TL;DR – A DLC that is full of exciting ideas but also some missed opportunities and frustrations.
Rating: 3 out of 5.
Disclosure – I paid for this DLC
Surviving Mars: Below and Beyond Review –
Over the years, one of the games I come back to once in a while has been Surviving Mars. This is a strategy game/ city builder about constructing the first human colony on Mars with drones, domes, and danger, oh my. While it was full of promise, it hit its stride with the Green Planet DLC, allowing you to terraform Mars into an oasis gradually. For a long time, this looked like it would be the final stop for the game, but recently there was a surprise announcement of a new DLC Below and Beyond, which we will look at today.
The essential overview of this new DLC is that while exploring the surface of Mars, you have come across these vents under the surface. Here there are large tunnels, old lava tubes, so large that you could both explore and even colonise them. The one big drawback is that they are very dangerous as cave falls can crush rovers and cut off passageways. You can use technologies found in the new Recon and Expansion tech tree to make exploring safer. Still, if you want to colonise down below, you will need sturdier materials, which is good because it just so happens that several asteroids are coming close to Mars’ orbit with Exotic Minerals just perfect for the new task.
TL;DR – Here, we have a beautiful game with a lot of promise but is not quite there yet.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Disclosure – I paid for this game.
Humankind Review –
One genre of Video Games just clicks with me more than others, like on a deep physiological level. That genre is the strategy game, well, more than that. It is the particular 4X genre of strategy game where you eXplore, eXploit, eXpand, & eXterminate, and if it is turn-based, even better. I can spend hundreds of hours exploring the mechanics of each game, hitting each of those four X’s. In the realm of the historical-empire-builder 4X world, there has been one crown, Civilization. Well, today, we take a look at a game that is coming for that title, and while it doesn’t quite get there, it does come close.
The first thing I want to mention is just how beautiful this game is. When you first jump into the game and see a river crashing over the cliffs into a valley full of lush jungle and red earth, Well, it will take your breath away. A lot of care has gone into everything feeling as if it is a natural part of this world. Part of what helps is a mountain of terrain features that make even areas that could be dull, like the frozen poles, still feel interesting to explore. I also like how they have introduced height to the game, making the world feel more grounded. You can see the legacy of Endless Legend throughout this game in the design of the terrain, but it has been tailored to be like Earth but stylized, and I think they get that balance right. To add to this, while watching this stunning game, you also get to hear a soundtrack that I have yet to get sick over these[redacted] hours that I have played, and I am listening to it now as I write this review. If I had to pick my favourite track from the game, it would be Mercury, but they are all great.
We are getting a new expansion for Civilization VI, well, not quite. Over the next year, we have a season pass, the New Frontier Pass, which will give us several new Civilizations and Game Modes(which you can find out more information HERE). The final new Civilization has been announced, so let’s dive into Portugal.
João III of Portugal Overview
Civilization Leader: João III Preferred Religion: Catholicism Civilization Capital: Lisbon Civilization Bonus: Casa Da Índia – International Trade Routes can only reach cities on the coast or with a Harbour, +Yields on International Trade Routes. Trader units get +range on Water and can embark from the start of the game. Leader Bonus: Porta Do Cerco – All units get bonus sight, bonus trade route when you meet a civilization for the first time, Open Borders with all City-States. Unique Unit: Nau – Cheaper maintenance, Starts with one free promotion, has two charges to build Feitorias. Unique Tile Improvement: Feitoria – +Gold, +Production, Portugal gains +Gold, +Production to all trade routes to a city with one. Must be built in a foreign city with Open Borders on the coast next to a bonus or luxury resource. Cannot be removed. Unique Building: Navigation School – Replaces the University, +construction of Naval units, +science for every two Coast or Lake tiles in the city, +Great Admiral Points. Cities: Viseu, Évora, Faro, Guimarães,
TL;DR – Conflict on a planetary scale that combines orbital mechanics with the chaos of Worms
Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Disclosure – I paid for the game.
Interplanetary Review –
When you play online games with a group of friends occasionally, there will be the call of “what does everyone have?” followed by everyone scanning through their Steam lists for options as a suggestion after suggestion gets vetoed by a different member of the group. Last week this happened with my friends and them someone threw out the request Interplanetary, a game that I played a bit when it first came out in 2015 but hadn’t thought much of it since. Then we discovered that Interplanetary had an Enhanced Edition and well we loaded it up and cried havoc and let slip the dogs of war.
So to set the scene, Interplanetary is a game set in what I would assume is a very dystopian universe. You play the role of one of the planets in a solar system that has just descended into war. You don’t have access to space ships, but you can build railguns on your planets and rain down fire across the solar system. From a mechanics perspective, Interplanetary is a turn-based artillery –focused strategy game. In your turn, you can build new weapons, resource, or defence buildings. You can pick research to boost your attack, and most importantly, you can fire your weapons. This is a game that takes a lot of inspiration from Hard Science Fiction so where you position your weapons on your planet is essential as it rotates, as it orbits around the sun. To attack, you will need to set an orbital insertion path while taking into account the orbits and gravity of every other planetary body in the solar system.
TL;DR: A genuinely flexible civilization with a side of military expansion
We are getting a new expansion for Civilization VI, well not quite, over the next year we have a season pass, the New Frontier Pass, which will give us several new Civilizations and Game Modes over the next year (which you can find out more information HERE). The next new Civilization has been announced, so let’s dive into Vietnam.
TL;DR – A game where the mechanics, story, music, and design all pulls you in, so you keep trying to escape your captivity run after run after run
Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Disclosure – I paid for the game
Hades Review –
At the start of this year, I thought I would take some time to catch up on some of the things I might have missed last year, and I also wanted a bit of an escape from the current world around. With this in mind, several people I respect had Hades on their ‘Best Video Game of 2020’ lists so I thought that might be an excellent place to dive in and I was right.
So to set the scene, you are Zagreus (Darren Korb) the son of Hades (Logan Cunningham) and Prince of the Underworld. However, a prince he may be, but in reality, he is trapped, a prisoner to his father’s wishes and demands. When he discovers that Nyx (Jamie Landrum) The God of Night is not his birth mother, Zagreus takes on himself to escape from the Underworld, even if that means fighting his way through Tartarus, Asphodel, and Elysium to get there.
TL;DR – A buggy experience that even when you power through it, you find a mostly surface-level game failing to delve into the world they had created
Rating: 3 out of 5.
Warning – Contains scenes that have been reported to induce seizures
Cyberpunk 2077 Review –
To be honest, I was wondering if I was actually going to write this review. The discourse around this game has been unpleasant, to say the least, and what difference would be one more voice howling into the void make. I mean, I even found myself cleaning the house to put this off. But in the end, I paid full price for this game, a game that was clearly not ready for release, and also this is my profession, so I kind of owe myself and the working hours I put into this game to contextualise that into words.
So to set the scene, in a boardroom, on the streets of Night City, or in my case on the northern outskirts of the city, we meet V (Gavin Drea/ Cherami Leigh) as his car is being put together. He is a nomad but without a clan or family anymore and is just trying to get ahead. One uppity sheriff later and he is on the way to meet his contact Jackie Welles (Jason Hightower). All V has to do is smuggle this little crate into the city, and he will have enough money to set himself up. There is just one border crossing between him and freedom … what could go wrong. When he thinks he has survived that skirmish, he is offered a chance to put together the heist of a lifetime involving the mysterious Johnny Silverhand (Keanu Reeves). From this point forward we will be looking at the game as a whole, so there will be [SPOILERS] ahead.
TL;DR – A fascinating game full of interesting places, solid mechanics, and many bugs
Warning – Contains scenes that have been reported to induce seizures
Cyberpunk 2077First Look –
It took longer to get to us than anyone including the developer planned, but today the world finally got their hands on CD PROJEKT RED latest work Cyberpunk 2077. I must admit I came into this game with a little hesitation, a lot of people had recommended to me The Witcher 3, and well I bounced off that game as if it was Henry Cavil’s torso. But given this was a new franchise and new genre for the company, it was the perfect place to get it a second try.
Now before we dive in, we need to make a couple of clarifications. The first of which is that this is a ‘first look’ not a full review. I have spent a couple of hours with the game and enough time to get a sense of the world and the mechanics but not a deep dive into the story which will come in our full review. Also, I am playing this game on PC, so your experience may vary depending on your console or the rig you are playing this on.
So to set the scene, on the outskirts of Night City, we meet V (Gavin Drea) as his car is being put together. He is a nomad but without a clan or family anymore and is just trying to get ahead. One uppity sheriff later and he is on the way to meet his contact Jackie Welles (Jason Hightower). All V has to do is smuggle this little crate into the city, and he will have enough money to set himself up. There is just one border crossing between him and freedom … what could go wrong.
TL;DR: There has been a dearth of perfect science civs … that is until now.
We are getting a new expansion for Civilization VI, well not quite, over the next year we have a season pass, the New Frontier Pass, which will give us several new Civilizations and Game Modes over the next year (which you can find out more information HERE). The next new Civilization has been released so let’s dive into Babylon.
TL;DR – We get our party on, in what is a robust new outing for Jackbox Games
Jackbox Party Pack 7 Review –
If you have spent any time on Twitch, you would probably have a passing understanding of Jackbox games. These are fun little party games like Trivia Murder Party that can be played with a group of friends around a TV or on large streams when hundreds of people can join in on the audience. It is this flexibility that gives the Jackbox Party Pack their longevity.
Well, today we are going to dive into the world party games and look at Jackbox Games newest outing Jackbox Party Pack 7. To put together this review, I have played some of these games on stream via Twitch and also with friends in local coop.