Posts Tagged ‘PC-Gamer’

Have You Played… Cover Discs?

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

I couldn’t afford many games as a teenager, so like many other people I turned to the only other available legal avenue: cover discs. The demos they offered were often the only way I ever played the biggest games – games about which I still have strong memories and thick opinions years later, despite only experiencing a sliver – as well as the method by which I procured patches in an age when dial-up internet was slow and expensive.

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Ready For My Close-Up: PC Gaming Gets A Spotlight At E3

And lo’ the clouds parted and E3’s suited powers-that-be waved their bejeweled hand and now there’s going to be an entirely new conference of sorts dedicated to PC Gaming. Oh Sweet Mariah Carey, such things have been a long time coming. As a long-time attendee of E3, I can tell you first hand that that’s the place you go when you’re basically just looking for an in-the-trenches view of the most macho of console arms races. Amid such tense and enthusiastic pissing contests, PC gaming has often found itself ignored.

But hardware folks AMD and cheery RPS fanzine PC Gamer have announced they’re hosting a new PC gaming pageant extravaganza during E3 week this year, the PC Gaming Show.

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Monkey Island 2 Spec Ed Review On PCG.com

Leather like a cow I've ever seen.

Are you interested in what you should be thinking about the new Monkey Island 2 Special Edition? Fortunately I’m here to tell you – what a spot of good news. My review for PC Gamer has made its way onto the Jaunty RPS Tribute Site PCGamer.com, over here. I say:

“By jove, they’ve got it! Last year saw LucasArts remake the original Secret of Monkey Island with gorgeous new graphics and fantastic voice acting. And then, through some arcane form of voodoo, they managed to make it maddeningly irritating to play. A crazed muddle of menus, inputs and berserk design decisions spoiled a game that was never as good as people remembered it being. Forget all of that – Monkey Island 2: Special Edition has fixed absolutely everything, and was a far better game to begin with.”

Alec’s XCOM Feature


Mr Meer was the first to take a look at the new XCOM, thanks to the PC Gamer’s exclusive feature. Since he’s currently off having weekend adventures I thought it might be wise to link to an online sighting: GamesRadar have the full text, and some images.

This isn’t a linear shooter, either. Your base’s phonetappers and police-radio scanners present you with choices as to where to go next and what to do, picked from a large map of the US. Rumours of animal attacks and strange weather patterns in a certain state? Sounds like Blobs are on the rampage. Saddle up, Agent Carter. Grab the wheel of your hulking fedmobile, take two of your best men with you, and go see what’s going on.

Go read.

Hidden Movement: XCOM Uncovered In PCG

Me! I saw XCOM! Me! And I still can’t bloody talk about it. But I can direct you to buy, beg, borrow, steal or consume the latest issue of PC Gamer UK, which contains a big-ass feature wot I wrote about 2K Australia/Marin’s controversial do-over of The World’s Greatest Videogame™. What I can say – I hope – is that the feature goes into why the game is a lot more interesting than the infuriatingly brief press release suggested. The issue’s lurking on the shelves of UK agents o’news now, or you can buy a copy direct from here. Free delivery, I’m told. Oh, and the feature also includes the largest picture you’ve ever seen of a Sectoid from the original X-COM. We’ll be spilling XCOM details on this very website in a few weeks: print/online embargo splits are absolutely ludicrous in this day and age, but there you go.

Outcast Not At 57 Scandal: PC Gamer Top 100

And don't get me started with Thief 2.

The yearly PC Gamer Top 100 has gone live! To actually get any real explanation behind it, you’ll have to buy the new issue, but it’s available here in a just-the-facts-format. It breaks with tradition in a three key ways. Firstly, it was the first in living memory to be comprised not by going down the pub and arguing until everyone hates each other more than usual. Instead, it was done by cold vote-casting democracy. Or, at least, the closest simulacra to cold-vote-casting democracy the ever-mendacious Tom Francis could manage. Secondly, it involved votes from the PC Gamer writers of many nations (i.e. if there’s anything obviously mental, blame the yanks). Thirdly, and most audaciously, the fifthy-seventh greatest game of all time Outcast isn’t at fifty-seven. I’m shocked, shocked I say. Anyway, the readers vote is now open so do go in and RIGHT WRONGS. I admit, it’s the sort of thing which makes me wonder what a RPS readers’ top 100 may look like. Top 100s are odd ones, conceptually speaking. I wrote a little about it over on my workblog a few years ago, which I republish here…
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PC Gamer: Dragon Age Origins Review

That's a nasty cold.

My review of Dragon Age in PC Gamer is now online. All 60 million words, but short the very pretty boxouts (and thus vital details about the “taint” – snigger). It looks very splendid in the magazine. (Unfortunately an RPS review will be a while coming as our attempts to get review code were not responded to.) It’s a tremendous game, in many senses of the word. Here’s an excerpt that captures one of my favourite details:

“Whether you play as a human, elf or dwarf, a rogue, warrior or mage, a noble or a commoner, Dragon Age requires smart use of your wits and weapons. Combat is a combination of real-time fighting and turn-based handing out of orders. You have control of all in your current party (which has a maximum of four characters), as well as an elaborate Combat Tactics system that enables you to all but program your team’s AI. But there’s also an entire realm to explore, and a central, overwhelming theme of acculturation within its many towns and races. This is about politics, moral philosophy and love. And about killing dragons with swords.”

Dawn of War 2: Chaos Rising Announced

The things I do for this site.

There’s been rumours around, but it’s finally been confirmed in our old comrades at the PC Gamer* podcast. Talking about their forthcoming issue where they reveal that the first Dawn of War 2 add-on pack will feature chaos. And it’s called Chaos Rising. It’s welcome, but not exactly an enormous surprise – I thought Chaos would be one of the most-likely factions to be in the original game. There’s little more in the podcast – expect more to come when the subs copies arrive with their readers shortly.

*UK. As in, the original one. Yeah, you heard.

Long Shots And Lung Shots

Autumn wouldn’t be autumn in the Stone household without a spot of digital deer slaying. The following is a piece I penned a few years back for PC Gamer UK on the history and appeal of gaming’s least fashionable genre.

Throw a couple of logs onto the fire, pour yourself a glass of something warming, and come sit down here next to me. Comfortable? Splendid. Today I want to tell you about my penchant for a pariah genre. Today I want to talk of hunting simulations, a genus of games that’s been mauled, mocked, and lately, studiously ignored by British game critics. Read the rest of this entry »

The New New World – Civ 4: Colonization Reviewed

There's no way of telling it's based on Civ 4, is there?

My write-up of the official remake of one of my all-time favourite strategy games is in the current issue of PC Gamer UK, and now also on the magic internet. While a solid and largely faithful remake, the game wasn’t quite what I was hoping it would be, so I’m expecting outraged folk to shout at me and email a death threat or two because I didn’t score it 98% any day now.

Here’s a quote for the road:

Life is good to old Kingy. He’s fine whether or not he gets my money, and there’s not a damned thing I can do about it. He’s the bully at school you can’t touch because he’s the headmaster’s son, the seedy politician who never quite gets thrown out of office because his wife is friends with the Prime Minister’s wife. He’s unstoppable.

Spore: The First Reviews (UPDATED)

Apparently the official online embargo starts lifting tomorrow, but a bunch of print scores have already found their way into the realms of webby-land. Most notably, CVG have just posted a slightly bizarre summary of Tom Francis’ print review in PC Gamer UK, which is possibly a cheeky attempt to get a march on tomorrow’s online reviews. The lad scored Will Wright’s new’un a whopping 91%, but delivered a few sharp punches to Spore’s ribs. For the whole review you’ll need to read the mag, but what are, purportedly, the most pertinent comments can be found here.

On the other side of the coin, VG247 is reporting less favourable scores from a couple of German gaming mags.: 79% from Gamestar, and 73% from PC Games. Hmm. Looks like it’s silly season for huge score discrepancies, eh?

Update – Looks like those German mags are in the minority. There are ten reviews in the wild now, most of which are 8s and 9s. This one seems especially trustworthy, for some mysterious reason.

An A-Z of Evil

Probably did a lot of charity work

Heh. I just stumbled across this randomly, having had no idea it had ever gone online – a pop piece I wrote for PC Gamer last March on PC gaming’s finest villains. Well, the finest that fit easily within an A-Z list, anyway. No, your favourite villain is not in there, and yes, shame on me for the oversight. How dare I call myself a PC gamer, etc. Why don’t you mention him/her/it/them/[no suitable pronoun in the English language] below instead?

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PC Gamer Top 100 – They Care What You Think

Those shadows are you. PC Gamer STOLE YOUR SHADOW.

The new PC Gamer is out, and it’s Top 100 feature is filled with pictures of three-quarters of RPS (along with the staff of the magazine as well, probably. It’s hard to be sure because we just looked at the pictures of ourselves). Kieron wasn’t present, because his beard (RIP) was deemed too dangerous for the public.

Anyhoo, the point of a Top 100 is for people to read it, throw their hands in the air, murder their firstborn, and scream about the injustices of Silent Hunter III being at 81 instead of 80. PCG has made it so much simpler with their newfangled Readers Top 100 site.

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PC Gamer’s 365 Days Of Free Games

Knytt Stories - one of the best.

A lot of love and hard work went into a remarkable feature in the current PC Gamer (UK) – 365 free games. And now you can read the entire damn thing on Games Radar.

It was a mad labour of love/hate for half the Gamer team, as well as Jim and me, taking far longer and far more people than any feature ever should. And well worth it.

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Turok – PC Gamer Review

Offering a dinosaur a cuddle always catches them off-guard.

The new PC Gamer is well worth a look. Especially for a mighty feature offering details of 365 free games. It’s one of those ideas that sounds good, right up until you sit down to try and write it. Poor old Graham Smith nearly died trying, and Craig Pearson blushed red and fainted at the size of the task, at which point Jim and I were enlisted. Like mighty heroes we strode into the office, rested our broadswords against the filing cabinet, and joined Graham and Craig quivering in front of the thing. The result is pretty great, and if you enjoy the links we put to free games, get hold of it.

Meanwhile, the same edition also contains my review of Turok, which PCG have put on their website for utter free. Key words include: “Turok isn’t dreadful. Its fits in that far less entertaining position of mediocre. It makes some ghastly mistakes, but at the same time has giant dinosaurs you can kill with a bow and arrow.

Turning Point: PCG Review

How silly of me – I didn’t spot that PCG posted my review of Turning Point: Fall of Liberty last week. Well, now I have, and you can read it with an eye of your choice.

America seems to really want someone to knock over the Statue of Liberty.

What if Winston Churchill had been killed by that car that hit him in New York in 1931? Apparently, Hitler would have done an awful lot better, and invaded America. All German soldiers’ brains would turn to mush, all worldly objects would become magically sticky, jumping would become nearly impossible, and people would gain super-strength and the ability to absorb dozens of bullets.

As if the phrase ‘Games For Windows’ wasn’t ridiculous enough, Turning Point makes further mockery of any meaning it might contain. No mouse cursor for the menus, no video controls, no ability to task-switch, and a controller setup based on a diagram of an Xbox 360 controller. This is not a game for Windows by any stretch – it’s a crummy port of a crummy 360 game.

Read the rest of it here.

Heroes and Villains

48 inches of concentrated heroism

A quick note on two two new word-pustules I’ve affixed to the internet’s mottled hide. First, Eurogamer’s new MMO channel is foolish enough to let me celebrate my beloved City of Heroes character, The Entomologist, for 2000 words. In theory I’m talking about how COH’s character editor and class structure offers a degree of self-expression no other MMO can touch, but mostly I’m jaffing off about my 4ft tall, power-jumping energy blaster. I also rope in comments from Jim and Kieron about why their COH characters warm their heart-cockles, and say things like this:

“Alright, so your Level 70 WoW Night Elf means a lot to you. He represents all your time in the game, a visual and statistical incarnation of all your achievements. His armour is his battlescars, a sign for other players to respect or fear him. But he isn’t you. He’s just a template someone else made. The Entomologist is me. I made him. From his appearance to his powers to his nebulous personality and back to a thousand new appearance tweaks later on, Ento is my proudest MMO achievement.”

Meantime, PC Gamer throws up an Aliens vs Predator retrospective I wrote some time back, this one focusing on the game’s dismemberment physics and the timeless nature of the Alien as a foe.

“That’s why playing as the Marine, which on paper seems to be defaulting to a stereotypical FPS experience, is the smart thing to do in AvP. The blip of the motion tracker, the trustiness of the Pulse Rifle, it’s like genetic memory, an experience utterly familiar and all the more effective for it.”

I Am A Coward

This is a short piece that originally appeared in PC Gamer, recalling a key moment in my gaming life. While playing Call of Duty I experienced something horrific. I survived a level by hiding. It was humiliating, and with Call of Duty’s emphasis on the cruelty of war, I felt broken. The piece was written for the Double Life section of Gamer, which adopts the voice of the character. Hence, it’s melodrama. But it captures an honest moment of horror in response to my own instincts. Have games affected you this way? Revealed your weaknesses, or made you feel wracked with guilt?

All’s not fair in love or war

The building in question.

My name is Alexei, and I am a coward.

I’m a conscript, and I don’t want to be here. This isn’t my war, this isn’t my battle, this isn’t something I ever asked for. I am not a soldier. I’m not interested in being a soldier. When I was a child, the other boys would spend their afternoons chasing each other through the woods, shooting each other with sticks, practising for this. I sat in my house, the door closed, and only occasionally looked out of the window. That was where I was happy. That is where I would be happy now. Now I’m being shot at by men who don’t know me, men who look exactly like me.

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PCG: UAW and Savage 2


A couple of my PC Gamer reviews have been posted on CVG. The Universe At War piece seems to have a random sentence out of place, but I don’t have a copy of the magazine handy to check their edit of it… and the Savage 2 review starts with “So games have souls?” When actually the magazine copy read “Do games have souls?” Which leads me to believe that it has subsequently discovered that games do indeed have souls, and the review has been edited in light of that. Anyway, this is what I was getting at:

Do games have souls? They certainly have personalities. Savage 2’s is warm, complex, and yet oddly unlikeable. He seems like a fine chap, but you’ll never be friends.

It’s a shame they didn’t post my review of 18 Wheels Of Steel: American Long Haul, which is altogether more satisfying. Instead, perhaps you could go and read this interview with the devs who make their living from mesmerically boring driving games.

PCG: Audiosurf

My only mar-sterrrrr

Sorry, it’s a bit of a deluge of PC Gamer today, as they’ve just thrown a mega-ton of last-issue content up onto their site. Think of it as like visiting relatives on the other side of the country.

On my part, there’s my Audiosurf review, replete with entirely gratuitous Vonnegut quotation. It’s a significantly more upbeat take on the game than the RPS verdict (more Verdicts soon, promise), which arguably got a little sidetracked onto picking holes in the game – probably because by that point we’d already fired our happier hyperbole at each other at some length. And also because my own interest in Audiosurf tends towards the blissful edification of my ears and eyes, rather than trying to perfect the match-3 element. It’s not often that I stay with a game for a significant time after the review’s filed, but my most intense Audiosurf playing came in the fortnight following my word-fart. I suspect I’ll be voting it slightly higher in the year-end polls than most folks.
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