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Fraser Brown

10 hours ago

Feature: Low-pressure area

Mellowing out with management games

My body betrayed me last month, trapping me in my bed when it wasn’t sending me rushing to my poor, overworked loo. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t work and so I turned to management games to take my mind off the virus squatting inside me. Juggling budgets, disasters and production chains might not sound particularly relaxing, but there’s also a swathe of low-pressure sims that…

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3 days ago

Feature: Sloth Marines

Space Hulk: Tactics review

In the last five years alone, there have been four video game adaptations of the Warhammer 40,000 spin-off, Space Hulk. Plenty of chances to get it right, you’d think, though the first three attempts suggest otherwise. And here comes Space Hulk: Tactics, once again throwing gruesome Genestealers against stompy Terminators in derelict spaceship corridors. It’s not quite a combo-breaker, but it gets very close.

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Feature: Get Lit

Premature Evaluation: The Light Keeps Us Safe

The Light Keeps Us Safe works terrible magic with its cacophony of disquieting machine noises. Each new killer robot emits yet another nails-on-chalkboard screech that will bounce around in your head long after you’ve fled from their clutches. They’re the sounds of factories and dial-up internet and error messages warped and twisted and remixed inside metal demons. Normally they’re just grating, but here, in moonlit…

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1 week ago

Feature: Latin beats

Going to war in Imperator: Rome means convincing the Senate

Watching all of Imperator: Rome’s wars, trade deals and politicking play out is a lot like viewing a highlight reel of Paradox’s current generation of grand strategy epics. The upcoming strategy game has Crusader King 2’s detailed characters, Europa Universalis 4’s broad national scope, Victoria 2’s demographics and even Hearts of Iron 4’s wargame sensibilities, all transposed to the world of antiquity. It's the latter…

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Feature: Fish friends

Megaquarium review

Megaquarium's off-screen fish scientists had just unlocked some eels, and they seemed like just what my aquarium needed to draw in the big crowds. Sure, I had some guests, seduced by the promise of clean floors, well-stocked vending machines and at least three types of fish, but I lacked the kind of big-ticket item that put aquariums on the map. So excited was I to…

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Feature: Live, die, repeat

The 20 best survival games on PC

We’ve been battered by wave after wave of survival romps since Minecraft popularised the genre, with its deadly nights and groaning zombies, almost a decade ago. In its wake, we've been introduced to a cavalcade of punishing, persistent environments intent on putting us in an early grave. The masochistic impulse to put ourselves through the wringer for entertainment has spread to RPGs, management games, cosmic…

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Feature: Droning on

Premature Evaluation: Nimbatus

I've been doing a lot of tinkering recently. Endless iterations of death-dealing drones, flying factories, huge robotic worms and automated weapon platforms - I've lost count of all my experiments in destruction. Nimbatus’ drone editor is a complex, liberating tool where patient engineers can craft a bewildering array of exotic, inventive machines. Then a giant snake blows them up. When my massive artillery drone -…

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2 weeks ago

Feature: For graphics, weapons, the UI and more.

Best Fallout 4 Mods

Now that Fallout 4 is in its third year and the DLC has dried up, is there any point in returning to the Commonwealth Wasteland? Yes! There are loads, largely thanks to the still-growing list of mods, overhauls and user tweaks. Here, I’ve gathered over 50 of my favourites, ranging from weird weapons to wild weather. Before we start, a couple of things to remember:…

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Feature: Hats off

Premature Evaluation: Parkasaurus

Premature Evaluation is the column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s been given the keys to Parkasaurus, the goofy dinosaur theme park sim. The real tragedy at the centre of the Jurassic Park movies is that, no matter how many times they escape the park and kill their captors, the dinosaurs are never free of humans for very long.…

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3 weeks ago

Feature: Chilling charts

Steam Charts: Prematurely Spooky Edition

It’s Halloween (month)! I don’t know about you lovely lot, but there’s nothing I find more spooky or chilling than charts detailing what the most popular video games are in a given week. That's me, Fraser, filling in for John who is on holiday. A terrifying holiday, I bet.

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1 month ago

Feature: Thicker than water

Premature Evaluation – Dying Light: Bad Blood

The sound of an explosion and a huge burst of flame sends me sprinting for cover. The attack wasn’t directed at me, it turns out. One of my fellow survivors had walked into a hive of zombies and he was chargrilling them. I stay hidden behind a van and watch him duke it out. We’re both after the same thing: blood samples that will allow…

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Feature: Nuggets of wisdom

Premature Evaluation: The Universim

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser has donned the mantle of ‘deity’ in The Universim. It’s a god sim with more than a hint of Spore and good old Populous. The big bang starts with a click. From that press of a button a brand new cosmos springs to life - a huge…

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2 months ago

Feature: Health kick

Premature Evaluation: Scum

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s trying to lead a healthier, happier life in Scum, the multiplayer survival sim. Scum’s wall of data is mesmerising. From the moment I arrived on the island, every spare second, and even seconds I couldn’t spare, was dedicated to staring at it. The readings and statistics told…

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Feature: Searching for an RPG

Premature Evaluation – Olorun: Theocracy

Douglas Hammer, or Doug if you want to be informal, was a blacksmith. None of that sword-waving, monster-slaying malarky for ol’ Doug, no thank you. Nominative determinism may have played a role, but it was mostly the money. There isn’t safer, steadier work in a fantasy RPG. As long as everyone keeps being scared of monsters, they’ll be wanting sharp weapons and solid armour. When…

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Feature: Break the chain

Premature Evaluation: Blockchain Tycoon

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s delving into the confusing world of cryptocurrencies in Blockchain Tycoon. What is a blockchain? Why are people mining them? Are there tiny digital pickaxes? A lot of questions need to be answered. Blockchain Tycoon has been designed with an eye towards realism, apparently, and while I’m a…

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Feature: A dating sim that's also a convincing tabletop RPG

Monster Prom turned me into a high school asshole

I had some regrets. I’d sabotaged my friend’s chances of dating a stoner ghost, relentlessly mocked another friend until they gave up on love entirely, and trashed the school. As Monster Prom built up to its titular, hormone-soaked event, I turned into a high school asshole. With a gentle touch, the not-really-a-dating-sim nudges you into these familiar roles, and by framing it as a multiplayer…

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Feature: Welcome to the baby factory

Premature Evaluation: Cro Magnon

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s been placed in charge of a tiny prehistoric tribe in deadly Stone Age survival management game, Cro Magnon. Manhome isn’t much of a village, just a ring of knackered tents that provides shelter for a small tribe of hunter-gatherers. The latest fad is fire, and a small…

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Feature: Spice kills - quit now

Star Traders: Frontiers review

Star Traders: Frontiers is a huge stellar sandbox with an evolving galaxy that moves forward with or without you. It’s liberating, not being on the hook for every little problem. As a free-wheeling captain, you can ingratiate yourself with the most important galactic players, becoming embroiled in the highest level of politics, or you can just enjoy the life of a scoundrel, smuggling and stealing…

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Feature: More ore

Premature Evaluation: MoonQuest

MoonQuest was definitely lying to me. It assured me that what I was looking at was a horse, but I’ve seen a few horses before and I’m pretty sure none of them looked like alien llama-giraffe-monsters. The name tag hung there, daring me to question it. OK, I thought, I’ll suspend my disbelief. I jumped on the supposed horse, wondering if I might be able…

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3 months ago

Feature: Aliens like Plunkbat too

Premature Evaluation – Islands of Nyne: Battle Royale

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s getting hunted down by streamers in Islands of Nyne: Battle Royale. It's a sci-fi FPS in a lovely alien theme park that also happens to be a massive murder arena full of angry supersoldiers. Islands of Nyne bills itself as a battle royale for the competitive crowd…

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