Let me tell you about one of my favourite levels. It’s from a funny old game called Marathon Infinity, and it’s brilliant.
RPS Feature Ne Cede Malis was ahead of its time.
RPS Feature Excavating the forgotten Civilization game
I’m not entirely sure what’s going on. I’m playing Civilization: Call to Power, and at some point the world turned from relative Civ familiarity (with shoddier mechanics) into a Twilight Zone where everything is just… wrong. I think things started getting strange when my still ancient-looking capital city of Rome circa 1700AD started being showered with little animations of paper, crippling the city’s production. Sending a spy to investigate, I uncovered that a man in a blue suit (all the rage in 1600s Thailand, apparently) was behind it all – a scummer lawyer catapulting bloody injunctions.
What in Sid’s name is going on?
Civilization: Call to Power and its sequel are baffling, yet also fascinating – they’re the shameful secrets of the esteemed 4X series that Sid Meier and Firaxis had no involvement with, borne of huge ambitions, an inexperienced dev team at Activision, and (fittingly, given the stifling, all-pervasive role of lawyers in the game), a lawsuit.
RPS Feature Lessons in world design from 2001
One of the many nebulous concepts that spring up when writing about games is “a sense of place”. We talk about worlds and locations and settings, but often these boil down to unusual geography or art direction – surface details and imagery rather than a real identity.
Gothic, by contrast, wasn’t particularly pretty. Its setting wasn’t the singular underground world of Arx Fatalis, nor the varied alien landscape of Morrowind. Instead, Piranha Bytes recognised back in 2001 that a place is a place not because of its landscape or biome or buildings, but because the people there make it one.
Most RPGs have NPC traffic. Gothic had a society.
Twenty years ago today, id Software released Quake. Following a multiplayer test that gave the world a first glimpse of the studio’s new, cutting edge 3d engine, the full game arrived on June 22, 1996. Its bizarre mash-up of medieval architecture and crunchy, industrial weaponry didn’t run through the sequels, which have focused on both singleplayer and multiplayer combat, and there hasn’t been anything else quite like it in the two decades since release.
Arena-based Quake is set for a revival with the recently announced Quake Champions, but here, we remember the original. Happy twentieth, Quake.
RPS Feature Monsters, Mobsters and Cinematic Strategy
Cinematic! What a loaded word it’s become. Once the game industry’s marketing buzzword du jour, the descriptor certainly earned its current status as a groanworthy sign that a developer would much rather be doing something else.
With such a disclaimer then, it’s safe to specify why It Came From The Desert, and in fact most games from its developer Cinemaware, had “cinematic” firmly in their sights. But in a good way.
RPS Feature Why more games should copy it.
It’s a strange time to look at old turn-based shooters. While we’re hardly swamped, the genre has left its dormancy, casting strange shadows on our old sacred cows. Whisper it now: maybe some of those old things we championed for so long aren’t all that great?
Fortunately, Silent Storm can ignore such insinuations, as it was never sacred. Its 2003 release by Nival Interactive caused little splash, and it didn’t find the legendary status of UFO or the dedicated mod scene of Jagged Alliance 2.
Playing it now, that strikes me as completely unfair.
RPS Feature World without war
Strategy games seldom come with a premise more creative than “what if aliens?”, or “what if robots?”, or perhaps “what if alien robots?”, and while this often works – their appeal tends to come from systems and details instead – it does leave a gap for more imaginative fair. Take, for example, Hostile Waters, Rage Games’ 2001 release inspired by the 1988 naval/aerial action strategy hybrid Carrier Command.
The central premise of Hostile Waters’ setting is essentially this: What if the Occupy movement had won?