Gamebytes and Bots
Gamebytes and Bots
GAMEBYTES AND BOTS
Legend of Grimrock 2 screenshot
THE BEST OF SINGLE PLAYER PC GAMING - NOW PLAYING:   LEGEND OF GRIMROCK 2
THE BEST OF SINGLE PLAYER PC GAMING - NOW PLAYING: LEGEND OF GRIMROCK 2
Legend of Grimrock 2 screenshot
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COMING NEXT
RECENT POST-RELEASE REVIEWS - SEE FEATURES FOR BEST SINGLE PLAYER GAME REVIEWS
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MAGICINDIE COLLECTION
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OUTLAST
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QUAKE 4
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MURDERED SOUL SUSPECT

THE FUTURE OF SINGLE PLAYER GAMES

Are single-player video games really dying? A few years ago all the so-called industry experts were predicting its death and the development of online-only multiplayer games surged. However, a few years later in retrospect, the poster-child failures of Evolve, and to a lesser degree Titanfall and Star Wars: Battlefront, points to a major disconnect between these developers and the people who play their games. Obviously, the creators did not expect their games to fail so quickly post release and given that these titles won all sorts of critical awards and received high praise in graphics and design, that leaves something vastly wrong with their assessment of what gamers really want. When you're talking millions of dollars in production costs, that's one serious miscalculation. Although the newest gen games can be very pretty to look at and use all the latest, greatest technology, eye candy is fleeting whereas the age-old aspects of what makes people tick is not. A sure fire formula for a quick demise is this trend toward lack of enough content on Triple AAA priced releases, price-gouging on DLC, lack of options, unstable servers and most importantly of all, failing to keep the player emotionally invested. As to advertised single-player modes, many of them are generally just challenge maps and not story-driven campaigns. Add to that list that although social networking plays a big role in today's gaming, to bet the farm on this one aspect is to turn a blind eye to many gamers who just don't want to be connected to other people day and night, nor play with total strangers in what is often a toxic environment.

Although some people would scoff at Call of Duty as an example of a winning formula that encompasses both modes, you can't argue with commercial success, although they too have been fumbling around with this in recent years. Single-player and multiplayer offer two very different emotional experiences and people want strong contenders in both modes. The typical argument has been that users don't play the single-player content and therefore it's a waste of resources to develop it. However, this assessment may be intentionally disingenuous or may not be based on good analyses. When primarily single-player games toss in under-developed multiplayer modes, they die quickly and perhaps the opposite is true. Multiplayer games with tacked on poor single-player modes, could result in the same effect and lead to the conclusion that people don't play these. There's also an underlying psychology to consumer mentality and perhaps the most glaring example of a failure to recognize this is a game called The Flock. It's premise of a world population that depletes until no one can play it was an unique idea that went horribly wrong. Every player death contributes to the reduction of a set number of spawns until the game dries up and becomes obsolete. One of the justifications for this premise was that most multiplayer games dry up anyway. Although it's no more than a statement of fact that most multiplayer games will eventually die, to hard code this into a game with a price tag was not wise and was doomed to fail. What's more worrisome is that the developers had zero understanding of the psychology behind planned obsolescence. Many consumers do not want to pay good money for games that don't give them the option of replaying them at some point down the road, or games that are unplayable if the servers are down, or worse, if they are officially shut down. It's immaterial whether gamers will play them or not, they want that option to remain open regardless.

Of course, as mentioned above, there are other factors besides the lack of a single player mode that will determine the success or failure of a game, but it's interesting that on this one point, Titanfall 2 and Battlefront 2 are slated to include single-player campaigns, which basically points to an admission that the developers didn't get it right the first time around. However, it remains to be seen just how much effort will be put into the mode. Additionally, as of July 7 2016, Evolve went Free To Play in an attempt to save the game. The next few years should prove interesting as developers and publishers try to figure out how to offer the best of both worlds. Fortunately, some in the industry recognize there is profitable room for diversity and the astonishing success of some single player games released in recent years prove that they won't be dying any time soon.

PLAYING MY PC GAMES BACKLOG: NOW PLAYING - Legend of Grimrock 2

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Legend of Grimrock 2 has a lot going for it and offers more of everything over Grimrock 1. It's a vastly bigger game with lots of playing time, lots of different environments, and lots of re-playability. That means lots of value and the game should be more expensive for the amount of content you get. However, it's also a lot more difficult.

A game being hard doesn't intimidate me, but in this case it means there is little room for error in regards to choosing the right team from the get go if you don't want to be dying a lot. Although the game uses the same grid movement mechanics as its predecessor, much of the environment has moved outdoors. This means that grid movement is harder to determine as you don't have square rooms to guide you. There are many areas where you can get totally blocked in by rocks and bushes with no clear space to move around the enemy. Given that it likes to throw enemies at you in multiples, combat becomes a lot tougher. You also seem to be one step behind the enemy in damage output. Of course, this could be a result of just picking the wrong party and traits. On my first play-through, I forged ahead with a rather weak front-liner who was most often the first to die. On my second play-through, I chose more wisely and things went a bit easier.

Although I liked the game well enough, there are a couple of things I have a beef with, but you'll have to wait for the full review to find those out. Overall, Legend of Grimrock 2 is a triumph to many things, including the fact that it's one gorgeous looking game. However, be warned that it's very challenging. If you're not familiar with grid movement dungeon crawlers, you might want to try out Legend of Grimrock first. It's also a game that's highly recommended.

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Legend of Grimrock 2
Almost Human
Almost Human Ltd. is a Finnish independent game studio formed in 2011 by a team of four industry veterans. Their first game, Legend of Grimrock, actually began life in 2001 as a hobby project called Dungeon Master, which in 2004 was released in its final version as Escape from Dragon Mountain. Legend of Grimrock resulted as a decision to grow this simple clone into a fully viable commercial product and thus Almost Human Ltd. was born.

Although banking on an old-school dungeon crawler was very risky, the developers were passionate fans of this dying genre and it was a gambit they were willing to take. For a small company, Legend of Grimrock turned out to be a rip-roaring success reaching best seller status on Steam when released. It achieved ten times the sales numbers the developers were expecting and its surprising popularity ensured that Almost Human would survive to make a second game.

Material for Legend of Grimrock 2 was originally planned for Legend of Grimrock DLC, but the devs soon realized that they had enough ideas and content for a full sequel instead. Upon release, it too received very positive reviews. Three years later, however, Almost Human does not seem to be working on a new game. Instead, some designers have split off to form a studio called Ctrl Alt Ninja to work on a RPG called Druidstone: The Secret of the Mehir Forest. In their own words, they do not describe themselves as a rival company, but rather as "members of a band who have a dual membership in another band" stating that they will work for Amost Human should they decide to announce a new game.

THE BEST OF SINGLE PLAYER PC GAMES

Of course everyone has their preferences, but I personally prefer single-player, story-driven games. As strictly a hobby site, the games featured and reviewed are geared to my tastes and are all ones that I personally own and have played to completion. In terms of approximately the 9,000 titles listed on Steam alone, it's a small collection, but it's also a good collection of the best single player PC games barring a few missteps. It's also dedicated to what some might call cheap gaming, but what I call affordable and still relevant gaming. Most of the top gaming sites will give you all the news on the latest and greatest games, but as they age, they quickly fall from the radar and current information on older games gets harder to find. And yet, SteamSpy, a site dedicated to Steam game statistics, shows that millions of PC gamers are still buying and playing these games.

So, I guess it's a pretty odd concept to have a current PC gaming site that deals with non-current games, but as a person on a limited budget, I count myself amongst the silent majority of bargain hunters. And as one of them, I want the latest information and updates on running those games. I don't like to forget the newbies either as I was once one of them, coming to PC gaming late and so the site also offers some advice and general information on the industry and the latest trends. There's also a section on understanding gaming system requirements, a section on how to install games and mods, and an often asked question regarding reputable distributors and third-party clients. As to the list of single player PC games in Features, for the most part, I can feel comfortable in recommending them. However, with literally thousands of available games, I only choose what I think will give me the best gaming experiences in their single player modes.

Each individual review page also provides screenshots, a trailer and lots of other information and quality links to issues like bug fixes, patches, other reviews, mods and which distributors are carrying the game. In addition to the hours spent playing, this all requires a lot of research, especially on older games where current information is often hard to find. That is why adding a review to the list takes time. Please check back often to see if a game you are interested in has been reviewed. This home page features a short preview commentary and screenshots of the next full game review that will be added to the Features list. You may also want to check that list for news on games you already own as any important game updates, such as remastered versions or announced sequels are bulleted and added to the end of the review. I try to update the site every two weeks with a new game, but sometimes life gets in the way and it could take a little longer.

ABOUT THE REVIEWS

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Recommended: Fallout 3
Genre: Action, RPG
Modes: Single Player
PC Release: Oct 2008
Developer: Bethesda
Steam Rating: Very Positive

You will find my reviews somewhat different than the mainstream as they concentrate on single-player, how the game looked and played for me, and what I enjoyed and didn't enjoy. They are based on complete playthroughs and targeted toward those who, like myself, just want to know if the game is relatively bug free, can be played on my system, and has a story or theme I like. Like books and movies, games we like are subject to personal tastes and all a reviewer can do is give you an idea if the game has features you might also like. Scores can take you only so far as they can be influenced by outside factors. The latest trend is to completely trash new releases on day-one before the game has been patched, resulting in very low scores that might never get reversed (although some of them deserve it). I usually play these games much later after most of the patches and improvements have been made. However, all game review pages include convenient links to a ton of information so that you can explore areas that are of interest to you such as system requirements, other reviews, forums, achievements or even mods and modding tools.

Another significant difference is that the mainstream reviews were done at the time of release, but GAB's reviews are written when played, which could be years after release. This impacts on how the older games look, feel, and run after technology has made vast strides in graphics and play. If you fine-tune your own gaming likes and dislikes, you will be less likely to be swayed by either hyped or overly negative reviews.

THE PC GAMING COMMUNITY

With the gaming industry constantly changing, Basics is an overview of the stuff every PC gamer should know about getting the best value
Visit  Install and learn how to download, install and uninstall your games, patches and mods. Install 2 will highlight an outstanding mod.
PC gamers are a community and actively interested in keeping it alive and healthy. In order to do this we need to help each other overcome problems that some may initially find intimidating. I have therefore included several tutorials that deal with the practical issues of PC gaming. Basics covers what you should know about gaming in general, and how to develop personal strategies that will avoid disappointments and give you the best bang for your buck. TechTalk explains the ins and outs of all the components listed for a PC game's system requirements, and Install shows how to install games or mods from discs or downloads. Features is a master list linking to individual game pages that provide a review, screenshots, specs and details about the game. In response to people asking about safe and reliable digital distributors and their client programs, a section has been added called GameClients that includes a short bio and how each site handles the downloads. The challenge in covering PC gaming lies in its versatility. Everyone's system is different and what works for some doesn't work for others. In conclusion, the more we assist each other, the better PC gaming will be! You've no doubt heard the expression that there are no stupid questions, just stupid answers and many gamers are quite happy to help.
With the gaming industry constantly changing, Basics covers what every gamer should know. Avoid errors, frustrations and disappointments
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