I was saved from scrambling to come up with an introduction with the announcement of Civilization: Beyond Earth which is coming this ‘Fall’ according to the American terminology. The spiritual successor to Alpha Centauri, perhaps the most highly praised 4X game is sure to attract a lot of attention before release, and fortunately PC Gamer have a massive interview with the team covering factions, the planet and more. Well worth a read while the first trailer can be found after the break along with our team’s contributions for Our Week in Games.
It’s been a peculiar week for me games-wise. I’ve just finished my new rig and for the most part I’ve spent my free-time throwing the most graphically challenging titles I own at it. When you can run Thief at ultra settings with an average FPS of 59.4 though, there aren’t many titles available that can put any strain on it.
So I reverted to a few classics. Metro: Last Light is utterly gorgeous on ultra settings, I never appreciated how nice mud can be to look at until now. I sill think that the original, Metro:2033 is the better game, but the sequel is far more taxing on a system.
The other thing I’ve been playing is Sniper V2 (damn you steam flash-sale) which once you get past the novelty of the slow-mo x-Ray death-cam, the game wears thin real quick. It’s a lamentable shooter, sniping aside and as you’re forced into open conflict far more than you’re able to snipe, it suffers greatly for it.
I’m eagerly awaiting the new Wolfenstein as it looks utterly insane and the news of an upcoming Doom fills me with unalloyed joy (though the word ‘beta’ does concern me somewhat… That aside I’m at a bit of a loss at what to play. Any suggestions readers?
This week I’ve been doing two things; being in space, and being dead. With limited gaming time available I’ve been flicking backwards and forwards between FTL and Weird Worlds: Return to Infinite Space, both highly entertaining games that pack a huge amount of content into about the same length of time as a large cup of coffee.
FTL’s recent update may have added much to an already great game, but it does fail to address the game’s major issue; that I suck at it. With new aliens, new weapons and events, I now have even more exciting ways to blow up my ship and kill my crew. In nearly two years since the game’s release, I’m still no nearer to eliminating the monstrous final boss, but for some reason I keep coming back.
On the other hand, my adventures in Weird Worlds seem to be going considerably better. I still die frequently, due in no small part to the game’s ferocious combat, but when a playthrough lasts on average about ten minutes, I don’t seem to care. This week the random number generator has thrown quite a few events at me that I didn’t even know were in the game, an insectoid alien incursion and a mysterious ancient ship surrounded by defensive drones. Even after a long time playing and countless playthroughs, I’m still finding surprises and moments where items I’d brushed off as useless turn out to save my ship. With the third game in the Weird Worlds series currently under development, I’m very excited to see what’s next for the series.
We talk about how some games players are completionists, grabbing every star, or achievement, or item, but for me an experience isn’t really over until the credits have finished drifting to the top of the page. So, considering that Saturday was a day for watching films and completing my first XCOM playthrough, it was also a day on which I sat through multiple credit crawls for absolutely no reason.
And I mean absolutely no reason. For instance, the credits to Studio Ghibli’s latest to DVD, From Up On Poppy Hill aren’t actually translated, so even if I wanted to know who assistant audio producer #3 was, I wouldn’t be able to read it. When it came to XCOM’s turn, I reached for my 3DS and recorded my best stage yet on 3D Super Hang-On – all the while being offered a way of backing out of the lengthy credits sequence I wasn’t actually watching, and not taking it.
Such irrational behaviour deserves self-reflection, lest it come out at some inopportune psychiatric assessment in middle age. Perhaps it’s because I’m part of a generation brought up on 3D Animated goof-reels, or our growing familiarity with post-credit sequences – sometimes paired with gaming’s particularly irritating concoction, the post-credit achievement blip.
The thing is, I’m often quite sure that this extra content isn’t coming, and it’s not like this isn’t a lifetime habit. In the end, I think it’s just a somewhat pathetic polite impulse. If it has a soundtrack, and it’s included in the running time, it hasn’t finished trying to say something to me: it’s only polite to wait until it finishes, right?
I’ve been introduced a very well-wanted concept in the last week. Pokémon NXT is an online, MMORPG style Pokémon game with everything people have been wanting from a Pokémon game for as long as I can remember. You run around in a fully 3D environment looking for Pokémon to catch. But this time, when you throw your Pokémon out into the field of battle, you assume control of the Pokémon and get to fight the enemy in real time, jumping, dodging and attacking when the time seems right.
This game isn’t even in alpha yet, so it’s incredibly buggy, you seem to start off with all three starter Pokémon and don’t even get me started on the catastrophe that is catching wild Pokémon. But imagine the game fully released, an open world MMORPG Pokémon game, battling in real time with mates or with random people. Maybe you can even have a fully customisable character to seal the deal? The ability to travel to other regions? This game has everything a Pokémon Master could ever want.
The problem is, Nintendo has a way of shutting down anything used without their permission. Several Let’s Play channels have been shut down on YouTube due to the users creating Nintendo related videos without permission. Nintendo are harsh in this respect, and if Pokémon NXT did take off, it’ll likely be a bright red blip on Nintendo’s radar. Let’s hope that isn’t the case however.
I’ve split my week between further exploring Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, an expansion which I am really starting to enjoy. I still need to finish Act V before I can deliver my Verdict, but things are looking promising. Though the pricing at £30 might give me pause when it comes to delivering my Verdict, charging full price for an expansion is a bit rich from Blizzard, even if it does add a hefty chunk of gameplay. When you consider most of the changes introduced with Reaper of Souls were transferred to the main game through the massive recent updates, I wouldn’t be surprised if some people will take some convincing.
As you might guess, I’ve also been playing more Football Manager 2014 in what is becoming one of my longest-serving careers to date as I start the 2019/20 season. I think I nearly reached this level last season before some game-ending bugs struck on a regular basis. However I am still really enjoying my time with the game especially as I have managed to build up TNS’s reputation to the 2 Star level, this doesn’t mean too much in the grand scheme of things, but it will aid me in attracting higher quality players. In my most recent close season I made moves into the Hungarian nation squad and picked up a couple of quality players and also took a young striker on loan from Cardiff City, something that would never have happened without my 2 Star rating.
My efforts in Europe over the previous few seasons have finally borne fruit on a broader scale as from the 2020/21 season, one Welsh club with enter the second qualifying round of the Europa League. This is big news as when they inevitably get knocked out straight away, they will be fortunate enough to earn a few more pounds from the UEFA prize-fund. Long-term this should help some of the clubs around me develop stronger squads and one day, they might make European progress with myself. My latest journey through the Champions League qualifiers seemed to get stuck when I came up against Dynamo Zagreb. The first leg, at home was a 1-1 draw which left me safe in the knowledge that I would need a high score draw, or even a victory away from home. Not something I thought would be likely, that was until my new strike force of a Hungarian and Cardiff loan prospect hurtled me into an early three-goal lead.
I didn’t shut up shop, I knew that sitting deep would invite untold pressure from Zagreb, fortunately my attacking line-up held things together to secure a 3-2 victory and progress to the Group Stage along with the extra European coefficient which will further aid the Welsh clubs in the long run. The TV revenue and prize money I will secure from the Group Stage will prove invaluable as I approach a weekly wage bill of £100K, small change to English Premier League clubs, but for a team who only pull in average crowds of 550 at best in the domestic league, the European money is essential to avoid bankruptcy.
Onwards to further domestic success and European money-spinning matches. One last thing to mention, I was offered a job as the Romanian nation team manager, something I embraced with open arms. I don’t expect to have much success, I will mainly be relying of my coaches to tell me which players to pick. It is something else to add to my growing reputation as a manager, one day hopefully I will be offered a job at a Premier League club. I would have to reject it, the ultimate aim of European success with TNS is still in my sights.