Tag Archives: Ion Storm

Anachronox, PC [Part 2]

Part 2 of our Anachronox special.

A selection of grabs from later in the game. Showing just a fraction of the wide variety in this groundbreaking American Role-Playing Game.

Anachronox is not only a great game, but it is also a grabber’s dream!

Click here for Part 1 of Anachronox on The King of Grabs

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anachronox
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/242940/Anachronox/
GOG.com: https://www.gog.com/game/anachronox

Anachronox, PC [Part 1]

Anachronox is a weird-but-great mixture of RPG and action game, developed by Ion Storm and published by Eidos Interactive in 2001.

What is strange about it is the storyline, and the setting. It’s part ‘film noir-ish’ detective story; part comedy – part sci-fi fantasy; set across six different planets in a far-flung future, packed full of bizarre characters, environments and quests.

The surprising thing for me about Anachronox is that it uses a turn-based game mechanic for the combat. And a party system. Which I like. Turn-based combat is usually only seen in Japanese RPGs, which makes this American release all the more unique. At first the combat might seem a bit sparse, or even a bit clunky, but after you get past the first twenty or so battles – and start having battles with more and more enemies – you’ll realise that the combat actually works really well. You have to pay attention though, because there’s also a real-time element in the combat that requires you choose an action before the enemy moves – otherwise you can be left standing there while your enemies give you a kicking… It is this mixture of turn-based and real-time elements in the combat that make it work well against more enemies, than say just two (because when there are just a few enemies up against you there are periods where you are just waiting for your turn and nothing is happening).

Of course, being an RPG, Anachronox has items and inventories and journals and shops and all of that stuff, and they are all extremely well dealt with. This being a 2001 release, though, the inventory screens are all quite basic.

Anachronox also has a very slick control/camera system that makes the game a joy to play. Normal WASD and mouse controls move you around, but if you stop moving a cursor (called a LifeCursor) pops up and allows you to interact with things, as well as use it as a kind of ‘freelook’ to move the camera around. Hold CTRL and click for special character actions. The Tab key switches between party members. Everything else is mouse selected. It’s all very easy to use, which makes taking in all the story strangeness easier (because you don’t have to worry too much about the controls).

I’d recommend Anachronox to anyone who likes RPGs but fancies something a bit different from the norm. It’s engrossing to play – once you get over the shock of the new, and become familiar with the world you’re trying to gain a foothold in. It’s extremely varied too, with arcade-style sections every now and then to break up the adventuring. You can even skip by these if they’re not your kind of thing.

Anachronox is slick on every level, and it has jumped onto my “favourite games of all time” list with its refreshingly different approach to role-playing.

Click here for Anachronox Part 2 on The King of Grabs

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anachronox
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/242940/Anachronox/
GOG.com: https://www.gog.com/game/anachronox

Daikatana, PC

John Romero‘s Daikatana is one of the most infamous games of all time.

Back in 2000, when the game was first released, it was heavily hyped as “the next great shooter”. And – as Daikatana was being designed by one of the co-creators of the original Doom and Quake – everyone had high hopes for it.

First there were long delays in development, and then – when it eventually came out – there were cries of derision. Daikatana did not live up to expectations.

Now – some 18 years after its original release – Daikatana can still be bought via Steam and GOG.com. But is it really that bad?

Overall I would say no, but Daikatana definitely does have its problems.

Firstly, I don’t know why Romero and co. decided it, but the first set of enemies in the game are a joke. Flies and frogs… Not even particularly scary flies or frogs (although they are dangerous). For the first few levels it feels a bit pathetic, and then you’re suddenly confronted by rocket firing giant robots… I couldn’t help but feel that they didn’t think this through properly…

In terms of look and feel, Daikatana is reminiscent of Quake II, in my opinion, although it doesn’t have the same level of finesse. The level designs are pretty good, but the character modelling is primitive. The use of coloured light is an enhancement over Quake II, but the use of light and dark isn’t as good. Daikatana has good moments and bad moments in terms of levels, but the gameplay remains very simple throughout: find a way to open the next door/hatch/lift/whatever and continue on towards the exit.

In terms of weapons (a big feature in a game such as this), the loadout is okay – nothing really special or particularly fun to use. You have all the standard FPS tropes, such as rifles, grenade launchers, rocket launchers, lasers, and all that jazz, plus grenades and an annoying ‘chainsaw’ style knuckle-duster (annoying because it makes a constant chainsaw type engine noise).

Even more disappointing are the ‘sidekicks’ who follow you. Mostly they just get in the way, although you can give them orders. You’re supposed to keep them alive and escort them to the end of the level, but the process is frustrating to say the least, and they sometimes get stuck, making it impossible to complete a level. They are quite useful in a firefight though.

The first part of the game is a futuristic rescue mission. You’re rescuing your team mates and stealing the Daikatana sword from the vaults. The second part of the game – after you’ve gotten the actual Daikatana sword – takes place at different times in history, with the team split up, and trying to get back together again. You lose all your acquired weapons, have only the Daikatana sword, and must work your way back up again. Which wouldn’t be so bad if the sword action was any good… Unfortunately, swinging the sword feels all detached and wrong – it doesn’t feel like you’re slashing enemies. It looks more like a broken animation, than anything. And the enemies in this new area are just as laughable as the previous ones – except for the spiders, which are quite good. The skeletons look ridiculous though.

Daikatana is one of those games that is worth buying if it’s cheap and on sale, and worth playing if you’re interested in its history and infamy. It’s playable – just about – and has a fairly lengthy single-player campaign. Multiplayer it’s not too bad either. It’s just a pity the weapons aren’t anything special, because the speed and movement are spot on.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daikatana
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/242980/Daikatana/
GOG.com: https://www.gog.com/game/daikatana

Deus Ex, PC

A game close to my heart, as I was the first person in the world to review Ion Storm‘s brilliant Deus Ex, for PC Zone magazine in 2000. Click here for the review.

Deus Ex (pronounced Day-Us-Ex – NOT Deuce-Ex) is a classic first-person, futuristic action game with stealth overtones, although you can choose whether to blast your way through it or not.

Some of these grabs were taken during my playthrough for the original review (18 year-old grabs!) and thus are relatively low resolution. Some grabs (the higher resolution shots) I took on a recent playthrough. They’re all good though. As is the game, which is a must-play if you’re a first-person shooter fan.

More: Deus Ex on Wikipedia
Steam: Deus Ex: Game of the Year Edition on Steam
GOG.com: Deus Ex on Gog.com

100 Best Level-Grinders Of All-Time
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