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Nate Crowley

2 weeks ago

Feature: You will die to a sickly ape

Hearthstone’s Battlegrounds mode is a weaponised jumble sale

"Right then," snarls a puce-faced ogre of a man, after drinking the last crumbs from a bag of roast beef Monster Munch, "the dog or the spoon?". And sure enough, there in front of him, on the battered plasterer's table that serves as his desk, is a blurrily-painted porcelain dog statuette, and a bent tablespoon. If you give the big man a quid, he'll throw…

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Feature: Nothing but contempt for oysters.

Meet the 7 weirdest dwarves in the history of Dwarf Fortress

In case you weren't aware, I've started a brand new Dwarf Fortress diary series, which I kicked off with a fortress-founding video featuring Tarn Adams, the game's lovable dad. This series concerns the fortress of Inkrose: a settlement founded by seven religious fanatics, intent on living by a set of incredibly impractical commandments which I sourced from the capricious dwellers of the Kitfox Dwarf Fortress…

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Feature: All Copper Are Beautifuls

Let’s hear it for copper, Minecraft’s best new block

This afternoon, I've been mucking about with Minecraft's new 20w45a snapshot, which introduces the first tranche of goodies from the upcoming Cliffs & Caves update. And since closing the game, I've been sat here for a long hour, trying to think of something original or enlightening to say about it. It's not the game's fault. Last week was a heavy week, and I'm cooked. Cooked…

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Feature: *That's* how mafia works

Preview: Empire Of Sin is a seamless blend of four different gangster games

There are two, pretty obvious, factors by which I judge strategy games: how immediately satisfying they are to play, and how well that satisfaction holds up in the long run. Success in the first respect is often a trade-off for success in the second, as the things that dazzle on day one become dulled by the cumulative effect of small design problems. It's hard, then,…

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3 weeks ago

Feature: Wacky Fun!

Hearthstone’s Duels mode is like a bleak knife fight with an omnipotent clown

You're naked, in the desert, with a grubby carrier bag at your feet. "What's inside?" reads a note taped to it, in jaunty comic sans beneath a Hearthstone logo. You are just crouching to look, when you hear rustling. Ten paces away, an emaciated, dog-eyed wreck of a man is rummaging through a bag of his own, and you are struck with the sudden, brutal…

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Feature: The Tarn Commandments

The Tarn Commandments: playing Dwarf Fortress with new rules set by its sadistic community

Once upon a time, seven dwarves set out into the jungle with the simple dream of constructing an underground chimp jail. You can't write sentences like that about most games. But in the context of Dwarf Fortress, the legendary world simulator under permanent construction by programmer Tarn Adams and his brother Zach, it is a perfectly reasonable statement. Dwarf Fortress is my favourite game. And…

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Feature: (via a fictional drunk man)

A photo tour of London’s best landmarks in Watch Dogs: Legion

Right then you muppets. I bet you've heard all sorts of old rubbish about London town in Watch Dogs Legion, 'aven't you? You've probably got yer knickers in a right twist over how faithfully it recreates the UK capital, and how totally facked it is. Well don't you worry no more, sunshine. The name's Ronald McNationalism, hardest bloke in DedSec, and I'm going to take…

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4 weeks ago

Feature: Crisis On Infinite Geezers

Does Watch Dogs Legion contain a single NPC I could bear to hang out with?

As you'll probably know by now, Watch Dogs Legion's big boast is its "play as anyone" feature, where you can recruit and subsequently play as any one of nine million procedurally generated Londoners. As I done said in my review, it works as advertised... sort of. The level of simulation is dead impressive, and can lead to some interesting situations. But it leads to a…

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Feature: ♫ Open the door, get on the deck, everybody stab a snakeman's neck ♫

Have You Played… Deep Sky Derelicts?

Deep Sky Derelicts is a dungeon crawling game about people rummaging through crumbling old space wreckage for loot, and getting into fights resolved by playing cards in a JRPG-style fight between two sets of gits. There's a sort-of-deck-building mechanic where your set of cards is determined by what gear you have, and people either tend to really like that, or really not like it. Mostly…

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Feature: Hackneyed

Watch Dogs Legion review

Diane Ganguly is a totally ordinary Londoner; one of the nine million NPCs who put the “Legion” in Watch Dogs Legion, since they can all be recruited and made playable. She’s a talent agent in her early thirties, with a pet owl, an anti-immigration voting record, and a history of going to furry conventions. As I said, totally ordinary. Until now, that is. Underground hacker…

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1 month ago

Feature: The incredible sculk

v1.17 Minecraft is getting even more complicated. However: axolotls.

So, as you might already know, there is another big Minecraft update on the way - version 1.17, a.k.a "Caves & Cliffs". As the name suggests, it's going to be focusing on the underground (with a lesser focus on mountains and such), and that's welcome news for long-time players. Especially since the Nether, Minecraft's weirdo hell dimension, got a makeover in version 1.16, it's become…

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Feature: A smorgasbord

The ten-minute indie games of the 10mg collection reviewed in ten minutes each

Here's a free tip for you, if you keep fish - you're probably feeding them too much. Small fish, like guppies and tetras, might have big appetites, but they only have little tummies, so they prefer to eat little and often. Now: what if... video games?. There is a new indie dev collective called 10mg - named, I assume, after a small amount of... some…

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Feature: The 'phant 'em menace

Ships in the knight: an Age Of Empires 2 match report

I've not posted about Age Of Empires 2 in a while, because there's been a lot of other things on, but I'm still plugging away with it - I start each day with a quick random match against the AI to keep my hand in, and once a week or so, I dare to enter the adrenaline-soaked APM hell of ranked multiplayer. I lose more…

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Feature: Get Rexx'd

Fight your dad and befriend a bear in the new Hearthstone single player content

I was always fairly lukewarm on the lore behind Blizzard's Warcraft games, if I'm honest. It seemed to be a case of "all shoulderpads and no substance", and I couldn't get why it gripped people so much. But then I got into Hearthstone. For whatever reason, the card game's take on the Warcraftiverse, which somehow manages to ascend to an even higher plateau of camp…

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Feature: Devil's in the details

Have You Played… Lucifer’s Atoms?

It makes me a little bit sad sometimes, when I play something absolutely fascinating that also happens to have barely any chance of getting the recognition it deserves. These games aren't confined to obscurity because of the ol' David & Goliath narrative of plucky indies and all-powerful AAA ogres, but because they seem to be made without a care for mass market appeal. Lucifer's Atoms,…

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Feature: Rebel Savescum

Partisans 1941 review

Valya, my sniper and occasional medic, kicks things off. Having chloroformed a sentry, she's now sat snug in his position, with a great view of the SS officer commanding the checkpoint. Crack - her rifle (it's our only decent one) fires, and his head bursts. On the other side of the position, Captain Zorin leaps from a bush preceded by a hurled knife, under the…

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Feature: I ship it

Space Crew review

When three-man studio Runner Duck released management-tactics game Bomber Crew in 2017, it was rightly praised for turning the "move people around the parts of a large vehicle in an ever-increasing state of panic" aspect of roguelite classic FTL into a whole game. Followup Space Crew takes the action back into space. And while there's a superficial level of similarity to FTL, with reactor power…

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2 months ago

Feature: For a few spaceships more

Star Wars: Squadrons review

My opinion of Star Wars: Squadrons is all over the place. I was excited when it was announced, as I'd been yearning for a proper Star Wars flight sim for years. But then I reined in my expectations, because my bland triple-A release sense was tingling. I played a few hours of Squadrons as soon as it launched, and finished my session feeling a bit…

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Feature: The ol' snipple snapple

Have You Played… Sea Salt?

My mate Greg is one of those people who's phenomenally gentle and kind-hearted, but has a surprisingly brutal taste in media. He introduced me to a big chunk of the metal bands I listen to, and loves films with plenty of fights. I remember as teenagers, we spent an impossibly hot summer's day watching Gangs Of New York, then roaring Daniel Day Lewis quotes at…

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Feature: Get into the screaming spaceship

Star Wars: Squadrons pays more homage to TIE Fighter than it had to

My first mission in Star Wars: Squadrons (which I shall now call Squadwarns for the sake of ease), saw me jumping into a TIE fighter to have a nose around a big asteroidy space dock thing, looking for refugees from the recently-burst planet of Alderaan. My space boss reckoned those refugees might be hiding in cargo transports, so he told me to scan some cargo…

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