"They have no idea I'm here," says GamesRadar's Lucas Sullivan as he sneaks up behind two enemy gods in my lane. I'm casually killing minions in front of my tower in Conquest mode, Smite's take on the 5v5 Multiplayer Online Battle Arena codified by Dota and League of Legends. On a strategic level, Smite plays almost identically to League, but it tucks the camera in close behind the back of my character—a god pulled from the pages of Greek or Hindu or Egyptian mythology—and feels more like a third-person action game as I cast magical abilities with the keyboard and sling attacks with the left mouse button.
Cloudbuilt succeeds where Sonic The Hedgehog has failed for almost two decades. It’s a 3D platformer that challenges you to speed through levels, jumping, wall-running, and shooting enemies along the way. It’s a little ugly, but its short, devious levels are so much fun to beat, I fear for my wrists.
There's always been much to like about Age of Wonders, a fantastical fusion of strategy and tactics last seen back in 2002's Shadow Magic. But really, it doesn't get better than the penguins. Dire penguins, to be exact. Dedicated to evil, and summonable to join the armies of goblins and dragons and elves and magic. "These were no men," declares the in-game tome. "They were far more deadly. They were killer penguins." If this game had brought us nothing more than that quote, the wait would have been well worth it. Lucky for us, it did. A lot more.
Every Sunday, reviews editor Tyler Wilde publishes a classic PC Gamer review from the '90s or early 2000s, with his context and commentary followed by the full, original text from the archived issue. This week, Bethesda's very first Elder Scrolls game is reviewed in the debut issue of PC Gamer US.
Oh, how fast things can change—no one says "FRP" to refer to fantasy role-playing games anymore, the 1994 Summer Consumer Electronics Show, which predated the first E3 by a year, was visited by Sierra On-Line, Interplay, and MicroProse, and had things gone a little differently, we might be playing Terminator Online instead of The Elder Scrolls Online.
I wash ashore in 17th century America at the border of a desolated British colony. Water, sand, and forest are stark greyscale, shadows turned up to black and the sky washed of detail. Wind howls, then dies. I imagine it carries the scent of Virginia’s fir trees on the back of a foreboding chill, and then I swipe my knife at a wooden crate, collapsing it with a cartoonish bonk on the side.
I can’t recall a gaming villain who looks as imposing as Reaper of Souls’ Malthael but leaves so weak an impression. He pops in and out as the narrative unfolds, spouting a few threatening lines before evaporating in a mist of gloom, and thus he recalls Blizzard's similar treatment of Arthas Menethil during World of Warcraft's Wrath of the Lich King expansion. But at least Arthas had the benefit of years of accumulated lore to support his cameos. The star of but one act, Malthael is never around long enough to make us care about his grumbles.
Here’s a little language lesson: "luft" in German means air, and "raus" means empty. "Rausers" is a made up word, but it roughly translates into "emptiers". Dutch studio Vlambeer’s modular vocabulary is apt, because Luftrausers (or Airemptiers) is about grafting together plane parts you've earned from blasting things out of the sky, creating hybridised monstrosities, and blasting things again.
Gripping episodes like A House Divided are why we play The Walking Dead. They're why we gather online and around a lunch table to whisper about who we saved and who we lied to and why we feel terrible about it. In the second episode of its second season, Telltale has crafted an episode of The Walking Dead every bit as compelling and tense as anything in Lee Everett's first season.
A great power fantasy can be a wonderful thing, and in this respect, Strider should have been one of the best. This resurrection of the 1989 arcade game follows a ninja so fast and skilled that he’s able to cut down a squad of enemies without ever slowing to a walk, and at full speed with a swinging sword, Strider's raw energy is a joy to control.
I killed a lot of people in Banished. I saw them born and I watched my decisions kill them. Stripping the land, building homes, and planting vast swaths of crops seemed like a good idea, but things got ugly when a hard winter set in. Firewood stockpiles were meager and the distance to new trees was too great to keep up with demand. Then tools started to break, and I don't know what happened to all the iron but there wasn't any for the blacksmith, so folks just did the best they could, which wasn't very good at all. From there, the colony didn't take long to spiral down into my own private Roanoke.
I didn’t so much play The LEGO Movie Videogame as I did gently prod it toward a conclusion. I pushed the buttons that appeared on screen to automatically transform scattered pieces into spaceships and trampolines, performed mindless quick time events, and beat up enemies, though there was never a reason to use anything but the jump attack.
I spawn into every life of Strike Vector like a missile out of hell. Jets flaring, blurred periphery, hurtling toward a futuristic metal landscape. Other Vectors come for me, firing rockets and mini guns, dropping mines, zapping me from miles away with plasma snipers. I need to pull up, maybe slow down for a better shot and risk being an easy target. I need to figure it out quick or I’ll crash into something and explode.
I don't really know who he was—an ambassador, perhaps, or a spy—but I know we let him down. The VIP mission was simple: escort him across town and deliver him to an extraction point. No chance. They were on us in seconds, firing from grubby apartment windows, and we all died on the asphalt. Game over.
I’ll never forget the day my free Native American kingdom kicked the French completely off of our continent over a diplomatic insult. While playing as Native Americans in vanilla Europa Universalis IV was an exercise in patience (and in eventually getting your land stolen), Conquest of Paradise has completely revamped the gameplay for its expanded roster of playable tribes. The pacing has been improved, giving you incremental goals to work toward, without opening up the unrealistic possibility that you might have guns already when the Europeans show up.
A boy and a girl sit back-to-back in different worlds, neither knowing of the other's existence nor that they're linked by an invisible story yet to be told. Her name is Vella, stealing a brief moment to herself on the most important—and the last—day of her life. He is Shay: passenger, prince, and prisoner of an overprotective spaceship devoted to giving him everything he wants, except the freedom to finally grow up. Today, both face a rite of passage, and nothing will ever be the same again. But in a nostalgic way, at once familiar and fresh to anyone who fondly remembers point and clicking through the adventures of old.
My first day on the island did not go well. Waking after some unknown calamity, it was only a few minutes before I stumbled upon a man-made structure and encountered its owner, working diligently to expand and improve his home. He was somewhat less pleased to see me, however, than I was to meet him. "Leave or I kill," he said, four short words I failed to take sufficiently seriously, and a few seconds later he hit me in the face with a hatchet, and then again, and I was dead. That’s life—and death—in Rust, an open-world survival game that falls somewhere between DayZ and Minecraft and has a way of bringing out both the best and the worst in its players.
If you're familiar with Spike's "Deadliest Warrior" television show, then you know what's in store with Chivalry: Deadliest Warrior, the newest DLC release for Chivalry: Medieval Warfare. It pits six warrior archetypes from throughout history—Samurai, Ninja, Viking, Knight, Spartan, and Pirate—against one another in brutal online multiplayer combat, the hook being that each class brings unique strengths and weaknesses to the battlefield. Heavily armored knights are slow and lumbering but hit like an angry Hulk, while Ninja are protected by nothing but speed and smoke but will kill you five times before you hit the ground.
A dogfighting multiplayer game focused on the aircraft of World War 2 and Korea never seemed like a natural fit for mouse and keyboard. World of Warplanes faced an almost insurmountable dilemma: if it was easy to control, it wouldn't feel like actual flying and dogfighting, and if it did feel authentic, then it would probably exclude most of its intended audience.