August 27, 2012

Dystopia

Game Review By: Mr. Roboto

Release date: September 14, 2010

Developed by: Puny Human Games

Platforms: Steam / Half-Life 2

Versions reviewed: 1.3

Official site: Dystopia

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Very High

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Very High

Rating: 7 out of 10

dys_fortress0015.jpg

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.”

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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.

cyberspace.jpg

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.

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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?

This post has been filed under Cyberpunk Mods, Cyberpunk Games by Mr. Roboto.

Movie Review By: Mr. Roboto

Release date: December 19, 2011

Developed by: “MyoHyo”

Platforms: Half-Life 2

Versions reviewed: 1.0

Official site: ModDB

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Very High

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Very High

Rating: 8 out of 10

G String intro

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.

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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.

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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.”

Mindfuck

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.

This post has been filed under Cyberpunk Mods, Cyberpunk Games by Mr. Roboto.

July 11, 2011

HacX (A Doom II TC)

Game Review By: Mr. Roboto

Year: 1997

Developed by: Banjo Software

Platforms: Doom II and ports thereof

Versions Reviewed: 1.2, 2.0 r55

Official Site: Dr. Nostromo’s HacX Twitch ‘n’ Kill

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: High

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: High

Rating: 6 out of 10… for now.

Terminatrix Terminated

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.

 

The Story: From the official site:

G.E.N.I.E. Rules.

Whole cities lie in ruins. Entire countries laid waste. Over 5 billion people dead, used for food, or for genetic mutation experiments. Situation: Hopeless.

HacX slaughter

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.

HacX screencap

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.

Digi-Ota 1.2
Digi-Ota 2 (proposed)

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.

This post has been filed under Cyberpunk Mods, Cyberpunk Games by Mr. Roboto.

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