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Archive for the ‘games’ tag

In Search Of A 'B Game'

Posted on 3rd Dec 2009 at 10:32 by Joe Martin with 32 comments

Joe Martin
I’m on holiday at the moment, so I’m not really supposed to be working – but one of the virtues of loafing around at my parents house for a week has had me thinking about something lately. Namely, B Movies. I’m a big fan of them and I’ve been watching a lot lately because in my family the Evil Dead trilogy is treated with same amount of reverence and awe as Russian Ark.

So, what I’ve been thinking about lately is whether or not there’s a computer game equivalent of the B Movie. I’m not sure there is.

Maybe it’s helpful if I clarify what I mean by ‘B Movie’. What I’m talking about isn’t necessarily some tawdry and over-gored piece of dross with no script and a Bruce Campbell cameo. What I really mean is something low-budget and with obvious faults, but which overcomes them through some (probably unintended) humour or charm.

Basically; that old ‘so bad, it’s good’ factor.

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Recommend Me A Board Game

Posted on 27th Nov 2009 at 10:48 by Joe Martin with 49 comments

Joe Martin
My love of games extends further than just computer games, you know. I’m also something of a board game fiend – a fan of games in any form, to tell the truth. In the last few months I’ve especially enjoyed getting together with a few friends to play some board games, and that enjoyment is hopefully going to be buoyed further by a recent discovery of mine.

I found a really cool shop in the centre of nearby Reading – one which I’ve walked past many times but only recently investigated. It’s called Eclectic Games and is a board game and collectible card game specialist.

Eclectic Games is very much My Kind Of Place. It’s large and warmly decorated, with a huge selection of games, both niche and well-known. It also has a library of games - which you’re free to try out in the gaming hall out back - and the owners regularly organise events where you can meet other gamers and get involved in tournaments. It’s small enough to be charming and independent too – exactly the type of place I’d like to support with my patronage.

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Free Games I Like: Gravity Bone

Posted on 18th Nov 2009 at 10:43 by Joe Martin with 3 comments

Joe Martin
Gravity Bone is by Brendon Chung, an indie developer I’ve long been a fan of and who has made some of my favourite indie games ever. Gravity Bone is his most recent and complete game, as well as the most stylised and striking.

Like most of Chung’s games, Gravity Bone exists without any exposition or context. It just is and everything in it relies on inference, with explicit instructions being very rare and a streamlined level design ethic ensuring the common sense is all you need to play the game. Every game also contains a wicked sense of wit that makes them worth playing even if you hate everything else.

Gravity Bone is about a hitman or a spy, who goes around doing spy-type stuff. There’s but two missions in the game, which takes about ten minutes to finish. The first is a straightforward introduction with no real challenges. The second is where all the gameplay is, but I won’t spoil why.

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Free Games I Like: Black Shades

Posted on 17th Nov 2009 at 08:25 by Joe Martin with 1 comments

Joe Martin
Black Shades isn’t a new game, it’s just a free game that I really like. It’s basically the opposite of Hitman, but reduced down to twitch shooter basics and presented in a typically indie way.

Rather than playing as a hitman, Black Shades casts you as a bodyguard for a VIP who's wandering aimlessly through a crowded city. It’s your job to protect him from the increasing number of assailants who will try to kill him.

What distinguishes Black Shades from that old trope of the FPS escort mission is that the VIP is pursuing a random path through a city which is basically an infinite grid of buildings. Also, the assassins who come from him are randomly generated and will use a variety of weapons and approaches. Oh, and nearly everyone in the city looks alike too – grey and white polygon figures.

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Free Games I Like: Home

Posted on 12th Nov 2009 at 12:21 by Joe Martin with 12 comments

Joe Martin
Another short post for another short game – Home is a tiny pixel-art game from Increpare about what it’s like to fall apart, bit by bit.

There isn’t a huge amount to say about this game as the entire experience lasts just five minutes at most and the artwork and mechanics on show have been streamlined to the extreme. Everything in the game has been trimmed down until all that’s left is a clunky orange graphic that would look outdated on a Spectrum.

The idea is simple: your name is Charles and you’ve just been put into an old people’s home. Your life is simple and easy, which is good because you’re not really capable of much. All you have to do is manage your four simple needs; food, friendship, going to the toilet and getting a good night's rest. Simple.

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Free Games I Like: Small Worlds

Posted on 5th Nov 2009 at 11:51 by Joe Martin with 12 comments

Joe Martin
This blog post will be, like the game it’s about, small. I don’t really have a huge amount to say about Small Worlds, which was developed for a recent Casual Games Competition with the theme 'Explore', other than that it’s a remarkably elegant and effective piece of pixel-art brilliance.

A game which only ever alludes to having a deeper plot, Small Worlds opens with a single line before jumping to the gameplay – “There is too much noise”.

The gameplay itself is simple. At the start of each of the five levels the viewpoint is zoomed in on you – a small red line with a pale face and zero animation. The aim of each level is then to find the exit, which returns you to a hub level before you move on to the next world. There’s no fighting, no skill trees and no enemies. It’s just a gentle and rather lovely paced matter of exploration.

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Games I Own: Deus Ex 2

Posted on 21st Oct 2009 at 12:46 by Joe Martin with 9 comments

Joe Martin
Deus Ex 2: Invisible War is a game which gets a bad rap whenever you see it discussed among PC gamers, who inevitably love the first game and loathe the sequel. To be honest though, I never thought it was half as bad as anyone was making out. If approached with reasonable rationality and not the more obvious optimism, the game actually held up quite well.

Yes, Invisible War had issues. It obviously suffered from attempts to bring the series to consoles. The tiny, insular and empty levels. The universal ammo system. The constant load times and clunky, overly rounded feel of the engine – these were all issues that dogged the game and deservedly so, but slamming Deus Ex 2 for not living up to the legend of it’s predecessor is easier than fist-fighting with a one-armed toddler.

Instead, I prefer to think of the good things about Deus Ex 2 – the things it did better than the original. Believe me, they’re there.

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What Makes You Quit A Multiplayer Game?

Posted on 6th Oct 2009 at 14:24 by Joe Martin with 51 comments

Joe Martin
Those of you who listened to last week’s Gaming Podcast will know that, between the filthy jokes and my off-mike laughing fit, we talked about our lunchtime gaming habits – specifically COD4. We play every lunch time and occasionally after work too, with ‘we’ being most bit-tech, ComputerShopper and Micromart staff.

In the wake of our most recent after-work game an interesting dilemma presented itself though and we schedule our next big match for November 10th. The day that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 goes on sale. Thus is was asked; do we carry on playing COD4 for the time being, or do we switch over to the sequel?

Strangely enough, only two people said that they wanted to switch to the new game. Many reasons were given – shortage of funds, can’t be bothered to install, PCs that won’t run it, etc. My own reason however was simply that I wasn’t ready to leave COD4 just yet and don’t feel I’ve got everything I can out of it.

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Who Should Review Monkey Island: Special Edition?

Posted on 16th Jun 2009 at 12:02 by Joe Martin with 36 comments

Joe Martin
Journalistic integrity is something we pride ourselves on here at bit-tech and we always try to make sure that our reviews are fair-minded, open and in-depth. Each of us at bit-tech and Custom PC magazine has a specialty and we always try to play to that expertise. Tim does graphics cards. Richard does motherboards and PSUs. I play games. Harry makes the coffee.

It’s this integrity that explains why you’ll never see me review a hardcore racing sim such as Forza or Race Pro; as a man who can’t even ride a bike, let alone ride a car, I have no right to talk about the flaws in a racing sim.

This integrity though does present one very big problem for us though and that is; who should review the upcoming swathe of Monkey Island games – both the newly announced episodes from Telltale Games and the Special Edition re-release from LucasArts proper?

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Games I Wish Worked on Vista

Posted on 12th May 2009 at 10:08 by Joe Martin with 26 comments

Joe Martin
I only upgraded from Windows XP to Vista relatively recently – it was really only when I started at bit-tech.net that I actually became concerned with keeping up to date. Until then I'd been happy to stay with whatever OS let me play the games I wanted to play, upgrading only as I needed to to play the latest games.

I’ve regretted the move to Vista ever since, though I was at least wily enough to ensure that my girlfriend’s PC ran XP still, ensuring I had at least one option when struck by the sudden need to play a classic game. You know the need I’m referring to – it usually comes when you’re doing some menial task and you’re somehow reminded of an old game you really liked. Quickly that flash of memory grows, flares into an obsession and you find yourself reinstalling games you haven’t played in years, usually Deus Ex.

That quick burst of obsession is something I experience fairly regularly, mainly because games are such a massive part of my life and I find it hard to break away from them. Some days I can’t cross the street without thinking that I should quicksave first. Oh, how I wish I was joking.

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