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Review: Vanquish

Vanquish Cover

Following the re-publication of my original Bayonetta review, here’s another piece I wrote for the now defunct ‘badgercommander’ site. This one is of another title from Platinum Games, Vanquish.

Last week I sat down and played Halo: Reach for the first time. The presentation is extremely slick, the multiplayer runs remarkably smoothly on my shitty connection and still succeeds in looking nice. You’d expect it to: the number of bodies working on this at Bungie was in the hundreds and the development time was well over two years. This is what you expect from a AAA title. Money spent on this game means that the visuals and presentation are always going to outstrip any other title that doesn’t have the same budget. Money = Polish.

This makes sense until you encounter Vanquish. The entire time I was playing I really couldn’t fathom it. How the fuck does this game play so well and look so good, yet be built on a comparatively small budget and in a shorter time scale than anything I would consider its peer?

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Review: Bayonetta

Bayo cover

With Bayonetta 2 due out for Wii U on October 23rd, I thought I would drag up a couple of pieces I wrote for the now defunct ‘badgercommander’ site.

Below is a revised copy of the article posted back in November 2010. The content has mainly been edited for ease of reading (back in the day I had no editor).

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& this week in gaming news

(Strictly speaking this is actually last week in gaming news, but what can I say: I didn’t have a chance to read my RSS feeds for a few days.)

Steel yourself for a rant, readers. And yes, this is a rant. I make no pretence that this is a well-researched argument. It’s largely an under-developed response to some things that I’ve read on the Internet lately.

Recently I’ve found myself getting frustrated by games journalism (and, by inevitable proxy, those who read it). More frustrated than usual, I mean. Incidentally, this is not an attack on any particular venue or writers; I know that games journalism, like all games writing, is a rarely well-paying gig that demands a lot of personal investment, that many people working within it have little or no journalistic training, etcetera, etcetera. Similarly I’m not having a go at readers of same; I’m among them and I’m as much a part of the problem as anyone else, I’m sure. Having said all that, a lot of my links will be drawn from the same few sites, because they’re the ones I read most.

I have a longstanding opinion that the priorities of games journalism are off-kilter. And no, I’m not referring to the ludicrous idea that #gamergate, at root, was actually to do with “games journalism ethics”. I mean, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater or anything, there are some legitimate problems that were raised along the way, but the baby was left bobbing around in a tub full of piss, shit and bile. Ultimately, there are institutional problems with games journalism and it’s as much to do with readers and advertisers as writers and publishers. It’s the unwholly trinity of commercialism.

What I specifically want to comment on today is what games journalism focuses its coverage on. And this is why it’s also to do with its readers, by proxy.

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AR Podcast #22: We Hate Skyrim

Dylan and Shaun have for some time felt that the critical consensus around The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is some distance from accurately representing the game. In other words, they think it’s a great big load of shite, and everyone else seems to think it’s more wonderful than penicillin, sandwiches and the welfare state combined (albeit perhaps not mixed).

In this podcast they explore just why they believe Skyrim is so overrated, and become steadily drunker and less coherent as they do so. It’s just like going down the pub with us.

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A Beginners’ Guide to Transformers Legends

Transformers Legends banner

Transformers Legends is a collectable card battler game produced by DeNa / ngmoco and run through the Mobage portal. It’s currently ranked by Think Gaming as #97 on the list of top grossing apps worldwide. It’s safe to say that it’s pretty successful, and has been since launching early in 2013.

Transformers fans will recognise the game’s subject matter in a heartbeat: it draws on the old Transformers TV show and comics (known as ‘Generation 1′ by aficionados) to populate its game with various Autobots and Decepticons.

You remember the TV show, right? That wonderful old cartoon, from an era when writers and animators really cared about their craft, and which featured so many memorable moments. Who can forget Powerglide using a magic pond to turn into Fabio and fall in love with a gondola, or Optimus Prime’s right arm being mounted on top of the Empire State Building? (Most of the rest of Prime was built into a robot alligator and dumped in the sewers. Of course!)

Did you know there was even an episode featuring a planet of people who sang badly? No shit! That episode was also an early triumph for gay rights on the small screen, as evidenced by Decepticons Galvatron and Soundwave rejecting martial machismo and holding hands.

Two Best Friends!

Two Best Friends!

But that’s enough with the wonderful nostalgia trip. Ha ha! Old stuff was great.

Transformers Legends is a card battler much like Dino Dominion, about which I wrote last year. Legends is a more polished affair and is less stingy with its goodies. Because I think it is so utterly brilliant, I thought I’d write a guide to playing the game. I hope prospective players find it useful!

Getting Around

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Brighton’s Pop-up Arcade, Sept 2014


JS Joust

This past weekend Brighton hosted a first-time event courtesy of Press Fire To Win: the pop-up arcade, a part of September’s Brighton Digital Festival. Press Fire To Win is run by Profaniti, who – and here I’m a little fuzzy – either run or are involved with running other events like the Wild Rumpus, Feral Vector and the EGX Indie Arcade.

The pop-up arcade kicked off on Friday with a launch party. The event was ticketed, but a fiver for an evening’s entertainment and a free beer from the Naked Beer Co. ain’t half bad. (I can confirm that Naked’s Freudian Slip is absolutely delicious.)

Of course we weren’t there for beer any more than we were there to stand in a hot room (kindly loaned to the event by Lick). We were there for games, and were not disappointed. Virtually everything on offer were multiplayer titles, with a good mix of competitive and co-operative play to be had.

With the event chiefly sponsored by Unity it’s little surprise that many of the games there were created using the development toolset. Among these was Gang Beasts, which I was only able to play briefly. It’s apparently popular enough to be played regularly in Unity’s own London offices, and I can’t say I’m surprised. The game essentially involves between two and six players running around small levels attempting to dispose of one another or, at least, not accidentally fall to their own deaths. The controls were a little bewildering; each character’s arm appears to be controlled by a different button and grabbing another player seems to involve running at them and scooping them up. My confusion led to me describing it as the QWOP of cute 3D brawlers. I look forward to playing it again, whether or not I manage to work out what the hell I’m doing; it seems that this cluelessness is half of what gives the game its x-factor.

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