resistance

With the Command and Conquer franchise’s recent resurgence it was probably inevitable that a new Red Alert would see the light of day.  The sub-franchise has always been extremely popular; perhaps moreso for its amusingly over the top story than for its gameplay, which closely mimics C&C.  Which is not to say that Red Alert is a sort of amusing retarded cousin to C&C – far from it, in fact – Red Alert 2 remains a popular LAN game even now, eight years after its release.

Command and Conquer 3 – which donates the engine for Red Alert 3 – hasn’t exactly met with universal praise, despite its solid gameplay, so can the latest Red Alert stand tall alongside its predecessors?

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Fracture, developed by Day 1 Studios and published by Lucasarts, is a third-person shooter with a difference: Deformable terrain. Neat, huh? Unfortunately, that difference is the only remarkable thing about the game, other than its protagonist; a generic marine so generic that he almost achieves noteworthiness for that alone. But not quite.

So it�s a couple of centuries in the future, and global warming has caused sea levels to rise. This has split the continental United States into two pieces. Which inevitably go to war with each other. This time the scrap is over whether to enhance people using cybernetic technology or genetic engineering.

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In the tradition of the original Colonization from 1994, this remake takes the current Civilization engine, and refines it to concentrate specifically on the European colonisation of the Americas.

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It seems like you’d need to be pretty interested in American history to enjoy it, and while that’s not entirely the case, American history buffs will certainly enjoy this title more than the rest of us.

Starting out, you choose from one of four nations – Spain, France, The Netherlands and England – and then one of two available governors.  The choice of country and governor comes down purely to stats.  If you want to chop everything in sight, go the Spanish; if you want to rule the New World using economics, it’s the Dutch you want, and so on.  As the game progresses, various Founding Fathers – real figures from history – will offer to join your colony, offering further buffs to your stats.  The system of acquiring Founding Fathers seems a bit arbitrary, and lends itself more to opportunistic buff-grabbing than any real long term strategic planning.

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Scifi fans may already be familiar with Tad Williams’ massive Otherland epic; a 4 volume story about a huge virtual reality network conceived as a way for the world’s richest and most powerful people to achieve immortality.

On October 1st, Tad Williams announced that an MMORPG set in the Otherland network was in development by REALU’s Singapore studio.  It’s to be published by dtp entertainment AG.

The Otherland universe is huge in scope, with hundreds of different worlds.  Only two have been revealed so far, and it’s anyone’s guess as to how many will make the transition from the book to the game.  It’s currently slated for release in 2010.

 Lambda Mall in Otherland

Check out Tad’s site for more info.

More screenshots after the break.

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Far Cry 2

I had the opportunity recently to wrap my mitts around the upcoming Far Cry 2.  Following on from the original, this game aims to show what is graphically possible on current generation gaming machines.  As Gary of Monaco says:  “Where Far Cry 1 was showing off was with water… Far Cry 2 is all about the fire.”

This is achieved with some clever procedural programming that mimics the way fire behaves in real life.  The results are stunning.  You can chuck a molotov cocktail into an enemy position, and before long the fire will have spread downwind, engulfing grass, trees, structures, and anything else unlucky enough to be caught within its reach.

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Starcraft2

A bit of surprise news from Blizzcon, Starcraft 2 will be released as three standalone titles, but not how you’d expect.  The campaign for each race will be its own title, which seems a bit cheap, but each one will have close to 30 missions and will be pretty well polished (or so they reckon).

The multiplayer looks like it’ll be the same for each one, and each should have cross-compatibility with each of its counterparts.

Check out Gameriot and Games On Net for their coverage.

The three instalments are titled (at this stage)  Terrans: Wings of LibertyZerg: Heart of the Swarm, and Protoss: Legacy of the Void.

One of the stars of this latest batch of big-name MMORPGs is Games Workshops’ Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. While it was criticised early on in its beta days for being too much like the current MMO king, World of Warcraft, it’s since been treated to more detailed models and a darker, less cartoonish art style.

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While all MMOs have World of Warcraft to contend with, Warhammer is really up against it in providing points of distinction, since the Warcraft games have borrowed very heavily from the Warhammer universe for inspiration. As Warhammer Online currently stands, that fact is still very obvious. Many aspects of the game will be familiar to players of Warcraft games, especially the earlier ones.

After my first few hours of play I was calling Warhammer Online “World of Warhammer”, but I quickly found that I was missing the point. While the basic questing and grinding initially feels much like WoW, Mystic have streamlined the process a lot. To many players, it smacks of “dumbing down” the questing experience. To me it means I no longer have to alt-tab to my browser to look up info on thottbot.com (a WoW player’s best friend).

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It’s in many ways the ultimate Sim game.  Sim Everything, as it was originally to be called.  Will Wright’s mastergame.

Spore’s gameplay scope is massive.  You start out controlling a single-celled organism, swimming around in the primordial ooze, and shepherd your species through several levels of evolution until you become a fully-fledged spacefaring race, and ultimately colonise the galaxy.

To achieve its varied goals, Spore is split into five distinct phases; each with its own unique gameplay elements.

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Space SiegeSpace Siege – a scifi successor to the Dungeon Siege action RPGs – has been released by Gas Powered Games, with Chris Taylor’s involvement being heavily pimped.

There’s been no confirmation of console versions as of yet, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see this one make the platform jump to take on the likes of Too Human.

It’s due for release here on the 22nd, with most vendors offering preorders.

A demo is also available. It’s well worth a look if this sort of thing is in any way your cup of tea.

There were 6 entrants in the PC World case modding comp at this year’s xLAN.

click for full sizeTwo were standard fare: Shiny bits in shiny cases, with water cooling and all the toys. Another was an impressively garish Worms themed case. The real standouts though, were the Spongebob Squarepants case, an impressive Steampunk brass, wood and clockwork overclocked quad core beast, and an entire Toyota MR2, complete with dash-mounted touch screen, and a high powered wireless lan antenna with a range of over a kilometre.

Gameplanet’s Dan Cheer, aka Jon Valjean, won the overall prize for his 25kg handcrafted steampunk masterpiece.  Karlo Dunatov won craziest mod, and Matthew Foot takes home the honours for best engineered.

More photos after the break.

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