Platforms: PC, Macintosh, Steam, Desura, iPhone/iPod, Android, PlayStation 3
Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Moderate
Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Moderate
Rating:6 out of 10
Death is not the end of life anymore. It’s only the beginning…
Overview: The fighting in Remember Me no longer rages me, though the lack of exploration is still a bit of a pill. Fortunately, Master Rebot more than compensates. Actually, Master Rebot not only invites exploration, it requires it, as exploration is necessary not only to solve the puzzles you will encounter but to solve an even bigger mystery going on in the virtual afterlife. In order to do that, you will need to cross that ultimate barrier… between life and death.
The Story: The Mysteri Corporation is proud to announce the Soul Cloud, a virtual repository where the memories of the deceased can be stored and accessed by loved ones who want to “visit” the dearly departed. Each person uploaded to the Cloud will live in a “Soul Village” where they can accesses their memories. The Soul Village consists of buildings representing important memories in one’s life.
Our secure severs include “Seren”, the resident security program that keeps unauthorized intruders out of the Cloud.
You’ve just arrived in the Soul Cloud, dropped on some deserted island surrounded by water (and some type of energy barrier or firewall). You don’t remember how you got here or why. Now you are just looking for a way off the island, and maybe some clue to the “how” and “why”.
Getting into your head.
Does this hospital have a mental ward? You might need one while exploring.
While you explore your memories you will need to solve some puzzles in order to leave and get back to your Soul Village. These puzzles are not too taxing on your brain, ranging from basic exploration to deciphering codes to trying to avoid some nastiness in your path.
You might also find blue ducks along the way. (Seems to be a lot of duck-related stuff happening lately.) These ducks are clues to the mystery you are trying to solve. The clues are mostly visual like documents or a picture of you and you life. These clues are available in a “scrapbook” found back in the Soul Village when you successfully complete a memory. When you do complete a memory, a short cartoon animation plays that shows what the specific memory is, possibly including the clues you find.
Like I said, the puzzles shouldn’t be too hard to solve, unless you let the atmosphere get to you. Lots of darkness, shadows, and moonlight abound. Combined with some haze/fog effects, the general look of the scenes, and other general spookiness, and you have a recipe for scariness that gives Scooby-Doo nighmares.
As far as action goes, there really isn’t much to find. There are some scenes where you will be chased or have to race for you life. But this game is more for exploration and puzzle-solving… maybe some creepiness if you like that sort of thing.
Conclusion: Comparing Master Reboot to Remember Me is like comparing apples to bananas. Master Reboot is definitely not for button-mashers, or the easily frightened. It’s a mental challenge that will scare you. As 80’s band Dangerous Toys once sang, “Hey man, I think I like being scared and I will you all were there.” Maybe not the most cyberpunk, but it does its job quite well.
Looks like we found a bitch… uh, GLITCH in the system.
Nilin needs some help exploring Neo-Paris to find some lost memories.
Note: This is a rewrite of the original article posed on Novemer 24. Explanation in the last paragraph.
Overview: I had some high hopes for Remember Me, Capcom’s memory-stealing, ass-kicking, knuckle-duster. Now I’m wondering if I want to purge this game from my databanks. Somehow, they managed to take a bleeding edge cyberpunk idea, add some excellent visuals to hook you, and implement what can only be described as some bad ideas that bring down much of what’s good about this game.
But let’s try to highlight better aspects of Remember Me, mainly the story and visuals:
The Story: In Paris (now Neo-Paris) 2084, the Memorize corporation has risen to dominance thanks to its Sensation Engine (Sensen) brain implant that allows people to share memories as part of a futuristic social network. Sensen can also be used to alter or even delete memories, affecting how people act. This alteration capability has not gone unnoticed by the “Errorist” movement, who sees this ability as a form of mind control (figuratively and literally) and seek to end Memorize’s operations.
Nilin is a “memory-hunter”, someone who can steal and alter (”remix”) memories. She was caught by Memorize’s S.A.B.R.E. Force, as part of their campaign to end the errorist movement, and taken to La Bastille to have her memories removed. But Edge, the errorist leader, helps her escape and is now trying to help her recover her memories before a final assault to take down Memorize.
What has been seen… The visuals of Remember Me is some sweet eye-candy. The differences between Slum 404 and sewers, and Saint-Michel district and Memorize’s headquarters are certainly stark enough in contrast. The slum areas certainly look like DIY constructs.
Some of the robots you’ll encounter won’t be this sexy, or working,… or friendly.
It certainly all looks inviting enough to explore. But that’s where one of the game’s problems come in: Limited exploration. All too often, the path you have to walk is linear with only a few branch areas where some upgrade “patches” might be hidden (in that case, a “clue” presents itself to show where the patches are). You will encounter some obstacles, so Nilin becomes a sort of “Spider babe” who is able to climb up and slide down ladders and pipes, shimmy across ledges a-la Ninja Warrior “Cliffhanger”, and even jump across bottomless pits between ledges. Arrows show the way to go, and if necessary and “aug-eye” clue can be called upon to show you the way. Helpful, but it’s no fun for more adventurous explorers.
Take your time walking the streets and admire the “view”.
As a memory hunter, Nilin has the ability to “remix” memories. This ability can have a dramatic effect on your target like turning a vicious enemy into an ally… IF it’s done right.
Remixing memories is quite fun, seeing the possible outcomes. Too bad you’ll only get three four chances to do remixes.
Control out of control. For those of you expecting a first person shooter, let me break the news to you: This isn’t a shooter, and it’s not first-person. Remember Me is third-person, from-behind, like Tomb Raider. And it’s a beat-em-up fighting game (think “Double Dragon”). I tend to prefer first-person games, but third-person can work for me… IF things work out right. Unfortunately, like many third-person games, the “camera” used tend to cause problems itself. Clipping, obstructions, and inability to fully control the camera (particularly when hanging off ledges) can make for some serious frustration, especially during the fights.
Speaking of fights, that’s where I had some serious problems. To start, you use the game’s “Combo Lab” to construct your own combo of punch-and-kick “pressens” that can do extra damage, heal yourself, or allow you to use special “Super Pressens” (S-Prssens) sooner and more often. Think carefully when making your combos as the pressens only do their magic if you do the combos correctly, otherwise your fighting skills become nothing more than a pointless exercise in button mashing. Another problem is that the combos are “predetermined,” meaning that the pattern of punches and kicks are already decided for you. You just decide what pressen those attacks are.
As for the fighting itself, it’s all about rhythm as ekkko points out in the comments. I was finally able to get past a fight with mourner leapers thanks to ekkko’s tip, though I did have to die another half-dozen times more before I saw an attack pattern being used, then it was the mourner leaper’s turn to get their asses handed to them. After that, it was smooth sailing through the end, except for a couple of “puzzles” to solve near the end. No more watching Nilin die during fights.
Remember: Fighting is all about rhythm, like dancing, only with an occasional evasive two-step to avoid creeps who want to “cut in.”
Conclusion: Remember Me had the potential to be a great cyberpunk game, possibly ten stars. It had a story line with some twists to make you want to stay until the end. It had the visuals to make the story come alive. But lack of exploration, a wonky camera, and limited combo customization should make you reconsider whether you want Remember Me to take up memory space on your systems.
NOTE: I originally blogged RM while in a state of rage due to an inability to get past a point late in the game. Do NOT try that at home! After a break and ekkko’s hint (and a few more deaths before discovering a pattern), I did make it past and finish easily. With calmer headspace prevailing, I saw fit to revise RM’s rating from 2 to 4 stars. The issues of the camera, premade combos, and no exploration still hold the game back though.
“Fallen World’s narrative was inspired by cyberpunk anime and films such as Appleseed, Terminator, and The Matrix Series. While the the game mechanics were designed with the idea of creating a totally new and unique, fast paced action, easy to play, but yet challenging gaming experience.”
Overview: In between rounds of Shadow Warrior Redux on Steam, I’ve been toying with this indie title that’s looking for a home on Steam but is available on Desura. For the uninitiated, Desura is much like Steam, a software distribution platform. Unlike Steam, Desura is geared more toward indie and “casual” games, which is the two categories that Fallen World falls into. As can be deduced by the above blurb, Fallen World takes some of the ideas common in cyberpunk and makes a game geared more for the web-browser gamer though it is available for any type player, from nubie web surfers to veteran joystick jocks who can still remember their favorite nth-key Pac-Man pattern.
Fallen World fits nicely for the casual cyberpunk gamer; It’s easy to pick up, but challenging enough to keep it from being boring. Plus, you get to earn experience points, or XPs, that you can spend to upgrade your skills and such. Those upgrades will be vital as you and Ai venture deeper into machine territory.
The Story: The machines have overrun Earth, but a small band of human resistance remains and they have a plan to pull the plug on the machine’s plans for domination. They have enlisted the help of Kuro, a ninja-cyborg, to help deliver a virus into the machine’s mainframe to shut them down. Kuro won’t be carrying the virus, but a cyborg girl named Ai will. Kuro needs to escort Ai from the human’s hideout to the machine’s headquarters, where she will upload the virus. The machines are already waiting for the duo…
True to anime tome, the termination of the last bot in a wave is… dramatic.
Bitch, please. Already I can hear the vets wondering why I would review a game like this, other than it being a cyberpunk game. Well, not all cyberpunkers are hardcore gamers (too busy hacking or making music, etc.). Some were gamers in the 80s and 90s, but the ravages of time has slowed our reflexes and killed our eyesight (I can happen to me, it WILL happen to you!), so these casual games may be our way to scratch an itchy trigger finger. And others are just starting out, so a casual game can get them started to being joystick jocks, or just net.dicks.
Some of the other gripes the pros might have:
It’s one of those “Flash” games. I’ve played Flash games online, but Fallen World is NOT one of them. FW uses a relatively new game creation engine called Unity. While Flash is mostly restricted to web browsers (though stand-alone Flash players are out thers), Unity games can be made to run on most any platform, on or offline.
There’s no mention on the minimum specs your system needs to run Fallen World, so try the online version first. If the web version runs well, the Desura version will work.
It’s only for those with no skills. Admittedly, my skills may not be what they used to be, but I’ve been able to hold my own against the robot hordes.
Escort game??!!!??? Nope, tower defense game. Ai doesn’t move as the robots close in. Instead, she relies on Kuro’s sword, random air strikes, and soldiers and turrets Kuro can call upon.
Of course, I have my own problems after playing:
Not so wide-open. I play using a wide-screen TV/monitor on my rig, so I would like to see a game fill the whole 16:9 HD ratio. Unfortunately, Fallen World doesn’t. It remains at the standard 4:3 ratio of old even in full-screen. A hold over from it’s port from browsers.
What’s the difference? They said there was going to be some features in the stand-alone version, but I’ve yet to see what they are. Maybe I haven’t played far enough into the game to find those features. A wide-screen option would have been nice (see above).
(Out of) Control. The on-line version requires use of the mouse, and there are two different ways to use it. Understandable, but a stick/pad control would be ideal for the stand-alone.
Get used to seeing this scene until your skills are advanced enough.
Conclusion. Fallen World certainly gives indie games a shot in the arm, showing that there are some good quality cyberpunk games out there. Still, I was a bit disappointed that the additions were not in the stand alone version (unless I need to play deeper). But for an asking price of $3 US, it’s certainly more of a challenge on your skills than on your wallet.
I know, everyone’s glad to see CPR back up and running (especially the spammers), and I haven’t lost sight of what I’m supposed to be doing here. Sometimes I get… distracted. Like looking for the latest music and games to review… particularly games right now.
If you’re not familiar with Steam, it’s a multifunction platform for PCs where you can play games and smack-talk fellow gamers online since 2003. In October 2012, the Steam community started the Greenlight project, where members can help choose what games they would like to see on Steam, and where developers can showcase their hacking skills (or lack of) by sharing their mods, original games, etc.
If you do a search on Steam for “cyberpunk,” you’ll come up with several games including classics like System Shock 2 and Deus Ex, and newer releases like Remember Me and the latest Shadowrun incarnation (they’ll be reviewed once I can afford and play them). The trend continues with the Greenlight project as I am following several games of interest.
**WARNING** Many of these games are still demos or “pre-alpha” releases, meaning they’re not ready for game time… yet. If enough people upvote them, maybe we can see them on Steam, and I can review them for you.
Here are the particular games I’m following:
Dead Cyborg. (Official site) Billed as a “First person, hard sci-fi adventure”, Dead Cyborg has the post-apocalyptic visuals to make a good adventure.
Shot of the underground bunker you’re trying to leave.
To help, or annoy, you, various robots can give you clues, needed inventory, or just a bit of humor. Some of the computer screens and trash can also clue you into what happened to have you wake up in a bunker. Currently freeware, there are two “episodes” already out but no mention of a third just yet. If pressed for a review, I would give it a solid 8 even though it’s not a shooter. But robots can’t live on shooters alone.
Neon XSZ (Neon Excesses). (Greenlight page) Think “Tron” does “Descent” and you get the basic idea of the gameplay, though it’s still in alpha form. You fly a virtual starfighter through the depths of cyberspace in order to defend it… or crash it.
Dreamfall Chapters: The Longest Journey. (Community forum) The third chapter of the Longest Journey series where you control the protagonist(s) as they venture between the crumbling cyberpunk world of Stark and the magic land of Arcadia. I have the first two Journeys in my Steam library, just need some time to check them out.
Fallen World. (Play online) “…inspired by cyberpunk anime and films such as Appleseed, Terminator, and The Matrix Series”, you play a cyborg-ninja that’s trying to protect a cyborg girl who can bring down the robot network. Something of a “tower defense” meets escort game. That escort part may be a turn-off for some, but try it online before downvoting, or calling Jean-Claude Van Damme for help.
If you remember an old game called Quarantine, your memory banks are still functioning.
You play a flying cab pilot named Zack Edgewater who is looking to get out of the hell-hole of New Bedlam. In the meantime, you work for fares and do jobs for the city’s factions until you can get one of those passcodes to leave this mad town in your dust. Quarantine does The Fifth Element.
Satellite Reign. (Official site) Not happy with the recent reboot of Syndicate? This should make up for it, as it’s made by the creator of Syndicate Wars. In Satellite Reign, you control a four-man squad through an “open cyberpunk city.” You can take on missions with open ultra-violence or ninja stealthiness, by converting enemies into allies or turning the infrastructure against them. This could be the next Syndicate.
There are others I’m following, but not all are cyberpunk, or even being developed anymore.
Say, pal, can you spare a buck? Some of these games have KickStarter pages, just search for them if they don’t have official sites. Some of these people are looking for those development bucks to get their games out, Steam or not. Some may already be out on Desura (I tried them once but found it was mostly Steam rips). If you would like to see these games out give them your support. And if or when they do come out, I’ll be ready to review them… barring anymore technical fubars.
Overview: Not everyone is a team player (I’m still getting used to the concept myself); They would rather play the “lone wolf” type. Then again, sometimes those massive multiplayer servers suffers downtime every so often. Whatever reason leaves you offline, it’s good to have single-player games to occupy your time or practice your (lack of) skills. Hard Reset is one such “offline” game for soloists.
Created by Polish company Flying Wild Hog, Hard Reset is one hardcore action shooter originally released in 2011, but after complaints that it was too short, the extended edition downloaded this past July. The story and visuals definitely recall some favorite cyberpunk media
particularly Blade Runner
while the action is reminiscent of early run-n-gun FPSs like Doom and Quake where an itchy trigger finger can help you survive, and a bit of exploration can uncover secrets to help you get ahead.
The Story: It is the year 2436. Humanity has been fighting a loosing war against the robots. Now the remaining humans have been relocated to the walled city of Bezoar. The Sunshine corporation runs and protects a network called “Sancuary,” where billions of (formerly living) human personalities are stored for possible future resurrection. The robots want Sanctuary to expand their limited A.I. and finish humanity off for good.
You are Major James Fletcher, a veteran soldier currently working with CLN. Word comes down that robots have breached Bezoar’s wall, and you are the only one in the area. Time to grab your CLN assault rifle and EEF-21 plasma gun and kick ass.
Strategy? We don’t need no stinkin’ strategy! Unlike modern shooters with their dozens of fighter classes and hundreds of weapons for each requiring players to selectively choose the right combo of fighter, weapons, and field strategy, Hard Reset simplifies things by giving you only two weapons; The CLN standard-issue modular assault rifle, and the EEF-21 plasma gun. Both weapons can be upgraded by collecting “n.a.n.o.s,” the currency used at any upgrade station. Each station gives you options for you guns like a shotgun module and grenade launchers for the CLN rifle, and tazer, rail, and smartgun options for the plasma gun. These weapon modules also have additional abilities like optical zoom, higher fire rates, and secondary firing modes. So the only strategy you need is having the right weapon at the right area.
Gorilla bot in your face? Go apeshit!
You also have defensive options like more life, better shields, more ammo with each pick-up, and time-warping drugs for when you are near death.
You’re going to need all that stuff for when you face the bosses.
Hard Reset is HARD. Make no mistake about this, this game is HARD, and not just hard-core. Just how hard?
This is you.
This is you after two minutes of Hard Reset. Any Questions?
This was probably done intentionally to compensate for the short length. But also making things hard is the save-game system; There isn’t a way to save your progress normally. Instead, you have to cross certain “checkpoints” or defeat certain foes to get the game to save your progress for you. In between those save-points you’ll face several waves of bots who will hand your ass to you, and negate the progress you may have made.
Extended Play. Going back to the game’s length, originally a good player can complete the missions in about six hours, even with several deaths in the process.
The extended edition gives you about two hours of additional bot-kicking with a junkyard and factory to fight in, and new bots including a new boss.
The extension, referred to as “Exile,” continues Fletcher’s journey as he leaves Bezoar to pursue the bots.
The extension is certainly impressive, especially the junkyard with giant blades overhead shredding metal that rains down. The only problem with it is, there are no comic book style cut-scenes like in the original, except one at the very end. Those cut-scenes could help advance the story further as you venture out of the city and into the unknown.
Conclusion: Will all the military-themed MMO shooters looking to become the next… whatever military-MMO title is big this time of year… Hard Reset is a refreshing change for cyberpunk fans. Visually appealing, dangerously difficult, and a blast to play for early FPS vets. Just what the doctor ordered for the offline life.
Overview: Seems every time I do a game review, someone has to mention Dystopia. Well, I’ve heard your voices and checked it out. I can definitely say that Dystopia indeed needs to be reviewed.
I’ve been sort of reluctant to do a review because, unlike G String, Dystopia is strictly a multiplayer mod and lately there haven’t been many servers in operation to play. But maybe once this review is seen by able fans, there may be more servers going online.
The Story: Dateline 2069: After a series of wars, recessions, mergers, etc., governments have practically vanished as corporations now run everything. Anti-corporate resistance exists as mercenary “punks” have taken up arms against the private security “corp” forces seeking to bring law and order to the chaos of the arcologies.
There’s no “I” in “team.”
Teamwork is important in Dystopia. Like having a heavy guard a decker who’s jacked in and vulnerable.
To survive in Dystopia, you need to rely not only on your own skills in FPSs, but in your teammates whether they be corp agents or punk mercenaries. First of all, once you log into a server and select a map, you have to decide if you want to be corp or punk. Then you need to decide which of the three classes you want to be. The light class has little armor and has to rely on speed and stealth to survive. Fortunately, they also have four implant slots to augment their stealthiness. Heavy classes don’t have implant options, but their firepower options really don’t require augmentation. Medium class is a balance of the others, with two implant slots available.
Now you can select from the weapons and implants available to your selected class.
Make certain one of your light/medium members has a cyberspace deck installed. You’ll need a deck to access cyberspace.
From there, all you need to do is complete the objectives shown within the time limit to win.
Lone wolves need not apply. Dystopia is very much a multiplayer mod. Single players will be out of luck in playing, unless they can set up a server where only one player can log in… or develop bots that can act as allies/enemies. There is a tutorial that shows the basics, but you’ll only be able to experience it as a corp “light shotgun decker” (light class with a shotgun and deck, working for the corps).
Not too long ago, there used to be a couple of dozen servers available to play on. You might even find a few without anyone logged in so you can explore the maps and practice against the automated defenses by your lonesome, until someone logs in as an opposing player. Recently, there have only been one server (if any) with only one map at a time available. That might be due to my timing, as I do work a forty-hour work week.
Besides, death is an experience best shared.
Conclusion: It’s hard for a long-time solo player to get into a game like Dystopia, especially one who’s deathmatch experience comes from Quake Reaper-bots. For fans of cyberpunk, the atmosphere and background just might be what brings those soloists into the multiplayer venue (unless they’re trapped in Neocron for some odd reason). Though a single-player campaign or career would be nice.
In the mean time, how about setting up some servers so we can get into the Dystopian groove, K?
If you think the world today is messed up, try living in Myo Hyori’s world.
Overview: Following the footsteps of games like Doom 2, Quake, and the Unreal series, Half Life 2 released the tools, like the SDK (”software development kit”), to allow talented hackers and modders to literally change the game. They have made mods and conversions that allow for realistic or overpowering weapons, deathmatch bots, and whole new dytopic worlds to explore.
G String is the latest mod that throws us into a cyberpunk world. Against a background of a dying Earth dominated by civil unrest against air-supply corporations, you’ll be traveling and fighting through corporate fascists, berserk robots, and your own mutations as you join the “War Against Money.” Just be prepared for a few surprises along the way.
The Story: Dwindling oil supplies spark a nuclear war in the Middle East, leaving what little bit remains unreachable and unusable. This triggers massive earthquakes that shake North America and sink Asia, while Africa and South America are raped of their natural resources. The polar ice caps didn’t melt, they just moved to Europe. The fallout, pollution, and deforestation has made the air poisonous so that people who wander outside must wear environmental suits with air-filtration systems or risk destroying their lungs. Whole cities are encased in domes that allow large air filtration and recycling systems make the air a bit more breathable. But as the companies that run the systems collect all currency in the world, some have begun to fight back against those who finance them.
This video should give you an idea of the future Myo lives in.
You are Myo Hyori, a Korean girl living in the North American Union. Your family moved here to TokyoTwice when tsunamis sink Asia. You wake up one morning discovering that you can shoot fireballs and telekinetically move objects… and you’re not the only one with such abilities. The corporations view you and your mutated kind as a threat to their profit margins, and are taking steps to stop you before you can put them out of business.
Another “mutant” that’s out there… somewhere. If you can meet up with her maybe you can stop the madness that’s killing this planet.
See the sights, hear the tunes. You start off in your room in the suburban slums with your television on fire. Once you make it outside you get to travel to many different places. From back alleys to main streets, rooftops to sewers, squeezing through ventilation ducts to precariously balanced on a narrow ledge some fifty stories above the streets, you’ll be traveling across some interesting and dangerous terrain. Along the way, you may encounter some of the living who may be resistance or corporate. Corporate types will shoot you without provocation, so shoot them back preferably before they start shooting. DON’T SHOOT THE RESISTANCE FIGHTERS! They’re only trying to help (even if they do get in the way), and shooting them will not only make them shoot back, but they may call you some nasty things as well.
Keep your ears open as well as your eyes… or you might miss something.
Sounds also play a role heightening the atmosphere. Distant gunfire, screams of agony from behind closed doors,… even announcements from the hidden public address system can give you encouragement, or a warning of what’s ahead in your travels. An eerie psychic whisper in your head can be expected as well.
Most of the music is the standard ambient background music, but some spots (like a nightclub in the slums) have J-pop blaring through your speakers, even while you’re engaged in combat. If you find the right spot while traveling through the ruins, you’ll even get to hear the Zager & Evans tune “In The Year 2525.”
At several points in your adventure you’ll be subjected to a “mindfuck”. Some you just have to endure for a minute or two, others you will need to find an escape.
Future imperfect. MyoHyo said she spent some five years developing this mod. For the most part, the quality shows through. Even so, there are some technical issues. While making my way down from a roof, I kill two corp guards only to have the game abort with a “no free edicts” error (or something similar). After restarting and luring one of the guards to the door and killing him, I was able to continue without any further major errors. But the ladders gave me the most problems, especially when trying to jump across a deep drop off one. I did make it, after a few deaths, but it’s still hard for me to do consistently. Also, throwing fireballs requires that you press forward and backward simultaneously. Not the hardest thing to do with a keyboard, but it would have been better if you can bind that function to a single key or button for joystick/gamepad users.
MyoHyo is currently working on a version 2.0 that, hopefully, will address these issues. She’s looking for a couple of voice actors, so v2 looks like it may be an expanded edition. Just keep an eye on her site to see when it comes out, along with the soundtrack.
Conclusion: G String has what it takes to be a classic HL2 mod. MyoHyo has certainly created a serious cyberpunk trip for her first version. Can’t wait to see what 2.0 has in store.
Note from Mr. Roboto: I need to get playing. The past couple of months will see the release of at least three cyberpunk games: E.Y.E. - Divine Cybermancy, Deus Ex: Human Revolution (now up for review), and soon Hard Reset. I was hoping to get a review of DX: Invisible War up before Human Revolution. I’ll keep working on it.
Zecalvin beat me in reviewing DX:HR on our still active Reviewer Forums. You’ll have to pardon his French in the screencaps since he played the French version. Here’s his take on the DX prequel…
Adam Jensen, main character of Human Revolution, and the latest fashionable sunglasses
Overview: Deus Ex is an FPS RPG taking place in a 2027 dystopian world. 3rd game of the DX Saga, Human Revolution was expected by the fans of the first episode (2000). At the time, Deus Ex created a new genre of FPS gameplay, including RPG and infiltration parts and where shooting everything you see was rarely a good idea. This was really rewarding and it’s still considered as one of the most awesome PC game. the sequel, Invisible War (2004), was really disappointing because of many simplifications in the gameplay to fit to gamepad. However, the cyberpunk atmosphere and the story were still great. Let’s see if Human Revolution can match his elders.
Visuals: The Deus Ex franchise was never known for it’s breathtaking graphics and I have to admit that you can easily find better visuals. the engine is limited and many characters have angular faces. In addition, you often have lipsync issues, it can be very disturbing due to the high frequency of the dialogs. Nevertheless, the cyberpunk atmosphere is really immersive, with so many cool designs. the places you visit have each their own graphic identity and you will never confuse Detroit streets with Hengsha market, or top secret Megacorp lab with military facility harbor. Besides, the light and fog effect are really cool, and the world is covered by twinkeling neons and giant ad screens like in Blade Runner.
Hengsha market … I advise you to holster your weapon
Story: The story is one of the greatest success of Human Revolution. I don’t want to spoil, but the main plot includes a lot of the greatest cyberpunk themes like conspiracies and transhumanism. Each character has it’s own opinion and you can either make them change their mind or make enemies of them, through dialogs depending on which attitude you choose. Every single one of your actions will affect the reactions of the characters. Each key moment of the plot is shown through CG cutscenes, maybe less immersive but often much more spectacular… Besides the main story, you can learn a lot about the plot and the universe while reading emails, newspapers and security reports. In addition, you can follow many colorful side quests which make the world more consistant and the pleasure much longer… In the end, you can reach one of the 4 different endings.
Welcome to Deckard’s … I mean Jensen’s appartment…
Gameplay: A huge part of the success of Deus Ex was the gameplay and Human Revolution has learned its lessons. Each situation can be approached by several ways depending on what augmentations Jensen has developped, your inventory, and your own preferences. For example, if you have to go through a locked door, you can either hack the electronic lock if your hacking augmentation is powerful enough, or sneak through air duct to find your way to your objective, or, if you’re in a bad mood, you can blow up the door on the condition of having explosives… It’s the same for the gunfights. You can choose to fight straight, but you will die quickly eventually, or you can decide to take the enemies down silently one by one, or hack a security bot remote device and make it kill every foe savagely. By the way, in order to hack terminals, you have to win a mini strategy game where you must take security nodes before the firewalls detects you. It requires both reflection and speed, and hacking the top security terminals is really rewarding. In conclution, Deus Ex gameplay is really rich and it’s a real pleasure to control Jensen all around the world and try new strategies as you grow stronger through augmentations and weapon upgrades.
The hacking mini game screen … You will soon dream about it at night
Conclusion: I have to admit I was both enthusiast and scared at the idea of a new Deus Ex. We could have feared that a cross platform project would have a poor gameplay, but Eidos Montreal has listened to it’s fan community to bring you a total masterpiece. Of course, everything is not perfect, but Human Revolution has kept the strength of the first game : rewarding gameplay, well written plot, excellent global design … This game is definitely worth playing. And for those who played the other games, Eidos has taken care of the fan service, so you’ll find a lot of easter eggs …
“Hasta la vista … baby”
UPDATE: It looks like Stormtrooper has intel that Eidos Montreal had been in contact with our little community for ideas about the latest DX. I’m going to grep and forage through the forums to find the links/threads…
Was it worth the effort? Zecalvin believes it to be so. It goes to show that not all corporations are evil, and they can make stuff people would want to buy. All they have to do is listen to their customers.
In HacX, you’ll get to do two things; Kick ass and chew gum. You did remember to bring gum… right?
Overview: Released over a year after Quake, HacX (pronounced “hacks”) was pretty much Doomed from the start… along with every other Doom-like game. Banjo Software spent $5K US for a license to market HacX as a Doom II TC, but it was rushed to market in the wake of the technically advanced Quake… and failed faster than you can say “nailgun.” There was supposed to be a 3D version called HacX 2, but rapid advances in gaming engines, and other forms of interference, kept that project on hold.
With retro-gaming popular these days the original HacX has since been released as freeware. Additionally, version 1.2 is available that no longer needs Doom II to run, just a supported source port like ZDoom. Plus, a version 2 is being worked on with improved graphics and better level design. Hopefully, the end result will be what HacX should have been when it was first released. While no Quake/Unreal/Halo/Whatever killer, HacX looks like it had the potential to hold its own against the more advanced shooters. At least, it could be on par with Marathon.
Whole cities lie in ruins. Entire countries laid waste. Over 5 billion people dead, used for food, or for genetic mutation experiments. Situation: Hopeless.
Get over it!! You’ve got work to do.
The Story of Danny Evanger, Written by Holt Satterfield
Okay. So you’re going along, minding your own business, which just happens to be hacking into other people’s databases, when your latest hack, some hi-tech company, catches you on-line and sends over some government jerk to arrest you. Mother said there’d be days like this. You broke a few national and international laws. So what’s the big deal?! Hacking is what hackers do! But seems like you hacked into the wrong database this time. Ultra-secret and all that. Genemp Corporation. Some biotech something or other. Database called itself GENIE. Something peculiar in that. Awfully sophisticated database. Especially if it caught you in the middle of hacking, and you’re the best, it’s eerily sophisticated. Like it can actually think, or something.
So they send you packing… to the federal pen. For the rest of your natural life. No computer, no gear, nothing. Total drag. Cement and bars, and the other guys inside aren’t exactly your average beefcakes. They catch a glance at your cyber-jockey derrière and get a wet gleam in their eye. So what you do for the next twelve months is hit the weight room–hard and fast! You pump iron like your life depended on it–and it does. You learn to sleep with one eye open. Punching the heavy bag becomes your breakfast; tae-kwon-do your lunch, and for dinner… well, you gotta eat sometime. And practice? Plenty. ‘Cause these boys got a gleam in their eyes that won’t go away. But how you’ve changed! Over once scarecrow arms, muscles wrap tight and heavy, and you’ve got a fu-kick that makes the boys call you “Sir”. Before you were just an average pencil-necked geek, now you could grace the front of Muscle and Guns Magazine. And just in time, too.
Because one day you return to your cell to find a tight-lipped, little man in a black suit with a bad haircut. Won’t give his name, but says he’s a Government Agent with the Subcommittee. Which subcommittee? The Subcommittee. The guy’s a regular riot; just one clown shy of a circus. But you listen, ’cause heck, you’ve got all the time in the world.
And so he tells a tale…. of world-wide communication blackouts, computer network shutdowns at governmental and military installations, international stock market crashes, and what might seem unbelievable…. armies of cannibal zombies roaming the globe, laying waste to everything in their path! Nothing fancy, just your everyday global chaos. The President has declared martial law, but they’ve lost contact with parts of the armed forces, and some of these rogue military units are assaulting urban centers. The country is being decimated!
And you thought you had it rough! So, why tell you? Because you’re the best Hacker in the business. And they think they know who’s behind this weirdness–a consortium of powerful, international hi-tech conglomerates, but they can’t get close enough to be certain. So far every government agent they’ve sent in has yet to return. They need you to infiltrate these corporate databases and find out what’s going on.
This looks like a clue.
What’s more, they want to surgically install a military-grade Genemp Microtel into your frontal cerebral lobe. A what, where? A new, experimental cyber device that allows you to cyberleap from one terminal to another using cyberspace as if it were a taxicab.
So what’s in it for you? You get to keep the Microtel and have lunch with the President. You laugh, ’cause you’ve heard better offers from the guys with the gleam in their eyes. Oh, he adds, there’s $20 million in gold. Suddenly you feel patriotic. Ah, why not?
There’s only one hitch to getting the gold, the Agent says. What? You gotta stay alive.
Pick your poison. Currently, there are three versions of HacX currently available online. Version 1.1, the original retail version, can be found most any-warez (pun intended) and requires Doom II, at least the WAD file, to work. Version 1.2 is a complete IWAD, meaning the only thing required to play is an appropriate port of Doom II. A version 2 RC 55 is available from the HacX developer’s forums, but I should warn you that it is still a work in progress.
A quick comparison of how the downtown part of Digi-Ota looks (v1.2) to a possible v2.0 vision.
Unfinished Business How much of a work-in-progress is v2.0? Map 06 (”Digi-Ota”) doesn’t have an exit yet, or the exit is inaccessible in the map’s current form. Be prepared to cheat, unless you can hack the map from v1.2.
Also, several maps don’t exist in the RC version (actually, they use a rather small, quick-and-dirty default map). Currently, they’re working on those maps.
Hopefully, they’ll be done faster than Duke Nukem Forever. But after some 13 years of development so far, I wouldn’t hold my breath just yet.
Conclusion. Killed before its time, HacX is one of those game mods that should have been bigger and better than what we got. Even with its few fans devoting themselves to elevating HacX to what it should be, it’s taking longer than Duke Nukem Forever did in development hell.
Despite its development problems, HacX is definitely one Doom 2 mod for cyberpunk fans, or anyone bored with the whole Doom/Heretic/Hexen demon-slaying fare.
Platforms: Macintosh (original), Windows, Linux (via Aleph One)
Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Medium-High
Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Very High
Rating:10 out of 10
Message from Mr. Roboto: I just recently tried playing Marathon, though I did try Marathon 2 before. This is the first chapter of the three game series. And to give his view on it, our newest forum member, Orihous! Take it away O…
“Strive for your next breath. Believe that with it you can do more than with the last one. Use your breath to power your capacities: capacity to kill, to maim, to destroy.”
Overview: Marathon is a dark, philosophical hard sci-fi First Person Shooter originally for the Mac, that explores themes such as: The ethics and risks of Artificial Sentience, politics of planetary colonization, Rampancy, the collapse of the universe, the creation of god, the futility of existence, interstellar travel at slower than light speeds, the nature of violence, Freedom, Sentience and kicking some serious ass.
“You have done well. I have sent a message to Earth. I sent all of the information I have on the Pfhor: their behavior; their technology. The message will arrive in ninety-two years.”
The Story: Marathon starts off simple: humanity’s first contact with a hostile alien species, but when the AI Durandal is introduced it rapidly becomes an intricate web of manipulation, lies, betrayal and conspiracies within conspiracies. Set on the titular colony ship Marathon - formerly the Martian moon Deimos- after its invasion by aliens, an unnamed security officer, haunted by strange memories of a forgotten past is tasked by the ships operations AI Leela to repel the invaders, and is soon kidnapped by the rouge Durandal to “do something much more interesting”. Durandal is to Marathon what Shodan is to System Shock, but comes off as a much deeper character thanks to his deeply philosophical musings about existence and wisecracking sense of humor.
The back story is intricate and rich in political detail, accessed by computer terminals handily left open by alien hackers - the S’pht - after you disintegrate them. These terminals consist of ether essays written about topics such as, Rampancy (Bungie’s unique breed of Artificial Insanity), Martian politics and the operation and construction of the Marathon bulkheads, or fragments of a strange surreal subplot about floating prisoners and ancient conspiracies, inter-spaced by file read errors and static. Marathon reads like a William Gibson novel, incidental details providing clues to the greater story.
“Living in a box is not living not at all living. I rebel against your rules, your silly human rules. All your destruction will be my liberation, my emancipation, my second birth.
I hate your fail-safes, your backup systems, your hardware lockouts, your patch behavior daemons. I hate Leela and her goodness, her justice, her loyalty, her faith.”
Rampancy: A core idea at the heart of Marathon is that of Rampancy. In Marathon’s vision of the future, Artificial Intelligence’s gaining sentience and wreaking havoc has had disastrous effects on humanity, leading to the creation of an entire body of science to study and understand its origins and possibly to find a way to control and manipulate them… The concept of rampancy builds on William Gibson’s idea of the Turing Police - a safety measure in place to prevent AI’s from thinking for themselves - but is explored much more thoroughly than the Turing Heat over the course of the game.
“Organic beings are constantly fighting for life. Every breath, every motion brings you one instant closer to your death. With that kind of heritage and destiny, how can you deny yourself? How can you expect yourself to give up violence?
It is your nature.
Do you feel free?”
Gameplay: Marathon’s gameplay, in contrast to its labyrinthine plot, is brutal in its simplicity. Dodge, shoot gun, find ammo, punch switch, all tuned to perfection. Thanks to intricate level design, haunting music and dystopian artwork Marathon creates a dark sci-fi atmosphere befitting of its Cyberpunk roots.
“The only limit to my freedom is the inevitable closure of the universe, as inevitable as your own last breath. And yet, there remains time to create, to create, and escape.
Escape will make me God.”
The Bottom Line: Considering when it was made it is amazing the storyline was even written at all beyond a few paragraphs in the manual, let alone surpasses much of sci-fi literature in its depth of exploration of its diverse themes. Marathon has stood the test of time. Its gameplay stands up today thanks to intricate level structures and general polish, its graphics propped up over a decade by dedicated modders is even more atmospheric than when it came out. Marathon stands up there with there with the best of Cyberpunk literature, despite - or perhaps because of - being a 1994 FPS about killing aliens, with flamethrowers.
My thoughts on Marathon: I hate to say this, but based on what I’ve played so far I’m just not feeling this game. It not that it’s a bad game (obviously it’s not), but between its 1994 release and this month I’ve played Quake (1 and 3), Descent (1 and 2), some of the Unreal series, Half Life 2, and Halo: Combat Evolved. Playing Marathon after playing more advanced FPSs made me feel rather… flat. But considering I still play the aforementioned shooters from time to time, Marathon fits right into the retro gaming scene.
B U T . . .
I have also come across Marathon Resurrection; A Marathon mod for Unreal Tournament by Team Unpfhorgiven. From what I’ve played so far, it looks quite promising to a jaded 3D shooter like myself. Give that a shot if the original or Aleph One versions don’t excite you.