Category Archives: Gaming

94a2254803954802b0c3379ce1d8a8c0Enslaved: Odyssey to the West looks like a traditional action title – and, therefore, as deep as a puddle – but there’s more to this 2010 release than you might expect.

For starters, the plot is adapted from a Chinese 16th century novel called Journey to the West. The work was done by Alex Garland – the bloke who wrote The Beach. That’s a better starting point and a better writer than almost every videogame that’s ever existed.

The story doesn’t take place in dynastic China – instead, it’s set 150 years in the future. Most of earth’s population was wiped out in a war with angry robots, and the few survivors scratch a living in well-defended communities, fuelled by paranoia and survival instincts. The remaining robots roam the broken, overgrown remains of an increasingly unfamiliar world.

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The Gran Turismo series ushered me from Road Rash and V-Rally towards serious racing games, and I’ve always loved the franchise: its graphics, gameplay and depth have always been first-rate, I snorted up the gimmicky engine smell from GT2’s disc, and I marvelled at the leap from PS1 to PS2 when I spent hundreds of hours playing GT4.

I’m enjoying Gran Turismo 6. It has a stupendous 1,200 cars across hundreds of marques, and I love searching out odd motors for new events – a method in the spirit of the game, unlike the dozen cars GT6 recommends you use for each successive class of races.

Starting strongly

I love the cars on the track, too. I savour the kick and acceleration of a turbo, the rumble when I take a corner on the limit, the satisfying feel of nailing a section by balancing throttle, oversteer and everything else. I love feeling cars pitch forward when breaking downhill or leaning left or right thanks to neck-snapping G-force.

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PC hardware often isn’t glamourous, but it’s never been so important to know about the silicon that powers the latest PCs and consoles. Valve’s CES press conference revealed a horde of Steam Machines: PCs designed for the living room, built by third parties, coming with Valve’s SteamOS and controller as standard. The machines range in price from $499 to more than $6,000. UK pricing and availability will be announced in due course. Steam Machines make sense. By using Linux for SteamOS, Valve has more software control than it has with Windows – important when Microsoft is moving away from the PC and towards the touchscreen – and Valve also has a tight grip on the games allowed on the OS. Valve’s controller gives the firm more control and, crucially, an easier route to the sofa: it’s more familiar to console gamers, and more comfortable than the keyboard and mouse. Like all great…

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