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The RPS Bargain Bucket: Otherwise Engaged

Since the rest of the hivemind have absconded to comrade Walker’s wedding, I’ve taken responsiblity for getting this posted, but it’s actually my Savy-minions Will and Tony who put together this week’s bargain bucket. I’m too busy playing games and drinking all the free tea I want (press perks!) at the Eurogamer Expo. I shall leave you in their capable hands:

We’re always a bit nervous when we’re given the reins of the Bucket. This weekend is a busy one for the world of RPS, as the staff split their time between their love for videogames at Eurogamer Expo and their love for one another at John’s wedding, and so any grave mistakes we make might not be noticed for a couple of days. We decided that to keep any craziness at a minimum, we’d stick with tradition. It might be a silly outdated practice, but at least when we screw up, we can blame the past-people who started the traditions in the first place. For more of our stick-in-the-mud ways, don’t forget to visit SavyGamer.

Something old: DnD classics – ~£22.38/~€25.64/$34.61 (or ~£2.58/~€2.96/$3.99
If you just want to jump in on the heavy hitters, you’d be forgiven – for $12 you can get Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale, and Planescape: Torment, and there’s a hefty chunk of game in there. And that’s without Neverwinter Nights. Or, hey, all the other games in the bundle. It still pales in comparison to tabletop DnD, of course, but you can’t rustle up a few friends and a chestful of miniatures and dice in the time it takes to load.

“Planescape often feels like the world’s biggest choose-your-own-adventure book,” said Kieron in his retrospective. “Planescape Torment looks at the videogame, understands its structure, realizes what’s laughable and notable about it… and then takes it as far as the developers were able. It’s even got a gleeful, intelligent post-modern edge.”

Something new: Serious Sam: BFE preorder – £21.59/~€24.74/~$33.39 (with coupon EGROCKS)
Croteam had me worried for a second – the footage of Sam using his iron sights and sprinting in a war-torn non-specific Middle Eastern city, while getting jam on his face, had me thinking they were taking notes from the po-faced blockbuster Modern Warfare: Evil Foreigners franchise. It all seemed a bit too… sober. Thankfully, it looks they were mostly poking fun and are more interested in the simple pleasures of shooting large guns at larger enemies out in the open, preferably around pyramids. The scaling co-op mode will allow you and fifteen of your closest cannon and shotgun wielding friends to play through the campaign, which can only mean an awful lot of headless screaming kamikaze enemies to shoot. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

Something borrowed: OnLive full PlayPass – £1
OnLive has just launched in the UK, and as a result they’re offering your first game for a pound. You probably already have a strongly-held opinion about OnLive already, but while you’ll need an above-average connection to play pretty much anything, with this offer applying to any title from their library (including Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Mafia II, and STALKER) you could come out of this very well.

Something blue: Sega Collector Pack – £59.99/€74.99/$79.99
Sega have splashed their iconic mascot all over Steam for this weekend, as well as what seems to be every one of their other games you’d want to play as well. If you don’t want to plump for the entire pack, there’s more than a few gems in there that I’d recommend picking and mixing, especially the criminally underrated Sonic 3D Blast (yes, really). There’s also a Dreamcast collection available for cheaps.

Deal of the week
The cake: Alpha Protocol – £1.50/€2/$2
‘The Espionage RPG’ promised under the Alpha Protocol logo is a misleading boast. You will – as agent Michael Thorton – travel around the world, gather intel and uncover conspiracies. However, you seem to have attended the same ‘violence of varying volumes’ spy school as James Bond and will spend your time introducing men to bullets or karate chops. This is a spy game where stealth is, at best, a different kind of combat.

The AI dances from hilariously inept to infuriatingly superhuman – you are just as likely to be able to walk up to an enemy and be blankly stared at as you are to get your head blown off by a distant marksman who instantly knows where you are simply because he is facing the same general direction as you.

So why is this worth playing? There’s a genuine feeling of altering the game through your actions. You can customise the guns you carry and how you look, which is great for facial hair enthusiasts, but more interesting is how much of your game is defined by your choices.

Everything you do seems to have rewards and consequences, the chop or shoot choice above is ultimately a different way to make an obstacle-man lie down for you but how you approach the action will effect how you spec your character. This is also true for your relationships. The conversation system allows you to alter how you are regarded, shift allegiances and even change the fate of characters in surprising ways – I found it far more enjoyable than any of the action. As John said:

Conversations are another highlight, and a significant one, since there are hundreds. How you choose to conduct yourself, picking a mood in which you want to reply while the other character is speaking, defines how you get on with people. This can have minor impacts, such as changing a perk you might receive depending upon their feelings about you. Or major impacts such as determining who will be willing to help you out, send in reinforcements, or provide you with necessary details.

Alpha Protocol has interesting ideas and real possibilities for player interaction but botches most of the basics. It’s buggy, often infuriating and occasionally down-right broken but you should still buy it. Why? Scope, ambition and beards.

Also of note:
Company of Heroes Complete Pack – £5.39/€4.99/$9.99
In deciding to emphasise individual squads of units over the resource management meat-grinder of the traditional RTS, Relic drew the player into atmospheric and believable World War 2 France, made every battle for every metre matter and revitalised the tired setting and genre.

Dawn of
War II Complete Pack
– £24.99/€28.63/~$38.65 (Registers on Steam)
The Relic once again reinvent the RTS, taking lessons from the first Dawn of War and Company of Heroes to create a squad and hero based RTS concentrating on tactics and cover, completely immersed in the enjoyably bonkers Warhammer 40k universe.

To make sure you’re up to date with all the best deals, don’t forget to hit up SavyGamer.

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Lewie Procter


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