Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Star Quest 2: United Galaxies Preview

Towards the end of 1995, a small start-up video game developer named Virtual Adventures produced the space combat title Star Quest I in the 27th century. The game was self-published, entirely developed off the own backs of the team and sold directly too. The title garnered them quite a level of fame with hardcore PC gamers and led to the company signing a one-game publishing deal with Infogrames. Despite releasing another game named Stellar Mercenaries in 1997, Star Quest 2 was the game that Virtual Adventures really wanted to make.

So in 1998, production began on the sequel - which had ambitious plans to expand the game from a simple 3D space shooter, into a complex real-time strategy and space combat hybrid. They even had a full demo produced and running by 1999, but a lack of funding and no publishing deal unfortunately meant that the game had to be put into an indefinite hold - and sadly Virtual Adventures moved away from directly developing games and into the consultancy arena.

But as well all now know, the PC gaming environment has changed dramatically, and with crowd-funding websites like Kickstarter, small developers and individuals can now showcase their ideas and products directly to the fans that would be buying their games. This has led to Virtual Adventures finally being able to revive their hybrid game idea and Star Quest 2 has once again had new life breathed into it.

The main selling point of the title is that not only will it be a fully-realised real-time strategy game, where warring alien races from across the galaxy compete to conquer worlds, but also a direct combat game. Players will be able to build their armies and manage resources, directing battles from above as a Commander, but then also jump into the shoes of a ground troop or space pilot and get down and dirty in the action of a dogfight.

Part of the story behind the title is that the warring factions have tried to develop new ways of fighting, and new technology, in order to gain an edge over their enemies. This has led the most advanced races to eschew normal manned space ships and turrets, and to have entire armies of robotic drones and computer-controlled ships, all directed by one Commander in the Mothership. This has meant that as much as the actual battles themselves being important, the capturing of resources and manufacturing of technology has become just as important. Those who control the production and supply of war crafts, control the war.

So the foundations for a strong army in Star Quest 2 are built upon resource management and planning. This if, of course, very much in the mould of many popular real-time strategy titles. In Command & Conquer, for example, armies always relied on the successful harvesting of Tiberium, and here is no different. But what is different is how to fight when the player actually decides to go into war - which is very much their own path to choose, with the choice left to the player of what Solar Systems to explore and what strategy to employ to conquer each of them.

When you enter the battlefield as it were, you begin with an overview of the conflict, and take on the role of a Fleet Commander. Here you can mobilise units and give out orders - strategising and maneuvering your troops. This is very much as you would expect from an RTS. The game gets really different however when you realise that after sending out troops, you can then warp directly into the cockpit of one of the many warships at your disposal (ranging from four up to twenty-five, depending on the mission), or into a gunner who is trying to shoot down enemy ships from his gun emplacement.

You can actually get down onto the battlefield yourself and influence the direction of the battle, rather than simply sending out your troops and waiting to see how well they fare. This is an added dimension to the RTS formula, and lets gamers have a lot more input and say into how a battle will play out. No longer will you have to curse poor AI for not flying your ships well enough, as you can fly them yourself. And if you think your gunner isn't accurate enough, you can become him and show everyone how it should be done.

The game isn't only battles either. There are a variety of ground-based missions to take on, such as scavenging for resources and even racing against enemies and friends, to see who has the fastest fleet. Add to that the fact that there will be online multiplayer modes - which are very much focused on co-operative play, where one user could be a commander and others be ground troops - and there is a lot that will excite fans of the genre in Star Quest 2.

The game may not boast the stunning visuals of a Starcraft title, or the big-name actors that have peppered recent Command & Conquer games, but Star Quest 2 is looking to produce a new breed of real-time strategy game, where hands-on action is placed at the forefront. Not only that, but player choice is placed on a pedestal and gamers will really be able to carve out their own specific experience, based on their playing style and preferences. It may have taken almost a decade and a half to see the light of day, but Star Quest 2 still has plenty of fresh ideas.

If you wish to support the Star Quest 2 Kickstarter please click hereOn their official Kickstarter appeal page, the developers have posted both a video of the original demo from 1999, and some new and exciting footage from the updated version of the game. These videos can be found below:

New footage:

1999 Demo footage:

Friday, 6 December 2013

Scribblenauts Unlimited Review

When the first Scribblenauts title launched in 2009, it caused a stir in the gaming industry as it was unlike anything else on the market. The premise of the game was simple – the gamer was presented with a series of short levels, each of which are made up of relatively straightforward puzzles. The twist was that in order to solve those puzzles, you couldn’t just use items you found in-game, you had to create them yourself. Armed with your Nintendo DS stylus and a notepad in-game, you could write the name of an object which would then be created for you to use on-screen.
For instance, there might be a cat stuck up a tree – but how do you get it down? You could write the word “ladder”, and a ladder would appear for you to climb and save the cat. Or you might prefer to write “axe”, and cut down the tree. Further still, a jetpack would help you reach the cat even quicker. There were huge possibilities, although the game could only understand fairly simple objects and names. The concept evolved with Super Scribblenauts and a later Remix version, which added many more words to the in-game library, as well as the ability to add tags and adjectives to the words. Now you could use your stylus to create a blue house, or an angry Emu, for example.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Zoo Tycoon Review

It may not be the most glamorous title, but Zoo Tycoon is one of the few platform-exclusive games available on either next-generation console at launch. The game does itself no favours by appearing on the surface to be a strange hybrid between Frontier’s previous Xbox effort, Kinectimals, and another Children’s Kinect title, Kinect Disneyland Adventures. These comparisons certainly won’t endear Zoo Tycoon to many hardcore gamers or long-standing fans of the series, but this isn’t simply a motion-controlled kids game.
The story goes that Frontier were working on a new version of your common or garden Zoo Tycoon several years ago, making use of some ultra-realistic animal models. It was then that Microsoft asked them to put that on hold in order to work on Kinectimals, using their already-built animals and animations for the Kinect game. Years later, Frontier finally had the chance to build the game that they wanted, combining elements of their original vision and the interactivity of Kinectimals.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Morphopolis Review

New point and click puzzle game Morphopolis already comes with a lot of critical acclaim behind it. Before its release it has already won a Design Award from the Association of Illustrators, as well as being part of the special selection at Rezzed. Arriving with such high praise, gamers should expect big things from this hidden object title from first-time developers Micro Macro.
Morphopolis is concerned with an Aphid who wishes to re-unite with its lost companion – but in practice, there is no exposition or set-up to explain this. When playing, you are thrown straight into the first scene and in no way is any sort of narrative conveyed. This is disappointing, as the developers have mooted the title as being story-driven, but it most certainly isn’t. The only way I knew about the fact that there was even a narrative at all was from reading the developer’s blurb.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Deadfall Adventures Review

Embarking upon an expedition in the hopes of finding that one big pay-off is a romantic idea. Movies have long mined this genre, and video games too are well aware of its appeal, with Tomb Raider and Uncharted being obvious examples. It is Uncharted which is the clear influence behind Deadfall Adventures. Where Uncharted followed Nathan Drake, ancestor of explorer Sir Francis Drake, Deadfall Adventures follows a very similar pattern. Gamers this time step into the shoes of James Lee Quatermain, Grandson of the fictional original tomb raider, Alan Quatermain. James is a reluctant hero – a mercenary treasure hunter who shies away from the legacy of his Grandfather.
That is until Jennifer Goodwin – an agent of the U.S. Government – asks for his help in obtaining a series of artefacts that could help protect the free world, and which must be kept away from the villains of the piece, the Nazis. In true Indiana Jones style, the game plays off  Hitler’s real-life obsession with supernatural artefacts. So far, the story is very generic – being as hackneyed and unoriginal as you could imagine. This isn’t helped by uninspired dialogue that is delivered in a pretty lacklustre way. The story falls flat through this bad execution, and it certainly won’t grip you like the movies and books it is inspired by.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Pocket Titans Review

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to combine a turn-based Role-Playing game with the type a sliding-tile puzzle game, Pocket Titans is the answer. A strange hybrid of puzzle game and RPG, Pocket Titans adds an extra dimension to what you stereotypically expect from a swords and sorcery adventure.
You control a group of Titans – trainee heroes – as they set out on their first quests and learn how to best use their individual talents. Each of the eight Titans in the game is a unique class, with individual skills and abilities that much be learned and mastered in order to successfully complete levels. You begin with only the Mage and Warrior, with the Mage having a strong ranged attack and weak close combat, and the Warrior possessing great Melee strength. As you go forth on your quest to help the King of the land, you will encounter friends and foes, and unlock more Titans for your team.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Against The Grain - Or Why I don't Like Pokemon

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve tried to like Pokémon, I really have. When the craze first hit our Western shores in the late nineties, it caused a huge commotion and was an instant hit. You couldn’t avoid Pokémon, be it the games, the trading cards, the cartoon series, or the merchandise. You could hear young children in town spouting a list of near-incomprehensible words; names of the seemingly endless list of pocket monsters featured in the series.
I, of course, couldn’t escape it, being a gamer and at school. I watched the television show and was introduced to the game on a friend’s Gameboy Colour. The characters and ideas were creative and interesting, but nothing about the concept excited me – remember, when I watched the show I was a schoolboy, and this was the biggest school-yard craze of the time. However, I just couldn’t get into the cartoon series without the knowledge of the game many of my friends had, and I didn’t take to the game – possibly due to my disdain for turn-based combat (not to say I hate all turn-based games, I love the Persona series, but find the mechanic slows down action scenes and acts as a barrier to exciting gameplay).

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Interview with Child Of Light Lead Writer Jefferey Yohalem

At GDC Europe, Far Cry 3’s creative director Patrick Plourde let slip that he and his
Far Cry partner and lead writer Jeffrey Yohalem were working on a brand new IP called Child of Light. Inspired by J-RPGs and built using the UbiArt framework, the game looks incredibly promising. At Ubisoft’s Digital Day, we not only got some hands-on time with the game, but also had a chat with writer Yohalem.

Click here to read the full interview.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Child Of Light Preview

One of the nicest surprises to arise from the European Game Developers Conference this year was that of the new game coming from the lead designer and lead writer of Far Cry 3. Indeed, the new title that Patrick Plourde and Jeffrey Yohalem have been working on came as a somewhat big shift in direction after last year’s jungle-based shooter.
Child of Light was pitched as an interactive poem, and it really does seem just that. The whole game plays out in rhyme, with all of the characters who inhabit the game world speaking in a strangely poetic manner. If that wasn’t an interesting enough starting point, the game is also somewhat of an homage to Japanese Role-Playing Games, and the early Final Fantasy titles in particular. And all of that is wrapped up in a lovely UbiArt-designed package.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Valiant Hearts: The Great War Preview

The UbiArt framework has won widespread acclaim for its use in Rayman Origins and, more recently, Rayman Legends. But for some time now, gamers and critics alike have been asking the question: Wouldn’t UbiArt be great if used for other, non-Rayman titles? At the Ubisoft Digital Days event this week, Ubisoft came out with two brand new UbiArt IPs and a definitive answer – yes, yes it would.
One of those brand new titles is also looking to defy the conventions of the war-game genre. Firstly, Ubisoft Montpellier have opted to tackle the far-less fashionable topic – in gaming terms at least – of the First World War. It has always seemed a more difficult conflict to translate into a game than the Second World War. But more importantly than that, the development team have avoided the all-too common wartime shooter genre, or real-time strategy, and Valiant Hearts: The Great War is actually a puzzle-based Adventure Game. It was proposed that the best way to tackle the subject of death was through a story-driven, personal game.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Castle Of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse Review

Disney seem to be on somewhat of a retro kick lately, what with the recently-released DuckTales Remastered and now this – a re-imagining of classic MegaDrive title Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse. Of course, one of these was developed by Capcom and the other by SEGA, but Disney itself must have some interest in re-living the past glories of the company in video game form.

Whereas Duck Tales was exactly what it said on the box, a re-mastering complete with updated graphics and sound but maintaining the gameplay and level structure of the original, the developers who put together Castle of Illusion take a little more creative freedom with their game. Although many factors and features remain from the original 1991 game, SEGA Studios Australia have used that title as a jumping-off point.

Click here to read the full review.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

The Raven: Legacy Of A Master Thief - Chapter Two: Ancestry Of Lies Review

KingArt may well have been responsible for one of my favourite adventure games of the last few years, the Book of Unwritten Tales, but as so many developers have found out, not everything that one touches turns to gold. With The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief, the development team certainly made a strong start.
The freely downloadable or browser-based prologue was a stylish and atmospheric introduction to the world. We learnt who The Raven is and some of those most concerned with bringing him to justice. Then there was the first episode, which was quite well-received, and further established what we could expect from the series. Unfortunately, with Chapter Two, entitled Ancestry of Lies, the series takes a somewhat major misstep, and the flaws that perhaps could have been over-looked in the first entry in the series are now far too obtrusive and obvious to ignore.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Retro Corner: The Magical Quest Starring Mickey Mouse

When you look at Disney games today, you can easily expect to find the exact same title on any platform of your choosing. That wasn’t always the case, however, and in the early nineties rights to produce Disney titles were split in a genre-specific manner. SEGA produced their own Disney titles for their Mega Drive, Master System and Game Gear consoles – which lead to the very popular Castle of Illusion, just to name one (which of course has received an HD remake just this month). At the same time, Capcom were producing titles featuring Mickey and Co. on Nintendo systems.
This was great for gamers in terms of variety – so you had a real choice of different titles to play – but also a shame because those gamers who didn’t have access to multiple console formats would undoubtedly miss out on fifty percent of the titles, whether they were good or bad. One of these games that saw a Super Nintendo release, but never went multi-platform, was The Magical Quest Starring Mickey Mouse. And whilst the game may not have been as challenging as its Mega Drive counterpart Castle of Illusion, it was certainly a lot more inventive.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

The Dark Eye: Memoria Review

The Dark Eye has long been a popular pen and paper-based RPG series in Europe, but in most of the major gaming markets such as the UK and US, the series hasn’t really had very much exposure. That was until Daedalic Entertainment decided to transpose the tabletop RPG action into the more direct narrative of the point-and-click adventure video game with 2011′s The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav.
The game received almost universal critical praise, and since that time Daedalic have been quite prolific and have established themselves as perhaps the biggest new developer in the genre. Their recent success has been down largely to their comic adventures such as the Deponia and Edna & Harvey series’, but their Dark Eye games were always meant to be a trilogy.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Lost Planet 3 Review

Despite being the third title in the series, Lost Planet 3 is refreshing in the sense that it completely tears up the franchise rule book and carves out its own identity as a game. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is all for the better, but with the series no longer under in-house development in Japan, American studio Spark Unlimited have seized the opportunity to re-launch Lost Planet as a very different proposition to what came before with a radical new prequel.
It still takes place on E.D.N III like the first and second game, but rather than the base at Coronis being an established colony you now control Jim Peyton, a contractor who has taken up the opportunity to be among the first humans to explore the planet and earn some big money at the same time. You work for a mining company who is backed by NEVEC (the Neo-Venus Construction Company), who were previously the main antagonists in the series. At this point in the past, however, they seem innocent enough, but you will start to learn more and more troubling information as the story unfolds.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded Review

In the late nineteen-eighties, graphic adventures were in their infancy, having recently taken the place of popular text-based adventures such as Zork. PC gaming in general wasn’t as inclusive as we see it nowadays, and the market was generally comprised of older office workers – often passing around a pirated copy of a game from workmate to workmate. As such, there were several slightly risqué text adventures that had been released over the years – none so notorious as Sierra’s 1981 title, Softporn Adventure, by Chuck Benton.
But as PC gaming advanced, and graphical adventures became the new buzz genre, it stood to reason that developers would want to visualise the sexual themes of these raunchy titles. This was illustrated perfectly by the 1987 release of Leisure Suit Larry: In The Land Of The Lounge Lizards – an almost direct remake of Softporn Adventure by Sierra themselves. Only this time, a new designer named Al Lowe wanted to turn the horribly dated Softporn Adventure into a real parody of itself, and the game found a huge following.

And so the Leisure Suit Larry series was born, and since then it has gone on to become synonymous with sleaze, perversion and bad taste – despite the fact that whilst the games were under the control of Lowe, most of the sexual activity was only ever implied, and Larry was somewhat loveable, being more often quickly brushed-off by the many unimpressed ladies in the series. The games were in fact more about Larry’s failed exploits than their explicit content. It was only after Sierra farmed out the license that the series became little more than a teen sex romp. Now, through the magic of Kickstarter, Al Lowe has once again got control of the character he created – and the result is a remake of the first game in the series.
If you don’t already know the premise of the game, players take on the role of seventies throwback Larry Laffer, who is always decked out in his titular Polyester Leisure Suit. Larry is past his prime – although it is likely he never had one – and certainly not a hit with the ladies. And yet he has made his way to casino-town Lost Wages (points for originality) to – somewhat naively – find true love. The game sees players solving puzzles and having conversations in traditional point and click fashion, whilst moving from one ill-fated romantic liaison to the next. What makes him a likeable protagonist is that he himself is somewhat innocent, and tries to woo all the ladies with romantic gestures.
The interface is simple – but you can choose the technique that suits you best. The makers have squeezed three different point and click mechanics into the game, allowing users to pick their favourite – be it an icon wheel, scrolling through interactions with the right mouse button or simply selecting icons from a static on-screen menu. This is good, as it will allow players to feel at home instantly, no matter what they are used to. The game doesn’t have obvious hotspots or a hint system to make things easier, but this largely seems because the team have gone all-out to make almost everything on-screen a hotspot. Whatever you click on will most likely elicit a response – more often a joke than something useful, but a response nonetheless. This means that there is a lot to keep you busy in each scene and lots of hidden jokes to uncover.

The remake is very faithful to the original game – which you would expect when both series creator Lowe and long-time writing partner Josh Mandell returned to work on the project. But that is perhaps its biggest failing. Maybe the designers didn’t want to alienate gamers who loved the original game, but at times Reloaded seems like it is simply going through the motions. They have tried to add in a few extra puzzles – even one entirely new girl for Larry to chase – and new Easter eggs, but for some reason they don’t resonate or have the same charm that the original game had. If you are a long-time Larry fan this isn’t terrible, as your nostalgia will carry you through the weaker moments. However, if you come to this as a new player, things probably seem even worse – the comedy does feel dated and it all comes across as a little lifeless. The new jokes just aren’t as pithy as the old ones.
The new puzzles do help to stretch out the game a little – as the original is terribly short – but most players will find that earning money will take up most of their time. Perhaps unwisely the designers left in the feature that you can run out of cash – and considering you have to pay a taxi to move from location to location and you have to buy most of your items from shops, this can cause quite a bit of frustration. Unlike the old game when running out of money resulted in a game over, you do get pity change in this title – but due to the fact that the only way to make money is the luck-based gambling, this whole process becomes long-winded, random and irritating.
It must be said that the high definition makeover is nice, but not without its flaws. The backgrounds are both fitting tributes to the old locations from the original game and impressive works of art in themselves. They are detailed and multi-layered – creating interesting places to be stuck in. There is a bit of a disconnect between the art style of the environments and the characters, however, and even the characters don’t all sit together well. You see, those sprites that have been based on character designs from the old title are very cartoony, possessing a lot of personality. The rest of the game, though, is filled with a supporting cast of bland, quasi-realistic characters and extras who are modelled on high-level Kickstarter backers. This does result in an uneven look to the game, and one that holds very little charm below its high gloss exterior.

The music in the game is a definite step up though, and there are some really nice jazz saxophone pieces, of course led by the recognisable Leisure Suit Larry theme tune. The music overall does a good job of setting the sleazy Vegas atmosphere that the game is going for. The sound design is a little let-down by the patchy voice -over work. The vocal choices for Larry and the girls have obviously had quite some thought put into them (although Larry lacks the same simpering likeable voice that he had in earlier games), but again the supporting cast lets the whole thing down, with too many of the incidental characters having poorly delivered, bland lines.
VERDICT: Leisure Suit Larry was never a masterpiece as such. Al Lowe created a character who wasn’t your typical hero, someone who your average Joe could relate to, in situations that were recognisable (well, some of them at least). Its cult following was gained by the charm and humour that Lowe injected into the early games. This remake – whilst cleaning up the rough edges and adding new content – just doesn’t quite tick all the boxes. The jokes in the first Larry game made it memorable – but the updated punch lines just don’t connect with the same success rate.
Even if you are a die-hard Larry fan (or a massive adventure game nut for that matter), it is unlikely that Reloaded will rekindle those old feelings inside of you. It is more likely to make players want to go back and play the old version. The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition showed us that you can completely re-tread an old classic, provided that you update it with some real care and affection. Unfortunately Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded just doesn’t feel like it has had this same care applied to it.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Retro Corner: Bart Simpson's Escape From Camp Deadly

In the early nineties, both the Nintendo Game Boy and The Simpsons were incredibly hot property. The Game Boy was well on its way to becoming a phenomenon, and The Simpsons had already made it there – appearing on billboards, television commercial and merchandise everywhere you would look. It came as little surprise then when a Game Boy title based on the TV series was announced in 1991. This would be a follow-up to the interesting Bart Vs. The Space Mutants which, despite some awkward controls, had some innovative gameplay that fused platforming and puzzle elements. So there were high hopes for this new title.

Click here to read the full article.

Monday, 8 July 2013

The Walking Dead: 400 Days Review

It has been around eight months since the first season of The Walking Dead: The Game reached its climax – it was the end of an emotional rollercoaster that had spanned almost half a year, across five episodes. The game received multiple game of the year nominations, winning many (including our very own). It connected with players in a way that very few video games ever manage to do, by introducing characters that you could bond with and actually care about.
Where can Telltale Games go from there? They have managed one of the most impressive achievements in the field of video games in recent memory. As fans eagerly anticipate the already-confirmed second season, many might begin to think that surely things can only go downhill after season one. 400 Days was initially promised as something that would help tide over fans until season two was released. Rather than be a standalone entity, Telltale have released the episode as DLC for season one – calling it a “special episode”. This should be a clear statement that fans shouldn’t necessarily expect a masterpiece of the same scale as season one with 400 Days. This is a different beast entirely.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Retro Corner: Rival Turf

When the arcade smash hit scrolling beat-em-up from Capcom – Final Fight – was ported onto the Super Nintendo in 1991, the game was a huge success. Considering the limitations of the home console, Capcom managed to put together a very faithful adaptation, that was very close to the real arcade experience. Except for one glaring omission – there was no two-player option.
Of course, many fans noticed this and the fact became a real issue. Players who had enjoyed the game greatly in their local arcades wanted to play through at home with a friend, as scrolling beat-em-ups are always more fun when played with a partner. Other game developers obviously noticed this fact too, and Japanese developer Jaleco looked to take advantage of this shortcoming just a year later.

Click here to read the full story.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Retro Corner: Pen Pen TriIcelon

When gamers think of the SEGA Dreamcast, the inevitably think back to the first-party hits, such as Sonic Adventure and SEGA Bass Fishing, or arcade-perfect ports like Crazy Taxi and Soul Calibur. Or maybe they look back fondly at the cult classics, such as Shenmue and Skies of Arcadia? Either way, there are the select few games that hold a place of honour in the Dreamcast library, followed by the many which just weren’t really good enough.
Of course there were also the many great titles, or under-appreciated gems, which perhaps didn’t quite capture the hearts of the public or were maybe even a little too strange for the tastes of general gamers. One such title was actually one of the launch games for the ill-fated SEGA console, and that game was Pen Pen TriIcelon.

Monday, 27 May 2013

The Vault - Top Ten Lucasarts Games

Back at the start of April, the gaming community was rocked by the news that LucasArts – one of the most well-known and respected names in the video game industry (historically speaking) – was to be closed down by their parent company Disney. Of course, LucasArts had been a sleeping giant for many years now, struggling to reach the heights of their early days as LucasFilm Games, and their subsequent domination of PC gaming in the early nineteen-nineties.
Many modern or casual gamers won’t blink an eye now that LucasArts is gone, but for those who grew up with the games that the company produced, the games have left many, many lifelong memories. Whether you love the point and click graphic adventures made using the SCUMM engine, or you enjoyed becoming a Jedi in their Star Wars titles, there was quite a selection of different genres that LucasArts worked on across their back catalogue.
Click here to read the full article, and reminisce and look back at ten of the best gaming titles from the house that Lucas built.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Retro Corner: Star Wars Jedi Knight - Dark Forces II

The closure of LucasArts Games has left many gamers around the world somewhat shell-shocked and saddened. And for good reason. LucasArts certainly created many of the greatest and most memorable video gaming titles when I was growing up. They produced a massive stable of top-class games – both original ones and movie tie-ins – that captured the imagination of a generation of players.
Personally, being an adventure game fanatic, I love the graphic adventures produced by LucasArts in the late nineteen-eighties and early nineties, with The Secret of Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle and Grim Fandango – and many more – all ranking high in my list of the top games of all time. However, if adventure games is the first thing that fans think of when they hear the name LucasArts, the second thing would definitely be Star Wars. For better or worse, LucasArts produced a wide array of titles based on the Star Wars universe that George Lucas created with the first film in 1977. Strategy games, racing games, desktop utilities – nothing was safe from the merchandising of the Star Wars brand. And today we are going to take a look back at one of the most successful uses of the Star Wars license in gaming, the first/third-person shooter Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Surgeon Simulator 2013 Review

What do you get when you put several British game designers together in a room with only forty-eight hours to create a new and interesting video game? Apparently, you get Surgeon Simulator. The small team at Bossa Studios put out their own “interesting” take on Heart surgery at the last Global Game Jam and since that time it has acquired somewhat of a cult following.
Originally released as a free-to-play browser-based game after its short, forty-eight hour gestation period, it has now been given the go-ahead by Steam Greenlight for release on said gaming platform, complete with the snazzy new Surgeon Simulator 2013 title.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Retro Corner: Star Trek 25th Anniversary

The recent re-boot of the Star Trek film franchise by J.J. Abrams has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for the crew of the Starship Enterprise. To say that the original cast of William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, et al had already had their time in the sun – and perhaps even outstayed their welcome a little as they got older – is certainly no over-statement. And by the time that the crew of The Next Generation took over the movie series, they were already past their prime too.
Things needed shaking up, and the man behind innovative television series LOST has somehow managed to re-imagine the iconic crew and bring them to a new audience – but at the same time without aggravating and alienating all of the enthusiastic long-term fans. So it is little surprise that this year both a sequel to the re-launched film, and an accompanying video game, will be released shortly. In this new game from Namco Bandai Games and Digital Extremes, players will get to control both Captain Kirk and Mr Spock in co-operative action.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Retro Corner: Film to Game Adaptations

So, a news story has broke that your favourite film is to be made into a video game. For most gamers this would some alarm bells rather than rejoicing and dancing in the street.
With the recent critical-flop that was Aliens: Colonial Marines, anticipation had been building for years that finally we were going to get the classic video game in the Aliens universe, that the source material deserves. But somehow – through a combination of many factors – the game didn’t live up to its billing and it will be remembered as just another failed movie adaptation.
Many are rushed out in time to coincide with the theatrical release of the film, meaning that not enough time and care has gone into the title. Others may come years after the film was popular, trying to leech off the success of a well-loved property, yet somehow manage to miss the point of the film entirely.
See the worst offenders by clicking here.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Retro Corner: Dynamite Cop

When Die Hard 4.0 was released in cinemas back in 2007, most movie fans would have been forgiven for thinking that would be the end of the saga for Bruce Willis and his John McClane character. What more could he do? This latest movie had passed the torch in a way from the bombastic physical action films of old to a more modern, technological thriller – complete with a new young protagonist. However, just as his enemies have learned in all of the previous films, you just can’t keep John McClane down, and Bruce Willis is returning to the role this February in the fifth film in the series, A Good Day to Die Hard.
Now, there have been a few licensed games based on the Die Hard saga, and as you would expect, there have certainly been some mixed results, but perhaps the most interesting Die Hard-related games are the two Dynamite Deka titles from SEGA. The first game was released as Dynamite Deka in the Arcades in Japan in 1996, before getting a SEGA Saturn home console version. It was a Final Fight style arcade beat-em-up, that featured several police officers infiltrating a skyscraper in order to save the daughter of the President from terrorists.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

The Cave Review

When Maniac Mansion was released in 1987 it was a revolutionary title in the Adventure Gaming genre, and in video gaming in general. Adventure games were just beginning to ride a wave of popularity that would see the genre become the most successful in PC gaming in the late eighties and early nineties. The game, created by Ron Gilbert, would solidify this golden age, and set down many benchmarks for almost every graphic adventure that came after. Gilbert also created the mega-hit, iconic Monkey Island series, but after several runaway successes at Lucasarts Games he left the company in 1993 and, despite working as a consultant on several titles, never created his own adventure game again.
That is, until now. Partnering with Double Fine Games – run by another Lucasarts graduate, Tim Schafer – he has returned to the genre in which he made his name after a wait of approximately twenty years. But of course, things don’t stay the same in video games for long, so the adventure / puzzle genre has changed dramatically. But then The Cave isn’t your average adventure game, and those involved in its development aren’t your average game designers.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Retro Corner: Cancelled – The Top Games You Won’t Play in 2013

Over the years, we have become accustomed to seeing a plethora of newly-announced video games at E3 each year, each accompanied by some hyperbole or perhaps a teaser trailer.This helps build anticipation and gauge fan interest long before the title actually hits retail shelves and we can get our hands on it. But as you look forward to the big releases due in 2013, spare a thought for those games that never saw the light of day.
A huge number of titles every year will be announced, but just won’t end up reaching completion. Some will stall soon after, through a lack of funding or the inability to secure a publisher. Others however will enter full production, only to be cancelled at a later point; sometimes for a near-unknown reason. Then there are even the unfortunate few who reach Gold status, are weeks away from release, and they still get canned.
These are the sort of decisions that haunt gamers for life. The interesting concepts, exciting storylines and intriguing trailers that fans get a glimpse of make them want the game desperately, so imagine the disappointment that comes when that title never gets finished. There have, of course, been thousands of such cases – and many, many high profile ones that stand out in the memory – click here to read on for five of the most painful!!