Latest Articles (Page 1719)

  • Image for Grass is green, girls are polygonal

    When you're browsing news, trying to stay abreast of the developments in the world of PC Games, you're looking for something to stop you dead in your tracks. Something unexpected, that demands an immediate response. Escape From Paradise City managed to do so in a way which no game since Devastation has done so. I can only gawp and blink and run to Wordpress to blog a story.

    Here's the "thing". It's one of its three playable characters.

    It's Sean Connery! Sean Connery on Steroids, admittedly, but undeniably Scotland's most Sean-Connery son. And now I stop to look, those two lurking in the background look kinda familiar.

  • PC Gamer UK have posted up my review of Medieval II: Total War Kingdoms. I say things like this:

    These four campaigns represent a gigantic amount of new material. It's all presented brilliantly - new animations and cinematics for each of them, and a unique front end and rack of options. This feels like four expansion packs rather than one muscular bundle. The smaller changes mean they all feel different to play, and the tiny tweaks and foibles mean it's not quite like Medieval II any more.

    And we've linked this before, but it's worth reiterating that they got the inside scoop on Empire: Total War. Yes, it's got ships in.

  • GamesIndustry.biz have an interview up with NCSoft (Guild Wars, City of Heroes) boss Geoff Heath. In it Geoff explains that he believes PC users will end up buying a PS3:

    I think there is a difference between PC and console players but there's overlap as well. Our view long term is that people who have traditionally only played on PC will actually now start transitioning to PS3. Once they figure out what PS3 does, I think that take-up will get greater and greater.

    It's a fair bet - did anyone not own a PS2 at some point?

  • Image for Bee Happy

    I'm fairly certain that this is the greatest game I've played since the infinite pleasures of DEATH WORM. Behold:

    It's called HoneyBlaster, and in it you play a bumblebee with nothing to lose (except his hit-points) in a battle against a tyrannical swarm of insects (probably). A side-scrolling shooter of real pace, and splendid clunkiness, it has the best music I've ever heard. Seriously. It also has a (faked?) resolution of 160x100 pixels, which strikes me as just the thing for a Wednesday morning.

    Get the three level demo here and pray to the God of black and white bee death-rays that the full game one day hatches.

  • Image for Zeno Clash Announced

    Valve have announced that independent developers, ACE Team, have licensed the Source engine for a deeply peculiar-looking action/fantasy game, Zeno Clash.

    Moving away from the more usual ranged combat of a Source game, we're excited to read that Zeno is focusing on melee combat. And more than that, it's focusing on being weird. The setting is described as a "punk fantasy world", with ACE explaining,

    "The first chapter is set in a fantastic & chaotic world where the main character has been exiled from his clan and hunted down by his own brothers. A desperate journey past the forbidden desert will bring him to the end of the world."

    Unfortunately, all the attention from the world's gamers appears to have been more than Chilean developer's server could handle, with the game's official website offline at the time of writing. (Perhaps Valve could step in and offer them some web support?). We get a good vibe from this one - the visual design suggests a depth of imagination from the developers, and promises of "brutal combat" are the simplest way to our heart. It's set to arrive at some point next year.

    More art, links to the full versions, and gaming's saggiest breasts, after the leap.

  • Just spotted this on the ever-lovely Gamershell. Sim City Societies is a fascinating endeavour, as it's a Sim game without any Maxis/Will Wright involvement, and it's looking to make a clean break with the series' chequered but always entertaining past.

    This trailer strongly demonstrates that the focus is very different this time around, leaning on the individual buildings and overall aesthetic of your city more than its zone layout and efficiency. I've certainly a tinge of regret that the Sim City 2000 lineage seems to been have brutally curtailed, but, if this is going for the sort of self-expression that the Sims allows, it's potentially very exciting.

    I'm also amused that the first style nice-voiceover-lady suggests after saying "create the city that you want" isn't a cheerful Simstown or rural paradise, but "a city of grim authoritarian oppression" - which rather suggests EA understands gamers more than it sometimes lets on. They know exactly what I'd do, anyway.

  • Image for Ska zombies

    Cheerful ska helps anything, and the more sax the better. Take this mod, Gateways, which seemed to be fairly unremarkable "let's just throw as many Combine in as possible!" Half-Life 2 fan-faffery. Until, that is, I was being chased around giant cubes of light suspended in the sky by all the antlions in the world, to the sound of very cheerful, very saxy ska-lite. It's basically Benny Hill with giant angry insects, and it's very funny, exactly the sort of "what happens if I do... this!" that modding is, at heart, about. There's some ridiculously over-the-top guitar noodling in another level, too.

    The concept is you're a Combine prisoner (in a familiar orange suit, natch) who breaks out into a room full of portals. Each of these portals takes you to a psychotically designed mini-level that bombards you with waves of braindead foes in massive numbers until they're all dead. There's some button-pushing. And, well, that's it. While there's a certain admirable surreality in the odd-hued, physically impossible levels, at lot of the fun comes from HL2 bads being placed in situations they can't really deal with. An antlion placed in a giant chamber with a thin, spiral walkway reaching up to the ceiling will, for instance, attempt to land on it but repeatedly and comically fall off. A Combine soldier left on a 3-foot square floating platform just that little bit more than grendade distance from you will somehow manage to look hilariously frustrated despite there being no new animations. And, as has been proven many times but is always good to see again, something explosive thrown into a pack of a dozen zombies is always value for money.

    It's not actually a good mod. Despite sounding fairly serious about it all, really this is just a bunch of guys dicking around in the way anyone would with plenty of time and a rough guide to building HL2 levels. But they've gone that extra mile into occasionally pushing the silliness just as far as it'll go, and that makes for a half-hour of play that's at least partly screamingly entertaining. I'm not entirely convinced its makers realise how funny Gateways can be - not that it matters.

  • Image for Least Best Room (with an Overview)

    Guess what this is? Click for a larger view, for extra help.

    IT'S A VIDEOGAME!

    Say what you like about Kenta "ABA Games" Cho, but you're never in doubt what any of his work is, even at a glance. Which means it's a cause for celebration that he's gone and released another one, Least Best Room.

    If you're a watcher of anything indie or SHMUP!, you'll almost certainly be aware of Kenta. In fact, his reputation's risen to the level where he gets a degree of grief from people who consider him not all that. Which is unfair, and - putting aside the merit of much of his work - the secret of his success is plain.

  • Image for Change your Irrationality

    Shock 2 veterans of the world unite! They can take our lean function! They can take our ability to walk! They can take our skill system which means that a highly trained solider can't work out how to pull a trigger on a grenade launcher for most of the game, guns which break down within seconds of acquiring them and a basically linear final third ending in a single risible cheap-gag cut-scene undercutting the whole thing!

    But they can't take our Irrational Logo. ANYMORE.

    Strangebedfellows.de have posted a tiny mod which replaces the logo at the start of Bioshock with Irrational's old one. As they put it...

  • A survey conducted by PopCap (those responsible for the excellent Bookworm Adventures and the AVERAGE Peggle) has learned that Casual Games will solve all the problems of the world, and cure all diseases.

    Or indeed that they help families bond. Which is rather lovely, really.

    The survey, conducted for PopCap by the Information Solutions Group, was the largest ever worldwide survey of casual computer game players, apparently. And it found that,

    "70% of ‘family gamers’ believe casual games provide educational benefits to their children/grandchildren – with greatest benefits of gameplay identified as learning, stress relief and hand-eye coordination."

    The report goes on,

    "In stark contrast to traditional perceptions of computer gaming, parents/grandparents said casual games helped them bond with their children/grandchildren (92%) and mentioned the following casual game benefits for children/grandchildren:

    · 68% cited Hand-eye coordination/Manual dexterity

    · 60% cited Learning (pattern recognition, resource allocation, spelling, etc.)

    · 51% cited Mental workouts/Cognitive exercise

    · 48% cited Memory strengthening

    · 44% cited Stress relief/Relaxation

    · 37% cited Positive affirmation/Confidence building"

    Bear in mind that this was a survey paid for by the most well known casual games publisher in the biz, so perhaps sprinkle salt. But otherwise: Games cure cancer!

    The rest of the report is below the clickyjump.

  • This editorial over on the PC hardware site PC Perspective considers the age-old issue of why PC gamers stick with their format, rather than opting for the ease of consoles. It covers many tired old routines, such as the flexibility of the PC's options and scaled resources, as well as the complexity of mouse/keyboard controls systems. One thing it comes up with that I've not heard before is this:

    While Bethesda was having problems with certain Non-Player Character interactions, one can't help but wonder if the AI was lobotomized to make it play well on the Xbox 360. If you never saw Bethesda's pre-release demo videos they displayed at the 2005 E3, you can find them on YouTube. I would suggest the 5th video on which details the complexity of the Radiant AI specifically, as it shows the breadth the original version of the AI would display. If you never played the game, you can see the final implementation in many of the other videos on YouTube, from bizarre domestic violence to the death penalty for stealing bread. One of the most rabid fan bases for a PC game are having a collective convulsions in dread of what Bethesda will do to their favourite franchise. Fallout 3 is going to be released on the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 as well as the PC, and will use the Radiant AI system.

    Those are their own links in there, and the first link explains what he's talking about. Anyway, I can't help thinking that any reduction in AI sophistication must have been about making the game work on more lower-end PCs too, since anything that didn't work on the 360 wouldn't work on a whole load of lesser PCs, right? It's interesting that there is, potentially, a more sophisticated Oblivion AI out there though, and you wonder if an AI mod might serve/break the game in interesting ways.

  • Image for Eyeing Up Eye of the North

    You may be pleased to know that it hasn't been all intricately documented whining about really brilliant videogames this August Bank-holiday weekend at Rock Paper Shotgun Towers. As I said a couple of posts back, I've been playing Guild Wars: Eye of the North on its preview weekend. And I've had a lot of fun. Let's see a picture of my character, having a lot of fun.

    Yay! It's like Rainbow Islands, except with less Rainbows or Islands or Rainbow Islands.

  • Image for Why BioShock Isn't A 10/10 Game

    So obviously spoilers. All the spoilers ever, completely ruining every aspect of the game. There's not a sentence of this you should read before finishing what is a very good game. Spoilers. Spoilers. Have I mentioned, stuff here will spoil surprises? And ruin the game.

    This isn't a list of reasons why BioShock is a bad game. It isn't. It's an excellent game. This is a list of reasons why I think it doesn't merit the highest score possible.

  • Image for Homeworld 2: Intensely Intense Edition

    Reader David links us to Point Defense Systems, a particularly hardcore-looking overhaul of Homeworld 2. "The gist of the mod is that it turns HW2 into something much more akin to a space-navy simulation, rather than the arcadey feel of the original," quoth he.

    Not sure I'd ever refer to Homeworld games as arcadey, but by the sound of things, this really puts the 'ship' in 'spaceship'. If phrases like 'naval simulation' don't encourage you to try it, perhaps hearing that it's got a ton of custom-made spacecraft models in it will. Homeworld (we at RPS tend to lean more towards the first than the second) remains god-king of space-based strategy, so it's fantastic to see it still kept alive. With Relic so bound up in Company of Heroes and Dawn of War these days, will we ever see a part three? I'm off to visit them in a couple of weeks as it happens, so I'll attempt to find out.

    Anyway, we'll dig up a copy of Homeworld 2 from our quivering plastic monolith of dusty CDs soon and take a look at PDS ourselves - meantime, check it out here.

  • Image for Shadow-puppet Shmup?

    The awesome TIGSource link to this beautiful trailer for Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet - a shooter by comic artist Michel Gagne.

    Sorry about the crappy image, the trailer is tough to grab. Take a look at the thing in motion to get a better grasp of what it's all about. And, hmm, there's something weird going on with his site architecture... anyway, more detail about the project, including loads of shadow-puppet animations, can be found here. Sadly the game itself is not out until next year.

    EDIT:

  • Image for The Five Napoleons

    Empire: Total War enthusiasm is totally understandable, but also horribly plebeian. If you really want to stand out during a forum discussion/pub chat/job interview/speed-dating event, try enthusing about one of the other Napoleonic strategy games currently in production...

    If lone French developer Jean-Michel Mathé ever gets around to finishing this groundbreaking tactical wargame then it should make ETW look Fisher Price in several areas. HistWar armies utilize five different levels of intertwined AI (commander, corps, division, brigade and regiment) and can't be retasked at the drop of a bicorn hat. Credible command-chain modelling means lots of authentic inertia plus the potential for lost and ignored orders. Those that have played Mad Minute’s splendid Take Command series will know just how engrossing this sort of naturalism can be.

    Another Gallic offering from a small studio, NC will likely give the ETW strat layer a serious run for its money, especially if the AI turns out to be as sabre-sharp as it was in Birth of America and American Civil War (the last two titles from AGEOD). Though there won’t be any fancy 3D maps or animated army figures, the lovely 2D art of Robin Pirez and Sandra Rieunier-Duval should be ample compensation.

  • Image for How to get the proper Bioshock soundtrack (i.e. Beyond The Sea et al)

    [Edit - please don't request a download of these songs in the Comments below. We'll get into lots of trouble for it. Most of these songs are available on iTunes, though.]

    So, I was angrier than a wasp in a box about the Moby debacle with the Bioshock limited edition. One of 2K's multiple attempts yesterday to avoid the flaming pitchfork treatment from furious fans was to release the game's impressive score for free. Still not what I wanted - there's a bunch of frankly awesome, vintage 1950s songs in the game, including Beyond The Sea, Papa Loves Mambo and, uh, How much Is That Doggy In The Window. The stuff that should have been on the much-loathed soundtrack CD, in other words.

    I've been trying to work out myself where in Bioshock's install directory these fine vintage ditties lurked, and how to extract the songs in question so I can listen to 'em without the distraction of screaming Splicers in the background. I'd just about given up when I read this post on the official forums. A summary of how to get the songs playing whenever you want 'em to follows after the jump.

  • Image for World In Conflict Demo

    The demo for World In Conflict has arrived, and it includes single player, skirmish, and multiplayer elements. You can download it here, at a beastly 1.2gb.

    World In Conflict is the direct descendant of my favourite RTS, also by Massive Entertainment, Ground Control. You can download that ancient sci-fi strategy from here, and if you do you'll see that it still stands up today. The way that it stripped away the traditional use of resources (eg Tiberium and base-building in C&C) left a kind of raw tactical challenge - just what can you do with a handful of units, and nothing else?

    This acute challenge has mostly been lost from World In Conflict, which means that the single player will be a little disappointing for Ground Control veterans, and a lightweight but fun action sequence for anyone else. The fact that you can call in endless air-drops (as in Ground Control 2) basically takes away the tension. They try to add it with time-limits and so on, but it doesn't always work. Massive have chosen a good single player map for this demo, however, and there are a number of such highlights throughout the game.

  • 2K are scrabbling around, trying to make up for the bit of a whoopsie that represented BioShock's PC launch. While a 360 player can indulge in such crazed madness as lending the game to their friends - gasp in horror and disgust - PC players were limited to two activations of their code, and three re-installs (meaning anyone with a typical crappy PC would be screwed in moments), as well as being scuppered by scrappy driver issues. To run the game with any success, you need beta drivers, and the game failed to come with the latest version of Direct X. Not pretty.

    So in an effort to apologise, it seems that 2K are listening and responding to the moans. As of now, the activations have been raised to five, and the number of re-installs on the same machine is up to five. (Although why this should be limited at all is bewildering). They continue,

    "As for other technical issues, we are bringing on a team of tech support that will be on the 2K forums 24/7 to help people resolve their technical issues. Our QA guys are in the offices and on the forums, too, reproducing issues and looking for workarounds and compiling information that they can put towards making you a patch and updating the knowledge base."

  • Image for Wolfenstein of Honor

    I'm reviewing Medal of Honor: Airborne (it's for someone else, so thoughts on it another time - briefly though, it's pretty good, pleasingly non-linear but fairly silly).

    I just stumbled across this.

    It's a Nazi Super-Soldier. In Medal of Honor. Gas mask, experimental chaingun and everything. He took about six grenades to kill. I can't stop laughing.

  • Image for The Making of: Shogun: Total War

    [Another postmortem from the vaults. I've actually got a lot of these - about twenty. For a couple of years on PC Format, I did one a month for them. The idea was simply to chat to a developer about one of their previous games for a couple of pages, in kind of a more casual, laid back version of the sort of thing Gamasutra do so well. I'll be sticking them up here, one every Friday, until I run out. With the announcement of Empire: Total War, I thought it a good idea to start with Mike Simpson of Creative Assembly looking back at Shogun. This was a fun one - Simpson was completely self deprecating at all times, even in the face of the most ludicrous flattery.]

    Shogun was an epic game that changed everything, rejuvenating the real-time strategy game at a time when it seemed that it was just going to be a tank rushing eternally down a game-design cul-de-sac. With its unique, atmospheric setting and its groundbreaking marriage of mass-scale battle scenes and high-level Risk-style strategic management, you presume that it was always destined for greatness. After all, this sort of thing couldn’t just happen without a plan. And you’d be wrong.

    “It actually started when I joined the company,” reveals Creative Assembly’s Creative Director Mike Simpson, “Then there were five people, doing a sports game. A rugby game. We were looking at setting up a second team, and wanted to find something which was relatively safe and not very challenging, unsurprisingly. At that point, Command and Conquer clones had come out. Things like Kill Krush and Destroy. We looked at them and thought “These are easy to do!”. It’s fairly formulaic and you can’t really go wrong. And they’re selling bucketloads.”

  • Image for Tiny Germans

    Quite literally yesterday's news for anyone paying attention, but seeing as the franchise has a bit of a bad rep these days and everyone's currently playing that game, thought I'd point out that a Settlers 6 demo has been released.

    Yes, Settlers. No, honestly, it's alright.

    Developer Bluebyte showed me Rise of an Empire (for that is its wholly unnecessary subtitle) a couple of months ago, and I was pretty impressed. Few I told believed me, as it's been a series in constant decline since around the third game, a lineage with fine origins that most games hacks now sneer at. Having played some preview code recently I'm not totally sure the game's going to be quite as delightful as I thought from the hands-off look, but there is some really cute stuff in there. Most of all, it seems to have nailed to some extent that traditional Settlers joy of sitting back and watching your custom community go about its business. It aslo has ferrets in it.

  • Image for Two Worlds Demo

    The demo of Two Worlds, a fantasy adventure with pretensions towards being the next Oblivion, can be downloaded from here.

    This is my hero. That's the default hat. He started the game with it.

    But it's not just about hats. There's moonwalking too.

  • Image for ErotiSim: Sex and The Sims

    [This is a particularly long piece on The Sims which was written for a project that was canceled at the last minute a couple of years back. Which is a shame, but at least I got paid for it, eh? It's sat around ever since, but since it really is particularly long, it's hard to work out a home. And I'm a little bit precious over it. So rather than cut it to something smaller, I'd rather present it here. Hope you enjoy it.]

    It was the phone calls that made me certain. The Sims was going to cross over, one way or another.

    I worked in a cramped games magazine office for just shy of five years. There were only three times that we really knew the eye of a media mini-storm was circling somewhere above us. We knew we were being watched at those moments, because every time we answered the phone the same questions came from different missionaries from the Real World Media. The first and biggest spike in calls was part of the fallout of 9/11 when every journalist in the world needed to ask us whether Counter-Strike or Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear or Microsoft Flight Simulator could be used to train terrorists to take over commercial airliners. Majestic, prompting the second and smallest peak, was publisher Electronic Arts’ great failure – a reality-blurring attempt to commercialise the alternate-reality game before anyone really knew what an alternate-reality game was, which bombed in the States and was never released in Europe. The third was sparked by The Sims, Electronic Arts’ great success and one of the most popular and groundbreaking games of recent times.

    As much as an article has an origin, it is in one of those calls. It was from a freelancer from help-the-homeless-help-themselves magazine The Big Issue, which wanted to run a feature on The Sims’ runaway success. He was, essentially, looking for a quote saying that it was played by those with no social life to indulge in a surrogate fictional one. He wasn’t interested in the truth – he admitted he’d been provided an angle by his Editor and was working to fulfil it. So I just informed him that, actually, The Sims was actually already receiving a snobbish backlash from actual hardcore gamers, and its fans were in fact non-typical players. Normal people were digging it, not just crazed obsessives. All the while, of course, I was thinking that I should point out that phoning me and asking for that sort of quote was a little like me phoning him and asking him to say that all the homeless are work-shy layabouts who stink of piss.

    He’d got it entirely wrong. His wasn’t the answer. But what was? It got my thoughts rolling, and eventually those thoughts coalesced to a single point.

    It’s sex.