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Autumn is all about change. The trees dance with color as the dried leaves crunch underfoot. We lose daylight. Heaters switch on. And your empty hard drive space has the opportunity to fill with the five games on offer from the Indie Royale Fall Bundle, a collection of potent, pumpkin-flavored titles for a current cost of $5.
Between Hotline Miami, Proteus, Thomas Was Alone... pretty much everything in it, the Humble Indie Bundle 8 has been one of the best game bundles in recent memory. It essentially serves as an indie primer - a brilliant catch-up of some of notable games from the last few years. Now, with a week left before the bundle closes, four more games have been added to that selection. They're also pretty great.
The April issue of PC Gamer UK is here, which means it's Spring in magazine land. There are lambs prancing about the office and we're farming them for experience, except NO! MMOs do not work that way any more. Or so ArenaNet say. We've played a ton of Guild Wars 2 to find out if this year's most anticipated MMO has the chops to drag the genre into a new age, free from floating exclamation marks and endless grind quests. Is it really that good? Subscribers already have a good idea, but you can find out for yourself in our six page preview teased on the cover of the latest issue of PC Gamer UK. This month our readers also get a free copy of Crusader Kings and a code for £10 worth of stuff in the browser-based MMO, Juggernaut (here's how to redeem them). Here's what else we've been writing words about this month.
If you haven't been following the drama afflicting the PC gaming community throughout the warmer months, you may not be aware that Steam is well overdue for its annual, wallet-eviscerating Summer Sale. It's that joyous time of year when we forward our paychecks directly to Valve for lots of cheap reasons to not go outside and face the angry, merciless sun. After having heard barely a peep about its absence from Gabe and Co well into July, a Redditor named Dweezy has stumbled in out of the desert proclaiming that the time is nearly upon us.
A recent post on the Battlefield blog has outlined five of the nine maps that will ship with Battlefield 3 when it's released next week. As well as the now familiar 64-player Caspian Border map, Kharg Island introduces some massive desert environments and Grand Bazaar stages a tight infantry fight in the streets of central Tehran. Read on for an overview of each map along with a few screens. For the sake of completeness I've thrown in the other four maps previous detailed by DICE, which includes a mountainous arena that lets attackers base jump onto defenders half a kilometre below.
When my school's IT manager persuaded the headmaster that the original SimCity was an educational tool, it instantly transformed the computer room from a deserted hall to a place of rowdy productivity. Playing the new SimCity, all these years later, inevitably triggers something of a flashback – but, to my surprise, not immediately to the original game.
I think I can jump onto another light fitting from here. I’m wrong. I slip, fall, and land inches behind a gold-masked Overseer looking out of the fifth-story window. I only have a split second headstart in getting over our mutual surprise at the situation, and I use it to stab him in the neck. A second after his body hits the ground, I hear carpet-softened footsteps coming down the hall. Panic. After mentally rejecting three even crazier ideas, I hoist the Overseer’s body over my shoulder and jump out of the window. Dishonored is mostly a stealth game, where you play a kind of assassin, in a somewhat steampunk city. Those floundering qualifiers are part of the fun: you don’t have to hide, you don’t have to kill anyone, and while the city of Dunwall mixes matchlock pistols with crackling Tesla tech, it’s a rusty, crumbling place that feels unique.
The new Command & Conquer is free to play. And it’s from EA. Those two facts together should evoke a tank rush of unease, given that EA aren’t above shoving microtransactions into every cranny they can find. So when I got my hands on it at a recent EA games showcase, I made sure to poke around the interface, looking for stealthy cash-sapping options.
At their greatest scale, SimCity's cities are self-powering machines with hundreds of thousands of moving parts. They churn through endless feedback loops, feeding Sims into swirling cause and effect eddies that produce money, goods, happiness, and growth. After over a week of building, smashing, and rewiring SimCity’s machines to figure out how they work, they still surprise me. SimCity is the series' greatest technical achievement. Will Wright's 1989 original and every Maxis-developed SimCity that came after are about the same thing: building and simulating cities. SimCity does that too, but with a drastically different method. It shifts the simulation from abstract data-crunching to the visible, real-time interactions of thousands of individual Sims, cars, residences, businesses, factories, and everything else you might find in a city.
As I work on our final SimCity review (which I'll post on Friday), I've been documenting my observations and criticisms of the complex simulation and servers we're required to connect to if we want to play it. My analysis and opinions may change as I keep playing, but these notes represent the thought path that will lead to the final verdict. This page covers the early game and medium-density cities, page two covers city specializations, multiplayer regions, and a failed high-density city, page three covers the always-online requirement, and page four tells the story of a metropolis with just one road.
Civilization V has received an enormous patch designed to improve enemy AI and rebalance the game to make higher difficulty levels more challenging. The new patch also adds a multiplayer hotseat mode, compatible with all Civ V maps. While email multiplayer hasn't been implemented yet, the update allows players to save between turns to make it easier to swap saves by email manually. The comedy fix award for this set of patch notes goes to the entry that claims to have "made backstab routine more transparent" for more in-your-face AI betrayal. Despots will also be pleased to know that "liberty and Autocracy are no longer mutually exclusive." You'll find the full patch notes below, as listed on Steam.
Community heroes is our ongoing series of interviews with some of PC gaming’s greatest heroes – the pillars of the community who have devoted huge chunks of time and love to make the PC a better place to game. Tom and I interviewed Shaun Yelle, Wowhead's current director, and former director and co-founder Guillaume Cournoyer, to ask them a little bit about what it's like building and running the slickest and most popular World of Warcraft resource on the internet.
My friends! Gather 'round the fire and prepare to hear an epic tale that spans the entirety of human history! I'm in the middle of chronicling my progress in Civ V's Gods & Kings expansion, with a new entry every Wednesday. Last week, the Industrial Era saw my Swedish Empire and its Grand Army march from sea to shining sea in the pursuit of bringing lasting peace to the world. Despite our best efforts, however, it seems that world war is just on the horizon. Read on, as the next 100 years will change the world more than any century that came before! Need to get caught up? Here's Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.
Every week, Richard Cobbett rolls the dice to bring you an obscure slice of gaming history, from lost gems to weapons grade atrocities. This week, there's a new Bond film on the way, so what better time to take a look back at one of his PC adventures? More or less his, anyway... The name's Glames. John Glames. At least, in Europe. It's not too hard to spot the... ah... inspiration for Delphine's hero in Operation Stealth, what with his tuxedo and slightly squashed face from being shoved into a photocopier. In the US, Interplay didn't even bother. What was originally a mere Bond rip-off was handed the official license to kill, and became James Bond: The Stealth Affair. Both games are identical, aside from five minutes worth of cut-and-paste on the script to swap round a few names, but did the pretender turn out to have what it took to finally be the Bond game the world deserved? You may be surprised! If you're easily surprised by hearing the word 'no'.