World destruction comes in small shrink-wrapped packages...

2010/12/30

Thrifty Thursday: Trials Legends

main_menu_bg This last issue of NAG’s Cover DVD arrived in stores on Christmas Eve just lately, and naturally, I picked it up, along with something else called a magazine. On there was the usual stuff, but under free games I saw that there was a title by the name of Trials: Legends.

I’ve played one or two of these games in the past, most recently Trials HD, which looked a hell of a lot better graphically.

This Trials: Legends “celebrates the early years of RedLynx Trials”, from 2000 to 2005. I have had a on and off love affair with games involving FMX and the likes, including MotoRacer and Motocross Mania, and so I obviously couldn’t wait to try it out. Legends was released in November 2010.

Do you remember playing a game years ago called Elastomania? Trials is essentially like that game – just as mad and probably a little on the unrealistic side at the very least, but still fun as hell.

Trials pops under the Thrifty Thursday column seeing as it’s completely free. It’s basically a compilation of 33 tracks released in previous Trials games over the years. Not only this, but it comes with six different bikes, as well as a track creator. There’s also 15 ranks to go through before finally reaching the ultimate status of “Legend” – this happens when you beat all 33 tracks and the 3 marathon campaigns which each take place over 12 tracks. After you do all that, you can also compete in the online leaderboards for the fastest time achieved on a track, so there’s quite a bit to do then.

screenshot718You obviously take control of a bike, which has some exaggerated suspension. And it’s your task to take on some challenging courses filled with frustrating obstacles, as you try to conquer them with the power of physics. Depending on the bike you pick, these courses can be easy, or they can be a nightmare. The best bike I find is the fifth one, which is the heaviest and the fastest too. I was able to complete most tracks with it. It has the power to climb up steep slopes, and more often than not can bypass several obstacles in your path with one big jump. It does have a tendency to be twitchy and can be a bit overpowered in some places. All the bikes have their strengths and weaknesses.

The sounds in the game are a bit repetitive and annoying, with the manager shouting commands at you sounding quite funny. I wish there was a way to jump off the track and crush him. The sounds of the various bikes are convincing enough though.

Graphically, it’s dated. The riders look blocky and comical-looking, and the animation is rather poor. It’s all 2D as well, which does make it look as though it belongs in the 1990’s instead. But the backgrounds are quite detailed, and remind one of pre-rendered backgrounds you might have seen in some games – even more modern ones. It doesn’t hold a candle to the more beautiful Trials HD, but it’s what one would expect more or less for a free game.

screenshot703

                     Proof that I did it! I did it! It drove me crazy, but I did it! 

After several hours of play over a period of 3 days or so I as able to reach this coveted spot. Now it’s on to the track creator! This is easier said and done though as the “editor” will make you work more within an external image editing program, such as PhotoShop, to create tracks. But you can make them out of almost anything, including photos or screenshots from other games! In fact, as I think more and more about it, Trials Legends almost reminds me of Worms, for some odd reason.

You can also go onto the Trials: Legends forums and download all the fan-made tracks that have been uploaded, too. My advice is to try your hand at making some, because I’ve tried some of those tracks, and they’re nowhere near as good as the ones that come with the game… yet.

Overall Rating:

2813281328132813/ 8/10


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2010/12/27

Theory: Blood may have had more Influence than you Thought

      blood256px-Systemshock2box250px-Nocturnegamecover

These three seemingly very different games might have more in common than once thought

To many, Duke Nukem 3D was the most popular build engine game ever made, even though there were several others out there from the mid to late 90’s. Blood was one of these build engine cousins of the Duke, and for the most part probably wasn’t played by as many people. It did establish what one would refer to as a cult following though.

I was one of those types who only got around to dabbling in the rest of the build “big four” years after they were released. Not that it wasn’t fun playing catch-up. I love the era of sprites in games from the 90’s, when it was then cutting-edge technology, or at least dated but still awesome towards the later half of the decade.

But I was playing through Blood again recently, a couple of years since my first playthrough, and I came to some rather shocking conclusions. Blood may have been more influential on later games than even I thought.

Two games come to mind when I play through the game. First off, there’s another forgotten title from that decade named Nocturne. I’ve played both, and I see some mighty large similarities between the two. In both, you have a sinister protagonist clad in a trench coat and hat, armed to the teeth, who hunts demons, zombies, and the like. Let’s also not forget the train level (third mission of the first episode) in Blood, and how a similar mission took place in Nocturne (first section of the second chapter).

Both games at one point also featured delving deep into crypts and the underground as well, and both took place in Western themed universes, at about the same time (Blood’s 1928 versus Nocturne’s 1928 – 1935).

The second game I think of when I play Blood is System Shock II. Granted, the two don’t have a lot in common. Blood is a bare bones, all out FPS, while System Shock II is a classic hybrid title, featuring FPS and RPG gameplay. But one level in Blood certainly did remind me SS2, which came out more than two years later – and that was the “inside the body” level. You remember in System Shock II you had the creepy level called “Body of the Many”, which took place in a disgusting setting which looked like the stomach or digestive tract of a huge creature?

Blood did that. Blood had a level near the end of the fourth episode, called “In The Flesh”, which also saw Caleb enter inside what looked to be the same sort of environment. There were also bodies of water, except not toxic like in SS2, as well as teeth, but not as lethal as SS2, but not any less scary.

Yeah, Blood may well have taken inspiration from other games and even movies, but I think that in Blood’s case, it possibly inspired at least the two above-mentioned games too. I mean when you think back, Blood was one of the first games to have alternate fire modes with weapons, much like Marathon and Dark Forces before it.

Not many people would have played games like Nocturne or even Blood, and so probably won’t care much about all this, but still… I guess the point is that there’s always a game that did it first before it became cool and people gushed about it.


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