Posts Tagged ‘hands on’

Hands-On: A Few Hours With Dirty Bomb

Rhino, right, can hold off a team single-handed once his Gatling gun spins up, but you can always get Arty, left, to drop an airstrike on him. Assuming Proxy, centre, doesn't slap a remotely detonated bomb on his caboodle.

I managed to get hopelessly lost on my way to last week’s Dirty Bomb [Steam page] event, squirrelled away in the trendy thicket of London’s Old Truman Brewery. Annoying? Yes. Fitting? Absolutely. Splash Damage has a multitude of demons to slay with its latest spin on Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory – the ever-controversial choice of a free-to-play model, the spectre of Brink, its previous stab at a new IP – but the most fearsome of these demons is surely London itself. London, a city that’s actually a bunch of medieval villages mashed into each other, where roads designed for horses struggle to find room for buses and Range Rovers. London, a metropolis blown half to bits during World War 2, then mutated into absurd, glittering shapes by overseas investors. London, where heading a mile downriver feels like setting foot on a different planet.

You couldn’t ask for a less elegant setting for a multiplayer FPS in the Team Fortress vein, where a single sightline askew can be the difference between enjoyment and fury, but the studio has done a bang-up job. In fact, one of this formidable, comfortable shooter’s greatest strengths is how it chisels readable warrens of coverspots, overlooks and chokepoints out of the capital’s beguiling weirdness. London is everywhere in Dirty Bomb, from its red letterboxes to the graceful arches of Waterloo Station, but unlike the reality, it’s seldom inconvenient. It never gets in your way.

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Hands-On: Job Simulator On Valve’s Vive VR Headset

The Vive overwhelmed me when I first tried it at GDC, but after playing through Valve’s hand-picked demos for a general sense of the VR headset, I went back for a second time to play more of Job Simulator [official site]. Of the game-like experiences I’ve had with the device, it was the best – better even than Valve’s own Portal 2 vignette.

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Hands On: Aer

I can only imagine the sighs that must have emanated from all working on Aer [official site] when Ubisoft’s Grow Home was released last month. Not because the two games play alike – the similarities are only slight. But wow, do they look the same. The polygonal design of both renders gorgeous green foliage against cerulean skies, growing on floating islands. Aer, of course, has been around since late 2013, while Grow Home was announced then released within the same few weeks. Were Aer due to release soon, its thunder could have been considerably stolen. So it’s perhaps oddly fortunate that the flying/exploring adventure isn’t out until 2016.

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Hands On: Jenny LeClue – Detectivú

Last year saw the extremely pretty pitch for adventure Jenny LeClue [official site] perform rather well on Kickstarter. Aiming for $65k, they finished with a whopping $105,797. And they also broke new ground by setting a realistic release date! December of 2016. In fact, they’re looking likely to beat that by quite some months, maybe even close to a year. And in order to demonstrate how far they’ve come already, a short demo version of a portion of the game has been created, and will soon be released into the wild. I had an early peek at it last week, and am delighted to report it’s looking really rather good.

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Hands On: Gathering Sky

Gathering Sky (nee Apsis) [official site] is an extremely simple game to play. You guide at first a single bird, then two, then many, through a collection of levels. That’s it. While there are things with which you can interact, there are no particular goals, no puzzles to solve, no targets to reach. And yet I sat compelled as I played almost the whole game in one sitting.

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Hands On: The Flock

We’ve been keeping an eye on multiplayer thriller The Flock [official site] for a couple of years now. Now we’ve finally played it. Good news! It’s really rather good.

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Hands On: SteamWorld Heist

SteamWorld Dig was a surprise joy in 2013. Released first on the Nintendo 3DS, then latterly to Steam, it was a side-scrolling rogue-lite mining platformer, which turned out to be a superb combination of elements. If you haven’t played it, dear me, you ought. Developers Image & Form more recently announced their follow-up game, set in the same universe of water-seeking robots, SteamWorld Heist [official site]. This time it’s a side-scrolling turn-based space explorer, part XCOM, part Gunpoint. You can’t accuse them of resting on their laurels. I’ve had a play of one of Heist’s levels, and it’s looking like they’ve created a turn-based combat even a great big dolt like me can enjoy.

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Ladykiller In A Bind: Hands On

Christine Love’s games have always existed to be the antithesis of something. And where Digital: A Love Story and Analogue: A Hate Story were an antithesis to typical visual novels, her next game, Ladykiller In A Bind [official site], is shaping up to be the antithesis to dating games. With a fascinating approach to dialogue, and a genuine desire to make you feel both turned on and uncomfortable, it’s already looking rather extraordinary.

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Hands On: Megaton Rainfall

Blowing shit up is a lot of fun. It’s an enormous amount of fun, in fact, which makes it strange that it’s so rarely offered in gaming. Destructible environments must be a royal pain in the arse for so many not to include them, meaning we need to hark back to the Red Faction series to remember the last time it was properly enjoyable. Step forward Megaton Rainfall [official site], which offers literally worlds filled with cities to damage. All in the name of thwarting an alien attack, obviously. I’ve had a play, and can confirm it’s looking like something pretty special.

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Hands On: Firewatch

If you’ve already seen the Firewatch [official site] footage Alec posted last week, then you’ve seen what I’ve played. (Sort of. It’s hard to imagine how someone could have played it quite so weirdly, missing out almost all of the best lines, ignoring lots of the things to do). Of course, watching and playing are rarely the same experience. And this is already something pretty special to play.

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Hands On: Magicka 2

The first time I killed one of my teammates, it was an accident. The second time may have been an accident as well. The third time was definitely deliberate and after that, the relationship was one of mutual murdering.

Magicka 2 [official site] is a brilliant, challenging cooperative game about killing your friends.

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First Look: Guild Wars 2 – Heart of Thorns

Well, hello there!

Guild Wars 2 [official site] launched with a promise – to fix MMOs. Strident, attention-grabbing, patently doomed schtick that was nevertheless suffused with just enough gosh-shucks-darn-it-I-want-to-see-them-try zest to make it a journey worth tracking. That was two years ago.

The mission met with mixed results, as lead designer Isaiah Cartwright admitted to me when we spoke in Brighton during a hands-on with the game’s first expansion, Heart of Thorns. We were among the first to play the expansion and all of the details are below.

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Hands On: Hearts Of Iron IV

Hearts of Iron [official site] is my Moby Dick. I’ve spent an inordinate portion of my adult life playing grand strategy games, particularly those of the Paradox variety. I’m slightly unusual in that Europa Universalis wasn’t my gateway game – I entered the fold by means of the first Crusader Kings, which swiftly became one of my favourite games, despite its problems. From there I moved to Europa Universalis II and struggled to infiltrate the colonial powers of Victoria. It wasn’t until the sequel that I learned to enjoy the nineteenth century.

Hearts of Iron IV might finally bring me into the heart of the twentieth century.

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