler

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In Metro games there is a difficulty mode without any HUD and sometimes this can happen.

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Let's throw a knife into back of this guy for max stealth sneakiness

 

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:what:

 

Nazis in Metro LL/Redux are probably taken from Wolfenstein for rent. 

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Splinter Cell: Conviction.

   Was released in 2010, i recently re-played it and it is time for a review.

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   If i remember right this part of SC was stuck in development for some time. Originally they wanted to do interesting take on Splinter Cell with Sam leaving organisation and going under radar/hiding, while somebody wanted to find him. 

 

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Spoiler

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ÐоÑожее изобÑажение

 

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But it was scraped and/or re-developed. What we got in the end is not exactly a Splinter Cell.

 

   Visuals

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   For game released in 2010 visuals are not bad. Saw some reviews that found them mediocre, for me it also looks passable… when you are not in shadows. I will explain this in a moment, but before this few more words on visuals - texture work and models were made well enough, although sometimes you still can see low-resolution textures or obvious low polygon count even on main character models. Levels and places have different look, level designers work is pretty good – detailed rooms, corridors, streets, labs. Animation is also “AAA” quality, especially Sam’s takedowns (a lot of animation was done for them – with and without weapons, with different type of weapon, from different sides of enemy, etc.).

   

 

Spoiler

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Some of maps also look interesting/cool.

 

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   Devs decided to get rid of almost all HUD/make it minimal, and your stealth meter was one of victims. Previous games had a meter that showed how much character was illuminated (how visible he was for bad guys), in SCC there is no such element of UI/HUD, it was replaced by color filter of whole screen that left only black, red and white, with very small amount of color on few selected objects unaltered by it. Also, they made stealth to be just a 2-state system, when you are either visible or totally invisible. When you enter invisible state, this filter is turned on.

 

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   In a stealth game, where you are supposed to be in shadows as much is possible this decision obviously lead to visual quality of the game being hit as a player vast majority of playing time look at black and white picture with few drops of red. I found myself not destroying light sources in levels just to not have completely black screen and after fight was over i jumped into illuminated areas just to have a moment of observation of color and life, at times stepping from dark places felt like getting out of 1940s documentary right into world with blue skies, green grass, pink teddy bears and happy rabbits. This black and white filter also made all levels feel less various. 

 

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Without black-white-red filter

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   Avoid playing SCC prolonged time in order to avoid similar situation. And just to note that this decision to kill all color during sneaking was a bad idea - next Splinter Cell (Blacklist) did not had this system, they went with small light appearing on character model when he was in dark places.


 

   Gameplay

   SCC can be called stealth-action game. It is a mix between older SC and cover based 3rd person shooter. Yes, and shooter part is as generic as it sounds. There are few gimmicks, but overall shooting part is not very interested. You duck behind a cover, shoot bad guys, maybe throw a grenade and done. There is no blind fire in SCC and no suppression effect on AI, so firefights are just “cover-aim-shoot-next target” until all are dead. Sometimes enemies will throw a grenade at you or get from other angle, but this is rare and don’t affect metagame routine of firefights enough. Only positive thing is that most of automatic weapons feels not bad to shot, although late in the singleplayer campaign enemies have higher HP that lead to firing too many bullets at them for my taste. Encounters are usually quick, so action part will take small part of SCC playing time.

There is weapon upgrades/unlock system with points and challenges (like fart 3 times near group of guards without them understanding that it was you and similar shit). You also get gadgets, but all of them are just explosives with different ways to explode (mine, remotely detonated bomb, grenades, camera with a sound speaker and explosives inside, EMP grenade).

 

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   Stealth is not much better than action part of Splinter Cell Conviction because of several changes developers made. First – spotting/visibility system. As I noted earlier, now it is 2 states system – you either nearly invisible demon of darkness or you are a Christmas tree with pressure-sensitive firecrackers strapped to your boots, both of which are extremes with nothing in between. Not only this system operates just in 2 extremes, but it also clearly shows (via visual filters) in which state you are, and that nearly completely eliminate moments of doubt in a player’s head about his next move against bad guys. Comparing my playtime with a Thief 2, where stealth system was less “streamlined” I feel that SCC lacks in emotion behind player interaction with stealth system. 2 clearly conveyed certain states/situations allows for rational approach to playing SCC, but leaves out irrational emotional response to uncertainty of classic stealth systems. Add here decision to make Last Know Position (LKP) visible to a player in form of white outlines of Sam body in a place where you was spotted, making very clear what bad guys are looking for, where and if there are already understood that you are not there on top of simple but certain stealth system. LKP BTW was used in game AIs since like Theif 1 times and even earlier.

   In short, players know almost exactly what will happen most of the time in SCC as a result of his actions, living suspense and tension of higher chances to fuck up out of most encounters in SCC.

 

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I am master of darkness.

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A HUMAN APPEARED 2 METERS FROM ME FROM COMPLETE DARKNESS!

 

Here is LKP and AI in action

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   Second reason is that there is no need to really be stealthy. Sam Fisher is capable to fight several well-equipped PMC alone with his pistol and most of the time being spotted does not affect anything outside of piece of level where you have an encounter with current group of AI agents. Sam’s pants have black holes pockets with unlimited ammo for any pistol you take before mission or pick up, and ability to 1 tap almost all bad guys with a headshot kind of tells you that quicker and maybe more bombastic way to play SCC is to machine pistol all bad guys. Combining stealth and action makes SCC pretty easy game even on realistic difficulty.

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   On top of that there is an execution mechanics in SCC, which I call “skip gameplay” button. After a melee kill Sam earns ability to kill several bad guys in LOS in certain range (according to each weapon stats) by pressing an “execute” button. Maximum amount of baddies you can “press F to inflict deaths” is 4 IIRC (one of assault rifles), smallest – 2. This ability allows to player to jump in the middle of the room and with single button clear it without problems in matter of seconds.

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During one of missions in single player, Sam gets ability to execute in big numbers.

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   And this is not the end of this crap! Some of weapons upgrades give you ability to… autoaim. It kicks in when you press aim/zoom button and work for sew seconds, placing reticle on a head or another visible body part, but hey, in this game you don’t even need to aim well.

 

   Third reason is that level designers were probably better at making maps for shooters than stealth games. In places where you are supposed to have shooting gallery map makers put good old Red Barrels filled with explosive communism, there are giant chandeliers over a group of really evil PMC guys and so on. Not much of secret vents entrance or some sort of movable pushcart with Metal Gear-branded cardboard boxes on it to stealthily make your way inside.

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   And forth reason is that all game mechanics and levels were made for intended type of gameplay, which itself have a problems.

 

   Gameplay that was vision by devs looks (for me) as this – you jump into shadows, approach a group of evil bad guys and mark them. You see one guy in dark corner, you take him out with power of Sams fists and earn ability to kill that group. You are getting closer until all of them are in a kill radius, press “execute” and room is full of dead mercenaries. If weapon was suppressed – you go to next group of bad guys. If not, or you used other noisy way to deal with this group, other group hears that and rush inside. They spot you and you jump back into the shadows, with enemies now trying to push your LKP. You sneak above/around them, take out 1-2 of them and execute rest of them in cool-looking animation. You jump out of shadows, do your deadly bombastic action, jump back to disappear and move to a new victim. There is even an EMP generator gadget to help you with disappearing in darkness part of this gameplay loop. Quick, deadly, sneaky, “fashionable, stylish, youthful”. When you do this first several times, SCC feels fun to play.

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   Problem with that vision is that is very limited and narrow, restricted. There is not much for a player to fuck up, add, change, subvert, etc. and it feels almost on the rails after several times you do it because all needed information is given to you (in fact, there are wallhack goggles in SCC that Sam gets about 1/2 or 3/4 in story mode). When I play exactly in this way, game is pretty fun, but after this gameplay loop become a routine I realized that there is almost noting more in SCC interactive stealth-action. You can play in other way, but game is not designed for it and other play styles are less supported by level design, weapon/stealth systems and AI.

 

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Google's Wallhack gogglestm

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Oh, yeah, i almost forgot about you, annoying projected text

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   Other things that bothered me is that there is no security systems that affect gameplay in SCC. There was a jumping puzzle disguised as laser "trap" like once in a whole game, and thats all. In Chaos Theory there was many systems, from usual locked doors and  password digital locks, to fancy like laser grid and turn of laser nearest to guards with special chip in their uniforms, laser-activated turrets, retinal scanners and cameras with IR light source to see in the dark and so on.

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   Controls

   I will mention them because there are not very good. Game controls are optimized for people who play by pushing 2 plastic nipples with their thumbs, so part of actions are binded to a single button. And they are contextual and you need to have pixel perfect aim.

 

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I was running to this weapon stash and pressed "Use" button...

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   Plot

   It exists. No, seriously, there are even cutscenes and dialogues!

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Coop executions!

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   Well, ok, I will be more specific. Plot is dogshit about stolen Russian Nuclea EMPs with some bad guy trying to get a promotion or something, White House is under attack, PMC, terrorism, Iraq and Hillari Clinton is a president. Characters are “Secondary NPC with custom 3D models” at most, there is no interesting world, or idea in SCC, all evil bad guys are evil because they don’t like smiling people and all of them are SUPA SERIOUS, DUDE. At least you can hack EMP and fry bad guys... for some reason.

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   AI and enemies.

   I already covered part of AI here:

   In short - they are rather generic overall, with exception of few behaviors that are noted above - ability to lock down/overwatch entrances and few other smaller abilities. Somewhat challenging in big numbers and in not very good parts of level (no flanking route/dark places). Unlike Venom and Metro AIs, enemies here can't get into sewer/vents to chase you, so player have safe spaces from them around levels. Not very good at searching (very undeveloped part of their behavior), and because of LKP mechanics AI can be easily exploited (and this is part of gameplay loop). Cover detection system also not the best, sometimes they take cover behind coffee table with 99% of their body visible and open for bullets. Team work is very limited, most of the time you are looking at Brownian motion of professional-looking PMC mercenaries around the level during searching phase. During combat they are also playing a 3rd person cover-based shooter. No interesting type of enemies or enemy-faction-only gadgets. Although, their agressive combat style was a positive moment for me.

 

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   They are not that interesting to fuck around with either. For example in Splinter Cell Chaos Theory you could play with guards sanity using stealth system ability to create uncertain situation. You could walk into badly lighted place where guards could sort of spot you (Who is there?) and then move back into darker place, do same thing several times and guards start to freak out and fire/spray in full auto into the darkness while screaming.

 

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   Also, in Chaos Theory and earlier, almost all guards that you see on the level could be disarmed and interrogated. They could give you usefull info, or tell something interesting, funny ("Are you ninja? Wow, cool, i am being killed by a real ninja!") and so on. Nothng like this is in SCC, they are just human shields when you disarm enemies. In each level bad guys in SCC can refer previous level "You will pay for what you done at/on _X_, Sam!", but that is not as advanced as diologues between guards during search in Chaos Theory. Even if they hear lightbulb breaking, they can go to investigate and have dialogues about it ("-That crappy thing is broken again! -You know that they are now pretty shitty..."). That made those walking bots to be something more in previous SC than what they are in Conviction and feel more human. Although animation system for baddies is better in Conviction.


 

   Conclusion. 

   SCC is short game with intended gameplay that can carry less than a singleplayer campaign lasts (which is 4-5 hours). It feels that this "panther" type of stealth-shooter gameplay, where you pop out of shadows, do max damage and disappear, should have been only part of bigger game IMO. On it's own this gameplay is fun, like Jason Bourne movie that became interactive. In fact, i would like this game more as movie-based shooter. But as Splinter Cell, Conviction is lacking. Story is way too stupid even for Splinter Cell standarts, almost all gadgets are just fancier grenades with explsoves, gameplay is not developed outside of one specific way to play Conviction. It feels like fancier powerfantasy than stealth sneaky game. But something like Painkiller don't bother will pretending that it is a stealth game.

   So for those who never played Splinter Cells and not into stealth games much, doesn't care about plot, interesting cutscenes, dialogues, characters, Conviction could be very fun if played exactly how it was intended. For others - you are not missing anything worth your time. 

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On 8/12/2018 at 9:36 AM, Collimatrix said:

That sounds almost like they tried to make a smart phone Splinter Cell game... only they made it for PC.

   

Spoiler

 

The thing is that game mechanics are set up in such way that resulting gameplay will be almost always this "panther" style of jumping out of the shadows, killing and disappearing again (even if you are not trying to play in that way), as AI reaction to LKP and your actions are very exact every time, akin to small number of extreme states of spotting/stealth system.

 

   So options for playstyles are limited. Either play SCC as cover based shooter, or as this "stealth-action" mix. When you are in the mood for that, SCC is fun. My problem is that such gameplay is limited and rather quickly become less interesting. In the end of the game it is rather boring, and developers don't expand on this gameplay, but just shift it to more of shooting action.

 

   I would enjoyed this game more if it was Jason Bourne movie game or just some other IP. Splinter Cells never were about running around and spraying bad guys with endless train of bullets from your pistol with infinite ammunition supply or from assault rifles and than jumping into cover to regenerate health (i forgot to mention that SCC have that type of health system). SCC is just fancier power fantasy that don't glue so well with realistic-ish and SUPA SRS BSNS plot, at least for me.  

 

   And another annoying aspect is that i played almost all previous Splinter Cell games. I wanted to devs to expand and develop their stealth gameplay more. SCC threw away a lot of game mechanics from series out of the window. For example there is no enviromental puzzles to solve in form of many different security systems. Levels in SCC are linear Call of Duty-like maps instead of big arena-like areas like Thief had (and some missions in previous SC games). This 2 stage stealth system kind of works for Metro game, as it is more of an action-shooter. For me it is not fun in SCC. You just avoid lights at all times when bad guys are around and look at black and white screen for 4 hours. There are very small/rare moments of doubt and fear/anxiety of unknown and unexpected in SCC.      

 

 

   I am not sure on mobile game thing. What do you mean?

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On 8/12/2018 at 4:35 AM, LoooSeR said:

 

   I am not sure on mobile game thing. What do you mean?

 

SCC sounds like a game where they simplified things far beyond what most consumers would expect in a PC game.  PC gaming has always been the platform of choice for more "hardcore" gamers.  From flight sims with a billion controls like DCS World to fantasy simulations with an absurd level of detail like Dwarf Fortress, the PC is the home of complex games that demand a lot from the hardware and from the players.

 

SCC sounds so stripped down compared to a typical Splinter Cell game that it is too simple to even be a console game.  Sounds like something you would play on a smart phone.

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11 hours ago, Collimatrix said:

 

SCC sounds like a game where they simplified things far beyond what most consumers would expect in a PC game.  PC gaming has always been the platform of choice for more "hardcore" gamers.  From flight sims with a billion controls like DCS World to fantasy simulations with an absurd level of detail like Dwarf Fortress, the PC is the home of complex games that demand a lot from the hardware and from the players.

 

SCC sounds so stripped down compared to a typical Splinter Cell game that it is too simple to even be a console game.  Sounds like something you would play on a smart phone.

SCC was released on Xbox 360, iPhones and Windows Phone and few others.

 

   Also, game received around 85% on Metacritic and some other gaming related sites. I think that they were too impressed by edgy projected mission objectives.

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Venom: Codename Outbreak

   Finally doing review of Venom, 1-2 months after i deleted it!

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   Venom is a 1st/3rd person tactical team-based sci-fi FPS with light RPG elements game from GCS Game World studio, released in 2001. The game takes place far future of 2012, when flying cars were created by humans and the Earth was hit by a comet + hundreds of meteorites on top of that. Along with meteorites, spores of an alien life were brought to Earth (Of course!), which quickly developed here. Creatures started to attack people, to parasitize them,take mind control, and creating hive mind in the process. So we hit several cliches even before the game started! First victims of those creatures were eggheads that arrived at place of impact of one of meteorites. And here is where game starts.

 

   Visuals

   As a game that was developed in 1999-2000, Venom looks not bad. Origami low-poly models, low-poly terrain, blury textures - everything is here and everything we love in retro gaming. Be careful to not cut yourself with those sharp edges and don't drop water on those textures, they may become even blurrier. 

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  Texture work at places is pretty good, but sometimes there are places where you can see crookedly lighted texture, with edges of lightened part of terrain going exactly in the same place as egdes of polygons/triangles of level geometry and similar visual artefacts (not just on current computers, game always had that). 

   Levels are different, you have cities, desert, military labs, day/night missions, tropical islands, swamps and so on to kill fellow humans and local version of headcrabs.

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   You can compare it to a 1999 demo:

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   Gameplay

   In Venom you are playing as a team of 2 super special super UN forces (i think UN, but plot is hard to remember as i scipped it) soldiers that are send to different parts of the world to combat aliens and alien-controlled humans (mosly mind-controlled humans), and take vacation photos.

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Local headcrab fused so hard with this policemans that alien creature became part of his texture!

 

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Even here texture are fucked!

 

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A fully grown alien...umm.. thing. He use sharp edges of his low-polygon model to attack you in close range.

 

   Before each mission you can pick charachter, gear, weapons, ammunition, your beloved red tiger with pink stripes camo from lootbox, and sometimes you can pick when to do a mission (day or night) and press start.

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"We are SRS BSNS"

 

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Almost a max weight.

 

   After that you watch short video showing place and objectives and game starts. You and your teammate (well, you and you, actually) are dropped in that LZ and game says "here is XYZ objectives, deal with this shit and complete them to win" and leave you alone, sometimes reminding you about existance of it by terrible voice acting after completing each objective. Almost all missions in Venom are happening on a big maps, that allow a level of freedom (some more, some operations offer less). Few missions have time limit. This give Venom a feeling of sci-fi brother of Ghost Recon, at times more like first Far Cry (levels are partially open, but linear). Enemies have patrols, guard towers, some security systems, sometimes AFVs and rocket launchers observing areas, and all this is is spawned at the beggining of operation. And player is not gived an exact information on where they are, and there is no special vision through walls that can tell you that.

 

   This mean that player need to observe and recon area before starting to act, make some sort of simplistic plan and than execute it. I like this type of gameplay, it is more "diverse" than constant shooting. Several missions were designed to break the pace, to re-fresh gameplay. Like swamp level where you don't have map and need to go through low-visibility foggy forest around patrols to get to objective. Most of operations are different from each other, because of layout of map, objectives and type of combat you will have. For example one level can be CQB only combat inside of military lab, a mission after will be in open terrain with long LOS to enemies and ability to snipe majority of them.

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   So all this mean that Venom give a player different situations to deal with it and devs apperently recognized this moment, because developers locked ability to pick up enemy guns and gave a player an super Sci-fi Assault-swiss-knife-Rifle turbo alien destroyer 9000. 

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Yes, this rocket launcher have fancy animation of this telescopic launcher tube extending.

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   Player before mission pick a weapon (after doing several missions you get more advanced versions) and pack your inventory with ammo. Each gun have multiplay weapons in it - SMG, sniper rifle, laser, shotgun, rocket launcher, grenade launcher, flare gun, flashbang launcher, mine layer. All this with additional abilities like zoom, sound microphone, night vision and even active camo makes player able to approach almost any situation in Venom, and from multiply angles, as all abilities are not scripted to be used once in a specific spot, but they are part of game and AI mechanics.

 

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   All this make Venom a many games... game. I played a single level in a underground military base in several very distinctive ways. First was complete stealth. GCS made light sources destroyable, and AI have hard time spotting player in pitch dark (as it should). Add here that laser doesn't make sound for AI to hear, and making your way through military complex becomes a valuable way to play Venom. Laser also can 1-shot enemies and evaporate corpses, although it have short range (around 50-60 meters) and it is single short (after each shot several seconds of re-charging is needed). Sniper rifle can be used for longer ranges, as it is also almost completely silent, have 5 shot mags, but ammunition is hard to find for it. Even if you miss the shot, AI will not instantly spot you, but they will start to search area around them.This mean that even if i fail to hit enemy with first shot, most of the time i have ability to undo my mistake and fry his brains with second shot. Security cameras, wired to concealed turrets, are also destroyable. All this, plus teammate and relatively easy to use controls for him, allowed to go through almost whole mission like in a dedicated stealth game.

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   Second playthrough of this level was bombastic machineguns in full auto type of gameplay, with rocket launchers used in CQB, grenades, flashbangs, shotguns and hordes of mooks to kill in tight corridors. 

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   Third way to complete that level of mis of stealth and action (let's call it Venom: Codename Conviction). Between objectives i was using stealth, but after reaching it - switched to local mass murder and destruction. 

   Add here cool moments that player can set up using all those tools and 2nd team member command menu - you can create ambushes in dark corridors, assault and than retreat to ambush chasing enemies, you can have "close calls" moments of enemies walking right between you and teammate while you are laying in the grass with active camo on, flanking, using your teammate as a bait and many others.  

 

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Red thing is a marker that player places on target for a team mate

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That is too close by Venom standarts

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This is how dark it is in this level. Night + fog from a swamp.

 

In general camo in Venom sort of works.

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I think i shouldn't have used a shotgun against alien baby

 

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What have you done?

 

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I just killed a small alien parasite thing! Are tanks really necessary?

 

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Teambait!

 

   Guns in Venom for the most part feels great to use. Animation, 1st person camera movement, sound effect and visual effects sells many of them, especially SMG/Assault rifle. Enemies are not bullet sponges (except aliens, they are the not fun to play against), move quickly (player speed is also rather high), generally combat at close ranges is quick and visceral.  


   

   AI and enemies

   Venom have interesting situation with enemies. Creators of this game worked pretty hard on AI features, AI of your comrade, creating a rather interesting gameplay as a result of how AI works, and i am not totally sure if that resulting gameplay and tactics were intentional outcome of developers work. 

   In general AI in Venom is pretty good in CQB/urban conditions for 2000/2001, not bad at medium ranges (up to 100 meters in this game) and completely crap past 150. This creates a sitaution of Dark Souls - player can choose difficulty of his game by choosing a certain playstyle. Range combat in Dark souls AFAIK is viewed as "easy" and melee - hard. Pretty much similar situation is in Venom:CO - sniper gameplay is easy and sometimes becoming boring. Tanks, IFVs and robots work as sort of counter to sniping too much. But again, i am not sure if this was 100% intention of devs, as this counter doesn't kick in if you actually snipe 100% of foot soldiers on the map. If you trigger them (in case of robots - personally) - they work pretty well against sniper players.

 

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Robot is firing HMGs (i am inside of sniper guard tower). He is very angry. Time to get the fuck out and ambush his Saudi ass.

Spoiler

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He still filling observation tower with additional ventilation holes. 

 

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"Kill all infidels! Long live Prophet!"

 

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Hey, is this an EOD-209 that was sold to Saudi military?

 

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Oh, yeah, it is.

 

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You can't beat my infidel Swiss super rifle. It have too much science for you to handle!

 

During another playthrough made those 2 very angry

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   Robots have very simplistic AI, tanks and IFVs - noticeably better behavior (they even try to dodge rockets, suppress place where you was spotted, moving not just from their location to player position, etc). Alien creatures are very stupid and uninteresting, their behavior is very generic.

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   Posted this section somewhere else, but partially copy paste here, although now with additional screenshots.  

  So aliens are stupid, but human soldiers AI had plenty of cool features. As devs attached a teammate to follow your ass like a dog (although you can command him to bring your slippers or assume direct control), they made sure that he can follow you around the whole level, leaving very few places where he could not get (not game breaking though). But that navigation system was re-used for enemies, creating a paranoia-filled gameplay. Those angry blocks of low-polygon futuristic military geared mooks can get to your ass anywhere, and frequently in groups (they have some sort of group behavior).

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Polygon count is so low that touching this dude will cut your fingers. I like his angry-looking Robocop pose, haha.

 

   Usually FPS/action games have places in level where enemies can't get to, like ventilation shafts, engineering passages, sewer systems and so on - basically parts of level that you know AI can't get inside as those pieces of map and entrances into them are located in hard to reach places, or because those parts of level are supposed to separate parts of map or create distance between encounters for player to calm down. Think of Half-Life vents, basically.

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   Well, in Venom enemies use those parts of the map easily, probably because devs never were into "creating an Experience for a player". In 3rd and 4th mission you are moving through multi-stored building where elevators were shot down, so in order to get to other storeys you need to get through service stairs located along elevators shafts. Those shafts are then connected to eleborate ventilation system on each floor that in some places have pretty big rooms with different equipment (base was military lab). All entrances to those service passages and ventilation systems are in hard to reach places (piles of boxes, or you need to break vent grill to get inside, usual deal). At first i assumed that those are just usual peices of level between action sections that are placed by gamedevs to make better pacing of overal gameplay.

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   But when you start firefight, you can get enemies so angry that nearby vent can vomit a whole squad of those motherfuckers on your position. And that squad was located on a floor above/below yours, BTW, and moved to your floor via those exact service stairways that i used and thought were there for other reasons. In fact i thought that those service stairs were made so long to avoid sound triggering enemies on other floors.

   If you start to peak and kill enemies inside of "main" rooms from ventilation system or from ceilings and run away, those guys will sweep vents in groups, creating unusual firefights, like bullet exchanges in full auto between 2 ventilation shafts that later shifts to engineering rooms or firefight when you and teammate are locked in a storage space with enemies peaking you from vents near ceiling, making you feel like you are playing as a bad guy in Splinter Cell or a marine in Aliens.

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Spoiler

 

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That asshole climbed boxes in front of vents to get here.

 

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Second guy didn't managed to jump inside my vents before getting hit in the head

 

 

   AI programmer made enemies capable of climbing things, climb through vent entrances, use stairs to move through level. Climbing different crap on level like those boxes is done pretty neatly - programmer just attached "stairs" logic to side of boxes, so enemies can climb piles of them to reach usually unreachable places for AI. This leads sometimes to cool moments - for example i took cover behind such pile of boxes in attempt to funnel bad guys into area in front of me, but enemy, unseen to me, climbed that same pile of boxes and shot me in the head from above. 

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This is not exactly that situation, but rather similar

Spoiler

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IDK if they can jump out of windows, but i stopped him from learning that.

 

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... so they started to crawl under things, trying to kill me from the shadows (2 can be seen here). 

 

   This simple AI logic created interesting gameplay - after experiencing it you (or at least me) started to scout area as much as possible to see from which area you can be peaked for sure, and from which you can get flanked or assfucked, i also tried to postpone start of the action as long as possible, so i can get to better place relatively to architecture of base and not just choosing best chest high wall near me. During combat your head is doing 360 degrees scan of everything around you, including vents, catwalks, ceilings, passageways below and above you and so on. And during combat you are paranoid because enemies can easily attack from any direction, including far above and far below (depends on layout of level, of course). This lead to intense, paranoid feeling between quick and satisfying firefights. 

 

   Other AI features that supplements previous logic is choosing different ways to get to your last known position. I observed it while standing on intersection of 2 corridors, with lights destroyed by me for better concealment. Enemy appeared from one corridor, but with my first shot he legged away (probably because he could not see me in pitch dark part of corridor) and than emerged from second corridor on my right side, zigzagging to place from which he was shot.

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And again this is not exactly that situation, but rather similar

Spoiler

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   Those 2 logics mixed with overall high aggressiveness of mooks work together very well for a 17-years old game with humans looking like they were made of origami and old rude-but-cute animations. Their CQB is not as realistic/advanced as SWAT 3, but i would like to have those assholes as enemies in SWAT 3.

   As i mentioned above, those guys have some sort of group behavior, and some of that behavior observed looks pretty nice. One of them is patrol reaction to a contact.

Venom-Codename-Outbreak1.jpg

   Patrols move in groups of 2 or 3 origami humans, stopping time to time to look around. Also, don't be surprised that those baddies don't see player 40 meters away. If you are prone in Venom, your character will be covered in camo net that will make you very hard to see even for a human, altought in first person it is not rendered.

 

   If you fire at such patrol with sniper rifle and will be not spotted in first moment after shot, enemies will neatly run to roadsides, each in his own separate direction, kneel and start ot scan areas around them creating 360 coverage.

 

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   Snapped this screenshot few moments later after the shot

 

Spoiler

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   In many games i played with highly autonomous AIs they usually run to a point where sound appeared and in case of no sound of gunshot they could run to a place of bullet impact, also they could just walk all together in an unorganised crowds and look in exactly same direction. But in Venom they avoided this situation during patrol being ambushed. With next shot enemies can change their positions, try to find a cover, sometimes they even run away in a group. Overal, patrols reaction to a sniper fire was made so good that it looks almost scripted. Oh, and during patrol loop they can stop for a brief time and scan area around them with each angry pile of polygons scanning different direction in their Robocop poses. And word "scanning" is fitting, as animation is simple upper body slow rotation inside of certain arc. Looks robotic, but works for gameplay (so you don't just run behind their backs through open fields).

 

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   Not sure about some other things observed about those guys, in 6th mission i missed a shot against guard that few seconds later fired a flare that probably triggered and attracted number of enemies on a second island. After a 2-3 minutes a tank rolled through a bridge to vicinity of my team with infantry support. I am not sure if infantry support was intentional (like soldiers attached to a tank through group behavior or just a script) or they were just triggered by flare as tank itself and it just happened that they reached place in the same time. Although after me in direct control of 2nd team member firing a rocket against tank and jumping to a ditch on a hill for a cover, those guys were suppressing last know position of that teammember, but were not running to him and stayed near MBT.

Spoiler

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Looked similar to this

 

   I also noticed more of AI features and behaviors. For example their reaction to ambush in CQB situation is different from same situation in open terrains.

Spoiler

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He didn't run out, waited there.

 

Another example

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He thinks i am futher down the corridor

 

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Saw me, ran away

 

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After some time - jumped out of a doorway

 

   They are taking cover

Spoiler

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   If you are too active with firing and exploding things, it looks like AI become scaried by it and try to hide in corners and dead ends. And i tested this several times on this map, apperently this is a thing.

Spoiler

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   During combat they appear to use some sort of squad behavior. Here is 2 guys vs me (alone). They cover each other and advance.

Spoiler

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i am spotted. 

 

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Soldier runs to the officer

 

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Last guy moved back to cover (his foot is visible) after officer was killed and continued to fire from there.

 

   They even search in squads, they stop to look around (all soldiers almost in exactly the same time), then everybody start to run to new place to look around

Spoiler

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   AI in Venom have pretty serious arsenal of abilities to deal with a player and his pet dog in close and medium ranges, both inside of buildings and outside, long ranges are partially covered by snipers and AFVs (when they are present and in the mood for human blood). 

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Snipers during day time are serious threat.

   The way in which AI works makes indoor combat to be interesting, action-filled experience that i enjoyed very much (on hard difficulty), always looking around you as there could be a group of angry low-polygons models, running through sewer system below or vents above you, crawling in shadows under machinery and climbing to catwalks to get a better view on player_1 and PetdogAI_2, and fill them with unhealthy amount of bullets. Or they could be scaried of you and sit in corners and dead ends, trying to ambush player. Or they can be searching area, as they saw a dead body but they have no idea where intruders are. 


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   Conclusion. 

   Venom's range of valuable playstyles, range of different weaponry and abilties meet with aggressive AI that shows different behaviors makes this game stend out for me and fun to play (i replayed campaign 3 times), even with crushes and other problems (like part of  texture didn't load). Relatively high freedom and range of playstyles, that are supported by game mechanics, gear/equipment, enemy behavior makes it much more richer experience than Splinter Sell Conviction, for example. I wish there was a Venom 2...

 

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Relatives have dragged me to a few phone/browser based games. They all are "meh".

Lacking a proper system (I am on a laptop for now) I cannot do much.

 

This new job may pay off eventually, but for now I am not really on much of anything .

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Before deleting 600 mb of screenshots from Venom, decided to post some of them.

 

   When you take overpowered position while covered by a camonet and with active camo on in a foggy forest during night operation, firing laser that don't have detectable noise...

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Boat of the far future of 2012

Spoiler

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Flare gun. Very useful. Very. Useful.

Spoiler

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"Did you spotted me yet?! I am right here! Come and get me!"

 

"We were spotted in the middle of terrain full of bushes! What we will do?"

Spoiler

"Charge in a straight line!"

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AI programmers of Half-Life 1, Far Cry, Half-Life 2, Doom 3 and many other "AAA" games of 2000s look at this and "we can't do this! It is too damn hard!"

Spoiler

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*Predator sounds*

Spoiler

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Search parties in Venom are scary

Spoiler

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Futuristic helmets and M4s with STANAG mags. In Russia. 

Spoiler

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Local enemy transport service.

Spoiler

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That guy saw us assaulting and yelled "can't get my stuff!" and jumped from the cliff.

Spoiler

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And survived! But i couldn't get his ammo and medical supplies. AI in this game is an asshole.

 

Saudi ED-209 are incompetent.

Spoiler

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Can't kill even a single enemy!

 

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Tried to play Cryostasis, played 5 minutes before game crashed, ended my game session.

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Spoiler

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   This game have pretty good effect of presence - scale of things, movement, main character breath, body temperature mechanics are increasing immersion. But very slow and simplistic gameplay, fighting with bullet spongy enemies and very linear levels are what makes it boring most of the time for me. I didn't played it for so long that i forgot my controls, :lol:

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   I am far into Cryostasis singleplayer, but game keep crashing in that one level every 10 meters, so i sayed to Cryostasis "then fuck you too", closed it in anger and decided to play around with Metro LL AI, for a future review of it (in the far far future). 20 minutes of observing bots doing their routine was way more fun than 5 mintues of fucking around with Cryostasis (30 mintues of stabbing myself with Cryostasis edgy plot was planned to be done this evening). And yes, i am that strange that watching bots is fun for me.

 

   Enemy AI in Metro LL/Redux have this strange feeling that a programmer stopped working when he was done with basics and just started to work on advanced features. Imagine a TV show that have every episode starting in generic way, then in the middle of episode it become interesting, and when you start to see a potential of plot/character/situation, this episode ends. On the next episode all starts again from scratch. 

 

   Metro AI have group behaviors (for 2 and 3 man teams), have dialogue system, have searching behavior more sophisticated than in some dedicated stealth games(CONVICTION!!!), have more developed health/bleeding system that most shooters, head movement system, a big arsenal of animation/stances and few more. But none of them developed enough to become really visible for players and to be able to affect gameplay noticeably. Some of aspects of human enemies design is also pretty smart (flashlights working as a vision cone...umm.. visualization, and as a marker, showing where enemies are to avoid using obvious HUD elements on screen).

 

DuiH4eG.png

I am observing you, not the other way around!

 

   Although they are more competent then i expected. They are not perfect, most of the time they are Ok, sometimes they are pretty good. A "preview" of some of their abilities/features.

 

   2-man team group behavior, searching "aggressively".

Spoiler

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   3-man team moving together and observing areas around them (watching different directions), searching "calmly". Looks cool, and this formation of those commies give them pretty high chances to catch a player, if he is near.

Spoiler

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   Popping from cover to observe a ladder. Apperently AI can use a lot of objects as a cover, although i suspect this system don't take into account shape of geometry and just look if there is a "corner" like formation of waypoints (or what they use in their AI nav system).

Spoiler

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Another example of 2/3 man team searching. I like how they are moving together, sometimes back to back.

Spoiler

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 Another, same place

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   Heavy soldiers moving together. Checked exit, than moved to check nearby nook. At some point they were moving back to back, which make it harder for player to sneak around/near them. Also, they were keeping theyr eye on each other, so stealthly taking one out without triggering others would have been not easy.

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   There is also a feature when soldiers look at each other to check if their team mates are alright. Sometimes soldier that is observed looks back at a guy who checks him.

Spoiler

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or like this. Love from first sight

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   In team behavior it seems that their head movement is affected. Humans in Metro during searching have surprisingly sophisticated head->body movement and head "attention" selection systems.

Spoiler

Surface angles that enemies are walking on force AI to look up/down

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Head rotation at some point will transit to body rotation with animation/legs movement

 

   2 man team searching. Right guy pushes his teammate, and this "push" changes where left guy is looking and moving. This helps to avoid situation of 2 AIs trying to stubbornly walk through each other.

Spoiler

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   Head facing in not logical way, thanks to rather simple algorythm of head "elevation/depression" depending on surface angle. But thanks to another piece of code, that choose where AI need to look when not on stairs, he looks inside of a train instead of looking inside of his anus. Also note that when a commie inside of the train is looking to the left, another guy turn and look to the right

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Not sure if he is covering second guy on the stairs or something else.

 

   During searching AI pick a place in close proximity using naviation system according to some algorythm and enemy head will smothly rotate to face this direction (although speed of rotation can be different). Works for stealth gampley, actually. Kind of poor man version of SWAT 3 searching tactics.

Spoiler

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They also can climb things or jump into lower level areas, and this ability was used by level/game designers, almost as well as in few indoor levels of Venom.

Spoiler

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   Devs even made special animation for running sideways during "aggressive" searching with enemy quickly looking left and right to increase chances of detection of player in front of bots

Spoiler

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   Similar animation when standing. Quick movement of light cone from enemies flashlight draw attention and screams "i am very cautious and dangerous now for your stealth, mr. Player_1!". Works well for a gameplay (player understands where he is located because of light cone and that this particular bot is very angry and big 180 degr. area in front of him should be avoided).

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   They also can lean when not in cover, similar to SWAT 3 AI, which allow them to "slice" corners when moving to area near last known position of player, while being smaller target when going around those corners. Usually devs never bother with this at all. I can think only 2 FPS where i saw this, SWAT 3 and Metro LL/Redux.

Spoiler

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   Here is moment of AI stupidity and AI smartness in the same time. One soldier looking at LKP of player right in front of his feet while second is flanking and "slicing" corner before walking into LKP.

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   More on other abilities and behaviors later. Diologues, bleeding system (i remember than even 1 hit could have been deadly for them when i was fucking around with a RPK) and so on.

 

UPD: changed some of screenshots for GIFs.

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   Well, today attempt to make Cryostasis works also failed. I checked how far i manage to advance into the story and found that almost 90% of the game is done. So fuck it, i am deleting it now. BUHAHAHAHAHA NO MORE EDGY STORYCRAP!

 

   And additional details on Metro AIs.

   Here is health/bleeding system. Before this GIF begins i shot this guy, he tried to shoot back, managed to get into cover and after some time died.

Spoiler

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   Soldier looked at him and said something like "Uhhh..."

 

If their helmet was hit, but it wasn't penetrated, helmet flies away with a flashlight and soldier have short concussion.

Spoiler

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I wounded him bad with additional shots, after headshot failed to kill him.

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When they are seriously wounded and can't get to cover they can crawl. In that stage they can still fight, fire and reload weapons. This GIF is somewhat brutal.

Spoiler

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   Also, first time i see this - a guy lost his gas masks (bullet may be a reason) and died after that.

Spoiler

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   So 4A games gave them plenty of not really necessary features with all those additional things in bots health system. This is cool, i want to see what they will do for Exodus. They made a big step in AI between Metro 2033 and Last Light/Redux.

   More about their searching behavior - apperently there are pre-placed points from which bots can observe area. They use this exact place several times.

Spoiler

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Also there are nodes that level makers can place to make them look/observe certain things (for story). I am not sure if they use this for tactical stuff.

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   They keep their eye on your LKP when it is obscured

Spoiler

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   Team movement can be strange. Also note how one soldier checks his buddy. Although if you will manage to kill him when LOS between those 2 is broken, nothing will happen, sadly. It is one of those underdeveloped features that are left with loose ends. Maybe they plan to use it in new game. 

Spoiler

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   Also number of soldiers in a team can change easily. Here is 2 guys from previous GIF are joined by 3rd soldier (in the beginning of GIF), a soldier with backpack from previous GIF lagged behind, but he runs into this group just before GIFs ends. After that new guy sticks with those 2 for noticeable amount of time (like several minutes). Not sure how exactly this happens. Baddies can leave one group and "attach" to another one without problems, on the fly.

Spoiler

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After that this group move to another end of depo, leaves one soldier behind and move back.

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One that was left behind

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   I thought that this behavor is based on LOS and proximity, but during searching this team of 2 from previous GIFs found yet another "new guy" and separated to search a train from inside and outside in the same time, breaking LOS between each other and then re-establishing it and moving futher as 1 group. 
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Grenades, of course. If you make enough of noise and will be spotted by one of enemies, they will swarm around your position. After grenade they may assault your LKP.

Spoiler

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Also, they not only can climb, but use ladders as well. This is kind of big arsenal of moves/animations to make.

Spoiler

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   Mines are not too usefull in Metro against human opponents, usually they are way better against mutants (for obvious reason). But when you manage to make them work against humans - it is satisfying.

 

   So this guy left this service tunnel and climbed to garage/storage above (GIF was posted earlier) to walk around with his comrades.

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Time to set up an ambush

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Now we need to lure the victim
Spoiler

   What the hell? Is this a member of Sparta that we were tasked to hunt down in Depo, wearing military helmet with night vision goggles and a gasmask on his face, looking out of service tunnel hole or i just imagine things?

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Buhahaha, come to me, boi

Spoiler

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Also, lack of SWAT 3-like spatial awareness systems allows for other cheap """""""tricks"""""""

Spoiler

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"I am going to use this empty shelves as a cover and you can't stop me!"

Spoiler

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"And I am going to use this piece of air as a cover and you can't stop me either!"

Spoiler

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Now i understand why shelves are good cover

Spoiler

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   Currently playing Unreal 2 singleplayer. It is terrible. I thought first Unreal had some problems with singleplayer campaign, but Unreal 2 first mission was atrocious. Will do review of Cryostasis in near future, maybe after it Unreal and Unreal 2 quick review, after it probably will update T-64 section in Communist boxes ID thread. 

 

   I am enjoying this too much after playing not very good games one after another.

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Spoiler

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   After Cryostasis my plan is to complete You Are Empty, Metro-2 and Metro-2: Death of Leader (don't confuse those with Metro 2033 and Metro: Last light, those are separate games and studios), maybe Eastern Front 2: The Crash of Annenerbe on top of that Symbiot. 

 

   A lot of screenshots, some of them will be used in review of Metro: LL.

Spoiler

Ohh, yes, pure Stalinium.

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Is this a Soviet Union FPS now, game?

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Communist Jihad design bureau

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Technicals. Proably made out of parts of Toyotas that survived Nuclear war.

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*Insert Slav Squat joke*

ZAEx8Bv.png

 

This armor is not totally cosmetics - for example shotguns are nearly useless against those guys.

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I am not Soviet Union worker, why do you ask?

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I don't like this

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I really don't like this

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That is even worse

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Ok game, stop that

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And this whole thing was a build up to meet a guy with 3 barrel gatling thing?

Q3mnOml.jpg

 

Spoiler

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"I reject all allegations of rape. All this time I was looking at the floor"

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"I didn't saw him doing anything bad either, as i was busy looking at the side of this seat!"

gOnIEpF.png

 

"Guys! GUYS!! ARE YOU DONE RAPING THIS GIRL??? DO YOU NEED HELP WITH RAPING??? I CAN HELP TO RAPE HER, GUYS!!!"

ZAvS9yB.png

 

Spoiler

Psss, mr Gopnik

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Let me cut this texture from you

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I think keeping your legs in warm was Suvorov's words, not the other way around. Although he looks happy, so i will not disturb him.

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Spoiler

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Bandit scum

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Game, why you want me to check fire safety of my apartment, when i am in Moscow subway?

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"You don't even have a place here to die"

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"If we will look at each other this whole time, he will not be able to sneak on us and silently kill us, bratukha!" 

4QXfL8i.png

 

"You are genius, Kostya!"

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Heh, didn't worked so well

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This one died by catching a throwing knife with his armpit

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This is unstable position, mr bratok. You can slip and hit your head on that concrete edge near your foot.

fvBxmNV.png

 

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Don't tell me that i didn't warned you.

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This guy probably had a heart attack

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Another one that had a heart attack on his post

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"Did you find a girl to rape? 

Yes! Here it is, you can rape her, Comrade communist rapist!

Excellent. Let's rape her!"

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Spoiler

Very subtle, game, it is not like blood trail and red light is indication of anything bad at all.

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Communists in Moscow Subway still able to find kulaks

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"Let me see if you have any property of the proletariat in your pockets"

MoKqCTX.png

 

"I am suppressing thise tiles!"

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I think they overdone de-kulakization of Metro

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"All bourgeois here are killed and raped, comrade Captain!"

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Jesus, is that you?

3U6NRvP.png

 

Made some gifs out of screenshots before deleting them, probably will use in review.

Spoiler

Run back to cover!

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   Another one. I don't know why they take cover/positions, stay there for some time than run away/retreat. Also soldier take cover behind a thin rod with few planks leaning against it.

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Obsevation point being exchanged between AIs

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I feel a cover with my own back!

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Shooting gallery

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Combat search. Deliberate head movement with flashlight cone give a player time to to react/telegraph AI intention.

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SIngle chest shot from RPK can mortally wound soldiers, after such hit they will bleed out in a minute or less.

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   Observing enemies from open hatch. Another reason to have chokenodes, Splinter Cell's and SWAT 3 AI's would have spotted me faster than in Metro. 

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Were distracted by a grenade, but managed to see me quicker.

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Observing LKP and searching train twice, in a group

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Combat sometimes is disorientating

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And yet another example of why Swat 3-type of AI spatial awareness system is better

z6ihwxq.gif

 

Example of flashlights and laser acting as a help for a player to see where are enemies.

QLlHOWP.png

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   I nominate Unreal 2 for the worst first mission that i ever played in any FPS that i can remember. Currently started 4th mission, 3rd was not too bad and at some point... fun. 4th mission is happening on the plane that is being eaten or covered by giant planet-sized organism, which is cool in a concept. 

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Spoiler

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   It feels like first 2 missions and 3rd and 4th were done by completely different teams. In Unreal 1 when each level begins, game show title and level designer (like in MGS 5, haha). Unreal 2 doesn't do this, but in Unreal 1 sometimes you could see different approach to level making of different map makers.

 

   Doom and Quake games have nearly timeless game design, which needs a facelift time to time to be competitive with new games. Unreal 1, with all its problems, also kind of fits into that category. Unreal 2 at least for now looks horribly outdated. It gives me Call of Duty in SPAAAAACE! vibes, so... CoD AW, but with worse texture quality in lower budget. NPC escort missions, player being forced to follow NPC, very linear corridor sections and so on.

 

5th. I have Vivisector vibes from this one.

Spoiler

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   All missions in Unreal 2 so far happens on very small maps with frequent loading screens, which is huge downgrade from vast and complicated (bordering convoluted) levels of 1st Unreal. Movement of main character was slowed down a lot to compensate small maps.

   Escort this NPC_5 to Objective_3!

n2A1o0f.jpg

 

Spoiler

Escort this NPC_5 to Objective_4!

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   Add here that a lot of enemies use hitscan weapons (unlike 1st Unreal almost always used "low" speed projectiles), scripted scenes, linear levels layout, mission objectives and NPCs that womit badly-scripted and not well voice acted lines make this game more of low budget Call of Duty when you are on the mission. Enemies are for the most part dudes with assault rifles or turrets. Sometimes you see "Jaggernaut" type of mercs wearing exosuits and armed with rocket launchers.

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Spoiler

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   Game structure is "you are on your ship -> talk to your crew -> objective/briefing -> start mission -> complete objectvies -> you are on your ship" loop, that also reminds me Mass Effect, or a sort of Firefly knockoff. Characters are not that interesting, all of them are "stock" "characters". Dialogues sometimes are painful to listen, as they are also stock and at times badly voiced.

   Stock character - "sexy lady"

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Spoiler

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Tech dude that knows all the tech and fix stuff because he is very good with tech.

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Another almost stock character for sci-fi - comic-relief alien that don't know humans well enough and need to learn ways of human mind

xMgXfjl.jpg

 

   Even during missions characters are not that interesting. Here is high-level conceited scientists that make our main hero angry. I am surprised that this guy wasn't some German Doktor Günter Kruegzug. 

LKBFUfh.png

 

   Weapons are way less creative then they were in Unreal 1. Assault rifles, grenade launchers, shotguns, pistols, sniper rifles and so on. Few weapons are less "stock" - gun that fire spiders and shotgun secondary attack that set people on fire. 

5vMuQnM.jpg

 

Spoiler

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Plot is about powerfull ancient artifacts and old alien races.

Spoiler

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At least levels look different.

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Spoiler

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Unreal 2 is done. I didn't knew that i was just 2 missions away from ending from where i was in previous post. 

 

Quick review of Unreal 1. Will post about 2nd a little bit later.

 

   Original Unreal.

   Visuals.

   On the level of Half-life 1, nothing special.

l687yqmo.800xauto.jpg

 

Spoiler

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   Character and plot.

   Almost non existent. Sci-fi, spaceship-prison crash landed on alien planet, you were a prisoner and now trying to get out of planet full of invading Skaarj aliens. Nearly no characters to interact other than some local tribal alien NPC that don't speak to you and on few occasuins opened a secret area for you. Sometimes you can read some notes left by other prisoners (usually near their dead bodies). For the most of the game you are left alone going from point A to point B.

 

   Maps and non-combat gameplay

6y6cXVj.png

 

Spoiler

unreal3.jpg

 

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   Maps are mix of corridor sections that connects huge areas with multiply stages/floors and passageways/corridors/tunnels/etc. Some of them are almost convoluted mess of intersections, hidden underwater tunnels and so on. Frequent copy pasting at times. Indoor locations are not very well illuminated (thats why you have flares and flashlight in your equipment selection). Not many arenas to fight in with enemies, even in those huge ass areas, which are usually consist of number of linear corridors connected to several other corridors. Levels look half-way believable for game setting. Almost no puzzles, secrets are not too rare, most of the time outside of combat player is either pressing buttons and flip switches, or tries to find buttons to press and switches to flip, so not interesting.

 

   Enemies, AI, weapons, combat.

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   Majority of weapons in Unreal 1 are non-standart guns or standart weapon with unusual abilities. Rocket launcher can load up to 6 rockets before firing them in 1 salvo, Shock rifle have Main (fast-moving single shot beam of energy) and Secondary fire (slow-moving high damage orb) modes, but combining them will give you a 3rd fire mode (hitting orb with beam detonate it, can be used as some kind of OICW), gun that spits a toxic goo, gun that fires discs that decapitate enemies, Flak gun is my favorite (combining shotgun that can bounce "pellets" from walls and grenade launcher). Overal, good combination of normal weapons like sniper rifle with non-standart distinctive weapons, some of which are even effective! Many of those guns will be used later in Unreal Tournament and will become recognizable part of Unreal series.

 

unreal-gold_09023301C200894894.jpg

 

Spoiler

ef89940ae236158ef67ce9d64d1caa5078bf7287dd151309b1c8a5c578a24b09-1024.jpg

 

Unreal-2.jpg

 

38239-unreal-gold-windows-screenshot-a-skaarj-running-at-me.jpg

 

unreal.jpg

 

   Enemies are mix of local life forms/animals, some boss-like huge monsters and Skaarj. 2 of them are boring and uninteresting, but Skaarj creatures are less bland, although not very well designed.

   First of all there is very few types of Skaarj ("Hunter" with claws and wrist mounted energy emitters, some cyborg-like alines with MG and rocket launcher, rocket-launcher weilding fat Skaarj and weak guards for the most part).  So not much of variety. This means you will learn their behavior quickly.

   Second thing is that all of them are bullet sponges (guards are less, "Hunters" eat a lot). I played on hardest difficulty, not sure if health is affected by it. 

   Third - Their AI is less advanced that bots in Unreal Tournament. Majoity of enemies in Unreal just charge you (Hunters are doing this very agressively), only 1-2 types of Skaarj doesn't do that as much, which means shotguns (Flak cannon) is the most usefull thing after you get it. After receiving big amount of damage almost all of them retreat to a certain distance from which they fire their long range weapons, sometimes taking cover. During close combat they dodge all projectile attacks reliably, rendering for example a rocket launcher nearly useless (combination of low splash damage range and fast dodging). Only cyborg Skaarj in arena parts of levels were fun to fight, even with their bullshit shields that they activate time to time. Enemies are fast, react quickly, eat a lot of damage, can navigate enviroments well, jump over obstacles, use elevators. They can lead their shots, so strafing will not help, but quickly changing direction of movement is the way to play Unreal's combat. Player fight 1-2 Skaarj per encounter, more than 1 is stressing and 3+ is hard. In Unreal Tournament bots even could do 2-stage ambushes (lure and then hit from behind), although not without a help of level maker, nothing like this or any team bahvior in Unreal.

   So playing against majority of enemies is not very interesting, only few Skaarj enemies worked for me and were "fun". Hunters were irritating with their complete lack of self-preservation before eating 3-4 Flak cannons rounds with their bare naked chests. With cyborg Skaarj things i had this "dance" of dodging and delivering damage, which is what i liked. Don't know why people praised their AI, in HL Marines had more sophisticated behavior and as a result less "linear" and less repetitive gameplay with them.

 

unreal.jpg

 

   Overal gameplay and conclusion

   Old-school shooter, but with number of flaws and not very good designs decisions. Probably thats why many people remember DooM or HL, not many even know that Unreal had single player games. Constant button and switches hunting, with not very clear objectives at times and big open levels make you backtrack or visit same place several times. Majority  of fighting is against enemies that can eat a lot of damage, but have very predictable behavior and on top of that there are few variants of Skaarj in this game. This makes combat very repetitive towards end of the game. Weapons are interesting, but AI features (like constant dodging) make some of them ineffective, and massive HP bars make few others less usable as well. Map makers highlighed those flaws by making many parts of indoor levels dark and hard too see (AI doesn't care about that in Unreal) and by making many rooms small, so good job here with giving more advantages to enemies with little place for player to move. Opponents design is "out of sync" with tools player have and levels layout, basically.

   I don't recommend it to play, it is not interesting overall. Although there is an exception - if you are interested in old school shooters or in Unreal series specifically. Level and art designs isn't that good or memorable. Even on hardest difficulty i died like 4 or 5 times from enemies and for huge parts of Unreal i had almost maxed out armor and health, so it is not some sort of hard core experience for those who want to challenge themselves, either.

 

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   After deleting Unreal 2 i saw that there is nothing to play now for me, and i had enough of terrible Russian/CIS made games. So it is time for EndWar, to roleplay as Glorious Warrior of New Russia and Supreme Leader Vladimir!

@Collimatrix

@N-L-M

@Bronezhilet

You may enjoy this.

 

   Game allows you to start WW3 immediately or to have short foreplay instead.

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Timeline of EndWar's version of reality

Spoiler

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Hey, look - this game knew about Trump's Space forces!

 

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English voices make me angry as they say "Spetsnaz" as "Sh-petsnaz". :angry:

 

Spoiler

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   During first missions i forgot to check graphics option, and game put them on "low" (although putting them on "high" didn't changed perfomance at all). So sorry for not so great quality of graphics.

   1st pre-WW3 missions is for Euroweaklings (each of those missions is about 4-5 minutes long)

Spoiler

JEGVu6q.png

Terrorists attack European base!

 

PxeIKKO.png

Terrorists with "T-80" that look like T-90s

 

QMA3vSZ.png

 

Those terrorists were attacking hordes of European weaklings

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Wait a minute...

 

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They are armed with FAMAS rifles!


Human wave tactics used by Europeans photographic evidence!

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T-"80" SPAAG 
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Eurocopters

Spoiler

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After victory

Spoiler

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Hey, they even take selfies with vehicles

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WTF is wrong with this truck?

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2nd is for US

Spoiler

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"terrorists" brought their AA weapons from American division of Jihad design bureau

Spoiler

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and T-"80"

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and... terrorcopters???

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After Victory of Trump forces vs terrosits

Spoiler

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Hard to learn "TACTICS" of this game

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3rd mission is again for Eurowealkings. Finally remembered to put graphics to the max.

Spoiler

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Again, human waves!

 

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T-"80"s here as well

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Mi-28 look-alikes

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   Now Russia is attacked by "terrorists". Rodina entrusted defence of our precious oil industry to me!

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Just look at this beautiful scenery of beloved Rodina!

 

   Motherland also issued to me elite Shpetsnaz engineers and Not-South African made APC with not-German Gepard SPAAG turret look-alike glued on top of it. A task is to heroically defend this position before reinforcements arrive and then crush those idiots.

Spoiler

BEAR WILL DESTROY ALL TERRORISTS

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Terrorists from the "Forgoten Army" started their attack, but TV news announced it 15 minutes earlier.

Spoiler

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Look at those idiots, rushing through open field

 

Shpetsnaz is ready to fight!

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Are they armed with something like Groza?

 

Second wave of those idiots. 

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They also brought their "Mi-28"s

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BuhahahahHAHAHA

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HAHAHAHAHA RUSHIA STRONK SHPETSNAZ STRONK

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Waiting for another wave of terrorists with their very well planned mass suicide.

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And here it comes. FOR RODINA! FOR PUTIN!

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Fire ALL THE GUNS!

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Haha they are running! THEY CAN'T HANDLE RUSHIAN FIREPOWER BUHAHA!

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Glorious Russian Army arrived!

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   As it turns out those "terrorists" were created and equipped by Russia as a tool of our Russian cunning plans to destroy American Imperialists and Crush European weaklings that want to take our oil! But we will back to Russian cunning plans and hackings later, after we will do American side mission against European wealkings.

 

   American mission starts with giant V-22-inspired ... thing. With side turrets.

Ai1yhhD.png

 

Spoiler

US Trump's Space Forces. Exoskeletons and futuristic helmets

YoBvvI9.png

 

And armed with oversized SCARs

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or maybe those are NGSARs?

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Air support

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European pseudo democrats didn't liked how much of FREEDOM was brought to them

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   Europeans managed to sneak combat engineers in one of guard towers near my positions, trying to contain all this FREEDOM i brought on V-22-inspired thing.

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YOU TRAPPED YOURSELVES HERE!

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Our tower also was damaged, time to get out and change positions

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Look how iron sights are mounte in relation to optics.

 

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US Army arrived

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Enemy is crushed by RAW FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY

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After US mission game wants me to command those Europeans to fight US invaders, who were trying to arrest some political figure.

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Spoiler

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F2000-like assault rifles

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Attack, FOR MACRON!

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Infantry in EndWar can overpower UGVs

 

TOO WEAK FOR EUROPEANS, YOU FAT AMERICAN ROBOTS

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Frenchies attack Muricans AND ADVANCING. I take credit for this 100% best commander

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Euro APC/IFV

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It doesn't look TOO crazy and bad as other vehicles in this game.

 

   And we are back to SHpetsnaz, to the best part of this game.

   Time to hack European computers and make them fight US! Rodina gave me more forces this time, as we need to hack some computers. So, i got 4 T-100 tanks, 4 APC/SPAAG/IFV ..umm...things, 2 light infantry squads and 1 squad of anti-tank combat engineers. So hacking shouldn't be too hard. Location - somewhere in a generic Scandinavian country.

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"Gun is loaded, we are prepared for hacking, comrade commander!"

 

Spoiler

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Russian hackers are ready to hack computers. So night vision goggles, body armor and AK-74 with optics are needed for this!

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Hackers are stealthly approaching computer hubs through forests

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Computer hub spotted

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Preparing to assault and hack it

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ATTACK!

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FOR PUTIN! FOR OIL!

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Armored forces are preparing to assault main computer hub.

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Time to advance and smash defence of some room with several servers!

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Airstrikes are necessary for hacking!

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ATTACK!

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That guy have a military camo thong under his balaclava?

 

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Light infantry clearing a way

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Combat engineers are delivered to hack enemies!

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Tanks are covering them.

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COMMENCE HACKING! UPLOAD "ITWASNTRUSSIANS.EXE"!

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Defend hackers until they upload "ELECTDONALDTRUMP.EXE"!

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BUHAHAHAHA EUROWEAKLINGS, YOU COULDN'T STOP MIGHTY WARRIORS OF THE MOTHERLAND WHO WERE WRESTLING BEARS WHEN THEY WERE KIDS!

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