As someone who writes a lot of gaming articles, I do my best to keep up to date with the printed magazines within the gaming scene. We still have Retro Gamer that remains the gold standard but there has been a renaissance of new publications. Printed gaming magazines are definitely making a comeback. You only need to take a quick look at my coverage of Sega Mania and Sega Powered to get some idea of the choice available today.
With the likes of Fusion, Crash and Zzap already established it shows the gaming community still appreciate the printed word. In a world where screens, clicks and emails rule our day to day, it is amazing to think folk still want to buy real magazines. I regularly ask my readers why they still buy physical magazines and the response is almost always the same. They want that nostalgia trip, the smell of the fresh print and an escape from screens.
Late last year I chatted to the team behind E1M1 magazine who, at the time, were getting ready to launch a first person shooter (FPS) magazine. It is wonderful to see them celebrating one year since their successful Kickstarter. That first year is crucial for any magazine, many do not make it to the first anniversary. They recently sent me a copy of issue seven for review, and the headline is FPS fans should be getting in on this action.
Reviewing a genre-specific magazine is a first for me. E1M1 focuses solely on the FPS genre and there is no room for my Sonic or Street Fighter. Not being a mega FPS fan like the staff writers I went in with an open mind. I like FPS games, Soldier of Fortune on PC is engrained on my memory and who doesn’t like Goldeneye. But, a whole magazine dedicated to one genre? On the face of it the concept feels very niche. But you just need to look at how popular FPS games are amongst gamers. It is still one of the go-to genres with millions of FPS players worldwide.
E1M1 aims to bring you all the latest news, reviews and previews from the FPS world. The amount of games featured in the issue I read is impressive. The team clearly want to cover as many games as possible each month. Clocking in at over 70 pages and printed on quality paper stock, E1M1 certainly has a professional feel. It would be easy to put it in the fanzine category but the size and level of coverage certainly raises it above the norm for this type of magazine. It also covers retro FPS games as well, so those looking for a shooting memory trip can get that fix.
Spread throughout the pages are original artworks featuring your favourite games. Duke Nukem sitting on the loo reading his copy of E1M1 made me chuckle. These artworks help break up the magazine and brings a hint of variety for the readers. Towards the end of the issue I read were several in depth interviews with game devs that I found interesting. There is nothing quite like hearing from the people behind the games. Bringing to life their creation while celebrating the achievements.
With the amount of news and reviews in E1M1 it would be easy to let the writing quality slide. However, the level of writing on show here is excellent. The detail is just enough to be informative without being overbearing. The staff writers clearly have a vision for their style, all the articles keep to it and this creates a flow between the pages. This should not be understated. Writers have their own style and keeping them all to ‘house style’ is difficult. E1M1 stands out in its ability to weave a cohesive structure. All the writers have bought into the vision.
While the writing is very accomplished the layout of the pages is where my my only real criticism lies. Each review or preview is boxed out with quite small font. It is not unreadable but there was a few times when I had to bring the magazine closer to my face to read clearly. It is a small issue in the big picture but I would like to see less space between sections with larger print. I was seeing space around the pages that, to me at least, could have been used more effectively. I know from my own experience that magazine space comes at a premium.
Layout aside, the images for the games are big and clear. You can read the article and the picture accompanying them make sense. With the amount of games covered the editing team have done a great job fitting so much in to bring the words to life. Each page also has a subtle backdrop of the game in question. While I liked this aspect, a little variety in the colour and design would have helped some articles pop more. Again, this is mostly personal preference. I like big bold colours, yet, most FPS games are dark and brooding so the style makes sense.
The one thing to mark is how E1M1 sticks to its style and never wavers. I think FPS fans will be drawn in by the aesthetic and style on show. And, ultimately, the team have created a magazine for those people. Would I recommend E1M1 to casual gamers? Probably not, the lack of variety in content will put many of. However, FPS fans will drool at the coverage of their chosen genre. The huge amount of games covered is impressive and the style is akin to the genre in general.
You can buy E1M1 direct on the magazines website. Thank you to the E1M1 team for sending issue seven for review.