I like my women like I like my luminous balls of plasma…dwarfs with a surface temperature of 6,000 degrees Kelvin.
I like my women like I like my oak trees…100 years old and covered in squirrels.
I like my women like I like my testicles, hairy and close to me at all times.
I like my women like I like my swine. Covered in mud because they don’t have functional sweat glands. It also keeps the flies off.
I like my women like I like my Gary Coleman in a fursuit, covered in whip cream, riding an electric bull. Just like that.
I made a Left4Dead wallpaper for my desktop and figured you might like to have it on your desktop it too. The wallpaper shows the four survivors in a field clearing just outside of a forest with a few zombies encroaching on their position.
The wallpaper is available in eleven colors at three 16:10 resolutions. All of the images are PNG format so there is no JPG compression ruining the image – they should all be as smooth as silk! :)
Here’s a preview image, followed by the download choices:
1. Abstract brushes from Eduardo Rubina.
2. Tree brush from Bitiusca George.
3. Splatter brush from Altrikdout.
4. Grass brush from Jason Gaylor.
5. Left4Dead assets from Left4Dead411.
Left4Dead is by Valve Software and is available on Steam.
Underneath each thumbnail are 2 links for larger images. 1920×600 and 5120×1600 resolution. Big!
1920×600 | 5120×1600
1920×600 | 5120×1600
1920×600 | 5120×1600
1920×600 | 5120×1600
1920×600 | 5120×1600
There are a several more panoramic shots and also non-panoramic Crysis screenshots at super-high resolution in this gallery: Crysis High-Resolution.
Here’s a tutorial on how to make your own:
Enjoy the scenery. :)
Thoughts on Penumbra: Black Plague & Penumbra: Overture
I just finished playing Penumbra: Black Plague, the final chapter in the Penumbra series made by Frictional Games.
One word summary: Awesome.
At least…90% awesome. There were a few sections in Black Plague that I could have done without, but overall the game was fantastic. The game is short, but it’s short like Portal, meaning that the four hours one spends in the game are the best 4 hours ever. Sadly though this is the end of the series. Black Plague is no longer part of a trilogy as originally planned…
Black Plague was going to be the middle chapter in a trilogy of horror games, but due to unstated reasons Black Plague became the second and last game in the Penumbra series. I’m assuming the reasons are financial due to the game being made by a small independent developer for the niche Survival Horror market and as a PC exclusive release. I think it’s pretty clear that the odds were not in the developer’s favor.
But from this developer has come a truly magnificent entry in to the history books of Survival Horror games.
The main innovation of the Penumbra series is the unique way that you manipulate objects in the game. In most games, to open a door you simply press a key or click a button and the door opens. When you open a door in Penumbra you have a lot more control over how you do it. Think of the mouse cursor as your on-screen hand, which isn’t difficult in the game as your cursor is actually shaped like a hand. Using this hand you grab the door and then push or pull it in the direction you want it to move. You can push doors open as fast or as slow as you want. If you right click while holding the door you will throw the door open as fast as possible.
You can use this same technique to open cabinets and drawers, pick up items, throw items, move boxes and to use just about anything else in the game. Both Penumbra games are driven by this concept. You’ll use it to solve nearly every puzzle in the two games. The puzzles also have very logical solutions. There are no complex, brain-melting riddles. There’s no need to collect prosthetic skin so you can stretch it over a manhole and use it as a trampoline. There are no puzzles that require you to microwave a unicorn statue and then deliver it to a government agent on the moon. All of the puzzles in Penumbra are solved with real-world logic.
For instance one puzzle in Black Plague requires you to open a locked gate. You do this by first locating a bent metal rod and bringing it over to the gate. You have free control over the rotation of item you’re carrying, so you need to rotate the metal rod and then wedge it between the gate and the frame. Once the rod’s in place you grab the edge of it and pull as hard as you can to snap the lock on the gate. The puzzles do get more complex than this but nothing will have you pulling or your hair trying to figure out what useless junk you need to combine next.
The amount of immersion gained from this kind of interactivity is astounding – it really helps put you right there in the game and makes it feel even scarier. It would be nice if all games had a play mechanic that felt so natural. No more, “press the use key” to pick an item up. If you want to pick up the item you just click on it and you’ve picked it up! It’s such a simple mechanism but it works well and I can’t think of any other games that have it.
Both games have well written and at times very funny scripts. In both games after about an hour of mucking around on your own you finally find some companionship in a disembodied voice. In Overture a character starts talking to you over a radio that you find and in Black Plague a different individual is apparently located inside of your head. Not to give too much away I’ll stop there. This method of delivery works very well in the game and does not feel like a cop-out as it does in some games.
Another way that Black Plague differs from Overture is in the combat. Black Plague doesn’t have any. There are still enemies, but this time around it’s best if you just run away from them and find some other way to outwit them that doesn’t require direct confrontation. Black Plague does still have the occasional enemy encounter but they are resolved through the use of your environment rather than trying to clumsily swing a pick axe at them as they tear you to bits.
The graphics in the Penumbra series can be best described as dated. The graphics aren’t anywhere near those in Crysis. What they are though is effective and that’s good enough. The lighting and atmosphere is what really saves the graphics. The lighting is great, at least what of it is there to be great, as the game is also very dark. You do carry a Flashlight, a glow-stick and some road flares, but when there are enemies lurking around the last thing you want to do is alert them to where you are by shining a light in their direction.
The music in both Penumbra games is very fitting and helps to create an atmosphere of tension and constant danger. Every area seems to have it’s own unique creepy music too, which is a nice touch. In Black Plague as you enter the dog kennel area, a familiar cue from Overture fades in, getting right under the skin of anyone who’s played Penumbra: Overture. Another bonus is that the music is easily accessible in the game directories as OGG files for those who want to listen to the quality themes some more.
Overall, Penumbra: Overture and Penumbra: Black Plague are very good games. Black Plague is a decidedly better game with it’s more puzzle oriented focus and more interesting environments, but I do feel that Overture has the more interesting and amusing acquaintance named Red. Red is a good guy if not a bit neurotic. He’s a very lovable and helpful character, guiding you throughout the game. Clarence on the other hand can be down right cruel and manipulative. Clarence also always refers to you as, “Monkey”. Both characters are interesting and add a lot of depth and emotion to the Penumbra games.
If you love scary games, Penumbra is an excellent choice. Penumbra will draw you in and toy with you in ways other horror games simply can’t.
Thoughts On Silent Hill 3
I just completed Silent Hill 3. It took me about 5 1/2 hours according to a chart at the end of the game. I was hoping for a bit more game than that but perhaps spending 5 to 6 hours in the town of Silent Hill is all that’s really necessary. Lingering around in that kind of environment could have an adverse effect on one’s health.
Silent Hill 3 is part of a survival horror series which focuses more on psychological horror and disturbing imagery than other series in the horror genre. It’s very good at this too. Silent Hill 3 wants to get in to your head so it can rub sandpaper on your brain and whittle away your sanity. This is one of those games that can get to you’re not used to this sort of thing. There’s actually a disclaimer at the start of the Silent Hill 3 stating that:
Some parts of this game may be considered violent or cruel
Gee, I think they might be on to something there.
Silent Hill 3 has gore and cruelty in large quantities. Not-quite-dead bodies dangle from chains and corpses occupy nearly every corridor. It’s the only game I know of that has a carousel – like the kind you find at any carnival – with living horses on meat hooks. For some this could all be a little much. For me, it’s both hilarious and disturbing at the same time.
Still though, Silent Hill 3 actually doesn’t have as much, “disturbing imagery” as Silent Hill 2 or the 4th installment in the series. But that’s not to say it’s lacking in any way. What’s there is great. Except for the voice acting. That’s one thing in Silent Hill 3 that I don’t consider great. Aside from Heather, the lead character, the rest of the voice acting is pretty bad. Though the voice acting in the Silent Hill series has never really been that good. It would be nice if the voice acting got better with each installment. Maybe Silent Hill 5 will change that.
In Silent Hill 3 you play as a teenage girl named Heather. There’s nothing remarkable about her for most of the game and she seems very hot tempered and bratty, but about half-way through the game her past starts bubbling up to the surface. This is hinted at almost annoyingly by a detective Heather meets very early on in the game. “What? You don’t remember your past?” he questions more than once. As your past unravels the game makes a lot of big connections back to Silent Hill 1, so I hope you’ve played it. Overall the story is very interesting and a bit confusing.
On the visual front, the graphics in Silent Hill 3 are very good, at least as far as the character models and environment designs go. Textures look blurry up close…but due to the fact that everything in Silent Hill is covered in rust, blood and other things that are far worse, you’ll probably never notice. The long shadows caused by Heather’s flashlight is a great effect and adds a lot to the atmosphere.
The monsters in Silent Hill 3 are all very good with the exception of one very lame lump-with-legs that makes a honking sound. The game could have done without those stupid things, but all of the other enemies are fantastic and many are quite unique and disturbing.
The sound design is Silent Hill 3 is exceptional. The ambient sounds in the environments are unsettling and well placed. The static from your pocket radio and the grinding sounds of industrial machinery, that grow louder as enemies get closer to you, do their job of heightening the tension in the game. Not all of the creepy sounds are linked to enemies though. In some places you’ll hear howling in the distance, a sudden growl or the sounds of something close-by breathing heavily…yet there’s no actual danger from these sounds – they’re just there to freak you out. Lots of horror games do this, but for the most part Silent Hill 3 does it better. The only game I think can compete with Silent Hill 3 in this regard is Condemned: Criminal Origins.
The gameplay in Silent Hill 3 is great overall. There are some things that I wish they would fix, but I know that they’re holding on to them for the sake of nostalgia. For instance, the horrendous camera. The way you can be in control of your camera one moment, only to have it switch to a fixed camera angle facing away from the direction you’re trying to go…so you just have to run forward, blindly, until the camera gives the control back to you. Some times the camera changes are at the most inopportune times. When these camera changes are used for cinematic effect, that’s great – but when they’re used to simply make navigation or combat difficult, that’s a bad thing.
Another gripe with the game overall is the inventory system. Due to it’s console beginnings, Silent Hill 3 does not make use of any hotkeys for switching weapons or using items. To do any of that you have to go in to your inventory screen, which pauses the game, so that you can hunt around for the item you want. It’s not so bad if you’re used to this sort of thing but a hotkey to switch between a ranged and a melee weapon would have been appreciated. I would have also liked a way to reload a gun without going in to the inventory.
Ammo deprivation is a huge part of Silent Hill 3. While it may not go as far as not allowing you carry extra ammunition like Condemned: Criminal Origins or the complete lack of firearms in the Penumbra series, there’s still very little ammunition in the game. I barely shot anything the entire game, found what I thought to be lots of bullets throughout the game and still ran out of ammo during the final boss fight.
I’ve read though that the amount of ammo the game gives you is completely dependent on how much you use it. The same thing applying to health packs. When you find health packs, depending on the status of your health and how many health packs you already have the game decides what kind and how many of the health pack you should get.
Just like in previous Silent Hill installments and even the Silent Hill movie, sudden shifts from the real world to an alternate dimension play a big roll in the game. These shifts are done very well and I do not feel that they were overdone in any way.
Puzzles also play a big role in Silent Hill 3 and thankfully the developers were very smart with the difficulty levels in the game. When you start a new game you’re actually given the choice of “Riddle Level” which is a separate value from, “Action Level”. I played the game with both set to Normal. After playing the game I went online to read the riddles for the Hard difficulty and my head exploded. I’m glad I chose normal difficulty as the hard riddles seemed extremely frustrating.
One big thing to note about Silent Hill 3 is that some aspects of the game intentionally defy all rational thought. While navigating through the game, rooms that did not exist previously will suddenly appear on your map. In one area of the game, as you step in to an elevator you’ll realize that there are now twice as many floors available than there were just a few minutes ago – a three story building has miraculously become a six story building.
Lastly, the map system in Silent Hill 3 is both useful and utterly useless all at the same time. The map is almost laughably inaccurate in every area, especially in the alternate dimension versions of those areas. What redeems the map though is that you just so happen to be carrying a red pen and will automatically correct the inaccuracies of the layout. You will also mark down all of the doors and items of importance. To have the most accurate map though you have to try opening every single door in the game. This can prove very difficult in the alternate reality levels as the bizarre effects on the walls make it very difficult to tell what’s actually a door.
Overall Silent Hill 3 is a great game with a lot of goodness for survival horror junkies. I highly recommend purchasing it if you’re in to these kinds of excursions in to hell. If hell is what you want, Silent Hill 3 can take you there.