Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Byte: Back in the saddle

I finished writing my first game review since June last night. It's really been a lean year in terms of PC games worth writing about, but at least now the release schedule is starting to pick up and there are a few things coming out that I'm interested in, which I'm actually being asked to look at.

The subject of my latest review (which should be going up on Videogamer in the next few days) is Space Siege. The reviews so far have been fair to middling, and I don't think I'll be rocking any boats if I say that my review isn't going to buck the trend. I knocked off the game (seeing both endings) in a couple of nights solid play, and I have to say, it's an odd little game. As you'd expect from a Chris Taylor game, it's got quite a few interesting ideas but, unusually, it really fails to deliver on them in just about every area. Maybe it's because the studio was giving all their development love to the Xbox 360 version of Supreme Commander and Demigod. That said, it's strange how a game so flawed can still be so playable. While not up the standards of a genre classic, despite all the niggling problems with the design and script, it doesn't fall apart into an incoherent mess. It's the gaming equivalent of an electric blanket. Mechanically comforting, reassuring and unchallenging - it's fun in itself, but not in any way that pushes any boundaries at all.

One thing a lot of reviewers have picked up on is the control set. I was really going to beat up on that too, until I went out and acquired a copy of Dungeon Siege (£5 in my local PC World) and found out that it's precisely the same, though if anything, in Space Siege the controls are even more streamlined. Since I expect that the vast majority of people who buy Space Siege will have played at least one of the Dungeon Siege games, they should know what to expect from the controls, so I didn't criticise it nearly as harshly as I'd originally planned to. Anyway, I won't say more here, because that would mean you didn't have to read the full review, and where's the point in that? I'll link to the review when it's up.

Next up on the reviewing front is the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. prequel, Clear Sky. The original was a game I really tried hard to like, but never quite got on with. A bit like Oblivion, I could see the potential and the appeal, but it never quite gelled properly with me. I await to see what the expansion is like with some interest. I needed an excuse to have another go at the game, anyway. Beyond that, there's Spore (which I doubt I will be reviewing - one of the Videogamer staff writers is no doubt playing it as I type) and the Enhanced Edition of The Witcher, which I definitely will be reviewing. It's been a long time coming, but I'm looking forward to getting my grubby little paws on it, even if there is a certain irony to the possibility that one of my favourite games from last year could also turn out to be one of my favourite games from this year. Or it could be a sad indictment of the state of the PC games market right now... Anyway, I'll post links to the pieces as and when they are done.
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