Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Hardware Review: Dell Venue 8 Pro 5000

The Venue 8 Pro (from Dell) reminded me – again – that I'm getting old.

In the hands of a 15 year-old me, a tablet computer like this would have figuratively melted my brain. You have to remember though that digital cameras were only just appearing in 1993 and compared to current digital technology, those first contraptions are akin to pin-hole cameras. So, something like this would have cracked open a door to the Twilight Zone. The tablet is packed with features, some of which I'm sure I didn't even see let alone use as I found myself sticking to standbys like Twitter, Netflix, Facebook and OneDrive (Microsoft's cloud storage) rather than exploring the Marketplace to find the best apps or put the thing to use in unexpected ways.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Review: Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition (PC)

If there's one thing that 2014 should have taught all of us it's that you can go home. Maybe there's someone else living in the house, maybe everything feels a little smaller, and that weird couple that lived across the alley have turned their backyard into a bone yard for rusty Studebakers, but it's still home somehow. That's what it feels like with Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition, where it's 1993 all over again.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Video: Crimzon Clover

Jeff Nash returns after an extended hiatus to talk about the latest changes to Steam while playing Crimzon Clover:

Review: Ancient Space (PC)

If an old grognard of a strategy gamer is asked what the best space-themed real-time strategy game ever made was, chances are that it would be a toss-up between StarCraft and Homeworld.

While the former gets points for being one of Blizzard's best loved titles before World of WarCraft, the latter being one of the first RTS games to truly exploit the notion of 3D space and the tactical considerations it brought. It created a gold standard for what space combat should be like, and it's never been properly duplicated, sequel and expansion notwithstanding. Some might be bold and point to Digital Anvil and their only RTS Conquest: Frontier Wars as a cult classic that got overlooked in the noise of Chris Roberts' maladroit exit from the gaming industry so many years ago. Gamers have, for many years, been looking for something which captures the feel of Homeworld while advancing the genre. Sad to say, Ancient Space is not that advancement.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Book Review: Dragon Age - The Masked Empire

If there's one thing that fantasy novels like Dragon Age: The Masked Empire share in common it's that after the first half or two-thirds of the novel, the story winds up describing a D&D campaign, especially when the book is set in a familiar video game world.

My memory of the first two Dragon Age games aren't branded across my brain like some games – where are the Cole Phelps novels? – so I'm not entirely sure where The Masked Empire sits in the chronology of the games, but the book definitely feels like it came from that universe. Mages, elves treated as second-class (or barely classed) beings, political machinations, rules of honour, and otherworldly beings popping up at the most opportune times.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Review: Alien: Isolation (PC)

In this picture we observe the xenomorph "stepping out" as viewed from
a cowering position under a desk. Not pictured: My stained underwear.
The feeling of dread, suspense, and horror that permeates Alien: Isolation comes from such a weird place. Best know for their intense strategy games like Total War, developer Creative Assembly was quite possibly the least likely studio to be able to produce such an amazing first-person experience, especially with a license that has generated its fair share of mediocre or downright awful video games. Not only that, Creative Assembly has made a game for fans of the Alien film universe and people that possibly know nothing about Alien.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Review: FIFA 15 (Xbox One)

The annual release of sports titles continues!

FIFA 15 is still quite fresh in my mind having just a few months ago taken a swing at the World Cup title – but the EA team does not sit on their laurels and they continue to improve their masterwork. With the mid-year release, the improvements over last year's title are not as drastic as most iterations but that's not to say that there aren't any. Graphically and aurally, FIFA 15 is pretty much the same game as last year: still looks amazing, the sound from the crowd noise to the in-game commentary are top notch. No disappointments here, at best minor nit-picky points.