Visual Memory #8 – ‘The House of the Dead’

The House of the Dead title cardAfter an extended hiatus, Christopher Bell is back with our gaming retrospective column, proving that rumours of his demise have been greatly exaggerated. The same can’t be said for the residents of the Curien Mansion, however. It’s time to take a look around The House of the Dead

On the night of December 18th 1998, Agent Thomas Rogan receives a frenzied telephone call from his fiancée Sophie, a researcher working for the infamous geneticist Dr. Curien. She’s at  Curien’s mansion but the call ominously cuts off before she can fully explain her situation. Rogan hurries to the scene with his partner – a mysterious man by the name of ‘G’ – to find and rescue her. The agents have no choice but to explore the mansion and face with the horrors within…
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Random Encounter #6 – The Betrayal of Gaming’s Most Iconic Character?

The new look Lara Croft. Because 'The Hunger Games'' was REALLY big last yearAfter an extended break, our look at the world of video game culture is back! Kieran Mathers takes the new look Lara for a spin…

This month saw the return of the venerable old lady of computer gaming. No, I don’t mean Samus from Metroid Prime. Crystal Dynamics have released the much anticipated Tomb Raider reboot, starring one Ms Lara Croft.

A lot of virtual ink has been spilled over this gritty story of Lara’s origins, mostly relating to its occasional gameplay flaws and restricted camera control. The bold re-casting of Lara has firmly split online opinion, with some believing it to be the boost the series needed, while other say that this new approach has ruined a character from the early years of 3D gaming.

I’m not going to engage with the gameplay debates, or the arguable over-use of Quick Time Events. Reviewers better than me have tackled those at great length, and I’ll only mention them when relevant. I’m going to look at Tomb Raider 2013 for what it espouses to be: a re-invention of Lara Croft, the icon and the woman. Have these radical changes ruined or saved her?

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Visual Memory #7 – ‘Spy vs Spy’

Box art for 'Spy vs Spy'

Christopher Bell digs another gaming classic out of the archives…

This month’s article looks at the cat-and-mouse espionage game inspired by a slapstick classic that originated in the pages of MAD Magazine.  Welcome to the MAD-cap (see what I did there?) world of Spy vs. Spy!

The game has the player take control of either the white spy or black spy in their quest to smuggle a set of blueprints to the level’s extraction point, and to do each other in, given the chance.  There are no differences or advantages in their playing styles, but one or the other may have an advantage in a particular level due to starting points, position of blueprints, etc.
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Visual Memory #6 – ‘The Black Mirror’

Creepy, kooky, mysterious and spooky… Our resident games expert Christopher Bell salvages another classic title from the scrap heap.

After the comic fantasy of Monkey Island and Discworld, it’s time to look at the darker side of point-and-click adventures. The Black Mirror involves murder, a family curse and creepy English (and Welsh) manor houses. Those of you of a fragile disposition, turn back now…

The Black Mirror was developed in 2003 by Czech developer Future Games, under the title Posel Smrti (Death’s Messenger). You play a nobleman by the name of Samuel Gordon, who returns to his ancestral home of Black Mirror Manor, in the ominous-sounding Willow Creek, near Norfolk, after an absence of 12 years.  Samuel’s grandfather, William, has been found dead, impaled on an iron fence.  Most people believe that he went mad and threw himself from the manor’s tower, but Samuel suspects a more sinister cause. Then the visions, nightmares and unexplained headaches begin. Samuel’s sanity will be stretched to its limits over the game’s six chapters…

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Random Encounter #5 – Tropes Vs Me

Is there a sexual sickness at the heart of geek culture? Olivia squares up against the latest controversy, and the gloves are coming off…

Recently I’ve been trying to write something on this Tropes vs Women in video games debate that’s being raging on the Internet. For those not in the know, Anita Sarkeesian, who runs a popular YouTube series called Tropes Versus Women, recently asked for funding to produce a series that looked specifically at video games. While Sarkeesian received the funding she needed (and then some), she also provoked a backlash of the most poisonous kind. Every aspect of her online presence – her YouTube channel, Facebook profile, Twitter account and her own website, to name but a few – was flooded with misogynistic comments, threats of death, sexual assault and violence. There were event attempts to have her YouTube channel shut down by flagging her videos as ‘terrorism’.

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Visual Memory #5 – ‘Discworld’

In this month’s column, Christopher Bell revisits another comedy classic…

I’ll start with a quick question: What do Doctor Who, Monty Python’s Flying Circus and Gavin & Stacy have in common (apart from the fact that they’re all well-known British TV shows)? The answer is that some of their stars (Jon Pertwee, Eric Idle and Rob Brydon) lent their voices to this point-and-click adventure based upon Terry Pratchett’s best-selling series of comic fantasy novels.

The game’s story is loosely based on two of the most popular books, Guards! Guards! and Moving Pictures, requiring players to fill the billowing robes of Unseen University’s most inept wizard (or should that be wizzard?), Rincewind, voiced by Eric Idle. A shady sect of hooded villains has managed to summon a dragon into the streets of Ankh-Morpork, and it’s running amok. The fate of the city now rests upon Rincewind’s shaky shoulders (because no-one else wanted to fry), forcing him to rely on his wits and sarcasm. Oh, and a piece of luggage with feet.

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