I haven't slept properly in days. Eating and personal hygeine has become a minor distraction. Pity me, dear reader, for I've become a hapless, dribbling thrall enslaved in the grip of what could well be the most ruthlessly addictive game I've played in years. Desktop Dungeons is still only in beta, but it's clear that QCF Design have managed to find themselves a perfect storm: all of the immediate fun of a dungeon-crawling roguelike, but packing the persistent RPG elements and city-construction that we crave in from the biggest AAA titles. This has got Indie Game Of The Year written all over it, even in what has been a truly exceptional year for independent development.
As the leader of a town that's situated in the middle of a warren of terrifying dungeons, your choice is clear: send a stream of disposable heroes into their dark depths to battle the monsters and complete missions for fun and profit. It's a turn-based roguelike that randomly generates maps for short and slick bursts of play, providing a micro-RPG experience for between five and ten minutes. The labyrinthine areas are full of enemies of various levels, abilities and types, and since your hero always starts out at level one, you'll need to choose to take them out in the right order - or gun for more powerful foes early on for experience boosts. Spells, powerups, weapons and loot all await the intrepid, along with some powerful bosses to defend them.
Click here to read more...
It was only a matter of time before Paradox Interactive, purveyors of fine strategic sims and all manner of arcane beardyness, rolled up their sleeves and dug into the murky quagmire of tower defence games. Defenders Of Ardania will be hitting the shelves this December... but will it offer enough of a strategic edge to elevate it above the likes of Defense Grid and Revenge Of The Titans?
On the face of things, Defenders Of Ardania subscribes to a familiar if fairly tired formula. Units trudge towards your base along preset grid-based paths, along which you can deploy a range of towers to kill, wound or otherwise slow their advance. Each of the three factions - Humans, Undead and the forces of Mother Nature - have eight similar fortifications at their disposal, and they can be upgraded, sold and used to block off certain avenues of attack at leisure. Placing towers also allows players to colonise more of the map and extend further into enemy territory. However, beyond the medieval art design that draws upon the deep Majesty universe for inspiration, it's pretty much business as usual.
Except for the fact that you can also create waves of your own to pummel the enemy base. In effect, you get both sides of the tower defence coin.Click here to read more...
1998 was a truly epic year for RPGs. Final Fantasy VII, Tactics Ogre, Parasite Eve and Xenogears redefined our traditional notions of videogame storytelling and characterization on the original Playstation… but for a few faithful Saturn owners, the penultimate year of the millennium was all about something much more special. Released in an extremely limited run on a dying console, Panzer Dragoon Saga let us explore the beautiful and deadly Panzer Dragoon universe and remains one of the finest cult classic RPGs of all time.
And one of the rarest too. Only a few thousand copies ever made their way to Europe, meaning that Panzer Dragoon Saga is now a valuable collector’s item that frequently attracts three-digit prices when sold at auction. Considering that there’s almost no hope of a next-gen remake or downloadable release (since SEGA managed to lose the source code), it’s likely to be expensive and extremely difficult to lay hands on. The diehard, the rich and the lucky, however, will find a hidden gem that fully justifies its near-mystical status… and revere the last remaining physical copies as things of breathtaking beauty.
Put me in the lucky category. Please indulge what is likely to be a gushing and intimate tribute of a forgotten classic.Click here to continue reading this week's blast from the past >>
Right, we've done all of the highbrow stuff and weighed, judged and scored both of this year's premier football teams on their own merits, taking care not to mention the rival in respective reviews. There is nothing worse than reading a PES review and having to wade through five paragraphs talking about FIFA, and vice versa. But to ignore the comparison completely would be churlish. We're mired in recession, steeped in debt and consumer confidence is so low that it's verging on the subterranean. It is in such times that gamers have to make hard choices about the titles that they purchase, circumstances such as these leading to conservatism as punters play it safe.
That's a bit out of the question this time around for the discerning football fan, though. In ages past, it was generally agreed that the dial shifted one way or the other, with PES in the ascendancy back when it had numbers after its name rather than years, and FIFA turning things around in the last three or four seasons. This year, though, things have changed. FIFA 12 plays a vastly different, slower and more tactically ponderous game than it has in the past. PES 2012, meanwhile, has gone for all-out offence, eschewing realism for a speedier, more arcadey experience that speaks to its roots back in the ISS years.
The question is, which one should you go for this year?
We reviewed both FIFA 12 and PES 2012 and gave them both an 8, the innovations of each counter-balanced by different flaws between the pair of them. But it wasn't really enough. So here's a step-by-step breakdown of both games, compared and contrasted to give you, the prospective buyer, of which one might be more suited to your tastes.Hit the jump to check out our comparison...
Starhawk’s single player game is something I’ve been waiting to get my hands on for a while now and I’m glad to say it was well worth the wait. This sci-fi third-person shooter is shaping up to be a lot of fun, especially given the original game’s lack of an offline side. But can it compete in a genre crowded with classics like Uncharted and Gears of War? Being able to instantly drop an arsenal of buildings, turret towers and vehicles from your own personal orbital carrier will certainly help its cause.
This early mission introduces the eagerly awaited building mechanics of the game. First though, it was time to clear the building site of a few aliens, who have a neon-Chimera feel to them. The standard assault rifle weapon was more than capable of taking them on, with no sign of any unwanted auto-aim to take away your fun. Red barrels and grenades provide huge explosions scattering bodies everywhere in glorious fashion. After playing through Brink, recently, it felt good to have grenades that erupted in fire again instead acting like a popped semi-deflated beach ball.
One awkward omission I encountered was the lack of a dodge move. After trying all sorts of button combinations, the best I could manage was a regular jump, which seems a little odd for a TPS title. Hopefully, there’ll be one in the final game or maybe I was just failing to find it like a nonce.Click here to read more...
It's Sunday morning, I overslept and now it's time to play some freeware games. Today, you see, I don't want to play freeware games, not at all. But you, you slavering pack of wild dogs baying for the blood and sweat of indie developers, you demand it of me. So I must obey, your humble servant. But it won't stop me calling you a bunch of ****ers for it, though.
Right, so you want games? Here, have Legends of Kong, which doesn't look like it has anything to do with giant monkeys or that female wrestler out of TNA. But is this Kong awesome or is it just sitting around stripping the leaves off twigs? (Actually it seems to be a tribute to Kongregate.)
You've been sent to deal with an 'incident' by the CEO of an international arms company, so naturally you don't get given any weapons until you buy them. I mean, come on, you're on a top secret, deadly serious mission but that won't stop them refusing to provide you with the tools you need to complete it. That's capitalism for you.
But anyway, once you get into the fight, armed only with your bare fists, it turns out to be a flick-screen action-platformer. Enemies have been mind-controlled by an unknown force and you and a cowardly robot buddy have to descend into the maelstrom and kick ass in the name of international gun peddling.Click here to read more...
For years, the Ratchet & Clank series has been crying out for co-op and from what I’ve played so far, it was a great call for Insomniac Games to finally run with it before they put all their efforts into the multi-format Overstrike. After playing the beta recently, I was worried about a few bugs that required a game reset, but I’m happy to report they were nowhere to be seen with this latest build of the game that took place in the same levels.
Ignoring the usual heroes, Ratchet and Clank, we opted to play an offline two-player game as the showboating Captain Quark and the er nefarious Dr. Nefarious, the two characters that have provided some great laughs over the years. Players will find the action very similar to the older games with every character having shooting and melee skills, complete with their own version of Ratchet’s Comet Strike, where they throw their weapon, only to have it boomerang back to them, which is great for smaller enemies and crates.
With players sharing a single-screen, the right stick no longer controls the camera. To make up for this, the weapons have a light degree of lock-on and the right stick now brings up the weapon wheel. The game will only pause if all players are looking at their wheels, which is a balanced way to do it and will avoid unwanted stoppages while the other players agonise over weapon choice.
The camera seems to be doing a good job of tracking players as long as they move together. A section that required some jumping over moving platforms needs everyone to go together or they risk being pushed off the edge of the screen. Fortunately, the platforms are big enough to accommodate your team.Click here to read more...
Genres mean nothing to A Valley Without Wind. Over the last few months, Arcen Games' upcoming epic has shrugged off any attempts at pigeonholing; gleefully transcending, blending and merging the traditional notions of what a game can be classified as. What, in fact, a game can do. However, with the beta in full swing, we've finally been able to get involved and try to make sense of it.
If you're desperate for a quick soundbite, A Valley Without Wind is a procedurally generated free-roaming side-scrolling platforming strategic role-playing survival simulation. A PGFRPSRPSS if you will. But more importantly, it's an incredible adventure and an unprecedented Indie masterpiece in the making. It's time to bite the bullet and take a look at exactly what this exciting project is all about.
A Valley Without Wind is set in the year 888, where humanity has been brought to the edge of extinction and technological doldrums by a cataclysmic ice age. The world of Environ is a horrendously inhospitable place filled with savage horrors, but a few heroic adventurers are brave enough to venture out of the tiny pockets of civilisation in order to pillage the ruins of an ancient culture. You, naturally, are one of these happy few - and after choosing a character (differing only in appearance and slight statistical deviations), the world procedurally generates and thrusts you into the action.Click here to read more...
Alan Hazelden embodies the true spirit of Indie development: a one man outfit who makes games entirely out of love for the medium. After embarking on numerous small flash projects, he's managed to hit upon an incredibly intriguing idea that evolved out of four hours of dev time during the recent Flashpunk game competition. The premise is simple: a puzzle game with a story.
"So what?" I hear you groan bemusedly. Well, this one is a bit different. Rather than a clutch of disparate minigames strung together with some flimsy context (as per usual), These Robotic Hearts Of Mine delivers its narrative through its puzzles - all while never losing the addictive drive for high scores, under-par runs and self-improvement.
The story concerns a pair of young lovers who discover a broken robot while exploring the woods. In true fairytale style, they repair it and become fast friends. "And that's where everything goes wrong," quoth Hazelden. The increasingly twisted story is doled out in one or two cryptic sentences followed by a puzzle that uses a single versatile mechanic: cogs and hearts.Click here to read more...
In Search Of Perfection, our earlier article, detailed the logic behind finding the best handheld console that there's ever been - in terms of both power, influence, games, features and good old fashioned practicality. However, I also freely admit to mercilessly teasing you with the results.
So here we go. The ten best handheld consoles of all time... so far. With pictures.
We love the Game Gear. We do. God knows that we all enjoyed playing or lusted over SEGA's chunky clunker with its limited game selection and utterly hilarious battery life. Love it as we might, however, there's no getting over the fact that it was absolutely terrible in every single way.
Sorry, but it was.
This bespoke portable Linux emulator/ultraportable/pocket PC is an open-source beast. It will emulate practically anything you throw at it thanks to its insane hardware capabilities, touch screens and ever-evolving firmware.
Oh, and it costs as much as a PS3 and an Xbox 360 put together. And it's now out of production since every PCB has to be custom made, which is why you haven't got one. That, and and the fact a you'll need to nab a fistful of ROMs, you
perfectly normal person who just wants to play Earthbound on the train, what of it? criminal. The jury's still out on the legality... as well as the ethics.
I've recently been able to enjoy some "winter sun" thanks to one of these "last minute breaks" I keep reading about... which roughly translates as a miserable incarceration in a dilapidated peasant dwelling two hours from the nearest beach, shop or Wi-Fi connection. On the wrong side of a stagnant river bed. And a mountain. Figuring (correctly) that this would be the case, however, I was sure to stuff my bag with as much technology as Easyjet's weight limit would allow - and then it hit me. My exile was the perfect opportunity to compare my gadgets side by side in order to discover the best portable console of all time. Ever.
My (half-assed) task decided, I proceeded to pack a Game Boy, Game Boy Colour, Game Boy Advance, GBA SP, Neo Geo Pocket Colour, DS Lite, DSi, PSP and 3DS, along with a couple of
dubiously legal handheld emulators portable multimedia players for good measure.
Oh, and I also packed an iPad... which I've disqualified from the running since it isn't a designated gaming device. And, more to the point, I needed to take my notes on it.Click here to continue reading Jon's holiday homework...
We're liberal folks here at Dealspwn and can handle even the most sensitive of topics with calm, balanced comment. So when a “lesbian dating sim with BDSM elements” plopped through our browser's mailbox and positively screamed to be played (possibly after being whipped or tortured into doing so) we knew that making cheap jokes about leather or chains would be right out.
But what exactly is an S&M date? The Case of the Vanishing Entree aims to explore this concept via the medium of text and via a website with the words “Encyclopedia Fuckme” on it. So, yeah, if your boss can't handle something with “filthy nasty dirty stuff” in it, you might not want to gather round the co-workers for a quick blast (as it were).
One thing first – she, one Ms. Anna Anthropy, uses the word “fucking” a lot. Far too much, in fact. I get that it's meant to be 'gritty', 'the language of reality' and so on, but it's gratuitous here. Too much and it loses its impact.
Anyway, you've got a date and it's got a lot of potential, but things don't necessarily go to plan. Playing out like a Choose Your Own Adventure story, you'll generally have two options to select to see what happens.Click here to read more...
I found myself cursing Call of Duty at Eurogamer Expo, sat in Namco's area, wondering why on earth Project Aces had decided to turn one of the best aerial combat games ever (Ace Combat VI) into something more akin to a super-serious FPS. Gone are the massive flying fortresses that you couldn't find anywhere else. Gone are the engrossing sub-narratives that all served to augment and enhance the central point to the story: that YOU are the story, complete with a universal callsign that meant it was an easy fit for anybody. Gone are the high-G turns, the evasive acrobatics and the constant chatter that reminded you of your status as Premier Badass of the Skies.
Sure, now we get to Make Metal Bleed, but considering the lukewarm reception that greeted H.A.W.X. 2, following in its footsteps seems a little odd, let alone actively trying to emulate a triple-A FPS as Namco Bandai's reps earlier in the year were keen to suggest.
But then again, turning Ace Combat into a pseudo-FPS experience is part of a growing trend that can be found sprouting up most particularly in the strategy genre these days, explained in a handful of easy steps:
I think I've watched the Syndicate trailer about ten times since yesterday. It's intriguing, very slick, excellently edited and has a trendy, aggressive soundtrack to it that has rippled throughout Twitter. I know I'm being manipulated, but part of me doesn't care. Starbreeze have already proven themselves in the shooter market, indeed there was a minor furore when it was discovered that they wouldn't actually be returning to make The Darkness II. The trailer gets everything spot on: casual violence, the appearance of slick-gunplay, cool dialogue, pulsating soundtrack and sci-fi appeal. So much so that you completely forget that it's called Syndicate, until the name appears at the end.
And that's rather the point.Click here to read more...
When we'd finally breached the queues and managed to make it inside Earls Court for the Eurogamer Expo 2011, we cast our gaze across the hall at the assembled booths, stands and displays. But one in particular caught our eye; in fact, we were looking for it. Skyrim, Bethesda's fifth entry in the all-conquering Elder Scrolls series.
Around a dozen or so 42" displays lined the booths' wall, before twelve comfy chairs with twelve noise-cancelling headphones. Stifling our leering grins and wiping the dribble leaking from our lips, we hustled over to the booth, sat in the chairs and popped on the headphones. "You've got twenty minutes," a Bethesda rep informed us, "so don't waste time on the character creation bit."
If you're an Elder Scrolls veteran, you'll know the deal with firing up a new game. You have the choice of ten races, be it the bloodthirsty Orcs or hardy Nords, native to the rugged region of Skyrim. Each race has unique features and abilities, such as the Argonians ability to breathe underwater or the feline Khajiit's night-vision. If you're looking to wade into battle, all swords slicing, then the Orcs or Redguard are your best choice; however, if you're leaning towards a more spellcasting approach, then maybe you should opt for a High Elf.Click here to read more
We're big fans of Platinum's work, here at Dealspwn. The company behind MadWorld, Infinite Space, Bayonetta and Vanquish have, more often than not, produced decidedly Japanese games that a Western audience can really get behind. The ultra-violence of MadWorld rocked and mocked the almost religiously child-friendly Wii, Infinite Space proved that BioWare weren't the only ones who could pull off a high quality, grand space opera, Bayonetta squared up to Devil May Cry with its glorious combat system...and arguably won, and Vanquish, short though it was, showed that there was still innovation to be found in the shooter market, even if no-one bought it.
Platinum, it would seem, appear to like a bit of a challenge, and this brings us to Anarchy Reigns - a game that's looking to single-handedly bring back the old-school brawler, but with a few modern touches.Click here to read more...
Unlike Skyrim (“get off, I’ve just levelled up!”), racing games are perfect for expos. The queues are never that long and you can have a quick blast on a couple of tracks, test out a few new cars and get an idea of how they’re shaping up. So here’s a look at some of the biggest racing games lining up on the console grid.
It's not hard to see what Eurogamer attendees thought of Ridge Racer: Unbounded with most people I saw playing it walking away mid-race. Having played the game at Gamescom I knew why. The devs have admitted the game is too hard, but that was after E3, why isn't an improved build on show yet? That's a complete world tour with this monster now. The cars handle like they're being crushed into the ground from above and the drift mechanic is completely broken, with same application either spinning you out or just wobbling the car a little. When drifting is required to build up boost to catch up 7th place, it's a joke. The best I saw anyone, myself included, finish was 3rd out of 8. The Ridge Racer series is supposed to be a class leader at drifting, this is just painful. The new destructible scenery is too random as to what will cause you to crash or not. Some targeted building can by blasted through with a full boost, but drifting powers boosting...well it's like asking what came first, the chicken or the egg. But replace the chicken and the egg with a shite game and disinterested gamers. This needs a lot of work.Click here to read more...
Isometric twin-stick shooters are one of the most common and pervasive sub-genres around at the moment. After Geometry Wars refined Robotron's classic control scheme and made a mint, absolutely everyone fancies a piece of the simple, tasty and usually completely unfulfilling pie.
However, just because these shooters are everywhere doesn't mean that they have to lack imagination, vision or artistic flair. Two fantastic examples of were readily available to play at Eurogamer Expo's Indie Arcade - and they stood tall amongst the biggest AAA projects that took over Earls Court last weekend despite both being developed by a one-man team. If anyone tells you that Indie games are just pretentious, arty nonsense... just point them in the direction of the massive explosions, sweet mechanics and unstoppable firepower!
When massive cargo ships fall prey to alien infestation, there's only one team of armoured meatheads worth calling. The Pineapple Smash Crew. These leathernecks are armed for extreme combat, decked out with the most advanced grenade technology known to man and are very, very adorable. You can blame the isometric stylish voxel visuals for that.Click here to learn more about these adrenaline-fueled Indie superstars!
Let's cut the pre-match team talk and walk straight out on the pitch to face this week's digital opponents, shall we? Lining up in goal for the enemy is a game about racing through a 3D world in a speedboat, avoiding the motorised seafarer's most common enemy: the dinosaur.
Sharks also pop up, but sadly they're not a patch on the Megalodon and this doesn't star a rampantly heterosexual John Barrowman suggesting he chew out the nether regions of a wooden co-star.
Anyway, you can choose to either race or, if you're ambitious, build and share a track. Racing is very easy to pick up, but difficult to master, with the arrow keys controlling your craft and the R key restarting should you screw things up.
Before each race, you can see the track being 'built' in front of you, providing a quick chance to plot a course in an attempt to beat your best time, which can then be shared as a “can you do better?” challenge on Twitter, Facebook or via the old school method of copying and pasting a special link to wherever you choose.
Along your way, you can get your speed boosted with handily placed chevrons, crash into the snapping maws of the aforementioned sharks or have the dinosaurs sweeping, bobbing heads knock you off course.
Even without the addition of the social media thing, it'd be addictive stuff, but with it there's a massive incentive to keep plugging away and shaving seconds off your time. And being browser-based, it's very accessible.
So for this reason, we're going to award a totally pointless and irrelevant Game of the Week award to Super Springbreak Speedboat Hero SD.Click here to read more...
The review score itself is of debatable usefulness and importance. It is a divisive instrument: some people love the concise, instantaneous quantification of value, others detest it. I would like to approach that from a slightly different perspective, that is to say that for the reviewer it can be much the same. Assigning a numerical stamp of judgement often forces us to focus in more on a rather binary balancing of positives and negatives. The role of the consumer is such that it essentially embodies a very binary decision: Am I going to spend my time and money on this game or not? Using our own criteria to either warn or recommend can be further refined by consideration of a scalable value judgement.
The converse argument is that review scores can often promote lazy writing. An unfinished review can hide behind the significance of a numerical value and hope that in bringing the two together whatever substance that has been unable to convey through words is conveyed by this generally accepted form. Problems arise, however, when the two seem not to fit properly, often as a result of feeling on the reader's part that the reviewer has not quite justified their score in the main body text.
That happens in every medium, though, so why are games journalists seemingly more positive about their medium than others...Click here to read more...
A virtual car careened around a twisting track... controlled by nothing save the tinest movements of my eyes. Retinal biometry is nothing new, but UK gaming charity SpecialEffect had brought along their latest software and IR tech to this year's Eurogamer expo. It was instantly responsive without being wildly twitchy. Calibration only took scant seconds. As I sat motionless in my chair while attempting to add lap times to a Guinness world record attempt, I started to appreciate - if not fully understand - just how important innovations like this are to those with disabilities. Manipulating a computer is one thing as it unlocks the entire world, and being able to get involved with videogames provides an entirely new arena of social interaction and a playing field that's becoming more level with each passing breakthrough.
SpecialEffect has pledged to continually push the boundaries of accessible gaming technology and software... but how do they actually operate? What do they do with their technological marvels after they're completed deep within their Oxfordshire R&D centre? Will they licence their technology for profit - or is there something more exciting going on? I was keen to know more, and I sat down with founder Dr. Mick Dongegan to chat about the past, present and future of the charity. As it turns out, their goal is set a benchmark, a technological breadcrumb trail and beacon for other companies to follow and to actively help them make our games more accessible. To show that it can be done - and then to explain how to anyone who will listen. For nothing. For everyone.
Click here to continue reading our expose about this sensational charity >>