Demo time

Call of Duty 4
I really wasn’t expecting anything special. The previous Call of Duty games, while good, didn’t really impress me – I’m not terribly crazy about military shooters and especially WWII-era ones. As CoD 4 got a lot of good reviews and finally broke away from WWII, I decided to give it a try, and was totally impressed. The level of polish and attention to detail is brilliant, even for the non-game elements (the presentation of the satellite map with the news anchor voice over intertwined with the music is particularly impressive). The gameplay derives from the FPS formula, but the frantic pace of the action and the nail-bitingly tense atmosphere it creates is novel and provides for an amazing experience.

Supreme Commander
This has been on my hard drive for a while and I never got around to it. As it’s the spiritual successor to Total Annihilation and given that I was a big TA fan, I had high expectations. However, I just haven’t been able to get into it. I’ve played a bit of the campaign and 2 or 3 skirmish games but the game is simply not resonating with me. Perhaps it’s a matter of scale; zooming in and out of the battlefield isn’t as impressive as I thought it would be, it is functional for setting up long range attacks, especially with air units, but I still find myself scrolling a lot. Although, this might just be due to habit more than anything else. In addition, the “default” zoom level I usually fall into is usually pretty far out, and the units simply don’t look too impressive at this scale.

Units also seem fragile. The game seems to force you to always attack in large groups, and this would be in line with it’s attempt at epic battles, however, building units is time consuming and considerable micromanagement needs to be done to setup or reinforce squads as even the weakest units are spawned individually. When you execute a strategy and it works, the game is fun, but the setup to that point can be a burden and a failed strategy renews the burden.

From what I’ve seen so far, I also haven’t been impressed with the maps themselves. There are obvious choke points that provide for basic defense setups and seems to avoid rushes but most of the terrain is flat, so at times strategy can boil down to just having the largest, most advanced squads with a good variety of units to counter artillery and aircrafts. A flat terrain also means there’s usually a huge burden for defense placed on you as there is little to no benefit from the terrain.

Overall, it seems like an ok game, but it simply hasn’t impressed me the way other RTS games have. I’ll put it some more time with the demo, but I’m not optimistic about finding anything that’ll win me over.

From time to time I check out GameTunnel and I’m usually disappointed with what I find. This time was different, I stumbled across Aquaria and it’s a wonderful game. The graphics and artwork were the first to strike me, but the music, sound fx, and voice overs are all increadibly well done. The game does take some time to get into, especially early on where you’re likely to be swimming around just trying to figure out where you should go (as you have a large area to swim in at this point, but most of the passages to the other levels are blocked off), but so far it’s been a charming, fun ride.

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