Author: Z1GTeam

Self-Medication Through Gaming

I’ve always played video games. For as long as I’ve been capable of making my own decisions, more or less, I’ve chosen to while away the hours playing a game. From the early days of a TV system to today, where I have a set of modern consoles and a self-built gaming PC system.

The thing is, though, while today I have far more systems on which to play a larger library of games than before, I find myself gaming far less than I ever did when I was younger. I say younger, really less than I did 2 years ago. Read more …

Warlords of Draenor BETA Impressions

With the latest expansion for Blizzard’s behmoth MMORPG beginning the long rumble towards release, Zero1gaming recently caught up with a long-serving World of Warcraft player who’s been in the BETA testing and asked him what he thought.

(Please be aware; the views contained below are those of one player and not necessarily those of Zero1gaming as a whole – so please consider that before flaming us if his views on WOW do not co-incide with yours!) Read more …

Underworld: Drug Lords

When trying to catch a break in the highly competitive games journalist industry you gotta pay your dues. This includes writing about either free android/ios games, old games or games that can only be loosely described as dreadfull. If you’re really lucky you’ll have one that meets all three criteria. This one definitely fits the first, doesn’t fit the second and may or may not fit the third, depending on your tastes. The powers that be, at Z1G towers, thought that my being half-Colombian would make me the ideal candidate to review a game based solely on the purchase and resale of various narcotics. Kids, don’t do drugs! Read more …

How To Build A successful Arcade

We all have our own happy memories of time spent in an arcade. When once so prevalent, they’re now confined to seaside towns, motorway service stations and the garages and basements of the congenitally nerdy. They’re a shadow of their former selves; slowly dying away under an ever increasing mound of ‘£2.00 a go’ signs and Dance Central machines. The death knell for the amusement arcade has in no small part been brought about by the rise of the smart phone and the convenience of app based gaming. Why bother going out for steak when you can have a slightly smaller steak at home? So we sit at home, staring at tiny screens and eating Doritio’s whilst House of the Dead and Time Crisis 3 are left with no one to entertain except the occasion northerner who’s stopped off at South Mimms for a poo on his way home from a plumbing convention. It’s sad, it’s not right, and someone needs to do something about it. Due to a lack of funds it’s unlikely to be me, however I will provide someone with the blueprint on how to build a successful amusement arcade and get rich bringing joy to the world. Read more …

Sleeping Dogs

In preparation for the new, shinier arrival of Sleeping Dogs onto our current generation of consoles this October, why not take the time to revisit a classic. For those who missed out or have short memories: read on.

As a massive fan of Hong Kong cinema I was genuinely excited when I first heard about Sleeping Dogs. GTA: San Andreas had already catered for the Boyz-N-The-Hood fanboy in me and now I was finally going to have the chance to recreate scenes from such classics as Hard Boiled, Bullet in the Head and Infernal Affairs. Read more …

The World Ends With You – Defining A Generation

Where do I begin to define this particular generation? Nintendo’s multi-million selling DS stood very much alone in it’s field. I mean, Sony’s PSP was technically the same handheld generation; but, aside from a small handful of decent original titles and the ability to play PSOne titles (such as Final Fantasy VII) on the move, the PSP was a bit of a waste of perfectly passable potential. The Nintendo DS had a cavalcade of original and fresh titles that saw some truly ingenious use of the handheld’s touchscreen and other features (in a similar way to the current trends of using the clever technological features of the Nintendo 3DS or Sony Playstation Vita), and none of these were more clever than The World Ends With You. Read more …

A Pixel-Spent Youth

If there is one thing I notice as a gamer, it’s that some people are not. Although these days it is sometimes hard to say exactly who is and who isn’t a gamer, you will periodically be faced with someone who is most definitely ‘one of them’.

Any gamer knows the situation. Someone, perhaps a colleague, asks you, “So what are your hobbies?” You answer, “gaming”. And then they give you a look that is something akin to disbelief, marinated with a lavish sprinkling of contempt.

When recently I found myself in this situation, I got to thinking about why it is that I love games so much. I thought back to the first time I ever played one and a tsunami of memories was unleashed. I’m going to share those memories with you now, and as with any story worth telling, it all starts at the beginning.

I played my first ever video game when I was about 8 years old. My school had initiated I.T. classes in a specially built lab containing about 40 devices called a ‘BBC Micro’. The lessons sucked. The only thing less interesting to me than making databases was… well no, there was nothing less interesting. Computers, I decided, were definitely not for me.

One day, our teacher introduced us to something he called ‘a computer game’. I forget the game’s name but the premise was simple; try to make as much money as possible on an artificial stock market. I was transfixed. I can still remember thinking, computers can do this as well?!

It was, as it turned out, a very difficult game to master. No matter where I invested my money, I always ended up bankrupt. But winning wasn’t the point. The point was that for as long as I was playing the game, I was someone else. I was a highflying stockbroker, with a bank full of cash and a burning desire to buy 150 million shares in zinc. It didn’t matter that the next day the share price of zinc plummeted as the market went stir crazy for tin; all I needed to do was click ‘restart’ and begin all over again. Wow! It felt like I was playing God.

I was hooked and so began a lifelong relationship with video games.

At some point in the early 90’s, my school replaced those venerable BBC Micros with Acorn Archimedes computers. There were, no doubt, hundreds of games released for the Acorn, but a few in particular remain in my memory. One was a game called Lander,which was a demo of another game called Zarch and was bundled with every Acorn computer.

It was a really simple game. Left mouse button provided thrust, right fired the cannon and the mouse provided directional input. That the game was set in space was unquestionable and I freely accepted that I was suddenly a spaceship pilot, tasked with manoeuvring over the surface of some unknown planet. Something that occurs to me now is that the one thing I didn’t question was the scores of straw hut like structures dotted around the place. If the game was set in space, why did it look like I was flying over a beach in Hawaii?

You would take off in a spray of pixels, and then proceed to do one of two things. Either you’d fly straight up for a few minutes until the fuel gauge was low before angling downwards and seeing if you could judge the exact moment the ground would appear as you crashed into it in a silent yet exhilarating explosion. Or you would attempt to fly as fast and as low as you could, while spraying the cannon at everything before you. Eventually you’d mis-judge the height of a tree and that would be all she wrote. The things is, I don’t remember there being any point to the game beyond that. There was no pre-flight briefing, no back-story. In fact, the only action that seemed to be implied at all was that I should ‘land’, which was ironic since that was the one thing I had no interest (read ability) in doing.

zarch

But none of that mattered. This was a game that I would happily spend two or three hours at a time playing. Take-off.Crash. Take-off.Blow stuff up.Crash. And repeat ad infinitum. It was a flawless example of game design over narrative and it was completely and wholly addictive.

After a while though I began to grow weary of the life of a spaceship captain. It was then that I discovered a game called Chocks Away. Whereas in Lander you could manoeuvre only left and right across the screen, in Chocks Away you now had the freedom of a full 360ºenvironment. Yes, I’d gotten my first flight-sim wings!

The aim? Take off in a WW1 Tiger Moth bi-plane, fly around shooting down Germans and anything else that moved and blowing up buildings and stuff on the ground. It was, in a word, breathtaking. There were actually missions for you to complete; something about a war between Britain and Germany or some nonsense, but I wasn’t interested in those. I spent my time in the free roaming skirmish-like part of the game, where I could take off and then terrorise the skies without being bound by the constraints of “mission objectives”.

You had controls to climb, dive, bank left, bank right, increase thrust, decrease thrust and shoot. Seven keys. The graphics by today’s standards would be considered fairly shocking, but the plane on screen moved with a grace I found mesmerising.

fig11

Moreover, I could fly anywhere I wanted. It was a glorious open world whose story was what ever I made of it. And nothing ever changed.There were no upgrades, no DLC promising new paint jobs for the plane, new weapons, or Snoop Dogg doing voiceover for the air traffic control tower. What you saw was what you got and I loved it for that.

Much like Lander before it, the only limit to Chocks Away’s story was your own imagination. The game itself provided very little in regards to narrative. This was a time when games showed you something quite simple and then said, make what you like of this. Today, as great as games like Skyrim, The Last Of Us and Tomb Raider are, there are still gems like Resogun showing us that gameplay can win out over narrative when it’s done right.

Next time, genocide and the rise of team-play!

 

Written By: Sebastian Young