Sunday, 17 January 2021

Roman Empire (TV)

Featuring emperors starting with "C".

This show turned out to be my first docudrama experience. For those who don't know what that is, you have actors and a script and scenes like a regular TV show with random cutaways to modern historians who talk about what was happening at that point in history.

That's one way to save on the budget!

This makes it both more interesting and a little jarring. Sean Bean narrates each of the three seasons which focus on the lives of Commodus, Ceasar and Caligula. It's very obvious that the budget is tight too as many filler shots are taken from previous shows and are repeated blatantly. Yes, even if you flip the shot its the same shot, you can't fool me!

The acting is also a bit weak at times, but hey I still watched the whole thing because its a subject that interests me. So in that vein, if you are interested in this sort of thing by all means give it a try. For everyone else, stay away. I give it two stabbing betrayals out of five.

Friday, 15 January 2021

Metal Gear Survive: Hot Potato

[Part of the MGS Diary]

Searching for another singularity for Iris energy takes some time, but also lets me unlock more teleporters and expand base camp as I rescue more stranded survivors including a disabled kid. I also encounter new enemies: a horrible nest of alien spiders in another ruin and a swarm of giant mosquito things which I use a walker gear gatling gun on.

Best way to deal with giant mosquitoes? Shoot em with a gatling gun!

Yep, there are vehicles hidden in the dust but they don't work for very long. Back at camp Reeve is well enough to head up an expedition team and I task them to always collect wood. It seems there's always a shortage on that and on gunpowder, as opposed to the crazy amounts of explosives lying around. I guess the Charon Corps was going to try explode the planet as a fail safe?

Finally another singularity is located and I get the digger charged. The swarm here is bigger than last time, but thanks to the portable turrets I brought this defense is much easier than the previous dig. It's then back to camp to open the worm hole and stem yet another wanderer attack - again easy thanks to the expanded base and new gun turrets I prepared but we all had a collective jaw drop when the Lord of Dust itself arrived.

Apparently it too was attracted by the energy and with no way to fight it, we fled the camp through the worm hole to safety. But safety wasn't Earth, we just found ourselves at another, more jungle like area of the dust planet. With more mother base debris here we decided to setup a new camp, basically having to start over. Ugh. I'm going to miss our little potato farms.

Insight: The new camp starts with all the workshops and you get to keep anything you had in storage. Also, it turns out you don't have to build anything base related here either.

Thursday, 14 January 2021

Lifeless Planet

Lifeless at first glance anyway.

As an astronaut who crash lands on some barren planet you have no choice but to move forward through the more or less one-way path given to you in order to solve a lot of jumping puzzles, evade a few traps, and figure out what the hell is going on.

You aren't the most agile of people in that suit.

While the graphics and story are... ok, the controls are quite frustrating - especially in the latter jump sequences as your character can't pivot on the spot. Worse than this though, is a common complaint my regular readers would see here: a lot of space with nothing to do. Yes, we get it. It's a big planet. Do I really have to run across miles of emptiness in the earlier levels for you to get that point across?

Expect to die a few times - maybe once from surprise but then the next dozen from the poor handling of being in a space suit. Not really a good game but at least its easy to progress through, I give it 1.5 boulders out of 5. That ending also kinda sucks. :P

Insight: In one section where you must pass through a narrow entry that has a death trap waiting for you, you need to get close and drop a rock on it so it triggers for the rock and not for yourself. This is the only part in the game where you need to do this, and it is really annoying.

Metal Gear Survive: Digging the Sky

[Part of the MGS Diary]

The previous memory board gives us the location of a "wormhole digger" next to an inactive teleporter, which seems to be the key to escaping this place so I go to fetch it in the dust. It's worth noting that there's some form of giant monster in here too. Dubbed the "Lord of Dust", it's like a gigantic alien centipede that just marches from place to place.

I quite like it as it tends to ignore me while at the same time, stomps on hapless wanderers who get into its path. While sneaking past the horde guarding the digger is a little challenging, getting it out of there is not and soon it is powering up back at base camp to create a portal home.

Of course, this attracts a major attack on the camp (6 minutes worth) which I barely survive. The digger fires its ray into the sky and... nothing. Damnit, it looks like we need to charge it up first with something called Iris energy that can be found in singularities on this planet, one of which isn't too far from a teleporter outpost so I hop on over to dig that up and as usual, have to defend against more wanderers!

Hmm, just realized this is actually just a tower defense variant.

Again, I barely survive this defense and learn that the digger still needs 40% more energy before attempting another wormhole. Greeeat. Since it looks like we might still be here awhile, Reeve constructs some rainwater tanks and Miranda teaches us to boil water to purify it first before drinking it (which should be common sense).

Insight: There are three types of defense - defending a teleporter just requires you to best guess where baddies will come from, but you can clear them prior to starting the defense. Defending a moving singularity dig or base camp (more waves) has enemies dropping in from worm holes but you have red dots on the mini map to help you out and other "defending the digger" types actually gives you the paths enemies will use to attack so you can put your defenses on the correct spots.

In all cases every time the defense target loses a set percentage it creates a small AoE that damages nearby enemies (and defenses). This means you can actually let a few of them through especially if you know they won't have enough time or health to destroy the objective.

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

Horrified (Board Game)

Save the town from some famous monsters!

In this cooperative board game, players (1-5) must work to defeat famous movie monsters - the likes of Dracula, the Wolf Man, Frankenstien and his Bride, the Mummy, the Creature from the Black Lagoon and the Invisible Man (who is somehow the worst). The difficulty is based on how many bad guys you are playing against - two is easy mode while four is the hardest.

You definitely won't win if all are in play.

On a turn, players will be moving and picking up items which are then used at specific places to defeat the two phases of each monster - who obviously have different requirements. Phase one for Dracula is running about and destroying his coffins while for the Mummy its solving a puzzle at the museum. Once the requirements for phase one are met, you can then do the phase two requirement of the enemy - which usually involves getting up to them (not really a problem as they keep hunting people) and using a variety of stuff to defeat them.

Interestingly there is no dice for phase 2. If its your turn and have the gear to defeat the bad guy you can reach, you instantly take him out of the game. Only the bad guys get some dice rolling when making attacks. They do this on their turn, which is dictated by the monster card pulled at the end of every players turn.

If you run out of monster cards, you run out of time and instantly lose. If you let the doom track reach the end (which means the monsters have either been killing the players or the NPC villagers you need to protect) you lose. Beat all the monsters to win!

This is a fantastic, easy to learn game with nice art and decent components but more importantly it sets up and plays blindingly fast, at around a game an hour. My party of four fit four rounds in the space of one evening. Highly recommended, I give Horrified five scarabs out of five.

Insight: The boon cards are usually worth the effort to do the escort tasks of each villager, if they happen to be on the way.

Tuesday, 12 January 2021

Metal Gear Survive: Miranda is the Bomb

[Part of the MGS Diary]

In the dust, little wormholes regularly open up and drop a variety of materials at random but having a helicopter crash right out of one is definitely worth investigating. Sure enough, there is one female survivor stuck on a ledge as a whole herd of wanderers have also come to check out the noise (note: they do this with all the wormholes).

Since she doesn't have an oxygen mask her life is already draining away when I arrive, but the best way through the herd is the smartest: first throwing a bait bottle to get as many of the scum clustered together as possible and then using molotovs to burn them down.

It's game over if she dies.

Activating the next nearby teleporter gets us to safety and the woman introduces herself as Nurse Miranda. Reeve is slightly upset because now someone can tend to his leg to make him start pulling his own weight around here. By chance, the next memory board is pretty close to her crash site - in the depths of some dark ruins where I encounter a new type of wanderer: the bomber. Slow moving with a bloated head, these things explode when killed - unless you back stab them which is pretty easy as they don't have the reflexes the normal wanderers do.

Those ruins really test the limits of my air tank though, as it's nearly empty by the time I return to base.

Insight: If you are super sneaky or only have bait bottles, use them to sneak past the large group while ignoring the nurse and head to the opposite cliff. There are a pair of emplaced machine guns there than can easily wipe the herd out. The bait + molotov tactic is handy all the time though, remember it especially in places where time is not an issue.

Monday, 11 January 2021

AER: Memories of Old

It's like one of those flying dreams...

Set in a broken world where land masses are mysteriously floating about on their own, you are sent on a pilgrimage to the three temples to learn of the past and possibly save the future. How to traverse the floating islands? Shapeshift into a bird of course!

A very relaxing game once you get the hang of flying.

Despite the rough graphics and rougher collision detecting, this is a beautiful game for explorer type players because that's all there is to it: exploring and some easy puzzle solving. It's also incredibly relaxing with some decent zen tunes to accompany you while flying about.

I ran into a no-clip (fell through the floor infinitely) issue in the final temple though, so just be sure to save your game regularly. Otherwise, its a decent game which I give 2.5 sphinx guardians out of 5.

Insight: Always, always have the lantern out when you are able to. It's easy to miss things if you don't.