Dark Souls II (2014) – 10/10 fantasy action RPG game review

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Cast / crew

Dark Souls II (2014)

Drangleic is way past it’s glory days and, without it’s king, has transformed into a remarkably dangerous place. Bring the family; all falls included!

10/10

It took a surprising couple of hours before I died in Dark Souls II. This certainly doesn’t have the dank, morbid atmosphere of the endlessly and rightly lauded Dark Souls but it does have the wonderful unfurling exploration for which, remarkably, you don’t need a map; we learn the lay of the land just like we learn our own streets by travelling them every day. This is another way the Souls games are, possibly, unique among open-world games. While some of the boss battles feel like extra large normal dudes, there are some true highlights including Executioner’s Chariot and, in Royal Rat Authority, a boss that may require you to change game-long tactics (SPOILER disengage lock-on and get under his feet) and teaches you through emergent gameplay rather than a loading screen tip. As for the not dying… well, I sure made up for that later. Dark Souls II is a spectacular, immersive, ridiculously generous game but, aside from a much better user interface and vastly improved PC performance, it’s a hair less effective and atmospheric than Dark Souls. A hair, I say, and still a masterpiece in it’s own right. P.S. The DLC is all fully amazing.

This game contains violence

Classified Violence by PEGI. Game contains depictions of violence.
Classified 16+ by PEGI. The game is only suitable for persons who have reached the age of 16 or over..

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Tomb Raider (2013, PS3, PC, Steam) – 9/10 brutally violent action adventure game review

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Cast / crew
Director: Noah Hughes
Director: Daniel Chayer
Director: Daniel Neuburger
Producer: Kyle Peschel
Producer: Alexander W. Offermann
Programmer: Scott Krotz
Artist: Brian Horton
Writer: Rhianna Pratchett
Writer: Susan O’Connor
Lara Croft: Camilla Luddington

Tomb Raider (2013)

Lara Croft is the archaeological brains on a TV documentary but their expedition aboard the Endeavour goes horribly wrong when the ship happens upon a violent storm and is broken onto an island. Everyone seems to survive the shipwreck but then an island inhabitant knocks Lara out and she regains consciousness hanging upside in a room of unimaginable gruesomeness.

9/10

This is a really, really good game which does suffer a bit from having to get a good amount of gameplay into it. This translates to, essentially, obliterating an entire nation of bad guys too many and moving the franchise from teen-rated platforming to one of the most violent third-person shooters ever released. It’s an exceedingly good third-person shooter, though, and you just want to play the whole thing through in one sitting. In an important way, it is also extremely ambitious in character. It fails, almost completely, but what it is trying to do is place you in the shoes of Lara Croft and get you to go on her journey from boffin babe to Rambo. It never accomplishes this because the player is in Rambo mode from the start and so it is absolutely no problem for them to start decking dudes left, right and center and you’re never given the choice to do what you would actually do in the circumstance, i.e., dribble some wee down your leg and evade them. I mean, I don’t know how to strangle someone with a bow. Lara did.

This game contains sexual swear words, adult dialogue, sexuality, extremely gory and extremely unpleasant scenes, extreme, graphic and gory violence

Classified 18+ by PEGI. The game is only suitable for adults who have reached the age of 18 or over..

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Old PC racing games now working on Windows 8.1 with Steam custom images: CannonBall, Juiced, Le Mans 24 Hours (2002), OutRun, Sega GT and Sega Rally

Old PC racing games now working on Windows 8.1 with Steam custom images: CannonBall, Juiced, Le Mans 24 Hours (2002), OutRun, Sega GT and Sega Rally

Steam icon 48x48Steam allows you to set custom images for all items in your library, including non-Steam games.

It was with some surprise that I revisited some old PC games on Windows 8.1 and found them working again for the first time since Windows XP.

Often you need fixed versions to remove copy protection that no longer works and if they are running from protected locations (like your system’s Program Files folder), they will need Run as Administrator set in the Compatibility properties page.

Here are some Steam custom images to integrate them into your Steam library.

CannonBall / OutRun
CannonBall / OutRun

Cannonball is a reassembly of the OutRun arcade machine and adds widescreen and 60 fps support to your MAME-compatible OutRun ROM.

Juiced Steam custom image
Juiced
Juiced transparent Media Center Steam custom image
Juiced (transparent)

Juiced is a game with ambition and ideas and lots to do but it never quite found a big audience. It runs in widescreen resolutions and has full controller support.

To get Juiced to run:

  1. If you want to use a noCD patched version, copy the fixed Juiced.exe over the original.
  2. For Juiced.exe, set Compatibility Mode to XP Service Pack 3.

To set up controls:

  1. Copy diactfrm.dll, diamp.dll and Fix DInput.bat into Juiced folder (if this doesn’t work copy it to %windir%\SysWOW64 and run from there).
  2. Open an Administrator command window (or Right-Shift Right-Click and Run as Administrator) and run Fix DInput.bat. This registers diactfrm.dll using the command: regsvr32.exe /s diactfrm.dll
  3. Run JuicedConfig.exe and set Juiced to 640×480 Windowed Mode.
  4. Run Juiced and select Controls from the Options menu. Now you can assign your controls using the old Direct Input controls editor.
  5. In Juiced’s options, adjust steering sensitivity to a preferred value as it will be a bit too sensitive for a gamepad.
  6. Then you can exit and set Juiced back to full screen using JuicedConfig.exe

Juiced saves:

  • Located in %appdata%\THQ
Le Mans 24 Hours (2002)
Le Mans 24 Hours (2002)

Le Mans 24 Hours aka Test Drive: Le Mans, the 2002 game from Melbourne House and Infogrames is one of the best racing games of all time.

It has full controller support and recognises all 4:3 ratio screen sizes registered to your display. (4:3 on a 1080P display is 1440×1080 pixels.) All controls are rebindable.

  • If you don’t want to see the intro movies you can rename or delete the Data/FMV folder.
  • You can force anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering using your graphic card’s control panel.
Sega GT Toyota Celica Steam custom image
Sega GT (Toyota Celica)
Sega GT transparent Steam custom image
Sega GT (transparent)
Sega GT Steam custom image
Sega GT

Sega GT was Sega’s attempt to produce a Gran Turismo class game. It spawned a really good Xbox-exclusive double sequel (Sega GT 2002 and Sega GT Online) but the original game was let down by baffling handling. The game surrounding it was quite good but the core gameplay was not. The chance to race around original, non-real world tracks is worth it though and the tracks in the sequels are superb.

The Dreamcast version was good-looking but the PC version was not. With your graphics card control panel you can force anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering but it will still only be 640×480.

To get Sega GT to run:

  1. Set Compatibility Mode for SegaGT.exe to Windows 95.
  2. If you don’t wish to see the intro movies which pop up in silly little ActiveMovie windows, simply delete or rename them. The game will then launch directly.
Sega Rally transparent Steam custom image
Sega Rally (transparent)
Sega Rally red Steam custom image
Sega Rally (red)
Sega Rally Steam custom image (1)
Sega Rally

Sega Rally is the PC version of the original arcade game. It is surprisingly good, arguably better than Sega Rally 2 thanks to more consistent and understandable handling.

Grid 2 (2013, Steam on Windows PC) – 7/10 racing game review

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Cast / crew
Chief Game Designer: James Nicholls
Lead Programmer: Gary Buckley
Producer: Iain Strachan Smith
Producer: Toby Evan-Jones
Design Manager: Matthew Horsman

Grid 2 (2013)

A new racing series, World Series Racing or WSR, is looking to make it’s mark on the international stage and needs a driver to start making headlines with his preternatural skill and achievement. Your time has come.

7/10

There is a problem with all the cars feeling like they go at the same speed (a billion miles an hour) and there is not much differentiation in handling between cars meaning you don’t really develop an understanding with particular cars. On top of this potentially-bland driving experience, most of the non-driving aspects of Grid‘s single player game have been moved to the multiplayer or sidelined; I feel that this loses the extra interest, atmosphere, identity and personality of the Race Driver series and it isn’t restored using a flashy video with your name on it here and there. Fortunately, the driving experience just escapes blandness by making every car on the knife-edge of control and the racing experience is never less than completely thrilling. That’s not to say that it’s always fun or ever convincing. The handling is unpredictable, always, and as soon as you start getting into the faster cars it is a largely miserable if still heart-pumping experience. The game looks fantastic with a nice range of infuriatingly forgettable and interchangeable locations (Chicago, Miami, Barcelona and Paris, specifically; the real tracks are fine). There are plenty of race types (including a great overtake challenge mode) and there is a mammoth career mode to go through as well as a satisfying online mode.

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Xbox 360 vs PS3 vs Wii U vs 3DS vs PC Head-to-Head Face Off: Resident Evil: Revelations

Every so often, Eurogamer run a series of technical comparison reviews for games released on both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

This is the latest update to the full list and you can hover over the publications icons for a very quick summary.

  • 360 PS3 equal and better than Wii U Resident Evil: Revelations

F1 2012 (2012, PC Windows Steam) – 10/10 Formula 1 racing game review

Cast / crew
Executive Producer: Ian Flatt
Creative Director: Stephen Hood
Game Director: Paul Jeal
Technical Director: David Percival
Technical Art Director: Stephen Johnson
Art Manager: Andrew Watt
Designer: Jason Darby
Designer: Lee Mather
Designer: Mark Lewis
Designer: Mark Russell
Nick Barber: Race Engineer
David Croft: Presenter
Anthony Davidson: Hot Lap Voice

F1 2012 (2012)

10/10

This remains the best racing series of it’s generation and a number of small tweaks and the new Austin track enhance the experience yet further. The inclusion of unpredictable weather was a masterstroke and Codemasters have also made the evolution of the car throughout a weekend with it’s differing tyre and fuel components even more distinct than before. Harsh penalties are still a minor issue, though; AI cars cannot receive penalties and their mistake / mechanical issues do not scale for shorter races meaning they never make mistakes. F1 2012, astoundingly, remains the only major racing title to feature all the principle elements of racing: practice and setup, qualification and racing with pit stops; something Forza and Gran Turismo have ostentatiously failed to deliver in the 360 / PS3 generation.

Xbox 360 vs PS3 vs PC Head-to-Head Face Off: Bioshock Infinite

Every so often, Eurogamer run a series of technical comparison reviews for games released on both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

This is the latest update to the full list and you can hover over the publications icons for a very quick summary.

  • 360 better Bioshock Infinite (8/10)