Meet Von FrankenDoom: Viktor

OH NO! A WORLD DIVIDED INTO TWO REALMS

The realms are at peace, which is a good thing, but one of them is called ‘The Netherworld’, which doesn’t bode well. It’s a sinister name and no doubt the Netherworld is much like Earth’s Netherlands, all terrifying tulips, wicked windmills and baroque bicycles. Turns out the leader of the Netherlands is a chap called Mephistopheles and he enjoys piloting aircraft and participating in lengthy ice skating tours. As for the Netherworld, the ruler there goes by the name Willem-Alexander Claus George Ferdinand and he’s preparing to lay siege to the Overworld. In the upcoming side-on action-adventure Viktor, the titular hero must evade deadly traps, defeat enemies and confront monstrous bosses in order to crush Willem-Alexander Claus George Ferdinand.

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Interview: Kicking The Tyres Of GRID Autosport

Race Driver GRID still stands as a benchmark for racing games. Way back in 2008 it drove a path between sim and arcade, offering powerful, weighted cars in a structure that was approachable and accessible.

GRID 2 skidded off that path. It pushed too far into accessibility and bundled weak handling with a tedious structure. Now GRID Autosport is out at the end of June – barely a year after GRID 2 – and it comes with a promise of going back to the magic of 2008, but leaning even further to the “sim” side. Being an avid sim racer, I caught up with Clive Moody (Senior Executive Producer) and James Nicholson (Chief Game Designer) to talk in-depth about tyre simulation, ride heights, commanding teammates in endurance races and more.

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CTF WTF: Titanfall Cuts Game Modes From PC Version

This is what happens every time I quit the game.

When Titanfall came out back in March, I recommended it mostly on the strength of its Capture the Flag mode. I now retract that recommendation. Developers Respawn Entertainment have removed the ability to play both Capture the Flag and Pilot Hunter modes on PC, except through the Variety option (which picks your mode at random) or Private Match beta (which pretty much requires that you have eleven friends all waiting to play with you).

In other words: two months after release, they’ve removed the main thing I liked from a game which costs, via EA’s Origin, £45.

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Wot I Think: Transistor

Transistor is a phenomenal thing in places. Just tremendous. Sometimes overwhelming in its cleverness and subtlety. It had me on the verge of tears from both laughter and a creeping, ever-constricting stranglehold on my heart, and a talking sword (given life by the sultry tones of Bastion narrator Logan Cunningham) was responsible for most of it. This is a very different story from Bastion, arguably a much more personal one. It is, however, also a more natural progression from the latter’s painterly walk on sunshine than its dusky cyberpunk setting might suggest.

All that said, Transistor is a strong tale and a very good game. But it could’ve been much better. Here’s wot I think.

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Early Access Is The Path To The King’s Bounty: Dark Side

If the battle isn't taking place inside a clothing accessory, I don't want to know.

It was only last week that I was regaling friends with Alec’s King’s Bounty story about fighting and dying inside his own magical belt. Of course, I didn’t say it was Alec’s story when I was telling it, claiming it instead as my own. I also make videogames, you know.

Now might be your chance to claim your own stories of accessory-based battles and death. King’s Bounty: Dark Side, the latest still-not-a-proper-sequel in the wandering RPG series has just launched into Early Access.

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To Arms Brothers! Space Hulk Adds Co-op

He who stands with me shall be my brother.

Shhh! Read this in silence. If Alec catches wind of it, he’ll start babbling “Space Hulk Space Hulk Hulk Space Spulk Hace Spalk Ace Ace Ace Ace” all over again, his face flitting between ecstasy and agony, and we’ve only just got him settled since the last Space Hulk news. Shhh. Quietly round up a few battle brothers and let them know that Space Hulk’s long-promised co-op has arrived in a new patch today. Actually it’s a cooperative-competitive mode, pitting several Space Marines against one Genestealer.

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Firaxis On How Civ: Beyond Earth Really Isn’t Alpha Centauri

Someone’s finally making an Alpha Centauri successor! Kinda. Civilization: Beyond Earth takes Sid Meier’s famed turn-based strategy series (that Sid Meier only kinda works on these days) and flings it into the stars like a colonial frisbee. I got to play a little at a recent 2K preview event, but not enough to render much of a verdict other than, “I really want to see more than just the first 50 turns,” “The affinity system is neat,” “Roaming alien creatures that may or may not attack add great tension,” and “Discovering this universe will be really cool the first few times, but I doubt that part will hold up 5 or 10 games in.” It also kinda feels a lot like Civilization V at the moment, but again, I only got to play the early parts of a match.  

Afterward, I stuck around and had a nice chat with co-lead (yes, co-lead) designers Will Miller and David McDonough, and we talked about why Beyond Earth really isn’t Alpha Centauri II at all, why Firaxis decided against making a direct successor to Alpha Centauri, striking a balance between old-school Civ and more “dramatic” games like Civilization Revolution, games shaping history/culture, mod support, and massive man-made brain monsters that look like jello molds. 

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Hands On: Dreamfall Chapters

Dreamfall Chapters opens with a series of nightmares, wasting no time before informing the player of the high stakes and gravity of its multi-threaded plot. It’s a personal story, of family and sacrifice, but the potential consequences are cosmic. In truth, it’s not a single story at all, it’s a collection of stories within stories and about stories, taking the disparate worlds of The Longest Journey and weaving a larger tapestry. I’ve played the first three hours and found something quite different to the point and click adventure I was expecting.

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GOG Looking Into Its Own, Better Early Access

It is the year 2014, and the concept of Early Access has gone from outlier to institution. I’m hardly even surprised anymore when a game is announced one day and then I can play it the next. I can only imagine that Super Early Access will come next, with developers sending us napkin doodles and hastily scrawled out brainstorms they had while on the toilet. For now, though, the likes of Steam and Desura may soon have some company. GOG seems to have come down with its own case of alphamania, though it’s utterly adamant that it plans on doing things The GOG Way.

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Damn & Blazkowicz: Wolfenstein New Order PC Tech Issues

Update – I’ve borrowed on oldish GeForce and the game’s now running fine. Definitely primarily an AMD incompatibility, presumably at driver level.

What time is it? It’s WHINY MOANY GRIPEY O’CLOCK, that’s what goddamn time it is. I’d hoped to have made decent inroads into Wolfenstein: The New Sequel* by now, but no PC code was available before release, and post-release the thing’s all but unplayable on my system, even on its lowest settings. I’m not alone in this, but while troubles are reported on a myriad of systems, AMD-ATI graphics card users have been hit particularly hard. I even bought a Radeon R290 yesterday for the express purposes of this and Watch Dogs, but I’m looking at 10-20 FPS most of the time. It does spike to 40 on occasion, but not often or consistently enough to enjoy the experience. Even the Bethesda and Machine Games logos at the start play like a cellphone video from 2004. At least I’m not suffering from the crashes to desktop that many others have reported.

A few possible performance aids are below, but they haven’t helped me.
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Monster Mash? Combat Mission: Red Thunder Demo Out

Tanks for the hilarious pun, you wit you.

You’ve read Tim Stone’s battle reports from Combat Mission: Red Thunder. You’ve studied his strategies, his tactics, his strengths, weaknesses, personality, most-played songs, favourite biscuit, childhood pets, sleeping habits, teenage LiveJournal, and the contents of his bins. You’re ready for this. You can do this, we all know you can. The demo is out for Red Thunder and by Jove, you’ll out-war that ruddy Tim Stone.

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Free Thinking: POP Methodology Experiment One

The video just below the break will probably tell you all you need to know about POP Methodology Experiment One. In fact, you probably don’t need to go that far because the title is something of a giveaway, isn’t it? It’s a far cry from WarGun and a fairly good indicator of what you’re letting yourself in for when you download the game. And you can do that, for free, by opting into the self-proclaimed ‘Greenlight Bribery Scheme‘. Vote for the game on Greenlight and receive a Humble gift code. Simple. A mutual scratching of backs and greasing of wheels. As the POP One website states, “Vote for POP on Greenlight immediately and help secure Valve’s grasp on the industry!” DO IT NOW.

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Alienware: Steam Machine Will Be Our ‘Least Profitable’ Ever

I find it interesting how Valve both is and isn’t investing a lot of time and precious, precious GabeNcoins into its Steam Machine initiative. On one hand, this is the PC juggernaut’s plan to bull-rush through the living room’s console-lined walls and play jump rope with the entrails of enemies within, but on the other Valve is hedging its bets as cautiously as possible. It’s letting countless hardware manufacturers take the risk on building and distributing these things, and it’s hoping audiences will give them some clue as to what they should do after that. It’s not a terrible strategy by any means. It’s just a very Valve-centric one. Hardware manufacturers like Alienware, then, are worried, even as they place utmost faith in Valve’s time-proven ability to prime penniless pumps until money cascades out like a Biblical flood.

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