Now that the power cut is officially over and out of the way (man it feels longer than 6 days!), I can start to talk about the Monkey Island remake, along with Steam and Battle.net. I decided to expand the post because Steam is the method I used to download the game and right now, I’m fully starting to appriciate Steam for what it is; a good way of getting games without the storage overhead! I mean, it’s nice having a CD, but when you’re on the move, it’s not practical to carry a game with you, is it? I applaud Valve for releasing Steam in the first place. Granted, it may have initially started off a bit rocky (most new things did), but it’s starting to really become a great way of getting games, or storing some of the games you already have! For instance, if you add your Half Life or Gunman Chronicles key to Steam, it gives you Half life and lots of goodies… this was a pleasant surprise for me, as I unfortunately lost access to my original Steam account, so it’s on their system, but I’ve no way of accessing it! Either way though, because of the advent of faster broadband, the retail landscape has been changed – you can now download a DVD worth of content in a matter of hours, rather than weeks! Additionally, digital downloads reduce the cost of a product, seeing as the distribution and manufacturing charges have been wiped off; those for the box, manuals, the game media itself and transport costs. Altogether, this does make for a cheaper game.
Another aspect to digital downloads is that the download is just data, meaning you can’t break it! I’ve lost one or two CDs and ended up just buying a replacement, as it seemed to be too much hassle to return it to the developer (the media cost almost as much as the game would have – plus I was in Ireland the devs pointed to the UK which wasn’t that cheap to post to!). At least with this method, people can keep their media safe and also carry it around with them – all that’s needed is internet access. That certainly means less baggage for me anyway, seeing as my laptop weighs a ton! There are a couple of downsides though, at least for me… firstly, although I may physically have a particular game that’s for sale on Steam, I may not necessarily be able to add it. This presents a problem as I have to purchase an entirely new copy of the game for it to be on Steam. For a game like the X-Com collection, this was less of an issue, as I could offset most of the cost by saying that I needed UFO to complete the collection. Granted, it’s just one game, but it does make the overall cost feel a bit less. I also have my eye on the id software collection too, as the value of the games I don’t have are nearly the value of the pack itself.
Decisions like that are a lot easier to make. Of course, one thing I do plan to do is compare the prices of games on Steam over what they are retail. If they’re cheaper or the same price on Steam, I’ll get it there instead. I can’t fully move away from non-digital downloads though as It’s not very practical for me. That said however, if devs like Blizzard are also hopping onto the DD bandwagon, I’ll be happy. The new Battle.net has impressed me so far, and I’ve only just signed up! They now offer the ability to download a digital copy of their games, which is cool. My copy of Diablo 2: LOD seems to be a bit screwy atm, so this is a welcome method of downloading a copy of the media that should work! I think my WarCraft III expansion suffered a similar fate as well. One thing I am concerned about though is the fact I selected US English for StarCraft by mistake. Now, don’t get me wrong, I can understand US English fine, but I’m concerned about the technical issues more to be honest. I guess this just means I have to download a different patch now. Either way, I do appriciate the facility to download my Blizzard games. I’ve also just downloaded a system checker for StarCraft II, so I can opt into the beta, or at least try anyway. Either way, after much grief (the checker told me it couldn’t upload my system info), it uploaded it anyway. Now I’m not sure if it’s because the app is screwy, but I figure it uploaded the data the first time, or perhaps it did it after I moved my PC into my router’s DMZ… either way I don’t think I’ll ever know. But it’s done now, so I can rest easy. That said though, while Googling some ports for the app, I saw someone mention that 400GB is needed to participate in the Beta testing program.
I’m not sure if it’s true or not, but if it is, that leaves me out! Shame, as I was looking forward to playing SC2, but ah well, let’s see what happens.
Funny, but initially, this was supposed to be about my first impressions of the Secret of Monkey Island (SoMI) Remake which was released on Steam, but it changed into a talk about Digital Downloads, including Steam and Battle.net. I was also going to provide a few pictures as well, for inclusion in this post, but I may just knock that one on the head and just post a gallery link on my Flickr instead. Seeing as you’re reading this now, I’ve most likely already done this. The funny thing is that I was gonna let the pictures do most of the talking, seeing as I was only going to sort out a paragraph or 2 for it, as a fairly large amount of people have played SoMI already, be it on the PC or Amiga (yes, it’s that old!). I’ve actually got the original one, along with the sequel – in a dual package – so I’m one of those people who have played it. Admittedly, I don’t remember all of it, and I actually used a walkthrough to help me though certain parts, but the reason why I got this game was due to a couple of reasons:
1) I want to support the adventure games genre, especially the point & click kind.
2) I wanted to see what enhancements they made to the game – more about them a bit later though.
3) I wanted to, so there.
Either way, I am glad I did! For starters, although the game is at its core, the same… new life does get injected into it. One thing that really struck me when I saw the intro was the water effects in the game, some of the best I’ve seen so far. Granted, I’m comparing it to the likes of Unreal Tournament 2004 and Guild Wars, but they are near-enough at that level! Another thing that I was impressed with was the sound and music; the music’s been completely redone to great effect, then we have the original voice actor playing Guybrush Threepwood, which makes it feel right (all the more because he’s a MI addict!). Admittedly though, they have changed his look a bit, but that’s to fit in with Curse of Monkey Island (I had all 4 games at one point but I’m missing Curse), which is fair enough… points for keeping consistant. One thing that does bother me though is the way Guybrush walks in the remake. It’s like he has a walking animation but he slides forwards. I keep on thinking he’s doing a forward moonwalk. In the original, the walking is more smooth, but it’s a minor issue so I’ll let it pass. The game itself is good to play, even though I’ve played it before. It seems more funny with the added voices. Then again, it may also be funnier because I’m older and actually understand stuff more.
Everything certainly makes more sense when you’re older! Anyway, to use something perhaps a little clichéd, it plays exactly like the original and in no way suffers for it either. The original game was a classic and this one is a classic reborn. Granted, there may be a couple of issues here and there, but it’s nothing major to worry about. Another few things I noticed with the graphics, asides from the heatwaves with the lava – another great effect – is that some of the art in the remake differs from the original game. Another thing I should mention as well is that you can actually switch between the classic and original games through the use of a key, and it works seemlessly, pretty much continuing from the second after you switched. There was also no slowdown on my system when it happened either, so I’m quite impressed. It does feel a little disorienting switching between the two modes though, going from high resolution artwork, voices and water effects to the lower resolution, no water effects and very little sound! I’m an old-school gamer though, so it doesn’t bother me per se, it just feels a bit wierd seeing the contrasts. This is also how I was able to notice the artwork differences, because I switched between the 2 modes a fair bit. One major difference you’ll notice near enough to the start of the game is the SCUMM Bar. In the original, there isn’t a lot in the screen, but in the remake, the screen has a lot more going on in the background, such as ships docked and the like.
Changes like that really enrich the game experience, in my opinion. Something tells me that this will eventually end up becoming a full-blown review instead (I’ll obviously be editing certain things out), but as for the bottom line… if you’re a fan of the original Monkey Island, you should get it if you haven’t already! If you’ve never played Monkey Island before, you should get it as it’s a classic game that has aged well over the years, even without the graphical enhancements. The fact it’s been optimised for Windows means that it’s even more accessible to people than it would have been if DOSBox was being used. One thingthat did surprise me though was the size of it, but I suppose the enhancements are no small feat; the original game was only about 5MB, if that. This new version is 2.5GB!
If anyone was curious as to the reason why I tend to do impressions of games as to a full-blown review, it’s because I don’t have a system I can use yet, although that is coming. I wouldn’t consider the above a full review anyway, because although I went through a lot of the game stuff, I didn’t cover everything, as I’m only about 15-20% of the way through. You can’t review a game unless you’ve either reached at least one of the game’s conclusions (if it has multiple endings) or you get so frustrated with reviewing the game (usually that means it’s crap), youdecide to give up and write up whatever you have to work with. Either way, I expect that when the games blogging site eventually comes up, I’d have played the game enough to convert the impression into a proper review, with scores, rating and everything!
The more I think about it though, the more I realise that sticking to a single games blog may not be the best idea, especially for something dynamic such as the games industry. I may just have a blog a bit like this that talks about games in general, then have separate blogs for reviews on different systems. But I digress… I can think about that later on. Either way though, I expect that I’ll be changing my games-related blog entries around to fit them in the relevent sections, though that said, I’d better review what game stuff I’ve written first as it’s bound to need some rewriting, if I’m ripping stuff out to put in its own entry. I may be lucky enough to not have to do that though. Either way, I’ll be keeping the original posts archived, so I have something I can refer to later on if I need to redo the post yet again. I’ll be removing the games-related posts from this blog and transplanting them into my game blog. I will still, more than likely have some crossovers between the two blogs, in that I may talk about gaming and psychology some more, meaning I can post this twice over and hopefully get differing opinions. The reviews and previews can be a separate blog altogether, as I can then accept contributions from others, as they’re not tied to any one person. That said though, I may end up making this a gaming blog site, much like I’d be making Altered Awareness more about the arcane and mystic. So many possibilities really.
Yet again, this blog has ended up having a topic detour, but to my credit I have improved. I really ought to start getting the games blog up and running, so I’m going to leave it at this for now. Apologies for the length of the post – it’ll be vastly shortened in the future!
Tags: Battle.net, Beta Testing, Blizzard, Casual Gaming, Diablo, games development, Games Industry, Games Stuff, Monkey Island, PC, StarCraft Series, Steam, Warcraft, X-Com