February 20th, 2013 by Robert Crawford
I can’t really comment because it has been quite a while since I spent time with the game. Probably what stands out, though, is the addition of the aforementioned SMGs, which sounds like I ought to log back in and take a look at them. Also notable is the implementation of a more detailed experience system:
“Added tiered kill xp
- Killing a player who has been alive for less than 10 seconds and has not earned more than 5 xp will yield a diminished “Spawn Kill” xp reward of 25 xp
- Killing a player who has been alive for more than 10 seconds, or earned more than 5 xp and less than 1000 xp will yield a normal “Kill” xp reward of 100 xp
- Killing a player who has earned equal to or more than 1000 xp but less than 2000 xp will yield an enhanced “High Threat Kill” xp reward of 150 xp
- Killing a player who has earned equal to or more than 2000 xp will yield an enhanced “Extreme Menace Kill” xp reward of 300 xp”
You also get more XP now for blowing up Sunderers, which is fair enough, and surface-to-air kills reap bonus rewards as well.
I’ll have to jump in and lay my eyes on the tweaks they’ve made to the facilities, which sound pretty interesting, involving “more defensible” spawn rooms. Tunnels, only accessible to the defenders, have been added to the Amp Station and Tech Plant facilities, although whether the Tech Plant needed anything to make it any more difficult to capture for attackers is something I’d hotly contest. (My experiences assaulting these places have felt a bit like trying to fit through a crack in a wall.) There are new, defender-specific jump-pads at all the Amp Stations, which sounds cool, and the Biolabs have all seen a redesign, leading to “better cover at the landing platforms which should lead to more interesting fights there.” Which seems welcome, to me at least.
A host of UI changes is mentioned, none of which seem like the sort of thing I’ll really notice. I also can’t tell if they seem like the sort of changes the game needs to make to its interface to help new players get used to it quicker, but that’s another thing I’ll have to jump in and look at.
Plenty more fixes and tweaks in the update log. Go and take a gander at that, if you’re interested.
February 6th, 2013 by Patrick Rose
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June 9th, 2012 by Matthew Haddon
Dear readers, I come today not with a review, but with a warning. As much as it pains me to do this to a game franchise I have so far enjoyed, you absolutely must not waste your precious and hard earned money on this completely abysmal and nigh-on worthless DLC.
For those of you out of the loop, HQR is set a few weeks after the end of Arkham City and is completely full of spoilers if you haven’t finished the basic game. Suffice to say, stuff happens in Arkham City and Harley wants Batman’s blood over it. So, the already nutty wench gets her boys together, returns to Arkham City, kidnaps some police and then… well I’m not too sure what her grand plan is beyond somehow killing the Batman. Not really the most informative bit I could write about the DLC, but it’s the only way I can introduce it without spoilering a major plot point of Arkham City.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. The first chore is getting this to install.
Now I got AC through Steam, like I imagine many of us did. As such it only made sense to get HQR the same way, paying £7.99 for it. This is where the problems started. Clicking the “Install now” option after buying it did nothing, it wasn’t in my games list and it wasn’t already in the game. It had me panicking. Did I really buy it, or has Steam just stolen my money? But then I saw what was going on, and I wasn’t amused. Buying HQR gives you a redeemable code. This code is then used in the GFWL system while you’re in game to link the DLC to your account. However, attempting to download it this way doesn’t work. As a result, you’re forced to download the GFWL: Marketplace program, run that and download it through that. Once it’s downloaded through GFWL (which takes an age of the Earth), you can finally play. Why it forces you to use GFWL and not Steam, I wish I knew. Also, it’s a quid cheaper through GFWL, making the Steam purchase worthless.
Still, it’s Batman. I can forgive questionable design choices for the installer.
So here I am three hours after buying the DLC. Three hours, including download time is all I got out of HQR. This means it took me about an hour and a half to complete an eight quid DLC.
Worse is that it’s taken the entertaining free-roam aspect of AC and thrown it away completely. You initially go in as Robin, making your way through five or six rooms until you come to a predetermined point. At no part of this can you branch off and go do something else. There’s nowhere to explore or alternate routes and will take you the best part of twenty minutes if you walk everywhere and take your time playing with the ten or so badguys in your path. Once at this point, the action switches to Batman two days prior to Robin’s segment and the closest we get to our beloved AC.
For this bit you actually get to explore the industrial district (though other doors and the entrance to the subways have been sealed off). You can glide about, taking in familiar locations, punch badguys and pop Joker balloons (the only side attraction in the DLC). Eventually you get bored of the pointless free roam and continue the storyline where the size of the DLC truly hits you. You quickly find yourself back in the same six rooms, occasionally getting an objective that forces you to back track through them… and this is pretty much the rest of the game. You walk over here as Robin, walk back a bit, then go back to this room before switching to Batman and going through the same rooms over and over. They aren’t even nice rooms, mostly just loading bays and the like. Gantries for badguys to patrol alone, light fixtures to cower on when everything goes wrong.
And with that in mind, don’t even get me started on the character switching. The DLC simply isn’t big enough for multiple protagonists. Either we should have been Batman all the way through, or Robin. It was a nifty idea, having Batman go to deal with Harley, only to get in trouble and having the Boy Wonder come bail his backside out. Playing as Robin even breathed new life into the setting. Sure he only has half of Batman’s gadgets and half of them were reskins, but his unique ones were something new, something different. Heck, I wouldn’t have minded playing purely as him. Unfortunately, he feels like a crutch. Used purely to advance the story and get the player back into Batman’s boots as quickly as possible. He was wasted.
The combat, fortunately, remains unmolested. The epic “one versus many” battles remain with fluid and impressive movements. Both Batman and Robin have their own takes on the fights, and they’re never ball bustingly hard. Robin’s final fight, for example, was a pain to finish. However, it was the good kind of pain. The pain that feels a lot better once you know you didn’t let it beat you. The two boss battles are the same too, fighting tons of mooks before finally landing a hit on the boss. Saying that, there is something satisfying about Harley actually getting punched.
In short, Harley Quinn’s Revenge is not worth your time right now, and certainly not worth the asking price. I know the DLC route is tempting for developers now, adding to their creations (and coffers) over time and keeping the fanbase playing but it has to be done properly. HQR feels like a free DLC, thrown out to bridge the gap between the game and a proper expansion, only somewhere along the line a price was tagged on and they ran with it. I love Batman, and I love the Arkham games but HQR is straining that relationship. I am not amused.
April 28th, 2012 by Patrick Rose
So, Stone Quarry Simulator, eh? Well, it’s from Exaclibur publishing, and Astrogon, purveyors of fine simulatory wares. I was fond for a few hours of Truck Simulator UK (part of the Excalibur network of sims, but developed by SCS software in the UK) as it had its own subtle pleasures.
It is amazing how serene and enjoyable driving along a nice, leafy b-road at 40mph can be in light of the near infinite amounts of games that will beat your mother up and call her a sissy for conceiving you if you drop under 200mph and stop firing your deadly car lasers for more than a second. Anyway, while it had its problems, at its core it struck me as what a simulator should be, easy going and different, but still engaging. So the question is this, does Stone Quarry Simulator live up to this and meet my simulating standards?
Sadly the answer is quite a resounding no. Well, that’s the short answer.
Let’s start with the graphics so we can ease into the disappointment. They’re terrible obviously, but we all expected them to be, right? I mean, that’s just how simulations roll isn’t it? Yes and no. I could forgive a few shoddy textures here and there but looking at anything in Stone Quarry Simulator makes you feel as if you had just receiving botched laser eye surgery.
This is the prettiest it can possibly look.
It still probably seems as though I’m being too harsh. After all, these aren’t high budget triple A games . The problem is, this is a very small game. It has three quarries, all of which seem about the same, piddly size and as such I was surprised at how ugly it looked.
It’s not only small physically, but mentally as well. All the quarries would have you doing exactly the same tasks, endlessly, with the only actual goal I could see being that of owning all three quarries. This is not a motivation, it is a grind. And a pointless one at that, considering you’ll have all the vehicles and toys near the beginning of the game and, as such all your really grinding for is the ability to grind even more.
The first quarry
You’ll mine stone out of the side of a cliff, you’ll pick that stone up in a digger, you’ll then put the stone in a dump truck and rinse, repeat and bite your fingers off with the monotony. You can also use dynamite to get stone from the quarry floor and use a digger mounted chainsaw to carve large blocks. That’s it.
Well, what did I expect in a Quarry Simulator? Well, two things: more structure and less buggy physics. In a game about picking up and moving stone, it is remarkably hard to actually pick up and move stone and I don’t mean in an exciting, challenging way. When trying to pick up stone, you’re just as likely to get the front of your digger stuck in the ground for five minutes as you are to actually manage to pick up any rocks.
It took 5 minutes of feverish button mashing to get out of this one.
Imagine you’ve dropped a large box of hot cross buns, made of lead. Now, imagine that you must pick them up by scooping them into the box from whence they came. Also, in this metaphor every time you accidentally kick one represents your rage at diggers and by extensions – because you’re just that angry – all things yellow. Got it? No? Good, that means you haven’t played this game you lucky soul.
Oh, and every other mechanic in the game is just as broken. Mining into rock faces can often simply not work, not generate any stone or generate stone in physics defying super-lumps that send your digger flying off into the sky when it touches them.
This shot actually makes it look much easier than it is.
Sawing square blocks consists of pressing space bar down for three seconds, releasing for one and then pressing down for three again about three times a side. So, basically that works out about one hundred and sixty seconds of sheer boredom. All you want to do is just hold the space bar down until it finishes, but, if you do that the saw overheats and you have to start all over again. . Yes, if you have cut three sides of the block and you lose concentration on the fourth the entire thing magically regenerates.
Then you have the dump truck. My god the dump truck. At first it seems like a brilliant way to move mass loads of stone, but then you realize… it’s too big for the stone grinder. Hmm, that might have been more dramatic if you knew what the stone grinder was. Well, long story short, its where all stone needs to go to get you any money. The problem is, as illustrated by the screenshot below, is that you cannot get close enough to the stupid thing and, even if you managed that, half your load would still go on the ground as the tray on the grinder is just too goddamn small.
Spilling my load is far too easy... and in the game.
As for the dynamite drilling and placement: at least they work as intended, even if it is ponderously slow. So there you have it, almost the entire game is broken in some way.
To soften this revelation, here is an image of hilarious failure.
I also mentioned that the game needs more structure. If this is supposed to be a simulator, where is my working day? My wife and children at home? My promotion opportunities? My banter with the other workmen? My lunch break? My terrible industrial accidents? Instead of feeling like actually working at a quarry, you feel like you’re in some strange limbo where you fulfill random orders for no one in particular, forever.
I am not joking, I literally once questioned whether I was in purgatory and this was some sort of clever, artsy indie game. If the above things were added, Stone Quarry Simulator would be a much larger, more interesting and much, much more varied and structured game. As it is, it feels like an alpha test where most features aren’t in the game and the ones that are don’t quite work as intended.
More silly physics, A.K.A.: Radical air, dude!
There are also a few niggling interface and sound issues and a lack of configurable controls (I couldn’t even locate an .ini file) but they really don’t bear mentioning. I’ve been fair to this game and I put enough hours into it to know that there would be very, very few people who would enjoy it for more than an hour or two. These sorts of simulations do have potential, don’t get me wrong, but sadly Stone Quarry Simulator takes this potential and spills it on the floor while trying to put it in the grinder.
March 4th, 2012 by Patrick Rose
Like many people who devoted a large amount of time to 2D mining/chopping/slicing sim Terraria, I was disappointed to hear that there would be no more updates for it. Of course, I understand entirely why, not everyone has enough time to constantly update and change their games like Valve do with the likes of TF2 and L4D2.
Stepping up to the plate hopefully is Nioki Adventure. The two-man team of developers, Bidogames, are hard at work on this and they tell us that they want to take a similar approach to the Terraria style of gameplay. Yet what catches my eye about it is the opportunity for user-generated content, something that the aforementioned game could have used.
Nioki will have a few things that are going to set it apart and no doubt decide whether it will be a success. It has a structured, developer created storyline, with quests that we can only hope will be more than “Kill 10 slimes.” The quests aren’t the only RPG element that they’re planning on including either, as thy say they will have traits and skill trees.
In addition, there will be the previously mentioned user-generated pieces of content. Bidogames are very hopeful that they get the right sort of community behind them and with such a small team it’s hard to see why they wouldn’t. Both before and after release, they’ll be looking for ideas for anything that could be included in the game; weapons, items, quests, crafting… almost anything you can think of. Yes, perhaps even hats.
But of course, what are hats without the ability to show them off to your fellows before beating them to a pulp? Well, you are in luck, as Nioki Adventure is also going to have a multiplayer mode. In fact, Bidogames tell us that if you want to explore all the content this game has to offer, you’ll need to team up with someone. Or smash their face in with your sword.
Nioki Adventure is being developed for the Xbox 360 Indie Arcade and PC. More information will no doubt be appearing at their website, http://www.nioki-adventure.com and be sure to follow their twitter account for even more. And of course, we’ll keep you updated on anything we find out too.
February 23rd, 2012 by Patrick Rose
Welcome back to this special, deluxe-bumper issue. The last turns. We’re here, finally, and it’s been a non-stop newb fest for poor old Snukk the Angel of Blood. I will finally be put out of my misery (or will I?) in this final chapter. But at least it will end in a war, like I always wanted.
Interesting stuff this turn. Let us first look at this curious fissure shall we?
Hermit obviously played that event card to deny Bladder’s access to his southern border, a smart move considering that Bladder’s final turns were to be dedicated to pillaging Hermit’s southern lands.
The next two items on our agenda are probably related. I cannot perform any rituals for five turns due to another event card. This one was probably played by Mrice, given the fact that he is afraid of my fireballs (he really shouldn’t be, they’re shit) and has just made a demand against me which he knows I’m going to refuse, simply because I’m me.
Mrice has also conceded to a demand made on him by Bladder. It would seem he’s trying to avoid being sandwiched between Bladder and myself. The next two turns mean war, so I’ve allocated both my Praetor and my siege engine to the Blood of Snukk who, annoyingly never managed to capture back that Place of Power before I had to move them back to the front.
It is the calm before the storm again this turn, and as such I will discuss the battle plans.
I will come up in his arse (Ed: I do not like this. In many ways I do not like this) with my mountaineering Chthonian Crawlers and await his assult into my buffed up lines of defence on his eastern border. Although, wait, he probably only has to capture two hexes to win the vendetta being such a small state. Balls, that means I can either stick with my plan and hope he needs more than three hexes – which he won’t – or I can move my Flaming Legion forward to make sure he can only take two this turn.
However, if he only needed two in the first place, then I’d throw away a legion and give him free prestige. Oh, decisions decisions, choices choices. What is a Snukk to do? Why, I attack of course, because fuck the Infernal Police.
Here are the more sedate, revised plans.
Oh, and there is one last thing, Qazi has been talking to me. Remember near the beginning of this playthrough that I said that Kelron was going to try and take the capital of Hell, Pandemonium, by force? Well, We’re potentially only two turns from the end of the game now, and if he’s going to make his move, he’s going to do it now.
He did it, the madman, he did it!
The fourteenth token hasn’t been drawn this turn and he needs to hold Pandemonium for another five to win, it seems unlikely the game will last that long, but who knows. Come to think of it, I don’t even know if he will win if he holds if the game ended before the allotted five turns. Or it may suspend the drawing of tokens completely, I guess we’ll find out.
Oh, and he has this on his border.
Textbook, no way I can assault him now, but I guess I have to anyway, oh well at least the seizure of the capital has stopped Mrice being able to claim vendetta on me, that’s something I guess. Must. Stop. Kelron. Winning.
Kelron just straight up destroyed Qazi’s fortress with The Beast. Shit. He’ll come after me next and it won’t be pretty, not one bit.
Here’s what’s happening.
Bladder is charging his legions into Kelron’s stronghold, if he can do so within the next four turns, Kelron will lose. However, his incredibly mobile and powerful Beast probably won’t take the bait of my legions, two of which are rushing for Pandemonium, even though they won’t be able to overwhelm its tremendous defences.
Therefore, The Beast will probably either go straight for my fortress, or attack Bladder’s forces in the north, Kelron most certainly has the upper-hand here. We saw this coming, but we did not act, and now it is too late.
Balls, so close yet so far, look at this situation.
Next turn both Bladder and Kelron will attack each others’ fortresses. They will both win, so it all comes down to who goes first in the turn order.
Well, not Bladder that’s for sure, Hermit is regent this turn which means he goes first and the order continues clockwise, meaning Bladder is dead last. If only this were one turn ago. Damn. Anyway, I’m just marching as fast as I can towards Kelron’s stronghold now, I have no chance of taking Pandemonium.
…Wow, that’s funny.
Apparently your unit move actions still carry on the turn your Stronghold is destroyed, meaning Kelron and Bladder killed each other at exactly the same time. Guess what that means for me? Hell could be mine.
Here’s the plan, I create a combat card (a device I haven’t previously used, which basically secretly adds stats to your unit for the next combat, or takes them away from your enemy) that takes eight ranged power from Pandemonium, on my first phase. On my second phase, I attacked with the Blood of Snukk. With their new combat card combined with the siege engine which does double damage to Places of Power, I will do twelve damage to Pandemonium, and it currently only has nine.
If this goes successfully and I managed to defend it for five turns, this will be the greatest underdog story yet.
Now all I have to do is not die horribly. I will describe the situation I’m in with beautiful prose, as opposed to badly done screenshots mutilated with Paint, as is my norm.
Mrice has a legion with ten melee that can reach my pathetic Stronghold within two turns, so I play a combat card on it that will take eight melee away from any attacking force. Meanwhile on my eastern flank, Hermit’s vast horde approaches. I move my Blood onto a bridge to stop their advance on my stronghold. Five turns…it is too many, I’m too weak and stretched too thinly. Damn.
Boy, this is getting tense.
Mrice destroyed my flaming bastards that were hanging around his Stronghold, not doing much. It’s alright, I didn’t need them and they delayed his movement by a turn, which is all I needed.
Fresh from having crushed one of Hermit’s legions on my eastern border, I send my powerful Blood to defend my Stronghold, hopefully intercepting and destroying Mrice’s three hex movement Hounds of Hell. Hermit has one weak legion and one melee centric legion heading towards me. As Mrice’s Hounds are also melee centric, both my Stronghold and my Blood are outfitted with the beautiful ‘minus eight melee on enemy’ combat cards.
I’m so nervous even my scrotum has the shivers. Four more turns to go.
My Chthonian crawlers were destroyed by Mrice’s Hounds, under normal circumstances this would be bad, but, in the process of doing this he has also blocked off one of Hermit’s legions from my territory, smoothly done Mrice, smoothly done. Here is the battle.
Hermit’s menacing, melee focused legion in the north will be in a position to strike my Stronghold next turn, Mrice’s Hounds will do so this turn. My plan is to let his dogs crush their puny skulls against my walls and then, given that I go before Hermit next turn, sweep my Blood up to annihilate his legion with my beautiful combat card.
Meanwhile, my angry (probably about the economy) Greeks with spears are coming to support my Stronghold and I’ve cast a fireball on Mrice’s secondary legion down in the south, hoping to weaken it before it reaches me.
Three more turns.
What? What? WHAT?!
Mrice’s Hounds have just torn straight north, blocking of both of Hermit’s legions from my Stronghold. Why? I have no idea, Kelron has no idea, Hermit has no idea. I’m not even sure Mrice has any idea. I… no, don’t think about it, it is too confusing. I don’t think there is anything he can do to me that would actually be able to defeat me… so confused.
Two more turns.
Silence, all is quiet in hell, Mrice has not attacked, Hermit cannot attack… I think I’m about to win, they only have this turn to defeat me. They won’t do it? They can’t do it? Surely?
End turn. Give turn to Kelron…
I WIN! I WIN! I WIN!!!!!!11ELEVENTWO
I can’t believe it. Can you believe it? I can’t believe it. I already said that, I’m blathering. Snukk The Usurper, Angel of Blood and Lord of Hell wins the day, snatching victory from the prickly vagina of defeat. It’s been a roller coaster ride, full of downs, downs and more downs. But, somehow, I pulled it all back from the brink. It almost brings a tear to the eye doesn’t it? I’ve never felt so sensitive as I do now, my nipples ache for you embrace, gentle reader. Thank you for reading.
February 23rd, 2012 by Patrick Rose
I think I need to throw it out right away that I’ve never played the original Syndicate. In fact, so uneducated am I that I don’t know anything about it at all, not even what genre it is. What I do know is that, much like X-Com, people seem to be annoyed that it’s a FPS now.
The demo itself isn’t huge, a mere 600-ish MB download on your console toy with no word of a PC demo. I was surprised at how small it was actually, and to be honest, what you actually get to play shows why it’s so small. The level is basically five rooms filled with enemies who literally run into your bullets. Your characters, at least, aren’t faceless nobodies and you get a slight feeling that the devs tried to take a leaf out of Left4Dead’s book.
Before getting into the game, they decide to show you a huge montage of all the things you can do in the game, throwing out buzz words that I had, and still have no understanding of. Words like “chip rip.” I’m assuming this is something old Syndicate fans will know about. Aside from that, nothing about the montage of shooting, exploding and chip ripping stuck in my mind.
At first I jumped right in to a game. Probably not my smartest idea, but no doubt outweighed by the stupidity I apparently displayed to my team-mates as I was promptly kicked when all of my squad was down and I ran around like a headless chicken. “Okay,” I said. “I’m actually going to look at the controls now.” So I did.
After learning that all I really needed to do was hold L2 to occasionally heal team mates and activate consoles, I felt ready to jump in again. I was older, wiser, and I had two trusty trigger fingers raring to go. I jump in to another game. It’s the final area of the demo level. The doors open and I’m greeted by a minigun wielding maniac. My team apparently know what they’re doing, as he’s taken down surprisingly quickly, ending the level. They barely needed my help.
This probably won’t come as a surprise if you’re not expecting this to be any good, but I get the feeling that it might, just might, do what Brink did and be using singleplayer maps as multiplayer maps, only without bots at your side. I could be horribly wrong, and I sort of hope I am.
Even after three rounds on the same map (it takes about 10-15 minutes depending on your team) there were still a few things I was confused about. There are things dotted around the level that look like a sort of hacking terminal or something, I honestly have no idea. Regardless, they show up on your HUD, like they want you to go L2 them like they’ve never been L2′d before, but when you try, it seems like nothing happens. Melee seems unresponsive quite often, and I still have no idea how to chip rip enemies.
It’s solid, both graphically and gameplay wise, but it doesn’t have anything outstanding that sets it apart from other games. Based on the demo alone, I’ll be giving this a miss.
The Syndicate co-op demo is available on XBox Live and the Playstation Store.
February 9th, 2012 by Patrick Rose
Welcome back, Fiends and Fiendettes to the gloriously inept strategies of Snukk the Angel of Blood. The last five turns had my once burgeoning infernal empire collapsing into a pit of demonic excrement. Will these five be any better? Read on to find out…
In line with our schemulous schemes of scheming, Bladder has echoed the demand I made of Hermit last turn. Also, someone bought the Ten Thousand Screaming Bastards. I found that amusing… What? No, there is no other reason for me to include that in the screenshot (Ed: Sigh).
I shall receive Hermit’s response to my demand (he’ll probably concede as I only have enough prestige to demand one tribute card still) next turn, in a gearing up for war I do two things.
One, I play this doozy of an event card that I only just realized I had. It will lower the amount of resources that anyone who is of the rank Marquis or above can procure for the next few turns. The beauty of this is that I’m the only player below that rank. Muahahahahhahhaaaa… Oh, and because it’s Kelron’s turn to draw the event card, people will probably think that it was all his doing. Sublime.
Secondly, I buy these beautiful spider things. They’re very crap in combat, but they have a dastardly trick up their sleeve. They can cross mountain cantons. The idea is that, while I busy Hermit with my Blood Legion, my Crawlers will sneak over the mountains and nab all of his territory. Yes, yes I know it’s a little late to be pulling schemes like this out of the bag; but hey, just because I’ve cocked everything up thus far doesn’t mean I have to stop trying.
Damn, well my prestige has been further cocked up by a demand from Mrice that I’ve had to concede to. And, Hermit has conceded to both mine and Bladder’s demands, how irritating of him. Ah, well, I’ll try again in four turns. Furthermore, it turns out the event I played gives me extra resources. Time to fill the bank, baby!
Nothing happened this turn. No, seriously, I’m not being lazy, nothing of any remote interest has occurred save the drawing of the eleventh token. Oh, also, my prestige is now sixty-nine which amused me for all of two nanoseconds.
Arse. You remember that event card I played many turns ago? The one that made Hermit’s Pleasure Gardens rebel? Well, it’s just been played on me, and now I have to waste perfectly good order phases and ruin my troop placements just to recover my Altar of Despair. Balls.
Oh well, at least I got to buy this big fella. I mean look at that +2 to all stats plus double damage against Places of Power. I should have been buying artefacts, much, much earlier.
Damn, another empty turn, all I did was assign Praetors and artefacts to legions. It is odd and entirely unexpected for late game turns to be this devoid of happenings, but this game has been a curious one. Due to half the players being newbies, the prestige of players has been fluctuating wildly, with the competition only ever really being between three players: Qazi, Kelron and Hermit.
All three of these players are relatively ‘peaceful’, as in they haven’t gone for any all out wars. All martial Vendettas have been between me, Bladder and Mrice. As such, the late game is very much the purview of these quiet, scheming Fiends and whatever underhanded, often invisible plans they enact to snatch victory.
Meanwhile, I bumble about buying siege engines because I’ve lost and I’m a sad Angel of Blood.
February 2nd, 2012 by Patrick Rose
By way of an introduction, here is a terrible haiku that I’ve written:
Shattered dreams flow thick
In a black soundless river
Death is in its wake
Well, Bladder has just decimated Mrice. Seizing his only Place of Power in a lightning vendetta and winning twenty-six prestige points. Jeez, well played my bestest bud.
Next turn Mrice will probably claim a vendetta on me. Bring it I say, doing that beckoning thing that they do in The Matrix. How shall I prepare? Well, I buy the artefact that I’ve been eyeing up in the bazaar for many a turn, The Iron Maiden of Insatiable Thirst - just my kind of thing, I think you’ll agree.
+2 to both my tribute roll and command rating, that means more resources and more legions, something I desperately need with my territories being as diabolically vast as they are.
I will flatten Mrice into a demon flavoured pancake.
Mrice has claimed his vendetta, he has one nasty legion and the upper hand on turn initiative, but I have a few tricks up my sleeve too. Besides, Bladder is also putting the pressure on Mrice.
My new Iron Maiden will help me, provided of course I can ever get any resources… hang on, I now have zero souls. I swear I had more than that last turn. I bet someone is running a thief Arch-fiend.
Anyway, here is my battle plan, in purple are Mrice’s expected moves, yellow mine and that blue thing represents my infernal fireball power.
If I’m lucky when his topmost legion attacks mine (it is much tougher) that I will have weakened it enough with the fireball to allow me to kill it. It’s all luck and dice rolls though, so we shall see.
No pictures this turn. Those pictures show only shame. I lost, badly: Three cantons and two legions. MrIce destroyed one and an inquisition (event card) took out the other. Also I have next to know resources now and very low prestige and I’m in no way winning this game… unless, I attack Hermit. Yes, that’s obviously a brilliant idea.
You see this is somewhat the problem with playing a Wrath fiend. I’m all about the wars, but I keep getting dicked over by the scheming fiends. Anyway, all I’m going to do this turn is demand resources and cry into the vat of molten blood that I have for breakfast. Sadface.
So, I’m out of the game at this point, I’m too embarrassed to post a screenshot of the prestige rankings, but it’s getting on towards the end of things now and I’m waaaaay behind. To be fair to me, this was my first game, but also I suck.
Anyway, I should probably actually address what happened this turn. Well Bladder has again been stealing cantons from Hermit, I’m still not sure how he does this, he must have some black magicks I do not know about. Also, two event cards were played this turn. One made everyone lose a portion of their souls, luckily for me I had none anyway so… wait, that isn’t lucky.
Anyway, the second card destroyed one of Mrice’s legions, which is kind of nice, if a bit fruitless. Next turn, I’m going to demand concessions from Hermit, because I’m a wrath demon and what the hell else am I supposed to do but start wars? Especially when I’m about to lose. I move some troops into position and desperately request more souls from my foul minions. I’m going out, but I’m going out with a big fucking bang, I tell you.
Not much happened this turn, except that I made a demand against Hermit. So, let us have a brief interlude from the fun and examine the status and resources bar as it stands currently.
The things at the left are tokens, they’re the mechanic by which the game ends, when fifteen are drawn (by the members of Hell’s senate) the fiend with the most prestige will win the game. Although there is some degree of randomness to it, they are drawn exponentially faster. We have no more than twenty turns left I’d say. After that is prestige and, as you can see, mine is woefully low at the moment.
After that are the resources, souls, ichor, hellfire and darkness. I wont go into detail on these, but you need souls for most things and I have so little it is laughable. Also, I have far, far too much hellfire.
Well, That concludes these five turns, join me in a couple of days for the next five, where I’ll be flailing around like a dazed fish with an erection.
January 26th, 2012 by HTP
Defender’s Quest is an RPG/Tower Defence which the team has been getting their teeth into. They finally all got together to talk about it.
Patrick: So. Tower Defence + RPG. Seems to work alright.
Alex: I’d probably be more inclined to call it Tower Defence + Tactical RPG, but whatever.
Alex: Well yeah, it’s far more reminiscent of games like Fire Emblem than it is of Baldur’s Gate. I think it’s an important distinction to make, even if it’s inconsequential. Oh god, we’re getting hung up on genres, aren’t we? Someone explain what the hell it is, properly.
Matt: We can talk now? You two were doing so well without us.
Patrick: QUIET. Defender’s Quest is a tower defence alike where you’re a librarian who gets thrown into a plague pit and does magic to make real people become towers. Various types of people with various abilities who all level up. Someone else talk for a bit, I’m busy playing it.
Johnny: I think, it would be too easy to get bogged down in what precisely happens in the game. I’d like to focus more on the what gives it such a fun atmosphere. First and foremost, it is addictive to the extreme. Recapturing the style and feeling of more classic, arcade games.
David: I think for me it’s the dialogue in the cutscenes that give it that little edge over some other tower defence games.
Patrick: It’s almost like Defense Grid. The British AI is just a guy who talks amusing stuff and makes me giggle a bit every time. I’d also second that addictive thing. I first loaded it up on Monday night and said “Alright, I’ll give this 15 minutes and then go to bed at midnight”. At 1 I thought “Where the hell did the time go?”. I then went to bed at 5.
David: Yeah, I had the same thing last night. It’s genuinely surprising how much you just want to keep playing.
Alex: It’s the compulsion of leveling up your dudes. Going back to ace already-beaten maps on the harder difficulties so as to gain levels and other rewards.
David: Epic loots!
Johnny: Yes, it is very much a game for number whores. The functional interface is chock full of stats and attributes and shiny, shiny health and psi (read: mana) bars. It’s very compelling and I say that as someone who doesn’t normally like that sort of thing.
Matt: The party system is a load of fun too. You have six different classes to choose from, each having their own abilities but how many of each class is completely up to you. If you want to try an all Ranger run then the option is completely open to you without blocking off many of the levels through difficulty. Having different leveling up options compliments this really well too.
Patrick: The main thing I found is that it’s ridiculously easy to fill up your party. I’m finding that I’ve got a ridiculous amount of money for recruiting. If I wanted to get 6 of any type I could (if I’d got to the recruiting bit for them).
David: There are some, well, one, unexpected class type in the game too. I won’t spoil it, but I did chuckle, thinking “Are they serious?” followed shortly by “Oh, they are. Right.”
Matt: But that just adds to the charm. It’s playing to it’s strengths.
David: I didn’t mean that in a bad way. I did genuinely enjoy that particular reveal.
Alex: It’s dragons, isn’t it?
Patrick: Where ever did you get that idea?
Alex: It’s always dragons.
Matt: Worked for Skyrim.
David: Dragons are the new zombies.
Patrick: What I found is that I have this brilliant strategy which seems to be working for every single map, unless armoured gits show up. Anyone else had something like that?
Alex: Not really, but then again I am truly terrible at tower defense games.
Johnny: Put all your Berserkers on one bottleneck, that’s what I end up doing all the time.
Patrick: I found that upgrading your Rangers and just getting them boosted up and firing arrows every millisecond means I don’t even have to worry about them getting close. I’ve also not had a map yet that I didn’t get a perfect on. It seems that you either win perfectly, or you lose.
David: I’ve had a few where literally the last enemy has damaged my hero. Then some where there’s been an enemy a pixel away from her, I’ve whacked it into pause (which is so helpful) and blasted it with a lightning bolt.
Alex: There’s certainly plenty of depth to its systems. What do you lot think of the graphics and music?
Matt: Personally, I love the music. I’ve actually had the game running in the background just so I can hear the soundtrack. I’m not so sure about the decision to sell the 20 minute soundtrack along with the game, but it’s enjoyable.
Patrick: I’ve not done that really. I’ve found it’s not that intense an experience that you need to be focusing on it, and so I listen to something else. Currently it’s Radio 4, because I am an old man.
Alex: Oh shit, is News Quiz on?
Patrick: No, I just listen to whatever’s on. I don’t think that the music is integral, but then again I’ve not really listened to it so I don’t know how pretty it is.
David: Are we still talking about Radio 4? I didn’t think they played music.
Patrick: My point is that the music seems like it’d fit, but I’ve found that I can listen to other stuff which is always nice. I do love the graphics though. They’re nice and pretty, and the style is great.
Alex: Really? I think the sprites for gameplay segments are alright, but as soon as I’m taken into a conversation bit I’m struck dead by how silly the people look. I mean, I just read the text and barely look at the characters, but if my eyes happen to stray…
Johnny: The art style reminds me a lot of the Pokemon games on the Gameboy, which is an aesthetic I absolutely adore. However, I will agree with Alex regarding the cutscenes. The dialogue can be amusing, but the character art reminds me of dodgy internet flash games a little too much.
David: At least none of the enemies are firezards or frogzards.
Matt: True. And saying that, the enemies you do fight are pretty varied. More so than I expected.
David: Definitely. I don’t know about anyone else, but I didn’t bother checking the description on the blue ones first time I fought them, so I kinda freaked when they started stamping through the water towards my unprotected librarian.
Patrick: I’ve not ever clicked on that though. I know I can see what the waves are, but I didn’t really look at what they were. I just thought “Oooh, pretty blue skelet-FFFFFFU”.
David: Oh, just you wait until you get to the black slugs.
Patrick: Let’s wrap this up then. Is it worth it?
David: Absolutely. Even if you’re not sure about it, give the demo a go. You may be surprised. I know I was, because I really didn’t expect much at all.
Alex: Yes! It’s inventive, smartly blending two genres in a way I could never have expected. Also has a female protagonist! It’s progressive in more ways than one.
Johnny: I probably enjoyed it the least, as generally, tower defense is not my genre of choice. However, it probably says a lot for this game that I enjoyed it as much as I did. A thoroughly enjoyable diversion, I thought and definitely worth it. Although I wouldn’t make too much of the ‘female protagonist’ thing, I’m not sure it ever really matters what gender the main character is.
Matt: It’s not every day an indie game gets my seal of approval, and it’s even rarer if that indie game happens to be a tower defense game too. However, I’m going to heartily recommend everyone gets this game. It’s cheap, enjoyable and well worth the money.
Patrick: I’d agree, it’s brilliant in many ways but it’s a devil for your sleep pattern. It’s also good no matter OS you’re running and you can export the save files to keep up to date over different machines. Little touches like being able to run it at a certain speeds, pausing and bundles of charm mean it’s worth the $6.99 (around £4.63). And if you’re quick and buy this before the end of January you can even get $1(around 66p) off with the code HOWTOPLAY so you’ve got no excuse.