Archive for the ‘Xbox’ Category
I remember the first time I read Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft. I had come to it thanks to the Metallica song of the same name off the Ride the Lightning album, which intrigued me because the song had no lyrics despite being based off of a work of writing. Some had touted it as a quintessential bit of horror fiction to rival even the strongest authors of today while others made the predictable claim that it was too disjointed from contemporary times to be relevant, let alone scary. I came away feeling a bit of both. Much of the concepts of the work are for your head to create, but that’s also what made it so horrifying, it was indescribable. Dark Corners of the Earth tries to bring an author and storyline that has dodged popular culture, widespread film, and of course video games for so long. It’s one of the first instances where an interactive medium has attempted to bring Lovecraft’s world to life, no easy feat. It’s not even based off of the main story Call of Cthulhu – although Lovecraft fans are used to the co-branding for various alternative works – but rather the novella The Shadow Over Innsmouth that details a town in New England that has isolated itself from the US. Ultimately the town is inhabited by sea creatures and ancient beings, which is now brought to life with a twist in an unreliable narrator that wavers in sanity. While Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth bites off a bit more than it can chew in overall design, not to mention the odd breaking point in the middle where it literally shifts genres, your ability to keep pace with it results in what could be one of the strongest horror video games of all time.
There is no writer quite like H.P. Lovecraft and there’s definitely not a whole lot of games like Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth. A divisive title that is seen by some a tiresome game of pointless challenges while others revere it as the quintessential horror video game. Fred and Jam delve into the design, development, and campaign of this unique horror title.
This week the mod conversation continues as the guys move into the CD-based consoles and the wonderful world of modchips. There were many ways to get different things done in the Playstation era and beyond. Finally the show wraps up with soft modding and the various things that can be done from consoles only a few generations old.
As I said in a previous article regarding Wolfenstein 3D, “Wolfenstein 3D did it first and Doom did it best.” The same team, id Software, created both games so it’s less of a competition and more of an evolution. While I agree that all games are a team effort, the technology that runs these games can sometimes be credited to one person. In the case of Doom that one person is none other than John D. Carmack. By this point most of us are aware of John Carmack and what he’s contributed to video games as a whole, but back in 1992 he was the guy creating a new engine for a new game. That engine was called the Doom Engine. Carmack claims the name Doom came from the movie The Color of Money in which Tom Cruise describes a custom pool cue as “doom” when questioned as to what’s in his case. It was created to enhance the first person shooter to include different heights, distances, and even sound effects in stereo for a more realistic type of game. In truth the hardware of the time couldn’t handle rendering a 3D world so the game is actually all on a flat plane in the code, which is why rooms never overlap and you can shoot a guy on a ledge by just aiming at the wall beneath him. I don’t know about the rest of you, but in 1993 I hardly noticed. Doom had positional breathing of mutant men, lighting effects (including dark rooms), a hybrid cyberpunk and distopian Hell setting, and a ton of violence. It was the rock star of the video game world.
This week Lost Treasures of Gaming had Lorne Lanning of Oddworld Inhabitants on to discuss the series of Oddworld games. Fred goes into a little background of each before delving right into the first couple of levels in Oddworld Munch’s Oddysey HD on the Playstation 3.
You can find the Lost Treasures of Gaming podcast at http://omgnexus.com.
The original Xbox was a system with some incredibly gems on it that really didn’t receive much appreciation until near the end of the consoles life cycle. The game developer Bioware were all about the Xbox with their main hit on the system being Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic then later down the road in 2005 they brought out one of the most overlooked titles from the company Jade Empire. Jade Empire really never found its audience, even to this day. Just mentioning this title to people today brings question marks in peoples minds. I remember seeing the game in an Official Xbox Magazine and being incredibly excited by the screen shots. Then the game came out and people just sort of forgot it was there. Today the game is passed off as one of the weakest titles in Biowares back catalogue.
Jade Empire is a Western developed action role-playing game (RPG) you play as a martial arts hero that you choose at the start of the game. You can choose between 5 set character models (6 if you have the limited edition or special edition), you can choose to go with pre-selected stats or you can customize the heroes stats yourself. You unfortunately can’t customize your characters appearance which is a shame considering Bioware’s previous Star Wars title allowed you to alter your characters appearance.
Day 5: Manhunt
Manhunt is a game that I feel to this day I have to tread very carefully when I discuss it. This was one of the very few titles that was actually banned in the UK due to a very unfortunate link to a horrific news story which I will not be discussing in this article. With that short intro out the way lets get into why I’m featuring this title in the Horror Obscura.
I view Manhunt as a title in time with those gore fest films like Saw only a lot worse. Manhunt is a game that is really uncomfortable to play. For starters you don’t even play the good guy, you take control as James Earl Cash who is a pawn in a game where he is directed by a psychopath known as “The Director,” to brutally murder members of gangs and other crazy people. This game is incredibly dark and not for everyone. There are no redeeming qualities to Cash either. He is bad, he kills without remorse and even when he does meet support characters he has no interest in making friends. This is a rare video game that forces you down the dark path. If you are able to get past this you will actually be in for quite an impressive stealth title.