Posts Tagged ‘Steam’

2020: Year of Halo – Part 2: Co-op Evolved

They did it. The world is going crazy, but the mad lads at 343 Industries got another Halo campaign out on the PC in 2020. We are one step closer to achieving the Year of Halo.

The original Halo: Combat Evolved is – surprise surprise – hugely nostalgic for me. I had a friend who got the game Day 1 alongside four controllers at the 2002 launch of the original Xbox. I wouldn’t have admitted it at the time, but I was definitely jealous. As a Nintendo kid by trade I was already well used to console launches boosted by games in well-known franchises, so the Xbox came in with a definite disadvantage; but Bungie’s Halo was just so ridiculously polished that playing it made you quickly forget its status as a series debut. Halo didn’t originate twin-stick FPS controls, but it refined them and brought them into the mainstream; the jank of Goldeneye and Perfect Dark would never be convincingly disguised again. The splitscreen multiplayer experience on Blood Gulch is now legendary. I don’t think it’s that controversial to call Halo: Combat Evolved one of history’s greatest console launch titles.

But despite three or four attempts over the decades, I have never surpassed the second level of the first Halo campaign. The notoriously minimap-free level design has tripped me up on more than one half-hearted occasion over the years. That finally changed early last month, when I lined up a Halo-loving mate for another tilt at the campaign that started it all – now with yet another new coat of paint and a handy suite of fresh features on the mighty PC. Thanks to all manner of spicy technical difficulties, it would eventually take us almost two months to get it finished. But before we began, it was time to play some Halo multiplayer again at last.

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2020: Year of Halo – Part 1: A Bit of a Reach

Late in 2019 Microsoft did something rather devious – After a considerable period of drawn-out hype, the storied partnership between 343 Industries, Splash Damage and Ruffian Games bore its first meaningful piece of fruit for PC gamers; Halo: The Master Chief Collection took its first steps onto the wild plains of the personal computer. This was devious, of course, because it came roughly a year before the purported due date of the next Xbox console, and Microsoft has made a real point of saying that Halo Infinite will launch on the same day. What’s more, while only Halo: Reach is out on PC now, the remaining four-and-a-half Halo games are slated for staggered release over the course of 2020. Rarely has a pre-release run of hype dominoes been so tantalisingly lined up.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have ourselves a year of Halo.

Now I have only finished one Halo campaign in my life – ODST – and only because it was a mostly irrelevant sub-story. I’ve been playing Halo games for a long time, but the lore and plot hasn’t ever really had a chance to grab me. One of the reasons I was so readily able to rank Halo 5 so high in 2015, after all, was my complete disinterest in its campaign. To me, Halo has always been about the presentation and the multiplayer.

But with such a ready-made setup, I will likely never have a better chance to get into the main story of gaming’s most famous contribution to the sci-fi canon. The motivation just wouldn’t be there otherwise. So, Halo: Reach, here we go; it’s time at last for me to finish your campaign.
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Game Review: Towerfall Ascension

This review was an unfinished draft destined for obscurity a month or two ago, but now Sony has announced that the game is free on Playstation Plus this month, so hello relevance! Only a couple of days left to add this one to your cart for no cost, though.

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Platform:
PS4, PC
Developer:
Matt Makes Games
Rating: PG
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I've never reviewed a download-only game before on this blog, so this presentation style is a trial.

I’ve never reviewed a download-only game before on this blog, so this presentation style is a trial.

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It’s Bow-etry in Motion.
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Spawning, taking a split second to line up a perfect cross-stage shot, loosing an arrow that pins one opponent to the wall, double-jumping over to his corpse to retrieve both your arrow and his, leaping down to meet a fresh airborne assault, timing a button press just right to catch an incoming projectile, retaliating instantly with a pair of arrows to nab a second kill, feinting a ranged attack on the sole remaining player before accelerating your fall and ending her with a swift head-stomp. All your opponents are in the same room as you, and all you need to do is glance around with a grin on your face to confirm their priceless rage.

The spirit of cut-throat local competitive multiplayer is not dead, nor is it exclusive to Nintendo consoles. Towerfall Ascension is proof enough of that. It’s charming, manic and highly customisable, and over four months after its launch it remains unquestionably my favourite game currently available on the PS4.

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New Experiences, Served Steamed

When it comes to videogames, I’ve always been a console guy. In terms of priorities when choosing how I want to play games, it has always been handhelds first, then home consoles. PC games have rarely, if ever, featured at all. That’s just the way it is. Real Time Strategy titles and MOBAs aren’t my thing and just about every other worthwhile title that comes to PC also hits the home console market in due time. Less hassle. Increasingly often, they also come to the Playstation Vita, which is an even better place to play them if you ask me. And yet late last year, I finally got a Steam account and bought a game on PC.

Why, you may ask? The short answer is Samurai Gunn, a four-player pixelated brawler I knew would eventually come to PS4 in the long run but just looked so good that I downloaded it through Steam anyway. Countless hours of ridiculous fun with friends followed, but Samurai Gunn just isn’t all that great to play solo and my Steam account was looking a little bare. So I picked up a $50 retail Steam voucher and decided to dive into some of the low-tech PC games I had seen on the big-name Game of the Year lists last year. That $50 bought me the following three games, with precisely three cents to spare. Here are my brief thoughts on them:

The Stanley Parable

The Stanley Parable is the kind of game that could probably only work on PC. A first person experience that both is and isn’t a game, The Stanley Parable digs its self-aware tendrils into every crevice of the gamer’s specifically-trained brain and dances around gleefully. Its designers evidently anticipated just about every possible way the average player would attempt to outsmart it, up to and including editing bits of the game’s code, which just shows another level of attention to detail. To say any more would be to ruin some of the game’s appeal, but I will mention that no game has ever made me feel so foolish for being so dedicated to the endless chase of Trophies /Achievements etc.

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