We're in the second week of a YouTube copyright enforcement crackdown whose most visible effects have been on the video gaming community. Each day turns up a new example of a video getting thrown in YouTube jail on a ridiculous technicality. The situation seems to defy common sense, but we'll try to explain it in common language, anyway.
Twenty years ago, on December 10, 1993, John Carmack, John Romero and the rest of the team at upstart id Software unleashed a game called Doom upon the world. Twenty years later, both men have written about their favorite memories of the game for you and all fans of Doom to read. Here they are, in their own words...
Dreamhack Winter, an annual LAN party held in Sweden, is easily the biggest of its kind in the world. People come from all over Europe (and sometimes further afield) to spend a few days hanging out, seeing bands and watching pro gamers. Oh, and lugging their entire PC then setting it up in a cavernous, sweaty hall.
How good is the PlayStation 4? Ask me in five years. Ask me after I figure out whether God of War is headed in the right direction, after I learn whether it has become unfathomable to play a console game without livestreaming it. These days, many game reviews aren't really done when they first run. They can explain parts of the game accurately at launch, but online communities shape these games. That's true, too, for the surprisingly online-centric PlayStation 4.
The world is on the brink of war, and it looks like you and the rest of the Tombstone squad are riding that fine, dangerous line that circles all around it. Like almost everything hinges on you carrying out one mission on top of the other. There are these big set-piece moments—the Michael Bay explosions and extravagantly violent and precarious situations you and your squadmates find yourselves in—that set an exciting tone for all of a few seconds.
On multiple levels, this game is about finding one's voice. Players inhabit a Bruce Wayne who's been Batman for two years, as he faces a crucible that will test his resolve as never before. The people making Origins are trying to establish their creative voice as well. The game has been made by a new studio who are following up two well-regarded games by originating studio Rocksteady.
Rockstar Games has scaled a mountain with Grand Theft Auto V, creating the best-looking, best-sounding and, most importantly, best-playing version of gaming's most notorious franchise.
Scaling one peak, however, reveals another—their cloud-piercing ambition to create a great ensemble video game drama, an epic of intersecting, interactive lives. Rockstar doesn't summit that new peak as impressively with GTA V, but in its first attempt at such an audacious feat, makes a good go of it.
Fans of the original flower defense game were understandably miffed when they discovered the official follow-up would be launching exclusively on iOS, but what really worried folks was the "free-to-play" business. Luckily, Plants Vs. Zombies takes a different approach to in-app purchases than most mobile games.
Rather than alienating fans of the original game by locking content behind pay walls or dumbing-down gameplay for more casual players, Plants Vs. Zombies 2 is only going after players who lack the patience or skill to make it through the game on their own.
The Ouya doesn't promise a brilliant future. It sells at $99 using a less than top-level Tegra 3 quad-core processor. As an Android device, it signals that it'll probably be displaced by a better iteration as chip prices go down. Ouya execs have said as much. There's no 10 year lifecycle on Ouya 1.0.
You get the Ouya for the now. You get it for the summer of 2013 and the fall. You get this to wedge it in the gaps of your gaming life. There are some good games, but not many, and they're hard to discover. The Ouya is a fascinating experiment and can be fun for those for whom $99 isn't much to plunk down.
Company of Heroes was a game for true armchair generals. There was no resource collecting, no tank rushes, none of the hallmarks of other games that look like they're about a clash of armies but are really little but mouse-driven sprint races.
Seven years is a long time between wars, though, and now that we have a sequel, people are expecting a lot from this game, the first time Company of Heroes has ditched Western Europe for the Eastern Front. So what's new?
The PS4, Xbox One and Wii U are all very different consoles, but there's one thing I wish all three had in common: their digital pricing. Something they could learn from the PC.
Steam gets a lot of credit for rejuvenating the PC gaming market, and there's one area it deserves more praise than anywhere else: its regular, highly-discounted sales.
In Gunpoint you play as Richard Conway, a trenchcoated spy-for-hire who, after a job gone wrong, finds himself caught up in a paranoid, 70s-style corporate espionage plot. You'll guide him on infiltration missions as he sneaks into apartment buildings, high-security compounds, office complexes and weapons-manufacturing labs.
Gunpoint may be a stealth game, but Conway isn't some Sam Fisher-wannabe, crouching in the shadows and garroting unsuspecting guards. His methods are a bit flashier, and a hell of a lot of fun.
Prison Architect is like 'SimPrison', if there ever was one, made by people who seem to be damn near fearless about making video games about uncomfortable topics. The game is from the indie studio Introversion, who have also made the saddest/best game about nuclear war.
Here's a brief interview with Introversion's own architects about their newest work. They served up some fascinating answers about the possibilities of a game about building and running a prison.
You love your PC. It's a place you can work at, but more importantly, it's a place you can game at. The thing is, if you're using a traditional desk-and-chair setup, the more you game on the PC, the bigger the problem you're creating for yourself.
The Metro series is set some years after nuclear war has ruined the surface of the Earth and put an end to civilization as we know it. In Russia, survivors have retreated to the Metro, re-forging a bleak semi-existence in the tunnels beneath the city. This is the sort of game that mentions, in its opening cinematic, the very real possibility that God is dead.
Last Light assumes that players got the "bad ending" in Metro 2033 and took the option to blast the entire population of "Dark Ones" into oblivion. The subsequent discovery of a single surviving Dark One sets the plot of Last Light in motion.
"The game is stupid," Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon creative director Dean Evans proudly proclaimed during a recent press event — not foolish pride, but pride in foolishness. Ubisoft has done great and terrible things with the game engine, transforming it into a nightmare world, where wild boars roam the purple plains, backs covered with neon graffiti.
Blood Dragon's story unfolds through a series of 2D cutscenes that wouldn't be out-of-place in an NES-era adventure. And when those scenes end, it's into a day-glo nightmare from the early days of MTV.
Simulating the physics of water has always been tricky and game engines sometimes still have to use dodgy mechanics to make it feel real. But the above demonstration of this new fluid simulation technique proves that slowly but surely we're getting there.
Game developers have been stuck with DirectX 9 and 2GB of memory for the past decade. While this hasn’t harmed first person shooters (they only have to manage a handful of objects at once), it has been poisonous to other genres. Next time you’re playing an RPG in first person with no party you can refer to DirectX 9 and 2GB of memory as a big reason for that.
Like many PC gamers, I've often wished a machine capable of putting the power of a gaming rig in a portable device. Gaming laptops are lovely and have their place, but that place is often on top of a desk. After a week with Razer's new Edge gaming tablet, I realize what I really wanted was to play Bioshock Infinite in the bathroom without burning my thighs. All hail Razer, deliverer of dreams.
Razer's only review guidelines before sending along a Razer Edge loaner was that I not tell them I used it in the bathroom. I am a review guideline freedom fighter, deep in the trenches, pants around my ankles, balancing a $1,499 gaming tablet on the side of the tub before redeploying to less secluded front. And why not? I don't have to stop playing until the batteries run out.
BioShock Infinite isn't just a worthy sequel to a much-loved predecessor. It also manages to be about America - touching on its past, present and possibilities — in a way that makes it a must.
You haven't been to a place like this before. The fictional floating city where Infinite is set is all clockwork platforms and brass gears, its many sections populated with hucksters, strivers, lovers and schoolchildren. One minute, you're walking past a sheer drop, the next a park swings down into the open space.
When you're not building and recruiting, you're following arrows and doing what the game tells you to do. There are optional side-quests, yes, but they're almost always marked on your mini-map, and they're way too easy to find and finish.
But it's still StarCraft. It's still a joy to go through the now-familiar ritual of training and killing, and even the easiest missions are designed with the attention to detail that we've grown to expect from this series. And even the easier moments exercise your mind in the way that only a real-time strategy game can.