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What Happened to Half-Life Decay?

What Happened to Half-Life Decay?

This past week saw GameInformer drop a massive article charting Andrew Reiner’s longstanding quest to unearth information from Valve on the latest goings on with their most famous franchise, Half-Life. What emerged was a lengthy interview with an inside source, which pretty much confirms that Half-Life is all but dead. The article though prompted me to revisit an old home – valvetime.net, or as it used to be know, halflife2.net. What did I find? An interesting article looking at Half-Life Decay.

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Drive!Drive!Drive! Out! Now!

Drive!Drive!Drive! Out! Now!

I wrote the following about Drive!Drive!Drive! in my report from day two of EGX, “If this falls through the cracks of public consciousness, I’ll be disappointed.” I take a look around today, and I find that the game has been released on Steam and the PlayStation Store. This pleases me, as this unique racer showed great potential when I checked it out in Birmingham.

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Together for Victory Expands Hearts of Iron IV Next Week

Together for Victory Expands Hearts of Iron IV Next Week

The first expansion for Hearts of Iron IV is coming on the 15th December, and will radically shake up how the major members of the British Commonwealth play. Together for Victory will significantly change the game for Canada, Australia, New Zealand, The Raj (India) and South Africa with further knock-on effects to how Factions work in the game overall. Hit the jump for more information.

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The Latest Truck Simulator Goings-On

The Latest Truck Simulator Goings-On

The team at SCS Software have been mighty busy in recent months, certainly not resting on their laurels after the release of American Truck Simulator earlier this year. They’ve been busy working on updates for ATS, but haven’t left European Truck Simulator 2 behind. Hit the jump to catch up on what the team at SCS have been getting up to.

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Hardcore Football Sim, Behold the Kickmen Goes Dystopian

Hardcore Football Sim, Behold the Kickmen Goes Dystopian

If you haven’t heard yet, there’s a hardcore football simulator coming out in the nebulous “soon”, and it goes by the name Behold the Kickmen. I even interviewed the developer, Dan Marshall back in the summer when all things were bright and beautiful. It’s something of a shock then to see that Dan is including a new mode in Kickmen which betrays the ultra-hardcore, extremely realistic simulation style of the game. The new mode – Dystopian Future BloodSport Mode.

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Well It’s About Time!

Well It’s About Time!

I love mods. Always have, always will. I get so happy when people take amazing games and make them even better, whether it’s new characters, new locations or complete overhauls I just can’t get enough of them  Modding is the very reason that I love the PC so much, despite the fact that it’s also the reason I have to re-install my games every few weeks after completely breaking them.

This week though, I’ve found something amazing. Something so completely fantastic you’ll never play Fallout 4 without it.

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No. This Is Wrong. All Wrong, On So Many Levels

No. This Is Wrong. All Wrong, On So Many Levels

Now I’ve got nothing against modding – I applaud when fans of PC gaming go that extra mile and tweak games that are often already good into something truly fantastic. New characters, new weapons, new locations – there’s almost nothing that modders can’t do given enough time and motivation. I’ve flown the Tardis across the wastelands of Fallout: New Vegas, I’ve driven the Batmobile through Liberty City and played GTA5 as a police officer. Modding is the very reason that I champion the PC as the platform of choice for gamers, and it’s usually the reason I have to re-install my games every few weeks after completely breaking them.

Sometimes however, I do have to draw the line. There are occasions when I’ve had to hold up my hand and say ‘no, you cannot mod that into a game. It’s sick, it’s offensive, and above all else, it’s just wrong.’

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Introducing Five For Five

Introducing Five For Five

We’re trying something out on The Reticule over the next few weeks, whether doing it in the run up to Christmas is a good idea, I don’t know, but it should be interesting. Over the next five weeks, you can expect to see five upcoming indie games featured on the site, complete with short Q&As consisting of five questions and hands-on impressions. First up will be noir adventure game, Detective Gallo.

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News – “Frozen Synapse 2 unveils new units; delayed until 2017”

News – “Frozen Synapse 2 unveils new units; delayed until 2017”

Is something  news if we have already shared in on our Twitter? Who is even writing this post? I think we’ve passed the fourth wall and entered the dimension inhabited by Frozen Synapse 2Today, this dimension is inhabited by delays (to make the game better!), new units (yay!) and a new game mode (double yay!). Do you dare step forth into this dimension to read a hurried breakdown of a delightful press release from Mode 7? You do? Hooray!

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Tyranny – The Verdict

Tyranny – The Verdict

So here’s a question for people who like that kind of thing. What exactly is an evil man? Surely good and evil are simply decided by which side of an army or faction you are born into? Maybe it depends on which views you are brought up with or what you come to believe to be true on your own terms. Or is evil a more personal thing, something that is defined by your actions no matter where you come from or what your background is? Paradox Interactive’s new RPG Tyranny really poses this question to you from the get-go by allowing you to choose your backstory in the lead up to actually taking control of your character. The army of Kyros under which your loyalties lie, have taken over most of the known world aside from one small peninsula in the south. As one of Kyros’ leaders in the eventual occupation of these lands, you begin the game by deciding exactly how your armies go about capturing the district. I won’t spoil any of the important choices for you, as this intro literally shapes the game you play and choosing the level to which your evil or mercy extends is half the fun of the early game.

What I will say is that as with other Paradox games the writing and character development in Tyranny is of a very high standard. Rarely does it feel like you’re reading a piece of filler text but instead insightful and interesting dialogue and backstory, and taking part in decisions that literally shape the game and characters you are playing in and talking to. Just be prepared to do a LOT of reading. If reading is really not your thing, then I would seriously consider your attitude towards this game as skipping text would, in my opinion ruin the enjoyment of the overall game.

In a majority of games in this genre party interaction is something that I often find tedious and an endeavor that has no meaningful outcome. Party conversations in Tyranny however hold weight as each character that you talk to will react differently to you depending on your choices in game and the ways in which you interact with them on an individual level. You can gain fear or loyalty from them, making their own actions change according to yours. This is the same for larger factions and NPC’s in the game, who you can also gain and lose reputation with depending on your actions. This certainly makes conversation choices a lot more meaningful for me and means if you want to role play the evil guy you better be prepared to deal with the consequences. The only disappointment from the party members is that there is not a whole lot of depth to them after conversation. You may visit an area in the game that they have a connection with and they will hardly even talk. There’s also not much in the way of ‘loyalty quests’ or anything to connect them personally to these places and I feel like they lack a bit of depth in that department, which is a shame. A personal quest or two that included each of the characters you can add to your party would go a long way to solving this problem.

The voice acting is also of a high standard when it shows, but not all interactions are voiced. I’m not sure if this was due to me playing the early review release of the game which im told would be missing the odd bit here and there or if they decided that it just wouldn’t be practical to have every section of the game voice acted. Certainly the main story line arc was mostly voice acted and if I think about it long enough that’s probably enough for me.

The writers don't shy away from being in your face about their characters feelings.
The writers don’t shy away from being in your face about their characters feelings.

There’s a lot to take in to account when getting into your first few proper combat situations in Tyranny, although if you have played Paradox’s other game Pillars of Eternity, you will feel semi-familiar here. Once you build up a party and level them to suit your play style things get a little easier, but initially I found it a touch hard to manage the ability overload you are faced with. There is the option to let AI manage your party members but this is best turned off if you’re thinking about tackling one of the harder difficulty levels as sometimes they can be infuriatingly slow to react, especially when switching between targets that are further apart from each other. Thankfully you can pause combat and manage each characters abilities and if things are moving to fast for you in real-time, there’s an option to toggle slow combat speeds.

Once you get into the thick of the stats, abilities and equipment management, it’s actually quite enjoyable if you like that kind of thing. The spell system allows you to essentially create your own spells and assign them to any character, with higher cost spells being restricted to characters with high lore values which are normally casters anyway. Spells are created with a ‘Core Sigil’ deciding what element or type of spell it will be, an ‘Expresion Sigil’ deciding how the spell will effect the target and an ‘accent’ which modifies anything from casting range to the strength of the spell or how long the effect of the spell will take place for. Each sigil has a lore value and this is what restricts you from just giving the strongest spells to every character. For your mage assuming you have one in your party, spell creation is something of a strong point in the game, allowing you to entirely shape the type of combat style you want later into the game once you’ve collected a lot of sigils.

On top of the spell system each character has their own skill tree with multiple options from which they can learn new abilities or improve combat traits like armour penetration or health. Certain pieces of equipment can also provide abilities but are mostly for stat improvement and aesthetic value. Overall the combat and ability system is fairly in depth and as a person who enjoys tweaking optimal stats and abilities I enjoyed the system that Obsidian have put in place here, certainly when compared to other games of the same genre which almost seem to shy away from making these things in any way complicated for whatever reason. In a game that isn’t entirely about combat it makes sense not to completely overload the player with combat based decisions and I feel this medium depth level worked well at not spoiling my enjoyment of everything else that Tyranny has to offer.

I really enjoyed the medium level depth of the combat, skill and ability system in Tyranny.
I really enjoyed the medium level depth of the combat, skill and ability system in Tyranny.

Graphically and in terms of level deign Tyranny is a really good looking game much on the same terms as Pillars of Eternity, which makes sense when you take into account that the same team developed it and it’s made with the same engine. The levels are really well designed both visually and the way in which they can be transversed and interacted with. It’s almost as if concept art has been improved upon by artists and designers leading to some stunning scenes and intelligent design. Throughout the whole game I don’t think there was a single area of the game where I thought the designers had slipped in quality.

Ultimately Tyranny is a game about making decisions and unlike some games who promise a lot it really makes these choices count. During my play I compared my choices and outcomes to that of a friend and I’m happy to say that there was no illusion of choice, your actions really do change things like the people you meet, the areas you visit and smaller sub areas that you may or may not have access to, how people react to you, what people call you, items you find in the game and probably much more than that.

To sum things up Tyranny is a well designed and enjoyable RPG that makes decisions count, has enjoyable combat, interesting characters and well written dialogue. It places itself in a fairly unique setting and certainly makes being evil a lot of fun. Above all of that I think the thing I like most about Tyranny is that it’s not very often in a game that I get to actually make the decision I want. In most other games I may be provided with options but certain game world rules mean that none of them suit exactly what I want to do in that situation. In Tyranny however I can happily kill off an NPC, slap someone in the face, throw them off a building, show mercy, save their life, take a bribe, or basically anything I want if I deem it necessary as I am literally the law bringer and in the end this is what makes it most enjoyable for me.

The Verdict – Red Mist

Platforms Available – PC
Platform Reviewed – PC

Please see this post for more on our scoring policy. Steam review code supplied by PR.