Posts Tagged ‘review’

Premature Evaluation: Kenshi

Every week we cast Brendan into the early access badlands in nothing but rags. This time, the hot mess of genre that is survival-strategy-city-builder-RPG Kenshi [official site]

You could call Kenshi an RPG, you could call it a survival game. Or you could call it a chaotic jumble of good ideas stitched together via a user interface that would make a Wurm player eat their keyboard in a blind rage. I mention Wurm Online only because this feels like the closest comparison. Except this isn’t online. It’s set in a single-player fantasy Japanese world of skeletal robots and bony animals of burden and it’s got a reputation for toughness. My favourite line in the trailer is: “nobody will help you when the fog-men are eating your legs”. A line both frank and representative. How would I fare in this hostile landscape? Let me tell you the saga of the Gurpson clan.
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Wot I Think: Everspace

Sci-fi dogfighter Everspace [official site] has been stuck in the early access nebula since September last year. But last month it turned up the warp crank and charged the star batteries to “quite full”. Zoom! It’s a roguelike that our Alec took a peep at once before. But it’s properly out now, so I’m going to tell you wot I think.

It’s an arcadey, gun-swapping dance of asteroids and explosions. I’d call all the boosting and lasering and missile-launching a “ballet” but that would imply some finesse on the part of the pilot, whereas I have none. Nevertheless, it’s a better-than-average dogfighting sim – uppercase “DOGFIGHTING”, lowercase “sim”.
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Wot I Think – Rising Storm 2: Vietnam

As soon as I peek out over the wall, bullets zip past my head and ricochet off the bricks around me. I duck back down, my screen blurring. I’m pinned down. That is, until the artillery comes down on the enemy trench, its screeches echoed by the cries of the Americans caught in the blasts. I pop my head back up to have a look at the light show and my screen turns black. A second later the kill feed updates. I was shot in the head, apparently.

This ends up happening a lot in Rising Storm 2: Vietnam [official site]. The original Rising Storm, a spinoff from Tripwire’s Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad, was an unforgiving shooter and this is no different. Being a beginner in this game is a struggle. You’ll die in one shot, often from an unseen enemy. You’ll kill teammates by accident and get shouted at in chat. But if you’re willing to get over the initial bumps and you’re happy to play it the way it’s supposed to be played, then the payoff is more than worth it. Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: Dirt 4

This is my first time contributing to RPS, so I’m going to start out with a little (pertinent) information: I’ve driven a lot of cars. As an automotive journalist I’ve sat behind the wheels of everything from the aggressively unremarkable Dodge Dart to brilliant machines like the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series, the Subaru WRX STi, the Audi R8 V10, a rally-prepped Ford Fiesta, and even a pair of formula cars. I’m pretty quick on tarmac.

Dirt 4 isn’t about tarmac, so I knew it would be a learning experience. In fact, I drove that Fiesta I mentioned a moment ago about 100 meters onto a rally stage, with Tim O’Neil and Ken Block on board, before I valiantly steered it into a ditch. Once I got it out of the ditch and en route again I made it down another half of the stage before reacquainting myself with the ditch. I swore to do better next time, but next time never came.

“Close enough”, I thought when I got this assignment, so I set up my sim gear and got to racing. Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: StarCrawlers

StarCrawlers [official site] is a game about punks and rebels – people eking out a living on the edge of space by stealing, smuggling and doing odd jobs for the shady corporate entities that run the galaxy. It’s cyberpunk, but with the soul of Firefly and the mechanics of Eye of the Beholder. These different inspirations fit together neatly, rather than competing, resulting in a cohesive and ambitious party-based dungeon-crawler. Read the rest of this entry »

Premature Evaluation: Production Line

Every week we send Brendan to inspect the factory floor of early access and scribble angry notes about the development carousel. This time, the conveyor belts of Production Line [official site].

Hello, discerning motorist. Set your eyes on the epitome of motorway luxury: the Safe Family Car Xtreme. It is our debut vehicle and comes complete with an engine and wing mirrors. You might think our car company is behind the competition because there is no air conditioning, no cruise control, and no means of listening to music while driving. But don’t worry, we have 16 of our best scientists working round the clock to come up with a CD player right now. There is no reason to be alarmed. No, I mean that literally. The Family Car Xtreme has no car alarm.
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Wot I Think: Caveblazers

There are a lot of games that look like they might give me that Spelunky feeling but most of them just leave me feeling a little empty. Not Caveblazers [official site] though. Rupeck Games’ debut captures the craft and chaotic delights of Spelunky better than anything I’ve played since Spelunky itself though and it has quickly become one of my favourite roguelike platformers.

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Wot I Think: Tokyo 42

Tokyo 42 [official site] is a game of games. It comes across as having the pure and earnest intention to hybridise everything that has been most beloved in games from the last half-decade (and a couple from decades earlier), and then adds in cats and samurai swords for good measure. Inevitably, it doesn’t all work, but moments of half-madcap, half-measured brilliance glimmer through a patina of low-level frustration.

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Wot I Think: The Long Journey Home

It’s not all that long, the journey, but it is very busy. About six hours might do the trick, but you’re likely to get distracted along the way. Part Star Trek Voyager and part The Odyssey, The Long Journey Home [official site] puts you in charge of a small crew who have been stranded far from Earth due to a tech malfunction, and must make their way home, making friends and enemies along the way. Though it’s clearly inspired by the likes of Star Control and Captain Blood, I’ve found myself thinking of No Man’s Sky as I play. Here’s wot I think.

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Wot I Think: Vanquish

It’s my first time with the high-speed bumslides and endless robo-armies of Bayonetta and Nier: Automata dev Platinum’s third-person shooter Vanquish [official site], newly released on PC a full seven years after its console versions. I like to think that this means I see it with clear eyes, unclouded either by nostalgia or a predisposition to root for an underappreciated underdog.

Of course, it may instead mean that I’m unfairly holding a 2010 game to 2017 standards. That may be why I want to say things like “Vanquish looks and sounds exactly like the kind of shallow, noisy, appallingly-written, hyper-macho low culture that people who don’t play videogames think all videogames are like”. Then again, the reasons that people have kept its flame burning for the best part of the decade are surely the same reasons that make me want to say things like “yeah, Vanquish is brillo.”
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Wot I Think: Perception

Perception [official site] has pedigree. It’s the first game from a new studio, but members of the team have worked on BioShock, BioShock Infinite and Dead Space. Crowdfunded to the tune of $160,000, Perception didn’t simply rely on past glories though; it has one of the strongest hooks I’ve ever seen in a horror game. You play as a blind woman, exploring a haunted (?) house, using echolocation to find your way around, and to discover escape routes when necessary. Sounds good? Here’s wot I think.

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Wot I Think: The Surge

Oh, I see. Just as I’ve written an article complaining that no game has learned from Dark Souls’ level design, The Surge [official site] comes out, a Soulsy sci-fi action game which is, on the face of it, about a cataclysmic accident in a robot factory, but which is actually about opening that door over there and finding out you’re back in your favourite corridor. It’s from the same developers as Lords of the Fallen but while Rich found that earlier foray into the land of Dark Clones to be uninspired and shonky, The Surge turns out to be a decent homage to its predecessor, even if it is lacking in several vital areas. Some of that shonkiness, for example, is still hanging in there.
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Wot I Think: Steel Division – Normandy 44

There are two wars raging within Steel Division [official site]. While the Axis and Allies are going at it hammer and tongs in the très jolie fields and lanes of NW France, behind the scenes ‘Plausibility’ and ‘Populism’ – or ‘Wargame’ and ‘RTS’ if you prefer – are scrapping just as energetically for control of the soul of Eugen’s latest offering. Most of the time the fight is close and the game is great as a result. It’s only when Populism/RTS starts gaining the upper hand – something that happens most noticeably during the three short singleplayer campaigns – that things go awry for the mostly excellent Steel Division. Read the rest of this entry »

Premature Evaluation: Rokh

Every week we send Brendan down to the rocky surface of the early access wastes. This time, the Martian survivalism of Rokh [official site].

I only lasted two hours on Mars. I didn’t die of radiation sickness, nor did I succumb to thirst or hunger. I didn’t get struck down by a wayward meteorite, or run out of oxygen and suffocate in my own spacesuit. All of these things are possible in this crafting-heavy survive-em-up. But my time on the red planet was brought to an end by a much more ordinary killer: tedium. Rokh is an absolute masterclass in how NOT to do survival games.
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Wot I Think: Old Man’s Journey

Old Man's Journey

Old Man’s Journey [official site] is a beautiful and thoughtful mild landscape puzzler which is at its best when it focuses on tiny details or on strange delights. The interaction can meander into dullness but there are moments of melancholy beauty to be found and which are arresting enough that it makes the whole thing worthwhile. Here’s Wot I Think: Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: The Edgelands

The Edgelands [official site] is a minimalist miasma, a quirky combination of IF-like faux text parser and graphic adventure, set in a grimly dying world. And while there’s so much good about it, there’s just a bit too much that isn’t. Here’s wot I think: Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: Endless Space 2

I can imagine the intervention now, family and friends sitting around me in a circle. “Fraser, we all care about you. You’re in a safe space. But you’ve got to stop falling in love with 4X games. It’s bad for your health.” I’d walk straight out of the room, of course. My new beau is Endless Space 2 [official site], and its got its hooks in me deep. Like its predecessor – definitely Endless Legend and not the first Endless Space – it’s a bold attack on the more staid elements of the 4X multiverse, full of character, weirdness and ambition.
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Review: HP’s Omen 17 is as close as gaming laptops get to a bargain

Honestly: Ripley here walked over and posed of her own volition while I was taking photos. I guess you know what they say about black cats and omens...

When I began my quest to review a horde of gaming laptops, at the end of which I would purchase the one I liked the most, I was reasonably convinced of two things. One, I wouldn’t settle for something that I considered to be graphically underpowered. Two, I didn’t want something gigantic. The first conviction was challenged by the relatively affordable Dell Inspiron 15 Gaming, whose humble 1050 Ti GPU proved surprisingly meaty (sadly, the awful screen ultimately deterred me from purchase there), and now the second has come undone in the face of the colossal 17″ HP Omen. Read the rest of this entry »