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First Contact | The Red Solstice - Mars Attacks

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Early Access, First Contact, Ironward, Nkidu, PC games, The Red Solstice, Videos

First Contact | The Red Solstice - Mars Attacks

The Red Solstice is a top-down, real-time, tactical, 8-player, co-op survival game. Man that was long. It feels a little like XCOM meets Commandos in some ways, though with faster pacing, dynamic events, and pop-up objectives.

It's also confusing as hell.

Set in the distant future, across a Martian landscape ravaged by war, you're greeted by the gravelliest of gravelly voices intoning some guff about a massive storm and alien beasties. It's fairly difficult to take him seriously. I jumped into a multiplayer game straight away, which was a terrible mistake as everyone apart from myself and another poor noobish soul ran off and immediately began hoarding all of the items, and we had absolutely no idea what the hell we were supposed to be doing.

First Contact | The Red Solstice - Mars Attacks

We'll save the multiplayer stuff for a Game Night in the recent future.

Thankfully, The Red Solstice has a tutorial prologue level, which I quickly jumped into after a massive alien ate everyone on my team, to help players get to grips with the basics. It's a fairly complex game, not helped by a control system that can seem a little overly convoluted at times. It handles a little like a clunky MMO in some ways -- the plethora of instructions available can be a little overwhelming in real-time -- but a few replays on, and I began to get used to it.

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The Secret World is only £8.49 on Steam

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Deals
Tags:
funcom, MMORPG, PC games, The Secret World

The Secret World is only £8.49 on Steam

The Secret World | Steam | £8.49 (no subs required)
Price ComparisonThe Secret World Review

The Secret World is my favourite MMORPG of all time. It's revolutionary, unique and focused on storytelling, deploying peerless writing, fourth wall-breaking alternate reality puzzles, atmosphere and exploration where other MMOs use trash mobs. It's groundbreaking, slightly broken and absolutely magnificent.

Better yet, you can buy once and play forever, no subscription required, and grab it for only £8.49 on Steam. The Massive Edition is also on sale for £16.49, if you want to try out the (brilliant) issues 7-9.

VIDEO | Rewriting History with the Dragon Age Keep

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
BioWare, Dragon Age Keep, Dragon Age: Inquisition

VIDEO | Rewriting History with the Dragon Age Keep

My body is ready for Dragon Age: Inquisition. I’ve been one of the loudest detractors of Dragon Age II in recent years, but I loved Origins and the world that BioWare created has proven to be enormously compelling. Frankly, after the expansive nature of Origins, it was precisely the fact that DA2 kept me locked behind the four walls of Kirkwall or in cookie-cutter dungeons that I began to dislike that game so much.

But Dragon Age Keep has, in many ways, reminded me of all the goodness of Dragon Age II. For all of its many faults, it gave you the reins to shape the society and standing of Kirkwall over a long period of time, and that was relatively fascinating to behold.

VIDEO | Rewriting History with the Dragon Age Keep

For the Dragon Age veteran, the Keep is a refresher steeped in hard choices and difficult decisions. Unfortunately, the open beta doesn’t allow for save game imports, but it does encourage veterans and newcomers alike to explore the narrative branches of Origins and its sequel (and all of the DLC for that matter, whether you bought and played the additional content or not). There are over 300 decisions to make, in order to shape the world of the upcoming Dragon Age: Inquisition, and I made a little video illustrating exactly what Dragon Age Keep is all about.

Click here to read more...

The Steam Halloween Sale is horrifyingly huge

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Deals
Tags:
PC games

The Steam Halloween Sale is horrifyingly huge

The Steam Halloween Sale 2014 is now open for business, and discounting a ludicrous 442 items.

Oh lorks, as Nanna Lester used to say. Personal recommendations include Defender's Quest, 66% off Fallout 3, Blackguards for £10.19, discounted Amnesia Bundle and seriously though, 442 items.

I'll have a proper sift later, but for now, hit up the splash page and tell us what you're buying!

The Humble Weekly Bundle is Halloween-themed, obviously

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Deals
Tags:
PC games

The Humble Weekly Bundle is Halloween-themed, obviously

The Humble Weekly Bundle is now live and predictably Halloween-themed.

Pay what you want for Knock-Knock, Halloween Drop Heroes and Home, the former and latter of which are excellent.

Beat the average to also receive Betrayer, YouTube darling Five Nights At Freddys and Our Darker Purpose. All save VR diehards should avoid Among The Sleep, though, which dilutes its great premise with boring hackneyed gameplay.

Metro Redux only £19.99 at Smyths on PS4

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Deals
Tags:
4A Games, FPS, Metro Redux, PS4 games

Metro Redux only £19.99 at Smyths on PS4

Metro Redux | Smyth's Toys| £22.99
Metro Redux ReviewVideo Review

This, right here, is how you remaster something. Two great lengthy games with vastly improved visuals and welcome mechanical tweaks... that released at a budget price from the start. It can only get lower, though, and Smyths have dipped below that magical £20 mark.

Artyom's gritty, stealthy, grim adventures through ruined Russia will tide you over for a while. Thanks to wraith_42 @ HUKD!

The Morning Papers | By The Pricking Of My Thumbsticks...

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
News
Tags:
The Morning Papers

The Morning Papers | By The Pricking Of My Thumbsticks...

...something evil this way comes, quick. This Halloween, prepare to be terrified as the spectre of Dennis Dyack returns from the dark beyond, promising to reboot Shadow Of The Eternals and hoping we've forgotten about all the theft and malfeasance that happened under his watch at Silicon Knights. Can nothing can stop him from toxifying the brand? Can no hero make him realise that his involvement helped to kill Shadow Of The Eternals' chances in the first place?

Say "Too Human" in the mirror three times and you'll find out.

In other news, the curtain has finally fallen on DriveClub's comedy of errors. From delays to DLC lies to cut features to a hopeless launch with broken servers to an unambitious game that's light on meaningful content, here we are, as Sony's Shuhei Yoshida confirms that the free PlayStation Plus edition has been indefinitely delayed. We suspect that he's currently stalking the corridors of Evolution HQ with some manner of rotary pink slip cannon.

In Case You Missed It...

The Morning Papers | By The Pricking Of My Thumbsticks...

Game Night | Titanfall - Frontier Defense is AWESOME!

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
FPS games, Game Night, PC games, Titanfall, Videos

Jon's been telling us for weeks that we should jump back into Titanfall, largely thanks to the hefty recent content drop and the addition of a PvE horde mode of sorts, and we finally Titan'd up for some Game Night shenanigans.

It might just be the crushing disappointment and hollow feeling that Destiny has left me with, but frankly this was an utter blast. Frontier Defense is a cracking (FREE) addition to the delightfully smooth gameplay package, and it's clear that Respawn have really made a concerted effort over the past few months to make the game sparkle. The lobbies and customisation options have been tweaked in all of the right ways, matchmaking actually seems to work (and the countdown timers have been decreased), and Frontier Defense shakes things up in a great way, throwing Suicide Spectres and Arc Titans into the fray.

I have to say, though, that I really, desperately wish I had an Xbox One after this Game Night. Titanfall plays so incredibly well on PC, but really its a game that lends itself completely to the couch-oriented console experience. Still, this was an absolute blast, and I'm pretty sure Carl and I will certainly be joining Jon in dipping into it frequently over the next few weeks.

If COD doesn't blow us away, that is. That now has Titans too.

Grab the Valve Complete Pack for under a tenner at Green Man Gaming

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Deals
Tags:
Half Life, PC games, Portal, Valve Complete Collection

Grab the Valve Complete Pack for under a tenner at Green Man Gaming

Valve Complete Pack | Green Man Gaming | £9.75
Use code: SLICKD-EALS22-OFFGMG

Cheaper than Steam, packed with Portal perfection, heaving with the history Half-Life, teeming with the tremendousness of Team Fortress, layered with the lustre of Left 4... you get the idea. The Valve Complete Pack can now be had for under a tenner on Green Man Gaming, but remember to use the code above to knock 20% off of the current price.

Thanks Ilium!

Nab superb SHMUP Sine Mora for just 80p on PC at Bundle Stars

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Deals
Tags:
PC games, SHMUPs, Sine Mora

Nab superb SHMUP Sine Mora for just 80p on PC at Bundle Stars

Sine Mora | Bundle Stars | 80p |Sine Mora Review

Sine Mora is a cracking little SHMUP, with a soundtrack composed by Akira Yamaoka and boss designs by Mahiro Maeda, and now you can nab it for under a quid. The code redeems on Steam, the game is a little beauty with some nice time-bending mechanics, and if you like your bullet hell shooters, you really ought to give this a bash.

Nosgoth Interview | Cat Karskens on open beta, Devil's Night, Noscam, and the Summoner

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
F2P, Interviews, Nosgoth, PC games, Psyonix, PvP, Square Enix, Videos

We haven't checked in officially with Square Enix's humans-vs-vampires, team-based, slay-em-up -- Nosgoth -- for some time now. But with the game on the cusp of moving into open beta this winter, and with a host of tweaks and improvements having been made to the game in recent months, I sat down this week with Community Manager Cat Karskens to have a bit of a natter.

Throughout the last few days, Nosgoth has been enjoying the Halloween-themed Devil's Night event, delivering random drops of ghostly goodness for players, and unique items that are only obtainable this week, but will last permanently once collected. I talk to Karskens about the ongoing festivities, the feedback that Psyonix and the team at Square Enix have been receiving, where the game is headed in terms of improved features and new classes, and how accessibility and monetisation will shift once the open beta begins.

You can check out the official site here.

Blast From The Past | System Shock 2

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Features
Tags:
Blast From The Past, Horror games, Irrational Games, Looking Glass Studios, System Shock 2

Blast From The Past | System Shock 2

Remember Citadel

I was going to do Jet Set Radio Future this week, but with All Hallow's Eve looming, an anarchic cel-shaded romp through Tokyo-To doesn't quite fit this spooky time of year. We need something horrifying. We need the chill running down our spine, the fetid breath on the back of our necks, the cyclopean indescribable terror that lurks in the darkest corners of our psyche just beyond our perceived veil of reality. The fear. We need the fear.

Or, erm, a horror game I suppose.

So seeing as I've personally banged on about one horror game above all others over the last four years, it's high time we paid SHODAN her dues and took a lingering look back at System Shock 2. Irrational Games' Sci-Fi horror masterpiece is exactly that: a masterpiece of intricate level design, adaptive gameplay, sensational artwork and atmosphere, but by all rights it shouldn't have been scary at all.

Blast From The Past | System Shock 2

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The Morning Papers | 30/10/14 - Bedtime with Nintendo

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
News
Tags:
The Morning Papers

The Morning Papers | 30/10/14 - Bedtime with Nintendo

Morning all! Nintendo have finally detailed some of the stuff they've been working on regarding the "quality of life" projects that Iwata mentioned earlier this year. Apparently, Nintendo is designing a non-contact sensor that sits beside your bed and watches you sleep. If they cross this sort of technology with Amiibo, a creepy version of Toy Story could feasibly become a real thing.

Elsewhere, Elite Dangerous has gotten a massive update that includes fuel scooping from stars, Dragon Age Keep finally enters open beta, and the super-shiny cinematics for Halo 2: Anniversary are looking gloriously pretty.

In case you missed it...

Get Wolfenstein: The New Order on PC for just £14.00 at GMG

Author:
Carl Phillips
Category:
Deals
Tags:
Bethesda Softworks, FPS games, Machine Games, PC games, Wolfenstein: The New Order

Get Wolfenstein: The New Order on PC for just £14.00 at GMG
Wolfenstein: The New Order | Green Man Gaming | £14.00 with code
Voucher Code: SPOOKY-TREATS-GMG20X | Price comparison | Review

GMG's Halloween offers has meant that one of this year's FPS highlights is now at an absolute bargain of a price. It's the lowest we've seen for the PC version, and will save you over a fiver compared to the next best deal.

Harnessing old school gameplay and pairing it up with a sense of style, The New Order was not only a glorious return for the Wolfenstein franchise, but also proved that single-player-only FPS games still have a place in modern gaming. It also has giant robot dogs, which is nice. Thanks to Battenburg @ HUKD!

Here's another chance to get ZombiU for just £4.95

Author:
Carl Phillips
Category:
Deals
Tags:
Survival Horror Games, Ubisoft, Wii U games, ZombiU

Here's another chance to get ZombiU for just £4.95

ZombiU | The Game Collection | £4.95
Price Comparison | Review

Yet again, The Game Collection are doing a deal for ZombiU below the £5 price point. The saving may be only a few pounds, but let's be honest here - the fact one of the Wii U's most unique experiences is under a fiver is the important part here.

Ubisoft's survival horror title won’t be to everyone’s tastes (much like those Souls games) but those brave enough to venture into the virtual streets of London will find a game that absolutely nails the terror of surviving against the hordes of the undead. Thanks to oUkTuRkEyIII @ HUKD!

Inkle on Adaptation, Steampunk, and Writing Interactive Romance | Interactive Narratives - 80 Days, Part 2

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
80 Days, Adaptations, Inkle Studios, Interactive Narratives, Romance, Steampunk, Videos

Last week, we took a look at the masterful 80 Days and how Inkle went about making such a text-heavy experience work on mobile platforms. As promised, here's part two of my chat with the developers behind the game. This time, we were joined by the game's writer -- Meg Jayanth -- to talk about the intertextual side of things, and the literary nature of adapting a century-old novel into a game laden with player choices.

If you're at all interested in the craft of creating branching, interactive narratives, this week's video is fundamental viewing/listening as Jayanth and Jon Ingold talk about the research and structural processes behind one of the finest games of the year, describing how the steampunk elements of the game came into being, and how some of Verne's outdated social considerations (or lack thereof) were updated for a more modern audience in this game. Finally, we talk more broadly about romance in video games, the subtleties of trying to cultivate relationships through virtual narratives, and how games might approach sexuality better going forwards.

This might just be my favourite interview that I've ever done. It's quite a long one, though, so for the sake of navigation, here's a little list of contents:

Be sure to check out Part 1 if you haven't already!

How To Survive: Storm Warning Edition Review | One Life Left

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Reviews
Tags:
505 Games, Eko Software, How to Survive, How to Survive: Storm Warning Edition, PS4 games, Survival games, Xbox Games

How To Survive: Storm Warning Edition Review | One Life Left

When Brendan reviewed the last-gen version of How To Survive last year, he found it to offer "ten hours of tropical islands to explore, enjoyable combat, and a moreish RPG grind to keep you foraging for new zombie-killing tools" and serve up a worthwhile way to kick one's virtual heels while waiting for the arrival of the PS4 and Xbox One. Twelve months on and Eko Software have released a new-gen version of their isometric survival romp, adding in a new playable character, one or two new islands, and the new modes that have been dropped in little DLC packs over the last year.

The core game remains largely the same, fulfilling a role that's a kind of mashup between Dead Island and Dead Nation. You trot around a handful of lush, tropical islands, picking up anything that you can find, in the hopes of beating off hordes of the undead and scavenging bits and bobs that might be used to fix a vehicle that can get you out of this hellhole. The darkness that night brings is to be feared, but not quite as much as the creatures who dwell in its inky shadows, and a torch -- flaming or electric -- is a fundamental necessity. Being caught out in the wilderness as night falls with out some form of illumination is a easy way to get yourself killed.

How To Survive: Storm Warning Edition Review | One Life Left

I gather that the game has been spruced up a little, although this isn't exactly a looker. How To Survive wasn't going to win any awards for visual design previously, and it certainly won't a console generation on, but the lighting effects perform well, and that's important in a game like this. Mind you, there's a distinct lack of fluidity to character handling, and I'm not sure having the melee button mapped to R2 is a good idea at all. It feels clunky and unwieldy at times, although ranged attacks fare a little better. Brendan's right, though -- the targeting gaffes can be really rather frustrating.

Click here to read more...

BioShock Triple Pack just £7.99 on Steam

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Deals
Tags:
Bioshock, Bioshock 2, Bioshock Infinite, PC games

BioShock Triple Pack just £7.99 on Steam

BioShock 1, 2 & Infinite | Steam | £9.99 (save roughly £8)
BioShock reviewBioShock 2 reviewBioShock Infinite Review

If the entire BioShock series has somehow passed you by, Steam are willing to let you have the entire trilogy with change for a Tenner. The superlative original game still stands tall with its compelling setting and fearsome twist, while 2K Marin's sequel was arguably redundant yet hit hard with a more emotional storyline. Infinite... well, speaking personally, I was riveted for the duration but the more I think about it, the less I like it. Still worth playing, though, so you can wade into debating its ambitious plot and moaning about its rubbish tower defence bit. Thanks to jaystan @ HUKD!

On another personal note, I'd highly recommend picking up the Minerva's Den DLC for BioShock 2. It's fantastic.