Another great film turned into video game kitty litter! This one in 1984, by Palace Software.
The fourth Fallout was released by Bethesda in 2015, some seven years after Fallout 3, and five years after Fallout: New Vegas. In fact: I would call this the fifth Fallout game, because Fallout: New Vegas was more than just game number 3.5, in my humble opinion – it was the best game in the entire series. But anyway… What do I know?
What Fallout 4 retains from the previous games it benefits from (like lockpicking, hacking, and companions, which are essentially the same), and what Fallout 4 loses from the previous games it also benefits from too. Excepting for maybe the Perk Chart, which I found to be a big step backwards, usability-wise, in Fallout 4.
That ‘blip’ aside, I love the sparse and refined interface of Fallout 4; the story and conversations are simpler and more realistic; and ‘crafting’ has taken on a whole new meaning this time around. New additions to the gameplay, such as building and defending settlements, the use of power armour, and manufacturing helper robots, I think are all excellent. Although base-building in Fallout 4 is not perfect (trying to get fencing to connect up is a bitch), the fundamentals behind it work very well and add another dimension to the Fallout experience.
Of course, Fallout 4 is all about chasing quests, gaining and using experience points, playing politics with different factions, and hoarding every piece of tech and weaponry you can get your hands on. Exploring the crumbling, post-apocalyptic Boston, Massachusetts yields many surprising moments.
What I love most about Fallout 4 is the world itself. And the atmospherics. The effort Bethesda has made to create a believable, destroyed world is remarkable. The use of light/dark; coloured lighting; weather effects; music and sound effects all combine to make something really worth experiencing. On normal difficulty Fallout 4 is a challenging game – that I like too. At times the enemies in the game can be utterly ruthless and punishing (try meeting an Assaultron Demon and its friends when you’re lower levelled and see what you think of that experience…), and there are many unique monsters in the game that are way beyond your initial capabilities and who will mince you for dinner without warning if you make a mis-step. Which is all part of the Fallout RPG experience – fear, followed by eventual domination (when you go back to get your revenge later). And – there being no real level cap this time – you could in theory just keep on surviving indefinitely.
At times Fallout 4 can be frustrating. A game this big and complex is going to have some bugs, and I did experience a couple that broke my game (which I had to use to the console to fix), which nobody wants to do, but at least a fix was available, saving hours of gameplay that I’d otherwise have to re-do. I also think that the item management is still not quite as good as I’ve seen in other games. Organising items can be quite tiring in Fallout 4 and a few tweaks to the menu system might have made it a lot easier. But overall: I don’t want to complain about it too much, because I really enjoyed playing Fallout 4.
Where would I put Fallout 4 in my list of best Fallout games? Is it better than Fallout: New Vegas? Mmm. I would probably put it joint top with Fallout: New Vegas. In some respects, Fallout 4 is better, but in other respects: not. The story/characterisation and world-building in Fallout 4 are outstanding. There’s no doubting that.
This sequel to Andrew Spencer Studios‘ brilliant Ecstatica is a worthy survival horror game in its own right. In it you play a knight trapped inside a gigantic castle full of monsters and must fight your way out to freedom.
Graphically, it is just as good as the original, only with a higher resolution (640×480) display. Colour-wise the game looks a bit strange. Kinda like twilight, with weird colour schemes and subdued light. It does lack some of the dramatic camera angles of the original, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It possibly makes the game more playable. It still contains plenty of surprises.
Like the first Ecsatica, Ecstatica II requires a lot of running around and fighting. Knowing when to run and when to fight is advantageous. Knowing where the weapons and armour are is also advantageous! The puzzles are even more obscure in this sequel, though, so the game is probably worth playing with the help of a walkthrough.
Ecstatica II was still a significant release for Psygnosis in 1997, though, and a serious competitor to Capcom‘s famous Resident Evil series. I’d really like to see this game (and the first one) made available on GOG (and other outlets). It’s a shame it seems to be currently languishing in retro-gaming limbo.
Ocean‘s Island of Death is a game I remember seeing back in 1984 (because of the striking Bob Wakelin cover art), but have never played – until now.
And I’m quite surprised by how good it is…
In spite of the decidedly ASCII-style graphics Island of Death is an engrossing and playable multi-choice text adventure game – with built-in mini games that occur during certain events. For example: at the beginning of the game, jumping over the side of the boat initiates a swimming sequence where you have to avoid being eaten by a shark. Reach the beach and the game continues the adventure.
As the title infers: Island of Death is a survival game, although you do have a main task to complete, which is to find six treasures hidden on the island.
At first you’ll be dying left right and centre, but the good thing about Island of Death is that it gets easier as you progress and learn from your mistakes. It’s still quite challenging, remembering where you’ve been (you lose ten points for revisiting locations, which is very harsh), but is definitely fun exploring.
The game (or rather: the author, David Howse) has a sense of humour too. Island of Death is surprisingly enjoyable considering its dated and archaic presentation.
Note: Island of Death isn’t mentioned on Wikipedia at all – not even on the Ocean Software page – which is an oversight. Someone get it added!
This 1983 release from Imagic is somewhat revered among Intellivision fans, because it is an original title, and because in it you play Dracula and must drink the blood of victims in order to survive for as long as possible.
The idea behind the game is interesting – getting to play the monster, rather than the monster-hunter. You’re a vampire, obviously, and start out at night. The aim is to patrol the streets, looking for victims. When you find one you must lunge at them with your teeth bared and a successful bite will net you a massive 50 points… If you can’t find any people on the streets the alternative is to flush someone out of their house and bite them. You have to bite a certain number of victims before you can return to the graveyard, which you must do before the sun comes up.
Dangers include patrolling policemen, and a chasing white wolf, both of which can be avoided by turning into a bat and flying away, but in doing so will trigger a ‘purple vulture’ to swoop down and try to take the bat. If the vulture succeeds: it’s game over, so it’s vitally important you outmanoeuvre it.
To keep the policemen away you can also bite victims and turn them into zombies. Using the second Intellivision controller you can move the zombie to chase the police away, which is funny. Unfortunately zombification only lasts for ten seconds though.
As a game, Dracula sounds more interesting to play than it actually is, but it does have its moments. Surviving into a second day is quite an achievement.
Not to be confused with the Aliens vs. Predator games from British developer Rebellion, this gaming sequel was created by Monolith Productions and published by Sierra On-Line in 2001.
Whatever you think about the AvP series you can’t disagree that the concept does work extremely well as a video game, and this first-person shooter arguably proves that.
Assuming the role of either Marine, Predator, or Alien, Aliens versus Predator 2 provides the player with three separate single-player campaigns (one for each faction), plus a healthy multiplayer game. Each campaign differs significantly in terms of weapons, environments, goals, and gameplay.
The Alien, for example, has an entire life cycle that can be played-out, which is really interesting. Facehugger, chestburster, then big alien, with each having slightly different mechanics. It doesn’t take long for the alien to reach maturity, but playing the life cycle in real time is both fraught with danger and also quite fascinating (well, fascinating for those who like their sci-fi).
The Predator has his guns and gadgets, and also weird, hieroglyphic readouts at the side of the screen. The Marine – as you’d expect – is packing state-of-the-art ‘Jim Cameron‘ style firepower, plus: also has use of the APC (Armoured Personnel Carrier) as seen in the film Aliens.
Strangely, Aliens versus Predator 2 doesn’t seem to be available to buy now, at the time of writing. I can find the other AvP games for sale online, but not this one. Am not sure why (possibly legal reasons), but am hoping that changes at some point soon. Monolith‘s game deserves a re-release.
Probe Software developed this side-scrolling version of Alien 3 for Acclaim in 1992.
It is a run-and-gun platform game with you playing a bald Ripley trying to rescue cocooned prisoners while fending off waves of attacking aliens.
The colours are a bit subdued, and the graphics a bit cartoony, but overall this isn’t a bad game. Alien 3 is unforgiving, but manageable – if you’re quick on the trigger. Those acid-bleeding xenomorphs are quick to savage you if they get a chance…
Of course there are alien eggs and face-huggers and queen aliens. All the ‘general’ aliens look (a bit) like the infamous ‘alien dog’ from the film. There’s no digital Brian Glover or Ralph Brown, which is disappointing. This is the first video game I saw that had a level set in an abattoir though…
Alien 3 appeared on a variety of platforms although this Megadrive version is arguably the best. It’s a toss up between this and SNES version.
Dino Crisis was a 1999 PlayStation release for Capcom and features soldiers taking on dinosaurs in a futuristic setting.
It was probably made to cash in on the success of Jurassic Park and plays a bit like an early Resident Evil game. No surprises when you consider that Dino Crisis was made by many of the same team who made the Resident Evil series.
Dino Crisis is pretty good. It’s got a female lead. Maybe too many door entry sequences though? It has sold more than two million copies worldwide, so someone out there certainly loves it…