Category Archives: gaming

Thoughts: Shadow Of The Tomb Raider

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God, I’m disappointed with Shadow Of The Tomb Raider. Not because it is particularly bad (it isn’t), or because it’s an almost exact carbon copy of Rise Of The Tomb Raider (it is, even down to the plot), but because I really think this incarnation of Lara Croft would be a much happier woman if she gave up the sham cover story of stealing ancient artifacts from their rightful owners and just accepted the fact that she really, really likes killing people.

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Thoughts: Two Point Hospital

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I’ve always regarded Theme Hospital as the odd one out when it comes to Bullfrog’s strategy games. Theme Park made all the sense in the world, even when I was 11 years old, but I just didn’t understand the concept behind Theme Hospital. Even now I think running a for-profit hospital was a really weird theme for a British developer to build a game around; unfortunately the severe cuts the NHS has suffered over the last decade has given private healthcare the opportunity to become more deeply entrenched in the UK’s healthcare system1, but back in the 90s it was still a deeply alien concept to the British psyche and I often wonder how exactly Bullfrog ended up deciding to make it. Odd choice or no, though, Theme Hospital remains one of Bullfrog’s most fondly-remembered titles (for those who actually played it, at least), and so it’s no surprise that it’s the latest one to receive a modern attempt at a do-over in the form of Two Point Hospital.

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  1. A few months back I suffered a bad knee injury while running. A visit to my GP presented me with a rather stark choice: wait 12 weeks to see an NHS physiotherapist, or go private and start treatment that week. I was fortunate enough to be able to afford to go private so I coughed up the money and have no complaints about the treatment I received, but there wouldn’t have been a need to do that ten or fifteen years ago.
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Thoughts: Yakuza 0

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If you’re into anime at all1 you’ve probably seen One Punch Man. One Punch Man was something of an anime phenomena a few years ago; it’s essentially a comedy that mercilessly parodies all of the cliched Dragonball Z knockoffs out there, while also having the self-awareness not to fall into the same traps by delivering some exquisitely well-animated fight scenes interspersed with a plot decent enough to stitch them together and held up by believable, natural character arcs. Basically, it’s an anime that has its cake and eats it too; it’s a parody of action anime that’s also a better anime, period, than the things it’s parodying. I mention this because watching One Punch Man is the best analogue I can come up with for what playing Yakuza 0 feels like — of course it’s a little different, as Yakuza is first and foremost a crime drama about factional politicking within the Japanese yakuza, but the dramatic story bits are juxtaposed with scenes of such insane frivolity that it can’t help but feel like it’s taking the piss out of itself at the same time.

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  1. I’m not all that much, but I’ll idly watch stuff when it shows up on Netflix in the hope that it’ll be entertaining.
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Thoughts: Hollow Knight

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For someone who really likes the Metroidvania style of games1 it’s possibly a little strange that it’s taken me this long to get around to playing Hollow Knight. It came out at the start of last year, it costs almost nothing (thanks to Brexit any game priced at £10 or less counts as “almost nothing” these days), it looks absolutely gorgeous and it’s by far the most Metroidvania game I’ve played since Portrait of Ruin of my ancient DS. These are all significant points in Hollow Knight’s favour, but counting against it is a word that is rather unfortunately all the rage these days: Soulslike.

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  1. In which levels are linked together into a sprawling world with lots of alternate routes and secret areas gated by mobility powerups such as double jump and wallclimb.
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Thoughts: The Banner Saga 3

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Oh no. No, no, no, no, no. This won’t do at all.

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Thoughts: Wolfenstein 2 – The New Colossus

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Not really played anything worth writing about in the last two weeks. I’d like to keep up some sort of momentum, though, and so went back and finished off this review of Wolfenstein 2, which was mostly written at the end of October last year but which I never got around to putting up on the blog.

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Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus strikes me as an exceedingly confused game.

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Thoughts: Vampyr

vampyr-swansea

Vampire legends have been around for centuries. At first the product of superstition and folklore, they’ve transitioned into the modern age almost seamlessly, and this is thanks to a reinvention of the vampire from monstrous, decomposing bloodsucker to a charismatic, ageless villain. This modern vampire is almost ubiquitous in fiction and has achieved its tremendous success for two reasons. One is the sexy allure of vampirism, which has driven the creation of so many novels that there’s now a dedicated subcategory for them in many bookshops called Paranormal Romance. The other, though, is that being a vampire is increasingly portrayed as A Generally Awesome Experience. Vampires are superhumanly strong and fast, have mind control powers, do not age, and regenerate from almost any wound — and that’s before you start mixing in author-specific traits such as the ability to transform into animals and sparkling in sunlight. It’s no coincidence that a lot of modern vampire fiction tends to gloss over the less salubrious aspects of vampirism, like the blood drinking or the inability to go sunbathing; nobody really wants to spend much time dwelling on the drawbacks when it’s far more fun to treat it as the ultimate power fantasy.

It is something of a shame, then, that nobody told Dontnod any of this when they were developing Vampyr.

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