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Nate Crowley

3 days ago

Feature: "I hate Mondays"

Garfield Kart Furious Racing review

I cannot say, in truth, that I played Garfield Kart Furious Racing. In the plainest terms, I would say I participated in it: I offered my own myopic contribution, alongside millions of others, to form the baroque gestalt of the work as a whole. Because GKFR, you see, is a collaborative effort - directed, certainly, by its developers at Artefacts Studio, but only comprehensible as…

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Feature: Stop hogging the game

Planet Zoo is, temporarily, a game about mass-producing knackered warthogs

Something has... gone wrong with Planet Zoo. I think it'll be fixed easily enough, possibly even today, and I'm still having fun with it as it is. But, in the game's franchise mode at least, the promise of "build your own zoo, with whatever you like in it" has quietly been phased out for "in the grim darkness of the international animal trade, there is…

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7 days ago

Feature: Bigger than before

Age Of Empires 2 Definitive Edition review

Age Of Empires 2 is, as far as I’m concerned, the greatest real-time strategy game of all time. And with the release of Age Of Empires 2 Definitive Edition, it’s… well, it’s still that. But now, there’s a lot more of it. It’s brilliant. Still, virtually every design decision its quality rests on was made twenty years ago, and what few changes have been to…

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2 weeks ago

Feature: Beware negative splendor

Crusader Kings 3 is basically a Game of Thrones RPG in disguise

The Crusader Kings franchise has always had a massive Game of Thrones vibe. Indeed, the first two games in the series got their own Westeros mods, and our own Adam Smith called CK2’s “such a blindingly obvious combination of worlds and mechanics that it simply had to exist”. Now, however, looking into the new dynasty mechanics for Crusader Kings 3, it’s clear what Paradox are…

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Feature: Beast mode

Planet Zoo review

Planet Zoo is a game where you can build your own zoo. It’s buggy, intermittently opaque, frequently saccharine, and - barring an eleventh hour miracle - it’s my undisputed game of the year. Because here’s the thing: it’s a game where you can build your own zoo. And by thunder, it delivers on that promise. Usually, by the time I review a game - especially…

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3 weeks ago

Feature: Built in a day, etc, etc

Imperator: Rome is getting proper story campaigns – and elephant husbandry logistics

When Imperator: Rome was released in April this year, I really enjoyed it. My colleague Ghoastus absolutely loved it. To be honest, both of us were happy with it as it was. Nevertheless, in response to a good deal of player roaring on launch, Paradox have been working hell for leather to rebuild whole sections of the game, and after two big free patches, we're…

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4 weeks ago

Feature: Bad day for the squidmen

In the new Stellaris expansion, you can turn your home planet into a bomb

One of my favourite tropes in Science Fiction is aliens whose cultures are built around some hangover from the time before they made it to the stars. Take the Kelpiens from Star Trek: Discovery, whose existence is dominated by the inbuilt anxiety that comes from having once been prey species. Or Iain M Banks’s Idirans, the “top monster on a whole planetful of monsters'”, who…

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Feature: When you're king, there are no bad ideas

In Crusader Kings 3, character is everything

Crusader Kings 2 isn’t the easiest game to define. It mixes Paradox’s grand strategy formula with a big bucket of RPG flavour, creating something that’s just as playable as an emergent storytelling toy as it is as a wargame. Crusader Kings 3, its freshly-announced sequel, has this same mix of ingredients. But from what we’ve seen so far, it looks like it might just have…

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1 month ago

Prison Architect will bring an embiggened Psych Ward to PC in November

Prison Architect will bring an expanded version of its Psych Ward update to PC on November 21st as DLC, following its release on consoles back in distant 2017. Produced by UK studio Double Eleven, who have been working on the game since Paradox bought it from creators Introversion in January, it's the first proper paid DLC for Prison Architect on PC. What's more, it's going…

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Feature: Best start believing in feudal dynastic struggles: you're in one

Crusader Kings 3 is happening: here’s ten things we know so far

A few minutes ago, Crusader Kings 3 was announced at PDXCon in Berlin, with an actual choir of hooded figures, and this splendidly grim trailer. Predecessor Crusader Kings 2 is still going strong after nearly eight years, with its last expansion launched last November, but now it's time for that old warhorse to be put to pasture. Or perhaps become pope. Either way, it's free…

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Surviving The Aftermath is out in early access today

PDXCON, Paradox Interactive's convention in Berlin, just kicked off its announcement show with the news that Surviving The Aftermath, the post-apocalyptic colony manager announced last week, s out in early access today. Despite its name, and the fact it's a survival-based settlement builder, it's not got much in common with last year's Surviving Mars, and is being produced by a different team, Finnish studio Iceflake.

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Feature: Fear the fists of King Beef

Space Dracula vs King Beef: 5 very silly RimWorld scenarios

Since colony sim RimWorld left early access at the start of the year, it hasn’t changed. And that’s fine. It can be hard to remember, when so many sandbox-type games are constantly having new content shovelled into them like coal into a furnace, that games sometimes just… get finished. Still, when you’re used to coming back to a game and falling in love with it…

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Feature: No claws for concern

I took medical speed and played Deadliest Catch: The Game

It’s only when night falls, the sun like a pool of something molten yet cold on the grey horizon, that I realise just how alone I am on the boat. It’s just me, attended by a silent retinue of winches, hooks, scratched plastic tubs and battered steel tables. And then, beyond the chipped paint of the gunwales, the infinite ocean. It’s a perfect arena for…

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2 months ago

Feature: The absurdity of work

Clowns, dog food and Christmas Miracles: the secret history of Wilmot’s Warehouse

You might not be surprised to learn that Wilmot’s Warehouse, the charming object-categorisation game we’ve been banging on about this month, was inspired by (wait for it) working in a warehouse. Co-creator Richard Hogg worked in warehouses for Asda and Boots in his teens, before moving on to work for a film stills library after graduating. “I loved that job,” he recalls, wistfully. “In fact,…

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Feature: I AM THE ELECTRIC POSEIDON

Ecosystem has burst my mind, and you could be playing it right now

I had a bunch of other things to write about today, but I’ve shoved it all aside because my PC just reinvented the concept of fish, and you need to know about it. This isn’t just an “ooh, this looks interesting” post; I’ve got proper weird street evangelist excitement about what I’ve just been playing, and I simply have to share it. It’s not a…

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Feature: The real loot was the friends we made along the way

Borderlands 3 review

Twenty hours into Borderlands 3, in the jungle-drowned innards of a crashed starship, Moze finally opened up. Until that point, we only knew she was a war lass with a big mech. During a bit of scripted mission patter about awkward names, however, she revealed she was born Moserah Hayussinian Yan-Lun al-Amir Andreyevna, and we thought we were going to learn another precious fact about…

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Feature: This is your brain on Wilmot

Wilmot’s Warehouse review

For the first three and a half billion years of its history, life on earth was fairly dull. It was, essentially, a load of little blobs mucking around in a great big sea. But then, five hundred million years ago, the Cambrian Explosion happened. Despite its name, it was not a sick wrestling move, but a sudden evolutionary riot, in which life diversified into a…

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Feature: Caskmaster

Have You Played… Barrels?

It’s taken me years to realise the first videogame I ever played was a rip-off; a lacklustre, store-brand facsimile of someone else’s idea. The game was called Barrels, and it was a janky clone of 1981’s Donkey Kong, made by a company called Spa (apocryphally Software Production Associates) for the RM Nimbus. The Nimbus was the digital workhorse for UK schools in the late 80s,…

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3 months ago

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