Posts Tagged ‘Gaming


And how much is this free weekend?

If you are a reader of Rock Paper Shotgun[1] then you are probably already aware of this but Shattered Horizon is having another free weekend.

Shattered horizon is a brilliantly original competitive shooter but sadly lacking in players. it is DirectX 10 only and when it was first released Vista was the only option for playing it. I just hope that this free weekend and the increased number of people with DX10 capable machines will save it, because it would be a shame if all shooters were clones of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. You can read my thoughts on the game here.

As well as being an excellent shooter set in space with jet packs there are no unlocks to worry about, so new and old players are on the same footing apart from practice, which is how it should be and makes it easier to get into for a free weekend.

The pre-load should go live on Wednesday night and the game should be free to play from Thursday night until Monday, though as Valve and time differences are involved this may vary.

It will also be reduced over the period so keep an eye on the store page and be sure to download and have a go when it goes live.

It’s free right?

[1] if you are not you should be, a better blend of humour (not humor) and game journalism can not be easily found elsewhere.



What do you do when the only computer you have for two weeks has a Pentium 4 dual core, a Geforce 6200LE and is running Ubuntu? Go and play on the Wii downstairs? well yes, I did do that, and Wii Sports Resort is definitely a good game… but that is not what this is about. As you might have guessed from the title this is about running Windows games on Linux using the compatibility layer WINE. So how did I get on?

Continue reading ‘WINE’


Digging In

I finally got round to getting the entrenchment micro expansion for Sins of a Solar Empire. If you thought the game was good before you will love this. No longer do you have to spread your fleet out between your planets so thinly, with the introduction of star-bases and minefields you can hold off all but the largest of attacks until your fleet has time to arrive. This has the benefit of freeing a lot of ships (and more importantly crew points) from the guard duty they used to have to be assigned to.

Star-bases can be built in any gravity well including ones like Stars and Wormholes which before could not have any structures built in. As Stars and Wormholes are important strategically as they are choke points on most maps (as they are used for travel), being able to place a powerful defence in one before the other player gives you a distinct advantage. Think of star-bases as something between a capital ship and a planet, they are upgraded like planets and can’t move, they also take a lot of killing like planets, where they differ is that the upgrades give them abilities like hangar bays and powerful weapons that would normally be found on capital ships. You can’t upgrade everything on the Star-base however and as you are limited to one per system you will need to make the decision as to which modules to install carefully.

The other immediately noticeable feature that has been added is the ability to place mines. Each race does this slightly differently but the result is the same, a gravity well that has to be carefully navigated or a large enough fleet that you don’t care if those at the front of the formation get blown up (mines do not concern me admiral), These do have to be placed around a coloniseable planet as they are produced by the hangar bays (and not from the ones on star-bases).

There are a lot of more subtle features as well, the tech tree has been divided into three, (aggression, defence and economics, though the names change depending on the race being played) and more has been added, mainly to the new defence section (though a lot of the defence tech was previously in the general military category of the standard game).

All of this together adds a lot to the game, with the AI improvements (I actually had an enemy surrender!) as well if feels like a much more complete game, the diplomacy options are still very limited but it looks like that will soon be taken care of in the aptly named Diplomacy expansion. If you are thinking of getting Sins of a Solar Empire I would definitely recommend you buy the bundle that includes entrenchment and bypass the vanilla game altogether and if you already have the vanilla game and enjoy it then I am sure you will find Entrenchment a worthwhile update.

Now, if you will excuse me I have to go and pre-order the diplomacy expansion…


Have you Achieved Anything?

Trophies, Achievements, Gamerscore, call them what you will but should people really care about them? Is games development even being hampered by the inclusion of such features?
I believe it is, achievements (as they will be referred to for the rest of this article) are just an easy way for the developer to make the game seem a bit longer as after you have completed it there is still seemingly more left to do to get “100%”. “It took me weeks to complete that game” you say? No, it took 4 hours to complete, it took you repeating those 4 hours over and over again for a few weeks to get the trophies.

Continue reading ‘Have you Achieved Anything?’


Forging a Battle: Part 3


I spent most of the the morning doing a few of the one player PvE maps, I have reached Rank 4 in PvE (so now I have a full account and can trade cards rather than just being able to buy boosters) and the world map now looks like this:


The scenarios are quite varied from attack missions like the tutorial (but harder and with a full deck of cards) to defence where you have to keep an area safe for a certain period of time and escort missions where you have to protect a unit as it tries to get to the other side of the map. Most seem to have hero units who, while powerful, are mission critical. Most of the time you also have AI allies working with you. Completing these scenarios also gives you upgrade cards, these cards cannot be traded but can be used to upgrade stats on cards in your collection. For example the first upgrade card for the Master Archers increases their damage slightly.

Continue reading ‘Forging a Battle: Part 3’


there’s no place for multiplayer any more

Why do we fight the machine? I don’t mean in a Terminator sense, they are not taking over the world or anything [1], but rather in the sense that a huge number of games are single player, you verses the computer, even in multiplayer games this happens. According to the review of UT3 by Tom Francis in PC Gamer UK, Epic have said that more than half the copies of UT2004 sold have never been taken on-line. I myself have played more UT2004 off-line than on, even though I ran a DM server for a few months. Hell even in an MMO like world of Warcraft the majority of people play against the engine, sure they go and kill boar complete quests with other players, but the quests themselves are still fighting the game.

I spent 30+ hours of my life [2] where my only conversations were with the NPCs in Fallout 3, I have uncovered a conspiracy by NPCs in Deus Ex, saved the world from an invasion of NPC Daemons in Doom 1 2 and 3 [3], and am currently exploring an underwater city full of creepy NPCs with the help of genetic modifications in Bioshock. In fact, if I look at the list of 70 Games in my Steam account, at least 33 of them have no multiplayer at all, and only about 10 of them have multiplayer as the main game mode and most of these are HL1 mods. If we only count full games games which were developed with multiplayer in mind it is just four, Team Fortress 2, Unreal Tournament 3, Quake 3 and Left 4 Dead.

Four. Out of Seventy. And I like to think I have quite a wide selection.
Video games are clearly about the single player then. People clearly like to play against the computer (or the challenge set by the developers, depending on the type of game) rather than playing against other people on-line.

So why is this?

Continue reading ‘there’s no place for multiplayer any more’


Team Fortress 2 Update

A new update for TF2 is often a mixed blessing, most of the changes are for the best but occasionally there are a few off ones. Todays update certainly has one of those.

Added the ability for players to permanently delete items from their inventory using the new Backpack menu. This does not reset achievements. Once an item has been deleted it can never be re-earned

What the hell were they thinking? Why would you want to delete an item? If you don’t want a weapon just don’t use it. What also concerns me is that someone will find an exploit and start deleting other peoples loadouts. This just sounds like a bad idea to me.

I said that these updates are normally a mixed bag, well this one is no different.

Scouts now drop the flag if they’re carrying it when they start phasing

I assume this means drinking a Bonk! Energy Drink. I haven’t unlocked that yet so I didn’t even know they could use that whilst carrying the intel, I haven’t noticed anyone do it but I haven’t played much since the scout update came out so it is not surprising. I am glad that they have taken this ability away though. Leaving it would be like being able to use the translocator in Unreal Tournament whilst carrying the flag.

You can read the full details about the update here.



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