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Alec Meer

2 months ago

Feature: Hindsight is 20/20

8 things I wish I’d known about Dead Cells before I played Dead Cells for dozens of hours

I've been away for a few weeks - NOT THAT YOU NOTICED - and my poison of choice during that time was the release version of Dead Cells. This Metroidvania/roguelike hybrid ticks pretty much every box I've got going, leaving my former flames The Binding of Isaac, Hollow Knight and Slay The Spire suddenly abandoned. Like all the best 'vanias, Dead Cells doesn't tell you…

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Tropico 6 moves to next year, looks a lot like a Tropico game

Sure, sure, Tropico games are about as indistinguishable from each other as the founding staff of a PC games website circa 2007, but I can forgive that. There's just something about their sun-kissed, low-stakes, silly-but-not-too-silly take on city-building. Every couple of years I really feel the itch to comfort-blanket myself with one, and lo and behold, every couple of years there's a new one. That…

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Feature: XCOM to JA2's X-COM

So it turns out Jagged Alliance: Rage is not-terrible

Y'know what? I don't hate it. Which, after 19 years of hurt (the remarkable JA2 mod scene aside), is happy progress for once-beloved turn-based mercenary combat series Jagged Alliance. There's a whole mess of things wrong with newly-announced latest comeback-apparent Jagged Alliance: Rage, but a few hours with early code has me thinking there's a lot right with its core.

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Jagged Alliance returns again again with ‘Rage’ (not that one)

The ranks of the Jagged Alliance series, with its myriad sequels, remakes, expansion packs, mods-gone-pro, cancelled MMOs and unofficial spin-offs, rival only the So Solid Crew in terms of headspinning numbers and impossible-to-remember names. After a frankly turgid couple of decades, it's back once again for the one-time king of turn-based mercenary argy-bargy. Can Jagged Alliance: Rage score the Arnie-does-X-COM series a critical and/or commercial…

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3 months ago

Shadow Of The Tomb Raider has a hub city, granular difficulty and a certain complex

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the climbing stuff and stealing stuff and pushing giant stone cogwheels water, here comes another shark with 'EXTREMELY SERIOUS ORIGIN STORY' carved into its hide. Shadow Of The Tomb Raider threatens to complete a birth-of-badass-Lara tale we've already heard twice over, but there's good news for those of us for whom there was never…

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Feature: Early access review

Clicker Heroes 2 wants to be so much more than a clicker game – and that’s the problem

Clicker Heroes 2 marks the point that clicker games - y'know, the ones all about making numbers go ever-higher with a minimum of interaction - encroach so far into action-RPG territory that I'm not sure I'll ever be able to play a Diablolike again. The illusion is shattered; the pretence that I play hacker-slashers for any reason beyond numerical embiggening ripped away. Clicker Heroes 2…

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How not to be a villain, with LEGO DC Super-Villains

LEGO DC Super-Villains, TT Games' latest plundering of the Danish toy-chest, seems pretty determined to be That Suicide Squad Trailer Everyone Liked: The Game. Which is to say, bug-eyed mischief-making, faux-fanzine stylings and wall-to-wall Harley Quinn, whether you like it or not. Only, y'know, for kids. The game's been singing for its supper at the just-begun San Diego Comic Con, showing off the villains vs…

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Bethesda’s Todd Howard isn’t keen to remaster Morrowind

I'm getting pretty burned-out on remastered vintage videogames, partly because they're ten-a-penny now and partly because PC graphics settings and mods mean it's often straightforward to make a golden oldie look better than ever. There's one notable exception to that for me, which is Elder Scrolls series peak Morrowind. Its spindly world of shroom'n'insects'n'ash'n'gonzo weirdness is seared onto my memory forever, but in 2018 it…

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Maximum Sadness: Crysis multiplayer is facing the axe

"Will it run Crysis?" was an oft-expressed anxiety of mid-noughties PC gaming, but here in the chaotic end-times of 2018 we're faced with a new one: "Crysis can't run Crysis." Come October, there'll be no more multiplayer nanosuit shenanigans: Crytek are shutting the online component of Crysis down, apparently because the playerbase is just too dang small to make life support worthwhile. Singleplayer isn't going…

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Feature: A solid and tense card-battler, but not even slightly insane

Insane Robots review

Insane Robots is a hybrid card game/roguelite that truly believes it's wacky and zany and kerrayzee, in the manner of a middle-aged insurance salesman who kicks back by wearing a t-shirt reading "I'm bonkers, me!" while manning his six-burner gas barbecue with temperature gauge, modular hotplate and removable drip tray. Just don't make eye contact, yeah? It is, however, an entirely proficient game of turn-based…

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Baldur’s Gate lead says Bye-o-Ware after 22 years

1998's Dungeons & Dragons adaptation Baldur's Gate wasn't BioWare's first game, but it was the one that really made the KOTOR and Mass Effect studio's name. These days they're making shooty-bang games for EA, so it's hard not to feel that Baldur's Gate lead designer James Ohlen parting ways with the uber-studio marks a chapter closing and an new one beginning. D&D is Ohlen's one…

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Feature: Hands on with the backer beta

The Bard’s Tale IV is a rough but compelling take on first-person puzzle-dungeons

I'll be frank: The Bard's Tale IV looks like what I'd expect to see if I found a DVD-ROM from 2005 with 'Legend of Fantasy: Mages & Goblins' scrawled on it. My every instinct, after the first few minutes with it, was to run screaming from its Bratz doll faces and onslaught of fol-de-rol. Books, covers and all that, though: underneath its soupy presentation, the first few hours…

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4 months ago

What happened when we ran England – Croatia through Football Manager 2018 ten times

Tomorrow heralds the most heart-stopping moment in English national football since John Barnes bravely claimed to know how to rap. England face Croatia in the World Cup semi-final; if they win, they make the finals. If they lose, nobody sings that Lightning Seeds song for at least another two years. It's win-win! But which will it be? The answer lies in science. Or the closest…

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Feature: Harder, faster, birds-eyier, sandboxier

Our 10 favourite BattleTech mods

Turn-based giant mech argy-bargy BattleTech doesn't officially support mods, but it doesn't officially not support mods either. Though we're denied the ease of clicking a 'subscribe' icon in the Steam Workshop, that ol'Nexus is littered with smart and ridiculous remixes of BattleTech's ten-storey war songs. For the time being, most aesthetic overhauls are ruled out - a great shame, as I'd love to see more…

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Feature: Return of the king, or nostalgia gone too far?

Microsoft Classic Intellimouse review: A noughties comeback

Nostalgia for utilitarian late-90s/early noughties PC accessories: truly, this is the darkest timeline. And I am its villain, for it was I who felt a tingle of absurd fondness when Katharine announced that the Microsoft Classic Intellimouse, a physically almost identical remake of the Windows gang's once-ubiquitous USB mouse, had arrived atop her trembling tower of plastic and cabling. It was I who proffered the…

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The 100 best-selling games on Steam in 2018 so far

We've just passed the half-way point of 2018, so Ian Gatekeeper and all his fabulously wealthy chums over at Valve have revealed which hundred games have sold best on Steam over the past six months. It's a list dominated by pre-2018 names, to be frank, a great many of which you'll be expected, but there are a few surprises in there. 2018 releases Jurassic World…

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FYI free clicker game AdVenture Capitalist is still a going concern, so I took a look at it and OH NO

Three years ago, I was consumed by - I don't say this lightly - an addiction to AdVenture Capitalist, one of those clicker aka idle games that briefly ate all our minds. After a few months watching static backdrops generate pretend money when I should have been earning real money, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and ejected in self-disgust. I figured…

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Feature: Mayors, tycoons, farmers, wardens, despots and demons

The 20 best management games on PC

Base-building is de rigueur these days, what with all those survival games, Minecraft, Fallout 4 and now Fortnite, but before all that we had tiny top-down or isometric worlds in which we diligently built cities and dungeons and theme parks and rail networks. The central appeal of management games was and is that they give us an idealised sense of what it is like to…

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The nightmare visions of recreating England coach Gareth Southgate in Football Manager 18

Foot-to-ball is returning to its origin! A trio of lethal predators on a jersey!   Į̵̢̻̪͚̗̲͔̗̱͐̿̒͜͜ͅͅT̷̞͎̦̣̪̹̮̩̞̥͔̾̇̓̈́̔̕͜ͅ'̵͇̲̮͔͔̰͖͙̫̭̗͉͓̅̀̃̊͊̔̓͊̕͝͝͝ͅS̷̢̧͍͕͓̠͎̖̝̤̉͋́̄̇̈̿͆̓̕ ̶̦̥̽̄̇̌C̵̡̛̰̱͚̻̮͇̖̉͗̓̋͆Ơ̷̮̱̪̮̘̹̍M̷̛̰͚̹̓̓̀͛̊͋͋̈́̃̓͘͝I̸͚͚͍̬̱̹̺̼̿́̂̊̍̈́̕͝N̴̰͉̹̻͊̏̔̈́͒G̴̝̓̌͊̇̅̂̈́̾̉̕ ̵̯̭͕̺̍H̴͖͎̩̝̤͙͔̹͔̹̀̍́̈͂̄̑̌͑ͅO̷͖̠͉̜̹̯͖̮͠ͅM̵̧̞̯̱̫̣̫̅́̎̂̈́̈͑͜͝Ę̷͖̟̪̬͙̟̭͕̂̐   And what better way to celebrate England's passage into the World Cup quarter-finals than recreating soon-to-be knight of the realm Gareth Southgate within Foot-to-ball Manager 2018? Something... something is very wrong.

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