Thoughts: Fable Anniversary

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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

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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

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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

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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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August Hiatus

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You know when I said that the spotty period was over and that I was going to be posting more regularly?

I lied .

Well, I guess I didn’t really  lie as such. I just forgot that August is traditionally crazy for me what with Space School sucking up my free time for the first two weeks, and then work has seen fit to send me to San Francisco for another week so I can’t even think about writing until that’s all out of the way. It’s a shame to leave the blog for that long as I’ve been at it for long enough that it’s become something of a habit and feels kind of weird not to write anything, but important life things must take precedence. All being well, Scientific Gamer will return the week of the 25th August — we have a bank holiday that weekend, so I will have absolutely no excuse for not posting something . See you guys then.

(Oh, and I would also like you to know that even though finding time to respond is difficult these days I do appreciate the comment threads on here. I shall try at least to work through the most recent ones tomorrow.)

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Thoughts: Sokobond

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Sokobond is a puzzle game that tripped several of my alarm bells when I bought it. Indie darling, with suspiciously high review scores from the usual suspects? Check. Use of the words “minimalist” and “elegant” – which too often turn out to be synonyms for “shallow” and “vapid” — to describe the game on its Steam store page? Check. Co-opting of a science-y theme to make itself seem cleverer than it really is?  Check. This didn’t exactly augur well for Sokobond, but on the other hand its molecule-arranging gameplay did remind me of SpaceChem and SpaceChem was awesome, so I decided to give it a whirl.

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Thoughts: Divinity – Original Sin

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Apologies for the spotty posts over the last month or so. Normal service should be resumed from this point onwards.

It’s possible that writing this review right now is a bad idea. I’ve just ragequit from Divinity after encountering yet another drastically unfair difficulty shift in the combat, and am seriously considering giving up on the game altogether as its frustrations have been outweighing its better qualities for quite some time now.  This probably doesn’t put me in an entirely objective frame of mind for assessing Divinity as a whole, and so I am liable to put the boot in a little more enthusiastically than I might do otherwise. On the other hand, that I can even consider up and quitting after investing more than thirty hours into what had appeared, during the first dozen hours, to be the best game I’d played all year? That’s a situation that needs some explanation, and one which I think says a lot about Divinity’s darker side. You can read dewy-eyed coverage of the return of the old-school RPG at your other, more respectable gaming websites. This review is going to contain a lot of bitching, because god knows Divinity gives me a lot of things to bitch about.

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