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ISSUE 240

JUNE 2012 ›› COMPANY OF HEROES 2 ›› FIREFALL HANDS-ON ›› THE BEST LAPTOP GAMES ›› WEIRD FUTURE OF THE FPS ›› CRYSIS 3 ›› ASSASSIN’S CREED 3 ›› DARK SOULS COMES TO PC

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BLINDNESS! HOCKEY! SINGING TREES! Meet the weird

future of shooters

THE BEST NEW GAMES BORDERLANDS 2 DARK SOULS FAR CRY 3 DOTA 2 ASSASSIN’S CREED 3


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confirmedforPC. 12 » TheSpyAllfittoprint. 14 » FaceOffGettingthe perfectending. 16 » Incoming! 18 » SpecialReport ReportingonEVEFanfest. 20 » Assassin’sCreedIII 24 » GuildWars2 26 » FarCry3 28 » MechWarriorOnline 30 » Borderlands2 32 » Crysis3 34 » Dota2

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COMPANY OF HEROES 2

“It’s not about different. It’s about new, and about more.”

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Relic’sincrediblenewRTS.

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ASSASSIN’S CREEDIII

Ezio’sbeenshovedoffarooftoptomake Ezio’s been shoved off a rooftop to make roomforConnorKenwayinthisthird time-jumpfortheAssassin’sseries.How willtheoldformulaworkinanewworld of colonial towns and snowy wilderness? ofcolonialtownsandsnowywilderness?

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FIREFALL

FirefallisanMMOandan FPSatthesametime.That’sexciting enough,butthere’sabonus:jetpacks.We postedCraig200yearsintothefutureto playaroundinthegame’sskies,shooting bugsandsnafflingloot.


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THEFUTURE OFTHEFPS

TheFPShasn’tchangedmuchsince . Except on the PC, where Wolfenstein3D.ExceptonthePC,where aahostofbizarreandbrilliantfirst-person host of bizarre and brilliant first-person non-shooters predict an exciting future non-shooterspredictanexcitingfuture forthispedestrianperspective.

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BESTLAPTOP GAMES

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Graham’spropellerfallsoffin X-PlaneandTomletsthezombies wininAtomZombieSmasher. 134 » TOP10DOWNLOADS Anamazingfan-madeWing Commander,andjungleSkyrim. 138 » UPDATE PlayingMassEffect3’smultiplayer modeandforminganopinion. 140 » HOWTO Stepstotacticaldominationin strategiserFrozenSynapse. 142 » REINSTALL Thedifferencebetweengoodand evilinBeyondGood&Evil. JUNE 2012

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Connor brings Native American touches to the Assassins’ garb.

ASSASSIN’S CREED III

FIRST INFO A new setting and a new hero rekindle our old enthusiasm.

I

t’s fair to say that Ezio was getting old, both figuratively and literally. After the astonishing Assassin’s Creed II, which barely put a boot wrong barring its obtrusive DRM, we were subjected to two more spin-off titles that suffered from diminishing returns. Brotherhood was a charming but haphazard selection of juicy offcuts that didn’t make it into the full game; Revelations was the series running on fumes. Meanwhile, Ezio’s dreamboat features were beginning to sag and crease like a deflating party balloon. With Assassin’s Creed III there was concern that, given Ubisoft’s relentless sports-franchise-esque yearly schedule for the series, this would be a game knocked together in a few months with the same mechanics in a different hoodie. Ubisoft Montreal are quick to dismiss any concerns – this is the development READ ME A-team from Assassin’s PUBLISHER Creed II, who split off Ubisoft from the AC treadmill DEVELOPER after that game to work Ubisoft Montreal on the next numbered LINK www.ubi.com sequel. By the time it hits

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JUNE 2012

your hard drive, the game will have been the product of three years’ work, both in terms of content and technology. With the help of a new AnvilNext engine, the team’s stated intention is to do to ACII what that game did to ACI: expanding, enriching and improving every element. The other thing the numerals herald is a change of scenery and hero. It’s a reminder

“It’s a chance to dive into a period of history rarely touched by videogames” of why Assassin’s Creed originally captured so many imaginations: by giving us the chance to dive into a period of history rarely touched by videogames. In ACIII’s case it’s the American Revolution – the birth of a nation that remains, for the moment, the world’s biggest superpower. You’ll tread the streets and scale the buildings of British-occupied Boston and New York, which bustle with life compared with previous cities in the series, and

witness the Patriot forces massing and eventually overthrowing the ruling classes. This isn’t just going to be a jingoistic battle between good, honest Americans and stereotypically scheming Brits though. As in all the other games, your priority as an Assassin is going to be thwarting your centuries-old foes the Templars who are, rather inconveniently, present on both sides of the wider conflict. The primary antagonist appears to be Charles Lee, a grumpy chap with sideburns who was passed up in favour of George Washington for leadership of the Patriot army. If he isn’t a filthy, stinking Templar, I’ll eat my Union Jack boxer shorts. Washington himself will be a key ally throughout the story. He’ll eventually end up as the totemic figure in US history that we all know, but because ACIII is a return to the 30-odd-year ‘epic storytelling’ of the second game, you’ll watch him grow from ambitious general to fearless leader as the Revolution wears on. In keeping with the team’s commitment to historical accuracy, 80 per cent of the characters with speaking roles, and every one of the assassination


There will still be tall buildings to climb, like Boston’s Old State House.

George Washington will become a crucial ally.

The Redcoats roll deep when they’re playing hide and seek.

targets, will be actual historical figures. What’s more, with only some minor massaging for storytelling, any targets that get a belly full of wristblade will wheeze their last at the time and place that they actually died. This time around, it’s not just historical people and locations you’ll be colliding with during the storyline either: for the first time in the series, there’ll be wellknown events from the Revolutionary era that you’ll experience in game. One of the major ones is the 1776 Great Fire of New York, which will have a predictably noticeable effect on the city – apparently the team wanted to get away from the feeling that the locations were ‘trapped in amber’ over the course of the game. In ACIII, as the British occupation of Boston is pushed back it’ll have a genuinely visible effect on the complexion of the town – I wouldn’t be surprised by an invitation to a certain Tea Party either. After introducing ACII’s charismatic protagonist, there was no way ACIII’s hero was going to revert to the hooded cipher that was Altair. If anything, the new game’s

hero Connor is an even more interesting and conflicted character than Ezio was. For a start, Connor is his anglicised name; his Native American name is the wonderfully unpronounceable Ratohnhaké:ton, which is what he’ll be referred to as he grows up in the Mohawk village – as in ACII, you’ll follow Connor’s story from childhood, discovering that he’s

“Assassin’s Creed III is a return to the 30-oddyear ‘epic storytelling’ of the second game” the child of a Native American mother and a British father who grows up immersed in Mohawk culture. The impending revolution puts him in an interesting position – while he broadly supports the idea that the Patriots deserve to control their own fate, he’s also personally invested in the future of America’s original inhabitants, and in ensuring that they have some place in the new nation.

Connor’s heritage is infused with every element of his character, from his take on the recognisable Assassin’s white, hooded attire to how he moves, what weapons he uses and how he fights. Unlike Altair, who was driven by dutiful dedication to the cause, and Ezio, who was motivated by vengeance after the death of his family, most of Connor’s decisions are based on a clear sense of right and wrong. The catalyst for the action is the destruction of his village by colonialists early in the game. For this instalment, all of the animations shared by Ezio and Altair has been torn out and replaced so that Connor looks and plays like a new hero. He has a sort of relaxed slouch compared with the more rigid movements of his historical brethren – a posture that makes his brand of parkour seem, if anything, more natural and flowing than that seen in previous games. The same applies to combat: all of the animations are new, not just to accommodate a host of new armaments but also to give Connor distinctive moves that reflect his ancestry. All of the combat is now two-handed, allowing for both

JUNE 2012

21


Talk to the hand, because the face is part of an imperial regime.

The snow is definitely more than just a white texture.

“And you’re sure you’re a qualified dentist?”

tactical flexibility and varied combos. It’ll take some learning, but equally it will remove the repetition of counterattacks that was often the path of least resistance in the previous games. Naturally the wristblade is present, but the marquee weapon this time around is a fearsome looking tomahawk that has a blade shaped like the Assassins’ logo. You can also expect to use a hunting bow and arrows, a Chinese rope dart that can be used to string up enemies and, very occasionally, a rifle or pistols. Ubi Montreal are aware of the concern that the more recent the history, the more prevalent guns will be, but they point out that not only do the guns of this era barely shoot straight, but also, much like Batman, the Assassins are close-quarters specialists and largely disinterested in firearms. Your enemies aren’t quite as disciplined, mind you. Allow Redcoats to hang back at a distance and they’ll have time to line up a shot, meaning prioritising targets and approaching from tactical angles will be vital to your survival. Get it right and bringing a knife to a gun fight won’t be

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quite the disadvantage it first appears. There’s a very good reason for Connor receiving such a dramatic overhaul in terms of animation, and that’s the new environment that he’ll be fighting and free-running in. The Frontier is easily the feature that makes Assassin’s Creed III feel most distinct from its predecessors – a 2km square patch of densely decorated

“The wristblade is still present, but the marquee weapon is a fearsome tomahawk” wilderness, complete with smaller towns and settlements, including Lexington and Concord, to explore. Unlike the open, natural spaces in the previous games, you won’t feel that your Assassin is neutered by a lack of buildings to scrabble up. The thicker forest, natural rock formations and more detailed, varied foliage allows for parkour in a natural environment, where Connor can dance across the forest canopy, work his way up

an uneven cliffside or vault downed trees on the ground. The difference is dramatic. Encounter a patrol of Redcoats out in the wild and, rather than being forced to charge across an exposed field swinging a sword, which would be fatal against rifles, you can stalk them from the treetops, inching along branches in order to position yourself for an airborne kill. It’s not just humans you’ll be tracking out in the wilderness, though. The game features a hunting mechanic, with an associated commodities system and emphasis on clean kills. While it’s possible to just kill an animal with shot, the quality of the skin and meat you’ll earn will be diminished. Manage to park a nice tidy arrow in its lung, though, and you’ll reap more valuable items. The other natural obstacle you’ll have to contend with out in the frontier is the weather. In addition to a proper day and night cycle, there are seasons as the story progresses. Winters in the American north-east were homicidally harsh, so a light dusting of white wasn’t going to cut it. Instead snow arrives in huge drifts that will slow both Connor and


The Frontier is far from unoccupied, with regular Redcoat patrols.

Parkour has been masterfully transplanted to the natural world.

his enemies to a crawl. Learning to operate effectively in more difficult conditions will be an entirely fresh challenge. Much as people freezing rock-solid was a key part of the American Revolution’s history, it’s not necessarily the bit people remember from that chapter of the textbook. One of the challenges of tackling the era for Ubisoft was recreating the large-scale battles that wracked the country as British and Patriot forces clashed. While the previous engine boasted a not-unimpressive 400 NPCs on screen at once, that’s simply not enough to convince a player they’re witnessing the Battle of Bunker Hill. Fortunately the souped-up AnvilNext powerplant manages to chuck out 2,000 individual NPCs at any one time, perfectly capturing the vast swathes of line infantry spread out along the hills and valleys of the battlefield. This being an Assassin’s game, you won’t be sauntering into the fray yourself. You’re a precision instrument, not a blunt tool. Instead, in the sequence at the Battle of Moulton Hill, Connor is presented with two options to skirt around the heart of

The cleanliness of a kill is reflected in the quality of the hide you receive.

the battle and get to his quarry, John Pitcairn. Either negotiate a natural obstacle, in this case a cliffside, or take a more straightforward route that is more heavily guarded. Either way, the final charge reveals a small but pleasing detail. Even as he’s attacked by Pitcairn’s bodyguards, Connor is able to fend them off while maintaining his momentum as

“The more detailed and varied foliage allows for parkour in a natural environment” he sprints towards the target. There’s no break in his pace as he bounds towards his victim, wristblade armed – another example of the flowing nature of the new animation system. Of course, with all the excitement about Connor and the prospect of flitting in and out of key moments in the American Revolution, it’d be easy to forget that there’s another playable hero here as well. Desmond Miles has finally recovered from

the coma that kept his storyline in stasis during Revelations, and the team is promising big things for the Assassins’ reluctant recruit. According to Ubisoft Montreal, there’ll be more playable sequences that place you in Desmond’s sneakers than ever before and at least two ‘major plot points’ will be tied up. It’s worth pointing out that the Assassin’s Creed series’ overarching storyline has always been careening towards a pivotal, world-changing moment in December 2012, and the array of knowing chuckles and surreptitious grins when it’s mentioned suggests that the team fully intends to recognise that in this year’s release. Also hinted at but not revealed is the prospect of a revamp of the popular multiplayer that goes beyond just a setting change. What’s astonishing from this first glimpse of Assassin’s Creed III is that, even in spite of the vast amount of information that has been revealed, just talking to the team makes it transparently obvious that there’s still much more they’re itching to tell us. I can’t wait to hear it. Mike Channell

Release OCTOBER JUNE 2012

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The MechWarrior universe has its own, distinct visual style.

Camera sway reinforces the feeling that you’re inside the mech. The Hunchback’s weapons are suited to close-quarters fighting.

MECHWARRIOR ONLINE

FIRST LOOK Could modern tech make this the best mech game ever?

C

ryEngine 3 was the right choice. MechWarrior Online’s eponymous robomen lack any of that Vaseline sheen we associate with Unreal 3. And thank goodness: mechs aren’t meant to be glossy, pristine animethings: they’re hulks, and CryEngine renders them that way. Dirty, scarred, and sometimes armless. When you link a laser to a Hunchback’s torso, molten blemishes linger. Longrange missiles (LRMs) don’t fly like computer-guided arrows, they flood out like a cloud of crows. And when those missiles mash your torso, camera sway in the cockpit conveys whiplash, reinforcing that you’re a pilot, a person in an armoured box. The mech is not your body. Knockdown is dynamic: if you get pounded in the back with an autocannon, your READ ME mech may lurch PUBLISHER Infinite Games forwards. Get smacked Publishing again in the same spot, DEVELOPER and you may lose your Piranha Games footing completely. Heat LINK mwomercs.com modelling is high fidelity,

too: ambient temperatures of desert or ice worlds set the baseline for heat, and stepping into a body of water dissipates it with a cloud of steam, assuming you have heatsinks in your legs. There are a few mechanical omissions that bug me, however. Vehicular and melee combat are being skipped. Both are understandably complex, but I’m miffed

“CryEngine renders the mechs as they should be: dirty, scarred, and sometimes armless” that modding and map editing won’t be supported. Why not adopt Valve’s method for Team Fortress 2? Make use of the materials that would’ve been generated by an undoubtedly passionate community, sell them, and share the profits. One aspect of MWO’s persistent metagame that I love is Piranha’s decision to make the rollout of new content and in-game technology mirror the BattleTech canon timeline. For example, of the

confirmed mechs (Awesome, Catapult, Dragon, Commando, Centurion, Hunchback, Jenner, Atlas), none are Clan models. That’s because the Clan invasion kicks off in June 3050, which correlates with June 2013. Expect a big content expansion then, and hopefully some kind of massive in-game event to kick it off. If you’re still a free-to-play sceptic, be assured that MWO’s business model is doing nothing to undermine its technical quality. Multiplayer-only, MWO has its own visual style, is PC-exclusive, and it’ll support DirectX 11, joysticks, and thirdparty head-tracking device TrackIR. With MechWarrior, the developers are working with a fiction that’s more naturally suited to free-to-play than other game properties. Mechs are modular creatures by nature, and Piranha don’t have to shoehorn moneymaking into the design of the game itself. But so far, it’s mostly just reassuring that they aren’t forgetting the nuance and slow-but-tense act of resource management under pressure that being a mechwarrior means. Evan Lahti

Release SUMMER 28

JUNE 2012


JOIN OUR WORLD OF FRIENDLY FIRE Enlist with a company of heroes who always watch each others’ backs, except when it’s funnier not to.

GAMER DIARY

MAY

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THE PC GAMER STEAM COMMUNITY POPULATION 47,407 We’re getting closer to that long-awaited 50,000. Our philosophy is that games are best played with like-minded friends, and there’s no better place to find them than an internet group that you all joined because you read the same

Diablo III released The dungeon-crawling epic is here. Trade builds, tips and loot at pcgamer.com/forum.

29

magazine. That’s just science. The PC Gamer community is made up of chums ready to cooperate in, compete over or chat about the games you care about. Because, as we all know, piling into a badly-driven APC in Battlefield 3 is the PC gamer’s

equivalent of a summer picnic. Log on to pcgamer.com/forum to say hi, and check us out on Steam. Our doors are always open, because they’re internet doors that do not close.

HOSTED BY

Go outside maybe It’s probably a good idea to stop playing Diablo III at this point and get some sun.

JUNE

01

MINECRAFT IP83.222.240.186Port28265 WhileNotchblueprintshissuccessortothelegendaryElite,the gamethatmadehisnamestillholdsusinitsthrall.

TEAM FORTRESS 2 IP85.236.100.18Port27115 What’sthepointofwearingahatifyourfriendscan’tappreciate it?Exchangebulletsandstyletipsonourserver.

Max Payne 3 released Multiplayer with bullettime. Now you can dive into a wall with a friend!

05

E3 begins We’ll sort the wheat from the chaff like PC gaming wheat-sorters.

06

PCG 241 released Relax in the sun with our latest issue. It’ll probably rain, mind. In which case: umbrella!

74

LEFT 4 DEAD 2 IP85.236.100.18Port27615 Springisfinallyhere,butthatwon’tprotectyoufromtheinfected horde,asL4D2’sdaytimemapsdemonstrate.

1 HOW TO JOIN STEP If you don’t already have a Steam head to www. account, THE STEAM steampowered.com steampowered.com,, download COMMUNITY the client, run it and sign up. JUNE 2012

BATTLEFIELD 3 URLbit.ly/pcgbf3 DICE’scontinuedsupportforthegameisgraduallyeliminating theremainingissues,andmakingBF3theshooteritshouldbe.

STEP 2

Install your games from the Steam client. If you’re having technical problems, hit the forums at the Steam site.

STEP 3

In the community tab of the Steam client, search for PC Gamer and join our group. Then chat, play and troll to your heart’s content.


PLAYER OFTHEMONTH Who?Olgit Where?TheOldRepublic Why?Executingacoup againstRichandhanding controloftheguildto Murri.

Terran it up

PCG’s StarCraft II community wish you GL, HF

T

ake a moment to consider emerging as the ultimate victor. Each match-up was a two-outhow many Zerg, Protoss of-three affair, and of his eight and Terrans have lost games, Zealos lost only one. their lives in the second PC He returns to his hive Gamer StarCraft II with a treasure trove of tournament. Running FIGHT including Dungeon from the end of last year SOME games, Defenders and Total War: into the first few months FRIENDS Shogun II. We’ll see how of 2012, it pitched our far his fine unit control community’s finest against carries him when he’s faced with one another in a search for our 10,000 feudal Japanese militia. greatest SCII player. It’s over At least there’s a substantially now, Zerg commander Zealos

lower risk of siege tanks – unless he plays Fall of the Samurai. If you’d like to take part in the next tournament, register your interest at bit.ly/pcgstarcraft2. There are replays available of many of the matches in the official thread at bit.ly/pcgsc2tournament2. Forumite Red Leader Zala also took it upon himself to commentate on a few of the matches. Check out youtube.com/user/TvZan.

That’s probably not enough purple laser.

There. That’s better.

TAKE YOUR RIGHTFUL PLACE AT OUR SIDE Star Wars: The Old Republic has had time to mature now, and as players settle into the endgame our guild – the PC Gamer Mint Imperials – is keeping the flame alive with regular raid and player-vs-player groups. If you want the best gear for your class, a dedicated team is crucial – there’s no doing operations without them, and a bit of teamwork goes a long way in TOR’s objective-based warzones. One of our raid groups, the brilliantly

named Team Ootini, has now successfully tackled The Eternity Vault on Nightmare difficulty, even beating it under two hours to earn everyone involved the exclusive ‘Infernal’ title. It was touch and go, though: Ootini downed the last boss, Soa, with only a minute to spare on the clock. After the boss dropped, two of its summoned lightning balls were still alive – and rapidly closing in on the two remaining players, Bocephus and Ezekiel. After Bocephus sacrificed himself to free his

ally, Ezekiel was able to finish the encounter. Heroic work, chaps. Getting involved with the Mint Imperials – or their Republic sister guild, the Revel Alliance – is easy. Check out the game forums at bit.ly/ pcgswtor or look for Murri (Imperials) or Belimawr (Republic) in-game and ask to speak to an officer – they’ll be able to run you through the application process. If the Mint Imperials are full, be sure to ask about our alt guild, the PC Gamer Altoids.

Poor robot. He just wanted to be loved.

A fully armed and operational Sith disco.

The Soa boss fight requires careful platforming.

NOW PLAYING EVE Online Corp: PCG Enterprises Forum: bit.ly/pcgeve ■ Our corp’s excellent space-work continues apace post-fanfest, and we’re always looking for new pilots. Plenty of help for beginners is available both in-game and on the forums, and PCG Enterprises have started sponsoring frigate tournaments that let players of any skill level compete in PvP with basic ships and equipment. Winning one of these tournaments would net you enough ISK to last a long, long time – but you’re in for some stiff competition. Guild Wars Guild name: PC Gamer Guild Forum: bit.ly/ pcgguildwars ■ Falco Darkwind, the leader of our Guild Wars 1 guild, is planning to transfer the guild wholesale into the sequel. Your achievements in the original game will grant you an array of rewards in Guild Wars 2, including pets, weapons and armour. Getting involved with the PC Gamer community is a great way to get started, and applications are still open for officer positions in the new guild. Check out the Guild Wars 2 recruitment thread on the forums for more information. World of Warcraft Guild: PCG Server: Steamwheedle Cartel ■ Blizzard’s Scroll of Resurrection service allows you to invite lapsed friends back to the game, giving them free game time, a boost to level 80, and the ability to move a character over to your server. In return, you get a spectral mount based on your faction. The promotion ends in early June, so there’s still time to get back into WoW – and if you do, be sure to check out our guild forums at bit.ly/pcgwowguild.

JUNE 2012

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REVIEW

RUSE-TINTED

Make a Fulda Gap on your shelf for WARGAME: EUROPEAN ESCALATION. By Tim Stone

G

rowing up in the ’70s was a scary business. With the Cold War at its height, there was always a chance some idiot had started WWIII while you were walking home from school, or that Leonid Brezhnev’s eyebrows had become even more sinister. I still get shaky thinking about those formidable forehead ferrets, and had to quickly picture My Happy Place (Torquay) when they popped up unexpectedly in the campaign prologue to this ace RTS. Remember Ruse, the WWII wonder with the vast maps and the enthusiasm for misdirection? Eugen, its French fabricators, have proved it wasn’t a fluke by producing a sequel just as refined, just as fresh, and just as hard to tear yourself away from. The ’40s kit and stealth powers are gone. In their place, 300 Cold War land and air units and an emphasis on plausible low-level tactics that’s sure to tickle old OpFlashers, and Close Combatants. Wargame feels like a proper wargame, albeit one played

Need to know What is it?

A Cold War RTS with massive maps, heaps of units and a gratifying respect for realism.

Influenced by

RUSE, ’70s and ’80s what-ifs

Play it on

i5 CPU, 4GB RAM, 1GB 3D card

Alternatively Armored Brigade

Copy protection

Steam

at a slightly accelerated pace. To carve out victories in either the generous quartet of campaigns or the slick skirmish and multiplayer modes, you must utilise every shred of cover, scout like Baden-Powell, and make bally sure supply trucks aren’t savaged en-route to frontlines. The combat is stylised (tank repairs take seconds rather than days, for instance) but as you watch your Lynx choppers disgorging Green Jackets on the edge of some contested German hamlet, or your treeline-hugging Chieftains exchanging long-range AP fire with scurrying T-55s, the compromises don’t seem to matter much.

Fast forward

Just about the only strategy gamers that should be wary of Wargame are slowpokes and turtlers. As in Ruse, an energetic dynamic AI, a constantly bubbling reinforcement system, and a missing Pause button mean dithering in skirmish and MP modes isn’t wise. Just seized a new victory location? Picket it with flakpanzers

Newt versus antelope Wargame’s far-fetched food chain

“Those formidable forehead ferrets” 84

Hinds feed on leopards

Cheetahs feed on salamanders

Gazelles feed on otters

◆ Expect to pay £30 ◆ Release Out now ◆ Publisher Focus Home Interactive ◆ Developer Eugen Systems ◆ Multiplayer 2-8 players ◆ Link www.wargame-ee.com

JUNE 2012

and missile-toting infantry by all means, but don’t stop for a celebratory brew just yet. As someone who spends an unhealthy amount of time shepherding Shermans in Combat Mission and tending T-34s in Achtung Panzer, I particularly like the way Eugen sprinkle micromanagementfree uncertainty into their armour drama. Every so often a little red label pops up to tell you an AFV has bogged, thrown a track or decided to skedaddle to safety. Time and supply trucks automatically heal these setbacks, but the unpredictability prevents battles from turning into straight hit-point whittling contests. With its plethora of units, each with its own role and vulnerability, and its elegant embedded matchmaking, it’s little surprise Wargame has already spawned a lively and cut-throat MP scene. If you’re the sort of gamer whose chin starts to wobble when his entire army is wiped out by an early gunship rush, you might want to stick with solo play for few weeks. More linear than Red Square May Day parades, the campaigns redeem themselves with credible characterfree storytelling, solid mission design, and an engaging equipment unlock system. Victories earn command points that can be spent unlocking new units for coming engagements. At present I’m debating whether to activate the T-80 or the Havoc gunship. Whichever I choose, life is about to get Breszhnev-eyebrow hairy for those NATO dogs.

Eugen Systems put the ‘real’ back into RTS. The result is spacious, subtle, deeply satisfying tactical gaming.

84


Hardware has moved on from the Ruse days. Travelling by roads is rapid but risky.

A few formation options would have been nice. 2012: a good year for Hind-loving gamers.

This cobra might not slither but it does spit.

Helos serve as scouts, tank-killers, troop movers, and supply shifters.

No Opel Kadetts? So much for realism. VLs are seized with the help of vulnerable HQ vehicles.

There’s always plenty of room to flank and get flanked.

Tank movement in woods should be penalised more. One spin of the mouse wheel takes you from this...

...to this.

JUNE 2012

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Don’t miss out on these legends

The greatest games on PC GO TO WAR…

HAVE AN ADVENTURE…

SHOOT MEN…

SHOGUN 2: FALL OF THE SAMURAI

MASS EFFECT 3

BATTLEFIELD 3

ALSO Rayman Origins, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Skyrim, Fallout 3

ALSO Modern Warfare 3, Stalker: Call of Pripyat, Red Orchestra 2, Just Cause 2, Left 4 Dead 2

Gatling guns versus samurai swords: Fall of the Samurai is a culture clash, a technology clash, and a clash of lots and lots of angry men. Also warships. totalwar.com/shogun2 ALSO Dawn of War II, Supreme Commander 2, Company of Heroes, Unity of Command

For all the controversy over its last few minutes, the other 20 to 40 hours of Mass Effect 3 are stupendously good. A refined and spectacular space adventure that is both engrossing and fun. masseffect.com

GET SOMETHING FOR NOTHING…

LEAD A SECOND LIFE…

PLAY ON YOUR NETBOOK…

TRIBES: ASCEND

STAR WARS: THE OLD REPUBLIC

PLANTS VS ZOMBIES

If you haven’t stopped flinching at the phrase ‘free to play’ yet, Tribes is the game to cure you. A slick, smart and enduringly fun online shooter, even if you never pay a penny for an early unlock. tribesascend.com ALSO League of Legends, TrackMania Nations Forever, Spelunky, N

It’s the MMO that’s actually fun to play alone, thanks to a proper story arc for every class. They’re huge, and even when you do finish one, there are seven more. swtor.com

ALSO World of Warcraft, EVE Online, Lord of the Rings Online, DC Universe Online

NEW ENTRY

Designing a garden for optimal defence against the undead is one of gaming’s most unlikely pleasures. But when your frozen pea shooters slow them just before your melonpaults hit, it all makes sense. popcap.com/games/plants-vs-zombies/pc ALSO Monkey Island 2 SE, Peggle, Bookworm Adventures, World of Goo, Braid

NEW ENTRY

NEW ENTRY

PLAY SOMETHING INDIE…

FLY, DRIVE AND RIDE…

PWN SOME NOOBS…

REALLY BIG SKY

MICROSOFT FLIGHT

LEAGUE OF LEGENDS

Want to be destroyed by fire-breathing dinosaur skulls while someone who sounds like Mr Bean calls you a tit? Maybe not. But in this shoot-em-up, you can upgrade yourself when you die, making the next run easier. bossbaddie.co.uk/bigsky ALSO Limbo, VVVVVV, AudioSurf, SpaceChem, Super Meat Boy, Magicka

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As DICE patch it gradually into shape, Battlefield’s technical kinks have almost vanished and the wildly exciting shooter comes through. It’s huge, gorgeous, frantic and brutal. The best PC shooter right now. battlefield.com

JUNE 2012

The old hardcore sim has returned as a friendlier offering: free, and easier to play without a joystick, but still a nerdy thrill to fly. There’s just Hawaii so far, but there are uglier places to fly over. www.microsoft.com/games/flight

ALSO F1 2011, Silent Hunter 4, Race Driver Grid, DiRT 3, Burnout Paradise

The game that made the action RTS fun for an increasingly huge number of gamers. It’s also our office favourite, and the recent Dominion mode has made it easier to get into a quick, enjoyable match. leagueoflegends.com

ALSO Counter-Strike: Source, StarCraft II, Team Fortress 2, FIFA 12

PC Gamer  

A sample collection of articles from our June 2012 issue of PC Gamer.