Saturday, March 31, 2007


I went ahead and bought
a special offer for an Eidos three-pack on Steam for a little over fifty bucks.

Three games: Just Cause, Project Snowblind, and Rogue Trooper.

Just Cause --

I was looking forward to this game. Until I played the demo and found the control scheme absolutely horrible. But I heard it was improved before release.

They fixed that, almost (they needed a lot more customization, especially for sensitivity). But then, that's not really the problem.

The problem is that it stutters constantly. Every five seconds or so there is a noticeable hitch. No matter how high or low I put the graphic settings. Running a google search on 'just cause stutter' brought up plenty of hits, so it's definitely a known issue. The official forums have several posts on this problem, with no response whatsoever from a representative. No word on a patch. How this wasn't caught by QA or by official reviewers boggles my mind.

Which brings up some interesting questions: How much does Valve do in terms of vetting the games they sell on Steam? Did they ask about any outstanding issues? Did they research possible problems and get a guarantee of a future patch? Were they counting on any continued support at all?

This is a new game from a major company. The last time I saw support ignore a game to this degree it was Vampire: Bloodlines, and that's because Troika went out of business.

As for the game itself . . . well, it's GTA in the tropics.

Also, if you can believe this, there isn't even an attempt to have the characters lipsync during cutscenes. Half-Life had puppet-style mouth movements almost ten years ago.

So that's one of my new rules - you can't call your game next-gen if you don't give your characters the barest semblance of lipsyncing.

Project Snowblind --

Okay, it's the gameplay and art style of Republic Commando mixed with a Deus Ex theme. It is The Future and you are an Augmented Soldier and you get Nano/Bionic Implants and Cool Guns. It's all shooting gallery, objective-hop and really satisfies my finger when it gets itchy and triggery.

I have a soft spot for second-tier FPSes. This kind of game is like bran, it goes right through me and cleanses my gaming colon gummed up with RPG storylines and RTS tactics.

Sorry for that image.

Rogue Trooper --

Based on a comicbook that I had no idea ever existed.

The all blue guy is a little strange, but if I could accept Dr. Manhattan then he's okay by me.

This is a third-person shooter with some great visuals and a decent amount of fine maneuvering necessary to complete objectives - using cover, flanking, sniping, taking over mounted weapons.

I haven't gotten into it enough to pronounce any kind of judgment, but thus far it is both ludically familiar and thematically novel (obviously if you're familiar with the series you will have a different reaction to the material).

The one problem is that Steam does not like to launch the game. I typically have to restart my computer and then it loads fine. It's not a deal-breaker, but enough to limit they time spent playing.

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