Author Archive

Wot I Think: Planetary Annihilation

By Brendan Caldwell on September 17th, 2014.

Planetary Annihilation is best enjoyed if you are a robot. A cold, cybernetically enhanced supercomputer capable of thousands of thoughts per nanosecond. No emotion, no mercy. Just a deathly, speedy logic and a finger that clicks like a woodpecker’s beak. It is a brilliant, ludicrous RTS and I will probably never try to play it again. Because I am a frail, fleshy human being whose idea of multi-tasking is using a fork AND a knife at the dinner table. But you may not be like me. You may be one of the Machines.

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Impressions: Galactic Civilizations 3

By Brendan Caldwell on August 21st, 2014.

Gal Civ 3 has warped from Early Access alpha to Early Access beta, and brought with it more (but not all) features to the famous, 4X strategy game. Is it worth your time or money yet? We sent Brendan to investigate.

Picture the scene. You are a peaceful, religious race of extra-terrestrials, but you are inexplicably at war with the three rival civilisations that surround you. Your people love you for your mindfulness but they are upset that they don’t have more money to spend. Your desert planet full of shopping centres is deeply unhappy. Your planet full of scorpions is booming. Huge lettering drops from the sky! GALACTIC CIVILIZATIONS III.

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Hands And Face On: Alien Isolation On Oculus Rift

By Brendan Caldwell on July 7th, 2014.

Imagine the Xenomorph from Alien is in the room with you right now. Where exactly? You don’t know. But you do know it’s in there. You lean a little forward, peeping over that stack of empty pizza boxes. Meat feast. You have been meaning to tidy those away. You peer into the gloom. You hear something above you. Something scuttling. Something dark. You look up! But it is too late. You have been eaten. Well done, imagination!

Of course, it is looking possible you will not need your imagination to enjoy these scenarios anymore because the folks making Alien: Isolation at Creative Assembley and SEGA have been tinkering with the Oculus Rift development kits and have shown us their deliciously scary ‘prototype’.

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Impressions: The Elder Scrolls Online

By Brendan Caldwell on April 7th, 2014.

I don’t know what to tell you. My first few days in the Elder Scrolls Online universe have left me feeling very fed up. It was always going to be a tough job for Bethesda to recreate the awe and adventure of their single-player fantasy games for a mass(ively multiplayer) audience. But there was a hope that, actually, everything might turn out all right for fans. I’m sorry to say that, based on my 21 hours or so of questing, that hope should be laid to rest. You could say that 21 hours is short enough in MMO terms to be called a ‘gut reaction’. I suppose could have approached the game more scientifically, but to do that I would have had to measure my progress in ‘sighs per hour.’

It isn’t all bad.

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To Hell With Other People: Nine Lives in Rust

By Brendan Caldwell on March 28th, 2014.

I had died again. For the eighth time I had been murdered by a greedy neighbour. I sighed. It was time to switch servers and try it all again. Usually when you spawn on a Rust server, there are a few quiet minutes to get used to your surroundings and look around. Not on my ninth reincarnation. The very instant I popped into the world I heard a voice behind me, yelling.

“Who are you!”

It was more of a statement of rage than a question. Shocked, I turned and saw him. Silhouetted against the sky, a man stood atop a wrecked building, stretching a bow and pointing an arrow at me. His name was Blazing Bazing. He was completely naked.

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The Injustice Engine: Cruelty And Murder In DayZ

By Brendan Caldwell on February 17th, 2014.

The first man I murdered probably deserved it. But not this guy. The only thing this guy had done wrong was wander into Berezino with some water, a compass and a rifle (without ammo). It was just his luck that we were there too, looking for baked beans amid the inexplicable piles of shoes which amass inside every townhouse of DayZ. We saw him go into one of the two apartment blocks that loom like huge, Gray tombstones over the city. I followed him inside, calling out: “Hello, anyone here? Friendly!” Read the rest of this entry »

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Impressions: How To Fly A British Space Caravan Into Battle

By Brendan Caldwell on January 31st, 2014.

The LHS Bikeshed is a project that has transformed a battered old caravan into a space shuttle simulator. Players enter the caravan, take a seat at one of the three stations and prepare for launch. We sent Brendan and some old friends along to see how well they would fare in the dark reaches of space.
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Alien: Isolation Devs Talk Xenos, Horror & the Ripley Dynasty

By Brendan Caldwell on January 8th, 2014.

We sent Brendan to Creative Assembly to meet the star xenomorph of their new first-person survival horror, Alien: Isolation. While he was able to file yesterday’s extensive hands-on report from the field, he has not been seen since. But a crack team of RPS androids infiltrated the facility and recovered a sticky voice recorder with his name on it, containing an interview with Al Hope, Creative Lead on the project and Jon McKellan, Lead UI Art & Design. Here is a transcript of that interview, in which they discuss why this is true to Alien, who else players may encounter, how they think they can keep a single foe scary throughout, hiding in lockers for ten minutes and how and why Ripley’s daughter is the protagonist.
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Hands on – Alien: Isolation

By Brendan Caldwell on January 7th, 2014.

We have all been burned by past Alien games and I would like us to maintain a healthy scepticism about Creative Assembly’s recently unveiled Alien: Isolation, which I went to see and play just before the turn of the year. With this in mind, I believe it an obligation, before we begin discussing this new threat, to observe a moment of silence in which we can all remember the brave souls we lost to the Colonial Marines disaster.

*an eerie hush envelopes the world as billions of people solemnly mute Spotify*

Thank you.

The good news is that, despite keeping that scepticism intact, my recent hands-on with Isolation has given me cause for hope. With luck (and no small amount of effort from the development team) we are a little closer to having an Alien game that actually captures the feel of the original movie.
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Wot I Think: King Arthur’s Gold

By Brendan Caldwell on November 18th, 2013.

When two tribes go to war, a point is all that you can… scoorrrrrre! (First to three)

King Arthur’s Gold has been knocking about for years, quietly existing in the shadow of similar games like Terraria, Minecraft and Ace of Spades. In that time the creators (those who brought you Soldat) have been chipping away and sculpting an unassuming yet heroic little game of insane siege warfare. Now that it has taken its complete form and has been deemed beautiful enough for Steam, it is finally time to give this medieval muckabout some of the attention it deserves. Here’s Wot I Think.
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Diary: A Nice Prison In Prison Architect Will Always Go Wrong

By Brendan Caldwell on November 12th, 2013.

Introversion’s deservedly popular Shawshank simulator is a lot of fun. It’s also incredibly difficult to manage. If a full-scale riot isn’t the problem (rarely), then a lack of funds is. And I don’t think building Cell Block B without any plumbing helps. I’ve run my fair share of ruinous hellholes but now that several updates have been added to give the player some more control over the disorder. In lieu of this, I wanted to see if it was possible to create a lovely, warm, sweet-smelling prison, just like ma used to make. CCTV, perimeter walls, sniffer dogs and guard patrols are sure to help make this a reality.

Welcome to Brendan’s Nice Prison For Agreeable People.
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Hands On With Payday 2

By Brendan Caldwell on July 23rd, 2013.


You’d think robbing an art gallery would be fairly straightforward, especially if there are four robbers working together to pull off the job. But when one of those robbers sets off a noisy hand dryer in the bathroom, and another one falls through the skylight, knocking himself out on the hardwood floor beneath, you should probably take some time to reflect. Just not now. Because right now there is a helicopter shooting at you.

Yes, I played Payday 2. Here are some thoughts.
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Viewed Prior To Release: Wildstar

By Brendan Caldwell on May 30th, 2013.


We sent Brendan to see Wildstar. This is his report.

A lot of good games have come from pitting the player against ‘the frontier’. (What is Minecraft, for instance, if not a blocky representation of a pre-civilisation?) On paper, the MMO genre seems perfectly suited to the frontier, since it could so easily harness real human nastiness to provide the sense of danger and lawlessness. Some MMOs, like EVE, embrace that interpretation of the wild, at the expense of giving new and inexperienced players an easy ride. On the other hand, WildStar – a new project by NCSOFT currently in beta – is shaping up to be a much more conventional, welcoming game world. A place where the frontier is a cartoon one.
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