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ISSUE 86 / Vol.8 August 2016

www.gameccamag.com

Valentino Rossi: The Game Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness The banner Saga 2 and more...

Chaotic Good

Pathfinder Reviewed

Fantasy Master

Geekery in SA

Tough Guy!

New Beginning Mutant: Year Zero Reviewed

MSI’s Z170A MPower Gaming Titanium Motherboard

Hit the Road! Forza Horizon 3... bigger than ever!

Free Online Mag


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Gamecca Magazine is a monthly digital magazine that you can read online or download for free. You can also read Gamecca on our Facebook page...find it under the Issuu tab. All links in Gamecca Magazine can be clicked - even after you have downloaded it - as long as you are connected to the Internet. Gamecca Magazine has an associated website that offers access to all issues, easy competition entries, newsletter subscription, news and more. Gamecca Magazine uses the Issuu platform to publish. This means that Gamecca can easily be accessed on your smartphone or tablet, thanks to Issuu’s Android and iOS apps. Look for it in your app store. You can even find all of our back issues online, where they will be available forever.

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Bronze Award

Silver Award

Gold Award

Platinum Award

Ed’s Choice Award

Given to games & hardware that score 80-84

Given to games & hardware that score 85-90

Given to games & hardware that score 90-94

Given to games & hardware that score 95-100

Editor’s Choice Award for products that make an impression

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From the Editor

Expectations by Walt Pretorius

J

ust last month, right here in the Ed’s Note, I spoke about introducing new elements to our Lifestyle section. We added board games, Role-playing games (the table-top variety) and book reviews to the section, and the response to these new additions has been great – so much so that we decided to do a little more in this August 2016 issue. I also spoke about the fact that these new elements are not going to replace video gaming, which is the heart and soul of Gamecca Magazine. As luck would have it, the production cycle for this issue saw very few video game releases, so the increase in Lifestyle section articles and fewer video games on review has resulted in a larger than normal Lifestyle section, and a smaller than normal gaming section. Oh the irony. So here it is again, in case you didn’t believe me the first time around – video gaming will always be the main focus of Gamecca Magazine. Unfortunately, we are at the mercy of the video game industry and their often odd release schedules. This time of year is generally very quiet, but 2016 has been quieter than normal. With that said, the month of August is seeing the release of at least two potentially great games; Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, and No Man’s Sky. I am particularly keen on the latter, and I

am anxiously awaiting the delivery of our review copy as I write this. And I am avoiding reading about it online. No Man’s Sky has had more than enough controversy thrown at it. When it was delayed a few months ago, the developers received death threats (a practice which is not only extremely immature, but is totally abhorrent, yet is far too common in the industry). And more recently, an intrepid gamer who spent a fortune on an early release copy has claimed to have finished the game in a relatively short time, bringing into question whether the game is as vast as the developer claims. I try to ignore all of that. When reviewing, I try to have as clean a mental slate for any given game as possible. And then there’s the fact that, even after almost two decades of writing about games, they still excite me. Even when I have low expectations of a new title, I get a twinge of excitement when it arrives on my desk (or, more commonly these days, when the download code arrives in my mail box.) And so, despite the controversial goings-on around No Man’s Sky, I am looking forward to exploring the game. Right, enough of that… in this issue we have a great selection of things from across the spectrum of geekdom, and I am pretty sure you want to get to it. So, without further ado… welcome to Gamecca Magazine issue 86! g

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THIS MONTH’S COVER

Taking on the Outback in Forza Horizon 3

Publishing Editor Walt Pretorius

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Feature: Driving Forward Deus Ex - all about the narrative

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Previews: Games 11 Upcoming titles

walt@novamentis.co.za

Art Director Katia Taliadoros katia@novamentis.co.za

Writers: Alex Scanlon Clive Burmeister Lein Baart Nthato Morakabi Rob Edwards Sibonisile Motha Suvesh Arumugam Walt Pretorius

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Reviews: Games 5 Games investigated

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Regular: Indieview spending time with Nodzi

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Regular: Legacy The MMO Sensei

Letters: letters@gameccamag.com

Competition Entries: competitions@gameccamag.com

Newsletter Subscriptions: www.gameccamag.com

Marketing Contact:

Copyright Š Nova Mentis (Pty) Ltd 2009 - 2015

walt@novamentis.co.za

Taking fun seriously! All rights reserved. No content may be reproduced, copied or transmitted without the express permission of the publishers. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the editors and publishers. All Trademarks and Registered Trademarks are the sole property of the respective owners.

GAMECCA is published by Nova Mentis (Pty) Ltd

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Feature: Between 2 Wolrds Augmented reality & Augmented Virtuality

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reviews: Hardware 11 awesome bits of kit

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Gamecca Vol. 8 Issue 86 August 2016

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Regular: Internet Torrent abhorrent

Interview: Chaotic Good Talking the SA Geek Scene talk

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COOL STUFF: Board Games Test your tabletop skills

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COOL STUFF: RPGs Awesome adventures await

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COOL STUFF: Books Flex your brain muscle

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COOL STUFF: Comics Literature in pictures

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s e d’ c E oi h C

“The series has come along in leaps and bounds in a very short time and there is little reason to believe the third edition won’t continue this trend.”


Forza Horizon 3


FeatureS 10

Between 2 Worlds

HARDWARE Reviews 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30 32 34

Acer Aspire Switch 10 V Notebook Redragon Vara Gaming Keyboard Nacon GC-100XF Gaming Controller Razer Mamba Tournamen Edition Gaming Mouse Cooler Master MasterWatt Maker 1200 PSU Redragon Lagopasmutus Gaming Headset Redragon Mammoth Laser Gaming Mouse Thermaltake Illuminated Poseidon Z Mechanical Keyboard Asus ROG Swift PG27AQ Monitor Asus STRIX GeForce GTX 1070 Graphics Card MSI Z170A MPower Gaming Titanium Motherboard

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Augmented reality, augmented

There is a lot going on in the world right now. South African local government elections, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, terrorist bombings and assaults in Europe, and much more. The world TECHNOLOGY

is seemingly volatile these days, with so much going on that it is difficult to not stay glued to your cell-phone, taking it all in. 10

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Between Two Worlds

2WORLDS

d virtuality, and the HoloLens…

But that’s not why people are glued to their cell phones, at least not in other countries… and fairly soon here in South Africa. Amid all the violence, political turmoil and natural disasters, folks around the world are not letting their smart phones rest because they are trying to catch small fantasy creatures that secretly inhabit the real world. gamecca

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f you have missed hearing about the whole Pokémon Go craze, you are seriously living off of the grid. It has swept the world by storm, at least in countries where it is readily available, and has seen peaks of 25 million daily active users during the month of July. All around the world, people are heading out to find the elusive fantasy creatures and capture them, and even if there are reports saying that user numbers are slipping, there is still a huge number of people on the hunt for Pokémon in their neighbourhoods. This trend is not all that new, though – Niantic, the company that created and released Pokémon Go created other games before. Ingress, for example, was a game that got players to explore and capture points in their surroundings in a very similar fashion, although it was styled after warring secret societies, rather than cute Anime critters. It all comes down to one central concept: augmented reality. And while there is a lot of noise going on about virtual reality these days, augmented reality may prove to be a more accessible way to immerse player into video games. Augmented reality is defined by Wikipedia as “a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computergenerated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data”. We have seen it in gaming a fair number of times in the last few years, with Nintendo’s 3DS and Sony’s PlayStation Vita handheld consoles both having featured software that makes use of the concept. And device with a screen and a camera can do so, in fact, utilising the camera for capturing the environment while inserting computer generated content into the image – using an indirect view, via the device, of the real world. The concept goes beyond

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games, too, with organisations like NASA using augmented reality to guide pilots using displays, and heads up displays in fighter aircraft doing the same thing. In fact, numerous industries make use of augmented reality: from architecture to medical research and everything in between. Even those apps that allow the “application” of makeup to a user’s face are a form of augmented reality, and it forms a cornerstone of wearable computing concepts, too. But the real money-spinner is introducing the concept to consumers in the form of games, much like Niantic did with Pokémon Go. There is, of course, another major player investigating the idea of augmented reality: Microsoft. Initially called Project Baraboo, Microsoft’s HoloLens will be usable with PCs and Xbox consoles, adding a level of augmented reality to the games and other applications available for them. But Microsoft is taking things further than augmented reality with the HoloLens, additionally moving into a sphere called augmented virtuality (or mixed reality). The principle differences between augmented reality and augmented virtuality is really quite simple… In augmented reality, the computer places generated augmentations into a real world setting. In augmented virtuality, the computer places real world elements into a virtual reality setting. The term for combining both augmented reality and virtuality is mixed reality, and it is exactly what Microsoft are aiming for with the HoloLens. Naturally, how this idea is implemented depends wholly on the software that will be used with the HoloLens, and developers will undoubtedly be able to use varying degrees of both concepts to create the experience that they wish to. The experience that the HoloLens will offer will go beyond

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visual augmentation. In addition to the transparent combiner lenses that will project augments into the users field of view, the HoloLens also has a pair of binaural speakers that supplemen sound. They do not block out external noise, but rather add augmented reality sound objects to what the user can hear in their environment. Through various position measuring devices, these speakers will be able to simulate audial direction and distance as well. The sensor array built into the HoloLens is fairly extensive, consisting of an accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, “environment understanding” sensors, a depth camera, a photographic video camera, a microphone array and an ambient light sensor. These varied sensors will help the HoloLens better understand the environment that the player is in, and adjust augments accordingly. In addition the HoloLens will house a CPU and GPU, as well as a Holographi Processing Unit (HPU). The HPU will help the HoloLens with sensor data, spatial mapping, gesture recognition, voice recognition and speech recognition. The HoloLens is potentially an impressive piece of hardware, and while it will have a definite impact on gaming, its applications go far beyond, plumbing the depths of research, design, education and much more. So while most of the world is going about chasing Pokémon critters on their phones, and another large percentage is getting excited about losing themselves in a virtual space, Microsoft are (almost) quietly going about the business of working on a technology that may prove revolutionary to not only video gaming, but to the world at large. HoloLens’ myriad applications and advanced melding of the real and virtual worlds may just surprise everyone yet. g


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Acer

H C EW E T VI E R

Aspire All the positions

TECHNOLOGY

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cer’s range of Aspire Switch notebooks aren’t exactly gaming powerhouses. In fact, you’ll likely not do much gaming on them, save for the kind of stuff you can do online or via app downloads… you know, the kinds of things that don’t require high end graphics cards and tons of RAM to do anything with. So while they’re not incapable of playing games, in the strictest sense, we wouldn’t suggest that anyone wanting to do some serious gaming consider them for primary hardware. What they are great for, however, are as excellent portable PCs that double as tablets… businessmen, students and similar types can find great value in a device like the Acer Switch 10 V. And there are many businessmen, students and similar types who are also gamers. So if you’re looking for something portable that you

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can use as a surfing or work machine, the Switch 10 V can offer a lot. First off, its form factor means that it can be used in various configurations, from a standard notebook setup right through to a tablet. This is thanks to the screen, which can easily be detached from the keyboard, repositioned or even used on its own. The 10.1 inch screen is clear and well-constructed, with a strong metal casing and tough ABS finish. Under the hood the Switch 10 V runs a 1.44GHz CPU (which is a little on the light side, really) supported by 2GB of RAM. Storage is by way of a 32GB eMMC (basically a “poor-man’s SSD”) and a 500GB HDD. The specifications could, in all honesty, be a little higher, but the Switch 10 V is still a capable notebook within its scope of functions. Additionally, it has no optical drive, but that’s becoming less and less of a problem these days.

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Acer Aspire Switch 10 V Notebook

Notebook

by Walt Pretorius

AT A GLANCE: SUMMARY

TECH SPECS

As a highly portable workhorse, the Aspire Switch 10 V certainly gets the job done. Just don’t expect to game on it…

Ma nuf a c t ure r D i s t ri but e r: Onl i ne :

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• • • • • • •

1.44GHz CPU 2GB RAM 32GB eMMC 500GB HDD 10.1 inch screen USB 3.1 Type C

SCORE

Acer Acer w w w . a c e r. c o m

AWARDS

The upper (read tablet) part of the device offers numerous connection options. It has an HDMI port, multi-audio port, microSD port and a sim card port. It also offers a USB 3.1 type C port, which is great to see not only on a notebook, but essentially on a tablet. See, virtually everything is housed in this upper section, making the lower part little more than a connected keyboard with a standard USB port for good measure. Even the battery is housed in the Switch 10 V’s upper portion, providing ample power no matter which configuration is used. So no, you’re not going to be playing Battlefield 1 on the Switch 10 V. But that doesn’t change the fact that it is an extremely capable and handy device for those wanting a highly portable and versatile work machine. And while the spec may seem low to those who always deal with big numbers, it more than gets the job done. g

Platinum Gold Silver Bronze Ed’s Choice

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Redragon

H C EW E T VI E R

Vara

Minimalism at work

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TECHNOLOGY

inimalism is something of a trend these days. In Japan, for example, minimalist living is a growing phenomenon that sees people eschew lots of possessions in favour of a simpler life. But does minimalism have a place in the peripheral market? Would you rather have a simpler, sleeker device than one with tons of features and added extras? That’s something only you can decide, of course, but should you want it, there are tons of options out there for you. Minimalism is present in gaming devices, too, but whether they can truly be defined as “gaming” devices because of this is a fair argument. Gaming devices need to be modified for gaming requirements, and while performance and toughness are naturally things required by gamers, some do also want things like macro keys and even extra displays built into their keyboards. Those that want a minimalist keyboard, however, would do well to check out the Redragon Vara. This keyboard carries a “gaming” qualifier only on a few aspect: it has a function that disables the Windows key, it makes use of custom mechanical key switches, has variable backlighting and features a slid construction. Other than that, it is a “normal” keyboard. But the argument can be made that gamers survived for many years with “normal” keyboards, and that added extras like macro keys aren’t

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Gaming Keyboard

necessary for many types of gaming. Once again, it all comes down to how you play, and what your personal tastes are. The Vara is an extremely well built keyboard, with an aluminium and ABS construction that is pretty tough. It’s also fairly heavy as a result, but the heaviness gives a sense of solidity- that the Vara will stand up to even the most rigorous sessions. Oddly, the designers opted to leave off any form of “face plate”, meaning that almost the entire switch working is exposed for each key. It gives the Vara a rugged look, but a ridge around the outside of the keyboard could result in spills being caught on the face plate, rather than running off. However, the raised switches should be safe in the event of that kind of catastrophe. Speaking of which, the proprietary switches that the Vara uses are very good indeed. They actuate fairly early, and deliver a great tactile feel, along with a confident click as they do. The key caps are well contoured, with extra arrow markings on the WADS keys for easy visual identification. The backlighting, which has variable brightness and modes (although only one colour) is also very clear, and the lack of the face plate makes the whole affair look even meaner. Despite being a full keyboard, the Vara is also relatively small in build. It’s a great travelling keyboard, if you’re not after tons of extras. g gamecca86


NAME OF THE Redragon VaraPRODUCT Gaming Keyboard

SUMMARY It’s a striking keyboard, largely thanks to its minimalist design. And it’s tough as nails, too.

TECH SPECS • • • • • • •

4 ink cartridge system Wireless function Print, scan, copy Double sided printing ePrinting Web connected

M A NUFA CT UR E R Red r a g o n

DISTRIB UTOR Sy n tech

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w w w. sy n tech. c o. z a

Platinum Gold Silver Bronze Ed’s Choice

SCORE

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by Rob Edwards

AT A GLANCE:


100XF

Hands-on control

TECHNOLOGY

Nacon

H C EW E T VI E R

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It has two modes and is compatible with varied programming standards, making it a versatile and effective game pad.

AWARDS

AT A GLANCE:

SUMMARY

Platinum Gold Silver Bronze Ed’s Choice

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a universal non-slip coating. All the buttons and controls are well placed and easy to access, too, and the shoulder and trigger buttons are wonderfully shaped for comfort and ease of use. The GC-100XF features all the buttons one would expect from a modern game pad. It has two analog sticks, a D-Pad, four face buttons, two triggers, two shoulder buttons and Start and Back buttons, in addition to its mode and compatibility switching buttons. It doesn’t really offer any surprises here, because there are no extra buttons or controls to contend with. It also incorporates two vibration motors, because who doesn’t enjoy a controller buzzing and bumping in their hands? The argument can be made, of course, that one can simply resort to an Xbox style controller if you want a game pad for PC gaming, but the Nacon GC100XF has several elements to it that are really great. It’s extremely responsive, for one, and it sits in the user’s hand so comfortably that you almost forget that it is there. The nonslip finish feels fantastic in hand, and the buttons have a great tactile response to their action as well. And, of course, the varied modes and compatibilities make for a very versatile and capable game pad, which is really what you want. If you’re in the market for a game pad, you would be well advised to give the Nacom GC100XF a good, long look – it’s a stylish and effective device for those who want their controls away from the mouse and keyboard. g

SCORE

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Ma nuf a c t ure r: D i s t ri but e r: Onl i ne :

Na c o n A pe x I nt e ra c t i v e www.apexint.co.za

TECH SPECS • • • • • • • • •

9 buttons Analog / digital modes DirectInput8 compatible Xinput compatible Vibration

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by Alex Scanlon

hen you’re making use of a game pad to play PC games, there is always a chance of incompatibility. Some games don’t work with some controllers. It comes down to the input communication mode used when the game was designed. The two most popular ones are DirectInput8 and Xinput, and Canon’s GC100XF controller works with both. Thanks to a handy button between the D-Pad and right analog stick, the user can switch between these “languages” easily, ensuring a wide in-game compatibility for this device. Additionally, some games feel better with analog controls, while others are better with digital inputs. Once again, the GC-100XF has you covered, and switching between analog and digital modes is as easy as pressing a button located where the Xbox 360 controller’s home button would traditionally be placed. Which leads us to looks. The GC-100XF borrows unashamedly from the Xbox 360 controller, but that’s likely because it has to. Games that allow gamepad input will often reference button colours for face button input, so the GC-100XF follows the same red green, yellow and blue configuration you would find of a Microsoft game pad. It also uses a similar analog stick offset configuration. But that’s roughly where the similarities stop. The GC-100XF has a much better feel in-hand than the Xbox 360 controller, thanks to careful contouring and

Nacon GC-100XF Gaming Controller

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Razer

H C EW E T VI E R

Mamba Tourname It’s all in the wire…

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he debate is likely to carry on for a while – the whole question as to whether a wireless mouse can deliver the same performance as a wired mouse. A few years ago, the answer was a most resounding “no”, but as technology keeps forging ahead, strides in wireless technology mean that the stuttering and slow responses from wireless mouse devices are almost completely gone nowadays. A wireless mouse, now, is a far better bet than it was just a few years ago. But when you get down to the nuts and bolts of competitive gaming, a split second can make all the difference, and the truth is that when using a wireless device, there is still that tiny, almost infinitesimal lag as the mouse sends a signal to the receiver, which then has to send a signal to the PC via a wired connection. Removing that step, as slight as the delay

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may be, removes the delay. While wireless technology is convenient and has come a long way – long enough to serve most gamers perfectly – the wired mouse is still superior in response time for those who need to make milliseconds count. Razer know this extremely well. It is why, for example, their Wildcat Xbox One controller, designed specifically for competition, is wired. It is also why they have a wired version of their flagship mouse; it comes in the form of the Mamba Tournament Edition. And as the name implies, it is intended to give the edge to competitive gamers. For all intents and purposes, the Tournament Edition is identical at a “normal” Mamba, save for the generous, light weight 2.1m braided cable that is attached to it. It features the same 16 000 dpi sensor, the same nine programmable button and the same Chroma functionalities. It’s shape is identical to its wireless

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Razer Mamba Tournamen Edition Gaming Mouse

men Edition

Gaming Mouse

by Walt Pretorius

AT A GLANCE: SUMMARY

TECH SPECS

The Tournament Edition is virtually identical to the wireless Mamba, but it is fractionally more responsive… which makes a difference in competition. Ma nuf a c t ure r D i s t ri but e r: Onl i ne :

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16 000 dpi sensor 9 buttons 2.1m cable Chroma enabled 1000Hz ultrapolling Synapse enabled

SCORE

Razer A pe x I nt e ra c t i v e w w w . a pe xi nt . c o . z a

AWARDS

brother, too, but it is a little lighter thanks to not needing an internal, rechargeable battery. It also has the same textured rubber side grips and non-slip scroll wheel. If you were to put your hand on either device while blindfolded, you would be hard-pressed to tell the difference. The real difference here is extremely slight – but it can be noticed if you’re looking for it. And that is the performance. It’s fractionally faster than a wireless Mamba, but, once again, those tiny fractions are what counts when it comes to competitive gaming. Additionally, it doesn’t suffer from the “I forgot to recharge my mouse” blues that sometimes get in the way for those using the wireless version – it’s always on, and always ready for action. If you’re not playing competitively, then it comes down to a matter of taste. But those who want an edge may well find one in the Mamba Tournament Edition. g

Platinum Gold Silver Bronze Ed’s Choice

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TECHNOLOGY

Cooler Master

H C EW E T VI E R

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MasterWatt Take Control

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lmost everyone like fiddling with and adjusting their PC and its components, making it truly theirs. Cooler Master gets this and, as a result, has released a number of products with the “maker” concept deeply embedded in them – like the awesome MasterCase products. But how exactly do you make a power supply that can be customised? For Cooler Master, the answer comes in the form of the MasterWatt Maker 1200 PSU. This truly exceptional power supply is going to cost anyone who wants it quite a lot of cash, but it is a power supply quite like any that have come before – and it’s worth every cent. The secret weapon in the MasterWatt’s arsenal is an associated app that can be downloaded for Android and iOS smart devices. Using this app, the user can not only get full monitoring of the power supply’s performance, but can also adjust it with preset and custom operation modes. These modes really only affect the fan operation, to be honest, but even that makes for quite a difference in terms of noise and efficiency, and having an easy view of the PSU performance means that anyone can rest assured – from casual users who want to know that their system is stable through to powerusers who want to push the limits. With an 80 Plus Titanium

rating, the MasterWatt Maker 1200 delivers a 94% efficiency, which means that not only is it delivering clean, clear power to connected components, but it is also doing so with a greater degree of energy efficiency. Further customisation comes from the fact that this PSU is fully modular. That’s not a new thing by any stretch, but Cooler Master have made use of flat cables that not only help improve air flow, but are really easy to manage and route through all those hidden nooks and crannies in your PC case. The best results are going to come about when used with a MasterCase, of course, but this PSU and its clever cable design will work well pretty much anywhere. It really is an exceptional unit, tying in beautifully with the entire forwardthinking (almost revolutionary) Master series of components. But there is the question of its rather heavy price point. The fact is, here, that this is a PSU that comes with a lengthy warranty, and goes beyond reliability in system protection. Yes, it costs a lot of money, but particularly for those that want to have tight control over their PC system, it makes a lot of sense. It certainly won’t appeal to everyone, but those who take the plunge will wonder how they ever lived without a controllable PSU before. g gamecca86


NAME OF Cooler Master THE PRODUCT MasterWatt Maker 1200 PSU

PSU

SUMMARY It has a hefty price point, but the added efficiency and control that this PSU delivers is well worth it. TECH SPECS • • • • • • •

120W PSU 94% efficiency Modular Flat cables Companion app Preset modes

M A NUFA CT UR E R C o o l er M a ster

DISTRIB UTOR C o o l er M a ster

AWARDS

w w w. co o l er m a s t e r. c o m

Platinum Gold Silver Bronze Ed’s Choice

SCORE

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by Rob Edwards

AT A GLANCE:


Lagopasmutu The earful that’s a mouthful

TECHNOLOGY

Redragon

H C EW E T VI E R

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Redragon Lagopasmutus Gaming Headset

us

Gaming Headset

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by Walt Pretorius

AT A GLANCE: SUMMARY

TECH SPECS • • • • • • •

It’s not a revolutionary headset, but it does what it is supposed to do – deliver audio – really well.

Ma nuf a c t ure r: D i s t ri but e r: Onl i ne :

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40mm drivers Integrated mic 3.55 jack USB plug Stereo Independent volume controls

SCORE

R e dra go n S ynt e c h w w w . s ynt e c h. c o . z a

AWARDS

uch like any peripheral component on the market, headphones come in a vast number of shapes and sizes. Picking the right set can be tricky, but there is one clear definer for headsets that must always be taken into consideration: audio quality. And that’s one place where Redragon’s strangely names Lagopasmutus headset comes up trumps. It might not have a name that you can say after a beer or two, but it certainly has great audio. Its 40mm drivers are trimmed for a great deliver across the whole audio spectrum, from deep, pulsing basses right through to crisp high notes. With that said, there are a few things about the Lagopasmutus that are strange. The most noticeable is its microphone. Rather than using a positionable boom mic, like virtually every other headset out there, the Lagopasmutus makes use of a small, fixed position microphone built into the left ear cup. It looks, really, like a small addition to the ear cup, rather than a microphone. There are advantages and disadvantages to this design. On the good side, it doesn’t ever get in the way, not while gaming or taking the headset off. On the down side, it is where it is – if you need to get your microphone into a better position for clearer chat, you’re out of luck. Also, muting the mic comes in the form of turning down the chat volume, as the Lagopasmutus has no mic mute button. So don’t go insulting other players unless you want them to hear you. Another strange decision is that the Lagopasmutus has a 3.5mm jack for audio, a 3.5mm jack for the mic, and a USB plug for – apparently – its lighting. The lighting can be turned off, so the USB jack doesn’t have to be plugged in… but surely just a USB plug could have taken care of the audio as well? Sure, it adds a degree of versatility to the Lagopasmutus, making it compatible with any audio device that uses a 3.5mm jack, but there are separate jacks for incoming and outgoing audio, which is a pretty anachronistic approach. With all of that said, we keep coming back to the great audio quality. That is combined with a good level of comfort, provided by generously padded over-ear cups and a suspension style padded headband that means you won’t have to fiddle very much to find a great fit. The left ear-cup also houses volume controls, as well as a switch to turn the Lagopasmutus’ lighting on or off. The Lagopasmutus is not a revolutionary headset, and it features a few oddities that may dissuade some users. But it is comfortable, and makes beautiful noises – which can be very loud, if that’s your thing. g

Platinum Gold Silver Bronze Ed’s Choice

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Redragon

H C EW E T VI E R

Mammoth A surprising new entrant

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TECHNOLOGY

he mouse market is a really full one these days, with a lot of manufacturers producing mouse products of all shapes and sizes. It has become almost impossible to do comparative reviewing (saying Mouse X is the best because it is better than Mouse Y) because there are so many variants, and so many categories. So, instead, one has to look at standards of mouse classes instead, and try and compare in that way. And with this in mind, Redragon’s Mammoth is actually a pretty decent device – even if the name may be new to you. The Mammoth represents Redragon’s top of the line for mouse devices, and it has some pretty great features. First off, it runs a sensor capable of 16 400 dpi, making it one of the most sensitive gaming input devices on the market. It comes with five preset sensitivity levels which can be changed on the fly, and offers a 1 000Hz polling rate. In other words, in terms of sensitivity, this is a great laser mouse that works well on a variety of surfaces. The Mammoth also features 9 programmable buttons, with three on the side, and one on the outside of the left mouse button. It’s a nice number, and all of the buttons are easily accessible and sized generously enough to avoid incorrect inputs. It also has a button on the underside for switching

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between the five profiles that the Mammoth stores on-board, which is pretty handy. It’s a bit of a pain for quick switching, but it won’t have you accidentally switching profiles either, thanks to its position. The Mammoth uses a good length braided cable for connection, which carries the red accent seen throughout the device’s aesthetic. It’s a fairly large mouse, but is very comfortable under the hand, due to a great width and a non-slip coating. And it’s surprisingly light, even when all of the eight 2.4g weights included with it are used in the easy-to-access weight adjustment chamber. Aside from weight, lighting can also be customised, with modes available for each profile (helping with easy identification). With striking looks, good components and excellent performance – not to mention superb sensitivity - the Mammoth really has everything going for it. Its biggest obstacle is, quite honestly, one of brand recognition. There are a great many mouse products out there, many with more recongiseable names, but those taking a chance on the Mammoth won’t be disappointed. In a market so flooded with competing products, the Redragon Mammoth with have to prove its worth, which it is more than capable of doing; this is a really good mouse for those who want a corded performer with lots of button options. g


Redragon Mammoth Laser Gaming Mouse

Gaming Mouse

SUMMARY You may not recognise the name, but the Redragon Mammoth will certainly stand toe-totoe with competitors. TECH SPECS • • • • • • •

16 400 dpi 1000Hz ultrapolling 9 buttons 5 profiles Weight adjustable Customisable lighting

M A NUFA CT UR E R Red r a g o n

DISTRIB UTOR Sy n tech

AWARDS

w w w. sy n tech. c o. z a

Platinum Gold Silver Bronze Ed’s Choice

SCORE

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by Alex Scanlon

AT A GLANCE:


Thermaltake

H C EW E T VI E R

Illuminated A good starting point

TECHNOLOGY

K

eyboards are a tricky thing, really. There are more than a few factors that come into play when selecting one, like whether to go with a mechanical keyboard – which is arguably better for gaming – or whether you need all those price-increasing bells and whistles. But if you’re new to gaming, or want a no-nonsense keyboard that does the job effectively without cluttering the whole affair with tons of extra features that you may not need, a device like Thermaltake’s Ttesports Illuminated Poseidon Z mechanical keyboard is a fairly decent bet. This is considered an entry-level keyboard, yet it features an extremely durable construction that managed to be compact as well, making it a great choice for those who want reliability served with a side-order of toughness. The Poseidon Z also makes use proprietary switches, created by Ttesports, which carry a five year warranty and promise an earlier actuation than industry

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standard switches. That means that the keyboard is a bit more responsive than others, requiring a slightly smaller movement of the key to get a response. The keys are also feature backlighting, with four levels of brightness that can be adjusted from the keyboard itself. There are no adjustments on colour or lighting patterns available, but the backlighting does provide clear key indications in pretty much all lighting conditions. Lastly, the keys offer N-key rollover support, which helps minimise ghosting and incorrect control inputs resulting from multiple key presses. That is more or less it for features. The packaging does note that the keyboard offers multimedia controls and a gaming mode key (which, by the way, is marked with a strange symbol that doesn’t really indicate its function) but let’s be honest these are hardly special features in this day and age. It seems that the definition of a gaming keyboard has

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Mechanical Keyboard

Thermaltake Illuminated Poseidon Z Mechanical Keyboard

Z

by Rob Edwards

AT A GLANCE: SUMMARY

TECH SPECS

It really doesn’t offer any real gaming features, but it is a decent, tough and reliable keyboard.

Ma nuf a c t ure r D i s t ri but e r: Onl i ne :

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• • • • • • •

Backlighting Adjustable brightness N-key rollover Gaming mode Multimedia keys

SCORE

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changed somewhat, at least at a manufacturer level. These days, any keyboard that makes use of mechanical switches and offers some kind of backlighting – and possibly a gaming mode – is considered a gaming keyboard. Whether gamers agree or not is arguable; a device like the Poseidon Z is perfectly serviceable for gaming, but so are many others that aren’t given the “gaming” classification. It really doesn’t offer much to make it stand out as a keyboard specifically designed for gaming – in that case, one would expect some macro keys, at the very least. With gaming being as popular as it is, the practice of marking something as gamingfocussed when, in fact, it really is more middle-of-the-road is becoming more and more common, and it is fairly misleading – a marketing ploy, really, to draw consumers in. With that said, the Poseidon Z is perfectly good for gaming. It might not offer the special features that it should to earn the classification, but it does offer good key response and is a well built and durable device. g

Platinum Gold Silver Bronze Ed’s Choice

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Asus

H C EW E T VI E R

TECHNOLOGY

At any angle

Swift PG

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Monitor

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A great monitor in the 27 inch wide screen space, complete with 4K resolution and many gamer-centric features.

AWARDS

AT A GLANCE:

SUMMARY

Platinum Gold Silver Bronze Ed’s Choice

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without removing it from its stand. This feature ties in to the fact that it has an ultrathin, 6mm bezel, which means that it is great for multi-screen set-ups. The Swift PG27AQ accepts DisplayPort and HDMI inputs, and also features an earphone jack and two USB 3.0 ports – meant for charging of smart devices while playing. It also has built-in 2 Watt speakers, for those who don’t want to keep their audio private and are using HDMI. To ensure great colour and avoid visual aberrations like screen tears, various systems – like IPS panel technology and NVidia G-Sync have been included. The monitor is also pretty to look at, with a great look and feel that minimises extraneous elements and lets the user’s attention fall on the panel. All the controls are sensibly mounted on the lower right of the device, at the back so as not to create extra visual clutter. It also features a smart venting system to keep the monitor cool during marathon gaming sessions. )n the whole, this really is a winner. Although it doesn’t enter into the curved category – which is the current flavour of the month for displays – it manages to produce great visuals, as long as you have the hardware to support its 4K resolution. This is a good looking and reliable monitor. g

SCORE

90

Ma nuf a c t ure r: D i s t ri but e r: Onl i ne :

A s us A s us w w w . a s us . c o m

TECH SPECS • • • • • • • • •

27 inch wide screen 3840 x 2160 resolution NVidia G-Sync Low blue light Flicker free GamePlus technology

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by Walt Pretorius

f you’re after a big monitor that isn’t curved (because some folks are still getting used to the idea of a curved display) then Asus has a great solution in the form of the ROG Swift PG27AQ. And if you’re a gamer, this monitor, thanks to its Republic of Gamers branding, is pretty much exactly what you would want – if you’re looking at the 27 inch wide screen 4K space. As a 4K monitor, it delivers a resolution of 3840 x 2160, which is pretty massive if you’re used to HD. Naturally you’ll need a graphics card that can handle that kind of output, but adding a monitor like this to a visuals overhaul (if, for example, you’re getting one of the latest generation graphics cards) is a pretty good idea, because the impact of the clearer resolution is massive. Another inclusion for gamers comes in the form of GamePlus Technology, which allows overlays of timers, frame rate counters and crosshairs on the screen. Also, six preset modes for various game genres (and other applications) should see the player getting the best visuals that the Swift PG27AQ can deliver. Comfort comes by way of numerous low blue light and flicker-free systems, as well as the fact that this monitor is highly positionable. It features a wide degree of tile and height setting, and can even be flipped 90 degrees (into a “portrait” configuration)

Asus ROG Swift PG27AQ Monitor

G27AQ


Asus

H C EW E T VI E R

STRIX

Graphics: the Next Generation…

T

TECHNOLOGY

he new generation of graphics cards is here and, although the price point is enough to make any cash-strapped gamer weep quietly in a corner, it’s very impressive to see in action. The visual demands of PC gaming have risen steeply over the last few years, but the introduction of two technologies – 4K resolutions and Virtual Reality – have meant that that rise has literally made a near vertical leap upwards. And so more demanding graphics need more powerful graphics processors. NVidia’s 1000 series of cards tips the scales heavily when it comes to price, but also in terms of performance. With AMD yet to wow us with their new chipsets, NVidia has taken an early lead in this generation with chipsets like the GTX 1070, which Asus have built beautifully into the STRIX GeForce GTX 1070 graphics card. The combination of NVidia’s new power house GPU and Asus’ long legacy of creating great graphics cards meld into a device that is really rather awesome. The STRIX delivers in spades. With a maximum digital resolution of 7680 x 4320, it more than meets the needs of a 4K keen user. And then there’s the full compatibility with VR headsets, backed by the powerful chipset and a generous 8GB of GDDR5 RAM. All in all, it’s a very powerful product. The added extras, though, are what make the STRIX stand out. And while there are some that are more flashy than functional (like customisable RGB lighting) there are many more that make a lot of sense. Take, for example, the fact that the STRIX includes GPU-controlled headers to connect system fans to, moving temperature regulation away from the CPU and directly to the GPU, which runs hotter than the CPU more often than not. Or the Direct-CU III technology, which places heat pipes in direct contact with the GPU, allowing heat to be carried to the STRIX large heat sinks extremely effectively. Or even the redesigned fan blades used on the cards three cooling fans, which increase air pressure at the edge of the blades for even more air-flow and more silent operation. There are many more features: easy overclocking with Tweak II, screen shot capturing and gameplay streaming, and a whole lot more. When you bundle it all together, this STRIX GeForce GTX 1070 becomes a very attractive card indeed, even at a price point that is pretty much bankbreaking. It is early days for the 1000 generation of GPUs, and we will undoubtedly see a lot more from Asus (and their competitors) as the generation matures. We may even (hopefully) see better prices. But for now, right out of the gate, this particular card is a great offering, with tons of power and the expected Asus reliability.g

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Asus STRIX GeForce GTX 1070 Graphics Card

GTX 1070

Graphics Card

Although very pricey, this card is second only to its bigger brother, and performs beautifully.

AWARDS

AT A GLANCE:

by Rob Edwards

SUMMARY

Platinum Gold Silver Bronze Ed’s Choice

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SCORE

95

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A s us A s us w w w . a s us . c o m

TECH SPECS • • • • • • • • •

GTX 1070 chipset 8GB GDDR5 RAM DisplayPort HDMI port DVI port Tweak II technology

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MSI

H C EW E T VI E R

Z170A MPower Ga

TECHNOLOGY

The top of the pile

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Motherboard

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by Walt Pretorius

AT A GLANCE: SUMMARY

TECH SPECS • • • • • • •

With distinctive looks, excellent performance and a host of great features, this is an awesome choice for power users. Ma nuf a c t ure r D i s t ri but e r: Onl i ne :

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Z170 chipset DDR4 RAM compatible USB 3.1 Gen 2 Audio Boost 3 Gaming LAN VR ready

SCORE

MS I T V R Co mput e rs w w w . t v r. c o . z a

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he latest generation of motherboards has really seen some interesting results, thanks to a confluence of new technologies all appearing within a very short time span. The combination of Skylake processors, DDR4 RAM, VR and ungraded USB 3.1 performance means that upgrading a system to take advantage of everything really starts at the PC case and moves on from there. MSI have produced numerous motherboards that don’t only take advantage of these new technologies rather nicely, but even include new ideas for their product lineup that make things even better. And near the top of their offering pile is the Z170A MPower Gaming Titanium motherboard. This distinctive, matt-silver motherboard has numerous features that make it a powerful performer, and others that are just plain sensible. That sensibility comes largely into a tougher design, created to avoid long term damage. The three principle components in this approach are an I/O port over, metal reinforced PCIe ports (which help prevent damage from increasingly larger graphics cards) and a strong back plate that prevents warping of the motherboard over time. Other ports, like the Turbo M.2 pot designed for faster SSD performance, also have metal armour. The Titanium isn’t just about toughness, of course – speedy performance is also something that the motherboard offers. Proprietary technology built into it ensures that certain components work a little harder to get the end user crisper performance. These include boosted DDR4 RAM performance, as well as a better transfer rate from SSD drives. These two alone make a noticeable difference in overall system speed, but adding things like improved LAN performance (particularly for gaming traffic) and optimised performance for graphics in PCIe slots all add up to making this motherboard a very quick backbone. Connectivity is also given a boost through the inclusion of USB 3.1 Gen 1 and Gen 2 ports, with front side connectors for Gen 1 ports also available (although finding a case that supports them may be tricky). Numerous other technologies have been included to ensure that the Titanium delivers great audio, is VR ready and much more. The work put into this motherboard shows in testing, and there is little doubt that anyone who invests in it (because it isn’t the cheapest motherboard around) will likely be happy with not only its performance, but also the ease of overclocking, customisable lighting and large number of I/O ports. MSI have demonstrated a keen sense of understanding the needs of gamers with the Z170A MPower Gaming Titanium motherboard. This is a board that has the right kind of balance when it comes to special features, with nothing feeling particularly padded or tacked on. It’s a great performer, and a motherboard that will serve power users extremely well. g

MSI Z170A MPower Gaming Titanium Motherboard

aming Titanium

Platinum Gold Silver Bronze Ed’s Choice

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Torrent Abhorrent TECHNOLOGY

Boundaries unlimited?

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mgeect 2 c4a 8 6 ggl a ad


by Suvesh Arumugam

Torrent Abhorrent

T

here is a ton of news floating around the internet, and most of it is either about any one of the three Trump speeches at the Republican National Convention (Melania, Ivanka and The Donald have all been accused of plagiarism), the devastating acts of Terrorism in Nice and now in Kabul (over 80 people were killed in the worst ISIS attack to date) or one of several thousands of posts, articles ad blogs about the runaway success that is Pokémon Go. I was tempted to write something about the augmented reality game (which has seen me walk more in the last two weeks that I have in the last two years), as well as spending time hunting small cartoon creatures all over my neighbourhood and office. But another event has been far more interesting, and it will affect the world in a much more significant way (or it won’t, which is also significant in its own way). A 30 year old man named Artem Vaulin, of Kharkiv, Ukraine, was arrested in Poland on charges relating to over $1 billion dollars of criminal damages. Vaulin is estimated to have personally pocketed tens of millions of dollars for his efforts. Vaulin joins the ranks of Peter Sunde, Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm, Carl Lundström and Kim Schmitz as an elite member of a notorious internet outlaw circle. If you haven’t pieced it together yet, I’m talking about the kings of internet piracy. Kim Schmitz (a.k.a Kim Dotcom) was the owner of MegaUpload, one of the biggest hosts of illegally shared copyrighted content (like movies, music, software, books, etc) which was prominently taken down in a joint operation between The United States Justice Department and Hong Kong authorities. Sunde, Neij, Svartholm and Lundström are the owners of the notorious Pirate Bay, which has been the subject of many lawsuits, criminal

and civil complaints, yet somehow still manages to survive thanks to legal technicalities and gaps in international laws relating to online piracy. Vaulin is the alleged owner of the Kickass Torrents (or KAT as it’s known to many of its users). KAT is the 69th most visited site on the internet, with over 50 million unique visits per month. If found guilty, Vaulin could face 5 years per count of criminal copyright infringement or conspiracy to commit copyright infringement. He could also face an additional 20 years for fraud and money laundering, relating to estimated $17 million dollars per year in ad revenue that he pocketed. The real irony is that Vaulin was caught through making a legal online purchase. Vaulin bought content on iTunes, using the same email address that was used to access KAT’s official Facebook page. Along with other supporting financial evidence, this was enough for authorities to act and take him into custody. Vaulin’s arrest shows an increasing vigilance and willingness to prosecute copyright offenders by various law enforcement agencies around the world, especially the US who are most often involved in joint international operations. While many sites have used international hosts with less strong affiliations with the Berne Convention (an international copyright agreement whose member countries co-operate to protect the rights of copyright holders) who are less likely to prosecute, and therefore makes it difficult to bring action against offenders or allow extradition to countries that will. However, there does seem to be a legal technicality, specifically around the actual hosting of content. In 2012, when MegaUpload was shut down, users of that service were able to upload a file onto their services, and a unique link was created which allowed other users to download the content directly from their servers. KAT is different in that the content is never hosted by their servers, they share links, and (using Peer to

... “5 years per count of criminal copyright infringement or conspiracy to commit copyright infringement”...

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Peer file sharing technology) they direct users to the content they are looking for. So in the strictest sense, they have never hosted or directly distributed any copyrighted content. The general rule of copyright is that a copyrighted work may not be copied from one format to another, or to the same format, without a licence being granted and a royalty being paid. That means that owning a legal copy of a piece of content gives the holder no right to copy or duplicate that content. This would certainly apply to content that is transferred from say a movie screen onto a digital camera, or a live performance that is captured on video, or copying the latest hit song from one smartphone to another. Technically speaking, someone is meant to get paid when these things happens, and content creators and their associations

What are the general rules of copywrite laws?

TECHNOLOGY

(like the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America) estimate the billions of dollars are lost every year due to copyright infringement by consumers. With Peer to Peer file sharing, a consumer hosts the file on their own personal computer, which is called the seeder. He then shares a link (with the assistance of the file sharing site) which anyone can use to directly download the file from his computer to theirs. The person downloading the file is called a leecher. The more people who download the file, the more widely available it becomes as more people seed the file all over the world. So torrent sites like KAT and The Pirate Bay maintain that since they don’t actually have the content, they are not the guilty parties. So that just leaves the consumers. Technically speaking, the copyrighted content exists on a seeder’s (uploader’s) hard drive and copied directly to the leecher’s (downloader’s) hard drive. “We’re just linking information” is what Vaulin’s lawyer claims. Charging advertisers a fair penny to ply their wares at the

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intersection of those links is just a way to keep the whole thing going (and then some). Torrent users will be asking themselves how this will affect future cases and investigations, and at what stage will authorities begin to target consumers directly? There have been some isolated cases, but in general torrent users have little fear to in terms of being targeted by the law. Although the infringements are real and definitely prosecutable, the sheer volume of cases, geographical locations and level of investigation required could cripple any law enforcement agency. However, should they win the case against KAT and Vaulin, this will set a strong precedent for targeting other torrent sites, and it’s pretty clear that sites like The Pirate Bay, EZTV, YIFY and ExtraTorrent will find themselves in someone’s crosshairs. The world could become a very small place indeed for torrent users. Despite many law suits and take downs, The Pirate Bay lives on. There are already mirror sites pushing KAT content. Many sites now also advise (and even offer) VPN services. Using a VPN (virtual private networks) and TOR (the onion routing) services make the user’s traffic difficult to decrypt and also impossible to trace, making it harder to isolate a user’s IP address from torrent traffic. With KAT’s value as a business being estimated at over $50 million dollars, there is still a lot of motivation for people like Vaulin to take continue taking the risk of hosting sites like it. But the reality is that torrent use and traffic is in decline. Authorities are successfully making it more risky for people to use file sharing, while streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon make it affordable to avoid the risk and still have access to the content they want on demand. For most people a few dollars a month beats worrying if that terabyte of TV series could land them in hot water. The real question is whether consumers will continue to take the risk of using file sharing and whether content producers will realise that by settling the right balance of accessible content, reasonable pricing and incentives to do things the right way, the public are understandably eager to play by the rules. g

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Features Driving Forward

PReviews Gears of War 4 Destiny: The Rise of Iron Grow Up Civilization VI Skylanders Imaginators Dragonball Z: Xenoverse 2 Livelock 88 Heroes FIFA 17 Worms W.M.D. AER

Reviews 70 74 76 78 80

Valentino Rossi: The Game The Banner Saga 2 Furi Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness Tumblestone

RegularS 82 88

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Indie View Legacy

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AVAILABLE 26 AUGUST 2016 makro.co.za

Assetto Corsa ÂŽ 2010-2020 KUNOS Simulazioni S.r.l. Developed by KUNOS Simulazioni S.r.l. All rights reserved. The Assetto Corsa logo is a registered trademark of KUNOS Simulazioni S.r.l. Manufacturers, cars, brands, names and associated imagery reproduced in this game in some cases include trademarks and/or copyright materials of their respective Owners. All rights reserved. Console versions published by 505 Games. Distributed Exclusively by Apex Interactive Tel: (011) 796 5040 www.apexinteractive.co.za Email: sales@apexinteractive.co.za All rights and trademarks and logos are copyright of their respective owners. www.apexinteractive.co.za


E M W A IE G EV R

GAMING

Driving F Forza Horizon 3 is 42

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Forza Horizon 3

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by Lein Baart

Forw ard s getting bigger‌

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E M W A IE G EV R

GAMING

S

imulation racing games tend be a rather serious affair by gaming standards. With the myriad licencing fees, required attention to minutiae and the difficulty in reproducing real-world physics, the cost to develop a game that can actually compete in the market is mirrored in the practically essential purchase of peripherals such as racing wheels needed to extract maximum enjoyment by players, and subsequently both developers and gamers tend to be rather passionate about this subgenre. It was somewhat surprising then that in 2012 Microsoft announced not only a spin-off for the Forza Motorsport series (viewed by many as the publisher’s response to PlayStation’s Gran Turismo) that would depart from the franchise’s simulation roots, but that it would be headed by a brand new studio in the form of Playground Games. Forza Horizon proved

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to be exactly what Microsoft and Turn 10 were hoping for however, and six years on has become a very welcome addition to the Xbox roster. Turn 10 wasn’t blind to the risk of handing development over to an unknown studio though, as Dan Greenawalt, creative director at Turn 10, acknowledged in an interview with VideoGamer.com. However Playground Games was comprised of individuals who had worked on titles such as Project Gotham Racing, Colin McRae: Dirt and Burnout, and as Greenawalt stated, “The next question is, do I trust them? There’s of course risk. But I do trust their pedigree.” It was a trust that was borne out as soon as Forza Horizon was released on the Xbox 360 in October 2012, where it was immediately apparent that Playground was aiming to compliment the main series rather than merely

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Forza Horizon 3

clone it. Set in Colorado, USA during a fictional Horizon Festival, the game chose to blend the simulation physics and systems that Turn 10 had developed over the years with arcade-style mechanics, resulting in an open-world driving experience that was quite unlike anything fans had experienced from the series before. While the game was far from perfect, most noticeably in its somewhat bland multiplayer and throwaway story, the injection of energy and vibrancy into an otherwise quite sober franchise was exhilarating. Horizon actively rewarded players for having fun, with stunts like drifting and driving on two wheels allowing players to earn additional money and points in skills system called “popularity”, though in all honesty these features were underutilised, and left the game feeling somewhat restricted. Forza Horizon 2 however realised the original’s potential.

Once again set against the backdrop of another Horizon festival, this time staged in southern Europe, the sequel proved more of a fine-tuning than out-and-out overhaul. Dropping any real pretence of a plot, Horizon 2 once again built on the excellent work of previous Forza games, implementing mechanics such as Forza Motorsport 5’s Drivatar system and variable weather to great effect. These features were backed by an improved skills system, multiplayer and “bucket list” that retained the exuberance of Playground’s previous effort, and ultimately the series’ second outing was a far more polished experience. The question then is what can Forza Horizon 3 bring to the table this time around? To sum it up as succinctly as possible, the answer is to make everything bigger. Moving to the perils of the Australian Outback, the third entry (ninth for the franchise a whole) will once again

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GAMING

E M W A IE G EV R

see players partaking in the Horizon festival, though this time as the owner and organiser. What this means is that players will have the ability to create events by using the new Horizon Blueprint mode, allowing them to choose from a host of options such as car class, route, weather and time of day, then race and share the event with friends. The change in location will allow for a spectacular variety of scenery, from pristine beaches to rain forests to massive sand dunes, and the map size will be more than double that of Horizon 2, providing gamers plenty of opportunity to find the perfect stretch of track to build their festival around. A racing game is usually measured by the car list it ships with, and in this case Horizon 3 looks to be no slouch either, offering over 350 vehicles at launch, plus an additional 50 as planned DLC. Beyond the usual line-

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up of muscle and supercars, which will include both the new Lamborghini Centenario and Ford Raptor, the series will be branching out their selection to match the game’s location, and players can expect offroaders, buggies and trucks to make an appearance. This will go hand in hand with the level of customisation fans have come to expect from a Forza game, with Horizon 3 including 30 new rim types and the introduction of wide body kits. Probably the biggest change to the franchise though lies in its multiplayer, which for the first time will allow for up to four-player co-op. Building on the idea that you will be in charge of the festival, the game will require you to increase your fanbase by creating a four man team to partake in events. This will allow for seamless drop-in at any point in the campaign, and should no friends be online the game will make heavy use of the Drivatar feature,

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Forza Horizon 3

giving you the option to hire and fire friends’ Drivatars as you please. While this alone would force a huge change in gameplay, the fact that Forza Horizon 3 will be one of the first titles to launch under Microsoft’s Xbox Play Anywhere system means that cross-platform gaming with Windows 10 players is fully supported, potentially opening the game to a massive audience. It also means that only one edition is required for both platforms, as opposed to buying a version for each, allowing gamers to carry their progress across to each system. Last but not least Forza Horizon 3 should be a stunningly beautiful game, which comes as no surprise given the franchise’s traditional attention to visuals. Supporting 4K HDR, which will require both a 4K monitor and the upcoming Xbox One S (though PC gamers may already be able to play at this resolution), Playground have gone

to great pains to bring aesthetics to the fore, including using a custom 12K HDR camera rig to capture what they purport to be “authentic Australian skies”. While this will probably provide negligible value at best, nonetheless players can be expect to be in for a treat. Forza Horizon’s goal has always been to provide pure unadulterated enjoyment to its players, eschewing the gravitas that is normally associated with simulation racing. Bringing PC gamers into the fold should provide a huge boost for the franchise, and the focus on seamless multiplayer should likewise give it an edge of past attempts. The spin-off series has come along in leaps and bounds in a very short time, and while it’s never possible to give a verdict before the game actually launches, there is little reason to believe the third edition won’t continue this trend. g

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E M W A VIE G E R P

Gears of War 4 GAMING

Gearing up for another war.

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Gears of War 4

by Nthato Morakabi

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the story of Marcus’ son JD Fenix and his friends Kait and Del as they discover the source of the new monsters that plague the world known as “The Swarm”. Continuing with the two-player co-op famous for the series both in the campaign locally on split-screen, or over Xbox Live or LAN. The second player will select either Kait or Del for the second player. Continuing in the multiplayer realm, Microsoft boasts 60FPS across their dedicated servers, with a new ranking system that fairly matches social, competitive and professional players of the same level. Game modes such as Dodgeball, Co-op vs AI, Escalation and of course, Team Death Match, King of the Hill, Guardian, Warzone and Execution. Horde 3.0 is all about combining five

GAMING

t is 25 years following the Locust, Lambent and Imulsion’s fall at the hands of the Imulsion Countermeasure weapon; a device activated by Marcus’ father Adam on the planet Sera. As a result of the weapon, powerful windstorms now sweep across the planet known as Windflares, and fossil fuels have become obsolete and now humans must find other ways to survive on the planet. Now in an effort to save what remains of humanity on Sera, the reformed Coalition of Ordered Governments walled off the city and declared martial law against the dangers outside. But is anywhere safe, when a new enemy makes itself known. Gears of War 4 begins a new generation, following

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Gears of War 4

players together to fend off waves of creatures, deploy defensive measures across the map, as each wave increases in difficulty. Players can select the combat class and level up their skills. Much of the new changes to the game involve the Windflares, with four tiers of weather changes ranging from heavy breeze knocking trees, leaves and dust up, to windstorms that can reflect bullets back at you if shot against the wind. The fourth category includes violent winds and lightning strikes; a battle for survival against the elements. The Swarm is made up of various monsters: Juvies are the newly hatched almost humanoid creatures, Drones are the evolved form and are able to use weapons. The

third tier has yet to be revealed but the E3 demo showed the new monster known as the Pouncer which changes its tactics according to the player. Players too will have new weapons, combat-knife executions, close-cover combat abilities, and new cover attacks knocking down enemies while vaulting over cover as just one of. As Microsoft acquired the rights to the franchise when they bought it from Epic Games, revamping it with the in-house studio renamed to The Coalition. With the new X-Box announcement at E3, Gears of 4 will be a Play Anywhere title, playable on both Xbox One and PC. A limited promotion at the writing of this preview offers the entire X-box 360 Gears of War collection when buying Gears of War 4. g

AT A GLANCE Third-person Shooter

JD Fenix, Kait and Del fight against ‘‘The Swarm’’ a new terror that sweeps across the planet Sera. A New generation of war begins. Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

gamecca86

The Coalition Microsoft Studios Microsoft

Oct 2016

Platforms

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GAMING

Sep 2016 Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

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Bungie Activision Megarom

PLATFORMS

Cutting ties

PC X0 PS4 Wii U X360 PS3 PSV 3DS

GENRE

AT A GLANCE MMOFPS

Bungie are hoping to follow The Taken King’s success, though this will leave some gamers out in the cold

gamecca86

by Lein Baart

Destiny: The Rise of Iron

nce its release Destiny has become something of a juggernaut, easily dominating its admittedly sparse competition and claiming a firm stake at the MMO table. While last year’s The Taken King expansion ruffled a few feathers before its release it proved a valuable addition to the game, rectifying a lot of niggles and finally introducing a something resembling a plot. With a sequel already in the works the developers have not been as prolific this year, though they are hoping the latest expansion, The Rise of Iron, will offer more than enough to keep players satisfied for the time being. Considering how close the launch date is Bungie have been relatively reticent regarding details for the expansion. The campaign will focus on The Fallen, who having breach the wall around the City have discovered the SIVA virus, a buried Golden Age technology. Of course a new release generally means a host of new maps and weapons, and The Rise of Iron will include a new area (the Plaguelands), social space (Felwinter Peak), strike, raid and Crucible game type, as well as raise in light level, though the details are vague at best at this point. The biggest news however regarding the expansion is the fact that it will only be available for PS4 and Xbox One players, with the studio dropping a lot of support for last generation consoles. The changes will actually go into effect in August, a month before the release date, and while it remains unclear just what it will entail it appears that Bungie will splitting player progression across all of the consoles, though there will apparently be an option to allow current players to upgrade their characters. g

Destiny: The Rise of Iron

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Grow Up

E M W A VIE G E R P

Grow Up

Finding MOM without MOM

Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

Ubisoft Reflections Ubisoft Megarom

PLATFORMS

GAMING

Aug 2016

outbursts from mothers, but literally exploded ) into pieces. So as Ubisoft puts it, MOM’s all over the place. Your task is to explore this new planet and retrieve all her parts and hopefully make MOM whole again. With BUD’s abilities to freely explore the open world through reaching, grabbing, climbing, jumping and even flying, you can get closer to achieving your task. The world created by Ubisoft Reflections is one of beauty and character. Everytime you look around you will get the clear sense

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of this being a completely new world with lots to discover. It is a beautiful created open world. From the colours, the lighting, the islands and even good ol’ BUD himself. It all works wonderfully to make the experience of playing this game a genuine journey with BUD. Although things are so very much easier to find (almost guaranteed actually) when you ask mom where it is, for obvious reasons this cannot happen for our pal BUD and so we must learn that to find things on our own without MOM is a true sign that one is finally ready to Grow Up. g

AT A GLANCE Adventure

This heart-warming and charming continuing story of BUD in a new world made with great intention will be sure to intrigue and delight players.

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by Sibonisile Motha

G

row Up is the upcoming instalment from Ubisoft’s Reflections Studio in Britain. It is also a sequel of sorts from the 2015 Grow Home. In Grow Up you will assume the role of the absolutely cute and lovable robot B.U.D (for those who aren’t familiar with Grow Home, BUD stands for Botanical Utility Droid). In this title B.U.D is out to search for his parental ship and ship computer called M.O.M. This will not be an easy task however, due to the fact that MOM exploded (not the normal, irrational emotional


E M W A VIE G E R P

Civilization VI GAMING

The Test of Time

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Civilization VI

by Lein Baart

55

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series’ tradition of continual innovation. Headed up by Ed Beach, the man behind the previous game’s expansions, the development of Civilization 6 has focused on breaking the habits fans of past games would often fall into, and to achieve this the latest iteration will do for city management what Civ 5 did for units, namely “unstacking”. Players will be required to expand cities across multiple hexes, designating zones to be used for specific purposes such as military, which in turn will provided bonuses to any improvements built in the hex that matches its type. This alone would not be enough to prevent a routine build queue though, so the terrain of the hex will likewise generate advantages for specific types of structures, meaning that each city will have to be tailored

GAMING

aming is no stranger to long-running franchises, with more than a few genre founders still alive and kicking to this day. The more venerable the series however the more staid it seems to become, and even those that arose only ten years ago seem to have entrenched themselves in nostalgia. Civilization has proven the rare exception, constantly remaining at the forefront of strategy throughout its 25 years, and even six years after its release Civilization 5 still regularly appears in the top 10 most played games on Steam. It’s little surprise then that whenever Firaxis even hint of a new entry in the series gamers tend to give their rapt attention, and by all appearances Civilization 6 looks set to continue the

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Civilization VI

to its environment to reach peak efficiency. The effect of terrain will also be felt in the technology tree, with bonuses to specific technologies receiving a boost depending on the actions of the player, such as conquering tribes or discovering natural landmarks. The tech tree will also be split into scientific and civic research, with discoveries such as philosophy falling into the latter, which should enable an easier path towards cultural victories. Finally the A.I., a perpetual bugbear for the franchise, has also seen a retooling, with the developers aiming to produce opponents that behave both consistently and realistically. Not everything revealed has been met with enthusiasm however, as in an effort to minimise the clutter the city

building system will generate Firaxis have chosen to overhaul the visuals, introducing a UI themed around the age of exploration. While this has resulted in a rather stunning depiction of the fog of war, with the map resembling hand drawn parchment, the graphics are decidedly more cartoonish than before, though the studio claims this allows for far more information to be available visually. This new art direction has been lambasted by fans, with some fearing an attempt towards a mobile port, though it must be said that at this point Civilization 6 looks to offer an even greater degree of depth and strategy than its predecessor, especially considering that mechanics such as religion will be included in the base game. g

AT A GLANCE Strategy

While the graphics may not be to everyone’s taste, Civilization 6 is looking to once again set the standard 4X gaming Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

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Firaxis Games 2K Games Prima Interactive

Oct 2016

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PC X0 PS4 Wii U X360 PS3 PSV 3DS

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Skylanders Imaginators

E M IEWW A VIE G EEV R PR

Skylanders Imaginators F

ans of Skylanders are probably looking forward to this upcoming instalment developed by Toys for Bob. Skylanders Imaginators. This chapter gives more control to the player by giving them the ability to use the power of their imagination to create the ultimate team that will defend and save the Skylands. Now wouldn’t it be strange, to say the least, to create an army that has no enemies to fight? And so we can always say thank you to the general nature of our evil homeboy, Kaos. In Skylanders Imaginators, Kaos has stumbled across the power of Mind Magic and he is super-amped to use it to create his very own powerful army of Doomlanders. What he doesn’t know however, is that you have the power of your imagination to fight him. But you also have another great weapon at your disposal – Senseis. In this game, the Senseis are to your Imaginator Skylanders what Mr Miyagi is to the Karate Kid. They will train your Skylanders and make sure that their skills are harnessed and abilities perfected. Along with helping in training, they can also unlock very helpful tools such as weapons, secret techniques and access to special areas in the game. Toys for Bob have worked on developing this game to be an ultimate Skylanders fan experience. Along with being able to create an infinite possibility of characters, all Skylanders that you may have previously collected are completely playable as well in Imagintaors. Oh, and did I mention that you can also use your old portal? It’s visually great with unique, fun and quirky designs that you can use to create any crazy Skylander that comes to your crazy mind. g

GAMING

Oct 2016 Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

58

Toys for Bob Activision Megarom

PLATFORMS

by Sibonisile Motha

Create your own ultimate Skylanders

PC X0 PS4 Wii U X360 PS3 PSV 3DS

GENRE

AT A GLANCE Adventure

If you ever wanted to know what it would be like to live with dinosaurs, DON’T, but do play this game that is just as awesome.

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GAMING

Oct 2016 Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

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Dimps Bandai Namco Megarom

PLATFORMS

Time patrol assemble!

PC X0 PS4 Wii U X360 PS3 PSV 3DS

GENRE

AT A GLANCE Fighting

The Time Patrol must once again rectify the altered time lines and fend off villains from the past to save the universe.

gamecca86

by Nthato Morakabi

Dragonball Z: Xenoverse 2

ragon Ball Z is one of those classic animeslash-games that most of us have at least watched or played. From Budokai to Tenkaichi and to Xenoverse, Bandai Namco have churned out Dragon Ball Z titles over the years, and Xenoverse 2 is yet another notch in their belt. As with most Dragon Ball Z titles, the story follows the Z fighters as they hope to save Earth and eventually, the Universe, from the powerful fighters that threaten it. The story continues two years after the events of the first Xenoverse title, and now the Time Patrol force has grown stronger. Once again, the course of history has been changed by a malevolent force, altering the events of the past and using the most powerful villains from the ages to wreak havoc. It is now up to the Time Patrol, and their newly recruited officer, to rectify the times for the sake of mankind. Iconic villains from the Dragon Ball universe make an appearance, from Frieza, Cooler, Kid Buu, Jenemba and Broly, all as playable characters. Goku Black from the Dragon Ball Super anime and manga will be available as a pre-order bonus. Improvements from the first Xenoverse include a deeper level of character customization for the created avatar. This includes unique rewards for specific races, as well as hidden areas in the various locations only accessible by those races. The Hub City has been expanded in area and will hold up to 300 players simultaneously. New changes to the fighting mechanics include homing dashes, Ki blasts that curve towards the opponent, Aura Burst dash and more. With 60 FPS and a dynamic camera tracking movement better, Xenoverse 2 has indeed kicked it up a notch. g

Dragonball Z: Xenoverse 2

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Livelock

E M W A VIE G E R P

Livelock

Will human consciousness conquer after all?

Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

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Tuque Games Perfect World Entertainment TBC

PLATFORMS

GAMING

TBA 2016

3 Intellects. Each one’s abilities as different as their appearance and personality. There’s Hex, an almost egomaniac but swift Intellect with great ability to outmaneuver his opponents. He has great speed and the ability to be in camouflage whilst in battle. At his disposal are precision weapons that deal great damage. There’s Vanguard, a thinker whose size matches his capabilities. His whole body as a great weapon that easily charges through the masses of opponents. He also has Anvil – a pretty powerful hammer that will not hesitate to destroy anyone or

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GENRE

anything in its way. Finally, you get Catalyst. She is a tactical fighter. She has drones and weapons at her aid to follow her instruction, she is able to calculate the most efficient kills. With an ability called Drone Storm, she shows off how awesome her skills and drones are. This title isn’t just about fighting, but there’s a story to be completed. This creates a great drive to play the game and see what your character can do. The look embodies the story of a warzone. From the colours to the battlefields. You are in their world. g

AT A GLANCE Co-op Shooter

Livelock seeks to be a fun an enjoyable experience as a shooter game where you get to experience a first-hand juxtaposition of man and machine.

gamecca86

by Sibonisile Motha

t

uque Games have created a game that they are very excited to share with us later on this year. Livelock is a coop shooter game that takes place in the 22nd Century – the age of the machines. In this era, the world is a warzone between machines. Your role is to bring an end to this war against rather very intelligent machines and hopefully revive humanity. You are one of the few surviving human consciousness that have been uploaded to machines. These are the Capital Intellects. You can be one of


88 Heroes

E M IEWW A VIE G EEV R PR

88 Heroes 8

8 Heroes is one of those games that look to be the kind to pleasantly surprise and amaze you. There is nothing but truth in its name. 88 is the big number throughout the entire plot and gameplay. The story is that of a mad villain called Dr H8 who on plans to release 88 nuclear warheads into earth in 88 minutes. You have 88 minutes to stop this attack and save the world as we know it. To do this you will have to complete the various levels that come in the form of 88 rooms. You will have 88 seconds to complete each level. The title comes into play as you play. Whilst you are battling it out in each level, should you die, another completely new and different hero will come in. And each time you level up, a new hero will come in as your playable hero. This concept is a fun and interestingly well thought through idea. Players of this game will no doubt find it enjoyable to always have someone new to play with. It may almost make you want to intentionally die in the levels just to get to see new characters. The balance with knowing that you have a rather large roster of heroes at your disposal, is the awareness of the constant threat that is to happen and knowing that you only have a certain amount of time to accomplish this mission. This game is visually true to being a 2D platformer game. And in my opinion, that’s a cool plus. 88 minutes, 88 heroes and all this to be released on August 8th (the 8th day of the 8th month). g

GAMING

Aug 2016 Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

Bitmap Bureau Rising Star Games TBC

PLATFORMS

by Sibonisile Motha

88 Heroes. 88 Minutes. Go.

PC X0 PS4 Wii U X360 PS3 PSV 3DS

GENRE

AT A GLANCE Platform

This title will be enjoyed by those looking to experience a game that keeps you thrilled while throwing new surprises at you as you play.

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GAMING

Sep 2016 Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

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Electronic Arts Electronic Arts Prima Interactive

PLATFORMS

Frostbite magic to the beautiful game. PC X0 PS4 Wii U X360 PS3 PSV 3DS

GENRE

AT A GLANCE Sports Simulation

Take the beautiful game to a whole new level with the Frostbite game engine. Now play experience FIFA both on and off the field.

gamecca86

by Nthato Morakabi

FIFA 17

franchise that needs no introduction. The Call of Duty (or perhaps Battlefield considering it’s EA) of the sports simulation world. We return predictably for yet another year of football magic that dares to bring players closer to the beautiful game. Each year, the EA Sports developers over in EA Canada bring greater depth and realism to the FIFA franchise. This time they’ve introduced the powerful Frostbite game engine into the mix. Thanks to Next-Gen consoles, their efforts are moving away from just immersing players on the pitch, but have introduced a new “story mode”, that puts players in the shoes of Alex Hunter. The Journey, as this mode is called, is all about guiding this rising footballer through his football career both on and off the pitch. Decisions made throughout the cinematic world impact how other characters react, interviews in which players guide the dialogue affect their career, and all of this happening across well-known locations with famous Premier League players and coaches. Improvements have been made on the pitch too: free kicks can be customized from the run up to the spin on the ball, corner kicks have been improved for more precise player targeting, freely run up at different angles and speeds to take penalty kicks. Push back, jostle and shield the ball from defenders with realistic interactions. Improved player AI that considers the space and defenders around them to make intelligent runs into space. New “driven” shot mechanic for powerful low finishing, “driven” goal kicks for counterattacks, curved precise passes into space with threaded through passes, and improved precision with downward headers. A massive overhaul to a beloved franchise that players will definitely appreciate. I’m already salivating. g

FIFA 17

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Worms W.M.D.

E M W A VIE G E R P

Worms W.M.D. Old dog, new tricks

Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

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Team17 Team17 TBC

PLATFORMS

GAMING

Aug 2016

appears to be little more than a Worms Armageddon clone, with the title reverting to traditional 2D gameplay, and reintroducing classics elements such as the ninja rope and “key physics and gameplay”. Team17 have not been so oblivious as to expect this to be enough to resurrect the franchise though, and the release will feature a number of new elements. To begin with, W.M.D. will include over 80 means of wanton and absurd destruction, though fans can expect the return of classics such as The Super Sheep. Team17 have gone a

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step further though and introduced a crafting mechanism, which will allow players to customise weapons during their opponents’ turns by either collecting ingredients or dismantling weapons. The gameplay will also receive new mechanics in form of driveable vehicles such as tanks and helicopters, as well as the ability to enter buildings to take shelter. Lastly, while Worms W.M.D. will contain solo content like campaign missions, the true joy of the series has always lain in multiplayer, and to this end the game will support up to 6 online players per map. g

AT A GLANCE Strategy

W.M.D.’s new mechanics should certainly provide at least some spark to franchise

gamecca86

by Lein Baart

W

orms is a game that in all likelihood would fail if it were to be released in this day and age. Ever since the series moved to 3D in 2003, and even before then to be honest, it has battled to stay relevant, with gameplay remaining largely unchanged since the franchise’s inception. Though Worms’ increasing reliance on nostalgia has led it to largely fade from the public consciousness, it appears that Team17 are not quite ready to throw in the towel, and Worms W.M.D. will be shaking-up a classic formula. At first glance however W.M.D.


AER

E M IEWW A VIE G EEV R PR

AER D

aedalic Entertainment is known for creating artistically-driven and creative games, and AER is no different. AER is beautiful story-telling game. Set in a world where the ancient days and ways of the gods have long been forgotten, the only remnants that hold the truths are scattered all over the place in the form of mysterious floating islands. You will play as Auk, a girl whose journey will take her on a pilgrimage to these islands to see and discover the ruins that float in the skies. Now for all you practical folk that may be asking how on earth will she travel between islands that float in the sky? If your first guess was that she would have to fly, you are absolutely correct, because that’s exactly what she can do. Not only does Auk fly, but she transforms into a bird by jumping off any cliff. This is a beautifully thought out ability because of her name being that of a type of diving bird in itself. As Auk explores the islands and ancient ruins, she will uncover many secrets that hold the key to not only saving the lost ruins, but the world as she knows it herself. With eyes peeled, these secrets can be uncovered through exploration and solving of puzzles. The game is one big interactive art piece when you look at it. It is a very simplistic style but also very appealing, beautiful and atmospheric. All the elements of the game, from Auk, to the history, the journey, the worlds of the islands and all the little details in between, they all genuinely tell the story that you seek to find. g

GAMING

TBA 2016 Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

Forgotten Key Daedalic Entertainment TBC

PLATFORMS

by Sibonisile Motha

Fly to the lands above.

PC X0 PS4 Wii U X360 PS3 PSV 3DS

GENRE

AT A GLANCE Adventure

Those looking for a game appealing to your artsy side while having the perks of puzzles, flight and adventure, will love this one.

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We have


e issues!


E M W A IE G EV R

Valentino Rossi: GAMING

In need of a spit-shine…

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Valentino Rossi: The Game

by Walt Pretorius

: The Game

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improving – although sometimes not getting the particular itches that are in desperate need of a scratch. And this year’s instalment is arguably more fan orientated than ever before… Let’s be honest – if you’re buying a MotoGP or other motorcycle racing game, you’re probably a fan of the sport. And virtually every fan of MotoGP loves Valentino Rossi. Number 46 is a true legend when it comes to racing two-wheeled vehicles after all, and Milestone’s use of his name (and of his career as a theme for this new version of the game) is pretty much a no-brainer. What’s actually surprising is that they have taken so long to do it. Valentino Rossi: The Game provides players with a true celebration of this legendary rider’s career, complete with career highlight challenges to complete. It also offers a “Rossipedia’, crammed with interesting facts about this top racer. And it throws out a truck-load of game modes for the player to enjoy…

GAMING

ilestone have, for some time now, been working on creating the perfect motorcycle racing simulation. And, to be honest, they have made some strides forward in the endeavour, with each iteration of their MotoGP franchise getting just a little better than before. But motorcycle games are difficult to make, for various reasons. The popularity of racing titles pitches noticeably towards car racing games, leaving two wheeled speedsters with less resources from the get go. Additionally, the actual physics of riding a motorcycle are potentially very difficult to simulate, because (unlike a car) the bike is extremely reliant on the physical body of the rider. The controls of a bike are not just employed by the rider… they are the rider. Still, Milestone keep plugging away at it, providing their comparatively smaller fan-base with new versions of their motorcycle simulation series, constantly tweaking and

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Valentino Rossi: The Game

even some that feature cars rather than bikes. Valentino Rossi: The Game doesn’t suffer from a dearth of content – it’s jam-packed with stuff to do, and fans will likely find many ways to kill a few hours. But what it doesn’t deliver is the exhilaration that riding a super-powerful two-wheeled machine creates. This is also true of the fourwheeled component of the game; simply put, while Valentino Rossi: The Game offers tons of content and a truck-load of tweaks (which allow for all kinds of settings that let the game cater for racers ranging from casual arm-chair riders through to grease-covered enthusiasts) it leaves out the most important factor… excitement. Valentino Rossi: The Game never really captures the essential illusion of speed effectively. Perhaps it comes down to the slightly lacklustre environmental graphics, or maybe it stems from the fact that it is a little too easy to remove

the “danger” from the experience with all those tweaks and settings. Whatever the case may be, this particular bugbear has been around in Milestone’s racing simulations for a while, and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. And here’s the thing; it’s fantastic to offer tone of content and lots to do, ranging through numerous classes in the extensive career mode, but if the actual feeling of riding a bike – the core of the “simulation” idea – is missing, it really doesn’t matter how much content is on offer. That may be a little harsh, because, in essence, Valentino Rossi: The Game is a definite step forward for the franchise, and it does take a few strides into capturing the essence of motorcycle racing more accurately. But, quite honestly, endlessly tweaking physics and handling (which, yes, do need adjusting) is almost pointless when what the game really needs is polish. g

AT A GLANCE Racing

REVIEWED ON

This is a great homage to Valentino Rossi, but some of the more important elements of this simulation still need work.

Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

Milestone Milestone Ster Kinekor

PARENTAL ADVISORY

3+ gamecca86

Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

AWARDS

Platinum Gold Silver Bronze Casual Ed’s Choice

PS4 PLATFORMS

GENRE

PC X0 PS4 Wii U X360 PS3 PSV 3DS

Score

70 73


The Banner Saga 2

E M W A IE G EV R

The Banner Saga 2 Onward to doom

thoughtful game, The Banner Saga 2 sticks to all of its guns in creating a

XO

solid entertainment event. PLATFORMS

Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

has to make decisions that can have far reaching consequences within the game. And finally, of course, there is combat, which follows some pretty standard turn-based ideas. Equipment and character improvement is also an option, and is as slick and easy as the rest of the game. The banner Saga 2 may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but those that take it on will find a game that is thoughtful, measured and extremely well balanced – not to mention pretty damned depressing. It’s great fun. g

Stoic Jester Versus Evil Online

PARENTAL ADVISORY

16+ gamecca86

Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

AWARDS Platinum Gold Silver Bronze Ed’s Choice

Score

A well-produced and

REVIEWED ON

PC X0 PS4 Wii U X360 PS3 PSV 3DS

GENRE

GAMING Bound of flame

AT A GLANCE 74

Turn-based strategy

story may be a bit mystifying to those that haven’t played the original game, it really does bring some great strategy ideas to the table. But it is more than just a turn-based strategy game. It is a game with a strong narrative, full of loss and despair. The game is divided into three distinct sections; the first is dialogue, during which most of the story comes to the fore, and you’ll be doing a lot of reading. The second is travelling, at which time the player needs to not only make sure that supplies and morale remain at good levels, but also

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by Alex Scanlon

T

here is one thing that is very certain while you are playing The Banner Saga 2. This is a world that is ending. There is no joviality here, no refreshing breathers between the doom and gloom. It’s all doom and gloom, and for the few surviving humans and giant, horned Varl, it is a time when everything is at its darkest. The end, quite really, is nigh. This is the setting for a game that truly is one of the better turn-based strategy titles around. It is uncluttered and uncomplicated and, although the


F

76

Action

It’s a real test of skill, meaning that Furi can be equal parts rewarding and frustrating.

REVIEWED ON

PS4 PC X0 PS4 Wii U X360 PS3 PSV 3DS

GENRE

AT A GLANCE

GAMING Bound of flame

Beat the bosses

PLATFORMS

Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

The Game Bakers The Game Bakers Online

PARENTAL ADVISORY

16+ gamecca86

Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

AWARDS Platinum Gold Silver Bronze Ed’s Choice

Score

Furi

75

by Rob Edwards

uri is not a perfect game, but when it does shine, it shines very brightly indeed – almost bright enough to obscure some of its faults. In this title, the player takes on the role of a nameless stranger apparently needing to break out of some strange, otherworldly prison. To do so, you will need to face one boss battle after another. Furi is not about a lot of fights, but rather about big fights. There are a couple of catches here, though… first of all, your character never gets any form of upgrades within the game. The guy you start with is the exact guy you’re gonna end with here. But the game is about improving your skills, really, not maxing out stats. Your character has all he needs in terms of equipment and moves – it is the player that needs to develop. It’s an interesting approach, and one that can lead to some very satisfying moments. But it can also lead to a lot of frustration, thanks to some long battles that have no midpoint checkpoints. Additionally, button mashing will get you punished more often than not; Furi is a game about finesse, not slamming buttons. It’s not free of problems, and things can get pretty repetitive during the game’s short campaign. There isn’t a lot of replay value either but, if you’re after a game that will remain challenging (even if it gets unforgiving from time to time) Furi is certainly up to the task. With an imaginative look and tons of thought-provoking action that relies of careful timing and quick thinking, Furi may not be the perfect game, but it can be a lot of fun. g

Furi

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E M W A IE G EV R

Star Ocean: Integrity & Faithlessn Torture and mercy…

T

elevate the game above its status, which falls into a securely mediocre category. It seems as though no element of the game was fully fleshed out to realise its full potential. The idea behind the narrative is not a new one, but it is one that can lead to some interesting plot points and twists. During a battle on a medieval world, a space ship crash lands… now there are tons of directions that this core idea can take, but in the case of Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness, that direction seems to be spinning around weaker plot points, without ever really trying to push new ideas. Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness sticks to clichés and tired tropes, rather than attempting to do anything fresh in terms of its tale. Telling the story could have been much better if the characters were well-employed, but thanks to character models that have great costumes but rotten physicalities,

GAMING

here comes a time in every long-running video game franchise when it faces a wobble. Some wobbles are less than others, of course, and might come down to one of two elements not living up to what fans expect. Others are bigger, leaving a bitter taste in the mouths of those who anticipated the new instalment’s arrival. It is this latter case that takes place with Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness, leaving this particular title as a definite low point for the series. JRPGs are very much a taste driven thing, relying on strong narrative, detailed cut-scenes, complex combat and great characters to push them forward. Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness does not deliver on all of these fronts. In fact, it only really delivers on one: the characters. The cast of this game is a likeable lot, with great personalities built in. But this simply isn’t enough to

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Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness

ness stages this can be mitigated by flicking between characters, which works well until the group gets too big to keep track of. Then it’s down to hoping that the AI won’t get itself killed, resulting in tons of frustration – particularly in boss battles. Surprisingly, Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness is also only around 20 hours long, which is very short for a JRPG. But, when you put everything together, this short time is something of a mercy. Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness is completely underwhelming and underpolished, and any more time spent completing yet another fetch-quest in the same tired locations would feel like torture. Fans will likely be sorely disappointed with this game, which is a very weak point for a franchise that normally delivers the goods. g

AT A GLANCE JRPG

REVIEWED ON

This is the worst, lowest point that this franchise has achieved, and fans will likely be sorely disappointed.

Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

Tri-Ace Square Enix Megarom

PARENTAL ADVISORY

16+ gamecca86

Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

AWARDS

Platinum Gold Silver Bronze Casual Ed’s Choice

PS4 PLATFORMS

GENRE

PC X0 PS4 Wii U X360 PS3 PSV 3DS

Score

55 79

by Walt Pretorius

the game never enters into deep cut-scenes. Rather, all interactions are handled in-game, which really leads to little more than frustration for those who want to get into the nitty-gritty of the narrative. They’re bland and unexciting bits of story that leaves the player wishing for them to end. And then there’s the setting. The visuals of this game feel decidedly last-generation, ranging from not too bad right through to almost awful. The only thing that seems consistent in Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness is a lack of consistency, and the need for polish can be found everywhere, from the never-grand vistas right through to the character models. The AI, too, could have used a spit-shine. Even when employing action archetypes in later stages of the game, the AI seems to ignore the player’s wishes and just rush in, with no regard for personal safety. During the game’s earlier


Tumblestone

E M W A IE G EV R

Tumblestone Puzzling through history

and different take on the usual ‘‘match three’’ puzzle idea, with a fair degree of

XO

challenge and variation. PLATFORMS

Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

approach. These all add up to make a puzzle game that is easy to get to grips with, yet fairly challenging in the later stages. The presentation is bright and funfilled, although the sound effects can get a little annoying after a while. Still, playing through the game’s numerous settings – making use of historical characters to battle the puzzles – is a lot of fun. And while it might not offer a spate of headshots or deep narratives, Tumblestone is nothing if not a rewarding and enjoyable distraction, even if it does have a tiny bug or two. g

Taylor & Castaneda Nighthawk Interactive Online

PARENTAL ADVISORY

16+ gamecca86

Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

AWARDS Platinum Gold Silver Bronze Ed’s Choice

Score

Tumblestone is a fun

REVIEWED ON

PC X0 PS4 Wii U X360 PS3 PSV 3DS

GENRE

GAMING Bound of flame

AT A GLANCE 80

Puzzle

simple; the player needs to tag blocks in order to match three of a particular colour. The blocks don’t need to be next to each other to be tagged, but they do need to have no obstructions between them and the player. So blocks that are higher up in the cluster cannot be targeted unless the blocks below them are first removed. This forms the basis of what is a fairly strategic approach to puzzle gaming. In addition, every few levels, Tumblestone adds new elements to the mix, like wildcards, shot blockers and other modifiers that require a slightly new

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by Alex Scanlon

P

uzzle games come in all shapes and sizes these days, and are hysterically popular thanks (in part) to their ease-of-play on mobile devices. Who would have though, so many years ago, that games like Tetris would spawn a massive genre that is, if you take smart devices into account, arguably one of the most popular in gaming these days. But just because mobile devices are great for puzzle games doesn’t mean they don’t work on other platforms too, as Tumblestone deftly demonstrates on Xbox One. Tumblestone’s core ideas are pretty


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” is a trademark of the same company.


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Young local talent Claris Richter Steams through the Gal-X-E. 82

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theNod Starting early in life to realise one’s dreams and passions is a great thing, particularly when one has a clear direction in mind… enter Nodzi Games’ Claris Richter, a young developer who knows what he wants and where he is going. He recently took some time out to chat to us about studying while making games, where he draws inspiration from and how exactly he came up with his studio’s name… gamecca86

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GM: I have yet to come across a young game developer, and it’s always great to see upcoming independent developers jumping in from such a young age. So Claris, tell us about Nodzi games. What’s the story behind the name? CR: Well I used to play the old Command and

things that appeal to me.

GM: So have you always been a gamer? What role does gaming play in your life? CR: I never used to play games much as I didn’t have a computer that was capable of playing games, and we had a PlayStation 2 with only two games. It was only a couple of years ago actually that I got a gaming

Conquer games, Tiberian Dawn and Tiberian

computer and started playing games, which

Sun, I have always been obsessed with Nod.

has obviously become one of the big parts of

And whenever we played a World War 2 game,

my life.

I would usually play as the Nazis. So one day my brother combined the two and Nodzi has stuck since!

GM: Haha wow well that’s a… very controversial name then. How long have you been developing games for and how did you start? CR: Nodzi Games has officially been around

GM: As a growing game developer who is also studying, what are you currently studying and are you studying it with game development in mind? CR: I’m currently studying at WeThinkCode which is an IT school funded by major companies such as FNB, Derivco, and BBD

for about two years now, but I started quite a

Software Development. The idea behind it is

while ago. As for development, when I was six

that there are no teachers or anything, they

years old, I loved making levels out of Legos

throw programming related problems into a

and getting my brother to play through them.

group and we have to work together as a team

Always hoped to eventually create what I want,

to figure out how to solve them. Next year we

as that’s something that tickled my taste buds

will be jumping into Unity. And no, it wasn’t

but never had the tools. Eventually I moved on

with game development in mind but a love of

to Multimedia Fusion, Clickteam Fusion, Game

creating things, not necessarily just games. It’s

Maker 7 and others to make my own games.

one of the things that I love about programming is that you can sit down, write code and create.

GM: That’s quite a journey there, from Lego levels to having published games on Steam, it’s the first one of its kind I’ve heard. Now as much as Legos were your building block, was there a particular game that inspired you to create games?

GAMING

CR: That’s a tough one. I think the game

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There’s something satisfying about watching that code come to life for the first time.

GM: I guess this next question is most relevant to you as an individual developer who is also studying. What are the challenges you have faced as an individual and a company? CR: Well there are quite a number of

that motivated me the most is the old Tomb

challenges. Firstly funds. When I started Nodzi

Raider games. I was always intrigued with the

Games I didn’t have the money to become a

level design, hidden secrets and those kinds of

certified company. My dad actually invested gamecca86


Indie View

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some capital into the company as an investor, which allowed me to get a Steam Greenlight licence. Also, working alone means there is

game development community, like MakeGamesSA? CR: No I’m not. I guess you could count the

a lack of resources, so I can’t focus on every

Steam Development forum but I’m not active

aspect of the game. I’ve had to rely on buying

on that either.

prebuilt game assets but of course, this means well you know how the Steam comments can

GM: And any indie developers that you look up to?

get. Then there’s the matter of a lack of time.

CR: Yes, actually. I watched the Indie Game

my game objects appear in other games and…

It’s also very easy to lose motivation when you

movie and the creator of FEZ, Phil Fish, truly

work on your own, as there is no one to hold

inspired me. The amount of hardships he went

you accountable and keep you moving.

through, and the amount of detail and hard work he put into that game to be exactly what

GM: And what insights do you have regarding upcoming developers looking to study game development?

he wants it to be.

GM: Ah yes, generated quite a bit of a buzz too FEZ. Well, on to your

CR: Well I wouldn’t recommend anyone

game, Gal-X-E, unique spelling and

to just go full time into game development,

all, can you let us know what was

especially when you’re working as a single

the idea behind it? And the name?

person. It’s difficult to get the profit to sustain

CR: I was looking for name that’s related to

yourself during that time and even then, only

space, but most names were taken. It’s like

if your game is successful. The problem is, you

trying to enter a name in an MMORPG. So I

always hear about people who are successful

decided to play around with the spelling of the

and living large from that one game they

words and I came up with Gal-X-E. The game

made, but you never hear about the majority of

itself was inspired by Geometry Wars. I was

developers who don’t make it.

really intrigued by the idea that the more stars you pick up the higher your multiplier goes,

GM: Fair enough, I have seen how difficult the industry is. But you’ve done well so far and I guess I’d have to ask you where you get your inspiration from? Movies? Music? Anything?

and seeing your score grow so exponentially was satisfying. So I thought of coming up with a similar game with that uniqueness but with different elements of course.

CR: Surprisingly none of those inspire me

GM: And it’s available on Steam right now yes? Are you still working on the game?

to create my games. My head dwells a lot of

CR: Yes. It was released 14 May this year

various things. One of the main inspirations is

and development is still going for it and I will be

game play, which then works with some other

adding new games modes.

idea in my head and then they come together to form a game.

GAMING

GM: Wow, that’s a first. A unique creative experience indeed. So are you part of any 86

GM: It’s been fun chatting to you Claris, keep up the good work and looking forward to seeing great things from you in the future. g gamecca86


Indie View

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cy a eg

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Lega Ultima GAMING

The MMO

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Legacy: Ultima Online

acy: Online

O sensei

By Lein Baart

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Why was it created? The nineties are viewed as something of a golden era for the RPG, with series like Baldur’s Gate and Diablo having catapulted the genre into the public consciousness. Though it had begun to wane somewhat in popularity, the Ultima series, one of the earliest champions of the RPG, and its creator Richard Garriot nonetheless still remained as aspiring as ever, and in 1995 Garriot set the studio he founded (Origin Systems) on the task of creating a game that would allow thousands of users to play together at once, an idea that was almost inconceivable at the time. The concept that was at the core of Ultima Online was that of a living, breathing world, one in which a player could as easily take up the role of a baker or blacksmith as that of a warrior. While it wasn’t a proposal that was met with universal acclaim Origin nevertheless were set on making it a reality, going so far as to build simulated ecosystems that never made it past beta as players proved too adroit at killing absolutely everything in sight. The goal of providing players as much freedom as possible was a double edged sword however, with player killing (nowadays known as PvP) being considered a massive problem even during development, best captured by the assassination of Lord British (Garriot’s online avatar) during the public beta. Nonetheless gamecca86

development pushed forward, despite misgivings on the part of publisher EA, and by September 1997 Ultima Online was released to a very enthusiastic audience.

Why do we care? Ultima Online proved to be a massive success, quickly outstripping all expectations by achieving 100000 subscribers within six months of its launch. The game however received mixed reviews, with most praising the its ambitions but railing against the plethora of bugs and issues that were inevitable with an experimental game. Some of these, such as the immense server lag experienced during peak hours, were a product of the game’s time (this was still the era of dial-up modems remember), while the more serious flaws were quickly patched and mended. However some perceived problems were an inherent part of the game’s design, and it’s here more than anything else that Ultima Online provided a lasting impact on the genre. Ultima Online, while laying down a template that competitors such as Everquest and Asheron’s Call certainly paid attention to, best stood as a lesson on what behaviours absolute freedom and anonymity can lead to. It wasn’t long before the MMORPG gained a reputation for what we now term as griefers and trolls, with rampant player killing and obscenities being a common experience. Rival developers were quick to learn from Origin’s troubles, and heavily moderated communities have become a genre standard as a result. Likewise Origin’s dedication to player freedom resulted in a game that was more akin to a fantasy-inspired Second Life than a modern RPG, which could prove intimidating to new gamers. While most of these problems were addressed in expansions and patches, allowing Ultima Online to claim a player base of 250000 in 2003, the dissolution of the studio by EA the following year saw the game quickly diminish. Such is the uniqueness of Ultima Online though that even 18 years after launch it still available to play, with a passionate and dedicated, albeit small, community, and to this day the game stands a testament to both ambition and innovation. g

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Legacy: Ultima Online

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MORPG’s have become a massive force in gaming over the past decade, with the likes of World of Warcraft and Guild Wars 2 claiming player bases that number in the millions. While for many WoW was the first introduction into a virtual fantasy world, the genre’s origins goes back a surprisingly long way, with early ancestors, known as multi-user dungeons (MUD’s), existing since the 1970’s. It wasn’t until the late nineties though that idea of a shared, persistent world really caught on, and in many ways all modern MMORPGs owe a great deal to the pioneering work done on Ultima Online.


FeatureS 94

Chaotic Good

Board Games 100 102

Game of Thrones: The Trivia Game Vs. System 2PCG: The Marvel Battles

RPGs 104 108 112 114 118 122

Pathfinder Core Rules Mutant: Year Zero Pulp Cthulhu Traveller ICONS Assembled Pathfinder: Ultimate Intrigue

BOOKS 124 126 128 130

City of Wolves Cold-Forged Flame NightShades Spiderlight

COMICS 132 134 136 138

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Betty & Veronica #1 Cryptocracy #1 Deadpool & The Mercs for Money #1 Killing Pickman HC

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LIFESTYLE Cosplayer: havoc Cosplay • Photographer: Cos We Play Project, Jay Caboz

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Chaotic Good

wing geekery in South Africa

Anyone who thinks that geekdom is not alive and well in South Africa didn’t attend Icon 2016, which took place at Johannesburg’s Gallagher Estate Convention Centre in late June, 2016. We waited for the dust to settle to chat with Grant Charlton and Les Allen, two of the forces behind the event and guys with their thumbs firmly on the pulse of South African geek culture. We learned about Grant’s three questions, how geekdom is growing, and that a conversation with two people so passionate about something can get pretty crazy...

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GC: It’s all Les’ fault… LA: Yeah, pretty much. It was last year, in June. I had spoken to Grant before about what his plans were for Icon, and he reminded me that he always had the same three questions of anyone who suggested changes to Icon. And those are: what is the plan? Who is going to run it? And who is going to pay for it? And if you could answer those three questions, Grant was very happy to listen. So once I had that framework… There are plenty of people who have suggested changes to Icon over the years, but he needed a decent plan. And if that plan was in place, he would be very happy to run with it. So the decision was made in late June, early July last year, with the idea that it would give us a year… but that was never enough time anyway… GC: Icon needed to get to a larger venue for a long time. To be honest, aiming straight to Gallagher Estate from Jabula Rec Centre… I would have liked to have a mid-way step, there just isn’t a mid-way venue. But Jabula was really getting over-capacity.

Photographer: Cos We Play Project, Jay Caboz

GM: Icon 2016 was very different from the Icon events of the past. When and how was the decision made to move to what can only be described as a new format?

GM: So basically not just a need to expand the show, but to allow more people in? GC: Yeah, because the geek community is expanding. We had more and more people coming through the doors who weren’t there specifically for the gaming or the comics… they were just there for the experience. And they had a very cramped experience. LA: There is a surge in geek culture, because of things like Big Bang Theory. I am going to put a lot of the blame on Big Bang Theory. A couple of years ago I got to play board games with Will Wheaton at GenCon. I told my mother this, and she said “well, you should really enjoy that.” I said to her “you’re a 62 year-old woman who was born in the Australian equivalent of Ermelo, you don’t have a geek bone in your body… how do you know that I am going to enjoy this, do you know who Will Wheaton is?” And she said “yes, he’s the guy that Sheldon doesn’t like.” And I thought… shit, fair enough… When Grant and I were going to all the meetings for the service providers for Icon we gamecca86

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GC: The old-school geek is a little more focussed. They have their little piece of geekdom and they hold on to it very dearly. They’re not as open to other parts of geekdom. New geeks are seeing people do lots of different things, and they’ll try them. That’s why there’s more crossover these days than there used to be – people are trying a little bit of everything. Plus there have always been a number of women geeks, but people didn’t know that. Their number are also growing. LA: Women… they’re those things with breasts, right? GC: There are a lot of male geeks with breasts, too. LA: I am reticent to say that “deep” geeks are more authentic, because that would discount the modern geeks… GC: The old school geek had to defend their geekdom. It wasn’t as easy to assimilate. LA: … So what I am thinking about is that the new, “popular culture” geeks are becoming geeks because of the increased pervasiveness of geek activities. In the past you had to be the right type of person with the right type of interests to find these things. Now, because geek is more accepted and there are levels of credibility now – people finding out that people like Vin Diesle play D&D, well, that makes it more acceptable. I think the newer geeks are luckier because these things are now on display, rather than you having to go out and find them. There are more avenues to access it than ever before… GC: All the board games geeks are coming

Photographer: Cos We Play Project, Jay Caboz

GM: So the three of us in this interview can say that we were geeks when being a geek wasn’t cool. What do you think the difference between the old “deep” geek and the new “popular culture” geek is?

Chaotic Good

ggot a lot of blank faces. And then you say “have you watched Big Bang Theory?” And they go “oh, yeah, you’re talking about that kind of thing… now we understand.” So when Grant says that there are more geeks in the market, it’s because of shows like that, which are making geekdom more prevalent and more accepted. There’s an added interest for people who see conventions overseas and then find out that we have them here. Also, rAge. It has been around for so long, and people are used to the idea… GC: There’s an awful lot of tie in between computer gamers and the rest of the geeks…

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Cosplayer: Kinpatsu Cosplay • Photographer: Cos We Play Project, Jay Caboz

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out of the cupboard.

GM: Do you find that there is a disconnect between the older and younger geek generations? GC: Yes and no. A lot of the old school geeks are embracing it, finding more people to talk about their geekdom to. Then there are others that are a little jealous; it was their thing, they were the nerds and the outcasts and their geekdom became their thing. But there’s not enough resentment for it to become noticeable. LA: When we do [GeekXP] podcast interviews and I talk to people who have had an interest in comics growing up, you find that a lot of them got made fun of for stuff like reading things meant for kids. It’s a common thing. These days, because it’s so pervasive and famous people are doing it, and because if it’s on TV it gets a lot more credibility. And the money in the industry gives it even more credibility – current geeks don’t have to defend it as much as older geek did, because there is a greater level of acceptance.

GM: Do you think that the old school geeks take on the attitude of “well, we did the hard work, now you get the benefits?” LA: Only momentarily, maybe. As grant said earlier, the moment a geek gets a whiff of someone being interested in the same things they’re interested in… that all falls away. A geek will accept it more than going “oh, you don’t know how hard I had it, in my day I had to walk to school uphill both ways” and shit like that. GC: I have heard people say it, but it’s not what is in their hearts. They’re embracing the new geeks, generally. There are a lot of “when we’s”… but they’re doing it to help stimulate the new geeks, really. LA: There is even an acknowledgement from the new geeks... “you used to that, that’s what it used to be like?” But geeks are more likely to embrace the idea that somebody new is now into it. GC: At Icon my hand almost fell off from being shaken so many times by the older geeks. They like the fact that it was a bigger event with more people, new people in there. Most of the older people brought their kids.

GM: Is the South African rise in geekdom keeping track with trends overseas? GC: We’re well up on what’s happening around the world. The video gamers visit gamecca86

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GM: OK, so to come full circle… back to Icon. What was the response? Did you see a year on year growth? GC: Well, we never had a year on year growth at Jabula. We had the same numbers coming through the door for close on ten years. This year we did see growth – more than double the number we would see at Jabula. LA: And five per cent watched Icon online.

GM: So you tied into the whole online delivery as well? LA: Yes. On the Friday we had some pretty major wins from a social media perspective. For one hour, around lunch time, leading up to one of Raymond E Feist’s panels, #Icon2016 out-trended #Brexit. #Icon2016 was number thirteen nationally for the entire weekend. And we’re pretty proud of that, because most of our resources went into making the event work, rather than promotion and tracking. We had some people there, but nowhere near the resource that overseas conventions have. So to pull that sort of performance out was a really big feather in the cap, and it’s stood us in good stead speaking to corporates about the next event. Once again, it is the geek cross to bear to have credibility and validation. So having those sorts of numbers for Icon 2016 gives it a really good sense of credibility, saying that this is something really cool something that corporates want to be a part of.

GM: What can we expect from Icon 2017? I know you’re planning already… LA: You can expect more of the same. The panel area was a big success for us, so we’re going to expand the offering from a panel perspective. We will also be expanding our focus on education and learning; Icon has always been seen as a doorway into geekdom, and we want more people focussed on answering questions and doing demos. To get more people into geekdom, of course. g gamecca86

Cosplayer: Janél Kimiko Van Aswegen • Photographer: Cos We Play Project, Jay Caboz

GC: Board games. It’s by far the biggest growth area at the moment. Comics are doing well, and graphic novel sales are starting to overtake them, largely due to pricing.

Photographer: Cos We Play Project, Jay Caboz

GM: So what’s the biggest growth area here in South Africa?

Chaotic Good

developer websites, the Magic the gathering players are reading spoilers about new sets coming out. The comic people are preordering things that are only coming out in a year because they read about it in someone’s blog.

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Game of Thrones: The Trivia

LIFESTYLE

Do you know your Arbour from your Eyrie?

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AT A GLANCE

#of Players: Play Time: Manufacturer: Distributor: Online:

Trivia 2-4 Players 30-60 minutes Fantasy Flight Games SolarPop www.fantasyflightgames.com gamecca86

Ages

Think you know Game of Thrones? Think again! This TV-series based trivia game will challenge even the most dedicated of fans.

18+ 88 Score

101

by Alex Scanlon

Genre:

Summary

Game

but those who want a little more intrigue and strategy in their game can opt to use favour cards. In this case, controlled locations grant resources, and the favours (granted by characters from the series) are bought with these resources. They can be anything from shifting control from one location to another, to removing player’s tokens from the board under certain circumstances. This is really where the game shines, because the added element of messing with your opponents simply feels more like Game of Thrones than simply answering questions, and the heightened degree of strategy is quite unusual for a trivia game. The well-produced board and markers are easy to use and identify, but the real stars of this show are the questions. Some of them are pretty easy, and a decent knowledge of the characters, events and locations will get you through. But then there are also some extremely obscure questions, relating to quick events or off-hand comments within the show that only true addicts might be able to remember… if they’re lucky. And then there’s the fact that this game is based on the TV series, which has steadily veered away from the novels as the story wore on. Knowledge of the books is great, but it won’t do you much good here. Game of Thrones: The Trivia Game is nothing if not humbling. It can get frustrating, too, as many of the questions can be quite difficult to get right. But it can be an awesome way to show how much – or how little – you know about HBO’s hit series. g

COOL STUFF: BoardGames

W

e all have that one friend who knows more about Game of Thrones than may be actually healthy. Hell, some of us are that friend. And it’s for people like those that Game of Thrones: The Trivia Game is perfect… it will either let them show off their knowledge of the hit TV series, or set a plate of very humble pie in front of them. That said, any fan of the series should enjoy this title, which covers the first four seasons. In fact, the question cards have the related season printed on them, to avoid spoilers for those that haven’t seen all of the first four seasons. The game employs a fairly simple dynamic: the game board has nine locations (like King’s Landing, Winterfell and The Wall), each of which have seven control spaces. On their turn, a player nominates whether they want to take control of one, two or three spaces, and names a location. If they get their answers right (one, two or three questions, accordingly) they get to place a marker in the appropriate position. The person who has the most control spaces covered controls that location and, at the end of the game, the one who controls the most locations wins. It’s pretty simple. The only other complication is that, every few rounds, the questions relate to a particular image, which is printed on the back of the question card. All other question cards have questions of both sides, and considering how big the stack is, you won’t be running out of trivia any time soon. That is the basic game, in a nutshell,


LE TY EW S E I lIF EV R

Vs. System 2PCG: The Marvel Ba

LIFESTYLE

Clash of the cards

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AT A GLANCE

#of Players: Play Time: Manufacturer: Distributor: Online:

Deck-building 2 Players 30 minutes Upper Deck SolarPop Upperdeckstore.com/vs gamecca86

Ages

An exciting and addictive Marvel themed card game that comes with all the cards you’ll ever need in one box.

12+ 80 Score

103

by Alex Scanlon

Genre:

Summary

attles

– defeating it means game over for the opponent. Other support characters come into play, too, but are less powerful than the main character. Using these characters, the player builds up a team to take on their opponent. Various buffs and penalties can be applied during play, too. In addition to the character cards, there are also event cards (called “plot twists”) and location cards, using for generating resources to play new characters or activate super powers. Any card can be played as a resource card, too, while duplicate character cards can be exchanged for buffs. It’s these ideas – the multiple ways to use cards, either with their indented purpose or as resources or buffs – which makes this game extremely interesting and very strategic. Sure, planning an attack is very important, but deciding whether to employ a card as a much needed resource, or to use its face ability can also make a great difference to the way the game plays out. Games tend to be fast paced, with quite a lot of back and forth buffing and countering. It’s an exciting game, when all is said and done, and getting a carefully planned attack to work just right is very exciting. While Vs. System 2PCG: The Marvel Battles is primarily intended to be a twoplayer game, there are optional rules for up to four players, although the game does tend to get a little chaotic at these times (like most card games do). So if you’re into a super-hero themed card game that requires quick thinking and forward planning, Vs. System 2PCG: The Marvel Battles is a great option.. g

COOL STUFF: BoardGames

W

hen you say the words “card game” to almost anyone who has done even a little table-top gaming, they immediately think of empty wallets and buying booster packs. Most card games are, of course, played with collectible cards, and that means buying lots of extra packs to search for the elusive few that the player may be after. Upper Deck’s Vs. System changes that idea entirely, simply by providing the player with all the cards they will need to play. And not just on their own, either… The Vs. System 2PCG: The Marvel Battles game includes all the cards needed to create four distinct decks inspired by the Marvel Universe. These decks are divided into the X-Men, Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy and Villains classes, and once they have been assembles, there will be a whole bunch of cards left over… particularly for those who want to tweak their decks and not stick to the prescribed builds that Upper Deck included with this game. This makes for a refreshing change from the apparent money-grabbing of other card games, and allows the player to make one purchase in order to get the full experience of the game. The game itself is fairly easy to understand, even for those who haven’t played card games before. It uses a system that is very personality-centric. In other words, most of the cards in play will be characters related to the particular deck theme. One character will be selected as the player’s lead character, and can even level up when specific criteria have been met. This main character is the player’s life blood


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Pathfinder C

Adventure

LIFESTYLE

A few years ago, when Wizards of the Coast changes a whole bunch of things regarding Dungeons & Dragons (rules, licensing agreements and a bunch more) a lot of people were not happy. The new D&D rules were laughable, the new agreements were restrictive. So publishers Paizo, who had an agreement with Wizards of the Coast before the changes, adopted and modified the D&D third edition ruleset to create Pathfinder. 104

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by Walt Pretorius

Core Rules Genre: System:

Fantasy Level-based

Manufacturer:

Paizo

Distributor:

Paizo

Online:

Summary

AT A GLANCE

e awaits...

www.paizo.com

gamecca

86

The “other” fantasy RPG, Pathfinder’s core rules are rich and very complete, allowing for near effortless fantasy gaming in a vast variety of settings.

Score

90 105


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I

n the subsequent years, Pathfinder has risen to

The Pathfinder rules are involved and thorough,

become Dungeons & Dragons major challenger

although never overly complicated. This can appear to

for the fantasy role-playing game space,

be a barrier to entry for the game, but the well written

thanks to exceptional work done by the team

core rule book will, with a bit of study, allow even

at Paizo to evolve the game into a complex, rich and

inexperienced players and game masters to enjoy the

ultimately rewarding experience.

myriad possibilities it offers.

The pathfinder rule system can be used to create virtually any fantasy setting, although there is a lot

also uses a full set of standard RPG dice – four, six,

of locational source material available for the game.

eight, ten, twelve and twenty sided dice, to be exact.

In fact, there is a lot of material overall, making LIFESTYLE

Due to the higher degree of complexity, Pathfinder

This core rule book is a very good place to start,

Pathfinder one of the richest, most developed RPG

and it covers the basic rules for virtually any given

rule systems available today.

situation. But, as with many RPGs, the core rules

With that richness comes a degree of complexity.

106

cannot exist in a vacuum; there is a lot of additional

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Cool Stuff: RPGs

material for Pathfinder, and an effective campaign

make it their own, without the need for guesswork or

will most certainly need to make use of some of it.

too much extra effort. This makes it a fantastic broad-

Monsters, locations, specialised classes and a lot more

based fantasy RPG.

can be found in these additional source books, and

With thorough rules, great inspiring artwork, a broad

purchasing this first book will only deliver the goods if

scope of possibilities and great attention to detail,

it becomes part of a greater Pathfinder collection. But,

Pathfinder certainly deserves its position, contesting

as far as core rule books go, the Pathfinder core rules

for the top of the Fantasy RPG pile. It allows for a

are some of the most complete you will find.

greater variation of situations and approaches than

The flip-side of having a lot of rules (which may, at

D&D 3rd edition ever did, and provides the options

times, feel a little cumbersome for groups not very

and tools for customising and pacing a campaign in

familiar with them) is that Pathfinder doesn’t leave a

the hands of the GM and players. The only limitation

lot up to debate and chance. It addresses numerous

here – in a fantasy paradigm – is the player’s

options and ideas, allowing the group to dig in and

imagination. g gamecca86

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Mutant: Year Zero

LIFESTYLE

A strange new world...

Everything comes crashing down – a terrible plague wipes out billions in a short space of time, desperate countries go to war, raining nuclear fire down on their enemies, the climate surges out of control. The world ends. But every ending is also a beginning, and the few struggling survivors of the world that was before find themselves living in small enclaves, called Arks, scratching out a fragile existence among the debris of the old world. They are not the same as those that came before. They have changed, the poisonous, dangerous new world changing them into creatures that are more – and less 108

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System: Manufacturer: Distributor: Online:

Post-apocalyptic Skill-based Free League Publishing

Summary

AT A GLANCE

by Walt Pretorius

Genre:

Modiphius Entertainment www.modiphius.com

gamecca

86

Mutant: Year Zero offers the player a strange new world to explore, as well as a management aspect that adds a great deal to the overall experience.

Score

88 109


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T

his is the exciting and enticing premise

conflict) to the whole affair. The Ark itself becomes a

of Mutant: Year Zero, a post-apocalyptic

character that needs to be nurtured and developed,

role-playing game in which all the players

and the player characters become the leaders of its

take on the roles of characters who have

inhabitants.

become mutated by their environment.

Another difference is that Mutant: Year Zero uses

LIFESTYLE

But Mutant: Year Zero takes things in a few

specific dice created for the game. They are six-sided,

different directions, and very effectively at that.

but have differing symbols on them, which tie into

Not only will the players have to adventure into

the game mechanics. Thankfully for those who buy

the dangerous world beyond the walls of their

the PDF online, there are guidelines for employing

Ark, but they will have to develop and build their

standard six sided dice as well.

Ark as well… it’s a bit of management and overall

And then there’s the matter of skills. There are

strategy built into the game that adds a wonderful

only twelve standard skills within the game, with a

feeling of cohesiveness and society (not to mention

thirteenth provided by character class. It’s a simple

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system that makes use of modifiers, in the form of

complexity. The main cores of the rules come down

talents and mutations, rather than being overly skill

to result pushing (rerolling certain dice for added

heavy. Talents can have a big effect on how you play

benefits) and modifying through talents, skills and

your character, and can be bought using the same XP

abilities. This strange world is, in terms of the ways it

based improvement system that governs skills.

works, quite accessible.

The real stars here, though, are the mutations, the

With a slick rule system, great characters and the

character elements that take your character from the

really awesome ideas behind building and developing

realms of human and into the sphere of super-human.

an Ark, Mutant: Year Zero is something of a breath of

Water breathing, wings, psychic abilities and a whole

fresh air in the RPG arena. It doesn’t take itself too

bunch of other mutations help your character become

seriously, and yet is very serious at the same time.

a unique hero in this blasted and very strange world.

The setting and paradigm are also extremely unique,

In terms of rules, Mutant: Year Zero isn’t overly cluttered, while still retaining a good level of

and make for some extremely enjoyable role playing sessions. g gamecca86

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PulpCthulhu Getting tougher…

System:

Horror Call of Cthulhu

Manufacturer:

Chaosium

Distributor:

Chaosium

Online:

Summary

LIFESTYLE

AT A GLANCE 112

Genre:

fisted heroes. Pulp Cthulhu is a new supplement to the Call of Cthulhu RPG, and it allows players and the keeper to undertake tales that are a little more action packed, with characters that are more adept at fighting the forces of evil. With tons of additional and optional rules, Pulp Cthulhu allows for a more action focussed adventure, and includes special organisations that would be involved in Mythos investigations (making it easier to bring groups together).

www.chaosium.com gamecca86

In addition to extra information on the 1930s, new archetypes, rules adjustments for a variety of systems (from combat to insanity) Pulp Cthulhu also includes four scenarios to springboard you into this grittier, more action packed variant of the classic RPG. So if you’re tired of your character being the sticky bit on the bottom of Cthulhu’s shoe, take a good long hard look at Pulp Cthulhu – groups who enjoy action with their horror will certainly get a kick out of this new supplement. g

A great new addition to the Call of Cthulhu RPG, which sees a tougher breed of hero take on the Mythos in the 1930s.

Score

88

by Walt Pretorius

T

he one aspect of Call of Cthulhu that has always held a prominent position in the minds of players is that their characters, going up against the dread Cthulhu Mythos, are oh so fragile. But what if the characters were made of sterner stuff, less ordinary folks and more heroes? Well, fast forward a decade or so, and the 1920s are replaced by the 1930s, a time when pulp fiction really gained a footing with the public. And one thing pulp fiction has tons of are tough, gritty, two

Cool Stuff: RPGs

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Traveller C

Take me a

LIFESTYLE

Travelling to the far flung reaches of space, encountering new life forms and finding new planets‌ these are the classic staples of science fiction, and have been part of our culture for many, many years. And even though we live in a world of pocket-sized computers, robot farmers and creating something from nothing with a 3D printer, the allure of far-flung deep space adventure is still alive and well. That’s good news for Traveller, a role playing game that has been around almost as long as Dungeons & Dragons. First published in 1977, Traveller has been given a new lease on life, with the latest version having surfaced 114

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Cool Stuff: RPGs

by Walt Pretorius

Core Rules Genre: System: Manufacturer: Distributor: Online:

Sc-fi Skill-based Mongoose Publishing

Summary

AT A GLANCE

anywhere...

DriveThruRPG www.drivethrurpg.com

gamecca

86

Score

A great, broad scoped scifi RPG with a long history, Traveller is accessible and flexible, with some great ideas worked in.

87 115


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T

raveller is a perfect catch-all for human-

dice throughout the game. Also, the rules like to steer

centric sci-fi role playing, even though

game masters away from unnecessary skill checks.

it does present a strong setting in the

It is suggested that players only make skill checks in

form of the Third Imperium, a human

high-tension situations, like during combat or crises.

empire spanning several galaxies. While there is a lot of supplemental information available for the Third

One of the more unusual aspects of Traveller is the

Imperium, Traveller employs the kind of flexibility

way in which characters improve. Unlike other RPGs,

that let’s ambitious game masters do pretty much

which award experience points to either gain levels

anything sci-fi with it... as long as

or buy new skills, Traveller takes a more realistic

Additionally, it employs a rule-set that is very LIFESTYLE

This keeps things flowing quite nicely.

approach: study. Players wanting to improve their

accessible. It’s not the simplest rule-set around, but

characters can elect to study the skills they want to

it is also certainly not the most complicated, and

improve, which then takes a certain amount of in-game

it makes things even easier by only using six-sided

time to complete. As you can imagine, with such a

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vast setting, there is a fair amount of in-game downtime that characters can utilise for such pursuits, and

heroes – they are made, not born. As one might expect, spacecraft and combat are

it adds a sense of realism to the whole affair. There

also important to Traveller, with large sections of the

are checks involved in studying, but time is the most

rues dedicated to those ideas. Traveller turns the ship

important component.

into an extension of the party in many ways, almost a

Another aspect of the game that drags it towards a

character in its own right, and the right kind of group

welcome realism is the fact that the characters players

will see their ship becoming a familiar, integral and

use are not super-powered or overly exceptional.

loved element of their sessions.

These are real people, with normal abilities. There is

Traveller has a long history, with a great rule system

an option to make use of Psionic characters, for that

that makes it evergreen. It offers a wide range of

bit of super-natural appeal, but even these characters,

scope, too, whether you play in the Third Imperium or

despite their advanced mental abilities, still feel rather

not, and makes for some very exciting game sessions

normal. Traveller is about ordinary people who become

for sci-fi fans. g

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ICONS Assem

Being s

LIFESTYLE

There have been more than a few super-hero role playing games over the roughly four decades in which the hobby has existed, ranging from complicated, rule-heavy works through to much simpler, easy-to-play games. And they have run the spectrum of moods, too, from heroic games that carry the spirit of four colour classics through to darker, grittier efforts that feel a lot more like the modern comic era. The one thing that ties them all together is the fact that many players love taking on the roles of super-powered individuals. Many a kid has invented their own comic book hero, and these games allow players to take those fantasies even further. 118

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by Walt Pretorius

embled Edition Genre:

Super hero

System:

Skill-based

Manufacturer: Distributor: Online:

Ad Infinitum Adventures

Summary

AT A GLANCE

super!

DriveThru RPG www.drivethrurpg.com

gamecca

86

Score

A simple game, uncluttered by complicated rules, ICONS is a great catch-all for super-hero gaming.

85 119


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I

CONS is such a game, and it bring to players the ability to play virtually every kind of

that allows players to create characters and world

super-hero, using an efficient and user-

that work without becoming overly dictatorial. While

friendly rule system. The rules for the game

it seems like a lot more work for the GM particularly,

are simple, because creator Steve Kenson likes the

the flip-side is that ICONS allows the players of the

idea of player taking the basics and making them

game a lot more freedom, and asks more of their

their own (he pretty much says that in the book’s

imaginations. That is what role playing is really about.

introduction). Similarly, ICONS doesn’t come with

LIFESTYLE

What ICONS is, then, is a framework, a rule set

Powers, for example, are classed into categories

a pre-created game world – rather, it is up to the

and are classified within the rules, but how the power

GM and players to create their own unique world

manifests for each character is up to the player. An

into which characters generated with and acting

energy attack could take many forms, allowing the

according to the ICONS rules exist.

player to trim the appearance and mechanics of the

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power to suit the character that they are creating.

beginners. The rules never get complicated, and even

In keeping with a fast-paced, role-playing oriented

the dice required for the game are only six-sided

game, the rules are pretty simple, with most checks

dice, which are easy to find when compared to the

being opposed, skill-based affairs. It’s an uncluttered,

polyhedral dice common to other RPGs.

elegant affair that allows for a quick pace and lots

This ICONS Assembled edition is the only book

of excitement. A lot of the rules terminology ties into

required to get a game going, and the light tone and

comics, too. Turns become panels, adventure sessions

easy rule system mean that you’ll get through it and

become issues; it engenders the feel of being a comic

playing in no time. Simpler rules also mean less

book hero, and makes for great fun.

researching and more customisation, which will allow

While the idea of creating a universe to play in might

the group to make ICONS a game that is truly theirs. I

be a little daunting to less experienced game masters,

short, this game is a great catch-all for super-hero role

ICONS remains an extremely accessible game for

playing‌ easy to get in to, and great fun to play. g

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121


Pathfinder: Ultimate Intrigue The pen and the sword

System:

Fantasy Pathfinder

Manufacturer:

Paizo

Distributor:

Paizo

Online:

Summary

LIFESTYLE

AT A GLANCE 122

Genre:

Pathfinder Ultimate Intrigue, deals directly with matters of this nature, allowing players to have a solid base of rules and skills that go beyond attack rolls. The supplement follows some extremely sensible ways to deal with confrontations that aren’t overtly physical, and introduced some new classes and skills to deal with situations that are more social in nature. Additionally, it offers a chapter on Social Combat, allowing for players to define the thrust and parry of a verbal duel in terms of stats and

www.paizo.com gamecca86

defined rules. There are also a number of new spells, gear items and magical items that help with a more social (or stealthy) battle. In creating this book, Paizo have brought definition to a much needed area in fantasy role-playing. Ultimate Intrigue won’t replace the need for swords and offensive sorcery, but it will help players who want to take a more measured approach to their battles, and will help inspire some great character-based role-playing sessions too. g

A great new approach to conflict resolution in Pathfinder, Ultimate Intrigue has extensive rules for resolving battles that don’t involve swords and shields.

Score

87

by Walt Pretorius

N

ot every battle is performed with sword and shield. Some are fought with the weapons of tongue and wit. Yet others are fought with shadow and stealth. Far too often, fantasy role playing game sessions devolve into physical combat as a means of solving conflicts, but it the real world, there are many more ways to work things out than making attack. It should be the same in a fantasy roleplaying game… at least that’s what Pathfinder publishers Paizo seem to believe. Their latest supplement,

Cool Stuff: RPGs

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E YL W T ES IE lIF EV R

City of Wolves In the Gas-Light…

Title:

LIFESTYLE

Author: Publisher: Genre:

124

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City of Wolves Willow Palecek Tor Books Gaslight Fantasy


COOL STUFF: bOOKS

T

hose who have enjoyed cult classics of ferocious werewolves set in Victorian era, where death stalks the nights on gargantuan claws and yellowed teeth, might find some relief in this short yet well written tale. With a story that reminded me of Van Helsing and a

touch of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, City of Wolves is one example of what Gaslamp fantasy looks like. A mystery novel at heart, the story follows Investigator for Hire, Alexander Drake, as he is buttonholed in an alley; the reason, to investigate the mysterious death of a wealthy lord. What ensues is a tale of intrigue, action and suspense, as Drake is not the only investigator on the matter, and the clues all lead to a rather mysterious conclusion. With fantastic world building that puts you deep into the Gaslamp setting and unique characters and settings bringing the story together, Willow Palecek makes for a compelling story. The suspense flows throughout the entire investigation, and unravels ceremoniously in classic mystery-esque elegance. The tying up of loose-ends was a bit of a twist that caught me off guard, although once the clues are laid bare,

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by Nthato Morakabi

you can only wonder how you missed it.g

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Cold-Forged Flame An uncertain journey

Title:

LIFESTYLE

Author: Publisher: Genre:

126

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Cold-Forged Flame Marie Brennan Tor Books Fantasy


COOL STUFF: bOOKS

C

old-Forged Flame is something of a short book for fantasy – a novella, in truth – but it sets the tone for what appears to be a new series from Marie Brennan. It tells the tale of a woman who wakes in the midst of a mysterious, unknown tribe. They task

her with obtaining a vial of blood for a ritual they must complete, and so she sets off on a journey across an ever changing land that seems to have some degree of sentience. Her reward… freedom. Cold-Forged Flame is a deftly written and highly entertaining novella. It explored ideas of memory and identity as the protagonist makes her journey across the strange land, and hold more than a few surprises in store for the reader. Brennan’s style is easy-to-read and extremely engaging, and the result is a book that does not only entertain the reader, but leaves one looking forward to thenext instalment in this series. Cold-Forged Flame is beautifully paced, full of great writing that shows why Marie Brennan is so well loved, as well as being an award winning author. It is a great read for fantasy fans, and one that is sure to become very popular. g by Walt Pretorius

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Nightshades

Refreshing vampires…

Title:

LIFESTYLE

Author: Publisher: Genre:

128

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Nightshades Melissa F. Olson Tor Books Urban Fantasy


COOL STUFF: bOOKS

T

he urban fantasy genre has seen its fair share of vampires, werewolves and witches to binge stream on Netflix and populate Tumblr posts. It’s a genre I normally stay clear of due to the clichés and melodramatic young adult romance that makes it

so popular. Nightshades is none of those. It is a refreshing take on a seemingly tired trope and with enough action and suspense to keep the pages turning. Nightshades is the story of Special Agent Alex McKenna, in charge of Chicago’s Bureau of Paranormal Investigations. He joins the team following the kidnapping of children, and a most gruesome crime involving what everyone thought was a myth; vampires – or as they are commonly known, Shades. A unique cast of characters unsure what they are dealing with regarding the faster, stronger blood-suckers, lead agent McKenna to employ drastic measures to get to the bottom of the case. What unfolds is a vampire story that combines the brutality of older generation stories with a modern retelling that Melissa F. Olson beautifully unravels. A refreshing taking on how the vampires mesmerize their victims, ending that will leave you begging for more. g

gamecca86

by Nthato Morakabi

action packed sequences, and a cliff hanger

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Spiderlight

Along came a spider

Title:

LIFESTYLE

Author: Publisher: Genre:

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Spiderlight Cam Rogers Tor Books Fantasy


COOL STUFF: bOOKS

I

n high fantasy novels, heroes are heroic, standing up for what is right and true and good. But the heroes of Spiderlight, a new novel by Adrian Tchaikovsky, feel less like high fantasy paragons of justice, and more like fallible, real-world folks just trying to get a job done.

A group of heroes – Dion, Penthos, Cyrene,

Lief and Harathes – are given a task to defeat the Dark Lord Darvezian. In order to get close to him, they need to travel the “spider’s path”, and after some slaughter and strong-arming, they are granted a giant spider companion called Nth to guide them. But travelling with such an abomination is unpalatable to the heroes, so they magically transform Nth into a human, complete with intellect and emotions. What follows is a surprisingly pacey novel for the genre, that is also somewhat shorter than most high-fantasy. Spiderlight investigates highfantasy tropes through a very modern lens, and ideas like sexism, racism and hypocrisy all come under fire in this book that treads a borderline between comedic and deadly serious. The characters develop beautifully and, although some may find the conclusion a bit strange, if offers a thrilling and highly enjoyable experience overall. Tchaikovsky’s

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by Walt Pretorius

writing style is also wonderfully accessible. g

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Title:

Betty & Veronica #1

Writer:

Adam Hughes

Artist:

Adam Hughes

Publisher:

Archie Comics

Rated:

Teen

gamecca86

by Clive Burmeister

Betty & Veronica is the latest title in the all new world of Archie comics, brought into a time and manner which we can better relate to. Adam Hughes does a perfect job of capturing all the personalities of the classic Archie characters, and seamlessly blending them into our world, our time. And while all the characters make their appearance, this comic focuses on the ladies rather than on Archie himself, as the two best “frienemies� find themselves on opposite sides of the battle for what some consider a cornerstone of the peaceful town of Riverdale. With natural banter, well placed jests, sincere character quirks, and a genuinely welcoming vibe, Adam Hughes will immerse you into the world of Archie.

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LIFESTYLE

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Title:

Cryptocracy #1

Writer:

Van Jensen

Artist:

Pete Woods

Publisher: Rated:

Dark Horse Teen +

gamecca86

by Clive Burmeister

“Cryptocracies” – A form of government where the real leaders are hidden or merely unknown. Cryptocracy is a well thought out comic set in a world where our conspiracy theories about groups of people controlling what we know, what truths are revealed, what discoveries become public, etcetera, are completely founded. But what are the goals of these secret overlords, and do they all see eye to eye or is there animosity in their ranks? And are there some things that even these all powerful people do not know? This comic sells its pitch running, leading straight into the story and giving little bits of background and world mechanics as it goes, which makes for an enjoyable read without being bogged down by the scale and scope of the plot.

135

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Title:

Deadpool & The Mercs for Money#1

Writer:

Cullen Bunn

Artist:

Iban Coello

Publisher:

Marvel

Rated:

Teen +

Deadpool may be a witty mutant with an amazing healing factor and mad combat skills, but that doesn’t make him a good leader, which is a fact that he is discovering for himself heading a team of ruthless mercenaries. It may have something to do with the way that he treats them as something between children and slaves, or maybe something to do with the jobs he gets them involved with and the lack of information before he throws them in the deep end, or maybe it’s just his sparkling personality, but one thing is for sure, and that is “The Merc with a Mouth” needs to start watching his back. And maybe choose his jobs more wisely. by Clive Burmeister

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GET GRAPHIC

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LIFESTYLE

E YL W T ES IE lIF EV R

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Title: Writer: Artist:

Killing Pickman HC Jason E Becker Jon Rea

Publisher:

Archaia

Rated:

Mature

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by Clive Burmeister

Most cops have seen the evil in men during their time on the streets, but detective William Zhu has seen an evil greater than men, and it wears the face of Richard Pickman, the man responsible for more than a hundred missing children cases over a thirty year period. But the laws of man don’t work on creatures like this, and human justice falls short. Pickman must be killed. But how exactly does one kill a monster like this? Killing Pickman is a masterfully crafted supernatural crime fiction story, with an engaging and thought provoking plot that is fuelled into overdrive by Rea’s energetic and urgent seeming artwork, as if he was drawing these pages straight from his own demonic visions.

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BY rAMJET

Catch This... I

Ramjet’s rantality

love gaming. I really, really do. I can think of very few things that I would rather do than sit down and play a game for a few hours. It’s a way of burning off steam, of setting my many issues aside and just getting lost in a virtual world. But I also believe that I have a balanced approach to gaming. It never was, and never will be, so core to my existence that it becomes a total obsession. In fact, nothing should ever become an obsession, for anyone, because it just isn’t healthy. With that said, I can understand the obsession that people develop with games. I get it, I really do. Perhaps it is because I play so many games that I can resist the urge for any particular title to become the centre of my universe. Whatever the case may be, I understand how this can happen to people. It’s still not good, though. Obsessions leads down many darks paths, including zealotry and intolerance, which there is too much

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of in the video game community. Another dark path it might lead one down is the garden path, late at night, while trying to find a Pokemon. Ah, finally, the crux of the matter. Pokemon Go, the latest craze to sweep the world that has, thankfully, not arrived in South Africa yet. I kind of hope it never does, because – let’s be honest – we have bigger fish to fry than chasing down a Kantgivufuggumon in the mall parking lot. It’s a great idea, really, at the core of Pokemon Go. Getting people out and about, letting them explore and find new places (drug dens, dark alleys, whatever) in search of stupid little creatures. It gets people onto their feet and moving about, even if it glues them to their smartphones even more than before. The problem doesn’t lie in the concept, or even in the game itself. It comes from human nature, the desire to obsess about trivialities while ignoring important stuff. And while much of

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what we are seeing about Pokemon Go on social media is poking gentle fun at what people get up to with the game – walking around like a herd of sheep to find a Yushudgeddalyfamon in a park, or deserting vehicles in the middle of the road because there is a Aryukeedenmeeamon in that totally unsuspicious derelict building with gang tags nearby – the truth is that people are doing just that. Feed the kids? Screw that, I am hunting Pokemon. Get some work done? No way, there’s a Rediggulusamon in the ladies loo (just gotta figure out how to get in there). That’s just how people are. They will always follow the path of least resistance, and will find any excuse they can to do what they want, not what they should. And Pokemon Go gives them that excuse. People going on like it’s some kind of life and death situation. It’s not. It’s not even mildly important. It’s just an excuse for yet another obsession. And it’s stupid.g



Gamecca Magazine August 2016