Bully: Bully for You Sir!

Bully is a game that deserves a gentle preamble for anyone not familiar with it, or the controversy that surrounded Rockstar games in the early 2000’s. Two years prior to Bully’s release, Rockstar bestowed upon the world GTA: San Andreas, another link in their lucrative GTA series served with lashings of violence, murder, and crime. Strangely however it wasn’t any of these nuanced facets that attracted the public’s attention, it was the “unintended” inclusion of an erotically charged polygon-ey mini-game in which the player could QTE their way through some awkward sexy-times. Rockstar had removed the mini-game prior to release but the modding community being what it was quickly found out that the code remained on the disc and just needed to be reactivated. Various moral advocacy groups erupted in outrage, politicians had a fresh pinata to beat with their anti-gaming stick, and Rockstar were forced to make some costly gestures to try and fix the damage. The whole thing smooshed together to become what we now know as the Hot Coffee Controversy. 

Having never played any GTA games aside from the original top-down PC release, I can’t comment on how detrimental to the moral fibre of the world this digital intimacy was, although I doubt it did more damage than the player’s illicit activities in the rest of the game.     

Two years later in 2006, Rockstar released “Bully”; a game with a similar sandbox structure to the GTA games set in the fictional boarding school, Bullworth Academy. Already on high alert from the previous controversy, and with Rockstar still squarely in their sights, the same groups immediately branded Bully as GTA set in a school with further objections raised from anti-bullying groups. The complaints rolled in before it was released leading to some UK high-street shops refusing to stock the game, more political debate, and Rockstar changing the game’s name to the less provocative “Canis Canem Edit” (Roughly translated to “Dog Eat Dog”) in the PAL regions. Continue reading “Bully: Bully for You Sir!”

Cooler Master MasterMouse MM530… is not a good name for a mouse…

Some time ago, I mourned the loss of that ever-present manufacturer responsible for everyone’s “other” controller; Mad Catz. I can’t comment on the commonly held view that their console controllers aren’t up to par because I’ve never owned one, but from a PC gaming viewpoint they did make my R.A.T. 5 gaming mouse that faithfully served me for several years…

… and that’s kind of a weird PC/console divide that’s rarely mentioned. On a console, in general, the official controllers rule supreme; tell me I’m playing an XBox and I’ll instantly know which controller I’ll be handed. Sure there are some pretty snazzy branded or skinned controllers available, but in the most part 90% of players will all use the same hunk of plastic to move their pixel-men around the screen. On a PC, for keyboard & mouse gaming, the same ubiquity doesn’t exist.  Continue reading “Cooler Master MasterMouse MM530… is not a good name for a mouse…”

The Wild Eight: It’s a Mixed Bag

This article is based on the Early Access game around March 2018

Following the completion of Resident Evil VII, I was in that drifting void between titles; not quite wanting to go back for DLC at the moment, but not really ready to move on to a more solid single player experience (I’m still playing F:BR in the background to satisfy my multiplayer needs). Luckily my wife and I both spotted that “The Wild Eight” was reduced on Steam and having been struck by the low-poly visuals we saw it as a good chance to give it a shot and check out this Early Access Survival game…

My long-held misgiving about the perils of Early Access are well documented, and in this case likely justified. “The Wild Eight” has been Early Access for some time and still isn’t that much of a polished experience. I’m writing this bit in italics because I don’t like criticising a game that isn’t full release for being buggy, but this game is full of bugs and it needs to be mentioned. Just starting the game was often a challenge, getting the lobby to work the next one, and this was before we even managed to play any of it. We saw animals walking through walls, at one point my character wouldn’t walk anywhere, some enemies didn’t seem to do any damage, some areas seemed to be filled with toxic gas, but there was no visual indication, we restarted once because the animals wouldn’t attack (they just stood there whilst we pummelled them)… oh, and one time the entire contents of my backpack from a few lives ago suddenly spawned in front of me…   Continue reading “The Wild Eight: It’s a Mixed Bag”

Resident Evil VII: A Most Terrifying Herb Garden

Spoiler Warning: I have tried to avoid spoiling major plot points, but I do mention and hint at some in game events… You have been warned.

Horror isn’t something that I would normally list amongst my interests; if someone suggested a horror movie to me then I’d likely scrunch up my nose slightly and suggest we watch Jurassic Park … again… but taking a more objective view, many of the games and movies I enjoy have horror aspects to them. Anyone who happens to have taken a passing stroll past my blog in the past will know that I’m a huge fan of the original Resident Evil trilogy for PS1 and upon hearing that the seventh instalment was a return to form for the series, I finally plucked up the courage to take a look.

… and I do mean plucked up the courage! I’ve been wanting to play this game since it was released, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve developed less of a stomach for outright horror, or maybe it’s just that horror has become more visceral in its presentation with improving technology. Either way, Resident Evil 7 did involve me playing for short bursts with breaks inbetween… Continue reading “Resident Evil VII: A Most Terrifying Herb Garden”

Jurassic Park: Trespasser – Next Time It’ll Be Flawless

… You know that bit where John Hammond spoils the magic of the flea circus by telling Ellie that it was all motorised? Well, I’m not like John. This article contains spoilers about the bizarre & obscure PC title Jurassic Park: Trespasser, you have been warned… 

After the excitement of that first groundbreaking movie, the cinematic adaptation of Michael Crichton’s follow up “Jurassic Park: The Lost world” was a huge deal. I remember all the promotions and merchandise tie-ins alluding to the mysterious “Site B” – I’m pretty sure that even now, if you utter that short word coupled with a solitary letter most people (at least in my age range) would immediately think of dinosaurs. A year later in 1998 DreamWorks Interactive released “Jurassic Park: Trespasser” (actually just called “Trespasser”) to coincide with the home release of  the movie. Sadly, rushing a game tie-in out to meet with some other release schedule is, as I’ve mentioned before, often one of the big problems with such a title and Trespasser was no exception. It was buggy, had sections cut, and largely failed to live up to the ambitious intentions of the designers. Twenty years later I decided to give this notorious game a shot in my ongoing quest to find the best Jurassic Park game out there. Continue reading “Jurassic Park: Trespasser – Next Time It’ll Be Flawless”

Cuphead: That Good Kind of Punishing…

That hypnotic tumbling, dots flashing before your eyes, the distinctive clattering of well balanced ivory against ivory, and complimentary dull thud as those cubes of chance tumble against the green baize. In the background a deep rasping chuckle; the acrid smell of brimstone fills your nostrils, yet the jazz plays on and maybe… just maybe your luck will change… you order another martini and roll … Continue reading Cuphead: That Good Kind of Punishing…

Overgrowth: It Has Big Rabbits…. Big Violent Rabbits…

Wolfire Games have already featured once in my ramblings; their other major release ‘Receiver‘ showed me that forcing the player to work hard to achieve something as simple as reloading a gun makes for an interesting shift in focus on the tired FPS format. At the time of penning that article I also mentioned ‘Overgrowth’ as having immensely satisfying 3rd person combat that I wanted to revisit once it had managed to accrue enough momentum to break out of a seemingly infinite early access gravity well.

I’m not saying that the good folks over at Wolfire read the piece, but it seems coincidental that just a few short weeks later ‘Overgrowth’ finally made it out of Early Access for an official release. Maybe I have some kind of mystical industry influence, in which case I’ll be accepting donations to mention conspicuously unfinished/perpetually developed games here in a hope that it forces them out into the world… any takers?…      Continue reading “Overgrowth: It Has Big Rabbits…. Big Violent Rabbits…”