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November 13, 2013

The Stanley Parable: A Game About Games

stanley parable

It is nearly impossible to explain what The Stanley Parable is about. It is a game about the nature of games, how a player interacts with the world, and what happens if the antagonist is the game itself.

At it’s core, The Stanley Parable is a first person exploration game. All of the interaction comes through choice. Choosing a door to walk through, choosing which button to press, or even choosing to do nothing at all. You play as Stanley, an office worker who may be asleep, crazy, bored, and everything in between.

To reveal anything about the gameplay experience is to ruin that experience for you. It is very much a narrative driven game, with the majority of the entertainment value coming from the narrator, given life by the incomparable Kevan Brighting, and his interactions with the player. If you are sensitive and can’t take constructive and not as constructive criticism, you may want to stay away. The narrator will hurt your feelings and make you feel worthless but, to be fair, you do the same to him multiple times.

In technical terms the game is fine, with serviceable graphics that never get in the way of the experience. The game is still based in Source, so the physics that come along with that engine work well (even with a dearth of interactive objects). The music is fantastic and hugely varied. It only shows up every so often but when it does the score will command your attention. The controls will be familiar to anyone who has played a first person game, save for the lack of one usual input variation that leads to a hilarious achievement.

I had issues starting up the game upon first install, but upon reinstallation the issues ceased. Besides that there were no bugs that I personally have noticed in my ten hours or so with the game.

Mind Control

What really stuck out to me was how The Stanley Parable reflects on the absurdity of game mechanics and storytelling. We do it all for a weird sense of self gratification, the accomplishment of the objective. Be it an actual scripted objective like every mission based game, or the “I’m going to steal a helicopter and try to jump out onto a bus” self generating objectives in an open world game, it’s all there to give the player a sense of accomplishment. The Stanley Parable deconstructs this to the point where one second the objective could be to press a button so that some booming voice will say “Eight!” over and over and the next the objective is to figure out what the game wants you to do. In the end, the game doesn’t want you to do anything. It’s a game. And The Stanley Parable knows that.

You can complete The Stanley Parable in about 15 minutes. Your first play through will probably take about half an hour. But there is so much to explore within the crazy world that Galactic Cafe thrusts you into that it could easily eat up much more. Not for twitch gamers or people who want to get to the top of the leaderboards, but if you value narrative then I implore you to check this one out. At least get the demo off of Steam. If anything, you’ll get a chuckle out of just how ridiculous it all is.

In its purest essence, The Stanley Parable is a commentary on routine, achievement, the government, video games, and life itself. I love getting lost in it’s world and losing myself within it. Everyone needs to play this.

April 18, 2013

Dishonored: The Knife of Dunwall – Now Available

Dishonored DLC image

Take on the role of Daud, the legendary assassin who killed the Empress. This second add-on pack for the award-winning first person action game from Arkane Studios gives you a new perspective on Daud, and access to his weapons, gadgets, allies and supernatural abilities.http://bethsoft.com/en-gb/games/knife_of_dunwall

January 1, 2013

Left4Dead2 Back to School: Reloading new content

Six disturbing new chapters in the Left 4 Dead Series await you, time to team up and reload!

Left 4 Dead Image of School Area for Back to School Campaign

Back to School is a new and challenging Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 campaign available now and set against the backdrop of Borden city. Our four protagonists have heard that the US Military are planning to come in and clean up the city from the infection and have decided to go the the nearest stronghold, which just happens to be the local high school. The team start out from the north while the army starts from the south, in order to get to the high school they must fight their way through five additional brand new areas: The Forest; The Railway Station; The Town; The Cinema; and The Church, before finally arriving at the gates of the high school. Even though you have all these new locations it will still feel familiar, dark and menacing backdrops, zombies coming at you left, right and center and the all important team chatter.

Although the Back to School campaign was originally released for download on 28 October 2012, there were a few technical glitches which meant that it wasn’t ideal gameplay, in fact all the features of the new campaign weren’t actually in place. But with the latest release it looks like everything is finally in place and it’s a good time to download the campaign and give it a try. Be warned, I have read that the difficulty settings for the new campaign don’t entirely mesh with those of the base game, so just keep that in mind when you are turning the settings up to expert, this campaign is hard.

The official campaign site boasts the following features:

– Six absolutely new maps in both Versus and Campaign modes
– Twelve brand new Panic Event
– “Marauder” – new game mode
– New type of the final
– Non-linearity
– Dozens of new models and textures
– “Cinematic physics”
– New Color Correction and particles systems

For more information visit the official campaign site or check out the L4D Back to School group on Steam, you’ll also find the back to school forum on Steam here: steamcommunity.com/groups/backtoschool/discussions.

December 13, 2012

Valve to Release New Steam PC

Steam Big Picture Image

According to Valve’s Gabe Newell, a new kind of PC will be released next year which aims to compete with the living room console. These PCs will be designed to be connected to your TV and enable you to run steam to play all your game titles. The ‘Steam PC’ will not be as flexible and open-source as a normal PC due to it’s function in being a method of bridging the gap between playing games on a console and playing games on a PC, but Valve think that this is something that people will really want for their living rooms and will compete with other companies such as Sony with their next generation consoles. We are going to have to wait until next year for more details however, we’ll keep you posted as more news is released.

For more information, the first step in the process is ‘Steam’s Big Picture’ find out more here: http://store.steampowered.com/bigpicture.

September 16, 2012

Black Mesa: A Half-Life 2 Re-Make

Players of the award-winning sci-fi FPS Half-Life 2, developed by Valve, would have been able to finally play the long awaited re-make of the game when it was released on September 14th 2012. Black Mesa, a free total conversion modification of Half-Life, began in 2004 being driven by a volunteer development team who are also fans of the game – the project came about due to the belief that Half-Life didn’t quite live up to the potential of the Source engine’s capabilities (used by the Half-Life sequel, Half-Life 2) and so they took the storyline and packaged it up into a new polished version which included work on new models, maps, soundtrack, voice acting and textures.

Of course, this is definitely not news to any Half-Life fans who have been eagerly awaiting this mod for some time, but when I actually saw the transformation of the old game to the new one I must admit that I was totally blown away and was kicking myself for not having played Half-Life sooner. So much effort has gone into this that I’d challenge anyone not to be impressed with the results, take a look a the example below from the Black Mesa website:

In this release fans are able to play in single-player mode only, Black Mesa have confirmed that co-op play would potentially arrive after the release of single-player but that the development of this part of the game would not be delivered by the Black Mesa team. Also, in this release you will be playing from the chapter ‘Inbound’ (where our main character Dr. Gordon Freeman starts his day riding a tram headed to the Sector C Test Labs) until Lambda Core (when Gordon finally arrives at the Lambda Complex, an advanced teleportation research lab where the remnants of the Lambda team have taken refuge), the Black Mesa re-vamp of the game ends here when you jump in the portal to Xen. The second part of the single-player release will add the Xen chapters and will be done in the form of an update to the game.

What do you need to play it?

1. You must have a source game. You cannot use the free Half-Life 2: Deathmatch, Half-Life 2: Lost coast or any demos.

2. The 2007 Source SDK. You can install this from the Library > Tools menu in Steam.

Access your Steam games library.
Click the dropdown beside the Search bar and select Tools.
Find Source SDK Base 2007 in the list and select ‘Install game’.
Once installation is complete restart your computer to ensure all files update correctly.

3. The Black Mesa mod. Which you can download from the Black Mesa homepage.

If you are like me and haven’t played Half-Life then why not download a copy from Steam where Half-Life 2 is only £6.99. Black Mesa is a great piece of work and an amazing achievement for the development team, I’ll definitely be adding this to my library.

May 1, 2012

Hard Reset: The Review

Hard Reset, one of the games I’ve been looking forward to since its announcement and not only because it is the first PC exclusive title in a long time but also because it’s made by some of the wonderful people who designed The Witcher, one of my favorite games of all time.  Does this game live up to the hype that it garnered over night?  Sort of…

Graphically Hard Reset is gorgeous and it has some of the best lighting elements I have ever seen in a game.  There is a level where a train is coming through a tunnel and as it approaches you can see light bouncing off all the metal in the tunnel and it looks amazing.  You can see it in some of the pictures below.

Additionally there is damage based textures on enemies so depending on how many times you’ve hit them they may look more damaged or exposed.  Several enemies fall apart and disintegrate as you damage them.  Additionally there are some fantastically large scale battles to fight and they are a lot of fun.

While the game does look amazing in many parts it suffers from repetitive level design.  After about the 8th level everything looks the same.  There aren’t really any varied enemies either.  You face the same 5 or 6 enemies throughout the entire game.  There is also the problem of having only two weapons and unlike other games where there are 10 to 20 guns to choose from there are only two in this game that you can modify and they transform into the weapon you want.  So your rifle is your rifle, gun, grenade launcher, and so forth all in one.  I’ll give it credit for originality and in some ways it works well but switching between the modes for the weapon can be confusing and it gets dull after a while.

The story also suffers in Hard Reset.  The story is mostly told in comic fashion slides during the loading sequences.  There are two problems with this.  First I hate cheaply made cut-scenes instead of animated or pre-rendered action sequences to explain the story line if not already done while playing and I will admit there are places for those in certain games but Hard Reset presents itself as a visual spectacle yet it uses a comic strip to present the story? Secondly the ‘press any key to continue’ and pauses in the dialogue often occur at the same time and this can lead to you missing 3 – 5 minutes of dialogue.   Additionally the story is fairly hard to follow which can be frustrating.

There is no Multi-Player so for those of you looking for a Multi-Player experience are going to be disappointed.

Hard Reset feels like it just needed three or four more months in development and it could have been so much more.  The game rings in at about 6 hours on normal for anyone who is experienced with FPS.  Those die hard FPS players should be able to go through it quicker.  Hard Reset isn’t a bad game, not by any means and for the price it’s worth its admission price.  That being said it’s an OK game not a great game.  Perhaps the second time around, if there is one, it will get a little more attention.

May 1, 2012

Hard Reset: The Review

Hard Reset, one of the games I’ve been looking forward to since its announcement and not only because it is the first PC exclusive title in a long time but also because it’s made by some of the wonderful people who designed The Witcher, one of my favorite games of all time.  Does this game live up to the hype that it garnered over night?  Sort of…

Graphically Hard Reset is gorgeous and it has some of the best lighting elements I have ever seen in a game.  There is a level where a train is coming through a tunnel and as it approaches you can see light bouncing off all the metal in the tunnel and it looks amazing.  You can see it in some of the pictures below.

Additionally there is damage based textures on enemies so depending on how many times you’ve hit them they may look more damaged or exposed.  Several enemies fall apart and disintegrate as you damage them.  Additionally there are some fantastically large scale battles to fight and they are a lot of fun.

While the game does look amazing in many parts it suffers from repetitive level design.  After about the 8th level everything looks the same.  There aren’t really any varied enemies either.  You face the same 5 or 6 enemies throughout the entire game.  There is also the problem of having only two weapons and unlike other games where there are 10 to 20 guns to choose from there are only two in this game that you can modify and they transform into the weapon you want.  So your rifle is your rifle, gun, grenade launcher, and so forth all in one.  I’ll give it credit for originality and in some ways it works well but switching between the modes for the weapon can be confusing and it gets dull after a while.

The story also suffers in Hard Reset.  The story is mostly told in comic fashion slides during the loading sequences.  There are two problems with this.  First I hate cheaply made cut-scenes instead of animated or pre-rendered action sequences to explain the story line if not already done while playing and I will admit there are places for those in certain games but Hard Reset presents itself as a visual spectacle yet it uses a comic strip to present the story? Secondly the ‘press any key to continue’ and pauses in the dialogue often occur at the same time and this can lead to you missing 3 – 5 minutes of dialogue.   Additionally the story is fairly hard to follow which can be frustrating.

There is no Multi-Player so for those of you looking for a Multi-Player experience are going to be disappointed.

Hard Reset feels like it just needed three or four more months in development and it could have been so much more.  The game rings in at about 6 hours on normal for anyone who is experienced with FPS.  Those die hard FPS players should be able to go through it quicker.  Hard Reset isn’t a bad game, not by any means and for the price it’s worth its admission price.  That being said it’s an OK game not a great game.  Perhaps the second time around, if there is one, it will get a little more attention.

March 25, 2012

Dungeon Siege Complete on Steam $9.99

I normally don’t post about sales on Steam but I think this one is a really reall good one.  Right now and today only you can pick up all Dungeon Siege tiles, 1, 2 and 3 plus DLC on Steam.  Dungeon Siege is a very Diabloesq dungeon crawler and provides many hours of hack and slash fun.  I decided to pick this up for myself as purchasing them seperatly would be over $70.00.   I already own the first two Dungeon Siege titles but the discs were in horrible shape so I figured I could kill two birds with one stone.  You guys can pick it up here from Steam.

December 19, 2011

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Beta Review

Ah yes, good old Counter-Strike.  No other shooter series has been as popular and competative for as long as Counter-Strike has.  Well, as many of you know by now, Valve announced a new, long overdue, addition to the Counter-Strike series, Counter-Strike:Global Offensive.  Immediately so many rumors came out about the game and how true to Counter-Strike it would end up being and so on.  All anyone had were a few short videos showing some limited gameplay to stare at and formulate opinions on.  There were some details given out such as the fact that the game is being made for XBox and PS3 as well as PC, and that they want to make it console friendly to draw in a new crowd.  I think this definitely scared a lot of the old school CS players as so often when a PC classic goes to console PC gamers feel it gets dumbed down.

 

On a certainly positive note there is the fact that Valve is testing with top competitive players to try and make the game as true to CS and as competitively geared as they could.  Regardless, most of my fellow Counter-Strike players expected it to be a further bastardization of the series; as we all know CS players are generally a pessimistic bunch.  Well some time passed, rumors ran rampant, and a closed beta was finally announced for October 2011 with keys being given out at special events like PAX.  I was unable to attend any such events but I did weasel my way into getting a key via good ole’ EBay.

 

October came and at the very end of the month they announced that the beta was delayed to work in input from pro players alpha testing the game stating, “They gave us a lot of feedback on things we should get in the game before we release it, otherwise we’re going to be getting a lot of bug reports or a lot of feedback and it would just be redundant.”  They also went on to say, “The closed beta will gradually expand to include more and more players, until “by the end of it, everyone will be playing the game. It will be the released game that you’re playing and then at some point we’ll say, ‘OK we’re going to officially release it.’ We have no mandate from anybody of when we have to ship this. So we’re more than happy to just keep working on this until it’s ready to ship.”  This can be interpreted as good and bad.  Good in the sense they are going to put a lot of time into polishing it to make sure it is right … Bad because if you dont have a beta key you are stuck wondering, “When will the beta open up so I can play damnit?!”

 

Well finally, November 30, 2011 the beta was released and as a diehard CS fan I have been all over it.  The beta currently is a limited build missing some functionality, maps, and weapons.  Currently the only two maps that we have to play are the classic bomb defusal maps de_dust and de_dust2.  As was previewed de_dust has been modified a bit to balance out the gameplay such as changing up the underpass, adding a staircase to get ontop of it, and a few other things.  De_dust2 on the other hand is pretty much the same exact layout.  For those of you who are not terribly familiar with the Counter-Strike series Counter-Strike is a First Person Shooter that began over 10 years ago on PC.  The gameplay is simple objective based Counter Terrorist vs Terrorist scenarios.  The basic and most popular map type is bomb defusal.  The terrorist objective is to get to one of two points on the map and plant a bomb and then defend it until it blows up with the Counter Terrorist trying to either eliminate all of the Terrorist or defuse the bomb.  The other main map type are hostage rescue maps.  The terrorists have hostages they must defend as the Counter Terrorists objectives are to get in and escort the hostages to rescue points in the map.  Counter-Strike has more simplistic mechanics overall than Call of Duty of Battlefield.  There are no iron sights, or any zoom for that matter, outside of scoped rifles.  There is no sprint.  Running is the standard move speed and walking is used to conceal ones movement in contrast to many newer shooters that allow you to sprint.  The simpler mechanics speed up gameplay and make the game much more reaction based requiring real twitchy reflex shots and accuracy to be successful rather than positioning and shot setup which is common amongst most newer console shooters.  They did stay true to Counter Strike and keep the mechanics in Global Offensive the same as the previous iterations.  Had they changed these aspects the game truly wouldn’t be Counter-Strike.

 

Many other game modes also exist as the CS community has always been big into making mods for the game and some of the modded game types that were extremely popular are supposed to be offical game modes in the new Global Offensive.  One that has been confirmed is GunGame.  It is a team elimination game where the object is to get one kill with each gun in the game before anyone else in the server does.  This has been an extremely popular mod for Counter-Strike for years and is going to receive official support in Global Offensive.

 

– Written by Aaron R

July 18, 2011

Valve Complete Giveaway

In celebration of Valve and all the great games they have given to the us over the years we have decided to host a giveaway in honor of this for all of our current and future members. 

We will be giving away the ‘Valve Complete Pack’, for those of you who don’t know what that means let me tell you.  The “Valve Complete Pack” contains every single Valve game including Left 4 Dead 2, Portal 2, Half-Life 2, and many more.  To see a complete list of games check the list at the bottom of the page.  The contest ends July 31st, 2011. 

You may now be asking yourself what do I have to do to get qualified for this  fantastic give away.  Read below!

1.  Sign up on the website here at  www.thegamersblog.com.  If you are already a member please proceed to step 2.

2.  Post on this post what your favorite game is of all time and why.  Tell us what made this game special to you and why you like it so much!  This can be any video game or even a board game.  We just want to know what you like and why!

3.  Please like us on Facebook by clicking the like button on the right hand side of the screen and refer us to your friends (honor system we will trust you). 

4. You will need to have a Steam Account to accept this prize.  You are more then welcome to create a new steam account at our friends at Steam.  If you already have a steam account you are set!

The Valve Complete pack includes (drum roll):

Counter Strike

Counte-Strike: Source

Counter-Strike: Condition Zero

Counter-Strike: Condition Zero Deleted Scenes

Half-Life

Half-Life: Blue Force

Half-Life: Opposing Force

Half-Life: Lost Coast

Day of Defeat

Day of Defeat: Source

Deathmatch Classic

Half-Life 2

Half-Life 2: Deathmatch

Half-Life 2: Episode I

Half-Life 2: Episode II

Half Life Deathmatch Source

Team Fortress Classic

Left 4 Dead

Left 4 Dead 2

Portal

Portal 2

and finally…

Ricochet

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