Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Choicest VGM - VGM #126 - Lemmings - tim2





Composed by: Tim Wright
Arranged for DOS version by: Tony Williams

Here we have another original composition for Lemmings by Tim Wright with the very creative name of "tim2" ("There are some who call me... Tim?"). This track is very whistle-able (if that is even a word) and suits the cute nature of the Lemmings.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Thief Review

Garrett: Public Enemy No. 1

  • Developer: Eidos Montreal
  • Publisher: Square Enix
  • Release Date: 28 February 2014
  • Time Played: 22 hours

Not content to resurrect just one classic franchise, Eidos Montreal are now responsible for entering a new game into the Thief series, which is simply called "Thief". Thief happens to be the first game on my Top 10 Anticipated PC Games of 2014 list that I've actually finished a review for (Broken Age doesn't really count yet) and for good reason. It's hard to make a good stealth game, one where you pick locks, pick pockets and sneakily takedown enemies with a blackjack; things the original Thief games (apparently) did very well. Couple that with an intriguing plot against a steampunk setting and you've got yourselves a classic. Eidos Montreal did a really good job with Deus Ex: Revolution so I felt confident they could do a similar job with Thief. Were they up to the task? Read on to find out.

Plot (3/5)
According to this thread, it appears that there are lots of hints to suggest that this new Thief is actually set hundreds of years after the original Thief games. This might seem confusing for reasons I won't go into here so let's just go with what we know. You play the role of a Master Thief known as Garrett who resides in a clock tower (God knows how he gets any sleep). Anyway, turns out some time before the actual game starts, a friend known as Erin (who is also a thief) tags along on your mission. You are both witnesses to some weird ritual but unfortunately Erin falls into the vortex of whatever is being summoned and somehow you're slightly affected by what occurs too. Fast forward to the present and you're trying to get back into the swing of things but it soon becomes apparent that things aren't quite what they seem.

Most of the plot is revealed through notes and cutscenes since sadly there isn't a means of actually having conversations in Thief besides major characters who give you missions (shopkeepers don't really count). Besides them, it's a very quiet, and lonely game, but that's the way Garrett likes it right? Consequently, the plot seems to be rather piecemeal compared to previous efforts like Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and this just makes it worse when you come to the seemingly rushed ending. Ultimately I had to check if my interpretation was correct but even if it is, there are still some loose ends that haven't been resolved. It's a shame because the steampunk world of Thief seems to be one definitely worth elaborating.

Gameplay (4/5)
You play Thief from the first-person perspective (most of the time). As Garrett the Master Thief, you can sneak up behind guards or civilians to either knock them out, steal their money or to just remain unseen as you slip hidden into a cabinet. You're also able to scale rooftops, fire several types of arrows (such as water arrows, flame arrows, poison arrows, etc.), use objects to create distractions, disable traps and (my favourite) pick locks. So there is considerable freedom in what you can do here and I especially like how they implemented lock picking segments.

The only criticisms I have is that even though there is quite a bit of freedom on how to approach problems, which includes which way to enter a fortress, it can be deceptive at times. For example, you can usually scale walls or jump onto crates - however sometimes even though it looks quite easy to climb on a crate or scale a wall, you won't have the opportunity to do so. That's because you can only climb at certain points, which are marked for your convenience, but it does mean there are only a limited number of ways to get to places (which sometimes involves trekking around the map to find an appropriate place to climb up).

Also, despite the piecemeal plot, the game does have some memorable main storyline missions with some fun gameplay. There are even some entertaining side quests but the majority of side quests (especially the Basso ones) will eventually become a bit repetitive and have diminishing returns.

One of the "mini-games" you will encounter is finding secret switches hidden behind paintings or bookcases

Sound (2/5)
Voice acting seems to have improved in Thief when compared to Deus Ex: Human Revolution, although there's probably not as many audio samples recorded. Unfortunately the voices are way too soft sometimes and is drowned out by background noise - so the opposite to the problem I had in Deus Ex: Human Revolution!

Music (4/5)
Thief doesn't have any memorable music, indeed it is used sparingly (music tends to get in the way of when you want to hear footsteps). What is there though is a mix of electronic and creepy movie music.

Graphics (5/5)
I'm a big fan of the graphics. There's a lot of detail in this steampunk world with generally high-resolution textures. Also, like the recent Battlefield games, you're able to see your feet, legs and arms while navigating the world in first person, which makes the game that extra bit immersive. The only minor quibble I have is that the lip-synching is a bit off during some cutscenes.

Replay (2/5)
It took me 22 hours to finish one playthrough and that's doing a majority of quests in the game which is a decent amount of time. Unfortunately a lot of the pilfering the city of loot (some of these come under side quests) becomes rather monotonous and ultimately not really beneficial (unless you absolutely have to upgrade every aspect of your character). Yes, there are challenges you can do where you aim to beat your mate's best time and there's always the dreaded DLC to invite replays, but I think I'm quite satisfied with one since there's not much beside what is mentioned enticing me to return.

Polish (3/5)
I didn't encounter any serious bugs thankfully but there was a game-breaking issue earlier this month where people couldn't progress past Chapter 4. Also reloading savegames sometimes results in enemy NPCs changing their routes or popping up right next to you when initially they were on the other side of the room. Thankfully, this was rare but annoying when it occurred since it required a rethink in terms of strategy.

Score – 7/10

The new Thief definitely has pretty looking graphics and the gameplay is generally solid, however the average plot, rushed ending, audio issues and other bugs may only have you playing the game once and never again. A reasonably fun steampunk stealth FPS for players who have never heard of the original games, but it might be a step too far for veteran fans of the franchise.

If you want to get the game, you can get it on Steam.

If you like this game, you might like...

[ LINK: Official Thief Website ]

Videos:

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Choicest VGM - VGM #125 - Lemmings - tim1





Composed by: Tim Wright
Arranged for DOS version by: Tony Williams

And now onto some Lemmings music by another composer, Tim Wright. Apparently the story with the two different composers (according to Wikipedia)was that the original composer, Brian Johnston (artist Scott Johnston's younger brother) sampled copyrighted music in creating his tracks. Back in the old days, composers apparently didn't need to care so much about copyright, especially when it came to traditional or classical music. However, since Brian had a lot of tracks based on traditional and classical music, Tim Wright was recruited to replace the tracks.

This is the first of Tim Wright's tracks, aptly named "tim1". Whenever I hear this track I could almost imagine the Lemmings grooving to an 80s mix tape.