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    by Published on June 21st, 2016 12:00 AM
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    Now time for a retro review! Return to Castle Wolfenstein was a game released in 2001 to great critical and fan acclaim for both its single-player and multi-player. The game is lauded as being the very best of the extremely long running Wolfenstein series and that says a lot considering the pedigree of the franchise. It's influence was felt throughout many newer titles, from Battlefield to Call of Duty, STALKER to Metro 2033.
    Was all of this fanfare warranted though?

    RTCW was a truly amazing visual spectacle way back in 2001. Running on a heavily modified Quake 3 engine and featuring high end features such as TruForm (tessellation), the game was a technological masterpiece for its time.

    It is an example of early realistic, muscle-based facial animation technology that also managed to operate on characters dynamically according to the situation (in a manner similar to the tech later used in HL2 and TF2) as well as some really interesting and intense atmospheric effects and details thrown into the world. For example, the flame effects, especially from the flamethrower ...
    by Published on June 17th, 2016 06:00 AM  Number of Views: 3189 
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    This is a big question. Some gamers would be appalled at the sight of it, but we find it necessary to tackle this subject. There are many who would have you believe all of the most loved classic video games, particularly from the 1990s and early 2000s, are significantly better than today's spiritual counterparts. Most gamers today wouldn't pay much attention to such claims, but we find the subject fascinating. Are all or even most of the classics really much better games, and if so better in what ways? If not, worse in what ways?

    In this article we will explore these questions with some of the most praised classics and their equivalents today, in several different genres. Beware that every page after this one will contain spoilers. Below is a listing of all the games featured in this article.

    Classics

    • Baldur's Gate and Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn (RPG, BioWare)
    • Neverwinter Nights (RPG, BioWare)
    • Neverwinter Nights 2, Mask of the Betrayer, and Storm of Zehir (RPG, Obsidian)
    • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (RPG, BioWare)
    • Planescape: Torment (RPG, Black Isle Studios)
    • Fallout and Fallout 2 (RPG, Black Isle Studios)
    • Icewind Dale (RPG, Black Isle Studios)
    • The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and IV: Oblivion (RPG, Bethesda Game Studios)
    • Resident Evil, Resident Evil 2, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, Resident Evil - Code Veronica (survival horror, Capcom)
    • Silent Hill and Silent Hill 2 (psychological horror/survival horror, Konami)
    • Thief Gold and Thief II: The Metal Age (stealth, Looking Glass Studios)
    • Deus Ex (shooter/stealth/RPG hybrid, Ion Storm)
    • Half-Life and Half-Life 2 (shooter, Valve)
    • Grand Theft Auto III, Vice City, San Andreas (open world action, Rockstar)


    Newer Counterparts

    • Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age: Inquisition (RPG, BioWare)
    • Fallout: New Vegas and Fallout 4 (RPG, Obsidian and Bethesda Game Studios respectively)
    • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (RPG, Bethesda Game Studios)
    • The Witcher trilogy (RPG, CD Projekt Red)
    • Metro 2033 and Last Light (shooter + survival horror, 4A Games)
    • Underhell (survival horror, indie)
    • S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl (sandbox shooter with survival and RPG elements, GSC Game World)
    • Amnesia: The Dark Descent (psychological horror/survival horror, Frictional Games)
    • SOMA (psychological horror/survival horror, Frictional Games)
    • Dishonored (stealth/action, Arkane Studios)
    • Deus Ex: Human Revolution (RPG/stealth/shooter hybrid, Eidos Montreal)
    • Grand Theft Auto V (open world action, Rockstar)


    Spoilers begin on the next page.



    To start things off, we'll look at how the classic BioWare RPGs compare to the newer ones listed on the first page. We will analyze each and every game to illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of each.

    Baldur's Gate (1998)

    Baldur's Gate is a Dungeons and Dragons based RPG series utilizing pause-and-play gameplay from an isometric 2.5D perspective. It is one of the most famous RPG franchises ever because the first game, Baldur's Gate, was the first game of its kind, which is also the main reason why it's praised so much.


    Baldur's Gate was recently remade in the form of Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition with modern operating system and resolution compatibility. So those curious about the game can now easily play it.

    This game set some trends that perhaps every other BioWare game would follow, such as the inclusion of a plot twist, the "full circle" trope in which important plot events very late in the game occur where the game began, and of course the fact that you play as a character (not necessarily a hero due to the role-playing) who tries to save the world (Dragon Age II may be the only BioWare game to exclude this).

    The pause-and-play gameplay is something that BioWare uses to this day as well. But both Baldur's Gate games have far more complex and tactical gameplay than any modern BioWare game (and any modern mainstream RPG), with more diversity as well in the form of playable races and classes. You also play as a relatively "clean slate" or a protagonist with only a loosely defined background, in this case it is only initially known that the protagonist lived in Candlekeep studying under Gorion for most of his/her life (this does suggest the protagonist should be a Wizard). Although it is revealed later that the protagonist may carry the blood of Bhaal, former Lord of Murder.


    Baldur's Gate: Reloaded, a faithful yet unofficial remake of Baldur's Gate.

    Baldur's Gate is known first and foremost for its role-playing; being able to play as almost any kind of character. However, ...
    by Published on May 27th, 2016 06:00 AM  Number of Views: 1684 
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    One of the biggest tragedies in the video game industry is that most truly brilliant classics are not remade. Technology has advanced so much that many classics can now be fully realized on platforms like Unreal Engine 4, but such things are very rare. Thankfully one of the most beloved PC classics (originally released on Macintosh actually) has been remade, and that classic is Myst. In this article we will evaluate this remake, realMyst: Masterpiece Edition, and see how it fares not just as a remake but as a game itself in this modern era of gaming.



    Like the original, realMyst: Masterpiece Edition is a first-person puzzle adventure game taking place in a distinct fantasy setting. It is remade on a brand new 3D engine, while the original had pre-rendered environments and point-and-click movment. So by clicking, you'd teleport forward in the original. Nobody can truly prefer this original style, but regardless realMyst: Masterpiece Edition can be played in that style. Or it can be played as it should, as a 3D first-person ...
    by Published on May 15th, 2016 06:00 AM  Number of Views: 1091 
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    The term "walking simulator" is a new development in the gaming industry. It is used as a label, a tag, and often times an insult. In this article we're going to examine the origin of this term, how it's used, and why it's misleading.

    We cover this subject in our "biggest myths" article but quite frankly this deserves its own separate article.



    The origin of the term "walking simulator" is intertwined with the game Dear Esther. This game caught attention for several ...
    by Published on April 29th, 2016 06:00 AM  Number of Views: 2344 
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    The 1990s was a decade of breakthroughs for video gaming. It is the decade in which serious, immersive games were born thanks to technological advancement. Some of the greatest games of all time were released in the 1990s, especially when it comes to role-playing games (RPGs) which were generally far more advanced and complex back then compared to now. 1998 stands out as one of the best years in gaming history, with a plethora of amazing releases.

    In this article we will look at the greatest games of the 1990s (1990-1999 specifically), giving out awards similar to our Game of the Year awards and our previous Game of the Decade article. This will be the last Game of the Decade article until the 2010s are over, so you don't want to miss this one! You may notice some awards were excluded, mostly since gaming was very young at this time and we couldn't find any truly spectacular games eligible for the awards that were omitted.



    Best Soundtrack


    Game Title: Myst
    Release Date: 1993
    Developed By: Cyan
    Published By: Brøderbund
    Platforms: PC / Mac / AmigaOS / PlayStation / Saturn / Jaguar / CD-i / PlayStation Portable / 3DS / DS / iOS
    Genre: Puzzle Adventure

    Soundtrack is one of very few areas in which gaming in general has advanced since the 1990s. Only a few 90s games can compare to today's best video game soundtracks, including the winner of this award: Myst (1993). It wins a razor thin decision over Planescape: Torment. Myst's soundtrack by Robyn Miller (one of the two lead designers of the game) is truly special, a real stand out among video games of all generations.

    Other Nominees

    • Planescape: Torment (1999)
    ...
    by Published on April 8th, 2016 07:00 AM  Number of Views: 2074 
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    The horror video game genre has been revitalized in recent years and it now strongly populates Steam's indie game section. Even mainstream horror games are being released again, such as The Evil Within. We all see this, but how many of us wonder why? What caused this horror revolution? These horror games are quite a lot different than the classics like Resident Evil and Silent Hill.

    This revolution was sparked by Penumbra, a first-person PC exclusive episodic horror game released by Frictional Games in 2007 and 2008, and it is currently within our lists of top ten horror games of all time (where it's top 3) and top ten best stories of all time. It was the first game from Frictional Games, who later brought us Amnesia: The Dark Descent and SOMA (and no, they did NOT develop Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs). But Penumbra didn't directly cause this surge of new horror games, it indirectly sparked it. The game that directly resulted in the rebirth of horror video games was Amnesia: The Dark Descent, which uses the same formula as Penumbra.

    In this article we're going to review Penumbra in its entirety. That includes Penumbra: Overture (2007), Penumbra: Black Plague (2008), and Penumbra: Requiem (2008). We're going to look at what makes this game so special, why its formula is what revived the genre, and why Amnesia: The Dark Descent was the one that directly sparked this revolution instead of Penumbra. We're also going to score Penumbra relative to how we would have scored it in 2007-2008, although really the only score that is affected is Audio & Visuals since we have new ...
    by Published on March 25th, 2016 07:00 AM  Number of Views: 4911 
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    Another Friday, another article. Today we're looking back at a very special game, Neverwinter Nights 2: Complete, as we approach the ten year anniversary of its original release. This is a collection of a PC exclusive pause-and-play RPG and its three expansions, developed by Obsidian Entertainment, except for the final expansion Mysteries of Westgate which was developed by Ossian Studios. Neverwinter Nights 2 was released in 2006, its first expansion Mask of the Betrayer in 2007, its second expansion Storm of Zehir in 2008, and the aforementioned Mysteries of Westgate in 2009. Neverwinter Nights 2: Complete is available on GOG.com for only $19.99, and it often goes on sale for half that. That's quite the bargain for some of the highest quality RPGs out there with hundreds of hours of content even without mods.

    In hindsight, this game seems too good to be true. This isn't entirely because of our lowered standards, which are the result of industry standards lowering greatly since those times. Neverwinter Nights 2 was the culmination of traditional video game RPGs. Everything was building up to it. It features nearly every playable race, class, skill, and feat offered by prior D&D RPGs, and then many more on top of that. The amount of content offered by it and its predecessor, Neverwinter Nights, was staggering at the time of their release, and even more staggering by today's standards. And that was just the base games, not even including the expansions which added more races, classes, prestige classes, feats/abilities, spells, and more. Neverwinter Nights 2: Complete features 12 races with 17 sub-races, over 300 spells, well over 300 feats, 40 different weapon types (not individual weapons but types like longsword, war axe, shortbow, etc.), 15 base classes, 24 prestige classes, and much more.

    To put it in perspective, there is more variation, more ways to play Neverwinter Nights 2's Wizard class, than most modern RPGs have in total classes/playstyles! And Wizard is just one of 15 base classes. It sounds like an exaggeration, but it is not, especially when you consider the possible prestige classes that a Wizard can become.

    Furthermore, Neverwinter Nights 2: Complete isn't just one game, it is a saga in itself. The base campaign is about 60 hours long, the first expansion 30-40 hours, second expansion 30-40 hours, and final expansion 20-25 hours. Custom campaigns created by modders exist as well, including unofficial remakes of legends like Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale, as well as adaptations of various highly praised pen and paper D&D modules such as The Temple of Elemental Evil, The Keep on the Borderlands, King's Festival, and more.


    A list of campaigns, both unofficial and official, taken from the main menu. Not shown: many, many others!

    All of these factors, along with the quality of its campaigns and its amount of possible role-playing (only rivaled by one game in the 2010s, that being Fallout: New Vegas) give just cause to claim that Neverwinter Nights 2 was the last great fantasy RPG, although anyone claiming this must have extremely high RPG standards in order to discredit Dragon Age: Origins.

    So in this article we're going to break down this gargantuan that is Neverwinter Nights 2, including all of its expansions. Yes, we're going to review all of them, something we wish we had the opportunity to do. Although for what it's worth, Neverwinter Nights 2: Mysteries of Westgate released about one month after GND-Tech was created. That was when we weren't yet reviewing video games, and we weren't even called GND-Tech yet!




    Since we are essentially reviewing four games in one article, we are using a different layout this time around. Gameplay is first and foremost because Neverwinter Nights 2 and its expansions obviously share the same basic gameplay. There are some exceptions in each, but those are discussed on the pages for each individual campaign.

    At its core, Neverwinter Nights 2 is a tactical stat-based pause-and-play RPG built upon Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 which is its foundation. Most things like attacks in combat (chance to hit), damage given, damage taken, almost everything is determined by a dice roll which happens in the background. Combat is partially turn-based; not fully like the classic Fallout games or XCOM, but more on an individual basis. When characters are engaged in combat, turns are in play just like a tabletop RPG in which players take turn rolling dice. Here in Neverwinter Nights 2 the turn-based mechanic is much more seamless than a full fledge turn-based game, you have no controls over the turns and a turn only lasts mere seconds. It's like Pillars of Eternity and the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic games but slightly slower, although it speeds up as you level up and gain more attacks per round.


    Whereas other video game RPGs make up their own simplified stat/rule system, or take what they want from an existing one like D&D, Neverwinter Nights 2 is unique for taking the most from its pen and paper origins. It is like the developers just copied over D&D 3.5 into a video game, and omitted things that don't fit well into a video game (although they also admitted some skills that would've been a nice inclusion).

    By having a stat for so many different things, Neverwinter Nights 2 simulates more aspects than other games, making it seem far more realistic and far more logical than other video games. That's the whole point of the original pen and paper Dungeons & Dragons after all; to role-play, to pretend to live a different life, so in order for it to believable it has to be realistic and account for many different things, hence the different attributes, saving throws, abundance of skills, and how they're all tied together. Role-playing games are meant to simulate an actual life to some degree, and both Neverwinter Nights games go farther than any other video game.

    Neverwinter Nights 2 essentially integrates a D&D 3.5 handbook into the game. Every single aspect of character creation, every feat, every skill, every spell, every innate ability, every race, every subrace, and much more have complete, detailed descriptions. So, despite its ...
    by Published on March 9th, 2016 06:00 AM  Number of Views: 2421 
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    We talk about it often, but now we figured it was time to write an article dedicated to discussing and pointing out the degeneration of gaming. Today, the video game industry is one afraid of innovation, and one that looks to milk consumers like cows. Most modern mainstream games are barely even a shell of the pioneers.

    How and why did this happen? The truth is, there were multiple causes that led to the degeneration of the gaming industry. Continue on to the next page to find out why.



    In order to understand the video game industry, one needs to understand its origins and follow its timeline. Without getting into an in-depth history lesson, video games were initially created for distraction; to kill time and offer a brief reprieve from boredom. Many games still exist for this same purpose, like virtually every mobile game and many casual games (many sidescrollers and shooters), but they are a bit more complex today than Pong.
    ...

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