10:42 AM

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Recent bargain purchases

Sales, Sales, Sales...

1. Taking advantage of the Matrix Holiday Sale

And having grown up a Cold War baby, I thought I'd pick up FLASHPOINT GERMANY as it was going for fairly cheap, like 26 bucks for Digital Download. Surprsingly, it's a pretty good little game for the price, and the AI puts up a fight. I've played two scenarios so far; one a West German recon unit blundering into a Soviet Advance (as the Sovs) and one as a Nato Armored Cavalry unit trying to stop a Soviet Armored advance (just getting started, see below).

Admittedly, I haven't tried the manual yet, but it seems pretty intuitive. There is a lot of micro management going on in this interface, so I wouldn't care to play a large scale game with tons of units (you can move units by the stack or by the unit, but it usually works out as by the unit).

The interface reminds me strongly of a very similar game, TAC OPS, put out by Arsenal, then Shrapnel. The same grid map, similar unit icons (slightly better done in Flashpoint, IMO), and a similar drill-down interface. Of the two, right now I prefer Flashpoint. It's far easier to figure out-- of course, that could be the shock of the new talking. We'll see how I feel after repeated plays. Right now, I'm somewhat impressed.. this game has a real "old SPI game" feel to it, circa early 1980s. I like it!

2. Treasure of the MEI Micro Center budget bin...

Also on deck is a 7 dollar purchase from the budget bin at MEI Micro Center. Normally, I absolutely loathe real time shooter games-- I think they don't reward creative thought, and foster violant responses. However, I've always been something of a sucker for the old ROGUE TROOPER series from the U.K.'s old 2300AD comic book publications. Sure, JUDGE DREDD got the covers, and the movie, and the games and the lion's share of the merchandising, but his strip wasn't nearly as well written, thoughtful and interesting as the saga of the lone genetic infantryman, Rogue Trooper, trying to work his way around the perils and pitfalls of Nu-Earth, fighting the forces of Nortland and supporting his Souther buddies. So, when I saw it hit the seven buck mark.. I thought "meh, it's almost disposable at that price".

The game installs well on a XP and I had no problems running it with a CD. Graphically, the developers at Rebellion (contracted to Eidos, who distributes ROGUE TROOPER) got the look and feel down pat. One DOES get the feel that he is on Nu-Earth, in the middle of a major altercation, with some very heavy ordinance being laid down in his direction. The core of the game itself is a third-person, primarily action-based title, that sees you following a relatively conventional structure of pursuing mission objectives and shooting lots of enemies. I haven't played much, if any, games in this genre but it would seem that the mission structure is fairly ho-hum from the reviews I've read. Even so, the game evokes (visually, at least) the milieu perfectly. Alas, from what I can see so far, the enduring plot of the comic isn't much in evidence. The traitor General responsible for the Quartz Zone Massacre (a very important element in the source comics and Games Workshop board game that was based upon the series) seems to be part of the game, according to the documentation, but I have a feeling he will be a big end of game buggaboo. We've seen this before.

In sum, visually stunning, great graphics and sound, but no long term legs. Worth seven dollars, easily!