Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Graham Smith)

But what of the beard?

I’ve seen Adam Jensen from Deus Ex 4* and his hair is lustrous.

I like to make the time at every GDC to attend one talk I almost certainly won’t understand, because it’s useful to remind ourselves every now and then of the absurd technology that underpins the games we play. This year I picked Augmented Hair In Deus Ex Universe Projects, because not only does it fit this mission, but I thought I might get lucky and hear a few hints about Deus Ex 4.

Instead I left the talk with a question: does anyone really care this much about hair?>

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

It’s… a funny old day. Big stuff, big response, not entirely sure how to feel about it all, no clue what happens next. Personally, I’m going to try and take my mind off it. This first glimpse at the don’t worry about a thing mayhem of Just Cause 3 [official site] is probably an OK way to do that, for a few seconds at least. … [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Shaun Green)

Although winners have yet to be announced in the recent Make Arma Not War competition, the judges have published the shortlisted finalists. As a result a series of levels inspired by Hitman: Blood Money – far and away the best game in the Hitman series – have been brought to our attention. You can download ‘em over here.

There are eight Arma III [official site] levels in all, each inspired by one of Blood Money’s intricate scenarios. … [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer

I love Hitman: Blood Money. It's a game that gives you the freedom to come up with your own plan, it provides real satisfaction when your plan goes off without a hitch, and perhaps most importantly, it can turn into a mad, deliriously fun scramble when your plan completely falls apart. As  Phil pointed out earlier, you can now relive some of that fun in this series of Hitman-inspired Arma 3 scenarios by modder Helios.

There are a number of missions to choose from and many will feel immediately familiar to Hitman players. A father and son are hosting a gathering at a heavily guarded manor, and you've got to take both of them out separately. There's a opera being performed, and your target is one of the singers. A drug lord is throwing a party, and you're there to clip him, along with the guest of honor, if possible, while ducking members of his gang.

Got my target, got my poison. What am I forgetting? Oh yeah. Dozens of witnesses.

A lot of Agent 47's standard tricks are incorporated. You can steal people's clothing and wear it yourself, allowing you access to restricted areas, though the guards in the mod are pretty quick to sniff you out if walk too close to them, even disguised. You have a poison syringe you can use to quickly and quietly snuff one of your targets if you don't want to risk a shot with a silenced pistol. There are also things like weapons drops and uniform crates shown on your map, if you can manage to slip away and remain unnoticed until you reach them. And, of course, you can hide bodies.

Just gonna borrow your clothes and bury you under the concrete if that's cool.

Most importantly, these are freeform missions. Kill your target however you want, then escape to an extraction point. You start out in a safe area, usually filled with other, less-murderous guests, which gives you time to look around for your targets (they're marked by name on your screen), scope out the surrounding area and position of the guards, and find some way to slip away without causing too much suspicion. You may be able to switch off the power, giving you some additional stealth during night missions.

Man. I see soooooo many different ways to fail this mission.

As you can probably guess, blowing your cover doesn't quite lead to the madcap chases and fights you're used to in Hitman, because Arma 3 is much less forgiving in terms of bullets tearing into flesh. There won't be a long, frantic gunfight that slowly spins Agent 47 to the ground in slow motion. Get spotted and you'll get shot, get shot and your mission is most likely over right then and there.

Dang it! I knew I shouldn't have disguised myself as a hitman.

As difficult as they are, it's still a lot of fun to play these missions inside Arma 3, and they've been recreated very faithfully. Even as bad as I am at both Hitman and Arma 3, I did manage to take out my target in the opera mission and escape to the extraction zone, though it took more than a few tries.

Best of all, you can play these missions co-op with a friend. You can subscribe individually to these missions on the Steam workshop, and you'll find them listed in the 'Scenarios' section when you launch the game.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Cara Ellison)

The first time I ever wrote anything about games, it was because I was still brokenhearted about a relationship that had dissolved years ago. PC Gamer edited the 4000 word essay into a six pager about Dota in 2012 and it is still one of the best things I have ever written. But wherever I go, whatever I do, games participate in a meaningful way in many of the relationships I see. Welcome to a special edition of S.EXE: the love letters edition. Brace yourself, you are in for chop. Here are seven stories about falling in love next to a loading screen.

… [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer
Why I Love

In Why I Love, PC Gamer writers pick an aspect of PC gaming that they love and write about why it's brilliant. Today, we get into the swing, as Phil explains his love of grappling hooks.

If you go back through the Why I Love articles I've written to date—stealth on shipsTF2's Scout or playing Chinese-style opera in Audiosurf—all have, to a greater or lesser extent, been about systems or experiences that change how you traverse through a level. The Scout can double-jump. Ship-based stealth levels are tighter and more claustrophobic than their inevitable "big warehouse" counterpart. Monkey Bee has one of the most distinct middle-sections I've yet to see emerge from Audiosurf's level generator.

A satisfying traversal system isn't the only thing I look for in a game, but it is one of a few broad areas that define my taste. If I can move around a game in interesting ways, then I will probably like it. I like Prototype—a game in which you can run up, and leap off, and glide over buildings—even though a part of me suspects that it's really a bit rubbish. I'm a somewhat overweight guy in his thirties. Sometimes it's nice to tell gravity to go and do one.

There's another traversal tool that I consistently love in games: the grappling hook. My appreciation for good grappling hooks—and good here doesn't mean realistic—started with the original version of Worms. Friends and I would play multiplayer matches with a very specific set of rules: no turn timer, unlimited girders, and unrestricted access to the grappling hook (or "ninja rope," as it's called in-game). You can use the ninja rope multiple times per turn, and we gave ourselves unlimited time to make our way across the map. With these rules, a worm can travel from one side to the other—their turn ending only if they take fall damage.

That's where the girders came in. We'd place them above the level, both to protect our own guys from air strikes and to have more surfaces to grapple on to. Worms' rope mechanics are, in essence, bizarre. They're also consistent in their implementation, which led us to a great understanding of their potential. With some effort, it's possible to swing 180 degrees and beyond—eventually landing on top of the platform the worm is swinging from. The trick is to extend the rope fully, smack into a solid surface, and then retract. That maximises the speed boost from bouncing off the wall, and, with luck, propels the worm up and around. 

To anyone but those directly involved in the match, this was an unspeakably tedious spectacle. To us, it was thrilling.

Subsequent Worms games enforced turn times, essentially ruining my enjoyment of them. But a few other 2D games feature that same spirit of exploitable traversal. Trine is, intentionally or not, all about this. One of its three characters is a Thief, and her grappling hook allows for a similarly awkward battle against physics. Here, you can even grapple onto one surface, break off and re-attach to another, all while still in mid-swing. You can, on select levels, chain these swings—at times resulting in long, unbroken stretches of undulation. 

Used properly, it can be a graceful tool. But both Trine games also contain a secret hidden mini-game for grappling hook aficionados. This game is called "can I use the Thief to complete this section, even though it was obviously designed for the Wizard?" Often, the answer is yes.

At this point, I should probably point to another 2D grappling hook game—one designed entirely around swinging as the main method of level traversal. It's called Floating Point, it's free, and it was made by PC Gamer's former section editor Tom Francis. It's a more sedate grapple-space to move through, and rare in that its freedom of movement is the idea rather than an exploitable quirk in the engine. If you're here because you like grappling hooks, then it's relevant to your interests.

In three-dimensions, the grappling hook is a less sure-fire hit. Too often, it's restricted—kept to specific grapple-points in order to stop the player breaking the level in ridiculous ways. Most recently, you can see this in Far Cry 4. You have a grappling hook! You can jump from the rope and re-attach it to another point before hitting the ground! You can only do this at specifically marked points around the map. I'd like you to imagine a sort of anti-exclamation mark, and place it on the end of that last sentence.

Some games are better at it this than others, and they tend to be the ones that are more open about their freedom of movement. Arkham City's Grapnel Gun combos satisfyingly with the glide. You can't swing, but you can shoot it to build speed across the map—using it to all but fly. And then there's Just Cause 2, or Let's Do Fun Shit With A Grappling Hook: The Game. You can attach onto a plane, or to cars, or to an explosive barrel that is shooting vertically into the air. You can use it in conjunction with a parachute to create a free-form system of movement more distinct and enjoyable than any of the game's vehicles.

Maybe that's another reason why grappling hooks, specifically, are one of my favourite methods of traversal. They're inherently ridiculous. There is no way to put an unrestricted grappling hook in a game and still have it be a serious tool, because it's either inherently exploitable or inherently unrealistic. It is a jointly a tool for motion and a tool for fun. 

Case in point: the 3D version of Bionic Commando. It had a grappling hook as its central gimmick, and yet its story still felt the need for a Serious Emotional Payload. How was that done? With the late-game reveal that your bionic grapple-arm was also your wife. Your wife, who was used to create a strong emotional bond with the robo-limb.

That is dumb. But that is what happens when you try to inject emotional pathos into a game with a grappling hook—it throws off your sense of what's appropriate. At some point, a developer must have questioned whether wife-in-a-robo-arm was good storytelling. I suspect they saw their hero swinging care-free through a city and lost all sense of perspective. "Yes," this hypothetical employee thought, "it makes total sense that this bionic commando's arm is his wife."

It didn't, though. It was stupid. That's why grappling hooks can never be serious. Not true, freeform, use-'em-wherever-you-like grappling hooks. They're silly and fun—a tool for engaging with, perfecting, and enjoying the feeling of motion. They are, in practice and philosophy, the opposite of a wife in an arm.

More grappling hooks; less wives in robot arms. That feels like a strange place to end things, but also like good words to live by.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

Look no one is saying this is the new Deus Ex.

Eidos Montreal aren’t saying this is a screenshot from the next Deus Ex game, right. Today they announced the shiny new(ish) engine that’ll power their next cyberfest, and simply wanted to illustrate that with an image. This here Dawn Engine is based on “a heavily modified version” of Glacier 2, the engine IO Interactive created for Hitman: Absolution. This Dawn demo screenshot is perhaps not Newus Ex, but it is quite Human Revolution-y in its gold-washed technohole with metal walls, metal floors, and so many cables and tube lights, yet incongruously swanky furniture.

… [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer

Fluorescent tubes? Dark, yellowy palette? Derelict futurism? It's all looking a bit Deus Ex to me.

The screenshot isn't confirmed to be from a new Deus Ex game, but is an in-engine shot of the engine behind the new Deus Ex game. It's called the Dawn Engine, and it's a modified version of IO's Glacier 2—the engine powering Hitman: Absolution.

"In the past, we ve relied on existing engines for our games," writes Eidos's Sacha Ramtohul. "But in the end, we found that our creative vision was somehow limited. So we decided it was time for us to invest in creating an engine tailored for our needs."

"Keep in mind despite any hints you may pick up from this image, this screenshot was only taken in order to display the level of detail and artistic fidelity that is possible with the Dawn Engine."

Fine, fine, so it's definitely not new Deus Ex. But the upcoming Universe project is further detailed in the post.

"As you can imagine, the Dawn Engine will form the cornerstone for all Deus Ex Universe projects at Eidos-Montr al," Ramtohul writes. "Some of you have had concerns that 'Universe' meant 'MMO'. Rest assured, it does not.

"Deus Ex Universe is the name we are giving to the fictional world and the rich lore we are creating for it, which will of course include core games, as well as any other projects that will help bring the world of Deus Ex to life."

Personally, I don't really care for the transmedia fudge DE:Universe is hinting at. But "core games"? I'll take some core games, especially if they live up to the light-hell promise of the above screen.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Adam Smith)

Every Sunday, we reach deep into Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s 141-year history to pull out one of the best moments from the archive. This week, Adam’s 2012 article singing the praises of videogame cities which are more than mere reconstruction, but are built from the bricks and mortar of ideas.>

I’ve been visiting various cities recently, which always fill me with confusion and wonder, then Dishonored made me think about how much I miss Looking Glass. Put the two together and this happens. Join me in a meandering word-search for cohesion and theme in the use of the city across Thief, and the selected works of Rockstar and Charles Dickens. Be warned, there are spoilers for all three Thief games.

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

Plane-o.

Will Just Cause 3 have multiplayer? Just Cause 2‘s wonky-but-ace Multiplayer Mod showed that – surprise surprise – running and driving and flying and grappling-hooking and exploding all around an open world with your chums can be pretty fun. An actual, proper, made-with-access-to-the-source-code multiplayer mode could be something special. But Just Cause 3 won’t have one, Avalanche Studios have said. Probably. At this point of the game’s marketing campaign, it’s hard to tell how much of this is a firm declaration, how much is uncertainty, and how much is The Official Marketing Line. Don’t get your hopes up, in short. But maybe don’t be surprised. Oh, I don’t know!

… [visit site to read more]

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