Category Archives: gaming

Thoughts: Sniper Elite 5

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Okay, so I’ll state up front that I have been goaded into this review a little bit. This goading was not caused by anything Sniper Elite 5 did itself — at least not directly — but prior to playing it I read multiple reviews that favourably compared this iteration of the series to Hitman 2 and Metal Gear Solid V, two of the best sandbox games of the last decade1. Which sounds great, but unfortunately for Rebellion I have also played Sniper Elite 4, so I knew that one of two things had happened here:

  1. That Rebellion had massively, massively upped their game, investing a ton of money into hiring a team of crack designers to shape the emergent gameplay while throwing away the old, dated Sniper Elite engine and starting again from scratch to properly enable all of these modern sandbox features.
  2. That these reviews were talking complete bollocks.

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  1. In particular there’s this “Essential” rating from Eurogamer. I know that games journalists are paid next to nothing and have zero long-term career prospects and this sometimes makes me feel bad about ragging on them so frequently, but then one of them gives Sniper Elite 5 an “Essential” rating and I just can’t let that kind of thing go.
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Thoughts: PowerWash Simulator

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I wasn’t expecting a great deal from PowerWash Simulator. For starters it’s yet another entrant in the now decidedly-oversubscribed Simulator “genre”, which consists of a series of increasingly desperate attempts to turn mundane everyday jobs into videogames. (I’m particularly baffled by the PC building one.) And the concept behind PowerWash Simulator is one of the most mundane of the lot: inspired by the viral success of powerwashing videos on Youtube, this is a first-person washer game where, instead of a gun, you have a power washer, and you use that power washer to clean a variety of inexplicably-filthy objects ranging from houses to ferris wheels. That is it. That is the entire game.

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Thoughts: Hardspace Shipbreaker

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Ah, finally, an actually good destruction physics game.

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Thoughts: Chaos Gate – Daemonhunters

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Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate – Daemonhunters (good lord that’s an unwieldy name) is a game I’m convinced I brought into existence by force of will alone. It was announced as part of a big Warhammer videogames event around this time last year, and my friends were having fun guessing what each game trailer was supposed to be before the title card flashed up. But me? I was just guessing “Chaos Gate 2!” on every single one, mostly because the idea was so absurd — who would make a semi-sequel to a shonky 40k XCOM clone from 24 years ago that barely anyone played at the time? — but also secretly because Chaos Gate is one of the two games from the late 90s glut of 40k titles that I do actually want a reboot/sequel to1. And this meant I damn near fell off my chair when the words “CHAOS GATE” appeared at the end of the Daemonhunters teaser, like the universe had finally got tired of my constant complaining and spontaneously reshaped itself into a place where Chaos Gate 2 could exist in a futile attempt to get me to shut up, and in fact it left me questioning the nature of my reality for several days afterwards — after all, if Chaos Gate 2 was actually happening then nothing is impossible.

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  1. The other is a Final Liberation reboot complete with weirdly melancholic guitar soundtrack.
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Thoughts: Citizen Sleeper

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Citizen Sleeper is an interactive fiction game where you’re essentially playing one of the replicants from Blade Runner. You start the game having fled from your corporate masters to Erlin’s Eye, a space station cobbled together from the wreckage of an economic collapse a decade prior, and you need to stave off the encroaching breakdown of your cybernetic body while eking out a living on the fringes of this ultra-capitalist hellscape by…

…growing mushrooms?

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Thoughts: Teardown

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What I expected when I bought Teardown: a demolition game with the building destruction physics from Red Faction Guerilla.

What I got when I bought Teardown: a demolition game with the building destruction physics from Minecraft. Also it’s not really about demolition.

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Thoughts: Chinatown Detective Agency

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If Chinatown Detective Agency were a film, it would start with a title card that said “SINGAPORE… in the not-too-distant future” because it suffers from a chronic lack of imagination and has to fall back on cliché to make up for it. It’s an adventure game that thrusts you into the shoes of Amira Dharma, formerly of the Singapore Police Force and now striking out on her own as a private detective, and I suppose you could say that Chinatown Detective Agency’s addiction to cliché is at least a little fitting since this game is supposed to be mixing cyberpunk with noir. Cyberpunk has obviously been done to death already, and mostly by people with far less imagination than even the developers of Chinatown Detective Agency, but noir wouldn’t be recognisable unless you throw in a few well-worn story tropes. Anyway, it’s a sound enough premise for a game, backed up by some pretty good pixel art and animation that, while a little hit and miss in places, do succeed in bringing this future version of Singapore to life in an appropriately cyberpunk-y way. A few years back I played through Technobabylon (which  is another cyberpunk-set adventure game where you play a detective) and had a reasonably decent time with it, and at first glance there’s no real reason why the same shouldn’t be true of Chinatown Detective Agency.

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