Clive Barker’s Undying – OVERVIEW

Your friend, Jeremiah Covenant, has called you to his giant spooky mansion to investigate the curse on his family. Your friend, Jeremiah Covenant, confesses that he once took his brothers and sisters down to a sinister ring of stones and read dark passages from a book not entirely unlike the Necronomicon, unleashing dark forces from beyond the Abyss that threatened the fabric of reality.

Your friend, Jeremiah Covenant, is a bit of a pillock.

Horror games have rarely gained much critical acclaim on the PC, despite the invaluable assistance of some of the worlds’ finest novelists, and we at Daily Radar UK are at a complete loss to explain why.

Meanwhile, in a top secret bunker…

Designer We’ve made a few crappy sub-games and put your name on the box. Any questions?

Clive Barker Can I have some money now?

One of the best was an adventure/FPS hybrid from Gremlin called Realms of the Haunting – an unsung classic, and probably more of an inspiration for Undying than Barker (who was a consultant on the project). However, unlike ROTH’s primitive Doom engine,Undying has the Unreal Tournament engine under its belt, and is easily one of the most promising scarefests on the PC to date.

Undying is an FPS in which you explore a variety of sinister locations, piecing together the detailed storyline and stopping the local monsters from tearing your face off. There are a few simple puzzles, but the bulk of the game involves getting from Point A to Point B in one piece. Although in many games this gets old fast, Undying’s ever thickening plot should keep the player’s attention, and the story is far deeper than most. The “Scrying” spell, always available, shows you a darker world behind the mundane one where paintings of young children change into cannibalistic demons, shrieks echo through rooms and sheets become stained with blood. These scenes, conversations and documents bring the plot very much to the fore, and regular visits from slobbering enemies and cruel ghosts keep your trigger finger primed…

Undying’s development team has done a superb job so far, with the monster designs especially good. The Howler is the first on the scene, a fast moving gremlin creature capable of jumping across huge distances in a single bound and, perhaps more importantly, ripping your throat out in a single swipe. Its fluid movement is a world away from Deus Ex’s lumbering characters, and the gunplay when you fight them is much more satisfying. Little touches appear throughout the game, with our favourite (read into this what you will) being the way that when you die your enemies finish the job like proper zombies – by ripping out your heart and chowing down on it. The levels are varied, ranging from the halls of Jeremiah’s estate to a horrible otherworld of ruin and depravation (we’ve always said that there aren’t enough games set in Milton Keynes) and although they are utterly linear they somehow manage to convey the feel of exploration.

We do have one major concern however. In its present state Undying is about as terrifying as a Clive Barker novel. Not the contents of one, the paperback itself. On a shelf. In Oxfam. Enemies show up exactly where you expect them to – you get so used to them sneaking up behind you whenever you step into a corridor that jogging backwards through the Covenant estate is the easiest way to stay alive. Much more careful use of light and shadow is required – Unreal is capable of some stunning effects that are woefully unused at the moment and would boost the atmosphere tremendously.

More fundamentally, Undying doesn’t seem sure whether it wants to be a tense, scary game or an action filled blaster – there aren’t really enough monsters for the latter, but after the first (very easy) section you are handed weapons with unlimited ammunition, two of which can be fired at once. Being chased through shadowy corridors to a safe spot by a fanged beast with no ammo and next to no health is scary. Knowing that you can spin around and melt it with ectoplasm at any point is not. And while we’re on the subject – ectoplasm? It’s the first spell that you acquire, and a bizarre choice. We’re aware that many folks went through a stage of wanting to be one of the Ghostbusters, but we doubt that they were thinking of Slimer…

Hopefully these worries will prove unfounded – Dreamworks has plenty of time to polish Undying, up before it hits the shelves, and it has both enormous potential and a capable team at the helm, so we’re optimistic. We’ll be back soon with the finished code, a full review and industrial strength brown pantaloons.

Deep story with Clive Barker’s seventh seal of approval
Unreal Tournament powered visuals
Powerful guns meet upgradable magic spells for a varied arsenal
Varied arsenal meets original monsters for muchos carnage and fast paced action
One of the bosses reminds us of Chris Evans. You can shoot him in the face. Excellent.

The Brilliance Displayed by a Game Called Hay Day

The arrival of one of the most anticipated titles of the past few years seems to be something akin to a gaming epiphany, so to speak. Amid rumor, bad news and confusion, SuperCell’s strange week in the videogame industry spotlight reveals nothing except that this is one company that knows games and gamers, even if everything else is up in the air.

What game are we talking about? Hay Day, of course. With its ambitious goal of taking mobile gamers to places that only PC players had been previously (online), developer Supercell has gloriously succeeded in full 3D — with vibrant, colorful textures to boot. Taking an obvious page from the premier simulators, multiplayer antics of previous series, Hay Day, in fact, more refines a formula than redefines a genre.

While countless previews have hit the web and print magazines outlining its general mechanics and gameplay, for the uninitiated, Hay Day is a farming simulation game that can either be played online.

Prepare for an overload the minute you plunge into an online room filled with Hay Day-obsessed folk speaking every language and eager to level up their characters just like you. Navigation and signing up for game is amazingly easy for first-timers, but you’ll have to contend with some strangely delayed character rendering and the annoying habit of speech “bubbles” clogging up your screen if there are tons of people in the lobby.

The structure of the game is this: to grow up a farm from scratch.But there’s a downside to every group experience, virtual or physical. Grabbing diamonds sometimes boils down to who gets to them the fastest, but this is also part of the strategy in Hay Day. Open new window for more information on Hay Day and its updated hack.

SuperCell has done a commendable job giving gamers all sorts of ways to communicate with one another, be it simple mail, cards or universal “translators.” While the universal bit doesn’t work as smoothly as we’d hoped (it makes gamers scroll through a clumsy network of preset phrases), the effort is definitely there and makes asking someone who doesn’t speak English “Where are you from?” easier than breaking out a foreign-language dictionary.

Though Sega has pulled off the unthinkable feat of placing a high-quality online farming simulation game, the project doesn’t come off without a few hitches. Yes, Hay Day does have a lot of slowdown that occurs during big farm maps with loads of elements and players running around. Yes, there is lag that will really confuse players who see their friends appearing and reappearing at odd locations on the screen. Yes, there are instances of hard crashes and soft crashes that will boot you off the server so you’ll have reconnect. Yes, the game could use more diversity in its farm designs and more brain-work in its overly simplistic “step on this switch and have a friend step on the other” puzzles

BUT (and it’s a big “but”) this is a game that’s so expertly constructed in its pick up ‘n’ play controls, mechanics, simple but well-plotted systems and painfully gorgeous graphics (SuperCell clearly gets something out of the DC that loads of other third parties can’t seem to figure out) that it’s best to keep your opinions to yourself until you’ve played it online. Then, make up your mind whether you want to trash the game (probably not) or keep playing and get your farm to level 62. For most gamers, the answer is the latter. With a high addiction factor and groundbreaking console design, this isn’t a game that any mobile owner should pass up. And it stands as a testament, flaws and all, that SuperCell, no matter what it decides to do in the future or how it’s gonna do it, is delivering the content that will dictate what most gamers will see on other systems for years to come.

Last Blade 2 – Final Edition

If you haven’t got three-and-a-half hundred notes to spend on The King of Fighters 2000 for Neo Geo Cart, do the next best thing and check this out.
If you own a Dreamcast, you’re probably sick to the back teeth of beat’em ups by now.

Well, get used to them, as there’s plenty more on the way. Project Justice, Fighting Vipers 2, Guilty Gear X all of which are very, very fine examples of the genre, but anyone that’s experienced the canny delights of an Neo Geo brawler will tell you it’s sublime stuff. SNK is a rule unto itself and it doesn’t give a crap how anyone else does things – fact is, they invented a lot of it.  Fifa Mobile Soccer is no exception. Just don’t play it green.

Typically, it’s the visuals that give you an indication of how good or bad a fighting game’s going to be. Yeah, how it plays is important, obviously, but we’re far more inclined to be ingratiated to a developer that has spent time on its artwork. This doesn’t seem to be the case with Last Blade 2. SNK is still using hardware from 1989, namely its MVS set up, so expect 16-Bit graphics. Bizarrely, Dreamcast is about the only console that can keep up with its 2D prowess, SNK’s hardware light years ahead of the competition, for the time. Ultimately, things look a little rough. It’s not terrible, but the animation is scant and compared to the over-quoted Guilty Gear X, low-res and jagged sprites just don’t do the game justice, which is a shame, because the designs are fantastic, absorbing a style that seems derived from 19th-century China. Flowing robes and circular hats complement such backdrops as Wadamaya Tea House and Cherry-Blossom Party. The beauty is there – the execution is dated.

Which is bullshit, really, because the game is extraordinary Pick from a de rigeur selection of armed characters – sluggish but powerful, lithe and quick, demonic or heroic. The only one we can’t fathom is the supremely camp Elvis look-a-like wearing a pink dressing gown. Gay or not, he’s a tough nut, a theme that seems to run throughout the entire game. Without tweaking the options to your advantage, Last Blade 2 is rock hard. Correction, it’s double-hardcore. If you don’t know your reversals from your supers, you’re done for. SNK expects you to be at one with the system, at one with the game. Passing even the first level can be tricky, but there is an option for you to restart the match with your enemy’s health bar the same as when they beat you last. This means that you’ll eventually manage to vanquish them, if not through any skill of your own.

The real clever part is the designation factor, however, which lets you pick from three ‘weights’ every time you fight. Speed allows you to increase the velocity of your character’s actions, Power lets you use the Desperation and Super Desperation moves and EX is a combination of both – albeit with a handicap that means severe damage every time you take a hit. Learning to utilise the correct weight with the correct character is the key to mastering Last Blade 2, not forgetting all the usual Cancellations, Specials, Charge Attacks, Combos and Mid-Air Blocks.

Just dipping into the Jap preview copy is enough to scare anyone who hasn’t had years of practice learning the art of digital fisticuffs. Essentially, though, it’s a moot point – Last Blade 2 is looking awesome. Roll on the PAL version.