Tag Archives: Electronic Arts

X-Squad

One of the PS2 launch titles, try doing this on a Dreamcast

A third person sort of FPS where you shoot stuff. The main plot of the game is set in the year 2037, terrorists have taken over a military base and it’s up to the X-Squad to restore it, following the failure of the previous W-Squad mentioned in the game.

The game is similar in concept to SOCOM and Ghost Recon where you can issue squad commands to your teammates, typically 3 members. These are fairly basic as you can only command them to be oppressive or stealth/defensive.

The game UI, screams early 2000 era design and is where you can manage your inventory. At the end of each level you will earn points depending on the difficulty the level was completed at. You can use these to purchase new weapons, ammunition, shields and gadgets to help complete the next level. You can also find pickups, like leftover ammunition when you kill an enemy to keep your character going.

You can also manage your teammates inventories, and can juggle weapons, health kits between them.

The Squad

John Ash Connors: The main character and the only character you can control. Only 26 years old and has grey/silver hair.

Maya Esteves: One of your teammates who is with you the most, has a tendency to get shot and run out of health, which requires you to constantly transfer health packs to keep her in the game

Judd: A large son of a bitch, standing 6ft 8 and weighing 250 pounds. For his height he appears out of scale since compared to his squad mates, appearing only slightly taller.

Melinda Swanson: Not one for conversation from going by the cutscenes, both her and Judd will occasionally go and do their own thing mid-mission, leaving you stuck with Maya

Colonel Clifford: You encounter this geezer midway through level 4 and he becomes a teammate for the rest of levels 4 and 5. Although his health indicator is set on yellow, he cannot die thankfully, but he ain’t a good shooter.

Dr. Biana: Not a direct squadmate but you encounter her often. Walks around with a briefcase and talks about some Medusa project

As mentioned, Your squadmates can be ordered around to some extent, by giving them commands. You can choose for them to be offensive where they will attack when they come into contact with enemies, or defence/stealth where they will only shoot when attacked.
Each member has a limited amount of weight they can handle, which affects the number of weapons they can carry, with Judd being able to carry the most. It’s best to leave the heavy weapons with him.

The game gives off a very Unreal Tournament / Perfect Dark-like vibe when you look at the level design and the electronic/techno-inspired background music. The main characters also look like UT player models. Considering UT came out one year before this game did (1999), you can see they were influenced by it.

Levels

There are 9 levels in total

Most levels consist of you going from one area to another, in order to get to the end. Many have areas blocked off and require you to find a switch in order to unlock the door/lasers in order to progress through, some of which are located on the exact opposite of the level.

A Switch, you will encounter this often


The design of the levels isn’t very diverse, with you running around an underground tunnel/area. There seem to be no areas set outside

  • Level 1: Set in a waste disposal facility, a pleasant start to the game and an introduction to the game mechanics.
  • Level 2: Has nice chilled music to listen to as you explore the level which is nice since it starts off in a sewer and ends in a waste disposal unit.
  • Level 3: This one gets frustrating, since you are stuck in an ugly maze-like environment, it’s easy to get confused due to how similar the corridors look, with the only major difference being the floor colour. It took me half an hour to find all the switches needed to progress. There’s no end boss but you do have to free the prisoners at the end.
  • Level 4: Set in an abandoned tramway, here you meet the cornel and his side chick for the first time. The objective here is to escort the two of them to the lab using the tram tunnels. The end boss of this level is a horde of guards, so make sure you have plenty of ammo and health kits.
  • Level 5: We battle our way in a laboratory, this time we are missing Judd, who has been replaced with Clifford
  • Level 6: More of the same, it’s set in some sort of a recreation area, although it looks just the same as the other areas. Boss level is set again a large tank, of which your teammates will be incapacitated almost immediately.
  • Level 7: There are a few areas where you will be ambushed and will have enemies firing from all sides, thankfully there are spaces where you can take cover, although try telling your AI teammates that.
  • Level 8: This one was a bit awkward as some corridors are a bit tight, and some are set near ledges where you can fall to your death. You simply walk around the map flipping switches until you unlock the least door. There is one switch that is placed in an awkward spot, where your character can easily fall through and die. There’s no jump button so you have to run over the gap and hope for the best. The end boss is brutal, you get ambushed by four enemies that will continuously respawn even if you kill them, and Simpson who is equipped with an overpowered weapon.
  • Level 9: This is where the game shits itself. At the start, you have to contend with enemies that are triple shields, and a good amount of ammo is wasted just having to deal with these. Then you have a boss battle with a large chopper, which will fire heat-seeking missiles repeatedly. At this point the game becomes a glitch fest, in one instance I got landed with a Game Over screen even though my character was still moving and my health bar still have some life it in, Other times my character was alive but the camera had glitched out to an overhead view and was unable to shoot.

I’d say the game was rushed towards the later levels since there are quite a few glitches. Even in the ending cutscene on Youtube they had issues animating the mouth of the characters

Misc Notes

The game only supports 4:3 output, no widescreen here.

From browsing the games disc, Internally the game seems to compress most files into multiple BZP archives, this includes the levels and the opening movies themselves. I have not found a way to decompress these files, and its likely an internal format that EA/Square use.

Links

EA X-Squad Homepage

R.I.P

The Sims House Party

The second expansion pack for The Sims that allows them to party (or Partay)

Objects

Some of the objects that come with House party, there are other items like chairs and tables that are not listed here since they have a similar function to the base game objects.
Granny Raymond’s Holiday Cookies: A plate of cookies you can buy direct from buy mode. If you leave them on a table next to the fireplace, along with a Christmas tree from Livin It Up, Santa will appear.
Birthday Cake: Another buyable food item, kids can choose to blow out the candles, although this does not age them up (You need a charm in Makin Magic for that)
SimFarm Turkey Dinner: A piece of turkey sims can buy and carve up
Punchucopia Extraordinaria Punchbowl: sims or their cater can refill to keep guests satisfied at parties
The Elegant Chef Buffet Table: Used to serve a starter, main meal and desert from one table, excellent for parties or for large gatherings.
Fancy Feet Cake Treat: Spawns a male or female dancer (Stripper), or if it’s a kids party, a giant bear. Give a boost to the fun motive.
KampRite Instant Campfire: Sims can sit round the camp fire and sing songs, tell stories or roast marshmallows
Spazmatronic Plasmatronic Go-Go Cage: A Dancing cage, boosts fun. Best place with the dance floor and the DJ booth
Turntablitz DJ Booth: Used for the dance floor but can also function as a radio, has access to all radio stations in the game.
Jukebox: Two versions of this seem to exist, the first is just labelled as the Jukebox and has access to only the fault radio stations in the game. An updated version comes with Hot Date that can select all music tracks House party has to offer.
Bounce My Booty Dance Floor: The dance floor where sims can get their groove on. It’s a 2×2 tile than can be combined together in various patterns. When sims are dancing, the floor will light up in various different patterns and colours.
Porta-Parody Costume Trunk: A costume trunk that can be used to give your party a fancy dress theme. When one sim changes their costume, all sims will change to that costume theme.

Screenshots

Sims carving some turkey, which is buyable from buymode. When carving, sims will stand round and clap until its served.

The dance floor, in the front of someone’s living room. Puts Dance Central to shame

The costume trunk is ideal for theme parties. Available themes are Western, Disco, Toga

Here sims are rocking the disco theme

The buffet tables and the hireable caterer, sims can restock the table themselves at a cost of §20. A punchbowl can also be restocked.

The campfire, sims can tell a ghost story, roast marshmallows or sing a folk song.

Neighborhoods

The expansion pack adds support for multiple neighborhoods if you’ve not installed Livin It Up, Neighbourhoods 6-8 are added since the game assumes Livin it Up has been installed and takes the place of 2-5. It’s easy to add custom hoods. More hoods can be added by going into the games directory in the Program Files folder and adding a new UsedataX folder, where X will be the new number (since the game creates 8 hoods, you would start at 9) and can support up to 99 unique hoods.

NPCs

The Mime: Appears when you are throwing a shit party, and sometimes tries to steal your items. Leaves automatically once your party score has increased
Party Crashers: Appear when you are throwing a good party, these two (Pete and Pauline Dropinsky) will arrive and will try to wreck anything in the party, including breaking objects as they use them. Best to get rid of them as soon as possible.
The Caterer: Can be hired through the phone, the main purpose is to restock the buffet table and the punch bowl. He will also socialize with the guests if he has nothing to do. You must have a buffet table or a punch bowel or he will leave.
Drew Carey: Some American celebrity who appears when you have thrown a great party, arrives in a limo of which sims will rush to it upon arrival. For those who don’t know who Drew Carey, he was a popular late-night show host, like Jimmy Kimmel back when late-night talk shows weren’t biased towards a specific political party.

Some new NPCs have additional roles:
Police Officer: If you throw a party after 8pm, Officer meddling will appear regarding a complaint by one of your neighbors regarding the noise. You are supposed to disband and end the party by asking the guests to leave. Should you fail to do so she will reappear after 2 hours (10pm) and will find you.

Install

The game’s installer will pick up from the previous install, and will automatically install the game patch.

Disc read error upon install, caused by a scratched CD.

HTML view of The Sims House Party, listing sims that are currently moved into the neighborhood. Sims could be viewed here before they were uploaded onto the Sims exchange, which was a place where families and houses could be downloaded.

Mac OS Version

The expansion pack was made avaliable for the Mac OS platform, which a Carbon patch being released later for OS X compatability.

The Sims Livin It Up

Also known as Sims Livin Large, not sure why they changed the title but Livin large sounds like a fat acceptance movement slogan…

The first of many expansion packs for The Sims, and a must-have since the base game was quite barren for content. Let’s see what’s been added:

Multiple neighborhoods can coexist, and the expansion ships with 5 extra goods for up to 50 different lots/families. More can be added by navigating to the games system directory, and creating a new Userdata folder (up to 99 supported). Each hood has its own set of lots and families, and with later expansions, they also have unique NPCs that show up on their lots. Sims from one neighborhood will not appear in another, and the appearance cannot be customized, unless you mod and load an altered bitmap has the hood’s background screen, but I think the game only allows one background bitmap to be set for all hoods. You would still be stuck with the name neighborhood background.

Objects

Genie Lamp: When rubbed, will summon a genie who gives the choice of two wishes. They do have a chance of going wrong.

Here you can choose between two random choices

A nice result, our wish was granted and we got a free high-end TV

Unfortunately, it was the exact same model that we already had.

Wishes can go wrong, I’m not sure on the change (Possibly 50/50) but when a wish backfires it can result in something drastic, like an object being set on fire or overdue bills being spawned. Always save before making a wish

Vibromatic heart bed: A bed that increases comfort and is where the magic happens. Costs 20 to use the vibration function each time which sucks considering its an expensive bed.

Telescope: Can be used to increase the logic skill and satisfies the fun meter. There is a chance your sim can be abducted by aliens. When this happens they will be returned with a new randomized personality.

When an abduction occurs, all sims will walk to the telescope, cry for a minute and then go back to what they were doing.

Moosehead: This shows the current mood of the lot, its ankers are based on the average mood of all sims and is useful for later expansion packs like House party to judge if a party is going well.


The Concatenation Station: A chemistry station where sims can make potions. This is created at random.
Blue: The most likely potion to be made, fills 3 needs bars which are chosen at random
Orange: Sims become invisible for the next 12 hours
Light Green: The one to avoid, this causes nearly all needs to plummet to low levels
Dark Green: Makes an evil clone of your sim who will perform bad interactions with other Sims, causing their relationship to suffer
Red: Makes a random sim fall in love with them
Purple: Turns your sim into a monster
White: Will cure any sickness, only creatable by a sick sim
Yellow: Inverts the Sims personality for all points
Creating any potions runs the risk of a visit from the police complaining about the smell, and you may be fined. The chemistry table also has a risk of exploding and must be repaired before it can be reused, this will not cause a fire.

Servo: A robot that acts as the Maid, Gardiner and repairman all in one NPC, one of the most expensive objects in the game. However he has to be manually turned on by your sim, he doesn’t come out automatically when a mess has been made but he can be instructed to serve meals.

Voodoo doll: This can be used by sims to annoy or frustrate another sim which results in their comfort level dropping. Useful to get rid of unwanted guests (Not NPCs)

The little bugger itself (not the sim), be careful when you own this

The gerbil painting, helps cure the disease.

Whilst your sims cannot communicate with the dead, or look into the future, Instead your sims will be given a mini-quest, of which they will be rewarded with a change of personality.

NPCs

Grim Reaper: Appears when a sim has died, can be pled with who will either ignore, resurrect the sim, or resurrect them as a zombie.

Monster: Resembles Frankenstein, Should your sim drink a specific potion, they will temporally turn into a monster and will break all items on the lot and will need to be repaired, But they seem to like painting, If there is an easel on the lot they will paint until they turn back.

Tragic Clown: Appears when your sims has the tragic clown painting and your sim is in a bad mood. If installing on a fresh install, his painting will appear on prebuilt lots.

The tragic clown in action. The only advantage he brings is you can socialize with him to boost your social motive, otherwise he will become a hindrance since he will wake your sim up if they’re sleeping.

Other additions

New floors and walls have been added that allow you to theme your Sims houses as if they were from a certain period, there’s a medieval look, or a retro 50/60s look to an interpreted future theme, complete with teleports that act as stairs or spaceship-like doors.

Sickness: Guinea pig, this was one of the more controversial features that were added to this expansion pack, since it’s possible for your sim to get sick and die which was not known to many players at the time leaving them to wonder why their sims kept randomly dying since the game only informer when your sim has died, but not the cause of death. This disease is caused by having your sim play with the guinea pig whilst it’s either hungry or if its cage is dirty. Once your sim has been bitten their energy motive will begin to decay faster, and sims will start coughing and sneezing. To cure, the ill sim must have plenty of rest and motives should be kept as high as possible.
The disease is contagious and can be passed to other sims via contact.

Roaches: Another annoying feature, they appear if your lot is dirty. If there are dirty dishes or a lot of trash on the lot.

The Sims Deluxe Edition

This SKU was introduced in 2002 and replaces The Sims, And the Livin It up Expansion pack since it combines content from the two games. This became the new base game as the previous titles were discontinued, and further deluxe bundles were introduced in specific markets that combined certain expansion packs, like Triple Deluxe which bundles House party and On Holiday.

The neighborhood screen has been slightly altered with the top bar being added for use with future expansion packs (Hot Date and On Holiday)

Deluxe Edition also comes bundled with the Sims Creator which is used for creating Sims faces for use in the game. You can also import a photo and paste it onto a Sims head for use in the game. Also, most downloadable objects that were released on the EA website were included, but not the downloadable families like the Hatfield’s or the Jones. Deluxe edition still ships with the premade sims, including the Mashuga’s from the Living It Up expansion.

Version information and the build date

Mac OS Version

The expansion was later released on the Mac OS platform and installed in a similar fashion to the PC version. If the user has multiple copies of The Sims installed, they are prompted to select the folder they wish to install.

Like the original game, Livin Large only supported classic Mac OS, with a Carbon update being released later for compatibility with Mac OS X