Samuel Roberts: Metal Gear rocks on PC
This week I saw Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes running at 4K on Andy Kelly’s PC, while he was reviewing the excellent port for us. Look, the framerate might’ve been a bit rubbish running on his GTX 970, but just for the detail on Snake and the weather effects it was worth it. Konami’s price point for the game at $20/£17 was very well-judged, I think, and to sell Ground Zeroes for even less as part of the opening of the Steam sale is even better. I picked up Ground Zeroes and Revengeance for under $20 this week. If this is Konami’s way of doubling down on its commitment to PC, I commend them. A fantastic port, and the promise of The Phantom Pain next year—all we need now is a simultaneous release with the console versions, as well as ports of the older games, and Metal Gear’s home will be on PC from now on.
Chris Livingston: Farming Stimulator
While I suspect Facebook won't buy it for $2 billion, it's still nice to see another niche gaming gizmo appear: plans for a Farming Simulator controller are in the works. It'll feature a steering wheel-turning knob and a side panel with a loader control stick and programmable buttons. Some virtual farmers out there are going to be very excited.
As a fan of oddball sim games, I hope to see more speciality controllers in the future. I definitely could have used a specialized controller when I pretended to be a San Francisco bus driver, maybe something with a ticket dispenser built into the dash and a defogger switch. When I was a tow truck driver it would have been nice to have had a controller with a few levers on it, or at least a dedicated switch for calling my insurance agent. And, when I made the poor decision to to run a circus, I definitely could have used a custom controller with a single button that read "Do Not Run A Circus" on it. Coulda pressed it immediately and played something else.
Wes Fenlon: Durante rules on Final Fantasy XIII
Whenever I can get Durante to lend his expert analysis to PC Gamer, I consider it a good week. I loved his critique of Final Fantasy XIII and XIII-2, because it highlighted the performance issues of the ports and actually explained what causes those issues. His analysis of Dark Souls 2 earlier this year explained why that game was a great PC port, and it warmed my heart to see From Software learn so much, and so quickly, after the first terrible Dark Souls port. The FFXIII games perform more poorly than Dark Souls 2, and offer far fewer options.
I hope that by pointing out these issues, publishers like Square Enix will see that PC players care about options and performance and expect a certain level of quality that's worth investing a bit more time and effort to achieve. Valkyria Chronicles outperformed Sega's expectations in just a few days on Steam, and you can bet it wouldn't have sold as well if it hadn't been a fantastic PC port.
Andy Chalk: Larian Goes to Canada
Larian Studios dropped some unexpected news on Thursday: It's opening a new office in Quebec City. That's a big step for a small studio from Belgium, but one it's able, and in a way forced, to take thanks to the success of Divinity: Original Sin. The hit RPG was an ambitious undertaking but studio boss Swen Vincke has his sights set even higher, saying in a blog post that his goal is to create increasingly "dense, highly interactive worlds" that offer a level of freedom approaching that of pencil-and-paper RPGs.
I've been a Larian fan for years, and so I can't help but feel some amount of sympathetic trepidation at the prospect of such a big, bold move. But I also admire Vincke's determination to seize the opportunity that's presented itself, and to be perfectly honest I love the whole "little guy wins big" angle of its success. Larian is my kind of studio, making my kind of game, so it's exciting on a personal level to see that resonate with such a large audience.
Tom Marks: They see Notch rollin’, they hatin’
I don’t care what any of you think, all y’all are haters anyway. When I heard that Notch, creator of Minecraft and newly made billionaire after selling to Microsoft, had bought a $70 million dollar mansion in Beverly Hills out from under Jay-Z and Beyonce I was absolutely ecstatic. That’s incredible. That’s the most amazing and hilarious piece of news I’ve possibly ever heard. Who cares if it’s over-priced, over-sized, and overseas? The dude has $1.7 billion dollars and, until this moment, has been nothing but humble.
Ok, technically it’s $1.63 billion now, but even when he was only a plain ol’ multimillionaire he wasn’t flaunting it. Just look at his rig from four months ago. Notch bottled lightning with the success of Minecraft, and then made all the right decisions to keep that success rolling. He made his own fortune and has actively tried to stay out of the limelight since.
He’s only a celebrity because the internet liked him and the character they made him out to be. I, for one, wish him very well and hope he’s happy in his giant mansion with his giant candy wall. Do I hope uses some of that money for good? Sure, but it’s his money and nobody is allowed to judge him for what he spends it on. Also, now that he’s in LA, I am eagerly awaiting Notch photo bombing the paparazzi and the surely inevitable reality show.
Tim Clark: Is this seat taken?
Hopefully you’ve been enjoying the hardware guides we’ve been posting since the site relaunched. There are plenty more planned for the new year, including some substantial rig-building stuff. In the meantime, though, I’ve been testing chairs for a couple of weeks. We’ve written about standing desks and why sitting can be pretty bad for you recently, but I’ll be damned if my butt is going to go unsupported by conventional furniture. So I’ve been looking for the best chairs at a variety of prices, with an emphasis on comfort and support over extended sessions. (Though do try to have an hourly stretch. Yes, yes, I know, I’m not the boss of you…) So far one seat feels close to revelatory. Which is to say my back no longer hurts like Satan is trying to insert a USB stick into my spine the wrong way up. The full results will be published in mid-January, but I think it’s safe to say the chair isn’t over yet.