PC Gamer
Painkiller Hell and Damnation review thumb

Nostalgia is a dangerous creature, and Painkiller has been shackled to it. The result – game mechanics, enemy AI, dialogue, stereotypes, enemies – all come from embracing gaming’s distant past. The result isn’t as pretty as you might remember.

The plot takes a particular pounding. Daniel, the grizzled hero of this remake of 2004’s Painkiller, has to kill seven legions of demons so that Death will return him to his beloved Catherine, whom he killed in a car crash. He only manages 6,999 souls, so the deal’s off. I’m sure that this doesn’t constitute a spoiler: that’s the majority of the plot.

Daniel collects his souls, armed with a suitably 1990s arsenal of weapons with arbitrary limitations. Guns that fire all their bullets at once, guns that fire really slowly, crap guns with great alternative fire. This game adds one new one, a disc / leech gun, which can be used to temporarily turn enemies to your side. It’s fine, but you’ll still use the rocket launcher/minigun whenever you’ve got the ammo.

The addition of co-op is minor, but makes the game a whole lot easier . When the enemies eventually chip your health down, you spend a short time as a ghost until an unspecified point when you respawn, assuming your partner is still alive. I had no problems connecting to PvE, cooperative or player vs player games – but there was substantial lag in larger levels, such as the fun park. The varied new multiplayer modes (capture the flag, team deathmatch, duel, deathmatch) are welcome, albeit totally unoriginal.

Co-op makes life a lot simpler.

Yet all the multiplayer in the world can’t detract from the disastrous tedium of fighting the singleplayer enemies. When monster AI is restricted to making creatures run directly at you, and you have a spinning blade that instakills most foes, combat becomes a brainless farce. I demand that someone puts a Benny Hill tune on the co-op mode, as the thrash metal soundtrack just kills the potential humour.

Painkiller was praised for two things: the themes of its levels, which this edition has the best 14, and the giant boss enemies, which thankfully also return. They’re not as impressive as they once were, especially compared to modern equivalents in Borderlands 2 or Bulletstorm, but they’re still a challenge to beat.

Painkiller is a familiar game, with such a loyal fanbase, that it’s sad that both have been bled white by endless expansions over the years (every time by a different developer). This latest rejuvenates the series by rebuilding it in the Unreal 3 engine, but a lot more work would be required to bring every element up to modern standards. Amazingly, there are still familiar bugs that haven’t been fixed – enemies getting stuck behind obstacles being the most regular. If you want a brainless, unrefined and short shooter, go right ahead – but don’t say I didn’t damn you.
PC Gamer

Here's some good news to make you forget about that perplexing Company of Heroes movie: the closed beta for the long-awaited RTS sequel is set to launch "shortly after the New Year". That's the word from a CoH2 forum post dug up by IncGamers, which was accompanied by a new developer diary. You'll find that entrenched beneath the break.

If you can't wait until 2013 (or you believe that a fiery comet is going to obliterate the Earth in a couple of weeks), there will also be a limited Alpha Stress Test next week, details of which will be made available soon. The closed beta, meanwhile, will be open to pre-orderers and "everyone who scored keys from Events". You lucky so-and-sos. In the post, CoH2 producer Greg Wilson also revealed his post-launch plans for the game:

"Building on experiences from our previous titles, we’re committed to improving our post launch support efforts, by regularly updating the game. This means lots of bug fixing, balance updates and FREE content, for everyone to enjoy. For those interested in more, we’re now excited to introduce the Command Pass - an opt-in upgrade that offers perks like advanced map access, special event access and other bonuses. It’s free for pre-order customers who purchase the Digital Collector’s Edition and a 1 time cost/lifetime upgrade for anyone that didn’t get in on the pre-order goodness. More detailed information will absolutely be available later."

But enough talk. Here's a video of Greg, er, talking about Company of Heroes 2.

PC Gamer
stick of truth

The latest Stick of Truth trailer - shown at the VGA awards the other night - has finally been allowed to exist on the internet, which means we've been afforded another glimpse at what Obsidian have been working on the past few months. And, yep, it still looks indistinguishable from an episode of South Park. Sadly, one of the newer ones, but at least we've seemingly been spared another Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse-style catastrophy - Stick of Truth seems to entirely get what South Park is about. You can watch it below, if you're suitably prepared for a barrage of racist insults, gaseous expulsions, and oh God what is Mr. Slave doing

I'm still not sure where the cutscenes end and the action begins, and that's as much a compliment as it is a frustrated desire to see some uninterrupted gameplay of Obsidian's latest. But at least it looks and sounds the part, cramming in more references to previous episodes than you can shake a Stick of Truth at. Moses! Mr Hankey! Professor Chaos!

PC Gamer
Wing Commander 2

This article originally appeared in issue 247 of PC Gamer UK.

Red alert! Red alert! When the Kilrathi attack the TCS Concordia, you don’t get a briefing screen that says “So, we’re under attack by seven-foot cat aliens. Click here to continue.” There’s no level or mission number on the screen, or a choice of difficulty. You just get feet smashing against the bulkhead, sirens and red lights blaring as you and your fellow pilots race into your ships and blast off in the full knowledge that if you fail, there’ll be no carrier left to land on. And that’ll really put a downer on tonight’s poker game.

Wing Commander is the saga of a pilot who you could initially name whatever you wanted, but became canonically known as ‘Blair’ as a mocking reference to his blue hair, destined to become hero of the Terran Confederation in its darkest hour. The first game was a cinematic masterpiece in 1990, with this sequel upping the ante in every respect for 1991. It blew everyone away at the time... or at least, everyone who could run it.

Developer Origin had complete contempt for system specifications, and while its official studio motto was “We Create Worlds”, it might has well have been “Your PC Probably Can’t Run This”.

Deploy laser pointers! If that fails, start stockpiling catnip!

Even by modern standards, Wing Commander 2 goes above and beyond the call to make you part of the navy. There are funerals for fallen pilots, for instance, and lots of time hanging out with other pilots and crew aboard your assigned carrier, the TCS Concordia. Everyone has a personality, both in and out of the cockpit. Take Spirit, your first wingmate in the series – a classically helpful, reliable fighter whenever you fly with her. Her eventual suicide therefore means that much more if you manage to get her through the first game in one piece, as well as forever changing the relationship between Blair and his commander, Angel – that fact subsequently starting WC3 off with a real bang.

While the first game had similar character, it didn’t have a vast amount of actual plot. Wing Commander 2 sets out as one of the most cinematic, plot-obsessed action games ever – if you don’t count its sequels, which swapped the hand drawn characters and cutscenes for FMV starring the likes of Mark ‘Luke Skywalker’ Hamill and Tom ‘Not Luke Skywalker’ Wilson. Wing Commander 3 is especially enjoyable, even weighed down by a script that in all seriousness includes the line “God, I love that boy’s spunk... ”.

What’s unusual about Wing Commander’s take on space is just how depressing it can be. There’s heroics, yes, and it’s a sprawling space epic of betrayals, friendship, and space cats with voices that will make you beg for a throat sweet after a while. However it’s odd to start a sequel not as a war hero, but as The Coward of K’Tithrak Mang, picking up after Blair has spent the last ten years on the bench due to the Tiger’s Claw carrier ship being blown up by stealth fighters nobody else believes in. Of course they’re real, but a running theme still emerges. Every time you’re sent out alone, you fight them. Every time you fight them, your black box mysteriously malfunctions before you get home.

That alone adds a lot of spice to the game, with Blair not only having to earn the respect of his colleagues, but you having to make sure it works out. Wing Commander has a branching mission system where your performance directly affects the war effort – the ‘bad’ path ultimately leading to a suicidal last stand. This kind of thing simply isn’t done any more in games, not least because of the cost of making all that content that people will just go back to a saved game to avoid. Text being cheap though, Wing Commander pulled it off.

Blast! They’re immune to even our bounciest rubber balls!

I’ve not mentioned much of the actual game yet, and there’s a reason for that. During the ’90s there was a big fight between Wing Commander and X-Wing/TIE Fighter fans over who had the best game. Cinematically, Wing Commander clinched it. As a space shooter, there was no competition – even from the other side of the great divide, the Star Wars games had what it took. Since then, Wing Commander’s action has aged badly, with its universe made up of scaled sprites rather than polygonal 3D, and an AI that thinks it’s in a jousting tournament rather than a dogfight. It’s borderline unplayable these days, and unthinkable that it was once king of the genre.

The human element remains effective though, and shows up just how sterile most games are. There’s something satisfying about landing after a mission and having the engineer, a girl called Sparks, shoot the breeze and tally your kills via a conversation instead of just having it added to a variable somewhere. Likewise, you don’t get to make any actual conversation decisions (until Wing Commander 3), but the amount of time you spend with everyone does so much to turn the war from a simple series of missions into something with actual impact and repercussions on a wider scale.

Even the mighty Freespace 2 – the best space sim of all time – largely failed at this by never letting its characters be more than just ‘Alpha 1’ and ‘Alpha 2’. Here, you quickly start sharing Blair’s frustration at everyone refusing to believe in stealth fighters... although in fairness, this is countered by wishing he’d just buy a damn camcorder to prove it. Throw in murders, sabotage, a little romance, and the introduction of one of the series’ best characters, turncoat Kilrathi Hobbes, and the main game and its expansions add up to an extremely enjoyable space epic.

Without nostalgia though, WC3 is the game to go back to. It’s tough to start with WC2, to put it mildly, unless you’re going to use the cheat that lets you instantly blow up enemy ships and play it for the story. To save a trip to Google, start the game with ‘wc2.exe Origin -k’, and press Alt + Del. On the plus side, you won’t need to make a trip to your local hardware provider. Twenty years later, your PC almost certainly can run it.
PC Gamer
Bus & Cable Car Simulator

Having retired from world-saving heroics, Christopher Livingston is living the simple life in video games by playing a series of down-to-earth simulations. This week he becomes a bus driver in a simulated San Francisco, which somehow takes even longer than waiting for a bus to arrive in the actual San Francisco.

Pop quiz, hotshot! There's no bomb on a bus. (Isn't that a relief? A bomb on a bus would be terrifying and require some heroic actions by cop who presumably knows the rules but chooses not to play by them, and you're not a cop, you're a bus driver.) However, it is rainy and humid, so the windows of the bus are streaked with water and completely fogged up. You need to embark on your route but you can't see through your windshield. What do you do? WHAT DO YOU DO?

However you answered, you're wrong! You're not even on the bus yet. You're not even on your way to work. You haven't even left your apartment! So it goes in Bus & Cable Car Simulator: San Francisco, a simulation that is... how shall I put this? Not. Messing. Around.

The simulation starts me off at my apartment, a tiny studio in San Francisco. Parked outside is my pickup truck, so after spending a few moments enjoying my dingy bachelor pad (the lights in the bathroom can be turned on and off!), I climb in and hit the gas, peeling out into traffic. Except I'm not peeling out into traffic, I'm not going anywhere, because nothing is happening. Ah-ha! I need to start the truck first. I turn on the engine, hit the gas, and peel out into traffic, except, again, I don't. The parking brake! Of course. I disengage the brake. Now can I peel out into traffic? Nope. There is still a distinct lack of traffic-peeling-out-into occurring. Shift the truck into drive! Okay, NOW CAN I PLEASE ACTUALLY DRIVE? I can, and do.

A place like this will run you about $2,800 a month. Not pictured: your two roommates. Ah, San Francisco!

A few moments later I arrive at the bus depot, except I don't, because the depot is not, as you might expect, conveniently located a couple blocks away from my apartment, but instead halfway across the entire city of San Francisco, a trip that takes a good twenty minutes. This is not some rough approximation of San Francisco: this is San Francisco. It's not beautifully recreated, as the graphics in this sim are not at all good, but it is definitely meticulously recreated. They didn't leave out any streets or hills or neighborhoods to make it all fit, though they did leave out quite a bit of physics. Bumping into other cars at low speeds sends my truck flipping and rolling, leaving me wedged between other vehicles, lampposts, and buildings.

This is the wrong way to get on a bus. The right way involves more shoving.

At last, I reach the bus depot and find an office containing my supervisor, who gives me a selection of dozens of bus routes to choose from. It's obviously tempting to pick one that crosses the Golden Gate Bridge or some other picturesque location, but I consider the fact that it's taken me a half-hour to even get to work and decide to start small. I pick a short route from 10th & Mission to Townsend Street, which promises to be a quick seventeen minute journey. We can laugh about that prediction later.

For now, it's time to get on the bus. First, I have to pry open the outer door of the bus, slowly, bit by bit, then enter the bus and sit in the driver's seat. Next: turn on electrical power to the bus. Then, start the engine. Then, wait for enough air pressure to build up in the system to actually operate the bus, which takes a couple minutes. Then, I turn off the parking brake, put the bus into gear, and hit the gas. Hey, that wasn't so hard!

Except, I'm faced with the issue I mentioned at the start of the column: It's raining and humid, so I can't see through my windshield. Windshield wipers, obviously, solve the water issue, but what about the fogged interior of the windshield? Well, there's a window defogger on the bus. To repeat: there is a button you can press to defog the windows. In fact, there are roughly a million little toys to play with. I can slide open my driver's side window for added ventilation. I can turn on the light over my seat, or turn on the lights in just the passenger area. I can open the front and rear doors independently, and I can lower and raise the bus to allow easier access for passengers. If you've ever wanted to drive a vehicle with two different kinds of brakes, you're out of luck: this bus has three.

Two things about all these controls, these fiddly little details, the immense amount of things you can do with your bus. First, they're all mapped to the keyboard completely intuitively if you happen to be a psychic multi-tentacled alien squid. To kneel the bus, you press K, but to lift the bus, you press F4. The blinkers are the comma and period keys, but the hazard lights are the G key. To open the driver window, press F2, and the air vents is the Insert key. You use W-A-S-D to walk around, but have to use the arrow keys to drive, which when combined with using the mouse to look around, makes driving an awkward chore, both hands crammed to the right side of the keyboard.

Got all that? Good.

The second thing about all the controls, and all the business you have to do just to simply prepare to drive the bus around is OH MY GOD THIS IS SO AWESOME. This is exactly what all simulations should be. Forgive my amazement at all this: I know flight simulators and submarine simulators and space shuttle simulators have this level of detail, but this is a bus simulator. I was expecting, like, to just drive a bus around until I got bored. But I love this.

Okay! As you may have noticed, I'm like 93% of the way through this column and I have yet to actually, you know, drive the bus or pick up a passenger. This is the longest it's ever taken to get to work in a video game since the tram ride in Half-Life. But I'm ready! I hit the gas, head up the street, make my first turn, and immediately become wedged against a lamppost. I can't reverse out of it, I can't power through it, I'm just jammed in there. Even the reset position key doesn't do anything. I'm stuck and I'm causing a traffic jam.

I do what I would do if I were a real bus driver in this situation: I get out of the bus and run away as fast as I can. After sprinting around in a panic for a while, I eventually return to the bus depot and ask my supervisor for the same route again. I give him full credit for not firing me or even changing his expression as he realizes I've left an expensive bus stranded and blocking traffic, but the guy is a bus supervisor in San Francisco, I'm sure he's seen a lot worse. I go through the thirty-seven wonderful steps to get the new bus moving (not sarcasm, I love each and every one of the steps), and I proceed oh-so-carefully to the first stop on the route. A single person is waiting at the stop, so I pull over, apply the brake, open the door, and... the guy doesn't get on the bus. He just stands there, staring straight ahead.

Dude, it's an empty bus in San Francisco! Who cares where it's going, just get in!

I honk a couple times. I open and close the doors. I lower the bus hydraulically to street level, hoping to entice him. Nothing. I just want to give him a ride and he's acting like I'm trying to sell him The Street Sheet. (San Francisco joke!) Finally, I resort to the unthinkable: I open the 40 page PDF manual that came with the game. On page 28, I find my answer: I need to use the on-board bus computer to type in the route and line of the bus so it's broadcast on the display sign. After all, how else will anyone know what bus I am driving and where it's going? I punch in the route number on the computer and the guy climbs on. "Hello, driver!" he says brightly as he boards and takes a seat. Awesome.

I drive on to the next stop. More people are waiting. A woman gets on. "I would like a ticket," she says. Huh! I wasn't prepared for this eventuality, either. There are tickets? I consult the manual again and discover I have to sell her a ticket using the cash register to my right. Eeeeee! I have a little cash register. I also have a little list of what each ticket costs, depending on the passenger (adult, youth, senior, disabled, etc.) and I have to punch in the amount. Oh my gosh. I am in sim heaven.

It even makes little noises like the real thing. I LOVE YOU TINY CASH REGISTER

I continue along my route, happily working my little cash register, letting people on and off, obeying the traffic lights, arriving at most stops safely, though occasionally there are a few little snags. At one point, running a little late due to traffic, I hit the gas too hard, clip another car, and my bus barrel rolls through the air. (I'm amused to hear one of the passengers push the stop request bell while we're skidding upside down.) At another point, I take a corner too wide, collide with another bus, and wind up on my side.

The smaller, shorter bus rolls over in submission to the larger, alpha bus.

Still, I manage to complete the route, and even do the return trip on time with nary an incident. For me, that's a success, and for a bus in San Francisco, that's a freakin' miracle.

Conclusion: THIS. This is exactly what I want from a simulation: to completely and utterly embrace the fact that it's a simulation. To give me little simulated activities that support the main simulated activity, like charging passengers the correct amount with a little electronic cash register along my bus route. To face an issue, like rain or fogged windows, and solve them using windshield wipers and air vents. Details. Minutiae. Little simulated problems I can solve with little simulated solutions.

Oh, and that window defogger I love so much? I took some video of it. Yeah. It's sick, yo.

PC Gamer

Gabe Newell appears to have confirmed rumours that Valve are working on a "Steam Box" - a hardware package designed to bring the PC right to the living room. Talking to Kotaku on the red carpet at the VGAs, Newell said that the response to Big Picture mode was "stronger than expected" and that this, combined with the ongoing push into Linux, gave Valve a lot of flexibility when it came to designing their own living room-friendly hardware.

As for a time-frame, Newell said that he'd expect these sorts of packages to go on sale next year - though it isn't entirely clear if he was talking about Valve's own efforts or those of other companies looking to do similar things. "We'll do it but we also think other people will as well," he said.

From the sounds of things, however, Valve's plans for the living room don't entail recreating as open and malleable a system as the PC experience currently is.

"Well certainly our hardware will be a very controlled environment," he said, calling Valve's offering a turnkey solution. "If you want more flexibility, you can always buy a more general purpose PC."

Which begs the question: will the Steam Box be a PC in any meaningful way if it is to be so very controlled?
PC Gamer

In celebration of Mega Man's 25th anniversary, Capcom announced today that it will release a new fan-made Mega Man game exclusively as a free PC download on December 17th. Street Fighter X Mega Man, revealed at the Street Fighter 25th Anniversary Grand Finals, is an 8-bit styled crossover which bridges the anniversary celebrations of the two franchises.

Mega Man will battle Rolento, Dhalsim, Urien, Ryu, Blanka, Rose, C. Viper, and Chun Li in pursuit, as always, of their powers...and there's also probably a reason the little blue guy has it in for his franchise siblings. The creator is Seow Zong Hui, a competitive Street Fighter player from Singapore who approached Capcom Senior VP Christian Svensson with a prototype at EVO 2012 -- we'll have an interview with him soon. In the meantime, get trailer'd above.
PC Gamer
bioshock news header

You already know what we loved and didn't love about BioShock Infinite from our recent hands-on, but thanks to the wonders of moving images you can now see some of that with your own eyes. New footage was revealed at last night's VGA awards, showing a whole heap of stuff including (but not limited to) your first meeting with Elizabeth, and lots and lots of crow-flinging action. Check it out after the break.

There's over three minutes of new footage here, culminating in a fight with one of the robo-simian Handymen. Also: airships! A rocket-launcher type thing! Books! For more and better words than those, be sure to read our giant hands-on preview in the next issue of PC Gamer UK, which will be with you on January 17th. In the meantime, however, have a gawp at this:

BioShock Infinite
PC Gamer
fc3 ac3 steam

Threequels Far Cry 3 and Assassin's Creed III have been mysteriously absent from the UK version of Steam for a few weeks now, possibly because of the impending apocalypse, possibly because Ubisoft hate Christmas, possibly because they were pushing their awful Uplay service. Whatever the reason, it's thankfully now moot, because both games have suddenly popped up on Steam. You won't find them under New Releases, but both Assassin's Creed III and Wallet-Crafting Simulator 2012 can now be bought with Steam money. And just in time for Christmas, too.

In related news, Ubisoft have revealed that there's a Far Cry 3 patch in the works that will allow us to customise that intrusive HUD until it's to our liking. In a statement to Kotaku, Ubi had this to say:

"Based on feedback from both press and fans, the Far Cry 3 production team is working on a patch that will allow you to toggle most HUD/UI elements based on player preference. The patch will also avoid issues encountered in the .dll hack that might create a mission walkthrough break (missing QTE prompts, critical information, etc)."

A double-dose of jolly good news, then. There's no word on a release date for that patch yet, but hopefully it will arrive before Christmas.
PC Gamer
Screenshots of the year - Project Cars

Project Cars by Darkdeus

Project Cars may secretly be the best looking game of the year. It's only playable for Project Cars team members at the moment, but there's no shortage of gorgeous screenshots for the rest of us to gawp at. Efforts like this one from Darkdeus demonstrate how much closer racing games come to photorealism than other genres. Humans are safely hidden behind reflective windscreens, which makes it easier for racing games to navigate the uncanny valley and deliver sublime shots like this.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim by Chewiemuse

Bethesda's decision to support modders with Steam Workshop support and the Creation Kit have paid dividends in the year since launch. Texture packs, shader tweaks and new character models and armour have turned a good looking game into something a bit special. Chewiemuse shows us how with this shot of a warrior disposing of his foe with the archery equivalent of a triple tap. Boost your own copy of The Elder Scrolls V with the help of our Skyrim mods guide.

Arma 2 by Blackhawk

The Arma 2 engine is certainly powerful, but it's not exactly pretty. It's rare for screenshots to capture the satisfaction of a well executed military manoeuvre, but Blackhawk does it with this shot of a team of soldiers securing a drop zone. Arma is as much about organisation and teamwork as good shooting, and the bleak colour palette is quickly forgotten in the tension and sudden drama of Arma's combat situations. Captured at just the right angle, Arma skirmishes look almost real, as ITV discovered when they accidentally used Arma 2 footage as part of a documentary last year.

Max Payne 3 by Glottis8

Yes, GTA 4 was a shoddy port, but Rockstar have done a much better job with recent releases like LA Noire and Max Payne 3. Glottis8's image of Max surfing an explosive shockwave shows off the improved textures and sharp lines of the PC version in dynamic fashion. It could only be improve if Max was perpendicular to the explosion. And his fingers were wrapped around a pair of handcannons. And he was wearing a trenchcoat. And it was snowing. In New York.

Okay, the third game got away from some of the elements that made Max Payne unique, but that's hardly Glottis' fault. Let's just sit back and enjoy imagining how good that explosion probably sounds.

The Mario Brothers in Garry's Mod
by DOAmaster

What's this, the MARIO BROTHERS on PC GAMER? Thanks to the magic of Garry's mod and DOAmaster's screenshotting abilities, the impossible has come to pass. As pleasing as I find those blazing colours, I still haven't figured out exactly what's going on here. If I don't attach a narrative to this thing I'll never make it to the next page and we'll be trapped here in Nintendo world forever. Let's say that Mario and Luigi are holding a belt (small plank of wood?) and this squad of chipmunks (gophers?) is attempting to limbo (???) under it. Plausible? Good enough! Next.

Sword and Sworcery
by Glottis8

The pristine and ageless pixel art of Swords and Sworcery is excellent subject matter for trigger happy screen-grabbers. S&S was released on iOS systems originally, but the artwork shifts up to larger screens rather nicely. That's lucky, because it's designed as a cohesive audiovisual tapestry, and it would be a shame for poorly upscaled graphics to spoil Jim Guthrie's marvellous soundtrack, Ballad of the Space Babies, which you can hear here. Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery is available on Steam.

Project Cars again
by Leviathan

Yep, it's more Project Cars, but look at the stupendous detail on show here. The foil folds of the headlights reflect the horizon of the approaching terrain. Every nut and bolt is present and correct. Look, you can even see the tiny silver mouse periscope popping out of the bonnet in front of the windscreen wipers. Impressive. This slot was a toss up between the picture above and this shot of a car carving up a shiny tarmac track. Not bad, eh?

Team Fortress 2
by Rossrox

Remember when Team Fortress 2 turned into a sparkling, cheerful extension of the Pyro's demented psyche earlier this year? I was happy to be reminded by Rossrox' glittery and violent portrayal of the conflict. I especially enjoy the fact that TF2 has chosen this moment to remind players to be respectful to one another, as a soldier lies burning to death on a floor, and another readies a rocket launcher against a charging Pyro. It's important to remain polite in the face of impending doom. Jolly good show.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
by Zloth

There was always going to be more Skyrim in this roundup. There's something about that world's frozen peaks that make folks want to take pictures. Screenshots can fail to do justice to the sense of discovery and wonder that Skyrim's most impressive vistas tend to evoke. This grab from Zloth does the job quite nicely, though. Unfortunately it means that any human who looks upon it must endure a sudden urge to jump back into the world and go adventuring again, sinking yet more hours into Bethesda's fantasy juggernaut. The only cure is to look away, so follow me as we go travel onto the next page and absorb the final selection in our round-up of the best screenshots from the PC Gamer community 2012.

Battlefield 3
by RPhilMan1

It's Battlefield! I was a little surprised that there weren't more shots of Armored Kill maps like Alborz Mountain, but this sandy overview of a sprawling industrial warzone will do quite nicely. Look upon it and imagine the different skirmishes that players are having down there. Engineers will be trying to out-ferret each other in the maze of storage crates on the left. The plume of black smoke hints at the presence of a flaming tank corpse behind the tankers in the centre. A small collection of squads will be having their own private war for the squared off mountainous base on the left. It's a good overview that lays bare the variety and complexity of Battlefield 3's maps and drops in a chopper for good measure.

And that's your lot for this year. You can see plenty more on the screenshot thread in our forums. Browse at your leisure, and feel free to drop in a few of your own favourite gaming snaps while you're there. You never know, you might secure a slot in next year's round-up.