Posts Tagged ‘review’

Apollo 11 Sim Makes A Strong Case For Longform VR

One of the many lingering questions around the first wave of consumer virtual reality is whether we can realistically expect experiences which involve more than a handful minutes spent staring slack-jawed at some rendered paradise or briefly experimenting with a motion-controlled, cartoonish physics gimmick. I’m still combing through the 60-odd titles released on the HTC Vive’s not-a-launch day, and the bulk is solidly within the either the Brief Visual Experience or Didn’t We Basically Do This On Eyetoy In 2006 boxes. That’s OK: it’s early days and everyone’s still figuring this stuff out. But in terms of what I should actually use my Vive for day-to-day in the meantime, I’m coming up a bit short. Video is the main driver for now, but clearly I’d like to be gaming too.

Apollo 11 is more in the ‘experience’ box than the ‘game’ box, but what it does offer is something to spend an evening with, rather than just a slice of an evening. It’s a signpost to a VR future which simulates fantastic voyages, not simply hands-off lollygagging at something for a heartbeat. It’s also, like almost everything else I’ve tried, an all-too-able demonstration of current VR’s limitations, but I guess I’m starting to take that for granted now.

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The First Must-Have VR App: Virtual Desktop

VR, be it Vive, be it Oculus Rift or something else, is currently primarily discussed in terms of games, but given that what we’re fundamentally talking about is a new paradigm for computer displays, that’s hardly the be all and end all of it. There may well be various applications of VR in other fields – medical, scientific, tourism, military, porn, to name but a few – but general desktop computing is something that pretty much all of us have in common.

A question which has occurred to me since almost the earliest days of this stuff has been “can I use VR goggles instead of a monitor?” Less physical space but more virtual space, and the possibility of doing Minority Report-y things with the operating system. Virtual Desktop is the first attempt at meaningfully answering that question, and it’s about as essential a VR application as there is right now – but it also demonstrates why the technology just isn’t quite there yet.

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Wot I Think: Baldur’s Gate: Siege Of Dragonspear

Sixteen years ago, BioWare bridged the gap between Baldur’s Gate and Baldur’s Gate 2 with, more or less, “And then some other stuff happened.” Now Beamdog has gone back, filling in the gaps with Siege of Dragonspear [official site]. Is it worth putting the band back together for one more trip to the Sword Coast? Here’s Wot I Think.

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Wot I Think: Ashes of the Singularity Singleplayer

Ashes of the Singularity [official site] was released last week after months in early access, promising huge Supreme Commander-style battles and furious tactical decision-making. But is it simply walking in the giant robot footsteps of its predecessors? Brendan tells us wot he thinks.

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Wot I Think: Job Simulator

Spring is tentatively Springing. The outside world is becoming more and more appealing. Yet I eschewed sunshine and the joyful company of my capering 2-year-old for what? Why, for performing menial chores in the dark, with an LCD screen mashed directly onto my eyeballs. Job Simulator [official site] is a cheerful satire of a possible future in which robots rule the world and recreate the boundlessly mundane human jobs of yesteryear for their own entertainment – but this cannot come close to the fundamental absurdity of what I am doing with a VR headset today. The future is here, and it’s bloody ridiculous.
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Wot I Think: Dark Souls III

I'm avoiding gratuitous spoilers in the screenshots here. They're all from early in the game and there are no bosses pictured. Discovery is fun.

Dark Souls III [official site] is almost here so if you haven’t done so already, prepare to die. In this spoiler-free review, I’ll explain how From Software’s latest borrows almost as much from trilogy predecessor Demon’s Souls as from the previous two games, and why I might be ready to say goodbye to the series, even though I’ve loved almost every minute of my time in Lothric.

In the moments when I’m feeling generous toward Dark Souls III, I’m tempted to say it takes the best of series-opener (and only non-PC entry) Demon’s Souls and mixes it with the best of Dark Souls I. That’s an argument I reckon I could stitch together.

There have been plenty of those moments, scattered across the tens of hours I’ve already spent with From Software’s latest, but there have been plenty of drawn out moments when I’ve felt as if both I and the series are going through the motions to an extent. To explain why that is, I need to talk about the aspects of the Souls games that I love.

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