Monday, May 24, 2010

Steam stuff

Since I got Portal during the promotion for the release of Steam for Mac, I now have Steam installed.  Given that it seems to be successful, despite my groans both about DRM and digital distribution, I was looking around the Steam store to see what all they had.

I remembered playing Serious Sam HD on a friend's computer, so I downloaded the demo of that.

Serious Sam HD is a remastered version of an older FPS.  The enemies are very strange and nonsensical, such as enemies that hold their own heads while firing rockets at you, headless screaming suicide bombers, and giant faces with arms and legs (the flying versions are just giant flying faces with no arms or legs).

The setting is Egypt.  I don't think there's too much of a story.  You just run around and try to stay alive while the game tries to kill you.  See that health powerup?  Pick it up, and now more enemies have spawned.  See that ammo?  You'll get rushed after picking it up.  See that nice empty room?  It'll fill with enemies.  Not every powerup and room is like this, but it happens a lot.

Naturally, with a game that has enemies like this that appear suddenly, you'll need a varied array of weapons to take them out.  The demo has a knife (so you can melee things that blow up upon death), a pistol (that gets upgraded to two), a shotgun (that gets upgraded to a double barrel shotgun), a chaingun (it chews through enemies like it chews through ammo, i.e. really quickly), and a rocket launcher.

It's pretty good.  One thing's for sure though, you'll be using the hell out of your quick save key.  Every time you clear a room, quick save.  Every time there's a lull in the action, quick save.  This sounds rather paranoid, but you never know when the action's going to start up again.

As with any FPS with a story-based single player mode, there are secrets.  These secrets are filled with helpful items, so you'll want to find them.

I've beaten the demo, and even though it's only one level, it's fairly long.  With some honed skills the number of enemy ambushes could probably be kept to a minimum (reducing your need for health powerups and becoming more efficient with ammo usage will help greatly).  There's an area at the end of the demo where you're locked in this courtyard as the game rushes you with groups of enemies, starting with the suicide bombers and working up from there.  A couple times during this it'll spawn these two large demons with chainguns up on towers that you'll have to kill so they'll stop raining bullets down on you.  Luckily five rockets a pop and they're gone (on Normal, at least).

I may have to get the full game.  Also, I might get Geometry Wars.  No multiplayer (not even local multiplayer), but it's four bucks.  I've been investigating the available racing games and might get one as well (especially if any of them has a demo).  Also, Commander Keen 1-5 for $5?  Hell yeah.  A fuckton of platforming puzzle action, and basically 5 games for $5, that's hella worth it.

I've noticed that you can add non-Steam games to your list.  I'm not sure what exactly this does other than giving you the ability to launch the game from within Steam, and I haven't done it with anything.  If you go into its interface though it'll chew up all your CPU cycles on an exhaustive search for every single fucking executable on your computer.  Fortunately there's a browse button that opens up a file open dialog, but the search still goes on in the background.

Now for the things I don't like about Steam.
  • Steam doesn't actually exit when you close it.  It leaves itself running in the background, with a tray icon.  You can exit it for real from the menu on the tray icon.
  • This is the case even if you run a game directly from a shortcut you told it to make while Steam isn't running, Steam refuses to exit when you exit the game to make the whole thing transparent.
  • What the fuck is with this custom interface?  I hate it.  Use my windows theme, god dammit.
  • The integrated browser doesn't have any of the keyboard shortcuts (backspace for back) or functionality (tabs) that I'm used to.  It just sucks.  Plus it just stops working every now and then.
  • Small Mode is awesome, but no matter what you do it reverts back to Large Mode.
  • While in Large Mode, you'd better not maximize it if you have your windows taskbar set to auto hide, because it blocks you from your taskbar, and you have to hit the windows key to get it to pop up.
  • Valve better have a fucking contingency plan in case they ever have to discontinue their authentication servers, otherwise gamers around the world will lose access to all the games that they've legally paid for.  This is the problem with DRM (before invasiveness), it assumes that the controlling company is immortal.
  • If digital distribution of games is the way of the future, I think I'll stick with the past.  I much prefer having physical install media, a print manual, and a box to hold it all together.  It gives me undeniable proof that I own a copy of the game.  With digital distribution, if their server fucks up (or just whenever some BOFH feels like it), you no longer own a copy of all those games.  They should offer to ship you (for a low low price, preferably free) the game disc, manual, and box if you request it, for any game you've purchased (or are about to purchase).  I know the purpose of digital distribution is to try and combat piracy (where you definitely don't have any undeniable proof that you own a copy of the game, because, well, you don't), but if they really want to make it viable they should take this next step and make it better than simply torrenting a cracked copy of the game.
To summarize: Serious Sam HD is good, Steam's store has some good deals, and Steam's actual software sucks balls.

1 comment:

  1. Running a non steam game though steam will let you access the steam chat interface from within the game.


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