Why are Valve So Generous?

16 09 2011

First it was endless free Team Fortress 2 updates. Then it was Team Fortress 2 becoming free to play in the first place. Then there were the little things, like making the Portal 2 soundtrack available for nothing. People complain about Valve’s download platform, Steam, holding a massive share of the digital games market, but at least it’s made them so rich that they don’t even have to bother charging for what could be otherwise lucrative content.

So simple, but so clever.

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Review Supplement – Tropico 4

14 09 2011

Strange thing, this. When I was thinking about Tropico 4 for my review, the game I couldn’t help comparing it to was Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, because both of them go deep into to the heart of such important issues of liberty and freedom, exploring the deep questions with a scholarly eye. Or not. They’re actually both sequels that have been criticised for being too similar to their predecessors. In my view, however, ACB gets away with it, whereas Tropico 4 does not.


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I’m Not In, Go Here Instead!

9 09 2011

So here’s the epic I promised you on Wednesday. Well, not here as such: head on over to Bits n’ Bytes Gaming and give it a read (even if the link may be broken for now: BnB is going through a bit of an overhaul at the moment and is slightly tricky to get at.  It will work eventually, promise). For once I haven’t written a post about narrative, tone and all that nonsense, but instead have gone back about 10 years to remember some magic arcade Star Wars action with the subtly-named Jedi Power Battles. Go and take a glance. Go on.


Ahh...good times.

Battle of the Bats

7 09 2011

The award for ‘weirdest news story of the last 24 hours’ goes to this one: Batman: Arkham City is getting an album. Of the musical sort. And it’s not the game’s soundtrack. Instead, Warner Bros. have put together a bunch of random songs that bear no connection to the Dark Knight aside from the fact that they are, well, dark. You know, noisy, broody, guitary.

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Beyond Beyond Good and Evil

17 08 2011

I miss having a used game shop on the walk home from school. There it was on the road to the train station, a neat little place that wasn’t exactly the cheapest of the cheap but was always guaranteed to have something interesting on the PC shelf to the right. I picked up Knights of the Old Republic and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time from there, along with a few other random games that happened to catch my eye. Anyway, I’ve gone on this nostalgia trip because I bought a near 8-year-old used game for £1.50 yesterday, my first pre-owned buy for a good long while.

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Face My Tiny Wizarding Wrath, You Dwarvish Punks

10 08 2011

When I reviewed Magicka back in February, I pointed out that the first sentence summed up the entire game – “Magicka is absurdly good fun.” Well, after stumbling against one too many punishing boss fights a few months ago, I put it down, not out of anger or disappointment, but frustration. This week, after being gradually reminded of the game’s brilliant absurdities by various bits of marketing and DLC, I came back to it. After splurging hour after hour on it, drawn in by the fantastic magic system over and over again despite being repeatedly blown up, incinerated, crushed and electrocuted by dwarvish priests, goblin shamans, a vampire, a dragon and my own misplaced clicks, I absolutely love it. “Absurdly good fun”, “a great triumph”, “a giddy joy to play”; after six months, it’s still all this and more.

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When in Rome (Take Game-Related Pics) – Part Two

27 06 2011

So this update should have appeared on Friday, but that was a tricky day: my last day at university, packing up, leaving town, saying goodbye, driving for three-and-a-half hours home before coming to terms with the fact that three great years had come to an end makes for my best excuse yet, right?

Back to Rome, in what I promise will be my last Assassin’s Creed-related post for a while. After last week’s look at the Colosseum, Pantheon, Campidoglio and the markets of Trajan, today it’s time to go north of the Tiber to check out the Castel Sant’Angelo and St. Peter’s before heading east toward the Spanish steps. Read the rest of this entry »