The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

Her Story


Samuel Roberts: Discovering more about Her Story
I enjoyed Tim’s piece on the background of Her Story this week, the mystery-driven FMV game which you should go ahead and play if you haven’t already. The interview explores why they told this particular story this way, as well as how actress Viva Seifert and developer Sam Barlow came to work together. It’s interesting, though—I don’t think the story is nearly as ambiguous as people are willing to believe. The longer you spend with Her Story, the more you learn, and the more you come to accept that some elements are likely deliberate red herrings. It’s stayed with me, to the extent where I considered nominating it for our annual best games list—I’m not quite at that point, but I’ve bought Her Story for a couple of friends now to share this curious murder mystery.

Andy Kelly: Bats’ magic
I’ve been playing Batman: Arkham Knight. It runs well enough on my PC, with a few framerate dips that I hope the patch irons out. But I won’t go into what I think of the game—you can read Chris’s review whenever Warner decide to put the thing back on sale—but I feel the need to talk about just how damn lavish it all is. It’s one of those games, like Grand Theft Auto V, where you can really feel the size of the budget. It’s clear WB Games have poured a lot of money into it, although they obviously should have spent a few extra quid on making a better PC version.

It’s the animation in particular I’m finding really impressive, and the seamlessness of it all. The way Batman smoothly transitions between cutscenes and gameplay; the way you can leap into the Batmobile while moving; the intricate detail of everything, from rain trickling down his cowl to the chunky, whirring moving parts of the new Batsuit. I haven’t played enough of the game to form a solid opinion on it yet, but I’m bowled over by its art design.

There are some dodgy texture loading issues (again, fingers crossed for that patch) but in terms of world-building, it’s a remarkable achievement. I’m not sure the Arkham games have benefited from their increased scale (there’s a great episode of Game Maker’s Toolkit about this), and Asylum will always be my favourite, but there’s no denying Rocksteady have made an amazing thing in this big, sweeping, rain-lashed city. The notoriously shoddy PC port was unforgivable, though, and I just hope the patch they’re working on makes things right. Maybe they could throw in the new Batgirl DLC for free to say sorry? That would be nice.

Poly Bridge Slide

Chris Livingston: I am great at bridges
Early Access bridge builder Poly Bridge has my attention this week. It’s not a revolution in the bridge building genre or anything—it’s remarkably similar to Bridge Project—but it’s fun, challenging, and awfully charming. The art style is great, and the music is so relaxing and soothing that sometimes I leave the game on while I’m doing other things just to keep listening to it. You need soothing music, too, for those moments when your budget runs out but you need just one more cable, or when your drawbridge works perfectly except the tugboat just barely nicks it and it completely falls apart.

There are a few things I hope to see change during its time in Early Access. I have no idea why your tools are in a radial wheel that you have to continually open and close. There’s only a few tools to use, so they should really be in a hotbar at the top or bottom of the screen instead. The ability to skip a level or two would also be nice: you currently have to do them entirely in order, so if you’re completely stuck, you’re completely stuck.

One nice feature is that Poly Bridge can auto-generate gifs for you. So, when you solve a level even though your entire bridge collapses, or when you solve a level even though your entire bridge collapses and a truck lands upside down, it’s easy to show it to your friends.

Phil Savage: On a roll
I was a big fan of Rollcage. It was like Wipeout, but, instead of losing all your speed and health when you hit a barrier, you just rolled up the side and drove on the wall. It was probably my favourite arcade racer, and it's a shame the series died out after just two games. Fortunately, there's now Grip—a game so heavily inspired by Rollcage's look and systems that it's not yet clear what, if anything, differentiates it. But if it can resurrect the Rollcage spirit and find it's own identity, it's a racer I'll be eagerly anticipating.

Endless Cylinder Slide

Tyler Wilde: Snout monsters and character customization
ACE Team is super good at making weird games that aren’t really great, but are, like, really great. Zeno Clash is a special game, so when I saw that ACE Team co-founder Carlos Bordeu had a trailer for a personal project up, I stopped trying to think of something good to tweet for a second and watched a little two-legged snout monster run away from a truckephant. It was good. I don’t know if it was the high point of my entire week—I mean, it was just a trailer—but it was at least as good as the falafel burger I had on Tuesday. Perhaps slightly better than the burger is the news that XCOM 2 will have more complete character customization, which is something important I felt was missing from XCOM: Enemy Unknown. If Firaxis had come to me on Tuesday and said, “You can have more character customization in XCOM 2, but you can’t eat that falafel burger,” I probably would’ve put down the burger.

James Davenport: I am doing OK
Who is the best Fallout New Vegas player of all time? This guy! As a fan of brown, featureless vistas, I figured I should finally beat New Vegas if I ever want to be the best at Fallout 4. So I did.

My character's name was Sweet Jeb, and his social skills were far better than my own. Sweet Jeb was good at everything, because I made it so in the console. God mode, no clip, every perk. I called my dad to tell him, but he grunted and went on about how good my brother was at baseball.

Sweet Jeb and I were pretty good at finding our way around the wasteland, and no one really argued with us because we could just install the mod that let us call down a titan mech and win the argument that way. Eventually we found a cool spaceman suit. We would fly around New Vegas and pester the locals. “Bwee-yoo bwee-yoo I am a space man!” we would say. Of course we’d tell them it was only a joke. They all got it. They all laughed.

We stormed the Hoover Dam and disappeared all the NCR and Legion folks that disagreed with our space suit and rerouted all the power to New Vegas. On the way back we flew through some mountains and punched some scorpions. Sweet Jeb and I disappeared everyone in the city except Boone. Boone was alright. To say goodbye, I flew Sweet Jeb to the highest point in the skybox. There he would remain, suspended in a final save state, happy.

I called my dad to tell him I flew through the Hoover Dam in a space suit and I was officially the best New Vegas player of all time and that the trophy would probably come in the mail soon. When he hung up, it wasn’t a slam, just a pause and light click.

We did it, Sweet Jeb.

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