Friday, 26 June 2015

So, what is Insurgency like?


OK, I've now had some time to really get to grips with Insurgency so thought it was about time I gave you my views on it.

But right off the bat I'll have to tell you that I'm very pleased I bought this game - and even more pleased that it didn't cost a huge amount (in fact STEAM have just had it on sale for the price of just £4.99 which is crazy). In fact I will go as far as saying that this game has rekindled my tactical shooter mojo.


If I had to put my finger on why I think this game is a terrific little 'tactical shooter lite' it's because it gives players a choice in how they play the game. The differing game modes really provide something for everyone, and because the game is heavily 'mod' based if a mode doesn't exist then just wait a while and you can bet your bottom dollar that it soon will do!

Myself, I have gotten really addicted with the co-op mode. Playing against bots may not be everybody's cup of tea but I really like the teamwork that results from live-players playing hoards of bots. Insurgency is turning out to be the best co-op game I've played since the original Ghost Recon - and I do not say that lightly.

(By the way, because of this emphasis on teamwork I have not read or heard the word 'noob' ONCE in the couple of weeks I have been playing this game...How nice is that?)


Variety is the spice of life and each map change seems to bring you the challenge
of tailoring your play style, weapon choice and character to a new environment.

Anyway, rather than me ramble on - as I do - I came across a video by BillyEatWorld Gaming that absolutely encapsulated my views of Insurgency. So instead of my reinventing teh wheel, so to speak, take a look at this...



To conclude, I see a lot of potential for this game (and games like it) - casual takes on the tactical shooter format which allow allow 'tactical shooter' fans like me get a quick fix and a lot of variety (rather than sitting down for a marathon 2 or 3 hour tactical infantry warfare fest, like ArmA or Project Reality).

One of my favourite maps is Buhriz because it reminds me so much of the sort
advance and capture gameplay I used to like in Battlefield 2. But also Insurgency
'keeps it real' and depicts battle scenarios that we are familiar with and not 'futuristic'
fantasy environments and weapons (no drones or invisibility cloaks here)!

Friday, 19 June 2015

Project Reality - general impressions

OK, this isn't going to be one of my rambling diatribes [I wrote this when I began, but you can see what happened in the end] - I just wanted to acknowledge that I've looked at this game, played it a bit and so give you a few of my initial thoughts and concerns about Project Reality 1.3 stand alone.

One of the very attractive aspects of Project Reality - and the beauty of a mod
based game mechanism - is that very niche player wishes can be incorporated.
It's particularly nice to see some army models that aren't just American - the
British Army models are very welcome and very well done.

To begin with - a LOT of people have jumped on this band wagon. It's had a lot of publicity from some of the celebrity YouTube gamers and their positive comments and exciting videos - along with the game being FREE - has meant that there has been a big rush to download it. This - as it turns out - is a good and bad thing...

My principal observation is that when PR was a little harder to install (being a BF2 mod) it attracted a hard-core of very dedicated enthusiasts who were very much into the philosophy of the game. Project Reality is a highly enhanced version of Battlefield 2 (though also available for ArmA) and it adds many new features to the basic BF2 game, but mainly it focuses on even greater and more enhanced teamwork and 'realistic' squad mechanics.

The original PR player community was renowned for being a somewhat serious lot who approached the game more as an infantry/squad quasi-simulation than an arcade tactical FPS (which BF2 was). An example of this is that in a previous attempt to 'get into' this game I was once told off for not using correct 'radio discipline' when communicating with my squad!

In some ways you might say that Project Reality (when conceived in conjunction with BF2) was an early attempt to create something along the lines of what ArmA would eventually be.

Graphically the quality of PR varies - there are times a very decent job has been done
of the visuals, but at other times you do think 'Battlefield 2'. This back-wards step -
while an unavoidable necessity - is a little off-putting when you have been playing BF4!

Now the problem is this...Many people have been - as I said - attracted to this game and not all, I have to say, are completely up to speed with the player philosophy which goes with the game. To them it is just a free game which 'people have said is good'. The up-shot of this is that if you are trying PR for the first time and like me were attracted to it by the videos of Bluedrake or JackFrags et al - which show off some pretty cool tactical team-play - you *may* be slightly disappointed.

My first evenings attempt to play this game had me searching for a suitable server - no great problem as the boom in popularity means there is a good number of PR servers out there at the moment. But once in things didn't go quite how I imagined they would...

Of the few servers I joined none of them displayed team-centric play I had expected and despite my many attempts to use the various communication tools that were available many people simply seemed to be treating Pr 1.3 as a replacement for the now defunct BF2. Lots of PR 'noobs' were just running around like the game was an arcade shooter looking for kill scores.

Project Reality squeezes every ounce of possibility out of the poor old BF2
engine. Maps are a example of how the developers pushed the envelope of the
original EA game into a game which has ArmA-like ambitions.

In a way this isn't surprising. BF2 had a good following and despite the fact that it was superseded by BF3 and BF4 quite a few people still stuck doggedly to Battlefield 2 and there was a modest little community of regular players. So when EA turned the tap off (withdrawing backend and server support) and - coincidentally - PR released it's stand alone version of it's game I am pretty sure a lot of these errant BF2 fans jumped ship to PR 1.3 simply to continue playing a 'BF2-like' game.

Anyway, in the end I did ramble, but the point is this. If you want to play Project Reality as it was intended that you play the game - as a semi-serious semi-sim - then do yourself a favour and hook up with one of the gaming clans who support this sort of play. Otherwise your PR experience - as mine was - may turn out to be little more than a chaotic farce.

There is something almost schizophrenic about Project Reality and a lot of this
has to do with the servers you play on and the people you play with. The right
servers and players make PR 1.3 the tactical quasi-sim you have heard it is, but
in the wrong company it quickly degenerates into the worst aspects of BF2.

AND FINALLY...

Be aware that to get the most out of Project Reality you have to be ready to 'read the manual' or at the very least watch a half-dozen or so tutorial videos...

Project Reality 1.3 IS NOT Battlefield 2! (You definitely will not pick it up and become proficient at it in a half an hour.)

[I may give PR 1.3 one more try as I have found a community that does take the game seriously. But I just cannot shake off the nagging idea that Project Reality is like a rough sketch for a game that people would like to have, only PR isn't quite it! The word is that that game is probably called 'Squad' and is - predictably - by the people who developed Project Reality!]


Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Blast from the past: Project Reality

2015 is turning out to be a terrific year for gaming. All of a sudden there are several things to play - after a long game drought - and in particular Tactical Shooters seem to be coming back into vogue.

However, today I want to talk very briefly not about a new game but rather about a golden oldie that has - somewhat unexpectedly - been given a new lease of life - Project Reality (the legendary Battlefield 2 mod).

No it's quite amazing that - basically - I am going to talk about a game that is a souped up Battlefield 2. Now PR enthusiasts will tell you that there is more to it than that but the mechanics are a 10 year old game...That's right, BF2 is 10 years old!



Ironically, my friends and I stopped playing BF2 just when the early versions of the Project Reality mod were gaining some prominence, but I personally thought that PR players (at that time) were a bit of a weird bunch and so never got into it then. Indeed, our clan of the time had a small fervent PR following but they kept themselves to themselves and we moved onto newer games.

But here we are in 2015 and we are seeing something of a mini Project Reality renaissance. Many Tactical Gaming clans are currently excited about the game and - I am told - servers are popping up at a good rate and players are up to very healthy numbers.

The reason for this is quite a irony - EA dropped all Battlefield 2 support which left the game dead (as it had no official backend server support). But rather than killing the game off - finally - a strange opposite reaction occurred. Project Reality uses Battlefield 2 as it's core game mechanics (though an ArmA version also exists) but as EA has consigned BF2 to the game cemetery the PR team pronounced that BF2 was now officially 'abandonware' and so they have now produced a stand alone version of PR with the BF2 core mechanism 'baked in'!

That's right - you no longer have to provide your own copy of BF2 to run Project Reality! You can just download the game from the PR website, install it and it will run!

And this is why there is a sudden boom in the popularity of this elderly looking game - it has never been easier to install...And - also - let's not forget folks it's a FREE game!

Here is Bluedrake42 who produced a TWITCH stream of him playing a live game of PR 1.3...(What this video does is give you a sense of how different the feel of Project Reality is if you have only played the rather more frenetic Battlefield 2 before. It really is a more carefully paced 'tactical' environment...)



Well that's all I have to say on this at the moment - I have downloaded and installed the game (and indeed it is a piece of cake now) and I've even sparked up a local coop server (with bots) just to have a quick look-see. Yep - it's BF2 - LOL - but with a lot of bells and whistles and a beautiful British Army loadout set!

I'll post more as I have been invited by some members of my old clan to join them in an online game...

Will it be as exciting as I remember BF2 being? Or will I suddenly realise why we moved on from BF2? We shall see.

Here's a nice 'Introduction' or 'How to Play Project Reality 1.3'. It's part of a series by SserpensS and is really handy if - like me - it's been a good many years since you played basic BF2 never mind teh slightly more complicated Project Reality mod...

Monday, 1 June 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road - 'not a review' review



A big part of the Milgeek blog has always been survivalist fiction, whether that be the post-apocalyptic wastelands of Fall Out, the zombie infested lands of Left4Dead or TV series like The Walking Dead - Milgeek likes dystopian worlds. And the king of dystopian wastelands must be Mad Max...

Well, the wife and I went to see the new Mad Max: Fury Road and we were both extremely impressed...In fact, right off the bat, I would say it is the best movie in the series so far. So there!

But it's not without it's slight controversy (what good movie wouldn't be) and this is why this is 'not a review' review. There is no point debating the quality of this movie based on the crazy feminist v 'men's rights' squabble that has developed over the plot-line as that is a Fury Road to nowhere. As I have already said the movie is brilliant so no more needs to be said as regarding quality as - in truth - like a perfect symphony the reason it is brilliant is more an instinctive feeling than it is an conscious empirical deconstruction.

So what kind of review is this?

Well, it's just a nod to what has annoyed so many people (apparently) and why feminists have completely missed a point because they were too busy knee-jerk reacting to the male-chauvinists!

A certain faction of male Mad Max fans have been upset by George Miller's 'Mad Max' movie - they seem think that Fury Road has emasculated Max in favour of a pro-feminist message. Feminists, on the other hand, retort that some men just can't handle a strong female lead character that - in many ways - 'out-Maxed' Max!

Women on top?

Now my take on this is slightly different, I can see both sides but I also have drawn a slightly different conclusion about the movie and the attitudes regarding genre in our society (and in the movie industry)...

Some men seem to think that they have been conned - they were promised a Mad Max movie and they feel that what they got was some sort of feminist diatribe about how everything bad was 'mens' fault'* and that females are the 'good guys' (so to speak) while men have been relegated - in the movie - to animalistic and sub-human 'bad guys'. Meanwhile, the poor Mad Max character (played by Tom Hardy) has been reduced to a simpering and somewhat dull version of his former (Mel Gibson era) self, reliant on females to act as his ethical conscience and intellectual guide.

* Indeed this sentiment is articulated in the dialogue - the women do blame the men for all the evils.

And meanwhile, Feminists - who appear to be generally very happy with the above implications seem to have an attitude of 'yeah, so?' and 'you men can't handle a strong self-reliant female lead character'!

...My opinion is, the Feminists have a point - but at the same time they have completely over-looked the bigger one.

Feminists and Mad Max...What is the point they are trying to make? ;)

To me Charlize Theron's  'Imperator Furiosa' character is one of the most exciting dystopian characters we have seen in movies in a long time - female OR male! She is an instant classic that equals Mad Max and - in my opinion - easily warrants her own movie (I would, for example, like to see how she became the War Rig driver in Immortan Joe's tribe). But therein is the rub...

Whatever positive message this movie sends out about gender equality this movie was advertised and is titled 'Mad Max: Fury Road'. I think it's perfectly reasonable to expect that when a movie has - so prominently - in it's title the name of a notable fictional character then that movie kinda implies that the storyline is about that character.

Fury Road wasn't entitled 'a movie set in the universe of Mad Max' or 'Imperator Furiosa and Mad Max' - had it been so titled then one might have justifiably expected that the role of Max would have been secondary in the scheme of things. But no, it was called 'Mad Max: Fury Road'.

So, score one for the 'men'.

BUT...

I am a man. In fact - if you will allow me - as a man born and raised in Scotland in the 1960s I am a pretty manly man, with all the chauvinist baggage to boot! (I admit it - and I have no qualms as I happen to enjoy being a man!) - AND YET I loved this movie and I loved Charlize Theron's character!

The plain fact is even though I am a man (I think we have established that now) and I like good strong male role models as a result - as we men always like a 'stick' with which to measure ourselves by (Freud knows what I mean) - I am very much attracted to strong female characters as well. I am a fan of Sigourney Weaver (Ripley) in Alien, of Milla Jovovich (Alice) in Resident Evil (sue me!), Linda Hamilton (Sarah Connor) in Terminator, Cybil Bennett (Officer Holden) in Silent Hill, Danai Gurira (Michonne) in Walking Dead, etc, etc, etc...And I revelled, wholeheartedly, in Charlize Theron's 'Imperator Furiosa' (actually, I even liked her in Aeon Flux, but the less said about that the better).


Er...I dunno why this is here!

I have absolutely no problem with relating to a strong female character and it in no way spoils my enjoyment of a good film. And there is where my point lies...

While Feminist groups seemed content to lower themselves into bickering with male-chauvinists groups about the ins and outs of the meaning of 'Mad Max: Fury Road' not one of them have questioned WHY the movie had to be called 'Mad Max: Fury Road' in the first place!

For me, the Max character was reduced in importance in Fury Road - he was not quite the Max that we saw when played by Mel Gibson - but that isn't a slight on Tom Hardy's ability. Tom played a different Max...Indeed, to be honest, the Max character in Fury Road could have been anyone - just some random male wanderer - his inclusion as 'Mad Max' was a complete irrelevancy!

I think the inclusion of Max as 'Mad Max' was simply to draw in the fans of that character to ensure this movie sold. The plain fact is that this movie could have had no Mad Max and still have been a great movie, only Hollywood - ironically - just didn't have the balls to make a movie called 'Fury Road' with the lead character being Imperator Furiosa...Full stop.

This is what Feminists have missed. They are right to say some men cannot handle strong female characters (so well done, score a point to you) but they completely overlooked the real issue that Hollywood did a fantastic actress out of what should have been one of her defining roles because that role was devalued by having to play second fiddle to a male character that was only really there to secure box office takings! Because it's 'Hollywood' who perpetuates the idea that men will not go to see a female hero!




...The Mad Max role in Fury Road (I reiterate) was entirely superfluous. I would have been very happy having gone to see a movie called 'Fury Road' starring Charlize Theron. It would NOT have made me feel any less of a man or made me begrudge paying for a ticket.

I feel incandescent with frustration on behalf of Mz. Theron, who played a superb part, because she was upstaged not merely by a male character but by the ghost of a male character!

As I said, all this is by no means a criticism of Tom Hardy or the way he played Max. Tom will make an excellent Max in his own right and I am looking forward to the next movie (which I believe is in the works).  But to my mind Tom's appearance in this particular movie was something like Arnold Schwarzenegger's appearance as Conan in the movie 'Red Sonja' (though perhaps, in retrospect, this is a bad comparison as Brigitte Nielsen is no Charlize Theron)!

How things have changed...An interesting comparison of old and new and the prominence given.

So there we have it; men score one, feminists score one and I score one! - And that's the biggest shame, because in all this the real winners we should be celebrating are Charlize Theron and the screenplay by George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, Nick Lathouris and George Miller (again) for his wonderful job of Directing.

I fully recommend Max Max: Fury Road - it's an epic piece of action with an outstanding hero (not Max)...I wrote this post to rid myself of the associated ranker and silly bitchiness. Enjoy the movie for what it actually is, not for what other people say it is. It's brilliant!

Postscript: I mentioned my wife enjoyed it. I didn't ask her if she enjoyed it because the female lead was so strong and positive. All I can say is that it was nice for us to go to an action movie where one of us didn't feel short changed because their genre representation was a pussy....Er, if you know what i mean! ;)