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Monthly Archives: August 2013
Another game from Firaxis and 2K, but not Sid Meier this time, XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a tactical shooter from the same people as the previously reviewed Civ V. A good way to think of XCOM is that it is like Civ V, but with Aliens and with a big ol’ underground base, and with squares instead of hexagons.
Gameplay revolves, once again, around ordering your units about, placing them well and upgrading them. As your guys get exp, they will specialise into a few classes, such as snipers, support and heavies. You’re tasked with saving civilians, general alien killing and a bit of saving humanity while you’re at it.
Other than that, the rest of the game is spent in your underground
lair base building new facilities and researching new techs to repel the alien invaders. You’re also in charge of positioning satellites around the Earth, and responding to specific alien invasions to help reduce panic around the world.
What are your thoughts on XCOM: Enemy Unknown?
First released: October 2012; Published by 2K Games; Developed by Firaxis Games
This game: good, but lengthy. Most strategy games (eg Age of Empires) have games that last around two, three hours? Civ V, which has game speeds quick, normal, epic and marathon, takes at least four hours per game, in my experience. And that’s on quick pace! In short, you’ll need a long time to get through a game in one sitting, but it is rewarding. I recently finished a game on marathon pace, which took me more a less one week’s time.
The game starts you off with a settler to found a city, and a warrior to fight stuff. From there, you grow your empire, by constructing buildings, founding new cities, exploring, training units and fighting foes.
As may or may not be clear from the above image, Civ V is a turn-based-strategy game, and works on hexagonal tiles. Whereas in the more familiar Age of Empires games (along with others) you can just about place units and buildings wherever you want to, the hexagonal grid limits your choices. Far from being a nuisance, this really puts strategy first. Learning where to place your archers, tanks, warriors, knights, cannons, etc, and on what type of terrain, really is satisfying. When exploring, if you place a unit on a hill they will have a better vantage point to survey the lands around, that kind of thing. For me, this makes terrain types (jungle, hills, rivers, etc) and placement of units and cities one of the most enjoyable aspects of the game.
Similar to most strategy games there are scenarios you can play, such as 1066, but in my humble opinion, they’re of limited fun. And while we’re on the subject of things that aren’t quite fun in the long term, music. It must be difficult for a game that can last days to make enough music that is interesting. The music is specific to each civilisation, and develops as the game goes on, but hearing the same thing again and again tends to grind my gears.
The expansion pack Gods & Kings, released in June 2012, adds some new leaders to play as and a few new scenarios, but more importantly, a couple of new gameplay features; faith and espionage (ie religions which spread through populations and cities, and spies which can steal information and technologies from other players).
That being said, the expansions are fairly expensive, and you can get away without them.
For my money, it’s a brilliant game with a few flaws, but one where you really will get your money’s worth, given the amount of time you will likely spend playing it. What are your thoughts on Civ V?
First released: September 2010; Published by 2K Games; Developed by Firaxis Games
The next game in the hugely successful Fable series has been announced, Fable Legends, and it is confirmed to be an Xbox One exclusive title. So far, we know that the game will feature 5 player co-op; four heroes working against one villain (who oversees the enemies and traps, etc, that the heroes will face). It will also only be playable online, and will be set a whopping 400 years prior to the first game’s events. Here is the announcement trailer.
Hopefully it will be better than Fable Heroes, what do you think of it?
Continuing in my work for the Fighter’s Guild, I accepted a new contract: Find the Bosmer Maglir and find out why he hasn’t done the job he was meant to. So off I travelled to Skingrad, to the West Weald Inn. Therein I found Maglir, being a big ol’ coward, scared of a few undead! So naturally, I decided to take the quest in his stead.
Maglir had been charged with recovering Brenus Astis’ journal from Fallen Rock Cave, a short journey north-west of the city. Clearly, I wanted some better equipment, just to be safe.
So off I set, travelling to Fallen Rock. The journey was short but eventful, as I was interrupted by not one, but four wolves roaming the grassland. Needless to say, I had the last laugh. Before long I was at the cave itself. Gave my armour and weapons a quick repair, and in ventured.
As I set foot into Fallen Rock, the light failed. I opted to put away my steel claymore, and instead wielded the fine steel longsword along with a torch to light my way. Cautiously, I proceeded further, until suddenly, two skeletons ambushed me, one armed with an axe and the other with bow.
Immediately they attacked, giving me little time to decide my strategy. The axeman took a swing, which my longsword parried with ease, though it did stagger me. I fought back with a flurry of quick strikes, each one hampering the skeleton, not giving it any time to counter, all the while trying to keep myself out of the archer’s line of sight. The last thing I needed was arrows staggering me while I fought. The first skeleton was handily knocked down for good with a well-timed power attack, whereupon the archer took his chance, and let loose an arrow that found me in the shoulder. The steel armour took the brunt of the hit, allowing me to rush the archer and quickly defeat him.
At last I was able to take stock of my surroundings. The room was sparse, save for a chest containing a few septims. However as I proceeded, the skeletons didn’t let up, and some fights pushed me to my limit, Further through the dismal cave I encountered two skeletons once again, but this time both wielded sword and shield. I dodged and countered them, waiting for the few opportunities to present themselves for quick, light hits, until they were finally defeated.
Further and further, lower and lower I traversed the terrain and slew the skeletons, until at last, in the flooded floor of the cave, I found Astis’ journal! With the path to the exit now clear, it was easy work climbing back up and out to the welcoming daylight.
After returning to hand in the completed contract, I, as is my custom, restocked on equipment, potions and repairs.
Freelancing, I decided to help out Valus Odiil by protecting his sons, Rallus and Antus, as they defended their farm from being overrun by foul goblins from the nearby countryside. Together, Rallus, Antus and I travelled from Chorrol, past Weynon Priory and onwards to their farm south-east of the city.
As we reached the farm, goblins poured onto the field left, right and centre. As they charged, I took out one goblin with a single swipe of my claymore. Another passed by me, but was quickly taken down by the two brothers. As they fought off a third, stronger goblin, I came up behind the vile creature and, with a powerful strike, swung the sword overhead and took the goblin unawares. Without the foresight to block or dodge the attack, the creature fell.
Wave after wave we fought off the intruders until they were spent, and we were victorious. I was paid handsomely by Valus, along with his personal sword, Chillrend, an enchanted Elven shortsword of blue hue (as opposed to the usual green), and imbued with cold.
Age of Empires II is an old game, but has finally got it’s first official mod. Called Forgotten Empires, this mod will be available to use on the new HD edition of the game, and will be released via Steam this Autumn. According to this article on The Escapist;
Forgotten Empires includes 5 brand new civilizations: the Italians, Indians, Hungarians, Slavs, and the Incas, 30 new technologies, 9 new units, and a population increase to 1000. You’ll be able to play with these new toys on 11 new maps.
Good news, indeed. What are your thoughts on the news?