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The week's highs and lows in PC gaming

THE LOWS

Angus Morrison: CS:GTFO
The low point in Counter-Strike’s history has very little to do with Counter-Strike. Rather it’s the peripheral skin-gambling market that’s been dragging an FPS classic into ignominy all week long.

Yes, this is the story that a couple of YouTubers have been promoting a CS:GO skin gambling site that it transpires they own. It’s a revelation that makes the odd undisclosed product placement look positively benign.

Trevor ‘TmarTn’ Martin and Thomas ‘ProSyndicate’ Cassell ran a number of videos titled like bad pop-up ads. ‘HOW TO WIN $13,000 IN 5 MINUTES’ is an actual example. In these videos, they gamble skins and win big on a site they “found” called CSGO Lotto. It seems Martin confused the words ‘found’ and ‘founded’, however, because their names appear on CSGO Lotto’s articles of incorporation as president and VP, respectively.

The implications are deeply unsavoury and, as a number of esports attorneys have pointed out, strong grounds for prosecution. Remember when Counter-Strike was just about shooting people?

Phil Savage: A brig over troubled water
I was really taken with the style of Brigador. It looks and sounds great, and is about big, stompy mechs being big and stompy across a variety of city districts. I'm down with all of these things. Alas, I'm really struggling to get into it. Mostly that's because of the controls. I don't want to criticise the use of tank controls, because, well, you're controlling walking tanks. But tank controls mixed with an isometric perspective makes for a difficult control scheme. You see the direction you're facing via a small yellow arrow around your mech—an arrow that, in the chaos of the action, I frequently lose track of to often fatal effect.

It's good enough that I'll keep plugging away at it in the hope that something clicks. I'd just hoped that Brigador would have been worth a more unconditional recommendation.

James Davenport: Furi is secretly The Perfect Anime
This week I reviewed Furi, a great bullet-hell-sword-battle hybrid with neon anime stylings, and loved it. The soundtrack is amazing, the action is tense and challenging, and the story is a subtle character piece.

But only after poking through the options menu, did I realize that the language option wasn’t for subtitles, but for full-on VO. Furi goes from a well enough English-voiced cartoony sci-fi samurai romp, to legit, full blown 80s anime. It’s fucking awesome. I plan on doing a quick video montage and PSA sometime soon, but  in the meantime, go play Furi, listen to the soundtrack, and for Pete’s sake, don’t make the same mistake I did.  

Jarred Walton: Waiting for good—oh, screw it
There’s nothing worse than being ready to pull the trigger and upgrade to some hot new hardware, only to find that the hardware is out of stock. We’re nearing six weeks since the official launch of the GTX 1080, and supply of the cards is still spotty at best. I’ve been monitoring Newegg and Amazon on a daily basis, and cards keep going out of stock, or prices are way higher than expected. Thankfully, the supply situation seems to be improving, so maybe in the next few weeks we’ll actually see $600 1080 cards for sale. GTX 1070 is also starting to stay in stock, though prices are still higher than the $380 base MSRP Nvidia told us back in May. AMD’s RX 480 isn’t much better; Newegg is currently out of stock, and Amazon is showing prices starting at over $300.

As difficult as it is to wait, that’s my advice right now. Wait for prices to drop $50 or more, wait for custom cards with better cooling and/or power delivery, and if you’re a glutton for punishment, wait to see how the GTX 1060 compares to the RX 480. We expect it to be a bit faster and use less power, but that will depend on the game. And no doubt the GTX 1060 will also be out of stock for a month or more once it launches. Reviews of The Waiting Game 2016 agree that this is the same crappy gameplay from The Waiting Game 2014, which coincided with the GTX 980 and 970 launch, so if that holds we should be nearly finished. 

Samuel Roberts: Tokyo miffed
Rocket League’s Neo Tokyo pitch is yet another generous addition to a game already full of them—I always feel bad complaining about something in Psyonix’s car football game, since I’ve played it for well over 50 hours by this point, and continue to love it. But, this new pitch is pretty annoying. Unlike a standard Rocket League box-shaped pitch, this one has elevated sections running down both sides of the pitch, as well as curved bits towards the goal. When the ball lands on these raised surfaces, it slows down the pace of the game, like somebody’s kicked a football (or, er, soccer ball) miles away in a park and someone has to fetch it. The ball always seems to be bouncing randomly around the place.

As such, it’s got a bit of an air of novelty about it, like playing Hoops or Rocket Labs mode. Problem is, Neo Tokyo is in the rotation of ranked mode, and even good players seem baffled by the layout of the pitch. I had one match in Neo Tokyo where the weird deflections of the map bagged me five goals. Even I admitted in team chat that I’d just been lucky. It’s a nice extra, then, and outside of ranked, I don’t mind it too much as a gorgeous change of scenery. But it’s not pure Rocket League! And don’t get me started with the recently-added option to program ‘Sick!’ as a quick text chat option. 

Chris Livingston: Virtual Banality
Saw a trailer for “The Call Up”. I won’t say it looks terrible because trailers are no way to judge a movie you haven’t seen, but the description doesn’t fill me with hope either:

“A group of online gamers is invited to test a state-of-the-art virtual reality sim, but what starts out as a dream encounter with cutting edge video technology—a perfect representation of soldiers in a war zone—takes a turn for the sinister when the stakes are fatally raised. These masters of the shoot ‘em up will have to fight for their lives within a game gone too far: this time it’s for real.”

It includes, naturally, the realization that when you die in the game—get this—you die in real life. Original! And, of course, a character stating the line that someone just has to state: “This isn’t a game!” I guess it was released in a couple countries already, and now it’s on Amazon video. I’m hoping we get to make Tyler watch it. He loves movies about games.