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Broke arse student, freelance games reviewer and rambling obsessive that I am, I currently seek work in mags and web sites throughout the world. If you're in a position to make that happen - and like what you see around here - let me know. I've published work with the likes of IGN and Gaming Steve.

-Matt/Diggler

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StarCraft II Review - Dig Loveth the RTS!?
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Time For a PC Retro Round-Up
Posted by Diggler - 31/8/2008 5:34

Due to some major life changes of late, money's tight, so I've done what any self-respecting gamer does who can't afford new games...and gone back to World of Warcraft. I jest. I have been rediscovering the wonder that is PC gaming though, digging out many a game of yester-year (and even yester-decade) for a trip back in time. It's been nothing short of fantastic fun, I must say.

With that in mind, I figured an old skool review round-up was in order, which as a bonus, lets me detail how on earth you can also get some of these aging relics up and running on a modern Vista rig. 'Cos believe me, it's a lot harder than it fucking sounds...

System Shock 2 [1999]

The Verdict
What can only be described as BioShock's ancient forefather - courtesy of that game's same creator, Ken Levine - his timeless System Shock series followed similar themes of claustrophobia, horror and open-ended FPS adventuring to potent effect, yet arguably one-upped the more streamlined BioShock with a little extra depth on top.

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A horror FPS in which you're trapped onboard a derelict spaceship, System Shock 2 is regularly hailed as one of the greatest videogames of them all
I hate to say it though, but as with most on this page, I never really got too far with SS2 back in the day, so this is all new to me. Heck, I've never even seen the first game, let alone played it. Having just polished off the final boss in this highly regarded sequel - which many claim to be one of the flat-out best games ever made ever - I'm most definitely with the masses though.

As fab as BioShock's spooky underwater utopia was you see, the sci-fi dork within me far prefers the haunted space ship setting offered by SS2, with its flickering lights, glowing terminals and exploding hulls very much up my street. I can't help but notice similarities between it and a certain EA-helmed Dead Space, in fact (a good thing, given their owning of rights to the often rumored System Shock 3).

Still, if you've played BioShock, you kinda know what to expect here. Ominous, abandoned locations, hacking terminals aplenty, collecting random items, and of course carrying out seemingly bizarre requests for some omnipotent voice somehow tapping into the tannoy system. Perhaps if I'd played the first game, the gravitas and relevance of said voice would have rung a little closer to home, but if nothing else the constant sense of "what the fuck is going on" actually added to the general sense of unease and nervousness found throughout this game.

In fact, suddenly Portal doesn't feel quite so fresh anymore. It's plain as day where 90% of the inspiration for GlaDOS was drawn from, from the casual put downs, to that fine line between congratulatory head-patting...and borderline threats. Right here, suckers.

System Shock 2 also taps into many of those same facets that Deus Ex did in its prime too, and is very much a game culled from that era. A time when the RPG-slash-FPS hybrid dominated gaming, showcasing alarmingly atmospheric worlds choc-full of original and interactive content unlike any other. But of course, with Deus Ex' freedom and extensive dialogue choices replaced by solitude, paranoia...and downright terror.

Having finally put her to rest, I can safely say System Shock 2's similarly starting to creep into my all-time top 10 then...even if I'm a decade late to the party.

Vista Compatible?
Click to enlarge
Many old PC games can overcome resolution limits with .ini hacks and user mods (for which this site should be bookmarked). Here's SS2 up-rezzed to widescreen
System Shock 2 enjoys major issues with modern rigs unfortunately. The biggest of which would be incompatibilities between its ancient engine and all the latest graphics cards of the DX10 era. Such cards can't run this bad boy in 32-bit color due to some outdated dithering techniques basically, resulting it ghastly streaks and ugly looking textures.

Of course, sneaky hacker types have fixed the problem completely, not just for SS2, but other Dark Engine powered games of the late '90s. The fix is a little complex, so rather than go into excruciatingly long details here I'll merely point you to a thread over on the Looking Glass forums with further instructions. It's worth noting that the same engine's also incompatible with dual core CPUs, but that very same fix will kindly sort that out as a side bonus.

Updates installed, I subsequently threw on the various (and very much unofficial) high rez mods currently available for SS2, namely SS2 Rebirth and the Texture Upgrade Project. Designed to get this near-decade old beaut looking semi-respectable once again, I'm pleased to say they certainly live up to their end of the bargain. Shit almost looks pretty.

Finally there's a widescreen mod out there too worth nabbing if endowed with such a monitor. Shock in 1920 x 1200 is a hell of an experience, to say the least.

The Elder Scrolls III - Morrowind [2002]

The Verdict
With Oblivion firmly conquered - and easily one of my fave games ever - I figured its neglected predecessor deserved a go one of these days. Despite coming out some four years earlier, firing up Morrowind for the first time saw me well and truly shocked at how damn similar they were to be honest. I'd no idea what this game had actually managed to pull off so many years before, yet sure enough, all Oblivion's scope, sense of freedom, and sheer epic...err, ism, were all very much present and correct, actually denting a fair chunk of that game's accomplishments in my eye.

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I wish I could tell you what the actual plot of Morrowind is, but - of course - I haven't even touched that yet
In fact, Morrowind even one-ups Oblivion in a couple o' key areas too. It's even bigger for one - if you can believe that - and I have to say, far more imaginative as well. While that game nailed so many things, so well, its world was very much a clichéd medieval fantasy land, after all. Every town felt similar, and as splendid as they looked, variety wasn't the spice of life in those grass-covered vistas.

Not so in Morrowind. In just my first hour alone, I came across moody looking swamp-lands, massive mushrooms the size of buildings, and a crazy Tatooine-looking mud hut town that beat just about anything seen in the entirety of Oblivion for originality between 'em. It's a pity really, that Bethesda took such a drastic step back from the surreal and more inventive for their follow-up, as to be honest, they almost feel like completely different universes in retrospect.

So far so good then, but sadly Morrowind does have one humungous sticking point that renders it a bit of a shadow of its son's more recent glory. The combat's kinda dreadful, to be frank. Specifically, there's no block button, meaning those relentless first person sword fights rapidly turn into random circle strafing click-fests, while your swords and bolts go bizarrely through enemies, inexplicitly "missing" them 'cos the behind-the-scenes dice rolls say so. It all looks a bit silly really. This of course improves as your character does, and you start to source more bad arse weaponry that can tear through those sewer rats like they deserve, but you will flat-out laugh at its comparative jankiness in them early days. I sure did.

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Chuffed to hear Jeremy Soule alive 'n' kicking on the soundtrack too. Few stack up
Also, it has to be said...age hasn't taken too kindly to bog-standard Morrowind, with character models in particular looking low-poly and...fuckin' ugly I'm afraid. Thankfully, there's four years worth of incredible mods to the rescue on that front, adding everything from high rez textures, to new UI icons, right up to a brand new lighting engine. Should your rig be capable, one'll even strip out the game's excessive fog and build miles upon miles of distant terrain for you to admire, ala Oblivion. It's god damn amazing what's out there, and with a good 20 or 30 of the better mods in effect, I pretty much transformed the entire game into something just a notch or two beneath the splendor of its sequel. I can't stress enough what a huge difference this made.

Naturally, a handful o' hours in, I've barely scratched the surface of Morrowind, and get the feeling 30 hours from now, will be no closer either. With so much Oblivion under my belt however - and now finding myself in desperate need of a new virtual land to live in - this will see some serious play over the coming year I'm sure.

Vista Compatible?
Fully patched up, I had no trouble running Morrowind, nor either of its expansions. As mentioned, mod that sucker up though if you value your eyesight. There are really too many to mention (numbering in the tens of thousands, easily), but a shed-loada texture replacements alone oughta do the trick.

Oh, and for a sneaky framerate boost? Hop into Morrowind's compatibility settings and disable "visual themes", "desktop composition" and "display scaling on high DPI settings". Neat, huh?

Tron 2.0 [2003]

The Verdict
Courtesy of FPS masterminds Monolith - those responsible for FEAR, Condemned, Alien Vs. Predator and the No One Lives Forever series - Tron 2.0 could be considered their lesser spoken of, more trippy endeavor from 2003...that never really took off as it arguably deserved. I barely touched her back then myself, and I sure as heck wasn't alone. Such flopping resulted in the canning of an in-development add-on, and even a full-blown sequel.

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Conclusive proof that original, trippy art is far more timeless than boring old realism
Seeing its shiny discs staring up at me from the CD case last month though, I figured a proper bash was finally in order. Five minutes in, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself smiling already. This is a bit of an under-rated beauty if you ask me, sticking out among the FPS drones from over the years with stark originality and some truly gorgeous art design.

Based on the '80s cheese-tastic Jeff Bridges sci-fi flick set inside a computer, Tron 2.0 is the (game-only) sequel that...could soon find itself in a bit of an odd place actually, given that a real Tron movie follow-up was just announced at Comic-Con.

Irregardlessness, here you play the 'puter wiz son of Jeff Bridge's character, Jet, who is one day digitized "by accident" and sucked into a computer himself (it happens). The occasional cut-scene notwithstanding, the entire game subsequently takes place within a Lawnmower Man looking representation of a PC's innards, with all the subsequent components and systems brought to life via the more familiar FPS staples you'd expect. So programs are represented by NPCs, viruses become your enemies, and the pun-tastic Kernel is, of course, an order-barking army colonel. Oh, Monolith.

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Ya know the wee lil' animation that an FPS fires off when you switch weapons? Tron 2.0 has the BEST FREAKIN' ONES EVER
Make no mistake though, a by-the-numbers FPS it ain't. Tron 2.0 has not just a look, but indeed a feel very much its own. Managing your character's upgradable skills, sub-systems and woefully scarce energy levels (ammo, essentially) adds some much needed depth, as does the hacking and item collecting elements woven into the game from the ground up. There's actually a fairly robust character customization slant to Tron 2.0 you see, with you able to tweak stats, weapon load-outs and skills according to your play-style. Stealth modules and virus upgrades favor the sneaky hacker type, while gun systems and armor add-ons will appease the run 'n' gun crew. Much of which can be tweaked and rearranged on the fly, thankfully.

This stuff's brought to life by some of the most original and, for lack of a better word, striking graphics I've ever seen in a shooter. A crazed mixture of simplistic '80s neon vectors with huge, glowing binary vistas works wonders on the eyes, in a manner pretty much incomparable to anything else out there, past or present. Save maybe...Geometry Wars?! The funny part is, I'm serious. Your jaw will drop at some of the game's latter levels in particular, like my fave, Internet City, with its rainbow-colored skyscrapers and flashing ravey signs protruding for as far as the eye can see. Lovely.

Tron 2.0 ain't a long game, hence I polished off the entire thing this past month in about six hours, but am damn glad I did really. I hear the Xbox port was a bit of a mess, but as a PC game it's worth a punt. Age has served her well.

Vista Compatible?
As one of the more recent titles here, Tron 2.0 runs gorgeously on cutting edge systems, but sadly doesn't support widescreen, or even 5:4 resolutions. Beyond that though, shit runs hella smoothly, and like all older 3D titles, looks better than ever on a modern rig o' silly power.

Fallout [1997]

The Verdict
This motherfucker is the one sucking up all my time right now however. The post-apocalyptic, isometric RPG franchise known as Fallout contains another couple o' highly lauded classics that slipped through my fingers over the years, but given excitement levels for the upcoming Fallout 3, I figured it was time to put right this wrong and get up to speed.

Bugger me, I'm glad I did.

Going back to a game 11 years old, expectations are understandably lowered. You anticipate a simpler, more streamlined game, from a more minimal, caveman-ridden time. That's really not the case with Fallout though. The damn thing positively drips depth and subtlety, from the wealth of stats and customization on offer, to the hundreds of interactive characters and endless dialogue trees at your disposal. The in-depth bartering system for instance - available with every single NPC you meet - adds an entire economy that you can dabble in as much or as little as you please, while the ability to actually type in specific words to quiz characters on made me laugh out loud at how god damn detailed and alien all this interaction feels next to more modern efforts.

Hell, from my somewhat hysterical experimentations earlier, it even appears you can literally pull out a gun at any point you so choose and shoot any bleeding character in the game, no matter how big or small. There's just so much you can do here, I'm shocked really.

Fallout's quite brutal in light of all this. You can regularly cut massive chunks of content off from yourself by simple missteps, while showdowns and death pile on regularly and aplenty. As a result, I initially had it down as one of those supposedly "free-form" sandbox games that attempts to offer you a world of choice, but...is actually all but impossible to progress through unless you plough every single XP point into that of a combat role (Vampire Bloodlines; you're on camera!).

Me, I tend to pursue more social characters in these games, often complimented by some hacking and/or stealthy-type skills, and thus found myself killed off relentlessly in Fallout. Over and over and over again. Without the ability to effectively smoke dudes, even the most mundane, cash-generating side quest become an endless war of attrition. My bank balance felt the strain. Weapons lacked upgrades. Sewer rats remained un-killed.

Fun, it was not, but it was only when I stood back, re-examined the situation, and realised I was quite adept at pick-pocketing, that I started to "collect" money and items in other ways instead. Rat slaughter be damned, I'd instead stumble into shops and markets, wonder around admiring the goods...then pleasantly rob the proprietor for everything he owned. Repeatedly. I was then able to deck myself out in phat gear, defend myself proper, and finally make some decent progress in the overarching plot. I'm almost at the end of the game now, and hey, many a rat was spared too.

That's fuckin' cool, no? A world so open and freeing that its "solution" came to me far more organically and realistically than expected. It's quite impressive how friggin' unflinching the motherfucker can be in regards to its lack of handholding I guess. And I love that. That I was never told explicitly how to progress in this game. That no tutorial spelled out "here's how you pickpocket dudes".

Objectives and solutions are not so much told to you in Fallout, you see...as merely stumbled upon and deciphered by your own doing. Much like the character you play, it essentially tosses you out into the wide open world with nothing. Minus of course, one, simple, yet vague mission; that to find a CPU chip to repair your city's malfunctioning water system. It's a suitably daunting task, given what little you have to go on, and'll only get more so the further you explore.

Fallout's the kinda game that expects - no, demands - the user pay 100% attention at all times. Merely saying the wrong thing can see you gunned down instantly, while not listening to seemingly throw away lines from an NPC will find you missing vital clues as to where to head next (often that you have no apparent way of ever hearing again). Things like a quest journal, waypoints and signposts are incredibly scarce, if not flat-out missing here, with you having to rely very much on your own survival skills and intelligence instead. Remember that? The smarts? Blow the cobwebs off, boys, 'cos you're sure gonna need 'em. And I say that with the utmost affection.

My one true gripe with Fallout is - once again - the combat system I guess; a turn-based click fest that hasn't aged well, it feels far more Japanese in style than what you'd expect in such a Western-driven game. Yet even this can be improved hugely by ramping up the speed in the options, and it grew oddly invisible to me as the story progressed.

Nope, dated shoot-outs and all, I'm kinda in love with this thing. From its size and freedom to the quality of the art to the expert character interactions and beyond, it ticks all the boxes I love in my games. It actually feels like a more higher rezzed take on Dig SNES-fave Shadowrun in many ways, cross-bred with some of the more recent open-ended RPGs seen this past year, such as STALKER. That Bethesda recently picked up this license for the upcoming sequel makes 100% perfect sense to me, as change in viewpoint, engine and setting aside? Elder Scrolls comparisons are all over this thing.

And you know that's a hearty old endorsement from me.

Vista Compatible?
Both Fallout 1 and 2 installed and ran near perfectly here, though I've yet to really dive into the latter. There are some unofficial upgrades available for both games worth noting though. You can for instance, "reinsert children" back into Fallout 1 via an unofficial mod, which means absolutely nothing to me, but I did it anyway. Then there's an incredibly extensive "800 bug fixing" user patch for Fallout 2 that the community speak highly of as well.

Heck, there's even a Sith Lords-style restoration mod which adds a boat load of new content to that game, yet as a newcomer, I figured I'd hold off for now.

Most importantly of all, both games have high rez hacks available, making them run full screen on any modern monitor, looking incredibly beautiful in the process I might add. For a game so ancient, you will say wow. Though, uhh, screencaps are proving impossible so you'll have to take my word for that.

Baldur's Gate [1998]

The Verdict
My biggest disappointed in compiling this list has been my inability to get into Baldur's Gate I'm afraid. While I have no doubt this was indeed the shit back in its day, time has not treated the game all that well I guess. If nothing else, this speaks highly as to how far video game developers - specifically BioWare themselves - have progressed the RPG genre since, as travelling back a decade, it feels incredibly dated here in '08.

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Baldur's Gate:
dated
So for instance, while you take control of a party, have free-reign to equip and manage them as you wish, and subsequently engage in the kinda mystical, medieval fantasy adventure you'd expect in a game of this ilk...it all feels so lifeless by comparison. A couple o' chapters in, and the characters aren't grabbing me, the combat feels simplistic - if not borderline random - and the endlessly globe-trotting nature of the main quest just strikes me as pointless and vague so far.

I will say this though. BG has officially the funniest British comedy accents ever heard in a game. Constant lolz from beginning to end.

As the biggest BioWare reach-arounder known to man, my complete lack of play-time with the Baldur's Gate series has haunted me forever, so perhaps I'd built up insane expectations that this'd be my fave game of them all when I finally got around to rinsing it out. I think at the end of the day though, it's just been outdone several times by its various follow-ups and grandsons. Although I must admit, just firing up Baldur's Gate 2 for a mere 10 minutes in its wake already felt like an enormous upgrade.

Perhaps I should skip ahead to that.

Vista Compatible?
Both BG games and their respective add-ons required some pretty extensive tweaking to get working up to snuff. While technically booting up fine, they all exhibited a variety of display problems, from unreadable text to "mouse droppings". BG1 even had framerate issues for some bizarre reason, despite looking somewhat worse for wear these days and being entirely 2D.

Thankfully, some bright sod has managed to port that entire game over to the (slightly superior) Baldur's Gate 2 engine, which includes higher definition support and beefed up visuals (be sure to install the de-greening fix while you're at it).

BG2 itself required forcing off AA and V-sync in the Nvidia control panel as well, at which point it sprung to life somewhat beautifully. It'll crash a lot if you turn on (the largely pointless) 3D acceleration, but with that off, you're in for a trouble-free time. Good job you have me to tell you this shit, as that lot took forever to figure out.

Little Big Adventure 2 [1997]

The Verdict
Nowt in common with the upcoming PS3 game of a similar moniker, Little Big Adventure is a cartoony, old school adventure series from the mid to late '90s. An early example of polygon based videogame graphics in full effect, you played the prophetic character of Twinsen in both games, exploring and collecting amidst the gorgeously vibrant, and similarly bizarrely titled planet of Twinsun. But hey, I already reviewed the first game back in 2006, so do yourself a favour if you haven't and go introduce yourself.

As fab as that game was - and indeed still is - once again its sequel somehow escaped me 'til now. In this day and age, returning to LBA is an oddly daunting task to be honest, given how boner breaking tough that first one was.

Thank fucking christ, this sequel eases up on that front a fair bit then. All the original's lighthearted whimsical goodness returns in droves, but the experience feels a little more refined here you see, focusing endlessly on the good bits while playing down the frustration. It sure brings a smile to the face to return to Twinsun after all this time as a result, still just as magical and mesmerizing a place as it ever was. Running around town, chatting to crazy man-rabbits, and exploring the far reaches of this stupidly whacky universe is just as giddying as ever. Not to mention the music of course. My gods.

A bunch o' hours in, my only gripes with this sequel so far are the tacked on 3D sections really. I mentioned "polygons" earlier, but what was previously relegated strictly to characters in the first installmanet, and has been upgraded here to full on 3D hubs that jar somewhat with the rest. It's the perfect example in fact, of how 3D games so often outdate themselves far quicker than the 2D ones do (the luscious artwork of the original hasn't aged one bit by the way).

Weird, that.

Vista Compatible?
Both LBA games engage major issues on Vista if run straight outta the box, but a variety of hacked launchers, unofficial mods and user patches are out there claiming help for any and every problem you might encounter. My advice would be to head over to LBAHQ, as it not only offers up the above mentioned fixes, but also has both games available for download, in their entirety, for free.

Check out the Magic Ball forums if you have problems beyond that, which is choc-full of LBA die-hards who seem to have solved every possible problem under the sun between 'em. Minus where the fuck LBA3 is.

Thief III - Deadly Shadows [2004]

The Verdict
Thief III used an incredibly cutting edge engine back on release, one that pretty much no sane mortal could run. A pity really, as I can't help but feel like it got somewhat buried underneath the sloppy performance and badmouthing as a result. A little like its step sister Deus Ex 2, which of course, used the same god-awful tech.

That's why the PC is so ace though, eh? It may not get the greatest games these days, but its back catalogue never grows old...particularly with cutting edge quad core systems turning previous slide-show fests into beautiful 60 frame per second works of art. TIII is very much one such beast. It looks startlingly pretty all ramped up these days, and with some of the user created texture packs out there, is even sharper and more lavish than ever.

True, I've talked about this game before, hailing it as the "stealth game of the past generation" if memory serves me correctly, but I actually got around to finishing the damn thing this week. Thank you, thank you. I would since tie it with Chaos Theory in regards to that previous citation if you were to call me on it, but make no mistake, this is indeed stealth gaming at its pinnacle.

I've since fired up Thief II incidentally, which is proving hella fun so far. We'll save that for next time though
There's just so much that this game nails spectacularly well for me. The atmosphere, lighting and sheer look are all fucking astounding as mentioned, but far more importantly it has the gameplay guts to back it up. In stark contrast to some of my many whines with the Metal Gear series you see, Thief seems far happier to dole you out with decent kit for a change. Not only do the unified lighting engine and ability to affect light sources in real-time help out your hide 'n' seeking infinitely (blowing out candles has never been so fun), but the wide and varied gadgets at master thief Garret's disposal round those abilities off with far more style too. See that fireplace illuminating the room up ahead? A water arrow'll see to that. Three guards patrolling a street you wanna sneak down? Fire off a "noise maker" in the opposing direction. Sorted. Everything from wall-climbing gloves to Garret's steam-punk tinged mechanical zoom eye thing feel as if they've been inserted into the game to make your job easier, and more to the point, way more fun. Much like Splinter Cell, it's all so fluid. I love that.

Deadly Shadows stands out for a couple o' other reasons though, beyond the satisfaction of the sneak and the buzz of the thieving. My fave of which would be its constant stream of eccentric, memorable villains. From the giggly Pagans, with their hilarious LOLcat speak, to the horrifically freaky statues chanting "CRUSH AND KILL" as they scour the world for you, they prove a far more interesting bunch to stealth your way around than the average non-descript grunts usually found in these games. Which is gratefully appreciated, given large chunks of Thief involve clinging to a wall while they calmly wonder past talking to themselves.

In addition (and I'm sure it's something you've heard many a time by now), "The Cradle" is, perhaps, one of the greatest video game levels ever made. I'm not even exaggerating. If you never experienced its surreal, horrific terror with a pair o' headphones on and the lights out? You haven't really seen what gaming's capable of. Tis that simple.

Vista Compatible?
Nowt much to say on this front. DS runs fine, and as mentioned, boasts some fab texture packs definitely worth throwing in for good measure. The hack-tastic widescreen mod on the other hand, is a little more complex to get working.

Blade Runner [1997]

The Verdict
Despite the various cyberpunk themed games and franchises over the years - from the aforementioned Shadowrun and Deus Ex, to Kojima's lesser known Snatcher and friends - there's actually been just two meager Blade Runner games released ever if you can believe that. Crazy stuff indeed, considering pretty much all modern sci-fi from every medium under the sun plunders it so lavishly.

I guess to its credit though, underneath that futuristic, flying car riddled, epic skyscrapered exterior, there's little more than a very minimal, 1940s-esque film noir style plotline at work here, with precious little in the way of shooty shooter goodness for developers to exploit as they so enjoy. I could seldom imagine, for example, a Blade Runner FPS. Gag.

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Blade Runner has all the gadgets and tech from the flick, including the ESPER system and Voight-Kampff test
We'll ignore the '85 Commodore game for now, but thankfully the long since defunct Westwood Studio's realised this however, and concentrated far more on the crime solving and detecting elements of Blade Runner for their 1997 title, as opposed to anything quite so droll. Oh, it brought that epic universe to life beautifully, don't get me wrong - choc-full of spinners, rain-soaked alleyways and Vangelis' classic themes reworked to perfection - yet for all the big budget Hollywood gloss, it played not a world apart from a simple point 'n' click adventure game when all's said and done.

Returning to her in this day and age, it immediately becomes clear that it's not quite up to the caliber of an old skool LucasArts title, that said...but BR sure is an ambitious fellow if nothing else. Rather than just pick from pre-canned lines when interacting with dudes for example, you can also pick a "mood" for your character here, eliciting different dialogue responses as you'd expect. This kinda choice extends pretty deeply into the plot and even eventually outcome too, with a huge variety of different endings based largely on your decisions.

Ya can't help but dig all that, but there's no denying BR lacks some of the polish, characters and sheer charm of its peers at the time. Thankfully it makes up for that with some far more interesting under-the-hood gameplay stuff however. As a Deckard-esque Blade Runner hunting down illegal replicants for example, the game comes complete with clue gathering, compiling suspects and all the detectivey goodness you'd expect. The true twist comes in the fact that the actual culprits change each time you play. Wrap your head around that for a minute, 'cos it's just as cool as it sounds.

It's also far more adult and mature than us modern gamers might be used to. In the first five minutes alone, you'll find themes of pedophilia and animal torture to name but a few. Day of the Tentacle, this ain't.

In more ways than one, I guess.

Vista Compatible?
On booting up Blade Runner, it'll look ghastly on Vista. Expect graphical anomalies aplenty, combined with garbled cut-scenes that somewhat resemble Robocop's vision modes amidst his battle with ED-209. Somewhat bizarrely, a simple alt-tab then immediately returning fixes these issues completely, at which point Blade Runner looks exactly as it should.

Graphics have aged well in fact, due to the game's bizarre use of pre-rendered 2D backgrounds mixed with crazy quasi-3D voxel characters...a bizarre technology shortly sidestepped when 3D accelerators showed up. It's all very detailed and atmospheric, though there are, sadly, no high resolutions on offer, and no hacks to fix that. Expect a bordered and/or jaggy image depending on your preference for the ugly.

Anyway, I will be outta here for a while on my holidays now, but let me know if ya'll are interested in more words of this style. 'Cos trust me when I say, I got a whole heap loada more oldies just lined up and waitin'.

(Pictures courtesy of Eidos)

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The Polynomial. Like playing a rave

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Game
Fallout 3

Enjoying a fully modded out re-visit. Wow

Film
The Road

Pretty much due to the above

Show
Breaking Bad

Already shaping up to be the best season yet

Tune
Explosions in the Sky

Easing the pain of living in a post-Friday Night Lights world

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Forums

The TPS Forum
Official boards for the site

RLLMUK Forum
The old Edge forums gone independent. The busiest and most interesting gaming board around, worthy of multiple visits a day

NTSC-UK Forum
Another exceptional gaming forum, featuring one of the friendliest communities on the net, and up to the minute news

NeoGAF
A more US-centric gaming board, with huge piles of traffic and even the odd famous face

Gaming Shows

The 1up Radio Network
1up.com's collection of weekly gaming podcasts, the pick of which would have to be ListenUP, full of juicy rumors and interesting banter week in, week out

Area 5
Formerly The 1up Show, since losing their jobs the old video editing team have continued doing what they do best, in an independent internet-based TV show, covering whatever upcoming games they can get their hands on, and various other bits and pieces

Fully Ramblomatic
A hysterical gaming blogger posting what he calls "zero punctuation" video reviews that have to be seen - and heard - to be believed

A Life Well Wasted
Freelance journalist Robert Ashley's internet radio show, with a far more interesting and professional demeanor than your typical podcast. Interviews, fast-paced editing and catchy tunes abound

On the Spot
The humongous gaming site known as Gamespot broadcasts a video show each week, in which upcoming games are demoed live on air, and viewers are invited to send in questions to find out more

The Hotspot
Gamespot's audio-based companion to On the Spot, in which site editors cover the week's news while simultaneously poking fun at all that is gaming

Gaming Steve
A more mature podcast, hosted by a long-time games industry professional armed with a ton of insider info and loads of interesting opinions. The Dig's been known to post articles and stories on here from time to time

Consolevania
Quick-fire internet-based TV show with console reviews and comedy sketches. Funny as hell

Major Nelson
An interesting "blogcast" hosted by a Microsoft employee, featuring stacks of exclusive behind the scenes news and interviews relating to all things Xbox 360

The Kojima Productions Report
Official podcast from the team of Hideo Kojima, creator of the much-loved Metal Gear franchise. Full of news and interviews relating to all things Metal Gear, it's probably one for die-hard fans only

Pure Pwnage
Mockumentary series on the life of a pro gamer. Episode five is possibly the funniest thing on the internet

Other Sites

Kotaku
What you could call gaming's homepage. Constantly updated news and links on the entire industry, from minute breaking headlines, to funny arse viral vids

Game Trailers
Easy to use multimedia-rich web site offering official trailers, video demos and sneak peaks at all the upcoming releases

Game Videos
Sister site to 1up.com, focusing on game trailers, video interviews and even the odd documentary

Gamespot
The Gamespot front-end, and the gaming equivalent of the Internet Movie Database. Includes detailed reviews and extensive video features on pretty much all systems and games ever made

Giant Bomb
Speaking of Gamespot, the controversial "letting go" of editor Jeff Gerstmann resulted in him starting up this new venture with fellow former writers of the site. Great podcast in particular

1up.com
Discounting the audio and video shows mentioned earlier, 1up's main site is also worth a visit in its own right. Not only bustling with quality gaming articles and extensive developers' blogs, it also doubles up as a massive friends network, ideal for meeting fellow gamers and joining like-minded communities

Live Marketplace Feed
The most up to date and reliable way to keep track of all the new Xbox Live Marketplace content, from new weapons and map packs, to movie trailers and game demos

Xbox Reloaded
360 backwards compatibility can be a minefield. This blog attempts to shed some light on the issue by playing original Xbox games for you and reporting back the results

GameFAQs
The ultimate resource for walkthroughs and cheats

Disposable Media
A wonderful (and free) E-zine, full of reviews and articles on gaming, movies, music and TV. Puts most high street mags to shame

X-Fire
A must-have for all PC gamers, X-Fire is a buddy list and communications tool that keeps constant tabs on what games both you and all your mates are playing, on or offline

Steam
A contender to the X-Fire throne that has pretty much overtaken it straight out of the gate. Valve's Steam client contains friends lists, downloadable games, Live-style achievements and plenty more to sink your teeth into

MyGamerCard.net
Convert your Xbox Live gamercard into an image, for use on forums and web sites for free. That's mine further down

Ain't it Cool News
The latest news, gossip and spy reports from the world of movies, TV and (occasionally) video games

Smodcast
Writer, director and actor Kevin Smith - he of Clerks fame - records a monthly podcast in which he and fellow pals discuss everything from trying to felate oneself, to the time his dog got covered in ejaculate. Riveting stuff

 

Matt Robinson, 2011

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