Wrack (2012 game) observations…

Wrack (2012 game) observations after the break…

Wrack (2012 game) observations…

I never thought that I would see the day when the world of computer gaming would pass me by. I always suspected that such a day might occur, where one day I would pass a computer gaming store and not bother to even glance over at the window front because I had more urgent priorities at that moment. I never thought, though, that the world of computer gaming would pass me by not because of my actions but because of theirs.

Quite simply, computer gamers are the modern lepers of the gaming community. Walk into any video gaming store nowadays and you’ll be lucky to find the PC gaming section at first glance, if it’s there at all. You could call the futile exercise of finding the PC gaming section a treasure hunt except that there’s rarely any treasure there – Just the usual overhyped, overpriced junk mixed in with bargain basement crap you couldn’t give away even if you tried with a dash of those “Steam” titles where you’re allowed to buy the disc but not the game itself because we all know that every PC gamer pirates every single one of the games that they play, don’t we? We’re such despicable vermin, the whole lot of us.

It’s hard not to reminisce on the golden age of PC gaming where the walls of every gaming store were filled with PC games of every make, model and type. Want racing games? There’s an entire aisle for that, right next to the strategy games and the RPG games. There’s even a section that might interest the grandparents – Who else buys those slot machine and hunting titles?

One aspect of the golden age of PC gaming that I’ve always puzzled over are the sizes of PC games. I once lamented, quite publicly, on how dreadful one game required 20 MEGS of hard drive space in order to install! The nerve of those game developers! Did they all think we were stinking wealthy enough to buy 200 MEG hard drives? Money doesn’t grow on trees, you know. Nowadays, I don’t think a AAA-level game studio could make such a small game even with the proverbial gun placed to their proverbial head. Heck, I’d be impressed if they could squeeze such a game down to 100 megs.

Anyone who has read this blog could probably surmise that I have a soft spot for the game QUAKE 1. Let’s be clear – I wasn’t a capable player, either in single player or multiplayer and time does heal at least some wounds because I was quite annoyed at the time that I had to call up iD so that they could unlock the darn thing beyond the shareware version (Attempt to imagine my outrage when, just a year later, they released a stand-alone full version that you could buy directly from a store, no calls to Texas necessary… It taught me a valuable lesson in patience that I’ve kept to this day). As the years have turned into decades, I’ve always been impressed that a game that only took up a few dozen MEGS could entertain just as much as a game that now takes up GIGS. It just goes to show you that, to paraphrase that famous political quote, it’s the gameplay, stupid.

Recently, I had the pleasure of learning about a game called “WRACK.” The game is a classic first-person shooter (FPS) in the vein of DOOM and Serious Sam more then even QUAKE. First-person shooters in the olden days were a lot more of “shoot first and, if there’s time, we’ll give some story progression later but don’t hold your breath.” Apparently, a lot of people prefer this sort of fast-paced, shoot enemies until you’re out of breath or your bladder forces you to pause the game so that you can go to the bathroom (Solution: Get a laptop and play directly from the toilet and if you laughed, know that one of my friends from college did just that and was proud of it.. At least, at that time). I, myself, am not one of those types of gamers – I love first-person shooters but I’m much more laid back in my approach… I like walking around the levels, just marveling at the architecture. I would clear out entire levels of QUAKE and then just go back and walk around as though I was in a museum.

I can’t quite place why WRACK holds my interest any more then any of the other dozen or so independent FPSs that I’ve come across. It’s not my style of game play. I guess one aspect of it is the shiny, happy graphical style of the game – It’s unashamedly bright with it’s cell-shading, with just a hint of that early cyberpunk feel to it. From the few game play videos that I’ve seen, the levels are very flat even though it looks, all the world, like it has “room-over-room” capability like every other modern 3D FPS.

In the end, I think that WRACK reminds me of QUAKE, not in the actual game itself but simply of an era where games were created simply to marvel at what could be created. There was a time when the shackles of hardware and software limitations were finally being broken and QUAKE represents the beginning of that era. You didn’t have to pretend anymore; You really could walk under the bridge you just walked over. It was a sensation of freedom that modern gamers just don’t have; They never went through an era where they couldn’t do “this” or “that.”

I have no interest in playing WRACK – The game play isn’t compatible with me but that doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate the game for what it is… An earnest attempt at creating a modern-day FPS with an classic FPS feel. There’s a certain level of guts to create a game like that nowadays, like a side-scrolling adventure game or a space fighting simulation. The developer, Brad Carney, seems to have a genuine love for his product and it definitely looks as though he’s placed a lot of that love and effort into the game.

Wouldn’t it be something if every AAA-game developer attempted to make a game under 100 megs? What sort of game would it be? A complete game – Not just a level or two or a “tech demo” but a “from start to finish” full game. I’d like to see that but, of course, I never will. I’m glad, though, that WRACK gave me the thought to ask that question. I hope that WRACK becomes successful for Brad Carney and that he continues developing computer games for as long as he wants to.

We may not have the computer game stores of old but it’s nice to see that there are still titles worthy of those stores still being made.


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