Thoughts: Shadow of Mordor

I tried to blast through Grimrock 2 so I could review it this week, but it’s quite a bit larger than I was expecting and I have as a result bitten off more than I can chew. I have a backup post in the process of being written but it likely won’t appear until Tuesday (21/10) or Wednesday.

mordor_shadow

Is a clone really a clone when it does more to push the genre forward than the clone-ee ever has?

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Thoughts: Wasteland 2

wasteland_flies

My overriding thought during the first few hours of Wasteland was that somewhere — etched into a stone tablet carried down from a mountaintop, written into human DNA, inscribed in the basic atomic structure of the universe, I don’t care — the following message needs to be preserved for posterity:

THOU SHALT NOT FILL THE STARTING DUNGEON OF YOUR RPGS WITH ANNOYING GIANT RAT/ANT/FLY ENEMIES. (delete as appropriate)

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Thoughts: Gauntlet

gauntlet_locks

With the PC games industry currently suffering through a glut of nostalgia-fuelled remakes, I think the only particularly unusual thing about Gauntlet is that it hasn’t been crowd-funded through Kickstarter. It’s ideal material for an update – an ancient game, well thought-of, and while attempts have been made to modernise it in the past they’ve been rather desultory and ultimately unsuccessful efforts. Magicka devs Arrowhead are the architects behind this latest incarnation of Gauntlet, and they’ve certainly got previous for making mayhem-filled co-op experiences of precisely the sort that would fit Gauntlet like a glove. If you were crazy enough to try putting a glove on top of a gauntlet, anyway. In theory, the two should mesh together almost perfectly. Unfortunately for Gauntlet and Arrowhead, nobody in the history of planet Earth has ever started a sentence with the words “In theory” unless they were about to disprove it.

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Thoughts: Fable Anniversary

No post this week (21/09/2014) due to a combination of real life + Wasteland 2 being very, very dense. Sorry!

fable_zorro

The game cannon opens up at the end of this week with a flurry of meaty Kickstarter/Early Access games all releasing in the same two-week period. I haven’t been playing that much in the calm before the storm, but I also don’t want to leave the blog fallow for a week after not bothering with it for all of August, so here’s a shorter-than-usual Thoughts about the time-capsule oddity that is Fable Anniversary.

I’ve mentioned a couple of times on here that I have something of a soft spot for the Fable series despite its almost perfect mediocrity. Even taking that into account, though, I really have to wonder who this remake is aimed at.

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Thoughts: Planetary Annihilation

pa_assault

And so we come to Planetary Annihilation, one of the more financially successful Kickstarter projects from the craze of 2012. As the name (and the Kickstarter trailer , which is a knowing homage to the intro ) suggests, Planetary Annihilation’s aim is to be a modern incarnation of 1997 RTS classic Total Annihilation, with the twist that the war is now raging over multiple planets in a solar system. Supreme Commander already took a swing at updating Total Annihilation back in 2007, and so Planetary Annihilation was going to have to do a little more than just redo the whole thing in shinier graphics in order to justify its existence. It knew it, too – the first Kickstarter trailer promised a host of interesting gameplay elements such as the ability to send your robot soldiers to asteroids to mine them for resources, being able to fire troops down onto a planet from an orbiting moonbase, and building rocket engines on your asteroid bases to deorbit and launch them at whatever faction is currently pissing you off the most, turning their base into a smoking planet-sized crater. That trailer alone is probably responsible for getting Planetary Annihilation 90% of its funding, but there does tend to be a yawning gulf between what a development trailer promises and what the final product eventually delivers, especially when said trailer’s sole purpose is to part people from their money. Has Planetary Annihilation succeeded in achieving its goals? Let’s find out together.

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Thoughts: Pandora – First Contact

pan_bequerel

I pulled a muscle in my neck last week. Shortly afterwards I came to the realisation that you don’t truly appreciate how many things you use your neck for until you’re suffering searing, agonising pain every time you move it, even if it’s just the tiniest fraction of a millimetre. It got so bad that I had to take a day off work, and with an afternoon of enforced sitting very, very still in front of a computer doped up on painkillers lying ahead of me I decided to try to alleviate both my pain and my crippling boredom by buying one of the many, many games I have on my Steam wishlist 1 . As luck would have it Pandora: First Contact’s number came up, which I think conclusively proves that the universe is out to get me.

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  1. This isn’t quite the glowing accolade it might seem, since if they’re on the wishlist it means I wasn’t sufficiently convinced to buy them in the first place.
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Thoughts: Shadowgate

sg_deathtrap

When you start your first game of Shadowgate, it’s likely you’ll do exactly the same thing I did. You’ll sit through the tutorial that walks you through the first and second rooms of the game, picking up keys and torches while an evil wizard does his Guardian-From-Ultima You’ll-Never-Defeat-Me schtick, and then when you get to the third room the game cuts you loose and leaves you to sort things out on your own. There’s a collection of verbs along the top of the screen that represent the ways you can interact with the room you’re in, which contains a statue of a hooded figure holding a book, flanked by a couple of candles. Now, if you’re anything like me you’ll immediately start experimenting by doing the usual adventure game thing of using VERB on OBJECT. LOOK at the statue. OPEN the book. LOOK at the book. LOOK at the candles. TAKE the can-

And then the floor opens up beneath you and crushes you under ten tons of stone. You have spent less than two minutes in game, and you’re already staring at the Grim Reaper’s death screen. Welcome to Shadowgate. Fuck you.

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