| The ECG DOT COM Classic Game Review Bonanza |
Two weeks of playing nothing but old games I found lying around my room? What madness is this? Clearly, this is the kind of madness that makes you write stupid little reviews about all of them. What held up? What fell on it's ass? What evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows! Mwahahahahahahaha!
I would like to dedicate these reviews to Shirley Temple. Dance on, little one, dance on.
Heaven is built just like any other city, requiring adequate infrastructure and wicked cool buildings. Hell is supposed to be built like the worst city you can imagine, with long, twisty roads that go nowhere and monumental inconvenience. You get money by charging souls a fee to pass through the gates, which is kind of a rip when they're passing into Hell, but who am I to explain economics to the Powers That Be.
The Experience: The developers really nailed the simulation aspect of this game because only Jesus would actually find the Easy mode of this game easy. Everything costs huge amounts of money, and until you've got a very big afterlife the price of admittance is tiny. On top of that, the disasters in this game are mind blowingly damaging, as it is quite common for all of Heaven to freeze over, costing you a fortune in lost revenue. Natural disasters on the planet ensured that the population never went above 15,000 people in 3000 years, explaining why the Lord is angry enough to give you herpes. Stupid herpes. Still, I restarted many many times trying to turn a profit, so Afterlife must be doing something right.
The Verdict: Afterlife should only be played by important religious figures like Moses or Christina Aguilera.
The Experience: Happily I found my old save games from way back when for my very heterosexually named character "Rakish Benoit". That right there shows how old this game is because I always call myself elcyberGoth in games these days. What an outrageous ego. Anyway, I discovered he was loaded up with all kinds of enchanted Daemon armour and weapons, with a ton of gold and high rank in several guilds. I walked off to the Fighters Guild and got a mission to kill a werebeast. Strolling over to the dungeon in question, I walked in and immediately remembered why I stopped playing this game. Every single dungeon in this game is a confusing mess of yellow and gray hallways that must be combed to dig up that one beast/character/item/sandwich needed to complete your quest. This is what I refer to as "Fun, German-style". I stepped into the old "right hand rule", where you always take the turn on the right until you get back to the entrance, because there's sure as fuck no other way to wade through these dungeons. I opened a door and got killed by a guy in a skirt. Next game.
The Verdict: Daggerfall looks real sweet until you take it home and find out it has a penis under it's dress. Not that I have any experience in such situations.
The Experience: Basically what happens in this game is you get some guys and you build stuff and then go kill the other guys. In the next mission you do this again only now you've got a new unit that's faster. Sometimes you get units that aren't faster but they shoot farther/harder. Sometimes they can fly! Adding to the adventure is the fact that units can't for the life of them get through a wall of trees/farms.
Here's a mighty army of orcs, armed to the gills and thirsty for blood, marching to battle, when suddenly....
ORC 1: Holy crap! TREES!
ORC 2: Quick, put down your axes and think of some way to get around this forest!
ORC 3: Hey, we could get by if that farm wasn't in the way!
ORC 1: But it's 90% open field. We'll never get across that!
ORC 2: Let's blow it up! Use your axes to set it on fire!
I never understood why in order to win you had to bash everything the other guy owns. If you've killed everybody in his base, why waste his pig farms? Don't the humans eat pigs too? Is this WarCraft 2: Orcs vs Jews? These questions were simply too much for me and I stopped playing.
The Verdict: WarCraft 2 is chock full of mindless repetitive gameplay that I'm sure no one likes in games, especially Koreans.
Star Trek: 25th Anniversary
The Experience: This game was made my huge Trekkies and it's not afraid who knows it. All the classic stuff is there: superpowered aliens testing the crew, the musical score jumping in at key points of drama, Romulans being dicks, the top three officers going on every away mission, and yes, you can usually kill the guy in the red shirt. The puzzles can often be solved many different ways, a lost art in todays games, however many of the solutions are terribly gay. We're talking Ja Rule gay, here. Also, the ship to ship combat sequences are really lame. Still, I played through this game from start to finish in one sitting, until I got to the last battle and had my ass whipped. Stupid last battle.
The Verdict: Star Trek: 25th Anniversary is loads of fun to play, if only to discover the many ways to kill the red shirts.
The Experience: Magic Carpet wasn't written for today's computers, as when I loaded it up everything was moving slightly slower than the LES at a singles bar, which is to say pretty damn fast. I got killed by a bird or something in the first two seconds. I believe my comments at the time were something like, "Agggggghhhhh shit!" Running the game with MoSlo set to 1% speed made it slightly more playable, and I floated around wasting everything in sight, stealing their souls or whatever for a while. Then the game did something horrible to my sound card and I had to reboot. What an fantastic adventure!
The Verdict: Magic Carpet was pretty fun when getting it to work wasn't a soul crushing experience
Crusader: No Remorse
The Experience: Your character is controlled like an RC car with a gun: left and right to turn, up and down for forward and back. With no sort of auto aiming this makes lining up targets a pain in the ass, and I ran out of ammo halfway through the first level. I did not complete the first level.
The Verdict: Crusader: No Remorse ate my balls.
Life & Death
The Experience: Oddly enough I remembered how to diagnose every single disorder, and just whipped though patient after patient. Also, I found that you can customize your signature on documents and promptly changed mine to "LOL". After a while I got my first appendicitis sufferer and it was off to OR. Once I figured out how to wash my hands I picked up the syringe labelled 'A' for "Antibiotics" and injected it into the patient. Fun fact: the syringe labelled 'A' does not hold antibiotics and instead holds something that stops people's hearts. Having killed my first surgical patient doing pre-op I was sit down in a classroom and told not to inject things that kill people into patients. Then I saw my next patient, who also had appendicitis. I managed to make it all the way to the first incision this time, and only wasted one bag of blood trying to figure out how to stop the bleeding. Then it was a few quick slices and a hernia before I was elbow deep in gut. I promptly cut the intestines open and the patient died. Back to the classroom for me! After a few more deaths I decided I wasn't going to figure out how to not cut the intestines up. Also, I found that they totally hate it when you make the sign of the Z. That hospital must have been in early Mexico or something.
The Verdict: Life & Death is a very good simulation of being a doctor in the worst hospital ever.
Ultima 7: The Black Gate
The Experience: Conveniently I got plopped down right in front of a plot critical murder scene, and was set to solve the case right away. It didn't take long to discover that the Fellowship was subverting the 8 virtues with their own spooky value system, which is kind of a jerky thing to do. The majority of quests I got sent on, though, involved things like telling the barmaid that the baker likes her, and catching the mayor cheating on his wife. Seriously. Here I am, the great hero, running around participating in medieval Melrose Place. What the fuck. Still, this game really lets you do anything you want; you can make a fortune baking bread if you're so inclined. There's also a spell that kills just about everybody in the world. How sweet is that?
The Verdict: Ultima 7 is a great game for misuse, and those are the games that hold up best over time
Ultima 8: Pagan
They really bent over backwards to make sure you knew that the world of Pagan was evil evil evil, including the use of pentagrams on everything and making the biggest stack of coins you can make 666. EVIL!
The Experience: Ultima 8 has the best start up phase of any RPG ever, as you can spend a sizeable amount of time looting every building in town. If you're caught you get blown up, but everybody sleeps at some point, so it's always possible to steal stuff eventually. Since I've played through this game several times I knew where everything was and had a full suit of armour before entering my first dungeon. As the plot unfolds I ended up completely fucking over the people of Pagan by releasing the four Elemental Titans so I can get back home. The point of the game was to make the Avatar into a giant cock master, and they did a masterful job. If you want to, just to be a dick, you can make the giant volcano start erupting, raining fire down on the townfolk randomly. This doesn't seem to bother anyone, though, as they still go for afternoon walks out among the flaming debris. How's that for poise?
Strangely, everything in Pagan can only be travelled to by going through catacombs filled with undead and stupid death traps. This is an interesting design decision for the Pagans to make, as opposed to using flying cars full of oiled up cheerleaders, which is what I would have done. Oh well, to each his own.
The Verdict: Ultima 8 is even more fun than 7 for misuse, even if it does have way too much goddamn platform jumping.
Ultima 9: Ascension
The Experience: I used a fan patch that was supposed to make the enemies tougher and the dialogue smarter. I didn't really notice the difference, although I might have been distracted by all the weird graphical glitches. Maybe those are features added by the designers to show how the Guardian is corrupting even the renderer. How spooky! It's much less fun to steal stuff from people in this game because you can do it right in front of them, and most of it is crap. This means that you have to soldier right on to the plot, which is too bad because it's pretty brutal. Basically some nasty pillars are making people act like jerks, and you have to fix it so they don't act like jerks. It's as linear as can be, forcing you to do the dungeons in a specific order, and you can't even go back to towns you've previously visited until you're 3/4 through the game. You also look like some kind of horrible CPR dummy from hell, which I don't think they where going for.
The Verdict: Ultima 9 is best played as an alternative to letting Barbera Streisand violate you with a strap-on. Maybe.