A renaissance of game types that have been sadly missing
Subject: Editorial | November 8, 2012 - 12:56 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: stealth, space sim, games
There are two types of games that are near and dear to my heart which have been sadly lacking recently, stealth FPSes and space sims, which seems to be changing. Until very recently the best way to solve your stealth fetish was to take advantage of the compatibility patches for Thief 2 or to play Thief: The Dark Mod, neither new releases nor officially sanctioned. Deus Ex:HR had some stealth elements depending on how you wanted to play it but for the most part it was a straight out superpower shooter. The release of Dishonored was a good start, while it is another superpower shooter it is one with far more emphasis on stealth, both in the powers you can gain and utilize as well as the fighting mechanics which ensure your death if you attract too many enemies at the same time. Next to come is a game entitled Abduction, which is being built on CryEngine 3 and as you can see by the trailer it is very much focused on dark places to hide, proper shadows for you to keep track of guards with, silent take downs and a silenced pistol for those who run out of patience and need turn off a light or to drop someone quickly. Sound also plays a part, over and above the AI swarming gun shots, for instance the instruction to run and let the sound cause a distraction. Also worth checking out is Hitman, again a game which incorporates stealth as a major gameplay mechanic and not just an option in some missions.
Space Sim fans have long been bemoaning the early demise of the FreeSpace series, for as much fun as the incredible X series is, it is far more than a space shooter and that can turn many fans off. Babylon 5: I've Found Her is an amazing free game which has continued to receive updates and new missions, however it uses Newtonian physics which can be difficult to get used to and frustrating to some players. Also recently released was the Wing Commander Saga, more than just a remake of Wing Commander 3 while still incorporating many of the assets which made that game special then and still does today.
The creator of Wing Commander, Chris Roberts, also had an announcement for space sim fans who have long been awaiting his return to game design. He is currently working on a monstrous space game in two forms, a single player version called Squadron 42 and a online multiplayer version with a fully perpetual universe with an accompanying story arc reminiscent of the fall of Rome called Star Citizen. While both games will essentially be the same, the online version will obviously not evolve in the same way as the single player version since once you let player characters near your campaign you might as well toss your carefully planned story arc out the window as it will not survive contact with those stubborn, misguided fools (to put it politely).
If that is not enough to send a tingle down your spine then perhaps the possible return of another old friend will. If David Braben has his way, Elite will be making a comeback and as his Kickstarter already has over £300,000 in backing. Not only was this an incredible game to play, they were the first to develop procedural generation of a game world or universe in this case. How else could they fit 8 galaxies each with 256 planets onto a Cassette, Floppy disk or Cartridge and then run it on an 8-bit computer? Now imagine what those twistedly gifted minds can do with today's 64bit OSes and the GPU power available to them. Jameson never had it so good, even after upgrading his docking computer so as to no longer have to manually match rotation with space stations!
It is a damn fine time to be a PC gamer who likes a little variation in the types of games they play ... now I wonder if that X-Com squaddie is healed up enough to go on another mission yet?