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TAY! Weekend!!! Whatcha Playing?

Haunting Me

Happy Weekend TAY!

It is Federal Election time here in Canada and *lots* happening in politics south of the border...I need a nice break from the endless news cycle. I’m just going to sit back with some spooky games this weekend and enjoy the Halloween season with my family.

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I finished Hollow Knight last week and it ended on a bit of a whimper. Apparently there is a tougher final boss if you go find more secrets, but as usual, I’m completely uninterested in a game once I complete the campaign. It is nice that there is further content to explore for those who are looking for more, but for now, I’m done.

I still don’t enjoy the controls in Hollow Knight and I think the backtracking is somewhat dull. There is some genius in the game with very clever level design and a cool upgrade/buff system, but there wasn’t enough there to really win me over. It was one of those games that felt more like work than fun for me.

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So, with Hollow Knight completed (well, 94% completed) I moved on to my next scary game for the Holloween season. I chose Pathologic which often comes up in top-lists of horror games…

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...and I chose poorly.

Maybe there is an interesting story and some build to the horror in Pathologic, but there doesn’t appear to be an ounce of fun. Aside from the terrible visuals (I’m playing the newer “HD” version) and the weird stilted dialogue, the game feels like the antithesis of entertainment.

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Pathologic’s interface is terrible and everything seems unduly cumbersome. Add to this some of the worst first-person controls and the feeling that the whole game is being played in slow-motion and you have a game that is purposely wasting my time.

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Maybe there is something cool in Pathologic, I’ll never know. After three hours with it, I did something I rarely do...I dropped it. If you played Pathologic, can you please explain the appeal? (or maybe why you hate yourself)

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I’ve now moved on to F.E.A.R. for my fright-fest and I couldn’t be happier.

Damn! What an amazing game and it still holds up incredibly well. F.E.A.R. is almost 14 years old to the day (released Oct 18, 2005) and it still runs circles around most modern shooters.

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I was happy to see that the two issues I had with F.E.A.R. on my previous playthrough had been overcome on modern hardware. I think it has been over six years since I last looked at this masterpiece.

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The first issue I previously encountered was a bug with Logitech devices. This problem slowed the framerate down over time and required a constant quitting and reloading of the game. This was a big issue for years, especially for people like me who almost exclusively use Logitech interface devices. Thankfully someone fixed the offending .dll and the headache is finally gone.

The second issue with F.E.A.R. was a much more general problem with older PC games and is one of the major issues with Windows legacy gaming. Back in the day, Creative Labs ruled the soundcard world and EAX sound support was the major weapon in their arsenal. Aside from a whole host of audio presets and environmental effects, EAX was one of the only ways to get positional sound.

There were many reasons why EAX fell out of favour, but most PC users today get their sound from their motherboard or directly from their graphics card. Without a SoundBlaster branded soundcard, this means these users lose access to EAX support in older games. In something like F.E.A.R., I think the loss of positional sound is a travesty that ruins the atmosphere.

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Enter IndirectSound which seems to be an independent project to restore some legacy sound support to older PC games. I still don’t get the full suite of EAX 4.0 effects in F.E.A.R. with IndirectSound, but honestly, the sound design in F.E.A.R. is so good on its own, the simple addition of positional audio is all you really want.

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I’m absolutely loving F.E.A.R. and I’m so happy it caught my attention while I was flipping through my list of Steam titles. I think this is my fourth time playing F.E.A.R. and that number of repeated visits to a game is extremely rare for me. I’m glad it remains one of my all-time favourite games.

I’m looking forward to more F.E.A.R. this weekend and some Dying Light with the kid if there is time. We also might try to hit the Halloween Haunt at Canada’s Wonderland since the weather is supposed to be a little warmer (those roller coasters are a different thing when the weather is cold...brrr).

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So, what are you playing this weekend?

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