Conquering the Pile of Shame, Week 6

This past week, I’ve managed to hold to some discipline and keep working through Fallout 2 and Heretic. But I did get off track.

When I started this challenge, one of my approaches was to pick a few games and focus on them. Well, that worked initially, but the reality is that sometimes you get off track, or you go through genre “phases”. And I’ve had one of those phases over the past week.

I started playing an additional game — Neverwinter Nights. I played an absolute tonne of Neverwinter Nights back in the early 2000s, but most of the time I played mods or played online, and I never actually completed the main campaign. Well I’ve made it further than ever, so for the moment, Neverwinter Nights is on the list.

Neverwinter Nights (BioWare, 2002)

When the Enhanced Edition remaster of Neverwinter Nights was announced, I was pretty excited. I’d been impressed by Beamdog’s other remasters of the Infinity Engine classics, so had high hopes. I’ve not been disappointed. The remaster has left the game almost unchanged, simply adding graphic improvements and additional compatibility for modern PCs.

Over the past week, I’ve completed Act 1 of the game, recovering four magical beasts sent from Waterdeep to Neverwinter to assist them in defeating a plague that has ravaged the city. All is not as it seems, and though the magical beasts are recovered, there is treachery within the ranks.

Fallout 2 (Black Isle Studios, 1998)

After getting my ass handed to me by Frog Morton and his thugs several times, I went on a slight detour, battling through the caverns under Redding and spending some time out in the wastes leveling up. On return to Redding, thanks to my extra hitpoints and some more tactical thinking, it was Frog Morton who got “croaked” this time. I returned to the sheriff quite please with myself, only to discover that Frog has a couple of mean brothers who are not likely to be pleased with me taking out their little bro. Thanks for the heads up sheriff.

The next stage of my journey involved delving deep within the caverns underneath Redding. The dim light gives a penalty to aiming, so you need to get up close and personal with your enemies to ensure to get a shot in. Unfortunately, several of those enemies are wanamingos — mean-looking tentacle beasts that hit like a truck. The quicksave key once again got a solid workout.

The great thing about Fallout 2 though, is that sometimes, even when you’re outnumbered and outgunned, a few lucky rolls of the dice can turn the tide of battle:

Heretic (Raven Software, 1994)

I can’t quite make up my mind about Heretic. I didn’t get far in it this week, mainly because I became infuriately stuck with an unreasonably obtuse puzzle — the way to progress was to notice a light flickering someone strangely on a wall, which is actually a secret door that allows to you proceed further.

The atmosphere is great, as are the sound effects and music. But the level design has left me stumped more than once, and not in a satisfying way; more in a “how the hell was I supposed to know that?” way.

At some point in about 1989 I played my first videogames on a Sinclair ZX Spectrum. This was the beginning of a lifetime obsession with games...