Monday, 29 March 2010

Call of Cthulhu: Dark corners of the earth on my pc.

Call of Cthulhu is one of the hardest, scariest and greatest games I've played lately. Developed by the now late Headfirst productions and published by Bethesda softworks in 2005 for the Xbox and 2006 for the PC, it's a Lovecraft inspired stealth and survival horror FPS -is that well written?- taken out, mostly, from the story "A shadow over Innsmouth" by that author.

The game is mostly known for it's numerous glitches, some of them are specially bothersome because the actually refrain you from continuing the game. What is less known, is that the game is actually fun and challenging -really, really fucking challenging-, and the story is really well made and sucks you in as you play.

You are Jack Walters, a police detective who is one of the best at solving hard cases, who is internated into Arkham asylum -no, we don't get to see The Joker :(- after a raid at the house of some strange cultists. After that, he turns into a private detective with amnesia of what happened at that house and sporadic fits of schizophrenia. Jack is contacted to take the case of a missing person in Innsmouth, and, as he goes there, he finds that the town is not so friendly with outsiders and that there might be more than there seems to be about the case, as he is followed by some entity that watches him from afar.

The game is more "stealthing" than shooting; actually, trying to shoot your way out of places in this game is not such a bright idea, and that's what makes this game awesome and fucking hard, because you have to think and take your time to do what you must, and when you do, you have to be real careful not to get caught or you are fucked.

There are some places, like the one when you get chased out of your hotel room by the fishermen, that are really really really hard, everything is timed really tight and if you lose one second, you get caught; actually, that part is the best, the hardest and the most exciting chase scene I've ever played in a game -there's is a let's play of this game on youtube, watch the attack of the fishermen part, it's just awesome!-; It took me a million times to get past it, but when you get through that, you feel Godlike. There are also some other hard parts, like the scape in the back of the car, and hard games don't mean awesome games, but this game managed to blend being difficult with entertaining -as fucked up as that sounds like- and did it great.

The graphics are good, perhaps not awesome, but they are good; it has this grainy look that makes it feel like an old movie and it looks awesome. Sometimes the graphics seem a little lazy, especially when in caves, everything looks alike and you don't know where the fuck to go, and sometimes you don't even see it because it is too dark -yeah, I was forgetting that, this game is really dark, it's one of those "I can't see shit" games- or because the wall blends with other wall and the path seems hidden; Besides that, the game is pretty to see.

The gameplay is great, the controls are good, your standard FPS controls, responsive, nothing about them. Something I hated was that... COULD JACK WALTERS BE ANY SLOWER?!! I mean, he walks real slow! yeah, you have to take your time and think and take it easy and all that, but when ugly half man half fish creatures are trying to eat the living shit out of you, you must be able to run!! you can only go slow or slower -slower is to get past enemies and dont get noticed, like holding your breath and walking on your toes-.

A great thing is that there is no HUD or anything on the screen, you only see the ambient and your gun, there is nothing on screen, no crosshair, no health bar, no ammo, no nothing, just you and the game; some people find this shitty, I find it awesome, more thrilling. But now comes this, how do you see your health? and that's just awesome, your health can be seen in the menu as an EKG, pretty much like Resident evil, but that's not what I find awesome, this is: during gameplay, as you get wounded you check your health by Jack's responses, as he is dying you can feel him having a hard time walking or shooting, moaning, his heart beating and his breath getting rougher, also, the color of the screen starts draining to the point of being almost black and white when you are about to die; also, if Jack is wounded on the leg and breaks it, you limp as you walk, and he moans in pain and the leg makes this awful breaking sound; if you get wounded on the arm, aiming is difficult.

The healing system is also great, you pick this med kits that have bandages, splints, sutures and antidotes and you use them depending on the wound; if you have a scratch use a bandage, if you have a cut use a suture, if you have a broken limb use a splint; I find this better than that system where you lay back and regain your health; that's just stupid, I wish that actually happened, if I was ran over by a car I'd just wait for my legs to regenerate.

The shooting is also great. As you have no cross hair, you are forced to aim with the small irons of the gun itself; just as if you were holding the gun. The plot is great at well made, the story is fluid and draws you in as you play; the farther you get, the more you want to know about what is happening; this is in my opinion one of the few scary games that are actually scary.

And this is what everybody knows, the glitches. I'm not gonna lie, the bugs and glitches are a real pain in the ass!, I know the game was rushed out and, as Headfirst died, there was no one to actually take care of them, but fuck they are a pain in the ass! The first one -of the two I ran into-. is the saving, if the PC's clock is not on 24 hours format, the game does not save shit, not even autosaves; it's not such a thing, but it's bothersome.

The second, and the most shitty one, the one that almost made me send this game to shit was the Shooting with the cannon to the island one; here, you are amid a storm on a boat, your objective is to get to the cannon and shoot some wizards on the reef; well, I got into the cannon and saw the reef, but when I zoomed in, I couldn't see shit! All that happened was that the numbers went away, but the reef wasn't zoomed in! And this one is a game stopper, you can't advance if you get this glitch, I tried everything, restarting the level, starting from a previous save -never save on top of the previous save-, shooting blind, every fucking thing and there's no way out. How did I solve it?... I had to download a save state after that point, yes, seems like almost everybody gets this glitch, so, someone who is a great person and God owes him heaven, uploaded a save state right after the cannon thing, so that everyone could bypass the cannon and continue the game. Awesome right?...

The game is great, despite the glitches and game stoppers and all that crap, the game is awesome; good plot, good graphics, great gameplay and some interesting aproaches on the method of doing an FPS -I always say, if it's not broken, don't touch it, but the ideas from this game are good actually- It's a game that I really recommend, play it and see for yourself.

One thing before I finish... The ending... don't get me wrong, the ending cinema is awesome; I mean the very last part of the game. You are in an underwater cave and just defeated the last boss, when suddenly the army attacks the caves and everything starts falling on your head, so, you have to RUN away... that wouldn't be hard if, one, JACK COULD RUN!, and two, if this part wasn't timed, and I tell you, timed by the milisecond, you lose time and you are fucked and everything falls on you and you fucking die... Just so you have an idea on how hard this is, I reached the ending of this game a couple of months ago -I play other things too and sometimes I study... sometimes XD- but I have never, ever been able to finish it, I get to a rock corridor, and when I "run" into it, the ceiling collapses completely and I die... so, for me, that's the ending of the game, Jack dies. End of story.

PD: Thanks for reading and sorry for the lack of images and using images from other places and not from my game, but when I tried to capture the images, the game just crashed, or the image was way too dark; if someone knows how to take good game stills, I'd be glad if you told me how.

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