RPS Discusses: Do Expansion Packs Still Matter?

Expansion packs were once a core part of playing PC games, but they can often feel less essential in a world of constant updates and microtransactions. Original game Alec, expansions Adam and Graham, and brief DLC Alice gathered to discuss their favourite game expansions and why they still think the model works.

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Have You Played… Quake III?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Specifically, Quake III DM17: The Longest Yard, which is what I think of whenever I think of Quake III. Every Q3A player has their favourite map, and I’m not even making a claim to DM17 being the ‘best’ map, but it’s my map. It’s the one which encapsulates what Quake III is about, to my mind.
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The RPG Scrollbars: Sacred Worlds

Most RPGs ask you to save the world, but not all of them offer a world worth saving. Honestly, there’s been quite a few where given the choice I’d have joined the evil overlord just to beat up all the potion vendors who wouldn’t even give me a discount before the final battle, and for the mere chance of stabbing the guard in Act 1 who wouldn’t let me into The Town Where The Actual Bloody Game Starts.

This week though, I’m interested in the other side of that – the worlds that become more than just a place to grind for loot and XP. The places that feel real. Beloved worlds, which don’t necessarily correlate with beloved games. I really enjoyed Skyrim for instance, but Skyrim as a world largely leaves me cold for reasons that have nothing to do with the Frostfall mod. That’s not the same as saying it’s bad, or any real quality judgement at all, simply that for me it never became a second home, more than a playground. Fallout New Vegas meanwhile, despite its problems, ticked all of the boxes. It was a world I could believe in, get immersed by, and not want to leave, which given the current political climate around the world is quite probably for the best.

Here are some of the most special worlds for me. How about you? Note, we’re talking entire worlds, as in the settings for whole games, not specific places like, say, Gold Saucer in Final Fantasy VII or FFXIV. Those are cool too, but… another week!

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Have You Played… Bookworm Adventures?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

PopCap’s Bookworm was a neat little spelling game, a grid of tiles and a time limit, as you tried to spell out words. It was, I suppose, years ahead of Alphabear. Bookworm Adventures was that idea put through a madness machine, and what a joy.

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The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for watching football, running errands, and trying to catch your breath after a hectic week. Maybe reading some of the week’s best games writing will help. Thanks to A Person On The Internet who provided basically all of this week’s links.

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Have You Played… Football Manager 2015?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every weekday of the year, perhaps for all time.

As Football Manager 2016 edges nearer, Football Manager 2015 [official site] begins to fade into the rearview. How did we feel about the last yearly iteration of the longrunning management game?

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What Are We All Playing This Weekend?

Hullo again! What’s cracking? I have next week off work – a holiday I’ve foolishly put off for far too long – so I won’t see all you lovely people for a while, but before I go, do tell me: what are you playing this weekend? Here’s what we’re up to:

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A Psychogeography Of Games #4: George Buckenham

This is article 4 of 6, adapted from my Psychogeography of Games series for London’s Videobrains. If you enjoy these articles, please consider backing me on Patreon.

I’m soaked before I even get to George’s door. He lives in ‘Globe Town’ – a small part of North East London in the borough of Tower Hamlets. I call him from Globe Street and walk up and down, failing to find the landmarks that he can see in the regimented tower blocks. In the end he points out a woman with a Dunlop branded umbrella and via her I find my way to the buzzer.

The buttons are silver rounded pale yellow, brushed steel braille under my fingertips, I tap in the number of his flat, stop to take photos of the stairwell on my way up. Wrought iron, broken frosted glass, paint peeling.

George Buckenham is a Londoner. He grew up in the suburbs of SW London, a place called ‘New Malden’, and today (in a month’s worth of rain) we have agreed to walk across London, without once using a map, from where he lives now to where he grew up. 14 miles (22km).

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The 10 Best Games Based On Books

Books! They’re like films without pictures, or games that are all cutscene. Old people and hipsters really like them, teenagers think they’re like totally lame, and quite frankly we should all read more of them. There are countless games inspired by books – most especially Tolkien, Lovecraft and early Dungeons & Dragon fiction – but surprisingly few games based directly on books. Even fewer good ones.

Perhaps one of the reasons for that is that a game can, in theory, cleave closer to what a book does than a film can – with their length and their word counts, their dozens of characters and in some cases even their own in-game books, they can to some degree do the job of a novel. They don’t need to be based on books – and often they can do so much more, thanks to the great promise of non-linearity. Of course, the real reason for the dearth is that novels are so rarely the massive business a movie is these days. You might get a forlorn Hunger Games tie-in here and there, but suited people in gleaming office blocks just aren’t going to commission an adaptation of the latest Magnus Mills tale, more’s the pity.

I suspect that, over time, we’ll see the non-corporate side of games development increasingly homage the written word, but for now, these ten games (and seven honourable mentions) are, as far as I’m concerned, the best, and most landmark, results of page-to-pixel adaptation to date.

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MGSV: The Phantom Pain Is Making It Too Easy For Me

I expected MGSV: The Phantom Pain [official site] to be punishing – the kind of stealth game that stuck you with insurmountable challenges the second you stepped out of the shadows or were spotted. These expectations were born of what I assumed previous Metal Gear Solid games were, based on struggling through the first on PSone as a teenager, and based on the slavish praise they received from what I assumed were more skillful players than me.

I was initially relieved, then, when The Phantom Pain turned out to be accommodating. But after twenty hours of play, I’m much more surprised to find myself feeling so far towards the other direction. The Phantom Pain is too easy.

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RPS Community Update: What You Did in Dirt Rally, Europa Universalis, Terraria, Trove and More!

September was absolutely packed full of games in the RPS community, with events taking place in Dirt Rally [official site], Europa Universalis [official site], Guild Wars 2 [official site], Terraria [official site], Trove [official site] and more!

Want to know what happened and how you can get involved? Read on!

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Have You Played… Rogue Trooper?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Alec recently revisted Rogue Trooper to take pretty screenshots of Rebellion’s cover shooter, so I’ll try not to tread similiar ground. It’s a third-person shooter based on a 2000 AD recurring story about a genetically-engineered blue supersoldier fighting with the help of his dead pals’ personalities living in his helmet, rifle, and rucksack. It’s pretty fun! What I’ll instead focus on is how I like it makes me create my own ammo, giving me freedom to use the weapons I want.

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The Flare Path: Scratch One Summer

This splendid image is the work of Roger Murray AGAvA (click for purchasing options)

A flurry of local airshows and BoB commemorative events meant Spitfires and Hurricanes were regular visitors to my corner of Southern England this summer. Seeing six Messerschmitt maulers fly over in formation on September 15 really should have been my aviation highlight of the season, but that accolade actually goes to an encounter a few days earlier when, tramping along a Wiltshire footpath, I was repeatedly buzzed by a P-40 intent on entertaining crowds at a nearby display. The sound of a Merlin in full spate is a wonderful thing, but the whistle-threaded roar of Lulu Belle’s supercharged Allison V-12 left me beaming like a lottery winner. Read the rest of this entry »

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