War in Games – Developers Who Dared to do it Differently

The Changing Face of War in Games

I have been a gamer for nearly 40 years now and I have witnessed first-hand the evolution of games. One thing that has seen a big change over the last few years is developers approach to the depiction of war in games.

Yes, we still get a swathe of gung-ho gun toting super soldiers taking on the enemy single handed and triumphing against all odds; I have no objection to that as it can be a lot of fun.  I have taken far more enjoyment recently from games that take a more considered approach to the horrors of war.

So here is my look at 3 titles that have taken a very different approach to War in Games. If you prefer to watch content, Continue reading

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Around the World in 6 Garden Cities

Dogwooddays

Volunteering is fun. I enjoy meeting people from different walks of life in an outdoor environment, having a laugh, consuming tea and biscuits (why does tea always taste so much nicer outside?) and leaving an area tidier, more attractive or more productive than it was before we started. A couple of weeks ago we began a particularly exciting project which involves planting a new garden designed to celebrate Garden Cities around the world. The project, based at Standalone Farm in Letchworth Garden City, is a collaboration between the RHS and the Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation, supported by Arch Community Group. It is the second such garden to be built at the farm.

2498-0019 The beginnings of a new garden

Community Garden Spirit

Last summer volunteers and staff worked hard to transplant many elements of the Hampton Court Flower Show ‘In Bloom’ garden, celebrating 50 years of the RHS community gardening campaign, to the farm…

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Summer Schools in France

David Kirby-Ashmore.............................. Baritone, Teacher and Adjudicator

This year I’m running my informal summer school, which I have done for the last six years in the UK, from my new home in France and extended to two weeks. There is room for more than just my own students, young and not-so-young singers are welcome. For more info there is a contact form on my blog.

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Mike Checks Out… Abe’s Oddysee – New and Tasty

Abe’s Oddysee New ‘n’ Tasty

Abe's Oddysee New 'n' Tasty

It’s Abe! One of the weirdest yet most lovable game heroes ever.

One thing that has been really prevalent over the last couple of years is the HD remake; Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, Strangers Wrath among many others on PS3 and we now have Tomb Raider Definitive Edition and The Last of Us Remastered for PS4.

I have no objection to these so long as they games are worth playing.  The list of game above are certainly in this category and, with the exception of Tomb Raider, I have got them all.

One of the most recent however is Abe’s Oddysee New ‘n’ Tasty a HD reworking of the sublime 1997 PS1 game from Lorne Lanning.

I played the original in Abe’s Oddysee 1997 and loved it; the new iteration doesn’t have new features or game play mechanics it is just a brilliant graphical update to an already stellar game.  In the original you had static back grounds and Abe’s crossed the screen and the screen flipped when he got to the end, now you have a scrolling background and Abe is always in the centre.  This immediately makes the game a little easier and the more accurate controls also help make what was a very hard game just a hard game.

This is puzzle platforming at its best.  Abe has very little in the way of armament, he has the ability to possess Sligs (nasty squid faced soldiers) and get them to do his bidding but this has limitations to prevent it becoming over-powered.  Most of the game involves negotiating platforms, flitting switches and trying to escape Rupture Farms your place of work.

The story is simple, Abe works in Rupture Farms, a meat processing plant, and he discovers his species, Mudokons, are next on the lunch menu, hence an escape from the farm, a prophesy and a reckoning.  All of this is done with sharp humour and a lot of farting.

You can also choose to save the 299 Mudokon employees at Rupture Farms, this is not essential and to save them all will require you finding secret areas and solving fiendish puzzles. However there are two endings and the good ending requires you to save a good number of your friends.

With the huge number of new AAA titles coming out HD remakes or re-imaginings are very welcome and add depth to a good catalogue of games.  Give Abe some of your time because you will never play another game quite like this one and farting passwords is very funny.

I’ve popped a game play video below.  I hope you enjoy it and as always… Happy Gaming

Mike Checks Out… Abe’s Oddysee New ‘n’ Tasty

Valiant Hearts – The Great War, PS4

Valiant Hearts The Great War

A wonderful game that treats its subject matter with respect and sensitivity.

Once in a while a title comes along that challenges gaming, Valiant Hearts The Great War is one such game.

Set during the terrible conflict that blighted Europe between 1914 and 1918 it follows ordinary people caught up in the most wasteful of wars.

Valiant Heats The Great War is a puzzle adventure at heart with some platforming and action sequences thrown in.  Essentially you explore the landscape for items to complete tasks to progress through the story.  This may not seen particularly exciting and to be fair occasionally it does drag, however the story is what make this game worth playing.

You control 5 characters throughout the game all who have entered the war for different reasons.

Freddie is an American who joined the French army to seek revenge.

Anna is a idealistic vet who sees the tragedy of war and helps by becoming a nurse.

Carl is a German national who is deported from France at the start of the war and ends up fighting on the opposite side to his father-in-law Emile.

So instead of a crew cut special forces marine blasting away with massive guns, like so many war games, you have ordinary people trying their best to survive in a war with no reason, among the horrifying death toll it created.

It is presented in a stylised cartoon environment with characters that rarely speak but this does not undermine the emotional impact this game delivers on a regular basis.

Valiant Hearts The Great War also hopes to educate as it has partnered up with Mission Centenaire 14-18 and Apocalypse 10 Lives. These partnerships allow the game t provide factual information and incredible colourised photos of the events depicted in the game.

2014 is the centenary of the start of this terrible war and over the next 4 years many different events are happening to commemorate the sacrifices made by so many. Valiant Hearts The Great War looks to add to this by producing a game that is fun to play but also one that helps us to understand more about what made this war so awful and why this can never be allowed to happen again.

Here is a link to my playlist for Valiant Hearts The Great War  and the first video in my play through is below.

Thanks for your interest and as always… Happy Gaming!!

Valiant Hearts – The Great War

Chubby Chocobo Song

Chubby Chocobo Mount Final Fantasy XIV

The Chubby Chocobo… Isn’t he gorgeous!

 

I am so sorry but after seeing the Fat Chocobo in Final Fantasy XIV for the first time I just had to do a Chubby Chocobo Song…

I hope you enjoy my dulcet tones as well as the footage of this hilarious in game mount.

I hope you appreciate that this took a huge amount of effort and total musical skill and commitment.  I am expecting this to top the i-tune charts any day now as I am certain the world will be bowled over by my incredible compositional skill.

OK enough… this was “written” if that’s what you call it, on a 25 minute journey home from work, but I had fun doing it and I hope you have fun watching.  You can always mute it and just look at how funny an overweight Chocobo being ridden by a tiny Lalafel looks.

I hope you enjoy and that your ears don’t suffer too much.

As always… Happy Gaming

Chubby Chocobo Song

Destiny Alpha PS4 – First Impression

Destiny Alpha

One of the character combinations available in the Destiny Alpha

One of the best things to come out of Sony’s E3 conference was a simple slide with a web address inviting PS4 owners to engage in the Destiny Alpha test.  This was exclusive to PS4, a real coup for Sony and I was one of the lucky PS4 owners to get access.

One thing that has been evident for most multi-platform titles is that they are developed for last gen and prettied up for the new gen. Assassin’s Creed 4 and Watch Dogs look lovely on PS4 but you know this is just spit and polish when you see the graphic fidelity of Killzone and Infamous.

So I approached the Destiny Alpha with a bit of trepidation thinking it would be a prettied up PS3 version.  I couldn’t have be more wrong the environments are crisp, detailed, vibrant and beautiful.  It looks that instead of up-scaling the PS3 version that Bungie have developed on PS4 and will downgrade for the older machines.  This game looks and plays next gen.

The alpha test capped at level eight but this gave a great impression of the leveling process.  Bungie also gave us a massive area to play around in with side missions galore.

I played the Warlock class, Titan and Hunter are also available, the Warlock is a quick agile class with special moves including a area of effect/damage over time void bomb and a life stealing force push.  Weapons are not exclusive to classes and there were a nice selection of tradition SMGs, Rifles and Shotguns along with some more exotic guns that charge up for massive damage. The Weapons have presence and weight and have very satisfying sound effects.

Destiny Alpha

Alien shooting has never looked prettier.

The enemies were limited five or six variations of the Hive and Fallen, a cross between insects and machines that displayed good AI and great animation.  They moved and felt like aliens and the alien chatter you could hear before you saw them kept you on edge.

Destiny website – Enemies

Missions were fairly basic in design, get to this point and scan the area, kill this number of enemies, collect this number of stuff.  These fetch quests have long been a staple of any MMO but I hope the Beta gives us more access to the story so we can see how that mission structure is handled, if it is more of the same it could damage engagement with the game..

Overall this was a very encouraging first look and the Destiny Alpha has been a resounding success.  If the game is running this smoothly in alpha just think how superb it will look on 9th September.

I popped up four game play videos and a slide show on my YouTube channel, if you want to see the Destiny Alpha in action check out my Playlist.

The first video is below.

Thanks for your interest and as always… Happy Gaming!!

Destiny Alpha – Character Customisation and First Area