Civilization: Beyond Earth Review

This is a community review of Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth Review on the PC, taking a look at what makes the game great and not so good.

First of all I must acknowledge that I might be a bit biased in favor of “Beyond Earth”. I love science-fiction and all things robots, genetic manipulation and space. I’m a true disciple of strategy games and especially of the turn-based variety and quite the veteran of many, many rounds of “Alpha Centauri”. I’ve been very hyped.

This said as introduction I’d first like to say that I like the design of Civilization 5, although I consider it a seriously dumbed down game, up to the point of it being the mentally handicapped little brother of its predecessors. But is it fair to use such harsh words? Maybe I should come to peace with the fact that Civilization 5 just isn’t the same as the other games and in certain ways it did improve. Despite being dumbed down it isn’t an easy game to master when you face human players that operate with the same meta as you. So it didn’t get boring too quickly.

“Beyond Earth” kept the best of Civilization 5 (non-stackable units are debatable) and added a whole bucket of goodness to create a truly amazing game with an atmosphere that puts your mind at peace, while focused on the task that lies before you: survive on an alien world.

I love the addition of the affinity system which visually expresses the philosophy you embrace, which means you either play as Col. Quaritch, Robocop or Ray Kurzweil. Additionally you can select virtues divided into might, prosperity, knowledge and industry (basically a different sort of social policy system, but improved as it rewards both beelining as well as grabbing many boni from one section, or combining sections as well as tiers… and so on). I’d wish for “hybrid” affinities that let you embrace 2 main affinities for special units, but I don’t see the developers doing that anytime soon. One can still embrace 2 affinities, in rare cases it even pays off (for example the Prime version of the Aegis mech of the purity affinity needs 10 purity affinity and 3 supremacy affinity [resistance is futile, puny meatbags!]. I found out that for units it pays to have up to 5 affinity levels of a secondary affinity, however affinity influences much more than just units, so I’ll have to experiment around a bit. I for one enjoyed going Purity as my primary affinity and Supremacy as my secondary affinity in my first game.

Beyond Earth added quests, better neutral city state mechanics (called stations now), better barbarian mechanics (b-but aliens aren’t barbarians! They are different! Yes they are. This makes it better, dear reader. That’s what I talk about!), better victory conditions and it feels much better writing possible future history, instead of reenacting history in the most ludicrous ways (nuking ancient Egyptians as Gandhi!). And space colonization! Is that nothing?

Last but not least you select your colonists’ loadout: that is sponsor, equipment and type of colonists. This is a very great addition as it lets you customize your starting conditions in a more unique way than in Civ 5, adds the feeling that you have more control and ownership over your colonists and allows different strategies instead. We’ll see more than a couple of viable strategies that will be quite different to each others. A bit irritating is the fact that the sponsors do not include a Northern European race. Sure, Russians are Caucasoid, but so are some North Africans strictly speaking. I’ll play the French for now. What I am missing is a member of one of the Nordic, Anglo Saxon and Germanic race. It is quite likely they’ll send people to space, although the developer might have wanted to show us a grimdark future where mass immigration replaced the European people almost completely with the grand daughter of Marine Le Pen leading the last Front National enclave of the French into space. Who knows.

Apart from this the personalities and background of the sponsors don’t appeal to me. They are quite bland persons. That said it allows the player to use his imagination more. Still given how fleshed out the characters are, one could imagine them to be at least a bit interesting. Yet they are not. The most important issue however is balance. So far I believe all sponsors have their viable ways of working well, so as of now I think Firaxis did that one well.

I could drone on a bit more but this is lost time that I could have used playing this game!

The Verdict

Do I recommend it? Yes, I do. The atmosphere is just great. The sci-fi turn-based strategy genre is quite sparsely populated so even a game with some imperfections would get a rather positive review from me. I think Beyond Earth actually earns the good vote. It’s not actually a breathtaking game, but while it looks like a small step for the turn-based strategy genre, it is a great step from Civ 5.

7.5/10 – It’s okay.

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Review

Update: If you stumbled upon this page looking for our Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor troubleshooting guide for crashes, errors, and bugs, click here.

Here are some things I would like to touch up on after playing this game for only a few hours and the differences in what I expected and what I (we) got. For one I expected there to be a big focus on the lore of the story and for the first open world LOTR game I expected you to be able to travel around the whole world. I also expected there to be more stealth elements and a rich storyline.

Here’s what we got. Little lore so far except the fact that we know we’re in mordor before the great war with Frodo and The Ring. That’s about it. We know we we’re in Gondor but now we’re in mordor. And we have to get our soul back because we’re in between life and death. And we do this by defeting sauron’s army. From what I can tell, that’s the basis of this game. As for open world you are limited to just Mordor. Don’t expect to go visit the shire, or Rohan, or Gondor because you’re just not gonna. Another thing is the stealth in this game, while not broken, is not what I hoped for, I hoped for a cover-to-cover based stealth system and this is not that.

But the game does excel in some things. For one, you are punished for dying, you die and uruki take new places and gain ranks and you have to kill them over and over till you defeat them all. Which makes for some very fun and very angry gameplay. Another thing I love is the combat system. It is beautiful, the flow of combat is smooth and it has a very definate lord of thew rings feel with you being able to take on 30 Uruki by yourself. Another thing they did very well was the interogationing and the runes. Another is that you really want to pay attention to strengths and weakneses of the commanders because they allow you to play tactically and plan your combat and moves.

But unfortunatley this feels like it’s it, run around, kill Uruki, upgrade you character (who looks pretty ugly by the way). and Don’t try to leave mordor because you don’t get to. Oh and there’s some story loosly tying into LOTR to keep fans interested due to lack of lore.

Overall the game is still fun to play and the combat is exciting. But for the First “LOTR Open-World RPG” they could have done better on the Open World aspect (much better), and for announcing a game’s storyline that takes place during the rise of sauron it lacks lore to keep you interested and the game starts to get kinda old pretty fast.

Verdict: 7/10

Tiny and Big: Grandpa's Leftovers PC Review

This is probably one of the most pleasantly suprising indie games i’ve played in a long time. The basic mechanic is this: You can cut anything in the game. With a laser. As many times, and into as many shapes, pieces & bits as you want. I honestly got sidetracked by cutting stuff into pieces and screwing around.

Gameplay

This game is one of the logical extremes of destructive environments, considering you can cut the entire environment down into little bits.

And no, it’s not just a special type of block you can cut only a certain amount of times in certain locations. You can cut everything. No, you don’t have to have a certain amount of energy to cut something. As long as you can draw a line across it, you can cut it. Even things you’d need to finish the current level. There are as few restrictions as possible. Also you have a rocket tool that can push whatever you can cut and a grappling claw that can pull whatever you can cut.

Verdict

This game is really a wonderful example of what the indie community can bring to the table. The art style is superb, I never tired of the 3D, comic book-esque, sound effects popping up and the cel shaded graphics works well. The mechanics are unique and solid. You can interact with way more of the environment than necessary to complete the tasks which leads to quite a bit of goofing off, tearing things down and blasting them around. The story actually ends up having a bit of depth once you get through a few slow bits in the middle. Given how this game was developed and published it is unsurprising to see a few issues, like some occasional control bugs, but all the things it does right gloss them over. I can certainly recommend this game but I would caution against buying the soundtrack until you’ve heard the music.

Murdered: Soul Suspect Reviews Are In – "Not Worth Your Time and Money"

Early reviews suggest a resounding “Don’t play it” after experiencing a poor storyline, weak gameplay, and lots of bugs and errors in Murdered: Soul Suspect. Here’s a condensed take of reviews by IGN, Joystiq, Kotaku, EscapistMagazine, and PowerPyx.

IGN’s Review:

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Kotaku:

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EscapistMagazine

Sadly, most of these investigations involve little more than hunting for clues and solving a deductive reasoning puzzle or two. They can also quickly become unduly frustrating when the game decides not to highlight an important object until you’ve looked at it in just the right way. You don’t even have to find all the clues to solve a particular mystery, since more often than not you can just brute force your way through merely by picking random topics until you hit the right combination. It was a real shame to realize that after several different investigations, I was encountering the same types of easy to solve puzzles over and over. In fact, other than ruining your chance for a perfect score, there’s no penalty for mucking up an investigation. This just about kills any weight behind Ronan’s supposedly urgent quest to solve the Bell Killer murders when you don’t have to worry about any real risk of failure.

Joystiq

joystiq

PowerPyx

I actually wanted to work out some video guides for this game, but at this point I am seriously re-considering if I want to spend any more time with this at all. What a shame, this game could have had some real potential. Gotta give it a 1/10, most disappointing thing I’ve ever bought.

The Forest PC Review: First Impressions

From having only played an hour so far, I would say that this game has a lot of potential. The Forest takes hunting, crafting and building to the survival horror genre, creating a unique and compelling experience altogether.

Atmosphere: Graphics and Sound

The atmospheric tone of the game is excellent. It’s very dark and creepy, especially if you venture into the cave systems. The lighting is well done, both inside the caves and outside, and the sounds are simply brilliant.

The mutants/tribesmen–whatever they actually are–add a more ominous element to the game, and they work surprisingly well early on in the game’s stage.

Gameplay

A lot of features in the game are good and simple, such as the crafting menu and your player’s inventory. There’s almost no hassle when using them, and you won’t get confused. The only bad thing about the crafting is that once you place a blueprint down, you can’t remove it to build somewhere else (at least I haven’t found a way to yet).

If you’re a fan of survival games, The Forest is definitely for you. You can get a spear and use it to go fishing. Aside from fish, I’ve only seen lizards and rabbits so far as a food source, as well as energy bars.

Bugs to watch for

There are quite a few bugs that I’ve noticed while playing, but that is to be expected in alpha. Certain objects, such as some rocks and containers, have no mass and you can walk through them. Some tools, such as the second axe you find in the game, can be replicated repeatedly. I had amassed a large stack of them at my camp by accident while switching to other tools. I wouldn’t worry too much about the bugs right now. The development team of this game seems very promising, and I have the utmost faith that they will fix them to the best of their abilities.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this game to any fan of survival or horror games.

Killer is Dead – Nightmare Edition Review: A Stylish, Over-the-top Gem

SUDA51, the incredibly twisted and creative mind behind many other style-dripping action games — such as No More Heroes, Shadows of the Damned and, my personal favorite, Lollipop Chainsaw — brings us yet another over-the-top gem; Killer is Dead.

The Pros:

  1. Just like previous games from SUDA51, we get a uniquely cliché character with a noteworthy weapon at his side. Juliet was the dumb blonde cheerleader who had her Chainsaw, Garcia Hotspur the rough tattooed badass had Johnson, and Mondo Zappa is the smooth talking ladiesman who just gets the job done and has his cybernetically modified left arm; Musselback.
  2. A simple yet satisfying combat system that gets deeper and more complex as you unlock upgrades and the story progresses.
  3. Over-the-top ridiculous story with a wide array of interresting characters you’ll already knowa thing or two about due to the stereotypical standards.
  4. Special upgrades are aquired through playing gigolo minigames; you buy gifts at the store with money you earned by playing that can then be given to women who, in exchange for a little “tête-a-tête”, will give you an upgrade of some sort. Before you can give her a gift, however, you have to build up enough confidence… by peeking at her privates or legs. If she catches you staring, she’ll slap you right the f**k out and leave you with blue balls. Put on your sunglasses to find out what kind of gifts she’d like, give her those gifts to fill the meter even faster, and get rewarded. It sounds silly and sexistic, and that’s exactly what it is. Because SUDA51.
  5. Everything you love about SUDA51 and it’s still not getting old!

The Cons:

  1. The story sort of throws you right in and doesn’t explain itself too much. If you really want to know what’s going on exactly (if you can handle that), you’ll have to do some research outside of the game.
  2. The style of the game is sometimes a bit overwhelming. Scenes can get chaotically stylish and colors don’t always come over the way they’re supposed to.

The Visuals:

Killer is Dead doesn’t give you triple-A quality realism, but it clearly doesn’t want to. Style just pours out of every single frame of Killer is Dead, giving it the unique SUDA51 feeling you’ll want. SUDA51 once more annihilates the limits of style.

Final Verdict:

If you’re even remotely interrested in Killer is Dead (most likely because of its stylish visuals), don’t doubt and pick it up. Killer is Dead gives you ridiculously stylish fun that few other games can live up to. Score: 8/10

Tropico 5 Review: A Beautiful Second-fiddle to its Predecessor?

While large gaming websites tout Tropico 5 as a worthy successor within the franchise, user reviews argue that Tropico 4 is still the superior version. Here is a low down of Tropico 5 pros and cons versus its predecessor, according to first-wave users:

The Positive

  • Better graphics
  • Longer play time
  • New dynasty feature
  • New trade route feature
  • Better wars and riots
  • Co-op feature
  • Managers for buildings
  • New edicts

The Negative

  • Lack of character customization
  • Faction leaders no longer provide recommendations
  • Poor implementation of the new notification box and overlays
  • Colonial era is uneventful
  • Very limited building models
  • The happiness chart of classes are worse then Tropico 4
  • Limited stock islands
  • Gameplay is oversimplified

In summary, Tropico 5 is a decent game with a fresh injection of good ideas, albeit not all of which are well executed. Agree or disagree? Let us know in the comments.

Ascend: Hand of Kul Review – A Decent Hack and Slash Game

Gameplay: 8/10

Ascend: Hand Of Kul is originally an Xbox 360 exclusive game and is now ported to PC via Steam. This game is basically a spiritual successor to the Souls series, and you could see some of their similarities when you start playing this game. This game is heavily single-player focused so you don’t have to worry about lagging, although the game is built on a shared-world (think Demon/Dark Souls). As you start off the game, you are given a default Caos (your character) and 3,000 souls (which is basically in-game currency, you can purchase additional souls with real money too). From there you can buy different type of hairs, face, facial hairs, skin colours, armors & weapons. You are given three option to choose which path you want to go :Darkness, Light or Void. Each of them have their own unique benefit and able to grant you new spells that the other path doesn’t offer. The game tutorial is very well done. You have different types of weapons available, some of them have longer range & other short range but deal extremely high damage. The combo system is pretty basic since you can only execute a limited number of them. As you go further into the game, you will be able to invade many realms & areas. Some of them give you the benefit to call your little army. These tiny people will aid in your combat, although most of the time they deal little to no damage to the enemy. A good way to use them is to eat them to regenerate your health when needed. The game has a durability system, albeit done very poorly. Your armor & weapon will break more often and repairing is very costly, so instead you usually find yourself often buying new equipment. You can also perform finishing moves as well on your foes and this will grant you additional health and experience points. The game is pretty linear with some straightforward exploration.

Graphics: 7/10

The game looks pretty decent for a low budget title. Character models, terrain, texture details and environment is very well done. Though some of the area and world can get pretty dull and some of them have repetitive environments.

Audio: 7/10

The soundtrack for this game fits very well with the settings. Voice acting is not bad. The sound effects are decent. Nothing too unique about the audio.

Long-Lasting Appeal: 5/10

I can’t say that this game offers much replay value. Once you completed the game,you can try out different paths to test out different spells. The game is pretty straightforward with no additional side quests to do. There is a PvP mode too but this will happen only when another player is trying to invade your realm. You can try to grind for levels but it doesn’t serve much purpose. The game also has survival modes you unlock as you progress through the game. PvE would be a nice touch but it seems that this game doesn’t provide any at all.

Final Verdict: 6.8/10

I say give it a try for those who like hack and slash game. The combat system can get stale after sometimes but it’s pretty enjoyable nonetheless.

Toribash Review: Challenging, Funny, Fulfilling

Ever wanted to be your own Bruce Lee? Wanted to pin someone to the floor with nothing but brute force? Or did you ever want to gracefully pluck your opponents’ head off their shoulders before splitting apart the rest of them with one kick? Ok maybe not the last one, but if this sounds interesting you’re definitely gonna love this game. Now seriously I have never loved gore fighters. Wrestling was more of an afterthought than anything else. But there is a certain thrill you get when you’re able to do a backflip and kick your opponent’s arms off. This game combines the freedom of ragdoll stick figures and mortal combat in a really amazing turn-based but rapid action masterpiece.

Performance and Gameplay

I first heard of this game about a year ago and I was interested then, but my machine at the time couldn’t run it. But I got a new one and when it came out on Steam I quickly checked it out to see what would happen. The small download size was really great as I didn’t want to wait long. My first experience in the tutorial made me feel almost helpless as my character seemed to have so many parts and possible actions I didn’t know how I could remember all this. The fact that it was turn-based made it seem quite complex. Fast forward 1 day later and I was a Green Belt. After looking at a few moves online and trying them out, I found a couple easy to do, easy-to-remember moves which brought me success in my games.

Multiplayer

This game is really hilarious. I mean ‘drop down dead laughing’ hilarious. In low belt ranks, people who don’t know how to control their characters leads to one hell of a ridiculous experience which has everyone wishing for more. The wait in large lobbies can be a little tiring but most of the time I’m enjoying watching others play and I can learn from them. The wait is also great for the moments when you wanna take a bathroom break or try to memorize a new technique online.

Mods Available

What makes this game stand out to me are the mods that are currently avaliable for it. Right now I can’t count the number of mods that are in the list and I’ve only tested about twenty now. From sword-fighting to pool diving to racing, this game has it all! I could not believe my eyes when I found myself in something like a drag racer that raced down the map into the oncoming wall. Needless to say I had a very good laugh.

Already my review is really long, so I’ll say this last. Download the game. Play it for even a day or two. You won’t regret it. And it has a very good community, perfect for taking my mind off bad experiences in League of Legends.

Max: The Curse of Brotherhood First Impressions

This is a quick review to give readers a gist of what Max: The Curse of Brotherhood has to offer.

Overview, visuals, and gameplay

Max: The Curse of Brotherhood is essentially a puzzle platformer with some brief precision platforming sections.

It’s got great cartoonish animated visuals, but don’t let that make you think this is a children’s game.

It starts off easy enough, but towards the end of world 2 I can feel it getting tougher. I’ve played the game for about 2 hours now and am about 25% in, with exploring the areas and getting most collectively. Can’t speak about the overall length or difficulty for now as such.

The platforming is really slick though. Max is agile and moves quickly. This is something I really like about the game.

Puzzles

The puzzle element meanwhile is novel for me. Your magic marker gains new powers, and you can draw vines, branches, pull up earth from the ground etc. initially they may be very direct since there are visual cues but as you go on there is some thinking required.

Performance

So far, there is one notable performance issue. The game occasionally has it’s frame rate set to 15 or 20fps and I need to Alt Tab out and back into the game to get 60fps. Nothing major and this usually happens only after loading screens, and that too not always.

Overall, I’m enjoying the game. Nothing out of the world extraordinary, but slow paced and well made.