Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Computer Games

With nothing much else to report I thought I would fill you in on ways I find to amuse myself, such as playing computer games, for one and of course reading and listening to music.

I recently started playing a new computer game. Before I could play it however, I needed to purchase a new graphics card for my computer, as the old graphics card couldn’t handle the sophisticated graphics of the game. It worked out well in the end as my next-door neighbour was buying a new computer. His new computer was a basic machine, with an integrated graphics card. I gave him my old graphics card (still a good and powerful card) and bought a new one for my computer. The computer shop was very obliging in swapping/installing the cards. Fortunately the new card worked on the game.

What is the game? It’s called “Dreamfall – The Longest Journey 2”, an adventure game set in the far future. I played the original “Longest Journey” some years ago and thought it was a great game with a complex plot, engaging game play and an interesting story. That’s what I like about adventure games, the story. I am very particular about the games I play and only buy the best of the best and only in the adventure genre. I don’t like shoot-em-ups – too stressful – but enjoy the puzzles and interactions in adventure games. Along with very beautiful graphics, Dreamfall has a wonderful 3D ambience, as well as being instantly engaging to play. My only complaint is that the PC controls are difficult to manipulate. The character one is playing staggers all over the place, crashes into walls and never walks straight. Perhaps I need to reduce mouse sensitivity, but I need the sensitivity for the fight sequences. Alas, yes, this game requires a bit of fisticuffs. So far it has been pretty easy, but it is unusual for an adventure game to involve violent contact. The designers are obviously aiming to capture some of the action adventure/RPG market.

My all time favourite computer games are the Tex Murphy series. They originated over 17 years ago but are still very playable if one has a suitably aged computer and operating system. They were made in FMV (Full Motion Video) format and combined hard-boiled detective fiction with science fiction. The scripts were marvellously witty and the puzzles were ingenious and amusing. The games were very well thought out with the comfort of the game player in mind. For instance, you didn’t have to make your character (Tex Murphy) tramp backwards and forwards all the time, but could go directly to locations already explored. There was much to explore in the game environments and one built up an enormous inventory of odd items, intriguing in the implications of how they would be used later in the game. These days, adventure games don’t seem to explore the environment with as much detail as in the past. They seem to concentrate more on the look of the graphics – rippling water, clouds and insects etc – resulting in a situation where one can look, but not touch.

The last Tex Murphy game was released in 1998. I’ve practically given up hope of ever seeing a new Tex Murphy game, though the original creators of the game (formerly Access Software) do occasionally express interest in developing a new game. It was Microsoft who killed Tex Murphy when they bought out Access for rights to their Links golf game. Tex fell by the wayside and has never been resuscitated.

Oh well, I’ll just have to be satisfied with games like "Dreamfall " – pretty good, but not a patch on the Tex Murphy series.

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