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Nate Crowley

4 weeks ago

Feature: Yabba dabba don't

ARK: Genesis review

It’s a little-known fact that the “ARK” in “ARK: Survival Evolved” is in fact short for “arsebark”. And that’s fitting, because that’s exactly what its latest DLC, Genesis, is like: a fart. And what a fart. Not an abrupt, spluttering guff, nor an undulating trouser howl that reduces its culprit to ever more contorted grimaces of shame as it continues. No, ARK: Genesis is a…

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1 month ago

Feature: Combat Superannuated, more like

Halo’s NPCs are apparently ageing faster than the game

Good old Halo: Combat Evolved. It's like that one character archetype from American bro comedies, of the guy who's sailing rapidly into his thirties, but can't leave behind his jock glory days and keeps showing up at frat parties, whooping and getting messy-drunk despite not really knowing anyone there. Actually, that might not be an archetype at all - I think it's just the plot…

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Feature: Wasp factory

Have You Played… SimLife: The Genetic Playground?

Back in August, I got most of the way through writing a Have You Played on 1990s’s SimEarth, before coming to the awkward realisation that some of my perceived adventures in that game had actually occurred in another game entirely - 1992’s SimLife, also produced by Maxis. In here’s where I get in really hot water, because it’s hard now to tell what happened in…

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Feature: I photoshopped fast food mascots into WW1 for this article.

An egg-hatched moustache man is crucial to Hearthstone now, and I might be losing my mind

Perhaps understandably, given that it's my job to attempt to stay up to date with PC games these days, I don't get to play all my favourites with quite the same regularity. Usually, that's fine - Civilization VI, for example, is always gonna be Civilization VI. Sometimes, it's even a bit of a boon - I'll return to something like Rimworld after a few months…

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Feature: Medicine is the best laughter

How Two Point Hospital taught me to relax using Freddie Mercury and a load of plants

I played 1997's weirdly named Theme Hospital a fair amount in my teen years, but despite my love of both management games and very silly things, I never got around to playing 2018's spiritual sequel, the equally weirdly named Two Point Hospital. With the game coming to consoles this week, however, I thought now would be a fine moment to dive in and see what…

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Feature: ♬Oh-wo-ho, oh-wo-ho♬

Have You Played… SimCity 2000?

Given that ‘Have You Played’ posts tend towards reminiscence, I find I often end up talking about the music I listened to while playing the games in question. I rarely intend to do this, mind, but it happens nonetheless. The tunes are bycatch: scavengers of the benthic mind, which get caught up in my net whenever I trawl the depths for recollections. And when I…

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Feature: It's good ter see yer agayne

5 near-certain predictions for Hearthstone

There's big news in the draw pile for Hearthstone, apparently. The collectible card game's three-a-year expansion cycle tends to run from April to April, and if last year's timings are anything to go by, we can expect a reveal of the next year's theme, plus an idea of upcoming content, in the next week or so. What's making this a bigger deal than usual is…

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Feature: Crikey

Have You Played… Castle Crashers?

Castle Crashers was, like predecessor Alien Hominid, a beautifully animated, arcady, 2D scrolling beat ‘em up by The Behemoth. It eventually made it to PCs in 2012, although it was out on console in 2008. Curiously, however, I know for sure that I played it in 2007 - I guess it must have been a demo, or something. But good grief, what a vivid memory…

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Feature: Little house on the scary

I used blocks from the new Minecraft snapshot to make a fungal horror shrine

Minecraft's upcoming 1.16 update is going to give the Nether - the game's weirdo hell dimension - a long overdue glow-up. As of this month, Mojang have started trickling 1.16 content into the game via weekly 'snapshot' builds, which can be played in parallel to your main Minecraft installation. Now there's a couple of these available, featuring oddball megamushrooms, eerie blue lights and unappealing pig-goblins,…

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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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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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2 months 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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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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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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