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Duke Nukem Forever

Come Get Some!

“I don’t know whether the humour is worse, or it’s just not as fresh as it was in Duke Nukem 3D”, said my friend about Duke Nukem Forever. “I think it’s the same,” I replied, “but we are fiftees years older.”

In 1996 Duke Nukem 3D blew our minds. It was completely new experience of interacting with the game world – you could tip a stripper, pee in a urinal, sing on karaoke, play pool… You even had a chance to demolish a whole building, trample shrinked enemies or smash frozen ones into pieces by a well placed kick! Plus, it was full of pop culture references (“Aliens”, “Predator”, “Terminator”, “Doom”…) and finally –  there was the Hero: huge, muscular blonde guy, delivering macho one-liners with a voice in which you could hear those gallons of beer he drank and hundreds of cigars he smoke.

He was The Duke. He was obnoxious and foul-mouthed, and – just like the scantily-clad ladies in the game – we loved him.

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Spliter Cell

Sam Fisher

Sam Fisher

Several weeks ago I finally did what I was planning to do for more than year and a half – I upgraded my computer. I did it to work with photos, maybe edit movies, but above all – to play games. In this area I’m some 4-5 years behind and there are many titles that were just waiting for better times.

Some people advised me just to buy a console, but I was never a fan of those, and the only real reason to ever have an X-Box – “The Force Unleashed” – just became obsolete, since they released (unleashed?) it on PC (even though they said they never will).

Now those times have arrived – I have a new machine and I’m beginning to catch up. I started with playing again some of my favourites – Splinter Cell, planning to finally play the fourth part of the franchise, but I started from the first, to relive them once again.

The game was recommended to me after I finished the Best Game Ever Deus eX. With that game I truly fell in love with stealth games, and Spliter Cell was exactly what I needed. There was also the Thief franchise, which had a great steampunk/fantasy setting, but controls were irritating, and there were fricken zombies, who I very much hate in games. Spliter Cell was political fiction, written by Tom Clancy, and exactly the game I was looking for.

The first Splinter Cell (2002) is a very good and very balanced game – agent Sam Fisher (voiced by Michael Ironside) acts as the one man army and prevents the information crisis and a war with China, invoked by the self-proclaimed Georgian president, Kombayn Nikoladze (that’s Georgia the country in Caucasus, not the state north of Florida). Sam is always moving in shadows, crawling through ventilation ducts, climbing the walls or scaffoldings and hiding his trails. When necessary, he’s an assassin, but most of all he refrains from killing people on his way, instead just hitting them over their head and leaving them in some dark corner to sleep. Except for a very interesting gameplay, first Splinter Cell has some interesting mission locations, like CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, or a mining platform on the Caspian Sea.

The secong game, Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow (2004) has some minor improvements to the gameplay, but essentially is very similar to the first. The story is about dealing with an arrogant Indonesian terrorist Sadono, whose life insurance policy are several biological bombs with smallpox virus, placed around the US, ready to be set off if Sadono doesn’t make his daily call and give the password, which is “Pandora Tomorrow”. The game is okay, some missions have unusual settings – a riding train, a submarine or Los Angeles airport (in broad daylight, no less!) – but the problem with the game is that it’s too easy. Plus, about half of the missions take place in Indonesian jungle – a little boring, really.

Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory (2006) brings major improvements to the gameplay: not only Sam Fisher’s visibility is monitored, but also the level of noise he creates. He has new equipment: his goggles, besides usual night- and termal vision, can now see the electromagnetic activity, and also, his agency finally decided to equip him with a new high-tech weapon – a knife. The story involves the Masse protocols (from the first game), and this time Sam is unable to prevent the war between Korea and Japan…

There is one more new element in the third game – humour. The exchanges between Sam and people he catches are often hilarious, with references to the first game and the movie “Brazil” (Sam Fisher knows his cinematography). And since the fourth game, Double Agent (2008), starts with the death of Sam’s daughter, the humour probably ends there.

Double Agent‘s gameplay has heavily modified gameplay, with less hiding in shadows and more dressing and pretending. From what I heard, the fifth game – Splinter Cell: Conviction – follows the same direction. We’ll see how it works…

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