Dungeon of the Endless is fun and constantly crashes

Dungeon of the Endless is yet another game on steam with the word ‘Dungeon’ in it.  The game is by the same team that did Endless Space (beautiful, but not great) and Endless Legend (an ok Civ clone).  Dungeon of the Endless is their best game yet.  DotE is a combination of base defense and an RPG, and it mixes those genres quite nicely.

The premise is that you are some prisoners that jettisoned/escaped onto another planet, but crashed into what appears to be some sort of bio-lab gone all sorts of wrong. You have to get to the top of the complex by bringing your power crystal to the exit elevator on various levels.

You have various prisoners that you command to open doors and fight (pretty much just that) and you can build resource bases and defenses with the stuff they find.  Each door you open adds resources to your pool that you can spend (including on the extremely important levelling up of prisoners) so each level is ‘timed’ in that there are only so many doors to open and that’s it.  If you waste your resources, you will become dead.

Each level builds up to the rush to the exit with the Power Crystal.  As soon as a character picks up the crystal, all doors will open on the level and waves of monsters will attack (forever, please note this) until your prisoners are dead or exit.  Simple premise, executed extremely well– except for the crashes.

The game crashes a lot.  I’m sure in a few months this will not be so, but right now I’d say about half the time after level 5 the game will crash.  It’s just one of those things.

Lastly, the game has multiplayer and I’ve tried it with Keneda.  Both players get a single prisoner to use (can get more on the levels) and share what’s on the screen, but not backpacks or resources.  We got fairly far and planned out our escapes quite well until, inevitably, the game crashed.

Plowing through all the indy/casual stream of shit on Steam for diamonds isn’t easy but this is one of them, burrs and all!

TWR 2 Victoly!

Took me (from the point of install) about a year to finish off a full campaign (really only a couple months of play once the emperor edition came out) but there it is, the first Military Victory.


Some Highlights of the game:

I took out Carthage very quickly, which was good but from that point on, your focus goes from local conflicts with the Cisalpine Gauls and the Etruscan League to you being a Mediterranean power that has to watch EVERYBODY. I was literally at war from turn 1 until the victory video displayed.

Syracuse is the key to the Mediterranean. While playing you can see why Rome and Carthage fought so hard for this island.

Lybia and Egypt were just too succulent of fruits to NOT instantly destroy after Carthage, but being both allied with the Persians (and the entire Achaemenid Empire by extension) I was pulled into an Empire vs Empire war very early on. It was brutal, with the entire Levant constantly swinging back and forth. It didn’t help that Alexandria isn’t exactly a military base…

I left Greece alone for too long and Athens got uppity. I had to divert a lot of forces to conquer Greece from the attacks on Persia, and then immediately got in a fight with some sort of Thracians north of Greece that was annoying. I think Athens was sacked back and forth a few times before I was able to settle them down. While Gauls are pretty easy to beat as the later Romans since they cannot stand up to the heavily armored legionaries, the northern Greeks are pretty fucking tough with crazy good cavalry and, of course, solid walls of pikes.

With armies completely focused on the East, I had to watch the Gauls in the north and what was happening in Spain very closely. I could relate to why Rome pre-emtively attacked everyone! Luckily when I did get into a fight with one of the smaller Gaulish tribes I wiped them before the others joined in and was able to maintain an area of intimidation.

I found the AI to be quite good with diplomacy, some cultures/states just fucking hate Rome and will never surrender or even stop a war. Many that aren’t so hateful that know you are coming to destroy them and feel they have no chance will offer up $$ and become a client state. Client states work fairly well in that they can be a distraction enemy factions and can help clean up your provinces of enemy raiding armies that get through your lines.

I didn’t use my navy all that much, which was a mistake. I should have flooded the Med with ships and locked down everything, but I was so focused on the Persians, which took FOREVER to resolve that by the time I started turning West, my fleets were still shite.

Rome was really fun because of the mercenaries and especially the Auxiliaries. You can get Auxiliary Meade cavalry, Auxiliary horse archers (critical) and all sorts of others, giving you the ability to build some EXTREMELY diverse armies. Let’s face it, the legionaries + vilites are a good combo, but they can be beat by the Parthian/Persian style of combat in the open field.

Tactical note: ALWAYS fight your own defensive siege battles. Many times when the computer’s autoresolve was telling me I had no chance, I was able to slap the shit out of an attacking army during a siege (even of a small town with no walls). Just remember, your llegionnaires are DEAD FUCKING HARD and can bottle up a unit attacking them from the front for a long time.

So I have been hitting Total War for awhile now and will mount it all again when Attila Total War hits, hence it’s time to get on another type of game.  I need to finish off Dark Souls and really need to work through the expansions of Skyrim as well.  And Witcher, and Witcher 2, and Inquisitor, on and on…


Rome Total War 2 is now what it should have been

And it is now in the realm of pretty fucking awesome.  Last year, if you bought Rome: Total War 2 it was a bit of a mistake for everyone involved, players, developers, fans, families of all involved.  I’m a long time fan of the series, having started with Medieval Total War back when it was sprites on a 3D map (looots of spriiites!!!) and it was a great game,  though the fact that it was one single fight per territory (you didn’t move your armies around inside territories in the older games) made it a bit small.  Reminiscent of Ghenghis Khan 2 by KOEI, it was still totally awesome.   Rome 1 brought the jump to 3d and was, along with Warcraft 3, the best game of the decade. While the newer games were amazing in their own right, especially Medieval 2 and Napoleon Total War, something happened during the second run of the Shogun Series to sour me on the battles– and while the strategic part of the game is important as a framework– it’s all about the fucking battles. Suddenly, they felt cartoony and too fast and too arcade like, which is silly to say since the graphic details went through the roof in quality.  When I first saw the asymmetric uniform designs of the units in Medieval 2, I got a huge claymore-sized boner for real.  Yet the battle gameplay in Shogun 2 was not good despite the game’s overall polish, I just could not get into it.  Rome 2, at first, followed suit much to many player’s disappointment.

With a series that has so much going for it, and has such pedigree it was shocking to me to suddenly get a Roman Shower from the company with the 2013 release.  I  played for about 20 hours (a SLIVER of the amount that I would normally play a big TW release)  and uninstalled the fucker until a couple months ago, when I noticed that some of the guys that make TW battle videos had switched back from Medieval 2 to Rome 2 after apparently giving up on the game.  I checked out some battles and noticed that formations worked much better, phalanxes actually PHALANXED and the archery didn’t look so shitty like it did in Shogun and Early TW.   Added to this, the Emperor Edition upgrade was free to all previous purchasers which included a massive campaign detailing the Roman Civil War.

Now I’m merely 85 hours into the grand campaign and I can say I won’t be going back to any of the other Total War games for a long while.  Over the year since release, they shined the hell out of this game.  Performance is much better, the battle AI, the battle mechanics and the flow of the game has been completely tweaked.  While battles are the most important core part of the game, the campaign play is actually where you spend most of your time and it’s far superior to the launch version.  The AI especially is now quite brutal and with suprising frequency will cause you all sorts of problems– including sea borne invasions which were impossible for the AI to pull off before Napoleon Total War (just a few versions ago!).  So you could sit as England or Italy and just send out armies to conquer everything around you on the ocean, with no chance or reprisal. Not so anymore.  I had a really tough time as Rome early on. What’s brilliant about the AI now is that if they percieve you are strong, they won’t mess with you, but if you are seen as weak, like losing a bunch of battles in a row, they will join in and try to take a piece of you before someone else does.

Later in the campaign game it becomes less about gobbling up small kingdoms and more about HUGE wars that take decades and decades to finish up (if ever) with massive empires.  Since coalitions of factions normally stick together, and factions will become client states of you (unlike other TW games where the option was there but they never would actually do it), sometimes taking out a small kingdom on your border leads to war against EVERYONE on the side of a map.  I found it out the hard way when I accidentally went to war with the entire Achemedian empire (Persia and the like).  I was able to eventually take the war to them, but not before many legions were swallowed in the desert and mountains of Asia Minor…

So here are a bunch of pictures.  This is a long post about a really great game that finally came into it’s own.  I think the developers have done right by the series after a really fucking huge misstep last year.


Third time’s the charm

Given that the existence of the Ghanaian soccer team is to prevent the USA from advancing in the World Cup, it was amazing to see the very close victory this evening by the Yankee horde.  The game looked… sloppy at best from both sides.  Given Altidore’s injury, I feel the air was taken out of the USA’s offense early on, and it was all defense after that.  The corner on Ghana where the second US goal was scored was beautiful but unfortunate for Ghana as that didn’t need to happen– especially when they were peppering the goal right and left during the middle of the game.    Needless to say, both teams need to take it to Portugal (if possible) and then minimize their loss to Germany to advance. Ghana could still end up being the foil to USA’s chances to advance out of the group.  Just you watch!

oops wrong sex
oops wrong sex

Dominions 4 in Beta!

Ah….Illwinter, your terrible graphics (not sprites) and terrible looking turn-based battles still make me shudder despite the fact that I love the games so much.   Looks like Dominions 4 will be out at the end of September and that’s good news for Sensless who can ONLY PLAY DOTA2 on his ‘gaming’ laptop these days.

After all these years, the sprites look good but the world maps still a complete puke-o-rama. Thankfully fans make gorgeous maps for the game that can easily be added to the game. However, I rip on the game because I love it and it’s the ONLY strategy game that isn’t some internet pay-to-win game that is actually playable by normal humans (say a turn a day).

Hopefully this will be up on Steam (likely greenlit like Dominions 3 was)— now where is the iPad version? It is 2013 right?


Rome Total War 2 – 20 hours in and counting

Well, I’m about 20 hours into Rome Total War 2 and while it’s a good game, there are some really serious issues. I’ve been playing the Iceni (Britain) and they have some big horde armies, chariots, shitty cavalry, and slingers. In the campaign I took out everyone else in England/Ireland and then hit the continent, spearing down through northern France straight to the Mediterranean and into Spain. I was trying to get near Rome/Carthage before they were taken out, but both of them are gone from the game already, including the off shoot Nova Carthago.  I think that will get patched (having Rome taken out by a minor Celtic faction is sad).

One of the things about playing barbarians is that you expect fights to become big mob fights with little to no formation– so when you’re playing it seems normal–however once you start fighting some of the more civilized factions you realize that they ALSO do not maintain their formations during unit to unit fights– it’s EXTREMELY odd to see a Macedonian phalanx turn into a mob type fight as the phalanxes break apart after a charge, but that’s what happens every fucking time.  Remember that video of the phalanxes fighting?  Where is that in the game? Dunno.

There are a few other things I’m not a fan of: no family tree makes me completely ignore all the personalities other than my main generals for example and there have been a few odd movement and control issues with the campaign map.  Otherwise as big as the world is, the map seems SMALL and the fighting is nearly always around some city and not out in the countryside because cities in the game are WAY out of proportion huge compared to real life.  They may look right on the map, but with the movement speeds of the armies, it’s just ….off.

I’ve done a bit of reading on what people are experiencing that have played the game a shitload more than I have and there are oodles of bugs, some of which are quite comical (ships flying through the air, flying through the ground, dudes flying off towers), but really it amounts to a buggy game.  I’ve had a blue screen once and about 5 other crashes.  I’m looking forward to the patches– but how far forward?

Good stuff: Sieges, while there are some issues with the ladders and siege tower placement are the best they’ve been in a TW game to date. I no longer automatically press the “autoresolve” like I did in Rome 1 and Medieval 2 because it is much more tactical and much easier to get around the cities. One thing that’s odd is that only the main cities can be sieged with equipment, all other cities just have a normal battle set in a town area.

Graphics: battle graphics are just superb.  Everything looks great.  I do get some slowdown in the bigger battles which hopefully will work out.  Otherwise the battles seem to load FASTER than the old Total War games, which is crazy.

Ahh screenshots:

Rome Total War 2 initial feelings

I contemplated staying up until midnight to give it a start through but failed due to retinal burn on Saints Row 4 mostly.  I should have worked on my Netrunner decks or played a solo game of ASL or something instead of hitting the computer and burning at the eyes.   Rome is going to be quite a time suck so I best get started right away though right?

I’ve gotten a couple hours in entirely with the tutorial (which is actually a really cool mini-campaign against the Samnites) and the feel of the game already is better than Shogun, and by feel I mean the combat between units– it is amazing.  I don’t know if it’s just the way the Roman units fight (in this campaign it is very early Rome) but it is so much more visceral than the other versions of the game it’s shocking– units press together in a horrific mob and the slaughter commences.  It’s a gorgeous thing to behold.


I’ve just scratched the surface region–what am I looking forward to over all?  The last really good Total War game was Empire which was literally world spanning and had some fantastic combat.  Moving from a period of time when pikemen and cavalry charges were still viable forms of attack to the era of artillery domination was amazing to see.   While I liked Shogun 2– there was something about it that I just couldn’t get into.  Possibly it’s the whole Samurai thing that feels tired to me– all these dudes in their ornate lamellar armor fighting each other just seems so clean and controlled compared to the rest of the games (which is very Japanese in a way)–in Rome, there are a few bastions of civilization surrounded entire by teeming hordes of hunter gatherer tribes and barbarian nations, wherein Shogun, everyone is dressed…so nicely.  Also in Shogun, the battles seemed to go too fast– when two units hit one would rout extremely quickly compared to other games in the series.  This gave you little time to react: I found myself pausing a lot more than any other Total War game.   I was barely able to finish a campaign and only played multiplayer once.  Since Rome 2 is heir to the greatest strategy game ever made–what am I looking forward too?

  • Better graphics / animations  — this goes without saying and it’s already there
  • Bigger map /different stuff around — Shogun suffered because one clan was the next clan was the next clan– it all seemed the same.  After seeing some of the phalanx fighting in Rome 2, this seems absolutely impossible in the new game that things will be too small or samey.
  • Better AI in the campaign – this was my biggest gripe in Rome 1 and Barbarian Invasion.  The AI just wasn’t too smart and you could win the campaign really easily (especially as an island nation).  This has been getting vastly better in the newer games but always seems to need work
  • No skill trees for characters — these were lame in Shogun. We’ll see what happens in Rome 2.
  • Putting cities to the sword – due to the xenophobic nature of the period, the different societies weren’t too friendly to each other when conquering.  One thing I loved in Rome was the ability to put cities to the sword to gain max value and reduce population (since extra population is usually very unhappy with everything).  This allows control of revolutions as well as providing much needed cash.  While this may not be realistic (Caesar did this all the time in Gaul).
  • Better multiplayer — I’ve had issues connecting with my two friends that play the game for years now and it would be awesome if that were ameliorated forever anon.

Reviews so far have been positive, reviews of Total War players on reddit and the like have been extremely positive (knowing the burrs and all that naturally come with a Total War game) so here’s to 6 months of playing a single game on the computer!