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Robert Zak

2 months ago

Feature:

The story of Unreal Tournament, the ambitious project left drifting in space

Scroll right down to the bottom of the Epic Games Store, and you’ll find a forgotten and totally free, game. It’s existed since before Epic set about its masterplan to take over the PC games market, but now, buried beneath the exclusives and novelties, lies Unreal Tournament, the latest entry in the iconic shooter series, whose development was halted in 2018. The game disappeared quietly,…

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1 year ago

Feature: We can rebuild you

The best Civilization games are these total overhaul mods

I’ve been playing Civilization long enough to remember building gaudy palaces that combined Arabic minarets with Ionic columns, and the sight of pixel-drawn Stalin grimacing at me with his retinue of Asiatic advisers. But after 20-something years and untold in-game millennia, I’ve finally begun to feel its insatiable fantasy of empire-building subside. Luckily, total overhaul mods exist.

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2 years ago

Feature: And talking to their big spenders

Playing the games found behind clickbait adverts

We've all seen them before, between the thumbnails offering an explanation why 'millions of people' are cancelling their Netflix accounts and the promise of a fruit that 'scientists claim' can reverse ageing. One is maybe at the bottom of the page you're reading. The image might depict a Deku-esque sentient tree looming over a brave warrior captioned with ‘If you own a computer you must…

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3 years ago

Feature: Star Wars, Mario and other themed theme parks

Planet Coaster: the best parks, rides and other creations

Planet Coaster [official site] is, by many accounts, the greatest theme park sim ever. But if you don't have the architectural vision of Gaudi (who never actually designed a theme park, but really should've), or if - like me - you tell yourself that you could build the next Disney World but just don't have the time, then Planet Coaster can feel a bit intimidating.…

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Feature: United Nations?

Civ 6 multiplayer: new challenges in strong scenarios

Civilization 6 [official site] is a wonder in singleplayer, though we do have some complaints: the AI still struggles at times and diplomacy isn't quite the revolution we'd hoped for. The perfect way to sidestep would be to play with nonartificial intelligences, who can conduct diplomacy using swear words and cruel deceptions. We sent our cultural ambassador Robert Zak onto the internet to test out…

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Feature: The great cold ones

Dark Souls 3 – Ashes Of Ariandel review

Ashes of Arandiel is the first of two DLCs for Dark Souls III [official site], making it quite possibly the penultimate Souls adventure. We sent intrepid Robert Zak into the cold wastes of the Painted World of Ariandel to see how well it lives up to the mighty legacy of the series, and he returned a short time later stricken with frostbite. And wolfbites. Here's…

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Feature: Frank, meet Jank

Dead Rising review

I've always had a soft spot for the first two Dead Rising [official site] games. Soft spots are the second cousins of nostalgia, and similarly mean that I'll happily make concessions for a series' flaws. The Dead Rising games have rudimentary combat, horrible time limits, and dodgy AI, but I forgive them because the brutal absurdism of the series has always tickled me (except for…

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Feature: Excavating the forgotten Civilization game

What Civ VI Could Learn From Civilization: Call To Power

I’m not entirely sure what’s going on. I’m playing Civilization: Call to Power, and at some point the world turned from relative Civ familiarity (with shoddier mechanics) into a Twilight Zone where everything is just… wrong. I think things started getting strange when my still ancient-looking capital city of Rome circa 1700AD started being showered with little animations of paper, crippling the city’s production. Sending…

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Feature: Back to the future

A Bright Future: The Long Road To TimeSplitters Rewind

For some, TimeSplitters ranks with GoldenEye as one of the great multiplayer FPS games. To be more precise, it's one of the great multiplayer FPS games that never made it to PC. Created by Free Radical Design, a studio made up primarily of ex-Rare employees, the original TimeSplitters was a PS2 launch title. Two sequels followed but sales of the third game weren't strong enough…

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Feature: Burning out, fading away

Endgame: Why Dark Souls III Is A Fitting Finale

Dark Souls III [official site] is a superb entry in From Software's series, and in both design and lore it feels like a fitting finale. Is it time to move on? One day, many years from now, when I have a family that I hang out with by way of a VR headset while in real life we all fester in our isolated cubicles, I…

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Feature: 2.5D remembered.

Blood, Sweat & Laughter: The Beauty Of The Build Engine

When I think of gaming in the mid 90s, I think of a unique kind of grunginess. It’s like my mind’s got its finger on the Shift key with its left hand, and the Up arrow with its right, gliding swiftly through the sordid corridors of crematoriums, porn cinemas, hillbilly backwaters and dojos. But despite their muted tones of muddy browns and tombstone greys, these…

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Feature: Insomniacs need not apply

Sleep, Eat, Die, Repeat: Hands On With Fallout 4’s Survival Mode

Fallout 4's [official site] Survival Mode entered beta earlier this week and to honour the occasion, we sent Robert Zak back to the future with a pack full of rations and a pocket full of bullets. It’s been too long since I last slept, which is a problem because it’s the only way I can save my last hour of tentative progress in Fallout 4’s…

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Feature: Basic instincts

Playing Far Cry Primal Like A True Caveman

When Far Cry Primal [official site] was unveiled, I shrugged with semi-feigned disinterest, aware that the series has hit milking point, but unable to dismiss the inner teenager tugging at my inner sleeve saying "But it's got cavemen and tribes and woolly mammoths and you can ride them, and throw spears and stuff!" Yes, the prehistoric era taps into a primal fantasy in me, but…

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Feature: Pen and paper at the ready

The Witness And The Joy Of Note-Taking

Inspired by recent experiences with The Witness' [official site] puzzles, Robert Zak has been reminiscing about the art of note-taking while playing games. From graph paper for dungeon crawlers to suspicions and clues for Her Story [official site], many genres are represented, with only the noble pen and paper to hold them together.

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