Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Gamer's Diary - More Half-Life comfort gaming, X-COM, Fallout series, Fallout 3

Half-Life for PC, Half-Life Source, Half-Life Opposing Force, Half-Life Blue Shift, Half-Life 2 for PC: To make my Half-Life series comfort gaming possible, I set about redownloading and reinstalling these games from Steam. Of course I had to play them all as well to see if they worked, and as a result I spent an entire vacation day with them. I don't regret it though; I discovered that Half-Life Source does not look or play significantly better than the original Half-Life, and rediscovered just how pretty Half-Life 2 still looks, four years later. It doen't have the advanced bump-mapping and shadow-casting of Doom 3, but in every other way (and overall) its presentation looks superior.

X-COM: UFO Defense: I found out that all of the X-COM games have become available through Steam, so I fired it up and bought the entire collection. At $15 USD for five games, I thought it reasonable to check out all of them, despite some having less-than-stellar reviews.

I tried the first game, X-COM: UFO Defense, the one that everyone raves about. I left the others alone, for now. I found that the game has something in common with most games made before the late '90s: The player needs to read the manual before trying to play. The game has no tutorial, and the controls seem less than obvious. It definitely does not go into the "comfort gaming" category. So I put it in my randomized rotation, and will read the manual the next time I play it.

Crossover Games: I installed Ubuntu Linux earlier this year as a dual boot with Windows XP. Now, only when I play games do I boot the Windows partition. So I have an interest in getting my games to run on Linux. To that end, I picked up Codeweavers' Crossover Games on the day Codeweavers made it free. This product provides a compatibility layer for Linux so that Windows games can run.

I then set out to install Steam and all the Half-Life games, which Crossover Games specifically advertises that it works with. Sadly, it doesn't, at least on my system. Attempting to download the games through Steam's My Games interface always results in an error that claims Steam's servers appear too busy. I found a trick to get by that problem, but once Steam finishes downloading the game it won't launch it. It always puts up an error message claiming the game appears unavailable. I don't know what that means, beyond not allowing me to play the game.

Half-Life and Half-Life: Decay for PS2: Having given up on Crossover Games, I returned to the two Half-Life games on the PS2. I found Decay a bit less than restful because of its lack of save-anywhere, so after getting killed in it I played the original Half-Life rather than start the level over. Much more comfortable.

Fallout Tactics for PC and Fallout Brotherhood of Steel for Xbox: Knowing that I would purchase Fallout 3 when released, I decided to complete my collection of Fallout games. I picked up Tactics from Good Old Games, and Brotherhood of Steel from the bargain bin of a local Gamestop. I played the first just long enough to see that it works just like Fallout and Fallout 2, except for giving the player direct control over more than one party member. I played the second just long enough to verify that it plays exactly like Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance and Dark Alliance 2 but with a Fallout 'skin'. And I deem that okay; I like the Dark Alliance games.

Fallout 3 for Xbox 360: I bought this in its release week, and played nothing else for a month. I have played through the main quest once, and since then I have played through all the side quests. Terrific game.

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