Dec 6, 2012
PC Gamer

Monday's review: You're a small triangle navigating a maze as its walls pivot and spin toward you in predictable patterns and with increasing speed. Avoid the walls for as long as you can and compete for the longest times. It's fun, but too small, simple and hard to provide lasting pleasure. 60%.

Tuesday's review: I came back to it just for the music. It's 8-bit, but less concerned with high-pitched bleeps than dirty, throbbing beats. The music doesn't become repetitive either, despite dying and restarting dozens of times each minute, as it begins at a different place in the song after each death. There's a moment at one minute forty seconds into the track Courtesy that's all I need to beat my best time. 72%.

Wednesday's review: There's a surprising amount of nuance in the design. The lovely way your ship slightly sways in the direction you're turning, or how your sides can safely graze surfaces so you're always surfing the edge of failure. Even the female voice that announces the game's name is canny, making it feel like you're plugging yourself into an entrancing futuristic machine. 78%.

For a while, this was my best time.

Thursday's review: Super Hexagon has three controls: left arrow, right arrow, and your brain. My leaps in ability, small though they are, all feel like I'm hacking my brain rather than improving my dexterity. I've learnt to use my peripheral vision, so I can start each turn earlier. I've discovered I play better when I'm in conversation with someone at the same time, so I start chatting to whoever's nearby while I play. When my times begin to plateau, I skip up to higher difficulty levels, play those for 15 minutes, and then return back down. Everything looks slower, because I've wired my brain to run faster. When I turn away from the game now, the real world keep spinning. 84%

Friday's review: Super Hexagon is about reaching escape velocity from your own feeble reflexes. It's about defeating a never-ending, corporeal chiptune. It's a game you dance to, as much about surfing music as AudioSurf. It's a puzzle game, about memorising routines and overcoming mental blocks. It's the ludological purist's answer to Hotline Miami. It's about momentum, speed, grace under pressure. When I play it, I don't blink. When I die, I'm never frustrated. In moments when it has me in rapt attention on its dancefloor, it's the greatest game in the world. 96%.

Saturday's review: The sobering light of the morning always brings perspective. Super Hexagon is fun, focused, elegant and compulsively challenging. For some, it'll be an intense months-long relationship. For most, it'll be more like a single life in the game itself: thrilling, a worthwhile learning experience, and over quickly.
PC Gamer
End of Nations river battle

An indefinite open beta postponement and reported layoffs within developer Petroglyph clouded the fate of the near-vaporware MMORTS End of Nations recently, but in an official status update posted yesterday, Community Manager Lance James revealed the movement of all development efforts in-house to publisher Trion Worlds and committed a fresh focus on implementing changes and additions based on previous beta feedback.

"As End of Nations was reaching the pre-launch phase in its lifecycle, we officially brought the game development in house to Trion Worlds and will complete the development internally," James wrote. "Our team has been hard at work implementing many changes based on your feedback from the beta events."

A redesigned UI and an easier learning curve for those new to throwing endless waves of tanks at each other—hey, it worked in Red Alert 2—were a couple of the specific features mentioned by James in the works at Trion. And although End of Nations still lacks a definitive release date, it's encouraging to see some end in sight to the production woes surrounding this ambitious multiplayer warfare-fest.
PC Gamer

Amid rumors that the 2012 apocalypse would be caused by Intel discontinuing production of socketed CPUs, causing thousands of system builders and overclockers to cry out in anguish, our friends over at Maximum PC have given the all clear. Intel has no plans to begin welding their processors inseparably to motherboards to the exclusion of producing the removable kind we've all come to know and love. Life as we know it, so it seems, will go on.

“Intel remains committed to the growing desktop enthusiast and channel markets, and will continue to offer socketed parts in the LGA package for the foreseeable future for our customers and the enthusiast DIY market,” Intel spokesman Daniel Snyder told Maximum PC. This doesn't necessarily mean that we won't see more of the 14nm-permanently-soldered-to-the-mobo chips in the future, but at least it's looking like we'll have the option to avoid them with the disdain they deserve among those of us who like to rip the guts out of our machines and mess with them.

Maximum PC delves into detail on the subject in their article, providing plenty more reasons why it would not be a good idea for Intel to stop making socketed chips. For now, I think we can safely recommend you take the plastic wrap off of your windows and stop stockpiling fresh water and i7s.
PC Gamer
Unreal engine 4

Epic have announced the finalists of their Make Something Unreal Live 2013 competition, culling the 12 shortlisted teams down to four potential winners. Make Something Unreal challenges student teams from across Europe to develop a game around a particular theme. This year the theme is "Mendelian Inheritance," which is the theory of how hereditary characteristics are carried between generations (thanks Wikipedia!)

Here are the finalists, selected by the crack judging team of Jo Twist, CEO of UKIE, Stephen Gaffney, CEO of Fireteam, Tim Edwards, editor of PCGamesN (and former boss man of PC Gamer), as well as a selection of folks from Epic Games and the Wellcome Trust.

Loch Ness by Dead Shark Triplepunch, Blekinge Institute of Technology, Sweden
Polymorph by Team Polymorph, Staffordshire University
Mendel’s Farm by Static Games, Bournemouth University
Beings by Team Summit, University of Abertay, Dundee

The teams now have four months to turn their prototypes into fully fledged games for the final, hosted at the Gadget Show Live. The winners, who will be announced at the event, get their hands on a shiny new Unreal 4 commercial licence. That may not sound as exciting as a round the world cruise, but for a team of student indie devs, it's a potentially amazing opportunity.
PC Gamer
Euro Truck Simulator 2 review

Citizens of Dunwall, please accept my apologies. I was a hop, skip and a slide away from the Lord Regent’s chamber when this seriously compelling lorry sim sped into my life. Suddenly, stealthy vengeance seems far less important than ensuring a load of new JCBs gets to Bratislava on time.

Euro Truck Simulator 2 is that rare thing, a strong sim tethered to a strong game. Where other vehicle-obsessed devs seem to take player motivation for granted, Czech studio SCS understand that a pleasingly modelled steed needs a pleasingly modelled environment to shine.

On this occasion that environment is a swathe of Europe stretching from Plymouth in the west to Wroclaw in the east, from Aberdeen in the north to Milan in the South. The tangle of motorways and major roads is stylised and condensed, but feels massive. After a splendid week of non-stop trucking the stats screen tells me I’ve still only seen 50% of it.

There’s satisfaction in exploring new routes, seeing new golden been-there-done-that squiggles appearing on the in-game map, but it tends to be the promise of cold, hard cash that gets you out of bed in the morning. Like Farming Simulator, ETS2 has a simple yet resonant economic sandbox at its centre.

Adding streams to the radio list is harder than it should be.

You start as a low-skilled, truckless lorry jockey, forced to take work from established haulage companies. Slowly (or rapidly if you go to a bank) you amass the funds to buy your first rig and rent your first yard. Then the fun really begins. Contract perusing, truck pimping, skill upgrading, driver hiring... this is Eddie Stobart: The Game in all but name.

Spending 90 minutes ferrying a tank of propane from Sheffield to Prague could (should?) be tedious. The fact that it isn’t is largely down to good-if-not-quite-OMSI-standard physics, and varied road layouts and scenery. Periods of smooth, almost soporific motorway motoring nestle between passages of edgier wheelwork. One minute you’re cruising along contemplating the sunset over the central reservation, the next you’re on a rain-lashed country road at night, waiting for the right moment to pass a painfully slow pantechnicon. Tiredness can’t kill in ETS2, but it can leave you jack-knifed in a ditch, feeling awful with a substantial repair bill to pay.

The only time when the game itself loses concentration is when attempting to evoke certain regions and sounds. The further you get from central Europe the less convincing the landscapes become. No one seems to have told SCS’s countryside crafters that rural Britain features long green things called hedges. Cities are often depicted with the shortest of visual shorthand – a few warehouses, the odd landmark if you’re lucky. Don’t expect to see a favourite local roundabout, slip-road, or speed camera in this highly-recommended HGV-driver RPG.
PC Gamer - PC Gamer
Martin Chris TomS

Chris, Marsh and Tom Senior discuss Darksiders 2, Little Inferno, Long Live the Queen, Super Hexagon, Far Cry 3 and much more. Features at least two rants, the Steam charts, and your questions from Twitter.

Show notes:

Marsh's Darksiders II review.
Tom F's Far Cry 3 review.
Super Hexagon.
Long Live the Queen (borderline NSFW, or at the very least you'll get a funny look).
Little Inferno.
Jenn Frank's Allow Natural Death.
The #1reasonwhy and #1reasontobe hashtags.

Awful if true answers:

Darksiders II developers Vigil have not been closed.
PC Gamer
League of Legends

Riot have released an enormous patch for League of Legends, making big changes to the game in the lead up to Season 3. The update has been designed to tweak a number of areas: new and adjusted items give more flexibility to late game builds; jungling has been rejigged, with scaling difficulty and less gold from mobs; and masteries have been overhauled to reduce the availability of early game resistance stats. The focus, it appears, is to increase the number of strategic options available to each character. Riot have released a video to outline the important bits of the patch, which I've embedded below.

So, 23 new items, tweaked gold distribution and all sorts of other changes. While I'm sure the notoriously calm and level-headed LoL community will react to such a major shift in the meta-game with grace, the developers are keen to note that this will be an iterative process. They'll be incorporating player feedback throughout the pre-season, in preparation for the eventual launch of Season 3.

You can view the full patch list here. I'd add it into the post but it's so big, we'd probably run out of internet.

Thanks, PCGamesN.
PC Gamer
Dunwall City Trials_DropAttack

In preparation for next week's release of Dunwall City Trials, Dishonored's first DLC drop, Bethesda have released a trailer showing off what the challenge pack contains. It's full of creative murder, combat and traversal through the Outsider's fragmented world, and is backed by Dan Bull's Dishonered rap - which is quite good in a "why would you ever do this?" sort of way.

The DLC is a collection of time-trial and score attack missions, set it a Dunwall that's been handily abstracted to heighten the scope for challenges. While it's unlikely to be the addition that anyone was really praying for, I think there is some benefit to a consequence-free series of playgrounds in which you can mess about with the game's skills and powers.

My Corvo is the silent, slow type who doesn't particularly enjoy murdering people (unless it looks cool or funny). A place outside of the campaign to mess about and let loose with grenades, crossbows and flesh-eating rat armies does have a certain appeal.

We'll find out if the Dunwall City Trials DLC has the depth and variety to satisfy that wish on December 11th.
PC Gamer

In the first art update for Obsidian's isometric RPG, Project Eternity, Rob Nesler, the game's art director, has provided some new prototype renders and information about how the game's artists are fleshing out the world. The basic gist is that they've got a lot of work ahead of them.

"Often, when starting a project, the artists and I just want to start drawing sh-ssstuff," he writes, being careful not to swear. "With Project Eternity, we are starting the development of a rich storied RPG from scratch."

There's a technical challenge too, as a result of the team moving to the 3D graphics program Maya. "We’ve been making test worlds - we call them gray boxes. We’ve been making test characters - we call them gray characters. We’ve been giving them gray animation, we’ve been giving them gray (actually sometimes white, we’ll make some black ones too, we’re not racist) weapons, and we’ve been inserting them into our prototype worlds to prove to ourselves and you, that we know what we’re doing."

Below are a selection of screenshots from the process, complete with Obsidian's rather charming "please don't think these are final!" watermarks. You can see the rest, along with Rob's detailed overview on the Kickstarter update page.

PC Gamer

Underrail is an isometric, post-apocalyptic roleplaying game inspired by Fallout, Arcanum and even System Shock 2, which is almost the perfect sentence until you add the part that it's set in a series of underground train tunnels, which pretty much makes it Metro 2033: the isometric RPG. Now it's the perfect sentence, and - to my tastes - probably the most enticing game summary I've come across lately, so I'm just going to let that sink in while I download the alpha demo of the game.

Aaaand we're back. The headline news here is that Underrail (not the most evocative of names) has just been released on Desura, for the dukely sum of £6.49. And by released, I of course mean 'you can fund continued development by buying the alpha version' - there's no such thing as 'released' anymore. If you prefer to try before you buy, there's a couple-of-months-old demo available here. Developers Stygian Software have handily summarised what's been added to the main release since then:

Huge new urban zone consisting of 8 areas
Big new 'dungeon' consisting of 6 areas (twice as much as the last one)
A couple of 'mini-dungeons'
New quests
New feats
Traps skill
Some updated game mechanics
Re-balanced economy
More weapons and armors
Updated crossbows (feats, special bolts, damage boost)
Various other smaller stuff

I'm particularly excited about "various other smaller stuff", although that "huge new urban zone" sounds pretty appealing too. I'm mightily enjoying what I've played of the demo so far - it's reminiscent of Spiderweb Software's stuff, but with a bigger focus on usability, and with a soundtrack. It's also far more polished than its alpha status would lead you to believe, though admittedly I'm not very far in.

Underrail, once again, is available here. Long-ish gameplay video below.