Computer/Video Games

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TimberWolf
Posts: 80

Computer/Video Games

Postby TimberWolf » Mon May 20, 2019 9:58 pm

I recently suggested that the thread about movies/games/series could be split into separate threads because of the general swelling.



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There has been some discussion about this game and HP. Hoodedcobra666 expressed interest in a review, so here goes, I'm trying to keep spoiling to the minimum. I haven't played this for many years, but just like with any great book/movie/song, the memory remains vivid. Even with its flaws, it's one of the greatest single-player FPS games of all time.



Technical
Originally published in 2000, the last official patch was published in 2001, still leaving some bugs/exploits here and there... Since then, hobbyists have been patching + modding the game quite a bit. The game runs on the Unreal engine, the original intended platform being Windows 98.

If you get the game, I'd recommend to seek for any additive bugfixes from fansites before starting to play it. I'm not aware of the current status quo of the online community surrounding the game, so here are no links... However, I can remember couple of annoying glitches that even the GoTY edition has to it.
People have made also some graphical tune-up in the way of higher-resolution textures and more detailed models.



Player character
The PC is a super-soldier who begins to work for United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition(UNATCO). He is nanotechnically augmented, i.e. all the cells of the body contain programmable nano-bots that shall eventually grant superhuman abilities(run faster, endure all kinds of trauma, see through walls, etc.).

One of the most likeable things about the character development is that killing/destroying enemies does not yield experience points, breaking the typical RPG treadmill of killing monsters in order to gain XPs in order to be able to kill bigger monsters in order to gain XPs in order to be able to kill even bigger monsters... XPs are earned only by non-combative accomplishments, mostly (sub)quest completion, but also all kinds of miscellaneous achievements like exploration. There is no concept of character level, the XPs can be directly allocated to skills, roughly half of them are combative and the remainder deals with other kinds of environmental interaction.

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In addition to experience points, the PC is being improved by programming these aforementioned nano-bots, which are divided into different categories by body parts. It takes some time to find corresponding "firmware" to all of them. Once installed, the NanoAugs consume bio-electricity.

With both skill points and NanoAugs, player has to make permanent choices about how to develop his character.

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Game world
The whole campaign takes place at night. There is no time in the game, i.e. events occur and story progresses only upon completing a quest or reaching a new location. The appearance of the game world is mostly bleak/grim, given the dystopian theme + crude graphics(by today's standards). Typical milieus are of urban desolation or hidden military-base/laboratory creepiness.

In a ”true” RPG, the player can move around freely around the entire game world. In a conventional FPS(and many other game types), the player linearly progresses from a level into the next one. This game is a compromise of the two.
While the main quest dictates the order of visitation for all the locations, one is usually very free to move around non-linearly in any individual location. The Unreal engine doesn't support particularly large maps, so the locations are being divided into sub-locations that are loaded separately. If one is being chased by an enemy in a corridor where the sublocation changes, he won't be there anymore once the change has occurred. Upon returning, he will be there, though...

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All the locations of the game world are being made very detailed, featuring newspapers + emails + some other recordings that contribute to the storytelling. Random NPCs might also contribute to the story, provide voluntary sub-quests or sell stuff. There are also hidden locations of easter-egg/weapon-cache variety. If some location is being visited later, it has changed subtly everywhere. Because of this intricacy, the game world feels exceptionally alive, this is one of the most charming traits of the game.

There is no single video file featured, i.e. all the storytelling and ”cut scenes” are executed within the game engine.

A lot of the campaign takes place in New York and the landscape there lacks WTC Twin Towers.

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Combat
The difficulty level of the campaign affects only combat. I've always played with maxed difficulty, which means that you can get killed with one pistol round.

The game can be completed without explicitly killing anyone, but this requires very specialized playing style. While there are many invitations for fighting, the most convenient style is assassin-like, killing isolated enemies through surprise. If there are allies around, it's useful to lure enemies to them.

There's a limited inventory space, which means that one cannot carry all the existing weapons all the time. The weapons are mostly conventional(melee, firearm, explosive), but as the campaign progresses, you're going to get some some fancy scifi-armature too. The accuracy of ranged weapons is determined by skill level + movement + aim delay, this is being visualized by the crosshair showing the spread. If the PC has maximized skill level with any ranged weapon, then aim is always perfect.

Human(oid) characters have separate hit points for head, torso and limbs. Losing head/torso kills, losing limb impairs aim/movement.

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Already in the beginning of the game, one receives a pretty versatile arsenal. I find this to be refreshing, as with many games you just get some stick in the beginning and then slowly getting something better...

The enemy AI is rudimentary, initially being unaware of PC's presence, but triggered to search/attack upon sighting, noise, discovery of body or alarm. Nevertheless, fighting is often strategic in regards to weapon choice, attack direction and whom to do in first. The lighting that the PC is being subjected to determines his visual noticeability. No NPC can climb ladder, so getting into a high place accessible only by ladder enables some comfortable sniping...

As with weapons, the enemies are mostly conventional(soldier, thug, simple robot), but as the campaign progresses, you're going to encounter some fancy scifi-enemies too(super-soldier, designer organism, powerful robot).

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Story & main quest
This is the most notorious aspect of the game, being all about NWO. One of the reasons why I can remember this so detailedly is that studying alternative media in the more recent times has vindicated(or at least corroborated) a lot of the plot for me. The main quest is about learning about the high elite taking over the world and ultimately confronting its members.

The campaign is centered in USA and by 2052 it has become a total oligarchy, with brutal hegemony dividing people into rich elite and underclass. All real power in society is being exercised by government and corporations. People are dying to a pandemic viral disease and there's a persistent suspicion about the government knowing more about it than publicly told... There's a second civil war brewing, with guerillas organizing against the government. A national emergency is about to be declared, with FEMA being authorized to detain a segment of the population. Anti-terrorism is being pushed after an attack on major national monument. Some other parts of the world are also being visited, the situation is fairly similar there too.

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The central theme of the story is weaponization of technology for tyranny, with nano-technical replicator being the most important device. As the story progresses, an artificial intelligence starts to permeate Internet and everything that it's connected to. The major featured secret societies are Illuminati, Knights Templar and MJ12. The world government has its own military, working above any national police/army. One of the most central characters to the story is a super-rich businessman(of Bezos/Buffett/Gates variety) who has a stake in all of this...

While the main plot/quest remains ultimately linear, there is considerable branching in the sub-plots, based on the choices you make, this can be occasionally even surprising. The story features some dramatic twists of shocking surprises, backstabs and ultimately, the true identity of the PC(how original...).

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Conclusion
Even though the computers' capability for game complexity(both visual and substance) has increased tremendously since the publication of this game, there hasn't been any improvement in the deep quality of gaming content(as far as I know...). Newer games mostly cater to shorter attention span, the sequel to this one being a painful example. Incorporating an interesting story into a game is obviously demanding, it's lot easier to just feature some superficial ”theme”.
While the authors of Deus Ex featured jews(Warren Spector), computer/video games have become yet far more jewed since then.



If any other game deserved a similar review article, it would be one of the most legendary computer strategy games, X-Com Ufo Defense. Just like with Deus Ex, the author(s) of the story have clearly studied conspiracy stuff carefully.

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Donovandal
Posts: 25

Re: Computer/Video Games

Postby Donovandal » Tue May 21, 2019 7:25 am

I've just noticed how the font of the "Deus ex" word in the cover(first picture) made the letters looking nearly exactly the same to the letters of the hebrew alphabet, especially the "x".

Ah yes the old X-Com Ufo Defence form my childhood, i only say that the lore of it is VERY interesting.

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Edelwise
Posts: 129

Re: Computer/Video Games

Postby Edelwise » Wed May 22, 2019 5:37 pm

TimberWolf wrote:Even though the computers' capability for game complexity(both visual and substance) has increased tremendously since the publication of this game, there hasn't been any improvement in the deep quality of gaming content(as far as I know...). Newer games mostly cater to shorter attention span, the sequel to this one being a painful example. Incorporating an interesting story into a game is obviously demanding, it's lot easier to just feature some superficial ”theme”.


And to think I was disappointed in Deus Ex for being more dumbed down than System Shock 2.


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