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Edwin Evans-Thirlwell

5 months ago

Feature: From the makers of Planet Coaster

Planet Zoo is a promising zoo game and an exhilarating philosophical nightmare

They say you should never ask how the sausage is made, but in the case of Frontier's Planet Zoo, knowing how the game's creatures were created makes all the difference. Specifically, it's the difference between two kinds of game. On the one hand, a handsome, top-down management sim in which players breed and nurture pleasingly unruly animals for the delight and education of a rosy-cheeked…

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7 months ago

Feature: A hex of one's own

Age of Wonders: Planetfall is about building empires in the ruins of an empire

Did you ever read about the Ship of Theseus? I'm sure you have – the RPS community is, after all, a bastion of scholarly insight, where people can write about things like digital museums and heraldic devices and attract comments like “actually, Liu Bei's supposed Han ancestry has minimal DNA basis and I'll thank you to use the Harvard referencing system”. But on the off…

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Feature: Don't Attila me

These are the Total War team’s favourite ever Total War factions

According to an ancient Sussex proverb, there are as many factions in the 20-year-old Total War series as there are sand grains on a beach, as there are angels dancing upon the head of a pin, as there are grenadiers in the armies of his Imperial Majesty Napoleon I, Emperor of the French, King of Italy, Protector of the Confederation of the Rhine, Co-Prince of…

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8 months ago

Feature: Bulls in a China shop

Three hours in Total War: Three Kingdoms, the first Total War soap opera

Once about people in the aggregate, Total War is increasingly a series about the antics of individuals. There's something of the slippage from RTS to MOBA in how Creative Assembly has edged towards a more intimate breed of strategy, built around asymmetrical relationships between overdressed oddballs rather than mere economic considerations or the splash of army on army. Total Warhammer is the obvious play-maker there,…

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9 months ago

Feature: Edwin some, lose some

Edwin Evans-Thirlwell’s 5 best games of 2018

If my 2018 was the year “of” anything, it was surely the year of knowing your place. The games I've picked out in hindsight are united by the idea of understanding how you fit into a complex world - appreciating the intricacy of the variables and relationships that surround every given moment, whether your overall aim be to subdue them or just survive them. That…

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10 months ago

Feature: Lunar logic

Outlast 2’s moon and the end of time

What's your favourite moon in a game? The lipless satellite of The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, perhaps? Overwatch's rather cosy lunar map? Somebody asked me this a few weeks ago -- genuinely, we'd been talking about First Man -- and to my surprise I found myself thinking of Outlast 2. There is little about Red Barrels' schlocky, prurient first-person horror outing that deserves real…

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1 year ago

Feature: All work and some play

The Suicide of Rachel Foster asks “What if Firewatch, but also The Shining?”

Midway through totemic 80s skin-crawler The Shining there's a scene where Jack Nicholson's disheveled caretaker, scouring the Overlook Hotel for the antidote to writer's block, stumbles on a scale model of the hedge maze his wife and son are exploring outside. He glares down at it (Nicholson's eyebrows really deserve an Oscar apiece) and the film cuts to a slow zoom from above, showing us…

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Feature: Dinner and a Movie of the Three Kingdoms

Total War: Three Kingdoms’ battle tactics are old hat, but its espionage has promise

“Spearmen before archers,” I mutter to myself, as the Gamescom build for Creative Assembly's Total War: Three Kingdoms spins up. “Spearmen before archers.” In 20 years of playing Total War games set everywhere and when, from feudal Japan to medieval Europe, that magic mantra has never steered me wrong: it's the equivalent of “i before e except in c”, or “always hit the treasure chest…

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Feature: From malevolent wizards to climate change

How Six Ages and King of Dragon Pass explore the politics of myth

It wasn't till some way into development of Six Ages: Ride Like The Wind that designer David Dunham realised he was making a game about climate change. Like its 19-year-old predecessor, the seminal King of Dragon Pass, Six Ages is set in Glorantha, a fantasy universe originally cooked up by Greg Stafford, and sees you raising a community in the wilds after being expelled from…

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Feature: Yakety yak, Heat attack.

Yakuza 0 review

Many games are defined by the amassing of wealth but few take such an unseemly, predatory relish in the idea as Yakuza 0. The first of Sega's Japanese crime epics to appear on PC, it's an orgy of late 80s materialism in which you don't merely earn cash by defeating opponents but punch it out of their bodies - banknotes blasting from collars and shirt…

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Feature: But is it Artyom

Metro Exodus is a far cry from the tunnel shooter we knew

I didn't realise how much I'd missed Metro's ball bearing rifle till I spent two hours with Metro Exodus, the third in 4A Games' cult series of post-Soviet, post-apocalyptic shooters. Goodness, that rifle. The sheer delight of cranking its Super Soaker handle. The vicious snap of escaping air when you pull the trigger. The rush to make the most of those few seconds of maximum…

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Feature: Suppressive fire

Battlefield V interview: dodging the lootbox question, and why battle royale “would really fit the universe”

I came away from my Battlefield V first look surprisingly ready for another tour of the Western front - prosthetic-armed Cockneys and all - but with a number of nagging questions. Firstly, how exactly is EA DICE approaching monetisation right now, in the wake of the uproar over Star Wars: Battlefront 2's rubbish launch-day microtransactions? I was treated to an hour-long presentation on the game's…

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Feature: Squads and ends

Battlefield V is about making friends, building forts and daily chores

World War 2 has broken out once again as EA DICE heads back to the 1940s with Battlefield V, a theoretically safe sequel with some curious, and possibly divisive, ideas at its core. After the thematic reset that was Battlefield 1 I wasn't expecting much from this year's instalment of the long-running shooter series – class tweaks, new period accessories and still-higher fidelity explosions, all…

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Feature: Croft in transit

Shadow of the Tomb Raider appears to be beautiful but a little vacuous

In the course of 45 minutes with Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Lara Croft gatecrashes a fiesta, scales a cliff, wrestles an eel, levels a temple, steals a magic dagger, murders a bunch of dudes in Mariachi skullpaint and drowns a city after triggering the apocalypse. That's quite the evening's work, especially if you factor in all the times I accidentally impaled her on rebars,…

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2 years ago

Feature: Witcher's Brew

Kingdom Come – Deliverance review

“Elder Scrolls without the magic,” is the elevator pitch for Warhorse's historical RPG Kingdom Come: Deliverance, but magic is a relative term - it all depends on what you're used to. The game's stringent recreation of alchemy may seem downright paranormal, for example, if you're used to the streamlined, fire-and-forget approach of a game like Skyrim. Given how many dungeons, dragons and mages RPGs tend…

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Feature: Attack the Block

Surviving Mars is stranger than it seems

The cubes are black, and shiny, and mobile. They hover in a neat, impossible stack outside one of my colony's larger domes, clicking delicately about one another, always returning to the same overall shape, harming nobody. My robot rovers form a cautious circle around them while my scientists scratch their heads and bicker. I look at the cubes, one of the many Mysteries of Haemimont's…

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Feature: Tomb it may convern

Warhammer II’s Tomb Kings are a defensive juggernaut

If you've ever come back from holiday to find that your flatmates/children/parents have flooded the kitchen/dyed the cat blue/thrown out all your original Jethro Tull LPs, then spare a thought for the Tomb Kings, Total War: Warhammer II's first all-new DLC faction. Once upon a time, they ruled a pseudo-Ancient Egyptian empire in which scholars quested for the secret to eternal youth and tyrants went…

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Feature: Including Sanik

Edwin Evans-Thirlwell’s favourite games of 2017

We asked a handful of our contributors to put together a list of their three favourite games from 2017. Their picks are running across the week while the rest of RPS slumbers. I've been thinking about time a lot recently - how we create and manipulate histories and the present in video games and in general - so you'll forgive me if my end-of-year choices…

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Feature: Tool of destruction

How Wolfenstein: The New Colossus takes the white dudebro hero apart

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is a shooter that often feels at odds with its own protagonist, the worn-out vanilla action hero who is somehow the heart of a neurodiverse, multi-ethnic cast of socialist firebrands, civil rights campaigners, pacifists, lapsed jazz maestros and rabid UFO chasers. At first glance, it has a lot to say in spite of BJ Blazkowicz rather than through him, its…

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