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Are console-specific franchises on their way out?

You might remember long ago when Nintendo and Sega were jostling for the limelight on ‘90s television ads. They traded lighthearted barbs — ‘Genesis does what Nintendo-n’t!’ as they vied for their respective shares of the video-game market. Flagship franchises like Mario and Sonic were inseparable from the hardware their creators also made. Thus, the decision to buy a SNES or a Genesis/Mega Drive came down to which of those two era-defining mascots had your loyalty. Decades on, the aggressors in this console war have changed and, slowly, so have the tactics.

Beyond: Two Platforms


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15 years on, Metal Gear Solid 3’s geriatric sniper remains peerless

I like many, have a love-hate relationship with boss fights. This is largely due to their wildly varying quality both within individual games and across the medium as a whole. Boss fights can disappoint by being overly linear, too long, or too bland to match the story’s high stakes. We can look to the otherwise outstanding Doom Eternal for an example of this. The Icon of Sin’ is a dull bullet-sponge that feels oddly removed from the arena the player is fighting in. The fight’s intensity and urgency is created by the spawning waves of enemies. The Icon is comparatively…


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Bethesda’s most infamous release deserves its bad reputation, but is there a light at the end of the tunnel?

There’s not really any other way of introducing this topic, so I will just come right out with it: I am absolutely fascinated by Fallout 76.

I’d consider myself a pretty big Fallout fan, but one who had tempered expectations of Bethesda’s multiplayer spin on Fallout 4’s cycle of looting and crafting. This was of course compounded by the game’s singularly disastrous launch, one met with outrage, stifled laughter and an avalanche of commentary and criticism that reached critical mass within about a week. Like a fair few of you reading this now, I became intensely bored of hearing about…


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XCOM: Chimera Squad pulls off some audacious tweaks that could only be attempted in a spin-off

Experimentation can feel like a bit of a rarity in the triple-A space these days. That’s not a criticism, though. Studios do a fantastic job of innovating and iterating on their genre forebears, while maintaining some consistency to gave players the familiarity they often need to create that initial buy-in. NieR: Automata, for example, doles out its thematic craziness only after the player completes some comparatively tame introductory missions. Design experimentation, particularly in an established franchise, is even rarer: most of us buy sequels expecting a degree of similarity to the game we bought in the first place.

When XCOM…


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In Doom Eternal, the most important bullets are the ones you don’t fire

About two months ago, acclaimed video game documentary makers Noclip spoke to Doom Eternal’s creative director Hugo Martin. The video was a rundown of the new — and old — enemies players would get to pit themselves against in the then-upcoming sequel to 2016’s well-received reboot of the Doom franchise. Throughout the video, Martin introduces and describes the moves of these new enemies and how they will challenge the player. Almost every time, he calls them ‘chess pieces.’

This seems anachronistic. You might associate chess with, say, a turn-based strategy game; XCOM, for example, demands you to think, rethink and…


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A brief analysis of the animal kingdom’s Hitman

In the last little while, I’ve had three new games in my rotation. That’s a rarity for me: I’m typically patient when waiting for sales, and don’t usually like splitting my time between multiple games at once. However, September’s triple-threat of Borderlands 3, Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening and, er, Untitled Goose Game has had me throwing caution — and cash — to the wind, and revelling in three very different games.

This won’t be a comparison piece, but I did bring up all three of these games for reasons beyond bragging about the whole $140 (plus applicable taxes) I…


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This first expansion level doesn’t quite hit the series’ high bar

A few months ago, I wrote at length trying to capture what it is about IO Interactive’s new Hitman formula that is so enticing: chiefly, how the game teaches, but never tells. Hitman 2’s underdog story (where it once looked unlikely to get a look in on my personal games of 2018) was an exciting and refreshing one. …


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How does Bungie’s seminal title hold up almost two decades on?

Back home, there used to be a radio show called I’ve Never Seen Star Wars. As the title might suggest, the show revolved an affable host encouraging C-list celebrity guests to try new things — in particular, experiences that might be common for others. Whether it was seeing Star Wars, learning to swim or trying porridge, guests often had to deal with or answer to listeners’ incredulity at the things they hadn’t tried. If were back home, and a C-list celebrity, host Marcus Brigstocke might have encouraged me to play Halo.


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Borderlands’ ‘enhanced’ edition is a great excuse to return to the series’ humbler beginnings

Have you seen Star Wars? No really, have you? I’ve seen Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, which came as part of a DVD remaster trilogy I bought in 2004. But savvier fans of George Lucas’ sprawling space opera series know how hard it is to come by the original theatrical cut of Star Wars. My DVD copy, for what its worth, included superimposed CGI and, most infamously, Han Solo not shooting first. A whole lot of us, in fact, have not seen the Star Wars that opened in theatres back in 1977.

Lucas has come under a lot…


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Hitman’s most important mechanic is one of its subtlest

I was walking into a runway show in Paris. I’d been tasked with eliminating the owner of a world-renowned fashion brand, as well as his model-turned-spymaster partner. It was my first experience of Hitman’s episodic reboot from 2016, and I had little to no idea what I was doing. Passing through the courtyard on my way into the event, I noticed rows of large patio heaters either side of the doors. A tiny, white-outline square indicates this might be something I can interact with. However, to loosen the valves on each, I’d need a wrench. I didn’t have a wrench…

Joe Hubbard

writing about videogames I love.

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