Posts Tagged ‘preview’

Exploring the dark side of Cities: Skylines – Green Cities

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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.

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The Evil Within 2’s feeding scene makes Resident Evil 7 look like CBeebies

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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 »

Dishonored 2: I can’t wait to kill The Outsider

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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.

Dishonored 2‘s Death of the Outsider [official site] standalone expansion should fit my tastes perfectly, and the hour I played of it was fantastic.

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God’s Trigger is cooperative Hotline Miami with a devilish twist

God's Trigger

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.

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Campaigning with Total War: Warhammer 2’s Skaven

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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.

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Project Cars 2 is addressing the first game’s flaws

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 »

The Escapists 2: sandbox survival without the survival

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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.

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Dauntless is Monster Hunter for people who fear grind

Rather than limited respawns, the game features a danger gauge which is filled up by various actions, such as taking damage. Once it hits 100, a player KO will end the match.

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.

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Frostpunk asks why we survive, not just how

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?

Frostpunk [official site] is a city-building survival sim from the studio that brought us This War of Mine and it is beautifully bleak.

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Has Assassin’s Creed managed to find itself during its gap year?

sliding down a pyramid is probably a lot like falling down a hill

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.

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Far Cry 5 has a great dog

Far Cry 5 [official site] is a Far Cry game. It’s impossible for me to say whether it’ll be a great Far Cry game, an adequate Far Cry game or a poor Far Cry game, but after playing it at E3, I can definitively state that it is a Far Cry game. Clearing out a town of angry cult members, I sniped, shotgunned, stealthed and ‘sploded my way through a bunch of buildings, and had a jolly good time.

You know about this though. You’ve played a Far Cry game, right? So let’s assume all of the vehicles and guns and missions are working fine, and if not we’ll figure that out when we have review code and can take a proper look. For now, it seems best to talk about the dog. Read the rest of this entry »

Total War: Warhammer 2’s campaign rethinks the endgame

Lizards riding dinosaurs. Almighty spells crackling through the sky. A dragon swoops down from above and collides with a stegadon as elves are torn apart and consumed by carnosaurs at its feet. Total War: Warhammer 2 [official site] brings even more spectacle to the battlefield, particularly with its lizardmen armies, but the campaign is looking like the most exciting part of the game.

Strategy games have a habit of petering out as you move toward the endgame. Anyone who’s played Civ (including Civ V designer Jon Shafer) knows the tedium of pushing end turn to watch the numbers grow, as your inevitable crawl toward victory or defeat plays out in turn-based slow motion. That’s partly because so many victory conditions involve watching the correct resource pile up in sufficient quantity, or painting the entire map in a certain colour. Discovery is a thing of the past, diplomacy has run its course, and there is nothing new under the sun. Creative Assembly are looking to change that.

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XCOM 2: War of the Chosen’s alien champions, lost cities and soldier bonds explained

Fallen cities swarming with the dangerous remnants of their human populations, alien battlefield commanders who resemble fantastical heroes, new rulesets for friendship and fear, and an actual active resistance out on the Geoscape. XCOM 2 [official site] is changing.

The War of the Chosen is “definitely the biggest expansion we’ve ever done”, lead designer Jake Solomon told us at E3. Introducing unique enemy champions doesn’t strike me as an obvious move for XCOM, so I asked Solomon how the concept of the expansion had developed, and whether he’d drawn any inspiration from Shadow of Mordor’s Nemesis system. And whether we can expect any terrors from the deep in the future.

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Skull and Bones is about being a ship, not a pirate

Skull and Bones [official site] is a game I’ve wanted for a long time. That has nothing to do with its setting or style, though a Black Flag follow-up of sorts is an attractive proposition – but, no, the appeal of Skull and Bones is more abstract. This is the result of Ubisoft having one of their apparently specialist studios build an entire game around their specialism. Almost like a mega-bucks version of the animation experimentations of Grow Home.

In this case, it’s not procedural animation. Here, we’re with Ubisoft Singapore and the wonders of water.

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Destiny 2 combat is a punchy, kinetic joy

Destiny 2 [official site] comes with a lot of baggage. It’s the PC debut of an enormously successful new series from a mega-developer, and the original is precisely the kind of multiplayer co-op shooter that even some die-hard fans are a little burned out on after nearly three years of DLC and grinding for gear.

Enter Adam. I came to Destiny 2, at E3 last week, with barely enough baggage to fill a pencil case, having only played the demo of the original, and am immediately greedy for more. Whatever more it might offer. Destiny 2 is colour and light and the majestic spectacle of a Saturday morning cartoon and a space opera fused into a punchily satisfying shooter.

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The compassion & cruelty of Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus

The early stages of Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus [official site] show the same blood, guts and heart that were key to the first game’s success. Described by Bethesda’s Pete Hines as “fucking bananas”, it’s a game of extremes, but it’s the care that it shows for its characters and setting that stand out as unique in the field of alt-history Nazi war-shooters. Alongside the silliness, the gore and the pulp fiction roots, there’s a core concern for humanity and its loss.

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BattleTech is the mech game I’ve always wanted

BattleTech [official site] finally brings mechs and mercs back to their turn-based tactical roots, and if the combat is backed by a worthy campaign mode, it’s likely to be one of my favourite games of 2017. I’ve only played the skirmish mode, against AI opponents, so I can’t assess the quality of the campaign. But the actual mech clashes are absolutely glorious, and as spectacular as any turn-based battles I’ve ever seen.

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The Flare Path: In Cold Waters

A message for Mr. D. Jones Esquire. Over the next few weeks, thanks to unlikely-to-disappoint Cold War sub game Cold Waters [official site], your locker is going to see a lot of action. I strongly advise you to make space, grease hinges, and evict endangered echinoderms in readiness for the imminent deluge of mutilated missile frigates and battered boomers. Read the rest of this entry »

At The Gates is a 4X game that learns from RimWorld and Spelunky

Jon Shafer has joined Paradox to found and lead a new team and make a new strategy game, but work continues on At The Gates, the project Shafer has been developing independently for years now. It’s a 4X game that casts off many of the recognisable patterns of the genre. Instead of building an empire, you control a barbarian tribe trying to tear down an empire, or to co-exist alongside that empire. In this case, it’s the Roman empire. To survive, you’ll need to exploit resources, move with the seasons, and build a relationship with the world as well as your neighbours and companions.

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Surviving Mars brings hard science to colony-building

During the opening hours, you won’t see a single person in Surviving Mars [official site]. It’s a bold choice, having impersonal robots out there laying the groundwork of a colony, but the benefits are immediately obvious when watching the game in action. There’s a certain Factorium-like mechanical satisfaction to the flow of metal, creating supply chains that stud the surface with structures. The great advantage is the gradual shift from a red planet to a green planet though, even if those bubbles of green are few and far between.

More than any other city builder I can think of, Surviving Mars has the potential to show the life of a settlement, and it does that by beginning in a dead place.

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