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    Apr 17th, 2009 at 11:00:43     -    DOOM (PC)

    DOOM

    -= Overview =-
    Doom is the best 4 megabyte game I have ever downloaded, by far! The shareware screens give me a sense of nostalgia for an era that has long since changed to featureless-levelless trials and nag screens. The game is fully featured and this particular version is bundled with a loading screen that allows you to choose what level to load and has some other options to change in the game.

    -= Story =-
    The main idea of the story is that you are YOU. The main character never speaks, you never see his/her face (except in the health meter), and s/he does not have a name. This is intentional in order to get the player more immersed in the story. If you want to know the story, you actually have to look at the manual (or read Wikipedia), but the basic idea is that you are a space marine who assaulted a higher ranking officer. You, of course, are the good guy in the conflict as you were doing what is "right". So they shipped you off to Mars and the two moons of Mars to partake in your adventure. You eventually end up in Hell, too, by the way. There are lots of monsters overrunning Mars and its moons because of teleportation experiments having something to do with hell, and only YOU can send them all back to hell---with your guns.

    -= Graphics & Sound =-
    The graphics in Doom are not great by today's standards, but for 1993, they are AWESOME! The levels have dynamic lighting on all the sprites based on how many windows and lights are around. Now that I've mentioned sprites, the graphics are actually all 2-Dimensional images unlike typical 3-D models that you see in games nowadays. Every once in a while this will break the sense of true 3-D-ism, but for the most part you won't notice unless you're looking for it. Where you will notice the 3-D features lacking is when you attempt to aim at enemies above or below you in the level. You actually don't have to aim up or down at all. One neat feature that this 2-D leveling provides is that all the levels can be represented in 2-D for the automap feature. Many current games have a confusing automap feature because rooms are on top of other rooms and showing the "depth" of the adjacent rooms is sometimes confusing.

    The sound of Doom is not as great as the graphics. It does have sound, but the background music gets somewhat annoying at times. I imagine this music wouldn't get as annoying if I could beat the levels anywhere close to the "par" time, so maybe it is my fault I don't like the music. The sound effects aren't too bad, on the other hand. Allegedly Doom is the first widespread game to use stereo sound so you can tell if enemies are hurting you from the left or right.

    -= Gameplay =-
    The controls are intuitive because practically every other FPS since Doom has had similar controls. Unfortunately the mouse drivers on Windows have been updated in the past 15 years, so the mouse wasn't working in this version! This was a very annoying feature because strafing was so difficult to do on the keyboard. In general, the game play was very intuitive and straightforward: kill everything, find an exit sign.

    -= First Gameplay Session =-
    My first attempt at playing Doom (in the past decade) was frustrating. Why does my mouse not work? Why doesn't Windows use .VXD drivers anymore? Ugh. So figuring out the keyboard controls wasn't bad. Arrow keys make sense. Space and Ctrl do everything else, except strafe which has 2 different possibilities: hold alt while pressing left-right or use comma and period. I repeatedly tried both ways and neither one was easy to use while my fingers were on the other keys. Anyway, I played on the easiest mode and it was fairly difficult to die, so I was able to play until I just got tired and had other things to do. The first level was straight forward to find all the various rooms and get to the exit, but some of the other levels were confusing and I would get turned around a lot until I figured out how to use the auto-map. Finding keys and exits becomes much easier if you use the automap.

    -= Second Gameplay Session =-
    The second gameplay session consisted of me trying out a later level on the hardest difficulty, where I immediately died, so I went back to super-easy mode. Then I tried to make my stats at the end of a level better. So I found where all the secrets were, and tried to kill all the enemies, and tried to explode or pick up all the items. At this point, I realized that beating the level in par time was possible but only if you memorized where everything was and didn't try to do anything else. Some of the secrets aren't too difficult to find if you watch for different textures on the walls and use the automap to look for extra pieces of walls.


    -= Summary =-
    In summary, Doom is a great game that many other games have been based from. So many games were copies of Doom that the phrase "Doom Clone" was a nickname for all the other FPS games in that time period. Doom was so well built that even after 15+ years it is still fun to play and works on new hardware with only a few minor glitches.

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    Mar 5th, 2009 at 12:35:48     -    Hyperspace Destroyer (PC)

    Hyperspace Destoyer

    -= Overview =-
    Hyperspace Destroyer is a fun game. It still needs a little bit of work, but it's not bad for a game developed in three weeks. In Hyperspace Destroyer you are a space ship traveling through many levels of enemies destroying everything in your path.

    -= Gameplay =-
    The game controls and design are straight forward and easy to figure out because there are many other similar games on the Internet. Of course, the game would be even easier to figure out with some sort of a help screen or document. That would probably be my main gripe with the game--no help. I don't know what the various powerups do, so I do not know which ones I need to go after and which ones will not help me at all. In addition, I have found the attack and the missile attack, but I do not know if there is any other way to attack or defend because of the lack of a help document.

    -= Graphics & Sound =-
    Hyperspace Destroyer has very creative graphics and sound. The background music is catchy and entertaining, but it doesn't match the typical sci-fi theme that I expected. That is not a bad feature, just unexpected. Personally, I was not a big fan of the background graphic. There were too many colors and shapes in the background that blended into the foreground. Sometimes it was difficult to see the dangerous blocks and ships due to the lack of contrast with the background.

    -= First Gameplay Session =-
    The first gameplay session mainly consisted of figuring out the controls and trying to find which objects I should shoot at and which were powerups and which were just background images. At points I was quite overwhelmed by the sheer amount of various objects on the screen. I think there are too many things on the screen at each time, but at the same time, I realize the point of having that many objects because the levels are not extremely difficult to beat even with that many objects. I ended up beating all three levels on my first attempt at the game.

    -= Second Gameplay Session =-
    Since I had the controls figured out after the first session, I now tried to figure out the details of the various powerups and how the missiles work. As far as I can tell, the green dots help your health, and the big star looking powerups are the triple shots. I'm still not sure what the other powerups exactly do. I think one of them adds to the score and I know that one of them allows your ship to shoot faster, but I'm not sure which color that was. One thing I did notice during this session was that your missiles actually hurt your character a lot, even if you are all the way at the bottom of the screen. The fact that you can hurt yourself so badly is disappointing.

    -= Entertainment =-
    One of the main selling points of the game is the creative, humorous, entertaining factors. The game is funny with its parodies of other games and T.V. shows. Although the story was creative, it was easy to gloss over because I was ready to play the game. Once the game began, there was no more enhancement to the story.

    -= The End =-
    I found the ending of the game to be very abrupt. No "you won" dialogs or fireworks or anything reassuring like that; only a high score board. Same thing goes for when you die (which is incredibly difficult to do, by the way). I actively attempted to hit every block that I could on the first level and got to the boss with 25% of my health left from my first life. If you don't touch your ship during the second level, you can almost make it through without dying , but the ships and bullets actually did kill me, but I think I was very close to the boss at that point. In that aspect, I think the game is too easy. Fewer lives or less health could help the game become more fun because it may not automatically be winnable then.

    -= Summary =-
    The game is entertaining and fun. I think it would be a little better if it was more difficult, and I think there should be fewer, tougher enemies that do not blend into the background so much. The music is funny and well suited to the game. The graphics are not stellar, but completely adequate for the game. The humor in the game is what really makes it entertaining and worth playing.

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    Jan 20th, 2009 at 19:51:43     -    Cricket (Darts) (Other)

    Cricket (Darts)

    Cricket is a skill game. It is based upon the game of darts (not the baseball-like game). It is typically played with two players (or two teams), but the rules allow for any number of players to play.

    -= Object =-
    The goal of cricket is to hit every number 15 through 20 three times each (and hit the bull three times). Once a number, or bull, is hit three times, it is known as "closed". The game is over when a player who has closed every number and bull obtains the most points. The winner of a game of cricket is the player with the most points.

    -= Board =-
    Cricket is played on a typical dart board with numbers 1 through 20 and bull in the middle. The outermost double ring counts as two hits on a number, and the smaller, inner triple ring counts as three hits on a number. The bull's eye also counts as a double bull hit. If any number less than 15 is struck, it neither helps nor hinders a player.

    -= Scoring =-
    Scoring is achieved by hitting a number (or the bullseye) additional times after the initial three hits needed to "close" that number out. Scoring is possible on a number until all opponent players have closed that number. When all players have closed a particular number, no more points can be scored on that particular number.

    For example, if Player 1 hits 20 four times during a turn (a triple 20 and a single 20), then Player 1 would get 20 points for the fourth hit. Player 1 can continue to score on 20 until Player 2 is able to close it out.

    Because of how scoring works, it is possible for a player with the least amount of points to close every number before any other player. At this point, the game is NOT over. Play continues and that player is able to accrue more points on any numbers that other players still have open. If this player can amass more points than the competition, game play ends at that point. Otherwise, another player with more points can win when that player closes every number.

    -= Competition =-
    Cricket is a game of skill and practice, but because of the double and triple rings, a certain amount of luck and chance can enable a player of lesser skill to beat a more skillful player.

    -= Playability =-
    The fun of the game is offered mainly by the competition and also by the ability to get better with practice. The game is unlikely to be fun if two players of drastically different skill levels are competing. If both players have a similar skill level, the game is likely to be more fun for both because each player has a decent chance of winning.

    -= Summary =-
    Cricket is a fun darts game that requires slightly more skill and slightly less luck than a typical 301 type game. It is a fun game for both beginners and pros alike, but in order to truly enjoy the competition an opponent of similar skill level is recommended.

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