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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, a trip to the English Riviera in a bit of multimedia horror that didn't even get to ride the CD-Rom wave and call itself a Torquay adventure... As an institution, the BBC has done many great things over the years. The iPlayer, for instance. Televising democracy. Cancelling Robin Hood. Combine one of its biggest successes with the power of CD-ROM, and you'd probably expect something quite impressive. And... well, that's actually true, provided you think of impressions as just depressions with better marketing campaigns.
Trundling towards us on the unstoppable conveyor belt of updates is Tower of Nightmares, the next event in the Guild Wars 2 calendar. ArenaNet are being unusually cagey about what's inside the tower, but, from the scant information contained on the update page, we know that it'll be found in Kessex Hills, and has something to do with irritable fish-men the Krait. Oh, and that it's evil.
Well that was quick. Ikaruga only shot its way onto Steam Greenlight the other day, and it's already emerged from the other end of the Valve's giant approvals machine, covered in a viscous, sticky substance it's probably best not to investigate too strenuously. It's joined by 36 other assorted things (most of them games), including sci-fi roguelike Steam Marines, platforming roguelike TowerClimb (not to be confused with Towerfall), and lots of other things that aren't roguelikes - if you can imagine such a thing.
Spec Ops: The Line has been AWOL for a while. When we first saw it, it was masquerading as a military man shoot featuring gruff soldiers doing war at each other in the bombed out ruins of Dubai. The Line has re-emerged, with a trailer and two montages showing some fire fights. The gruff men remain, and Dubai is still the setting, but there's a gruesome undertone to the ruins that wasn't there before. I'm pretty sure the giant evil flaming tower is also new. See footage of the game in action below.
This is review appeared in PC Gamer UK 206, which was like a million years ago. We're putting it online because Arcen Games are dying of no money disease, and you need to know how good their game is. It's only got better in the year since we reviewed it. The difficult thing is trying to describe what AI War actually is. It’s an RTS with turnbased combat. It’s tower defence with spaceships and wormholes. It’s galactic conquest where the silliest thing you can do is try to conquer everything. It’s a skirmish game where the AI has no interest in pretending it’s a human player.
Art director Daniel Dociu is talking me through a flyby of a new prototype area in Guild Wars 2. We’re hunched around the monitor of an artist as he drives the camera across a stunning azure port. Merchants, tables, chairs and bunting line the wooden walkways. The water beneath the jetties ripples and gleams. Above it all is a giant brass globe, across which sheets of electrical energy crackle. It is gorgeous. “This is where we let our novice artists learn our methods.” It’s hard to tear my eyes away from the screen. This prototype port is one of the most beautiful fake places I’ve ever seen. My eyes settle on an animator quietly working away at the far side of the room. He’s working on a flag, ensuring that it ripples and flaps in the wind. This prototype flag is one of the most beautiful pieces of fake heraldry I’ve ever seen. I look away again, and my gaze settles on a texture artist who is carefully scratching and damaging a chest of drawers, ensuring the grain in the wood is just so. This fake chest of drawers is... You get the picture.
This article originally appeared in PC Gamer UK issue 237. You don’t need to hate the way things are to look forward to change. The Guild Wars 2 hype has set it up as a rebuttal to the way things are done in MMOs: a rejection of unchanging worlds, heroism without consequence and epic battles that are more about logistics than bravado. These expectations have been generated as much by the gaming community as by NCsoft’s marketing. Simply by promising to do things differently, Guild Wars 2 has found itself nominated as the saviour of its genre. Lead designer Eric Flannum is more modest. “What we tried to do was take a look at what an MMO could be, and try to make it appeal to not only people who love MMOs but also people who maybe haven’t tried an MMO for various reasons.”
The Roman senate will weep for Crassipes. They'll talk proudly of how the great general threw himself against the walls of Massalia. They'll talk of how he burned the gates and took the central square, and how a dozen Averni javelins ended his illustrious command of Legio I Italica there. But will they talk of the fleet barely a mile away that sat still and watched the great man lemming his way into the history books? Do they realise that the patriot they adored was sent intentionally to his death? I wonder what that would do if they knew that the fate of Crassipes and all the armies and settlements of Rome were not beholden to the gods, but to one bearded games journalist moving them like pawns on a vast playing board. What a beautiful board it is - an intricate papier mache caricature of Europe, decorated with landmarks, rivers and exaggerated topography. Total War has come a long way from the papery maps of Shogun, but its form is the same. You must guide your chosen nation to glory by managing cities, conducting diplomacy, plotting espionage and moving armies to conquer new settlements. When your armies meet resistance, you dive into a real-time battle and command the troops personally.
Arcen games, whose financial troubles have been splashed across our frontpage of late, have announced two new games. Hopefully, if they can release them before they shrivel up and moths explode out of their pockets, they'll be so awesome that everyone will buy them and it'll all be great. There are two: a zombie trap-laying roguelike thing, and a tower defence game. Let me say that again: a tower defence game from the makers of AI war.
The Creative Assembly have just announced that they'll be releasing a huge standalone expansion for Total War: Shogun 2 called Fall of the Samurai. It will be set in the period leading up to the Boshin War, in which European and American forces introduce a new wave of military technology that threatens to wipe out the Samurai. Fall of the Samurai will add six new factions. Some, like the Nagaoka, sill support the might of the Shogun. Others, like the Satsuma clan, want to embrace Imperial power. Externally, British, French and American forces are vying for influence in the Land of the Rising Sun. Over the course of the campaign, you'll get to decide Japan's fate.
Like orks? Like orks in pirate hats? Like orcs with pirate hats, hammers and grappling hooks? You almost certainly want to read our first impressions of Dawn of War II: Retribution, then. Because it contains all of the above. And more.
Imagine a game of Dota 2 in which everyone on both teams is playing Invoker, set on League of Legends' Dominion map, and you'll have a rough idea of the general PvP insanity that is Magicka: Wizard Wars. Combining a handful of arcane elements in three-key invocations, the object is to work with your team to secure all three of the radially-placed control points on the map, preventing the enemy from respawning. I found myself thrust into the middle of it all, a simple country skull-basher with little in the way of magical education, to blast, soak, and zap my way through a 4v4 with a few other journalists and some of the game's developers. It took less than 10 minutes to become terminally on fire.
And that was the end of chess.” Viktor Kislyi, CEO of Wargaming. net, is describing the day his boyhood pastime died, in 1996, when IBM’s Deep Blue supercomputer defeated Garry Kasparov. Kislyi had been playing chess for seven years. He had competed in regional championships in his home city of Minsk while trying to master “the mother, father, grandfather, grandmother of all games,” as he describes it. “And then the world champion Kasparov lost to pretty much a calculator the size of your cellphone,” he says. “It’s a very beautiful game, don’t get me wrong, but the world of civilisation had to move on.” My cellphone is currently recording our conversation on the top floor of a tall office tower in Minsk. Several hundred Wargaming.net employees occupy six floors of the building, and the company has plans to expand to three more before the year is out. The staggering success of World of Tanks has kicked expansion plans into overdrive. Wargaming.net are bigger than they have ever been, but it took more than a decade of hard lessons before they struck gold.
Bioware's multi-million dollar Star Wars MMO is alive and kicking. Throngs of players are battling through its vast zones, looting and levelling and making "I used to play Skyrim but then I took a TOR in the knee" jokes. It's hard to imagine that it all began with three men sitting in a room in Edmonton, Canada, drawing up design documents. We caught up with game director James Ohlen to discover to discover what The Old Republic could have been, and how Bioware decided on Star Wars. "We had backup plans," said Ohlen. "In all the design team was like three of us at that point, in total. So we were looking at doing a Lord of the Rings MMO, a Silmarillion MMO, a kind of a Gunslinger-esque Dark Tower MMO, a Game of Thrones MMO."
A series of new Shogun 2: Total War screens have landed, revealing new units and features, from the eagle eyed bow monk to the huge siege engine of the sea, the tower ship. If you're looking forward to next year's strategy epic, you'll definitely want to check these out. All the images can be found below. Click on them to see them full size.
Typical politicians. They promise the moon on a stick, but do they ever deliver? Well yes, in this case. As part of the weird Guild Wars 2 voting event held a few months ago, the winning candidate's election promises have formed the basis of next week's update: Fractured. It's a new Fractals of the Mists event, set during the explosion of Metrica Province's Thaumanova Reactor. Fractured also continues the Nightmare story chain, that formed the basis of the last two updates.
I'm on something of a break from Guild Wars 2 at the moment, after a heavy spell of playing it a few months back. But despite barely touching the last few events, I do like the game. I wanted to make that clear upfront, because next week's update contains a competition that I'm having a hard time writing about. A hard time because it's hard to see what you're typing when you're cringing this hard. That's right, ArenaNet are asking fans to create a music video around the song "The Nightmares Within", which, appropriately enough, is also the name of the update. Also there'll be some stuff to do in the game, which is maybe the hope to cling onto.
Guild Wars 2’s World vs. World PvP is one of the things that separates its competitive game from the majority of modern MMOs. Small-scale battlegrounds have become the norm, and the classic MMO dream of hundreds of players skirmishing across an open world has faded. World vs. World, then, is a mixed breed: something new that continues the legacy of something old. Playing it for the first time at ArenaNet’s offices during the last beta weekend, I was reminded strongly of Mythic’s Dark Age of Camelot, the 2001 MMO that featured expansive faction vs. faction PvP. The comparison shouldn’t be a surprise: ArenaNet has more than one ex-Mythic designer on its team.
As soon as we found out that we'd be playing in Guild Wars 2's beta for an entire weekend, we asked you, our beloved readers, what you wanted to us to find out for you while we were in there. We pulled questions from Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ (and came up with a few of our own as well) and had Gavin and Josh, who both spent all weekend playing the beta up through level 30 in the beta, give you their thoughts on everything from microtransactions to dungeon runs. We also grabbed hundreds of GBs of gameplay footage, which we'll be putting together into narrated videos showcasing character creation, guild features, graphics settings, combat, and everything you didn't know you didn't know about Guild Wars 2. We'll be releasing the videos regularly over the next two weeks, so check back often.
Minecraft player WordWorksExperiment has posted on the Minecraft forums with the story of an experiment that allegedly turned a group of 30 volunteers into a collection of warring gangs engaged in a battle for resources that obliterated the world in less than two months. Since then, details have come out that seem to suggest the story was a hoax. We've included them at the end of this article. WordWorks describes the simple set up. A group of Minecraft players were invited onto a server walled off by indestructible bedrock. Chatter was limited mostly to third-party programs, allowing for private communication between players and, to keep things fair, play was only allowed to continue when all players were online at the same time. Everything proceeded calmly for a short while. Then resources started to run out.