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[illus. by Anato Finnstark] Facing my giants. That’s what Shadow of the Colossus asks me to do. Now, I don’t fall for overly obvious metaphors, like "facing my giants." I’ve seen metaphors shoehorned into a thousand variations across multiple media. They don’t get to me. And yet. Shadow of the Colossus does get to me. More than that, it just gets me. You play Wander, a smooth-faced young man with a clenched jaw and stern look in his eye. He rocks an artful tabard, a sword and bow, and rides a trusty steed. The young man is a warrior, of devout purpose, and keeps his emotions bottled up inside. He never gets loudmouthed or emo. He’s steady. Focused. Ready to do whatever it takes. He’ll bring down these colossi—every last one of them. The opening cinematic shows Wander on his horse, Agro, cradling a dead woman wrapped in a quilt. Whether she’s a sister or a lover is hard to tell. All we know is that she “suffered a cursed fate,” which brings us to her current posthumous condition. This exposes the hard edge of Wander’s determination to bring her back from the dead. While the sword in Wander’s hand is the compass, leading the way. It’s the key to unlocking the next, and the next, colossus. Personally, at this point, I’m hyped. I’m chomping at the bit more than the horse is. I want to travel this exotic, distant land; meet exciting, unusual giants—and kill them. So, I had my instructions. I got on my horse. I held my sword up to the sun, and it focused a beam of light toward my first colossus off in the distance. With a, “Hyah,” I nudged my horse into a gallop. I heard nothing but the wind in the grass and Agro's steady clippety-clop. My lungs filled with the air blowing across the plains, and my eyes grew large from the white, overcast sky. I eventually quit fighting the camera. The view pulls away at times, settling on a dramatic angle. It emphasizes the journey rather than the destination. It ignores my need to scan everything around me at all times. The camera just takes us there with the care of a competent film director. A cliff face slowly rises before me, sheer and rocky. A hint of the colossus to come. I dismount my horse. Facing a crumbling ruin of stairways and platforms, I leap, climb, and somersault my way up. My joints move stiffly, but I warm up to the movements. At the top I’m stopped in my tracks. A massive creature with muscles taut as stone, and chunks of armor wrought like iron, crosses my path. It’s enormous hooves smash the ground, leaving craters for footprints. It doesn’t see me, but the battle has begun. The fight music rolls in like high tide. I’m running after the plodding colossus. The heart of the stringed orchestra beats faster. It towers over me like a seven-story building. I leap as high as I can just to grab the tuft of fur above its hoof, my finger pulling the controller’s trigger tight like my grip depends on it. And it does. If my pointer finger gets tired and I let go, then Wander lets go, and we plummet to the ground. The colossus’s calf muscle isn’t its Achilles’ Heel, but, with my sword drawn, it exposes a weakness. There’s a crack in the skin, seeping with a telltale blue glow and a smoky red haze. Still holding tight with my left hand, my right pulls back like the plunger on a pinball machine. I’m poised, and the longer I hold it, the deeper I’ll drive my blade into its leg. The sword’s meter maxes out. Now. Shunk. The colossus feels that. It howls in pain. A spray of black blood shoots out like an oil geyser. It shakes its leg furiously trying to throw me off, but my trigger finger on the controller is strong. Wander is whipped side to side, up and down, but he holds on—I hold on. Even the soundtrack holds on. I climb further, the fur on the colossus thick and wavy. I don’t know where to go, so I go up. I move from the fur to a stony platform attached to the giant’s back. I rest just a moment, Wander’s endurance spent. If I’d indeed spent all of my endurance and continued climbing, then I’d be easily shook off, and it would already be a 20- or 30-foot drop to the ground. That would be bad for my health. I continue my ascent. I’m on its upper back. The colossus feels me crawling around and gives a full-bodied shake, like a dog shaking water off its back, twisting its mass around. I’m holding on for my life. When the colossus stops, I continue my crawl up. I’ve reached the top of its head, the ground a vertigo-inducing distance below. I see the telltale blue glow of the colossus's vulnerable point. The colossus then shakes its head violently, but I hold on. My endurance is nearly exhausted from all this crawling and vertical scaling, but this is my chance to end the fight. Clinging to fur atop its skull, I pull my sword arm back. I’m poised to drive it deep into its brain. Shunk. The sword goes deep. The colossus howls, furious and in tremendous pain, its health meter just absolutely wrecked. My stab opens up another spout of black blood. One more time, I think. In its death throes, it madly shakes its head, but it can’t throw me off. And then I plunge my sword into it for the last time. Shink. The sound is different this time. Everything slows down. The music goes from a battle cry, to dead silence, to heartbroken defeat. This isn't the victory music I'm expecting. The camera pulls away and I watch this beautiful creature slowly fall to the ground. The camera is back on me, standing beside the fallen colossus. A blackness spreads from its head down the rest of its body, like it’s being burned into ash. Thin, black tentacles come out of the colossus’s dead body, twist maniacally in the air, then turn to me. The tentacles violently impale me and a spout of my own black blood sprays out. I fall on my face. I soar through a black tunnel carved with symbols of light. My body appears, still face down, back at the Sanctuary. A dark, mournful shadow stands over me. Not menacingly. But like it’s standing there, head down, for my funeral. The camera pans to the Sanctuary statue representing that first colossus. The statue explodes with an inner light and topples straight down on itself. The camera pans back to me. I get to my feet. It always takes too long to get to my feet, whether here or in battle. I look up at the light flooding down into the Sanctuary. The voice comes at me with no preamble. It simply announces my next foe. I will do this 15 more times. I will ride out to a colossus, destroy that colossus, be destroyed myself, and be pulled back into the Sanctuary until the dead woman lives again. It’s a stunning gameplay loop. It’s not relentless, but it’s merciless. There’s no split narrative here. No dialogue trees branching out toward multiple endings. It’s just this and nothing else. So, I make the map my own. I topple colossus after colossus and, as I ride out to the next one, I look over their sand-covered corpses. I break statue after statue like it’s the opposite of a trophy room. I die every single time and come back, just so I can resurrect the woman I brought here. I emphasize the battles with the colossi, but my favorite parts were the horse rides in between. With just rocks, trees, and grass, the map makers built a fantastical landscape rooted in down-to-earth details. My horse is dependable in ways I didn’t preempt. I run and scatter the flock of doves gathering in the Sanctuary. I shoot fruit off a tree, the tail off a lizard, and kneel at every glowing shrine. I dive into the waves of an enclosed bay, run across the crests of sweeping golden dunes, and stand on ledges that go down forever. The landscape is bravely designed and tells its own saga. I ride Agro through tall, dense woodlands where the sun can't reach the ground. I race across vast plains, with nothing in between but the call of the wild. Sure, puzzling my way through each colossus’s destruction is a worthy capstone to any trip. But Shadow of the Colossus is equally about the journey. A gorgeous, remastered, HD, 4K journey. A rebuilt from the ground up journey. One that could’ve been released today (for the first time ever) and stood shoulder to shoulder with any brand new game going up on store shelves. It's thoroughly modern. Visually complete. Two modes exist on the PS4 Pro: Cinematic, which emphasizes image quality, and Performance, which emphasizes frame rate. Cinematic gives you a 4K image targeting 30 frames per second. It stays locked into that 30 fps, even during strenuous scenes like colossus battles. Performance, however, is locked at 60 fps and is butter-smooth from top to bottom. You will be hard-pressed to come up with any amount of slowdown or screen tearing. Even if you're on a vanilla PS4, you get 30 fps with Performance-level visuals, which, trust me, are phenomenal anyway. The developers have nothing to be ashamed of there. Don’t be discouraged if you’ve never played it before. I hadn’t. But now, 12 years after its debut, Shadow of the Colossus easily—easily—goes on my greatest of all time list. It’s not too late. It’s time to face your giants. Shadow of the Colossus is one for the books. Twelve years later, it's still a powerful, immutable, singular experience. A masterwork of the genre.
«Time-tested»
When I was in grade school, I once asked my dad what was the single-most important invention in history. He said, “Hot running water, son.” In school I’d learned about the cotton gin and the printing press, the automobile and the light bulb. Inventions that made history. So, at the time, I quietly scoffed at my dad’s reply. But you know how it goes. The older you get, the more you realize your parents were right about everything. And walking around the dark, muddy, mayhem-ridden towns of Kingdom Come: Deliverance makes me realize that, yes, my dad was absolutely right about the hot running water. That’s a contemporary convenience that can, undoubtedly, make or break the rest of my modern day existence. In other words, it just makes life easier. But Kingdom Come isn't here to make life easier. What it does do is marry the walking simulator to the role-playing game, and give it a historically based Encyclopedia Britannica wrapper. It’s often messy. It’s sometimes glorious. It’s utterly compelling. I can’t put the thing down. So, there I was, neck deep in medieval 15th century Bohemia, taking in the sun, rain, and Holy Roman architecture of Central Europe. I’m Henry, the kind but rascally son of a blacksmith. I live in Skalitz, a township known for its silver mining, and surrounded by rolling hills that look like a Windows XP wallpaper. When our story begins, a usurper to the Bohemian throne is about to burn my hometown of Skalitz to the ground, and there’s nothing I can do about it. Except run. Kingdom Come’s first job is to humble you. With black eyes and bloody noses, and with cringe-inducing sword thrusts, it will break down your video game-given hero complex. It doesn’t even do that thing where it gives you a taste of power before stripping you of it. It simply starts you in a low place and then shoves your face into the mud a little bit more. That’s just for starters, like I said. Once you realize you can’t hardly defend yourself, let alone start a fight, then you’re ready to begin. But at first, it’s just plate after plate of humble pie. During that early escape from Skalitz, I made the mistake of thinking the game would let me run at a reasonable pace to the next town. You know, take in the sights at a slow jog. Boy was I wrong. The attacking soldiers were not playing around. The moment I was told to run, I actually turned around to take one last look at my besieged town. I was immediately face to face with a heavily armed and armored Cuman soldier. He cut me twice with his longsword, blood filled my vision, and I died. Okay, take two. People from the battlements tell me to run, and I find the run button. I don’t look back. But that soldier is on my heels. Like, I can practically hear him yelling in my ear. He stabs me in the back, I stumble. He stabs me a couple more times, and I die again. Take three. The drawbridge to the castle is up, and my friends yell from above for me to run. My pinky finds the sprint button, and I put the pedal to the metal. My stamina is draining fast from the sprint, but I’ve obviously got to put space between me and this pursuing soldier. I’m running down a path away from the castle. The path switches back and forth down the steep slope, large rocks and hardscrabble shrubbery scattering in my way. Taking the scenic route was the wrong choice. I’m out of breath, and three or four more Cuman soldiers wait at the bottom of the hill. In broad daylight, and still being in everyone’s sight, crouching into the bushes didn’t help. I’m doomed. They gang up on me, while I’m in the bushes, and they treat me like a human pincushion. Sigh. Take four. At this point, I’ve gone from a sightseeing trot, carefully picking my footing down a lovely country hillside, to scrambling over dirt and brambles for my godforsaken life, and spraining my ankle on a haphazard jump to avoid arrows aimed at my back. My breathing is heavy, I make it to the base of Skalitz’ hill, and, thank heaven, find a horse. It’s an invader’s horse, which doesn’t bother me for a second. I hear a woman screaming. Great. The invaders are raping the women before slaughtering everybody. I wheel my horse around and gallop through the attempted gang rape. Thankfully (?), I divert their attention and they’re after me now. The chase is on, it’s on horseback, I’m barely clinging onto my last few hit points, and I’m going to be a long way from home before I survive this flight from my hometown. And scene. I was angry that the game had the gall to kill me—multiple times—during my escape into the countryside. But the game also earned my respect in that moment. I was now required to respect the game’s intentions, its cutthroat motivations, and my very fragile, very human existence. I’ve been in an adrenaline-fueled escape or two in video games. They were often the most exciting sequences in an adventure. But this? This was not fun. This was terrifying. There’s a lot to learn with combat. It relies as much on your stamina as it does on landing hits. If you go in, guns blazing (or, more appropriately, swords swinging), then you’ll be completely out of breath while your opponent more patiently, more skillfully, with six-directional swings, turns your out-of-breath body into a human shish kebab. Kingdom Come’s entire conceit is that you have a lot to learn. And you’d better learn. Not just how to hold your sword above your head, charge up a swing, then quickly feign a low blow. Not just how to pull off a thrust-left-downright combo. And not just how to time a perfect parry and riposte. You’ve got a lot of history to learn, too. Not just the history of the beloved Holy Roman Emperor, King Charles IV, and his party-hard son Wenceslaus. You also get to immerse yourself in a glossary full of the workaday life of medieval farmers and crafters, traders and beekeepers, kings and mercenaries. You’ll read about beggars and burghers, then see them pass in the streets. You’ll learn where folks go to the bathroom, how they toss it into the road, then watch them sweep their doorstep. It takes some getting used to, but you’ll hear “m’lord” and “m’lady” without an ounce of disrespect spoken into a greeting. People cheerfully call out, “Jesus Christ be praised,” without a hint of malice or atheistic irony in their tone. But you’ll also see a person pray fervently in the church, then cuss you out if you bump into them in the doorway. There are definitely a lot of curse words. And they’re spoken just as earnestly as those prayers were. In the beginning, as with most role-playing games, it’s easy to feel like you’re being funneled from one cutscene to the next, not really digging into the open world-ness of the map until a few hours in. That’s true here, too. There’s a lot of real-world history to set up. There’s a tale of revenge and redemption to work up to a boil. Kingdom Come takes the time to do just that. Your character, Henry, is a great character. He has a stern jaw and a boyish charm. Despite your humbling beginnings, he doesn’t take a lot of crap either. He’s quick to smile, quick to forgive, and also quick to execute a “mercy kill” on a worthless bandit that’s ambushed him out of the woods. You can let people live, too. Every encounter doesn’t require a death scene. Life is precious, and your choices, when you see an enemy drop their sword and fall to their knees, reflects that. The “deliverance” portion of Kingdom Come: Deliverance has just as much to do with granting others mercy as it does delivering you from your sins. So, on that note, be ready to learn a lot. Unless you’re a Chivalry or For Honor veteran, combat will be new to you. Lockpicking will be new to you. Pickpocketing, stealth, brawling, conversing, haggling. Even picking out a sword that complements your high strength, ignores your low dexterity, or compensates for your armor's restrictions—all of that will be new. With such ambitious gameplay at its core, however, comes an equally ambitious set of bugs and quirks. Sure, audio dialogue is often chopped short when you bump into folks in the street. But the voice acting is solid, with a dramatic script worthy of an epic. And sure, there are times when you have to suspend your disbelief when the linear storyline tries to shake hands with the open-world side quests. Those two don't always jive. My only real grievance comes from the save game system. The game autosaves, I think, after you complete a mission, be it main quest or side quest. I’ve also seen the game autosave, sometimes but not always, after I wake up from a good night’s sleep. But there’s a lot of open-world exploration and unscripted high jinks you can get into that don’t ping the autosave feature. This is where Saviour Schnapps comes in. To manually save a game, you drink a draft of Saviour Schnapps, an alcohol. It’s a spendy bottle of brew from a trader, if you don't find any by luck. But Saviour Schnapps let’s you manually save the game once per bottle. But! Now you’re drunk from the schnapps. That may increase your charisma, but it dings your stats and abilities that require any fine dexterity. So that’s the trade off. In theory, I love the idea. It’s an in-game method of stopping me from "save scumming" my way through a dangerous encounter. But in practice, it makes me bang my head against the wall if I, for instance, played for an hour over lunchtime, but didn’t do anything to trigger an autosave, and don’t have a bottle of Saviour Schnapps handy. Sorry, pal: you just lost all your progress over that past hour of gameplay. Heck, before I started typing this review tonight, I lost two hours of gameplay as I took a slow horse from the southern end of the map up to the northern end, gambling the shirt of a noble’s back in a duel, lending a barefoot monk some cloth to wrap around his feet so he could complete his pilgrimage, fending off two bandits and chasing off a third, reading Kickstarter contributors’ names etched into roadside crosses, revealing birds’ nests that (for some reason I haven’t learned of yet) get their own icon on the map, and basically soaking in the wonderful, wonderful open world of Kingdom Come on my way back to my hometown I’d been away from for weeks. Then, approaching nightfall, I ran into a camp full of enemies. They hacked me to pieces in seconds. Mere seconds. And that was it. Nothing I’d done for the last two hours had saved my game. The game reloaded me at the start of a date I'd gone on with the miller’s daughter at sunrise. And yet, here I am, with a straight face, ready to give this game a very high, very well-deserved score. When all is said and done, all I want to do is play more and more Kingdom Come. Its merciless first-person immersion, its nuts and bolts history lessons, its Bohemian art and architecture—all of it. It’s an achievement, even when it trips itself up. Even when Henry has trouble walking up a set of stairs. Even when I was thrown in prison for fighting, then charged with the additional crime of “not carrying a torch around at night” while I was still in prison. Even when my horse, which I stole fair and square from a bandit camp, won’t ever, not once, respond to my whistle call. (Okay, maybe I get that one.) But not even when I complete a mission to close down a tavern at night, then see all those people continue sitting around drinking, gambling, and carousing after I supposedly shut the place down. Kingdom Come needs some spit and polish. The day-one patch provides some of both. But, like I said, you’ll still need a little suspension of disbelief to get you through it all. I’m cool with the little glitches. But I’m still learning how to live with the clever yet terrible save game system. My final score is caught in contrasts, but the Holy Roman Empire is also a land of contrasts. It’s a land where adultery is a greater evil, but prostitution is a lesser one. Where alcohol is a scourge, but taverns are respectable. Where people to greet you with “God save you,” but want those begging refugees to get packing. Christianity can be a messy business. I was raised Catholic. I know how to dip my fingers in holy water at the church entrance and dab it on my forehead, chest, and shoulders, making the Sign of the Cross. I once wore a cape that dragged behind me on the ground as I ceremonially placed a baby Jesus doll in a manger during midnight mass on Christmas Eve. Thankfully, I kept telling my Mom, “No,” when she asked if I wanted to be an altar boy. Despite being raised in a Catholic church, I learned more about Catholicism in Kingdom Come than throughout my entire childhood spent taking the bread and wine during the Eucharist. If you’re in the mood, this game will teach you a thing or two, whether it’s realistic sword handling, ludicrous crime-and-punishment systems, or the hypocrisy of man wallowing in original sin. Kingdom Come will break you down. It will humble you. It will remind you that you’ve got a lot to learn. Whether that means making your fingers do more WASD gymnastics than you’ve ever done in a first-person game, or giving you the down and dirty as to the extended "services" provided at a bath house. It acknowledges what a thorough hell it is for women living under a complete patriarchy. It’ll also give you a feel for what it was like to walk through the streets of the Late Middle Ages, with its still-primitive technologies and its utter lack of plumbing. It might even immerse you enough in a time and place to make you better appreciate your modern day creature comforts, like hot running water, for instance. Kingdom Come isn't here to make your life easier, but you will be better for it. Kingdom Come is a walking simulator merged with an RPG that takes you down a Wikipedia black hole. Accepting its historicity and deciphering its cerebral game systems is like completing a religious rite.
[Illustration by Jan Bexterman] Finally. Egypt. Ancient Egypt. Well, not Ancient Egypt. It’s the Egypt of Classical Antiquity. The one where Cleopatra was doing her thing. The one just before Rome came up in the place with its Pax Romana and its library burnings. That’s the Egypt of Assassin’s Creed Origins. This is where the Brotherhood of Assassins begins. This, too, is where a prototype of the Templars begins. But I came here to slide down some pyramids. To take a chip out of the ol’ Sphinx’s nose. To raise my voice above a whisper in the Library at Alexandria. Real rebel stuff. And I’m going to do all of this with main dude, Bayek, and his eagle, Senu. The Assassin’s Creed conceit is that it is: a modern day sci-fi game where snarky techno-archaeologists “time travel” through the DNA-encoded memories of their Assassin ancestors. It’s a uniquely conceived idea that’s taken the series everywhere. From Moscow to Manhattan. From Jerusalem to Jamaica. From the Vatican City to the Forbidden City. And with Origins, it goes to the Ptolemaic Kingdom on a timeline now extending back to 40 or 50 BC. I like Assassin’s Creed Origins more and more, the more I play it. But it just keeps growing. It just keeps opening its sandy mouth bigger and bigger. After a dozen hours, there’s no foreseeable end. I mean, there’s gotta be one, right? But the sandbox gameplay of Assassin’s Creed has blown past the series’ critical mass. There’s no shaking Origins’ confidence in its status as a AAA open world experience. There are even hints of The Witcher 3-level world building here. Where you can see arguably the most monumental man-made architecture ever built in the Pyramids of Giza. Yet the nuts and bolts of everyday life can be found in the dusty streets of urban and rural life. Cats sunning themselves in the markets. Floral chains draped around roadside statues. The looms with their clothing lines, the armorers with their hammers clanking, the stables with their line of horses and camels. Endless pedestrians, too, of course. Just with barely enough sense to get out of the way when you’re barreling down the middle of a wide Alexandrian avenue or a narrow village pocket. This is a time when every home is susceptible to burning by Roman invaders, and when every temple rises up to meet heaven. From ashes or from burned animal offerings, the smoke goes up everywhere in Egypt. This is where you come in, Bayek. You are the last Medjay, the last of an elite police force that looked after the Pharaoh’s interests. Five proto-Templars — those are the bad guys — are the force behind the throne. Cleopatra doesn’t have the throne right now. It’s her little brother, Ptolemy XIII, the Boy-King. The bad guys are pulling his strings. You need to get rid of them. You do this as loudly or as quietly as you want. Way back in the original Assassin’s Creed, “crowd stealth” was the thing. Blend in with this group of citizens, or that group of monks. Blend in by taking a seat on this bench, or chilling in a haystack. Combat was wonky. And challenging (because it was wonky). Because Assassin’s Creed always wanted you to be something like a Middle Eastern ninja. Across a dozen or so games over a decade, that priority has shifted. In Origins, for all its size, it’s thinned out a lot of what cluttered previous Assassin’s Creeds. You can crouch in some bushes and manage your enemies’ line of sight, but all that crowd stealthing is long gone. There’s no button to sit on a bench between two bystanders. Silent assassinations pack some wallop, and it’s just as easy to set the place on fire than it is to gently throw sleep darts at the guards. Unless I’m knowingly outleveled by enemies, I’ve polished off a dozen guards (on accident) and went on my merry way. Ubisoft overhauled combat. There’s talk of hitboxes and weapon weights. There’s the awkward button rearrangement that seems to happen with every other Assassin’s Creed anyway. So, Origins carries on the series’ mild identity crisis. Is it a stealth-action game? Is it action-stealth? Is it a brawler, a beat ‘em up, a platformer? It’s all those things, just with the sliders adjusted a little to the left or a little to the right. It’s an open world, sure, but there’s only one way to deal with the bad guys: dead ‘em. Bandits are a never-ending problem in Origins. Honest folks make something with their hands, while dishonest folks come along and take it. Me being an equalizer, of sorts, I put the goods back into the original owners’ hands. I get my instructions. The bandits are southwest of town, yadda yadda. I whistle for my camel. It comes toppling over a nearby wall. Such a trusty steed. Hopping on, it grunts, I click my tongue, and we’re off at a healthy trot past the palm-lined roads and into the moonlit sand dunes. I press one button that runs my camel toward the main road. I press a second button that heads specifically for my waypoint, the bandit camp southwest of town, yadda yadda. It’s a clear night. Lots of stars out. A pack of hyenas decide to take a bite out of my camel. Drawing my nasty curved blade from camelback, I trot my camel in a circle and take swings at the hyenas. They yelp a lot and die, blood flashing from their necks. Without even dismounting, I skin the hyenas for furs and proceed. One button to autopilot me back onto a main road, another button to autopilot me to my waypoint. Why isn’t all animal travel this convenient in video games with animal travel? This is how easy it should’ve always been. Nearing the bandit camp, I switch to Senu, my eagle, who’s always circling right above me wherever I go. I’m now the eagle. Wings spread, I soar ahead to the bandit camp. Catching a thermal, I hover way above a bandit campfire. I start tagging enemies, outlining them for Bayek back on the camel. A couple bandits sleep around a campfire. A third stands guard at a cave entrance. This should be easy. With the bandits marked, my vision swoops back to Bayek. Dismounting, I take a high approach to the bandit camp. I crouch and shuffle from bush to bush, cover to cover. The bandits are clueless.I’m perched above the bandit camp now. Closer to the edge, I leap down on the one guard that’s awake. I put that guard out of commission. The other two still sleep soundly around the campfire. It’s dark, but there’s enough moonlight for me to navigate closer. I stomp on one of the sleeping bandits. He’s not dead, but he’s not shouting for help, and he’s effectively taken out of the fight. I get creative on the last one. I head back up to an elevated position. They’re both on a circle of hay around the campfire. I shoot an arrow that shatters a vase full of oil nearby. Oil spills out over the hay. I grab a fire bomb. I toss it into the oil. The oil lights on fire. The circle of hay further lights on fire. The bandit that was taken out of the fight is now on fire. The bandit that was still sleeping is now awake, but also on fire. He’s running around screaming. In a few seconds, both are blackened and dead. I hop back down and regain the goods that the bandits stole. I also loot a few coins here and there for my troubles. I whistle for my camel. It comes bounding over the cliffside. I hop on and put my arms up to shield my face. A sandstorm is coming in, just as the sun is coming up. In a few seconds, the air is thick and impenetrable. Sand blows around me in every direction. All I can see is a golden fog of sand and dust. Bayek says, “I must not lose my bearings.” I try to switch to my eagle, Senu, but Senu “isn’t available” during storms. Makes sense. But I simply open the map, and set up a waypoint back in town. I press one button that autopilots my camel toward the main road. I press a second button that autopilots my camel toward my waypoint. Mission just about accomplished. Again, why has it taken until 2017 to make animal travel this effective? Then, after the opening chapter in the land of Siwa, it drops me into present day. The present-day aspects of Assassin’s Creed are always exciting at first. But only at first. The entire premise behind Assassin’s Creed is that there’s a contemporary sci-fi element to the whole thing. It makes the historical end of things that much more exciting. That is, until I get to the modern-day scenes. And then I’m bored. I’m instantly inundated with hundreds of words written across various pamphlets and handouts, all typed up in varying degrees of corporate speak and legalese. It’s an unnecessary slowdown and has me dying to just get back into the Animus. Employee handbooks tend to do that to me. There are at least Easter egg tie-ins with other Ubisoft games. And there’s some much needed info on an old series character that’s needed some follow-up. We’re heading into spoiler territory here, so I’ll ease up. But Origins, for all its expanse, it best at the little details. Like the way Bayek glues himself to each step up to a temple. Or how he holds his hand out to brush at some waist-high flowers. Or how Senu, my eagle, climbs and declines at the exact angle of the Pyramids at Giza. It’s in the extreme side-eyed looks the populace gives me when I’m doing my parkour thing around the streets. Or in the Mad Maxian thickness of the storms that blow across the tsunami-height sand dunes. Origins doesn't feel like the sweeping epic it should be. But it's good enough. Good enough to have the series back. Good enough to get lost in an Ancient Egyptian Wikipedia rabbit hole during my off time. And good enough just to slide down some pyramids, stab some bad guys, then ride off into the desert on my trusty camel with eagle in tow. Welcome back, Assassin's Creed. You didn't give us enough time to miss you that much. But it's always nice to see new places with you. Origins was worth taking the year off. Egypt will be hard to top as a location. The series' dry, ironic, corporate sense of humor is still dull. But nobody can beat Assassin’s Creed’s architectural history lessons, even if you’re still just stabbing folks and jumping out the window while you’re sightseeing the entire timeline.
Dishonored
Recommended
Stupid rats, plague. Could the city get any worse? Chances are very good. Since you have to cut or sneak your way through Dunwall filled with guards, assassins, and weepers with no time to pause for whisky and cigars. Never doubt it – Dishonored is a great game that constantly keeps you wired. Speaking about level design, weapons and spells, enemies, this is one of the best games I have ever played. Everything is well thought-out, and as a result you get much freedom when it comes to ways of accomplishing the missions. The game doesn't teach you much, it just explains how this weapon or that spell work and lets you use them as you please. So you can stop time, fire bolts and attach bombs to them; you can possess anybody and casually walk to a safe place to choke the poor guy down; you can acquire Shadow Kill ability (which makes bodies of those you kill turn to ashes immediately) and just kill everybody you see leaving no traces of a bloodbath behind; you can blink your way over the roofs without setting foot on the ground, coz, you know, the floor is lava! [minor and major story spoilers below] Although I don't understand the praise the storyline got (to me it was clichéd through and through), I can't deny that the characters and the setting are well-made. Even minor characters have background stories and hidden desires and fears that can easily be revealed with the help of one particular device. The world is a solid mix of dark fantasy, zombie post-apocalypses, and well-known dystopian novels with a bunch of retrofuturistic and steampunk elements. Although I'd say that there are some unfinished storylines within the game: like you'll never truly understand who the hell Granny Rags is. Sure, she is the old scary witch that could earns some respect even from The Witcher's Ladies of the Wood for her creepiness. But given how detailed some parts of Dishonored is, you always wait for some kind of an explanation and Granny Rags gets none. The same goes to Daud, the leader of assassins. When you manage to ‘neautralize’ him in a ‘non-lethal’ way by stealing his pouch, you kind of wait for his reaction to be ultimately revealed. Was he scared to death that you had got so close but spared his life? Did he shit some bricks? Was he furious with his bodyguards that couldn't stop Corvo coming? My biggest resentment comes from the thing that needs a bit of explanation for those who haven't played the game. Dishonored lets you choose you own way to complete missions – that's true – but how you tackle them affects the course of the story and the ending. As the game puts it, killing lots of enemies will cause more rats and more weepers in the streets, while adopting a stealthier approach will lead to a more happy and light outcome. At the same time, if you decide to neutralize Campbell in a non-lethal way (which is ‘good’), you'll find him later as a weeper, living the last days of his life in some swampy dump. So I think killing him in the first place could be actually more merciful. Fates that are worse than deaths will await at least half of your targets if you choose the ‘non-lethal’ way, so at the end of the day you feel like a true monster.  And in the end, when the game counts all chaos you caused in the city, you expect something more, since the game told you in the very beginning that it would affect the finale. But all you get after you rescue Emily (or let her die) is some stop-motion scenes of Dunwall citizens ranging from dark to happy with Outsider narrating what will happen afterwards. To me it was very unrewarding, it actually killed any mood to replay the game with a different chaos-level. And what was more irritating – I never learned what had happened to Havelock since I just rendered him unconscious like I always did with my targets. Did he go to the prison? Was he executed? Was he pardoned? Did he manage to escape? We'll never know. [spoilers end here] All in all, this is truly a great game. I can't put an ‘exceptional’ for everything stated above. But I do recommend it to anyone who appreciate solid stories, interesting characters, an inventive gameplay, and stealth games in general. It's the best game about an assassin with a creed, and it's too bad an appropriate title was taken long before.
Celeste
Exceptional
Platformer fans, rejoice! Celeste is the best platformer in recent years. Not only does it offer impeccable and precise controls, it does so while also bathing you in gorgeous pixel art. The core gameplay is simple (jump, jump and jump some more) and the mechanics are somewhat limited, but that's what makes Celeste so damn good. You don't need to learn a thousand different moves, you just need to get from point A to point B, and you're going to enjoy it. You're also going to die - a lot. But that's okay. Checkpoints are everywhere, which means dying is never frustrating. It also encourages you to experiment and try to find hidden secrets, of which there are plenty. Exploring the levels is always fun, and you always want to try to reach for that strawberry, just taunting you there. The soundtrack is great, the gameplay is great, the art is great. Celeste is great.
«Constantly dying and enjoy it»
«OST on repeat»
I’ve never been much of an Assassin’s Creed fan, but I couldn’t resist giving this game a shot after reading so many good reviews. Man was I blown away. Everything about this game is incredible. From the combat, to the storyline, to the graphics, they nailed it. If you’re a casual gamer like myself, there is enough content in this game to keep you busy for a couple of months. Overall, a spectacular game.
«Blew my mind»
«Can’t stop playing»

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Live
Feb 17, 2018
Rainbow Six - Six Invitational 2018 - LIVESTREAM - SATURDAY - Semifinals
Live
Feb 17, 2018
EU LCS | Week 5 Day 2 : Misfits Gaming vs. G2 ESPORTS
Live
Feb 17, 2018
Happy Saturday! | I love Fortnite
Live
Feb 17, 2018
SUB HOTLINE - http://vast.mx/LIRIKGA
Live
Feb 17, 2018
Rainbow Six Siege: LIVESTREAM Six Invitational 2018 - Day 5
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Feb 17, 2018
AWC EU Cup 2 | Top 8
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Feb 17, 2018
@forsen, Rank 1 Pirate EU. PVP all daaaaay ! Kingdom cum afterwards
Live
Feb 17, 2018
HGC Europe – League Play – Week 5 Day 2
Live
Feb 17, 2018
I Have Returned--Talking About Recent Events--Project 80--Collecting the Things
Live
Feb 17, 2018
TI Winner dotes || [A] @admiralbulldog
Live
Feb 17, 2018
C9 Kolento constructed
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Feb 17, 2018
RollPlay Court of Swords EP63 LIVE | !poster !rp2018 !RollPlayPatreon | w/ @Dansgaming @GassyMexican @Ezekiel_III @skinnyghost @itmeJP
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Feb 17, 2018

Great game developers

John Carmack

Director, Designer, Programmer

Known for

22 games

DOOM 3
260

Daniel Vávra

Writer, Director, Designer

Michel Ancel

Writer, Director, Artist

Dan Houser

Writer, Designer

Known for

18 games

Chris Roberts

Writer, Director, Producer

Ron Gilbert

Writer, Director, Producer

John Carmack

Director, Designer, Programmer

Known for

22 games

DOOM 3
260

Daniel Vávra

Writer, Director, Designer

Michel Ancel

Writer, Director, Artist

Dan Houser

Writer, Designer

Known for

18 games

Chris Roberts

Writer, Director, Producer

Ron Gilbert

Writer, Director, Producer

John Carmack

Director, Designer, Programmer

Known for

22 games

DOOM 3
260

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Celeste
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Versus

PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS
on PC, beautiful ... on Xbox, I expected something better, but I understand that it is still in beta version .. but you have to improve a lot the servers and graphics
«Blew my mind»
«Can’t stop playing»
«That Ending!»
There's no reason for this game to be as big as it is. It's repetitive, environments are boring and lack any kind of creativity or storytelling, the graphics look like cheap pre-packaged assets, it gets stale in the mid-game, it's glitchy and broken, and honestly: It really has nothing going for it aside from the Battle Royale concept, which gets old after two games at most. Just garbage.
«Buggy as hell»
«Waste of time»
«Boooring»
«Ugly as my life»
Assassin's Creed Unity are amazing game created by Ubisoft. This artwork will immerse you in the exciting world of revolutionary France. Playing for Arno Dorian you will join the brotherhood of Assassins. In Paris you are waiting for a lot of interesting content. Numerous stories with the requests of famous residents of Paris, the mysterious mysteries of Nostradamus, the investigation of crimes, and, of course, the towers! And don't forget abount co-op missions. The most important thing is a smart storyline that will not leave anyone indifferent. This game is a masterpiece, which I highly recommend to everyone who loves games.
«Blew my mind»
«Can’t stop playing»
«Time-tested»
«Liked before it became a hit»
«Sit Back and Relax»
«OST on repeat»