Posts Tagged ‘hands on’

Secret Legend Is The Cutest Thing – Hands On

Graphics aren’t everything, are they? We all know this. Shitty pictures can quickly become irrelevant if the game is strong enough, and beautiful shinies often belie a stinking poop of a game. Being distracted by the pretties is a fool’s game. Still, I only chased down the developer of Secret Legend [official site] because I saw pictures of it on Kill Screen* and it looked so damned gorgeous. I nagged him until he sent me a copy of the game in its current very early state, because I wanted that prettiness right in front of my face. Oh, and it seems it’s a really rather lovely game, too!

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Deus Ex Mankind Divided Hands On: “All Signs Suggest It’s An Improvement On Its Predecessor In Every Way”

I’m in the camp that thought Deus Ex: Human Revolution was a hell of a good starting point. The level design ran up against apparent technical limitations, chopped into distinct sections rather than flowing naturally from streets to interiors and back again, and the stealthy approach sometimes felt more difficult than it should have been thanks to sticky cover and too-rigid AI.

During a day of hands-on experience with follow-up Mankind Divided, it became apparent that Eidos Montreal felt similarly about their first stab at their cyberpunk revival. Moving from the tech renaissance of Human Revolution, the sequel steps into a fractured world of corporate feudalism. It’s looking superb.

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How To Teach An AI To Play Hex: Shards Of Fate

Hex is getting smarter. It’s learning. While it might not quite be approaching the colloquial indifference (or destructive potential) of Wargames’ WOPR, it is watching you play – it’s watching everyone play – and it’s adapting.

After their tremendously successful Kickstarter (warning: contains clown death) and while settling a protracted lawsuit with the creators of Magic: The Gathering, developer Cryptozoic have been diligently ploughing through the alpha and beta stages of Hex [official site], regularly bolting on new features and laboriously constructing the vision that CEO Corey Jones first prophesied nearly two and half years ago.

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The Witcher 3: Hearts of Stone Introduces A Tonal Shift

“The quest you’ve chosen would take too long to solve in the time span you have,” remarks a slightly concerned PR representative. “Maybe try the other one when you get the opportunity?”

I take this as a good sign. The Witcher 3: Hearts of Stone [official site] is the first ‘proper’ piece of DLC for CD Projekt RED’s already vast RPG, and comes after the release of umpteen freely available new clothes, minisodes and weapons. While Hearts of Stone isn’t concerned with adding new areas or mechanics, it’s a thrill to learn that it’s of a grander scale than I can reasonably see in the few hours I’ve been given to play it. In fact, the developers from Poland predict it’ll offer around ten-hours of new quests to play come release on October 13th.

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Bounty Train Is Steam-Powered FTL And I’ve Been Rogueing On Its Railroad

“Best elevator pitch ever” was my response to a colleague’s description of Bounty Train as ‘Elite with steam trains’ when we first heard about it. There’s a game I want to play. Now, Daedelic’s train management/trading/roleplaying/ gunfighting game has pulled up at the Early Access station. Keen to know if dreams can come true, I hitched a ride to hands-on impressions town.

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Divinity Original Sin 2’s Competitive Roleplaying And Diverging Narratives Are Boldly Inventive

Divinity: Original Sin 2 [official site] has just landed on Kickstarter but we’ve already played an early build. It’s an ambitious sequel, supporting up to four players who will now be able to compete as their objectives overlap and diverge. As well as bringing about the life and death of the party, Original Sin 2 brilliantly overhauls its predecessor’s turn-based combat and introduces multiple playable races and an origin system that defines each character’s evolving place in the world.

Bold and inventive, it adds complex layers of overlapping narrative consequences to Original Sin’s world of interlocking systems. This is how it works.

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Superhot Is The FPS Made Cool Again

Superhot [official site] is the first-person shooter deconstructed. You don’t move and shoot, jump and dodge. You move then shoot, jump then dodge. The reason for your turn-based decision making is that time only moves when you do. I’ve been playing the beta for the past week, and it’s superb.

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Dark Souls 3’s New Combat Is Faster And More Fearsome

Dark Souls 3 [official site] is in the shadow of a giant. The giant probably has a wound for a face, not a single leg to stand on and spends his days dragging his torso around the ruins of a throne room. After one slightly uneven sequel, the Souls series has returned to the guidance of creator Hidetaka Miyazaki. Rather than replicating what worked so well four years ago, however, From Software are tweaking their design. The architecture of the world is immediately recognisable but combat is changing.

After half an hour with the game, I’m half-way convinced it might be able to step out of the shadow of its predecessors and find a new sun to praise.

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Mad Max Might Live Up To Fury Road

Lackluster Mad Max [official site] presentations at previous games shows had led me to believe Avalanche’s open world shooter might be empty, fussy, dull. Then I played it and was pleasantly surprised: my 20 minutes of car combat were fun, exciting, and I’m keen to return to it.

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Overwatch Is A Very Blizzardy First-Person Shooter

Blizzard like to hop between genres, that much is clear. At their Gamescom conference they talked about Legacy of the Void, an RTS; Hearthstone, a collectible card game; Heroes of the Storm, a MOBA (or ‘hero brawler’, if you accept Blizzard’s nomenclature); and Overwatch [official site], a first-person shooter.

But after playing Overwatch, which visually recalls Team Fortress 2, I’m starting to think Blizzard’s games all have more in common than their surface suggests. I’m beginning to think there is as much a ‘Blizzgame’ formula as much as there is a ‘Ubigame’ formula.

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Hands On: RymdResa

It’s tough to pin down exactly what sort of game RymdResa [official site] is going to be when it comes out next month, not least because it keeps changing as you go through. Split into three chapters, each slightly varying on the last, it’s a 2D space exploration/thruster-based arcade game, with poetry. You know the sort. I’ve had my hands on some code.

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Ghostly Machines: Hands On With SOMA’s Opening Hours

Over the weekend, I played the first third of SOMA [official site], the new game from Frictional, the horror maestros behind Penumbra and Amnesia: The Dark Descent. If the tone and quality of the game remain approximately similar for the remainder of the running time, Frictional will have delivered their most accomplished title to date, but it might also be their least terrifying. That might be a good thing.

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Hands On: Just Cause 3

Just Cause 3 [official site] is a spectator’s dream. I’d been playing for at least two and a half hours when I decided to take a walk around the room to see what all of the other journalists were up to. Some were testing the physics by attaching cars to boats, planes to people and spluttering scooters to everything. Some had learned to navigate the game’s new yet familiar setting – the fictional Mediterranean island of Medici – like ground-skimming superheroes, swift creatures of the air who used a combination of grapple lines, wingsuit and parachute to stay airborne. Some were exploding everything.

On one screen the Looney Tunes violence elsewhere had been transformed into something grim.

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Hands On: Hearts Of Iron IV

The first time I moved to the unsteady beat of Hearts of Iron IV [official site], I played as Germany and managed to avoid the catastrophe of World War II by fudging my initial invasion plans so badly that the French were preparing to march on Berlin by 1938. France, like every other nation, had been controlled by the AI.

This time around, I played two games. Two games in a world populated by around twenty human players, controlling all of the major powers and some minor players. The first time around, I was outside the main theater, attempting to transform Brazil into a major trading power. When that world tore itself apart, I picked Japan in a draft and set about taming the Russian Bear with a little help from my friends.

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Hands On: StarCraft II – Legacy Of The Void

I am, and always will be, ambivalent about StarCraft 2 [official site]. It is a game I can barely play at the best of times, where my greatest exertions will raise me to the barest level of competence. It is the eSport I fell in love with, the competitive game I still get the most excited about during long, lazy weekends at home. It is a game I admire, but will never master.

Yet hope springs eternal. Maybe with Legacy of the Void, StarCraft 2 can finally become what I want it to be. Maybe this time it can be everything.

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Hands On: Killing Floor 2

It has been a decade since the original Killing Floor mod for Unreal Tournament, which was released in much-improved standalone form in 2009. It’s one of those games that quickly turns some people off: the visuals were a bit shonky, it was essentially built on repetition, and the less said about the Dick van Dyke voice-acting the better. But for devotees, Killing Floor is one of those games that stealthily racks up several hundred hours on Steam and swiftly becomes a fixture among like-minded mates, a precision blastathon where the repetition is the whole point.

You got better; the game got deadlier. And Killing Floor 2 [official site] is as straightforward a reload as you’re ever likely to see.

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Impressions: Rainbow Six: Siege Closed Alpha

Pip and Graham have breached the barricades of Rainbow Six: Siege‘s [official site] closed beta and gathered in the rubble discuss whether the dust they’re breathing is asbestos or the-best-os.

Graham: I might have shared this before, but I think Peter Gabriel wrote a song about my favourite thing in Rainbow Six: Siege.

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Hands-On: A Few Hours With Dirty Bomb

Rhino, right, can hold off a team single-handed once his Gatling gun spins up, but you can always get Arty, left, to drop an airstrike on him. Assuming Proxy, centre, doesn't slap a remotely detonated bomb on his caboodle.

I managed to get hopelessly lost on my way to last week’s Dirty Bomb [Steam page] event, squirrelled away in the trendy thicket of London’s Old Truman Brewery. Annoying? Yes. Fitting? Absolutely. Splash Damage has a multitude of demons to slay with its latest spin on Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory – the ever-controversial choice of a free-to-play model, the spectre of Brink, its previous stab at a new IP – but the most fearsome of these demons is surely London itself. London, a city that’s actually a bunch of medieval villages mashed into each other, where roads designed for horses struggle to find room for buses and Range Rovers. London, a metropolis blown half to bits during World War 2, then mutated into absurd, glittering shapes by overseas investors. London, where heading a mile downriver feels like setting foot on a different planet.

You couldn’t ask for a less elegant setting for a multiplayer FPS in the Team Fortress vein, where a single sightline askew can be the difference between enjoyment and fury, but the studio has done a bang-up job. In fact, one of this formidable, comfortable shooter’s greatest strengths is how it chisels readable warrens of coverspots, overlooks and chokepoints out of the capital’s beguiling weirdness. London is everywhere in Dirty Bomb, from its red letterboxes to the graceful arches of Waterloo Station, but unlike the reality, it’s seldom inconvenient. It never gets in your way.

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Hands-On: Job Simulator On Valve’s Vive VR Headset

The Vive overwhelmed me when I first tried it at GDC, but after playing through Valve’s hand-picked demos for a general sense of the VR headset, I went back for a second time to play more of Job Simulator [official site]. Of the game-like experiences I’ve had with the device, it was the best – better even than Valve’s own Portal 2 vignette.

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Hands On: Aer

I can only imagine the sighs that must have emanated from all working on Aer [official site] when Ubisoft’s Grow Home was released last month. Not because the two games play alike – the similarities are only slight. But wow, do they look the same. The polygonal design of both renders gorgeous green foliage against cerulean skies, growing on floating islands. Aer, of course, has been around since late 2013, while Grow Home was announced then released within the same few weeks. Were Aer due to release soon, its thunder could have been considerably stolen. So it’s perhaps oddly fortunate that the flying/exploring adventure isn’t out until 2016.

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