Have You Played… Call of Duty 2?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Call of Duty 2 [official site] tends to get forgotten about, sandwiched as it is between the huge success of Call of Duty and the truly gargantuan success of Call of Duty 4 (we don’t talk about Call of Duty 3 here in PC town). This is an unfortunate state of affairs, as it might just be the best game in the series. Read the rest of this entry »

The RPG Scrollbars: Great ideas more RPGs should steal

They say that they who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it. When it comes to game design though, good ideas fall through the cracks and get forgotten all the time. This week then, I’m going to list a few of my favourite small features from classic or obscure games alike that I think would be cool to see more often, and quite probably ask you for a few of yours. Sounds like a plan? Excellent! Remember, we’re looking for small, specific stuff rather than, say, ‘good combat engine’. The kind of spark that perhaps only one or two games have ever tried, or which have faded for whatever reason over the years, but new games really should steal. Let’s start obscure, with…

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The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for making lists of the best games writing of the week, despite evidence to the contrary presented on the two previous Sundays. Those particular Sundays were for being on holiday and sick at the same time.

I’ve been following Ooblets on Twitter for months and so has everyone else. Gamasutra looked into why by talking to the developers about their GIF-first development process.

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Free Loaders: What’s the draw of horror?

As hard as it is to believe, we live in the good timeline. In this reality, Walt Disney did not go crazy with delusions of bringing his animations to life, creating a terrifying place where you can be stalked by cartoon characters. Oh no, he did! Well, at least the terror of Disneyland is offset by the boredom of long queues for Space Mountain. In our headlining free game this week, there’s no such respite.
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What are we all playing this weekend?

As we say in the industry: “games on!” The Game Developers Conference is next week, and always brings a few good surprises, retrospectives, and just plain interesting looks at the craft of making games. We’ve sent Pip and Adam out to chase developers down corridors, snapping them with unflattering flashes, and yelling invasive questions. I normally go myself, with The Wild Rumpus rather than RPS (look for the Mild Rumpus if you’re going!), but this year am stuck here with your rabble. We may as well try to get on. Tell me: what are you playing this weekend? Here’s what we’re clicking on. Read the rest of this entry »

How SteamWorld Heist brought skill into turn-based tactics

This is The Mechanic, where Alex Wiltshire invites developers to discuss the inner workings of their games. This time, SteamWorld Heist [official site].

SteamWorld Heist is a tactics game about boarding procedural spaceships with a squad of desperado robots and grabbing all the swag you can before they’re turned to scrap. It’s also a cross-genre oddity, a turn-based platformer, with presentation and polish that comes across a bit like a Nintendo fan fell in love with XCOM.

But while that observation is essentially true and it’s a big part of Heist’s rust-bucket charm, it ignores the real reason why it’s so great. And the reason why SteamWorld Heist so great? It’s down to a single simple-sounding feature:

THE MECHANIC: Realtime aiming Read the rest of this entry »

Subnautica is secretly a brilliant horror game

Subnautica [official site] seems like a nautical holiday wrapped inside a survival game. Swim around a gentle ocean and meet lots of colourful fish, chill out in an underwater forest, sunbathe on top of a little escape pod – it all sounds very relaxing. Don’t be fooled. Subnautica is, in fact, absolutely terrifying.

I can’t quite remember when I realised that the sea was actually a vast world of horrors. Whenever it was, this realisation was undoubtedly confirmed when I was snorkeling off the coast of Australia in my early teens. I broke the surface of the water to be greeted by blood. So much blood. Not mine, thankfully. It belonged to a man who had bumped into some coral, which proceeded to rip open his leg.

Coral! Nobody expects this of all things to tear chunks out of them, but that’s what you get when you decide to visit the utterly alien sea. In Subnautica, this is even more pronounced because it’s a literal alien sea, an entirely new world, that you’re exploring. You’re not meant to be there and you’re definitely not welcome.

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