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Jorge Velez - Roman Birds Music Album Reviews

Inspired by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, this five-track ambient wonder finds the New York producer letting pulses and motifs overlap until the tracks resemble the inside of a lava lamp.
Jorge Velez has long been prolific, but that’s been especially true in the past few years. Like many underground electronic musicians, the New York producer has taken advantage of the internet’s self-publishing opportunities—in particular, the direct-to-fans platform Bandcamp—to sidestep label gatekeepers, streaming services, and crowded retailers. (Velez’s Bandcamp page currently numbers 26 releases.) Velez first gained recognition a dozen years ago with blippy disco derivatives for labels like Italians Do It Better, but his output has gradually become more esoteric and inward-looking. He’s still capable of ebullient club tracks, as last year’s excellent Forza attests, but many of his long, undulating machine jams sound like late-night missives to himself.

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Assassin's Creed: Discovery Tour Preview

Assassin's Creed: Discovery Tour Preview

Following an incredibly successful launch of the game at the end of 2017, Ubisoft has more plans for Assassin’s Creed: Origins. As well as a plethora of DLC that’ll be released throughout 2018 that’ll offer new quests and areas to explore, Ubisoft announced Discovery Tour, a new educational game mode.

We’ve spent some time taking tours of Ancient Egypt in Discovery Tour by Assassin’s Creed, and here’s a little preview of what to expect.



RELEASE DATE AND PRICING

Discovery Tour is available to all Assassin’s Creed Origins owners across PS4, Xbox One and PC from today (20 February 2018). It will be free of charge.

But what about if you don’t have Assassin’s Creed: Origins and want to get in on the educational action? Don’t fret, as Ubisoft is offering a special standalone version of the Discovery Tour on Steam and UPlay for £19.99.

PREVIEW

Discovery Tour by Assassin’s Creed is completely different to anything we’ve seen in the Assassin’s Creed universe until now, offering an educational twist on the stunning ancient open world created by Ubisoft. It’s the outcome of years of requests and comments from educators about using Assassin’s Creed titles in the classroom to help better educate students.

Whether it’s about Victorian London or the Renaissance, the visual element helps students get a better idea of what it was actually like in that time period. Of course, up until now, only the standard games have been used, all including stories, quests and combat – not ideal when trying to teach 30 kids about history. With such positive feedback, Ubisoft decided to branch out and try something new: make history mainstream.


How is that possible? Discovery Tour removes many of the elements of the main game (storyline, quests and combat mainly) and replaces them with a range of factual tours that’ll take you all over Ancient Egypt. In fact, Ubisoft offers a whopping 75 tours in the game mode, all from quick five-minute overviews to in-depth 20-minute tours depending on your interest.


Before we go into detail about what the game mode offers, we should first explain the level of detail that Ubisoft has gone to when creating the Discovery Tour mode. The developers studied and learnt about the time period by using old maps, photos, understanding the mentality of the time period and more. The team worked with a range of experts, from historians to Egyptologists to weapons experts to make sure that every aspect of the game as is accurate as can be.

Admittedly, there are a few places throughout the open world where the team decided to tweak the design of buildings, stages and more, but the company has been honest and highlights these inaccuracies to players when on tours. These are classed as developer notes, which provide a little bit of insight into the world of game development and describe some of the hurdles the team had to overcome.  


So, what’s the aim of Discovery Tour? Essentially, Ubisoft wants to make learning about Ancient Egypt accessible to a wider audience, beyond the core gaming market. The no-pressure environment allows people that wouldn’t usually play games explore the world without any time or conflict pressure, but still able to explore in the same intuitive ways as in the main game (swimming, diving, horse-riding and using Senu’s eagle vision).


As mentioned above, the game mode features 75 tours throughout the open world, covering a wide range of topics. These are split into five main categories: Egypt, Pyramids, Daily Life, Alexandria and Romans, making it easier to learn about the areas you’re most interested in. Though the tours can be triggered by randomly coming across them in the open world as you explore, you can also access a complete list of tours via the main menu.

Simply select the Tour to see more information including how long it lasts, how many steps it has and what it’ll cover, along with an option to fast travel to the start location.
Once you begin, you’ll be greeted with a voiceover that’ll take you through the tour. Think of the tours as being like museum tours, but more interactive. You’ll be provided with photos of real Egyptian objects and places, renders and other interesting titbits to keep you interested, although we found the combination of the voiceover and visual elements to be more than engaging enough.


You’re not tied into a tour once it begins, either. If, mid-tour, you see something interesting you’d like to take a closer look at, feel free to simply walk away. It’s one of the benefits of the open world setup, and the best part is that you won’t have to start the tour again once you restart (unless you want to, of course).


As well as offering a range of tours to educate gamers, Ubisoft provides 25 characters to choose from, from Bayek to Caesar and everything in between. Why? The aim is to let you experience life in Ancient Egypt from a different perspective, as you’d be treated differently if you were a Woman/Roman/Egyptian/Child/Rich. Want to explore the great pyramids as Julius Caesar? It’s possible. Want to see how Egyptians react to a Roman presence? You can do that too.


We’re pretty impressed with what Ubisoft has created with Discovery Tour: something that repurposes the incredible, gorgeous and lively open world the team has created into something that can be used by those old and young to learn something new about one of the most fascinating time periods in our history.

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