Monday 30 April 2018

Universe at War: Earth Assault

Where aliens wage war on Earth!

Invasion stories usually have natives fighting off the invaders. In this RTS, you get to play as the humans for all of a mission and a half before being put in command of the Novus - a machine race that likes teleporting via alien telephone poles.

While the game play, battle pacing, voice acting, music and what I saw of the story are decent this game does suffer a little in the graphics area (for the humans anyway) but worse is that it does that annoying trope of forcing you to play as "x" to experience the story. I really, really hate that.

You will hate / love those giant walkers.

That's right, out of the 3 alien races you need to play all three in a predetermined order to complete the game. Working hard to win as the Novus only to then be shoved onto the side of the enemy to "undo" what I was doing just doesn't work (so obviously I stopped there). It's the same crap Blizzard pulls in the later Warcrafts and Starcraft.

If that's your sort of thing this might interest you, but for me I give it out 2 broken arms from carrying a gatling gun out of 5.

Saturday 28 April 2018

Dawn of War II

In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only war.

Now here's a fantastic squad based tactics game I replayed (despite saying I wouldn't), set in the Warhammer 40K universe and one that is very user-friendly as you lead the Space Marines into battle against a multitude of alien scum.

It is simplified to controlling the squad commanders, leveling and gearing them up, and making use of cover and special abilities. The extra nameless squad mates do help out but are just "tied" to their captain, vastly removing micro management.

Look out behind you!

There are also no structures to build, and though there are optional sites you can capture per mission that will give you boons moving forward in the campaign. The graphics, voice acting, music and story are all great too. Indeed the only fault I can give this is its penchant to reuse maps.

This one is an absolute blast to play, and for me superior to all the Command and Conquer titles I've previously reviewed. Highly recommended, even for non RTS folk. I give this 4.5 melta bombs out of 5.

Friday 27 April 2018

Old TV Reviews: The Vampire Diaries

A continuation of my old TV show reviews.

An 8 season story of two vampire brothers and the girl they like, this show has the most number of character "deaths" followed by "resurrections" or "reappearances" that I've ever seen. It's hilarious. The lore set for the supernatural creatures and is also decent though it took me awhile to get used to some of the lower budget effects, such as speed running (which they conveniently forget to do sometimes).

The plot is entertaining enough with a good amount of violence and most of the characters are likeable (Caroline played by Candice King being our favorite). Alas the main female lead does create quite a lot of viewer fatigue and is kindly put in the background for later seasons. There are some good moments here, and these are usually punctuated by some really good songs.

Turns out she's also a singer!

The series also finishes quite well, which is a decent reward for getting through the almost nightmarish middle seasons. Definitely not a show for everyone, it might interest the vampire aficionados among you. As a bonus, if you make it through season 4, then you also get the proper start of the much better spin-off, The Originals.

Thursday 26 April 2018

Command and Conquer: Tiberian Sun

Earth 2030 is unrecognizable but war... war remains the same.

Continuing from the original game where Kane died but got better, GDI now kitted out with mechs instead of tanks, continue to oppose the Brotherhood of Nod who have upgraded their sneakiness to subterranean units. Tiberium is now wide spread and actual mutants also run rampant. They are handy as infantry though, since standing in Tiberium heals them while it still kills normal foot soldiers.

A little more and it might become Mech Warrior.

The live action cut scenes are at their finest here with a more serious tone to them, starring James Earl Jones and Michael Beihn as the leaders of GDI (who I played). Also the mission map is present here which is a big plus. The game play itself is fine though some build times were on the long side.

The Firestorm expansion continues the story with cyborgs and the Tiberium threat but honestly, its just more of the same - minus the high production cut scenes and minus the mission selection. Needless to say I didn't finish it. I give Tiberian Sun 4 veinholes out of 5. That's excluding Firestorm which would honestly only lower the score.

Wednesday 25 April 2018

Old TV Reviews: Grimm Fringe

A continuation of my old TV show reviews.

Grimm (Finished)

Policeman Nick Burkhardt is a cop, but also has the bloodline of a supernatural hunter (aka. Grimm) who can see Wessen (various types of lycanthropes).  Apparently, Portland is crawling with Wessen as every single case involves them somehow. They do come in numerous forms though, and are decently done CGI wise. Also the lore books in the show have some really nice art. The plot does suffer from repetition fatigue though and very slow character growth. Eventually we were just watching for the side characters Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) and Rosalee (Bree Turner). :P

Looks like we have another fan!

Fringe (Finished)

At a glance, this show is about a division of the FBI investigating cases involving Fringe Science and near impossibilities. To accomplish said task they need the mad scientist Walter Bishop (played by John Noble) and he is amazing. Everyone else is good too, don't get me wrong, but Walter is just that one level up and makes every scene he is in fantastic. Plot wise, the case per week method quickly falls into a really epic story and is a must watch in my book. I highly, highly recommend this one.

Ah Walter, there's nothing he can't solve with some LSD.

Tuesday 24 April 2018

Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2

This time with crazier technologies!

Having lost the first war, the Russians have come back now with a vengeance and their secret weapon: a mind controlling wizard named Yuri. It's great to see the cut scene acting and prop department got a boost, with for Kari Wuhrer as Tanya and Ray Wise as the US President. There's definitely a more comedic spin than last time too.

Airship bombers are just one of the WTF moments.

While the selective progression map is still absent from this game and combat seems very fast-forwarded animation wise, it is quite a fun experience to play through (I played as the Allies again). The big change from its predecessor is that infantry can garrison buildings (like in Generals) - making them quite useful in certain situations.

The short campaign in the Yuri's Revenge expansion ups the difficulty somewhat, but I still played through all of it mainly because it still had live action cut scenes. Have to admit, I'm a big fan of those now. Thanks to all the above and the faster build times (less player idling), Red Alert 2 gets 4 clones out of 5 and my recommendation to any RTS enthusiasts who haven't yet played it.

Monday 23 April 2018

Old TV Reviews: Chuck the Lost Black Orphan Girl

A continuation of my old TV show reviews.

Chuck (Finished)

When the titular regular nerd played by Zachary Levi "downloads" a ton of classified intel directly into his brain, he is thrown into the world of espionage, danger, and humorous shenanigans! This action comedy is one of my wife's favorites, with her staying up in the wee hours of the morning probably because of the underlying romance story. Lots of laughs and some lessons to be found, and might be worth a watch it you haven't seen it.

Stopping bombs with porn. It's great!

Lost Girl (Finished)

Proving that sex sells, this 5 season show is about a bi-sexual succubus who is looking for her place in the world. As expected, many other mythological creatures are present here too (most of whom are shagged by the main character), often just in "human form" to save the already lacking CGI budget.

Plot wise this one starts well, then sort of gets lost itself with many characters having severe lapses of judgement, and culminates with a ridiculous final showdown. One of the worst ones in my memory anyway. Still, Anna Silk (the succubus Bo) is easy on the eyes but my favorite is easily Kenzie - seemingly the only human around. Not really one I'd recommend though...

You said it Kenzie!

Orphan Black (Finished)

A show about clones, most of whom are played by the very talented Tatiana Maslany who manages to make each of them different. Following the unraveling mystery of how and why the clones came to be and how they interact with each other is great. Consistent is how I'd describe it. Never bad, but also never making it to my favorites list. If you haven't seen it, just watch the first episode - you should be able to tell from there if it is for you. If you prefer it with a Japanese twist, there's a remake called Orphan Black: 7 Genes - haven't seen that one myself though.

One actress, many personalities.

Sunday 22 April 2018


A horror mystery involving meddling kids, but no Scooby.

When a bunch of teens go to an island and encounter the supernatural, all sorts of crazy things happen... In this game it's talking. A lot of talking. Yes, you will still walk around the map with nice, stylized graphics but there's rarely a gap of 10 seconds silence in this game - and that's a good thing.

Beware of triangles.

You will have to be quick with the mouse to select one of the many speak bubble prompts (or not) which can change how events play out. Fortunately the voice actors do a great job as they (and the script writers) are the highlight. It also seems designed to be replayed but I didn't care to go through the whole thing again despite the short length.

Still it's a fun distraction that I give 2.5 radios out of 5.

Saturday 21 April 2018

Old TV Reviews: The Black Sails of Spartacus

A continuation of my old TV show reviews.

Spartacus (Finished)

A modern take on an old tale, this complete story of Spartacus' slave rebellion is one I truly enjoy as it features gratuitous gore and nudity combined with good action pieces and decent acting. Despite changing the lead actor midway through (due to death) it is still a very entertaining watch. John Hannah's Batiatus especially gets the two thumbs up for the seasons he is in. If you haven't seen this one then I highly recommend watching it, provided you can take the graphic content.

The show is this much better when he's in it.

Black Sails (Finished)

This prequel to Treasure Island was made by the same folks who produced Spartacus, so the same level of violence and filth is present here (though the filth is more dirty, rather than sweaty/oily). The story mainly follows how Captain Flint and Long John Silver came to be, and it is mesmerizing to watch. The props team also definitely outdoes themselves here. If you liked Spartacus, then you will probably enjoy this too.

Pirates ahoy! Hard to pick favorites when they're all good.

Friday 20 April 2018

Ban those Lockboxes II

Now the enemy starts to pay for their sins!

[Part of the Design Folder.]

An update from last time, I am overjoyed to hear the news that game companies are starting to pay the price for using loot boxes. Heavily, in Nexon's case. I hope this momentum continues and sweeps across to the West to force devs to make actual content instead of cheap gambling alternatives.

Anything that someone pays for that only gives that person (and only that person/small group of people) a chance to get something is shit. I don't care if its a box, or a key to access an instance or monster that has a chance to drop something. If its not available to people who don't purchase "the extra doohickey", it is WRONG. In a game, everyone should have an equal chance. Always. Regardless of real life stature.

The real life loot crates are equally stupid and hopefully are banned just as hard one day. You want a shirt? Buy a shirt - the exact one you want. Don't buy a box that might contain a shirt that may or may not even fit you. What's next? Mystery pizza?

Thursday 19 April 2018

Old TV Reviews: Defiant Zoo Strain

A continuation of my old TV show reviews.

Zoo (Cancelled)

A global epidemic is mutating animals and giving them a penchant for killing people, so it's up to the most unlikely group (or just Billy Burke's Mitch Morgan sometimes) to save the world! While the effects are passable, the plot can get downright silly at times, but at least it's mostly fun. Alas the characters often make stupid decisions which is probably why this didn't make it past Season 3.

He's the hero the show needs.

Defiance (Finished)

Set in a future where a collection of aliens have come to Earth, this show focuses on a father and his adopted alien daughter finding their place in the city of Defiance which is home to all species and as such is open to all forms of trouble. Despite the setting, the show has meanders a bit at the start but it definitely improves as more alien culture is explained. Tony Curran's Datak Tarr and his wife Stahma, played by Jaime Murray, are stand outs for me here. The show also has a proper conclusion / ending, which is a good change from all the previous shows I've written about!

The best Castithans around.

The Strain (Finished)

This four season horror series is a tale of an ancient vampire's attempt at world domination, and is a good take on vampirism vs science, since the vampirism here is treated like an infection by Corey Stoll's CDC character Dr. Goodweather. There is a decent amount of action here, and some curious cases of plot armor. While I like most of the characters in the narrative, Richard Sammel's Eichhorst is by far my favourite and more than makes up for the very weak character/child actor of Goodweather's son. Definitely worth a watch.

In some ways more effective than the master.

Wednesday 18 April 2018

Command and Conquer: Generals

Many steps forward, but just as many steps back.

Set in a period after the Russian menace but before the Tiberium future, this game and its expansion Zero Hour follows the very short campaigns of China, GLA (Terrorists) and the USA (who I played). So short that I actually played through -all- of the expansion missions as well this time.

While I appreciate the diverse units of each side and got the opportunity to "sample" China and GLA unit tree as "allies" during the USA campaign, I did find that it was on the easier side. Maybe my once woeful RTS skill is actually improving, but I have a feeling it's the in game "level up" perks that are very helpful.

Isometria ahoy!

As your units kill enemies and gain veteran ranks themselves (which makes them more useful), you also gain useful unlocks to stronger units or cool down abilities such as air drops and air strikes (for USA anyway). The voice acting is decent too, but the lack of having the mid mission live-action videos and a progression map really subtracts from the game, despite the in-game cut scenes.

Also, while everything is 3D modeled now, the result is they are actually worse than the sprites of its predecessors. All up I give this one 2 stars out of 5.

Tuesday 17 April 2018

Old TV Reviews: Seeker of Shannara, the Carter Chronicles

A continuation of my old TV show reviews.

Agent Carter (Cancelled)

AKA. The adventures of Captain America's girlfriend, this was a strange one to get into. Hayley Atwell did a good job portraying Peggy, but the episodes were very hit and miss for me. It was in the "not that bad" category when it got cancelled, and I think the events in Captain America: Winter Soldier nailed the coffin so to speak. A show for completionists, but not one I would recommend to anyone else.

Showing the proper way to deal with Hydra Nazis.

Legend of the Seeker (Cancelled)

Based off the Sword of Truth books, this series did the cardinal sin of going in a completely different direction. Sure, it can work if you veer off into tangents but not that far off the rails. I still found it interesting, and quite enjoyed Bridget Regan's Kahlan, Tabrett Bethell's Cara and Bruce Spence's Zedd - reason enough for me to want a 3rd season. They also had cool costumes, decent fight choreography and all that slow motion running. I can still picture it in my head. :P

Don't let this woman touch you.

The Shannara Chronicles (Cancelled)

Another fantasy story based on books, this one set interestingly on a future Earth. The story is decent, travels better than Legend of the Seeker and isn't shy in killing characters, while the sets and effects are good but not as good as Seeker. It also does suffer a little in pacing and in the acting department for the main cast outside Allanon (because Manu Bennet is awesome). It's a tough call for me to decide if it's better than Seeker, so I'll leave it up to you to watch both and decide for yourselves.

Post apocalyptic sword and sorcery.

Sunday 15 April 2018

Old TV Reviews: Firefly - Above and Beyond

A continuation of my old TV show reviews.

Space: Above and Beyond  (Cancelled)

Focused on a war against aliens, this series follows the Wild Cards (squadron) formation and numerous deployments over the course of the season. Despite the name, half the episodes were planet / interior based which is a good way to save CGI, though the sets could have been better too. I guess the Earth forces were running low on troops given their fighter pilots often needed to do "boots on the ground" missions.

Guys, did anyone remember the guns?

I suppose it left itself with nowhere to go at the end as *spoiler the aliens were surrendering spoiler*. It still has one of the most memorable endings that I've seen though. Come get some!

Firefly (Cancelled)

A space show which followed Captain Malcolm Reynolds and his motley crew just trying to make a buck. Despite a good script, entertaining characters, and unsolved mysteries this show ended rather abruptly (on a regular episode) which is a damn shame. Fortunately the crew managed to get together for one last ride in the movie: Serenity.

Revolvers and shotguns are still useful in the future!

Saturday 14 April 2018

Grim Fandango (Remastered)

Dark humor with a Mexican flair in a cute (but difficult) package.

Stuck in a dead end travel agent job, Manny finds something amiss in the land of the dead and soon is on a quest to make it right. This point and click adventure has a lot going for it: stunning backdrops, a super easy point and click interface, awesome voice acting and script, a decent plot and cute and memorable characters - which is amazing given everyone is a skeleton (or a demon).

There is decent music too.

It does lack the subtitle option, but more problematic are some of the puzzles. More than once did I need to look for online hints on how to proceed, and the reason was usually because I had to use an item on a non-active part of the background. The signpost in the forest is a good example: You can pick it up and put it down anywhere - but you need to put it down in exactly the right spot to trigger a cut scene to proceed.

If only it didn't have such frustrating segments like that - I'd give it a better score. As it is I give it 3 scythes out of 5. I do recommend it though as it is a very enjoyable ride, and if you can get through without use of tips then all the more power to you!

Friday 13 April 2018

Old TV Reviews: Forever Hornblower

A continuation of my old TV show reviews.

Forever (Cancelled)

A show about an ageless immortal. Ioan Gruffudd stars as a morgue based medical examiner who is trying to study his ability while hiding it from everyone else. Decent premise, decent execution, but even I wasn't sure where they could go after its one and only season without turning into Highlander.

Wouldn't this be easier with a sword?

Hornblower (Mini Series - Cancelled)

Another show featuring Ioan Gruffudd as Royal Navy Officer Horatio Hornblower, and one made with fantastic care, writing, and cinematography. Hornblower is one of my favorite mini-series with each episode being almost movie length. If you haven't seen them yet, I highly encourage you to give them a try. As they are quite dated, they can be found on Youtube now.

I prefer a pistol.

Wednesday 11 April 2018

Command & Conquer: Red Alert

Without Hitler there is Stalin.

This refined version of the original takes a step back from the Tiberium future and sees Russia fighting the Allies (who I played to victory - as before I only play 1 side). Just the ore trucks (which collect gems and ore for funding) are a good example - as they dump their load into the refinery in under 3 seconds as opposed to the harvesters that used a straw.

Keep walking Hitler, you aren't in this game.

It's also interesting that the Allies get the "light" units this time around while Russia gets the "heavies", an inversion of the GDI/Nod arsenal from the first game. Along with some indoor maps there are also new units, most of which are good or mandatory thanks to having water now on the map - the rest are very situational. The engineer rush tactic is also gone here as are the commandos who are replaced by the uber-hero unit: Tanya. It's worth mentioning that I've killed more dogs in this game than any other.

The quality of the video cut scenes has also improved, and the best part is they fixed my complaint from the first game where you need to hunt everything down. Here at some point, the AI just "surrenders" and sends everything your way. Not as good as an immediate "you win" but good enough.

I cherry picked through the expansions and found that Counterstrike, while having missions come in small 2-3 set bundles for story purposes was still just more of the same just with full tech trees unlocked on both sides (which only happens in the last mission of the regular campaign).

Aftermath was more fun for me (at least for Allies), as there are more zero-construction missions. It also adds more ridiculous units though - like a nuke truck. It's exactly what it sounds like. There's no launcher either, it's a suicide unit. Good times! All up, Red Alert is a big step forward from the original and I give it 3.5 Tesla coils out of 5.

Tuesday 10 April 2018

Old TV Reviews: Constantine's Redemption

A continuation of my old TV show reviews.

The Blacklist: Redemption (Cancelled)

I quite like the Blacklist, even more so these days since a particular character is less irksome than previously. Unfortunately this spin off stuck too close to the original formula to be engaging which is a shame. Especially since what makes the original formula work is James Spader. Not much of a loss for me, and not one I'd recommend unless you are a completionist. Watch the original Blacklist though (which is still going), that one is good fun.

Doesn't match up to the original.

Constantine (Cancelled)

Matt Ryan makes a fantastic Constantine (no offense to Keanu's movie version) and is very watchable in his 13 episode series which follows a monster of the week format. Just as the main threat begins to appear the series got cancelled, possibly due to lack of marketing. Luckily the character and the actor have since been imported to Arrow for one episode and now has a recurring role in Legends of Tomorrow.

Resurrected from development hell!

Sunday 8 April 2018

Old TV Reviews: Conan the Wiedzmin

Thanks to my Strong Girl Bong-soon post, I've decided to do a short set of TV show reviews within the following rules: It must be finished and I must have watched (and mostly remember) all the episodes. As you might have guessed, I'm going to amuse myself by combining some titles too. :P

Conan the Adventurer (Ended)

Ralf Moeller's Conan is quite different to the Arnie version. Despite his attire, Conan is more knight than barbarian, is more verbose, enjoys traveling in a party, and is much less grim. Unfortunately the acting is bad, the plot is regularly laughable as is the comedy relief main villain, and there are some filler scenes that just didn't need to be there at all. One episode had at least 5 minutes of a man running. Yep. Not a chase scene or anything, just running. At least there is occasional eye candy! Not one I can recommend, nor one that needed a second season.

Mostly fighters in this party.

Wiedzmin (Polish - Ended)

This is the story of Geralt of Rivia, and takes many plot points from the popular "Witcher" books. Despite the low budget props, CGI and cinematography, as well as some questionable subtitling in the version I watched, this series was very entertaining and Michal Zebrowski is a decent Geralt. We quite liked Jaskier (Dandelion) too! Each episode was almost stand alone, with a focus on dialogue peppered with some decent action. I would have loved a Season 2 for this one. For now I just hold out hope that the planned Netflix version will be just as good, if not better.

Some Ciri would be great too.

Friday 6 April 2018

Strong Girl Bong-soon

A surprisingly enjoyable show!

I'd never thought I'd blog about a TV show, much less a Korean Romantic Comedy but here we are. At it's heart, despite being about a girl who is desperately trying to hide her super strength from the world, this show is definitely a romance with many minutes spent on gazing. Yes you heard that right. She looks at him, he looks at her. Sometimes, it's even in slow motion. There are also many obvious sponsor shots and blurred out tags post production and some of the humor is very stupid.

Yet despite all of that, this 16 episode series got us hooked easily with the catchy music, great casting (Park Bo-young is  a very cute protagonist), good plot (though episode 10 drags a little) and high quality production. There's also a surprising amount of eating in each episode, each of which are over an hour long.

She doesn't need a super hero outfit.

Best of all, there's a decent villain who keeps things interesting which was a very good surprise given theme of the show. I give this 4 noodles out of 5 and can easily recommend it to anyone who likes rom-coms or simply want to try something different, as long as you keep the expectation that this is a drama rather than an action show.

Wednesday 4 April 2018

Justice League

DC still has a hard time catching Marvel.

When a cookie cutter bad guy with no depth suddenly appears to collect dangerous artifacts it's up to Batman and Wonder Woman to assemble a small team of superheroes to save the day. The effects are great, the funny bits work well and bonus points for the music which incorporates bits of recognizable themes.

It's like Aquaman was an after thought. As usual.

Alas, there are more than a few plot holes here and while I get why this needs to be an ensemble team, some could have just been cameos rather than main parts. All up it's a decent enough action flick, but I feel it could have been better / done more with what they had and leaves an odd sensation that the entire movie was "filler", which it shouldn't be. For that I give it 3 parademons out of 5 and am not so keen on watching it again.

Sunday 1 April 2018

April 2018 Status

Oh boy, lots of reds on the list this time around.

    Complete web comic chapter 1 (procrastinating)
    Finish board game prototype Game 19 (procrastinating)
    End the year with less weight (+1.3 kg from last month, running total:  -0.2 kg)
    Finish the Direbug Saga (done)
    Clear 20 games from my back log (21/20)
    Draw 12 drawings of anything (0/12 procrastinating)
    Learn 5 more songs (6/5 done on the previous list, skipped Raimei)
    Complete NWO: Lost City of Omu (0/2)
    +Make a simple computer game? (good luck)

And the backlog Update:

Sims 3
Overlord 2
Commandos: Men of Courage
C&C: Covert Ops (More of same, skipped)
C&C Red Alert
C&C Red Alert: Counterstrike
C&C Red Alert: The Aftermath
C&C Tiberian Sun
C&C Tiberian Sun: Firestorm
C&C Red Alert 2
C&C Red Alert 2: Yuri's Revenge
C&C Generals
C&C Generals: Zero-Hour
Titan Quest (doesn't run)
GTA3 (doesn't run)
Supreme Commander
World in Conflict (constant crashing)
FEAR Perseus Mandate (DONE)
Warcraft: Orcs and Humans (doesn't run)
Warcraft 3: Frozen Throne  (requires WC3 to run)
Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos (doesn't run)
Dawn of War II
Universe at War
Spore (DONE)
Sins of a Solar Empire
Diablo: Reaper of Souls
Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty
Black and White 2 (doesn't run, windows incompatibility)
+Act of War (doesn't run)
+Rise of Legends (bad CD)

The King of Fighters 2002 (DONE)
Grim Fandango Remastered
Beneath a Steel Sky (DONE)
Tyrian 2000  (DONE)
Dragonsphere (DONE)
Ultima 4: Quest of the Avatar (NO: Bad controls/Graphics)
Treasure Adventure Game  (DONE)
Warsow (doesn't run)
Worlds of Ultima: The Savage Empire

COMPY CAN'T RUN (but I want to play)
Batman: Arkham Knight
Dying Light
Alien Isolation
Shadow of Mordor
Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice

This is what happens when I focus on back log clearing, and at the moment I'm still slowly chipping away at Red Alert and Supreme Commander, along with NWO: Omu of course. Some of the games cleared were also not "completed", and more towards "didn't work upon installation". The joys of old CDs eh? I also just said "No" to Ultima IV as I just can't get over the stick figure graphics. Looks like I'm getting picky!

Behold, the ultimate battle versus Lord British!