Posts in "All News" channel about:
AI War: Alien Bundle
Aug 15, 2011
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - firstname.lastname@example.org (Alec Meer)
There’s no looking back for A Valley Without Wind now – its new,
I’m still not entirely sure what to think about the side-on perspective, but it’s definitely growing on me. As it is, this is a game I’m increasingly excited about – procedurally-generated world-roaming with, apparently, a proper layer of game on top of it.
May 18, 2011
Welcome back to Cheap this Week, our round up the best deals in gaming every Wednesday. Here you'll find all sorts of delicious discounted gaming treats, compiled for your consideration. If one dose of cheap games a week isn't enough for you, SavyGamer.co.uk is constantly updated with offers plucked from bargain bins the world over.
Here are this week's deals:
I'm in the camp that preferred the first of the two Crysis games, but stomping around New York City in a power suit in the sequel was still hugely entertaining, and a league above most other FPSs.
I was just disappointed that the huge open levels and the chaos they led to were missing in favour of very wide highly detailed corridors. Likely a concession to get the game running on today's aging consoles.
Video: Shooting men.
Plain Sight, PC - £2
Hot off the press, this deal will be going live at some time just after 6pm. I'm not sure if they will be discounting the 4 Pack too, but it seems likely.
This discount coincides with an update released yesterday, with numerous bug fixes, tweaks to the perk system, and balancing. Patch notes here.
Quintin gave this a solid 8/10 when it came out a year ago. He said:
"There's nothing for it but to accept Plain Sight for what it is - a fun, smart, inventive action game that comes with a big grin and a cheap price tag."
And since that price tag is even cheaper than usual, I'd say it's time to get your robot on.
Splinter Cell: Conviction, Xbox 360 - £6.99 delivered
These are unsealed, but new. Not my favourite of the Splinter Cell series by a long shot, but at this price it's worth a go. Simon wasn't massively impressed when he reviewed it either:
"Where once players were free to tackle Splinter Cell's enemies in myriad, improvised ways, now the options are more limited, traded for an upped tempo that's more Arkham Asylum than Metal Gear. At its best, Conviction is played as a high-stakes puzzle game, taut and thrilling when everything is going your way. But when cover is broken, the floodlights go up to reveal a mediocre shooter. Perhaps the greatest irony of all is that Splinter Cell: Conviction appears brightest in the dark."
The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition, Xbox 360 400 MS Points (Xbox Live Gold subscribers only).
Classic point and clicker that, er, I didn't really like. Perhaps I need to give it another go, but it didn't really tickle my funny bone. Dan had this to say of the modern prettied up remake in his review:
"These bare bones form the skeleton of a truly marvellous game, however, and one that everyone should play. While it would be nice to have a more robust package, simply having such an unmistakable classic back in active circulation where new players can discover its dazzling inventiveness and giddy humour is victory enough."
This offer is available until next Tuesday, and if you're in need of MS Points, Amazon are currently doing 2100 for £14.99 delivered.
Video: The making of the remake.
Deal of the week
AI War: Alien Bundle, PC/Mac £16
Here's the complete version of the dead clever intergalactic strategy game, AI War. Included is the original AI War: Fleet Command, and the three expansions: The Zenith Remnant, Children Of Neinzul and Light of the Spire. Everything has been individually discounted too (see here).
You can either download them straight from Arcen's website, or the serials will optionally register on Steam.
Phill had this to say of Fleet Command in his review:
"The heart of AI War is in its asymmetrical nature, but that uniqueness permeates the entire game, from the way each fight works to your overarching strategy. There's an element of discovery in it that is partly due to the procedural nature with which the galaxies are created, but also down to the incredible amount of options each time you create a game."
Also of note this week...
- Age of Booty, Xbox 360 200 MS Points. Xbox Live Gold subscribers only.
- East India Company Collection, PC - £2.98 delivered
- Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition, PS3 - £21.85 delivered
- Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition, Xbox 360 - £21.85 delivered
Feb 15, 2011
Shhh! Keep it down, would you? And don't read so loud, it's upsetting. Not to me, no. But to it. That big, angry, metaphorical eye sweeping the galaxy, just waiting for an excuse to get up off its arse and clean the insignificant smudge that is human existence off the windscreen of its war machine.
You're humanity's last hope, because you're the last of humanity. You're given a single chance to reclaim the galaxy, and there's one giant, obscene obstacle in your way: the AI. Think Terminator or the Matrix; think any sort of sci-fi where the computers take over and you've got yourself the premise of AI War. Except this time, the battle is fought over the entire galaxy, over dozens of them. You've got to take it all back and the AI can stop you at any time. You've just got to piss it off enough to think you're a genuine threat.
This is Buckaroo, only the stakes are a little higher, and the scale is cosmic. Each little piece of detritus you're littering over that angry donkey is a star system, a data bank, a factory. At any point, you might well take one thing too many, and suddenly, in the top left of your screen, a little message is going to pop up. It's not going to be a pleasant sort of message. It will read something like this:
"30,000 ships headed towards your system in 5:00."
That timer at the end is going to start ticking down and you're going to frantically start to build up your defences, except somewhere, in the back of your mind, you're going to know it's not enough. It'll never be enough. You recall all your ships, from everywhere, to try to mount some kind of realistic defence, but somehow they seem to be moving slower than usual, or maybe it's just because this is so much more urgent and your mind is wanting, no, needing, them to move faster. And oh God the AI ships are here and we're all going to die.
That's AI War at its climax. Well, one of its climaxes. This happens so often, with you barely scraping through each time, that if you aren't a frayed mess of overloaded nerve endings, you're probably just as much a machine as the one you're fighting.
You always start with a single system. This is your home base, with your command station, and the last remnants of humanity held in huge cryogenic pods, hovering in stasis until you can provide them with the safety of an AI-free galaxy. The system is littered with wormholes leading to other systems. It's through these that you send your troops. It's also from these that the enemy attacks.
The actual mechanics of the battle are deceptively simple. Beyond the odd shield here and there, most ships can be divided into a few base types, such as bombers, frigates and fighters. However, figuring out the best configuration doesn't boil down to what to build (everything), but what to research, because research points are like gold dust, and spending them badly could spell your doom.
For the most part, though, you're limited to the ships you start out with. Sometimes, you'll find an advanced research station in an AI system, which will unlock a new ship type, or sometimes there'll be a fabricator which can pump out a single ship type. These sudden blips of variation are one of the most compelling factors in keeping you playing.
If all the AI systems were the same, you'd fall into a very monotonous, very dull game very quickly. Even with the sudden huge waves coming in, that element of discovery plays a huge part in creating a compelling game, and perhaps more importantly, a compelling narrative. This is space opera at its finest; we're dealing with the fate of humanity, after all. So when you take an AI system, and find a huge, half-deteriorated Hive Golem, suddenly your eyes light up like a child at Christmas.
A Hive Golem is a huge, moon-sized spaceship that creates hundreds of swarm ships inside it constantly, only to spew them out at the enemy when you send it in to attack. It has an insane number of hitpoints, and needs to be repaired and then powered, before you can use it. When I was a little shy of the power required to fire one up, I got a wave warning: it was headed to the system where the Golem was, but it wasn't a crazy number of ships. With enough defence, I fended them off without too many casualties, almost bemused at how easy it had all been. It was only when I zoomed out and had a look around the system that I realised what the AI had been up to.
The Golem was just a bunch of scrap. The AI had sent all those ships, sacrificed them, to take the Golem out before I could use it. Before I could even power it up.
The AI, it seems, is a colossal bastard.
And I'm so very grateful that's the case. In a game called AI War, you might expect it, but having a competent opponent one who isn't just sending wave after wave against you is wonderfully refreshing. Precise raids like that, along with the sudden, worst-timing-possible raids, let you know that the AI knows what it's doing. It knows when you're on the back foot, where you're weak, where to strike to really screw with your things. And this is on the default difficulty, of which there are near infinite permutations. Not only can you set a specific difficulty value, but there are also AI 'personalities'.
You can set it to be overly aggressive, perhaps sacrificing the safety of its systems to take you out. You can have it creating beachheads in your systems before it moves on with the offensive. With the game's two expansions, the number of different variations of AI type is around 40, each with their own unique use of items and ship types.
There are so many variables, in fact, that you'll be able to find a configuration that compliments you, regardless of how you like to play your strategy games. There's even a bunch of special events you can switch on and off, like human colonies rebelling against the AI control. If you save them before the insurrection is over, you'll get a nice bonus, and it'll count down the AI Progress a little. Fail, and the AI will just get a little bit more pissed off with that smudge we call the human race and it might decide to lash out.
One of the brilliant things about AI War is quite how clear it makes everything you're doing. Each little thing that pisses the AI off lights up as a status message, letting you know quite how much anger it's causing. Managing that AI Progress number is a fine art, requiring you to really pick your targets, rather than go all out and relentlessly expand into each and every system. It's a balancing act, with your own strength on one side, and the AI's opinion of you on the other. Piss it off before you're ready to face it, and you're going to get squashed.
That moment, when you're finally in a position to turn the tables, is about as glorious as gaming gets. Your fleet will be a huge, pulsating swarm of tiny bombers and fighters, and larger, more impressive starships, the lines of their boosts creating spiralling weaves of light covering the space between the ships. It'll be an unstoppable force, tearing a swathe through the galaxy, homing in on the AI's Command Station. And when that last remnant is taken out, you can finally, resolutely, breathe a sigh of relief, before starting up a whole new campaign. Perhaps with some friends, this time.
AI War supports up to eight players playing co-operatively, with synchronised saves and even drop in/out support, so you don't have to have the same eight players for the whole campaign. Naturally, the AI response to this increased threat is more waves of ships attacking more frequently, but when you've got a bunch of buddies to come and reinforce you, the drama of each conflict is ramped up in turn.
Since AI War's first release in 2009, developer Arcen Games has barely let a day go by without some tweak to the game, however major or minor. It's currently on 5.0, each integer marking some massive overhaul. The level of attention this one single game has been receiving is nothing short of astonishing, not to mention the fact that it's recently hit its third expansion, each of which add multiple new AI types and ships, and, with the latest, a campaign story mode.
The heart of AI War is in its asymmetrical nature, but that uniqueness permeates the entire game, from the way each fight works to your overarching strategy. There's an element of discovery in it that is partly due to the procedural nature with which the galaxies are created, but also down to the incredible amount of options each time you create a game.
You might think it would detract, making it all seem a little too randomised and chaotic, but the strength of the game is in its mechanics, rather than the terrain. Space is just space. It's nothing until you fill it up with something glorious.
Feb 14, 2011
Product Release - Valve
Jan 28, 2011
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - email@example.com (Quintin Smith)
Today, Arcen Games wants you to get in spire(d). Light of the Spire is the biggest expansion for AI War to date, and with its release today it brings with it the series’ first story-driven campaign, a new Defender mode that should take “minutes instead of hours” to play, new AI types, new factions, new music and 180 new ships, which is great, as I was just sat here thinking that AI War really needed even more sodding ships. Just look at the size of the update they released back in October! Madness. (more…)
Nov 29, 2010
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - firstname.lastname@example.org (Lewie Procter)
It’s Saturday, so that means it’s time for another…..Hang on, it’s not Saturday! Never mind. The lovely folk over at Arcen games have just sent word that they are lopping off an entire 60% off all of their games. Not only does buying DRM-free direct from the developers come with a free warm fuzzy feeling deep in your belly, but in this instance you can (optionally) also use the code you get from Arcen to register the games on Steam if you prefer. Best of all worlds. (more…)
Nov 4, 2010
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - email@example.com (Quintin Smith)
Christ. Not last week I posted about Arcen Games’ colossal update of their maximalist space strategy game AI War, which included hundreds of new ships and porting the entire game to a new engine. Guess what? They’ve just announced a new pay-for expansion, Light of the Spire, will be released next month. Arcen say they’ve got some “some seriously cool ideas for this one, too”.