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"I forget everything between footsteps.
"'Anna!' I finish shouting, snapping my mouth shut in surprise.
"My mind has gone blank. I don't know who Anna is or why I'm calling her name. I don't even know how I got here. I'm standing in a forest, shielding my eyes from the spitting rain. My heart's thumping, I reek of sweat and my legs are shaking. I must have been running but I can't remember why.
Looking at places to live in games, it would be easy for the most magnificent, pompous and elegant palaces and castles to dominate any appreciation. But there is plenty of room to appreciate those residences that are tucked away, perhaps underrated, that are not major hubs or destinations and that are only subtle intrusions. Some draw a curious sense of attachment from players, eliciting a sense of pseudo-topophilia - a close relationship with a virtual land or place. The resulting effect is sometimes enough to cause the sentiment: if this place were real, I would live there.
Right in the corner of the Hinterlands in Dragon Age: Inquisition is the Grand Forest Villa. Its position in the landscape is not obtrusive or jarring, and in turn makes use of the surrounding Hinterlands as its grounds and gardens. Not only does it look fantastic in its geographical context, the residence fits the medieval-fantasy context, oozing grandeur and splendour. But it also serves a purpose: in the Dragon Age lore, it was built for a special friend of the Arl of Redcliffe to allow him to stay near Redcliffe Castle, but far enough away to not raise eyebrows or induce scandal. Designed to be elegant and bold, the Villa - which is a generous term - would have been a beautiful place to live. Even though there are no obvious living spaces on show to relate to they are there - probably within the thick stone walls that add a strange, yet weirdly complete juxtaposition of woodland villa aesthetic next to defensive fortress.
Its semi-open nature permeates its design. Opening up sides and boundaries has the effect of bringing the outside, inside - nowadays, think about homes that have entire walls made of glass to bring their garden 'inside' - blurring the boundary between indoor luxury and the pleasantness of nature, landscapes and plants. It also opens up expansive and brilliant vistas from the Grand Forest Villa, the importance of which is demonstrated by the design of designated viewing decks or points offering fabulous views over the lush and rolling Hinterlands landscape.
Listen up, you re drumming on my time now. What s the tune? It s the RPS podcast, the Electronic Wireless Show of course. This week we are talking about music in games, and what makes a good game soundtrack. The bleeps and bloops of Pac Man? Or the orchestral panache of Oblivion? A lot of people requested this topic, so we ve also done something special a music quiz! Can you guess the game based on a few seconds of music? Even if you can, I doubt you ll score higher than Katharine, who it turns out is, uh, quite interested in videogame music. (more…)
Kine is one of those titles that annoys me the moment I hear about it, because I deserve to be playing it right now but some team of artists is working really hard on it so they won’t just give it to me. Give it to me, you crazy kids. I have been a good boy all year and I am delighted by what you have made. Please let me have it. Please.
BioShock: The Collection [official site] on PC is good-lookin’ but, it’s fair to say, A Bit Dicky, pulling off the impressively bungled trick of both recreating some of BioShock’s original issues and throwing a clutch of new ones into the mix too. Take yer pick from enforced mouse-smoothing, no 5.1 sound, messed-up 21:9 support, limited FOV, no graphics settings outside of antialiasing, anistropic filtering, resolution, vysnc and a clutch of crashes. Many of these, though not the crashes, can be resolved via ini file editing (a guide to that is here), but in this, the third consecutive Year Of Luigi, we should not be expected to dirty our hands so.
The good news is that 2K are planning to grab a five-iron and bludgeon most of the major problems into submission. The bad news is that it doesn’t look like we can expect a full settings menu any time soon.
Today, we’re looking back though – a lot has happened since the first game s arrival, including the departure of director Ken Levine from the studio that made two of the three games, and a resurgence of the first-person immersive sim as a genre. Here, we consider all things Bioshock and decide, among other things, which of the games is >actually> the best.
Almost ten years after we first daddied and kindlied and golfed, BioShock has today returned in an apparently fancy-panted remastered version, aka Bioshock: The Collection [official site]. Sadly it s not in the best of shape, in terms of what we PC folk tend to demand from our settings menus and whatnot, but perhaps a more overriding question is but how does it look?>
I shall show you, in thirty different ways. A few thoughts of my own just beneath the cut too.
Bioshock: The Collection [official site] is out today (and free to owners of the originals), which from a PC point of view is most exciting because it gives a big old spit’n’polish to the first two games in the series (Infinite is unaffected on PC, being relatively contemporaneous as it is). Unfortunately it seems that BioShock 1 Remastered particularly has not been as well-loved on PC as it perhaps should have been. It has only the barest-boned of graphical settings, it’s saddled with particularly nasty mouse-smoothing that can only be turned off via ini file hacking, and there are various minor screwy graphical boo-boos too. History is repeating itself: remember the FOV and DRM drama of 2007?
Details – and some fixes – below.