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Author: Chris Evans

Our Life in Games – Chris

Our Life in Games – Chris

During the peak (or low?) of lockdown, you might have seen the Facebook trend for people to post images of their favourite films, albums or games without any words to go alongside. I was tagged in one with the focus on the games that have impacted upon me, note impacted, not just favourite. Rather than a wordless Facebook post, writing about ten(ish) most impactful games right here on The Reticule is the best way to highlight these games that have shaped my gaming life. While we’ve often talked about Our Years in Games, or even Our (Reticule) Decade in Games, I decided to take things back a step, and look at my life in games.

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Revival Recolonization Deep Dive

Revival Recolonization Deep Dive

If you weren’t into mobile gaming back in the first decade of the 2000’s, you might not have heard of the Revival games. Inspired by the Civilization series, they aimed to bring the 4X genre to the Symbian powered phones of that era before a period of dormancy. Now, the Revival name is back with HeroCraft targeting a public test later this year for Revival: Recolonization.

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The Witcher 3 – Five Years Old

The Witcher 3 – Five Years Old

A browse around any mainstream gaming website (sadly, there are rivals to The Reticule out there) over the past day or so would have revealed that we have passed the 10th anniversary of the release of Red Dead Redemption and that The Witcher 3 has turned five. And as I look through our archives, it saddens me that we have not covered this game as it deserves. Somehow we managed to deliver not one, but two Verdicts on its predecessor. Even then, I ended up writing about it myself as well. The third one though? Apart from a mass of pre-release coverage, the most we talked about The Witcher 3 was in Our Favourite Games of The Reticule Years.

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Now is the time for a Switch exclusive Assassin’s Creed

Now is the time for a Switch exclusive Assassin’s Creed

The news of Assassin’s Creed Valhallah coming this year is wonderful, it’s just a shame that it isn’t making its way to the Switch. Ubisoft should do the right thing and grace the Switch with an exclusive.

It is unlikely to happen, Ubisoft are all in on the next generation with Valhallah, and I certainly wouldn’t be expecting a port of that to make its way to Nintendo’s machine, even if the long rumoured upgraded version was ever to see the light. But Ubisoft have an established relationship with Nintendo, just look at the success of Mario and Rabbids and the special version of Starlink. They have also shown a willingness to engage with the platform as shown by the recent Remastered releases of Assassin’s Creed 3 and the Assassin’s Creed Rebel Collection.

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Adventure in Aellion Beta, Release Date(!)

Adventure in Aellion Beta, Release Date(!)

You might remember that back in January, when life was normal, I previewed Adventure in Aellion based on my hands-on time with it at EGX last year and a chat with Luke O’Donoghue, director of developers The Game Product Company. I described it back then as “a Zelda-like with drop-in drop-out multiplayer”, and if you want to check it out yourself a beta is now available, with all the details and a new trailer below the cut.

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DiRT Rally 2.0 (GOTY) – The Verdict

DiRT Rally 2.0 (GOTY) – The Verdict

As with most other sports, the World Rally Championship is on hold, but for the first time since the days of Colin McRae and Richard Burns, we have a championship contender in Elfyn Evans. Yet in these dark times when the forests are quiet, a Game of the Year edition of DiRT Rally 2.0 appears pulling together the content from the four seasons that Codemasters have released since the game first launched in February 2019. This bundle also brings with it the Colin McRae Flat Out pack, a content collection designed to honour McRae’s title winning season 25 years ago and completes Codemasters homage to Colin McRae Rally 2.0, a title which defined my racing days on the PlayStation.

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Clearing The Backlog – Portal 2

Clearing The Backlog – Portal 2

A few things strike me as I start writing about Portal 2. For one, how has it taken me until nine years after release to write about this game again? And for two, it’s strange to look back at Ben’s review from 2011 and to think that was one of the early Verdict’s following the relaunch of the site in April of that year. So much time has past, and yet with regards to Valve’s singleplayer games, it’s only now that anything has changed. Following the recent release of Half-Life: Alyx, I felt it right to go back to the one game from the Half-Life and Portal series that I hadn’t completed, and with that impetus, I cleared Portal 2 from my backlog.

Tracing my progress through the game via Steam achievements, it appears that I made strong headway through the Aperture Science Labs in 2011 before making tiny returns in 2012 and 2016, before making more substantial progress last summer. As for why I didn’t finish the game originally, I can offer no explanation. Looking back at the archives, nothing substantial took my focus away writing wise, but as for my brief dallances since then, I can only put that down to being out of sync with the challenges posed in by Stephen Marchant’s Wheatley. Indeed, when I offered up some early impressions of the game, I talked about the need to get myself Thinking With Portals once again.

For a nine year old game, it has some breathtaking moments.

Without being in the zone for Portal’s challenges, they can take some time to figure out. I’m none too ashamed to reveal that in my last push to complete the game, I fell back onto some handy guides on the internet. Nine years after release, there’s no point in banging my head against a brick wall and getting frustrated. What the guides did tend to reveal when I called upon them was that I wasn’t entirely Thinking With Portals.

There was a certain pace and style to the original Portal, and the three gels and energy tunnels that were new for the sequel really offered a new twist on what was an extremely successful formula. The moments in my last couple of chapters where I put the puzzle together without resorting to a guide provided me with the kind of buzz the I rarely receive from solving puzzles in other games. My girlfriend, stuck in the Corona lockdown with me, gave me more than one funny look while I yelped out in excitement when the lightbulb went off in my head for a few levels.

Humour, a defining quality of Portal 2.

The two Portal titles are really quite different from the mainline Half-Life games, and showed that Valve had a fantastic grasp over characters, world building and most important, humour. The Half-Life titles are exceptional adventures in their own right, but for me Portal shows the breadth of talent in that studio. Their quest for perfection might well have held them back from releasing more singleplayer wonders to us in the years since Portal 2, but when they produced masterpieces like this, we can’t hold that against them too much.

If you’re looking at those playing Alyx right now in the delights of VR, take a look at Valve’s back catalogue and give this one another blast. The jokes are still sharp, and the performances from Ellen McLain, JK Simmonds and Merchant are something to behold.