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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Cyberpunk 2077 – First Look

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 2077. Image Credit: CD PROJEKT RED.

Cyberpunk 2077 First 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.

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Ambiorix of Gaul First Look and Analysis – Civilization VI: New Frontier Pass

TL;DR: The thirst is strong with Civ 6 with the addition of Ambiorix of Gaul

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 Gaul.

Ambiorix of Gaul Overview

Ambiorix of Gaul. Image Credit: Firaxis Games.
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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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Among Us – Video Game Review

TL;DR – A straightforward game that has layers of depth and works no matter what role you get

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Among Us. Image Credit: Innersloth.

Among Us Review –

In the board game realm, there is a genre of games called ‘hidden role’ games. These are games like Avalon, Mafia de Cuba or Secret Hitler where on the surface all the players are trying to complete a task together. This task could be fighting an evil empire, hoarding your boss’ diamonds, or getting rid of the fascist elements of the government. However, around the table secretly, there are some players whose job is to do the exact opposite. I have seen many video games try to capture that feeling but never quite getting there, well that is until today.

So to set the scene, you and your fellow crewmate are on a drop-ship to a new location. It could be another spaceship, an aerostat military base, or a research station on a planet. Something has gone wrong, and your job is to work together to complete several tasks like refuelling the ship, clearing out the trash, or shooting down some approaching asteroids. All of this is very routine; however, among your crew, there is an Imposter (or Imposters) whose job is to stop you from completing the tasks by killing you off one by one.

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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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7 Days to Die – Video Game Review

TL;DR – A game of two halves whose disconnect should not work, but I keep coming back.

Rating: 3 out of 5.
7 Days to Die. Image Credit: The Fun Pimps.

Review – As part of the consequences of 2020 (and one of the few that are not bad) is that I have been playing a lot more multiplayer games with my group of friends. While the go-to games of Civilization and Divinity are there, we have also been branching out into new games, one of which is today’s review, 7 Days to Die. Now, I should preface this review with the fact that this game is still in alpha, which means that it is not feature complete. However, given the first release was in 2013, I think there has been enough time to get a good sense of the game.

So to set the scene, 7 Days to Die is a survival horror game set in a post-World War 3 Arizona where the dead now outnumber the living. The survival part of the genre means that you have to build bases, craft new items, upgrade your stuff so you can access new areas, and then rinse and repeat. The horror part of the title comes from the fact that your central adversary in this game is the walking dead, old bitey, or as you may know them by zombies.

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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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