My preview of Star Wars: The Old Republic from PCG 234 is now up on the web.
I had a really warm response to this piece on the final hours of Star Wars Galaxies. I played Galaxies for around three years from launch, and it's one of my all-time favourite games, broken as it was. Its eventual end has had the side-effect of bringing me back in touch with a number of old friends from those years, and spending the last seconds of the game with them is exactly how I'd have wanted it to go. One of those friends is now Massively's Jef Reahard, whose own piece went up shortly afterwards.
My review of The Binding of Isaac (also in this month's PCG 235) pissed off one person to the extent that he started a forum thread accusing me of bigotry and asking for a public apology, so that's nice. I'm not going to, of course: all I said in the review is that it is acceptable for games to be controversial, as it is with any medium. I actually avoided saying anything directly in praise of the game's treatment of religion. I understand that it's not nice to be among the number of people who the game will offend, but I'd challenge that any game has the right to do so. What impresses me about the game is how that core thesis - that there isn't a god, take it as a fictional conceit if you like - is embodied in the design. In any case, it's probably a good thing that the original title, God Is Permadead, didn't make the cut.
I interviewed X-Plane's Austin Meyer for a longer preview, and in the process got what is probably the best interview quote of my life. The man's enthusiasm for his simulator is incredible, entertaining, and sometimes terrifying.
Rich McCormick and I wrote this beginner's guide to The Old Republic together. I've played a lot of TOR since it launched, and I'm actually remarkably impressed by it. My first impression of beta was positive, but loaded with the knowledge that a particular kind of games journalist was going to bounce, vocally, right off it. There are a few reasons for this, which I think are interesting in themselves. It's a prescriptive BioWare RPG; it's a subscription MMO; it requires a huge investment of time; it has no interest in emergence or persistence. If you've got hard and fast rules about these sorts of things, it will make you cross. Actually, no. You will make yourself cross. If you can get done with making yourself cross, it's a fun videogame. I'd like to write about it more substantially.
I've written a preview of Guild Wars 2 for PCG's Games of 2012 feature. This was fun to do: playing the game at Eurogamer (and subsequently covering it for Gaming Daily) raised a number of questions that I got to put to the designers directly, and they had really good answers for them. I think it's going to be the most progressive MMO going by some distance. My only concern is that I'm yet to really care for the fiction, and there's another game repeatedly stabbing me in the part of my brain that can't feel certain feelings without looking at the Millennium Falcon.
My games of the year over at Gaming Daily were Batman: Arkham Asylum, Skyrim, and Bastion. Here's why.
Finally, there's PCG 235 itself, which you can buy in shops that sell PC Gamer. I have written:
- a story on the rise of DOTA as one of gaming's most important genres.
- a face-off/Star Wars analogy-off with Rich over the TOR vs WoW debate.
- previews of Grand Theft Auto V, Aliens: Colonial Marines, Far Cry 3, Guild Wars 2, DOTA 2, and Mass Effect 3.
- in conjunction with Henry Winchester, previews of every other game coming out for the PC in 2012. That's 169 80-word previews between us. Read it yourself, and spot the point where each of us went insane.
- with Rich, that beginner's guide to TOR.
- an interview with Paradox Interactive's CEO Fred Wester about faulty game launches.
- that review of The Binding of Isaac.
- a short, daft thing on Orcs Must Die!
- quick looks at Stealth Bastard and OUKA.
- run-downs of the best Saints Row: The Third characters and Skyrim videos.
- a two-page retrospective on Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.
It's the first magazine that I've been on-staff for the entire thing, and it has a Jedi on the front. High-five, my childhood!