Posts Tagged ‘games-for-2008’

Games For 2008: Borderlands

When I was a kid any film that featured a large disc of rock, embedded with mystic symbols, that would suddenly release dazzling white light, was perfect. That’s all it took. I’m older now, but importantly, no different. So the Borderlands trailer from December makes me go all stupid.

Moooooottiooooooon bllllllluuurrrrrrrrrrr!

Gearbox seem to have a habit of being brilliant without making a big fuss. After dabbling with the Half-Life franchise, they then became the supply teachers of the gaming world, filling in when developers were off sick, pregnant, or too busy to make their own sequel or add-on pack. But then came Brothers In Arms – their first, eurgh, unique brand, and it was really rather splendid. That’s kept them busy for a while, but oh golly gee whizz look what’s next! Borderlands really does look like it might be spectacular.

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Games For 2008: Prototype

The idea is exactly what we all bay for – free-form play in a destructible urban environment, with gloriously unbound superpowers to flex and smash and crush and speed and ultrajump with. The heritage… well, that’s less compelling. Radical Entertainment’s most recent game, Crash of the Titans, may be nominated for a game writing award of dubious democracy, while The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction and Scarface may be fine examples of Here Is Your Console, Here Is Your Gamepad: Go, Be Violent, but they’ve hardly taken us to incredible new places. I can’t believe this will either, but it should offer superior brain-free fun. In a year shaping up to offer many more cerebral delights, such a presence is to be welcomed.
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Games for 2008: Project Origin

What are little girls made of? Polygons.

While we’ve previously talked about how weren’t exactly impressed with the name they settled on – though we do like the list of close-but-no-cigars, including the immortal Little Miss Bloodshine – the actual whole story behind the change itself remains perhaps the most fascinating of recent times. Publisher keeping the name while the Developer keeps the engine has happened before, of course (with the separate directions the name and the game of Championship Manager went when Sports Interactive and Eidos split), but in this case it seems even more startling.

That the whole game is working under a new name doesn’t seem as shocking when it’s such a pure-mechanic thing as in the now-Football Manager. It’s just a bunch of numbers. The name isn’t a character. But Project Origin is just… F.E.A.R. 2, in any real way we can measure. It’s got all the iconic elements of the first game, including the bloody girl they stuck on the bloody box.
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Games For 2008: Age Of Conan

An MMO in development is like a soufflé made to an improvised recipe. People know which ingredients to include, but what quantity of each, what temperature to cook it at, and how long for? So many come out heavy and inedible, or completely sunk in the middle. Others, well they’re delicious and we can’t stop going back for another bowl. The difficulty is, spotting which will be which before they’re out of the gaming… oh this metaphor has made me want to die.

The wheel metaphor joke thing was actually Jim's joke, John

Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures has so much potential. So much. Source material is key, and Robert Howard’s novels could almost have been written with a computer game in mind. Hardcore, stubby, violent. I’m going to write that Howard invented fantasy fiction, just so people get cross in the comments. Howard invented fantasy fiction. The madman mother’s boy demonstrated a vast amount of historical knowledge, working it into his intense novels, before offing himself in his 30s. So ignoring the utterly abysmal Arnie movie, Funcom – developers of the Longest Journey games, and previous MMO success, Anarchy Online – have a lot of material with which to work.

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Games For 2008: Alan Wake

Ah-haaa! Sorry, wrong Alan.
Well, it’s probably coming out in 2008. Rumours report it looking finished this time a year ago, so hopefully all those additional months are polishing the game up to a glowy sheen. Alan Wake is one of those projects that has rumbled along beneath the gaming radar, without ever revealing much in the way of content or planned release schedules. Nevertheless it’s a significant release: the game that the Max Payne team, Remedy, did next, and a title that Microsoft has pegged as “Vista Only” in an unsubtle attempt to nudge more gamers out of XP and into the latest operating system.

Not only that, but what we have seen of Alan Wake so far suggests it could be a genuinely interesting survival horror, mixing up the action of Max Payne with a freeform world and Resident Evil-style frighteners.

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Games For 2008: Space Siege


Gas Powered Games make mechanical games. Games where story and character are entirely secondary concerns to the underlying weights and balances: Supreme Commander and Dungeon Siege are creations of honed function, not form. These are games that do not understand this human thing you call ‘love.’

It’s a very deliberate methodology, and one to celebrate. It’s quite the rarity these days, a time of graphical plenty, wherein cheap-to-make in-engine cutscenes see so many games overwhelmed by their own self-indulgent, exposition-choked narratives. At least someone’s still aware that you’ve paid your money to play a game.

With Space Siege though, everything changes.
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Games for 2008: Mercenaries 2: World In Flames


Things like this throw me. A sequel of an enormously successful Console game arrives on the PC. What do we presume people know? And how do you best contextualise it. I suppose a little grounding is in order. Out of the first wave of clearly GTA inspired games that were more inspired than just do another crime game, Mercenaries was arguably the finest. Set around playing one of the eponymous soldiers of fortunes, you went on missions in an open world, generally shooting things and causing a frankly disturbing amount of devastation. Its explosions were a bit on the nifty side. It was fun, if disposable – in a “DISPOSE EVERYTHING WITH PYROKENETICS” way. And, generally speaking, this is something I’m glad to see come to the PC. Admitedly, It’s nothing to do with the ancient 8-bit ultraclassic, but don’t hold that against it.
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Games For 2008: Far Cry 2

Despite some rumbling in the games industry jungle about the status of Far Cry 2, we have every reason to believe that this could be one of the finest games of 2008. The team have already shown off some aspects of the open-ended world, reminiscent of Just Cause, Stalker, or those opening islands of the original Far Cry game, and that alone is enough to get my non-linearity glands swollen with anticipation. I think it’s clear that after the various degrees dissatisfaction we’ve all expressed with last year’s batch of shooters, we all need a big, bold, freeform explosion to clear our conscience. Far Cry 2 could well be the game that provides it.
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Games For 2008: Warhammer Online

He's mean, he's gree... kill me.

Two conflicting positions: I have very high hopes for Warhammer Online, and believe it will be a great MMO with fresh ideas, and a unique way of dealing with global conflict. Also: I really worry about Warhammer Online, concerned that by the time it comes out it will have devolved into a very generic WoW clone.

The very first time I saw WAR, back in February 2006, it was more conceptual than physical. They had built a bit of the beginning ground for the Dwarves and Greenskins, and that was just about it. But they had some really exciting ideas. The world of the Games Workshop monolith was going to take some really original approaches to the genre, and the most immediately exciting was the abandoning of levels. Instead they had this fantastic structure in mind that let you micro-manage your character’s skills, picking three at a time and then letting the XP you accrue fill each until it’s complete. This was then broken down into five distinct stages, and, well, it doesn’t exist so it’s not worth explaining. But they were excited about it, and so was I. It’s very telling that the MMO genre seems to have the power to force developers to lose anything that strays too far from the familiar. You’ve got to get a player-base, and if you want them, you’ve got to make it familiar enough. Which means, of course, you’ve got to make it feel like World of Warcraft. Sigh.

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Games For 2008: Spore

Before I discuss the game formerly known as Sim Everything, an anecdote relevant to our recent collapse into the scatological:

I once had a wee next to Will Wright. At a urinal, you understand – I didn’t just stride into his office and evacuate my bladder by his chair. It was at E3, back in 2003, I believe. I’m bad at chit-chat at the best of times, but trying to think of something to say to one of the industry’s finest minds, over the sound of splashing micturition, was impossible. Read the rest of this entry »