I jumped into the Call of Duty: WW2 beta over the weekend, and found that the series’ leap back into the past applies to more than just the time period it’s set in.
RPS Feature War isn't what it used to be
RPS Feature Footage from and thoughts about The New Order sequel
In the surprisingly, refreshingly excellent 2014 shooter reboot-o-sequel Wolfenstein: The New Order, it was the eyes that captivated me. The sad, aged eyes of BJ Blazkowicz, a war-weary he-man forced to take up arms yet again – tirelessly heroic, sure, but those windows to his haunted soul revealed his longing for an end to all this suffering. I could not look away from those eyes, even as he battled Mecha-Nazis and Moon-Nazis and Soul-Transplanted Ultra-Nazis and whatever else this unrepentantly preposterous game threw at him.
RPS Feature A mini horror adventure through every door
Let me qualify that title statement, for fear it merely conjures images of a game in which you’re supposed to be endlessly surprised to find more zombies lurking behind the next hedgerow. A good (or, indeed, bad) b-movie is not someone sprinting aimlessly around and being constantly jumped by monsters, but rather it’s scene-by-scene situational. What fresh horror awaits in the basement, what tricksy traps and obstacles must be overcome to make it out this house alive, and oh no what just happened to that helpful man in the sensible pullover?
In an hour spent playing Bethesda’s upcoming survival horror sequel The Evil Within 2 [official site], I found a game that was striving to be a cat’s cradle of micro b-movies, spun across a freely-explorable, monster-blighted town. I also found a game that was trying so hard to be scary that my only true fear is that it isn’t scary at all.
RPS Feature Residential evils
Last week I popped off to play Bethesda and Tango Gameworks’ upcoming survival horror sequel The Evil Within 2, which adds open world elements to its stomp through a town filled with science-gone-wrong monstrosities. You can read what I thought about it in my Evil Within 2 impressions here, or alternatively you can watch what I did and how many times I got killed by snickering things in the hour-long video below.
Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature The evolution of evolution-based shooters
I am an ambulatory shoebox. Nearby, King Kong’s shooting a velociraptor. Fire-spitting lizards slither through tunnels around their feet. Somewhere on the far horizon, a disintegrating god the size of a space station hurls lethal judgement down upon us all.
RPS Feature Arabian Fights
City Of Brass [official site], the procedurally generated rogue-ish Arabian Nights FPS has entered early access today, allowing you to play a version that the former BioShock developers are keen to stress is unfinished, leaving you “likely to encounter bugs, unfair tuning, and general weirdness.” But also have some jumpy choppy whippy fun? I’ve been having a look. Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature Mild Hunt or Wild Hunt?
Forty five minutes with Monster Hunter World [official site] was enough to convince me that people who bang on about the series might have a point. I killed two big beasties in that time, cooked a couple of delicious meals, and fell comfortably into the flow of stalking and stabbing.
It’s violent, but not gory. It has tracking and stalking, but no complex simulation. As a newcomer to the series, which is a newcomer to the PC audience, I found myself thinking of The Witcher, weirdly enough. The Witcher but, you know, for kids. Imagine The Witcher 3 as a Saturday Morning Cartoon and you’re on the right track.
RPS Feature Face/off
“And now we just use the Face Ripper on this elven corpse so we can polymorph into an elven form and learn more about what happened by eating the limbs we found earlier.”
At Gamescom, Swen Vincke, CEO of Larian, was showing the playable undead race in Divinity: Original Sin 2 [official site] for the first time. Faces were ripped, children were startled, feasting on cadavers quickly became routine. I love Divinity but in among all the elves and dwarves, I sometimes forget just how weird it is. When you’re playing a skeleton, it’s going to be weirder than ever.
RPS Feature Make your own Manchurian Candidate
At first glance, Phantom Doctrine [Steam page] looks an awful lot like a Cold War flavoured XCOM. That’s quite an exciting prospect and the closer I looked, the more exciting it became. There are agents instead of aliens, and some novel infiltration and reconnaissance systems, but everything from the UI to the cover system is immediately familiar. The tactical missions are hiding unexpected twists though, and zooming out to the campaign map shows that the setting informs every aspect of the game.
It’s early days, and there’s a lot of work to be done, but Phantom Doctrine might well be one of 2018’s strategy highlights.
RPS Feature Dome, Sweet Dome
The people living in my new habitat dome have jobs to do, that’s what brought them to Mars in the first place, but when they finish work they have two choices: they can either go to the casino or the bar. I could have built a gym or some other kind of leisure facility, but I went with the casino and bar combo. It’s what I’d want if I had to live in a dome on a hostile planet.
RPS Feature Take parking lots, put up a paradise
Green Cities might look like urban paradise, but beneath the lush vertical gardens, something sinister is percolating. Sure, the draped greenery clinging to the side of the new high density apartment blocks looks attractive, but it’s also reminiscent of post-human imagery; nature reclaiming the land. Zoom out far enough, so that the little cars and people are less apparent, and it’s not a great leap from green city to Twelve Monkeys, I Am Legend and The Last Of Us.
But forget the future for a moment because the now of Cities: Skylines [official site] upcoming expansion isn’t the paradise it initially seems to be. Your attempts to create an environmentally friendly utopia might end with the construction of a new Silicon Valley. The road to hell is paved with reclaimed wood and good intentions.
RPS Feature Justin's House 7, more like
It’s the maggots and the split in the skin of the forehead, it’s the creak of a rope and the crack of a bone. In an hour with a couple of chapters of The Evil Within 2 [official site] I saw all kinds of gore and dismemberment, but the most horrifying sights and sounds were all in the quietest moments. One scene in particular ranks among the most disturbing I’ve seen, whether in a film or a game. Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature Offing old goth-god
I hate The Outsider. Perhaps that’s too strong a word, but I’ve never liked Dishonored’s meddling god. I’ll explain my stance in some detail below, but before I do that I offer an apology to the large chunk of the Dishonored fanbase who will find my opinions here blasphemous and heretical. But I’ve held my silence for long enough and it’s time to admit it: I really really really really want to kill that equivocating little bastard.
RPS Feature Divine bullet-y justice
God’s Trigger killed me at least twenty times in five minutes. Announced at Gamescom this week, it’s a new title from Techland that plays out very much like the two-player cooperative take on Hotline Miami that the trailer suggested it might be. You can see that trailer below, followed by my thoughts after fifteen minutes of play and another forty or fifty bloody deaths.
RPS Feature Rats in the walls
When Great Warlord Queek Headtaker fell in battle, it wasn’t a particularly heroic end. Nor was it especially brave; he was fleeing from the battlefield when an enraged dinosaur trampled him. But the Skaven, Total War: Warhammer 2’s [official site] long-teased and recently revealed fourth race, don’t have much use for bravery or heroism. They’re sneaky, untrustworthy rodents, and for 30 turns of the campaign, I led them to several unchivalrous victories and one devastating defeat.
I’ve taken some flak for how much I like the first Project Cars. No, it’s not iRacing, but iRacing also doesn’t have AI that is ready to start a race at precisely 1:33 AM on a Tuesday night, pause halfway through because the popcorn started popping and the pan needs to be jiggled, and then resume after a light snack. I’m busy, and often the last thing I want to add to my gaming is scheduling.
The first game was a solid experience with a good simulation, and it had a ton of options that allowed you to play in pretty much any way. Oh, and it was bloody beautiful. Project Cars 2 [official site] is an evolutionary step forward. It’s much the same game, but the issues present in the first are getting some serious attention paid to them, and it all really comes down to better tire physics. Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature Surely shanked, no redemption
I didn’t spend long with the first The Escapists – time off for good behaviour, perhaps – but nonetheless, playing early code for its upcoming sequel was like slipping into an old jumpsuit. Nothing like as serious as Shawshank but not as catastrophically stupid as Prison Break, this was and is, essentially, a mash-up of simulation, roleplaying and crafting in which you had to devise a DIY Get Out Of Jail Free card for your little pixel-person.
The Escapists 2 [official site] eschews traditional sequel-strategies such as flashier graphics in favour of being a reworked, expanded and ante-upped version of the first. The result is a sandbox puzzle game of impressive scope and with copious shower scenes.
RPS Feature Hands-on gameprey
Behold the Quillshot – a living manifestation of ether, the mystical substance that keeps the flying archipelago of promising Monster Hunter tribute Dauntless [official site] aloft. It’s a majestic hybrid of stegosaurus and porcupine, the Quillshot, made up of wayward primal energies that must be freed lest the island beneath us crumble away. It’s also a bit of a dick. With Phoenix Lab’s Nick Clifford and Ian Tornay distracting the monster from the front, I try to land a few hammer strikes on its sweeping, icicle-covered tail. The Quillshot flops on its side, like a dog asking for a belly rub, and treats me to a fusillade of enormous spines from its rump.
As I limp away, frantically glugging a healing potion, it continues to spew spines in an arc, puncturing the earth all around me. If we’re going to fell this beast – or behemoth, to use the game’s parlance – we’re going to have to read its behaviour a little better, and work as a team.
RPS Feature Baby, it's cold inside
In the first week, we put the children to work. They weren’t forced into dangerous jobs, so we told ourselves, but when you’re living on the brink of extinction, what work is truly safe? One afternoon, a man collecting coal complained of numbness in his arm. Frostbite had taken hold. We could have left him to die but instead we opted for an experimental treatment.
He lost the arm and he’s no longer capable of contributing to our dying society. One more mouth to feed with no body of work beneath it. What should we do?
RPS Feature Ptolemaic or break
During the Assassin’s Creed: Origins [official site] demo I played at E3, I pressed the wrong button and thought I’d broken the game. I was trying to switch to my bow while sneaking and I accidentally meditated, causing time to fast forward. The sun wheeled around the sky, sank below the horizon, and night fell. The developer guiding me through the experience – an environmental artist – was slightly taken aback, but we rolled with my mistake and I got an accidental peek at the nightlife of Ptolemaic Egypt. Colour me intrigued.