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Wasteland 2 Director's Cut by InXile Entertainment  Wow, can it really be almost thirty years since the first Wastelan...

Wasteland 2 Director's cut Wasteland 2 Director's cut

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

SCiFi



by








 Wow, can it really be almost thirty years since the first Wasteland came out? 1988 is a large milestone for me; it is the year that I was exactly half the age I am now. What a difference in the world and games from then to now. I haven't replayed the original Wasteland It just wouldn't be the same. I just want to be left with the memories of wandering the first Wasteland and losing a large chunk of my life to the incredible story and game play.





  Oh well, back to the present. It seems strange, but it almost seems that despite the years as I fire up Wasteland 2, I am back in the wasteland without any amount of time passing in between. Oh sure, the graphics are much better, but we expect that in games now. It is sort of remembering an old TV show in color in your mind when you know it was only in black and white.





 I chose to go with a preset party instead of using all of the different options to choose your parties looks and abilities. It being my first of probably many run-throughs I have no idea how important each skill is or might be. 





 The second thing I do is something so stupid and newbie-like that the game should just shut down in disgust. Your party starts at a funeral for Ace, who is another ranger, and general Vargas gives you a quest to complete what Ace was working on before he bought it. I then choose to do the idiotic. Instead of searching every inch of the ranger station for anything and anyone, I gleefully traipse out into the wasteland with my party. I then decide to make mistake number two. Instead of following the quest and starting my adventure where the general told me to go, I branch out. You get two distress calls on the radio one from Highpool and the other from the Ag Center (agriculture). I choose to go the the Ag Center. I'll not bore you with my constant death and the fact that my all of my party is now poisoned by monstrous spores. Suffice to say my party staggers out of the Ag Center and then I finally come to my senses and return to the Ranger Center. After picking it clean and adding a new member to my party, I head back to the Ag Center.





 The funny thing is, I know how to play RPGs, whether first person or top down like Wasteland 2. I have thousands of hours in them and know that you should search every area with a fine toothed comb, looking for that last tin can. I really think I had temporary insanity because of all of those hours I played in the original Wasteland. It was so much like going home that the ever-present dangers of the wasteland seemed insignificant compared to being out in the desert with my party again. I waited so long to play Wasteland 2 that I just wanted to be out in the new areas etc.





 So, is the game different? Of course; what or who wouldn't be different after almost thirty years? Is it hard? You betcha. Will you lose yourself in the game play? Again, a resounding yes. The hours of play will shoot by as you try to open one last door or decipher another clue.





 I promise the reminiscing is over. At the start of the game, as mentioned, you have the ability to hand pick every aspect of your parties characters. The other route is to pick a pre-made party. it is your normal RPG character creation setup. You can choose to start making a character into  an armored anchor for the rest of the group, or create a stealthy more 'brainy' character. As far as the game goes, again like all RPGs, save and then save some more. You never know what or who is lurking over the next ridge. On your way to your quest objectives there can also be chance encounters. You can choose to fight every time and build up your points to level up your part members or try to avoid them. In your wanderings, you will  also uncover different oases. Use them. The small deviation from your route and the chance of an encounter is worth the risk. Wandering about the wasteland without a full canteen of water is hazardous.





 The UI in the game is functional, and you have all the info you need at your fingertips. I'm one of those gamers whose motto is "manuals be damned". So I know that the UI is pretty intuitive and easy to catch onto. The maps and routes to your different quests are well done and easy to follow. You can decide to pick an easier route through irradiated territory or take the scenic route. The whole game can be played from the stealth or 'bull in a china shop' angle, or any sort of in between. In the beginning, as with any RPG, pick up every item you can. You have a stash at the Ranger Center to keep all of your items that might be needed at a later time. Hoarding in real life is very bad, but in RPGs it is essential. You'll never know when you need that artificial leg.




 The different characters that can join your party are an interesting lot. If your leadership skill is too low they will go rogue on you during encounters. They do have different reasons for being with you or helping you on quests, so remember that they might not always be there.




 The voice acting is good. I only had one problem and that was with a character that can join your party during one quest. The character in question sounds like either you or she are on quaaludes when she is talking. For the most part you will be reading most of the interactions between your party and others. The story line is pretty good with some very good moments of twists and turns. You are sometimes allowed to take whatever action you want, but like most RPGs, some actions cannot be taken, no matter what homicidal thought is running through your brain. Unlike other RPGs, I have not found a 'useless' skill yet. All seem to have some benefit to having or a hit for not having a particular skill. Alarms, lock picking, and your various weapon skills are self explanatory. You can also be a 'smart ass' or a 'hard ass' in some conversations which will open up whole new dialogs for you to explore. 





 So, to wrap it up, where does Wasteland 2 stand? Is it an also ran or the proud offspring of its grand old dad? In my eyes Wasteland 2 can hold its head up with the rest of the family. Indeed, it is much better than most of the originals off shoots.




 AMD cards had a problem running Wasteland 2 when it was first released, and to be honest I was getting CTDs trying to play it. I am happy to announce after updating my video drivers I have not had any problems running the game since then.




 After all of my death and near death experiences, I restarted the game and instead of using default characters, I chose to make all four of my own. Now that I have a feel for the game and how I want to play it, deciding to start over and build the characters the way I want was a no-brainer. A few other tips: make sure you reload after every encounter; also, throw some skill points into bladed or blunt weapons. Ammo is like gold, so it is best to conserve it at all times. One point about the game, a lot of it is in making choices. You will not be able to do everything and save everyone. Time is also your enemy; it is not like some RPGs where you can return to a quest line at anytime and everything has stayed still while you did a few others.

 Here's to wandering another wasteland when Wasteland 3 gets released. I know I, and many others, will be happy to be out with new Ranger buddies.


 Robert


 Game: Wasteland 2 Director's Cut
 Game Developer: inXile Entertainment
 Date of Review: 11/11/2016

Children of a Dead Earth By Q Switched productions   Time to put your thinking caps on, children; this game will have those ...

Children of a Dead Earth Review Children of a Dead Earth Review

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

SCiFi

Children of a Dead Earth


By

Q Switched productions




  Time to put your thinking caps on, children; this game will have those neurons and synapses popping. This game puts the 'sim' back into simulation. It is hardcore and you will fail missions, but just like any good 'bad habit' it will have you coming back for more and more. To explain a little, the game does not make space a flat two dimensional map. You are not able to click on a dot in space and right click and move your spaceship there. You have to match trajectories and speed of other ships in orbit, etc. You also have to do this with three dimensional thinking. This is a hard game, and it is a blast. It will take time to learn and more time to master. That is not to say that the tutorials are bad, they are actually very good. It is the amount of information and the breadth of it that is a bit daunting. 

  The different start up options are: Campaign, Sandbox, Options, Ship Design, Info Links.

  The Info Links are like the rest of the game. As you proceed through the campaign, more and more of the the different parts of the game are able to be used by the player. Most of the Info Links are locked, as are some ship types and even some options in Sandbox.




   This is an early shot of the campaign game. I was having a bit of a problem in the beginning wrapping my head around the different ways to move your spaceship. For those of you like me, press on and give this sim more of your time. It will definitely be worth it in the end.




   Sandbox mode has a ton of different options for your space battles and ships, etc. 

  The different things that you can use in sandbox are: Level Presets, Celestial Bodies, Enemy Behavior Balanced to Ranged with ten possibilities in all, Allied Craft, Enemy Craft, Weapons in use, Payloads in use.

                                    

   Ship design is where you can play to your heart's content. The different weapon systems etc. are a micro-managers dream. Ships look like what real spaceships will probably look like. Do not look for tie fighters or star destroyers here. They all look somewhat alike and are very utilitarian looking.

  You get the help of the 'tactical officer' once your ship enters combat, if you need it that is.




 The game is about the earth going dead from man and other reasons. Humans have then turned to populating the universe to continue the species. In the campaign game you are playing on the side of the 'Republic of Free People', and the enemy is the 'United Sol Trade Alliance'.



   By hovering the mouse over your ship, you can see all of the interior of your new creations. You have to turn broadsides sometimes to get shots at your enemies, much like in naval battles. You can also target different systems on your opponent's ship. You can kill his propulsion and leave him floating, or target his weapons for your safety and leave him at your mercy or not.




  The game itself is well worth the effort someone like me will have to put into it. This game will test your mettle and IQ, but when you finally get it right and see your enemy destroyed it is all worth it. This is the ultimate playground for hard core simmers who are in need of a spaceship fix. 




 My apologies to the developers and to you, the readers. I meant to add a screen shot of how you move your spaceship and then forgot. You steer it using the three colored dots, moving them back and forth with your mouse after clicking on them. Radial movement is the green dot, tangential movement is the red dot, and out of plane is the blue dot.


 Robert 


Game: Children of a Dead Earth 
Developer: Q Switched Productions, LLC
Steam Release Date: 9/23/2016
Review Date: 10/22/2016




                                                        Last Days of Old Earth Review   Hang on, wait a second. Why am I r...

Last days of Old Earth Review Last days of Old Earth Review

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

SCiFi

                                                        Last Days of Old Earth Review










  Hang on, wait a second. Why am I reviewing this game? I am a grognard whose pedigree goes back to the early days of board wargaming. I don't even read Sci-Fi; well, very little. The map isn't of Europe or anything I have seen before, and what about all of the strange units? What's up with them? Just as companies have to branch out like Slitherine has done into IOS, Android, and non-historical games to keep pace with, and sometimes create new markets. We wargamers should do the same. I know I used to look down my nose at a map that had "shudder" areas instead of hexes. I now play Ageod games all the time and love them. So please, people, step out of your comfort zone with games every once in a while and check out those beer and pretzel games, fantasy, and Sci-Fi games. So does Slitherine and Auroch Digital hit one out of the park to the ultaran nebula, or is this game the last spark of a super nova turned cold?

  Last Days of Old Earth was reviewed earlier here when it was still in early access. The game has changed since then, and also just received a very large update.

 In this turn based strategy game, you can play as the Skywatchers Clan or the Automata.

 The Skywatchers Clan are the last remnant of humans who live on Earth; not ours, but one that has been turned into a freeze pop. Playing as them, you are marching toward the equator, which is still warm enough to sustain some life.

 The Automata are a robotic race of sentinels that are in the way of the Skywatchers Clan on their trek to the equator.

 The only thing that confused me is that the Skywatchers clan is set on doing its Northwalk. Living in the northern hemisphere, it had me turning my head several times. This again is proof that people should think, look, and walk at times out of their comfort zone.

 In some ways, the game resembles a turn based RTS game. You build facilities and upgrade them. You explore the map looking for both resources and enemies. The map is a blank slate except for the few tiles that you can see at first. As far as similarities to RTS games, that is about it. At its heart it is a strategy game as much as any wargame is.

 The main difference is that it is turn based. So you have no need for frenetic map searching or finger clicking. It reminds me of the newer board games with its die rolls and cards to pull.

 The terrain is varied, and gives bonuses to the defender like a typical wargame. The units have all strengths and weaknesses that have to be used to used to attack or to defend against your enemy.

  You can build outposts which are military installations, and also build collectors on resource tiles.

 One place the game really shines is in terrain height. In this game it actually matters. You not only get the expected defense bonus, but your units can actually SEE farther on the map. This helps immensely with recon, attack, and defense planning.



 The other very well done part of the games is in its hero units. They have special abilities, and also have a set amount of units that they can command in armies.

You can garrison your HQ or your outpost or deploy your armies out of them. If you lose your HQ to the enemy, the game is lost. All of your installations have limits on the amount of units allowed to be present in the garrison. Units in installations can also be healed and repaired. There are a few units that can do this for your armies in the field.

 The game turn starts with a die roll to determine who wins the initiative. You can use your resources to buy more chances to win the die roll. Gaining the initiative not only lets you move first, you also gain more action points to use during that turn.

 Battles occur when units of both sides are in the same hex. You can choose to autoresolve it or move it to the field of battle. The field of battle is pretty typical in its look and usage. The front line is for units defending and attacking directly with the second line used for support units.






 The AI is very competent on both the field of battle, and the maps.

 The graphics at first seemed to me a bit cartoon-like (see above), but the maps and units grew on me. They are actually well done for the game's story line.

 Resources are the key to the game.You have to get moving on the first turn. For both recon and to search, find, and capture the different resource hexes on each map. Not only finding, but also defending your resources is really the crux of game play. If the enemy can take away your resources you will lose. Possibly a slow loss, but a loss nonetheless.

 The game comes with the ability to choose your units before you start with the ability to build your own 'decks' of them before battle.



 The game also has an adjustable 'sudden death' meter in the skirmish games. This is a good addition so the player doesn't have to destroy all of his enemies or capture the entire map to win that scenario. 

  


  To add to the player's choices, the game has some interesting features. A unit can go into stealth mode in a forest tile and become hidden. You can try to assassinate your enemy's heroes. Sabotage is also something you can do against your enemy and cut down on his supply. The game also has 'encounters' where the player's forces will move next to a tile that has a force that is not one of the two antagonists. The player has to choose on how his forces will react to this. It is possible to gain allies during one of these encounters.

 To sum it up, this game is an interesting title that really does have some depth if you take the time to play it. A lot of wargamers or grogs would look askance at it due to the story and graphics. This one will remain on my harddrive and I will definitely play it. In the beginning I was skeptical, but it has proved its worth.

  Robert

 Game: Last Days of Old Earth
 Developer: Auroch Digital
 Publisher: Slitherine
 Date of Review: 8/6/2016
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