Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Retro FPS Round-Up!

I'd like to talk to the kids today, regardless of what the court said.

Kids, I know you think you know shooters. You've got a new Call of Duty and a new Battlefield - sometimes called Medal of Honor - every Xmas so clearly you've got this whole First Person Shooter thing set. Right?

Sad to say, but you came along just in time for the hair metal phase of video games. Just assembly-line noise, each one little more than a patch of originals that came out ten years ago. You poor sods think a shooter is all about going from checkpoint to checkpoint, along a straight line, shooting at the generic soldiers who pop up and pausing every few minutes to admire the spectacles that could just as easily be found in any action movie. And there's nary a rocket jump to be had. You poor little bastards don't even know what a rocket jump is!

Fortunately, the VectorLog is here to give U the modern vidya games player a rundown of all the great things you missed out on! Like -

Shadow Warrior
Built on the Duke Nukem 3-D engine back when anyone cared about Duke Nukem. You play as Lo Wang - seriously - a one-liner spouting ninja with no shirt and a great big... sword. That's the kinda humor you can expect, if you ever have a moment in between the mayhem to listen. This is old school FPS, meaning you get dropped into the level and things are immediately trying to kill you, so you better get a move on and find the secret luggage room with the rocket launcher.

And shoot it up a sumo's butt!

Postal 2
Believe it or not, the open world FPS is not just a recent invention of the Far Cry franchise. Nor is taking copious amounts of drugs while handling high powered rifles. Postal 2 allowed for both in its town of Paradise, populated by gimps and terrorists and other jerkoffs just begging for a shovel upside the head. And as the crack smoking Postal Dude, you're just the man to deliver!

Yet this mayhem is entirely your own choice. It's entirely possible and in fact quite easy to run through the whole game without harming anyone, simply going about your daily errands. But when Gary Coleman is right there and you've got a bazooka...

Take that, you jive-talking midget!

Plus, if you piss on someone enough it unlocks the R. Kelly achievement!

Star Wars: Dark Forces
Would you believe there's a Star Wars game without space battles or lightsabers? And it rocks? Dark Forces was a bold experiment for Lucas Arts - a first person shooter back when such things were still associated with the Satanic murder fest of Doom and a Star Wars game that didn't rely on any established characters. You played as Kyle Katarn, former Imperial commando and now Rebel Alliance operative. And to old school gamers, the baddest motherfucker in the entire Expanded Universe. He blasted through whole divisions of Stormtroopers alone, took on the flying cyborg Dark Troopers, and even punched a giant lizard to death!

Screw the Force. Use grenades!

Katarn was made a Jedi in the sequels but he always maintained a certain practicality, picking up bombs and blasters dropped by his fallen enemies even when he could just hurl Force Lightning all over the place.

Call of Duty
Ah, for the days of military shooters where you just wailed on the Nazis! Wolfenstein may be keeping that alive but it still doesn't get better than the original Call of Duty. The Infinity Ward guys like their war movies and their first installment in this Frankenstein's franchise liberally cirbs from A Bridge Too Far, The Longest Day, Band of Brothers, and that great underrated Stalingrad pic Enemy at the Gates. You got to play as the Russians too, in a historically accurate and unsympathetic manner where if you ran away from the German machine guns, the NKVD would execute you. But survive that, and it's sniper battles all through ruined Russian cities! Then there's the solo SAS mission into a dam, just you and a Sten against the entire Wermacht. Original Call of Duty, competing in a field of more organic shooters, couldn't railroad the player through turret sections so you not only got the "authentic war" feel but a genuinely engaging experience that relied on U the player to move forward.

Except for when you get to role-play as a terrified conscript.

Yet the only thing they've kept from those days are your AI squad mates. A revolutionary move at the time - "No one fights alone" was both Infinity Ward's concept and marketing gimmick - it created verisimilitude without detracting from gameplay. These days, your Bad Company squadmates will wipe out the bad guys while you respawn at a checkpoint and where's the fun in that?

Deus Ex
Is it an FPS or an RPG? It's both, which is close enough for our purposes. While some of you might know the recent reboot, this original stands out as having simply more depth and easter eggs. Do something out of the ordinary, like snatching a candy bar off a friendly NPC's desk, and they'll ask what the hell you're doing. Go exploring the lady's room, and the next time you report to your boss he'll chastise you for being a perv.

There's a story full of conspiracy too, if that's your thing. But mostly you'll be sneaking and hacking your way past various cyber-mooks until you reach the plot-centric boss fight... which you can run away from. And unlike the Thief series, if all that sneaking takes too long, you can just level up your combat augs and murder your way through everything.

And another open world FPS back before consoles became just cumbersome PCs with less functionality. Taking the role of the pale and fish-faced Logan, you go exploring bases on a lush alien world, trying to unravel a conspiracy involving government and corporate interests. And if that's too familiar, this has the distinction of letting you side with the poor downtrodden colonists!

Though you'll have to defeat what's been trodding on them.

And it is a choice. You can go the evil route, the impartial route, whatever turns your crank. You also get to choose from a number of cybernetic implants and weapon mods along the way, if you get tired of highjacking enemy mecha and going on a stompy rampage.

An otherwise forgetable game, it stands out by virtue of two unique features. A respawn system integrated into the story and a protagonist who bears a striking similarity to Eminem.

Right down to grumpy twelve-year-old's scowl.

Really, there's no other reason to play it other than the respawn system. U the rebel leader get hold of a flash cloning technology early on, which prints out a brand new copy of you every time you die. Even if you were vaporized by a fazer rifle. Missions quickly devolve into suicide charges against the enemy respawner, each death just a breather in between the mad circle-strafing firefights. It feels so ridiculous, you can't help laughing you're head off. Much like every other match of Team Fortress 2.


The grayest game ever made!

...Okay, this one sucked.

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