The audiobook of Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi provides, in its first half, a near-perfect template for a business tycoon / colonisation / steamboat piloting videogame. Admittedly, in the PC Windows market anything that comes within a league of being a sailing/pirates game falls overboard and gets eaten by sharks. And I guess the pre Civil War setting (1800-1860) could also be off-putting for many distributors. But I’d like to suggest that the book could also be easily translated into space sci-fi. It’s all there, and of course the famous book is now a free public-domain resource.
Civilisation II was once one of my favourite PC games, but the follow-up Civ III was a buggy mess. So I switched to Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri (Civ in space, basically), and that was fun for a few days. But it just didn’t grip like Civ II had. I read the magazine reviews of the new Civ versions, but for some reason I never went back to the Civilization franchise.
But now, and perfectly timed for our glorious Brexit, it’s just been announced that the new version of the Civilization VI (Civ 6) game will allow players to play as Queen Victoria and the British Empire. Nice choice, and predictably the left–fascists are already impotently fuming at the alleged ‘political incorrectness’ of it. Expect Change.org petitions and tantrums.
Actually it seems there’s not that much to Queen Victoria in terms of unique abilities. But what there is, is interesting. In the early days of Empire she can turn a blind eye to her nippy Sea Dog privateer adventurers. These can harass the much bigger ships of rival empires, seizing the plundered slave-gold that opponents are hauling back from the South American jungles. While also discovering items of rather more long-term usefulness, like tobacco and potatoes. As our famous educational system develops in Britain, Queen Victoria can command the British Museum to “produce more archaeologists”. These cultured multi-talented gentlemen have a beneficial cultural influence on other nations, causing them to like and respect the British. Doing a bit of natural history as a hobby in their spare time, these archaeologists can also discover things like malaria-beating medicinal plants and the principles of evolution. For the less imaginative and more war-like Civ player, Queen Victoria can just have the Royal Navy Dockyards build lots of ships, thus producing our famous Royal Navy — which can then transport Redcoat soldiers overseas to conquer rivals and build the Empire.
Civilization VI launches on 21st October 2016 and, in large part due to the British Empire addition having got my attention, I’ll certainly be taking a look close look at playing it.
The latest edition of PC Gamer magazine (June 2016, both the US and UK editions) has an interesting three-page profile of the team making the Morrowind total conversion mod for Skyrim. Yes, we’ll be able to play the complete Morrowind in Skyrim, enjoying the enhanced graphics and meshes, side quests as well as a whole lot more dialogue. There’s still no beta release date for the megamod, but the magazine hints that the mod is… “getting closer to its release”.
Looking down “the PC games of 2016” list, Far Cry: Primal looks like my game-to-watch for 2016. At least until someone faithfully remakes and ships Unreal Tournament 2004 (which is actually sort-of-maybe happening, but is still in alpha).
Primal had me at “Badgers”. Any game with prehistoric badgers has to be fun…
“Players can tame wildlife such as prehistoric badgers”.
It’s single-player from Ubisoft, in the same mode as TheHunter and TheHunter: Primal, and is set to be released early March 2016, which — given a patch and a mod or three — should mean it’ll be worth playing by the summer. Hopefully it will be moddable in some ways, as it would be fascinating to overlay the raw game world with the animistic spiritual beliefs of such hunter-gatherers, to see those fleetingly actualised in the landscape as if through their eyes. Their music and song, too. It’ll also be interesting to see how the game measures up against the now very-polished TheHunter.
Risen was a favorite videogame of mine some years back, a very fine game that put the old-school and much-missed fun back into PC videogames. Unlike many games, it tempted me right through to the ending. Then there was Risen 2 (2012), though that only held me for a few hours before I was bored and stuck, and never went back to it. Judging by even the fair-minded reviews for Risen 2, that was probably just as well.
Now comes Risen 3. “But hasn’t Risen 3 been out for a year or so?” asks the Guy Who Finishes Three Games a Week. Well, yes, but this Guy Who Only Plays One Game a Year can now have Risen 3 on the PC in the new and final Enhanced Edition. Which is bug-fixed (as much as a Risen game can be), apparently has all the DLC integrated(?) and now has a large enhanced graphics pack for Windows 64-bit users…
“Risen 3 has just received a pretty substantial graphical upgrade patch on Steam. It embiggens the textures, improves the draw distance, and adds new post-processing effects like HDR bloom and bokeh depth of field. It also, apparently, pretties up the skies, via “a new physically based, more visually realistic cloud rendering technique”.
Plus, the fans have rolled a handy free guide and walkthrough and even a… oh dear… no console command cheats yet. Damn it. Bit of a deal-breaker for the very occasional gamer like me, that last one. I do need some small-but-useful way of not having to die 54 times in exactly the same way, just so as to get past a particularly wild group of pigs etc and carry on with the story. So I’ll leave Risen 3 until Xmas then, and hope that in the meantime someone discovers the console command and a simple _no_death command. Or produces a simple trainer that works with this new edition.
Ah, now that’s what I call a game!
Alton Towers has some competition. ScreamRide on Xbox One. Build, ride and destroy insane theme-park rollercoasters. Finally, a game to get excited about. Pity it’s not also for the PC.