Tag Archives: Ubisoft

The Three E’s

Humans of the World. Earthlings. Terrans. Pitiful specimens of homo sapien kind. Set aside your differences and come hither; revel and bask in the mighty, unifying glory of the mother of gaming events. The Electronics Entertainment Expo. E3.

This year was, as usual, a jolly good show, (their 20th anniversary dontcha know) and this here edition of my pointless and irrelevant ejaculation of words will give a brief précis on what caught my eye from afar, bearing in mind of course that I’m not a journalist, so wasn’t actually there, at the LA Convention Centre, in LA, Los Angeles California, USA. No, I was here. In London. Alone. Watching with a hundred million other similarly sad, wet, lonely, empty husks of what-could-have-been valuable members of society……*sigh*……

Anyway, games then. So these were the things that I was interested in. There’s no point highlighting all the games that were there otherwise we’d be here until the Sun finally puts us all out of our misery and blows the fuck up, so this is strictly the shit that in some way fish hooked my interest. So here goes, in no particular order.

Dead Island 2

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A funny one to mention given that the first Dead Island was an almighty waste of my fucking life and easily one of the most disappointing games in recent memory. So why include it? Well, just in case, that’s why. 4-player campaign co-op. Zombie shit. What’s not to like on paper. Plus Techland who developed the first one have all but handed over the reins to Indi German outfit Yager Development who were responsible for the widely acclaimed Spec Ops: The Line back in 2012. File this under the “convince me” header.

Dying Light

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OK, yes, despite me coating off Techland’s Dead Island not moments ago, Dying Light is their current triple-A which is – if I’m honest, and against my better judgement – possibly my most anticipated title of next year. The free-running, zombie killing, melee focused open world game not only looks utterly sublime visually speaking, it also just…well, it has a certain something that makes me want to stand up and beg for buttermilk. I admit, on paper it looks like all the elements of some of the most disappointing games I have ever known: Free Running (Brink), Zombie Melee (Dead Island), Techland (err, Dead Island again)….OK I’ll stop now before I change my mind. But it’s also 4-player co-op and has the whole dynamic day/night thing where instead of just zombies you get mental crazy other shit going on when the sun goes down. It was due for release in 2014 but that has now been pushed back to March 2015, which I should mention, in my opinion, doesn’t have the same connotations of ‘troubled development’ as it once did. What can I say, genuinely excited about this.

Evolve

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Gameinformer’s best in show, and it’s easy to see why. Turtle Rock Studios – the team who developed Left 4 Dead for Valve before they split away to form their own band – certainly have pedigree on the co-op thing, and this game looks quite simply mouth watering. Just like L4D, it’s all rather simple. 4 players, 4 classes, each with their own skills. All use a variety of BFG’s to hunt ‘The Monster’ on an alien world. Monster in question can – if you so wish – be played by another Hoomuun Bean, or else let the AI take control. Monster starts off teeny, and ‘hunted’ and needs to feed and avoid being slaughtered before it can ‘evolve’ through different stages into an eventual goliath (literally, one of them is actually called a goliath). Then hunted becomes hunter and can start kicking seven shades of shit out of those pesky Earthlings. Check out numerous vids all over t’interweb to see what kind of innovative toys and weaponry Turtle Rock have thought up to help you all enjoy the bloodthirsty joy of the slaughter. Pre-order…check.

Far Cry 4

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Well. I’ve barely got over the sad day that I finished Far Cry 3 – one of the best games I can remember in some time – and now this? As long as Ubisoft don’t fuck up and just go with the ‘if it ain’t broke’ attitude we should be on track for another epic, immersive and outstanding piece of gaming. This time we are set in the Himalayas – complete with elephants and the like – and if the opening 5 minutes is anything to go by we should be in for a treat come Christmas. This time they have included full 2-player campaign co-op which quite frankly is almost too much for me to take and I may just have to curl up into a whimpering foetus and cry myself to death. How they are going to top FC3’s Vaas Montenegro – one of the all time great gaming villains – I don’t know, but they are giving it their best shot with weirdo fuck chops Pagan Min who enjoys helicopters, pink suits, and stabbing employees to death with pens.

Alien Isolation

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Don’t start getting all “oh for fooks sake mun, not another tossy Alien game”. All I can say is; this ain’t like them. Check out some vids and you’ll soon see this is ALIEN Isolation, not ALIENS. If James Cameron’s undisputed classic was a tackle-out action fest, then Ridley Scott’s masterpiece was surely the birth of survival horror in space. That’s what this is; survival horror. 15 years after Ellen Ripley pushed the red button on the Nostromo, you are her daughter Amanda trying to piece together what happened. You find yourself all but alone on the scarily empty space station Sevastopol. Just you and a big fat fucking Xeno for company. No M41A Pulse Rifles, no sonic electronic ballbreakers, no sharp sticks. Just you, a motion tracker and your wits. I nearly shat my knick-knacks just watching a walkthrough vid so I am aching for its October release. Developed by Brit outfit The Creative Assembly with some silly-good high end graphics, this could be the Alien game we all need to convince us all Alien games aren’t shit.

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel

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If you need me to talk about this you haven’t read any of my previous blogs and probably shouldn’t be here. Borderlands = one of the best games ever made. Gearbox handed this one to 2K Australia so if it’s rubbish it doesn’t matter. But it won’t be. It’s fucking Borderlands.

Tales From The Borderlands

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Speaking of which, the other Borderlands game is Telltale Games episodic adventure type deal a la The Walking Dead. Having currently not played The Walking Dead (Series 1 or 2) I have no point of reference but I have heard nowt but splendid stories about it and it is currently sitting un-played in my Steam Library awaiting my attention. Anyway, hopes are high for this.

Elite: Dangerous

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If you are unfamiliar with Elite and need an explanation for this little beauty you really are reading the wrong blog. Suffice to say that current-gen graphics, a billion solar systems, 3 friends and a ‘flight system’ joystick/throttle that costs more than a Faberge Egg make for something potentially so good you may wish to sell everything you own, say your goodbye’s to loved ones, and see out your days trading platinum in space. Bring. It.

Hellraid

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Techland again, and they loooove their 4-player co-op stuff. Which, to be honest, I can only applaud. Hellraid substitutes zombies for medieval supernatural shit, with skellingtons, mages and the like twatting each other senseless. It’s melee and magic Vs the armies of Hell. I’m hopeful this will be what I hope……hence ‘hopeful’…….forget it.

Homefront: The Revolution

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This was an unexpected one and no mistake. For those not in the know, Homefront was a Call of Duty rip-off developed by Kaos Studios and published by THQ in 2011. It was well known for the following. A) Being a bit shit. B) Sending THQ bankrupt and C) ‘Maybe’ being written by Hollywood screenwriter John Milius. Maybe, because though he’s billed on the credits it is widely believed that actually he didn’t write a single word, and whilst he certainly did write Apocalypse Now, Conan The Barbarian and Dirty Harry, he’s also a self proclaimed right-wing extremist, so there’s that. Anyway, the premise was pretty cool; a unified Korea basically invade and occupy the US. Much savagery ensues. The delicious Crytek have picked up this IP now though and appear to be adding their own brand of special sauce to turn this into more of an open world type resistance shooter. Which, one cannot deny, is exciting.

The Division

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Again, this is one I’ve not been shy about talking about. Ubisoft’s open world, 4-player co-op shooter with a seriously next-generation-level of environmental detail thanks to the brand spanking new Snowdrop Engine. It looks quite simply epic. I’m trying to keep myself in check with this given Ubisoft’s track record with….erm….almost everything and not least Tom Clancy games (of which this is one). Having said that, when they get it right, they REALLY can get it right. Let’s just hope their PC version is more than just after birth, and that the vids and walkthroughs I’ve seen do the finished article justice. Guess we’ll find out next year.

Rise of the Tomb Raider

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Lara Croft is at it again with Square Enix’s next instalment in the Tomb Raider franchise. For anyone not au fait with my previous blogs, Tomb Raider was one of my favourite games that I played last year and I am thoroughly looking forward to this next offering. Plus, y’know, Lara’s blatantly hot as fuck.

No Man’s Sky

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The contender to Elite’s crown perhaps? Hmm, I have to say I am definitely intrigued. From what I can gather we are talking full, galaxy exploration, which includes the planet surfaces themselves. What I mean is, picture this: You are swimming in clear blue waters, you climb out onto a golden beach among lush, bright vegetation and the varying wildlife of a given planet, you climb into your fighter, you take off, fly about for a bit, breach atmosphere and you’re in orbit, then hyperspace, then another solar system, then you pick another planet and do it all over again. The word ‘potential’ doesn’t even do it justice. Details appear to be thin on the ground when it comes to actual purpose of the game and the mechanics of it, but it’s definitely got the gaming community wanting lots more.

HUNT: Horrors of the Gilded Age.

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Crytek once again getting my saliva glands all moist. This particular morsel is full 4-player, 3rd person co-op, set in the early 20th Century. Priests, cowboys and similar people of the time are the characters – all with their own skill trees and the like, and all hunting various supernatural monsters and creatures from folklore around Europe and the America’s. Expect crazy nuts cultists and supernatural crazy shit to be fodder of the day which may give some juicy variety to standard enemies. Shotguns, pistols and rifles seem fairly welcome, if expected, but reports of them mixing it up with the odd special ‘weapon’ such as a Bible (which is a book, apparently) which a priest can read verses from causing some enemy types to die or whatever as their demons are exorcised. That kind of shit sounds rather spunky if you ask me. Characters also apparently have a large variety of customisable gear as well if you care about such things. Reports are that this will be free to play. Crytek seem to be big advocates of that model, so maybe I’m just having trouble moving with the times when I say I still have reservations about F2P titles. It never makes me think ‘yay’ – it always makes me think ‘oh’. What can I say, I need convincing that free games aren’t second rate games, so maybe this could be the one to turn me.

Rainbow Six: Siege

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With Rainbow 6 Patriots still currently AWOL, this is going to be filling the Six void for now. But rest assured this definitely doesn’t just look like filler. This looks good. Back to basics Rainbow Six tactical shooter stuff. Made for co-op. The gameplay vid had me going back half a dozen times as Team Six raided a large domestic property with a dozen goons inside and 1 poor wickle hostage. Destructible environments, customisable load outs, everything you would expect from a classic R6 game but with all the mod-cons too including aerial pre-siege overlook to help you plan your entry-points (which are entirely your own choice) and cheeky little drones and spy cams to give you the heads up on those pesky terrorists. Obviously Ubisoft comes with a warning, but this definitely looks the part.

The Evil Within

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Now that Resident Evil games are basically a bit shit, and at best a shadow of their former selves, it’s easy to forget what they used to be. Unrelenting masterpieces of survival horror, that’s what. And that is largely down to one single man. Shinji Mikami. Well, he left Capcom long ago and Japanese developers Tango Gameworks snapped him up and set him and his brain loose on the world once more. The result is The Evil Within. Think old school resident evil in a modern era, complete with current-gen graphics, oodles of post-Hostel gore and all manner of horrendous and disturbed nasties conjured up in the nightmares of this clearly damaged brain. Watch the first 5 mins on Youtube to see just how fucked up this shit is going to be. Have fun kids!

So, Aside from those main players there were other games that got my attention for various reasons, but don’t quite warrant a full piece of pie to themselves. Batman: Arkham Knight and Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor both made me want to go back and catch up on those respective, critically acclaimed series. Mirrors Edge 2 made me want to pick up its predecessor and see what all the fuss was about (which I did). Mortal Kombat X can’t help but awaken the nostalgic teenager in me and I can easily see myself picking this up on a whim just to satisfy his blood lust. And Sniper Elite 3 has been written about by me enough and will surely be another splendid Nazi killing game by Rebellion.

Assassins Creed: Unity, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Halo 5, Destiny and Battlefield: Hardline were all hugely covered at E3 as you can imagine. Those titles alone probably account for a large percentage of the entire cash flow of the gaming industry. But they excite me not, I’m afraid, and it would be disingenuous of me to start mouthing off about how the world finally gets to see Destiny or what colour underpants Master Chief will be wearing in Halo 5. I don’t even know if the dude’s alive, didn’t he die? Anyway, who gives a shit. Not me.

So, just like England in a World Cup, it seems over before it had started. E3 gone for another year.

By the way, as I write this there is a Steam Summer Sale on so go and buy a load of good games at silly process.

That is all. You may leave.

Oh, one more thing before I go. Doom. That is all.

I-besoft, We-besoft, Ubisoft

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Rejoice, oh fans of Crytek’s 2004 classic Far Cry. Ubisoft have announce that a….how do I put it, redux? Re-release?…..of said First Person delightfulness will be available as of February 11th in the form of Far Cry: Classic. Updated visuals, brand new cut scenes and other jiggery pokery means that for just $9.99 (US Bucks y’all) you can go back to the Island where it all began and retread those most hallowed of grounds in all their glory….

…….Not if you have a PC though. Sorry, did I forget to mention that bit? That’s right, Far Cry: Classic – originally released solely for the PC back in ’04 if you recall – will not be given a PC release.

Aaaaaand that little event perfectly sums up Ubisoft, who are the subject (or should that be target) of this particular episode of my game ramblings.

Here’s the thing about ole Ubi; they have made – and continue to make – some of the best games put to code. But where once the name Ubisoft was synonymous with edgy, hardcore titans like the Tom Clancy Series (at least, I think it was, right?), now they fall into the same category as other bloated, faceless, corporate monoliths like EA and are known for their lazy and third rate approach to anything even resembling a PC game. And that’s the bit that stings.

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Waaaaay back in the mid 80’s Ubisoft – started by 5 brothers in Brittany – made deals with Electronic Arts, Sierra On-Line and MicroProse to distribute their games in France. Success quickly led to other deals in other territories and before you could say Rainbow Six, Ubisoft started their own development arm.  Today, they boast around 30 individual studios (some founded by Ubi, others acquired over the years) in 19 countries. They employ the world’s second largest amount of in-house developers and can claim to be the third largest independent games developer on the whole ruddy planet. So well done them. But success, as usual, comes at a price. Ubisoft’s price was their connection to the very fans that made them what they are.

Up until 2004, every Tom Clancy game (all owned by Ubisoft since they acquired Tom Clancy’s own Red Storm Entertainment after the very first Rainbow Six game back in 1998) was released on PC. We are talking around a dozen Rainbow Six, Splinter Cell and Ghost Recon Titles, with all of their DLC’s and sequels and extra bits and pieces, many of which were solely available on Windows. Not to mention titles like Far Cry, the Rayman Series, and a whole grab-bag of random titles that helped build Ubisoft into a giant on the development and publishing stage. That changed – slowly at first – but then as the inevitable wave of cash poured in from the console market, Ubisoft left the PC world behind. Forgotten. Betrayed.

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It feels as if they almost resent the PC market now. Their games, not all, but most, many of which with sooo much potential, are invariably chucked through their in-house ‘porting machine’ that seems to require little more than “Press 1 to port to PC”. And lo – a PC version of Rainbow Six: Vegas is shat out like an unwanted colonic tumour and left to fester in its own bile. Leaving half finished games riddled with more bugs than a Ukrainian prostitutes toilet seat. Connection issues, crash to desktop, GPU incompatibility, key-bindings (I mean, key bindings, what the actual fuck?) Jesus, Far Cry: Blood Dragon doesn’t even run on my machine to this day and Ubi’s tech support was like talking to office IT punks who can barely manage to change printer toner. Trying to have a 4-player co-op session on Vegas 2 really was like being in Vegas in that it was a roll of the fucking dice whether or not we’d get a game at all.

And it’s as if they don’t even give a shit. I mean, they barely even hide their contempt. There’s precisely dick in the way or after sales support. Almost no patching. Ghost Recon: Future soldier even had their PC version canned after not much time in development without even a fucking press release out of courtesy to their fans. And then what happens? A year later the Ubisoft Porting Machine dumps out the PC version with barely a whimper, like it didn’t even touch the sides. Was it worth the wait? Was it fuck. What a load of tripe. The potential in that game had me salivating; pre-planning tactical scenarios and custom load outs with my clan for weeks before hand. What an unmitigated disaster, a total waste of my life and a scar of disappointment that will never fully heal.

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That’s what is so painful; when Ubisoft nail it, they really nail it. When they don’t, it feels like they simply don’t care about the PC market any more. If it wasn’t for the fact that Vegas 2 was such an unbelievably good game – once you managed to get in there – we would have simply thrown it to the side and cracked on with something else. But God it was good. Naturally we expected the same from Future Soldier. We were wrong.

Splinter Cell: Blacklist is the latest title I’ve played of theirs, and guess what? It’s very good. A clean PC port, excellent gameplay, and challenging to boot. So why the inconsistency? How was Ghost Recon so badly done and yet Blacklist seems to have made the transition effortlessly? It’s for reasons like this the phrase “don’t hold your breath” is so common within the circles I dwell when talking about Ubisoft, because you just never know. All faith has gone. When you talk about Valve, Gearbox, Irrational, Crytek, these guys have had hits, and misses, but you can’t shake the feeling in your heart that these guys want to make good games; artists constrained by the shackles of commerce. Ubisoft, EA, Activision, these are the billion dollar goliath’s, raking in cash, buying up indie-developers and swallowing their souls. Money machines, worrying ever so slightly about the whole creative side of things – and yes occasionally turning out fucking good games.

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That is where they dwell now; the mighty halls of big industry gaming, where the PC crowd are very far from The Master Race. It’s all Assassin’s Creed and Watch Dogs and other AAA titles.

It’s a rollercoaster ride with Ubisoft. You never know which way it’s going to go. The problem is though, they have stung me too many times for me to give them the benefit if the doubt. In fact it’s now the opposite. As much as I may get excited at their upcoming releases, ultimately I assume it will be yet another ruined opportunity. It will take more than Splinter Cell: Blacklist to change that.

And so what of Ubisoft’s future? Rainbow 6: Patriots is still apparently in the works despite a horrendously bad production thus far which ended up seeing the entire creative team ‘deleted’ and Ubisoft essentially starting again from the ground up. The Division is the next title incoming (due sometime in 2014), and once again it looks like it has vast stacks of potential, with a current-gen breakthrough in destructible and dynamic environments and an excellent 4-player co-op system. But guess what, it was only confirmed that it would have PC release after they asked fans via Twitter to sign a petition and declare interest. I mean Jeeeeesus.  They’ve also hinted at a Far Cry 4 which, after the instant classic that was the series third instalment, I am already excited about.

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Each one of those three titles alone has the potential to be truly epic and to be a contender for game of the year. But they also have the potential to be crushingly disappointing.

I’m hoping for the former, but guess what, It’s Ubisoft, so I won’t hold my breath.

The Future is Now…..or soon….or at least ongoing.

2014 is a go ladies and gentlemen, we are rolling. The Earth continues to complete a single revolution on its axis roughly every 24 hours AND simultaneously orbit our Sun at around 67,000 miles per hour. Mash those to astronomical factoids together and you get science, apparently. But you also get time, or more accurately our method of measuring it. Anyway, what was I talking about? Ah yes, games…..

So as we stride forth into the 2014-shaped yonder, your Bioshock Infinite’s and your Shadow Warrior’s are but distant memories, replaced instead with things in the shape of Titanfall and Dying Light. Yes folks, let us look forward to what meaty juices the rich world of games, gaming and gameage has to offer us lucky monkeys this coming 365 planetary revolutions (which is a year, I’m reliably informed).

I won’t do a list of most anticipated titles – only idiots do lists. Besides, there are too many games I’m interested in to do any kind of meaningful list, so I’ll spit my words and see what comes out.

So, not a list, and in no particular order.

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One of the first games dropping this year which has got me reasonably flustered is Eidos Montreal’s reboot of Thief. The first in this series came out back in ’98, with a sequel in 2000, both of which were great games (I didn’t play the 2004 instalment). They almost, sort of, started their own sub-genre in the First Person arena, with the onus almost entirely on stealth, plus as I recall the medieval steam-punk setting was pioneering at the time. I can’t help but feel like this reboot is somehow competing with Dishonoured which in many respects actually felt like a reboot of Thief in its own right, or at least was surely heavily influenced by its legacy. Various reports of a troubled development is always the sort of thing to set the nerves on edge (first announced back in 2009 but reworked from the ground up thereafter) however Eidos Montreal did a pretty good job with Deus Ex: Human Revolution, so here’s hoping.

titan

There’s no doubt Titanfall is personally one of my most anticipated titles of the year. This bad boy is the first game from Respawn Entertainment, but fear not, those guys are seasoned vets, with co-founders Jason West and Vince Zampella both coming from Infinity Ward and can claim to be chiefly responsible for arguably some of the best titles in the Call of Duty franchise. This game looks to be First Person Carnage at its finest, with the added dynamic of jet packs enabling you to scale buildings in a single bound thus adding literally another dimension (that being vertical) to the battlefield. Oh, and there’s also huge fuckoff mech suits (Titan’s in fact) for you to climb in fight against and oooh it’s all exciting. Please be as good as I hope.

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The other title REALLY tickling ones floppy bits is Elite: Dangerous (Frontier Developments) which I’ve written in detail about before. Strange thing this, because it seems as if my gaming family and I are the only human beings on the face of the frickin’ Earth who are in the slightest bit excited about it. How exactly is this possible? I have trawled a dozen “Most Anticipated Games of 2014” run down’s and not a single one gives it a mention, not even Games Radar’s 100 Most anticipated…… I mean, are they seriously saying there are at least 100 other games scheduled for release this year which they are more excited about? Really? Elite was nothing short of pioneering and changed the shape of gaming forever, so why aren’t people getting giddy about the reboot, especially when the Alpha release looks so saucy? What irks me more is the fact that games like Star Citizen (Cloud Imperium Games) and No Man’s Sky (Hello games) are both similar in theme and are both regulars on said lists. OK, the comparison isn’t entirely fair but you get my point.

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As it happens, Star Citizen does look pretty sweet. From what I can gather it’s a kind of double-release in that the game is actually comprised of ‘Star Citizen’ which is an MMOG, first-person, space-combat game with trade elements (like…er, Elite) but also ‘Squadron 42’ which is more of a single-player/drop-in drop-out co-op campaign typa’ thing (and we looooooovvveee co-op campaigns in these quarters).

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No Man’s Sky also looks tasty, but in all honesty I’ve only seen a wee taster trailer from VGX and from what I can gather it’s still early days, although the ability to explore the universe from the deepest oceans right through to the furthest reaches of the galaxy is certainly a USP to keep an eye on.

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Dying Light is another title high on my list for 2014. Techland have a lot to answer for after the woefully disappointing Dead Island, and Dying Light could – could – right those wrongs. All the elements are there; zombies, fluid free running, day/night dynamic, co-op (although presently un-specified what co-op elements it will offer) and although the above sounds like a mash up of Brink and Dead island – two awful, awful games – I have hope for this game.

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Mad Max from Avalanche studios is next up. Big fan of George Miller’s first two films that follow ole’ Max Rockatansky in a post apocalyptic down under. I’ve often thought it’s the basis for a good game setting and indeed I would wager id Software were influenced more than a bit when they made RAGE a couple of years ago. Open worldy, survivaly, post apocalypticy; what’s not to get excited about?

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Let’s talk horror. More accurately, survival horror from the Godfather of the Genre himself Shinji Mikami. The gameplay footage and trailers from The Evil Within (Tango gameworks) look suitably unbelievably-horrific with all manner of totally effed up shiz  going on. In fact, I’m not ashamed to say it, when I saw the gameplay trailer showcased at E3 it was dark and late and I was tired and yes fine it made me feel reasonably uneasy and getting to sleep that particular night wasn’t a pleasant experience. I look forward to many more nights of equally uneasy sleeping experiences this year.

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Wolfenstein: The New Order (Machinegames) will hopefully be a solid FPS with B.J. Blazkowics back in the saddle, this time in a mech-infused alternate reality future where Ze Pesky Nazi’s won the war or something. This is the first instalment since waaaaay back in 1992 that doesn’t have id Software involved although Machinegames are using the id Tech 5 engine, so there’s that. What can I say, I can’t help but get excited for this, and the teaser trailer set to Jimmy Hedrix’s All Along the Watchtower just set the moody mood. Plus, I mean, Nazi’s, big guns, c’mon.

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Sticking with Ze Nazi theme, Sniper Elite 3 developed once again by Rebellion has us in North Africa doing the obvious. Sniper Elite V2 was an awesome game which included full 2-player co-op campaign and then went and upped the stakes with Nazi Zombie Army 1 and 2 to the oh-so-brilliant 4-player co-op. There’s been no official statement on just how co-op SE3 will be but I think Rebellion will have missed a trick if they don’t make it 4-player drop-in drop-out. Plus I’ll be pissed off with them, which I’m sure they will be devastated about.

TheDivision

Ubisoft had to make the list didn’t they? Will this be another year, with yet another disappointment from them? Let’s hope not. The Division, like soooo many Ubisoft games before it is brimming with potential. Don’t get me wrong, Ubi do make some brilliant games (Far Cry 3 a case in point) but they also have a habit of doing the worst console ports ever and just lazily dumping out PC versions without a care in the world and ruining what could be such amazing games. I am currently in the throes of wrestling with the PC port of Splinter Cell: Blacklist which has all the frustrating hallmarks of a Ubi port. I hope hope hope The Division isn’t the same because it looks like one of the few titles which could be considered ‘next gen’ (even though that phrase doesn’t apply to PC’s, but you get the idea). Plus it’s co-op and…..well, need I say more.

tales from the borderlands

I may have mentioned once or twice in previous posts that I’m a Borderlands fan. Have I? Well I am. A big fan. To say the least. Whilst we don’t have a new Borderlands game as such, we do have an episodic game ‘series’ in the vein of The Walking Dead and in fact developed by the same guys over at Telltale games. Tales from the Borderlands should begin sometime in 2014. Yay.

evolve

A recently announced title has immediately registered highly on my excitometer – Evolve from Turtle Rock Studios pits 4 players (in co-op, of course) against 1 almighty alien (also player controlled should you so desire). Said alien starts off in an almost infant like state while the 4 players try and hunt it down and murderlise it before it grows (or ‘evolves’….see) into its adult form. A sort of hunter-becomes-hunted element is one of the games strong suits, but also the idea of every level kind of revolving around ‘a boss’ in some way is intriguing. Not to mention the possibility of having a human in the shoes of the boss in question. All very delicious.

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Another recently announced title also sounds and looks like it has absolutely ooooooodles of potential. Alien: Isolation from The Creative Assembly. I don’t need to go over the history of Alien related games and how they have on the whole fallen so very, very short of their potential (the wounds of Colonial Marines are still raw for me…..) but this looks…..different. Whilst we are still looking for a worthy successor to Rebellion’s 1999 masterpiece Alien Vs Predator in the form of a James Cameron-a-like action-fest, Isolation appears to be taking a different approach and is instead taking its lead from Ridley Scott’s classic 1979 horror-in-space. Still early days on this but it looks like The Creative Assembly have nailed the atmosphere (which is exactly what I said about Gearbox and Colonial Marines prior to its release). Please don’t be shit.

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Rounding off the list is kind of an also-ran for me but I do have the odd pang of excitement when seeing some of the visuals. Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes (Kojima Productions) serves as the first instalment in a double-release comprising Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain. All that doesn’t really interest me if I’m honest, the Metal gear games have been solid console performers since day dot but always felt very frustrating and repetitive for me, however early gameplay footage from ground Zeroe’s and an impressive film-like cinematic trailer just about gets it on the list.

So that’s it really. Or at least that’s the bulk of it.  There are other games which I am GAGGING to know more about and if they aren’t released this year then hopefully we will at least get some news on them. Such titles include Rainbow 6: patriots which underwent a root-and-branch creative overhaul after most of the senior players were ‘let go’ from Ubisoft. Rainbow 6 games always have potential and the premise for this looked outstanding, so let’s see what happens.

Furious 4

Gearbox has been schtum on Furious 4 for a while now but hopefully they will be ready to get the ball re-rolling on their 4-player co-op Inglorious Basterds-esque Nazi-killing romper stomper.

Among The Sleep is an indie-title I blogged about many weeks ago from Nordic Independent developers Krillbite Studios. I haven’t heard anything on this for a while but now that I have schooled myself in the world of non-violent first person games I am more eager than ever to get my hands on this.

Talking of Indie-games, The Dead Linger is a kickstarter project from Sandswept I’ve been backing and once again has so much potential.  Currently in its Alpha state, it’s a full-on, open world, 4-player co-op zombie survival game in the vein of Day Z. Who knows when this will be ready to hit shelves, but when it does, let’s just hope it’s good.

Lastly, and not leastly, this one is for Valve. This could be their year what with the imminent arrival of Steam OS and the Steam Machines, but must we go another year without any news on Half Life 3? What about Left 4 Dead 3? Will we see another sequel to possibly the best co-op series of all time? Do something amazing Valve. You know you want to.

And so that’s that. What more will the year of gaming offer us mere mortals? Hopefully lots of lovely stuff for me to play and write about.

You may now return to your lives.

P.S. I have never forgotten about Hidden & Dangerous, I just dare not utter the words…….

Top 5 Games of 2013

Yes, yes, before anyone starts givin’ it all a’that I am perfectly aware that 2 of these games were released in 2012 but I have 2 kids dammit and only got round to playing them this year, (the games, not the…oh forget it).

And yes, OK, Jesus, I also know that Borderlands 2 was released last year but such is the sprawling splendour of Gearbox’s second visit to Pandora, I haven’t finished playing it yet therefore it ain’t on the list.

Oh for Christ’s…..yes, I am also aware this is the second list in a row I have done, but this is my end of year round up so leave me alone.

Jesus, I won’t bother next time.

Let’s start again……

My Top 5 Games That I Played and Finished of 2013

There. Happy? Good.

So, the year is nearly out, and these pages are where I spit my lyrical badness about games, hence the duty rests upon my shoulders to share with those of you that care enough to be reading these scribbled uttering’s what the year 2013 said to me through the language of video gaming.

It was a good year. A year of some frustration, as ever in this world in which we so often dwell. A year of some true classics that will stay with me until the end of my days, be them soon or late. And a year of some missed opportunities on my part that I hope to redeem in the coming year which lays before us in all its unknown potential. With that in mind I shall also cast a hopeful eye yonder to the games of 2014. Join me, and see if we can’t get your fancy tickled.

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I have a principle; one which I have stuck by for many Earth years. Never overlap games.  The only exception to this is a healthy – and necessary –  mix of a single player venture and a co-op undertaking, the latter of which can only be played when the planets align and all of my clan are free from the trappings of verus orbis. This principle has held me in good stead throughout my ageing years, but it has one drawback, as you will see from my listings below. I cannot play all the games I wish, and often some games are forsaken – at least for a time – as others are prioritised. This means that it can be many months after a release before games are played, especially when coupled with the fact that I have a day job, a family, and other such priorities which devour much of my life’s time. Follow and share this blog to the extent that I am offered a living in game journalism or advertising revenue and this issue should go away, but until such a time, this is simply how it must be, alas.

Far Cry 3 and The Swapper both suffered from this, hence that deliciously different duo from a year since past appear on my list today. Skyrim and Borderlands 2 have also found themselves dragging behind the times as the unrelenting march of time soldiers forth. Arma III,  Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army 2 (I think I’ll abbreviate that from now on….) and Payday 2 – all of which suffer that blessing-and-curse of being co-op – are yet to even be played (expect to see them on next years list….). Call of Duty: Ghosts and Battlefield 4 will also feature in early 2014. Though it’s true both franchises are becoming somewhat tiresome, they are still decent enough, fun shooters which usually deliver what I expect them to.

Then there are the games which for one reason or another I simply missed, but which I endeavour to catch up with throughout the forthcoming year. Of those, I think Naughty Dog’s Playstation 3 exclusive ‘The Last of Us’ is the biggest on that list. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it, from the premise, the script and characters, the gameplay and perhaps more than anything the story. I hope for a PC port (admittedly unlikely), otherwise I shall have to invest in a PS3.

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Also on this list are a couple of relatively low-profile gems. ‘Gone Home’ developed by an Oregan (US) based indie quartet called The Fullbright Company is extremely high on my must-play list. A first-person adventure game, you play a woman who comes home after a trip abroad to find her entire family is missing. You must explore the house for clues to discover what happened to them. Although apparently short, this game won Best Indie Title and Best PC Game at this years VGX.

As well as that, Starbreeze’s ‘Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons’ will be high on my play list. Another story-driven adventure game, this revolves around two brothers trying to find their way in the world, solving problems and overcoming obstacles in an attempt to find the tree of life to help their dying father. Story is again key here and reports of poignant moments have me intrigued.

There were of course some F**KING HUGE titles which came out which didn’t interest me then, and they don’t interest me now. GTA V, Assassins Creed: Black Flag and Injustice: God’s Among Us stand out in that crowd. We also had a new Total War, a new Saint’s Row and a new Tomb raider. All very ‘meh’. This goes for the whole ‘next-gen’ thing too, which as I’ve previously gobbed off about, thus far has done little to moisten my loins.

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^ Respawn Entertainments ‘Titanfall’ – oooh mumma.

Before I unleash the list, let us look forth to what the coming year may offer. I cannot deny 2014 could potentially reap a bumper crop. Atop that tree sits Titanfall, Dying Light and Elite: Dangerous, all of which have me aching for an upgrade. There is also the reboot/sequel (not sure which) of Thief, The Division – providing it’s a proper PC version and not some standard-issue lazy-ass Ubisoft port – Among The Sleep and Sniper Elite 3. Rounding off that list is the new Wolfenstein, Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zero’s, maybe Destiny if it’s proper co-op, Mad Max and back-to-the-old-skool (hopefully) shit-your-pants survival horror The Evil Within. Hey, who knows, maybe there’ll even be news on Half Life 3, Left 4 Dead3, Furious 4, Doom 4 and Rainbow 6: Patriots (is it even still called Patriots? Who the fuck knows), or something juicy with the Unreal 4 Engine. Maybe……ok maybe that’s pushing it.

So here we have it. My top 5 games played-and-finished of 2013. It was tough: titles like Blood Dragon and Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army were difficult to leave out, but leave them out I did. For behold, these are they that hath madeth the cut.

5 – Metro: Last Light (4A Games)

Metro Last Light

Ha, didn’t see that one coming did you. If you want atmosphere, here’s the game for you. The first Metro was good, but I was always being constantly frustrated with the gameplay and weapons. This time round, Ukrainian outfit 4A nailed it. If for no other reason, this game goes on the list because it’s the first game in a looong time to genuinely put the shits up me. Some genuinely scary moments that leave you really not wanting to walk into that room. Providing your rig can take it, pick this up for tuppence on Steam and don’t sleep for a week.

Check out the excellent trailer here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2djDE_kwH3Q

4 – The Swapper (Facepalm Games)

Swapper

This (2012) indie game is one of the coolest and toughest little bastards I’ve played in an age. Side scrolling 2D (ish) puzzle game which is dripping with atmosphere and IQ straining problems. You awake on a derelict and deserted space vessel and quickly find your only way to salvation is a clone gun which can not only make physical copies of your body which mimic your every move, but also gives you the ability to transfer your consciousness to one of said clones. A dark, melancholic and almost hopeless feeling seems to haunt your every step. Another bargain on Steam.

Check out the trailer – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AidyRHYg74c

3 – Shadow Warrior (Flying Wild Hogs)

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It had to be in the top 5, it just had to be. I haven’t had this much raw, unashamed joyful slaughter since The Tournament. For my fully fledged felating of this piece of class see my earlier blog devoted to Lo Wang and his choppy-shooty-hacky-slashy escapades. This game does the following; it gives you lots of fucking demons to slay and lots of ways to fucking slay them. It doesn’t just wheel you round arena to arena a la Serious Sam, it actually has progressive levels like a proper FPS. It’s fucking brilliant, and it’s fucking tough. If you get to the end you should be awarded a Victoria Cross for bravery. Guess what, another steal on Steam.

Seriously, check out the outstanding trailer – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwjB2Re_Sso

2 – Far Cry 3 (Ubisoft Montreal)

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Where to begin, this 2012 game had the lot. It maintained all of what was so good about Crytek’s  first in the series and erased all that was so shit about the second. An outstanding open world that seemed to somehow brim with authenticity. The addition of a plethora of wildlife always kept you looking over your shoulder and yet also gave the game that hunting sub-plot for the upgrades. The gunplay was sublime, with a fat roster of upgradeable weapons including the outstanding bow and arrow. Missions never felt like a chore, it was always a pleasure to go and kill a small band of pirates using any combination of brute force or ninja stealth that you saw fit. And of course there was Vaz, one of the all-time great gaming villains. What a classic.

Honestly, check out this wicked trailer. Do it! – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6gnOVJsCsM

1 – Bioshock Infinite (Irrational games)

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If you took any one of the key elements present in Irrational Games’ almost flawless Bioshock sequel, and transferred them to another game, that game would be elevated ten-fold in stature. Just like the first incarnation of the franchise – also from Irrational – this game fused so many incredibly well done aspects of the genre in to one almighty goliath of a game that towered over almost everything else.  The World – Columbia; the floating city in the sky, was so detailed, crafted with such obvious love and such nurtured attention that the first hour-or-so gameplay was spent literally just looking around in awe. The gunplay and skyhook mechanics were nothing short of a giddy joy to play. The righteous satisfaction (and in some cases extremely challenging) of laying waste to the varied minions of Zachary Comstock, the Vox Populi or Jeremiah Fink et al had me feeling like a boss on multiple occasions. Speaking of those, the characters were once again fleshed out with real personality, real character, aided by an excellent script. Elizabeth is an instant great in the characters of the gaming world. Then there’s the story. I won’t say much for those that haven’t played it, but the story is possibly Infinite’s trump card. As poignant, engaging and immersive as any film.

The game as a whole feels like the work of a team of extraordinarily competent professionals in every aspect. It’s clearly a crafted piece of art which has been cherished, nurtured and cared about and I think the whole team at Irrational can be (and probably is) extremely proud of their contribution to the glorious world of games.

It also had my favourite trailer of the year. Check it out…..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLHW78X1XeE&oref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DbLHW78X1XeE&has_verified=1

or here if above isn’t working – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Mrr-0p-kkg

Roll on 2014.

I Guess Disappointment Can Be Pretty Disappointing Sometimes.

There are two things in this world that tickle my dirty loins and get the sweaty juices flowing like little else on the Earth. Films is one. Games be the other. The reason I mention the films thing in this ‘gaming-only’ zone that is The Mighty G-Blog, is that there’s a curious paradox that has becometh between the two; very curious indeed. There are oodles of similarities between the two mediums which I shan’t go into here (oodles of differences too of course), but as they both sit atop the list of my ‘preferred things’ in this life there is one notable oddity which exists – or rather, has been created – by my lumpy old brain, and which one cannot apply any known forms of reason or logic to.

Anticipation, and the way my head manages it.

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Both mediums have the capacity to easily give the ole oblongata a stiffy, but with film I have – through years and years of painful education at the school of Bitter Disappointment (featuring such classes as ‘trailers can make anything look good’, ‘watching a remake is almost never a good idea’ and ‘Star Wars – Episode 1: The Phantom Menace’) – learned that there are so many variables, so many marketing tricks, so much that can go wrong (and so easily) in film, that I can usually overcome those initial, primal pangs of giddy excitement when I hear of a project in the works or coming soon, fairly easily. Although the road was a long and difficult one, you are more likely to hear me use phrases like “has potential” and “looks interesting”, and other such grown up things when looking at films on the ‘coming soon’ roster.

‘Games’ however is a different bucket of clams altogether. When it comes to future games on my radar I still not only get the ridiculously optimistic buzz, like a kid with ADHD waiting for Christmas morning, but it doesn’t go away; it lingers. It hangs around like the sickly sweet aftertaste you get from drinking too much coke. I know it’s wrong, I know it’s not good for me, I know it will invariably lead to the familiar taste of bitter disappointment and at best simply not live up to the overhype I’ve created in the flappy meat-box I call my head. It’s not like I’m new to gaming, it’s not like I haven’t been stung – oh so painfully stung – by this time and time before (more to follow on that…). You’d think the bits of my brain that deal with anticipation and logic would be tickled in the same way by the expectation of both films AND games, but clearly there is some alternate path that the ‘games’ bit journeys on throughout the squishy pink shit behind my face and somehow gets lost on the way and ends up in the “wow look a shiny thing” section. This anomaly can only be explained by my messed up brain head not making thinking happen proper.

Let’s take Brink for example – let’s just take a fucking minute here everyone, and have a good, hard think about that, shall we? I know it’s not easy, and I know it’s not pleasant, but Jesus on the fucking cross if we don’t confront this shit it’s just going to eat away at us.

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Brink. Developed by Splash Damage, published by Bethesda. It hit the shelves in August 2011. 12 months or more I’d been lusting over it like some dirty, middle-aged peeping tom fiddling with his junk in the back row at London fashion week. I’ll never forget the build up. The initial teaser trailer which started on the macro shot of that eye, then the slow zoom out that followed. Outstanding graphics and animation. 2 factions. 4-player co-op. FPS mayhem. The customisation; skins, weapons, masks, kit. Jesus I’m starting to get a semi just reliving these memories for fucks sake. The free-running element, that un-fucking-believably good cinematic trailer which went from one character to another as they sniped and shot and mowed down and hacked and grenade each other in a bullet ballet of free running, gunning, blood splattering cacophonic mayhem.

Then it came out. And we played it. And it was a Greek fucking tragedy. It was basically Team Fortress just with more punk. And let’s be brutally honest here shall we peeps, if I wanted to play a really decent Team Fortress style game I’d play Team fucking Fortress wouldn’t I. What a fucking shit shame. And lo, the unwelcome and ungodly feeling of disappointment poured over me like a bucket of warm cum.

Brink is still a word met with a painful silence in the gaming circles I inhabit. So as the Slaughtered Lamb fell as silent as the Yorkshire moors at the mention of a pentangle, so my Clan and I fix a thousand-yard stare at the mention of Bethesda’s greatest tragedy. Regret. Pain. Disappointment.

This is true also of Ubisoft’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. Oh the potential. Such awe inspiring potential. The gun-customisation was a wet-dream for gun-nuts such as myself. The kit and the tech. It’s a tactical shooter. We followed its development even when for sooo long it was announced it wouldn’t even have a PC release. But we kept the faith. God how I wish we didn’t. They clearly just waved a magic wand and cast a cheap little ‘console-porting’ spell on it, stuck it on a DVD or 2 and shipped it out. Disappointment. Again. From Ubisoft. Again.

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[Dead Island is nothing like this ^]

Dead Island. Techland’s survive-a-zombie-infested-island, 4-player co-op published by Deep Silver. Now who remembers THAT trailer? One of the all-time great gaming trailers. And what did we get? We got heavy on detail, low on gameplay. Boring, easy, lame. The trailer was a lie; a marketing ploy. It represented neither the atmosphere nor the ‘survival’ feel of the game (and by that I mean the actual game had neither). Disappointment.

And then there was Aliens: Colonial Marines. Where the fuck do you start with that? I followed that game, and I do mean closely, for 3 years. Some poor fucks out there paid the whole 6 year ticket. It was the perfect set up, perfect. Colonial Marines, y’know, from Aliens. 4-player co-op. Xenomorphs. Like in the FILM!! Gearbox Software. GEARBOX people! The legendary developers that brought us Borderlands! This couldn’t fail, it was simply too easy to get right. It was a sure thing. It couldn’t fail! Shows what I know. I mean, it wasn’t exactly a disaster, but it was just ‘alright’. 6 years in development, 3 years of scraping the internet and the forums for tiny morsels, any hint that it hadn’t been canned. Developed by Gearbox software. ‘Alright’ just doesn’t cut it. I still blame Sega for that clusterfuck rather than Gearbox, but hey, that’s just me. Disappointment.

The list goes on. Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising (Tethering…WTF!?), Duke Nukem Forever, Arma II, Fall of Cybertron….etc etc. Disappointment, disappointment, disappointment.

Of course, there is the opposite too. The games that you hoped would be good but were actually absolutely Earth shatteringly brilliant. Payday, Left 4 Dead, Crysis 3, Sniper Elite, Max Payne 3. Then there’s your very, very rare beasts; the ones that you were so excited about and so hyped that they could only fail – but didn’t. Bioshock Infinite springs to mind. These last two lists are all too small though. Such is the way of both game and film, it probably won’t be as good as you think. But I suppose that’s OK if your brain works properly, and can manage the expectation. Like mine does with film. Not like mine does with game.

Maybe it is all down to Star Wars: Episode 1. Maybe that is the kind of life-altering blow of hyper-disappointment that forced the film-side of my brain into taking a step back – “I will never be hurt like that again”, sort of like some bitter defense mechanism. Maybe I should stick to the Safe bets; the games you know won’t be absolutely groundbreaking but will fill a gap and be decent enough and hey, maybe even surprise you a bit. Things like your (modern) Resident Evil’s and Dead Space (usually console games) and the like.

So what does the future hold? Take Down: Red Sabre, Shadow Warrior, Thief, Titanfall, Metro: Last Light (still not played), and further on Wolfenstein, The Dead Linger, Elite, Dying Light, Hellraid, shit even the Steam Machines……to name but a few hopefuls. I’m sure there’ll be some disappointments in there. But hopefully some class acts as well.

The question is, will my brain learn? Can I force it to? Or will I be destined to have disappointment in gaming as a haunting mistress for the rest of my days.