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Sin Vega

2 years ago

Feature: Before Offworld Trading Company there was...

Fragile Allegiance & The RTS Formula That Never Was

The youngest of you won't remember The Before Times. One of the minor side effects of the millennium bug killing off 90% of the Earth's population was that not long afterwards, strategy games stratified into a tiny handful of highly formulaic subtypes. There's a downside to the unquestionably better standards of design we've enjoyed in the last decade or so. It's rare to find a…

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Feature: Imperial strategy

How Imperialism 2 Took The **** Out Of XXXX

Epic grand historical strategy! Ugh. Look, I'm not bashing the genre - I had to quit Crusader Kings 2 cold turkey as it took over my life - but when things become fashionable in games, we really overdo it, and something always gets lost in the desperate pursuit of the zeitgeist. Lately, it's regular old historical strategy that's felt the neglect. Not insanely complex, not…

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Feature: A Cameroonian fighting RPG

Aurion: Legacy Of The Kori-Odan review

Like most of you (be honest), I know almost nothing about Cameroon. I also know precious little about communing with ancestral spirits, launching fireballs, or punching dudes in the face. How fortunate, then, that Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan exists. Released in April this year following a successful Kickstarter by Kiro'o Games, Aurion is many things. It's a fusion of a side-scrolling beat'em up with…

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Feature: Lessons in world design from 2001

Why Gothic Is More Believable Than Modern RPGs

One of the many nebulous concepts that spring up when writing about games is "a sense of place". We talk about worlds and locations and settings, but often these boil down to unusual geography or art direction – surface details and imagery rather than a real identity. Gothic, by contrast, wasn't particularly pretty. Its setting wasn't the singular underground world of Arx Fatalis, nor the…

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Feature: Open New Tab

VA-11 Hall-A review

I hesitate to call V4l... Va11 ha1... Val1... Valhalla [official site] a visual novel, which is ridiculous. It wears its influences on its sleeve, sometimes to a fault, and though its most 'gamey' aspect is that of a bartending sim, that's really just a well-integrated excuse for telling a humble story. Is it a good one?

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Feature: The greatest total conversion ever made

You Wouldn’t Steal A Skyranger: X-Piratez Is An Outstanding Total Conversion Of UFO/X-COM

In my intro to Silent Storm, I mentioned both modding scenes and UFO (used to distinguish the 1994 original X-COM from the 2012 Firaxis one, and not only out of increasingly sad Eurocentric obstinance) without tying the two together. That, it turns out, was stupid, because X-Piratez, a UFO mod in active development by Dioxine, is the best total conversion for any game I've ever…

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Feature: Monsters, Mobsters and Cinematic Strategy

What Cinemaware Understood About Cinema And Games

Cinematic! What a loaded word it's become. Once the game industry's marketing buzzword du jour, the descriptor certainly earned its current status as a groanworthy sign that a developer would much rather be doing something else. With such a disclaimer then, it's safe to specify why It Came From The Desert, and in fact most games from its developer Cinemaware, had "cinematic" firmly in their…

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Feature: Why more games should copy it.

The Joy Of Destruction In Silent Storm

It's a strange time to look at old turn-based shooters. While we're hardly swamped, the genre has left its dormancy, casting strange shadows on our old sacred cows. Whisper it now: maybe some of those old things we championed for so long aren't all that great? Fortunately, Silent Storm can ignore such insinuations, as it was never sacred. Its 2003 release by Nival Interactive caused…

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3 years ago

Feature:

Have You Played… Salvation Prophecy?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time. Loners are odd sorts. We all know this. Salvation Prophecy, for example, is a third-person shooter, space dogfighter, and real-time strategy all rolled into one by a lone creator. No committee would even try that.

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Feature: World without war

A World Gone Sane: Strategy and Story In Hostile Waters

Strategy games seldom come with a premise more creative than "what if aliens?", or "what if robots?", or perhaps "what if alien robots?", and while this often works - their appeal tends to come from systems and details instead - it does leave a gap for more imaginative fair. Take, for example, Hostile Waters, Rage Games' 2001 release inspired by the 1988 naval/aerial action strategy…

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Feature: A worthy twist on Dungeon Keeper.

Have You Played… Evil Genius?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time. It's a little baffling that nobody's tried to make Evil Genius [official site] again. A transparent derivative of Dungeon Keeper, it did more than enough to distinguish itself from that noble luminary of base building and evil overlording.

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Feature: Biff! Pow!

Doing Comics Justice: Freedom Force Vs The Third Reich

Superheroes are, my dear mole cave people recently thawed following a decades-long slumber, very much in vogue right now. Films about whiny teenagers with the least interesting powers of an arachnid are ten a penny, but video games of this kind have been oddly lacking. The superhero games we do have - for example, the Arkham series - are mainly about specific superheroes, not about…

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Feature: Icarian Bite

The Ambitious Failure Of Cybervamp RPG BloodNet

I'm known for writing about old games that are worth playing today. This is something of a departure, as I can't really recommend Bloodnet [Wikipedia page] with a clear conscience. It isn't a good game. But it's been lurking in my mind for the better part of 20 years. It's a rare game that would excite a traditional RPG fan as well as a genre…

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Feature: RTS RPG TLA

Screw Balance: How Warlords Battlecry 3 Blended Genres

There's this obscure game called StarCraft - you probably haven't heard of it. It was one of those games that was so well designed that for years afterwards, most that came after its throne were either failed experiments or pale imitations, and even those that succeeded were just more of the same. Here are a few factions, they're unique but equal; here's a campaign where…

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4 years ago

Feature: Going underground

Arx Again Later: How Arx Fatalis Blended RPG Eras

Confession time: I don't like dungeon crawlers. The very name says it all. Why would anyone want to go to the non-sexy kind of dungeon? And crawling - the form of movement reserved for times of serious injury and distress - around a dungeon? It's a recipe for a dreary, ugly casserole, served by a skeleton archer in a rusty slime-edged prison bucket with a…

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Feature: With a spoon?

How To Eat Your Cake: Consortium And The Fourth Wall

We can't keep saying video games are a young medium. We've been saying it since I was your age (or since you were mine, if that fits better), and besides, the last few years have finally shown that there's plenty of room for games that do more than idly amuse us. Consortium is one such game. Unlike any RPG I can name, Consortium throws you…

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