Gaming

The Bard is Back for Another Encore

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The Bard is Back for Another Encore

In the midst of a cinematic year that features the Jurassic Park, Mad Max, Star Wars, and Terminator franchises, and that the genres enjoying the most sweeping resurgence in interactive entertainment are Role-Playing-Games and Space Flight-Simulators, one can be forgiven for a bit of chronological confusion.

Brian Fargo, inXile, and A Bard’s Tale are looking to add fuel to that fire. Fresh off of a two-straight win-streak of resounding Kickstarter successes in the form of the multiple GotY-award winning RPG masterpiece Wasteland 2 and the highly-anticipated Torment: Tides of Numenara, the industry vet and indie studio extraordinaire are resurrecting the fan favorite Bard’s Tale franchise.

 

Anyone else remember when this was state-of-the-art?

Anyone else remember when this was state-of-the-art?

On the 30th anniversary of the first title in the series, the Kickstarter for A Bard’s Tale IV will go live. Promising hardcore dungeon-delve mechanics, a bespoke, authentic Celtic musical experience, the combination of the Unreal IV engine and the use of photogrammetry on actual locations in the United Kingdom, A Bard’s Tale IV promises to be a manifold beautiful return to the storied world of the franchise.

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Pixel Clicks Podcast #15 – 2.5 Hours of Shooting a Dragon’s Butt

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Pixel Clicks Podcast #15 – 2.5 Hours of Shooting a Dragon’s Butt

This week the guys talk about Blizzard and Microsoft banning people for vastly different reasons, Guillermo Del Toro lamenting Silent Hills, the mobile future of Konami, the cowspiracy of Diablo 3, and much much more! Read On

Toren

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Toren

Toren is a difficult game to classify. It sits somewhere between narratively-driven art titles like Dear Esther and Gone Home, and the more simplistic side of action-adventure titles like Ico and Shadow of the Colussus. Its narrative centers around a girl born into a barren world and her metaphorical journey of self-realization, and is influenced heavily by a marriage of folkloric tales.

Toren is the first title from indie developer Swordtales, and was one of the first titles developed with financial assistance from the Brazilian government. It’s already something of an industry darling, having been nominated for a number of indie gaming awards, among them an Honorable Mention for excellence in Visual Arts at IGF 2012.

 

At it's best, Toren is breathtaking.

At it’s best, Toren is breathtaking.

It’s a parallel that’s been made before, and it’s a difficult one to escape – so many of the visual choices and the design elements recall Ico, and to a lesser degree Shadow of the Colossus. Fans of the fictional world shared by both of those titles will feel right at home with Toren. The simplicity of the game-play, the animation, and the art style are all reminiscent of an earlier, simpler time in game development – for good and ill.

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Killing Floor 2 Early Access Assessment

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Killing Floor 2 Early Access Assessment

When it comes to Early Access titles, Killing Floor 2 achieves a level of refinement other developers can only dream of. It exemplifies the sequel, incorporating new ideas and mechanics that benefit the overall experience, achieving the effect for which most sequels strive; a game just as, if not more, exhilarating as its predecessor. Killing Floor 2 continues to refine the franchise’s single best feature of being a genuinely entertaining multi-player first-person-shooter. Additionally, even in the current Early Access state of the game, there are multiple playable options, such as three different maps, four playable classes and seven characters from which to choose.

Developed by Tripwire Interactive and much like the original, Killing Floor 2 tosses players into a world of pandemonium and destruction. Survival is the ultimate goal, as relentless waves of Zeds, and the final round-end boss all pose serious combat and strategic challenges. Each player can choose from four different classes, known as “Perks,” ranging from Medic, Solider, Support and the melee-focused Berserker. Each of these classes will try their hand at defeating a combination of the eleven different types of Zeds, and finally one boss, the brutal Hans Volter.

 

So much Zed-Slaughtering Goodness

So much Zed-Slaughtering Goodness

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Endless Legend: Guardians

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Endless Legend: Guardians

Amplitude has done the impossible several times. They’ve pioneered a remarkably effective internal kick-starter alternative in Games2Gether, they’ve entered into the 4x genre with not one, but two incredibly robust and satisfying experiences, and they’ve created a rich, and fascinating world that’s excellently positioned to deliver unique experiences in a number of genres. Their games are an excellent example of genre differentiation, and yet manage to maintain a vital thread of connection with each other that allows for a familiarity across genres.

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Amplitude is responsible for the Endless universe. To date there are three titles in that universe: 2012’s dark horse strategy hit Endless Space, and 2014’s Endless Legend and Dungeon of the Endless. Both Endless Space and Endless Legend are classified as 4x strategy titles – a genre dominated for most of its existence by the wildly popular Sid Meier’s Civilization franchise. The 4X genre was defined by Alan Emrich of Computer Gaming World in a review of Master of Orion, and those four Xs refer to eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate, and are an excellent way of breaking down the game-play to its most essential elements.

The utter domination of the 4X genre by the Civilization series is difficult to argue – there’s no question they hold the dominant spot, and there’s little question that they deserve it. Civilization has always walked an amazingly thin line between great depth and accessibility, and so many of the other titles vying for the crown have fallen far on both sides of that tightrope. I would have been hard pressed to name a 4X title that managed to deliver as deep, rich, and detailed an experience in a manner that wasn’t intimidating to the point of utter frustration. I would have been, and was. And then I played Endless Legend.

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Blitzkrieg 3 Early Access Impressions

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Blitzkrieg 3 Early Access Impressions

Blitzkrieg 3 is a World War II MMORTS driven by the Unity Engine and developed by Nival. It’s the third full release in the franchise’s 12 year history, and is in many ways a departure from formula. The title is currently in early access, and far from feature complete, and the following impressions take that into full account. That said, many of the observations below are based on the current state of the title, and as such are subject to change.

Blitzkrieg has always been a franchise that focused less on the base-building macro-strategy integral to so many Real-Time-Strategy titles and more on individual unit control, and that is the principle shift in design philosophy made by Blitzkrieg 3.

 

If nothing else, Blitzkrieg 3 is an excellent example of World War II eye candy.

If nothing else, Blitzkrieg 3 is an excellent example of World War II eye candy.

Blitzkrieg 3 is in simplest terms, a base-building Mobile RTS on a more robust platform. The gameplay paradigm will be familiar to anyone who’s played a mobile RTS in recent years like Clash of Clans and its ilk – laying out a base, its defenses as well as production and resource infrastructure, and building an army from that infrastructure.

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PG! parties at Press Start: Irvine 2015

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PG! parties at Press Start: Irvine 2015

On Sunday, fellow PG! writer and Pixel Clicks Podcaster Jordan Pollock and I were invited to the first ever Press Start LAN to see what it was like to go to a LAN party “on PCP.” Long story short: it was a blast.

Jordan and I were both expecting a rather small event, maybe a hundred or so LAN goers, but that was not the case at all. Held at the Bren Events Center at UC Irvine in our native Southern California, Press Start threw one hell of a party.

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