Sun Dogs’ Expansive (Then Contracting) Solar System

I’ve been tinkering with Sun Dogs [official site] today. It’s a transhumanist exploration game by Nic Tringali and Rebecca McCarthy that has you moving around the solar system of the future collecting story snippets and sometimes artifacts or bodily upgrades. It does an excellent job of creating this sense of a bio-tech-dominated spacescape and infusing it with a sense of scale, but the more I played the more I also saw its limitations:

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A First Look At Galactic Civilizations III: Mercenaries

When last we left Galactic Civilizations III [official site], our very own Space General Adam Smith had looked out upon the twinkly stars of the heavens and proclaimed (paraphrasing), “It’s good, but in need of a few expansions, maybe.” And nobody defies the demands of a Space General.

Which is to say Stardock just announced the game’s first meaty expansion, Galactic Civilizations III: Mercenaries.

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Have You Played… ‘No Spider’ Mods?

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

If you’re playing a fantasy game, you will inevitably find that some wiseguy has stuffed a cave or forest full of giant spiders. Two thoughts on the devs doing this:

1) Did you even try using your imaginations, you flipping amateurs?
2) WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS?

For arachnophobes, mods exist to remove spiders from many games. I’m a big ‘fraidy baby but mostly keep my cool about megaspiders, enough to not use mods myself. I suppose I’m fishing for stories about how you, reader dear, are a bigger ‘fraidy baby.

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Wot I Think: Rise Of The Tomb Raider

Rise of the Tomb Raider [official site] expands on and improves the core pillars of the series’ 2013 reboot. What it doesn’t do is change the formula significantly. Lara Croft is still a young woman and we’re witnessing the process by which she will become the titular crypt corrupter. As in the previous game, she’s soon stranded in an unwelcoming environment with little in the way of equipment and no network of support. Over the next twenty hours or so, you’ll guide her from branch-gathering and hide-hunting to full-on military engagements and supernatural shenanigans. Here’s wot I think.

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Cardboard Children – T.I.M.E. Stories (Spoiler Free)

Hello youse.

We were all sitting at my kitchen table, and I was laughing so much it hurt. I was in physical pain. Sure, I was a little bit drunk. But me and my pal were absolutely roaring with laughter, and it wasn’t just the wine – sometimes wine gets us a little bit melancholy. Believe me on that.

I can’t tell you exactly why we were laughing – that’s the frustrating thing. But something so completely perfect was happening in a board game, something so clever and surprising and awful and wonderful, that we just couldn’t control ourselves. My character in this game had come to life in such a brutally real way that all you could really do was laugh, and laugh a lot.

T.I.M.E. Stories is absolutely fantastic. Let me try to tell you why.

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Impressions: Between Me And The Night

Out of Early Access and into our screens is Between Me And The Night [official site], a peculiar and sombre adventure that at least seems to explore a childhood. Or ghosts. Or weird freaky something. Look, I’ve been playing it for ages and I’m not sure.

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Ridealong: The Flotilla That Will Cross The Galaxy

900 pilots in Elite: Dangerous have banded together to undertake a three month expedition to the far side of the galaxy. But such a long journey into deep space has its dangers. Breakdowns, accidents, fuel shortages and even player-led pirate gangs will mean many of the pilots won’t make it. In this Ridealong, I met up with the organisers on the day of departure to witness the huge fleet launch into the deep unknown.

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The Brilliant Bounty Of The Supporter Program

Every weekday one of the denizens of RPS Towers scuttles into a corner and deposits a unique Supporter post, ripe for reading, into a wicker basket. At first we put these online behind the RPS Supporter Program curtain but eventually they fly the nest, heading off into the wider world and gathering curious readers as they do.

In case they passed you by we’ve scooped just some of the latest batch up in our big net (it’s the net we usually reserve for capturing freelancers and/or January sales bargains) and collected them here for your delight!

You can find out more about the program or sign up here BUT FIRST, here’s a taster of what lurks within…

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Hands On: Far Cry Primal

Far Cry Primal is skulking around in the development undergrowth, waiting for the right moment to strike. We sent Brendan to observe its behaviour.

I wasn’t sure if many players would enjoy the Stone Age setting of the new Far Cry, then I saw a man from my tribe taking a painful dump behind a tree in the middle of our settlement, and I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt. This is the village of the Wenja, one of three tribes who fight it out in the world of Oros for territory and resources. The story centers on your cave man character, Takkar, as he rebuilds his people from their scattered remnants after a long ice age. There are no explosions in the year 10,000 BC, but you do get to ride around on the back of a sabretooth tiger, so there’s always that.

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Have You Played… Thea: The Awakening?

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

I am bored of traditional 4X games and am eager for something different. Thea: The Awakening [official site] is certainly that. It’s a 4X-alike which skips ‘expand’, giving you just a single village to look after, and a mobile expeditionary squad with which to encounter the world’s fantasy creatures through brief choose-your-own adventures.

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