Games of 2012 that you (probably) have not heard of

Original Blog Post here:

Now that all the best of 2011 and worst of 2011-lists are behind us, the game enthusiasts of today can relish in hundreds of list proclaiming what will be the best and most anticipated and greatest and funniest and most amazing and first and foremost the best-selling game of 2012. Unfortunately, almost all of these lists include not only the same games over and over (Bioshock Infinite ? O RLY ? Never heard of that one), but games that have been hyped for months already. So my question to you dear editors, why the feck are you getting paid for telling us something we already know for the tenth time !? So, as usual, the Dandy has to step in and here is my list of anticipated (PC) games that some of you might not have heard of. Will they be good games ? I don't know, will I keep an eye out for them ? You can bet your sweet little bums I will !

The Second GuestJanuary 2012,

Twice Effect (published by Headup Games), Classic P&C Adventure

The second Guest

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As a fan of both traditional adventure games and all things gloomy, this has been on my radar for quite some time. It seems to be a bit hard to track down outside of Germany for some strange reason but it sure looks interesting. It kind of reminds me of Maniac Mansion and A Vampyre Story. I like the hand-drawn visuals and the theme. Let's hope it lives up to what it makes out to be.

R.A.W. Realms of Ancient War

January 2012, Wizardbox, Focus Home Interactive, Hack & Slay


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It is one of the toughest fates to be had for a game designer really, creating a classic Hack & Slay game with Diablo III looming somewhere over the horizon, ready to take over the game world sooner rather than later and first and foremost, smash all competing action-RPG's out of the ballpark (Grim Dawn, Path of Exile, RAW, Torchlight II etc.). Yet, as a keen supported of the little men sticking it to the big men, I will keep an eye on this one and hope that it might bring something to the table that makes it worth picking up despite the fierce competition. While it does not sound very innovative indeed, it sure sounds polished and that is something that you cannot say of all the games coming out in this day and age.


February 2012, Depth Team, Competitive FPS / Stealth


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This game has two things that interest me going on. I am not the biggest fan of competitive FPS gaming (I think TF2 is as dull as a loaf of bread on a Tuesday afternoon) but this tickled my fancy. First, there is the theme. Like every sane man, I am profoundly terrified of sharks, which are pretty much nothing but swimming killing machines, a bit like Hulk Hogan in swimwear and the prospect of playing sharks and also trying to keep them from killing me sounds like a terrifying and thrilling experience. The underwater setting could make for great visuals and atmosphere. Second, the game shapes up to be more about stealth than 'shooting' and that is something I have been looking for in multiplayer FPS games in quite a while. Many single-player FPS are about (at least in parts) stealth (Thief, AC etc.) and it is about time someone makes a stealth multiplayer game. The game might have some launch issues related to support and bugs but I am still keen to give it a chance.

Dear Esther

February 2012, The ChineseRoom, Experimental FPS adventure

Dear Esther

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Like a true Englishman, I am very much delighted by ghost stories in general and I immensely enjoyed similar games (The Lost Crown for example!). Dear Esther sounds like a wonderfully haunting but also quite playable experience. Played in a first person perspectives, the player roams around the gorgeous island and uncovers random titbits of information about what is happening (or has happened before). The game is more about exploration and experiencing the world and story than min-maxing or winning but that is exactly what I am looking forward to, let alone the incredible soundtrack.


March 2012, Telltale Games, Episodic Adventure


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I will be forever grateful for Telltale games, both for helping in reviving the adventure game genre but also taking some of the most beloved adventure game legacies under their wing, such as the Monkey Island series and Sam & Max. However, their latest effort - Jurassic Park - was a massive turkey and I wonder whether it was just a fluke or a wrong step into a new direction, trying to streamline, nerf and dumb down their design approach. Their next offering is certainly a very interesting one with lots of potential. The Fables series will be based on the DC comics of the same name and tell the story of fairy tale characters (the usual suspects) who are exiled from the magical homeland and are now stuck in New York City.

LuciusMarch 2012,

Shiver Games, Lace Mamba Global, Adventure/Puzzle


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Lucius sounds exactly like the kind of deranged gaming experience I like. You play Lucius, the son of the devil and need to make sure the mansion is made rid of its residents by causing 'accidents' and all the while making sure that no one suspects you by disguising them as common household catastrophes. Somehow, the premise reminds me of a game called Ghost Master (if you have not played it, give it a whirl, it is funny). While this is an adventure game instead of strategy/casual, it has the same theme.

Captain Blood

March 2012, Akena, 1C, Action Adventure

Captain Blood

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It seems there might be a slight resurgence of the pirate adventure happening (god knows so many have tried an failed for the most part) and apart from Risen 2, Captain Blood looks quite promising. Yet again, the Cursed Crusade looked promising and was one of the worst games ever released on any system. The question is more or less if this will be released in a playable state and whether the game testing and polish will be up to good standards. I am not worried about the story / theme as much than controls & GUI. Still, Captian Blood looks like a promising swashbuckling adventure for sure.

Grim Dawn

March 2012, Crave Entertainment, Hack & Slay

Grim Dawn

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Another Diablo III opponent. This one is interesting (apart from the bad ass name) because it is being developed by whatever remained and reformed after the collapse of Iron Lore (who made Titan Quest, one of the best D-Clones out there). However, it has been in development for quiet some time already and I hope that it will ever see the light of day and if it does, whether the engine / gameplay won't be terribly outdated and irrelevant. The rest of the story will be familiar to you if you know your way about Hack and Slay games, looting, button bashing, lots of skills etc.

Of Orcs and Men

Spring 2012, Cyanide, Focus Home Interactive

Of Orcs and Men

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At first glance, this looks like a solid, albeit kind of generic fantasy/RPG/adventure game (can it be better than Skyrim ? Hardly!) but then when you notice that you will be actually be playing an orc instead of slaughtering them, more over even be joined by a goblin sidekick, my geeky heart rejoices. Finally an interesting and different take on the white knight in shining armour killing hordes of greenskins. I am not sure how the gameplay involving the duo will play out although early information suggests that the orc will be in charge of the more direct approaches to problem solution while the goblin focusses on stealth / cunning instead.

The Swindle

Spring 2012, Size Five Games, Phyics/Platformer

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The Swindle has been on my radar for quite some time. I do like the premise of a steampunk cybercrime caper-platformer and the statement that this game might be a mixture of Deus Ex and Sonic the Hedgehog sounds so freaking insane that I just have to play it, if it comes out that is. The visuals (judging from the few screenshots floating around on the net) also look good and like so many indie games of our day and age, the devs show a great knack for an interesting and gorgeous art style that relies on the beauty of 2D, yes sir ! Keep an eye out for this one.

Legend of Grimrock

May 2012, Almost Human, Classic RPG (and I mean, really fecking classic)

Legend of Grimrock

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I have to admit that I don't know a lot of details about this game other than it will try to resurrect and pay homage to a long lost genre of RPG gaming, the FPS-party based dungeon crawler. Remember Dungeon Master, Anvil of Dawn or the Eye of the Beholder ? No ? Well, this might be your wake up call. Featuring the same old school graphics in principle, the game still looks gorgeous due to high-res graphics and the vintage art style. I hope the game will have a good story to support the classic gameplay

FeistMay 2012, Feist Team, Platformer / Indie

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Feist definitely stands in the fine tradition of many recent indie platformer games, Limbo being the first one that comes to mine, with shadowy black figures roaming around in front, illuminated by bright backgrounds. I dig this dark and playful art style so I look forward to Feist quite a lot. The game seems less deep and disturbing than Limbo (or Knytt Stories) as far as the premise and/or the story is concerned but the mixture of cuteness and despair is a unique one indeed.

Legends of Daemonica: Farepoynts Purgatory

May 2012, RA Images, Cinemax, Adventure

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A game with a rather Bunuel-like premise. A bunch of strangers arrive on a mysterious island and you being one of them, have to make find their off this place. The game promises interesting puzzles and a non-linear storyline that plays out first and foremost within the context of the player character's relationship with the other inhabitants of the island. The game allegedly comes with a truly non-linear storyline, giving your actions are more profound meaning that one might expect in most adventure games. I also like the setting, the 14th century. While the game is certainly haunting, I does not look like it is much of a high fantasy game at all.


May 2012, Double Fine Productions, THQ

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Another adventure game with an interesting premise indeed, set in 1930s Russia. However, the game will be very puzzle-based and in true spirit of the Lost Vikings / Trine, you can jump into other Russian stacking dolls (which constitute the citizenry of the world) and use their special abilities in order to solve the puzzles you might encounter. This gameplay mechanic, coupled with the unique art style and interest storyline can make this a sure fire winner.


June 2012, Might and Delight, Puzzle Platformer

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In Pid, the players take control of a force-field-wielding robot making his way to lovely designed levels and facing all sorts of puzzles and obstacles in his way. It is claimed that all situations (or most) can be solved in many alternative ways, so on top of trying to warm up your brain yolk in order to solve the puzzles, you can also indulge in quite a bit of trial and error, let alone exploring. The game also features a 2-player coop mode, so you and a friend can play through the game together ! Awesome ! PS. Did I mention that fabulous looking graphics ?

Raven's Cry

June 2012,Octane, Top-ware, Action-Adventure
Raven's Cry

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I have to admit and some of you might have noticed, I am a bit of sucker for pirate-themed games and Raven's Cry looks like a solid and quite dark take on the genre. Set in a very dark vision of the Caribbean , mixing real world references with fictional characters and lore. The combat is a mixture of hack & slay with many tactical elements, probably in choosing the skill sets and skill timings.This looks incredible and I hope it lives up to the hype.

Dead State

July 2012, DoubleBear Productions, RPG
Dead State

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It looks like the Zombie craze might actually be dying down, instead, we have vampires ! Yay ! Well, whatever people are jizzing off about, Dead State looks like a great game. I am a big fan of squad based tactical games (XCOM, Shadow Watch, Jagged Alliance) and am looking forward to this one. The story, non-linear gameplay and first and foremost, the world-is-going-to-hell setting really spin my tune. I hope the characters are interesting and the game involves some degree and morality based decision making, it would not be a true zombie game otherwise.

Generation Zero

2012, Reality Twist, adventure
Generation Zero

A game that interests me based on the setting alone. Feels like a Dickens based in post-war Germany. The players take control of a youth involved in the world of youth gangs after the Armistice and fall of Germany. The story promises to be of high emotional impact and the game will feature challenging puzzles to go with it.

That should be enough material for you to drool over or ignore for now. Yes, I know there are gazillions of games missing from the list and yes, I know about Mass Effect 3, Star Trek, Guild Wars 2, Insert random game name here, I know about all upcoming releases but chose to include only the games I thought might need a bit more exposure than others. Happy Gaming !


Ravenhoe's Top 100 games of all times ! Part 1 - 100-91

Here we go, what better way to kick off my new-born and utterly pointless (NOT!) blog that doing my own unnecessary list of my favourite Top 100 games. Yet, instead of trying to be fair, to the point, completist and neutral, I will just go down the moronic route and be subjective, partial and pretty much random. There are probably many games I have omitted from the list even though I did enjoy them a lot and like a true dandy, I am not so keen on keeping up with the times (I am actually keen, but cannot pull it off to be honest), so the game might miss many of your favourite games of today and instead constitutes a collection that would make a Dr. Frankenstein proud, lots of old stuff, obscure stuff, shitty games and old favourites of fine have joined the party. I hope you enjoy the read and try not to focus what is not there, but what is there, those are my wise words for you (works in life as well BTW). Here we go, games number 100-91 . . .


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Way before young lads enjoyed running over and executing civilians on street in games like GTA (or Carmegeddon even), I tried my luck in maximising my kill ratio in Quarantine. As a foolish kid, I had no idea what the game was about, I am cab driver in some sort of whacko and bad-ass city that is locked up and I have to drive people around and make sure to kill everyone who tries to kill me first (why ? no idea). The game was great fun and the combination of high octane driving and shooting was great fun and I also fancied myself a bit of a cabbie too. The graphics were good and proper gory, I loved it as a kid, although I am not keen on games that make a bloody mess any more nowadays (maybe I grew old or maybe I am wise, who knows . . .). First time I ever encountered a Mini-Gun in-game and to this day, I am puzzled by who the fuck came up with such a cute name for a gun that pretty much annihilates everything in its wake.


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Oh Boy, GTA mentions: Two out of two. It's almost like all games ever made inspired GTA to some extent. Put it down as a coincidence and move on, will ya ? This game was pretty much GTA (1&2 mind you) before there was GTA. Top down driving with insane speeds and thrilling car chases, cops and bad guys and cool cars . . . the works. I never really figured out how to win or progress in this game or maybe I just cannot remember. What I can remember is the awesome fun we had playing this mess of a mayhem on the Amiga. Old school and the game and way ahead of its time.


At the start, and if you fall off, you are lifed onto the track by a crane.
At the start, and if you fall off, you are lifed onto the track by a crane.

I do have fond memories of Stunt Car Racer, most of them involve loud screaming, both for falling off the edges of the track and because the game had a fatal tendency to crash. As you might have noticed already, I do like games where you drive around in vehicles but it has to be about carnage, death or defying gravity and I am there. Stunt Car Racer was interesting because people could build their own racing courses, challenges each other to create the most insane and fucking annoying course in the history of fucking annoying courses. It was great fun to fall down the edge and slowly see the earth approaching, awaiting the lethal shattering of your precious skull in the silly buggy. The graphics were pretty rad for the time and I am glad to see that the basic idea is still popular in gaming (Trackmania!).


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To me, a game's setting, music, atmosphere, costumes, level design (as in visuals) is just as important as the gameplay. I am a big fan of The Warriors film and style and always wanted to be in a gang but I am not popular enough and the gangs here in London are also a bit too hardcore and don't want a gaming princess in their midst. This game is great fun and like most other Rockstar games, all about causing havoc in the streets. The best thing about this game is the option to play through the campaign with a friend. No bloody skirmish or deathmatch modes but the proper, gritty, leather-waistcoat wearing and afro-tastic campaign ! The controls are neat and polished and there are lots of little things to do like break into cars, spray your tag onto walls etc. and it features the same characters (and voices) and OST as the original film. What a treat, come out an play Warriors !


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Now that I think about it, I have no idea why this mentally ill Donkey Kong clone made my list but I sure enjoyed the game a lot. It is about a dude in an airplane trying to rescue all sorts of critters (bunnies etc.) from a crazy monkey-Yeti-Tony Soprano kind-of-guy. The game was pretty much all about making sure not to crash head-first into the walls like some drunken mole in a car without windows. Great fun and of my favourite Atari-Games !


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It looks like I will have to rename this blog into 'The Dude who likes games about cars that do whatever cars never do in real life'. Spy Hunter is another prime example of great game design and I wonder why no one made a proper flash version of this game, which is pretty much an endless vertical scroller about a bloke in a fancy car who tries to protect civilians while getting rid of the evil people and their cars. Of course, the car has been stuffed with nasty toys for you to dispose of your enemies and if you fancy that you had enough of the tar, why not go for a boat ride and chase down the baddies on the water is well ? I will always remember this game to be the one that introduced me to the Peter Gunn theme and I still think of this game when I hear it playing somewhere. This game was very polished and better yet, very cool.


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Shadow Dancer (the sequel to Shinobi) is at its core and very solid, yet pretty straight-forward beat-em up side scroller. The hero is wearing a blanket that pre-dates the Assassin's Creed outfit by about 30 years, rumbles around in a nondescript city and jumps, attacks and throws his way through endless hordes of enemies who have nothing else to do but to run from right to left (where are they going ?) and try to smack your dude around. However, this game came with a animal companion as well (you hear that Fallout and Skyrim ?), a white hound who could open a can of whoop-ass if you told him to and the dynamic of laying waste to piles of bodies while being followed and supported by your faithful furry friend made this game a great and thrilling experience for me and much more interesting than many of the similar games that flooded the Amiga and early PC market.


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Most of you will probably not recognise many of the games included on this list (at least not the crazy mo'fo games that constitute the rear end of the list) for various reasons. Some of you might be too young and handsome and some of you might be lucky enough not to grow up in Germany ! Therefore, I did play many games designed by German developers who had quite a knack for game design back in the day, as well as video game music. Rock N Roll is such a game. The name does not make a lot of sense when you think of it at first but then you realize that you are actually controlling a rolling ball and are serenaded by a soundtrack inspired by many classic rock songs. The game is essentially a top-down platformer (does that make sense?) or a puzzle/racing-hybrid. The levels become increasingly more sophisticated and you need to find keys, avoid traps, make sure to collect the gems for points etc. The game could be hellishly frustrating but once you managed to beat it, it was a great experience! Rock on little ball !


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The aptly name Berzerk has a premise that is a simple as it is awesome. A dude that looks like Luke Skywalker (on the cartridge, not in-game, the in-game figure looks like Ren from the Ren & Stimpy show) makes his way to a staggering 64,000 levels - so-called mazes - (which are pretty much rooms, let's face it) and has to get rid of a bunch of droids going Berzerk. The game was hard but the pacing and speed of the game was unmatched back in the day and you could hardly catch your breath and I almost freaked out every time when the robots started closing in on me, eeeeeeeeek. One of the funniest things of the game is a really bizarre smiling face that occasionally pops up and hunts you down, the so-called 'Evil Otto', which became somewhat of a Meme in my family whenever somebody took to long to do something we would always urge him or her to hurry up before Evil Otto shows up. A brilliant game, so simple, yet it works.


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Kikstart 2 (NOT Kickstart mind you, that is very important ! Very Important!) was one of the best two-player games on the C64. Played on a good ole' split screen (whatever ever happen to that concept?), the game puts the players into the driving seat (saddle?) of a motocross cycle and sends them on their merry way to try and overcome all sorts of fiendish obstacles. What made this fun was the fact that, unlike traditional racing games, traversing an obstacle course can be both challenging and hilarious, you can get stuck, over- or underestimate distances and get into all sorts of kerfuffles on your way, all the while keeping an eye out for the fate of your opponent. Another great addition was the build-in level editor, pretty advanced for the time so if you fancied yourself a bit of a level designer or played the game to pieces, you could always come up with new tracks for you and your friends to play. Lovely game.

Well, here we are, quite the bunch of weird games there, don't worry, the higher we get, the newer and probably more recognisable the games become (most of them anyway). But I owe a lot to his masterpieces and gems so they have a firm place in my gamer heart . . . I will continue this list sometime next week . . . until then, game on !


XComing - My hopes and dreams about future Alien invasions

The year 2012 will quite appropriately (at least when asking your fellow Mayan) be all about the end of the world. One fashionable and rather exciting way to go would be an alien invasion. Ever since the alien scares of the 1950s, humanity has been obsessed with little grey men with large eyes and problems to find hats in the right size, pushing over cows, having anal sex with people and causing all sorts of other general mayhem (as well as showing an interest in backwater towns in America).

The XCOM games are probably still the best way to play out the alien invasion scenario on a home computer to this day.

The first game, XCOM - Enemy unknown, enjoys a devoted cult following due to its slick game design, interesting story and creepy atmosphere. Unfortunately, the follow-up games in the series never quite reached the same level of quality, despite an unusual and brave decision to set the sequel in the underwater realm. The second game (Terror from the Deep) is widely considered the ugly step-brother of the first game or something that you keep in the bottom drawer of your room (now who can guess what I have in my bedroom drawer, eh ?).

Steam recently put the whole XCOM-series on sale (including the spin-off games) and I highly recommend picking it up to gear up for the year of XCOM revivals.

As it is the way in the world of business, the very successful XCOM game(s) spawned many imitators, all of which more or less stuck to the formula and there are even some similar games in development scheduled for a 2012 release. Some of these titles include UFO:Aftermath, UFO:Extraterrestrials or Xenonauts (a promising game still in development). There have also been attempts to recreate the isometric squad-based formula in other settings in order to be sufficiently original and different from the UFO games.

Let's take Abomination for example, quite the abomination of a game indeed about a bunch of heroic mutants trying to save a city from a crazy cult. While not the worst game in the history of gaming, it is certainly no joyride and the controls make it quite hard to endure. However, it does have some interesting ideas, such as special powers for the individual characters and a non-linear storyline with random missions thrown in for good measure.

Or how about the virtually unknown little gem of a game called Shadow Watch ? A game that is actually based in the Tom Clancy universe (oddly enough, this circumstance has not been used in its marketing), comes along with gorgeous (!) visuals and solid gameplay, yet went more or less unnoticed and is pretty hard and nigh impossible to track down unless you pirate it from one of the usual suspect sites.

To cut a short story even shorter, I think we can all agree that there are many games that have been inspired by the XCOM series and that no game has managed to live up to the expectations or even surpass the quality of the first game. That being said, let's not be too unrealistic and delusional about the fact that XCOM itself did not invent the concept of squad-based / turn-based strategy in the first place, but it certainly mixed things up by adding a layer of macromanagement and base building to the genre as well as coating the whole shebang with an interesting and engaging theme.

Last year, 2K announced that they would release a new game in the XCOM franchise or a 'reboot' (to use one of the prevalent terms in pop culture). One of the first things to come to mind had been the unusual frequency with which terms like re-imagination and modernisation popped up all over the articles concerned with the new game in the alien-hunting franchise. Nostalgians all over the Internet shook their virtual fists in outrage over the fact that XCOM would be a FPS-game, even though it would still retain some of the original ideas (being squad-based, featuring a base etc.). Furthermore, the game is set in the 1950s and chronicles the origin of the XCOM organisation. This would not remain the only beloved squad-based franchise to be announced as a FPS remake, some time later, a new Syndicate-game was announced . . . also and FPS-remake.

Now hold your horses everyone, we cannot expect the industry and fancy developers like 2K not to go along with the dominant industry paradigm and it should not be a surprise to many (maybe older) gamers that it is common for the paradigm to shift from one generation to the other. Remember the transition from text-adventure to parser adventures (text-based commands) to the icon-based controls and ultimately the transition to 3D with Grim Fandango or even earlier with games such as Alone in the Dark or Ecstatica ?

The same goes for RPG games, I have fond memories of the well-sorted RPG-game screen with the first-person dungeon view taking over the most part of the screen, the convenienct and quite evocative party manager located in the bottom,top or right-hand side of the screen and all sorts of buttons and scrolls and bells and whistles spread across the rest of the screen. Then we had the console-dominated top-down view, followed by the good ole' isometric perspective used in many Hack & Slash games and immortalised by the Diablo series and now its mostly 3rd person or mixture of first and 3rd person (The Witcher, Skyrim, Mass Effect, WOW etc.) In fact, you can trace this whole development when looking at one of the most legendary and best RPG series ever, the Ultima series. The first few games were rogue-like adventure games, followed by games in top-down perspective and better graphics, isometric perspectives in Ultima VII and Ultima Online (RIP Lord British) and the newer games following the more modern formulas of visual depiction.

Now all I am trying to say is that the old games were great for what they were but we have to try and accept the new games for what they are trying to do as well and it is a commercial venture after all. And not all is bad for the new XCOM franchise, the visuals look stunning and like an interesting stylized version of Norman Rockwell paintings and old American interior catalogues, a blend of TF2 quirkiness and LA Noire's love for vintage detail. I think alien invasion themes work best in the 1950s, infused with the general scare of the nuclear threat and the explosion of popular sci-fiction.

The game will also take a non-linear and non-railgun approach to the game, missions will pop up on the map or in the HQ and you will send squads into the field to gather data and defeat the aliens. The designers made a bold decision to make away with the stereotypes and create an unique visual approach to the 'alien' race by making them some sort of gooey black soup flying around in cubicles. While that might disappoint some genre-enthusiasts, it is a good decision in terms of IP-value, making the game more unique and stand out from the common alien fare. I think one thing the new game will borrow from the old XCOM games is the pacing and the structure in which the story will unfold, beginning with reconnaissance missions, the game will become more and more about stealing alien technologies and ultimately defeating the slimy bastards with their own set of cutlery. Take that, bowl of black ink ! The squad-based concept also promises interesting multilayer skirmishes and I wonder whether the developers have the foresight to make the whole campaign playable as a team (Imagine playing through a whole strategic/FPS campaign with your friends!), to me, that sounds like Left 4 Dead meets XCOM ! Make it happen. In fact, I wonder why not more L4D-clones are coming out ? What gives gaming industry ? Aliens: Colonial Marines seems to be the most promising heir to the throne. The studio behind the new XCOM game is 2K Marlin, the muscle behind the first two BioShock games and I think they will get the job done, they already showed their knack for creating haunting atmospheres by evoking a fearsome blend of vintage-Americana mixed with dystopia fantasies (now that is a mouthful right there).

But that is not all news coming from the earth-defending camp that is 2K. It has just been announced that there is another XCOM game in development, by none other than Firaxis, Sid Meier's new stomping grounds (although he seems to take a back seat as far as the actual game design is concerned).

Better known for recycling Sid Meier's old games, Pirates, Colonisation and Civilisation with varying results, XCOM is an unusual detour from their formula and I wonder whether the decision derived from being bored with making the same game over and over again or the publisher's pressure to find a studio to take on the squad-based legacy of the franchise. Be that as it may, it remains to be seen what Firaxis will be able to do with the franchise. While their games are usually polished and fun, I have to say that they are far from being visionaries and the unusual and out-of-the-blue announcement of a new XCOM-Squad game sounds like bringing the red-haired stepchild to the birthday party, a necessity rather than a convenience.

It is quite an unusual decision for a publisher to release two games in the same franchise in the same year (Firaxis' XCOM is scheduled to be released in Fall, while XCOM has no release date, although many strores list it as early 2012, which is probably outdated information).

Some other game companies did similar things in order to promote their games, such happened with Bioware and the Dragon Age franchise, for which a Facebook game has been released (DA: Legends). Yet, all the efforts to cross-market the Dragon Age franchise through games on other platforms, tabletob games or involving the enchanting Felicia Day cannot shake off the whiff of viral marketing, rather than being full-fledged games in their own right. Yet, 2K seems serious about releasing two games that, apart from the legacy, don't go hand-in-hand at all. I wonder whether this decision was made in the very beginning or only after the outrage by the fans about how the new XCOM game would be a FPS games. Maybe 2K wanted to kill two birds with one stone, both reinvent the franchise but also 'cash-in' on the nostalgia surrounding the first title. The fact that the development time for the Firaxis XCOM game seems so short suggests that it will not be a triple AAA production at all, but rather a polished update but ultimately conservative game, paying its respects to the old XCOM game(s).

The question is, how hard can it be to make a new game based on a fantastic and working design in the first place - should not be too hard eh ? No one is asking you to re-invent the wheel, yet the fact that no other game ever managed to capture the spirit of the original game speaks volumes. Hold on to the squad-based formula, research, technologies, geoscape and base-building and you will have yourself a winner. Whatever you do Firaxis (and I am looking sharply at all the visuals from your other games), don't make the art style slightly cartoonish and family friendly. The original XCOM game(s) scared the living daylight out of me as a young lad and I look forward to being scared again, be it by liquid liquorice or isometric little fuckers, I cannot wait for the two games to come out, whosawitme !?


Some Flash games for your consideration

My fellow gamers, like many of you, I have been captivated by the recent surge of amazing Indie and Flash games and whenever come across a particulary interesting Flash game I make a note for future reference. Here are some old and newish flash games I enjoyed and I would like to share with my gaming community, let me know whether you have played them and/or what you think of them ? If you an think of similar games, let me know as well, it is hard to seperate the good from the bad with so many games out there in the wild . . .

The Arrow Of Time

An interesting defense-shooter with a lovely illustration art **** taking place in various eras of human invention. The player is shooting arrows, which in turn can be upgraded to have fire damage, lightning damage, ice damage etc. Some special powers are particularly odd, like timewarp etc. The enemies range from quick and and weak to slow and powerful. The game is challenging but can be completed within an hour or so. It is great fun and you should try it !

Effing Hail

This is a funny game with interesting controls and neat graphics. It might get repititive quickly but it is fun as long as it lasts and the basic idea is just too good to pass on it. The player control the winds and needs to create big rocks of hail and hurl them against buildings, satellites and airplanes. The crux lies in the controls, it is not always easy to create those big rocks, let alone hurling them at the targets and mastering this is both challenging and fun and will appeal to all those who always liked to send arrays of catastrophes towards their cities in Sim City or kill their Sims, HA HA ! Good stuff.

Elona Shooter

Just in case you missed it, Elona is one of the best freeware RPGs out there, but this is a defense-shooter based on the same franchise. The player has to hold out and defend the tower against an onslaught of monsters and beasties firing weapons. The great thing is all the RPG elements, there are so many weapons to be found, upgraded and used, henchman to be hired and buildings to be upgraded, it is a great game and offers a rewarding progression pace. The controls are great for a flash game and very satisfying and the artwork is lovely too, with the stage in between the action phases showing a lovely little village and graphics, giving the player lots of stuff to do in between the attacks. I know there are other games like this out there (with Zombies) but this puts it up a notch.

The list goes on, but that will do for now, have a go at the games and let me know what you think !



Upcoming MMOs I am excited about !

I played my fair share of World of Warcraft in the past (as well as Ultima Online, Star Wars Galaxies, Everquest 2, Dark Age of Camelot, Age of Conan and Warhammer: AOR). Since I received my new system I was eager to play another MMO again, just for the sake of looting, questing and monster-bashing but I am reluctant to delve back into an 'old' MMO such as WOW and would rather be patient and wait for some of the new ones to come out (let alone the fact that recent ones such as Rift do not interest me at all)

Without further ado, here is a list of upcoming MMO(RPGs) I am looking forward to (to varying degrees).


Because I do like my (generic) fantasy MMOs and am not a big fan of Sci-Fi or else. The game looks gorgeous. The character selection screen is so beautiful already, cannot wait to see the game on maxed out details. I am also intrigued because the game is free to play and instead of sucking money out of our wallets for nothing or some updates here and there, they will provide us with more expansions and probably some DLC ? The quest system looks nice, I do like the group quest just popping up as you hit them, something they too from Warhammer AOR (public quest). I am not interested in PVP so don't know much about that. This is definitely on my Nr. 1 spot for upcoming MMOs.

2. WildStar

As a seasoned gamer, I don't buy easily buy into hype and MMOs that have 'great plans' to change the genre but this looks promising indeed, it's a shame that they too opted for cartoonish/goofy graphics, why can nobody come out with an MMO that is gritty and not fluffy ? I do like my cute little bunnies, but not all the time and in every single game. The premise of having character ****s that actuall DO play different from one another sounds very interesting and I wonder if NCSoft can deliver, they do have some MMO experience although they are known for the quantity rather than quality. I did love the trailer for the game and cannot wait for more info about the game to come out.

3. Star Wars: The Old Republic

This might shock some of my fellow geeks but I am not that excited about this game as most of you. I love the Star Wars films and characters etc. but have never been interested in other time periods in the Star Wars Universe and as such, I don't really care much for the extended setting of this game (apart from the core Star Wars license). To me, Jedi's had always been outcasts and only a few survive, this I why I loved the old Jedi Knight games. But an MMO with millions of Jedis running around, all wielding their light sabres, that does not excite me. I also don't like the art **** the animations look really clunky, when compared to other upcoming MMOs such as Guild Wars 2 and I wonder why that is ? Still, I will wait for reviews and opinions to flood the net and than make up my mind but considering that they will have a limited release at launch anyway, I will definitely miss the (first) boat on that one.

4. Salem

Ooooh, a crafting MMO, I like crafting as long as it does not translate to endless grinding and tedious repetition of pressing buttons all the time. What intrigues me about the game is what it is known for (so far) and that is the permanent death feature, I do like some sort of closure in my games and the idea of having a character go through the stages and life with death being the final one sounds like great fun. I am not sure whether you will be able to procreate or have an heir and continue your line or dynasty or if you have to start from scratch. Anyhow, this looks good and I hope they take more than one page out of the books of Minecraft and Terraria when it comes to creating an interesting crafting/building game.

5. Path of Exile

Diablo is one of my favourite game franchises and this looks like an honest, yet interesting clone of the game. A Hack 7 Slash game featuring the core gameplay that makes every ARPG good, killing hordes of monsters, randomly generated levels and loot, addiction guaranteed. It is online and free to play and as far as I know the microtransactions won't buy you power so I am okay with that (I usually avoid all games involving Microtransactions). The graphics look a bit rough around the edges but if the gameplay is good and the game is free after all, I will definitely give it a go.

6. Warhammer 40K: Dark Millenium

I have to say, I am intrigued by the Warhammer (and 40K) world but don't know a lot about it but all the games set in the Universe are dark and visceral and I like that a lot. This looks like another promising, fourth generation MMO to come out in 2013, so that is a long way to go and probably not worth checking out early infos already (and considering that Warhammer AOR bombed like a dead duck, a Warhammer license is not necessarily a good thing). The success (or not) of W40K Space Marine might greatly boost the hype for this one.

7. World of Darkness

I do like the oWOD a lot, but I have been disappointed by how the Secret World turned out which had initially been advertised as a Cthulhu-esque MMO but is nothing but a terrible mixture of all sorts of random monsters and beings against humankind without any thematic coherence whatsoever and the gameplay also looks like another grindfest (that is why it is not on this list). However, the world of Vampires / Werewolves / Hunters has lots of potential and I am a big fan of Vampire Bloodlines. I just hope they keep the dark tone and dystopian flavour of the source material and don't turn this into a Matrix meets Twilight shamble.

That's it from me, what are you most anticipated MMOs ? Let me know !