Author Archive

Wot I Think: Mighty No. 9

The problem for most new studios is making anyone pay attention. Comcept, founded by ex-Capcom developer Keiji Inafune, has had no such issues – and the studio’s kickstarter for Mighty No. 9 [official site], a spiritual heir to the Mega Man series Inafune co-created and stewarded through its greatest years, blasted past expectations. Comcept raised just under $4 million to make this game in 2013 and, following several delays, have delivered what the fans wanted. Or so you might think.

Read the rest of this entry »

How Darkest Dungeon Drove Me To Despair

People have called me a maniac for my gaming habits, but they know nothing. When I discover something new it becomes – for a day, a week, maybe months – an obsession that devours time. It helps to be a freelancer of course but it always happened anyway: when Resident Evil 4 came out I used to walk home in my lunch hour just to get 20 minutes in. When Darkest Dungeon [official site] was released I couldn’t get enough but, over many hours, it has gradually driven me away – in a manner so fitting it must have been intended.

Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: Devil May Cry 4 – Special Edition

As the mighty PC strides into the future, a choice faces the great console developers. Support the biggest and most powerful platform on the planet or miss out on sales: seems like an easy decision, but the results can be questionable. When considering Capcom’s Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition [official site], for example, exhibit A would be DMC4’s original PC port in 2008, a straight-from-console affair that could only be controlled with a pad. Great game plus great hardware doesn’t always equal great experience. So, with the Special Edition now launched, does this devil finally get his due?

Read the rest of this entry »

Ultra Street Fighter IV’s Long Road To Becoming The World’s Greatest Fighting Game

A month or so ago there was a Capcom weekend on Steam, where some of the publisher’s finest cuts were free to play for a few days. Out of curiosity as to whether my old 360 arcade stick would work with it I downloaded Ultra Street Fighter IV [official site]. I have a long history with Street Fighter IV and thought I knew what to expect – but the World Warriors blew me away again, and that once-dusty stick is now part of the furniture. Here’s why.

Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: Chroma Squad

Children are fickle creatures, and today’s craze is tomorrow’s landfill. One of my earliest memories is of mum trying to convince me that He-Man was much cooler than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and, despite there only being one of him, that he could easily take them in a fight. I stubbornly refused to accept this reasoning, my painstakingly-accumulated He-Man collection was on the scrapheap, and the poor parents had to start buying TMNT toys instead.

Now that the children of the 80s and 90s are adults, something funny but predictable has happened. Everything old is new again, reborn or rebooted to try and bring our inner child back – and so we come to Chroma Squad [official site], the greatest Power Rangers game there never was.

Read the rest of this entry »

What Heroes of the Dorm Means For Blizzard And Esports

Blizzard’s upcoming Heroes of the Storm [official site] is, in my humble opinion, a belter of a game. Such praise is small beer to the Californian mega-developer, however, which with HotS and the upcoming Overwatch intends to reclaim a leading role in the eSports industry it helped to create. HotS is still in beta but the long road began this weekend with Heroes of the Dorm, a college-focused competition that culminated in a grand final broadcast live on ESPN – the latter being not only something of a coup, but also an eSports first. The event laid bare Blizzard’s intentions for HotS and, despite some community grumbling, what looks awfully like a new take on how best to present competitive gaming.

Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: Hearthstone’s Blackrock Mountain

Weelcome, it’s goood ta see ya again! Blizzard may not do the best Scottish accents in the world (and have you heard that Brit in Overwatch?) but there’s no doubt they make extremely sticky games – I must’ve been welcomed to the inn thousands of times by our dwarven chum. Part of this longevity is the sheer quality of the core games, and the other is in how well and regularly Blizzard maintains and expands things. The latest expansion for Hearthstone [official site], Blackrock Mountain, is a singleplayer adventure costing a whopping £17.50 – read on to see wot I think.

Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think of The Evil Within’s DLC

The Evil Within [official site] is one of those gems that, because it was released in that pre-Christmas period when EVERY GAME IS, went a little under-appreciated. Basically it’s a fantastic re-working of the survival horror genre, and in particular Resident Evil, as psychological torment rather than biological gauntlet – and my opinion of it increases over time. But with two pieces of DLC, both now released, developer Tango Gameworks has moved TEW even further away from the action beats of its inspiration.

Click to once again enter the world of survival horror.

Read the rest of this entry »

Hands On: Killing Floor 2

It has been a decade since the original Killing Floor mod for Unreal Tournament, which was released in much-improved standalone form in 2009. It’s one of those games that quickly turns some people off: the visuals were a bit shonky, it was essentially built on repetition, and the less said about the Dick van Dyke voice-acting the better. But for devotees, Killing Floor is one of those games that stealthily racks up several hundred hours on Steam and swiftly becomes a fixture among like-minded mates, a precision blastathon where the repetition is the whole point.

You got better; the game got deadlier. And Killing Floor 2 [official site] is as straightforward a reload as you’re ever likely to see.

Read the rest of this entry »

Impressions: Heroes Of The Storm Closed Beta

Among my many professional failings is the inability to comprehend MOBAs. I understand the basic mechanics and have tried to enjoy both of the major players: gave LoL a real go for a few weeks then got bored, gave up Dota 2 after seven bewildering hours I’ll never get back. My regret is never reaching or understanding the fun part that must be there. Then I played Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm.

Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: Hearthstone – Goblins Vs Gnomes

Everyone loves Hearthstone, don’t they? Yes OK Mr Internet Commenter, I know that YOU consider the rigid turns an unacceptable oversimplification of CCG mechanics and blah blah blah, but every player I know just can’t enough of Blizzard’s card juice. Goblins vs. Gnomes is the game’s second expansion, following hot on the heels of the singleplayer adventure Naxrammas, and it adds 120 cards with one new minion class and a bunch of new effects. So is it all gravy, or a case of too many cooks?

Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: Metal Gear Solid V – Ground Zeroes

Hideo Kojima is one of console-land’s greatest champions. Over the past two decades Konami’s Kojima-led team, eventually formed into Kojima Productions, has produced classic game after classic game – almost all of which are Metal Gear titles. Though not without critics, each MGS feels like a reinvention rather than a sequel, consistently innovative, stylish, and changeable. And with Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, the prologue act to next year’s full release of MGSV: the Phantom Pain, Kojima Productions reinvents itself as a PC developer.

Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think – Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions

Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved is one of those classic designs that’s so lean and simple it’s very hard to improve upon. Which despite everything is what Geometry Wars 2: Retro Evolved managed, through leaving the core game well alone and splitting off aspects of its finely-tuned mechanics into their own modes. Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions (geddit?) has been a long time coming and adds an adventure mode and online alongside its own ‘classic’ versions of GW – but is it all a bit much?

Read the rest of this entry »

Report: Counter-Strike And Controversy At Dreamhack

Dreamhack Winter was held over 27th to 29th of November, and included the last major Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament of 2014. It was held in the recent context of professional players being outed as cheaters, a commensurate fug of spectator paranoia, and CS: GO’s ever-rising popularity – viewer figures for the final topped out at around 430,000 people, which rises to just over half a million with syndication, meaning the largest audience the series has ever had. The tournament delivered, in scarcely-believable fashion, another huge cheating scandal, a new era for CS: GO’s most popular team, and some of the best games in recent memory. Let’s roll.

Read the rest of this entry »

Bioshock Through The Looking Glass

The contemporary big-budget FPS has a few different strains: blood-n-guts military settings a la Call of Duty, open-world environments like Far Cry, and high-concept dystopias. Outside of open-world most of these styles were first codified in the 1990s, and FPS games then and now share an enormous amount: primarily a core mechanic of shooting many hundreds of enemies in the face over and over again, as well as crossover in areas like structure, goal-chaining, and narrative delivery. FPS games, in other words, have for a long time been constructed on resilient and proven principles. And many of them come from Looking Glass Studios.

Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: CS GO – Operation Vanguard

A recent study by the PEW Internet Project exposed the blindingly obvious hypocrisy of most people’s attitudes towards online services. We don’t want our privacy compromised, we don’t think big companies can be trusted with our data, and the power of corporations like Google makes us uncomfortable. But despite all these deeply-held and very serious fears, billions of people still use the products involved. So too with DLC in all forms. We bitch and moan, mock the price on twitter, talk about how far games have fallen – and then pony up the dough when nobody’s looking. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s new Operation Vanguard is what we’ve let ourselves in for.

Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: Valkyria Chronicles

Valkyria Chronicles isn’t just a brilliant game, it’s a brilliant Sega game. That means something. Contemporary Sega is a multi-headed beast, doomed to forever bear the wound of its exit from the hardware market, capable of both atrocities (the recent Sonic Boom) and beauties like this. But it has until now, with the honorable exception of publishing the Total War and Football Manager series, never really been a PC developer so much as a PC porter of ambiguous distinction. Valkyria Chronicles suggests that Sega, finally, is bringing its ‘A’ game to the most important platform on the planet.

Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: Lords of the Fallen

Lords of the Fallen is the first of what will surely be many clones of the Souls games – which is great! I adore the Souls series and think the action-RPG genre could learn a tonne from them. Lords of the Fallen, unfortunately, is not the brightest child in the class, and more to the point the PC version is currently in a right old state. Hero Harkyn faces tonnes of nasties, but the worst of the lot is the game itself.

Read the rest of this entry »

The PREVIEW we WROTE about LORDS of the FALLEN

I’m not usually one to judge a book by its cover, so to speak, but the capitalisation of LORDS of the FALLEN just has me tickled. It suggests we should shout the first word but then drop to a whisper and, when listeners are lulled into a false sense of security, scream the last syllables like a BANSHEE. If you’re thinking ‘only an angry nutter would do that’ then welcome, my genteel friend, to LORDS of the FALLEN.

Read the rest of this entry »