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HeXen II

I didn't expect the second HeXen to be better than the first one, but I was wrong; I did like it more! Despite using the Quake Engine, HeXen II plays very similarly to its predecessor. Explore a number of non-linear fantasy hubs through the world of Thyrion, while solving puzzles and fighting vicious monsters. So, why did I like it more than the first game?

One of the reasons is the increase in difficulty. While in the original, I would find myself bored to tears during combat on hard, the sequel proved to be a tough bastard even on normal difficulty. Enemies will no longer have predictable patterns; they will block, crouch, dodge, roll, and even teleport in response to your attacks. Hitting enemies in melee without getting hit is no longer as easy as in the original HeXen, both thanks to the engine change (which removes any auto-aim and forces you to be more precise with your attacks) and to the faster reaction of the enemies. I don't recommend playing it on Hard in your first playthrough, unless you relish the idea of being frustrated again and again (I also don't recommend selecting one of the weaker classes in your first playthrough, like the Necromancer or the Assassin).

Another noticeable improvement is the increased attention to detail of the game's hubs. While I barely remember stuff from original's stages, the sequel has taken noticeable steps to ensure that each hub feels like a real place and not just some portals vaguely connected to each other. For instance, the first hub takes place during the medieval times and it has everything you would be expecting from such a hub; a castle, dungeons, jail, a moat, various shops inside the walls, a blacksmithy, heck even an execution summit! >:D

Also good was the attempt to make the game less monotonous in regards to combat (which was very spammy and reliant on one or two weapons on the first game). While you still have only 4 weapons when compared to other games, the 4th weapon is now more in-line with the other weapons and no longer devours huge amounts of mana, making it a more viable option for combat against normal enemies (you also no longer have to hunt down its pieces before you can use it). In addition, the game has gained some RPG elements like levels, stats and abilities. When you kill enemies, you gain XP and therefore levels. By levelling up, you increase your maximum health/mana and at 3 and 6 levels, you gain an ability unique to a specific class. For instance, the Assassin can use backstab to hit enemies from behind for higher damage with the Katar, which is pretty nice considering that it's her weakest weapon. In addition, the tomes of power from Heretic return! Activating them changes the effect of the weapon you are using to something more powerful and giving some more variety and an edge in combat.

Alas, it's not all peaches. While the original HeXen suffered from backtracking, the sequel makes it worse. How many times will you forget to find yet another macguffin which is necessary to proceed in the next area, so you end up going all the way back, searching any nook and cranny that you might have overlooked? What makes matters worse is the complete lack of a map, which will have you getting confused and frustrated as you try to find your way of an area. The game's sometimes cryptic puzzles don't help a bit.

But, I liked HeXen II and I wouldn't say no to replaying it again sometime in the future!

P.S.: While the game's soundtrack wasn't anything special, I appreciated the return of music tracks from Heretic.

Updated list.
Post edited September 13, 2015 by Grargar
9 Clues: The Secret of Serpent Creek - An Artifex Mundi HO game. Pretty standard supernatural mystery and honestly, sub-standard writing for AM. I can't comment on the voice acting, as I played this one on mute. The game is okay and has at least as many puzzles as it does HO scenes, which is nice, and no penalty for playing on easy. (Or achievement for playing on hard, for that matter.) It's one of their shorter ones - accounting for pausing for dinner, I probably finished it in about two and a half hours. Not particularly recommended, but if you pick it up in a bundle or for super-cheap in a sale, it's a nice enough HOG.

The rest of my completed games.
Post edited July 31, 2015 by penumbren

Engi Cruiser - While there's a lot of fancy sounding weapons in the game, a balanced loadout of simple fast firing weapons that are easy to get early on, the rebel flagship broke up into pieces.

Ion Cannon II, Heavy Laser I, Missles, Attack and Defence Drones and fast engines to evade weapons fire. No teleporters or Cloak.

No. 73 completed.
99 Levels to Hell.

Thought I had already listed this one. Decent game albeit very short once you figure things out. The gimmick is that you pretty much have to play all 99 levels contiguously. Even though you unlock a skipping door for every 10 levels, this does you no good when you start off with such a weak weapon. If you ever manage to die, you can't use the skipping doors because you need to hunt for power ups (i.e. your weapon will be too weak to face higher leveled creatures). Game saves cost you 1 heart AND you have to replay the level.

Simple game-play "options" are missing. You can spend 600 gold for a powerup (most expensive item in the game, and you usually only get about 30-40 gold per level) and if you can't use it, the game won't tell you and take your money anyway. The game will let you replace fully upgraded weapons with very weak ones with no way to verify or undo your swap. The graphics and audio are intentionally retro (while opinionated, I'm not a big fan of this).

The easiness of the game is based on pure luck (if you manage to find upgrades in the random loot drops or not). OR, if you get lucky enough to find elevators that let you replay levels.

Levels can be completed in a matter of seconds based either on luck or how long it takes you to learn where key and door are placed in each one. While they are randomly chosen, they are chosen from a very small list. After a few dozen levels played, you will know them all by heart. The only randomness is which one comes next. Often it will be the same one you just played.

It has a very annoying achievement that I would deem worst top 10 achievements of all time. Play for 100 hours. But, it only counts in-dungeon time (not Steam time). No menu floating and no pausing, you have to be actively in the dungeon with the game window having focus. Once you learn to kill ghosts you can finally AFK to let the clock run, but the achievement is bugged. Rather, the game is bugged as the time played clock resets after 24 hours. Without hacking the game, you can't complete this achievement.

Given the shortcoming of the game, its tough to recommend. It does have a nice voiceover for the very few books you find in the game, and the gameplay isn't too bad if you don't mind the other issues. Worth playing for sure if found in a bundle... Not worth buying alone for most gamers.
Escape Goat 1

Fun little puzzler. Died 312 times completing 65 boards. Think about 100 of those were on the last puzzle. A few of them required some crazy jumping skills, but on the whole I thought it was achievable without needing hints if you just kept plugging away.
Updated my games finished after a long while :P

I wish I had so much time as 20 years ago, because my backlog is growing and growing :(
Cherry tapped STALKER Shadow of Chernobyl. This one is not as good as Call of Pripyat but it was a great game and, for whatever reason, to me looks better than CoP. It obviously was the first in the series but i think they are all good enough to be played for their own merits. One problem I have with the series is that they just are not that stable. The reason why this was cherry tapped after I installed and played CoP this year was because last year I came into a glitch that made me start back a ways and just got to finish it off. But, regardless (even though the first two have that kind of problem) the series one of my favorite series now.
Finished Bardbarian cycle on normal playthrough.

Lots of fun though - think I'll keep it installed and keep playing intermittently. Now to decide which more involved game to get back to: Icewind Dale / Planescape / Eschalon / Grimrock

Of the 4, Planescape is probably the closest to being finished, so maybe I should jump in there.
Serious Sam: The Second Encounter - This one plays similarly to the first in the series, but leaves the Egyptian setting behind for some more varied environments. The game still likes to throw overwhelming numbers of enemies at you, and then again right after you finish fending off waves upon waves.

The final boss fight isn't quite as memorable as the pyramid fight of the first game, but it's pretty straight forward. I found that this game is best played in small amounts, because the game can become tedious after sometime.

Some people in this thread were talking about this one a few pages back...this led to a few fond memories for what i still regard as one of the great action RPG's of all time. But was it just nostalgia? I decided to install it and give it a few minutes play just for old time sake, and 40 hours later I've played it to the end again.

I can still remember the first few minutes of my first play though back in 2002 (we got it a year late in Australia)...running down the hill, a veteran of countless 90's CRPG's...i knew what i was doing, where are the rats? What are those funny looking Turkey things over there, oh they must be Gothics Rat equivalent. I'll just run over there and whack them with my rusty sword...wait wtf?...i'm dead ...when did i die?. Did i just get my arse handed to me by three big Turkeys? That was when i realized Gothic was special.

I've still got the original English boxed version which would probably run fine as i still use Vista, but i picked up the GOG version on sale a while back so that's what i used this time. I did mod it and compared the unmodded to original versions to see which to go with. I went with the Gothic 2 based texture pack as it did look more detailed and the unlocked FPS hack which made a huge difference to the smoothness. I also ran at my desktop 1920*1200 by editing the ini file and keeping it open in the background and hitting save after exiting the game to bypass the games habit of resetting the resolution to 640*480 on exit. It all worked fine until chapter 5, more on that below.

The game is still awesome even by modern standards, though i think some aspects may be too tedious or odd for gamers that didn't play games back in the 90's and early 00's. This is older style gaming with no waypoints, quest markers, no enemy scaling and very little fast travel. Gothic 1's open world is still great, truly open yet small enough so as to not be overwhelming. It's a tighter more focused open world than say Morrowind. By today's standards though the world does feel a bit still and wind, no trees moving etc.
Combat is still a bit clumsy, just as i felt it was even back when i first played it. But it's perfectly manageable once you adapt. But nothing stopped me from enjoying it as much as i did originally.

Unfortunately the parts that are not enjoyable are still there too. The NPC's that sometimes need to follow you as part of quests, they still get stuck on every bit of terrain and need to be be heavily babysitted each step of the way- sometimes even requiring reloading a save.
The game ran pretty stable up until chapter 5, after entering the Sleeper Temple i started getting crashes and freezes a bit too often. A couple of times late in the game, i found that i couldn't get past a location without a crash to desktop. With some experimenting i found that changing to 1600*1200 (the games highest supported res i think) instead of the widescreen version, i was able to get past the problem spots and the crashing went away. So for me using the widescreen was causing some issues for some reason. That may help someone that encounters the same problems late in the game.

Anyway, awesome game still after all the years and it gives me the urge to replay another of my favorites from the same era- Arx Fatalis.
Post edited August 02, 2015 by CMOT70
Half Life 2

The classic is finally conquered, despite owning it on PC discs when it first came out. I didnt have a very good computer at the time, so it ran kind of crappy and I never finished it.

Picked it up for $2 during the GMG sale and I got to say what a masterpiece it was. Great story and atmosphere, good combat and just alot of fun.

Next up I guess is Lost Coast, as it came with the game. I want to try some mods next too, but looking at the mods, it appears I need Episode 2 (and probably Episode 1 too) to play most of them. Unfortunately I didnt buy them during the GMG sale when they were like $1 each, so I guess I wait. That Korsakovia one looks pretty cool, but needs episode 2.

Any good mods that dont need they other episodes? I only want single player (mostly action oriented) mods to play right now.

I must have gotten this on sale at some point, and then completely forgotten about it, because that's how it goes, sometimes. I noticed it while browsing through my backlog, and decided to give it a try.

It was OK, sort of. It's an RPG that fits vaguely into the top-down click on things until they die Diablo/Torchlight genre, but combat is de-emphasized, so describing it in those terms may give a wrong impression. The devs I think said they took inspiration from the adventure genre, which sounds right. Not point-and-click, but walking around and seeing what there is to see, talking to whoever there is to talk to. It's pretty generic (there's an evil guy being evil. Assemble the magical MacGuffin and stop him), but there were enough amusing or interesting moments throughout the game to keep me basically entertained.

Still, the gushing in the review section seems a bit over the top. This game had problems. You can control your character in one of two ways, by using the WASD or by holding down the mouse button. I prefer to use the keyboard, except that when you control your character that way, he still faces towards the mouse clicker, so he spent most of the game sliding weirdly around. The game isn't combat heavy, but there's still more than enough, because the combat is really quite dull. The puzzles are not challenging. The skill tree is poor, and the combat skills are totally generic. The humor, which often worked well, would sometimes stray excruciatingly into the self-consciously wacky (he's a crab, but he talks like a pirate omg so random!), and there was one particularly tooth-grinding sequence lifted from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, something I'd kind of hoped we'd gotten past as a species. Your party/companions change so often that none of them have a chance to really engage the player, and when they're not changing, they're still not very engaging (Velvet, a talking panther, is a good example of that. She was probably in my party the longest, but she gets virtually no dialog, and the comedic potential of an egotistical, giant cat remain unexplored. I can't remember the first NPC's name, or tell you a single thing about his personality.)

On the devs webpage, they bill the game as "featuring about 10-25 hours of fun-packed playtime + mods!" Galaxy says I beat the game in seven and a half hours, but Galaxy's time-keeping is crap, so I'm prepared to give them the ten hours. The modding scene ain't much.

I summary, eh. I probably liked it slightly more than it sounds, since it's easier to talk about the negative than the positive, but at least for me, this is no four-and-a-half star game.
Deus Ex Human Revolution Directors Cut:

Buggy and looks dated with some crummy AI thrown in to the mix somehow does nothing to hold back a fantastic and thoughtful story.
ScotchMonkey: Deus Ex Human Revolution Directors Cut:

Buggy and looks dated with some crummy AI thrown in to the mix somehow does nothing to hold back a fantastic and thoughtful story.
If you can get a hold of it try the original version. They somehow managed to bring more bugs to the DC.
thejimz: Gotta add Face Noir to the list. Awful game. Avoid at all costs.

Also adding Agapan, which is one of the finest games I've ever had the pleasure of playing. Amazing on all fronts, and possibly the best use of branching narrative I've seen in a game. Sadly, it's very much underappreciated--only four reviews on Steam since its launch in May. Bought and finished Love recently as well, and that was similarly great.
And I just finished Onager, a game that looks awful but plays brilliantly. Great puzzles, tons of variety and charm. There's randomness in it that can be frustrating, but it never spoiled my experience. Recommended.