Saturday, 12 November 2016

Star Trek: 25th Anniversary - Boldly Adventuring

I would certainly consider myself a Star Trek fan, and a fan of science fiction in general. I grew up watching re-runs of the original series of Star Trek, and watching the classic movies. Gene Roddenberry created a series that was hopeful, insightful, heartwarming, exciting and occasionally quite silly. It may have sometimes been a little rough around the edges, or been a little simplistic in it's ideals but the camaraderie and positivity of the core characters was brilliant and went from strength to strength.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Indie Gaming: Firewatch

Firewatch, Campo Santo games, 2016
In many ways, our protagonist in Firewatch is typical of gaming: White, male, bearded... but rather than joining the clones of gaming past, his characterisation saves him. We get introduced to him via a short choose-your-own-adventure style story, in which you get a summary of his relationship with his wife, with a few choices along the way. These choices grant you a more close relationship with your character than most games, as even these simple choices can give you a greater understanding of the role you will be playing.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Dark Souls 3: Design, Difficulty and Me

I am not a man who likes difficult games. I grew up in a time where it seemed like many games deliberately wanted to punish the player, with too many mistakes meaning a total game over. They were borne of the arcade mentality, where a new life would mean more money in the slot. Being good at a game meant you could play for longer on whatever meagre allowance you had. I was never good enough, so arcade machines just seemed far too expensive.

The games I grew to love took a more relaxed view of difficulty, a different approach. Sierra adventure games may have many ways for the player character to be killed, but they also allowed liberal use of save games and were relatively short. Ultima RPGs would usually freely resurrect the player character and party if you were defeated. Many games allowed for cheating, or had in-built cheats to give you access to almost everything will little or no skill required.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

No Man's Sky: From Hype to Reality

It can be difficult to avoid hype, to avoid hope, to avoid the ceaseless marketing push of certain games. For those of us that read games-related websites, who take an interest in what is available and what is upcoming, you may see news about the current hot game every day.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Pillars of Eternity: The Heir Apparent to Baldur's Gate

I've been playing Pillars of Eternity for over 30 hours, and have completed Chapter 2 and have progressed into Chapter 3. I backed the game quite a long time ago on Kickstarter, but had a terrible time getting into the game. I couldn't decide what sort of character I wanted to be, I didn't know the mechanics, I didn't know the setting, I didn't know anything about what I needed and yet I had to make significant choices.

I felt a bit paralysed by this choice early on. I experimented with several different ones, and found nothing to be a good fit. Even now, I don't feel like I made a great choice. Thankfully, I'm playing with the newly added lowest difficulty setting: Story Time. This patronisingly named option is from a recent patch, and drastically reduces the difficulty of combat.

Indie Gaming: Sir, You Are Being Hunted

Picture from the official Big Robot website
An experiment gone wrong has cast you into a hostile archipelago, crawling with robotic hunters keen to shuffle you off your mortal coil. Sir, You are being hunted!

The game is essentially a survival story, you must locate the missing pieces of your experiment and return them to the standing stones on the central island of the archipelago (there are five islands in total). The entire game world is procedurally generated from a selection of different templates (Rural, Fens, Industrial etc.) and populated by buildings, wildlife and of course robots.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

The Top Twelve Best Things About XCOM2

Last time I wrote about the things that have frustrated and annoyed me about XCOM2. This time, a bit more positivity! I couldn't leave people thinking I dislike XCOM2, especially since I've already put over 50 hours into it, and will surely keep playing for a while yet.

1. The Mods

So many games these days are improved by modding, and indeed some games would be quickly forgotten if those amazing modders didn't put so many hours into creating, tweaking and improving the main game. Everything from cosmetic changes, bug fixes and new guns and classes are available, and more are being added all the time. I've yet to dip my toe into this expanding sea of content, but I look forward to trying them out.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

The Twelve Most Annoying Things About XCOM2

XCOM2 is a fascinating sequel to XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and I've been enjoying it quite a lot over the past week or so. In fact, it's been my most played game of the past week by some margin. It provides a lot of interesting changes to the formula from the previous game, and deserves a lot of credit for it. I'm not too far away from my first victory, and then I plan on diving into the ocean of mods that are currently filling up the Steam Workshop.

It's not all engaging gameplay, tense atmosphere and tactical action though, because there are a few things which just annoy and frustrate me. Nothing enough to stop me playing or to particularly spoil my enjoyment, but enough for me to write this list.

1. "Free" Enemy Movement

In the first game, the enemy got a "free" movement when your soldiers were within sight range. This allowed them to get into cover, and this game really prioritises cover. XCOM2 is similar, but enemies also sometimes get to perform an action during your turn, which can be even more frustrating. This is balanced somewhat by your soldiers also having skills that occur during the enemy turn, but those are rather few and somewhat limited.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

XCOM: The New One (meaning the reboot, not the sequel which is coming out soon, why is this so difficult, maybe they should have named it something else? At least it's not as bad as Prince of Persia)

A long while ago, I played the XCOM reboot. If you were to look back through the various posts on this blog, you'll perhaps notice one of the first games I played through was in fact X-COM, or UFO: Enemy Unknown, the first and best game in this long-running and now rebooted franchise (at least until the reboot sequel comes out, in which case I'd have to consider that one, but let's be honest I'm probably going to always prefer that classic version from my youth).

The "ant farm"
What I meant to say in that previous paragraph was that I'd covered the first X-COM, and I've played through Xenonauts more recently too. The reboot XCOM was less appealing to me, and although I also did play it, I gave up on it a long while ago. Well, this past few weeks I decided to reinstall it and try to finish it before the reboot sequel comes along. I really feel like I should give it a fair chance, since it's very popular apparently. Word is that XCOM2 is much better and so on, but XCOM1 was widely praised at the time.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Star Wars: Dark Forces

Since seeing The Force Awakens, I was reminded of the rich history of Star Wars games on PC. As well as various X-Wing and TIE Fighter games, the stand outs also included the Dark Forces/Jedi Knight series. So I figured it might be a nice idea to reacquaint myself with these slices of classic gaming.

I began with Dark Forces, a 1995 first-person shooter, where you are first introduced to the series hero: Kyle Katarn. A gruff mercenary, he works for the rebels on a freelance basis, and ventures where they cannot. The game itself plays in a very similar way to Doom, which had been released a couple of years prior. As such, I played it entirely with the keyboard, which was an odd experience after so many years of using the mouse to freely look around.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Fallout 4 - Plotting it's own downfall

picture from
The game begins with a lengthy introduction sequence, in which your chosen character and their partner and child are home on a sunny and pleasant day. No time for relaxation, household chores or bringing up baby, as you soon have to make your way to the local Vault to hide from the oncoming nuclear apocalypse.

There's no need to acclimatise to the vault and underground living, because you are all to be kept in suspended animation until the situation above-ground improves. At some point, mysterious people invade the facility, kill everyone except you and your son, and kidnap your son, leaving you back on ice.

You wake up an undetermined amount of time later, with a singular quest: to find your son. You have very little clue on how to do this, and as you awaken into a horrific and ruined country, scarred by war and still in a state of chaos after 200 years, the trail seems quite cold.

Home sweet hoome
As an opening, this is actually rather good. It gives you a clear objective, and good motivation. What parent wouldn't want to find their son? Unfortunately it quickly breaks down, as you get drawn into a world filled with needy people and flawed factions vying for control of the region.

Fallout 4 - Frankenstein's Monster

Image created using Bethesda promotional media (
I have abandoned Skyrim for Fallout 4, perhaps only temporarily, but there is a chance I'll never go back. That's not to say I'll stick with Fallout 4 forever, just that the games are so similar in nature and Fallout 4 has a bit more fun to it, and so going back to the lesser of the two seems pointless.

Fallout 4 is the latest gargantuan open-world RPG from Bethesda. It's look and feel can be traced back to Oblivion, continued through Fallout 3 and Skyrim. They are related in terms of the engine (whatever you want to call it), the animations, the world creation, the quests, obnoxious UI... and so on. Each new game brings it's own improvements, changes, additions and subtractions, but to a certain extent I always feel like they're built upon the same foundations.