Category Archives: Free Time

All kind of things I do in my free time

Game of the Month: Red Dead Redemption

I always enjoyed Sergio Leone‘s Italo western movies, in particular The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. My guess is that Rockstar Games like them as well as their latest game Red Dead Redemption feels like an interactive version of a Sergio Leone film.

The game’s story follows the adventures of John Marston, a former outlaw who became a farmer. His past catches up with him when ruthless government agents take his wife and son hostage and force him to hunt down the members of his former gang. Marston’s quest turns into a brutal fight for survival when he is caught between the fronts.

Red Dead Redemption is a third person shooter and adventure game set in the Wild West at the beginning of the last century. It features a vast beautifully animated landscape. There is so much to look at, so much to explore that just riding through the countryside will keep be you occupied for a long time. You can also pursue all the cliché activities you can imagine:

  • horse riding and driving horse carriages
  • shooting with historic weapons like a Winchester rifle
  • hunting all kinds of game including buffalos and grizzlies
  • herding cattle
  • catching and breaking wild horses
  • poker
  • bounty hunting
  • duelling

You can spend hours trying out all these things, becoming a famous hunter, improving your sharp shooter ranking or searching for treasures. There seems to be no limit to this fictional world.

Once you have satisfied your curiosity (at least temporarily) you can play one of the main missions. There are usually several missions available at any particular time, all linked to one of the characters featured in the game. Speaking about the characters: there are a lot of them, all excellently voiced and very well written. You meet a snake oil selling fraud, a hardened marshal, a drunk scoundrel, an old gunslinger, a mexican rebel and all the other stereotypes which belong into a good western. All encounters with them move the excellent plot of the game forward. It is a relentless tale of violence which none of the protagonists can escape. After many hours of excellent game play you finally reach the grand finale which is as merciless as the rest of the story.

Red Dead Redemption combines technology, story telling and entertainment into a gripping mix. If you like western movies this is definitely your game.

Game of the Month: Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time

Although Ratchet & Clank is a long running series of computer games I had never heard of it before I saw Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time in my friend Stefan’s trophy list. Based on his recommendation I decided to buy the game.

A Crack in Time is a 3D Jump ‘n Run and Shoot’Em Up game. It reminds me a bit of Nintendo’s excellent The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess but features less puzzles and more action. While the concept of the game isn’t novel it excels at overall design:

  • All the characters are beautifully animated, superbly voiced and overall very well made.  They would be worthy of a cartoon feature film.
  • The game is sometimes difficult but never unfair. There are a large number of save points which prevent frustration if you have to master a particularly hard challenge.
  • Between the main missions it is possible to roam around the galaxy as much as you like. You can complete little extra quests, search for treasures or fight in a tournament as a gladiator.
  • The game features a large set of weapons that Ratchet can use to fight the scores of enemies. In addition to pretty normal stuff like a blaster, grenades and a shot gun there are crazy things like a flying robot companion which will not only shoot at your enemies but also insult them. You can also throw a disco ball to force your foes to dance or feed them to a monster with tentacles named Fred through a dimensional portal. But the darling of the public is of course the Ryno V which unleashes hell on your opponents while playing Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture .
  • When playing as Clank you have to solve complicated temporal puzzles which is mind boggling and great fun at the same time.

Overall Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time is wonderful crazy game. I really enjoyed playing it from beginning to end.

The Gaming PC Madness

A few days ago I read a review of a high-end graphics card in the c’t magazine. The card featured nVidia’s latest and greatest GPU and a very elaborate cooling system which was required to reduce the fan noise to acceptable levels. I was shocked by the price of the graphics card. At €510 the graphics card was more expensive than our PlayStation 3 including most of the games.

That reminded me how happy I am that I don’t own a Gaming PC anymore. It was just a waste of money and time and on top of that frequently very frustrating: the noise, driver problems, hardware incompatibilities, and so on and so forth.

The quality of the graphics produced by the PlayStation 3 might not be state of the art anymore. But they look good enough for me. And I can actually focus on playing games instead of faffing around with the system.