Thursday, March 28, 2013

Featured Game: S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky

Plays on the same hardware as SoC
Year: 2008
Genre: First-Person Shooter, Survival Horror
Recommend: Depends

If you can run S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl on your netbook, you'll be happy to know that its prequel, Clear Sky, will run on exactly the same hardware. The minimum system requirements for the game are unchanged, although it takes more juice to run the game with more eye candy, like volumetric light and fire, DirectX 10 support, and fancy weather effects. If you enjoyed the first game, it wouldn't hurt to give Clear Sky a try, and flex some GPU muscle in the process.

What you'll need

Reviews and Awards

Clear Sky earned some mixed reviews; on average, the game is the worst-rated in the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series. The best rating came from GamesTM, with a 90/100 for "transform[ing] grim fantasy into a startlingly real-world experience." On the other hand, X-Play wasn't so kind, awarding Clear Sky a 60% for its boring environments, numerous bugs, and antiquated gameplay. GameSpot nominated the game for Best Atmosphere in 2008, but it was shot down by Dead Space.


OK, I'll admit it. There's no netbook out there that meets Clear Sky's recommended requirements.  I suggest starting off at medium settings at your netbook's native resolution, then tweaking settings from there.
Sunbeam effects; thanks, Wikipedia

Monday, March 11, 2013

Featured Game: Nerf Arena Blast

A colorful, Unreal Engine-powered shooter that's well worth a download 

Year: 1999
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Recommend: YES

Colorful neon arenas? Nerf darts instead of bullets? A complete absence of the concept of death? Yep, NAB's a kid's game, for sure. That doesn't mean you can't play it, of course. Nerf Arena Blast runs very well on most netbooks, in theory, anyway. Since it's based on the first Unreal Engine, it runs like a slug on Cedar Trail netbooks unless software rendering is used, and even then, fullscreen mode doesn't work. DirectX mode on a Diamondville netbook with the stock 1 GB of RAM works just fine at native resolution in fullscreen, and at a solid 60 fps, no less. Even if you are stuck with faulty drivers, NAB is still worth checking out.You can download it for free at Abandonia. Keep in mind that the free download doesn't include the original music from the CD, and will instead play any audio disk you have mounted in a virtual or external CD drive.

What you'll need

As far as hardware goes, Nerf Arena Blast runs on just about anything. You might want some friends to play with on a LAN game too, as the bots aren't particularly skilled. This is a kid-friendly game, after all.

Reviews and Awards

Nerf Arena Blast has been met with mostly positive reviews. IGN awarded NAB a, 8.8/10, praising the gameplay and lasting appeal with scores of 9 in those categories. GameSpot gave a slightly lower score of 7.0, saying the game is "really fun", but suffers from poor AI and online support.


Having trouble with NAB on a Cedar Trail netbook? Set your 3D renderer to Software, then drag the game window toward the top of the screen until it turns a translucent blue. It'll expand to fill the screen. That's the best option we N2x00 owners have for the game at the moment, until alternate renderers become available or Intel fixes their drivers, both of which are unlikely.
Methinks I need more ammo.