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AR Podcast #19: Redonkulous

The seagulls are back for another podcast about fighting dragons, microtransactions, Kinect features, word puzzles, knights, beer can noises, more dragons, and tanks. Lots of tanks.

Reticle or ‘reticule’ is the word of the podcast.

(For the record, we named this podcast when it was edited on August 20th. Sometimes podcast serendipity just happens.)


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Irresistible Backlog meets Movable Object

[Advance warning: this article does not contain any spoilers, but it does contain personal experiences and may be regarded as navel-gazing. In it I talk about some problems I have had with my game collection and what I've been doing to mitigate or combat them. I try to make a few jokes at my expense to make it less dull. Read on and consider yourself warned...]

I’ve been getting ruthless with myself over the last few months. As ruthless as I can be, anyway. I only recently began eating meat after ten years of vegetarianism; I’m largely pacifistic and prefer to avoid or defuse violent or tense situations. I like everything to be chilled out and ruthlessness does not come naturally to me.

But I’m not talking that kind of ruthlessness. I’m talking about dealing with the aftershocks of reckless spending. Not ruthlessly hunting down bankers and city boys, boiling them up and serving them to our hungry new lost generation. Though I’d certainly play that game.

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Review: Sniper Elite III

Sniper Elite III cover

Sniper Elite v2 did a lot of things right at its release back in 2012. There was simple delight to be had in watching a bullet travel three or four hundred yards before ripping through bone and tissue, all in the name of saving Europe from the Nazis.

The problem was that although the sniping was great, everything else floundered. The stealth was never particularly good as it was hard to gauge when you would be instantly spotted and when you would not. The AI, on being alerted to your presence, would adopt one of two routines: either run down the very linear, corridor-driven level design straight at you or instead crouch behind cover for a bit and then occasionally pop their heads up, allowing you to get a glorious slow motion sniper kill.

This one note AI and level design reduced the game to being a shallow but fun romp that was made even better by playing in Co-Op, and I pretty much said as much in the preview a few years ago.

Sniper Elite III improves on its predecessor in every respect.

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Review: Dark Souls II – Crown of the Sunken King (DLC)

Dark Souls II is at its absolute worst when it’s brilliant.

I resent those brilliant moments, because they’re always over so quickly. A brief reminder of how good it could have been, before it crashes back to ‘great, but disappointing’ and leaves you longing for From Software to have done their sequel justice, not for five seconds at a time now and then, but for a whole game’s worth. This must have been how Good Will Hunting’s teacher felt, before Robin Williams showed up to give him a crash course in inner-potential-realising.

It’s safe to say that Dark Souls II has been a success, but one tempered by a rising tide of criticism. Amongst the fans, talk of what could have been pervades discussions and articles, including this one, and the not-so-affectionate nickname ‘the B-Team’ has taken hold as the popular way to reference the Dark Souls II development team. Meanwhile, the same critics who were pushing Darks Souls’ word of mouth success a couple of years after release by writing articles about how wonderful it is are now finding that they’re more interested in all the ways Dark Souls II failed to deliver.

It’s not what From Software or Bandai Namco had in mind.

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Spotlight: Unrest

Unrest featured image

I am a young peasant girl in an impoverished village. I enjoy the unique advantage of natural intelligence and a minimal education – unlike many in my local community, I am able to read. Unfortunately this leaves me with a degree of natural arrogance. My education, defiant nature and sense of self-worth make me feel that I deserve something better than the life others have mapped out for me. Educated or not, those whom I live among do not all share this point of view. The drought that has now lasted over a year certainly does nothing to dampen tensions.

As I turn fifteen, my parents tell me that I am to marry. But it is to the son of a local merchant family, Hanu – a brat widely regarded as stupid and ill-tempered! I react poorly, lashing out at my parents for attempting to shackle me to such an awful man. But my mother snaps back just as hard: they have worked hard and given much to make this union possible. Hanu’s family, being merchant caste, offer perhaps the only opportunity for me to ever leave this village and make something more of my life.

But is this the only option? My best friend, Juhi, seems to think so. She loves and admires me so much, perhaps because she has always seen me as different to all the other children here.

I resolve to meet with Hanu and his family. Can he really be as bad as my memory and friends suggest?

On the way to Hanu’s home I run into a terrifying creature, one I might ordinarily avoid or hide from, but today I am angry and bold. I approach it directly and we speak. It is the Naga merchant who comes here, every few months, with goods for Laxmi, the noble who rules our village with cold cruelty and armed guards. It turns out that the Naga is a little bemused as to why no villagers ever approach. Throwing caution to the wind, I speak directly and tell him – her? it? – that we are simple people and an eight-foot snake is inherently terrifying. He accepts this, but notes that in Bhimra – the once-great city that rules over our lands – starvation and desperation sees Naga refugees threatened by the humans they live among. It is the first I have heard of Bhimra in a very long time. The first since I heard that the Royal family died.

I end up making a trade with the Naga merchant, who is impressed by the wooden toys my father carves. Although the money he gives me is not that of our people, it is still money that might help support my parents – or give me another option if Hanu really is all that bad.

Hanu’s family react poorly to me. His older sister, already married, is direct. To her I am less than nothing. Her only family is that she married into. As I leave, rebuffed, I am already beginning to doubt my decision to try and bolster the relationship between my family and Hanu’s, between me and… my possible future husband. Have my parents really done the right thing?

I can tell that Hanu’s mother does not like or respect me, but she is not openly hostile – unlike his father, who seems as if he would strike me were I not to be betrothed to his son. Neither have any words for me, so at last I steel my nerves and approach Hanu.

It could not have gone any worse. He is angry, petulant and rude. He feigns to be shocked and insulted that I am his wife to be. He says that I am “not even pretty”. He throws a necklace at my feet before refusing to speak with me any further, stating that he was told to give it to me as a gift. I pick it up as I leave: it is old, hand-made, and well-worn. Somebody loved this necklace.

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Review: Wolfenstein: The New Order

Wolfenstein cover

In a recent podcast (#18 in fact) I talked about the previous Wolfenstein – made by Raven Software, iD Software and a team called Endrant Software – as a game of no-frills shooting. Co-contributor Dylan responded by calling it a breath of fresh air in contrast to all of the other First Person Shooters which insisted on draping their experiences with bells and whistles.

I didn’t really agree with him at the time. I had enjoyed my excursions with 2009’s Wolfenstein but not enough to be able to recommend it to anyone. However, with Wolfenstein: The New Order I think I get what he means.

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