I’ve always had a soft spot for Assassin’s Creed. It’s a polarising series, and some of you probably bubble with hatred every time the name is mentioned. But the thing that has always attracted me to the games is being able to explore a well realised historical setting. Ubisoft have taken me from Renaissance Italy to the pirate-filled seas of the Caribbean, and although the series has varied wildly in terms of quality over the years, the world design has always been top notch.
Tower defense games flip typical game design around: you design the levels, and the computer tries to survive your death maze. Space Run is kind of a tower defense game, but it flips the concept back around again: you design a spaceship and try to survive a cargo run through waves of asteroids and enemy ships. It’s fun, but the re-reversal isn’t wholly successful, requiring more memorization and micromanagement than clever design and experimentation.
Rockstar say the long-awaited PC version of Grand Theft Auto V will “take full advantage of the power of PC” and feature “across-the-board graphical and technical improvements” including “increased draw distances, finer texture details, new wildlife, and upgraded weather.” So I thought I’d take a closer look at the E3 trailer to see if I could find any evidence of this. It’s also worth noting that Rockstar captured this footage on a PlayStation 4, so it might look even better on PC.
So Grand Theft Auto V is coming to PC. Hooray! I’ve played a /lot/ of the Xbox 360 version—it’s my favourite GTA game to date—but I was always thinking in the back of my mind about how much better it would be with a smoother frame rate, sharper textures, and running at a resolution higher than 1280x720. The good news, then, is that the long-awaited PC version will have all of these things, as well as an array of new visual effects to take advantage of modern graphics cards. The lighting is better, the draw distance is greater, and Rockstar are finally giving the vast urban sprawl of Los Santos and its surrounding forests, deserts, and mountains the fidelity they deserve.
Mondo Zappa, whose skinny frame and black suit make him look like the singer of an early 2000s indie band, is an assassin. His weapon of choice is a katana, but he also has a robot arm that shoots lasers. He works for a cyborg called Bryan, and each mission sees him hunting increasingly strange targets, including the King of the Moon. As you might have guessed, this is a Japanese game.
It’s the creation of Goichi Suda, better known as Suda 51, whose previous projects include Killer7 and No More Heroes—excellent console action games that, sadly, never made their way to PC. As you might expect from a man with a number in his name, he’s not your typical developer. His games are famous for their surreal visuals, slick action, bizarre stories, and musical influences.
“Ponder and deliberate before you make a move.” said Chinese general and strategist Sun Tzu his legendary Art of War. But if Tzu had written his opus in Dynasty Warriors’ vision of ancient China, it might have read: “Pummel the enemy with a massive club, then fire the club from a bow like an arrow.” or “If the enemy retreats, launch a fireball at them.”
There are 82 playable characters in Dynasty Warriors 8, all of whom have their own ludicrously over-the-top special attacks, weapons and personalities. They’re also based—very loosely—on real historical figures. Cao Cao can knock entire platoons of enemy soldiers off their feet with just a wave of his hand. Cai Wenji strums her harp to unleash a torrent of magical energy. Zhang Fei drinks wine to boost his attack and defence. Dong Zhuo throws bombs, and Zuo Ci fires purple lasers.
I'm racing a stolen motorcycle through a sprawling cityscape, cops wailing behind me in pursuit, when I suddenly smash into a car, shoot through the air like a missile, and slam face-first into a wall. Nothing new—I've done this many times, in many games. While I'm sailing through the air, however, my smartphone informs me the driver of the car I've struck is Martin Huntley, age 39, who works as a telemarketer, makes $24,000 a year, and is into autoerotic asphyxiation. OK. That part's new.
I am not going to die before I get my corpse. I can make it, despite the hordes of hollows lying in the shadows, just waiting to hoist themselves up to my eye level to snack on my face. I used my last estus flask after a fleshy dog-thing lunged at me from the shadows, mistaking my bone staff for its chew toy. But that’s okay: I can still get to the edge where I fell, while trying to cross a chasm by leaping through the air. I missed.
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.
Post-launch comments from indie game designers often get right to the heart of what's at stake for them during the development process. After the March 18 release of Vlambeer's aerial shooter Luftrausers, the devs took to Twitter two days later and put the game's apparently successful release in perspective.
A big draw for the Assassin's Creed series has always been the setting. Whether in ancient Rome, Jerusalem, or the pirate-city of Nassau, the look of the world helps make the game's sometimes strange mix of alternate history and sci-fi a bit more comfortable. With the upcoming Assassin's Creed: Unity taking place in revolutionary France, it's a great to hear the game's first released footage is truly "in-game," according to Ubisoft.
Oh Dark Souls, you perpetual tease. Namco Bandai have unleashed the Dark Souls 2 launch trailer, which makes sense, because the console release is this week. For those of us wanting to play the game on PC, its brutal delights will be hidden away until the end of next month. Hopefully we can make it through those extra weeks without devolving into maddened undead husks.
As for the trailer itself, it's also a bit of a tease. It's entirely CGI, which, on the one hand, is a bit of a strange move for a launch trailer; but on the other, means that you'll be relatively safe from spoilers.
Batman is at his best when he reflects the world he's always trying to save from itself. In the upcoming Batman: Arkham Knight, that world is reportedly getting a lot bigger and more dangerous, according to information in the latest Game Informer magazine. With the Rocksteady series coming to an end with its third entry, it seems clear the studio is narrowing in on what's made the Arkham games one of the best depictions of Batman in any medium.
New indie shooter Tower of Guns looks like it's custom made for the time-crunched, over-scheduled gamer. The FPS releases March 4 and offers randomized mayhem and challenges the developer Terrible Posture Games says can be accomplished in a single, lunch break-sized sitting. It also has a wonderful and vicious-sounding shotgun rocket launcher which sounds like a perfectly natural way to relax.
It's a testament to the legacy of Deus Ex that so many still see such potential in the classic cyberpunk game. With its Revision mod, a small team of designers at Caustic Creative is working to put its own stamp on the original experience with redesigned music and environment art.
"This isn't about death, this is about what you learn from death," says this trailer's narrator, which is a pretty apt summation of Dark Souls' appeal. Worryingly, the attempt at a rousing call to arms somehow manages to be less effective than Sean Bean's Train Simulator advert. Still, it's full of small details designed to whip lore hunters into an intrigued, soapy lather. And for the rest of us, there's a big ol' dragon getting chopped up.
We know Garrett feels right at home in dark places. In advance of Thief's launch later this month, Eidos Montreal has released a complete mission playthrough video that shines a light on a few of the dim alleys and dangerous perches that will populate the upcoming reboot to the classic series.
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.
For all its liberties with reality, Probably Archery could still be a pretty accurate depiction of actual archery. I mean, if you get good enough with shooting out tiny spears of wood, everyone will start looking like mostly naked men with apples for heads to your trained eye. Good thing Probably Archery is finally available on Steam and the Humble Store for us untrained marksmen to acclimate ourselves to capping floating targets and rescuing balloon-headed burlap sacks. Archery is strange.
A new Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 video shines a bit of bright light on a very dark city. The MercurySteam developer diary gives us a look at how the upcoming sequel will fuse the Gothic sensibilities of a Castlevania game with its speculative, modern-day setting.