The Legacy of Rome

20 07 2012

My favourite exam question at university –

Stop making funny faces.

My favourite exam question at university came in my third year, on a module about the War of the Spanish Succession.  I can’t remember the precise wording, but it went something like this: ‘Was the campaign of 1704 the most challenging of the Duke of Marlborough’s career?’


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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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The Obsession Starts Anew

29 08 2011

I bang on a lot about story. Themes, tone, emotional engagement, that sort of thing. For ten years and more I’ve been playing and replaying the same tales over and over again, looking for the intricacies in the writing and delving deep into Wikis when I can’t quite grasp why something happened, or why this particular fictional setting functions as it does. Games are art, they are valuable cultural contributions, and so on and so forth, etcetera, etcetera.

Naturally enough, therefore, the series I have played the most over the last decade is Pro Evolution Soccer, which, as a sports game, falls neatly into the ‘reviled’ category of many gaming forums. Read the rest of this entry »

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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Just Listen – My Favourite Game Music

4 07 2011

Valve released the second part of the Portal 2 soundtrack today and my reaction was much the same as when the first volume emerged: it’s a very interesting soundtrack, but not really one that can be listened to and, perhaps, appreciated without the rest of the game to back it up. As an ambient piece of audio it’s oddly intriguing and I defy anyone to listen to this track, for its entirety, and not end up hypnotised into a childlike trance. Aside from that, there’s not much new to say about it.

A Thousand Gold Stars to the reader who works out what this sounds like.

So I thought I’d indulge myself with a list of my favourite pieces from various other game soundtracks. This being the internet there are doubtless thousands of other favourites lists vying for your attention, so here’s the big sell: if you’re really not into the idea of reading at the moment, just click one of the links, close your eyes, and listen. Hopefully you’ll enjoy them as much as I do. Read the rest of this entry »

The Topic Bucket

1 07 2011

I’m going to regret this when I run out of ideas for my Monday post, but there’s a few smaller things I’d like to talk about that I’m going to throw at you all at once. I know you can cope; after all, (/sarcasm) this blog attracts only the finest gaming minds (/sarcasm), so I am certain that everything will be easy to read for you. Also because it will be simple and perhaps even a little bit banal.

It is gold and shiny. Therefore, this will be a good post.

Why did I admit to that? Anyway, off we go. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »