Telltale’s Tales from the Borderlands is, by all accounts, a funny and exciting adventure game that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but I’m not going to play it. Not yet anyway. I want to. I played The Wolf Among Us and both seasons of the Walking Dead and enjoyed them immensely, especially TWD’s sorely underlooked second season. I didn’t play any of these the first chance I had though. I waited until the final episodes were released and then played through whole seasons at once and enjoyed them all the more for it.
In honour of the 24th of July I’m going to take a look back at some of the bestest of best friends in video games. Having a buddy makes those long, cold nights staring at a screen that little bit more bearable. These are the relationships that have helped us get through the good times and the bad times.
It’s rare that a game will make me feel tense. Normally I needn’t be afraid if I bump into a small pocket of resistance. I always have numerous means available to me for dispatching them. But in Far Cry 4’s Escape from Durgesh Prison DLC when I’m moving through the undergrowth, narrowly avoiding a rhino, and I see a squad of Pagan Min’s loyalists, complete with a heavily armoured machine gunner in the back, I’m worried, worried that my knife and pistol won’t be enough to take them out. When I bungle a stealth takedown and the big guy spots me I don’t have a choice. I run, making a dash for the nearby cliff edge and diving into the river below, making sure to be wary of the demon fish beneath the surface.
Near Lancaster University in an abandoned car repair building there’s a lot of graffiti. This is not just any graffiti however, this is some of the most pretentious graffiti in the world.
Video game podcasts are like spleens, everyone has one but no-one really cares. With that in mind, here’s another one. But this one’s different, I swear! This one goes out live on Lancaster University’s student radio Bailrigg FM. Sure, that means it’s unedited and has the occasional awkward pause but it also means that listeners can interact with the show as it goes out, as well as listen to and suggest some of the best music in games. It’s hosted by myself and my friend and PUBLISHED JOURNALIST Matt Cox, along with a number of guests*. We aim to offer insightful commentary on what’s happening in the world of games and discuss what you should and shouldn’t be playing right now. Here’s something of a trailer
During term time the show is weekly, with the new time slot being confirmed in September. You can listen live here:
or listen to our archived episodes here
There’s even a Facebook page
*Yes, the guests are also just our friends.
I wrote a short story for the Wells Literature Festival competition. Chances are I’ll never hear back so in the interests of getting my work recognised to some small degree I’m posting it here. I fear some of the important points of the narrative may have been lost when I had to mercilessly cut the word count to less than 2000. Similarly, some points may have been under-explained. Let’s hope not though. I present to you ‘Pure Ecstasy’.
“Do you believe that happiness can exist without suffering, A-Mov?” Alma asked as she slumped across the table, staring at the tissue box on her desk, contemplating why she had allowed it to remain when she no longer sneezed.
Who are the real Rancors?-A look at the questionable ethics employed by the ‘good guys’ of Star Wars
This is perhaps too deep an analysis. After all, the films of George Lucas themselves were presumably never meant to inspire deep philosophical debate or be complex character studies. That side of Star Wars is better seen in the other media that surrounds its universe, such as the many books and comics and in Bioware and Obsidian’s series of games set in ‘The Old Republic’. Within the first half hour of the first film* the world is polarised between the evil dark side and the good light side. Regardless of this, there are still some pretty blaring ethical quandaries and, after all, it never hurts to tear apart the things we love (unless you do it literally).
Crusader Kings 2 is a game of maps, faces and family life, but don’t let that put you off. It may bombard you with a mass of unknown names such as ‘Count Emmo of Loon’ and wacky phrases like ‘de jure ducal claim’ but make no mistake, this is no mere history lesson (though it is helpful on that front). It’s basically the Sims if it were made by Paradox Interactive (don’t quote me on that). Crusader Kings 2 is all about political intrigue and family management (and a bit of war, if you’re unable to avoid it). You’ll spend most of your time sucking up to your superiors, arranging marriages for your children, excommunicating your spouse, deterring rebellions and deciding on memorable names for your children (I called one Pikachu, I immediately regretted it). It can all be a bit overwhelming; the game has many systems I still don’t understand or make use of and the tutorials don’t do a great job of explaining the technology and building systems. It can help to play in an environment you’re more familiar with.
It perhaps says something about the British secondary school education system that I’m probably more knowledgeable about the history of Westeros than I am about Europe in the Dark Ages. Like the majority of gamers, it seems, I’m a big fan of the Song of Ice and Fire books/the Game of Thrones TV show. As with most every modifiable game set before the 1700s or in a fantasy world CK2 has a Game of Thrones mod, and it’s a wonder. The game adds hundreds of familiar and not so familiar characters, tons of new mechanics and a big ol’ Westerosi map (with the other locations set to arrive later). This a short account of one of my attempts to play the Game of Thrones.
This should contain no spoilers for anything beyond the point at which the first series of the show/the first book ended, my own plot deviated pretty quickly from old George’s.