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Archive for the ‘gaming’ tag

I’m So Sick Of World War II

Posted on 21st Sep 2009 at 11:46 by Joe Martin with 54 comments

Joe Martin
I don’t mean any disrespect by this by the way, but as far as computer and videogames go I have to say, I’m so bloody tired of World War II games!

Don’t get me wrong, they can be great. I thought Call of Duty 2 was a fantastic game, for example and that bit where you’re crawling through that pipe above the heads of Nazi soldiers is cemented into my head as a favourite. But that was five years ago and it feels like we’ve had nothing but re-runs since then. Not just in the FPS genre either, but with RTS’ too.

And they all have similarly bland names as well; Call of Duty, Men of Valour, Company of Heroes, Brothers in Arms, Order of War, Medal of Honour and the blandest of all, Men of War. It really is like the publishers have two wheels of words that they spin, connecting the result with ‘of’.

The frustrating thing is that, judged on their own merits, the games are often quite good. It’s just the quantity of them that I object to, along with the fact that they all re-use the same bland moments of cinema. I’ve stormed Omaha and sought cover in Normandy hedgerows so many times that I can’t visit France for fear that I’d shoot nearby German tourists on sheer reflex. It’s that old disconnect between the enjoyable mechanics of the game and the repetitive visuals. I’m not tired of shooting people, I’m just tired of doing it then and there.

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Games I Own: The Prince of Persia Series

Posted on 15th Sep 2009 at 14:05 by Joe Martin with 11 comments

Joe Martin
The Prince of Persia series – by which I mean the Sands of Time trilogy and not either the older or newer games – are a run of games that I have a serious ambivalence with. Like the Monkey Island games, the Sands of Time saga includes both some of my favourite and some of my most hated games.

The Monkey Island game I hate is Escape from Monkey Island, by the way. That game is about as likable as Satan’s mother in law and just thinking about it makes me angry. Likewise, I hate one of the Prince of Persia games so much that I practice thinking about it in the early morning when I can’t be bothered to get out of bed – I hate it so much it gives me energy.

Let’s start with the good news though – The Sands of Time. The first game in the revitalised trilogy, SoT was the one which had the most input from franchise creator, Jordan Mechner – and it shows. Mechner is a truly interesting guy and is currently publishing his old journals from the time when he developed the older PoP games online, which makes for some good lunchtime reading.

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Games to play with your children

Posted on 3rd Sep 2009 at 15:16 by Joe Martin with 36 comments

Joe Martin
I don’t have children, but I do have a lot of younger siblings and nephews and nieces, and we've played a lot of computer games together. A lot of the experiences we’ve shared have been through the medium of joysticks and mouse clicks.

Looking back on that recently I’ve come to think that parents should definitely play computer games with their kids, even though a lot of parents are of the opinion that "games are bad for you" and "all games are violent". Absolute rubbish, every word of it.

Of course, some games are violent and there’s a huge amount of games out there which aren’t at all suitable for children – but violence, if handled responsibly, isn’t always bad and there are a lot of games that are good for kids. My parents had an inkling of this and I spent a lot of time playing either with my Dad or talking about it with him. It’s something I plan to do with my children too, heaven forbid, and something I reflect on every time I go into a shop and see a parent blindly buying Grand Theft Auto for their seven year old. Grrr.

This isn’t new thinking obviously – any number of child-rearing programs or handbooks will tell you it’s important to get involved and find experiences you can share with your children. The problem though is that if you’re not someone who’s ‘into PCs’ and your kid is then it can be hard going. Thus, here are some recommendations for games that are suitable for most children and which open themselves up to this kind of activity.

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Feedback on Custom PC's new games pages

Posted on 20th Aug 2009 at 08:29 by Joe Martin with 8 comments

Joe Martin
This blogpost was supposed to be about my adventures in Baldur’s Gate as a completionist wizard, but that plan was ruined by the fact that my copy of Throne of Bhaal has yet to arrive because of various mail-related issues and my refusal to start until I’ve got the entire collection. And also you might have noticed I'm in Cologne, Germany for the big GamesCom 2009 show.

So, instead I thought it would be a good chance to get some feedback on a little change I’ve introduced to the latest issue of Custom PC and which, if it goes down well, I’ll keep going. If you’ve got Issue 73 to hand (it's out in the shops today) then you can see what I’m talking about on pages 26 and 27 – the ‘Games Etc’ spread.

Basically, I’ve replaced the usual batch of four or five gaming news items with a hand-picked of really good free games from the last month which we think people will like. There’s some free flash adventure games there, some mods and some downloadable indie games – something for everyone and I’d like to do this every month instead of using that space for gaming news.

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Games I Own: Atmosfear The Video Board Game

Posted on 18th May 2009 at 10:29 by Joe Martin with 17 comments

Joe Martin
The usual joke computer game journalists make about board games is that it’s good to have a few around in case there’s a power cut and your handheld is out of battery, but other than that why bother? It’s a joke I’ve made before when the topic has come up, but the reality is that I love board games. It isn’t cool to say so, but board games are cool.

Board games were a huge part of my childhood. I come from a family of seven and my mum worked nights, which meant we often had to be quiet during the day; of course board games were a significant part of my childhood. My dad would even make up little alternate reality games where we’d run around in the woods, solve ancient riddles and search for ‘hidden’ things, with the final ‘treasure’ usually being a board game for us all.

I can still remember fighting my brother, who was wearing a huge papier machie helmet to make him look like a centaur, with a wooden broadsword over a ‘treasure chest’ containing The Legend of Zagor boardgame. That particular ARG went on throughout all the summer holidays…but now I’m getting off track.

The point is: one of my favourite board games growing up was Atmosfear: The Video Board Game. It was a horror-themed game for up to six people where players had to go round a graveyard collecting keys as fast as possible. The game came with an accompanying VHS video, so you played in front of a TV which had a clock counting down on it and you’d collect Time cards that told you to do certain things at certain times. You had one hour to get six keys and escape the cemetery or the Gatekeeper would claim your soul.

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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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I played Diablo 2 and I hated it

Posted on 5th May 2009 at 10:14 by Joe Martin with 32 comments

Joe Martin
So, I played Diablo 2, just as you asked me to. True to my word I got bit-tech developer Jamie to lend me his copy and I gave it a good ol’ go - by which I mean I played it until I didn't want to play it any more, then tried to persevere for another hour before giving up.

I was utterly underwhelmed by Diablo 2. It appealed to me even less than the very similar Titan Quest – and that’s saying something, considering how I enjoyed that game about as much as I’d enjoy passing a cupful of kidney stones all at once. I hated Diablo 2 because there seemed to be absolutely no need for me to be there. I actually felt that the game would play itself better if I just wasn’t there, as the entire role of the player is to click-click-click-click their character along a pseudo-random, utterly linear path that offers no real chance for exploration or involvement.

Playing Diablo 2 I was left with the impression that it didn’t matter what I did in the game, as fundamentally everything I did only ever had one logical outcome, so I may as well not do anything. I was stifled by the utter lack of room for player expression. You could level the same complaint against almost any FPS where players are funnelled through linear levels too, but at least those games are usually fast paced and full of explosions and a sense of interaction and puzzle solving. Diablo 2 didn’t feel that way to me.

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My Guilty Secret: The Games I Haven't Played

Posted on 17th Mar 2009 at 13:20 by Joe Martin with 30 comments

Joe Martin
I’ve got a guilty secret when it comes to gaming, several in fact, which I’ve carried for an awfully long time and have occasionally haunted parts of my professional life. There are times when I’ve confessed these things and the result has universally been one of shock and disappointment. Quite simply; there are games I haven’t played.

Well, obviously. There are lots of things I haven’t played; awful tat like Imagine: Petz and so on. What I’m explicitly talking about here though are the reputedly great games out there which I’m expected to have played, but haven’t. Things like Diablo 2, for example.

It doesn’t sound like a huge issue, but it actually is. There’s a huge assumption out there that as a games journalist I should have played every game, ever – or at the very least I should’ve played every game that’s scored a 7/10 or more. There’s a consensus among readers and peers that a qualification for being allowed to review something is that a familiarity with every game like it. How can I write a story about Tomb Raider: Underworld if I skipped from Tomb Raider 2 straight to Legend and never even finished the first two games?

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Games I Own: The Lost Mind of Dr. Brain

Posted on 16th Feb 2009 at 15:09 by Joe Martin with 11 comments

Joe Martin
The Lost Mind of Dr. Brain is a game I should be ashamed of owning, but I’m not. You know why? Because it’s an enshrinement to my life as a gamer and it’s damned fun, that’s why.

Produced by Sierra Entertainment back in 1994, this was one of the games which came with my family's first PC. It was one of the dividing lines that marked my move from an Amiga user to PC gamer.

Apparently the third game in the series, the story revolves around the titular Dr. Brain, who manages to swap his brain with his lab rat. It’s up to you, at the direction of his rather useless niece, to restore the good Doctor’s intelligence – done mainly be solving strings of puzzles in one of ten different areas of his brain.

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Games that break themselves: Hitman 2

Posted on 9th Feb 2009 at 06:58 by Joe Martin with 12 comments

Joe Martin
I bought a game last week – the Hitman Triple Pack. It’s got Hitman 2, Contracts and Blood Money in it, all for £15.

It’s an odd, old purchase admittedly, but the buying habits of game journos tend to be quite different from regular customers in my experience. I already get sent and get to play all the new games as they come out, so any money I spend in stores is dedicated to collecting older games I missed out on before.

Hitman 2 though is a game I have a turbulent and colourful history, mainly because of one aspect of its game design. I've tried to complete it four times now and each time I've given up when I got to the Japanese levels.

Playing Hitman 2 over the weekend, I again got to the second Japanese level (the one with the ninjas, where you have to infiltrate the castle) and I thought of giving up on it again.

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Styx: Master of Shadows Review

Styx: Master of Shadows Review

Styx's interesting approach to stealth is hindered by a lack of polish.
Mod of the Month October 2014 in association with Corsair

Mod of the Month October 2014 in association with Corsair

Six up and coming modding projects straight from our forum

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