Sunday, October 16, 2022

Assassin's Creed Unity (PC) is Looking Good

I recently started playing Assassin's Creed Unity after briefly watching Whitelight's video on this game. I had this game in my library for a long time, but I just haven't gotten around to it. I finished Black Flag and Rogue earlier this year, and those are the only two AC games I finished to date. After playing other games for a while, the time felt right to get back into an Assassin's Creed game.

When I first started this game, my impressions were not great. It felt less polished than Black Flag (which is understandable given its launch). However, once I scaled up the Notre-Dame cathedral my view on this game changed for the better. The game looks beautiful. Climbing up to the top of the cathedral and scanning the vista was done very well. I get the feeling that there is something very special about this game. Whether or not it lives up to its potential remains to be seen. As with all UbiSoft open world games, there is a lot of bloat in terms of collectibles, missions, etc.

I wonder if this is the largest Assassins's Creed in terms of map size at this point. The crowd density was a talking point, and I have mixed feelings about it. The crowd AI is nowhere near as sophisticated as the trailer suggested. Some of the animations can be very clunky.

There are also technical issues with the game. I was able to get the game running running fine at 3440x1440 resolution. I had to run this in a borderless window mode to prevent the game from resizing all the other windows I have open in my secondary display. In addition to this, recording videos at 60FPS in ShadowPlay causes jittering in the video files. I had to reduce the video capture frame rate to 30FPS to get stable recordings.

I haven't formed a strong opinion on the rest of the game, but so far, I am enjoying it. Unlikely as it might be, my hope is that this game will surpass Black Flag as the best Assassin's Creed game.

Monday, October 10, 2022

VSCode Does Not Recognize Local Git Repository

Opening a local folder that is a Git repository is not recognized as repository in VSCode. 

VSCode asks the user to initialize the folder as a repository even though the folder is already a Git repository. 

VSCode does not recognize the local folder as Git repository

The workaround is to open VSCode as an Administrator. 

Run as administrator

This will recognize the folder as a Git repository. 

F.E.A.R Extraction Point (PC) Review

F.E.A.R Extraction Point is the first of the two expansions for F.E.A.R. It is developed by Timegate Studios and released in October 2006, about a year after the first game. This is an excellent expansion pack to a great horror game. It looks better, and plays better than F.E.A.R for the most part.

The story for this expansion picks up right where the first game left off, and it branches into what is now commonly referred to as the Vivendi timeline. F.E.A.R 2 and F.E.A.R 3 follow the Monolith timeline. The direct sequels do not acknowledge the expansion packs from Timegate. You reprise your role as the Point Man, and you are separated from your squad, Jin and Holiday. Your overarching goal is to regroup with them and get to the extraction point.

I got the feeling that there are aspects of the plot that were never fleshed out due to time constraints. At one point, you are aided by Alma, who turns into an ally, and fights against Replica forces, who are controlled by Paxton Fettel. After that brief section, this never gets brought up again. Its like this particular plot thread was explored briefly and then abandoned quickly.

It felt like the visuals have received an upgrade. The levels looks great, and they are designed very well. The atmosphere is fantastic, especially in the later levels. The Church and the Hospital levels are particularly well done. The horror is not always relegated to jump scares, while they do exist, the emphasis is mostly on creating an unnerving atmosphere. Some of the scenes in the game are shocking, and unexpected. These sections elevate the game over other horror games. While the outdoor environments never look great, there aren't a lot of them. F.E.A.R strength lies in creating confined levels which induce a certain sense of claustrophobia. Church, Subway, and Hospital levels are simply excellent. The hospital level deserves a special mention, because they are so well done. Not a whole lot happens in some of these areas, you just get to walk through rooms, but the attention to detail is really on point here.

The audio compliments the level design very well. The shotgun and the minigun sound the best. Going into bullet time and blasting enemies with the shotgun never gets old for me. The AR is still disappointing, it sounds like a pea shooter. I prefer the SMG if I am given a choice, but it doesn't do as much damage. Enemy soldier call outs, footsteps, and spooky effects are all excellent. They are either on par or better than the previous game.

The legendary enemy AI is back, and combined with a great arsenal of weapons, and bullet time, the combat is as good as ever. There are two new weapons - the minigun and the lazer carbine. I particularly enjoyed the lazer carbine. Its a lot of fun to use. There are a variety of grenades as well, and this combined with some of the weapons, the combat felt a lot better than it did in F.E.A.R. The deployable turret is also quite useful in dealing with enemies. There are situations where you have to fight quite a few enemies at once.

For the first time in the series, you have a companion in certain areas, and there is an open level that you get to engage the enemies with your AI parter, and that level is quite well done. You are perched on top of a building and you get to pick off enemies with the particle beam. The game engine is not great for outdoor levels. It just doesn't look very good. The sky box is cheap looking, and the textures are washed out. F.E.A.R is best when its confined to tight corridors. Thankfully, there is only one such level, and it quickly goes back to what it does best, creepy claustrophobic levels.

There are also some technical issues with this game. The infamous disconnect from server bug is back. To fix this, you have to turn down the textures to minimum and get past the problem, save the game, turn it back up, and reload the save. The does not natively support widescreen resolution, but the fix is very simple tweak in the config file. It would be excellent if someone at GOG fixed some of these issues and released a patched version of the game.

The ending is rather anti climactic, and I got the feeling the next expansion was supposed to pick up where this game left off. All in all, this game is a worthy expansion to one of the best PC games of all time. I would recommend buying this on GOG. The entire F.E.A.R series (Original and expansions) frequently goes on sale for less than $2, and at that price, there is no reason to not pick it up and try it.

+ Atmosphere
+ Level designed
+ Audio
+ combat

- Technical issues

Verdict - Must Play