The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: Games

Thoughts of Metro: Exodus while crossing the Flood-Stricken Bridge in Metro: Last Light

“If you’re on the fence about buying this game, I was reading that the PC version uses a lot of power…I know that some people have the most monster computer, and I can’t even run this at a hundred percent.” —TheRadBrad on Metro: Last Light

Motivated by the recent E3 announcement of Metro: Exodus, I returned to the mission that I played through the day that campus had been closed owing to the Great Flood of 2013, and as the rain continued to fall outside, I reached this point in the campaign, following the young Dark One as he guides Artyom to his destination. Artyom’s pursuit of the young Dark One takes him back to the surface, where he intends to travel to Polis and make known the truth at a peace conference. As Artyom begins making his way across the bridge, a ferocious rain storm picks up, obfuscating the large number of enemies. In my original playthrough and a second one during the following summer, I went loud in this mission and immediately found myself against hordes of mutant animals. Fun it may have been to shoot my way through things, to acquire the screenshots for this short talk, I decided to go with a different, quieter approach: I made use of the throwing knives and carefully moved across the bridge. Firing exactly zero shots right up until the zip-line, it proved much more effective to be sneaky. Some of Metro: Last Light‘s best moments are set in the ruins of Moscow above the metro tunnels, and after starting out in yet another tunnel, the E3 demo brought viewers to a beautifully-rendered village above-ground. Artyom removes his mask, suggesting the air is clean, and equips a crossbow before preparing to board a train in the Ural Mountains. The sequel to Metro: Last Light, Metro: Exodus follows Artyom and Anna as they move with other Rangers to the Far East. Exodus will feature a new crafting system and dynamic weather, as well as a greater degree of open-world elements compared to its predecessors, and is set for release in February 2018.

  • One of my favourite aspects about Metro: Last Light after all this time is that droplets of water and mud that can accumulate on Artyom’s gas mask, requiring that players wipe it off with a stroke of the “G” key. There’s a Valve bolt-action rifle with a holographic RDS for close quarters engagements, but my old save files had me start out with a customised Valve equipped with a longer range scope, so I did not switch out my weapons here. After climbing out of a stairwell, players will find themselves on the lower deck of a bridge.

  • It would appear that during my last playthrough of Metro: Last Light three years ago, I had access to the Kalash 2012 and the Saiga-12 in addition to a Valve outfitted for long range engagements. In short, I was well-equipped to continue on with the game at this point, having weapons that draw from a different ammunition pool to ensure that I would never be without some options even if one of my three weapons were depleted. During the course of my playthroughs of Metro: Last Light and Metro 2033: Redux, I never used my military grade rounds in combat. Made with pre-war technology, these rounds hit incredibly hard and will emit a brighter muzzle flash as a result of their increased power.

  • To walk across the bridge again evokes many old memories: prior to my undergraduate convocation in June four years ago, the weather had been quite unassuming. It was not until the day of my graduation banquet with the Faculty of Health Sciences that rainfall had intensified: a light rain had been falling in the morning, and as I sat down to play through Highway 17 and Sandtraps in Half-Life 2, rainfall had intensified, continuing well into the evening. I still vividly recall shooting my way through the Overwatch Nexus the Monday after the flood waters receded, making a substantial donation to the flood relief efforts before pushing through with the mission.

  • I finished Half-Life 2 and Metro: Last Light closer to the end of June. By this point, I had completed Crysis and Battlefield: Bad Company 2, as well. Owing to the disruption to transportation services resulting from the Great Flood of 2013, I was not able to go out to the mountains or even downtown, and so, spent a fair portion of early July wondering which titles could occupy my interest. I decided to give Vindictus a shot, and while it was fun to play through the first few missions, it became clear that this game was meant to be played with friends. After reaching level nine on a quiet, hot Canada Day, I felt that the game had lost most of its appeal.

  • Because the Steam 2013 sale had not commenced yet that year, I dropped Vindictus and began exploring Tribes: Ascend at a friend’s recommendation. While a fun experience, the learning curve and community made it difficult for me to really get into Tribes: Ascend. I had many great matches on beautifully-made maps (Crossfire and Dry Dock were my favourites): though nowhere near as detailed as something like Battlefield 1 or Crysis 3, there was definitely a charm to the visuals in Tribes: Ascend, continuing to play even after the 2013 Summer Sale occurred.

  • While remarkably entertaining and quite able to fulfil my original expectation of being a space shooter for replacing Halo 2, offering diversity in gameplay between Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Alan Wake, the prospect of a long progression ahead, coupled with the fact that I purchased Battlefield 3 later meant that my time spent in Tribes: Ascend dwindled. Even today, I’ve not found an equivalent for Halo 2 for PC as a space shooter, but Battlefield 4 and Battlefield 1 have proven to be exceptional multiplayer shooters that have since fulfilled the role of my online experience.

  • On my original playthrough, I opened fire and drew the ire of every living thing here; I’ve become a bit more cautious in the four years since then. Using just the throwing knives and the cover the storm provides, I managed to clear the entire bridge without altering the mutants to my position. It’s a little extreme as to how much of a difference being stealthy can be – even in other games, like Deus Ex and Crysis, a little stealth can turn the highest difficulty setting into a walk in the park.

  • While my filters are slowly being depleted, I looked around at the scenery in of the bridge. Armed with the GTX 1060, I am playing the game at full settings without any difficulty – previously, I played at “merely” high settings. With the slew of new titles announced at E3 (Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, Wolfenstein IIMetro: Exodus and Far Cry 5), I’m actually quite curious to know if the 1060 will be able to run these games on recommended settings: it’s done remarkably well for Battlefield 1, and DOOM, so it’ll be insightful to learn where the card’s limits lie.

  • I imagine that the GTX 1060 will be able to perform admirably for most games released in 2018: even if I cannot get 60 FPS at ultra settings for 1080p, I’m generally okay with running on very high or high, since the differences usually require careful inspection to discern. This screenshot here of me with the Valve is an example of why I am so fond of the above-ground sections of Metro: Last Light, and I’ve heard that Metro: Exodus will be a cross-Russia journey, beginning in Moscow and concluding in the easternmost reaches of Russia.

  • My reminiscences about the games of summer 2013 draw to an end here, and for the remainder of the post, I consider some of my expectations for Metro: Exodus. Having played through this mission for the first time four years ago, and having made mention of the Great Flood of 2013 here, I will be returning very shortly to discuss the flood in a bit more detail, in conjunction with a revisitation of Makoto Shinkai’s The Garden of Words – I feel the time has become appropriate to look at the movie again with a different perspective.

When I first played through Metro: Last Light during 2013, I was impressed with the narrative and visuals of the game. Delving into things, I became more familiar with the Metro franchise as a whole, and it was therefore a pleasant surprise to learn that a continuation was being made. From the E3 footage and new information, the game is becoming closer to the title I was anticipating after watching “Ten minutes in the swamp” to learn more about the game I received with my old GPU. With its greater emphasis on crafting, and open exploration in conjunction with superb visuals, I am excited to see what directions Metro: Exodus will take. Further to this, the fact that Metro: Exodus is set in the Eastern reaches of Russia, with the eventual goal of reaching Siberia, Kolyma or even the Kamchatka peninsula, has greatly elevated my interest in the game. I’ve long been drawn to the mysterious nature of Russia’s far east beyond the Ural mountains, and a game set here provides a fantastic opportunity to explore a virtual interpretation of this side of the world. Cold, vast and desolate, it is here that some of Stalin’s most infamous Gulags were situated, and even today, the remoteness of the area means that populations remain very low. The area’s history means that, even though the terrain and biome is quite similar to the forests and tundra of Canada, there’s a sense of history in Russia’s far east that is simply absent in Canada. As such, I look forwards to learning more about Metro: Exodus, although it is most likely that I will, as I have for numerous games previously, pick it up once I learn more about the system requirements and game length, before making a definitive decision to buy the game shortly after launch or otherwise wait for a sale.

Race the Sun: iOS Game Review and Reflection

“Who dares, wins” —David Stirling

Not to be confused with the 1996 movie, Race the Sun is a procedurally-generated endless-runner game where the player controls a solar-powered craft. The objective is simple enough: to maneuver around an eternal landscape of abstract obstacles and stay in the daylight for as long as possible as the sun is setting. As players make progress, unlocks that confer performance and cosmetic customisations become available, allowing players to fine-tune their craft to fit their play-style. To increase survivability and scoring, different power-ups can be collected as one is flying through a region: beyond the scoring multipliers, some give a speed boost, jumps and even a shield that saves a player from head-on collisions. The presence of power-ups, slightly more forgiving collision mechanics and the added challenge of having to outmaneuver the sun means that Race the Sun definitely has enough additions to make it stand out from the classic Flash game Cubefield, which similarly featured a craft being flown through an endless field of cubes. In comparison to the simplistic Cubefield, Race the Sun is remarkably entertaining and compels players to return, unlocking all twenty-five levels and vie for scoring supremacy in a world deadly, monochromatic obstacles.

  • I was inspired to pick up Race the Sun after watching a Rage Quit video of it, and the page quote is directly inspired by said video. In my first few hours, I was not used to the controls on iOS: touching the screen is what’s needed to turn the craft, and one must touch the bottom to utilise a jump power-up (on PC, the controls are arrow keys and spacebar, which are more intuitive), but I’m more comfortable with the game now.

  • After completing all of the objectives and reaching level 25, the name of the game is simply to last as long as possible using the vehicle configuration of one’s choice. While the “recommended” setup is magnet (for increased item pickup range), jumps (to store more jumps) and improved turning to decrease turn radius, the ship can be configured differently to simplify the completion of some objectives.

  • Having all three slots available for power-ups makes Race the Sun somewhat easier than it was as seen in Rage Quit. Contrasting games like Cubefield, where collisions immediately result in death, Race the Sun is a little more lenient: only direct collisions cause death, while glancing collisions merely detract from one’s multiplier.

  • The void is one of my favourite aspects of Race the Sun, being a space-like environment filled with multiplier-increasing pick-ups. It’s definitely more enjoyable than Cubefield owing to all of the different nuances.

  • I read one review that cleverly stated Race the Sun to act as a metaphor for life itself. Paraphrased, it suggests that the spacecraft represent people as they pursue their dreams, which are fleeting and must be chased. Like how the space craft slows down in the absence of light, shadows of out own doubt slow us down, and numerous obstacles in the environment, some being obvious and others coming out of nowhere can stop one’s pursuit. Said review goes on to encourage users to get back up and keep trying, just like in real life. It’s not often I read reviews that are insightful, but there are exceptions. With the pair of iOS game reviews now done as promised, I’ll see if I can do a talk on Alto’s Adventure in the near future.

I picked up Race the Sun for iOS and have spent around six hours in-game. There are no tilt controls: touching the left and right sections of the screen allow one to steer their craft, and tapping the bottom of the screen when a jump is picked up will activate the jump. The simple controls work well enough for their part, but in my first few hours of gameplay, I had minor difficulties in making sharp enough turns to dodge close-up obstacles. However, once the steering mechanics were mastered, it was quite fun to complete the objectives and level up (ranging from simple ones that involve collecting a certain number of points or using a power-up a fixed number of times, to insanely difficult ones that require players make only left turns through three regions in a single run, or perform twenty barrel-rolls in one life). Over time, I reached Race the Sun‘s level cap, and the game at level twenty five even more enjoyable than it was while completing the objectives. Frustrations encountered earlier, such as the magnet’s range, numbers of jumps stored or turn radius disappear, allowing players to focus solely on getting the high score. Different game modes are also unlocked, with the diabolical Apocalypse mode and top-view maze runner, providing a different style of play for those looking for something a little different. Its near-infinite replay value, coupled with a refreshing, minimalistic appearance and simple mechanics means that Race the Sun is an excellent iOS game, well worth the 5.79 CAD.

Leo’s Fortune: iOS Game Review and Reflection

“The love of family and the admiration of friends is much more important than wealth and privilege.” —Charles Kuralt

Leo’s Fortune is one of the better-known games on the App Store for its beautifully crafted world, wonderful voice acting and relaxing soundtrack. Following Leo, a fluffy roly-poly, on his quest to reclaim his lost treasure in the form of gold coins, Leo’s Fortune is a stunning platformer that has a surprisingly heart-warming plot that is unveiled as Leo makes his way through a plethora of worlds. Speaking in a thick Eastern European accent, Leo himself is a highly sympathetic character whose inner thoughts are visible to the player. Entangled in the mystery of who the thief was, players are compelled to follow Leo’s Fortune to the end to figure out the culprit’s identity. From a mechanical perspective, Leo’s Fortune promotes clever gameplay, making use of the in-game physics to solve puzzles and advance to the next region. The star system also encourages players to go back and complete missions with a single life, obtain all the coins and finish levels under a time limit: these stars unlock bonus missions in a region, and together, Leo’s Fortune handles exceptionally smoothly, allowing players to immerse themselves in a fantastical world where not everything is what it seems.

  • Conceptually, Leo’s Fortune is a simple game, but its immersive factor comes from the polish in the level design, artwork and voice acting. The first region is set in a gentle, lush forest, but later regions feature a variety of more lethal-looking environments.

  • A unique feature in Leo’s Adventure is the movement system. While players can intuitively move Leo around using the left thumb, Leo doesn’t actually jump or crouch. Instead, moving the right thumb up causes Leo to inflate and gain buoyancy, making it possible for him to float over wide precipices, and moving the thumb down causes Leo to drop, which is great for dropping quickly. A combination of both will be required to beat the puzzles scattered in the game.

  • The soundtrack in Leo’s Fortune has a medieval, children’s feel to it, reminiscent of the music seen in fairy tales and fables. It’s well-suited for the game, as are the visuals. While the landscapes are highly detailed, they do not obscure gameplay in any way.

  • Players have unlimited lives with which to push through the different levels, although players must beat levels under a time limit, without losing a specified number of lives, while collecting all the coins, to unlock all of the bonus features available in the game.

  • I understand that this last screenshot and the page quote might spoil the plot, but there’s not enough context for that to occur. According to the site’s archives, it’s been quite some time since I’ve done an iOS game review for a title that did not have the phrase “Deer Hunter” in it (Sky Gamblers: Air Supremacy is the aforementioned review).

It was during the coldest depths of Winter 2015 when I picked up Leo’s Fortune during an iTunes sale, and I absolutely loved the experience. Beyond intriguing worlds to explore and solve puzzles in, each world (or set of levels) have their own surprises, such as wind storms, underwater segments and puzzles that demand precision from the player. Thus, when players reach the end and learn of the true culprit, it feels like a rewarding, well-deserved ending to the game. I myself was surprised at the turn of events, and the lessons learnt here are remarkably relevant in contemporary society, forcing players to question what it is they truly value in their lives. Things like fortunes and wealth can be amassed, but one must wonder if these things are the key to fulfilment. Consequently, it’s easy for me to recommend Leo’s Fortune for the experience, and for individuals lacking an iOS device, Leo’s Fortune (as of September 8, 2015) was also released for Mac and PC, being available on the Steam Store as an HD remake.

Metro 2033: Redux Review

“Humans had always been better at killing than any other living thing.” —Dmitry Glukhovsky, Metro 2033

While it may come across as somewhat strange, I played Metro: Last Light back during 2013, well before I played Metro 2033. This was because of a promotion that granted me a free copy of Metro: Last Light with my then-new GPU. I completed Metro: Last Light twice, once as a blind run and the second time to collect screenshots for my review. Then, during the 2015 Steam Summer Sale, the entire Metro franchise went on sale, and I decided to pick up Metro 2033: Redux to experience a remastered version of the story that started everything. In 2013, a nuclear war devastated Russia, forcing survivors in Moscow underground into the metro stations. Twenty years later, Artyom is sent to seek help from the Rangers when the Dark Ones attack their station. Fighting his way across the surface, and the territories of different factions, Artyom succeeds in reaching Polis, where Ranger Miller agrees to help him defeat the Dark Ones. Together with the Rangers, they activate the D6 missile silo and install a laser-guidance system at the top of a radio tower, destroying the Dark Ones. I went through the story on Spartan mode, so Metro 2033: Redux played quite similarly to Metro: Last Light. I beat the campaign in roughly eight hours, focusing on completion rather than exploration, and during the course of the game, there were numerous environments to explore and fight through. Consequently, I unlocked the standard, rather than good ending, and at some point in the future, I will return and play through again to see if I can unlock the good ending.

The original Metro 2033 was billed for its horror environment, and Spartan mode in Metro 2033: Redux was intended to lessen this atmosphere with an increased availability of supplies. However, even armed with more ammunition and supplies, Metro 2033: Redux still manages to be unsettling in some places. Audio cues, such as the shrieks and roars of distant mutants, or the distant voices of Fourth Reich soldiers, add to the suspense as Artyom makes his way through different areas. The unpredictability of some enemies, such as the librarians and demons, also serve to elevate the surprise that players encounter moving through the game. Coupled with the level design and choice of lighting in the different environments, there’s the sense that one can never be too certain of what’s lurking around the corner. Despite a reasonably impressive arsenal of weapons, the weapons’ efficacy against the demons vary, further contributing to the players’ sense of vulnerability. Conversely, in the populated areas, players would feel completely at ease, taking the time to explore and listen to some of the stories that the metro’s inhabitants have to say. Taken together, Metro 2033: Redux is able to convey the environment’s atmosphere to the player, and this contributes substantially to sense of immersion in the game.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • In keeping with the standards set by the Metro: Last Light review, this talk will also feature thirty screenshots. Metro 2033: Redux starts off in media res, giving Artyom a Kalash 2012 with a laser sight and reflex sight as the heads with Miller to the surface. A herd of watchers ambush them, and the game steps back eight days earlier, when Artyom was asked to travel to Polis to inform the Rangers of the Dark Ones’ presence.

  • The word “redux” is to “bring back” or “revive”, which is exactly what this version of Metro 2033 does. While it might have not been the best justification for picking up this title, I admit that I did wish to play Metro 2033: Redux so I could lay claim to being a blog that used the terms “Otafest” and “Redux” at least somewhere. A friend of mine created a detailed summary of his Otafest experiences last year and named the updated incarnation as Otafest Debriefings Redux, which sparked my intrigue in using the word here at least once.

  • The voice acting is similar to that of Metro: Last Light, and it is always a joy to explore well-populated areas, which are littered with signs of habitation. Details in the environment, whether it be merchants selling gun parts, vendors selling food and people conversing all around, it’s clear that people have adapted to life in the subway tunnels.

  • Unlike Metro: Last Light, the ghosts of Metro 2033 are best seen by directly shining a flashlight at them, whereas in the former, they’re best seen in the peripheries, and like Metro: Last Light cannot cause direct harm to the player. They are quite unnerving to behold, and resemble the blast-shadows leftover following a nuclear explosion, during which the intense light burns a person’s outline into a surface.

  • For the most part, the underground tunnels are quiet and disturbingly so, with faint growls from far-distant mutants. However, when they do make an appearance, the mutants themselves sometimes telegraph their presence, turning a suspenseful encounter into a firefight where a quick trigger finger and sharp wit will quickly decide the outcome of said encounter.

  • Numerous weapons in Metro 2033 made a return in Metro: Last Light, and it’s comforting to learn that reliable weapons, like the Shambler, are present in the former. Still deadly at close ranges and still with a long reload time, I kept the Shambler throughout my run as my primary close-quarters weapon, meant to take out any mutants.

  • The Bastard is an automatic weapon that fires assault rifle rounds, and despite being chambered for the same 5.45 x 39mm rounds of the Kalash, but I find it to be woefully under-powered compared to other rifles, even though it’s got a high rate of fire. Thus, as I did in Metro: Last Light, I traded in the Bastard on first opportunity and did not bother upgrading it.

  • My favourite segments of the Metro games happen at the surface: even though there’s a constant need to find replacement filters, there is a strange beauty about the cityscape abandoned by man. The extent of structural decay following the migration into the metro is consistent with what is outlined in Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us: buildings crumble, and even in a place with Moscow’s climate vegetation begins reclaiming the pavement.

  • Khan is introduced in the Ghosts level (that’s not a typographical mistake: there is a level called “Ghosts” in Metro 2033!) as a philosopher who occasionally associates with the Rangers. His knowledge about the paranormal phenomenon in the tunnels of the metro, enough to convince the ghosts to part and avoid anomalies. Consequently, even though Artyom might be traversing some of the spookier sections in Metro 2033: Redux, having Khan’s reassuring presence around eases tensions.

  • I recall spending a fair bit of time trapped in this area after detonating the explosives to seal an open tunnel that was allowing watchmen to enter. It turns out that there are stairwells off to the sides that lead to the next objective. The lack of a minimap, coupled with only a compass for guidance and dark maps means that a fair bit of time in Metro 2033: Redux is spent exploring, trying to figure out where to go.

  • Perhaps because of my innate familiarity with shooters, or perhaps because I’m uncommonly lucky, I was able to find my way about without too much difficulty. Here, I’ve acquired the Kalash (AK-74M), the mainstay assault rifle of both Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light. Highly versatile, it has a lower firing rate and high damage, making it an excellent mid-to-long range weapon. I’ve equipped mine with an IRNV scope and laser sight here, making it useful for combat in the tunnels against the Fourth Reich.

  • Though I tried my absolute best to maintain a stealthy profile and sneak through the area, I was eventually detected and forced to engage the few enemies that were left. I’ve always found that the weapons in Metro were superbly against human opponents, even though they’re inferior in quality to pre-war weapons; against most mutants, it would take an inordinate amount of ammunition to put them down for good.

  • Here, I help a small child return to his mother and politely decline her reward to earn a moral point. Despite my efforts to earn moral points where possible, it is likely that I did not earn enough to offset the fact that I frequently resorted to the Rambo-approach for extricating myself out of difficult situations.

  • The moon (or maybe a really faint sun) in this screenshot reminds me of the blood moon eclipse that I was fortunate enough to glimpse yesterday evening, which coincided with the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival. After a dinner of roast duck, chicken and prawns, I savoured a slice of mooncake as cloud cover rolled in to cover the moon. While my area missed totality, I was able to see the partial eclipse, as the clouds covering the moon finally moved on, illuminating the landscape in moonlight. As an added bonus, the weather this year has been very nice, and we were fortunate in that, unlike last year, there was no snowvember-type event.

  • Consequently, I still saw enough of the eclipse to avoid missing out on an event that won’t occur again until…wait for it…2033. The weather remained pleasantly cool during the evening, so I could stand outside without discomfort. Demons are amongst the toughest enemies in Metro and require up to three entire magazines from the Kalash to down. Consequently, it makes more sense to make use of cover and avoid them.

  • I typically don’t equip a 4x scope on my weapons, given that Metro has always felt more to be a close-quarters shooter. However, for segments of the game set outdoors, sometimes, it is useful to hold onto a good ranged weapon. I’ve picked up a Kalash with the 4x sight here, but previously, I was rocking an IRNV-equipped Tihar pneumatic rifle as a stealth weapon, and decided to accept the suppressed VSV VSK-94 for subsequent sections of the game.

  • The abandoned streets of Moscow remind me of images of Pripyat by winter following the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. From the documentation I’ve read, citizens of Pripyat were hastily evacuated and told they would be allowed to return in a few days, hence the presence of possessions in the apartment blocks. However, documentation for the various haikyo in Japan is virtually nonexistent, leading the inquisitive mind to wonder what circumstances led the buildings’ inhabitants to desert them with such haste.

  • Returning from Metro: Last Light is the awesome ability to torch spider webs using Artyom’s lighter. The spiders inhabiting the webs are harmless, but the webs do slow Artyom down: burning them will remove them as impediments and also yields a cool, realistic looking fire effect.

  • After meeting up with the Rangers, Artyom follows a small task force assigned with finding a folder containing the location of D6. Given this cryptonymn (Д-6) by the KGB, D6 is allegedly a secret subway system with a depth of between 50 and 200 meters. Its exact function is not known, but it’s been speculated to be for emergency use by government officials. Finding this one folder in the massive library complex feels like finding a needle in a haystack, since no one knows where the folder itself is.

  • After one of his party becomes injured, Artyom must continue the trek into the library alone. Here, I stare down a librarian, one of Metro 2033‘s toughest opponents. The best way to deal with them is to remain still, around one to three meters away, and stare them down, after which the librarian will treat Artyom as non-hostile. This is quite effective, except for the rare black librarians in the library’s basement and is the preferred way of handling them. The first time I encountered a librarian, I expended half my ammunition fighting it owing to its remarkable resilience.

  • Radioactive mushrooms illuminate a forgotten corridor at a point in the game I cannot quite remember. While not dangerous per se, these mushrooms do indicate regions where there is poisonous gas, making it prudent to reequip the gas mash. At some point earlier in the game, I found a pair of night vision goggles, which made it much easier to move through the darker sections of the game without being spotted. Their usage is balanced by the fact that lights will overwhelm the player, forcing them to remove the goggles.

  • The flamethrower is a highly effective weapon that easily makes short work of the mutants. I regret not carrying one into the last level, since ammunition for it is relatively common in comparison to shotgun and assault rifle ammunition. Users must be mindful of the air pressure and fuel remaining, and is most useful at close quarters. On any subsequent play-throughs, I’ll definitely carry a flamethrower with me into D6 to deal with the hordes of mutants.

  • I suddenly realise that I’ve no pictures of the Abzats, an automatic shotgun that is quite possibly one of the best weapons in Metro 2033: Redux at close quarters. Belt fed, it has a 20 round capacity and high rate of fire, allowing it to tear through opponents, but is hampered by a long reload time. Here, I’m wielding the Kalash 2012, an assault rifle that has a slightly higher rate of fire and lower damage than the Kalash. Its larger magazine is an asset for medium range combat.

  • One of the coolest weapons of Metro 2033: Redux is the Hellbreath, a weapon that makes use of an electromagnetic accelerator to fire metal projectiles at extremely high velocities, like a railgun. It is extremely powerful and has better endurance than the Tihar, but is not as accurate or stealthy. Owing to the sheer number of mutants encountered, by the time I reached the train station, I was out of ammunition for my Abzats and Kalash 2012, forcing me to use the Hellbreath in close quarters.

  • Consequently, Metro 2033: Redux‘s final sections were quite intimidating, as I felt ill-equipped to take on the giant amoeba, gelatinous balls of sludge that rush the player and miller. These balls can be destroyed using a single shot. The pores they spawn from do not need to be killed, since they only only produce one amoeba. In Metro 2033, the amoeba were much more frustrating as enemies, since the pores could produce multiple amoeba until they are killed.

  • One of the most disgusting things I’ve seen in Metro has to be the biomass, a pustulating mass of flesh that covers the reactor. It cannot be killed by conventional means and assaults victims with psychokinetic attacks, compelling them to walk into the biomass and become consumed. The entire area under the biomass is dripping with slimy organic substances and filled with amoeba, and when making use of the crane to open the valves, the biomass will try to destroy the crane, suggesting that it may have a limited degree of awareness.

  • It feels good to be back out in the open air, and back to where Metro 2033 first began: with D6 located, the time has come to climb the Ostankino Radio Tower. With a height of 540 metres, it was completed in 1967, and was the tallest building in the world until the CN Tower was completed in 1976. The tower suffered a fire in 2000 and knocked out television broadcasts to the Moscow area, but this was repaired.

  • A demon attempts to consume Miller before Artyom intervenes. The only weapon with any ammunition left, I emptied the Hellbreath’s entire magazine into it to kill the demon. There are several demons at this point in the game, and the documentation suggests that some of them are invincible, meant to be part of scripted sequences.

  • The view from the top of the Ostankino Radio Tower is phenomenal, and the effect is brought out to the fullest in Metro 2033: Redux. The developers used satellite images to generate the textures, resulting in reasonably accurate layout of Moscow. The extent of the nuclear war’s devastation can be seen: although the tower itself appears to have survived the detonation, a crater can be seen below.

  • The last portion of Metro 2033 after placing down the SOFLAM is to experience a trance of some sort. It’s one of the more surreal sections in the game, and once the end of this space is reached, the ending begins to play. This time, there was no flood as I progressed through the different levels, and with Metro 2033: Redux finished, I’m going to divide my time between Sakura Angels and Call of Duty: Black Ops (the former is from the 2015 Summer Sale latter and the latter, I picked up on a sale out of a desire to experience a story that could have occurred concurrently with the events of Higurashi).With my posting quota for September reached, I’ll return in October to blog about Gochuumon wa Usage Desu ka?? and some other topics as they come to mind.

Having completed Metro 2033: Redux, I can say that this was a highly entertaining title, and now, I’m inclined to read the novel for myself. Whereas Metro: Last Light dealt with Artyom’s experiences a year after Metro 2033, the Ranger’s occupation of D6 and the different factions coveting D6; the story in Metro 2033 is simpler, following Artyom’s journey to Polis and discovery of D6. As such, it might be seen as a coming-of-age story for Artyom. Consequently, Metro: Last Light really allows for Metro 2033 to shine, as it depicts Artyom’s fate following the events of Metro 2033, and now that this is done, I’ve fully experienced the story of Metro. As far as replay value goes, I’ll definitely go back and try the game out for the good ending, perhaps even capitalising on the fact that Metro 2033: Redux comes with Ranger mode, which completely dispenses with the HUD for a truly immersive experience. While this was not included in the standard edition of Metro: Last Light (much to the chagrin of many), it is nice that Metro 2033: Redux comes with all the bells and whistles. Those who’ve played both Metro 2033 and Metro 2033: Redux have varying opinions about whether or not the graphics update was worthwhile, but there are new features that make Metro 2033: Redux handle and play more smoothly, and ultimately, the improvement to the visuals means that the game’s strongest point (its atmospherics) succeed in conveying the mood in and around a post-apocalyptic Moscow even more effectively than the original.

Wolfenstein: The New Order- The Lunar Base mission as an example of good set piece design

“I’m on the motherfucking moon” —Blazkowicz

Each of Wolfenstein: The New Order‘s missions stand out in their own right owing to their unique level designs and settings, allowing the game to continually impress and surprise the player. In a title where each mission is memorable, the Lunar Base mission stands out for its boldness, taking Blazkowicz to a Nazi facility set on the lunar surface. In-game, it’s shown that the lunar base is a cutting-edge research facility, and its remote location makes it ideally suited for storing the nuclear launch codes: this ties in seamlessly with the story and simultaneously provides an excuse to set a mission on the moon itself. Coupled with the appropriate arsenal (read “cool space guns”), the Lunar Base truly evokes a diesel-punk feeling, incorporating high tech gimmicks with technology from the sixties and offers a full environment to explore. As I fight through the facility and down enemies with a small array of laser weapons, glimpses of the lunar surface can be caught; it hits me that this is how space missions ought to be designed. Combat and exploration in a well-organised, well-constructed space environment can effectively convey the sense that one is in space without the need to introduce the disorienting effects of zero-G and conflicting choices in the sound department (specifically, picking one of realism or theatrics).

  • I mentioned back in my Wolfenstein: The New Order final reflections post that I would be returning to do a talk on the Lunar Base mission, and so, here I am at present. This is a shorter talk with fewer images, but I emphasise that this mission is without equal and is perhaps the strongest mission in the entire game. Here, I am equipped with the AR Marksman, which can only be used in automatic plasma mode while on the moon.

  • Last year at around this time of year, I was going through the Battlefield 4 campaign and had just beaten the first mission after a brunch at the Chinook Restaurant at the Banff Park Lodge. It’s become somewhat of a yearly family tradition now, as are my own propensities towards obtaining a breakfast omelette of ham, cheese, tomato, peppers, mushrooms and salsa plus typical fare for a English Breakfast for my first plate, followed by roast beef, scalloped potatoes, honeyed ribs, seasonal vegetables, fried basa, citrus-seasoned cod and grilled chicken on round two.

  • The Chinook Restaurant’s snow crab this year was as fantastic as I remember, and to round things off, I had a pear pie, chocolate mousse, cheesecake and chocolate fondue for desert. A stroll along the Bow River followed, under cool but sunny skies. While I’ve mentioned before that the AR Marksman was not particularly useful when dual-wielded in rifle mode, in plasma mode, the weapon becomes a powerful short to mid-range alternative that can decimate enemies at close quarters.

  • The AR Marksman’s only limitation in plasma mode is that it needs to be periodically charged, but most of the enemies drop battery units that can refill the energy in small increments. By limiting players to only a pistol as having ammunition pickups, the Lunar Base mission encourages players to explore their environments to figure out where charging stations are before charging into a firefight.

  • Blazkowicz dons a space suit to move between different sections of the facility, and here, the Earth can be seen. This past weekend has been quite busy, as I’ve been implementing a simplified version of my Unreal simulation for testing with MiddleVR. I also picked up a 2.5-inch SATA III hard drive enclosure so I could remove the hard disk from an older laptop, and a gamepad so I could test my simulations more thoroughly. While the gamepad’s an older one that does not support XInput (it only supports DirectInput), I’ve gotten XInput emulation working, so it should at least work where required.

  • The interior design at the Lunar Base is varied and distinct enough for players to differentiate the areas: Blazkowicz fights through the living quarters, research labs and as seen in the previous screenshot, even traverses a short section of the moon. On the Lunar Base, commanders wear noticeable red uniforms that give them an appearance not too different from the costume of Street Fighter II‘s M. Bison.

  • Tape reels can be seen here: while the moon base is quite futuristic, the inclusion of an iconic element from an older age clearly illustrates the divergence of technological advancement from our own world. It is subtle details such as these that set The New Order apart from other shooters, and while The Old Blood was very entertaining, atmospherically, The New Order still surpasses The Old Blood. I remember one person from AnimeSuki remarking that they were “always game for alternate history” in the Wolfenstein thread, and while I never had a chance to reply (on account of their being permanently banned), I would recommend this game to them and anyone else who loves alternate history.

  • The Laserkraftwerk is perhaps the best weapon during this mission against multiple targets and Superstadten: armed with a scope, the weapon does a ridiculous amount of damage and blows enemies apart when fully charged. Back at AnimeSuki, discussion on the game and its successor, The Old Blood has dried up. At least one person cites the game’s “advanced” requirements as a deterrent, but armed with my still-powerful PC, I contend that this is a title that is definitely worth trying (it’s worth buying a GTX 760 or 960 just for this game). In fact, my decision to pick up The New Order was primarily because of the Lunar Base mission.

  • Blazkowicz is riding a tram between facilities here, and more of the lunar surface is visible: the Lunar Base is built in an impact crater, hence the presence of cliff-like walls. The Apollo missions yielded photographs that presented the lunar surface as being quite flat with rolling hills, but lacking an atmosphere to provide erosion and reduce impact force, collisions with other solar bodies result in craters that are well-preserved.

  • Pools of blood and meat chunks are the result after Blazkowicz fights his way back to the transport bound for Earth. A pair of Suprestadten show up, but they can be dealt with quickly enough. I’ll be returning to regular programming this week: Non Non Biyori‘s halfway point will be discussed, along with the whole of the Sabagebu! and Shirobako OVAs.

In choosing to keep the gameplay consistent with the remainder of Wolfenstein: The New Order, but setting the mission in a completely foreign environment, the Lunar Base offers the developers to construct a completely different environment that can tell a very rich story about how different the universe in The New Order is relative to ours. The amalgamation of the decidedly futuristic aspects of a fully operational moon base with old-school computers and tape reels illustrate just how technology has advanced in their world. The choices in level design result in a mission that serves as one of the most enjoyable set pieces in the game, without sacrificing any exploration or player freedom. In comparison to the space missions of 007 Nightfire and Call of Duty: Ghosts, The New Order offers a familiar gameplay experience that accommodates for exploration: there’s no punishment for taking time to explore the level and really marvel at just how different the Lunar Base is from the other missions, and the weapon selection has been diversified to include plasma and laser weapons that are iconic with space fiction from an older age.