Posts Tagged ‘preview’

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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The Long Journey Home is a wonderful space odyssey

The Long Journey Home [official site] is a game about being lost in space and being somewhat insignificant against a backdrop of elder species who aren’t quite sure what to make of these squishy bipedal nomads called humans. It’s tempting to describe the game by breaking down the list of ingredients that appear to have gone into its preparation. There’s a dollop of FTL, a pinch of Captain Blood, a healthy dose of Star Control and a little bit of Space Rangers 2. Season with the essence of Thrust and Lander, and there you have it.

Except, no. That’s not really it at all.

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Pillars of the Earth takes on Telltale at their own game

The Pillars of the Earth [official site] is doing a lot of difficult things and based on a brief play session earlier this week, I reckon it might be doing most of them very well indeed. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, having never been a fan of Daedalic’s previous point-and-click output, but I came away impressed by both the tone and the design of this upcoming adaptation of Ken Follett’s novel about that raciest of topics: cathedral construction in 12th century England. Read the rest of this entry »

Divinity: Original Sin 2’s GM mode brings pen and paper RPGs to the screen

Last week I spent a day playing with Divinity: Original Sin 2’s [official site] Games Master mode, and now I want to force everyone I know to play pen and paper RPGs with me. If this is what I’ve been missing in the years since I last went full goth with weekend Vampire: The Masquerade sessions, I’ve had a wasted adulthood.

The GM mode is separate to the main game, using the Divinity ruleset in campaigns either released by Larian or created by players, who can then share those campaigns online or with friends to recreate a tabletop experience digitally. At the press event, we built a chunk of Ultima VII and then started cannibalising the good guys. Read the rest of this entry »

Figment is a slightly sinister silly symphony

Before I played Figment [official site], I knew very little about it. I’d heard that it was set inside the mind of a person suffering from fears, doubts and anxieties, which made me think it’d be creepy or heart-breaking, but the screenshots suggested something far lighter and perhaps even humorous. Having played a few levels spread across the game, I’m delighted to find that Figment’s finest qualities couldn’t show themselves in screenshots or press releases. It’s a musical and I found it utterly charming.

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Serious Sam’s Bogus Detour is already great before it’s even finished

Croatian developers Croteam have proven themselves a developer of two extremes. For many years they were about dumbfest shooter fun Serious Sam and Serious Sam alone, and then out of absolutely nowhere produced the cerebral and utterly brilliant The Talos Principle. Since then we’ve had a splendid expansion for Talos and a frankly peculiar number of Serious Sam VR games. Now comes Serious Sam’s Bogus Detour [official site], a rather brilliantly titled game resulting from a team-up with indie devs Crackshell, that fits in neither extreme, despite being entrenched in the IP of their most famous protagonist. A top-down twin-stick action game that eschews all the modern stylings of your Hotline Miamis in favour of something much more madcap, frenzied and enormous. Read the rest of this entry »

CCP’s Sparc is a smart Tron-like virtual sport

The EVE Fanfest a couple of weeks ago was, as the name suggests, dominated by EVE Online, but developers CCP have other eggs in other baskets. EVE Valkyrie, the dogfighting multiplayer space shooter, is the company’s flagship VR title, and though I’ve only played it at events rather than at home, it might well be my favourite goggle-game. It’s not the only egg in that particular basket though, and the virtual sport Sparc [official site], with its full body dodging and blocking, is even more impressive in its use of the hardware.

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Do alien powers make Prey more than another sci-fi shooter?

A few weeks ago, I played through the first section of Bethesda and Arkane’s upcoming first-person-shooterbut Prey [official site] (no relation, other than in name, to the original Prey or its aborted sequel). I like it well enough, particularly the Total Recallish sense of intrigue it raised about what was really going on and whether the player-character was the person they believed themselves to be. At the same time, I’m not sure how much I truly had to say about it, outside of description.

It was there, polished and pacey, absolutely the kind of thing I traditionally enjoy in an action game – but it was guns and monsters and doorcodes. Where was the thing that made Prey unique? I’ve been back and played a later section of the game, amongst other things I’ve transformed myself into a stack of towels and now I have a much clearer sense of what this new Prey really is. I can show as well as tell you why. Read the rest of this entry »

Agents Of Mayhem builds upon Saints Row in every way

Skating around as a roller derby player who is gleefully belching and swearing as she sprays enemies with bullets from her minigun, it’s difficult not to have at least a little fun while playing Volition’s new third-person open world action adventure RPG. Taking place within the same universe as their Saints Row series, Agents of Mayhem [official site] has the same irreverent humour, and this time is poking fun at superhero groups. Read the rest of this entry »

Battalion 1944 is built on a different kind of historical research

Battalion 1944 [official site] blindsided me. I played a few rounds last week at developer Bulkhead’s studio in Derby and consistently came last in the leaderboards at the end of our team deathmatch battles. That’s partly because I’m not the best FPS player in the North West, let alone the world, and it’s partly because I was playing with the people who made the game. They know the maps, they know the weapons, they know the details of motion and gunplay. There’s a much more simple reason though: I was crouching and crawling and looking for the perfect shot instead of running and jumping and shooting anything that moved on sight.

The level I played, the Manor house, contains elements of the historic assault on Brecourt Manor, which you may remember from episode two of Band of Brothers. Visually, the cues are striking, but this is a traditional deathmatch game, with rapid respawns and movement rather than an attempt to recreate anything resembling reality. Battalion blindsided me because it is, aesthetically, very successful in conjuring up one kind of history but the way it plays is looking to much more recent historical references.

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How Wadjet Eye’s Unavowed merges RPGs and point and click adventures

I’ll always be excited when a new Dave Gilbert game is on the horizon. Since I first played The Shivah [official site] in 2006, a murder mystery more concerned with the Jewish faith than gangsters and gumshoes, I’ve felt I’m in safe hands with almost anything Gilbert puts out under his Wadjet Eye label. That includes games that he publishes as well as those he creates, and while I haven’t adored every single release, I’ve always found something to admire. With Unavowed [official site], his next game, Gilbert is incorporating ideas from the RPG world into a point and click adventure, and the combination could lead to his most interesting release to date.

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Hands On with cyberpunk action shooter Ruiner

I’ve had my hands on a short demo of Ruiner [official site], the top-down twin-stick action-adventure hyphen-described cyber-thriller from oh-so-naughty publishers Devolver. Not a lot of it, mind, but enough for me to form a few impressions to share. Read the rest of this entry »

Worlds Adrift made me believe in MMOs again

On one screen, a developer is demonstrating Worlds Adrift [official site], and explaining that players have hand-crafted everything I can see. The game world is made up of floating islands and the one he’s scrambling around right now, using a grappling hook to traverse rapidly, has a ruined building at its centre. It’s not very large, the island. You could hop, skip, grapple and jump across it in a matter of seconds, and it’s hanging in empty space. Well, almost.

As the developer plays, an airship putters into view. He decides to board the ship, even though it’s a good distance away from the island, and then there’s a strange moment when I notice the next screen along in the row of demo pods. A passerby has picked up the controller there and is steering a large airship past an island. Our island. I watch, one eye on each screen, as the two worlds come close to colliding.

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The first few hours of Mass Effect: Andromeda are… well they aren’t good

I had, by purpose or distraction, not found out anything about Mass Effect Andromeda [official site] before playing its review build, beyond that it was set in a whole new galaxy. Ooh goody, I thought! A sci-fi RPG series I completely loved, but with a fresh start, baggage shed, and the extraordinary potential of a setting in a galaxy entirely unlike our own.

Yeah, about that. The first few hours of Andromeda are a gruesome trudge through the most trite bilge of the previous three games, smeared out in a setting that’s horribly familiar, burdened with some outstandingly awful writing, buried beneath a UI that appears to have been designed to infuriate in every possible way.

I had gone in assuming this would be more BioWare pleasure. So far – and let’s be clear, there’s lots of room and time for it to pick up and turn things around – the first few hours have been just awful. Read the rest of this entry »

Hunting the giant monsters of Dauntless

Dauntless [official site] plunges you into the Shattered Isles, a broken, albeit beautiful, fantasy world where hulking Behemoths are hunted by adventurers in a quest for glory and most importantly, excellent loot. It’s a third-person, four player co-op action RPG created by former Bioware and Riot devs. Monster Hunter is a key influence here, as the game’s schtick centers on teaming up with a few pals to fight massive creatures. There are hints of Western RPGs mixed in, though, and the combat, replete with dodge rolls, is reminiscent of Dark Souls. It’s still early days for Dauntless, and though I only got to test my blade against two Behemoths, I was able to get a preliminary glimpse of what the game could become as it heads into beta later this year.

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Heat Signature is a comic cosmic playground

I’m not sure if Heat Signature [official site] will be labelled as a comedy game when it goes on sale, but I haven’y played a funnier game in recent years. Your role in each brief life that you lead is to earn money by completing missions that involve kidnapping, assassination and theft, so that you can use the money to buy information regarding an end-game mission that is personal to your character. Get that job done and your character can retire happy. Fail and you’re most likely a popsicle drifting through the void.

Here’s how it all works, and how my most recent character died.

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Reservoir Dogs: Bloody Days is smarter than you’d think

I’m very wary of licensed games. It’s not just that I’ve played a lot of bad tie-ins over the decades, it’s that the license itself often seems to be used as a veil to disguise tired design, or as the only actual hook. Let’s be honest – ‘Reservoir Dogs top-down shooter’ isn’t a tantalising pitch in and of itself, is it?

What a shame it’d be if the license did act as a veil in this case, though, because behind that dubious pitch there’s a much more interesting one: single-player cooperative tactical shooter, with time-mangling mechanic. Much more tantalising.

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Inkle’s Heaven’s Vault: a stunning sci-fi archaeology adventure

With 80 Days and Sorcery, Inkle have made some of our favourite games of recent years, but Heaven’s Vault [official site] might just be their greatest achievement yet. It’s early days, of course, but a half hour play session at GDC has already convinced me that this science fiction adventure is a very exciting thing indeed. It’s a game about exploring the past, in the future, through archaeology and translation, and it has a remarkable sense of wonder.

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Future gangs of New York: Huntdown comes out to play

Rockstar’s adaptation of The Warriors is one of my favourite licensed games. That’s probably at least in part because The Warriors is the perfect film for a game adaptation, seeing as it’s full of minibosses, action sequences and a basic level structure.

When I played Huntdown [official site] at GDC last week, a stack of decades-old games came to mind, but it was The Warriors that leaped to the front of the queue, in an explosion of denim, spraycans and chains. Huntdown is a side-scrolling beat and shoot ’em up for one or two players, and it does good gangs.

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Steel Division brings fresh tactical ideas to the battlefield

I can appreciate a carefully crafted digital tank rolling into combat as much as the next war game fan, but there are few things I enjoy more than a visible front line. Not the actual troops huddling beneath hedgerows as explosions tear up the dirt, but an actual line, drawn onto the map, bendling, flexing and breaking as the battle plays out.

Steel Division [official site] has authentically modeled units and detailed rules of engagement controlling their clashes, but it’s the front line that got me all excited when I saw a demo last week at GDC.

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