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Nate Crowley

20 hours ago

Feature: ♬ For a hill, men would kill, Tigers do not know ♬

I defeated both tigers and my enemy to win my first ranked Age Of Empires 2 game

Last week, after a lifetime of timidity, I finally bit the bullet and played my first competitive ranked game of Age Of Empires 2. Needless to say, I got battered. A big medieval boot stomped my fingers from the first rung of the ranked ladder, and I splashed back into the mire where I belonged. But after a week licking my wounds, practising build orders,…

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1 day ago

Feature: Russia's greatest love machine

Have You Played… Europa Universalis 2?

Europa Universalis II will always be one of my favourite strategy games, even if I don't play it any more because its sequels have improved on it so much. Paradox’s epic map-painting series is one of those dependable few whose each progressive entry gets bigger and better than its predecessor, with the annoying bits ironed out, and the best bits amplified. Still, they’re all pretty…

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3 days ago

Feature: A nice chat with Martin Greip

Among Ripples’ creative director on crayfish, capitalism, and 90s Star Trek

Last week I played the prototype demo of Among Ripples: Shallow Waters, and although it was in fairly basic shape, I was both enthused and touched by it. Enthused, because it proved that tycoon games don’t have to cheerlead for the idea of the natural world existing only to fuel exponential financial growth. And charmed, because it chose European freshwater fish - a lifelong, inherited…

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1 week ago

Feature: Compliments for fishing

Among Ripples is a tycoon game with a conscience – and pike

Well, I didn't expect to nearly burst into tears at the proof-of-concept demo for a management this week, but life is full of surprises, I suppose. The demo in question was for Among Ripples: Shallow Waters, a self-described "eco tycoon sim" slated for release next year, and I've had an eye on it for a while as part of my continuing mission to play as…

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Feature: i think Arbiter is a pretty cool guy

Have You Played… Halo 2?

Halo 2 came out just after I turned 20, and I bought an Xbox to play it. This was a big deal. I’d always been really careful with money, but I’d been living away from home for two years by then, and my discipline was starting to slip. Until that point, buying anything that cost more than £99 had been an agonising, days-long process of…

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Feature: My first ever ranked game!

I’ve decided to get really good at Age Of Empires 2

I've never particularly been one for competitive multiplayer games. I've played the odd bit of Overwatch in recent years, but mostly as a way to hang out with pals, and I quite enjoy the complete anonymity of ranked hearthstone, even though I'm guff at it. But I've always been massively scared to play strategy games against human opponents, in case it ruins the illusion that…

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Feature: Sounds good

Tales From Off-Peak City Volume 1 review

So, let’s be real up front: I was dreading playing Tales From Off-Peak City Volume 1.. For whatever reason, my brain has barely any appetite for unlocking locked doors, solving mysteries, unravelling conspiracies or piecing together intricately implied backstories. A lot of adventure games just ain’t for me, because I’m a brute and a philistine. Added to that, I’ve got an abiding fear of being…

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Feature: piesigknowsis

Have You Played… Wiz ‘N’ Liz?

Crafting systems, like skill trees, are one of those features that have become so trendy that developers have found a way to crowbar them into nearly every type of game. There are good ones - like Minecraft’s seminal tic-tac-toe assembly board, and guff ones - like ARK: Survival Evolved’s, which saw me chewed into winalot by a hell-creek’s-worth of gigapredators again and again as I…

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2 weeks ago

Feature: They are billions (early access city builders, that is)

Surviving The Aftermath… of the early access city builder craze

It’s been three and a half months since Paradox Interactive announced - and simultaneously released into early access - post-apocalyptic city builder Surviving The Aftermath. And while I still haven’t worked out whether I think the game’s experimental development plan was a good idea or not, I can certainly respect how developer Iceflake Studios, and their publisher, are sticking to their guns. And their schedules,…

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Feature: Simply brilliant concepts

10 extremely good ideas for The Sims 5

Happy Birthday the 'The Sims' series! You’re 20 years old today, which means you’re finally old enough to throw an old boot full of soup right at a cop’s head, and be totally immune to prosecution (seriously, it’s true! If you didn’t know about that lil trick, you should try it). You’re also old enough, apparently, to have released an unfeasible number of spinoffs, ports,…

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Feature: It really took off lol

Have You Played… SimCopter?

When 3D engines started becoming more prevalent in the mid-90s, a feature that should have taken off way more than it did was the idea of switching from a top-down management/building game, to a first-person view where you could tour your work at ground level. 1997’s Dungeon Keeper is probably the best example of this, with its charming ‘possession’ feature, but to me, 1996’s SimCopter…

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3 weeks ago

Feature: m o r e t o p p i n g s

Have You Played… Logical Journey Of The Zoombinis?

There are, these days, far too many games to play. Well, there were always too many games to play. But only since the advent of digital distribution, have their numbers so wildly and obviously exceeded my capacity to get through them all. If I’ve heard of a game, the odds are I can have it on my PC in as little as a couple of…

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4 weeks ago

Feature: The Cowboy will speak directly to you

True facts about beans: further cowboy adventures in Red Dead Redemption 2

All good things must come to an end. Fortunately for our souls, this maxim also applies to the adventures of disgusting Cowboys. After beasting herons, strangling cops, and drowning in swamps during what became the very darkest segment of the RPS Christmas livestream, it was finally time to hang up my snake-wrecking boots, drink my last tin of poorly-preserved, lukewarm peaches, and log out of…

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Feature: This city is a tar pit and I’m drowning in it

A strangling spree in Saint Denis – more adventures in Red Dead Redemption 2

Smash cut to: the vile, spluttering face of the Cowboy, who is drowning in a swamp. As his strength gives out and his legs stop kicking, those craggy features slip at last below the surface, turning sepia in the murk before vanishing entirely. A shaking hand, still crusted with alligator blood, claws for the sky as it follows him under. Then he is gone. His…

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1 month ago

Feature: “Nate, ur treating that alligator horribly”

Annihilating animals in Red Dead Redemption 2 – a video adventure

Just before Christmas, the RPS Treehouse got together for a marathon livestream to raise money for the British Red Cross. There was a Nidhogg tournament, a session of Blindfolded Hitman 2, and even a thrilling bout of competitive MS Paint. My role in all of this, however, was a bit more… rustic. I was summoned from my homestead in the Wild West Midlands, armed only…

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Feature: Aloy there, friend!

5 reasons I’m desperate for Horizon Zero Dawn on PC

I was feeling a bit out of touch yesterday. Games Twitter was alight with loud opinions on Cyberpunk 2077 getting delayed until September, like a jungle full of cartoon animals reacting to the death of some kind of games Mufasa, but I didn’t really care. I worried that maybe I didn’t care enough about big important games any more. Then around 11pm, I read the…

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Feature: Nailed it

The Deep End: a Final Fantasy nightmare – Part 2: Complete Success

As some of you will no doubt remember, when I joined this site I made a promise: that by the end of 2019, I would complete the game so good its subtitle comes before its series title: Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. Well guess what? I did it! With just half an hour to go until midnight on December 31, I hung up my bustus…

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Feature: And why tapirs are the best

How Planet Zoo narrowed 2 million animals down to 76

When Noah was faced with the task of stocking the ark, it was a fairly simple business: “two of everything, mate, and don’t bother with the unicorns.” In fact, considering Noah was most likely a hapless Bronze Age farmer trying to survive a regional flood, it was probably even simpler. The situation more likely boiled down to “as many goats as you can force on…

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2 months ago

Feature: Yurin trouble

Have You Played… Yuri’s Revenge?

Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 was a desperately silly game. In fact, looking back at it now, with the benefit of twenty years’ hindsight, one might go so far as to call it an embarrassingly puerile game, what with its FMV cutscenes that always felt one slip of a PVC soviet uniform away from being cheap porn, and its one-note humour based solely on…

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Feature: That's him! He's the Detective!

Frog Detective 2: The Case of the Invisible Wizard review

Usually while playing a game for review, if a particular feeling or opinion grows large enough, I snip it off at the stem like a ripe courgette, and chuck it into the back of my head for safekeeping. As I continue, part of my brain keeps rifling through the growing pile of observation-veg, noting which ones stay fresh even as I see more of the…

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