Nik the Russian's Blog

Posted on Nov 16th 2008 at 09:36:56 AM by (Nik the Russian)
Posted under History, Lara Croft, Tomb Raider, PlayStation, PC

November 15, 1996 (12 years ago): Tomb Raider is released.

Consoles: Originally Sega Saturn, then Sony PlayStation, MS-DOS, and later others.

It was 12 years ago. Lara Croft, later hailed as the most recognizable female video game character, became known to public, and conquered hearts of millions (in part due to the game designers fooling around and enlarging Lara's breasts to 150% size, and then deciding to leave it that way). She could be seen on magazine covers, computer backgrounds, posters, and even TV. People fell in love with her... All in all, she was a female Indiana Jones (only with Harrison Ford replaced by a hot acrobatic babe).

The plot (just like the plot of almost any game in the series) was not anything particularly amazing - Lara finds an ancient artefact, realizes that there are more, but before she can find them all, someone evil uses the artefact's power and turns himself/herself into a mutant/dragon/spider/etc. for Lara to deal with. Also, at some point during any story, Lara absolutely must be stripped of all her weapons (not clothes) so that she can has fun recovering them while defenseless (a recurring story element).

What really attracted people (besides the protagonist herself) was the gameplay. A combination of traditional platform action (similar to Prince of Persia), cutting edge 3D graphics, the revolutionary third-person camera, gun action, and simple but clever puzzles is what made Tomb Raider famous (and, by extension, what raised PlayStation's popularity in its early years). The series continued with the hit TR2, improved graphics for TR3, and while TR: The Last Revelation brought the Egypt locations back, TR: Chronicles and Angel of Darkness disappointed many fans, and some feared that the series may be dead. It was not until recently when Core Design handed over control to Crystal Dynamics, which resulted in the true revival of Lara in TR: Legend, a remake of the original called TR: Anniversary, and the new title, TR: Underworld, about to be released (three days left).

Anyway, celebrate this day by playing the games from the series. I myself have many fun memories. Remember, in the second game, how Lara had to outswim a shark deep underwater? Or how in the third game she had to infiltrate Area 51? How about pig-tailed 16-year-old Lara running around a really creepy Irish village in Chronicles?

If you are going to play the Saturn or the PlayStation version, remember that you can only save using "save crystals". And if you are going to run the DOS version, you'll need to do a few tricks first (Windows XP and Vista will not cooperate). For any help running the game, as well as awesome walkthroughs, visit Stella's awesome site (I owe her a lot):
http://www.tombraiders.net/



Posted on Sep 30th 2008 at 09:02:02 AM by (Nik the Russian)
Posted under History, Fallout, Total Annihilation, DirectX, PC, Windows

September 30, 1997 (11 years ago): Fallout is released.

September 30, 1998 (10 years ago): Fallout 2 is released.

Consoles: Windows PC

If you have not played either of these RPG titles, you should at least try. Set in a violent post-apocalyptic future, Fallout games stood out with their dark humor, art-deco designs (many items and technology the player encounters are from the 1950's), and themes meant for more "grown-up" audiences (plenty of 'casual' language and blood). The player explored the world in real-time, while combat was turn-based and used "action points" (like in the awesome X-COM: UFO Defense). Many balanced skills made it actually possible for the player to rely more on stealth, or diplomacy, instead of force. Furthermore, the quests often had multiple outcomes, granting varying experience and affecting the player's karma.

As for myself, I was glad to see an RPG that did not have any elves or magic, but instead lots and lots of guns, which I liked. The art direction was another thing I liked, as well as many pop-culture references (like a card game called "Tragic: The Garnering", or the Nuka-Cola drink).

As I am sure many of you know, after shutting down Project Van Buren, a Fallout sequel in development, Bethesda purchased the rights to the franchise from Black Isle and is about to release a sequel of their own, Fallout 3, on October 28th of this year. I know that I will buy it, play it, and hate it, but continue playing it. I could go on a rant about Bethesda and their "experience" in game-making, but there are other sites on the Internets for that.

To reminisce, here is the opening video from Fallout, along with the awesome music ("Maybe" by The Ink Spots) and narrated by Ron Perlman:


Continue reading Today in VG History: Fallout 1 & 2



Posted on Sep 24th 2008 at 11:05:47 PM by (Nik the Russian)
Posted under History, Adventure, PC


I am very glad I stumbled upon this wonderful website - I found out about it while searching for a book called Video Game Bible. Not only the site features one of the biggest game databases on the web along with built-in collection tracking software, it doesn't even have any ads! How often do you see that on the web nowadays?
I thought that this website deserved a donation, and if you can spare even a dollar, you should too (the link is here).

I am sure every one of us has some pretty old games in the collection (this is why you are here, right?). Well, I thought we may as well acknowledge memorable games by celebrating their birthdays! And this is why I have this feature. To narrow the scope, I will only post about games that were released after the crash, but are at least 10 years old (I think ten years is enough to realize whether a game has left any influence in the world of video games). I will also explain why this game is important enough to mention.
===================================================

September 24, 1993 (15 years ago): Myst is released.

Console: Macintosh initially, many more soon after.

While hailed by some as a "fancy collection of really obscure puzzles" or "interactive slide-show" (they may be right!), the popularity of the game could not be questioned. Myst eventually sold over 6 million copies, a record it held for almost 9 years, until the arrival of The Sims. The release of Myst also largely helped adopt the CD-ROM format on personal computers, since the game fully took advantage of the format with tons of images and music. Myst spawned four well-selling sequels, as well a couple of remakes, some spin-offs, and many imitators.

In my personal opinion, I would attribute the popularity of Myst to first-person view combined with realistic graphics (something first-person games of the era could not yet pull off), making the game very immersive, while the puzzles and lack of violence made it appealing to people who would not normally play games (even "moms" played it in the early 90's).

See also: If you liked Myst, then I would recommend horror adventures AMBER: Journeys Beyond (1996), or the much later Scratches (2006), as well as many other mystery games spawned by this style.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
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