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[Get Opera!]

PnF : Addictive Games
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As Iíve found out this weekend there is nothing like an addictive computer game when it comes to wasting away the hours when you should be doing something more important. The game in question here is Wip3out, with its l33t a55 name, on the Playstation (Which is why there are no Quake reviews this weekend, sorry!).

Racing games are my favourite type of game bar none. Iíll play them any day over anything else. The last Wipeout game, Wipeout 2097 (or Wipeout XL in the US), is one of my all time favourite games. The reasons for that cover basically all parts of the game but what it really comes down to is that it is so damn addictive to play. Its the way it plays. The amazingly easy and smooth control system. You can just use the normal pad to move about, but to really get it you have to master the use of the air brakes, to slide the aircraft around the corners.

Wipeout 2097 was a game I loved to play with my mates. At a party or after going out weíd pile round to someoneís house and play the game to death, each time trying to beat the best lap times set. There was one occasion where we set the fastest times weíve ever set on it. We were all completely blasted and thought we'd play a game of it. In our drunken stupor we must have been in the Zen of game playing because we were playing it perfectly. The times set are just daft. I still cannot beat them to this day.

Wip3out is basically the last game with faster, better looking graphics. The underlying structure is the same, but with more of it. There are certainly a lot more things to do this time round. Within minutes of loading up the game I had the hang of its unique control style and all I had to do was learn the tracks off by heart to start to clock up those fast lap times.

What makes it addictive, is this, once you know the tracks, you can then go about setting your fastest times. Its the feeling you get whilst playing. The craft flying along, coming up towards a blind corner, turning before you can even see it, just skimming the wall, sparks flying. Then looking on down the track, remembering what comes up next and doing the same subconscious moves. Its the fine line of getting it right, a little too much towards the slanted track sides and Iíd hit it and my speed would be reduced to nothing, completely destroying my lap. Its particularly disheartening if you do it on the last corner, but its the feeling you get when you get it right.

So how does this tie into FPS? Deathmatch you see. When this genre of game was in its nappies running around we had a thing called scores in the Single Player side of the game. In Wolf3D your score was clearly shown on the status bar at the bottom of the screen. I would spend many an hour going over the levels, searching for every last secret in order to grab all the little items of treasure I could. Once Iíd done it and gotten the highest possible score, Iíd go about editing the maps and adding big rooms full of treasure. I remember using the map editor for Wolf3D and editing the last map in episode one to include a huge room of treasure. At one point I made it so big the game refused to load the map... Anyway, the point is I did it in order to see what the biggest possible score I could get was.

For some reason though, and probably quite rightly, points where removed from SP games. Plots, characters and fairly exotic locations now make up the game. The scores have been switched over to DM part of the game, whilst the SP part provides you with an involving plot driven game. This for me though doesnít make me want to come back. I play through the SP part of the game once, maybe twice and after that I donít go back. Iíve seen all I think there is to see. Donít get me wrong, I like it, at times its truly amazing. Its just there is nothing for me to go back and play again, no scoreboard to jump up. I just cannot justify downloading an SP map because once Iíve played it that it, I donít want to see it again.

Which is where DM comes in. Its the reason we keep these monster sized games on our hard drives. Just to side step, I would love an option in these games to remove all the SP crap and leave us what is needed to play it in the DM. That would definitely be a good idea. Anyway, DM. Its the score thing. The racking up of your frags, knowing your nailing your opponent good and proper. Its knowing the maps well enough and knowing where to go and what to block. Its just like the feeling I get when I nail the prefect lap in a racing game that makes me come back for more and more and more...

Now Unreal Tournament has come by surprise to me and I just love it. Its just so fun to play! Unreal suffered in DM department from it being a bit crap. In UT its the pretty amazing ngStats feature that I like. The way it keeps track of everything you do, from shot efficiency to farts per minute, its an extremely good idea. You can analyse in detail how you get your frags and what causes those very annoying suicides. In my case its with the alternate fire on the RL, I fire off those grenades and they bounce back and hit me! I continue to play it to see if I can beat the scores Iíd set before. Iím addicted to it! Time to make that call to Gameplayers Anonymous.

This is just the first part of my rant, next up Iíll go into how this addictive type of gameplay ties in with annoying topic of realism.
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