Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Raving Rant: The Year in Review - 2014

Another year come and gone. The old saw about time flying when you’re having fun seems apropos for gamers. Especially when some of the stuff is not fun in the slightest. But it’s been interesting nonetheless. We’ve had all new heroes and villains, as well as some old familiar faces popping up, and it’s worth taking a look back to see how we got through it.

I’m going to get this one out of the way right now. I spoke at length on it earlier, and I’m not going to beat a dead horse, but this is probably the single biggest story of the year. I wish it wasn’t. Arguably, the shitstorm that is GamerGate is still ongoing, although it’s now down to a dull roar. A certain segment of the Internet is being incredibly shitty to a few particular women, and pretty much anybody of a certain degree of visibility who calls them out on it. I don’t agree with Anita Sarkissian’s work, I don’t agree with her positions, but I will defend her right to make them and distribute them. People are, likewise, free to disagree with her and not support her if they choose not to. But this shit has gone way too far for way too long.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Review: Watch Dogs (Wii U)

Starting a new franchise is never an easy task. Some games make it, and some don't.

When you have a big developer like Ubisoft behind you there is more at stake but there are also more resources to draw upon to create the game. Watch Dogs is one of those new franchises that had some new elements embedded into it that made it interesting enough to look forward to. It came out on most of the video game systems in the Spring but took around 6 extra months to come out on the Wii U. So, here it is.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Review: Escape Dead Island (PC)

escape dead island

Maybe it's because it's the close of 2014 and the beginning of 2015, and another birthday for yours truly, that I'm feeling too old, decrepit and tired to have any patience for video games that are slapped into lock-step with tried and true formulas that have proven effective in the past but stopped filling me with awe or, hell, interest.

And that, predictably, is where Escape Dead Island comes in.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Review: Skylanders: Trap Team (PS3)

skylanders trap team
"We have seen the evil of the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors in our midst; let us try prohibition and see what this will do for us."
- Thomas Jordan Jarvis
Swap out "intoxicating liquors" for "Skylanders" and you'll know where I'm going with this review of Skylanders: Trap Team. In fact, I really wanted to write this review in the spirit of a 1920's speech on the evils of liquor and the shortfalls of Prohibition because this is the era that Skylanders has started to conjure in my mind. Not just for the addiction angle and the corruption of youth, but because it would be pretty interesting to see what homebrew figures would look like.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Review: Company of Heroes 2 - Ardennes Assault (PC)

company of heroes 2 ardennes assault

Ardennes Assaults shakes up Company of Heroes. The gameplay was already a deep well of strategy, tactics, and being able to quickly refocus attention elsewhere on the battlefield without completely abandoning anything, unless it served some larger purpose, but Ardennes Assault layers additional strategy and long-term planning on top of that with a Risk-like map of the area between Germany and France as borders ebbed under the push of the Allies against German forces.

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)

gabriel knight sins of the fathers remastered

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)

ancient space
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.