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PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to GOG adds DRM-free movies to its lineup, hopes Hollywood will join in">gogflims

GOG's hook, as we all know, is that the games it offers are all DRM-free. No logging into a service to prove your copy is legit or having to be connected to the internet to play; you just download it and do what you will. By all appearances it's been a pretty big success, and so now the gang from Warsaw is trying the same thing with movies.

There is, naturally, a certain reluctance among the big Hollywood studios to hop aboard the GOG train. "Our initial idea was to start with the big guys, but the process is not easy," GOG's North American VP Guillaume Rambourg said. "Most studio officials agreed that DRM is pointless, but were quick to add that the lawyers would not allow them to get rid of it."

Faced with that, GOG is doing something very similar to what it did with videogames: Launching with documentaries in an effort to "prove their point in practice." The initial lineup of 20 films includes the world premieres of Gamer Age, The King of Arcades and Pixel Poetry, as well as two freebies, Art of Playing and TPB AFK: The Pirate Bay Away From Keyboard. More movies will be added on a weekly basis, and all of them will be available as either a download or streamed directly from GOG.

I think it's a pretty fantastic idea. Even if GOG can't attract new releases from major movie studios, there's enough indie fare out there to allow it to carve a unique niche as a film distribution platform. And sooner or later, someone is bound to notice; let's not forget that it took a couple of years before GOG was able to sign distribution deals with major game publishers.

GOG's DRM-free movie service is live now, although the site's being hammered pretty hard at the moment, so you may have trouble logging in until the crowds clear out.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Magicmaker trailer shows build-your-own spell system, customisable wizards">Magicmaker

An email comes in for 2D RPG-platformer Magicmaker. In it appear phrases like "total wizard customization," and "poisonous exploding suns". Also a number: 2,193,360. That, according to developer Tasty Stewdios, is how many spell combinations you can potentially craft in game. Naturally, I am powerless to resist.

As you play, you'll collect materials that, through the game's crafting menu, can be inserted into spells, wands or robes upgrading heavy attack, light attack and passive defence respectively. There are multiple slots for each item, letting you completely shape your magical attack. In addition to shooting poisonous exploding suns, Tasty Stewdios also talk of burning frost lasers, iron golem armies and, of course, vampiric lightning turrets.

Oh yeah, the levels are randomly generated, too. Indie game, innit?

I'm not entirely enamoured with the art style, but I am a fan of giant, overpowered death lasers especially when they arrive via my own experimentation with a expanding set of possibilities. Instantly I want to know what the most combo looks like, and that's a powerful draw in terms of longevity, even if the platforming side of the game seems more simple.

Magicmaker will be released on Steam on 22 September. It'll be priced at 7/$10.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to SimCity mod extends maximum city size, but not without performance problems">SimCity

Previously, Maxis confirmed that they've no plan to extend SimCity's maximum city size. And so it falls to modders to help those feeling hemmed in by the game's virtual borders. Can it be done? Yes, sort of. Project Orion is such a boundary extending mod, and will let the game's mayors build free of the vanilla base limit. Don't plan a ribbon cutting ceremony for your city's east wing just yet, though, as its use will mean dealing with some pretty significant performance issues and glitches.

The mod's listing on Simtropolis runs through some of the errors, not least of which is that you can't build roads outside of the boundary without first installing a second mod. Even then, you won't be able to elevate them.

Other issues? Land value and pollution maps will be visually misaligned, meaning, among other things, that you'll need to guess the actual happiness levels for each zone based on the way the map is offset. And then there are the performance issues. As your city expands, you will likely encounter lag.

Still, the mod is in beta. It's possible that, in time, these issues will be worked out. If not, it's a case of whether the base game's restriction is worth trading for the mod's own annoyances and foibles.

Thanks to Reddit.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Warface review">Warface4

Do you remember that bit in Call of Duty? You know the one I mean. You were a guy a war guy and you ran around a corner to find another war guy running in the opposite direction. Yes! This was your moment. Your raised your RDS and sprayed hot 5.56mm NATO into his exposed back, earning you a hundred points, a kill, and a little shot of dopamine. Then, disaster! Another war guy ran around the corner behind you; the screen turned red; you died. Do you remember that bit? You must do, because it happened to everybody, everywhere, every day for the last seven years.

Warface is Crytek's free-to-play stab at Call of Duty's deathmatch formula, which it spreads across multiple modes, bundles with a thin handful of new ideas, and shackles to an ever-present storefront. Warface is the game you play if you fancy running in a circle shooting people in the back but don't want to pay full price for the privilege which is a reasonable notion and also the game that you play if you are ten years old and your parents won't buy you something better. I know that because the voices I've heard in-game have, universally, been children; on one occasion I was lucky enough to listen to someone get told off for not doing their homework. That brief moment of kitchen sink drama was the most fun I've had with Warface, a game that is otherwise as oppressively alright-I-suppose as you'd expect from the lovechild of two business models.

Warface has the quality of something that you played once in a sticky-floored arcade during a half-remembered summer holiday. It should smell of cigarettes and old carpet. It's low-rent in the way that lightgun shooters traditionally were, and it's this, rather than the Call of Duty-shaped hole it aspires to fill, that gives it a personality. It's not a substantial thing it never reaches House of the Dead or Area 51's shit-but-kitsch territory but it's something, and when Warface's angry red LED damage indicators are bursting from the body of a stricken foe there's a little of Time Crisis to the experience. You could scratch this same itch in innumerable other games, but Warface scratches it nonetheless.

You can press a button to slide along the ground on your butt and earn bonus points for killing someone while doing so. One of the better modes is a bit like Counter-Strike but with rubbish maps. There's a capable co-op mode where you fight your way through a series of warzone-themed alleyways blasting pigeon-brained AI and sometimes tangling with helicopters or mechs or tanks, an experience that scales up through a series of difficulty levels and that, in its final stages, requires some actual coordination. It's very repetitive, but it looks okay and it's free.

Then, Warface asks you to pay for something. Respawn tokens for co-op, seven-day gun rentals, skins, boosters: you are never free of ways to spend, and while there's no stopping you grinding away there's no 'purchase everything and leave me alone' button either. This is the type of free to play system designed to drain you slowly, and even if you can resist the call of booster packs and treat the game as a disposable distraction which is what you should do the storefront doggedly pursues your attention in a way that grates.

CryEngine means that this is one of the more technically impressive free-to-play games you'll encounter, but I wouldn't call it pretty, not exactly. It comes close to the bar set by the big-budget shooters it's aping, but suffers for environments and character designs that never reach beyond the deeply familiar. On the plus side, it scales well on different systems essential for a game like this to find the audience it needs and it's been built using a versatile toolset that, on paper, should allow Crytek to keep it updated with maps and modes. On the down side, powerful tools haven't resulted in particularly good maps. They're boxes to kill each other in, and in twelve hours of play I quickly became tired of running circuits around container yards.

Warface isn't terrible. I found myself easily sinking hours into it, despite having already pumped a surprising amount of time into the console version. But its successes are entirely those of other, better games. If this kind of modern military shooter is what you're looking for, you should be playing Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Or Titanfall. Or one of the earlier, better Battlefields. Or, indeed, Call of Duty. If a free competitive game on PC is what you're looking for, look further; we've got lots of them. This is a game with tame ambitions that manages to achieve a few of them. There's merit there, I suppose, but not enough to warrant a recommendation.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls patch 2.1 out now, new video rounds up its features">Diablo 3

Diablo III's first major post-2.0 patch releases today. As with other patches, 2.1.0 adds new things. But which new things? It's a question we've already answered, but should reading words be a torment on your very being to the point where this sentence, in all its selfish continuing, causes tears to run unbidden into your screaming cheeks then Blizzard have made a video. Watch that instead.

See the full patch notes here.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Minecraft map shows the entirety of Britain, and its geological features">BGS Minecraft

You may remember when Britain's Ordnance Survey recreated the entirety of the country as a Minecraft map. That was all well and good if, for some reason, you wanted to explore its top soil in a geologically removed way. But what about the peaks and troughs of the British landscape? The mountains, the cliffs, the caves filled with mole people and discarded Cliff Richard albums? To see those, you'll need a new Minecraft map this one created by the British Geological Survey.

"Inspired by the Ordnance Survey (OS) map released a year ago," says BGS, "this map shows the OS map data on the surface and the real geology beneath, right down to the bedrock. You ll be able to look over the white cliffs of Dover, climb to the top of Ben Nevis and scour over the ancient volcanoes of the Scottish Isles."

There is a point to this, and it revolves around Minecraft's continued popularity as an educational tool a fact born of the game's continued popularity with people who need educating. "This work is an outstanding opportunity to get people using Minecraft, especially youngsters, to understand the geology beneath their feet and what it can be used for," said Professor John Ludden, executive director of the BGS, in a press release.

Head to this page of the BGS website to download the map; but be mindful of the fact that the full thing is 5.4 GB uncompressed. The page also explains how they arrived at its particular block choices. Soul Sand, for instance, contains similar characteristics to peat bog. That's a comforting thought.

The big question now is which governmental organisation will be next? Maybe the Crown Prosecution Service could fill high-crime areas with mob spawners.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Dark Souls 2 ‘Crown of the Old Iron King’ DLC is out today">darksouls2dlc

Just when you thought you could relax and play something a bit less stressful, comes the second DLC pack for Dark Souls 2. Entitled Crown of the Old Iron King, it follows last month's Crown of the Sunken King pack, which offered "a whole new challenge for diehards, and a lot of content for your money," Cory Banks wrote.

According to screenshots the new environments will vary dramatically from the dank settings of the first DLC pack. "Players will venture into a massive tower swamped by black mist where flames, smoke and sorcery sadistically lurk," publisher Bandai Namco writes. Note how they use the word 'sadistically', and not 'playfully' or 'lackadaisically'.

Crown of the Old Iron King is available now for $9.99 on Steam, and will be followed by the third and final DLC pack, Crown of the Ivory King, on September 24.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Lichdom: Battlemage review">Lichdom Battlemage

I m staring into a vast desert. The subterranean streets and ice canyons from earlier levels are gone, along with their looming, claustrophobic atmosphere. The power in my hands has brought me step by step, mile by mile, to this field of dust and dark ruins. My magic finally seems strong enough to match the hatred and fear that fills the world. I m not bullied anymore, just determined. Lichdom: Battlemage lets me be exactly the kind of lightning wizard I ve always imagined cruel, merciless, and power-hungry.

A sandstorm blows in and I get just what I want when a group of enemies spawns in front of me. They were tough mini-bosses earlier in the game, but now they give me a chance to show what I can do. Lichdom s first-person camera makes every encounter feel urgent and dangerous, though, and even with a few new tricks to show these winged demons, I have to stay agile. After cursing a beast with necromancy, I trap it with a kinesis spell before charging a critical lightning strike. A few seconds later the monster is suitably crispy from all the electrostatic violence and in its place I now have a creeping minion to fight for me. Did I mention I love storm magic?

Xaviant s action RPG likes to give players several dimensions of danger to consider at the same time. Yes, it s about being a powerful magic user a battlemage but it s also about being able to use your mind to solve problems that aren t immediately obvious. Have I crafted and synthesized enough of the right spell materials to match these opponents? Is this challenge really more about defense than offense? How I was able to answer these questions became my personal test.

My success usually depends on how well I combine twitchy defensive movement with the right combination of control and destruction magic. Within each of Lichdom s eight magic schools called sigils players can craft spells from components collected on the battlefield that focus their arcane arts in one of three areas: a targeted range attack, a defensive magical shield, and an area-of-effect spell. Inside each of these subgroups is an additional layer of specialization destruction, control, and mastery. Destruction emphasizes pure damage output, while control will afflict enemies with different obstacles that slow them down or paralyze them for brief periods. Mastery is an effect that stacks damage in different situations and is vital in order to stand up to some of the game s more difficult enemies. Beyond the visually stunning spell effects, the various sigils interact with each other in mysterious and surprising ways that reward experimentation and risk-taking.

Grinding the arcane mill

The inventory system where I organize, craft, and manipulate spell components in Lichdom is both immediately familiar for its color-coded loot system as well as frustratingly cumbersome. White is the most common, with greens, blues, purples, and rare orange. There are a lot of stats to work through, and due to the checkpoint save system which forces a loot grind even when it isn t beneficial my inventory fills quickly with a mashup of different items that then demand management.

It often feels more like housekeeping than an expression of ingenuity or power on my part, but the forced accounting did push me into the crafting system to experiment and take some chances with spell types and combinations I normally avoid out of habit. By altering my approach through necromancy or the mind-control spell type called delirium, new and satisfying strategies became possible. Inventory management became a chore during the late-game period, but I appreciated being nudged toward experimentation.

Still, the checkpoints can be tiring. As pretty-looking as most of Lichdom s world is, there was more than one occasion where I grew tired of treading the same ground. Some checkpoints are placed remarkably close while others are separated by large mobs of enemies that, even when they pose no special danger, take many minutes to push through more often than not, I just wanted to get on with it. Lichdom s loot system is built around these checkpoints the more checkpoints I can link together without dying the better the spell-crafting material I get which is interesting, but when a tough mini boss has my number and the loot rarity level resets with every death, it becomes a grind that can t be avoided.

Corrupted world

I pushed through, though, and it was worth it. Lichdom s story of revenge as the hand-picked, resurrected avatar of a mysterious sorcerer named Roth is a familiar one, but Xaviant s take on evil cultists and undead monsters is told well, especially in the setting. While I stopped to collect journals and referred to them occasionally, the best parts of the story are built into the world itself: a shattered moon in the sky, a derelict underground city, the empty hulks of a long-lost fleet frozen in a glacier.

Beyond the excellent environmental storytelling, the voice acting by Jennifer Hale and Troy Baker as the female and male protagonists make them convincing inhabitants of the world. With every new game, players choose whether to play as a male or female mage, and each has seen first-hand the consequences of resisting the death-worshipping Cult of Malthus. The story is tense the pressure building in concert with my quest for more powerful magic and its take on death and resurrection manages a very strange turn or two, but in a way that made me laugh and pushed me forward.

Back in the desert, I m not done pushing through this skirmish. A pair of growling, tentacled, energy-spitting abominations arrive to test my resolve. With a quick-blinking shield built for dodging maneuvers and a handful of ghostly soldiers fighting on the front lines for me, I m more than ready. Earlier in the game, just one of these things would send me backtracking into cover. But the sand dunes give me fewer places to hide and I m tired of running my undead battalion does its job distracting them while I lance the beasts with lightning. Standing over their vaporized remains, I m happy with my work. It s the kind of moment that makes up for all the sweat and toil that came before.

Lichdom is a sharp-looking, complex take on sorcery. Its classic story of wizarding revenge and challenging magic system encouraged me to devise new ways to burn, smash, and corrupt my enemies. The cost for all that fun is a lot of trial-and-error learning and tedious inventory management, but it s a price my storm wizard was happy to pay.


Price: $40/ 30

Release date: Out now

Publisher/Developer: Xaviant

Multiplayer: None

Link: xaviant.com
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Dragon Age: Inquisition cooperative multiplayer won’t be tied to single-player campaign">Dragon Age: Inquisition

Mass Effect 3 multiplayer was a blast, but I never stopped being annoyed at how BioWare made it almost mandatory to the single-player experience. Fortunately, Dragon Age: Inquisition is doing things a little differently: It will offer cooperative multiplayer for up to four players, but BioWare's Mark Darrah promised that the single-player game will not be dependent upon multiplayer.

As revealed by IGN, Dragon Age: Inquisition multiplayer will feature three campaigns at launch, each of which will randomly generate a large area of several individual sections to fight through. Each of these sections will have variable elements that can change with each playthrough, a system intended to give multiplayer a high degree of replayability, and combat will take place exclusively in real-time, so players who stick with the turn-based tactical mode in single-player will have to think and act a little more quickly than they're used to.

The game will include nine multiplayer heroes at launch, and "lots of DLC, lots of new heroes and levels" are planned for the future, according to Producer Scylla Costa. There's no plan to introduce subscription fees for access to additional multiplayer content, but players who don't want to grind to unlock it can purchase Platinum, an "optional time saver" currency, to get to the good stuff more quickly.

And no, singleplayer content is NOT locked behind MP.— Mark Darrah (@BioMarkDarrah) August 26, 2014

It all sounds very much like Mass Effect 3 multiplayer kill stuff, collect gold, use it to buy "treasure chests" containing equipment, potions, recipes and that sort of thing but one big difference is that you won't suffer any penalties if you choose to ignore it. "Singleplayer content is NOT locked behind MP," Dragon Age Executive Producer Mark Darrah tweeted. Responding to a "disappointed" follower, he added, "I get that. We didn't want to force anyone to play MP, though."

A wise choice. Dragon Age: Inquisition comes out on November 18.

PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to The Evil Within voice cast boasts Rorschach, Dexter’s sister and Cullen Bohannon">The Evil Within

Don't be surprised if you hear some familiar voices while playing through The Evil Within: Bethesda Softworks has released a new "Voices of Evil" trailer revealing three well-known actors who will take on the game's most prominent roles.

Bethesda announced today that the "lead protagonist" of The Evil Within, veteran police detective Sebastian Castellanos, will be voiced by Anson Mount, known for playing Cullen Bohannon on AMC's Hell on Wheels. His partner, junior detective Juli Kidman, will be played by Jennifer Carpenter, who portrayed Debra Morgan, sister to the lead character in AMC's serial killer thriller Dexter. Finally, Jackie Earle Haley, best known as Rorschach of The Watchmen, will provide the voice of Ruvik, the game's evil antagonist.

(Yuri Lowenthal is also in the cast as detective Joseph Oda; Bethesda said Lowenthal will be familiar to the "anime crowd," but apparently that doesn't rate inclusion in trailer.)

"One of the most crucial elements to any successful survival horror game is the setting and sound, which includes the depth and authenticity of the voice acting," designer Shinji Mikami said in a statement. "We brought together a great cast of experienced actors to help ensure that players really believe our characters emotions and the tension they feel in every scene."

I'm actually not a big fan of hiring Hollywood talent to provide voice work for videogames. The name recognition factor may have some PR value but I don't recall any instance in which it really made a positive difference to a game, and in some cases it's even a distraction, like when Patrick Stewart played Emperor Whatshisface in Oblivion. Jackie Earle Haley is pretty cool, but can he really bring anything to the game that a relatively anonymous voice acting pro couldn't?

The Evil Within comes out on October 14.

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