History Lessons: Outlaws

Other History Lessons posts can be found here. I’ve jumped straight in to talking about the game this time, but I’ve included notes about getting the game to run smoothly on modern machines at the end. Lastly, as always, you may click on images to view larger versions.

Outlaws was released in 1997. Back then, I only ever played the demo, bundled on a CD with a copy of PC Gamer magazine. I’m not certain, but I think I played the demo before the game was released, possibly a good while before. By 1997, Outlaws looked behind the times, using the aging Jedi Engine that had powered developers Lucasarts‘ 1995 Star Wars shooter Dark Forces. This engine simply couldn’t compete with the likes of Quake, which arrived in 1996 and sported impressive fully 3D environments and enemies. Outlaws fell into a category known today as “2.5D”, including games like Doom and Duke Nukem 3D, which featured 2D “sprite” enemies and all had various limitations on their third dimension.

But I don’t remember being bothered by that at all, which is why I think I may have played the demo early. Instead, I thought that a first-person shooter was a bad fit for a Western game. First-person shooter design had not yet reached the point where a game like Call of Juarez was possible. Games of the time, like Dark Forces and Duke Nukem 3D, were about running around, exchanging gunfire with enemies, collecting ammo and health pickups, all in environments that bore little resemblance to real locations (Duke Nukem made some effort there, but I hadn’t played it back then). Playing the Outlaws demo, I found myself running around a Western town, shooting at bandits and collecting ammo and health pickups, and it just felt wrong. Westerns should be slower, more considered, shots should be deadlier.

So, when Outlaws was re-released on GOG, I was surprised to hear so much excitement. The game has some ardent fans, enough to make me think I judged its demo too quickly. But the real reason I decided to play it now was all the praise for its soundtrack. I’ve been on a cowboy music kick recently — it involves a lot of Calexico — so a soundtrack inspired by Ennio Morricone’s classic Western film scores appealed. Plus I’d get to check out the game itself again and see what all the praise is about. It was a win-win.

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The Complete Hell Or High Water

Hell Or High Water is an account of a single game of Solium Infernum. The game lasted two months, and the account took twice as long to write, coming in at more than 25,000 words in total. I was inspired by the Gameboys From Hell writeup over at Rock, Paper, Shotgun that originally convinced me to buy Solium Infernum, but while that condenses things a little to focus on the most important events, I wanted to capture the scheming and tension that comes with each and every turn in the game. The result is an enormous and detail-filled account, but one that I hope is both informative and entertaining.

If you are unfamiliar with Solium Infernum, I recommend reading my earlier post that gives an overview of the game first. Otherwise, read on below. And if you are interested, you can buy Solium Infernum directly from developers Cryptic Comet. Feel free to drop me a line, as I’m always happy to host a game.

The Complete Hell Or High Water:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

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Hell Or High Water: A Solium Infernum Diary (part 7)

If you are unfamiliar with Solium Infernum, you may wish to read my earlier post about the game. And you should definitely read part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5 and part 6 first. Lastly, as always, you may click on images to view larger versions.

Last time, my archfiend pair Rufus and Big beak were getting desperate. Far behind in Prestige, they were just about to try framing other archfiends for excommunication — making them fair game for open war — when Xaklyth beat them to it. His framing failed, however, and he was excommunicated himself. But with a big army, Xaklyth may be able to win by force of arms anyway. Rufus and Big Beak are hoping that Xaklyth will take out some of the opposition, so they can sneak into the top position with a few last-minute praetor duels against the champions of Pandemonium. It’s a long shot, but maybe they can turn this to their advantage after all.

Here is what happened.

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Hell Or High Water: A Solium Infernum Diary (part 6)

If you are unfamiliar with Solium Infernum, you may wish to read my earlier post about the game. And you should definitely read part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 and part 5 first. Lastly, as always, you may click on images to view larger versions.

Last time, my archfiend pair Rufus and Big Beak completely bungled their first attempt at a praetor duel, which is especially unfortunate since praetor duels were to be their primary strategy. They then spent eleven turns trying to boost their infernal attributes and managed to get up to four order slots, and enough Deceit ability to steal another archfiend’s praetor. They put in an order to steal Beowulf’s praetor Decarabia, and hope to use him and some Destruction rituals to claw back some Prestige. If it’s not already too late.

Here is what happened.

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Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons Is A Family Affair

As always, you may click on images to view larger versions.

I’ve been meaning to play Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons for a while. Made by Starbreeze Studios, who are better known as the developers behind Payday 2, Brothers is based around a reimagining of the traditional dual stick gamepad controller for games. The titular brothers are guided separately, the elder brother with the left thumbstick and bumper, and the younger brother with the right thumbstick and bumper. Players must learn to control the pair simultaneously, so they may cooperate to navigate a beautiful fairy tale world.

I was intrigued as soon as I heard this idea, as I think there’s a lot of space for imaginative designs in how games are controlled (another recent example is Snake Pass). The fact that Brothers was getting rave reviews only cemented my desire to play it.

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Hell Or High Water: A Solium Infernum Diary (part 5)

If you are unfamiliar with Solium Infernum, you may wish to read my earlier post about the game. And you should definitely read part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4 first. Lastly, as always, you may click on images to view larger versions.

Last time, my archfiend pair Rufus and Big Beak had finally managed to arrange a duel in the Grand Arena of Pandemonium for their praetor champion, Morax, against the champion of Beowulf. Rufus and Big Beak’s Arena Gambler perk gives them double Prestige rewards for single combat victories, so I’m hoping this will be the start of a long string of victories. Here is what happened.

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History Lessons: Star Trek 25th Anniversary

Other History Lessons posts can be found here. As always, you may click on images to view larger versions.

Roughly two years ago, I decided to watch all of Star Trek. This began with the original series, which I’d never seen before; I was only familiar with the original cast from the films. Not long afterwards, I saw that Star Trek 25th Anniversary — a game starring the original cast that I played a lot after its original release in 1992 — was re-released on GOG, and I snapped it up. The timing seemed fortuitous, but I wanted to finish watching the original series before playing, so I played some other games instead. Then it got lost in the shuffle. Now, I’ve almost finished watching every Star Trek episode, across its five different incarnations (I did take a few breaks, mind), and I realized I had better play Star Trek 25th Anniversary before that happens.

I also realized that the timing is perfect yet again, because I’m playing Star Trek 25th Anniversary 25 years after its release. I promise I didn’t plan it that way.

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