It’s no secret that first-person shooters have changed dramatically over the last two decades. Whereas they once tossed players into labyrinthine levels and expected them to find the exit all by themselves, today they usually take a much more linear, cinematic approach in which exploration is discouraged and the story is force-fed. Even the recent DOOM reboot, as fantastic as it was, had some awfully straight-forward levels (especially compared to the ’93 original) and several unskippable cutscenes.
Well ladies and gentlemen, I’m happy to report that Overload never got the memo.
Every PC gamer who’s been around the block at least once or twice knows and respects id Software. From Wolfenstein to Doom to even Quake, this once tiny Texas-based developer has produced some of the most influential, ground breaking first person shooter franchises the PC platform has ever seen. For some, however, that all came crashing down in late 2004 when id Software released Doom 3. Despite its graphical prowess, the highly anticipated sequel to one of PC gaming’s most coveted franchises disappointed thousands of fans with its tedious, predictable gameplay and pitch black environments. It almost seemed as though id Software just no longer had that “magic” ability to produce one smash hit after another. Now, in 2011, id Software is making a comeback and taking a huge gamble by releasing their first in-house multiplatform retail game in seven years. And to beat it all, it’s based on a brand new IP. In comes Rage.
It’s been 10 long years since the last Thief game, 2004’s Deadly Shadows, hit store shelves. For whatever reason, the franchise that pioneered and arguably reinvented the stealth genre more or less vanished in the mid 2000s as those like Hitman and Splinter Cell sprang up, then borrowed and capitalized on its formula. Thief fans have since had to resort to modding older games and playing The Dark Mod, a fan-made spiritual successor to the original 1998 game, to get a modern Thief experience. That is until now.
The small town of Gilcresco went 10 years before its first death — a forester named Sheronica. Cause of death? Old age. I, the town’s founder, builder, and overseer, was simultaneously proud and heartbroken. Sheronica had valiantly tended to Gilcresco’s forests since its inception, but I hadn’t yet constructed a cemetery so rather than being given a proper burial and gravestone of remembrance, she was laid to rest somewhere in the wilderness where she’d spent most of her adult life working. When you raise a successful town in Banished, a city builder from one-man-studio Shining Rock Software, you’ll probably feel the same way the moment your first citizen dies — especially if you, like me, completely forget to build a cemetery.
“One more turn” is to Sid Meier’s Civilization what “one more trip” is to Euro Truck Simulator 2, the latest truck simulation game from SCS Software, a company that has been creating such titles for over a decade. Yes, it might surprise you to learn that Euro Truck Simulator 2 is essentially crack in the form of a video game. If you’ve previously laughed off this title for its seemingly simplistic, even boring premise (the truck simulation genre hasn’t exactly garnered much attention outside of its niche, after all), then you’ve actually done the right thing by preventing yourself from becoming completely and utterly consumed by the unlikeliest of things: a truck simulator. Ever since I purchased Euro Truck Simulator 2 a few weeks ago, I’ve spent an unhealthy amount of time playing it. Below, I’m about to tell you why this game is so addictive and why you should avoid it at all costs unless you’re content with it stealing your soul and talking to you in your sleep.
What if Sid Meier’s Civilization V wasn’t based on the long term, historical progression of a nation, but instead revolved around a powerful mage leading his empire to victory through might and magic? Paradox’s Warlock: Master of the Arcane is perhaps the best answer to that question. Warlock takes many of Civilization V’s elements — a hex grid, combat in which ranged units can shoot across tiles, and the franchise’s trademark empire building — and turns it upside down with an intense focus on war and many unique gameplay features that harken back to past fantasy turn-based strategy games like 1994’s Master of Magic and 1999’s Age of Wonders.