Level Up!

News

Beginning a column about videogames, it would be great to start by talking about the gaming news you missed this summer whilst saving orphans in Peru.

Sadly there’s not really much to tell. Summer is invariably lacking in decent new games, which strikes me as odd – given all the free time, you’d think developers would be desperate to distract people from their boring lives, but good weather is apparently anathema to gaming. This is probably because gamers themselves are well-known as an athletic, rippling-chested sort of people.

If you’re not of the heavy-gaming type, this summer dearth likely makes sense to you. After all, why play a football game when you can play the real thing? Why play Rock Band when you could learn an instrument? Why play a shooting game when you could go outside, and shoot your friends? (Not really.)
Now we are getting toward the ever-swamped Christmas period and there’s a bunch of interesting things coming out. By the time you read this, Civilization V will be on the shelves, and it promises unsurprisingly to be a slightly-improved version of Civilization IV. You’ll probably love it if you liked the whole turn-based world domination thing before. Still, if you’ve not tried the series but are interested in being a pretend dictator, you’re better off getting the latter on the cheap.

Far more interesting than the release of Halo: Reach is the news that Duke Nukem Forever, a game that’s been in development since 1997, is being released next year. What’s most surprising is that what we’ve seen so far actually looks good, a real turnaround for a game which was basically missing, presumed dead. Still, when a Duke game was last released it was acceptable for a game to focus on a semi-ironic, two dimensional comic book-style hero. This game’s going to be released into a more mature market than its predecessor – and people who found Duke’s womanising and one-liners hilarious when they were 13 might not so much now that they’re 27. Perhaps we can hope that the (new) developers who revived that lifeless husk of a game have more in mind than just a large pay check from a pointless rehash. It would be a fantastic end to an insane development process if Duke Nukem Forever turned out, bizarrely, to be actually great.