Hmm, I've been playing Undying some more today, and it .. uh.. scares me. If the headcrabs in Half-Life made you jump a few times, Undying will too.
They get the pacing down pretty good-- you'll be wandering around for a while not encountering anything, then suddenly you turn a corner and boom. This is something that Clive Barker specifically mentioned in one of his interviews about the game; it's a lot scarier to punctuate exploring with a few unexpected encounters rather than inundate the player with combat after combat. I get the impression that someone from a non-gaming background had a strong hand in this game; many parts of it feel utterly original, though it is clearly cut from the same cloth as every other derivative UT engine license.
Incidentally, that was one of the best features of Tomb Raider (the first one, not the MXCMVII sequels).. you really got freaked out when you encountered anything since you spent so much time exploring alone. Ah well, bring on Galleon!
What particularly got me today, in Undying, was this octopus tentacled head thing.. it likes to crawl around on room walls and ceilings, then jump out at you. Grotesque. And it made me jump a few times. The enemy designs are quite original compared to other FPS games.
Also, I can't emphasize enough how good the sound and music is in this game-- that's a large part of what makes it scary. The guy who did the music also did Rainbow 6 and a number of feature films. Top notch sound work all around.
Finally, the lighting.. if you watched the DOOM3 movie, it's plain to see that lighting is friggin' HUGE when it comes to setting the tone! Especially in a horror type game. And though the Unreal engine has its problems, I have to say the lighting as shown in Rune and Undying is quite impressive.
And Undying has a kick-ass shotgun. 'nuff said.
By Peter Olafson on Thursday, March 1, 2001 - 08:35 pm:
Well, the game's very pretty, but it doesn't scare me a bit.
So far, it just annoys me.
It has virtually no atmosphere. They've certainly got the backdrop down--the house is magnificent--but rather than tease us with shadows, the suggestion of movement, a sound that might be wind and might be something else, they whack us on the head right off the bat with those little imps. If they'd kept the danger intangible for a little while, letting the player get a feel for the big, creepy house, this would be a much better game.
It's also the Usual Old Key Hunt. They could have gotten around it by explaining that doors are stuck (sea air or something) or locked to keep the monsters contained, but they omitted to do so and as a result the game feels locked-down and limited. We follow the dead hand of the designer as we would in a Quake or an Unreal.
Undying also has the same problem as Blair Witch Volume 1; the designers seem worried that, if they don't give you something to kill, there won't be enough to do.
I'm having a better time in In Cold Blood.
By wumpus on Thursday, March 1, 2001 - 10:19 pm:
"It has virtually no atmosphere. They've certainly got the backdrop down--the house is magnificent--but rather than tease us with shadows, the suggestion of movement, a sound that might be wind and might be something else, they whack us on the head right off the bat with those little imps."
The sound and music, for me, is the biggest contributor to the fear factor. That barely audible, whispered "looook.. seeeeee.." you hear when a scene is scry-able creeps me out. Plus, the game's use of music at appropriate locations is some of the best I've heard since Half-Life. I just went through a neat tribal drums sequence (in "eternal autumn") that got progressively faster as I proceeded through the levels. Then there's way you can hear enemies, and see their shadows (occasionally-- depends on the light-- particularly the flying enemies) before they come into view.. that works nicely.
There are also a ton of scripted sequences that are very unnerving. I don't want to spoil them for anyone.
All the flames and fabric in the game do react to wind-- this extends to character clothing as well. I noticed on the first boss that my skull storm explosion was blowing her Stevie Nicks-like outfit all around. There are one or two sequences later where candles/lights blow out, too.
Another neat trick. The gun has ricochet modelling. You can shoot yourself with it if you stand directly in front of a brick/stone wall and fire; or, if you're a trick shot, it is possible to bank shots off walls. There's a little white smoky line where the shots bank, so you can track it. Pointless, but another sign of developers who are paying attention to detail.
This is getting awfully stream-of-consciousness, but the next thing that springs to mind is the way the human arab-type enemies will occasionally trip.. for no reason whatsoever. They'll be running at you (or taking cover, sometimes they do that too), then they'll just trip themselves up and fall flat on their faces. It's quite funny actually.
"It's also the Usual Old Key Hunt. They could have gotten around it by explaining that doors are stuck (sea air or something) or locked to keep the monsters contained, but they omitted to do so and as a result the game feels locked-down and limited. We follow the dead hand of the designer as we would in a Quake or an Unreal. "
Yeah, it's super linear, but I don't automatically consider that a minus. There's nothing I hate worse than running around a giant, empty level wondering what the hell it is you're supposed to do next. That's about as much fun as a root canal. If a game is going to err on one side of that linear->open ended axis, I prefer they err on the side of linearity.
The game definitely has some flaws.. no doubt about that (key hunt, linear, weird plot). But what do you expect from a B-grade FPS? More interesting to me are the many things Undying does well. It greatly exceeds my expectations.
By Mark Asher on Saturday, March 3, 2001 - 04:49 am:
"Yeah, it's super linear, but I don't automatically consider that a minus. There's nothing I hate worse than running around a giant, empty level wondering what the hell it is you're supposed to do next."
I agree wholeheartedly. I dislike puzzles to begin with, so I prefer being shoehorned through an action game. I prefer non-linear in strategy games, but for action games, guide me through the levels and tell me a good story along the way. That's what I like.
I've just started playing this game and it's really creepy. I've got that feeling of tension that I get when I watch a suspense film when I know something scary's about to happen.
By mtKafka (Mtkafka) on Saturday, March 3, 2001 - 05:13 am:
"But what do you expect from a B-grade FPS? "
What exactly is a B-Grade FPS? Undying has lots of slickness to it imo. . . not exactly B-Grade to me. The last "B-Grade" fps i've played was Kiss; which was actually pretty good.
anyway, replaying Undying on the hardest mode, this game has alot of balance to it, the weapons all are useful throughout the whole game, theres a certain balance to all of Undying's weapons. . . when looking at the posts in the action newsgroup i noticed how some ppl prefer lightning, or those who like the Scythe, or those who stick with handguun n shotgun alot. Undying is a very tightly made game, almost all the unreal engine games have that feel to it.
btw sorta OT. . . which engine of games do you like? I've noticed i liked the Lithtech (NOLF, Kiss, Shogo) and Unreal engine games (UT, WoT, Undying, RUne) much more than the Quake 3 engine games (ST:EF, HM F2, Q3, Alice) . . . hmmm
By wumpus on Saturday, March 3, 2001 - 08:36 am:
Quake 3 has had crappy licensed games, pure and simple.
Alice-- gameplay sucks, pure and simple. Fun in a Myst-like way, I suppose. Blah.
HM: Fakk2-- this actually had potential; the use of two weapons at once was interesting, as was the Croft-esque character abilities such as jumping, shimmying, climbing, etcetera. But it tried too hard to be a clever adventure game.. and the character models are just hideous.
ST:EF -- there needs to be a special circle of hell dedicated to Raven for making ST:EF. What a pointless, masturbatory excercise in a by-the-numbers FPS *that* was.
These games compare very unfavorably to Rune, Undying, and NOLF-- all of which I consider essential must-play FPS games.
As for the future of Q3 engine licensing: Wolfenstein will be *huge*, easily the best use of the license to date. But I also have it on very good authority that DNF will be out around the same time. And that's no contest-- always bet on Duke.
By Supertanker on Saturday, March 3, 2001 - 12:57 pm:
"ST:EF -- there needs to be a special circle of hell dedicated to Raven for making ST:EF. What a pointless, masturbatory excercise in a by-the-numbers FPS *that* was."
You forgot to mention short. The single player game was about a third of what I expected, especially after playing NOLF. While there was some initial fun to just running around with Star Trek weapons, I think they were locked into a dull game by a boring license. Boring show, boring license, boring game.
I found a big imbalance in the multiplayer. The alt-fire of the compression rifle is just like a railgun in Q3. It is hitscan, does a ton of damage, and even gives you an "Impressive" for two consecutive hits. Problem is, the player movement is slow and almost locked to the horizontal (no jumping, flying, etc.). These facts combine to make open levels into a shooting gallery. You only have to guess on one direction of target travel, so put your sight a little ahead, wait until they walk into it, and bang - dead. My rail skills are mediocre, but playing against mid-level bots, I have ended a CTF game with 40-50 Impressives, and I've even received a couple of "Untouchables" for never dying in the round. I haven't tried playing against humans, but last I looked, there were only about 10 people playing online.
By Felderin (Felderin) on Thursday, March 15, 2001 - 12:52 pm:
For me, the atmosphere is actually this game's biggest draw. It has it in spades. It's also got a bunch of other assorted problems, and I didn't really like the very last section--Eternal Autumn), but that didn't keep me from finishing the game (which is something I don't do often with games that I'm not reviewing, unless I really like them).
Oneiros and the monastary past levels were the best, really.
By Felderin (Felderin) on Thursday, March 15, 2001 - 12:55 pm:
"These games compare very unfavorably to Rune, Undying, and NOLF-- all of which I consider essential must-play FPS games."
Undying and NOLF I'll grant you, but Rune? I found Rune to be pretty uninspiring--a seemingly endless romp through dark sewers (and dark dungeons, and dark caverns) in which you kill the same three or four creatures over, and over, and over, and over. I might have liked it a lot more if it were about half as long as it was (they could have lost most of the Hel levels with no ill effect on the game, for instance).
By wumpus on Thursday, March 15, 2001 - 03:39 pm:
Here's a few easter eggs for Undying. Holy CRAP these are funny.
The shooting gallery is.. 3D galaga. It's insane. There's even that star background from the game. And all the other ones are equally insane.
These aren't your usual stupid "dopefish lives!" easter eggs-- these are *events*. I have to wonder what the developers were on for some of these.. the miniature theater .. I can't find the words. It's truly bizarre in the richest sense of the word.
Undying Easter Eggs...
-Begin the game, walk into the house, and get the short tour from the maid.
-Afterwards, walk to the end of the hall, towards the door near which there
lies a health pack.
-Shoot the two square panels near the top of the door.
-The door should open, and inside you'll be treated to a 10 level
mini-shooting gallery. It's pretty hard (not much time to play balance
easter eggs), so if you can beat it, send us a screenshot :-)
-Enter "Open Manor_EntranceHall_FromKitch"
-Head towards the paintings on your left
-Jump and try to reach the top of the two outermost paintings. They will
become slightly recessed and you will hear a click when you're successful.
-Watch the show!
-Enter "Open Monastery_Present_Cove"
-Play through the level until you have jumped into the ruined building (from
-Head to the upper level of this building
-Look for a plank that is extended towards the farm (this is where some
howlers were jumping around when you first got into the building)
-Jump up and down at the end of the plank a few times, and you'll see our
version of the staypuft marshmallow man...
Disco of Death
-Enter "Open Oneiros_HowlingWell"
-Fly up to the big building. Walk in, and down the stairs. Look for a square
button on the wall (near the big purple magic field thingy). Uh, push it.
-Go back outside. Fly up onto the roof of the building and scrye. Look for a
small purple haze, and fly towards it.
-Getchur groove on...
Patrick strikes out
-Enter "Open Manor_Entranchall_night_ReturnFromCove" (yes I think that's the
longest level name in the game...)
-Walk through the first set of doors, and hang a left. A maid will come out.
After you've talked to her, follow her and hang around for a bit. Perhaps
she's not doing anything later tonight.. besides exercising, that is.
Jeff "wumpus" Atwood
By wumpus on Thursday, March 15, 2001 - 03:44 pm:
"Undying and NOLF I'll grant you, but Rune? I found Rune to be pretty uninspiring--a seemingly endless romp through dark sewers (and dark dungeons, and dark caverns) in which you kill the same three or four creatures over, and over, and over, and over."
Rune is LONG. To enjoy Rune you really have to haul ass through the levels-- that way you never spend too much time in any one area. I think that's why George Broussard liked it so much, and I gotta say, me too. It's like the antithesis of Raven's Elite Force (gag).
Plus, once you add in the whole over-the-top bloodlust (two levels!)-- even killing endless skeletons was fun. Beheading 3 skeletons at once and simultaneously maxxing out my bloodlust meter made me feel like the King of the World.
By Groo on Thursday, March 15, 2001 - 06:42 pm:
Wumpus said: "ST:EF -- there needs to be a special circle of hell dedicated to Raven for making ST:EF. What a pointless, masturbatory excercise in a by-the-numbers FPS *that* was."
Supertanker said: "You forgot to mention short."
This is like the old joke: "The food here is terrible. And such small portions!"
By Felderin (Felderin) on Thursday, March 15, 2001 - 07:50 pm:
Beheading skeletons was fun the first ten times I did it. It was okay for the next twenty. After that, it got to be something of a bore.
Given the choice between a really long but dull game and a really short game that's non-stop fun (or at least non-stop interesting), I'll take the latter. I'm not a big fan of filler, and Rune had a lot of it. I didn't hate the game, per se--I thought the action was okay, I just wanted to either be shorter or offer more variety.
By wumpus on Friday, March 16, 2001 - 02:50 am:
"Beheading skeletons was fun the first ten times I did it. It was okay for the next twenty. After that, it got to be something of a bore."
I really enjoyed the combat in Rune. For me, a bit of the old ultraviolence was really its own reward.
But it's a very long game. Maybe they should have shortened it so people would get to the new areas and monsters faster?