"Do you, Aragorn, son of Arathorn, also known as Strider, from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, take Shelob, a huge terrifying man-eating spider, as your wedded wife?" I do. I did. I married a giant spider! And that's just one of the many bizarre fan-fiction adventures you can have with The Middle Earth Project mod for Crusader Kings II. If marrying a spider sounds weird, it'll make more sense when I explain that I began the game playing as Aragorn's liege: a Balrog.
People are never satisfied with what they've got. That's okay, we're an aspirational species. Although, I do question the healthiness of that impulsion when it comes to STALKER: Lost Alpha. It's being created by a group seemingly dissatisfied with GSC's final version of STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl. As such, they're trying to bring the game back to its 2002-era screenshots, when certain areas were larger, and more open. That's right: this is a group of people who want STALKER to be larger, more overwhelming and, of course, more harrowing.
They've been working on it for a long time, too. We last reported on the mod back in December 2012. Over a year later, and a new video provides a lengthy demo of their progress, and reveals why - despite its expanded bleakness - Lost Alpha is a place you may well want to visit.
Sometimes it's difficult to have a surname that can double as an adjective for uncontrollable, mindless violence. Especially when your job is to report on games, which are exceptionally good at making enemies that are characterised by their uncontrollable, mindless violence. The overuse of the word 'savage' in gaming is a completely unwarranted defamation of my ancestors. After all, they were only responsible for around 28% of maulings in the UK's West Midlands area. Still, the damage is already done, so here's the "Savagery" trailer for Skywind, the excellent looking Skyrim mod that aims to fully recreate Morrowind.
This week's 2.1 update for Starcraft 2 doesn't rebalance any of the game's units, suggesting that - at least for now - Blizzard are pretty confident that everything in the game is OP. Instead, then, they get to focus on improving other key experiences: like music and tiny hovering clan pictures. They're also making a big push into another of the game's core components: mucking about. As such, the Starcraft Arcade is now available to anyone who downloads the free Starter Edition of the game.
I get told off by the community every time I suggest that C&C Renegade wasn't a good game. Let's try this instead: C&C Renegade was a heaping pile of shipped software that was technically unable to match its conceptual ambition, instead providing a shonky singleplayer experience, and a multiplayer mode that, despite being reasonably entertaining, was largely forgettable. There, that should keep people happy.
Before you run over to the comments to call me a blithering idiot, take a peek at this new video for Renegade X, the fan-made C&C shooter that is due to be released next month. Formerly a UT3 mod, it's now a standalone game that will be freely available to anyone seeking a tactical multiplayer fix.
Spelunky is brilliant. Part of the reason it's brilliant is the random generation, ensuring that each of your many retries are a chance to explore something new. Even the Daily Challenges - which randomly generate a new level each day, and share that level between every player - are brilliant. Here, then, is a community application that lets you completely bypass those randomised levels by setting your own custom creation seed. Will it still be brilliant? It's Spelunky, so probably.
Since EA just spent months fixing that mistake everyone (except EA) knew they never should have made, you may find yourself tempted to finally buy the 2013 version of SimCity. Nuts to that, says I, because there are still plenty of changes, additions, and enhancements being made to 2003’s SimCity 4, courtesy of the ever-growing Network Addon Mod. NAM is entering its 10th year and still adding new features to the game's transportation system. Lots of them.
School can be a drag, especially when a bunch of atomic bombs have turned your classmates into flesh-eating ghouls. This week, however, class is back in session in the Afterschool Special mod for Fallout: New Vegas, which lets you take an abandoned, decaying schoolhouse and transform it into an awesome high-tech base of operations, with a lab, a crafting center, a health station, and best of all, the CIMS: an awesome computer that can sort, organize, and store all of your worldly possessions at the touch of a button.
(Please note, the picture above of me decapitating a Fiend's attack dog with a laser rifle doesn't specifically have anything to do with the mod. It's just more exciting to look at than a picture of a schoolhouse.)
It seems like everyone in Skyrim keeps a journal. Bandits, smugglers, fishermen, necromancers, and even serial killers all obsessively document their lives. Yet the most interesting person in Skyrim -- that Dragonborn character -- does not. It's time to change that, with the Journal of the Dragonborn mod. Take notes, keep a diary, and record your exciting adventures for posterity, all from right there inside the game.
After last month's "Call to East" trailer, I doubt anyone would have dismissed Skywind's aim to port Morrowind into the Skyrim engine as an easy task. Now, though, the Skyrim mod's first official development diary will give you an idea of the epic scope of the project, and the ambition and dedication of its 70+ team of volunteers. And all so you don't have to go back to the third Elder Scroll's angular and low-poly giant mushrooms.
Feel like doing a little mad science? The Advanced Genetics mod lets you collect DNA from Minecraft's monsters and animals, analyze it, decrypt it, and grow it in your lab. Then, you can inject it into yourself, gaining the abilities of the monsters you harvested, like the the Enderman's teleportation power, the Ghast's fireballs, the Skeleton's endless arrows, and tons more.
Have you been playing a lot of Spelunky? Maybe even playing it every single day for the Daily Challenge? Do you feel that even though Spelunky is different every single time you play it, it’s just not different enough? Do you promise not to hassle me about these not really being mods but just file replacements? Then read on!
I've not much sympathy for "things were better in the old days" reminiscing. For instance, those who prefer the twitch action of 'old-school' shooters still have valid options for their acrobatic rocket-spam. Far better then, are those retro-pastiche projects that filter the philosophy of nostalgia through something entirely more ridiculous. Take Half-Life 2: Deathmatch mod Jaykin' Bacon 3. As you'll see in this trailer, its Instagib mode will let you play a flying Solid Snake shooting his deadly electrified finger gun.
You're parachuting over the island of Panau, as you've done countless times before. This time, however, you're not alone: the sky is full of chutes. Planes streak by, wildly firing at each other, while a crowd of people with grappling hooks all try to hijack the same helicopter. On the ground, two dozen limousines careen past in the midst of a race around an airport. The Just Cause 2 Multiplayer Mod doesn't boast a server of 24 or 36 players, but hundreds, potentially thousands, all in the same game at once. Panau, already a ridiculous place, just got truly nuts.
It's taken me a while to realise this, but the Half-Life games must be set in a fictional universe where everyone's a complete badass. I'd always thought Gordon Freeman was the exception, but now I'm not so sure. What about Barney? A security guard for scientists. Not a lot of action in that job, but he still made it through the Blue Shift expansion and then later infiltrated an alien police force. Now look at the protagonist of Half-Life mod The Core. A mild-mannered engineer? Nope. As you can see from this new trailer, he's jumping between crates and gunning down aliens with the best of them.
Okay, an apology. I used the word "action" in the headline, which may be a little misleading. This is an upcoming multiplayer mod for Euro Truck Simulator 2, after all. At no point does anything explode. Foreign drug dealers don't speed past in convertibles, shooting up the side of each cab with AK47s. We don't even see a heroic figure in a leather jacket jumping between each truck. Instead, a few friends take to the virtual roads of Europe, sharing the perverse sense of belonging that comes with being in a convoy. And sticking to the speed limit.
"Khaleesi"... "Car-leesy"... "Kaleeeessi". Oh, sorry. You've just caught me practising my Jorah Mormont impression. I want to get it perfected before next week, when Crusader Kings 2's brilliant Game of Thrones mod will launch its Essos update. That's because the arrival of the Eastern continent will also mean the introduction of its most famous inhabitant: Dany Stormborn and her three dragons.
Ah, Autumn. It’s a time for brisk walks through the woods with crunchy, colorful leaves underfoot. A time for taking deep lungfuls of crisp, fresh air. A time for stuffing diet sausages into your mouth while firing panicky rounds from an inaccurate pistol as irradiated dogs leap and snarl from the thick undergrowth. A time for the Autumn Aurora 2 mod, for STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl.
Skyrim is a beautifully vast and sweeping game. Also vast: the possibility of its modding potential. The nomadic fans of Morrowind are crossing those rolling plains of creation, as part of their quest to settle within the safety and shelter of this newer game's engine. Their journey started just over a year ago, and now - while still far from the home stretch - they've made great progress. They've even released a trailer showing just how far they've come.
Turn on the TV or radio, talk to a relative or co-worker, or listen to a random conversation in a restaurant or bar, and you’ll quickly realize one thing: everyone knows how to run the country better than the person currently running it. And, if cousin Zeke or Carl the bartender can run the country, running the country must be too darn easy, right? Here's how to make it a bit tougher.