I have been, since November, utterly enamoured with digital Ptolemaic Egypt. Assassin’s Creed Origins’ snowglobe version of the kingdom makes it excellent fodder for long, meandering walks and screenshots of tantalising vistas, but it’s the small vignettes of daily life and scenes of mundanity that make Egypt feel less like just another theme park.
Since the first Assassin’s Creed, Ubisoft Montreal has used scale as its default weapon. Huge towers, massive crowds, more map icons than the eye can handle. But while, yes, Origins is still a gargantuan game, it’s one that spends a lot of time zoomed in on the streets instead of hovering around the rooftops. It’s inspired me to do the same, accompanied by the game’s impressive photo mode. It pauses the action and unlocks the camera at the press of a button, letting you tweak the image with filters and by changing things like contrast and depth of field. Read the rest of this entry »
Listen or be unmade
Welcome to the freshly relaunched RPS podcast, the Electronic Wireless Show! You might think this is episode 31, but actually it’s episode 1 again. We’re rebooting it, even though we just did that last year. We’ve started by making it more accessible. Instead of three of us chatting about videogames between snippets of jaunty music, there’s just a sad man saying “Sonic the Hedgehog” over and over. We’re confident you’ll like it. Read the rest of this entry »
Assassin’s Creed clothes are some of the best clothes in all games. Those layers, all those flowing, flapping, swinging layers: cloth and leather and swords and knives and pouches and harnesses. I often idly wonder, as I watch an Assassin’s Creed loading screen, how many people – how many studios! – produce Assassin’s Creed’s clothes? They’re a wonder of code and art coming together, of layers of beautiful fabric flapping just right. And Ubisoft knocked Assassin’s Creed Origins’ clothes out of the goddamn park.
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Listen while running
Cowardice is a virtue. So says the team on this week’s RPS podcast, the Electronic Wireless Show. That’s because our theme is “running away” – games that encourage you to flee from danger, or that give you a choice between fight and flight. Adam will run from the soldiers of Arma or the post-apocalyptic antagonists of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Brendan will scarper from poor odds in For Honor or Overwatch, while Alice only pretends to run away in Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds, tricking her foes into giving chase before ambushing them like some kind of velociraptor. Read the rest of this entry »
Everything is permitted (except hacking)
Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.
The Assassin’s Creed series has abandoned its mutliplayer modes and that makes me sad. The multiplayer, introduced in Brotherhood, was one of the most playground-like games you could find. It’s basically the game of Assassin, popular among university students, but played on cool-looking streets from the past. You’re hunting somebody, but somebody else is hunting you. And – oh no – you’re all disguised as computer-controlled characters. You need to find a Jester among dozens of Jesters, while also hiding your own Courtesan among dozens of Courtesans. Read the rest of this entry »
Guilty as charged
It’s a simple theme this week with the Electronic Wireless Show. We’re talking about guilty pleasures – the games that make us feel a wee bit embarrassed but not so much that we won’t squirrel away at them while grinning like idiots. Alec feels a bit sheepish bringing his toy steering wheel to work when planning to play American Truck Simulator. Meanwhile, Matt remembers how he enjoyed the passage of time while picking flax in a Runescape field, and Brendan attempts to explain the relaxing sea-based boredom of Sailaway.
We’ve also been tinkering with alchemical puzzler Opus Magnum from Zachtronics, fiddling with small machines to produce precious metals, hangover cures and the kinds of “stamina potions” you might find spamming up your junk folder. Come listen, guilt-free. Read the rest of this entry »
"You killed me? Let's talk"
Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
The first Assassin’s Creed, with its underwhelming and repetitive missions, seems destined to be judged as Ubi’s half-decent prototype for the much better AssCreeds to follow. But as much as the sequels added some much-needed character and features, the series also lost something. Most people will probably be happy it’s no longer a part of the game, but I really liked it when you had a long, final chat with the people you killed. Read the rest of this entry »
And how they can do it better
Video games always come with an expectation that the player will suspend disbelief to some extent. Genetically engineered super-soldier clones don’t exist, radiation has never and will never work like that, and overweight Italian plumbers could never make that jump. In most cases, if we are unwilling or unable to suspend our disbelief, we may well struggle to enjoy the game and our questioning of the basics of its ‘reality’ would probably make us insufferable to be around.
There are some games however, where the realities of our world are key to enjoying the game. These are the builders like City Skylines, simulators and sports games like Prison Architect and FIFA, and even crime games like Grand Theft Auto. One genre has a particular problem when it comes to maintaining a foot in the real world yet still creating a setting where one can have fun without becoming mired in morally questionable events and choices: historically based games. And among historical games, few subjects are as complex to represent as slavery. Many have tried, from Europa Universalis IV and Victoria II to Civilization and Assassin’s Creed: Freedom Cry, and in this article I’ll investigate the portrayal and use of slavery in these games and more to explore what they get right, what they get wrong, and how games could do better in future.
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