Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Chernarus: An original song inspired by DayZ

I've been doing some preliminary work on the soundtrack for my next iOS game lately. One of the things I like to do when starting such a task is to compose a small, unrelated piece to help get my creative juices flowing and blow the cobwebs off all the audio production skills needed to do such a thing, which tend to sit idle between projects.

Back when I was making gaming comedy albums with Yukon, we'd always do a free cover song to help work out the kinks before diving into our own fully-original material. Besides being a lot of fun and serving the aforementioned purpose, these sessions often produced songs that went on to become fan favorites like "Holding out for a Healer" and "I Live to Pwn."

In keeping with that tradition, I decided to pick an upcoming game and make a song that I feel captures the spirit of it and could serve as a title or menu theme.

Having spent so much time with the alpha mod for it over the past several months, "DayZ" seemed like the obvious choice.

Here is the result.

Those of you who've seen my "DayZ" video series on YouTube will no doubt recognize the footage from it and those of you who already follow me on Twitter had a chance to see a work-in-progress version of this a couple weeks ago.

Keep in mind that I am retaining all rights to this song. If you would like to use it in anything or would like to hire me to compose something new, feel free to contact me via e-mail.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

My Thoughts on XCOM: Enemy Unknown

Note: In this post, "X-COM" refers to the original game form 1994 and "XCOM" refers to the Firaxis remake from 2012.

By now, you all know the drill. This isn't a "review" of XCOM. It's just me talking about the game and letting you all know what I think of it after about 12 hours of play. If you want a review, there are plenty of other places where you can get one. If you want to know what I think, proceed. :)

The original X-COM ("UFO: Enemy Unknown" as it was called when I bought it back in the day) is one of the best games and quite possibly the best turn-based tactical/strategy game ever made. If I were to make a personal Top 10 list from the thousands of games I've played over the years, it would very likely make the cut.

It was a difficult, often brutal game that at times felt outright unfair but that was part of what made it so compelling. Winning in X-COM was never assumed. No matter how well you played or how sound your strategies and tactics, there was always the chance that you'd get screwed by some terrifying event that you never saw coming and the loss you'd feel as a result was integral to the experience.

No manufactured story beat, no scripted sequence could ever match the gut-wrenching feeling of having one of your soldiers blown away by E.T. just as they rounded a corner.

 The problem with X-COM is that it hasn't aged particularly well. It was never a great looking game, even by the standards of its time. The most you could say is that it had a cool style to it. Beyond that, the interface was clunky, the sound effects, while memorable, were pretty basic and the overall presentation of the game made it the sort of thing most would only bother with today out of pure nostalgia.

Thankfully, Firaxis has come to the rescue with XCOM, which could well be the best re-make of a game that I've ever seen.

I said recently that there's no such thing as a perfect game and that still holds true with XCOM; however, it is easily one of very few games in the history of gaming to even approach perfection based on what I've experienced so far.

Sure, the tutorial at the beginning is a bit hand-holdy but it can be skipped. And yes, the camera can get a little unwieldy when you get to the edges of the tactical map or venture inside buildings and ships. And yes, sometimes you get blindsided by things that the game didn't warn you about ahead of time. Whatever. Suck it up. :)

The bottom line is that XCOM is a great game. I don't need to finish it (though I will be) to tell you that because the first 12 hours are better than 90% of the other games out there. If you loved the original and have been hoping for a modern game to live up to your memories of it, this is that game. If you never played the original, go and buy XCOM right now. Install it. Play it. Love it. Thank me later. :)

XCOM: Enemy Unknown (via Steam)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

My Thoughts on War of the Roses

The video game industry, like many others, is driven by trends. A particular style of game becomes popular and seemingly overnight there are a slew of other titles attempting to build on or simply duplicate it.

Fortunately, "War of the Roses" is much more than just a duplication of the multiplayer component from "Mount & Blade–" the game it most resembles. It brings a bevy of new features and a refined level of presentation and gameplay that make it stand out in the increasing pool of medieval, team-based, multiplayer games available to those of us who are into that sort of thing.

To simplify things: If the idea of roaming around castles and countrysides with medieval infantry and cavalry to secure objectives and slaughter your enemies sounds like something you'd be into, you should play this game.

If you're looking for a single-player experience or more elaborate game mechanics, you should probably look elsewhere.

"War of the Roses" does a handful of things exceptionally well. The feel of its combat system is fantastic. The level of customization it offers in terms of weapons, armor and perks is second to none in the genre and it sounds as beautiful as it looks. Having said that, you will not find much in it beyond the core gameplay I've described. That's not necessarily a bad thing but you should go into it knowing that it is a game purely focused on team-oriented, multiplayer combat. It does all of that extremely well but that is all there is to it.

Still not sure if "War of the Roses" is right for you? Check out this video!

War of the Roses (via Steam)