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Archive for February, 2011

Shogun 2: Total War Demo Impressions

February 23, 2011 Leave a comment

By Tom Dann

Total War games have always looked great. Environments are attractive, and individual units look good, especially considering just how many of them there are. But the Total War games have always very much been about function over form: while the games visual assets are impeccably recreated, there’s never been that little extra something, the little details or creative flairs, to set them apart. Shogun 2 changes all of that. Read more…

Categories: Previews

Dragon Age II Demo Impressions

February 23, 2011 1 comment

By Tom Dann

Dragon Age: Origins was a great game. The epic RPG had a few problems, without a doubt: the combat wasn’t very visceral compared to more action-oriented games, the dialogue mechanics were dated, the graphics weren’t great (they were downright horrible on consoles), and there were just a few too many high fantasy clichés. The inevitable Dragon Age II looks set to try and rectify each of those problems, and the new demo has given us a promising insight into what we can expect. Read more…

Categories: Previews

The Third Age: Total War Mod Review

February 22, 2011 1 comment

By Tom Dann

The Lord of the Rings is the perfect setting for a strategy game. The story is set in a time of war, for a start, and there’s a selection of interesting and unique factions involved. EA Games, who held the rights to games based on the movies until recently, published three Lord of the Rings strategy games: Battle for Middle-earth, its sequel, Battle for Middle-earth II, and that games expansion, Rise of the Witch-King. The first BfME was appealing, fantastically evoking the world of the movies, and was surprisingly immersive for s strategy game. Unfortunately, it was also incredibly shallow. BfME II, making the most of the expanded rights to include the books, was a bigger and more complex game, though it suffered from poor design choices for those assets not found in the films. WarCraft-style Dwarves marched against the more realistic design of the existing factions, while the expansion added magic and sorcerers which sat very uncomfortably with Tolkein’s descriptions of his world. Vivendi Universal, who owned the rights to make games based solely from the books, released War of the Ring, which owed far too much to WarCraft 3. Read more…

Categories: Mods

Mirror’s Edge Review

February 16, 2011 Leave a comment

By Kob Monney

It’s taken me nearly two years to finish Mirror’s Edge…two years. That’s a lot of time spent trying to complete one game. While I can’t say I enjoyed every moment I spent with it; the thought of playing the game again armed with the knowledge from that (lengthy) playthrough won’t leave me. This thought is then tempered by an opposing one which tells me, in no uncertain manner, no; spare yourself the frustration, you’ll only sink your head into your lap and cry once you’ve died for the 27th time. Read more…

Categories: Reviews

Magicka Review

February 13, 2011 Leave a comment

By Tom Dann

Magicka, published by Grand Strategy giants Paradox Interactive, is representative of an increasingly common trend in videogames. Tiny development teams, here numbering only eight (at Arrowhead Studios), are creating incredibly creative new games, and gradually challenging the dominance of the AAA title. Why spend £40 on, for example, The Force Unleashed 2, which will be finished in under five hours and offers little in the way of imaginative gameplay, when you can spend £8 on Magicka, a game which potentially offers dozens of hours of fun? I know which game I’d choose. Read more…

Categories: Reviews

Dawn of War II: Retribution Multiplayer Preview

February 8, 2011 Leave a comment

By Tom Dann

Dawn of War II: Retribution will be the second expansion for Relic’s 2009 Sci-Fi RTS. The game follows the template the original Dawn of War set out: several expansions gradually adding new races and units from the incredibly rich Warhammer 40,000 background. Retribution’s addition to the game is the Imperial Guard, the humans of the 40K universe. Men in 40K are comparatively weak and numerous next to the other races, and consequently rely on big guns and big tanks. The Retribution campaign will follow the model laid out by the Dark Crusade expansion for the original game: a Risk-style map, that must be conquered with your race of choice. This is far more exciting than Dawn of War II’s previous campaigns which, while decent, only let players choose the Space Marines. But the campaign will be reported on elsewhere: the Retribution multiplayer beta has been running for nearly a week now, so while it’s not fully representative of the finished product, it’s giving us a pretty good idea of the changes to expect. Read more…

Categories: Previews

Kane & Lynch 2: Adult Stories for Adult Gamers

February 1, 2011 Leave a comment

By Tom Dann

Kane & Lynch 2 is not an easy game to play. The story is one of the most brutal seen in a videogame, the characters are, at first, virtually unrelatable, the shooting feels clunky and the shaki-cam approach may well make you motion sick. Reviewers picked up on each of these things, and the game had an incredibly mixed reception. I avoided the game, thinking it was just another M rated game trying too hard to be “grown up” or “realistic” (how can a game be realistic when your final kill count is well into the hundreds?) So why do I now think more games should be like Kane & Lynch 2? Read more…

Categories: Essays