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Nate Crowley

2 months ago

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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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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3 months ago

Feature: An extremely serious article

Local Co-op for Halo on PC: answers at last

Ever since the Master Chief Collection was announced for PC back in March, fans have been clamouring for the Xbox version’s classic split screen local co-op to be included in the PC port. But so far, it seems they’ve had no luck. In a Reddit AMA at the time, 343 Industries’ community director Brian “ske7ch” Jarrard said it was a “tricky” issue, and that 343…

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Feature: Elephants never forget... to kill

Have You Played… Age Of Empires 2?

Well, this is awkward. On the same day I discovered nobody had written a Have You Played for Diablo, I discovered another end-of-the-90s banger that, somehow, remained unreminisced-upon. That game was Age Of Empires 2 (the Age… of Kings!), and I felt like a vulture who’d just found a wheelbarrow full of burgers at the heart of a lifeless desert. So many classics to feast…

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Feature: It's french for "skeleton"

Have You Played… Diablo?

So here I am, ctrl-f’ing my way through the 1,200-deep list of games we’ve covered in this column, beginning to feel like this is the real dungeon crawl, when I find the treasure at the bottom of the crypt: nobody’s written about Diablo. Bloody Diablo. As I realise it’s free for me to write about, the memories spring back like a set of enchanted rags,…

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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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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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4 months 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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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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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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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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