Games to Play While Holding Off for Diablo III

Games to Play While Holding Off for Diablo III

Let’s face it, Diablo III may be awhile. Blizzard says 2011 at the earliest, which by standard math translates into sometime by the end of the decade. So, with that in mind, I figure what’s a good selection of action-RPGs, or “Diablo clones,” to play while waiting on the real deal? Better yet, what games innovate to go beyond simple clones by putting their own spins on the genre?

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DiRT 2 (PC) – First Impressions

DiRT 2 (PC) – First Impressions

When it’s close to midnight and you’re looking for a game that will keep you up and alert for an hour or two, there is nothing like a racing game. [Just don’t take this situation into a real car. – Ed.] After a couple hours of playing this game, I must say that Codemaster has delivered another masterpiece with DiRT 2.

This game is impressive as the level of polish is remarkable across the board, right down to the menus and loading screens. Yesterday, I even caught myself wanting a loading screen to be longer. Occasionally this polish comes at a cost though, such as the noticeably sluggish multiplayer main menu. This otherwise minor issue is amplified as you can’t join another race without returning to the multiplayer lobby.

About the racing itself, DiRT 2 offer a good variety of tracks. Some are rally, trailblazers, or raid, while others are more like X-Cross tracks, on a closed circuit with a lot of bumping around. Personally, I prefer the former by far. It is much more entertaining and will keep you on the edge of your seat the whole race thanks to the outstanding physics and responsive controls. To match the track types, there is an equal  variety of cars, each with unique controls and handling characteristics. To top it all off, races and locations are just jaw-dropping graphically (check out the DirectX 11 video demo after the jump). Unfortunately, the replays are a let down, as they have been dumbed down since the first title.

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First Ever Grumpy Gamers’ Game of the Year Awards

First Ever Grumpy Gamers’ Game of the Year Awards

Well, it’s January, and we’re a gaming website, so it’s time for the obligatory Game of the Year Awards, or specifically for us, the Grumpy Gamers Game of the Year Awards: I, aka, the GGGotY:I. Read on to see if I chose your favorite game or if you are going to spout obscenities at me for choosing a game that you haven’t developed a deep, irrational connection to.

The rules are simple: each category has one winner. Those winners then go on to fight for the glory that is Game of the Year. You’ll often see categories like best graphics, best original musical score, and best game based on a movie based on a graphic novel based on the book. We’re not doing that here. Genre for genre, we’re looking at the cream of the crop. I also made up some genres in order to fit the games I like the most. Please note that Grumpy Gamer’s did not actually vote on any of these awards. They were picked solely by me. But let’s be honest with ourselves, Jacob’s opinion doesn’t matter. [Ow, my pride. – Ed.] You can deal with that. Without further ado, the winners are:

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King’s Bounty Series – First Impressions

King’s Bounty Series – First Impressions

When I bought King’s Bounty: The Legend and King’s Bounty: Armored Princess, I didn’t expect anything in particular. All I really knew was that the combat sequences were similar to those in the Heroes of Might and Magic series. The Heroes series never really hooked me so I wondered how this game would be any different.

With last months holiday Steam sale, I suggested the game to a few friends and  a couple of them went ahead and grabbed it. Personally, I was too busy playing Mini Ninjas to even download it [Damn Canadian bandwidth caps! – Ed.]. Yesterday, I was assisting my classes when one of the friends which had bought the game literally began raving uncontrollably on how great it is. He was totally in love with the graphics and gameplay alike. Curious, later on in the evening I found myself simply lost in amazement exploring the vast empire while doing duties for the King.

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Half-Life 2 Mod Overhauls Graphics [UPDATE]

Half-Life 2 Mod Overhauls Graphics [UPDATE]

When The Orange Box was released for the consoles they included graphical enhancements for Half-Life 2 and Half-Life 2: Episode One, bringing them onto the enhanced Source engine pioneered with Half-Life 2: Episode Two. Well, a modder, Filip Victor, decided he didn’t like that the PC version lacked these improvements, and has released a 1.5GB mod, titled Half-Life 2: Update, bringing many enhancements to the original title, along with an overhauled Episode One in the works.

While this falls into legally grey territory, this download does require full versions of Half-Life 2 and Episode Two to run. Added with the mod though are updated models and textures, 32 Steam achievements, and High Dynamic Range (HDR) Lighting. Check out the screenshot above and the comparison video below (after the jump) to see for yourself.

The initial release does contain bugs, namely a bad head movement script during an early in-game cutscene for Alyx, and the author has announced he is already working on a patch.

UPDATE: I was inaccurate as to the nature of the bugs the author is fixing. So, per the authors request, I’ve corrected that and added the developers name to give proper credit.

Also, you can now download a copy directly from Grumpy Gamers.

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