Free Loaders: Packing Heat In Latin America

I really am in Costa Rica. I am not just doing one of my 'jokes'.

Hola, amigos. This week’s edition is coming to you from San josé, Costa Rica. As some of you may know, my fearless and tenacious reporting of the Ludum Dare collective and other seditious elements of the free games community has forced me into hiding in Central America. But I will not falter. I will continue to report on these dastardly events, these subversive groups of juegistas, and these craven games, which cost exactly zero dollars. Long live the free press!

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How Risk Of Rain Increases Difficulty Over Time

This is The Mechanic, where Alex Wiltshire invites a developer to help him put their game up on blocks and take a wrench to hack out its best feature, just to see how it works.

The start of a game of Risk of Rain [official site] is quiet. Your small pixel character stands in a vast alien landscape, in which somewhere you’ll find a teleporter that will take you to the next level. The end of a game of Risk of Rain is mayhem, the land swarming with monsters that you couldn’t survive.

And throughout lies constant stress and pressure. You’re ever aware of a meter in the top right corner of the screen that ticks upwards. Every five minutes, a bell chimes and the difficulty changes: from Very Easy, to Easy, to Medium, and further. The constantly respawning monsters come ever thicker and harder, inexorably escalating towards unmanageable chaos. You must never stand still and must never relent, because with every second your own downfall nears. All because of:

THE MECHANIC: Time = difficulty

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Trump Card: The Political Machine 2016 Released

When we sent Marsh in to prematurely evaluate Stardock’s election sim The Political Machine 2016 [official site], Donald J. Trump won the presidency in a landslide victory. It’s purely a coincidence that Marsh is no longer our Premature Evaluator, that our new chap is someone who knows better than to tempt fate.

Three months later, with the presidential race picking up, The Political Machine has left Early Access and properly launched. I’m interested by how its model has changed issues since that first release to reflect developments.

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XCOM 2’s Day One Mods Reviewed

XCOM 2 [official site] isn’t just a big pile of tactical brilliance, it’s also a big mod-friendly pile of tactical brilliance. Theoretically, that means someone will iron out the things that annoy you and build on the things you love. It also means we can expect anything from an increase in moustache variety to a revamped campaign or series of total conversions.

To kick things off, Firaxis commissioned the clever folks who made the Long War mod for Enemy Unknown to produce three day-one mods for XCOM 2. They are neat additions but, more than that, they’re signposts toward an exciting future.

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How Do BeamNG.drive’s Physics Compare To Reality?

I like careful, reflective journeys in as much as Alec does, but my other great vehicular passion is tossing cars down mountains and slamming them into brick walls. There’s no greater game for that than BeamNG.drive [official site], which although still in alpha has the best physics and damage model of any driving game I’ve ever played. To prove the point, YouTube channel DragCarTV recreated common crash testing scenarios in the game and then put the footage side by side with real crashes to see how they matched up.

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Mirror’s Edge Catalyst’s Story Puts Me On Edge

“I once knew a young woman who would defy anyone and anything in order to do what she felt was right. But you’re clearly not her. You’re broken.” So starts the beginning of Mirror’s Edge Catalyst‘s story trailer, in which we learn that Faith might be broken like some sort of mirror and must jump between edges of buildings in order to prove to the yelling men that, like, shut up no she isn’t. Come see, and find details of the game’s beta in the bargain.

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PES 2016’s F2P MyClub Spin-off Arrives On PC

'Free to play? No way!' says the footballman. 'Wait, free to play or pay to win?'

Football was free when it first began in 1362, when youths had the right to play on the village common and would swipe a sturdy-looking head from the pikes by the gates on their way out, so why do we have to pay for virtual football now? It’s not even real!

Well, you won’t get the munch the eyes at half-time, but Pro Evolution Soccer 2016’s free-to-play spin-off has now launched on PC. PES 2016 myClub [official site] is its managerial, player-collecting sort of mode. Something. But free to play!

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Wot I Think: Agatha Christie – The ABC Murders

When I wrote about the preview snippet of Agatha Christie – The ABC Murders [Steam page]I wasn’t sure what to make of it. The art style felt pleasant and the extra points for behaving as Poirot would were a nice touch, but the puzzles were straightforward and you weren’t really playing as Poirot. The overall impression was of a studio trying to make a murder mystery story into a game and adding a lot of superficial interactivity. So does the full game succeed where the snippet failed? Here’s Wot I Think:

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XCOM 2 Is Ridiculously Exciting

I don’t mean “I’m excited that this videogame sequel is coming out,” but rather that the game itself works so hard and does so much to create a constant sense of near-euphoric drama. In an age where sequels=darker, because far too many people believe that The Empire Strikes Back is the highest watermark of popular culture, XCOM 2 [official site]s lurch towards brightly-coloured celebratory heroism is a welcome one – and it does this even though, thematically, we’re talking a post-alien-invasion Earth and all the horror that implies. It wouldn’t be unfair to invoke Independence Day comparisons, but it wouldn’t be quite correct either: XCOM 2 does have that hoorah-heroism, but fortunately it’s bereft of flag-waving. This is the bright dystopia, the heroic rebellion rather than the forlorn resistance.

When I play XCOM 2, I feel incredibly excited most of the time, and it’s not just because of soaring military march soundtrack – there are dozens of tiny things it does to make me feel like an action hero (or a least a commander of action heroes).

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