Category Archives: Games

Civilization: Beyond Earth first impressions

This entry is part of 1 in the series Civilization: Beyond Earth

This entry is part of 1 in the series Civilization: Beyond Earth I’ve just won my first game of Civilization: Beyond Earth1, and I have to say, I’m a little disappointed. The problem is not that this is “Civilization V … Continue reading

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The problem with espionage in strategy games…

… is that it tends to boil down to a single die roll. The key word is “single”. Consider spies in Civilization, agents in Total War, and paid assassinations in Crusader Kings. Even in games without tactical combat, where battle … Continue reading

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EB Expo 2014: Bloodborne, Far Cry 4, Lara Croft & the Temple of Osiris, and more!

I spent Friday at the EB Games Expo in Sydney, walking the floor, playing games, and keeping an eye out for what seemed interesting. For me, it was a chance to catch up with the “AAA” space and chat to … Continue reading

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Offworld Trading Company interview with Soren Johnson

Offworld Trading Company is an upcoming RTS where, to quote developer Mohawk Games, “money, not firepower, is the player’s weapon”. Its stated inspirations include board games, Railroad Tycoon, and conventional real-time strategy. Below, I am very pleased to present an … Continue reading

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Ayutthaya Universalis: Building an Empire in Southeast Asia

This entry is part 9 of 9 in the series Europa Universalis IV

This entry is part 9 of 9 in the series Europa Universalis IVThe Kingdom of Ayutthaya was the major power in Southeast Asia in the 14th and 15th centuries. Based in the capital of Ayutthaya on the Chao Phraya River, … Continue reading

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CA announces Total War: Attila (updated to add video)

Creative Assembly has announced Total War: Attila, a sequel in all but name to 2005’s Rome: Barbarian Invasion.  Eurogamer, IGN, and USGamer (amongst others) have previews up. (Update: I have added a gameplay video above – skip to 4:12. Hat … Continue reading

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The Beginner’s Guide to Wargame

This entry is part 12 of 12 in the series Wargame: European Escalation/AirLand Battle/Red Dragon

This entry is part 12 of 12 in the series Wargame: European Escalation/AirLand Battle/Red DragonWargame is one of my favourite RTS series. It can also be daunting — I know several readers have picked it up on sale, only to … Continue reading

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Transistor: concluding thoughts

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Transistor

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series TransistorTransistor is a clever game, let down by its ending.   At first, Transistor resembles a reflex-driven action-RPG, with the emphasis on “action” (a la Bastion). Within minutes, the combat … Continue reading

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Transistor: 33% off on Steam for one more day

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Transistor

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series TransistorVery quick heads-up; Transistor, the latest game from the studio behind Bastion, is 33% off on Steam ($13.39, down from $20) for another 30 hours. I started Transistor tonight and … Continue reading

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A random battle draws near! Command?

In theory, JRPG random battles are an attrition mechanism. The resulting drain on resources (usually consumables and MP) should, and very occasionally does, produce tension. In practice, JRPG (and Western RPG) designers are usually generous with resources, and few battles … Continue reading

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Valiant Hearts: concluding thoughts

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Valiant Hearts

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Valiant HeartsValiant Hearts wants to tell the truth about war. To do so, it uses puzzles, humour, and a goofy villain. That is the language of adventure games, but it … Continue reading

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Child of Light: concluding thoughts

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Child of Light

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Child of LightChild of Light is many things. It is a mechanical and aesthetic triumph – “beautiful and challenging”, with nail-biting boss battles and a gorgeous fantasy world. It is … Continue reading

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Valiant Hearts: half full

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Valiant Hearts

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Valiant Hearts I’m halfway through Valiant Hearts: The Great War, Ubisoft Montpellier’s adventure game set during World War 1.  Billed as a “story of crossed destinies and a broken love … Continue reading

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Warlock 2 and the 4X

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Warlock

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series WarlockA few years ago, I linked to an alternate genre classification system for games, as proposed by Russ Pitts and Steve Butts in The Escapist magazine. I paraphrased their system … Continue reading

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Child of Light: Beautiful and challenging

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Child of Light

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Child of LightMy decision to buy was right; I very much like Child of Light.   I think much of the consensus about CoL is correct: the game is good, … Continue reading

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From the archives: A game that could have been: Emperor of the Fading Suns

Emperor of the Fading Suns was a mid-1990s PC strategy game from the days before the space 4X genre calcified into Master of Orion 2 wannabes. It was ambitious, sprawling, buggy, flawed — yet I remember it fondly. In 2011, … Continue reading

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From the archives: Conquest, Plunder and Tyranny: Explaining Dubious Morality in Strategy Games

I originally wrote this post around the time Civilization V came out, and it’s interesting to look back in light of subsequent releases such as Crusader Kings 2 and Europa Universalis IV. One of my arguments was that 4X games … Continue reading

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From the archives: Storytelling in Star Control II: Playing space detective

Star Control 2 is a classic of the early 1990s, with a great sense of humour, robust gameplay, and unique, non-linear story progression — the player had to gather clues and do his or her own footwork in order to … Continue reading

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Warlock 2: Mage Versus World

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Warlock

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Warlock   My first scout killed some cockroaches and some wolves, then was mauled by a giant bear. My second scout found some demonic trees and was turned into fertilizer … Continue reading

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I choose you! Combat in Final Fantasy X

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Final Fantasy X

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Final Fantasy X In my last piece about Final Fantasy X, I wrote about its biggest draw: its world, its story, and the way the two interact. What makes FFX … Continue reading

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Final Fantasy X HD: The magic returns

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Final Fantasy X

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Final Fantasy X Imagine being flung into an alien world, a thousand years hence. Imagine navigating a new society, with nothing left of your home but a few hauntingly familiar … Continue reading

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If your Wargame ain’t broke…

This entry is part 11 of 12 in the series Wargame: European Escalation/AirLand Battle/Red Dragon

This entry is part 11 of 12 in the series Wargame: European Escalation/AirLand Battle/Red Dragon The US Marines came ashore to find their enemy in disarray.   Before the first marine set foot on land, their escorting frigate swept the … Continue reading

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Music for Matchsticks: The piano sheet music of Final Fantasy VI

Happy Easter, everyone!   This month marks the 20th anniversary of Final Fantasy VI‘s Japanese release, and despite the game’s age (and the technical limitations of its platform, the SNES), I still think its soundtrack is one of the best … Continue reading

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Firaxis announces Civilization: Beyond Earth

This deserves a post of its own: Firaxis has announced Civilization: Beyond Earth, a spiritual successor in all but name to Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri. PC Gamer has run a detailed interview with the developers, while beneath the cut, I’ve … Continue reading

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Age of Wonders III: Synergies

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Age of Wonders III

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Age of Wonders IIINow that I’ve spent a little more time with Age of Wonders 3 – I think I’m near the end of my third campaign map – I … Continue reading

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Age of Wonders III Preview

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Age of Wonders III

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Age of Wonders III  This is it, the biggest battle of this map so far. On my side, four towering giants – amongst the most powerful units in the game … Continue reading

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Ni no Kuni: a tale of Mite and magic

    Ostensibly, PS3 RPG Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is about the adventures of Oliver (pictured, right), an ordinary boy who becomes the wizard-saviour of another world. But it’s not, not really. Meet one of Ni … Continue reading

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