Archive Page 2


Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay

riddick and abbott

Vin Diesel’s inimitable growl introduces you to Riddick.

“The dark,” he rasps, “is where I shine.”

It’s the voice of a man who’s about to kill his way out of the highest security prison in the Galaxy.

Butcher Bay is a concrete monster that descends kilometres below the planet’s surface, a high security centre built to hold the toughest convicts alive. Nobody has ever escaped before, but the folk who built the prison evidently didn’t anticipate containing the likes of their latest inmate.

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The Gaming Intangibles

world of goo 1

American sports commentators have a wonderful expression that they use to describe a general sense of ‘where the team is at’. The team’s morale, how well they gel with their coach and their sense of team spirit are all referred to loosely as ‘the intangibles’. It’s a term reserved for those elements that can’t really be measured, but which undoubtedly have an impact on the team’s performance.

I’ve been thinking about the intangibles in games, those small elements that, while difficult to quantify, can help to elevate a title from being simply pretty good to something great.

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Mounted Bald


I’ve started this article three or four times before, and failed to follow through, Mount and Blade is one of the hardest games I’ve ever tried to explain the appeal of, it’s graphics are five years behind the times, it’s quests are repetitive, it’s dialogue unimaginative, it’s world derivative, but god help me, I love it. Why? The short answer is ‘the combat’ but the truth is far more complicated than that.

Journey beneath the cut to see me fail to explain why.

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A Weekend of Guild Wars

Guild Wars vista

Guild Wars and all of it’s expansions can now be found for about £25. Dante and I have had a rocky relationship with MMO games, and while I’m still fairly convinced that the addictive properties of levelling and the social elements allow a lot of these games to get away with some pretty horrible quest design, I was tempted enough to pay up out of curiosity, as Guild Wars has always had a different take on the genre.

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The Death of an Adventure Game

room 2 - street

Herein lies the ghost of an adventure game that never was. Rather than let hard work stagnate alone in a folder on my PC I thought I’d give the assets some air and let them run free in the boundless back garden that is the Internet.

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Holiday Snaps from Mirror’s Edge

MirrorsEdge Purple skyline

I tried in vain to capture the sense of momentum, the speed, the exhileration of freerunning across the gorgeous cityscapes of Mirror’s Edge.  Ultimately, though, still images don’t really do the job. It’s something you’ll have to play the game to experience. Surprisingly, in a game where you’re encouraged to keep moving all the time, standing still and looking around the world is incredibly rewarding. Vistas like the one above are simply everywhere in Mirror’s Edge. Often they go almost unnoticed as you desperately try to gain enough speed to make the next death defying leap, but after a couple of playthroughs I began to savour the environments and came up with a few of my favourites.

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Staying Neutral in Kotor

KOTOR shark choice

I’m almost always evil in games. The kind of outrageous and over-the-top portrayals of evil we often see in games makes it an entertaining prospect, so I was looking forward to being especially evil in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic which, remarkably, I’ve somehow managed to never play, probably because I tried to play it on an Xbox where it had horrendous framerate issues and controls that made me feel like a clumsy oaf.

I have encountered some difficulty, though, in my committment to the Dark Side.  The trouble is there’s no Chaotic Evil option in the Star Wars universe. You’re with the Republic, or you’re with the Sith. KOTOR’s moral choices are hilariously bipolar. There’s no intermediate path built into the game. Take the example in the screenshot above. The choices are presented thusly: 1. Evil, 2. Good, 3. Evilest. I ended up going with option 1 more out of impatience than anything, as option 2 required me to solve a basic puzzle and option 1 invovled pressing a button. Impatience, it seems, is the first step on the path to the Dark Side. The rest of the path was not so easy to tread however, not because I felt any particular amount of shame about harming local wildlife, destroying a planet’s ecology, its economy and political standing in the Universe. That came easily to me. I had more difficulty with the Institutions of evil.

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