The year is 2018. You’re an awkward, nerdy type shuffling your way through a crowded party with a luke-warm drink in your hand. As you elbow your way through the crowd and spill beer everywhere, you start to recognise a lot of your fellow party goers – they look an awful lot like you. What would you do?
One day, all of this will be gone. When the great nuclear war of 2019 incinerates everything you love, when the wind passes over our scattered bones, when all the cars and stadiums and pubs and high-rise flats are nothing but skeletal ruins, planet earth might start to look awfully pretty again… after about a hundred years. But if post-apocalyptic dinosaur murder simulator Horizon Zero Dawn is anything to go by, it’ll look fabulous.
One of the great things about the internet is the ability to read, listen and learn about long dead sub-cultures from the mists of time from the comfort of a couch or bed – the potential to broaden your horizon and to learn about the world that came before isn’t something to be sniffed at. Indeed, if you roll the clocks back 15 years or … Continue reading NOFX: The Hepatitis Bathtub… offers an alternative, sobering look at punk culture and band life.
Divinity: Original Sin 2 updates the classic CRPG formula properly. Unlike Pillars of Eternity which seemed like much more of a homage to a by-gone era, Larians latest entry into their long-running CRPG series uses classic CRPG tropes as a base and builds on it with new, fresh ideas. Character-based roleplaying is brought out of the rose-tinted memories of the 90’s and into the here and now with some great new modern twists on the formula. Divinity: Original Sin 2 distances itself from Obsidians recent crowdfunded efforts by making them look like nothing more than derivative in comparison, and that’s quite a feat considering how polished and intricately detailed the worlds of games like Tyranny and Pillars of Eternity are.
Looking back to the release of No Mans Sky last year, it’s hard not to think of Hello Games’ much talked about space exploration epic as anything other than a burning wreckage on the side of the road. in reality it’s a story we should be more familiar with – A meteoric rise in interest, insane levels of hype and some slight dishonesty on the part of Hello Games means that it was almost destined to fail and if you’ve been around the block for a while in games media you’ve probably seen this story before. Daikatana, Spore and many others were victims of the exact same fate that No Mans Sky suffered. So when the game finally landed on the alien planet of gamer culture its landing gears cracked and fell off in orbit and sent the burning hull of Hello Games screaming down to earth with a bang. People were angry. Angry about the skeletal, bare bones experience of the game, frustrated that it promised the world and didn’t deliver, and bitterly disappointed with Sean Murray of Hello Games specifically for not being honest. And while the game was certainly disappointing, the whirlwind of criticism surrounding Hello Games last year reached a fever pitch that was difficult to watch. Anyone in tune with the zillions of Reddit threads on the topic at the time was either joining in the with their own flaming torches and pitchforks or couldn’t bear to look at the carnage.
As trite as it is to pick a favourite, I still do it anyway, despite how arbitrary it is. For a few years now, Dark Souls has occupied the top spot in my imaginary, pointless list of preferences. But prior to Dark Souls coming into my life, that spot was inhabited by another. Deus Ex. The classic turn-of-the-millenium FPS/RPG hybrid for PC was, for a very long time, my undisputed favourite. The seamless blend of genre bending and philosophy really captured my teenage heart and held it tight until way into my 20’s, and it took something with real heavyweight pedigree like Dark Souls to slightly dislodge it from the top of my silly little illusiory list. As a result, immersive sims like Dishonoured, Prey and System Shock et al always make me sit up and take notice. Primarily because true immersive sims are such a rarity but also because I find the genre so absolutely fascinating. So it’s really weird, then, that I let Mankind Divided pass me by.
There’s something about the gaze of a snipers scope. The cold lens that scans the horizon for an unsuspecting victim, gliding between a soldier cleaning his rifle, or another one writing a letter home, to an officer giving a lecture to his men. Shooting a rifle like this will be loud, it’ll be a shock to the system, and without any sound to cover the shot, the skilled marksmen would need to move away in an instant or risk getting caught. The cross-hairs of a scope are cold, brutal. Hard lines that cross together to signal death to a young lad in a uniform. From up here in this tower, a sniper is death incarnate. Indiscriminately picking its targets from a distance, disconnected, uncaring.
Y’know, I’m a bit allergic to travelling. The world is a scary place – it’s full of people and people are pretty awful. If 2016 is anything to go by, you’d be better served staying in your homely nuclear bunker surrounded by chocolate and ice-cream and video games. I like to live life like a true house cat, wrapped up in bed sheets and a warm drink. It sucks out there. People are scary. Luckily though video games are nicer than people.
Duke Nukem 3D is a game very dear to my heart. Cast your minds back to late 1998, where a younger, more foolish version of myself used to delight in sneaking out of the house to visit a nearby friend and play a naughty game with swearing and breasts in it. At the time, playing Duke Nukem 3D felt unruly. Set in gritty, action movie locales, it revelled in the pleasures of the skin and swearing and farting in a way that felt really adult, but in reality was quite immature. Regardless, Duke Nukem 3D is a beloved classic, where shootouts result in broken glass shattering, sending fragments across your screen, wood and twisted metal punctuate explosions. This was all packaged with a wink and a smile; with Duke cracking his knuckles at the start of the first level, it makes it clear that you’re in for a cigar chomping rollercoaster of shootouts and explosions… and aliens on the toilet.
Hacker culture is pretty well exposed these days. In between the paranoid fever dream of Mr Robot and the myriad of indie games attempting to recreate the fascinating sub culture, along with all that real-world stuff of whistle blowers and Edward Snowden and privacy debates, the dystopia written at the birth of the Internet seems to be slowly coming to life. As a society we lurch closer … Continue reading Hackmud PC review