Looking at Routine

Please have a gander at the above promotional teaser from Lunar Software‘s forthcoming horror exploration game, Routine. Spot anything out of the ordinary?

If your answer consists of something like “Full body awareness, Deadzone aiming, no HUD, no health bars or points system” – fair enough! The developers have, after all, incorporated plenty of neat stand-out features in the game.

That being said, what I really mean is the mouselook. We’ve all just witnessed a promotional game video with MOUSE CONTROLS.

It took me a few seconds to realize just what it was that I was seeing. Seeing is believing: It all seemed so vivid, so immersive, so refreshing. On the mouse, the video paints a vastly improved, more honest view into the inner workings of the game, its architecture, and unique visual design.

To put it bluntly: This video simply could not have been made on a gamepad, at all. Thing is, I’ve moaned about this problem all the way since 2009, and this year’s (2013) E3 gameplay presentations continued the ugly trend.

Thankfully, though, we have the indies to show how it’s done on the PC. More of this please. Good job, Lunar Software!

(The game also looks good. Check it out!)

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Welcome To Earth

The Mass Effect series is on its way to becoming an epic trilogy, perhaps the most cohesive trilogy in games if it achieves what it set out to do. BioWare first introduced the sci fi saga in 2007, with a promise of a story that would span three games, each a self-contained episode of a much larger overarching tale. Moreover, they promised a personalized experience that recognized the player’s decisions along the way and shaped the world and events around those decisions, right up to the conclusion. It was an ambitious idea, a plan that could be easily disrupted by changes in an unpredictable industry. With the sequel making a great start to the year last January, it seemed like they have begun to deliver on that promise, and we’ll know for sure once the final installment arrives early next year.

Mass Effect 3 was announced at last year’s Spike VGAs, along with a teaser trailer that set the tone for what is to come. Check out said trailer below. While the release date stated at the time was “Holiday 2011”, the game has since been delayed and will be out “in the first three months of 2012”1. In the meantime, the game is set to have a grand unveiling at E3 this week, with a live demo likely to be shown during EA’s conference2. (more…)

  1. http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150170133576645.300911.85811091644 []
  2. http://www.spike.com/press/2011/05/24/spike-tv-to-air-exclusive-broadcast-of-eas-2011-e3-showcase-event/ []

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There Is Something In The Sky

E3 2011 is in just over a week, which is just enough time for me to catch us up on some games that I am very much looking forward to. We’re just about halfway through the year and there have been some great titles already, but some of my most anticipated releases are yet to come. We’ll start with one that has recently had a fresh round of press coverage ahead of its E3 showing.

The last time we looked at Irrational Games’ BioShock Infinite, Martyn walked us through the newly unveiled teaser trailer and some of the early details about the game. Not much to go on in this all-too-brief CG video, a finely crafted reveal of the world of Columbia, but the details paint a grim picture. Posters touting the city’s motto describe an ultra-nationalist, xenophobic society, clearly the core philosophical theme to be explored by the game in true BioShock fashion.

Infinite takes place in 1912 on the massive floating city of Columbia. You take on the role of Pinkerton agent Booker DeWitt, on a mission to seek and assist in the escape of a young woman by the name of Elizabeth. It seems that she is no run-of-the-mill damsel in distress, however: your NPC companion has a mind and will of her own, and a host of supernatural abilities to boot. She will aid you in combat with her various powers, and you can choose to exploit these abilities at a cost not yet fully defined.

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ReVVVVVView

Terry Cavanagh‘s seminal platformer VVVVVV dropped last January, and I gave a brief heads-up noting its brutal difficulty and audacious $15 pricetag. Since then the game has hopped onto the Steam bandwagon and has had its price slashed to a much more reasonable two-thirds less1, which makes it an irresistible indie option for platformer fans. And as I mentioned in my recent summary of 2010, VVVVVV turned out to be one of my favourites of the year.

You play as space Captain Viridian whose crew is scattered across a space station in a strange alternate dimension. The controls are extremely simple, you can move left and right, and switch the direction of gravity. There is no jump or changing direction in between a la And Yet It Moves – you can only either fall downwards or upwards. The mechanics don’t change or become more complex than this; within this basic framework Cavanagh pits you against the environment and enemies in ways that will test your reflexes and your muscle memory. The game is compatible with a controller, but the keyboard is absolutely sufficient. The acceleration curves may take a little getting used to; while the controls are responsive, your affable avatar carries momentum which may leave some players grumbling about his delayed stop.

The initial few minutes of the game have you negotiating a series of rooms with traps and creatures, but the game soon opens up and you are given much more freedom in your exploration and the order in which you rescue each crew member. In addition to the main objective, there are various trinkets placed around the world, requiring you to do the near-impossible to reach them. Believe you me, some of them are a downright bastard to get. Getting them all unlocks a postgame feature, but I suspect the self-satisfaction and bragging rights will be reward enough for your persistence. Every now and then you may encounter a computer terminal that will impart snippets of story or reveal a new area on the map. Talking to your crew once you have rescued them also expands on the story, which is surprising.

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  1. http://www.indiegames.com/blog/2010/09/vvvvvv_now_on_steam_for_cheap.html []

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