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17

Catching Features: We 3 Kings Of Orienteer

227 responses to Alec’s ‘best in-game maps’ question, and not one mention of Catching Features? Come on RPS readership, pull your socks up. Greg Walker’s running-through-the-woods sim treats cartography the way a good FPS treats weaponry. In it, the humble map transcends its usual ludic role (decorative prop, exploratory fillip, optional realism thickener…) and becomes lynch-pin, raison d’être, Rosetta Stone.

CF is orienteering for the housebound. Select a hand-made or randomly generated venue thick with timber, rocks, hills and hollows,  then, compass and map in hand, run a route within that venue, faster than live or AI opponents.

Should you get lost – and you will regularly until you get into the swing of things –  there’s only one way to get unlost: Compare topography with cartography. Deduce. Test deduction. Find yourself. One half of the game is detective work, the other is strategy. Because tree trunks, swamps and slopes slow runners down, the crow way isn’t always the best way.

With every rock, rise, and track-bend serving as a signpost, it’s tragic every rock, rise, and track-bend is rendered so painfully primitively. If CF had ArmA 2’s sublime spruces and The Hunter’s beauteous butterfly-haunted glades, I’d have recommended its not-particularly-representative-demo  (sadly you don’t get to try the powerful terrain generator) long ago.

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