September 16, 2003

A New Game For Me To Play

My long drought of computer game purchases came to an end Saturday with the ceremonial walk-through of Best Buy. I went in the store with no particular purchase aspirations, and I came out with a new digital camera battery and the first person shooter "Chaser."

The battery worked fine. The game, not so much. Here I have a system that is so advanced, I don't even use one third of its capabilities, and yet it couldn't run a game with such meager system requirements as an 800 Mhz. Hell, mine is a 2.3 GHz. It should eat that game alive. It did not.

Off to the Web I went, downloading every patch I could possibly click on, and still the game would not work. So, I was left with the distasteful alternative of calling tech support. The techie I spoke with asked me about my computer, and after I explained to him the details of my system, he said, "Man, that sounds like a sweet system. I wish I had that." Although I was pleased that he was envious, his envy did not make the game run correctly.

He told me to go and download the latest version of DirectX, which seemed odd, because the latest version of DirectX was supposed to be included with the game, but whatever. Then he told me to see if my nVidia video card had any updated drivers available. I was incredulous, but I did as I was instructed.

Reboot the system.

Game works. Woo hoo!

I'm not sure what to think about Chaser. It relies way too much on trying to tell a story, with digital animation that has all the angular choppiness I've grown to be so unimpressed with. Granted, it's far better than the days of Virtua Fighter, a game where all the characters looked like they were wearing cardboard for clothes and their hair consisted of road construction cones.

Chaser is the next generation of digital animation, and I'll admit it's fascinating to witness the evolution. Still, they haven't had a lot of success capturing facial emotion. My character is getting shot at and he shows all the emotion of someone watching their vehicle going through a car wash. Ho hum. Still, I have to hand it to the folks who produced Chaser: they were all about the details, including arm hair and a stripper dance sequence that had me pondering masturbation. The stripper, mind you, not the arm hair.

As first person shooters go, Chaser is okay. You pretty much just shoot at everyone because, strangely enough, everyone is shooting at you. It reminds me of the days of Unreal Tournament, a game that I spent way, way, wayyyyyyyy too much time playing. However, Chaser is far more plot driven, and the weapons are a lot more difficult to aim. The AI enemies are maddeningly accurate, even from long distances, but you can lure them in pretty easily and shoot them at your leisure. Oh, and there's a lot of blood. A. Lot. Of. Blood.

That was one of my gripes about Medal of Honor, which is one of the best first person shooters ever created. As great as it was, there was nary a drop of blood to be seen. You could empty an entire clip into a nazi, and there would be no blood to be seen. It's not that I'm a blood-thirsty fiend laughing maniacally as the digital life oozes from my target or anything. I'm just a sucker for realism. Medal of Honor was dripping realism, but there was no dripping blood. Give me some blood, that's all I'm saying.

Chaser delivers blood, in a pooling and splattering fashion. That's nice. It's good to see game designers taking pride in their work. Still, Chaser keeps trying to impress me with long-winded story lines. I mean, I get it, people are trying to shoot me. Have at thee!

A plus point for Chaser is the futuristic space component. One thing that I LOVED about Unreal Tournament was the space station maps where you could look out the window at earth or Mars spinning below. Chaser does the same thing. The opening mission, you're on a space station high above earth, and you can just marvel at the world drifting below. For some reason, I think that's just so cool.

So, would I recommend Chaser? I'm not sure. I haven't played the multiplayer version yet, but I imagine it's going to be pretty neat. The single player version, like I said, is preoccupied with the story line and drawn out cut scenes that take just shy of forever. But, lots of weapons, lots of blood, and lots of action.

I give it 7 bullets out of a possible 10.

Posted by Ryan at September 16, 2003 09:29 AM
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