All posts under Feature

By on November 11, 2014 at 6:31 pm

The day Dragon Age: Inquisition finished downloading, I woke up at 6:30am. I was experiencing that rare feeling that I hadn’t felt since Christmas Day as a kid — I literally couldn’t sleep for the excitement. That first day, I don’t think I even stopped playing until after dark — over 12 hours in one sitting, I am ashamed and impressed to admit. Not only was I incredibly excited, but DA:I delivered.

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legacy of the void-concept art

By on November 11, 2014 at 1:49 pm

It’s difficult to process that the end of the StarCraft, the journey of Kerrigan’s betrayal, Raynor’s stubborn resistance and the refusal of Aiur to completely fall, courtesy of the Dark Templar’s various interventions, is nigh. The threads cobbled together over the last 16 years, much like the forces that banded together to stave off the Overmind, the Confederacy, the UED, Kerrigan, rebel Protoss tribes and Kerrigan a few more times, will finally be resolved.

I’m not ready for StarCraft to end, and that’s perhaps I haven’t connected with the Wings of Liberty or Heart of the Swarm campaigns. It’s not just the sense of finality and closure from StarCraft and Brood War, but the more convincing predilection for drama throughout.

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call of duty: advanced warfare

By on November 10, 2014 at 9:13 am

The notion of soldiers in powered exoskeleton suits running fast, jumping high and disappearing from sight isn’t exactly new to the world of video games: Crysis has been churning it out since 2007, and more recent titles like Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Titanfall have added their voices to the mechanical chorus.

And so it is that in 2014, industry juggernaut Call of Duty has finally maneuvered its gargantuan bulk around to the idea of powered exoskeletons that can run fast, jump high, and turn invisible. “POWER CHANGES EVERYTHING” trumpets the slogan of Advanced Warfare, but the reality on the ground is that power changes… very little at all.

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overwatch preview

By on November 9, 2014 at 11:40 am

I still remember the day my father confronted me in the family study and screamed until he was black and blue because I, a foolish 10 year old, had the temerity to acquire a copy of the original StarCraft on more than 20, 3 and a ½ inch floppies from a family friend. Understandably, my gift for Christmas that year was a copy of the StarCraft Battle Chest and, a year later, I’d end up playing a multiplayer game of StarCraft with my dad on the slowest speed possible.

It’s a memory that makes me smile not just because of the ironic way StarCraft allowed me to bond with my father, but because of the evocative way it reminds me how games can touch people’s lives. When I think of Blizzard, it’s the juxtaposition of those screams and my soft explanation of game mechanics a year later that immediately springs to mind. That moment, in my mind, is quintessentially Blizzard.

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By on November 7, 2014 at 10:12 pm

It sure is Halo.

Two years ago I said the greatest praise and strongest criticism I can level at Halo 4 is that it sure is Halo. Don’t I feel foolish now. What could be more Halo than a packaged presentation of the four numbered Halo games into one graphically overhauled, easy to navigate game for the Xbox One? Suddenly you can revisit all of the Master Chief’s greatest hits at your pleasure, all of them broken down by level, some of them rebuilt again in 1080p.

What I’m reviewing of Halo: The Master Chief Collection is only part of the overall package — what many will buy it for is access to Halo: Nightfall and the Halo 5 beta, but these things aren’t a part of the experience yet. So consider this very timely review mildly hamstrung, and expect the meat of the review to come some time next week.

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hand of fate

By on November 6, 2014 at 3:21 pm

Let’s get this out of the way first: there were a ton of indie games at this year’s PAX, much more so than last year, and we did not get to play them all — or even close to them all. So first of all, our apologies to those who we did not get to visit. And out of those we did get to visit, we cannot write about them all, so apologies to those who are not here.

So, here’s a list of some of our favourite indie games on display this year — with the reminder that there are many more out there to check out.

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PAX Aus 2014

By on November 4, 2014 at 3:49 pm

Our headline for the wrap-up article on last year’s inaugural PAX Australia said it all — great convention, awful venue. Plagued by horrible public transport, unworkably small spaces and insanely long queue times, it was a testament to the positive culture surrounding the event that it managed to be fun in spite of those restraints.

A year later, and PAX Australia is back — this time at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. Does the change of venue bring a change of hearts?

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Dragon Age Inquisition

By on November 4, 2014 at 12:30 am

I’m pretty primed to love Dragon Age: Inquisition, let’s be honest. I’ve loved basically every BioWare game ever since they became a thing, and when everyone else was pointing out the faults on Dragon Age 2 — and let’s face it, there were a few — I was the guy saying, “Yeah, that bit kinda sucked, but what about this bit!”

So, anything I say about the Dragon Age: Inquisition hands-on I experienced on Thursday last week should probably be taken with a heavy dose of delicious salty salt.

Omigaaaawwwd, Dragon Age: Inquisition is amaaaazing!

Seriously, though, I had about two hours to play with it — and every second was an improvement on DA2.

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Icewind Dale Enhanced Edition

By on October 30, 2014 at 5:30 pm

When Icewind Dale originally released in 2000, oh my, I just about pooped my little fourteen year old pants. Having just discovered those awful Drizzt books and thinking they were just about the most amazing thing, there I was, casually browsing EB Games (or Electronics Boutique, as it was known then) my little heart stopped to see those words out here in the real world.

Icewind. Dale.

So here we are, another fourteen years later, and Beamdog have waved their enhancing wand over the ol’ Ten Towns to bring us Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition. But there are key differences you need to understand when it comes to IWD: EE, especially when comparing it to other Beamdog enhancements like Baldur’s Gate 2.

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By on October 29, 2014 at 9:15 am

For those of you unlucky enough not to be busy at PAX Australia 2014 all this weekend, here’s a little consolation prize for you: the Evolve Big Alpha is on, and you can take part in it.

2K have given us a key that 500 lucky users can redeem to be in with a chance to play in the alpha — check out the instructions below. It’s not a guarantee of entry but it will give you a better chance than random applicants. Take a look!

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Dirty Bomb

By on October 28, 2014 at 11:34 am recently attended an event in London hosted by Splash Damage for some good ol’ hands-on time with their new team-based competitive shooter, Dirty Bomb.

As Joab discovered, the game is shaping up to be a mix of all the best bits of Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, Team Fortress 2 and Brink, with even a few dashes of the MOBA formula thrown in as well.

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By on October 27, 2014 at 6:07 pm

“I’m not one of the nuts-and-bolts guys, but doing a one-year-out title on hardware is much easier than launch titles, I’ll give you that.” That’s what Insomniac’s Marcus Smith, Creative director on Sunset Overdrive told me when I asked him about working on an Xbox One exclusive. Smith’s answer makes sense, but unfortunately he inadvertently referenced one of the key criticisms that can be levelled at Sunset Overdrive: it feels like a launch title (albeit a very polished and slick launch title).

Sunset Overdrive has a lot of heart, stemming from the impassioned creative vision of Smith and his team. Smith grew up listening to punk rock, and has always dreamed of making a game based on his own IP. “It’s a bucket-list sort of thing, working on your own IP is huge,” he said. It shows.

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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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