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TB 110

They’re Back 110

Welcome to the spiritual home of the cheapskate. PC Gamer’s Economy section, if you will.

Escape From Monkey Island

There aren’t many series that can reach part four and still be of top quality. Might & Magic began to lose it at around part III, and then there was obviously the one, er, that one which… Um, come on, there must be some more. Final Fantasy, no wait, that didn’t come to PC until recently. Grief, there must be some, surely? Well, indeed, no – it seems the reason why we cannot get excited about games reaching their fourth part and still being great, is because this entire industry is but a baby. Look at the greats: Quake is at part 3, and makes for an extraordinary set of tools for some of the current best titles, if nothing else. Thief is about to enter its third phase. Civilisation is going strong at a trilogy (albeit with many spin-offs and sub-sequels). And Myst… oh dear. Maybe there’s something for stopping early.

But if there was ever a demonstration of decline, it would be the first three of the Monkey Island series. The first was seminal, setting the pace for comedy in computer games with a near-unbeatable standard. The second did it again, furthering the storyline, and by having the luxury to be able to do so, employed the joy of running jokes. And all this was through the bare-bones SCUMM engine, without mysteries like speech or digital surround sound cinema screens. Then along came Mr Number Three. And as is so often the case in on-going series, though more-so in film, the key brain behind a project can leave, but the production company behind it carry on regardless, forgetting to compensate for what should be identified as a devastating loss. MK III was a wet leaf of a game, hanging limply from a once great tree, but over watering (down) left it a swollen and pale comparison. (That was a very clever sentence).

Thank goodness for part IV. By bringing in the mighty brains behind Sam & Max Hit The Road, Lucasarts have managed to not only create a game worthy of its legacy, but also a game that is clearly a big fan of itself. This is an intriguing approach, resulting in a title that has a clear sense of respect for its own past, while implementing its own fresh approach. The distinctive Sam & Max style of filling each location with numerous visual gags is present and correct, alongside the appalling puns and now long-running jokes that made you fall in love with the series in the first place. It’s great. Go buy some.


A proper game just like grandmother used to make.

Myst Trilogy

You’re ugly, you smell, and nobody likes you.

Right, that said, allow me to kick you firmly in the side… Excellent. One more… Lovely wet, cracking sound there. Bitch.

Myst III: Exile was an atrocity. After the tedium of Myst, and the following misery of Riven, it was unimaginable that anyone could ever again insult the public so blatantly. Surely now, surely in a time when the backlash against the inexplicable popularity of these monstrosities had been fully established by the weltgeist, they would deign to make some effort at an improvement? But no, Myst III arrives not only as bad as its predecessors, but in many ways even worse.

Oh, you can flounce in here with your stunningly rendered graphics if you like, but let me tell you, “stunningly” has a lifespan of a couple of months nowadays. In fact, Myst III’s ground-fixed graphics have since been bettered by games that actually allow you to move freely about their 3D worlds. Seriously Myst, are you really still wearing that? I mean, it’s soooo last year.

So we’ve been insulted. We’ve been reduced to our knee-hugging heap of human on the floor. Here comes the boot.

Myst III: Exile, which came out, ooh, about five minutes ago, was priced at £35/£40. This brown chunky box of killjoy, containing all three games in the series, costs, wait for it, £35. Oof!, right in the kidney.

There’s a difference between re-releasing your game on budget a year or so after release, and deliberately pissing off people who bought your stinking game by taunting them with a better option a couple of months later. Well, I /say/ “better option”. You know what I mean.

You can still buy Myst III for £35 in the shops, or you can get all three titles for £35 in the shops. Or you can stop being so flaming stupid.


Half-Life Generation

Here’s a tricky situation. I’ve just been incredibly rude to the Myst titles for being so bad mannered as to release a cheaper version of themselves while the latest is only just off the New Release shelves, and now The Best Game Ever is doing the exact same thing. It’d be really hypocritical to let this one off and not the other. Well, isn’t it an extraordinarily good job that I couldn’t care less?

For only £20, Sierra are offering you Half-Life. Yes, that’s right, £20 for the most popular game of all time, for you, today. It’s yours to take home, play, and enjoy.

But when you buy Half-Life, you aren’t only getting the original game, no! Sierra are also throwing in Counter Strike, the world’s most popular online squad game! Play with your friends! Against your friends! Make new friends! Not have any friends!

But wait, there’s more! If you buy today, or on any other day, Sierra will also give you this beautiful copy of Opposing Forces, the first Half-Life accompanying pack! An opportunity to see the original game’s world through the eyes of one of the government clean-up squad. And all for only £20. But hurry, hurry, hurry, stocks can go down as well as up.

And yet there’s something else! In this incredible selection, Sierra will also give you the almost brand new Blue Shift, accompanying levels number two! This time see the story as one of Black Mesa’s loyal security guards. And ALL for only £20!!!

So indeed, the relatively recent Blue Shift, originally released at £20, is now one quarter of a pack priced at £20, which makes it a bit galling for all of us who bought it earlier. But it’s Half-Life, so who cares?

Remember, this pack is available in the shops. If lines are busy, push in. But do call.


Everquest Gold Edition

It seems quite the month for bundling together every game of a series into a box and releasing it. It must be the Spring air, for aren’t we all in the mood for doing the same? I know that I’ve been spending my spare hours putting things of similar names into cardboard crates, and setting them free in the woods.

Which is only a slighter better use of my time than playing MMORPGs*. Ooh, controversial, eh? Naughty old me
I think this is an instance where tolerance has to be employed. Sometimes you don’t like something because it’s a pile of pre-rendered adventure gaming crap (er, for example), but other times one just has to bite one’s tongue and accept that there are people out there who are different from oneself, and although their being different is peculiar, and somewhat disturbing, it doesn’t necessarily make it wrong.

It’s time to remember that people who enjoy playing Everquest are human beings, just like the rest of us, and should be treated as such. Sometimes it can be hard to understand why they would want to spend great legions of their time playing a character in an RPG world filled only with other people spending great legions of their time playing a character in an RPG world. It can strike us as odd that this overgrown chatroom holds them in its spell. But tolerate them we shall.

This Gold Edition contains the original game, now called “Everquest Classic” apparently, plus the three expansion packs, The Ruins of Kunark, The Scars of Velious, and the remarkably recent (oh dear, here we go again) The Shadows of Luclin. The Fingers of Byrd Zi and The Graypes of Roth are titles I have made up for my own amusement.

We love you Everquest players, despite your differences.

* Which, incidentally, as an acronym is much more difficult to say out loud than “Massively Multiplayer Role Playing Games”.


Worms World Party
Focus Multimedia

Oh Reader, lucky person, please take a moment to count your fortune. (If you’re Ross proof-reading this, it will take you much more than a moment to count /your/ fortune, so perhaps do it later). Out there in the Real World, reading your magazine in your hands, delighted by the witty copy, the in-depth analysis, and the photos of Kieron, you are safely protected from the soul-grabbing terror that is the press release.

Worms World Party is a perfectly respectable release. It’s part of an incredibly successful series of hugely entertaining games. There’s no prejudice in this heart, there’s no malevolence here. The simple gameplay of blowing up your opponents worms with an array of weapons is great! But then along comes the sales guff…

It begins by informing me that I am “invited to the ultimate gaming experience”. Now this is surely a setup for a fall? For this to be true, Worms World Party is not only going to have to be a better gaming experience than any other game I’ve ever played, but it’s going to have to be better than any game that will ever exist in the future. Now my frame of reference for rating it is so much more strict.

Then it goes on, still in the opening paragraph, to use the words “zany” and “wacky”. (If only “zacy” were a word, there would be such a good opportunity for a spoonerism joke there.) Never, ever say “zany” or “wacky”. Even if you’re joking.

But it is in the second paragraph that this rubbish really hits its peak: “Worms World Party is the pinnacle of evolution for strategy gaming enthusiasts”. Oh dear.

Fortunately, I’m not going to judge things on the hyperbolic nonsense that arrives in my in tray, but instead on the hugely entertaining game that Worms WP is. Focus should count their fortune too.


And The Rest

Hip, hip, hooray. More opportunity to slag off Myst! For some unknown reason, some people somewhere have dedicated man hours that could have gone towards feeding starving children towards making the original Myst fully 3D. I can’t imagine a much more pointless exercise. Especially when that effort could have been put into Myst III: Exile, making it a genuinely immersive 3D environment, rather than the sub-Cryo straight jacket it is today. Or perhaps writing it a storyline. Called Real Myst (20%, £15) it’s nothing more than a rattled old banger with a new paint job.

Activision have put out a Gold version of the Soldier of Fortune budget release (41%, £10). This time it’s got a few more multiplayer levels thrown in, and really not a great deal else. Something about new weapons or something. Not sure really, to be honest. I didn’t pay a great deal of attention.

You will also be relieved to learn that Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2001 is finally out on budget from EA (67%, £10). I know, phew, eh? Better get down early to avoid the queues.

Also out from EA’s Classics line is Clive Barker’s Undying (68%, £10). Very unremarkable stuff really, much like his films. The most interesting thing to learn here is that “Clive” isn’t in Word’s dictionary, and as such shall no longer exist. Sorry everyone called Clive. Both of you. “Graham” always suited you better anyway.