Advent Calendar - December 17th.

by PaulEMoz in , , ,


Gorky 17 (PC)

One of the great things about this blog, whether it's just the normal version where I'm digging through boxes of games or this special festive version where I'm purposely hunting out games for a specific reason, is that I've found and played games that I've never even heard of before. Sometimes they're good, sometimes they're not, but either way, my gaming knowledge and horizons are broadened.


I think we all would, Captain State The Obvious.

I'd certainly never heard of Gorky 17. Nor had I heard of Odium, the title it was given for its US release. I didn't think I would be playing it, either... there were a few issues to overcome. I bought it from GOG.com, but had problems downloading it. Then, once I had it installed, I couldn't run it. Eventually I worked out that the game's intro movies don't work properly on modern PCs. So with that problem overcome, it was on to the game.

Gorky 17 sees you in control of a group of NATO soldiers sent in to investigate the appearance of strange creatures in a small Polish city. You're not the first group to try this... the original group disappeared, so you'll have to see if there's any trace of them while you're at it. And there's more to this place than meets the eye...


Ganging up on that poor little dog-tiger thing? Shame on you!

It's a really interesting premise. You control a group of three soldiers using the mouse. It's quite a bit simpler to control the team than I'd expected... just point to a position on the screen, and the three will follow each other to that point. There's none of that drawing a circle around them to select them rubbish that so irritates me about strategy games.

When it comes to combat, the screen zooms in a little, and it reverts to turn-based strategy. In other words, you choose where to move a player, he moves there, then shoots/heals/whatever. Then the enemy monster moves and attacks. And you all keep doing this until either the attacking group is all dead, or one of your players dies. Because you're playing soldiers and not wizards, death means Game Over.


Aaaargh! Oooyah! Come on lads, a little help here!

That's a bit of a problem for me. I applaud the game for sticking within the borders of reality, but that makes it a bit on the hard side for me. If you're attacked by a reasonable number of monsters... say, four... then you're going to use a fair bit of ammo to kill them. Fights last a long time, and the creatures take a fair bit of killing. And you're going to be hard-pressed to find enough ammo to replace what you've used before you're attacked again.

Still, if you like games like this and you love a challenge then I reckon you could probably do a lot worse than Gorky 17. I love the sci-fi-meets-real-world scenario, and for a game that's now over ten years old it doesn't look all that bad. The ease of use makes it all the more appealing, so if you're any good at turn-based strategy games and like the sound of this one, check it out.

Planescape: Torment (PC)

by PaulEMoz in , , , ,


Here's a game I've meant to play for years. I'd originally bought it when I was living in America. At that time, there were companies that were re-releasing classic PC games in cool cardboard slipcase/jewel case packages, costing no more than $9.99. Every time we went to any mall or outlet, I'd pop into the games stores and see what new stuff they had on the racks. I managed to build up a fairly substantial and, dare I say it, impressive collection... only to lose a fair bit of it when I sold a lot of stuff before I moved back here.

It's proven more difficult to find over here, but recently it's had a physical re-release and has been made available on the fantastic GOG.com. And that's where I got it from.


Well, that's just lovely, that is.

Planescape: Torment is a computer RPG based on Dungeons & Dragons rules. That means nothing to me, as I only briefly dabbled in D&D and that was when I was about nine years old, when an older lad who fancied himself as a Dungeon Master both created and killed my character within the space of about two hours. Wanker.

Anyway, enough of my mental scarring. When I first played this I got stuck in the first room and didn't have the patience to carry on... that, plus I had too many other games to play (that bit hasn't changed at all!). This time, I vowed to do better and see exactly why this game is so highly rated in the gaming community.


Damn the limitations of a 400px wide image.

It turns out that the reason the game is so highly rated because of the dialogue. Planescape: Torment is very dialogue-heavy. In many games this can be tedious, but Planescape: Torment has some very funny and quirky dialogue which is almost always a joy to click through. You're an undead character, waking up on a morgue table and not actually realising your plight. And you'd probably never realise your plight, if it wasn't for the incredibly mouthy skull that befriends you and proceeds to rabbit on the whole way around.

Morte is your new friend's name, and he's the sassiest, sarkiest skull this side of Trap Door, but with a healthier sexual appetite. Yes, you read that right. Those cadaverous laydeez that wander around the place are right up his street, and he doesn't mind letting you know it. It's a bit bizarre, and pretty funny.


Phwooooarrr, eh? Look at that bit of stuff.

Dialogue aside, I have struggled a bit with the actual game so far. It's an isometric 3D adventure... it's not exactly Knight Lore, it's a bit more advanced than that, and it employs a "fog of war" technique which keeps large areas of the playfield obscured until you actually need to see it. That hasn't been the issue for me, it's that the game has a lot of menus and I still haven't quite got to grips with all the options and icons.

Still, that's my own cack-handedness to blame. It's not the game's fault that I have a hard time actually clicking on the thing I want to kill. Combat hasn't been particularly exciting so far either... it's pretty much a slugfest at the moment. It's obvious that there's far more depth to Planescape: Torment than has been revealed to me so far, and the banter alone is easily enough to keep me going, with the interesting storyline adding an extra hook. I reckon I'll be getting a netbook soon, and I can easily see me installing this on there and playing through it at a leisurely pace.