NHL 97 review — December 1996, US edition Vol. 3 No. 12

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PC Gamer at

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, NHL 97 is reviewed in the December 1996 issue of PC Gamer US. More classic reviews here.

I have the flu. Thanks PAX. I very much wish I weren't a sweating, shivering slug monster, but it does mean I get to regress into delirious, selfish childhood for a few days. That's a perfect excuse to whine about the lack of team sports games on PC while celebrating something I don't get to write about much on PC Gamer—the NHL playoffs! I'm sick, I get the remote, and I'm putting on M*A*S*H after the Sharks game, so deal with it.

Secrets of Grindea demo is nostalgic, loot-obsessed and a lot of fun

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Tom Sykes at

Today is *checks Gregorian calendar* Easter Day, and if you celebrate the occasion you're probably already catatonic on chocolate, lying on the floor under a mess of spent foil wrappers and half-eaten eggs. There's no shame in that - OK, so there might be a little shame - but I have the perfect game to unwind with later on while you try to digest the deliciously terrible thing you've done. That game is Secrets of Grindea, a very Secret of Mana-ish action RPG now with a demo (demos are what we had in the olden days before Early Access). It's a nostalgic (but not suffocatingly so) and tactile thing, boasting extraordinary pixel art and a bunch of modern features like a character creator and online co-op. I've spent some time with it this morning in lieu of eating my own weight in chocolate, and if you like Square's Mana series, I suggest you do the same. You'll find the demo here.


Mod of the Week: Star Wars Ships, for Space Engineers

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Christopher Livingston at

While Evan continues to make a mockery of Star Wars canon, I thought I might try something different: sticking to the celebrated story that no one has a right to change (except George Lucas, who has the right to change it but really, really shouldn't). I noticed that Space Engineers, while still in early access, is a part of Steam Workshop, and that players have been busy constructing tons of Star Wars ships and bases. While I don't know if player creations are technically mods, it's player-made content, and I figure that's close enough for my purposes.

And so I present a completely accurate and above all respectful re-telling of the original Star Wars trilogy, in screenshots!


The Best Free Games of the Week

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Tom Sykes at

Some guy once said that the only certainties in life are death, taxes, the endless geyser of internet anger, and good games that happen to be free. I can't do much about the first three (sorry), but I've cherry-picked the best of the last one and stuffed them into this here weekly column for your edification. Read on for a charming fishing game, a maddening rotational platformer, the world's first beard-based puzzle game (I assume), and a safari adventure starring arguably the greatest predator of all: man a marble. Enjoy!


H1Z1 footage shows that, yep, it looks a lot like DayZ [Update: more info courtesy of Reddit]

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Tom Sykes at

The Long Dark's creative director reckons the apocalypse doesn't have to feature zombies - but, erm, here's one more open world post-apocalyptic game that does. As announced last week, Sony's entry into the DayZ genre is the wittily (if clinically) named H1Z1, a game that differentiates itself from Dean Hall and Bohemia's game by...well, that part's not totally clear yet, but it's been a fairly democratic process so far. H1Z1 game designer Jimmy Whisenhunt and technical director Tom Schenk took to Twitch a few hours ago to show off the game as it stands now; you'll find 50-odd minutes of walking, zombie-battering, scavenging and driving, in a game that admittedly looks very pretty but so far doesn't seem to boast any distinguishing characteristics.


Procedurally generated grand strategy The Last Federation out now

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Tom Sykes at

Arcen Games' The Last Federation only came to light in February, and yesterday the grand-strategy-featuring-turn-based-shmup-combat-bits saw release. One day the secret of Arcen's astounding productivity will leak out - my money's on founder Chris Park owning some sort of Time Turner - but before that dread reveal we have plenty of time to wallow in their copious, innovative, if not always entirely successful output. The Last Federation is now available on the official site or on the Steams, along with your standard slight reduction in price and beautifully impenetrable launch trailer. I have no idea what's going on in the next two minutes, but just look at all the tiny lasers and explosions.


Saturday Crapshoot: Amazon: Guardians Of Eden

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Richard Cobbett at

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, interactive movies are about to make a bit of a comeback... so let's flashback to before the technology made them possible, but people were still willing to try.

It's New Tex Murphy Week next week, and I'll be honest, I'm excited. (Though I haven't played it yet, so I'm only hoping it doesn't suck.) As well as being a big fan of the original interactive movies... though less so the adventures that spawned them... I've always had a bit of a soft spot for FMV. I remember it when it was the impossible technological dream, the future of gaming, the disappointing present, and then the best-forgotten past, and honestly it made the jump to the second half of that with good cause. Still, there's something so endearing about the goofiness of a greenscreen, amateur actors desperately trying to carry stories by first-time scriptwriters, and all that, that I still look back on them a little fondly.

But Amazon? Amazon was an interactive movie that couldn't even wait for CD-ROM. Be afraid.

Pillars of Eternity soundtrack previewed in music release

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Patrick Carlson at

A brilliant—but troubled—philosopher once said, "Without music, life would be a mistake." In gaming, music is often the only familiar companion on a journey to strange places and new worlds. With that in mind, it's surely a good omen that developer Obsidian has given us a chance to preview the soundscape being written for its upcoming RPG, Pillars of Eternity.


MechWarrior Online contest puts free BattleMech up for grabs this weekend

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Patrick Carlson at

One good way to get pilots into the hot seat of a new 'Mech is to let them fight for it. This weekend MechWarrior Online is giving players a clear path to ownership of a hulking and asymmetrical Thunderbolt variant—win five matches and the machine is yours.


Skyrim mod Skywind recreates Morrowind, will include revamped crafting and voice acting

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Ian Birnbaum at

Skywind, the pleasing portmanteau of Skyrim and Morrowind continues to look really, really good. Remaking Morrowind in Skyrim’s engine is a mammoth task, and a new development video breaks down the many ways that a legion of volunteer modders, voice actors, and artists are bringing the Elder Scrolls classic into the modern age.

H1Z1 survivalists can vote to create custom servers

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Patrick Carlson at

H1Z1 wants to give us a more personal apocalypse. The upcoming zombie MMO will let players vote to establish and join custom servers, according to a new Reddit post from Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley. The system will revolve around a token system the developer hopes will let it gauge the interest and commitment of the free-to-play game's player base before it ramps up support for a specific custom server.


Cortex Command gets Steam Workshop, renewed development commitment in update

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Emanuel Maiberg at

Cortex Command is one of those indie games that’s in perpetual development. Data Realms founder Daniel Tabar released version 1.0 before Early Access was a thing. We reviewed it poorly, and Tabar admits that the game wasn’t really ready to launch. The nice thing is that he and his team never stopped taking feedback from the community and improving it, as the big build 30 update makes clear.


Square Enix: DRM is "essential for the foreseeable future"

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Ian Birnbaum at

In a new interview, an executive at Square Enix has doubled-down on the company’s DRM policy. The executive claims that DRM protects profits at the end of the day, and that’s the most important thing to any development studio, big or small.


Updated: The Elder Scrolls Online item duplication bug forces Zenimax to shut down guild banks

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Ian Birnbaum at

An economy-crippling bug caused The Elder Scrolls Online to disable its Guild Banks on North American and European servers early Friday. Developer Zenimax has already put together a fix in the latest patch, but some users are complaining that they’ve been trying to warn developers about the problem for weeks.


Take On Mars: Expedition One launches, ready to put humans on the Red Planet

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Emanuel Maiberg at

You will never step foot on Mars. Let that slightly depressing feeling that you were born in the wrong time sink in. Now cheer up and take comfort that you at least have the technology to play pretend in a videogame. Bohemia Interactive has released the first portion of its manned mission content for Take On Mars for current Early Access players.


Brutal Doom update v20 to add ragdoll physics, more brutality

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Emanuel Maiberg at

I didn’t think it was possible for Doom to get any better, but mods make everything better. The absurdly violent Brutal Doom mod is doing a great job of keeping Doom just as shocking and visceral of an experience as it was when it first came out 20 years ago, and the newest version will add ragdoll physics—because when I shotgun an Imp, I wanna see it tumble.


Tropico 5 pre-orders now available for swag-filled physical, discounted digital versions

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Emanuel Maiberg at

You know that a publisher has faith in its game when it starts offering special editions with silly bonuses. You may think of the Tropico games as a niche PC series, but this recently announced Tropico 5 Limited Special Edition argues otherwise. It’s not quite as silly as, for example, Wolfenstein: The New Order Panzerhund Edition that includes everything but the actual game, but it tries.


The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

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Tim Clark at

Each week PC Gamer probes the previous seven days to scientifically establish what rocked our world and made us despair for its very future. As usual, we begin with the good stuff…

Ask PAX: PC gamers on the state of PC gaming

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Evan Lahti at

One of my PAX East discoveries was that a media badge and a camera gives me full license to talk to strangers. After our panel on Friday, I spent some of Saturday cruising the LAN and BYOC area and the rest of the show floor to survey PC gamers on what they're playing, what they're looking forward to, and what they love about our favorite hobby.


Dark Souls 2 comparison video: Xbox 360 vs. PC at 1080p

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Cory Banks at

Dark Souls: Prepare To Die Edition was a bad port of a brilliant game. Dark Souls 2, on the other hand, is a well-made PC port (even super-modder Durante thinks so). But just hearing that isn't enough: how much better does it look on PC than on consoles?

To find out, we made this video of side-by-side comparisons between the Xbox 360 version and the PC version running at 1080p, with all settings set to max, on the Large Pixel Collider. Let the footage be the judge—which do you think looks better?