Thursday, November 1, 2012

My Two New Let's Play Series: Torchlight 2 and XCOM: Enemy Unknown

So if you haven't yet subscribed to my channel ( by the way), you probably haven't noticed that I've launched two new Let's Play series:

Let's Play Torchlight 2 (Engineer; Veteran Difficulty):

Here's a sample:

Let's Play XCOM (2012; Turn-Based Strategy Version):

There's a clip from my Let's Play XCOM series after the jump. (Placed there to conserve homepage space.) Click the link below to see it.

>>>Click here to

Sunday, October 7, 2012

How to Record Game Audio with GameCam and FRAPS in Windows 7

So due to the impending release of the newly rebooted XCOM: Enemy Unknown, I was finally forced to get off my lazy bum and do what I should have done ages ago: make the shift to Windows 7.

So why the procrastination? Everything was working fine and dandy with Windows XP so I never really saw the need to shift to Windows 7. It is because of the above reason that I was only mildly surprised when GameCam refused to record my voice.

I found the solution though. I didn't even google for the fix. The screenshot-riddled guide after the jump. (FRAPS users can also benefit from this guide as, like GameCam, it still uses Stereo Mix.)

>>>Click here to

Monday, September 24, 2012

Runic Games Has Released the First Torchlight 2 Update

I've been playing a lot of Torchlight 2 lately and I must say this is an awesome game. (Diablo naysayers please don't launch a tirade here. Please know that the Torchlight 2 devs made up Blizzard North; they were responsible for developing the first two Diablo games. I'm planning to play both games so relax. ;) )

That's my Engineer. A slain Undead Champion lies destroyed in the foreground.

Runic Game has truly hit the ground running; barely a week after the game's release, they've released the first patch. You can see the changelog and the first video of my "Let's Play Torchlight 2 HD (Engineer; Normal)" YouTube series after the jump.

>>>Click here to

Monday, September 17, 2012

My Let's Play Black Mesa: Source Playthrough

Here's my Black Mesa: Source walkthrough series:

>>>What is Black Mesa: Source? Click here to see what the fuss is all about.

Part 1:

Part 3: 

>>>Click here to

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Black Mesa: Source Screenshots

I've just launched a Black Mesa: Source album on my Imbacore Facebook page.

More screenshots after the jump.

>>>Click here to

Friday, September 14, 2012

Black Mesa Source, a Half-Life Recreation Effort, Launches in 10 Minutes

So after three years of check the page every week for updates, it has finally come to this:

Scratch that. By the time you read this, it has already launched. What is Black Mesa: Source? Why should you care? If you're a hardcore gamer you know what it is. If this is the first time you've heard of this free full version first-person shooter game that just launched, you should still have an inkling of what it is just by its title alone if you're a person worthy of the title "gamer."

Curious about the finer details? Click ">>>Click here to read more"

>>>Click here to

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Nvidia GeForce 306.02 Benchmark Results

Okay let me skip to the verdict: if you're using an Nvidia card, replace your current driver with this one. While the benchmark numbers don't show much improvement (with the X3: Terran Conflict Rolling Demo benchmark test churning out exactly the same figure as the Tweakforce driver I benchmarked a week back), things are a lot smoother with the new Nvidia GeForce 306.02 driver. Recording  my "Let's Play Darksiders 2 PC HD" is now a more enjoyable experience. Here's a sample clip:

>>>Get the new Nvidia GeForce drivers HERE 

>>>Click here for my "Nvidia Graphic Drivers Benchmark Tests" page (shows the latest benchmark results)

Nothing after the jump.

>>>Click here to

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Black Mesa Source's Impending Launch (Release Date Announced)

So I told several people it didn't crawl under a rock, croak, and die but nooooo they wouldn't listen. Ah sweet revenge. Black Mesa Source, a freeware full version Half-Life 2 mod, is a Source engine-powered remake of the very first Half-Life. I've been yammering about this science fiction-themed mod for years now (since 2008 to be exact) but it wasn't until May of this year that I've heard news that it's going to be finally released (after their missed 2009 deadline). Now though, their website is showing a countdown timer and things have just gotten real all of a sudden. The free PC shooter is going to launch this September 14.

Here are some comparison screenshots of what you can expect from this downloadable PC game:

Want to know what the finer details? Click "Read more." The download link can also be found after the jump (bearing in mind that you can't get it before September 14, 2012).

>>>Click here to

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

How to Enable FXAA in Darksiders 2

So a few days back I published my "Darksiders 2 PC Bugs and Video Settings Tweaks" article. In it, I detailed several ways to tweak the game's graphics settings using the Nvidia Control Panel. While this has worked for several people, some still cannot make the FXAA and other antialiasing settings stick. I believe I found a fix. Here are a few pictures of what I've achieved using what I've discovered (Darksiders 2 with FXAA Enabled but with ZERO antialiasing --- still noticeably smoother generally):

Screenshots taken from the IMBACORE Facebook page:

Interested? The fix after the jump.

>>>Click here to

Tweakforce Releases Xtreme-G 305.68, an "All OS" Driver

Tweakforce has released Xtreme-G 305.68, a tweaked GeForce driver. What's peculiar about this release is that it has a version for each and every Windows OS starting with XP, something that Semp (the owner of the site) hasn't done in a long time.

This driver gave me a performance boost in a Lightsmark 2008 benchmark run. Also, it's a boon for Darksiders 2 players looking for an antialiasing fix as the Darksiders 2 3D profile in this driver works---enabling FXAA smooths out all the jagged edges in the game (as of August 28 4am GMT+8 THQ has yet to fix this).

You can see the latest benchmark results and the link after the jump.

>>>Click here to

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Darksiders 2: How to Redeem the Van Der Schmash and Mace Maximus Hammers (Steam; PC)

So a lot of people have been floundering on how to get and use the redeem codes for the Darksiders 2 hammers Van Der Schmash and Mace Maximus. I'm putting up this post for Steam PC users who are confused about the whole process.

Though both have identical damage stats, the Mace Maximus is the weapon of choice when you want a charged attack that clears mobs...

...while the Van Der Schmash has a charged attack that's geared towards taking down a single foe.

The (Steam PC) guide can be found after the jump.

First off, make sure you've linked your game to a THQ account. The first time you fire up Darksiders 2, the game should walk you through in creating a THQ account and/or linking the game to the account. (Needless to say, make sure what you enter is a valid e-mail account and that you have access to it!)

After doing that, your email should have a letter similar to this one:

Please take note that you'll only get the redeem code for the Mace Maximus if you had purchased Darksiders II before it launched last August 28, 2012 (ie, pre-purchased the game).

Login to your THQ account that you linked the game to then go to the URLs indicated in the e-mail: and You should then receive codes in both windows (one if you haven't pre-purchased the game; you won't be able to get the Mace Maximus, only the Van Der Schmash).

Login to your Steam account, then under Games, click "Activate a Product on Steam."

This pop-up will appear:

Click Next to continue. Enter the codes you received. (Needless to say, redeem each code separately; copy-pasting both codes simultaneously into the same field will not work. I had to drop this line in. An acquaintance did ask about that.)

If you don't run into THQ tech problems, you should see the following screens each time you redeem a hammer (axe; whatever):

If you do run into problems and the above doesn't work for you, please see the following forums:

Please take note that I am NOT a THQ representative. As such, I can not help you technical problems. I only shared what worked for me in an effort to help fellow gamers. I hope I helped you. Please leave a comment!

Like my Facebook page:

Subscribe to my YouTube channel:

Having trouble with Darksiders 2 graphics and visual settings? Click HERE. 

>>>Click here to

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Let's Play Darksiders 2 PC HD Series

If you haven't subscribed to my video channel nor Liked my fanpage, you might not have noticed that I've started a Let's Play Darksiders 2 PC HD series.

Here's the first video:

Here's the playlist link:

I'll be adding more in the days ahead. Enjoy!

Nothing after the jump. 

>>>Click here to

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Darksiders 2 PC Bugs and Video Settings Tweaks

[UPDATE 1 (August 17, 2012): The first Darksiders 2 patch is out! The changelog can be found below. Added solution to "Cannot activate Reaper form." Added possible solution to "Cannot rebind keys." See the solutions below.]

[Update 2 (October 10, 2012): Added links to related Darksiders 2 posts. Changelog of the second patch added. (Placed at the very end of this article.]

Darksiders 2 just launched and while I've pre-purchased the game, I will have to sit out the first day as I've been hit by a weird Steam bug: though the progress bar was updating, the % indicator always showed "0" all throughout my first try at downloading the game. I should have deleted the local content and re-downloaded the whole thing.

Anyway, I am now in the process of reinstalling the game and so far the progress bar now shows changing percentages so I'm taking this as a good sign. Fingers crossed that come morning, I will find a working copy of the game on my Steam Library page.

I've read disturbing reports on the forums that Darksiders 2 has its own shares of bugs and that the video settings in the options menu are severely limited. This article shows you how you can improve the game's video settings--especially anti-aliasing and vsync, two parameters that serious gamers can't stand not fiddling with.

Bugs--bringing out the worst in us since 1993.
The tutorials and links to the solutions after the jump.

>>>Click here to

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Let's Play Mission Improbable (Half-Life 2 Mod) HD Series

If you haven't subscribed to my YouTube channel, you might not be aware that I've launched several walkthrough series, the most recent of which is my "Let's Play Mission Improbable." All the videos of this playlist are HD ones.

Why should you be interested? You should be! Mission Improbable is a Half-Life 2 mod created by Magnar Jenssen, a professional level designer who has made several map designs for AAA games like Bionic Commando and Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 3.

I'll be making a full review of the mod within the week.

Embedded videos and the link to the playlist can be found after the jump.


Part 1 where everything's slow and relatively uneventful 

And part 6 where hell starts breaking loose 

The full playlist can be found at:

>>>Click here to

Friday, July 27, 2012

Killing Floor Maps, Tips, Strategies


Probably the most important tip for the entire game:


-You’re a medic drawing aggro in an attempt to protect the sharpshooters/wounded teammates
-You’re a Support Specialist packing a superior shotgun
-You’re confident you can kill it with minimum fuss (in the case of a Sharpshooter)

Do not fire upon Scrakes or Fleshpounds. Drawing aggro if you have weapons that aren’t designed to kill the larger Zeds would only make the bigger Zeds angry, causing them to charge. Charging Scrakes and Fleshpounds make for agile targets, giving Sharpshooters a hard time bringing them down.

In maps where the squad makes a stand in a corridor (KF-BioticsLab and KF-Offices come to mind), mind your lateral movements. This is to ensure that you don’t inadvertently block the aim of Sharpshooters.

The Crossbow’s ammunition is VERY expensive. If you see an ammo crate, give it to the Sharpshooters. Of course, this is a case-to-case basis but in a team with lots of Firebugs and Commandos, Sharpshooters oftentimes do not shoot minor Zeds willy-nilly and instead reserve their shots for the larger Zeds resulting in less gold raked in.

More tips after the jump.

As a Medic:
Do not forget that with your +XX Body Armor perk, you are Killing Floor’s tank. Act accordingly. You might not have the firepower to take down the bigger Zeds but if you see a Scrake or a Fleshpound charging for your teammates, intercept the undead and try to force it into attacking you. 

Your first priority is to heal your teammates. Unless you’re packing heavy firepower in addition to a medic gun, it’s better to concentrate on healing rather than trying to outscore your teammates. Remember, as a medic you’ve the weakest weapons; better to leave the killing to the other classes.

As a Firebug:

In earlier waves, you really can’t do much with only a pistol or a Mac 10. However, take note that when you reach Level 3, you will have incendiary grenades. Use them; they are a great way of racking up kill count (and hence your gold) if used properly. Try to throw your grenades at masses of Zeds that your teammates aren’t focusing on to net you maximum kills.

>>>Click here to

Monday, July 16, 2012

Torchlight Best Mods, Tips, and Strategies

I've been doing Torchlight marathons every weekend and my YouTube "Torchlight Alchemist Gameplay" series has reached the 90-clip mark (as of this date). The 2- to 5-hour runs have given me a new perspective of this game (which I erroneously thought to be another simple Diablo clone). While the plot is typical action RPG fare, the action and the various gameplay nuances are varied and different enough from Blizzard's ARPG juggernaut. Torchlight might not win any awards that run along "Best Game of All Time" lines, but it certainly provides an experience that's unique enough to make it stand out on its own and familiar enough that ARPG PC players will find it endearing.

The various mods and tips and strategies I use after the jump.

  • Torchlight has a Tab feature that lets you quickly alternate between two skills. While you can still---needless to say---click on a skill's hotkey to activate it, the Tab feature is very helpful. Assigning a survivability skill/spell with the Tab hotkey will enable you to quickly call on that skill if your health hits critical. 
  • Provided that you've done the above tip, make it a habit to press Tab again after you've activated your defensive skill. This way you can get back into the fight after without having to scramble to hit the appropriate hotkey to change your current active spell/skill. This will save you several microseconds---microseconds that might save your life. (Ex. I usually have Ember Lightning bound to my Right Mouse Button. When I get focused fire by enemies, I run away, press Tab (binding Ember Shield to the Right Mouse Button), activate it, then press Tab again, rebinding Ember Lightning. I then go back into the fray.) 

  • Not comfortable with mods that might disrupt gameplay balance? I use the following as they don't tinker with the game's balance and what changes they bring only rectify what I view as flaws in the game: 

  1. Bee Swarm Mod - made by Runic Games so this is, for the lack of a better term, an "official mod." This enables your pet to vomit a swarm of bees, wreaking havoc on enemy morale. I've never bought the spell but I installed it just the same as Runic Games made it. 
  2. Bigger Gems Mod - tired of squinting at gems every time you sort though your inventory? This mod makes the gem icons larger, allowing you to more easily gauge at a glance which gem is what. 
  3. Brighter Map Mod - this is a godsend; makes the automap more opaque. 
  4. More Maps - makes the vendors sell maps for higher level characters. 
  5. Better Balanced Sale Prices Mod - this tinkers with the gameplay a bit but I fully agree with the mod's creator opining that vendors in the game are penny pinchers, selling even unique items for less than a third of their prices and selling them for triple or more than what they shelled out for the said items.
  6. Better Quest Rewards Mod - like the creator, I found it odd that quest givers typically give out rewards that only serve as useless baubles fit only to be sold.

I will add more in the days ahead. 



>>>Click here to

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

IMBACORE Reviews Featured on Two Free PC Game Websites

It has been a while since I last combed my favorite sites in the Internet. I took a peek today and found out that no less than two freeware (free software) sites have featured my reviews.

UFO: AI is a free, turn-based PC strategy games along the lines of the X-Com series. It is in no way connected to Microprose's universe, as it features its own unique story, aliens, and weapons and stuff.

See my UFO: Alien Invasion review HERE.

The UFO: Alien Invasion official site can be found HERE. (See the June 9, 2012 post made by Mattn, one of the lead developers of the game.)

Alien Arena is a Quake-like free PC multiplayer shooter that has been constantly evolving since its release way back 2004. It features a unique retro sci-fi feel that's as amusing as it's awesome.

See my Alien Arena review HERE.

The Alien Arena official site can be found HERE. (As of this writing the IMBACORE review is listed eighth under "Alien Arena Reviews" just two spots below Gamespot.) 

Nothing after the jump.

 This line is not shown in the main page

>>>Click here to

Monday, June 25, 2012

IMBACORE's Torchlight Alchemist Walkthrough Videos

Hello what with Torchlight 2 fast coming up, I've decided to shelve my Mass Effect 2 gameplay series and concentrate on the first Torchlight. There has been some debate about whether or not this is a straight out Diablo clone but I really don't care. The cel shading is enough for me (ooooh cute cartoony terrain!).

Here's the first part of my Torchlight hack and slash gameplay series (playing as an Alchemist at Hard difficulty):

More videos after the jump.


Please subscribe to my channel if you like the videos. Thanks!

>>>Click here to

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

IMBACORE's Mass Effect 2 Walkthrough and Gameplay Videos

I got bored so I reinstalled my Mass Effect 2 from EA Origin and fired up the beauty. Now playing as a Sentinel female Shepard (femshep) who is a full-blown Renegade. Yep, her eyes are starting to glow a deep shade of red.  Here's my "Rescue Tali" gameplay video. It's a walkthrough video that's filled to the brim with the quintessential Mass Effect 1 baddies, the Geth. Here's the video:

I will post more soon as the videos are up.

Meanwhile, please subscribe to my channel if you like the videos!

Here's my Facebook page (with a lot of Mass Effect screenshots; please Like the page if you like the content):

Nothing after the jump.

>>>Click here to

Monday, May 21, 2012

How to Disable the Pop-up Avira Free Antivirus Ad

While I understand that it's the downside to using a free product (and certainly the company has every right to implement a pop-up ad) lately I got so exasperated with Avira Free Antivirus' pop-up advertisement. I googled for a guide on how to disable the pop-up Avira Free Antivirus (version 12) ad and found an excellent (and easy!) guide on how to do it.

The link after the jump.  

Click here to see the guide on how to disable the pop-up Avira Free Antivirus (version 12) ad.

>>>Click here to

Half-Life Mod Black Mesa: Source Getting Released "Soon"

The Half-Life modification Black Mesa: Source has shown strong signs of life once again. While there is still no release date for the free-to-play mod, a recent Rock, Paper Shotgun interview has revealed that the game's development is going at a fast clip with lead developer Carlos Montero saying that their going to release the game in the "soon-ish" timeframe.

Image taken from the free PC game's official site

The links to the interview after the jump.  

First off, for the uninformed, you might want to read this article on what Black Mesa is. The project isn't just another "Half-Life HD" project (though you may want to check such a project if you want something to tide you over until the downloadable Half-Life mod gets released) as the developers have taken care to capitalize on the improvements that the gaming industry has learned over the past 10 years. While they're still taking care to be as faithful as possible to the source material, the PC game's developers have thrown in improvements that they think will further improve player's experiences with their freeware project. The deathcam feature, for example, is a nifty addition. 

Here's a basic rundown of Black Mesa's features:

  • Play for free. You need not own anything! 
  • Feast your eyes on over 2,000 custom Models and 5,000 custom textures – more than HL2.
  • Experience over 2,000 choreographed scenes and over 6,500 lines of dialogue from all new voice acting.
  • Immerse yourself in an all new soundtrack and over 2,300 custom sound effects. 
  • Feel the impact of custom systems such as the Face Creation System, Custom Gib System, Deathcam and more.
See the Rock, Paper Shotgun interview HERE. For the second part, click HERE

>>>Click here to

Friday, May 4, 2012

Freeware PC Strategy Game News: UFO: Version 2.4 Now Out

A few weeks back, I deemed it the right time to make a UFO: Alien Invasion review as the freeware game’s developers announced the imminent release of version 2.4 of their full version PC game, saying that it was “just around the corner.” That day has come.

UFO: Alien Invasion is a FREE turn-based strategy game for the PC that pits the player’s forces—which is made up of soldiers funded by a multi-national coalition—against alien incursions into our planet. Divided into phases--a "Battlescape" phase where the player moves his soldiers across multi-level 3d maps and a management phase where the player allocates funds to structures, research and weapons production--UFO: AI draws heavily from the successful X-Com series.

The download link after the jump.

>>>Click here to go to the official UFO: AI site

>>>Click HERE for more freeware PC strategy games (also includes my review of UFO: AI)

>>>Click here to

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Wing Commander Saga Review

The pros and cons discussed in this Wing Commander Saga Review:

  • Freeware sci-fi space sim action at its best
  • Brings back a well-loved series using a (relatively) modern game engine
  • Tough-as-nails difficulty should please hardcore gamers
  • Good story
  • It’s a space sim. Don’t expect levels filled with myriad eye candy effects
  • Punishing difficulty will put off a lot of casual gamers
  • The inability to save mid-mission (and to skip conversations) might prove exasperating for some.

I oftentimes yearn for the bygone era of the 90s. For all the crude graphics of that period, developers doggedly capitalized on every aspect of the new frontier that was 3D. In their quest to make their games as close to reality as possible, they followed game design paths that would be considered nowadays as bizarre. Some were works of genius; some were ungainly. Nearly all had rage-inducing difficulty. That trend has, for the most part, sadly died down in favor of catering to a wider audience base as possible. This has given way to steadfast (and sentimental?) old school fans lamenting the dearth of games that do not spoon-feed their players.
It’s a refreshing turn then that a group of developers has resurrected a series that garnered a huge following during the 90s. The Wing Commander Saga Team (that’s what it says in their ModDB page), after a decade, has released Wing Commander Saga: The Darkest Dawn, a freeware sci-fi space simulator that puts players in the struggles of the Terran Navy; a military campaign that transpires before Wing Commander 3.
Has this free space simulator game managed to capture the feel of the series? Is it difficult enough that it can set itself apart from the scores of vapid, anemic games today that litter store shelves? Read this Wing Commander Saga Review to find out.  


First things first. Is it legal? Yes, according to the game’s site, it is. You don’t even need to own Freespace 2 (whose game engine powers this freeware space sim). I don’t know how they did it, considering all the takedown notices that have killed a good number of freeware PC full version games, but I’m not complaining either. Mayhap, EA (the current owner of the IP) deems that this freeware full version space sim will pique the curiosity of anyone playing the game that they can’t help but be enticed to buy the other Wing Commander games. Myself, I’m buying the entire series after I play through this one; Wing Commander Saga is that good. 

This freeware space sim puts you in the role of David "Sandman" Markham, a fresh graduate of a Terran Confleet academy. Right after your assignment to a carrier group, the game draws you in a vortex of events that shape the outcome of a critical segment of the Human-Kilrathi Wars. (Man-Kzin? Sorry, couldn’t resist; don’t shoot me.) Don’t expect Wing Commander staples like Christopher "Maverick" Blair and Todd "Maniac" Marshall to take the center stage though; this is a separate segment of the war from that of the main series. (This is evidenced by the developers inserting the following in the massive PDF manual that comes with the download:

“Following the attack on Earth, the Terran Intelligence Agency deploys a top secret, tactical search party through a previously uncharted Kilrathi jump point. A heavy carrier (name unknown for security purposes) is equipped with self sustaining recycling systems, mining apparatus, and a 62 person Special Operations team.” And “To date, no known communications have been received from this special mission.”).

For those unfamiliar with the series, all Wing Commander installments are military sci-fi games. Considering that your character is a plebe, don’t expect that you can pilot anything you want and fly off and gallivant across the far reaches of the cosmos searching for adventure. This is not Eve or any of the X games.  While this might seem off-putting to those who have grown accustomed to sandbox space games, this gem of a download does what it does well—this is one of the few games that lets you feel as if you’re really part of a space-faring navy at war with a genocidal, equally advanced alien race. The first time you get to see gargantuan alien cruisers inexorably making for a friendly capital ship, the line between playing a game and witnessing a climactic scene in a space opera series begins to blur. 

And a space opera it is; Wing Commander Saga needs to be. Unlike conventional PC first-person shooters, space sims are different in the sense that there’s no collection of ingeniously-designed levels wherein gamers play through; there are no perches to snipe from, no doors to storm through. There’s just the relatively featureless vastness of space. Thus—just like this one—all successful space simulators feature well-developed universes, character conflicts, and edge-of-your-seat mission parameters to keep things interesting. Wing Commander Saga: the Darkest Dawn pulls this off successfully in multiple fronts. In the span of the game, you get to witness civilian habitats being left behind as the navy makes a tactical withdrawal, form bonds with wingmen only to see them vanish later in flashes of superheated gases and mangled steel, and hear exclamations of despair when an enemy fleet unexpectedly warps into the sector you’re patrolling. You’ll also likely to cheer with your beleaguered wingmen every time the space equivalent of the proverbial cavalry drops in and begins to train anti-matter capital ship batteries and missiles at hostile ships. Experiences like these set apart Wing Commander Saga from the usual PC FPSs. 

It’s not just banter and emotionally powerful set sequences that make this free full version space sim a success though; Wing Commander Saga is an excellent space fighter simulator. Controls are responsive and in fact, the developers have been thoughtful enough to provide players with control scheme options in their latest patch: that of Freespace’s (which lets you steer your craft like traditional first-person shooters) or that of the old Wing Commander games (which accelerates the cursor even more the farther you move it from the center of the screen, making for a floaty but a more realistic approximation of how a space fighter would handle). 

(Note: I can’t say anything about playing the game with a joystick though as I only have a Logitech MX-518 with which to play my games but I’ve heard several users in the official forums that they’re more comfortable with a keyboard and mouse set-up.)

In the spirit of recreating believable dogfight experiences, the developers have taken care that hostile pilots aren’t mindless zombies. These activate afterburners, drop missile countermeasures, and do loops to evade enemy fire. Your companions aren’t slouches either; they do what they do well. In fact, in the easier levels of difficulty, they will rack up more kills than you. The experience sometimes even gets frustrating if you’re not nimble enough—more often than not, they will beat you in destroying an enemy bogey if you don’t take it down fast enough. 

While the AI isn’t smart enough to do complicated moves such as doing barrel rolls or cutting their engines abruptly to let you overshoot hostiles, it’s agile enough that the whole experience is vastly unlike what you will experience in, say, id Software games where you get to cut down waves upon waves of enemies. 

The missions are diverse enough to be largely entertaining—in the course of the game, you’ll get to escort carriers and civilian ships, ambush hostile troop transports, and even chase after swarms of capital ship missiles beelining for friendlies.

My only complaint with the game is the way it is structured. As with other Wing Commander games, missions typically are made up of several sub-missions that end when you’ve auto-piloted from them through nav points. Die (or fail to achieve a critical mission parameter) in one of these, and you get to repeat the entire chain from the very beginning (i.e., events before reaching the first nav point of each level). In true Wing Commander fashion, you cannot save mid-mission. Given that the developers have infused this game with a 90s feel, this downloadable free space sim will give you a devilishly hard time. You will die multiple times and get to hear the same banter from your wingmen over and over and over again. In difficult missions—escort ones come to mind—you will fail enough times that you will get to memorize a substantial amount of the conversations that will replay every time you try another go at the levels. 

The game’s difficulty is a divisive point; casual players will most probably quit in exasperation while hardcore ones will find this game a worthy challenge.

There’s also the fact that the tutorial fails to point out a few of the important controls. Also, owing to an odd menu screen design, most players will never know there’s a Wing Commander Saga tutorial. Clicking on the door that says “start or continue a campaign” from the very first screen you see takes you to the opening phase of the Darkest Dawn campaign, a move that will plop you into the action with no idea of what button does what.

>>>Click here to see how to access the Wing Commander Saga tutorial

Not taking a tutorial is a disaster; as a PC space flight simulator, Wing Commander Saga has a whole bevy of controls. I’ve listed Important Wing Commander Saga Hotkeys in a separate article. While hardcore simulator fans will have a grand time getting used to the various controls, some might find the learning curve too steep. There are controls to equalize shields (useful when you’ve taken multiple hits on a single side), drop countermeasures, match speed with your current target, and target a specific subsystem of a capital ship (radar, turrets, etc) to name a few.  


Wing Commander Saga’s graphics are light years ahead of even the last installment to the series (Prophecy). Powered by the Freespace 2 engine, the game touts several modern features like specular lighting and sun flares. It’s nowhere near Crysis of course but seeing a Kilrathi heavy cruiser rendered by the new game engine should be a jaw-dropping experience for Wing Commander fans.

The PC game’s engine is not cutting edge but you’d still be wowed by several of the backdrops---you’ll dogfight above the debris ring of a planet, seek enemy assets around asteroid belts, and even defend a civilian capital. The last is one of those rare moments in gaming that really catches you by surprise. Doing atmospheric dogfights with Kilrathi heavy fighters is something I never thought I would experience. 

On the downside, some of the textures in Wing Commander Saga appear outdated, namely carriers’ flight decks and briefing room cut scenes. While these visual weak points are certainly not game breaking, it’s odd to see the aesthetic deviations. Landing in carriers feels as if you’ve just passed through a time portal; the anachronistic texture of the ships’ interiors just contrasts greatly with the sheen of the exteriors. 

Also, Wing Commander Saga isn’t as smooth in terms of anti-aliasing relative to other games. I’ve tried adding both exes just to be on the safe side to the Nvidia Control Panel’s “Manage 3D Settings” menu and have tried both 2x and 4x settings but the results still aren’t as satisfying as say, Darksiders' or FEAR's. 

Briefing room cutscenes are arguably the game’s lowest point. They just can’t match up with anything within the game—even the menu screen, which is the closest thing to the cutscenes. There’s no specular lighting and no deeper shadows that would have lent them a greater sense of depth. Still, they only make up a small percentage of the game though so this isn’t a serious concern.


Explosions and hostile and friendly fire sound accurate enough that it brings me back to the days when I was playing Prophecy. The hollow thump and hissing sound as a capital ship missile leaves its launcher is exhilarating to hear (or chilling if its target is a friendly); you’d know something massive was hurled out from a ship’s rack when you hear one of these demolishers fly out. Granted, there are more games there that emit a better sound effect when a missile is launched but it still is good to hear that the developers thought to give capship missiles a different sfx. 

The con to the aforementioned pro: capship turrets sound almost the same as the lasers of interceptors.

The music is upbeat enough in tense situations and serene enough at idle times. It’s good, really good but it’s not something I’d remember several months from now. 

Voice acting is great and for the record, this free space sim elicited from me more guffaws and snickers than any other game to date. (“’Commandeer’? I guess someone’s mommy got him a thesaurus for his birthday. Aww…”) A wingman’s obsession with women, another’s banter with a longtime friend, and an elite wing’s preference for classical music—all these lend Wing Commander Saga with a tangible life of its own. Every time you play the game, you’ll never get the feeling you’re flying with just masses of extra hit points. You won’t find a Jen Taylor here, much less a James Earl Jones, but the voice actors of this freeware downloadable space sim did an impressive job. (Kudos to the writers too!)

(Note: I haven’t tested this yet on a 5.1 surround sound system as my Logitech X-530 just died but I’ll be updating this review as soon as I get one.)


Wing Commander Saga: The Darkest Dawn also brings back a universe that has been well-loved by fans and game critics alike; you get to revisit a genre that has long remained dormant. In all probability you might not finish all 50 missions due to the game’s difficulty, but—because this is freeware—you don’t have anything to lose if you do. 

Wing Commander Saga: The Darkest Dawn didn’t start out as a retail game so this just might be the most well-polished (stand-alone; single player) downloadable freeware game out there that doesn’t have an item mall. Give it a go.

Tilt: 8.0 – To date, I haven’t experienced any glitches much less crashes so as a whole it’s a seamless experience. This would have scored an 8.5 or a 9.0 but the difficulty and the way the game is structured—lengthy unskippable comms between pilots and ships in even the most difficult missions—guarantee that you’d be wasting your time listening to the same lines over and over when you replay them. An option to skip the talky bits would have helped. As it is, this is one of the best freeware full version games out there. Download it now. 

Graphics: 7.5 – Space. There just isn’t much to see. Still, what the game has are gorgeous; the angular, angry, maroon-dominated design of the Kilrathi ships and fighters give a good contrast to the sleek aerodynamic symmetry of the predominantly blue-hued Terran Confleet ships and fighter craft. Explosions are awesome to behold and planets, nebulae, and star flares bestrew the game with much needed splashes of color.  

Gameplay: 9.0 – The space sim genre is largely dead at the moment. (What (popular!) space games are thriving aren’t even strictly combat games; most are geared towards economy aspects like the X series.)  At the moment, the experience offered by this free PC space sim is unparalleled; you just can’t find anything out there that can compare to this one. Dearth of competition aside, Wing Commander Saga is a game that can stand on its own. Its punishing difficulty guarantees that veteran fans of the series won’t be disappointed. Casual gamers might give this a lower score though; the game's appeal largely depends on your preferences.

Sound: 8.0 – Talkative teammates breathe a whole new dimension into this space fighter game. Explosions sound powerful and the music tracks keep you engaged. 

Replayability: 8.0 – I’m playing this game on the default difficulty and I’m pretty sure I’ll be playing this again at a higher one once I finish this just to see how dogfights play out. I’ve been playing this for more than a week now and the game shows no sign of stopping (the game’s developers claim this game has 50 missions; that’s a stupendously large amount!). 

Final Score: 8.1

>>>Click here to

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wing Commander Saga Tutorial - Where to Find It

One of the (few) complaints about this free PC sci-fi space sim is the way its main menu is designed; players who immediately click on the first "Start" they see are more likely going to be ushered into the main single player campaign with no idea what keys do what. Myself I got treated to one of the biggest spoilers when I made the same mistake. I've made this guide in the hope that new players will immediately know how to access the Wing Commander Saga tutorial.

After the jump: the guide.

When you start up the game, you'll see this screen:


DO NOT click on the blast door that says "Start or continue a campaign"! Instead, click this person (notice where the cursor is ):


The message at the bottom should read: "Campaign Room - View all available campaigns." Click. You should see this screen:


Click Prologue. (I've no idea why the developers put "The Darkest Dawn" first on the list (and why I didn't click on the Prologue lol!).) You should be greeted by this screen:

Click here to start the Prologue (which also doubles as the Wing Commander Saga tutorial):

The Wing Commander Saga tutorial assigns you to the Wellington while the main campaign assigns you to the TCS Hermes:

That's how to access the Wing Commander Saga tutorial. I hope this helps.

>>>The game's array of controls too much for you? CLICK HERE to see the essential Wing Commander Saga hotkeys and controls list.

>>>Click here to

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Important Wing Commander Saga Controls and Hotkeys

A month ago I posted about the imminent release of Wing Commander Saga, a free PC full version space simulator. I've been playing it for several weeks now and while I've gotten the hang of the game, others new to the series and/or the genre might find the numerous controls daunting. I've made up a guide on what I think to be the core Wing Commander controls and hotkeys. If you want to have an easier time with the game memorize and utilize the list found in this article.

The list of important Wing Commander Saga controls and hotkeys after the jump.

The core controls of this freeware PC space sim that you should keep in mind: 

A – Holding down this key increases your speed rapidly until it reaches maximum. Useful for:
  •  adjusting your position relative to a large enemy vessel
  • providing a temporary boost in getting even nearer to an enemy fighter craft that’s not more than a thousand clicks away from you. 

Z - Holding down this key decreases your speed rapidly until you come to a full stop. Useful for:
  • adjusting your position relative to a large enemy vessel
  • cutting your engines and letting an enemy fly past you
  • cutting your engine to get a bead on an enemy that’s pulling a loop in an attempt to shake you off
  • letting you drop back, enabling you to get a better vantage point in guarding a vulnerable friendly (useful in escort missions where the friendly you’re guarding is being targeted with stealth missiles). 

Y – Tags whatever is in your reticule as your current target. (Note: This only works for fighters and ships; you can’t use Y in targeting a ship’s subsystems like turrets and engines. For that you need to push “V.” You can still, of course, fire away at subsystems so long as they’re in your reticule.)

Tab - Holding down this key activates your afterburner. Useful for:
  • getting rapidly near an enemy fighter/ship that’s more than a thousand clicks from you
  • in tandem with launching counter measures (x) and the 7 or the 9 key (barrel roll left or right respectively), useful in evading incoming missiles
  • in tandem with doing a loop, useful in shaking off a bogey who’s on your six. 
(Note: holding down Tab, pressing the “Glide” button, then letting go of the Tab key lets you hold afterburner mode without burning fuel reserves. See “Alt-G”, below.) 
X – launch countermeasures, decoys that draw confuse and draw off enemy missiles from you.

>>>Flabbergasted on how to access the Wing Commander tutorial? Click HERE 
Alt-G – Glide; lets you stay in your current vector even when you turn. (It’s like you’ve converted yourself into a tank—the treads still take in the direction where you want to go even if your cannon is pointed in a direction that’s different from your current heading.) And yes, “lets you stay in your current vector” means exactly that; even your speed is conserved. This means that using Glide in tandem with your afterburners lets you maintain that speed and direction even if you turn in another direction (See “Tab”, above.) IMPORTANT: Only the Excalibur and the Arrow can Glide. 

M – Match speed with the current target. Useful for:
  • killing enemies; if you’ve matched speed with an enemy and you’re on his six, he’s as good as dead in no time flat unless he pulls off evasive maneuvers
  • Also useful for taking out capital ships’ subsystems (in tandem with Glide, makes the task a tad easier).

Alt-M – Toggles auto-match speed on and off. Useful for:
  • in protracted battles where there are lots of bogeys. Soon as you take one down, you’ll match speed with the next bogey you target. 

H – Targets the nearest enemy fighter craft (even if it’s not in your line of sight)

B – Targets the nearest enemy bomber or missile. VERY useful in escort missions. 

Insert, Home, and Page Up – Pushing the individual keys incrementally increases Guns, Shields, and Engines respectively at the cost of the other two. For example, if you continually push Insert, your Guns meter will rise while your Shields and Engines will decrease. Adjust the levels according to the situation: going up against light fighters? Increase guns and shields. Getting pummeled? Increase shields. Going up against a capital ship? Increase guns and shields (with a higher priority to shields).

Alt-D – Equalizes Gun, Shield, and Engine levels 

Q – Equalizes shields. All craft have six separate shields. If you find a bogey has successfully positioned himself on your six and has worn down your rear shield to zero, pressing Q redistributes your craft’s overall shield energy to all its areas. You might get weaker front and side shields temporarily but at least you’ll have shield power restored to the area that has been rendered vulnerable. 

Tip: If you’re not playing multiplayer (I’ve never checked it out), bear in mind that the buttons, 1,2, 3, and 4 are available. You can bind some of the ones mentioned above to these. Myself, I bound the following to:

Barrel Roll left and right: 1 and 2 

Glide: 3

Toggle Auto-Match Speed on/off: 4

>>>Want more freeware PC shooter games? Click HERE. 

Are these games legal? Read about the freeware games on this site HERE. 

>>>Click here to