Category Archives: gaming

Thoughts: Battlefleet Gothic Armada 2

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Battlefleet Gothic Armada 2 is another 18th century tall ships naval combat simulator that just so happens to be set in outer space, except this time with more factions, a few combat refinements  and a rebuilt campaign mode. But hey, isn’t that what sequels are for?

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Thoughts: Resident Evil 2

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It looks like there’s something up with the brightness on my primary monitor as the screenshots I took for this review are all far darker than they appeared when I was actually playing the game. Resident Evil 2 is certainly dark, but it is not this dark — I will try to tweak my brightness settings and capture some more representative shots tonight.

I don’t believe I’ve ever talked about Resident Evil on here, and for good reason: unlike what appears to be the entire rest of the world I hated Resident Evil 4 and have singularly disagreed with the direction the series has gone in since then, with the prioritisation of anime knife fights and suplexing zombies over slow-paced B-movie survival horror. (Not that suplexing zombies isn’t awesome, but it’s really not what I want out of a Resident Evil game.) Still, I wouldn’t have had a problem with that tonal shift if I hadn’t liked what the series was doing up until that point;  I really enjoyed the first three Resident Evil games  – especially the first one, with the legendarily terrible voice acting and the tremendously cheap live-action cutscenes — and so my reaction to the announcement that Capcom were remaking Resident Evil 2 in the Resident Evil 7 engine1 was rather mixed. The preview footage looked interesting, sure, but it didn’t look all that much like what I recognised as being Resident Evil 2, and while Dark Souls has demonstrated an appetite for the slower, more thoughtful style of the old Resident Evils I was a little sceptical that Capcom could resist the urge to (for example) put in a quicktime event where the main character punches a boulder to death.

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  1. Which is apparently an excellent game and much more up my street, but I’m not sure I’d get on well with the first-person perspective.
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Civilization Through The Ages: Civilization 3

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Civilization 3 was the first Civilization I actually bought with money. It was released in 2001, and by that point I wasn’t having to rely on bootleg copies or swiping my brother’s Civilization 2 CD when he wasn’t looking; I was still in sixth form1 but had a small amount of disposable income thanks to a rather unpleasant summer job, and so I wandered down to Dixons2 the lunchtime of release day and bought what might actually have been my very last big-box3 PC game ever.

It was a big disappointment.

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  1. Note for any non-British people reading: the sixth form covers studying for your A-Levels between ages 16-18. At the time it was the thing you did if you wanted to go to university, but these days the government keeps people in education until they’re 18 to keep the unemployment figures down.
  2. Note for any non-British people reading: modern British high streets are derelict wastelands thanks to the rise of online retail, but twenty years ago they were in rather ruder health and you could find shops that sold things outside of clothing and food. Still, even back then Electronics Boutique and HMV wouldn’t venture outside of the cities, and so if you wanted to buy a PC game in a smaller town you had to fall back to Dixons, a seemingly-omnipresent electronics retailer who would at least carry the biggest releases for a few weeks as part of their PC section.
  3. Note for any non-European people reading: big-box PC games died earlier in Europe than they did elsewhere (I understand they held out in the US for a few more years before eventually succumbing there too), and by 2001 most new games were being shipped in smaller DVD-style keep cases.
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Thoughts: Hacknet

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I’m stuck for something to write about this week as I haven’t played anything new recently, so I dragged this almost-finished review of Hacknet out of my drafts folder and polished it up a bit.

Hacknet is a modern Uplink whose major accomplishment is to make me wish somebody would make an actual modern Uplink.

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Civilization Through The Ages: Civilization 2

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To me, Civilization 2 has for many years been the Bigfoot of the Civilization series. You can find the original Civilization on abandonware sites quite easily, and once you’ve got it you can run it via DOSBox with zero fuss. You can buy Civilizations 3 and 4 on Steam, and they both still work fine apart from the missing Gamespy functionality and the occasional crash to desktop. But Civilization 2? It’s not available on GOG, but acquiring a copy of Civilization 2 via alternative methods is just as easy as Civilization (so long as you’re happy with losing the music, the wonder videos and the advisors, anyway); however, it was a Windows-native game released in 1996 — in other words, that awkward period where Microsoft were still sorting themselves out in terms of drivers and APIs for Windows-native games. Consequently it doesn’t play nicely at all with modern versions of Windows, and since it doesn’t have a commercial release on a digital distribution platform it’s entirely reliant on dedicated fans to drag it into a state of semi-compatibility. Getting it to work on Windows 7 was a bit tricky, but doable. Getting it to work on Windows 10 was nigh-impossible until a new fan patch was released towards the end of 2017 that specifically addressed Windows 10 compatibility; up until I found out about it I was seriously considering installing Windows XP on a virtual machine just so that I could play Civilization 2 again.

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Thoughts: Through The Ages

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I’ve been somewhat getting back into boardgames recently after a five-year hiatus. Strictly speaking I never really left them – I play games all the time and I’m not particularly bothered what format they come in so I was always playing them on and off, but the overhead required to get a bunch of people together in a room to mess with a bunch of physical cards and playing pieces is always going to make them a more infrequent pastime than just booting up Into The Breach for a hour-long session. This is why I’m quite cheered to see a few of the iThing ports of popular boardgames making their way onto Steam, as it makes them rather more accessible than they would be otherwise — and this accessibility can more than compensate for the loss of that experience of playing with other people, if the port is done right.

That being said, you’ve got to pick the right kind of boardgame for one of these ports. Years ago I bought the Ticket To Ride port — reviewed it on this very blog, in fact — and by removing the physicality of it and reducing it to a set of raw mechanics it was exposed as a rather shallow experience. If nothing else, you can’t see the expression of rage on an AI’s face as you block their route from St Petersburg to Barcelona with a single train. No, if you’re going to port a boardgame to a computer then it has to either gain something in the transfer or else already have enough depth to it that it can survive as a concept once the associated boardgaming accoutrements have been stripped away.

By that metric, Vlaada Chvatil’s Civ-lite Through The Ages is an almost perfect candidate for conversion. And this port stands up very well indeed.

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Civilization Through The Ages: Civilization

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Over the Christmas break I found myself playing through Civilization 4 for the first time in about ten years. It did a lot of neat stuff that I’d just plain forgotten about, so I decided to play through all of the Civilization games to see how well they held up today and how the series had evolved from one iteration to the next, and then write something summing up that experience so that I’ll have something to refer back to when I inevitably forget again.

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Civilization has the distinction of being the very first game I played on a proper IBM PC. This was way back in my school computer room in 1995, which was an environment that was far too cheap for Windows 95 and the flashy multimedia games that came with it, and so the four year-old Civilization was the best we could manage on the 386s we had available. By this point I’d played newer, better-looking games on the Atari, Archimedes and Megadrive (not to mention Doom and Command & Conquer on some weird PC card hookup jammed into an Acorn RISC PC), and Civilization looked positively primitive by comparison. It didn’t matter. I was instantly hooked.

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