Since we’ve all got some extra time on your hands these days I thought I’d do something a little different and rundown what I think are the best deals on the Epic Store’s Mega Sale which is running until June 11th.
Sometimes I miss the clarity of being on a mountain bike hurtling down a hill, swerving around trees, carving up berms and nailing jumps. I miss that beautiful clarity where your entire mind shrinks down to a single, overwhelming thought: this is going to really fucking hurt. And it does. It really, really does. I loved downhill mountain biking, but I hated going back up the hills and I was never all that good at it, so I gave up the sport before it forced me to give up on having all my bones intact. Happily I can live vicariously through videogames, so here I am reviewing Shred 2! Ft. Sam Pilgrim.
I’m not saying that the pressure of lockdown forced me to the tape my family to the ceiling, but I am saying that I need to repaint my ceiling. Yes, I’m back, back again (and listening to some Eminem) and lockdown is a confusing mess as Boris Johnson says one thing and Wales, Ireland and Scotland say completely different things. Should people go back to work or stay at home? Can you drive places or not? Is being in the park okay or will you get yelled at by the police? Nobody knows! So I think I’ll just stay inside and play more games. Seems like the safest choice, really.
I guess it’s not surprising that a game about slamming huge meat-slabs into cover before gunning down Locus translates so well into genre that’s about slamming into cover and gunning down bad guys. It would be easy to write it off as nothing more than a basic XCOM reskin if Splash Damage hadn’t done such a damn good job of making it feel like a Gears game through and through. The production values for a game within this genre are nothing short of lavish, with cutscenes being up to Gears 5 standards and actual gameplay being able to pass itself off as one of the main games when it zooms into an over-the-shoulder viewpoint. From the stellar sound design to the way special abilities mirror the main series, Gears Tactics feels like a lot more than just some cheap XCOM clone wearing bulky armour and running around with a chainsaw strapped to a gun.
The world might be in the middle of a pandemic that’s forced us all to huddle inside while stuffing our faces and watching Netflix, but there’s one glowing beacon of hope: thirteen years after the last adventures of Gordon Freeman we have finally got a new Half-Life. Except, it’s not Half-Life 3, it’s a prequel. And it’s in VR, so you might not be able to play it. What we have is Half-Life: Alyx, a prequel to Half-Life 2 and a very obvious passion project from Valve. This is a game designed for virtual reality and built to the highest standards. I’d actually be surprised if Valve made a profit on Half Life: Alyx because it looks and feels like a lot of money was sunk into its creation, versus the relatively small audience that can buy it. But that doesn’t matter right now. All we need to know is just how good is Half-Life: Alyx?
Somehow we’ve made it into a whole new decade. It’s 2020 now, and that’s problematic because I’m still struggling to remember that it’s not the early 2000’s. But anyway, with the coming of a new year means reflection on the last one. I’ve seen some people who appear quite disappointed with 2019, and while I’d certainly agree it wasn’t a vintage year there were still a lot of awesome games released. And I’m going to subject you to the horror of having to read my list of which ones I thought were the best of the best, the creme of the crop, the champions of 2019.
First, a very happy New Year to everyone out there! And if you don’t celebrate New Year, then I hope you have a very happy whatever day this is. It’s honestly boggling my mind that we’re moving into a whole new decade. Hell, I still think 2000 was like ten years ago. It’s an exciting, crazy time. I’ve been reflecting a little on what the last decade has brought in gaming, from the good to the bad. We’ve seen the rise of loot boxes, season passes and various other forms of monetization, the domination of games like Fortnite and wonderful pieces of art like God of War, The Last of Us and The Witcher 3. And of course in 2020 we’re going see the new generation of consoles hitting the market.
The seething mass of bodies all packed into one place is a stark reminder of just how big games have become since I was but a lad in the ’90s where it was still seen, along with comics, as a geeky hobby. Now it seems everyone plays games, either casually on a phone or tablet for a few minutes a day or on a custom PC that costs a terrifying amount of money. Games are just part of everyday life now, and conventions are springing up all over the place. Now there are people from all walks of life celebrating a medium that has gone from strength to strength. Walking the concrete floors are kids, teenagers, moms, dads, businessmen, grandfathers, grandmothers and more. There are no barriers now that games have gotten almost complete mainstream acceptance, and it’s amazing to see.
In the past, I’ve often failed to see the appeal of gaming orientated laptops, largely because their battery life is so short that taking one on a train journey or something seems a bit pointless if there’s no nearby wall socket handy. Still, sitting in the middle of the woods playing The Witcher 3 is kind of cool. The laptop I was using to do this is the ST-Plus from Thunderobot, a predominantly western company who are now seeking to move into the eastern market with their products. As this is my first laptop review let’s see if I can muddle through this with my already limited dignity intact.
I’ll be the first to admit that while I previously found the idea of a mat for boardgames appealing it was never something I considered actually owning for myself because it always felt like a frivolous purchase made by people who have far more disposable income than myself. Now, though, I have to admit that having a mat made gaming a lot more comfortable. So let’s check out the Big Viking Mat, eh?