Posts Tagged ‘preview’

Styx: Shards of Darkness is a vomit-y fantasy Hitman

Styx was a game in need of a little refinement. You wanted to take the little oik and clean his fingernails, boot him into a bathtub, and scrub him down til he shone like an emerald. In his first adventure, the titular goblin (he’d smirk at being called titular) did some decent stealth, stabbing and scurrying through a handful of levels that were solid if unspectacular. It all worked fairly well but it didn’t pack any real surprises.

Pleasingly, the sequel Shards of Darkness [official site] looks like it might deliver a polished version of the original, though some of the rough edges are still noticeable in the opening level I played last week.

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The Surge brings limb-theft to the Dark Souls party

“It’s sci-fi Dark Souls”, said everyone who had anything to say about The Surge [official site]. I was at a preview event for the publisher Focus and, as happens at these things, journalists would gather in groups and discuss what they’d seen. I wasn’t playing The Surge until the end of the first day and lots of people had already seen it. “It’s sci-fi Dark Souls”, they’d nod to each other. “You know, like Dark Souls. But sci-fi.”

Fine. But is it a good sci-fi Dark Souls?

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Necromunda has bullet casings the size of tower blocks

Necromunda [official site] is finally coming to PC, with the subtitle Underhive Wars. It’s a game set in the underbelly of the factory planets that power the eternal crusades of the Warhammer 40K universe. Players control rival gangs, skirmishing in the shadows of giant machinery. I spoke to Rogue Factor about their upcoming adaptation of this long lost Games Workshop tabletop favourite coming, and here are the important points, including details on the movement system, camera, level architecture and INFINITE PIPES.

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Halo Wars 2’s Blitz Mode could be its salvation

This is Atriox, your chief adversary. He leads a rogue Covenant faction, the banished – the remaining Covenant races are now at peace with humanity following the events of Halo 2. I know these things because I once had to write a 5000-word Halo timeline.

I was all set to thoroughly dismiss Halo Wars 2 [official site], before I joined Microsoft for a spot of top-down Warthog-baiting earlier in the month, and I’m still not completely convinced. Last year’s Xbox One beta suggested yet another Halo game intent on rebottling the lightning of a departed era – in this case, that fleeting, Quixotic period when the idea of RTS on console sounded like cash in the bank.

Much of what made the original Halo Wars work so well on Xbox 360 has been preserved – the snappy, colourful visual design, the stripped-down resource and research aspects, the adroit translation of Halo’s alien Covenant and human UNSC factions into the language of an Age of Empires spin-off. Startlingly little has been added or changed, whether you’re talking about new units or a fresh approach to the typically leaden business of storytelling in a strategy game. This is exactly what many fans are hoping for, I’m sure, but given Creative Assembly’s success with the Warhammer license and Alien: Isolation, it’s hard not to wish for a shade more, well, magic.

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Hidden Folks is bursting with life and completely daft

I spotted Where’s Wally-alike Hidden Folks [official site] while judging the first round of the IGFs, and asked the developers if I could preview it back then. Instead they sent over a newer and ever-evolving build of the game which I’ve been playing on and off for the last month, and I am completely charmed. Read the rest of this entry »

Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is an off-brand Far Cry game

Guards come in all shapes and sizes, but their behaviours are quite robotic

We sent Edwin Evans-Thirwell into the field to see Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 [official site] and he came back to us with a report about the good, the bad and the ugly of the game, and thoughts on the loneliness of the long distance killer.

Sniper rifles are ubiquitous in video games, but I’m not sure a game has ever captured what it means to be a sniper – or to face one. These guns are characterised as delicate tools, the preserve of a methodical elite, but while sniping may require subtlety, a sniper rifle is essentially an instrument of terror.

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On abusing the peasants in Kingdom Come: Deliverance

All the NPCs play the same mini-games as the player to craft items and resources

Kingdom Come: Deliverance [official site] is about the ring of steel on steel, the august machinery of feudal politics and the intricacies of village society. It’s also about throwing turds at houses, as I discovered during a hands-off showing of the game’s prologue area. The house in question belongs to a man who has been singing the virtues of the German-backed Hungarian invasion of Bohemia at a nearby tavern. As proud Bohemians, it’s up to Mr Protagonist and his fellow yokels to defend the country’s honour by, in this case, carpet-bombing a small piece of it with dung.

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Fantasy-Free, Choice-Heavy RPG Expeditions: Viking

Over the last three weeks, I’ve received emails about seven different viking-based games. I guess we have our new zombies. Vikings, though, have something that the walking dead do not: Viqueens. I am glad to say that earthy, quasi-political RPG Expeditions: Viking does not force me to be another Odinson.

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The Beautiful Cruelty Of Dishonored 2

Dishonored 2‘s fourth mission is supposedly about infiltrating the home of Kirin Jindosh, a sadistic inventor who must be bumped off or “neutralised” before he unleashes an army of automatons upon the world. But what you’re really doing in the Clockwork Mansion is invading a brain. Having already seen excerpts from a developer playthrough, I had a sense that the building’s rearrangeable mechanical layouts might reflect the character of its architect, much as Bioshock and Portal’s labyrinths do GlaDOS and Andrew Ryan. I was unprepared, however, for how extravagantly Jindosh’s neuroses infest the place, or for how cruel it feels to slip through the cracks in his amazing creation – past the velvet drapes, beneath the lacquered facades and into the whirring schematics of his subconsciousness.

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Hands On: The Signal From Tölva

I’ve had my hands on a brief demo build of a game called The Signal From Tölva [official site], from maverick and bohemian developers, Big Robot – yes, they of Sir, You Are Being Hunted. Oh, and I guess owned and run by Jim Rossignol, one of the directors and owners of this site. (There’s not going to be a conflict of interest issue here, is there? I mean, I can barely stand him.) Below you can read my very early and quite remarkably impartial first impressions.

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Overland Is A Puzzle Game With A Roguelike Skin

Overland [official site] is a turn-based post-apocalyptic road trip simulator. You drive a car across America, beset by hideous bugs that emerge from the ground and eat your gang of survivors, while everything burns around you, and you try to survive against overwhelming odds. On paper, it’s precisely the kind of game that should be taking up all of my free time but the reality isn’t quite what I hoped for or expected.

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Endless Space 2 Hands On: Buying Planets As The Mafia-Like Lumeris

Endless Space 2 is the sequel to French studio Amplitude’s cosmic 4X game, though it feels just as much a follow-up to their exceptional fantasy strategy affair, Endless Legend. Comfortably sitting next to all the numbers, resources and planetary management are lively stories, epic quests, and fascinating space-faring species, each with distinct hooks – the ingredients that made the company’s last game something special.

I traveled to Amplitude’s offices to get my hands on the game, and thus far my goal is to try and get rich – the noblest of pursuits.

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Parks And Simulation: Planet Coaster

Planet Coaster’s [official site] announcement barely caught my attention at all. There was a time when a new theme park management game might have tickled my fancy, but the subgenre hadn’t been attractive for a while and I didn’t expect Frontier’s game to revive my interest. To do so, it’d have to be a proper simulation that paid as much attention to visitors as to rollercoasters, and it’d need to care about every aspect of its parks rather than focusing on some kind of first-person ride gimmick.

As the developer diaries started to appear, I realised that Planet Coaster was the game to revive my interest in park management, and that it was doing all of the things I’d hoped for and more.

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Magic And Myth In A Post-War World: Tyranny

I’ve seen Tyranny [official site] several times before and I even played it out at E3, but it was only after a hands-on session at Gamescom that I felt ready to write about Obsidian’s next RPG. It’s a tricky one to preview, seeing as so much of the pitch relates to a world that changes to reflect the Big Choices you make. In a game that’s so keen to gesture toward the bigger picture, it can be difficult to get a sense of how well the smaller moments work toward that end.

At Gamescom, I played a new section of the game, crafted some spells, and decided that even if I can’t know how well the bigger picture will come together, there’s enough here to understand at least some of what Obsidian are building. It’s strong stuff.

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Eight Years Later, Owlboy Has Landed

To borrow a line from Graham, there’s a parallel reality where Owlboy [official site] came out before Braid, earned mega-bucks and now Norwegian devs D-Pad are making elaborate and beautiful 3D follow-ups. But now, eight years later, there’s a seething, pixellated mass of neo-retro-platformers and Owlboy is no longer the slam dunk it might have been.

Whatever its fortunes now might be, it’s almost unbelievable that I now actually get to play Owlboy, a game I can remember posting about on RPS back in our earliest months. It is not a disappointment.
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Motorsport Manager Is About Handling Egos And Cars

Motorsport Manager [official site] is about people as well as their cars. While you can spend time tinkering with the setup of the vehicles to some degree, all of your engineering and design work will come to nothing if your team can’t stand one another, and don’t understand their roles. As a person with little interest in cars wot go fast, I wasn’t sure this would be the game for me, despite my love of sports management, but after sitting down with the developer at Gamescom and spending some time with a preview build at home, I’m hooked.

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Elite Dangerous Is Adding Space Buses And I Want One

Suggestions of an alien intelligence creeping out of the shadows. Fighter ships, piloted remotely and able to bring down ships many times their size. Beautiful space station interiors that visually reflect the goods or services that they produce.

All very exciting, I’m sure, but I’m here for the cruise liners. Turns out I want every game to be a taxi/bus simulator, and if I can fly tourists around the galaxy, I’m definitely back on board the good ship Elite Dangerous [official site].

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Divinity: Original Sin 2 Smartly Reinvents The RPG Party

Divinity: Original Sin is one of my favourite games of recent years. It’s a systemic toybox with the skin of a fantasy RPG. I spent an evening playing the sequel [official site] a couple of weeks ago and it improves almost every area. At the foundations, there’s a more interesting world, with a stronger set of characters, but there are also improvements to combat, and the smartest twist on cooperative multiplayer that I’ve seen since Dark Souls.

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Hands On: Dawn Of War III

Last month, I visited Relic at their home in Vancouver. As well as spending a few hours with a single, complete mission from the Dawn of War III [official site] campaign, I had the chance to sit in on short presentations from various members of the team, demonstrating how their own contributions and creativity become part of the bigger picture. There was a lot to absorb, including enough environmental variety to excite the extraterrestrial explorer in me (ruined temples on jungle planets? Yes please), but one series of brief videos stood out, despite containing nothing that hinted at previously unseen planets or units.

The best of the videos used simple shapes to tell me everything I needed to know about the game’s races, and how well Relic understand them.

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Sudden Strike 4 Is A Slower More Thoughtful RTS

Either RTS games got faster or I got slower. Could be both. Either way, there was a point when war, whether interstellar or historical, became unmanageable for me. Exceptions existed, with Company of Heroes the most splendid of them, but the wider arena of real-time strategy esemed like a thing of my past for a while.

Sudden Strike 4 [official site] is a return to a slower, more thoughtful time.

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