Immaculate Conception: Thomas Scholes

By Marsh Davies on June 26th, 2015.

In this (probably) monthly column, I’ll be looking at the inspiration and techniques of the industry’s greatest concept artists. This month, I talk to environment specialist Thomas Scholes.

One of the things I like so much about Scholes’ work is his ability to blend impressionistic brushwork with a keen sense of three-dimensionality. His paintings are sometimes ambiguous and the textures within them ignore finicky detail, and yet somehow they convey an incredible sense of luminosity and depth that completely enwraps you in the fantasy of that space. Looking at them, you somehow know what it would be like to step into them, what the air would taste like, what it would feel like on your skin.

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BeamNG.drive Makes Car Crashes Fun And Frightening

By Graham Smith on June 26th, 2015.

Bending, twisting, crumpling, crunching metal. That’s what BeamNG.drive [official site] offers in its current incarnation. What started as a physics prototype that rendered cars with soft body physics has gained the .drive suffix to its name and is on its way towards becoming an ambitious, robust driving simulator, with umpteen cars, tracks and an an open world mode.

For now, the joys of BeamNG are what they always were: crashing two or more objects together and watching them split apart in glorious detail. What the additions so far have brought is something unexpected: the fear of crashing two or more objects together.

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Journeys In Games: Let’s Talk About Fast Travel

By Brendan Caldwell on June 26th, 2015.

I first noticed the feeling when I stopped at an inn. They had a roaring fire, plenty of food and wine, and there was a dog lying at my feet. Skyrim had never felt more welcoming. I was replaying the game with some mods installed. One mod took away all the dragonborn stuff and left me starting as a simple bandit schmuck. Another mod made the world of Skyrim cold and harsh to survive in, so I had to light fires to keep myself warm and make sure I didn’t fall into any water lest I catch my literal hypothermic death. But one of these mods had a side option, which was to turn fast travel off. On a whim, I did. It was only days later, in the warm glow of this inn that the feeling began to come over me. And I realised something. Something that all my gaming life I’d never even thought about.

I HATE fast travel. Let me tell you why.

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Artful Dodging: Why Invisible, Inc.’s Rewind Button Is Great

By Alex Spencer on June 26th, 2015.

Are you the kind of person who finds the stealthy route through every Deus Ex level, and who strives to ghost and no-kill every Dishonored level? Me too, but recently I’ve started to realise there’s a cost to playing this way. A perfect ghost run requires just that: perfection. Being spotted is a blemish on my record that I just can’t abide – so the second a guard sounds the alarm or raises their weapon, my finger is on the quick-load button, breaking the flow of my own experience and snapping the fiction of whatever game I’m playing.

But Invisible, Inc. [official site] does something miraculous. It solves that problem with a single button, because when my favourite agent finds themselves at the business end of a guard’s semi-automatic with no chance of escape, there’s always another option: rewind.

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The Flare Path: Is Computer Ambushed

By Tim Stone on June 26th, 2015.

When Computer Ambush finally departs for that cherub-garrisoned VL in the sky, it can expect a star-studded send-off. If Close Combat, X-COM, Commandos, and Men of War aren’t amongst the pallbearers, I’ll be disappointed.

While the majority of his trailblazing contemporaries were focussing on naval skirmishes (limited computing power made wet warfare particularly attractive in the early days of PC wargame design) SSI‘s Ed Williger was bravely attempting to digitize squad-level WW2 urban combat. The result, Computer Ambush (1980), was flawed but breathtaking. Thirty-five years on, fighting your way through the game’s shell-ravaged French town is still a bally exciting business. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why Curved Monitors Aren’t So Crazy

By Jeremy Laird on June 25th, 2015.

click for a bigger version

In a revisionist purge of Stalinist, possibly even Balderickesque, proportions, I deny everything. I definitely did not say that curved LCD screens are an appalling gimmick conceived to exploit our most base consumerist tendencies. Or anything about delicious, plump-breasted pigeons. Not now that I’ve actually seen one, I didn’t. A curved screen, that is. Not a pigeon. I’ve seen those before. That’s not to say curved is the next big thing. But bent isn’t so bad after all. There’s something in this curved malarkey after all- here’s why.
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Why I Love Hidden Object Adventures

By Philippa Warr on June 25th, 2015.

A totally ordinary room

Until my mid 20s I loved doing jigsaw puzzles. It was an act which baffled my sister. She would wander into the living room at Christmas to find me sifting through pieces, sorting them into piles, as Midsomer Murders played on the telly. “It’s a con!” she would yell, hoping to make me see the light. “They took a nice picture, ruined it by chopping it up, and now you’re PAYING THEM to allow you to put it back together WORSE than before.”

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In Conversation: RPS Discusses Her Story

By RPS on June 25th, 2015.

Now that Her Story [official site] is available, Adam, John and Pip have gathered to discuss the structure and plot of the extraordinary FMV crime game. There are spoilers throughout and as much of the game revolves around the secrets and lies surrounding a criminal case, please don’t read on if you haven’t already played. Our spoiler-free review and interview should help you to decide if you do want to play.

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Hitman Interview: “The Aspiration Is To Build The Perfect Hitman Game”

By Philippa Warr on June 25th, 2015.

Front row, obviously. What? No. I'm definitely a fashiopn blogger.

The Hitman [official site] trailer shown at E3 gave a promising tease for a game which is provoking anxiety as well as anticipation. The sentiment I’ve heard echoing through editorials and comment sections boils down to “more Blood Money, less Absolution, please” but IO Interactive’s creative director, Christian Elverdam hopes to marry the best of both games, distilling them to find the essence of Hitman. Eau d’Assassin, perhaps?

“We’re trying to distil the essence of [Hitman],” Elverdam tells me. “We’ve been doing Hitman for fifteen years and we felt we had a chance now to try to build… I wouldn’t say the perfect hitman game, but the aspiration is to build the perfect Hitman game.”

We’re sitting in a little room at the back of the Square Enix booth a little removed from the scrum of the E3 show floor. Elverdam is about to take Agent 47 to a Parisian fashion show in an enormous mansion – possibly an art gallery. It’s at this swanky gathering that you’ll attempt to find a way to take out a gentleman by the name of Viktor Novikov.

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Walking With Dinosaurs: Is Ark: Survival Evolved Good?

By Steven Messner on June 24th, 2015.

On my third night in Ark: Survival Evolved [official site], when the sun had finally set and I was left alone in the seething blackness of the jungle, I saw a glimpse of my possible future. I was chopping trees in the dark, too scared to even light a fire for fear of what the warmth might draw toward me, but as another tree toppled with a groan I spied lights in the valley below. I crept closer. Silhouetted in flickering torchlight towered a tyrannosaurus rex, around which a group of hunters darted back and forth, attacking with spears and arrows. Eventually, they hunters prevailed, and, as they set upon the fallen dinosaur with tools to harvest its meat and hides, I faded back into the jungle and began chopping with renewed purpose.

Ark: Survival Evolved is an early access survival game full of these moments – the kind that fill you with trepidation and excitement in equal measure. But for every moment that adds to the enchantment of surviving on an island teeming with prehistoric life, there are just as many capable of frustrating you. Building on a firm foundation well tread by online survival games, Ark certainly has potential, much of it unrealized, but I can’t help but wonder if the claim of Survival Evolved is just too hyperbolic of a statement to make.

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Impressions: Duelyst

By Marsh Davies on June 24th, 2015.

If this year’s E3 was anything to go by, 2015 may well prove to be the year of the collectible card game. All the big names seemed to have one, but none of them seemed to be able to tell you why theirs was the one you should play. For me, these johnny-come-latelys may have already been rather handily upstaged: none seemed to advertise anything like the ingenuity of the free-to-play Duelyst [official site], with its whip-smart mixture of card play and turnbased tactics, whereby you summon fantastical units to a gridded arena and duke it out until one general falls.

It’s in closed alpha at the moment, and I’ve been really enjoying it – though I feel I’ve barely scratched the surface of the strategies that are possible. Luckily, I’ve been able to pick the ample brains of Counterplay Games’ Keith Lee about Duelyst’s six factions, their varied tactics and the long-term ambitions to use the aggregated wins and losses of players to inform an ongoing epic narrative.

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Come Friendly Bombs: Modding Fallout: New Vegas To Look More Like Fallout 4

By Alec Meer on June 24th, 2015.

This isn’t a guide, because it’s designed to be an open discussion about which other fan-made doohickeys are best bolted onto Fallout: New Vegas while we wait for the more vibrant Fallout 4 [official site] as much as it is my own recommendations. I want you, the veteran connoisseur of a game I skipped over at the time, to tell me and other readers what the must-have FNV mods are. But I’m also going to share a few I’m using, which have dramatically reduced the severity of the post-apocalyptic RPG’s savage ugly-stick beating. They’ve added some of the fidelity and most of all colour that we cooed at in Fallout 4 footage – a game which suggested an altogether more appealing wasteland.

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Beyond The Mat: How To Fix Wrestling Games

By Adam Smith on June 24th, 2015.

2K have finally released all of the DLC for WWE 2K15. Why do I care, you might be wondering, given that I gave the game a bit of a kicking in my review. Primarily, I care because I am too stubborn to stop playing, even though I can’t possibly recommend the game to anyone else. I love wrestling and even though 2K15 doesn’t do most of the interesting things that a wrestling game COULD do, I’m having fun poking around in the Universe mode, pretending to be a booker, organising almighty feuds and pushing my favourite characters to the stars.

Once again, I’ve been thinking about why I want to see wrestling translated into game form successfully. Even if you don’t know WCW from ECW or Goldust from Goldberg, you might be entertained and, hey, maybe you’ll realise there’s something behind all of the babyoil and biceps.

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