I think I’ve finally lost all sense of time. So far I’ve been wrong about what day it is for five days running, and was baffled to discover that it’s apparently June. And according to the newest information from the Scottish government they are advising that I carry on shielding to the end of July, meaning I’m meant to stay indoors as much as humanly possible. So…just life as normal, really.
Like most kids I was pretty sure that my local pool probably had a massive killer shark lurking in its depths. That didn’t stop me from loving swimming, but I was always wary about the toothy death that could potentially be waiting for me. I blame Jaws for that, of course. Over the years a lot of films and media have painted sharks as terrifying creatures of the sea that will devour anything and everything. But there haven’t been a whole lot of shark based games, for some reason. So when Maneater began circling, a self-proclaimed shark RPG, how could I not be interested?
Before We Leave is built on the basic principles of the classic 4x genre, except it’s actually more of a 3x game. It eschews combat an violence entirely, focusing solely on the other three Xs: explore, expand and exploit. It describes itself as a “non-violent city-building game set in your own cosy corner of the universe.” But can we really enjoy a strategy game without the ever-present threat of war and annihilation? Can we truly be content living peacefully? I mean, how will I be entertained without chainsawing someone in half?
A few years ago we got TT Isle of Man: Ride on the Edge, a game intent on bringing the madness of the real event to the medium of videogames for all us bike fans. It had some problems, but I wound up loving it nonetheless. Now, we’ve got a sequel. But what improvements has it brought? Is TT Isle of Man: Ride on the Edge 2 a sequel worthy of standing on the podium?
Good old-fashioned revenge is the driving force behind hundreds or possibly even thousands of books, movies and videogames. It’s something we can all understand; the desire to get revenge on those who have wronged us. It’s a theme often found within Westerns in particular, so it’s not surprising that Bloodroots has a Western twang to its tale of Mr. Wolf, a killer who gets betrayed by his own gang known as the Blood Beasts. But Mr. Wolf doesn’t stay dead. He somehow manages to bring himself back from the brink and begins to hunt his former gang-mates down, intent on putting them 6ft under.
Describing a game as a mash-up of other titles is often regarded as lazy writing, and I should know because I do it all the time. However, sometimes it’s appropriate because Spellforce 3 is Baldur’s Gate meets Age of Mythology and in its mixture of RPG leveling and RTS base-building you can find mechanics taken from numerous games from across the years. It’s like a Frankenstein’s monster, all stitched together, a little rough around the edges, prone to getting in trouble with local villagers and yet has a heart of gold. Or at least, the heart of somebody.
The mighty Roman Empire is ingrained in my head, such a big role it has played in history. But while many people can envision marching columns of Roman troops conquering everything they came near there are huge swathes of their history that is much lesser known. It’s in one of these lesser-known eras that Numantia has settled its strategic routes, telling a tale firmly entrenched in reality and embellished with a few heroic characters.
Oh, adventure games! As a colossal part of my childhood, their modern resurgence has done my heart good. Suddenly we’re back to the days of witty dialogue, fun puzzles and mad stories complete with modern graphics. The downside of this comeback, though, is that it also shows how little adventure games have really come over the years. Darkestville Castle is a prime example of this, a point and click title that has the witty dialogue, fun puzzles and mad stories complete with modern graphics, but that doesn’t ultimately feel any different from something like Monkey Island released all those years ago.
The problem with creating a new game every year that’s based on a real sport is that eventually each game starts to feel a bit similar. Without any huge shake-ups in the sport the developers are left to twiddle their thumbs. To their credit, Codemasters have at least attempted to do a few new things, but their efforts have been inconsistent over the years. Now, though, they’ve gone and done it. They’ve made their best F1 game to date.
Y’know, reviewing Community Inc. has proved harder than I first imagined. Every time I find a problem or issue or little niggle the developers are already promising to fix it in the next patch, or indeed already have fixed it by the time this review is ready to go, leaving me to once again sigh and edit the damn thing. Of course, this is to the developer’s credit; they’re incredibly active on the Steam forums and have been taking on board all the various bits of feedback. People mentioned, for example, that they didn’t like how farmers wouldn’t collect crops without being manually told to do so and the developers quickly added that to the list of upcoming changes. EDIT: Wait, they’ve actually changed it in an update as I wrote this.