To begin, let it be known throughout the lands that I’m extremely skeptical of any Space Strategy games these days.*
Matrix Games has recently put out two space strategy games, Distant Worlds by Code Force and Armada 2526. Distant Worlds is another go at the RTS/4X genre muddle and has most piqued my interest since it’s release in March. Yet, not enough to actually buy it. It has ship design, a MASSIVE galactic map and pretty sweet graphics for it’s suite of earth animal-influenced alien races. Here are a couple videos that may pique your interest as well– and if it’s enough to actually buy it… please let us know.
*After Master of Orion 3’s cascade of space piss into my open mouth a few years back, I lost hope in the genre as, almost by design, the games kept getting worse and worse from the high point of Master of Orion in 1993, Ascendancy in 1995 and Emperor of the Fading Suns in 1996. Since the heyday, we’ve had the mediocrity of Sword of the Stars, a mess of what are really RTS games that, while OK for RTS games, fail to really hit the mark with the 4X turnbased crowd (Homeworld, Hegemony and Sins of Solar Empire) as well as the excellent but multiplayer-only Ultracorps.
What’s more, the game series that is considered the current king of Turn Based 4x Space strategy games: Galactic Civilization is such an incredible rip-off of Civilization 3/4 that I consider it simply a graphics swap rather than a new game. The galaxy in Galactic Civilizations, like Civ 4, is just a big flat map with planets (cities) that you move your units on. Sometimes in Galactic Civilization there are asteroid fields (forests) that slow down your movement. What’s worse it’s not a ‘globe’ like Civ so managing a big empire, multiple fronts on a big flat map is even more tedious than Civ. That said, please note that it is with a mountainous level of distrust that I even mention any current 4X space games on this blog in light of the simple question: are they better than the original Master of Orion? If not– why would anyone bother? Better graphics? who cares. Better interface? Really? Is that even possible? Seriously: you can have the best 4X game, plus it’s almost good sequel, for 6$. Keep that in mind with this and any subsequent posts on this subject.
I was late for work Thursday after a 6 hour download of the beta and patches and a SINGLE game with the Protoss that went late into the night. Having played it before almost 3 years ago at Gencon, playing the beta is nothing altogether new– which is going to be a theme as I go forward in the next month or so babbling about the kings of RTS’s new title that is so very improved and so very much the same.
I’ve gotten in a single 1 on 1 game against a total n00b. One thing to mention straight off if you are on the fence about liking it considering that it feels at first blush very much like an upgrade is the fact that it looks incredible. The level of detail to the maps is just ridiculous, and the units look great. As much as the multiplayer is the real draw of the game, I’m really looking forward to the single player.
I had no idea this video of Peter Cushing painting and playing with miniatures existed, and while we, as a culture, have moved far beyond H.G. Wells Little Wars, it’s probably still A fascinating test of ingenuity and marksmanship. This is worth watching for Cushing pulling out a cig as he looks over his play area (on the FLOOR of all places).
That’s the story of my first campaign run through Mount and Blade : Warbands. Being a seasoned veteran of the old version of the game I feel I was slightly overconfident and went into some siege battles that decimated my miniscule warband– then I wandered into three armies of Swadians who had their way with the rest– what’s more, while running away (all alone) I ran into another full army who attacked and had their way with my lonesome self. I took down 15 or so before, yet again, being captured, probably raped and pillaged. Though you don’t lose all your good/goods/weapons, there is a random roll and I lost my elite tempered sabre, about 2K worth of flax, and, of course, all of my followers are locked up in some castle jail somewhere. A desolate place to be in the game– but who can stop playing even after constant and massive set backs? That’s the beauty of the game: you and your fellow ‘lords’ are effectively immortal– you just keep going. Raise another army, train them, go on some trading runs and then you’re back in the field after an hour or so destroying the Swadian masses.
For those that don’t have it yet, if you have the old game and just want to play the single player campaign: wait until you can get Warbands for cheap. It’s really just an incremental update rather than a new version of the game for single player, which I am fine with as it’s a fantastic indy game. Sure you can get married and learn some poems (!?) but that’s really not enough to warrant a purchase unless you are dying to get some multi player in. However, if you have been waiting for multiplayer all these years– immediately go out and spend the cash as that’s where this version shines.
Saturday was spent sitting at various tables in a giant room with a giant stone fireplace placing pieces of plastic, wood and cardboard on top of other, usually larger, pieces of cardboard. This was Gaming Hoopla. As a pure gaming convention, I would rate it a definite 1 on the binary scale. No mucking around with lines to see celebrities, no big announcements, no wasting time at vendors digging through boxes of old mouldy stuff looking for deals (there was only one selling about 50 games at most): it was all about sitting down and playing games. People were exceedingly friendly and would either just ask you to play a game or, as you were sitting down to play something, would ask to get in on the action. My only complaint was that the room (though big) smelled of MEAT the entire time and giant wafts of MEAT-AIR would blast into the gaming area from the kitchen.
Games I got in on:
Rush N Crush
My favorite was probably Rush N Crush. It just really captured the feel and intensity of a race with guns (and I won by wrecking my buddy’s car right at the finish line). Though it may not be a play all the time game, I think I may pick it up. All in all, a great little CON in the town where it all started and a good time.
Yeah? Oh yeah! Fantasy Flight must be hitting their numbers re-releasing the holy grails from Games Workshop’s golden age because we have yet another awesome edition to the roster: DungeonQuest. This and Mummy’s Tomb I never got my grubby teenage hands on so I am fired fired fired up about the re-release (and was wondering why the original version’s price kept dropping on ebay the last few months). Great news and more info.
Let’s talk about Schlitz. The butt of jokes, the ass-crack beer you’d have to choke down on camping trips: Pabst, Blatz, Hamm’s all beers with a certain flavor that is maybe almost good if the weather and batch were just right. Throwing Schlitz in with those beers was easy back in the day, but with the new bottled version using the original formula it’s become one of the go to beers like High Life (of course) and your obligatory stable of New Glarus wizardry.
However, Schlitz’s billboards featuring Cynthia Myers and 2/3rds of her BREAST on the freeway with the heaviest traffic in the state has made me an ardent supporter of their so far glowing comeback and a soon to be more frequent kisser of their hops.