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Old 16th Aug 2004, 16:38   #1
Wavid
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Default Computer Games

I'm not much of a computer game player myself, but since the lad moved in I've taken a bit more of an interest. He was delighted when we retired his pretty ancient PC to the skip, and I brought in my shiny Compaq (which is getting admittedly rather dated now) which is capable of playing all but the most recent games. Last week, as a treat for not setting fire to anything recently, we bought him Zoo Tycoon a Microsoft effort where you, er, run a zoo. he loves it, and as far as these things go, it seems pretty good. There's loads of information about the animals, and the habitats they like, as well as the de riguer entrepreneurial stuff like building loads of burger vans and arcadesto make cash.

It reminded me a lot of Railroad Tycoon which I was addicted to at his age on my trusty old Amiga 500, and, going back further, the original Sim City. I haven't played any of the more recent versions of Sim City, bring put off by the rather complicated looking 3D interface, until at the weekend, inspired by the zoo keeping antics of my charge, I invested a tenner in Sim City 4.

I'm hooked.

It's a really good game. You zone bits of land for people to build houses, or shops, or farms, or factories, set your tax levels and then watch as the city grows (as they invariably do, it's very hard to cock up the early stage). You can even watch people live their lives ('Sims' they are called, which links up with another game, I think) and they let you now how they are getting on, whether it takes them too long to commute to work, or that the waiting list at the dentists is absurdly long, and so on. You can take a view on how to run your city - high tax and high level of service, or keep taxes low but risk the wrath of your growing population. You can build junior schools, high schools, colleges and universities and as your population increases in intelligence, more sophisticated industries are created. So, you could have a famring town with little schooling, or a high tech Silicon Vallery type city with graduates all over the place.

And it's only ten quid! I would like my life back, though.
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Old 16th Aug 2004, 16:48   #2
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I received Civilization III for Christmas a few years back--my first real-live adult-style PC game.

Was absolutely hooked immediately. Played from 10pm Christmas evening until 8am the next morning, then 8:30pm that night until 6:30am the next day. At that point, having not slept for two days and with a newborn in the house, I decided it was best for the quality of my life if I gave up computer gaming. Haven't played since.
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Old 16th Aug 2004, 19:03   #3
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I have the Sims, which I am still getting the hang of, and Sim City 3000 -which I can spend far too much time playing ..... <wry>

I do like games like that - basically games where you are God. I too have been looking at Zoo Tycoon, and I want the Theme Park one as well (hmmm .... I feel a trip to Computer Exchange coming on)

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Old 17th Aug 2004, 5:13   #4
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I tried Sim City, oh, about 10 years ago & never managed to to very well. Usually I ended up bring in a natural disaster, like Godzilla, and watching it tear things up. My all time favorite computer game was Tecmo Bowl: American football for the original Nintendo. I spent way too much time playing entire virtual seasons with my friends in high school (it was dated even then). That was great, but Super Mario Cart was almost just as good. Thankfully, I've managed to avoid those catastrophic time wasters in recent years.
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Old 17th Aug 2004, 7:56   #5
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I don't play any of these - but my kids are keen on Sims, especially Sims Unleashed/Living It Up. They went through a phase of Theme Hospital/ThemePark but the boys' favourite is Empires: Dawn of the Modern World, in which you build and play out scenario from WW1/2 but at a distance, as empire building and war strategy rather than through the eyes of some sniper (in PS" games, eg.) They did have Empires: Dawn of Kings, which did the same thing for the Crusades/medieval period - you could pick your Frankish or hun army or dozens of others- rather like playing a long game of Campaign or Diplomacy.
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Old 17th Aug 2004, 9:02   #6
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Civ 3 is supposed to be really good, isn't it? I think that's the game that Iain Banks is addicted to, and the reason why his recent books haven't been terribly good...

Does anyone ever play any of the broadband play-against-people-online RPG things?
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Old 17th Aug 2004, 9:23   #7
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Civ 3 is excellent - but Civ 2 probably was the best of the series. I've rather given up playing computer games of late, as many don't offer the depth of play that I'd like to see.
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Old 17th Aug 2004, 13:40   #8
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Civ 3 was fantastic, I must say, and I find myself wanting to play now and again.

Only problem is that I don't really want to go through the Middlemarch-like manual to remember how to play...or to read through the four or five pages of extensive notes I made to myself concerning my strategy in the game I had started playing nearly three years ago. Christ...three years ago! Where does the time go?
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Old 17th Aug 2004, 13:56   #9
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I restrict my computer-gamery to what used to be called point-and-click type games, or I suppose graphic adventures. Basically things that (a) don't involve fast reflexes or the possibility of getting killed, and (b) have some sort of definite ending to work towards as I am more than capable of getting engrossed for hours as others have noted above.

All the ones I've played are older games, so they're quite cheap: the Myst trilogy (Myst, Riven and Exile), Grim Fandango, The Curse of Monkey Island and (just this past week) Day of the Tentacle (a very oldie, quite primitive graphically). The latter three are from the same LucasArts stable and have a very welcome sense of humour, whereas the Myst trilogy takes itself very seriously (the new game, Revelation, is out this autumn) and is a bit po-faced.

What they all have in common though is that they're ridiculously difficult. Invariably I end up going to uhs-hints.com and practically walking through the damn things. Otherwise, when you get stuck they lose all point, and I hate the idea of sitting staring at the screen not doing anything for hours, waiting for inspiration to strike (or - the other equally pointless alternative - going through with a process of trial and error and trying to use every single object with every single reactive location until something works). I'm astonished and quite impressed that anyone manages to finish them without help at all.
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Old 17th Aug 2004, 14:24   #10
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I often pick up Myst in shops, only because I find the name interesting and from reading the box I can never work out what it is all about. But if it is as hard as JS reckons, I don't think I can be bothered. I like games to be reasonably challenging, but I too don't see the point of not being able to finish them.

Been looking into buying Civ III after all the things people have said about it. Trouble is, the only copy in Kingo is a box set with an apparently useless (according to a lot of Amazon reviews) expansion disc. Of course, the expansion disc that's worth having, and irons out a few of the bugs, costs another £15 and can't be bought in a set. Typical.

It must say something for the game that jerkass got it 3 years ago and they still haven't brought out version IV.

My favourite old games on my Amiga were adventure type things. The first Monkey Island (on 9 floppies! Fortunately I was the proud owner of an external 20mb hard drive), Indiana Jones, Zak McKraken and the Alien Mindbenders (all LucasArts ones) and one really good one which was a blatant James Bond copy, but I can't remember the name. And all the 'God' games, of course: Populus, Sim City, and Megalomania.

And then there was the best football game ever made: Sensible Soccer. Genius.
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