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The Shadowrun Brain Dump

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Based on the campaign length I’ve seen bandied about in reviews, I’m assuming I’m about halfway through Shadowrun Returns. It’s too short for a finished review and too long for an initial impressions post so instead I’m just going to dump all of this info here and let you sort through it. I’m sure there’s a Shadowrun term for it to make it sound all cool and cyber-brainy but I’m just going to stick with brain dump. Come to think of it, Shadowrun would probably call it that too.

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The Occult Chronicles Preview


Haunted house type horror board games like Mansions of Madness and Betrayal at House on the Hill tend to suffer from one overriding problem which is that they’re pulled in all sorts of different directions by their requirements. How do you create a game that’s full of both mystery and well-informed decisions? How do you give it variety and replayability with limited tile stock and table space? How do you make it competitive and exciting without giving one player too much power?

The answer, obviously, is to make it into a computer game instead, and have the CPU handle all the fiddly bits for you. Enter upcoming game The Occult Chronicles, currently available to purchase as a playable beta-test. But in a twist worthy of the dark and disgusting gods that inspired the game, developer Cryptic Comet (also responsible for indie strategy titles Armageddon Empires and Solis Infernum) has seen fit to breed in elements of a Rogue-like as well.

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Why Metro Last Light Disappoints


First off, hey, remember me? I used to write here a lot! Good to see you too.

So…first BioShock Infinite and now this.

Metro 2033 was one of the smartest, original and most challenging shooters to appear on the scene in quite some time when THQ and 4A Games released it back in 2010. Flawed? Yeah, but its uncompromising design made for one of the best gaming experiences of the year.

Now, with Metro Last Light we get a drop dead gorgeous sequel set in the same bleak, worn out world but this time it seems…different. Milder. Safer. “Streamlined” and Corporate.

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Hotline Miami Review


The first time you fire up Hotline Miami, you’ll swear your PC has gone wrong. It’ll likely hang for what seems like an age, and then take you to a title screen burnished with blocky text in Russian against an eye-straining dayglow backdrop. It’s the 80’s. It’s Acid House all over again.

What happens next most assuredly isn’t. An ugly, bearded man will swear at you repeatedly as he teaches you the basic concepts of the game. Sneak up on people by using the building topology to keep out of sight, then eviscerate them or shoot them, or just punch them to the floor and then brain them by smashing their heads repeatedly against a door frame.

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Papers, Please

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24.11.82 – Today was my first day working as an immigration official at the newly opened border checkpoint in Grestin. I am thankful for the opportunity to help our glorious Arstotzka and monitor the tide of immigrants into our land. It is tedious work, punctuated by brief moments of anxiety as the printer in my station spits out a report of my latest error. Luckily these moments were few and far between and I was able to process enough people to pay for food, heat and rent in our new lodgings. I even had enough left over to save up for the sweets that Piotr loves so much. I am hoping that once he is better, he will be able to appreciate them. Living near the smelting plant for so long may have damaged his lungs beyond repair, but I am hopeful that this position will mark a new start for all of us.

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Sword of the Stars: The Pit in Review


The other day, I was thinking “wow, I sure would like to play some kind of turn-based Roguelike…but with maybe a science fiction setting.” As if fate decreed, I got an email from thousandaire board game tycoon and AWOL NHS editor Bill Abner. It was a forward from the PR gentleman at Gamer’s Gate and on offer was a review code for their new $10 corker The Pit, from Kereberos Productions . It was exactly the game I wanted to play at exactly the right time. It reminded me of the time that I was dying to hear Soft Cell and I turned on a random stereo on display at a Best Buy literally right as the first notes of “Tainted Love” blared through the speakers. Continue Reading…

DmC: Devil May Cry in Review

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When you spend a lot of time covering games, either professionally or for a hobby, it becomes very easy to think that every fan of games falls into the same shrieking hell pits of frothing insanity brought about by this change or that ending. The reality is that most of the people who play games not only don’t know about the various “Insert game name here”-gate style brou-ha-has that pop up, seemingly every day, but they don’t care. They see games that they may like, buy them, play them and usually enjoy them. If they don’t, they move on to something else and live happy lives, unencumbered by the nautical miles of internet rage that accompany almost every release these days.

I mention this because, in playing DmC: Devil May Cry, Ninja Theory’s reboot of Capcom’s brawler, I had a brief shining glimpse of what it’s like to live in that rarefied air of  Not Giving A Crap Mountain. As I have mentioned here before, I have no connection to the Devil May Cry series, so I don’t care what Dante looks like, or what clothes he wears. I played DmC because I heard it was good and lo and behold, it was.

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Getting Down and Dirty with NFS:MW

For all of the open-worldedness of Need For Speed: Most Wanted it doesn’t take but a few races around a few blocks to realize that Fairhaven isn’t as random as it looks. Oh sure, while tooling around, traffic looks like it follows random patterns, but when you’re in a race and you scream through a sidewinder turn up in the mountains, that red van will always be there for your crashing needs. It may be up the road a piece or down the road a piece, but it will be there.

It makes sense, as part of learning a route is learning  more than just the turns and straightaways but also learning the obstacles, but it does take some of the magic away to know that when you crest that hill in the oncoming lane, you best switch lanes quickly lest you take out that hatchback that’s cursed to drive that stretch of road forever. One of the best things about Driver: San Francisco was how some of the events had to be completed within the random flow of traffic, meaning that when you had to cross those eight lanes of highway traffic, you may hit a blessed empty spot or you may hit a wall of buses.

Thankfully, NFS:MW still has plenty of ways to mess with you, and all of the memorizing in the world won’t help, not when it’s a windshield full of dust slowing you down.

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The Tyranny of Challenge

Like most middle-aged gamers, I cut my teeth in the noisy, garish world of coin-op arcades. When each play costs anew, game designers and manufacturers had a vested interest in making them tough. Not too tough to put off potential gamers, but enough to require repeated coins pumped through the slot.

It was a delicate balancing act but we lapped it up, living for those sweaty moments of exquisite agony where new and unexpected situations taxed your muscle memory and you twitched instinctively over the joystick. Trying desperately to keep that personalised bunch of mindless pixels on the screen burning brightly for one second longer, fired with the knowledge that pocket change isn’t that easy to come by when you’re a teenager.

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Space Hulk!

Seeing that I am out of the videogaming news loop these days, I have no idea how much play this is getting elsewhere but for me — and Barnes and Matt — this is a big deal. Space Hulk is coming to PC and iOS. I know nothing of the developer , Full Control, but Space Hulk is coming to PC and iOS!

Feature set:

Based on the best-selling board game and set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, Space Hulk is a 3D digital turn based strategy game that recreates the classic claustrophobic board game experience for single player and multiplayer cross-platform play between PC, Mac and on iOS.

Space Hulk is set in the isolated corridors and tomb-like chambers of an ancient vessel lost in the graveyard of space. Players lead a small army of fearless Space Marine Terminators to battle in a ferocious fight for survival against hordes of predatory alien Genestealers.

The main features are:

Blood Angel terminator squad
Fearsome Genestealers with challenging AI (sorry, still no free rides)
Thematic 3d environment
Single player campaign based on the “Sin of Damnation” hulk
New coop multiplayer levels against the Genestealer AI
Multiplayer head-to-head recreating the board game experience against a friend
Cross platform multiplayer between PC, Mac and iOS
Level editor with ability to share creations
Game expansions in the future as DLC

In. Oh, so in.

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