Posts Tagged ‘feature’

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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Your Chance To Star/Die In Our XCOM 2 Diary

Supporters! Hello! Love you! I’m going to start writing an XCOM 2 diary in the not-to-distant, which will initially star recreations of the great and good staff of RPS, and also me. I’ll be playing on a relatively high difficulty and in Ironman perma-death mode, so basically Adam, Alice, Graham, John, Pip and I are all doomed to die within the first mission. I’ll need reinforcements pronto.

Would you like to be one of them?
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Wot I Think: American Truck Simulator

We were somewhere north of Barstow on the edge of the desert – no, really, we actually were, I was so pleased – when awareness began to take hold. I rent squalid office space with two people from different companies, and they were baffled when the dull rock soundtrack of American Truck Simulator [official site]’s title screen began leaking from my speakers. Of all the games in the world, why would I choose to play this? Worst case scenario: every stereotype about PC gaming confirmed. Best case scenario: I was playing this profoundly boring driving simulator ironically. Mad Skill, No Plow, 360 Crop Rotation and all that.

By the end of the day, after hours of watching me drive through California’s forests and Nevada’s deserts, the three of us had grown appreciably closer. As night fell on San Francisco, we swapped rueful tales of love, sex and booze from our youth. As day broke over Reno, we sang in broken harmony to Gimme Shelter. As I rolled carefully into a depot in pitch-black Oakland after a long, long night’s drive, someone volunteered “shall I get some beers in?” We sat back in our seats and sighed contentedly. Our American road trip.

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What Should XCOM 2’s First Expansion Be?

I visited Firaxis in 2014 to see Civilization: Beyond Earth and it was impossible not to wonder which closed doors were hiding the XCOM 2 [official site] team. The game hadn’t been announced but surely somebody was working on a sequel. Would it follow the path of the original games and take to the Lovecraftian depths? Would it reach toward the stars and a battle on various alien homeworlds? Would it take risks or rest comfortably on well-earned laurels?

The answer, as we now know, didn’t quite fit any of the above. These are happy times for the XCOM devotee but I’m hoping for an apocalyptic future. Here are a few ideas and hopes for what the game’s first expansion might be.

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Have You Played… Salvation Prophecy?

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

Loners are odd sorts. We all know this. Salvation Prophecy, for example, is a third-person shooter, space dogfighter, and real-time strategy all rolled into one by a lone creator. No committee would even try that.
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Wot I Think: The Witness

After a whopping seven years in development, Jonathan Blow’s follow-up to Braid is finally here. The Witness [official site] throws out much — though not all — of the pompousness of its predecessor to deliver a less obtuse, modernised riff on Myst. And it’s actually quite brilliant, if you can ignore its layer of self-satisfied philosophical grandiosity. Here’s wot I think.

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Black Desert’s Beauty Could be More Than Skin Deep

We’ve been peering at Korean MMORPG Black Desert Online [official site] with some interest since plans for a western release were announced in 2014. We’ve cooed at trailers, pondered the combat system and applauded the character creation tools. To learn more, we sent Agent Messner into the fray and he returned with exciting news. Could this be the MMO for those of us who are weary of the genre’s formulaic structure?

I am bored to death of MMORPGs. Not their potential mind you, but the execution. The seemingly endless chains of quests, the sole focus on murdering everything that doesn’t give you a quest (and some things that do), and, perhaps most of all, the way developers think that shoving more quests into the meat grinder is the solution to prolonging a game’s lifespan.

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A Few Of My Favourite Monsters

We live in complex times. When I was a youngster, it was perfectly reasonable to buy a game simply because it had more monsters than the other games. Playing through shooters, RPGs and platformers alike, I’d be tempted to give up when I reached the point where no new enemy types were appearing. The very idea of a game with only one type of enemy, no matter how intelligent and believable, was poison. Give me all of your mutants, demons and aliens, I cried, give them to me now.

Here are a few of my favourites, ranging from the first-person shooters of my teenage years to the surreal horrors of my childhood.

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Cardboard Children – Best Boardgame Of 2015

Hello youse.

In the first few years of doing this column, I would always do a Game of the Year award thing. It’s the kind of thing you’re supposed to do at the end of a year, right? You look back over the months and follow your heart to the place where everything was magical for you. There was a time when a game would absolutely stand out over all the rest, and you’d feel like you’d seen enough of the rest to make a confident call on what you thought was “the best”. But times have changed.

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