Alex McGilvray

What I’ve been playing #005

March 14th, 2016

Shadow Warrior

I haven’t been able to play FPS games for a long time. This is due to me playing a lot of FPS’s in my late teens and early 20’s coupled with the fact I actively developed FPS games from my late teens to my late 20’s. I totally burned out on the genre. I also carry the opinion that while many FPS games have gotten more interesting from a story perspective, they have regressed from a basic gameplay (or gamefeel as some might say) standpoint. I still feel like Doom is one of the pinnacles of design in regards to just getting the right feel for movement and combat in an FPS. I also find the level design to be a lot more interesting. This is probably why I’m still able to go back and play Doom to this day.

I decided one early morning to give Shadow Warrior a try. It was just sitting there in my Steam library. Yet another game I bought on a Steam sale with the vague notion I might play it some day.

I have to say I’m pretty happy with this game. The general fighting mechanics and flow of the game feel quite nice. The game has explicit level based design, complete with kill/item/secret percentages displayed in a post-level completion screen. Very much a throwback to the old Doom shareware era FPS games. It’s still a little linear but better than most modern FPS level design.

The sword mechanics are pretty good. Good enough that I generally enjoy using the sword enough to make it one of my primary weapons. It’s continually upgradable and has a series of special moves that involve double tapping a direction then pressing the left or right mouse button to unleash some attacks such as an area of effect attack that immobilizes all enemies around you in middair. I didn’t expect to ever really enjoy a melee weapon this much in an FPS.

The environments are also very nice. They might not win any overall fidelity awards but the composition and theme of the levels is always interesting and varied which is much more important to me than boring but technically proficient environments. The levels feel as if the designers and artists put their personal touch on them. Much like some older FPS’s and FPS mods from a time where there was less scrutiny from art direction which caused environments to feel to homogenized.

The story is pretty stupid as you would expect from a game like this although it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It’s been a long time since I played the original Shadow Warrior but if my memory serves correctly this version isn’t as inane as the original. The dialogue is still bad but not nearly as embarrassingly bad as the original. My memory might be misleading me though, it’s been about 20 years since I played the original game.

If there was one thing I would like to see in the game, it’s an option to have a ultra high quality cherry blossom tree model

Rocket League

Rocket League is pure competitive fun and the most fun I’ve ever had playing a soccer video game. Who would have thought mixing high powered cars and soccer together would work so well?

The online matchmaking portion of the game is very well designed and implemented. On both the backend and frontend.

Finding a game rarely takes me more than a minute and after completing a game I don’t have to go back to the main menu and find another game. The frontend flow assumes I’m going to play another game so all I have to do is hit the accept button to say that I want to keep playing. From that point the game uses all the other players in my game who pressed accept to keep playing to create the next game. The matchmaking backend then fills in the empty slots from people who left the game and I’m back in and playing my next game very quickly. The Rocket League developers obviously understand how important it is to minimize the waiting and downtime between actual gameplay and they did a great job at addressing these issues.