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Category Archives: What’s Gus Playing

What’s Gus Playing? Episode 14

GrogHeads’ own half-height harbinger of horror turns horny ~

Lloyd Sabin, 15 January 2018

It’s cold as balls outside (read: extremely cold) and my driveway is a glacier. Which leads me to think of Vikings and Viking-themed games. In this installment of What’s Gus Playing, I’ll cover some of my time with three Norse-irific titles: Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, Vikings: Wolves of Midgard, and Expeditions: Viking.

Expeditions: Viking is just as well produced as Vikings: Wolves of Midgard (probably moreso) but takes its Scandinavian history more to heart, and a bit more seriously.

Full disclosure: I got about half way in to Hellblade and covered it in more detail in the last installment of What’s Gus Playing. It eventually drained me and I had to move on to something else a little lighter to save my sanity, and that was Vikings: Wolves of Midgard. It’s a Diablo-clone, but a well done one set among the myths of the Norse world. Your avatar is customizable to a point, the enemies are varied and numerous and the game runs well, with attractive, bloody graphics and cartoonish violence.

At first the difficulty almost seemed too easy and I was going to bump it up to ‘hard’ until I hit the first boss. I tried to defeat this boss seemingly 100 times and even after LOWERING the difficulty to ‘easy’ I still could not do it, at which point I just shouted ‘f this!’ and moved on to Expeditions: Viking.

Expeditions: Viking is just as well produced as Vikings: Wolves of Midgard (probably moreso) but takes its Scandinavian history more to heart, and a bit more seriously. Like its predecessor, Expeditions: Conquistador, it is a story-based, historically accurate hybrid of tactical wargame and RPG. 

What’s Gus Playing? Episode 13

The bantam-weight banterer of badassery battles in a bygone Britain ~

Lloyd Sabin, 8 January 2018

I obviously try to keep this column as light as possible, but some games are just heavy. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is one such heavy game.

Just be warned – I would not recommend playing for extended periods of time. Hellblade seriously changed my mood, and quickly.

Giving the player the opportunity to play as Senua, a female Celt, in Dark Age Britain, Hellblade is much more than a game of exploration or first person combat. These aspects are there, but Hellblade, first and foremost, is about fear…fear generated through mental illness.

Ninja Theory, the producers of Hellblade, consulted mental illness experts to create the game and state they wanted to make as accurate a portrayal of mental illness as possible, so that those lucky enough to live without it could have some idea of what it’s like. They did a fine job, because Hellblade is terrifying, confusing and infuriating, by design.

I found myself panicking, getting angry and frustrated, and finally having to step away from the game for a breather…about an hour of Hellblade is all I can really do before it becomes too much.

This is not a knock at the game itself – it’s awesome, well-produced, beautiful to look at and takes its content very seriously. Just be prepared to be affected. That’s the best way I can think of to describe it. Hopefully you will be able to see some of what I saw in the screen shots below. I also have to mention the audio design. The sound, maybe even more than the visuals, are the real terror drivers here. Play Hellblade for just an hour and you will see what I mean.

What’s Gus Playing? Episode 12

GrogHeads’ rump-height rapscallion rides the ropes ~

Lloyd Sabin, 25 December 2017

I’m sure there are many games that you return to after months or even years away. This was the case for me with Assassin’s Creed: Rogue. You know, the AssCreed just after Black Flag that kept the well done naval combat but shifted settings to New York’s Hudson River Valley during the French and Indian War in the 1750s.

It’s one of those games that makes players excited to be gamers, and I can’t think of a better comment to lavish upon it!

Oh and your in-game avatar spent most of the game breaking away from his usual Assassin’s guild and worked on joining the Templars. Traitor? Turncoat? Depends on your perspective.

Rogue does give players an opportunity to explore the beautiful Hudson River Valley hinterland as well as its bigger cities like Albany and New York City, one of the only games I can recall that provides that setting. And living here in that setting 250 years later made Rogue irresistible…it just draws players in with beautiful graphics, stealthy mechanics (where you want them), a solid naval combat component, even fleet management.

What’s Gus Playing? Episode 11

The wee wonder of warmongering waxes whimsically ~

Lloyd Sabin, 18 December 2017

Well my Polish campaign in Medieval 2: Total War (with the Stainless Steel mod) looks to be wrapping up in a way I didn’t really want…Hungary, Novgorod and now Venice have all found savory bits to lop off my increasingly small empire and I fear I may be knocked out of the campaign soon. Witness some of the below shots.

Initially I cheered at this news as the Holy Roman Empire was a victory objective for me to defeat but then I quickly realized that the powers that dismantled it were in the process of taking my Polish empire down too.

What’s Gus Playing? Episode 10

Our pint-sized pistoleer picks up Pike & Shot ~

Lloyd Sabin, 11 December 2017

If you include fan made scenarios and campaigns, Pike & Shot Campaigns covers warfare all the way up to the American Revolution and the American Civil War.

As soon as I learned that the Pike & Shot: Campaigns engine was the same one used by the Battle Academy games, I knew I would be drawn in. I love those games for their simplicity and also for the sense of urgency their turn-based structure creates. In some ways they create a sense of tension usually reserved for playing against other humans, either digitally or in person in a board game. Pike & Shot is exactly the same, with the added bonus of covering European conflicts that are generally lacking in game coverage from the late 1400s to the late 1600s. If you include fan made scenarios and campaigns, Pike & Shot Campaigns covers warfare all the way up to the American Revolution and the American Civil War.

It had been a while since I had fired up Pike & Shot: Campaigns to look around, but I quickly downloaded literally dozens of fan made scenarios, including ones based on the 16th century Italian Wars, the early 18th century Great Northern War, a Gustavus Adolphus campaign and many more. I then started the first tutorial mission. It was one of four in the the tutorial campaign portraying the struggle of 17th century Transylvanian Boyars against the forces of the Holy Roman Empire. Digest that for a moment, I’ll wait…