Posts Tagged ‘Premature Evaluation’

Premature Evaluation: Witch Hunt

Witch Hunt

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s off to the 18th century to hunt a forest full of nasty monsters in horror FPS Witch Hunt. He’s a very brave boy.

Find a bunch of trees and you’ll probably discover a folktale or ghost story set under their boughs. Years ago, I lived right on the boundary of some woodland that was meant to be home to a red-eyed creature that ate children. Walking back from school in winter, when it was already dark, was a nasty business. I’d grimly keep my gaze fixed forwards, always trying to avoid glancing to my left. To the trees, and the red eyes that might be hiding between them.

Witch Hunt has more than one monster living within its gloomy, dead forest. It’s full of them. For a slayer of supernatural beasties, it should be the perfect hunting ground. Not for me, however, a man with no sense of direction and an acute fear of spooky trees. I am very sweaty and very lost.

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Premature Evaluation – Adeptus Titanicus: Dominus

Adeptus Titanicus

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser has reluctantly returned to the grimdark confines of the 41st millennium. Yes, it’s more Warhammer 40K. Our latest helping of gothic sci-fi comes courtesy of Adeptus Titanicus: Dominus. It looks like Warhammer 40K meets BattleTech. Sadly it is not Warhammer 40K meets BattleTech.

Adeptus Titanicus: Dominus might follow the Warhammer 40K tradition of monumentally horrible titles, but at least it eschews the tired conflict between Space Marines and Orks. Inspired by the Titan Legions tabletop spin-off, the turn-based battles are heavy metal shootouts between towering mechanical behemoths, not puny humans or xenos. These war machines are as excessive as Warhammer gets, but Adeptus Titanicus is otherwise quite conservative.

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Premature Evaluation: Worlds Adrift

Worlds Adrift

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s learning to be a shipwright in airborne MMO, Worlds Adrift. Brendy looked at the ‘pre-early access’ version last year and had a good time with its always-there grappling hook and quick ship design, but fell foul of a few rough edges. As Bossa’s DIY skyboats affair has now graduated to early access proper, it’s time to find out how much things have improved.

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Premature Evaluation: Medieval Shopkeeper Simulator

Medieval Shopkeeper Sim

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s moonlighting as a grouchy stall owner in Medieval Shopkeeper Simulator, a first-person fantasy retail romp.

With the chaos of E3 fast approaching, I’m looking for a more sedate racket. No more of this videogame malarky, I’m going to sell rocks and sticks to the impoverished serfs of Medieval Shopkeeper Simulator. It will be the greatest rock and stick emporium in all the land, or at least this postcode. I used to work in retail, so I’m sure I’ll have a handle on it in no time.

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Premature Evaluation: Maelstrom

Maelstrom

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s running away from sea monsters and hunting down galleons in nautical battle royale, Maelstrom.

I wasn’t a happy pirate. I wasn’t any kind of pirate, really; not with only a series of failed fights and a major lack of booty to my name. It was all a little embarrassing. So when I saw the Dwarven ship on the horizon, there was a storm brewing inside me, and I pointed my shark-drawn Orc ship at the stumpy corsairs and increased speed. Wood and metal and, of course, shark collided, followed by a barrage of cannonfire.

This would be it. I knew it. My first victory in Maelstrom.

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Premature Evaluation: It Lurks Below

lurk

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s looking into what lurks below in It Lurks Below. What is It? What does It want? Is It responsible for all my missing underwear?

I’m pretty fond of Terraria, and even more so of Starbound, so It Lurks Below piqued my interest with only a couple of screenshots. It’s unashamedly a miniature Terraria, where heroes dig deep into the ground in search of treasure, fight monsters and nurture a fantasy village. It’s also David “Diablo Dad” Brevik’s first solo project, who’s used his action RPG expertise to occasionally nudge it in a different direction. It could do with a few more nudges.

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Premature Evaluation: SpyParty

SpyParty

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s pretending to be an NPC, badly, in the asymmetric game of spies and snipers, SpyParty. How do you get blood out of a tux?

Nerves already shot, I extract myself from the conversation I’m using as cover and head towards the golden statue, my prize. This plush apartment houses more than a few pieces of art I can pinch, but this one is out of the way, somewhere I’m pretty sure nobody will be looking. I empty my brain and follow the path I’ve settled on in my head. I’m following a script with the single-mindedness of a machine. Or, more accurately, a SpyParty NPC.

I’m almost at my destination when a spanner is flung into the works in the form of a booze-swigging ambassador, sauntering over to the shiny eagle I intend to make away with. For a split second my brain fires up again. I’m not a machine; I’m a startled person who has to briefly recalculate, and that’s all it takes for the laser sight to swing over to me. Pop! My spy career is over.

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Premature Evaluation: Radical Heights

Radical Heights

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s trying to win prizes and also senselessly fight strangers in ’80s battle royale game show, Radical Heights.

With Lawbreakers being left to fend for itself after failing to seduce enough players, Boss Key Productions has pivoted to something that’s undeniably more popular: battle royales. There’s been quite a bit of cynicism regarding Radical Heights and Boss Key’s 180, but not from me, a man without a cynical bone in his body. And as someone who was five at the end of the ’80s, I have an incredibly strong connection to the era. The Poll Tax. The miners’ strike. My first day of school. All the highlights. But how high are the highs of Radical Heights? There’s only one way to find out.

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Premature Evaluation: Make Sail

Make Sail

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s setting off in a rickety boat in Make Sail. It looks a bit like Wind Waker, but you get to build your own vessel. Sadly, it doesn’t talk.

Once a year, usually around the time of Gamescom, I slink off. I stop writing, disconnect from Twitter and flee to the coast of a sun-soaked country that I can comfortably sail around while sipping the cheapest gin and rum I can find. It’s what I look forward to most, every year, and when I return I’m always a more upbeat, raring-to-go kind of guy. It’s safe to say that I love sailing.

Make Sail has tested that love.

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Premature Evaluation: PixArk

pixark

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s lost in PixArk, the Minecraft-inspired Ark: Survival Evolved spin-off. It’s colourful, whimsical and it’s made him extremely grumpy.

PixArk feels like the result of an algorithm designed to pick bits from popular games and Frankenstein them into something new. This is nothing new – trying to capture the zeitgeist can lead to fun places, and great successes. PixArk, however, is not a game that captures the zeitgeist, but rather something hollow, stitched together out of disparate parts seemingly without proper consideration for how they fit together or what made them work originally.

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Premature Evaluation: Darwin Project

Darwin

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser is trying to put on a good show in chilly Canadian battle royale romp, Darwin Project. Are you not entertained?

I want every game to be good, but I confess that I was ready to hate Darwin Project. See, it’s unashamedly a game for streamers and their hungry audiences. Even the main menu, where the ability to link your Twitch or Mixer account is the most prominent option, makes this abundantly clear. Audience participation is built into the very fabric of the game, to the point where players become entertainers. Colour me surprised, then, that not only do I like it, I like it in part because of its pandering to video boys and girls.

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Premature Evaluation: Stormworks – Build and Rescue

stormworks

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s trying to run a successful ocean rescue service in Stormworks: Build and Rescue by building the greatest helicopter ever invented.

I don’t get seasick. I get sea hungover, but that’s really my own fault. The wave of nausea that slammed into me as I piloted my tiny bouncing boat towards a nearby island came as something of a surprise. Between the exaggerated physics and frequently foul weather, Stormworks’ ocean is a vomit-inducing nightmare.

It’s my job to fight it.

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Premature Evaluation – Hunt: Showdown

hunt

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s living out his dream of being one of the handsome boys from Supernatural by hunting down demonic beasties in Crytek’s multiplayer shooter, Hunt: Showdown.

Hunt: Showdown never has any silence to break. It’s always noisy. Every groan, gurgle and scream, even the rustling of leaves — they all echo across the swamp, exploding out of invisible amps. After awhile, it becomes a low, menacing drone; an ever-present threat that you just get used to. The trick – I can only assume, as I’m quite terrible at this bounty hunting malarky – is to cut through the background din and pick out the real dangers. The closest roars. The loudest footsteps. The bullet whizzing right past your head.

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Premature Evaluation: Rise of Industry

riseofindustry

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s hawking his wares to the ravenous consumers of Rise of Industry, a tycoon game about growing berries and other less important things.

You’ve got to give the people what they want. Booze, sex, tasty little berries harvested from a local plantation and driven straight to the farmers market – these people have needs, and for the last week I’ve been spending my evenings with Rise of Industry trying to fulfill them. Well, the need for berries anyway. People go nuts for them – but they don’t care for nuts – and I am the Berry King.

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Premature Evaluation: Eco

eco

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s joining a civilisation and facing down a meteor in environmentally-conscious sandbox Eco. But mostly he’s building a terrible house.

The worlds of crafting and survival games are big balls of resources waiting to be exploited. Normally. Not so in Eco, where the world is a vulnerable, reactive globe that requires respect and nurturing. And only a wee bit of exploitation. It looks like a pretty Minecraft, but while it shares most of its fundamentals, Eco is as much simulation as a crafting sandbox, complete with an ecosystem that can be irreparably destroyed by human interference.

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Premature Evaluation: Life is Feudal – MMO

feudal1

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s going serfing in Life is Feudal: MMO, a game that pitches itself as hardcore, realistic and unforgiving. Fun!

Easily confused with Life is Feudal: Your Own, Life is Feudal: MMO takes the multiplayer medieval crafting and survival game and makes it larger and, through developer-run servers, more permanent. The running theme throughout the series is that life sort of sucks. It’s cruel and dangerous and everyone in it is an arsehole. With that in mind, I have crafted a perfect character: a man so defeated and miserable that nothing is capable of fazing him.

Meet Doderick Soup, the unluckiest man on the planet.

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Premature Evaluation: My Time at Portia

portia1

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the (well-tended agricultural) wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s taking a break in My Time at Portia, a crafting sim with shades of Harvest Moon and Stardew Valley.

Tirelessly exploring early access games takes its toll, so this week I’m off somewhere relaxing: a post-apocalyptic town. Portia is more Ghibli than Fallout, thankfully. It’s a brightly-coloured, charming place, surrounded by vast green fields and gargantuan ruins from the time before the cataclysm. A perfect spot for a holiday, then.

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Premature Evaluation: Forged Battalion

forged

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s making his very own RTS faction in Petroglyph’s Forged Battalion.

The drones swoop in first, dropping gas bombs on top of unsuspecting mech pilots. The rest of the horde soon follow, announcing their arrival by launching toxic grenades that slowly corrode their victims, accompanied by the traditional wall of missiles. Anti-tank mechs tear into the defending artillery while buggies with rocket launchers strapped to them round up the stragglers. The base is torn down. These are my babies.

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Premature Evaluation: Stationeers

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Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s pottering around in RocketWerkz’ space station sim, Stationeers, and learning that, just perhaps, it’s better to stay on Earth.

Why is a giant egg on top of my microwave? I’m trying to play through Stationeers’ dire tutorial, but I actually feel like I’m participating in one of Gordon Ramsay’s literal kitchen nightmares. In the egg carton, it was very much a normal-sized, innocuous egg, but somewhere between picking it up and mistakenly putting it on and not in the microwave, it grew at least 20 times larger. And I’m not sure I really should be putting eggs in microwaves. Certainly not to make muffins.

I somehow muddle through, making a muffin that I don’t need and fixing a cable that does nothing. Well done me – I’ve completed the tutorial. Lamentably, I’ve retained very little of the excessively complicated instructions required to perform the simplest of tasks. With unearned confidence, I dive into the game-proper, my head full of dreams of lunar bases and SCIENCE. It is dark, I’m alone and I have no idea what I need to do.

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Premature Evaluation: Mashinky

mashinky1

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s filling the British countryside with railroads and smoke in train tycoon sim, Mashinky.

Disaster! I’d barely begun my first foray into Mashinky’s magical world of locomotives when my very first attempt to manage a whopping two whole trains — carriages and all — ended in calamity and death. And also fire. My brand new steam engine had just left the depot near Leicester and was beginning its journey to Kirkcaldy when it rather unexpectedly collided with the only other train in the world. All that was left was a smoking, smouldering wreck. That’s what signals are for, I realised too late.

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