Surviving Mars: Below and Beyond – Video Game Review

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. Image Credit: Paradox Interactive.

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.

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Humankind – Video Game Review

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. Image Credit: Amplitude Studios.

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.

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Interplanetary Enhanced Edition – Exploring the Past (2017)

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 Enhanced Edition. Image Credit: Team Jolly Roger.

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.

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Hammurabi of Babylon First Look and Analysis – Civilization VI: New Frontier Pass

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.

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Basil II of Byzantium First Look and Analysis – Civilization VI: New Frontier Pass

TL;DR: Byzantium is coming with its horses and Religion, and not much is going to be able to stop it.

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. This pack will give us several new Civilizations and Game Modes over the next year (which you can find out more information HERE). The following new Civilizations has been released so let’s dive into Byzantium.

Basil II of Byzantium Overview

Basil II of Byzantium in Civilization VI. Image Credit: Firaxis Games.
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How Well Did They Create Ethiopia in Civilization VI?

TL;DR – So how well does Civilization 6 capture Ethiopia with its new entry? It’s raining faith Halleluiah, its rain faith, amen

Review –

With the drip-feed of content coming out of Civilization VI’s New Frontier pack we have already gotten a look at the Maya, Gran Colombia, and now Ethiopia. Given that Ethiopia is the first of these civilizations that has grabbed me, I thought it best to sit down and have a look at just how well they have implemented it in-game. After that, we will also spend a little bit of time looking at the other additions to the game. But to refresh ourselves, let’s take a look at Ethiopia’s bonuses.

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Menelik II of Ethiopia First Look and Analysis – Civilization VI: New Frontier Pass

TL;DR: Ethiopia is here and get ready for it to chuck faith into hyperdrive.

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 Civilizations has been released so let’s dive into Ethiopia.

Menelik II of Ethiopia. Image Credit: Firaxis Games.
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Video Game Review – Civilization VI: Red Death Season Two

TL;DR – A good improvement to the game that fixes a lot of the issues I had with Season One.

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Civilization VI: Red Death Season Two. Image Credit: Firaxis Games.

Review –

Last year the good folks over at Firaxis Games did something I won’t ever have called, they released a Battle Royale mode for Civilization VI. At first, it sounded absurd because a turn-based strategy game is not the place you would expect to see this kind of mode. However, the more I thought about it, the more it did make sense because isn’t Civilization just one extended Battle Royale mode? Only instead of the growing wall of doom, you have Alexander and all his horses. You can find our review for Season One HERE, but with the announcement of Season Two, we thought it was time to jump back in and see the improvements first hand.               

For those who have managed to miss that Fortnite world domination over the last few years, a Battle Royale style game is when you start dropped on a map with very few resources. You need to arm yourself and expand your abilities and quickly because everyone else on the map is doing the same thing, and there are only so many loot drops to go around. However, this is not a mode you can turtle in because a wave of horror, in this case, fallout, is closing in making the map smaller and smaller and slowly forcing people to crash into each other and then it is last one standing. The thematic paint that Red Death puts on this is that nuclear weapons have destroyed the world and there is one spaceship taking you to safety. The only problem is that everyone wants a seat of the last ride out of town, but there is only room for one.

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Simón Bolívar of Gran Colombia First Look and Analysis – Civilization VI: New Frontier Pass

TL;DR: During the run-through, I gasped “That Movement” which is a good sign

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 of the new Civilizations that has been released is Gran Colombia, so let’s dive in.

Civilization Information

Simón Bolívar leader of Gran Colombia. Image Credit: Firaxis.
Simón Bolívar leader of Gran Colombia. Image Credit: Firaxis.

Civilization LeaderSimón Bolívar
Leader Agenda: Carabobo – He favours civs with highly promoted units, dislikes civs with unpromoted units, and prefers to build Encampments.
Civilization CapitalBogotá
Civilization Bonus: Ejército Patriota – ALL units get +1 movement, Promoting a unit does not end its turn.
Leader Bonus: Campaña Admirable – Grants the Comandante General – A special Great Person that you get at the start of each era that has multiple abilities, that can be used in military (damaging surrounding units), and in cities (extra Trade Route)
Unique Unit: Llanero – Replaces Cavalry. Low maintenance, plus combat bonus for Adjacent Llaneros,
Unique Tile Improvement: Haciendas – plus Gold, Production, Housing, Plus food for adjacent Plantations, Plus production for adjacent Haciendas
Rivers: Rio Negro, Caura River, Caroní River
Volcanoes: Guagua Pichincha
Deserts: Médanos de Coro
Cities: Quito, Valencia de Carabobo, Cali, Cumaná, Maracay

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Lady Six Sky of The Maya First Look and Analysis – Civilization VI: New Frontier Pass

TL;DR: We get a civilization that finally goes tall

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 first of the new Civilizations has been released so let’s dive into The Maya.

Lady Six Sky leader of The Maya. image credit: Firaxis Games.
Lady Six Sky leader of The Maya. image credit: Firaxis Games.

Civilization Information

Civilization LeaderLady Six Sky
Leader Agenda: Solitary – She dislikes encroaching civs and she tries to keep her cities in a cluster near the capital.
Civilization CapitalWak Kab’nal 
Civilization BonusMayab – No extra housing from Fresh Water/Coast but Farms provide more housing and gold, Amenities for each Luxury resource adjacent to the City Centre
Leader BonusIx Mutal Ajaw – Cities within 6 tiles of the Capital get a boost to all yearlings, other cities away from this limit get a penalty to yields. Bonus combat strength for units within 6 tiles of the Capital
Unique UnitHul’che – Ranged replacement for Archer, Stronger and gets a bonus against wounded opponents 
Unique DistrictObservatory – A campus replacement that gets an adjacency bonus from Plantations and Farms.
VolcanoesHunahpú
RiversGrijalva River
Cities: Palenque, Yaxchilan, Toniná, Xunantunich, Copán,

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