Tag Archives: aliens

Playing the Ludum Dare 22 Winners, #4 – Final Trip Soccer

Like many, I was forced into competitive sports during my younger years, and I was never very good at any of them. I knew that then, and I know that now. In baseball, I mostly daydreamed in the outfield or sat on the bench, teaching myself how to juggle while other kids around me got mad and raged over things like striking out or missing an easy catch. For basketball, I did my best to stay out of everyone’s way and always passed the ball away a fraction of a second after it got deposited into my pale, weak hands. For soccer…actually, I had some good moments in soccer. Generally, I played defense, either as a sweeper or a dude that hung out near the goalie, kicking the ball away with a mighty foot; I do remember, however, taking an offensive role in one game, going so far as to even score once. Or maybe I just dreamed all that. Surely I was never any good at any kind of athletic activity…

That said, soccer in Final Trip Soccer, the number four spot from Ludum Dare 22‘s top 50 star-grabbers, is no stroll down a playing field. It’s actually your only weapon, your very chance for survival; better make sure your cleats are on nice and tight. Okay, let’s start at the start. A big soccer match gets interrupted when a UFO comes swooping in, eradicating everyone but you. Think your name is Nathan. It’s just you, a soccer ball, and an empty stadium. Here, you learn how to kick the soccer ball, which goes like so:

  • Move around: Use left, right, up, and down
  • Focus your kick power: Hold the Space bar down
  • Shoot the soccer ball: Release the Space bar
  • Control the soccer ball: Tap the Space bar when near the soccer ball

Those controls sound kind of simple, but they can be extremely frustrating. Controlling the soccer ball, which again I will mention is vital to Nathan’s survival, is a clumsy affair. If you get too close to the ball, you end up kicking it away, and generally, you are just trying to get close enough to charge up your focus power. Why? Oh, did I not mention that you have to kick the soccer ball at attacking alien blobs? Yup. Only a charged kick is strong enough to kill ’em. And with each successful screen, the number of enemies increases.

The premise and look of Final Trip Soccer are fantastic. It’s got this retro style, and the sound of charging you up your kick power will remind you fondly of Super Metroid and Mega Man X. Well, it did for me. Gameplay is a little slow, often requiring Nathan to constantly circle enemies or walk to the other end of the screen after a missed kick. I made it to the third screen, but a green-colored alien blob was too quick for me, and I was never able to get a focused kick against it. When you die, you just respawn on your current screen. I gave up after a few tries.

Final Trip Soccer is available to play via the Internet; give it a kick. And don’t let that jarring music on the start screen scare you away. And if you get farther than I did, please, tell me what happened.

Games Completed in 2011, #24 – Red Faction: Guerrilla

I thought Red Faction was really neat, what with their revolutionary tech at the time of being able to blow a hole in a wall and then go through said hole. Red Faction II did all of this as well, but tried to mix up the gameplay too much and also annoyingly threw in waves of zombie monsters. While the main mission stunk, I did enjoy myself in the local multiplayer against bots; yes, this was around the time that everybody and their brother were playing Halo over the Internet, but I lacked such a connection, and so it was bots for me. No big deal. I got really good, especially on Deathmatch, and you’ll just have to take my word on that.

Red Faction: Guerrilla is not Red Faction III. Still not sure if that’s a good or bad thing though. This time, the game is set on an open-world Mars and is not a first-person shooter. Instead, it’s a third-person action adventure title (with some driving, too), and our main dude Alec Mason is out for revenge over his brother’s murder, as well as to bring down the oppressive Earth Defense Force. That harkens back a bit more to Red Faction‘s plot where a no-name miner begins the great uprising. As Mason moves forward with his retribution plan, he’ll befriend some folk and make many enemies and destroy a bleep-load of EDF property, slowly whittling down their numbers and resources.

I originally played the game for a good amount of time upon initial purchase, but stopped after some of the Dust missions proved too hard and frustrating. Mission instructions were not very clear, and the moment you were caught out in the open and not hiding behind a crate, you were most certainly dead. It was when–many months later–I switched the difficulty from Normal to Casual that I saw myself advancing better. And I’m totally okay with that. There’s no reason to not to if it’ll help me experience and play a game I bought with hard-earned Space Credits. After the difficulty switch, it was a quick run through the remaining missions, which all lead up to an underwhelming finale that saw Mason rushing towards his target, throwing like ten sticky bombs on it, and blowing it up nice and good. And so:

Red Dawn (100G): Liberated Mars.

You’re welcome.

It’s an okay game. The truest fun comes from exploring the map, seeing some building you want to crumble, and then doing it however you want. The missions and driving aspects are less fun, often punishing or too nit-picky on how they want things done. After beating the game, I went back to clean up some Achievements, but there’s several for collecting things like ore deposits and radio tags that I just don’t want to go for. Too big of a map for such trivial thingies. Oh well. Online multiplayer is fun and something I expect to revisit from time to time, but waiting ten minutes for a game to start is not fun. So it has its pros and cons just like Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood‘s multiplayer.

Let’s end this post with a quote taken out of context from Red Faction: Guerrilla, but something all of us gamers can understand completely, yes? Here it is:

“If the EDF didn’t want us shooting these explosive barrels, they shouldn’t leave them around so much! Right?”

Damn skippy.

Games Completed in 2011, #8 – Halo 3: ODST

Halo 3: ODST ends a fraction of a fraction after you think to yourself, “Wait, it can’t be over yet, right?” Guess ODST really stands for Oh Do Stop Trying.

The game takes place between Halo 2 and Halo 3, which means nothing to me as this is the first Halo game I’ve ever played. A group of soldiers are dropping down to the planet New Mombasa, which is being attacked by disgruntled aliens calling themselves the Covenant. However, something goes wrong fast, and the party is split up. Everyone in the ODST gangbang has ridiculous names like Romeo and Dutch. Suprised Bungie didn’t toss in a Fabio for good measure. There’s also the Rookie, which nags the silent protagonist role even though you will also play as other members of the group.

The aspect I liked the most about Halo 3: ODST‘s story is that it’s broken, told in pieces, wedged together bit by bit. See, each level switches around who you play as, and it’s also a different time since being dropped on the planet, meaning one level will be bright and sunny on a coastline and the next level might have you running through dark, nighttime streets, desperate to make contact with something that doesn’t want to shoot your face off for dinner. Made for a great mix of settings and styles though the night hours are really dark.

But that’s where the enjoyment ended. Each level felt very much the same to me, and they went a little like this: level start, move forward, come across a group of enemies, shoot and hide, hide and shoot, move forward, come across a group of enemies, shoot and hide, hide and shoot, discover a clue, cutscene. Do that eight to ten more times to get the full effect. There were only a few moments during Halo 3: ODST‘s campaign where the gameplay varied, and these usually involved piloting a vehicle.

There’s some famous voices in the game, too, with actors from Firefly and Battlestar Galactica. They were a little weird to hear at first, especially since Nathan Fillion’s character in Halo 3: ODST is a lady-charmin’, sarcastic captain–a real stretch. Alas, the script they were given did not allow them to act, only read one-liners and make stupid quips in the heat of battle. Kind of a waste.

I had been hoping that I’d finally see the magic that makes everyone go crazy for this series, but alas…no. It’s just a sci-fi FPS in my eyes, with nothing special to it. Some of the enemy designs are interesting, but other than that, it’s just a game where you shoot wave after wave of bullet-bags until something happens. I have to wonder if that’s the same premise for the other games; there wasn’t even a memorable final level here. I escorted the alien worm thing to a safehouse, and then a Covenant ship swooped by to drop off like five waves of enemies, all of which got tougher each wave, but that was it. Several tossed grenades later, the game was over. In that case, the game could’ve really ended on any level.

There’s Achievements for completing the game on higher difficulty levels, but I think I’ll just stick with this one:

Campaign Complete: Normal (100G): Completed the Campaign on Normal difficulty.

Generic alien-fighting solider OUT!

Halo 3: ODST, a story of love, sacrifice, and a wormy alien

I can’t wait to complete Halo 3: ODST, dear Grinding Down readers, but only because I am eager to write about it for y’all. See, I’ve barely been paying attention to what is going on and already know next to nothing about the Halo universe, which should make for a very interesting write-up. I think I even played the last two levels on the lowest volume possible because I had a slight headache, meaning that if Captain Mal said anything important, I most certainly missed it. Right now, I’m on the level where I have to escort some worm alien thingy to safety. Not sure if that’s near the end, but judging by the Achievements I’ve unlocked so far, I’d say we’re fairly close.

On top of not knowing what is going on, I still don’t see the appeal of this series. Everything screams generic, and I am constantly cursing under my breath at the controls because there seems to be no such thing as a run button. And the night missions? Frak the night missions. Might as well as turn my TV’s monitor off and play it that way.

But yeah, aliens and guns and shooting aliens with guns. That’s been Halo 3: ODST so far for me. I’m glad I bought this cheap and on a whim. Otherwise, I’d probably feel like I just bounced a sticky grenade off a wall and on to myself.

REVIEW: Samorost 2

Developer/Publisher: Amanita Design
Platform: Mac OS X [reviewed], Windows, Linux
Genre(s): Point-and-click puzzler
Mode(s): Single player
Rating: ESRB: No idea, but it was fairly harmless and I’d guess something like E for Everyone
Time clocked: Around one hour

Sadly, I had to pack up the Xbox 360 and TV yesterday as my father came up to help me move from one apartment to the next. He was, however, running late, and I had about two hours to kill in a room full of boxes and nothing fun to play with (please keep your dirty thoughts to yourself). Sure, sure, I had my Nintendo DS, but that was kind of tucked away in my travel bag, and I just didn’t feel like getting off my Mac at that point. Then, ashamed, I remembered that I got five six games for my laptop back when I purchased the Humble Indie Bundle. Five main ones, and the sixth one, Samorost 2, was a bonus for those that helped contribue to the cause.

And so I scanned the list, trying to decide what to play for a bit. I dismissed World of Goo because I’m stuck on one level and can’t do anything else, as well as Aquaria, which is a game I like, but I really need to be in a mood to play. Finally, I picked Samorost 2, knowing nothing about it, only finding the name intriguing.

Samorost 2 is, obviously, a sequel, a follow-up to a game I’ve never played, but from what I can gather–that’s okay. You can go into Samorost 2 knowing nothing about it and still have a great time. The game opens up with a couple of aliens landing on a small planet, eating some fruit, and then stealing a strange little man’s dog because it was barking a little too much. The little man, referenced on another website as a space gnome, doesn’t change out of his PJs and follows their spaceship in pursuit of his best friend. And that’s the plot: rescue the dog and return home. It’s simple, but it works, and the world and creatures and mechanisms that revolve around the plot help buffer it along.

And man, what a beautiful world it is. The quality of the visuals is striking; the space gnome, his dog, and alien lifeforms are presented in a cartoonish form, but animated very well, giving off a Monty Python’s Flying Circus feel to it. The backgrounds (and foregrounds) on each level are extremely detailed and colorful, with a variety of alien flora and fauna (pun-intended) to enjoy, all done in a collage kind of way.

Gameplay is point-and-click, and the cursor turns into a hand when hovering over an item or part of the level that can be interacted with. Breaking tradition, there’s no inventory system, meaning if the space gnome picks up an item, it can–and must–be used there and then to solve the puzzle and move forward. This is a good thing in my opinion; I’ve been currently carrying around a lot of the same items in Broken Sword: The Shadows of the Templars, and each time I try to use them I fall flat on my face. Stupid elephant carving. Anyways, yeah. You point, you click, something happens. Sometimes you have to point, click, and click again while something is happening, but it’s pretty easy to figure out if you pay attention to the level and what does what. There were only two times where I got stuck. The first was because I just couldn’t find the exact pixel to click on, which was frustrating, and the second time came at Samorost 2‘s end when you have to do a bunch of things in a very specific order or start all over again. I did those final puzzles three times before I got it right.

Samorost 2 features a very odd, atmospheric soundtrack. Some levels have just tiny bits of music to it, some have none at all. It works well, but ultimately it’s forgettable. Also absent…dialogue. Progression and plot is told visually, and again, it boils down to “rescue dog and return home.” Some alien gruntage and a few doggy barks pepper the landscape, but it really doesn’t need a narrator or the space gnome’s opinionated musings. Though I still don’t understand why the alien monster is watching soccer on his TV.

Alas, Samorost 2‘s biggest fault is that it is a very short game. Even shorter than Limbodun dun dunnn. Consisting of seven levels, all of which are re-accessable via an age-old password system, the game’s running time is estimated between one and two hours, depending how stuck you get or how slow you pace yourself. I gobbled the game up very fast though. It’s extremely charming, stylish, and deceptively tricky. There’s an invisible rope attached to your heart, tugging you forward, and when you reach the next room, you just can’t help but click around, and before you know it, you’re in the next room. And so on, and so on. If you got some time to kill, I definitely recommend it. You can play a good portion of the game for free over at its website. Hop to it, young space gnome wannabes!

Archiving the aliens finally

It took most of Saturday night and all of yesterday afternoon, as well the checking and re-checking and re-re-checking of online guides, but I did it. I actually did it. I searched high and low, far and wide, in and out, up and down…eh, you get what I mean. The point is I finally unlocked this in Fallout 3:

Alien Archivist (20G): Collected all Alien Captive Recordings

When I first went through Mothership Zeta during my initial play of the game, I missed a lot of stuff. I was more scared then to explore, afraid of what I might stumble across, whether it be a host of enemies I wasn’t prepared for or something else. So I more or less just did the missions as straightforward as possible, and once I was back on barren Earth I realized I definitely did not grab all the alien captive audio recordings. Oh well, I thought. Later, I teleported back to see if I could find them again, but many sections of the spaceship were now inaccessible. Ah, yes. One of those hiccups.

This time, however, I was prepared, and I had a plan (i.e., an online guide). Find the audio recordings. Find them hard, find them fast, find them first. So my second trip aboard the mothership was fairly perfunctory, but I was also surprised by some of the things I stumbled upon that I otherwise might not have found had I not gone looking into every crack and crevice. Like discovering the aliens’ bizarre fascination with the Giddyup Buttercup toy horses or seeing them standing around an old automobile looking rather perplexed or spawning mutant cows to watch them get obliterated by alien technology. I also found a unique kick-ass energy weapon, which I’d look up the name of, but I think the site I usually go to has viruses and so…I will just stay here. The Demolisher? The Disruptor? The Proton Pack? Hmm…

But yeah, I’m glad to see this finally unlocked. Now all I have left is to hit level 30 with an evil character (Samantha is currently level 23 so we got a ways to go), find all the steel ingots (ugh, gonna need a guide for that, too), and then hit all the level checkpoints with a neutral character. Those last ones are gonna be tough. While I absolutely love Fallout 3 and do consider it one of my favorite games, I just know it’s gonna be hard to go through it completely for a third time. Maybe I will find Dogmeat to spice things up a bit. Either way, creeping closer to a full Gamerscore…

For those curious, this is the guide I used to find all the alien audio captive recordings in Mothership Zeta. It is a little vague, which I liked, but tells you which ones are in which room and how many you should have at certain points. Hope this helps!

First Aid Specialist in the House

That’s right, readers. I guess I can push Y like a true pro because I finally unlocked the following achievement last night:

First Aid Specialist (15G): Use medi-gel 150 times

Funny, considering that the previous achievement unlocked for Mass Effect was eight months ago and it was this:

Medal of Honor (100G): Complete Mass Effect Playthrough

Er, but yeah…all this recent excitement about Mass Effect 2 brought me back yet again. This time I saved more frequently because the biggest problem for me was I’d forget to save, go on these long planetary treks, and then get shot in the face and have to restart from the very beginning. If you don’t know what that feels like, stick a wrench down your throat and twist. You’d think Fallout 3 would’ve taught me more about frequent saving, but then you’d be assuming…and we all know you’re a monkey’s uncle.

Right, moving on. Finished up Noveria last night though with the turian Garrus and doofy-faced Kaidan. That was a tough section to get through. Frustrating, to get the wording right. I died twice just driving the MAKO to Peak 15, and then I further died six times trying to take down Benezia. Call me a n00b (editor’s note: please don’t). I was so annoyed by this that the Rachni Queen felt the full brunt of my frustration. Death to all hive-minded insectoids! Genocide FTW!

Not sure where I want to go next. Continue with the story to Feros or to find Liara? Hit the Citadel back up for those 1,067 sidequests? Explore some boring planets for things like minerals? Funnily enough, all the planets I want to explore I can’t, like the ones tinted blue from way too much methane. Boo to that.

Also, does anyone know if the achievements for biotic skills (i.e., Lift, Throw, Neural Shock, and so on) carry over into the next playthrough? I’m not actively keeping track of how many times I’ve used them, but between this playthrough and the previous one…I suspect I’ve Thrown enough Geth to get it. Seriously, I love Lift and Throw.

“Mothership Zeta” trailer is live and has creepy music

The final piece of downloadable content for Bethesda’s Fallout 3 is almost here. Comes out on August 3. Until then, check out the trailer for “Mothership Zeta” in all its alien-blasting glory:

I’m pretty excited over this, and I don’t even own Fallout 3. Or have ever played the RPG/shooter mashup. But this just basically means we’re a little bit closer to the Game of the Year edition that’s coming out in the fall, which I will be all over like ranch dressing on pasta. Can’t wait!