Iron Brigade

We recently acquired Iron Brigade, a World War I style tower defense-shooter hybrid with mechs and turrets, and a television-based enemy called the Monovision.  I spotted this game a long time back, when it was known as Trenched, because of the developer Double Fine who came up with this game as well as Costume Quest and Stacking during one fortnight of development.  A trademark dispute in Europe resulted in a name change, and a delay to the release: December last year on the Xbox, but only this month for the PC.. and another rather quiet release too.


Rediscovering Old Games: Diablo II

We were talking about old games during our lan week, and ended up heading for the spare room and the piles of older games stored in boxes up there.  There was excitement as we found copies of Rollercoaster Tycoon, Theme Hospital, Homeworld 2 and others.. and more mockery from the guys as it turned out I had a copy of Supreme Commander, after saying no, I didn’t know the game.  In my defense, it was in a multipack which I had picked up for Titan Quest and its Immortal Throne expansion, and the Company of Heroes Anthology.. 😉

I also found my copy of Diablo II, plus the Lord of Destruction expansion, which I had thought lost when we moved house!  After a bit of messing around.. updates, copying files to allow the game to run without the CD, registration to Battlenet.. I rolled a Sorceress and went out into the world..


Serious Completion

We’ve had a friend round for a holiday this last week, so there was more gaming time than usual.. time to complete some games!

We completed the first in the series again a few weeks back, so went on to Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter.. with new weapons to mess around with: a chainsaw, flamethrower and a sniper rifle.  Killing enemies with the flamethrower netted me the Burn, Baby, Burn achievement, and I came close, but didn’t quite make the numbers for Bird Hunter or Space Marine.  Next time!

I loved the Medieval episode, with the huge cathedral.. for style as much as the huge open space.  While playing, we were noting just how big some of the maps are in this game.. something which has been lost a little as games are developed with more detail.. for performance and production time, I guess.

Crazy games like these are better with friends.. especially when there are so many relentless waves of enemies to be destroyed!


ScampLAN 2

The weekend just passed was ScampLAN 2, with a couple of friends bringing their PCs round to our house for gaming and silliness 🙂

We played a lot of Dungeon Defenders.. which I had a look at last week.  This game has really grown on me over the week..

I’ve now tried out all the characters, but the one I’ve played most has been the Huntress, who specialises in traps and ranged weapons.  I felt she was slow to get off the ground with.. the traps start off with only a few charges and are soon used up.. but after gaining many levels and improving both the traps and the character’s stats, she now feels quite powerful 🙂

When you level up, you can spend your points on stats for the character or for your towers.. I’ve spread my points out between the Huntress and her traps, but another friend has put most of his points into his Monk, making him fantastic in combat but with rather weak auras.  For the characters the three of us developed over the weekend, this worked very well, as it meant the mana could be spent on building and upgrading stronger towers and traps, without getting too close to the defense unit cap.  We got as far as the Servant’s Quarters during the weekend!

Another game we had a turn at was Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising.
We tried to play this previously, but thought we might do better if we were in the same room and able to communicate a little better.  However, as in our previous attempts to play, we found barely-visible enemies were able to take us out with ease.. the game is supposed to be about realism and tactics, but if I’m approaching on my belly through trees and bushes, I don’t think it’s realistic to be shot down so quickly by people I can’t even see yet.

I also suffered from a rather random bug, which had my character float up into the air before being thrown back down again.. and of course, taking realistic fall damage.  This happened a few times, but settled down enough to complete the mission.  However, the fun was lacking for most of us, so we didn’t go back for a second mission.

In between the gaming I had a bit more of a poke around with VoxelSniper on Minecraft.
I had a failed attempt to add Zombe’s flying mod.. not quite sure what went wrong, but the game wouldn’t launch.. before I installed VoxelAir, which allows me to jump high into the air and land without damage, or hover above the ground.

You can jump rather a long way up.. and when I came down, I was surprised by the crazy number of mobs which had spawned!

I found an interesting bug with VoxelAir too.. after being killed while hovering, courtesy of a few Skeleton Archers and a lack of care, I respawned still hovering.. floating upwards in fact!  Using the “/give” command simply dropped a new feather at my feet, out of reach.. a friend also tried to give me a feather but it also landed out of reach.  In the end I used “/kill” a number of times and eventually spawned close enough to a feather for it to pick up.

Next up will be forming a nice piece of flat land for a huge project.. more later 🙂

With four people and a reasonably couch to take advantage of, there was also some console gaming.. though we found a distinct lack of co-op games allow four people on one console.  So many games boast “2-4 player co-op”, but don’t specify that this means two people on one console, and two on a second console.. annoying.  We tried Call of Duty: Black Ops.. we wanted the Nazi zombies, but only the arcade mode allowed all four of us to play.  We had a couple of runs on that, with me claiming the top spot for one run!  Red Faction: Armageddon failed us, as did Rainbow Six Vegas.. so we ended up shooting each other in Halo 3 which entertained us for a while!

Hunted: Demon’s Forge was picked up at the start of the weekend too, and we attempted some co-op in pairs.  We all found the game surprisingly hard, though Tim and Jason attempted to play without going through a tutorial first.. masochists!  I think the game would be a lot easier if you were able to carry more than one health vial each.. we also found the game punished deaths by sending us a long way back each time.  I’m looking forward to playing the game by myself at some point soon, too.

Another game which made an appearance over the weekend was Gears of War 3!
I hadn’t yet finished Gears of War 2, but the copy of #3 will be going home with Jason at the end of the week, and Tim wanted to start some co-op, so we’ve been playing through it anyway.. on hard!

So far, I’m loving it.. though noticing a few changes! The world has been destroyed by the Hammer of Dawn, and the enemies now include mutated Lambent creatures.. I’m noticing a huge change from the graphics of the original Gears of War as well, with the character models all being far more refined.  Good changes all round.. and still a great game, as far through as we’ve gotten this far! 🙂


Instead of going to Multiplay’s messed up i43, we’ve gone for a smaller, friends-only LAN at home.. in our newly decorated lounge 😀

So far we’ve mostly played singleplayer games, with the guys nagging me to complete Crysis 2.. which I’ve now done, though I was shown up by Ali completing both Bulletstorm and Red Faction: Armageddon in two days!

The demo for Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine made an appearance too..

Yay for lots of dead Orks!  I found the first level harder than the second, with many retries of the last room.. the big Orks were a bit painful.  The second level was much easier as the Jump Pack meant that for quite a way, all I needed to do was land on enemies to kill them 🙂

This game is now on the wanted list.. along with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Gears of War 3..

I’ve also tried out DC Universe Online, but I’m not going to rush to buy it.  Although what I played was quite fun, I think the appeal may run out after a while.. from what I’ve heard, there isn’t a lot to do at max level, and unless I had friends playing too, I can’t see that I’d want to run around doing the same thing too many times.  Maybe if the game turns up cheap..

We’ve also picked up the DLC for Borderlands, as it was cheap on Steam.. though we now have to get on with our game sometime!

Duke Nukem Forever

Duke Nukem Forever, long thought of as the ultimate vapourware, is finally on the way, and a demo is available via Duke’s First Access Club.. I got a key thanks to my copy of Borderlands 🙂

I played Duke Nukem 3D back when that was new, when my access to multiplayer back then was via LAN.. which meant very few people to play against.  This led to frustration, as I knew nobody else who wanted to play as often or for as long as I did, especially if I did too well.  There was a good selection of weapons, steroids for speed boosts, multiple routes around the map and little secret areas.. and the jet pack and a hologram device used to pop out a hologram of Duke as a distraction were fun and great for getting the jump on a rival, and usually the reason for me doing so well.

The game had very little in terms of story.. aliens invading, humans being mutated, Duke being the only one able to save the world..  so the single-player was about shooting aliens and mutated pig-cops, with Duke’s random comments and references to popular films here and there too.

So.. the demo.. starting off, I find myself being taught how to use a urinal..
Done with “pissing around”, as the first joke has it, I decided to try interacting with everything else I came across.. a little indiscriminately.. which is how I found myself flinging poo in the shower room.  Duke wasn’t too happy.. “What am I, a chimpanzee?”!

The graphics are better than I expected, though I guess they’ll have been undergoing tweaks throughout development, and the sounds are pretty good too.. but the jump animation.. uh, wow.  Disappointingly bad. 🙁

Outside of the shower block there were soldiers preparing themselves for the enemy.. they ran off as I headed towards them, leaving me to discover that I could draw on the tactics whiteboard while the remaining Marine cheered me on.

I left this room and headed out down the tunnel, where I got a glimpse of the enemy before he fired a rocket into the tunnel and collapsed it.  In the next corridors I met more marines and was given a dual-rocket gun before being let out onto the field to face the Cycloid, a one-eyed rocket-firing beast which is meant to represent the final boss from Duke Nukem 3D.

I felt like I ran out of ammo a little too fast during the fight, and although more ammo was available via airdrop onto the pitch, I felt like I spent too long running.

After knocking the Cycloid down I was able to climb up onto him and pull out some tubing from the back of his head.. killing him resulted in a slightly gruesome opportunity for a goal kick with the eye..

This led to a short cutscene which slightly irritated me as it featured a pair of bimbos kneeling before Duke, wiping their mouths.
This was a bit too gratuitous for my liking..

Back in Duke Nukem 3D there was a bit of a controversy over the “exploitation” of women.  There were strippers in various locations in the game.. 2d sprites if I recall correctly.. which if shot would be replaced by falling money, or in one case, by an enemy.  There were also a few XXX posters and porno shops, and Duke was supposed to be some kind of babe-magnet.. but it certainly wasn’t anything to take seriously.

With Duke Nukem Forever, it seems they’re using the strippers and seedy side of the game as a selling point.  I’m not overly bothered if there is sex or prostitution in my games, but being put in the role of a man receiving a BJ.. I feel more like I’m being forced to watch some guy’s fantasy than playing a video game.

Next up was a driving segment with a monster-truck and a turbo button.  Pressing space allowed four-wheel driving, and tight turns..

Running the pig-men down may or may not have been the intended way of getting through the level, but it was fun and fast.  Once I ran out of gas for the truck though, I hit the two-gun system.  There were plenty of weapons laying around, but aside from my pistol I was only able to have one of those at a time, meaning more running around if I wanted to play with a different gun.

The shrink-ray was pretty cool, and I liked being able to stomp on the shrunken enemies.. however, when it came to the explosives I got annoyed with having to press ‘3’ to throw the pipe bomb.. perhaps this is something that can be mapped to another key.

A ship was the boss for this section, and again I found myself having to run around more than I wanted, looking for pipe bombs and hiding behind rocks when the EGO (health) meter got too low.

Overall, I felt a bit disappointed with the demo.  It lacked excitement.  If this demo is representative of the full game, then it’s basically going to be Serious Sam without the hectic fun of swarms of enemies.. in that case I’d stick to Serious Sam..


Where i-40 was cold and windy, especially in the temporary structure we were seated in, i-42 was sunny and hot almost the whole way through.. 😀

I drove half the way down, with a death-grip on the steering wheel (I’ve not done very much motorway driving), past a ridiculous number of lorries and one place where an accident on the other side of the road caused our side to slow to around 10mph.  Tim took the last part of the driving.. we were hoping to catch up with another friend at this point, as text messages had shown we were only 5 minutes behind, but with a stop-off at Sainsbury’s we were never going to make it. 😀

Check-in was again nice and quick thanks to arriving early, and instead of waiting around to take our PCs in at 6, we headed to the pub for food and drinks first.

All in all this was far better than the cold and wet start to i40 last year.. we hadn’t been able to go into the site as the internet hadn’t been set up for our temporary structure!  Our group were seated in B1 this time, away from the loud and annoying people who think roaring for every reload is ‘atmosphere’.  Although it was still hot, there was a balcony to escape to, and it was a lot quieter and nothing was being thrown around.. definitely going to be pushing for this spot next event.

One of the first games I played here was the awesome Portal 2, which I had started earlier but lacked the time to finish.  Plenty of other people were playing, with some on co-op, so I had to get a move on to avoid being spoiled..

I loved GlaDOS’ malicious comments in the earlier part of the game, though I wondered how I was going to end up making a break for it as she seemed happy to test me endlessly.  Wheatley was quite funny up until his change, which I think I should have spotted.. but I was rather gleeful when he turned GLaDOS into a potato even if he did still have me trapped.

The different coloured gels were a lot of fun.  On my first encounter with the white goop though, I wasn’t entirely sure what to do and ended up covering as many surfaces as I could in frustration, before spotting the little ledge I was meant to go to.  I loved evil Wheatley, especially when he tried to kill me in stupidly obvious ways.. 🙂

The second day of LAN involved a barbeque with the rest of our group.. we had the weather for it this time at least.  I’m not sure if we’re technically allowed to have BBQs on-site, but no security turned up, so no matter 😉

We also took a look through the exhibition hall, where we tried out a few games on the Nintendo 3DS, including Dead or Alive: Dimensions, Kid Icarus: Uprising, and a Zelda game which made me feel quite ill trying to focus on the screen while moving it around to aim the catapult.  While I love the idea, I’m going to be staying away from the 3DS.. if I feel bad after a few minutes use, it’s just not for me.

Aside from this, the only other real point of interest for me was the Demon stand, where they had an amazing car simulator running DIRT 2.  The fastest lap was to be rewarded with a year’s free internet, and of course I came nowhere near the quickest time though I loved the experience.  The seat, pedals and wheel come to some crazy price.. I think £24,000 was mentioned..

Elsewhere in the hall it was surprisingly quiet.. no freebies, and very little attempts by staff to draw people in to the various stands either.  There were people playing on what might have been some kind of tournament, but with no real interaction, we wandered through and back out again.

There are usually a number of flyers on the desks, and this time there was a 50% discount for the EA Store.  After trying out Bulletstorm on a friend’s PC, I bought both that and Crysis 2.. so much for not buying any more games.. 🙂

I made a start on Crysis 2.. but there were too many distractions to concentrate on it during the day and I was playing Amnesia: The Dark Descent when it got late.  There were a few changes to the sections I’d seen in the demo, with a bit more puzzle in the form of the chemicals I needed to find and mix.  The part where I had to avoid an invisible enemy in the water made me just as jumpy as when I’d originally seen it, which was probably amusing for those near me in our row.

Other games which saw some action were Beat Hazard on a friend’s computer while he played GRID on mine, some Killing Floor, an attempt at League of Legends (seriously out of practise) and a round or two of Unreal Tournament 3.  I had also brought along my Xbox 360, so there was a quick look at Stacking, and a bit of the co-op Zombie Mode in Call of Duty: Black Ops, as well as an all-too-brief look at Homefront for a friend who hadn’t seen it yet.  Maybe next time!

Tim made some use of his 30 day trial of WoW, though it was hard to tell if he was enjoying it or putting up with it for the sake of saying he’d had a go.  I also managed to get a little bit of time in WoW, and started off collecting bits for the Noblegarden Easter Event.. there were plenty of bunnies hopping around, including a pet.. 😉

I also pestered a friend to show me where to get the rather interesting Venomhide mount.. a pet which turns into a mount!

Unlike my Warrior friend, I had no trouble in being poisoned the required number of times.. he had to take off all his gear and use the most useless weapon he could find, whereas I just hit the Ravasaur with the basket I was collecting eggs in 😉

Eventually I had been poisoned enough and I was given my own Hatchling to take care of..

Our last night of LAN included some non-gaming hijinks as one friend started falling asleep in his chair.. this meant he got plastic cups balanced on his head :>
There was no chance of an all-nighter this time either.. all too tired, maybe from the heat, and we headed back to the tents at around 4.30am.

The last day didn’t include the usual CFMN vs inv TF2 match; instead we had a big game of L4d2 versus.. for which I had to switch to Tim’s PC as my copy of L4d2 had managed to corrupt itself.  Awesome game.. will have to make sure that we get more of this played from home too 🙂

i40, a little bit late

This post was supposed to make an appearance one week ago, after returning from i40.
However, we still have no internet at home (it’s coming up on four weeks now), and some personal stuff too which meant I wanted to spend the week curled in a small ball, not interacting with anything.

Enough of that, though – i40!

We arrived just before the rain.. a fantastic start to a weekend where the sleeping is mostly done outside 😉

That wasn’t the end of the ‘fantastic start’, however, as we were then excluded from taking our machines in till way after 6pm because the temporary structure wasn’t ready.. and then when we were finally able to get in, there was no internet.  With no internet, there was also no Steam..

The first game played, then, was Warcraft III, as it was one of the few games available which didn’t need an internet connection or updates.

In amongst those games was a go at the “Run, Kitty, Run” map: you have to run along a spiral path to the centre, avoiding the ‘dogs’ which kill you on touch.  It gets harder as you progress, as the paths are narrower, until there’s barely room to get past.. for the first time in many, many attempts, we actually managed to get to the end, where it seems the reward for success is.. to start again with even more dogs on the paths!

I was also introduced to Beat Hazard, thanks to another friend.  This takes any music track you own and turns it into a simple space shooter, very like Geometry Wars.. and it makes very bright, pretty colours.. *gazes*

You start off with space-trash to shoot, but as the track progresses you face stronger enemies which shoot back.  Fortunately, you collect power-ups as you go, which makes your weapons a little more useful.. as well as more colourful.. and there are also power-ups which increase the volume of the track too.

It’s another ‘unblinking’ game which probably shouldn’t be played in a dark room at LAN 😉

After playing this, Audiosurf made another appearance, and with it, a little competition going on in terms of the scoreboard.

Minecraft became a slight obsession for one friend..  this is a 3D sandbox crafting game, with a variety of types of block: wood, coal, etc, and strange blocky life-forms, the most interesting being zombies!  I had a brief go at the game a while back, but after spending two day cycles building, and two night cycles hiding in my buildings from the zombies, I then found my trial of the game didn’t have zombies.. durrrp!
It was admittedly quite fun watching huge piles of TNT go up, though, especially when it resulted in framerates of 1 or 2, or crashed the PC :3

In the run-up to i40, we picked up Borderlands, thanks to another Steam offer.  Oh, Steam.. what would I do with all my money if not for you?

Borderlands has 4 player co-op, which is great as I do like playing with friends.. but I have to say that I found myself confused by the weapons, as per usual in this type of game.   Having to pick up ammo for the weapon I was using, while leaving other ammo for my team just added another layer of trouble.. if I don’t know the guns, I’m really not going to know what ammo they use.

Despite this, I love the game, though I want to complete the game in single-player so I know what I’m doing, and don’t feel like I’m holding my friends back next time.

We also got a couple of games of Dawn of War 2: Chaos Rising in.. trying out the Free-For-All mode which I really enjoyed, especially with high resources allowing me to just pump out units.  I think I’m improving on my tactics now, using the Techmarine to fit with my defensive playstyle.  FFA made a nice change, but I think co-op is still going to remain my favourite.

The last night of i40 turned into an all-nighter, with a foxy puppet, fits of giggles, a brief foray onto the rather disappointing Omegle, and later fits of shivers.. the temporary structure really wasn’t draught-proof and by 4am I was glad of fleecy blankets and two friends to hide between for warmth.  Next time I think I’ll be voting for a warmer and quieter hall, maybe in with the WoW players.. lalala 😉

LAN wouldn’t be LAN without a massive TF2 battle between CantFitMyN and Crazy/Inv, and so on the last morning we duly had our game, though there was no victory for CFMN this time.  Next time, maybe! 🙂


Multiplay’s i37 was awesome 🙂left4deadT
Met new people, played loads of games, camped in a wet field, made a few trips to the shops to get ice because the hall was just too hot..

Capped some nice lan treasure.. a crucial pig and a hand-grenade from the last event, thanks to Paw-Fox 🙂

Left 4 dead T-shirt design by a guy called Snakebyte (right)

This time I learned that I don’t actually need energy drinks; I had very little this lan, and needed way less sleep.. and no comedown either.. 😉

Meeting randoms was great – was too shy to do that last lan, but did it this time and loved it.
Strangers have the best candy!

There was a lot of bitching about the noise and vomit.. what I found is that at 6am, all the shouty people are asleep, and the boomers are spent, prolly sleeping it off.. and there are still awesome people around to play with..

Added aircon does not mean the temperature in the hall will be bearable.
Flipflops are essential for the showers, cos you do NOT wanna put your feet on that floor..
Farm Shop is additionally awesome with chocolate+marshmallows!

I won’t be going for i38.. it’s gonna be too cold, and we might be going away for holidays instead.. but roll on i39, even if it is at Newbury again, as rumours have it!

farm shop