Mechwarrior 4 — Free at last, free at last!

Studio MekTek’s free version of Mechwarrior 4 has finally been released after years of hard work and miles of red tape. Unfortunately, this momentous occasion has been plagued by server crashes, buggy software, and a lot of empty feelings.

The release went live on May 3rd, but the site’s servers quickly crashed due to heavy traffic. I was finally able to download the client in the late evening — but it didn’t get any better.

The game file is about 1.7 gigs, and to help you download it, MekTek has MacGyvered (I’m sure duct tape and chewing gum were involved) a client that’s somewhere between Steam and uTorrent. The client is called MekTek X, or MTX, and it is riddled with problems. I haven’t been able to run MTX without it freezing — at which point I have to force close it and open it again to resume operation.

If you’ve got the resolve and determination of a Marine in boot camp, then you might actually get the game installed. As a reward, the game will launch and crash, asking you to insert disc 2. To overcome this problem you’ll need to revisit your old friend MTX and update the game. I’ve updated the game three or four times so far without any success.

I’ll let you know when I finally get the game running. After that I’ll write a review since MekTek has added many new features and improvements to the rusty metal classic.

If you get the game running before me, post a comment and gloat!

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New review rating system!

Here it is, The G.OB.’s new review rating system — the following is an excerpt from my reviews page describing how the system works:

How good is 7.5 out of 10? I have no idea, and I’m willing to bet you don’t either. How many times have you seen a review and asked yourself, “this game got a good review, but is it good enough for $60?”

Well question no more dear reader, because The G.OB. has the answer! We’ve thrown out that moldy old 10-point scale and replaced it with something… delectable. That’s right, we’re matching games up with meals. If seeing our final verdict makes you salivate, then you MUST buy the game — it’s so easy! No more hemming and hawing while that pimply GameStop employee hassles you to reserve Duke Nukem: Forever

The food listings are located at the end of the review, along with a brief description about why that food applies. I’ve added food listings to my existing reviews as well. This is going to be awesome!

Coming Soon (to a gob near you)

I apologize for going over a week without posting something new. I’ve been hard at work creating a new rating system for The G.OB.’s game reviews. Just a hint, it’s delicious 😉

In that vein, I will be writing reviews more often and posting them for your reading pleasure… when you actually get a few moments away from your platform of choice, of course. If you would like to submit a review for publishing, you are welcome to send it to gamingobserver@gmail.com for consideration.

Other than that, sit back and enjoy a taco.

28 days later…

I’m still no closer to buying an iPad

Huger?

I recently read an article in New York News Today … when I say “in” I mean on their website of course. The G.OB. doesn’t get his fingers dirty with old fashioned newspapers. The article was another run-of-the-mill “PC gaming isn’t dead!” soapbox sermon with two notable exceptions: First, the author did a lot of research and fleshed out a lot of her ideas pretty well. Second, she used the word “huger,” as in, “[PC gaming has] a back catalogue several hundred orders of magnitude huger than any other gaming system.” emphasis added.

What a mouthful! Let’s break it down — several — hundred — orders of magnitude — HUGER — than any other gaming system. Throw in “magical” and you have an Apple promotion. With the exception of that ridiculous statement, the article’s pretty good and I’ve added a link at the end of this post.

I think we can all agree that PC gaming isn’t dead, but is it huger? No, because an awful adjective like “huger” is an insult to the sophistication of PC gaming.

Original article: http://newyorknewstoday.com/classic-gaming/06942

Time and Video Games

I’m finding that as I get older, I have less and less time for games. When I was younger, I could spend an entire Saturday morning playing Mega Man 2 or whatever the flavor of the month was. Now, it seems that I can only spare an hour here and there when I’m lucky. I guess this (losing time) is growing up, and it seems that games are growing up with me.

I’ve noticed a somewhat interesting trend in gaming over the years. It seems that as my available time for games decreases, the time investment for a game is also diminishing. During the eras of the NES through the PS1, it seemed rather reasonable to expect an investment of around 20 hours to complete a game. During the Xbox and PS2 generation, I noticed that many AAA titles only yielded approximately 10-15 hours of gameplay. Some examples may include Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Halo, God of War, Call of Duty, and many others. Finding a game that offered many hours of entertainment seemed like a rarity, and when found, was a prized title — Think GTA, KOTOR, Final Fantasy, and others.

In our current generation of gaming, the prices are higher, but the yield is lower. Many new titles that I have played were shorter than 10 hours. For example, I bought Call of Duty: MW2 when it was released (like everyone else). I opened the game that following Saturday morning and finished the single player campaign before lunch — it lasted all of 5 hours. In my opinion, it was not worth the hype or my $60… Multi-player was only fun for about another weekend before I packed it in a box and sent it off to Amazon for a straight trade for Assassin’s Creed 2 (a much more enjoyable single player experience). The shrinking single player experience is even shortening from sequel to sequel. I finished Mass Effect 1 from beginning to end, completing a majority of side missions, in roughly 32 hours (ahh, the joy of seeing your play time tracked in your game saves). Mass Effect 2 only took 23 hours, again I completed many side missions and explored all the planets.

I just find it fascinating that the less time I have for video games, it seems the less time they have for me.

Braid Review

Braid

Platform: Xbox 360

Developer: Number None Inc.

Link: http://braid-game.com/

Reviewed by Ryan Price

Lately I have been having more success finding an enthralling game to play on the Xbox Live Arcade than on the shelves of my local retail giant. This time I decided to take advantage of Microsoft’s new, “Deal of the Week” feature, and download Braid for the cost of a large pizza… That’s $10(US) for those of you who are not poor college kids. After finishing the game, I was left wanting more – just as if I had ordered a pizza! How weird is that? Perhaps not so weird after you finish this review.

Braid is a platform puzzler that pays homage to many of the early video game greats. You’ll immediately feel familiar with the simple run and jump-on-enemies mechanics that Mario made popular so many years ago. You’ll even get to raise a flag in front of a castle at the end of various stages. However, the nostalgia that this game generates is not what makes Braid fun to play. It’s what Braid does uniquely that makes it a terrific title. If ever there was a question about games being art, Braid is the answer. View the trailer

From the very outset, the game impresses with visuals that immerse the player in the game world. The art style is such that you would find in a painting by Monet; imaginative, free-flowing, and oh so pleasing! I especially liked that this painted world was not stationary or solid, but that the colors and designs softly shifted about, giving life and frivolity to this flat 2D game world. As I played through the game I found this painted art style to have a kind of soothing effect. It was quite pleasant, especially when the puzzles got harder to solve.

The puzzles in Braid utilize the ability to manipulate the flow of time, in order to collect puzzle pieces that form a painting. Each painting represents a world – another tribute to Mario – in which the game’s protagonist, Tim, must use a thematic time control device. For example, in World 2, Tim must use the ability to rewind to reach certain puzzle pieces. My particular favorite was World 6, where Tim had to use a ring that slowed time around it in order to reach the scattered puzzle pieces.

The puzzles are very well executed. As you progress through the game, the puzzles do not necessarily become more difficult. Instead, reaching each puzzle piece challenges the player to think differently about how to apply the current time control theme. Each time I was able to reach a puzzle piece I felt like I had actually accomplished something, and I was eager to see the next challenge. As I traversed through the different worlds, I couldn’t help but wish Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time had used time manipulation in its puzzles as well as Braid.

Braid draws another similarity to the Persian Prince’s 3D debut game. Say that line three times fast! The two games share a common story telling technique. Both use a narrative that feels reminiscent, almost like looking back through a dream. Although I think that the Sands of Time told its story better. The story in Braid is read on screen by running past books. The writing is good, and almost Zen-like. Yet, as I muddled through these philosophical ponderings, I felt like a young Padowan trying to find the wisdom from one of Master Yoda’s parables. In other words, it was interesting to read, but I just didn’t get it.

Overall, Braid is an exceptional platform puzzler. The developer did a fantastic job of molding soothing art, fun game play, and ingenious time manipulation puzzles into a game that leaves its players wishing they too could rewind, and experience the game for the first time again. For me, this game was the “Deal of the Week”, but for you, it’s a deal any week.

Meal Most Like: Spring salad with jasmine flower vinaigrette — The name might throw you off, but this game is beautiful to look at. Scintillating and sophisticated, it’s also light and airy and will leave you wanting more.