Latest Articles (Page 1869)

  • Image for Pictures of Trees: 9 Million Explode

    Jim and I were just sitting in the Garden, ignoring spiders and bats fluttering by, and talking about the world's biggest videogame news. We realised that while it was good to have blogged a story involving Blizzard in the last 24-hours, if we're actually trying to be a serious mainstream PC-videogame site, we perhaps chose the wrong one.

    So...

    LOOK AT THE FUCKING TREES.

  • Mentisworks has posted an excellent review of the 'best' 27 indie art games ever. The author explains:

    When I think of art that has influenced me most, it is generally work done by individuals. I can't recall the last time a corporation created a brilliant painting. I find that this also tends to be true in the emerging area of art games. Individuals are not generally driven to create purely for profit, and have more leeway to experiment and create according to their own artistic vision.

    I thought it was time to compile a "best of" list for art games, because there has only been one other such list that I recall online. I'm sure someone will correct me on that point if there has been in fact another well drafted list somewhere out there.

  • Image for Short Sharp Shock

    Eureka! I think I've just discovered the perfect game review format for Today's busy, confident, man-about-town.

    Reviews Constructed Entirely From Official Forum Thread Titles (RCEFOFTTs for short) mean reviewers get to spend more time loafing, and readers get to spend less time wading through tedious personal anecdotes. It's a win-win situation.

    Here, as proof of concept, is a RCEFOFTT for Battlefront's new 3D wargame Combat Mission: Shock Force.

  • And it's a vehicular shooter. The game will be based on Carmack's new graphics engine, which makes use of the innovations that made Quake Wars' large maps possible. There's even going to be some co-op multiplayer. Gadzooks.

    This is the tech demo from some computer expo thing:

  • Image for It's Good To Stalk

    A quick anecdote from Stalker, which I've been replaying on and off, just to see what I can change/break.

    I was playing through one of the early sections where an NPC character arranges to set up an ambush with you to rescue his captured colleague. The ambush was set, but things went batshit – completely different from the smoothly executed sequence of events I'd seen the first time I'd played through this section. For some reason the game spawned a hostile bandit patrol just within aggression range of my NPC partner. They shot at him at the exact moment the scripted ambush was supposed to occur. To deal with this random occurrence the game made the chap we were supposed to rescue vanish entirely, and then filled the other NPC with a murderous rage. He moved into the nearby building complex, with me still in tow, and systematically hunting down and killing every single bandit in the area.

    Only when we reached the roof and the last bandit lay dead did the NPC stop and complete his designated plot device. He turned to his now non-existent companion and said “No problem, but you have this Stalker to thank.” Then he just stood there, frozen and unable to continue his existence thanks to the earlier interruption. When I returned an hour later he was dead.

  • Rumours surrounding the Bioshock copy-protection suggest that you'll have to reinstall the game from scratch if you change any element of your hardware configuration, and that you'll need to be online all the time to play at all. If your net connection goes down there'll be no underwater adventures for you. I can't find the relevant Gamespot thread, so this is just specumalation.

    Yeah, okay, I'm posting irrelevant waffle, but in some way I hope this is true so that I can post extra-indignant things on the internet decrying our loss of convenience/privacy.

  • I just replayed the opening sequences of the original Half-Life. It's left me somewhat frustrated.

    Despite the incredibly over-long sequence on the monorail, and the astonishing - and surely unnecessary - frequency of the loading points, it really still is the best introduction to any game, ever. From the moment you arrive you're being set up for what's to come, but without the game forcing you into rushing. You can explore the few rooms of the facility open to you, bother the scientists, explore the lockerrooms, blow up the contents of a microwave... It's you that chooses to trigger the beginning of events proper by stepping into the test chamber and triggering that resonance cascade. "They're waiting for you, Gordon... In the test chamberrrrrrrrr."

    There's lots of time for silliness, like listening to the two scientists discussing that I'm a "highly paid professional", while I jump up and down on the spot. And then kaboom - it all goes wrong and the area you just familiarised yourself with has changed, been broken. And that's rewarding. As you try to find a way out, so much is happening. Bodies lie all over the floor, a scientist is trying to resuscitate another, people are panicing, and you're being introduced to how the enemies work - seeing the head crabs take their first victims.

  • Shocking news from The Australian, which reveals that Second Life has become a terrorist training camp:

    On the darker side, there are also weapons armouries in SL where people can get access to guns, including automatic weapons and AK47s. Searches of the SL website show there are three jihadi terrorists registered and two elite jihadist terrorist groups.

    Once these groups take up residence in SL, it is easy to start spreading propaganda, recruiting and instructing like minds on how to start terrorist cells and carry out jihad.

  • Image for A Rose By Any Other Name

    We admit, we'll jump at any chance to use this screenshot again...

    Rossignol already talked at length about the simple joys of cat-fighting game, Rose & Camellia, but the exciting news that someone has actually translated it into English deserved another plug. So now, at last, those who would haven't played it, due to them needing to experience the divine narrative carefully crafted by the modern heirs to the spirit of Gogol with their face-flapping, or it's just not worthwhile (i.e. Walker, probably) can finally get down with the slapattacks.

  • Image for Clunky ClickClickClick

    A sad realisation came upon me this afternoon: I don't use joysticks anymore. I have one somewhere, but I don't think it's been plugged into a PC for about five years. On my consoles and PC there are gamepads galore, but the grand stick of old is gone. Some people still think themselves connoisseurs of the rubberised grip, however. One such person is Gasbandit, who has been writing about joysticks past and present. He makes a few suggestions.

    Maybe if there were some decent, inexpensive yet sturdy and dependable joysticks to play with that weren't concerned about finding places to mount 58 impossible-to-program buttons somewhere on the surface of the stick, devs might actually see a market for some good flight sims again.

    I wouldn't hold your breath, Mr Bandit. You'll be blue and dead a long time before joysticks cause a resurgence in accessible flight sims.

  • Image for 2Moons Beta

    2Moons, the free-to-play MMO by none other than David Perry (and not Dave Perry), has just gone live as a beta version. You can download the client from GamersHell. We'll offer some insightful and informative comment soon, probably. In the meantime here's a picture of a dude with swords:

    Someone might love him...

  • Image for C&C: Exposition Wars

    To placate angry fans, Command & Conquer 3's Executive Producer (now there's a title which, in film-land at least, means nothing, apart from 'gets to swim in all the money') Mike Verdu has posted on the official forums apologising for inconsistencies in the game's plot in context to the C&C 'universe', and pledging to fix them ASAP.

    The degree to which men can obsess over insignificant details fascinates me at the best of times (though admittedly, I'm just as bad, being able to name what year each of the 50-odd versions of Optimus Prime was released in off the top of my head). But complaining about inconsistencies in perhaps the most deliberately silly RTS of all time? I honestly can't believe there's guys who take its plot seriously. You're supposed to laugh at it - I did. Man, I really enjoyed C&C 3 for its over-the-top ease and big, happy dumbness, but anal trolls taking it too seriously makes me wonder if I was looking at it entirely wrong.

    Oh, and the kind of stuff they're bitching about? "A video briefing sequence in C&C 3 identifies the date as 2028, but that is inconsistent with the 2030 date set out in TS: Firestorm." Glad you're putting your passion for protest into a worthy cause, guys.

  • Dungeon Runners, from NC Soft, is free. Or it costs £2.50/month to play it properly. Which is still incredibly cheap. And it's remarkably fun. I review it with real words over at EG.

    At first glance, and perhaps second, third and fourth, it's impossible to see Dungeon Runners as anything other than a derivative of World of Warcraft. The completely free (well, we'll come to that in a bit) MMO seems to be going out of its way to ape the 9 million selling behemoth. Everything - from the fonts used to the colour-coding of the drops to the quest window design - appears to be designed to be familiar. However, with comparatively shoddy graphics, jagged controls, and an immediately obvious miniscule scale, this all seems to be shooting itself in the level 23 boot.

    That's until you play it for a bit. At the fifth glance, Dungeon Runners is, against all likelihood, a spoof of the MMO genre. NC Soft, one of the big players in the online world with City of Heroes, Lineage and the forthcoming Tabula Rasa, are taking a cheeky dig at the trend that's brought them riches. And oddly, it works.

  • Here at Rock, Paper, Shotgun, we received an email from someone calling themselves 'DefinitelyFromBlizzardHonest', telling us what will be announced at BlizzCon next week.

    There have been rumours flying for a while that Blizzard were to be announcing a new expansion pack for WoW, but because a stranger sent us an email, we're able to post a news story detailing massively exciting new things.

    The sequel to World of Warcraft is to be called World of Warcraft 2: Watery Warriors.

  • Image for Sky Biff

    Like almost everyone I know I've spent too many hours capturing large red or white circles in the World In Conflict Beta. There's something particularly compulsive about trying to hold a small area on your own, while the rest of your team mills about across the battlefield, attacking the enemy without rhyme or reason. I particularly like playing as infantry and fortifying a position as best I can, fending off tank attacks and napalm deluges with my tiny soldiers. Initially I thought that playing as infantry was the very worst option, but now I understand completely that in fact it is helicopters that are actually the least interesting option. If you want to challenge your tactical self, then you need to be support or infantry.

    What I think WiC does, aside from create a palpable “battlefield” atmosphere, is allow you to feel like you can influence the battle outside of your direct area of control. Even if you can't get units to an area that's in trouble, the tactical support allows you to call in artillery or airstrikes to help out.

  • Check out this video in which an academic physicist discusses (with some surprise and awe) the physics systems demonstrated in a homebrew vehicle simulation, Rig Of Rods.

    The actual system, which includes absurdly realistic elements such as chassis bending on large vehicles, can be found here. I don't believe there's any games using this level of physics yet, but I don't suppose it'll be long before someone picks it up. The blog for Rig Of Rods has gone quiet - a tell tale sign that its author has bigger things to worry about?

  • Image for Bloody Mess

    "Every time I yank a jawbone from a skull and ram it into an eyesocket, I know I'm building a better future." So Bender from Futurama, in the guise of a biker vamp, informs me as to how he thinks the world's problems should be solved. Ah, Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines. Truly, you are the last of your kind. I no longer think you're one of the finest, however.

    Noting that yet another fan-made patch was out for the infamously broken swansong of that RPG/FPS hybrid genre awkwardly known as the immersive sim (unless you count Oblivion, which was a sort of waterered-down, action-only approach to the same concept), I've decided to revisit it. Despite slightly too fiercely defending it at the time against those who deemed it no classic because of the sheer weight of bugs, spelling mistakes and mindless combat in its twilight third, I never quite finished Bloodlines. I realised the shift from a game built on conversation, persuasion and seduction to one built on fists and knives and guns was an absolute one, so I stopped, with the story unresolved and my character not yet at the height of his dark abilities. I'd had my brainy fun, and I was grateful for it.

    These were, you understand, dark times.

  • I seem to recall having a conversation with someone (I believe it was John Smith, executive producer of Lego Star Wars) about whether it would be appropriate to have Lego Nazis. It seems that's no longer a concern.

  • Image for Armageddin' Outta Here

    RPS friend and Creative Assembly minion James Carey has spent the past few years being obsessed with PC soldier sims - first Operation Flashpoint and then its direct sequel (as opposed to indirect sequel, Operation Flashpoint 2. which was recently announced by Codemasters but won't be developed by Bohemia) Armed Assault. Over the last few months Carey has been teased a bit by me and others as he creates war scenarios, mods parachutes and "goes on maneuvers" with his weekend war chums.

    Carey was therefore pleased to be able to demonstrate that his own obsession with the super-accurate war games were as nothing compared to some of his militarist colleagues. Below is a picture of one Arma fan's setup. Click the image for full size.

    Insane? Or actually what most gamers want? I already own three PCs, two screens and a laptop. Something like this is the logical conclusion. Right? (I tell you, when I win the lottery there's going to be a picture of my neon-and-Leopard skin penthouse games cinema plastered across the entire internet.)

  • Image for Staring Into The Sun: Transformers

    Well, I hope Alec will be eating humble pie over his denouncing of the new Transformers game. I read on The Sun's website that the game deserves 81%! Alec, the shame.

    Let's analyse this critical masterpiece, mostly for the benefit of my formerly esteemed collegue so he can learn where he went so horribly wrong. It begins:

    WHAT’S THE STORY? I'm declaring an interest now as a big fan of the Transformer cartoon series from the 80s.

  • An ex-Rockstar employee, Jeff Williams, chose this week to write about his experiences working at the company, blogging some interesting details about his time on the inside.

    Apparently things were sordid from the very start. Well, in some sense.

    "They didn't believe in cubes," Jeff explains. "Ok, I understand that. But they didn't apparently believe in air either. Or cleanliness."

  • Image for Shoot You, Sir

    It's been a while since an online first-person shooter has consumed all of my attention. That's probably going to change. There are two reasons for this. One is called Enemy Territory: Quake Wars and the other is called Unreal Tournament 3.

    Quake Wars will be the first of these we'll be getting stuck into later this year. No confirmed release date, but the ongoing private beta suggests it can't be too far away. It's also the only one of the two (so far) that I've been fortunate enough to see first hand. There's all kinds of reasons to be excited about this game, not least because the team that are making it are the epitome of excited, obsessed gamers. Splash Damage has hired from the modding community, and was originally born of the modding community, but they've also had Id Software as their technical support and Activision as their sugar-daddy. It's not a recipe to be sniffed at.

    As for the game itself, well, the asymmetric factions fighting on asymmetric maps makes for a unusual yet somehow entirely familiar experience. While people talk about how it's like Battlefield in its overall vision and execution, the level of polish and design-insight makes Battlefield look quite clumsy. This is a game made by people who know what they want to see on an FPS screen. The HUD is perfect, and the vehicle controls can flipped instantly between realistic physics and vital newbie-friendly softness. This is a game of options and solidity.

  • Image for Getting Medieval

    I meant to post this before I jetted off to the US for a while. It's a report on my initial impressions of Medieval: Total War - Kingdoms, which may be of interest to humans.

    I'll confess that I didn't actually give the original game as much of my attention as I'd have liked. I wasn't commissioned to review it, so couldn't give it any of my professional time and there was so much else around that was genuinely new, returning to an old friend like a Total War games was relatively down my list. Which is a shame - and serves me right. Getting stuck into the add-on pack is a startling experience, and that it doesn't include any Carthaginians doesn't stop me loving it.

    That aside, it's interesting to note that Medieval II was the first time in the Total War series which it wasn't determinedly pushing onwards. No matter what your particularly favourite is - and there's an argument that the less-units in Shogun leads to an increased purity to the actual game, rather than wrestling with dozens of very similar unit types - there was an actual step forward every time in the road from Shogun to Medieval to Rome. The advances in Medieval II are relatively sleight, a matter of approach and polish rather than a fundamental change.

  • Image for B.E.T.T.E.R.

    Some dude's painstakingly coded replacement pixel shaders for the entirety of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Apparently it improves the buggy-but-brilliant FPS's both performance and appearance. So well, in fact, that it's to be a part of the next official patch. Clicky the below to embiggen and admire this fan-made handiwork.

    I've always maintained that, as well as porn and pictures of cats, the entire internet is built upon the kindness of strangers - strangers who, for free, make mods, and fixes, even those who risk jailtime by sharing forgotten gaming wonders with people they don't know. It's great to see one of those kind strangers receiving powerful thanks - hopefully it's the start of a long and lucrative career in games development for this JJ Walker fellow.

  • Image for Dwarf Balloonists In Saga Online

    PC game developers seem to have an increasing amount of faith in the 'free' MMO model, as we're seeing with the likes of Maple Story and Dungeon Runners. It's even being employed in the development of Saga by Wahoo Studios, which is an online persistent “massive” strategy, set in fantasy realms.

    The idea behind Saga is that players will undergo quests against NPC nations, but also fight each other in a struggle for land and honour in an online world. They'll pay for this either in the time they spend grinding away at the game, or in the extra soldiers they choose to pay for with real world cash. Wahoo are counting on their players wanting to command grand armies in the defence of their realms to pay for the game's ongoing upkeep and development – and you can see why that would appeal. Being able to spend a tenner to get yourself the mother of all monster hordes (or just a few quid to get that top-of-the-range dragon) has a certain appeal to it.

    The vision that Saga creates is quite startling: trade between nations, with all the attendent politicking and back-stabbing that such things entails. Then there are the vast fantasy armies, the favour of the gods, and the city-building. You can't exactly decry its ambition. (I particularly like that you can have dwarves hanging from balloons and taking potshots at enemy units with a flintlock pistol).

  • Image for Optimus Crime

    I'm preaching to the converted I'm sure, but whatever you do, do not buy, play or even pirate the Transformers game. It's no worse on PC than any other platform, but it is quite astonishingly dreadful. Part of the reason for this I lay not at the feet of the developers (Travellers Tales, best-known for the diminishingly excellent Lego Star Wars series, but in fact with a history of horrific licensed titles behind them) but at the nature of the game.

    Given its cast is, in the movie, demonstrated to be more or less invincible except at set-piece moments, the game has a hell of an albatross-o-con around its neck. It needs to devise something that sufficiently challenges the player without making them feel like they're not, in fact, a giant robot but are instead just another action game character with a health bar, who just happens to be 50 foot tall.

    I'm not convinced that, at least whilst at the technological point the current generation of games hardware clings to, Travellers Tales has a lot of options on that front. Having to get Bumblebee to /exactly/ this spot within /exactly/ 30 seconds or the game ends is a horrible horrible horrible disappointment for anyone wanting big stompy robot kicks, but I understand why that was deemed a better choice than just making him as weak as John Q. ThirdPersonActionAdventure. There's a reason so many licensed games are as inspid as they are, and it's because of the restrictive nature of their brainless blockbuster source material and its immortal heroes. Incidentally, the reason the Transformers PS2 game a few years back did work well was because its approach was entirely different - no cities, no people, just one robot versus thousands. Without humans, there was no sense of being gigantic, so the brain happily settled into playing a standard but polished action-platform game.

  • Image for Hey, it's the Universe At War Beta

    The chaps from Petroglyph have reached that vital testing stage of development with their new RTS, Universe At War: Earth Assault. You can sign up for the closed beta here, and I recommend you do so, because from what I saw earlier in the year this could be one of the most entertaining strategy games of 2007. Hopefully there will be an open beta to follow.

    The Petroglyph team, who previously made the fairly average Star Wars: Empire At War, have let the juice of game-glands flow freely on this one. It's feels colourful and slightly crazed. The scene is set by three alien races invading Earth, each one with its own concept and base-building methodology. Universe At War just seems to be dripping in ideas – stuff like the varied resource gathering could make for some fascinating tactics. The bio-invader aliens, for example, hoover up cows and people for their organic resources, while the robotic aliens need raw metallic materials from cars and other technological devices. You might find yourself defending a herd of cattle to fend off your enemy's advances, or staking out a car park to ambush the robotic harvesters.

    There's a strong whiff of the Starcraft asymmetric conflict going on, as well as some of the character and silliness of the Command & Conquer series. Petroglyph are all veterans of the Command & Conquer games, so we can expect the kind of polish and ease of play that you find in those games. While Empire At War seemed a bit stiff and constrained by the Star Wars licence, here the development team are clearly enjoying themselves, and just pouring whatever seems funny or entertaining into the game world. There's a sense of excitement in playing it that I've not felt elsewhere for quite some time. It really knows this is a game, and the mercenary sharkmen and titanic walker-robots really testify to that.

  • Image for MMO Kidnapping

    China View reports on Brazilian gang crime (for some reason) informing us that a top Brazilian MMO player was kidnapped for his Gunbound account:

    Brazilian Police arrested a gang on Tuesday that kidnapped the top scorer of online game GunBound in order to force him to transfer his gaming account to them. The player, whose identity has been kept secret, was the owner of the account with the highest score in the online game GunBound, developed and maintained by South Korea's Softnyx, and distributed in Brazil by OnGame.

    That's right, Gunbound, the cutesy online Anime shooter - like a shooty version of Maple Story, I suppose.