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Posts tagged “Dishonored

Departing Realism – Art in Video Games

For many years we have strived for realism in our computer generated art work. Just look at the progression of one of video game’s most enduring characters, Lara Croft, who has seen consistent titles released since 1996 in the days of visible polygons and hard edges on supposedly curved surfaces, through the rubber-doll days of Chronicles and Underworld, and into the modern reboot that can border on photo-realism in stills.

And yet, it seems like the closer we get to emulating reality, the more we seem to want to step away from it. Increasingly we see more stylisation in our artwork, cartoonish features, abstract colour palettes, or a simple distortion of reality to create a theme. I want to look into some of these artistic choices… (more…)

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Top 10 Stealth Games

GeekOut Top 10s

A genre for the patient, for those who delight in the predatory thrill of watching their victim from the shadows, braced and ready to strike them down when they are least aware. Stealth gamers are a weird bunch, mad people who turn off the lights when they walk into a room, weird habits in day to day life, but when sneaking up on their unsuspecting victims to pick their pocket, slit their throat, or a kancho.

Assassins, thieves, ninjas, and spies, those who stalk the darkness, all are gathered here in our Top 10 favourite Stealth Games.


Top 10

10) Styx

A novel character for the stealth genre, you play as Styx the Goblin!

A sequel to Of Orcs and Men, the goblin is infiltrating a huge facility filled with humans, in pursuit of relics and prized objects including the Heart of The Tree, a source of infinite power and effectively a stand-in for mana or magicka. He’s quick witted, sharp tongued and foul mouthed, a merciless killer with a bad memory.

I’ll admit I found the controls clunky, and at times the game was very visually “busy”, but levels were vast and intricate, with many approaches to the same goal, and a collection of mystical powers to help you along. Removing most of the RPG elements from the original but plunging you back into that world that saw humanity as the enemy, there is a sequel to Styx on its way and as yet, no sign of an RPG follow up.

9) Alpha Protocol

When I suggest a game that combines firearms, gadgets, martial arts and stealth*, you probably think of some crazy epic spy game. Well, that’s kind of what we got with Alpha Protocol, a title which promised so much, but yet sort of fell short of the hurdle. It didn’t matter though, the game picked up one hell of a following, even though a lot of people seemed to only like it retrospectively.

Through each mission, you have the option to go ham and just kill everything in sight, but you also are given the ability to play the game in the stealthiest way you can. After all, why should you waste all of your bullets on a thug, when you can wait, hide, sneak and kill the big bads before they know what’s hit them? Avoid cameras, thugs and being in the light – A great combination for an espionage RPG!

* This was a quote from Wikipedia. Go figure!

8) Aragami

Aragami takes the darkness out of stealth with bright, vivid colours and interesting lands, making you think twice about how you hide.

Here’s one we discovered in researching this list but neither Tim or I have ever played. It’s currently sitting quietly on my Steam Wishlist until payday because wow does it ever look pretty. An army of light has oppressed a people, and only a warrior born of shadow itself can take destroy them, but he must do so in a single night, as he will dissolve with the dawn.

Aragami uses the shadows to incredible effect, teleporting anywhere with a deep enough shadow, utilising weapons, ambush, and goddamn shadow dragons to take down his enemies to free the Shadow Empress and throw off the tyranny of light.

Not going to say too much more, I’m going to play this game and I don’t want to dig too deeply into the plot. Watch this space… closely.

7) Deus Ex

With a strong story, but with even strong side-missions, this game allows you to go ham, or to take a more tactical, stealthy route. The stealth is more satisfying than going mad in this game!

On a similar vein to our earlier entry, Alpha Protocol, Deus Ex was the first of its kind, arguably. You played as a special agent, Adam Jensen, or JC Denton if you go that far back and you have to deal with the conflict between normal humans and augs, the mechanically-augmented humans who are thought of to be nothing more than a nuisance to society. A bleak world, filled with gangs, guns, hacking and crafting!

We couldn’t really decide on a specific Deus Ex game, as we feel they are all excellent games. But hey, if you’re new to Deus Ex yourself, you really should check it out. Here, we wrote a review recently for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, so go and check it out! You don’t really need to know the previous titles to get into a Deus Ex game!

6) Splinter Cell

Splinter Cell features interesting mechanics such as heat detection and night vision!

Tom Clancy is a bit of a genius when it comes to action/strategy and stealth, allowing you to play as a black-ops agent called Sam Fisher. With his training, Sam is incredibly gifted and able to infiltrate and destroy from within. Featuring lighting which makes a massive difference to whether or not you’re seen, Splinter Cell is one of those games that is written by a storyteller who is absorbed with his work.

The series as a whole has always been a good point for Ubisoft, which isn’t too big of a surprise, when you consider how many big titles Ubisoft really has these days. The series is proudly represented by the goggles that Sam Fisher wears, allowing him to see heat levels, gain night vision and see electrical levels. As an interesting aside, originally Tom Clancy didn’t expect to put the goggles into the game, thinking they couldn’t be made into a reality. A few years later, they were made for real. Go figure!

5) Dishonored

Dishonored is a game which allows you to truly play how you want to… And it’s so rewarding to be unseen!

Though it only makes the halfway point on our list this remains my favourite stealth game. Taking much of the format of Thief, plunging you into a similar Victoriana style world of intrigue and shadow, and mixing in the powers of a dark and mysterious god, The Outsider. In the streets of Dunwall the disgraced bodyguard and agent of the Empress, Corvo Attano carves his way to redemption.

The game and its sequel (haven’t played the latest yet) are superb, including illusion and reality bending powers with technologies in an intricately fashioned world at war with itself. The powers may step up the action pace, but patience is well rewarded, and I have spent many a contented hour sitting on a lamppost, watching, waiting for the ideal moment to strike!

4) Mark of the Ninja

With brutal cutscenes and swift execution, this game is visually stylish! Fit for a ninja!

One of the best iterations of the genre in 2D, the Unnamed Ninja is a master of shadows, distraction, and terror, not so great at catching bullets. Though he becomes vulnerable when surrounded or rumbled, when stalking from shadow to shadow he is lethal, lightly springing from cover to cover, ceilings, rooftops and lampposts.

A tale of revenge, madness, and tattoos, by accepting the mark your character has accepted his task until insanity consumes him, Spoilers not realising that it already has, and that his longtime companion has been a hallucination born of madness from the beginning End Spoilers although it’s a six year old game at this point so if you haven’t played already then get it on your to-do list.

3) Hitman

One of the most iconic assassins in video game history

Spawning one of video games most recognisable assassins, Agent 47, Hitman is a franchise that started on a pretty average foot. It wasn’t really considered great, but people liked it enough that when they announced a second game, gamers went to get it. With Hitman 2 released, the series got better and better, being up for nominations for game of the year awards. The gameplay is simplistic, yet allows you to do things your way, with stealth killing being a major part of the objective.

With a franchise that has been around for 18 years, you’d be forgiven for forgetting to put Hitman in this list. We felt it wasn’t only fitting to have the assassination game making the Top 10, but we felt it was a strong enough contender for our Top 3 spot. The game is incredibly stylish for what it is; a truly unique example of what the stealth game genre could be. It’s brutal, but it’s a franchise that improved significantly from its lowly beginnings.

2) Metal Gear Solid

Tapping on walls to draw out enemies? A trope was born!

Metal Gear Solid sees you playing as Solid Snake, as you attempt to find and destroy the fabled Metal Gear. You move your way around as Snake by trying to keep out of the sight of the guards, the cameras and sentries. What makes Metal Gear Solid stand out over a lot of other stealth games is instead of just hiding around the corner, you can jump into a cardboard box, which guards will be, a little skeptical about but hey, it’s just a box!

You can say a lot for the classic stealth game, but it even went into the effects of being uncovered if you smoke your cigarettes. Whilst this isn’t the best message to send to children, the game was rated as Mature by the ESRB, which for the PlayStation wasn’t a common sight. Nevertheless, Metal Gear Solid features so much stealth action, with lots of fun quirky humour, whilst delivering a brutally brilliant plot. This is one of the best and most important stealth games released, period.

I would argue this was the true king of stealth games, but actually it came out the same year as our number one spot…

1) Thief II: The Metal Age

It may look clunky now, but at the time this was revolutionary.

The indisputable king of the genre, and generally considered to be the greatest title in the series. It took the concepts as laid out by Thief and improved upon them, cleaning up awkward controls, deepening the atmosphere, and improving visuals which – in a game where vision is a critical component – made the stealth more immersive.

Thief was a masterpiece, that offered a wide range of approaches and solutions to the same task, and Garrett an incredible protagonist, brilliantly ambiguous, walking a moral tightrope: he’ll save the city, but he’ll leave a trail of bodies in his wake. Without loyalty to anyone but himself, anyone wanting him to do anything that his indomitable skills in subterfuge and larceny, must make him see how it can benefit himself.

Shame about the fourth game. It was ok I guess. Personally I liked Deadly Shadows the most, but I respect Metal Age far too much to argue its place at number 1.


Honourable Mentions

Here we shed some light on those who slipped our immediate notice, but we couldn’t let them slink by without drawing attention to them. Here for all to see, are our honourable mentions.

Batman: Arkham City

An underrated game for stealth, although it is fair to say the game doesn’t necessarily implement it to be a core part of the gameplay.

It’s a shame we can’t include this in the proper list, as the stealth elements of the Arkham games are brilliantly executed but woven in with a well balanced combination of puzzle solving and action adventure. As the League of Shadows finest drop-out, Batman is a master of silent movement, distraction, and ambush tactics, brutally taking down opponents before they have a chance to react.

Using the environment, and the Crusader’s range of expensive tech from his classic grapple, to powerful x-ray vision, he’s taken down heavily armed goons by the dozen, taken out Victor Zsasz without him even knowing he was in the building. All around a great game, but I particularly loved the stealth moments, enough to give them a nod here.

Monaco

 

 

Getting a bunch of criminals together to commit some stealthy heists, with stealth kills and getting around the lights, the cameras and trying to steal as much money as you can along the way. You can play solo, or co-op for up to four people, which is a really nice touch! The game wasn’t a massive success on the Xbox, but it received much greater success over on Steam. At £10.99, it’s not a bad price!

We couldn’t put Monaco into the main list for a few reasons. For one, neither of us had played it, but from what we have seen of it, we’re pretty aware of how it plays and there’s a great sense of pacing in the game. As well as this, the game is very vibrant, albeit perhaps a little bit too vibrant for me at times. I love colours in games, but this really is sensory overload. But that genuinely is part of the appeal.


Not a soul left alive, not a valuable left in place, even the ones that were nailed down, and not a trace of who was here before, looks like our list is over for another week. While we clean up and try to get to the bottom of this, we must plan ahead to ensure this never happens again. Maybe if we hire more guards, and tell them not to give up searching and never dismiss anything as “just the wind”, especially after they’ve just taken a crossbow bolt to the neck.

Cast your vote for next week’s Geeky Top 10!

Did your favourite give us the slip? Have we been overlooking something obvious? Did you find our list to be out of order? Put us right in the comments down below, and on our Facebook and Twitter pages. We’ll see you next week!

But you won’t see us, until it’s too late…


Top 10 – Plots To Overthrow Authority

GeekOut Top 10s

For better or for worse, authorities are there to enforce rules upon us all. They tell us that we must comply, or we must pick up that can and put it in the bin. They tell us that we’d best do as they say, or they’ll lock us up, or worse, kill us. Regardless of how you feel about this, authorities have a simple goal: To lead people, through either inspiration or fear.

Well, we don’t fear them here, as we are taking a look at our Top 10 Plots To Overthrow Authority. Before we delve deep into these schemes, it’s worth pointing out that ‘authority’ does not have to be a government, or royalty. It can be anything that’s in charge of anything, but it has to have some form of governing body. (more…)


Top 10 – Dangerous Elderly Characters

GeekOut Top 10s

Rule #1: Do not act incautiously when confronted by bald, wrinkly, smiling men.

This rule applies to all elderly people who smile knowingly in the face of danger. It’s always worth listening to walking sticks to check for hidden swords, or observe hairpins for potential weaponization. Are those slippers for shambling slowly to the bathroom, or for whupping young whipper snappers into shape? Do they still have their own teeth? Either way it’s bad news.

Join us as we take register of the residents of this old folks dojo and secret underground retirement facility. This is our Top 10 Dangerous Elderly Characters.
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Re-Skinning D&D Creatures, Part 2

Last week I took a handful of classic D&D creatures and proposed new uses for their stat-blocks, something to lend a bit of diversity to the current roster with minimal need to create, change or modify. If your campaign has a flavour that the Monster Manual simply doesn’t cater for, there are ways and means of accommodating to your tastes. This week I’ll approach from the other side of the coin, declaring what I need for my campaign and using the tools at hand to make a solution.

Once again I’ll be using D&D 5th edition because it’s what I know best… (more…)


Review – Dishonored 2

I was introduced to Thief with the X-Box release of the third instalment of the series, was immediately gripped by the announcement of a fourth game, and ended up buying Dishonored to tide me over while I waited for the for the project to be pushed back and delayed and mired down and ultimately released to a chorus of “Oh… really?”.

Conversely, take the Bethesda released spiritual successor, a story of corruption and deceit immersed into a stylistic, industrialised fantasy world which drew a lot of the artwork from a cancelled Knights Templar themed game. It had stealth, it had action, variety, choices, tension and a dark horror that make it sound like a near-complete rip off of the original Thief series with better graphics and cool magic powers. And it was so good! (more…)


Top 10 Worthless NPCs

GeekOut Top 10s

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Have you ever sat through a game and you just happened to come across what you feel is the most worthless NPC of all time? I mean it’s not to say they have no purpose, nor are they useless, but they’re just absolutely worthless.

I mean do you even know his or her name? Is it a damn dog? What’s the point of it!? Just to cause us endless frustration, or just to be there? This week in our Top 10, we’re joined by Phil from 1001-Up as we run through our Top 10 Worthless NPCs in gaming.


Top 10

10. Mankrik’s Wife – World of Warcraft

mankriks-wife

You are sent on a quest to go and find Mankrik’s wife. This is a simple quest and of course you’re emotionally invested in this quest because this is someone’s loved one. Horde or Alliance, it doesn’t matter: Love is love. This quest is exclusively for Horde who adventure around The Barrens area, also infamous for Barrens chat… But that’s a story for another day.

No, instead you’re sent to find someone’s loved one and… Oh. She’s already dead. What was her name? Oh yeah, Mankrik’s Wife.

Great.

9.  – Milla Vodello and Sasha Nein – Psychonauts


Spoiler Warning
This pair of elite-Psychonauts are highly trained field operatives with highly disciplined minds that are capable of constructing elaborate and carefully controlled training grounds for powerful young minds to be educated in. And even though the same can be said of the game’s antagonist, Morceau Oleander, you’d think his villainy would have come to light when put under a little scrutiny. KIDS WERE BEING LOBOTOMISED! NOBODY THOUGHT “Hey, there are a lot of very powerful psychics here, let’s check them out quickly, just in case.”

Milla and Sasha have a small degree of input early in the game before vanishing off on a distraction while Oleander’s dastardly scheme unfolds, only to be thwarted by the protagonist, Raz. Great game, but really guys? So many kids nearly died because you were just a little too caught up in “That thing over there….”

8. Pedestrians – Grand Theft Auto

500px-Soapboxxer-GTA4-pedestrians'reactions

If you forced me to come up with a reason why Grand Theft Auto pedestrians were worth anything it would be to gain wanted stars. They do have their entertainment value with their crazy catchphrases and peculiar habits but other than that they only serve to ruin your success on a job by orbiting your vehicle on a suicide mission. In more recent versions of the Grand Theft Auto series they now have the ability to call the police if they spot the player getting up to no good which simply wastes everybody’s time by having to run them over.

7. Treavor Pendleton – Dishonored

Pendleton_render

What to say on the subject of Treavor Pendleton? Well let’s start with the fact that he’s so damn memorable I had to google him to remember exactly who he was. The entirety of his story input was to ask Corvo (the main character) to kill his brothers, and then to stand around getting drunk. Just constantly swilling whiskey and wandering around moping.

Correction, he does do something else. He functions as a sounding board for other NPCs to talk to about things you need to hear (or overhear). Without him there they’d have very few choices, and Trev just loves to talk. He loves to talk to you… even when you’re clearly trying to get past him.

6. Old Man – Pokemon Red/Blue

PokemonRed11
Now we are just wrong to include this old man, we hear you say. He teaches you about catching Pokemon as well as helping you unlock the secret glitches of the game. How could anyone possibly call him worthless?!

Because he spends ages at the beginning of the game begging to have coffee, before he will let you pass (with no rhyme or reason!) He then not only lets you pass after a certain point in the game, he teaches you how to catch Pokemon. Meanwhile, you’re sat there with a full party of 6 Pokemon in your bag. Um, Old Man, are you feeling okay? Well let me go and fly to Cinnabar Island now to get away from you… Oh gosh what have you done to my game!?

5. Black Mesa Scientists – Half Life

BMS_Beauty_scientist_bob

The overwhelming majority of population in the Black Mesa facility were scientists and until the fatal day of the resonance cascade arrived. Until this point they were extremely worthwhile NPCs carrying out their daily research activities for the greater good. Once hell literally broke loose their worth plummeted to zero, just like their health levels, as they became headcrab fodder.

Sure, there may have been one or two that helped open doors but even if they were dead Gordon would only need to drag their corpses over to the eye scanner to continue serving their purpose.

4. Error – The Legend of Zelda II

Error
He is Error.

Thanks, Error. Just thanks. Nothing else to add? I mean is your name symbolic of who you are? An error within the game? Error!? Want to add something to the mix?!

Yes, he’s in arguably one of the most frustrating video games of all time and he just has to tell you that he is Error. What a worthless NPC.

3. Dog – Duck Hunt

duck-hunt

Do I even have to say anything? Look at that stupid grin! How many of you tried to shoot the dog? I know it’s a terrible thing to do and you shouldn’t want to shoot a dog, but dammit that thing is so smug! He contributes nothing to the game except to bounce around snatching up your ducks! And laughing when you fail.

If the dog serves any purpose, it is to be hated and to make Duck Hunt famous because people are talking… about… the dog…

DAMMIT

2.Adoring Fan – Oblivion

Adoring_Fan
This fan is so useless that he serves two major functions: Follow. Wait. That’s basically it. True to an adoring fan though, he offers useless quibble in the form of offering back-rubs, boot polishing and more.

Add to this the Adoring Fans horrible sense of hair fashion and that he doesn’t even give your character said back rubs or boot polishes… Adoring Fan, you are worthless. Time to hit you off the highest cliff in Oblivion.

… Stop running back up the hill when I hit you off.

1. Butler – Tomb Raider

Winston
Also known as Winston Smith, Lara’s butler is painfully remembered by Tomb Raider fans as not only being utterly worthless in-game but also a complete pain in the backside as he stalked our favourite Tomb Raider around the house. Most players will remember the feeling of dread as he slowly hunts Lara while groaning about his backache and his rattling tea tray, some zombie games could learn a lot of from the Croft Manor level in Tomb Raider II.

If you ever mention Lara’s butler to a Tomb Raider fan they will immediately tell you stories about how they locked him in the freezer not for fun but just to get rid of him – if that’s not the definition of the most worthless NPC ever then I don’t know what is.


Honourable mentions

These next two deserved to be noticed for their worthless endeavours. They don’t quite make the cut for our Top 10, but let’s be honest: It doesn’t make it any better that they have been recognised as worthless in some way, shape or form!

Trader – Killing Floor

Trader

You would think that having a trader in the game wouldn’t ever really make a Top 10 most Worthless NPCs list… but think about this from the point of view of a frustrated zombie killer such as Kevo the Chav.

This trader makes snarky remarks about people not being Frank Bruno if they can’t carry something. She laughs at players pitiful attempts to buy zombie killing devices from her if they’re too poor. She doesn’t stay in one location. She has a plethora of weapons and just keeps herself locked away so no zombies can get to her. She could literally just give all of the guys and girls a weapon to stop the zeds and still have enough weapons to sell afterwards.

Announcers – Every game that has announcers

Seriously, Unreal Tournament is super memorable because of its high-paced action and it’s awesomely voice-acted announcers. However, this doesn’t make them worth a damn penny. They’re just there. But at least they make themselves known with their constantly expressive voices. M-M-M-M-MONSTER KILL.

Oh but what about the Administrator in Team Fortress 2? Effectively worthless. She gives you sass and snark like there’s no tomorrow.

Don’t even get me started with you three, JBL, Michael Cole and Jerry “the King” Lawler!

But the games are made better with your presence, announcers. You’re worthless, but you’re our favourite kind of worthless: the worthless that adds feeling. Keep it worthless, voices!


That’s all for our Top 10 today. If you have any suggestions for a future Top 10, then do let us know as we are all ears. Also, if you want to get involved, just let us know! We’d love to have more guests such as Phil today.

What did you think of our decision of our Top 10 Worthless NPCs in gaming? We figured these ones were pretty worthless, but I bet you all know one that deserves at least a mention. Did we get our order around the right direction? Let us know in the comments below!