All posts under Feature
Civilization: Beyond Earth

By on October 24, 2014 at 3:19 pm

Civilisation is one of those funny games that I’ll not even think about for months until one day I get a craving and I don’t leave my desk for 18 hours. Along comes Beyond Earth, so I say goodbye to my dogs and my family, install strategic caches of Doritos and Mountain Dew and settle in for the long haul.

“Civilisation: Beyond Earth?” I hear you say. “Is this just another Civ game set in space?” Well, yes and, also, no. If you’ve played any Civilisation games before, you’ll definitely find yourself in familiar territory. All the same basic mechanics are there: moving units, building your cities, researching technologies, etc. But Firaxis have done a good job of adding some exciting new elements, as well as making some of the old stuff more accessible and fun.

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Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel

By on October 22, 2014 at 11:55 am

When you’ve been overseas for a fairly long time, you start to yearn for something more familiar. Not cane sugar Coke, Tim Tams or any of that rubbish, but the basic elements of social interaction that genuinely make you feel comfortable. Deep inside the Alps about 10 years ago, homesick and lonely, the Byron Bay-born bartender at my hostel became my best friend for three hours.

Hearing a genuine Australian accent within 20 minutes of starting Borderlands: The Pre Sequel instantly gave me a rapport with the game that only a few thousand other people would share. For once, there was regional humour, slang, and jokes in a game that weren’t painfully ripped out of a failed Crocodile Dundee script, and I fully appreciated all of the touches that said “Yes, this game was made in Australia, by Australians, and we should be proud of that”. But The Pre-Sequel is the sum of all its parts, and I wouldn’t be a very good critic if my entire review was simply an acknowledgement of the fact that 2K Australia exists, would I?

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The Evil Within

By on October 21, 2014 at 2:31 pm

The Evil Within is a lot like being a teenager again. The world is full of rules that you have to follow, but all around you people are constantly breaking them and flaunting it in your face. You can use a hatchet to kill a bad guy, but then it breaks instantly for some reason. Enemies shoot at you with guns, but you can’t pick up their guns because they disappear when they’re killed. If you use a torch to burn an enemy’s body, it disappears. But if you don’t burn the body, it’ll come back to life and kill you. Oh, you hesitated and thought about it for too long. Now you’re dead.

The Evil Within is not really a game. It’s sort of an interactive punishment simulator.

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Shadow of Mordor

By on October 15, 2014 at 4:26 pm

The almost universally positive reaction to Shadow of Mordor‘s AI and Nemesis System shows us exactly why scripted narrative needs be dramatically scaled down in many titles. I have argued on many occasions, on this site and others, that the sandbox is like an engine room for creativity and unique story generation — how many more videos are there on YouTube for games like Minecraft, GTA5, Just Cause, DayZ and Rust than traditional scripted fare like The Last Of Us? While what Naughty Dog have done with TLOU is a brilliant example of how to do scripted, linear, gameplay, it doesn’t necessarily engage people in a manner that pushes them to go back or share their experiences.

It also demonstrates why their is still a need for scripting in many games – but just not every game. Here’s why.

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borderlands the pre-sequel

By on October 9, 2014 at 1:27 pm

The Australian games industry isn’t what it used to be. Between 2009 and 2011, most of the major games companies in Australia folded, sank, wrapped up, shut down, or just disappeared. Even publishers who only had a marketing and distribution presence in the country pulled out or closed up shop, leaving the country bereft of companies but awash with talented developers — many of whom left for overseas work, or started their own indie businesses.

But through it all, 2K Australia — or “Irrational Studios Australia”, as you may know it — has soldiered quietly on. The fifty-odd person team are located in sleepy downtown Canberra, but as they approach the launch of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, the baby they’ve been working on for the last year or two, they headed up to Sydney to let us have some hands-on time with it (read that here) and sit down for a chat.

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Shadow of Mordor

By on October 7, 2014 at 3:24 pm

It’s been a good year for surprises in gaming. Divinity: Original Sin turned out to be another incredible Kickstarter success story and gave us the best digital game of Dungeons & Dragons in years. Heroes of the Storm actually managed to take the DOTA formula and make it crazy accessible while still being crazy fun. Valiant Hearts: The Great War showed us that there’s always room in the release schedule for a moving tale of heroism and sacrifice told in 2D cartoon form. And when Wolfenstein: The New Order launched and it was actually really bloody good, I thought that was going to be about the top of it.

I’m very happy to be wrong.

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The people behind deal sites like Catch of the Day and Scoopon have decided to branch into digital content — music, ebooks, and most of all games. They’ve just launched their beta of their new site Didgio, which is where they’ll be advertising their deals on just those sort of delicious digital things.

To celebrate the launch, they’ve given us a bunch of codes for some great games like Dishonored, Rogue Legacy and Surgeon Simulator to give away to you! For literally free. Nothing.

Borderlands The Pre-Sequel

By on September 30, 2014 at 9:30 pm

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is a Borderlands game. I know that the word ‘Borderlands’ is in the title, but I’d like to make it clear: If you didn’t really like Borderlands 1 or 2, and you’re hoping that this latest game will make you a believer, then you’re butt-slamming up the wrong tree. The Pre-Sequel is for series fans, and pretty much unabashedly so — and that’s fine, because quite frankly in my book there’s nothing wrong with taking an existing game and making it even more outrageous.

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Civilization: Beyond Earth

By on September 29, 2014 at 3:08 pm

Beyond Earth takes that famous celebration of the human spirit and throws it out the window. This game is dark. From the ominous music at the opening menu to the loading screens of sweeping, empty void, all the way through to the constant struggle to survive against an alien world that does its best to destroy you, Beyond Earth is pleasantly grim and harsh.

And I like it.

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World of Warcraft

By on September 25, 2014 at 10:32 am

We asked the cool cats at Blizzard ANZ if we could get some of our readers into the beta for Warlords of Draenor — and they said no. But then, while they weren’t looking, we stole a bunch of papers off their desks and fled from the building, and we’re pretty sure that the random alphanumeric sequences we managed to uncover can be used as beta keys.

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Wasteland 2

By on September 22, 2014 at 1:40 pm

Let’s start by saying this – I’ve never played the original Wasteland. The beta key I received for Wasteland 2 came with a Steam copy of the original, so while the sequel was downloading, I fired up the original to do a little research.

…I guess it was probably good for the time. I’ve played more than my fair share of the early Ultima games that are in the same vein but well, I couldn’t really get into it. Apprehension sets in.

My second note is this – I don’t really like turn-based RPGs. I don’t know why. Just something about everyone standing stock still while someone runs past them or hits them with a sword has just never appealed to me.

Suddenly, I start to realise what I’ve got myself into. I’m going to play a game that has a huge fan following, based on nostalgia and legitimate good-times. And then I’m going to write a review hating on it because I’m basically primed to dislike it at this point.

What. Am. I. Doing.

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By on September 16, 2014 at 2:30 pm

There is nothing more satisfying than finding and buying a new pair of quality jeans, especially when the first pair you try on fit perfectly. For me, jeans will always be a distinctive part of my fashion repertoire, as they bridge that gap between tight slack wearing hipster and “my tie hurts” professional businessman. They are fairly season agnostic, and most importantly, no one will make passive aggressive jokes about your life choices both in front of and behind your back. They are a safe bet. It’s the reason why almost every man in the world owns at least 2 pairs and wears them almost all of the time. Next to a pair of Converse sneakers and a Blade 3 hair cut, they are about as average and conventional as life in a first world country can get.

Destiny is a pair of Levis 514 Straight Leg jeans.

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Civilization: Beyond Earth

By on September 15, 2014 at 5:10 pm

It’s been a bad time for Australians trying to buy digital games this year, with two major price rises in the last few weeks — $40 for Civilization: Beyond Earth, and $22 for Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor — and Watch Dogs for $15 earlier in May. And as we head towards the glorious Holiday Season, when all the big names finally come out to play, it’s probably going to happen at least one more time.

Each time this happens, the cycle is the same: A member of the public spots the change (it’s never, ever announced ahead of time by the publisher), we report on it, everybody is outraged, the publisher refuses to comment, we look into other ways to buy the game without getting ripped off, and then we move on. And each time I just get more and more frustrated, because nothing about these continual scenarios makes even a bit of sense.

Let’s nut this out, because honestly, it just doesn’t work.

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Batman Arkham Knight

By on September 8, 2014 at 1:05 pm

Forget Robin — Batman’s fiercest and most capable sidekick is his vehicular riot squad, his tank of ballerina nimbleness. The Batmobile is, and always has been, the single ally he can rely upon to be there for him and provide unequivocal support no matter the task or time. It makes sense, then, that when the going gets tough, it’s this most modern of chariots that takes centre stage.

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Far Cry 4

By on September 5, 2014 at 2:53 pm

Pagan Min, the villain of Far Cry 4, has all the pomp of a James Bond antagonist and all of the sly and uncompromising threat of a US drone. Clearly, he’s into some bad stuff. Clearly, he needs to be taken down. The worst part of it is that he seems to know you and expects you to join him, without any serious thought on his deadly rampage through Far Cry 4‘s fictional Himalayan state. You’re given a gun, so shoot it. Right?

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Recent Features
Civilization: Beyond Earth

Civilisation: Beyond Earth shoots for the stars but lands on the moon

Firaxis make some great strides, but not everything in the future is always better.

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel’s great humour carries it through

It may feel like the world's biggest piece of Borderlands 2 DLC, but the Pre-Sequel has a flavour all its own.

The Evil Within

The Evil Within: It’s a fine line between pleasure and pain (especially on PC)

We check out Shinji Mikami's latest punishment simulator, but buyer beware when it comes to the PC version.

Shadow of Mordor

Choose your own adventure: Why heavily scripted cinematic games need to loosen up

It's time for game developers to sit back and let the players take control.

world of warcraft warlords of draenor

World of Warcraft’s Tom Chilton talks Warlords, paid level 90 boosts, and jumping the shark

WoW's Game Director explains how they've been on, off, and all around the shark since 2004.

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