Posts Tagged ‘preview’

Hands On: Cities – Skylines

With release less than a month away, Cities: Skylines [official site] could well be creaking under the weight of expectations. 2013’s SimCity left citybuilding fans hungry. Cities XXL didn’t satisfy the pangs, leaving Skylines in the unenviable position of having a ravenous audience in waiting, the majority of whom have already sent a couple of lackluster meals back to the kitchen.

It could be worse, of course. Everyone could have eaten the first dish that was set in front of them and headed for home. Skylines has a captive audience and at the ParadoxCon last week, I had my first chance to take a close look at what it’ll be serving up for them. I played for over an hour, long enough to purchase two extra plots of land and fill them with great looping roads, beachfront residential properties and a couple of graveyards. The signs are very good indeed.

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Hands On: Battlefield Hardline

After a mixed reaction to the beta, including from our own Graham, Battlefield Hardline [official site] is looking to prove that it isn’t simply a reskin of Battlefield 4 with policemen instead of soldiermen. In many ways, it looks like it is going to have trouble shaking that assumption. But in one particular way (a single game mode called Hotwire), it is going to come out fighting. I visited EA to take a look.

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Command, Conquer, Calculate: Act Of Aggression

Following the success of the Wargame series, Act of Aggression [official site] sees Eugen returning to a more traditional form of RTS. Retaining ideas from the studio’s previous Act of War titles, as well as the clever confusion of R.U.S.E., it’s a game that aims to fill the gap left by the disappearance of Commander & Conquer Generals 2. Based on the forty five minutes I’ve spent in its company, I reckon it might be more than capable of filling that gap.

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First Look: Battlefleet Gothic – Armada

The news that an adaptation of Games Workshop’s Battlefleet Gothic was in development made for happy reading last week but solid facts were thin on the ground. We knew that the game would be real-time rather than turn-based, which was cause for concern in some quarters, and that four factions would be available. Now, following a meeting with the developers yesterday, I have all of the details necessary to soothe concerns. Armada is packed with clever ideas and I’ve dissected them below.

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Hands On: Total War – Attila

The last time I wrote a preview of a Total War gameexcluding spin-offs – I was excitable. I wanted nothing more than to go Roamin’ with the Romans across enormous, epic campaigns, and the small slice of the game I played filled me with confidence that the short portion I’d enjoyed was a fitting representation of the eventual end product. I was wrong.

Playing Attila it’s easy to see evidence of a franchise revived, not only by technical fixes but through the insertion of new mechanics that reflect a strong central theme. The early signs are good and there’s a great deal of promise, but this is a game about the end times, and until the full scope of its campaigns can be seen a cautious approach is advisable.

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Magicka 2 Hands On: How To Refine Slapstick Co-Op

I have accidentally killed Peter Cornelius. I have accidentally killed him several times and this has included (but is not limited to) the time that I launched a rock at his head, the time that I electrocuted him and the time that I pushed him off a cliff. On each and every occasion it was an accident and I don’t think I was entirely in control of either my actions or my powers. I am sorry, Peter Cornelius, associate producer on Magicka 2.

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Cities: Skylines – Hope For Heartbroken SimCity Fans?

Last year’s SimCity disappointed me. Beautifully presented, it was nevertheless cramped, buggy, and content to throw thousands of simoleons at me no matter how good or bad I was at my job. It broke my heart a tiny bit. When I heard that Colossal Order were working on Cities: Skylines, I wondered if they might just pick up the pieces. Already experts on making games about transport and infrastructure, their pedigree suggested that Cities: Skylines might just be the civil engineer-cum-defibrillator that I needed to fix everything.

Sitting down to watch Colossal Order CEO Mariina Hallikainen play with a very early build of the game, I found everything remarkably recognisable, perhaps even too familiar. Cities: Skylines looks an awful lot like the the last SimCity and that’s not simply because it demands a floating, eye-of-God perspective and buttons for laying down roads or stretching out industrial estates. Its interface is laid out in a very similar way. Many of the overlays work in a very similar way. I’m immediately reminded of how the Warlock games, also published by Paradox, looked very much like a fantasy mod for Civilization V.

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Hands On: Total War – Arena

Total War: Arena reminds me of Magicka: Wizard Wars, a game that I’m extremely fond of. Wizard Wars took the chaotic elemental combos of Magicka and directed them into a team-based multiplayer showdown. If it had simply been a team deathmatch iteration of Arrowhead’s original concept though, it wouldn’t have captured my attention for quite as long as it did. Arena strikes a similar chord because it presents one aspect of Total War intelligently re-imagined as a short-form multiplayer game that hasn’t forgotten its strategic roots. After an hour of play, I’m eager for more.

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Hands On With Evolve: Where The FPS Meets The MOBA

I was sold on Evolve, convinced by a weekend spent game hunting in October’s Big Alpha. The player numbers seemed to suggest others felt similarly. This is it then, I thought: a high profile title has found approval in alpha and it’s a straight road to release.

However, there was dissent among pundits, forcing me to ponder why some players had rebounded from Evolve, confused by what they found. Turtle Rock have a long history with the Counter-Strike series and created Left 4 Dead. With those credentials, a similar first-person set-up of four friends chasing a fifth controlling a hairy monster should make for an instant connection with players. But there was a contingent who didn’t expect what Evolve was offering. And it turns out, after being dispatched to a Turtle Rock’s studios to play it, neither did I.

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Hands On: The Curious Expedition

The Curious Expedition is a breezy, bright and endearing game about small groups of explorers who head into the unknown to seek golden pyramids and other wonders, natural and man-made. There have been comparisons to FTL, which are understandable but not entirely appropriate. While many of the same elements are included – a journey, a ‘crew’, permadeath, limited resources, randomisation, emergent narrative from minimalist components – but the machine for which those elements are fuel is quite different. Happily, one area in which a direct comparison can be made is quality.

I’ve been playing the alpha and having a splendid time.

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Impressions: Rust’s New Version

As of last month, developers Facepunch (headed by Garry Newman of Garry’s Mod fame) declared that what was previously known as ‘Experimental Mode’ is now the definitive version of Rust. It now launches by default on Steam, with an option to play on the old ‘Legacy’ servers instead if you’re not ready for change. Unfortunately, I don’t think the game’s quite ready itself.

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Hands On With Hyper Light Drifter’s Combat

Stop. Slow down. Hyper Light Drifter‘s cape-wearing main character carries a sword whose swipes and slashes can be performed in rapid succession, but that doesn’t mean you can charge your way through its hunched henchman, skittering spiders or gun-wielding grunts. You’ve got to take your time if you want to go fast, as I’ve learned through playing the game’s Kickstarter preview build.

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Hands On: The Man-Versus-Monster Battles Of Titan Souls

That definitely represents an eye, right?

Presumably calling the game The Legend of Colossus Souls was considered just that little bit too direct. To be fair, naming the obvious inspirations here doesn’t do justice to Titan Souls’ own invention – a combat system which is so simple and taut, yet from which the game conjures a series of elaborate and ever-inventive boss battles.

Originally made for a Ludum Dare competition (you can read Nathan’s impressions of that early version here), Titan Souls has now blossomed into a full game due out early next year. A sprawling, derelict world of overgrown temples, icy rivers and fiery caverns now awaits, and within lurk around two dozen gargantuan foes. It takes the mournful feel and monstrous populace of Shadow of the Colossus, and presents it from the pixellated perspective of the Zelda games of yore. And, as with Dark Souls, you consume the primeval soul of each megabeast you slay. The combat shares that series’ lack of compromise, too: you will die and die again facing each of these monsters, every time getting a bit wiser to their weaknesses, a shade more adept at avoiding their attacks.

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