Sunday 31 January 2021

January 2021 Review: Speeding Up

Belated Happy New Year! Feels like its been awhile since I've done one of these yet I don't have a lot in the way of news. Well, that combat nerf update in Neverwinter Online is live now, and it's surprisingly not too bad and since the New Sharandar module is set to appear next month, I've been grinding the current one like mad since I can already foresee a shortage in Feywild supplies to continue our stronghold progress. 

I've also upgraded my internet which means its more possible for me to get those bigger titles now and there by get distracted from the Feywild farming. :P

That's a decent improvement!

Blog wise I'm also trying to compress down my posts in waiting so that I can get through them faster. You might be seeing more of these multi-targeted things shortly as I'm actually getting tired of having stuff "ready to go in advance". Might mean less posts afterwards but certainly more spontaneity.

On to some future tech, since powered exoskeletons have that problem of "power" - did you know there are unpowered exosuits already in use? Dang. That's news to me! Lastly this little fox named Finnegan (and the saveafox foundation) has really kept me entertained lately. Now you know the answer to "What does the fox say?"

 Lose 1kg this month (fail)
 Web comic (-error: no progress detected-)


One Year Ago

I wrote an Ode to some of Neverwinter's forgotten/removed content. That seems to be status quo now as the New Sharandar module next month will completely remove the old one.

Five Years Ago

I was playing Arkania and it's sequel Star Trail. Also our guild hall in Neverwinter was at rank 4... we've come a long way since then!

Most Viewed Posts in the last 30 days

MGSV: The Hammer and the Snake
GTFO: R4A1 - Cytology (Extreme)
MGSV: Fog of Skulls

While I kinda expect the GTFO tutorials to show up here I'm a bit surprised with  the two MGSV ones. Maybe it's because they have epic screenshots? :P

Thursday 28 January 2021

Mortal Engines

A tale of hungry cities.

In the future, there is no lack of fuel (despite the plot suggesting otherwise) as mobile cities roam the world looking to eat other cities, but none of this hunger can compare to the ambition of the main villain who must be foiled by a girl driven by revenge and a bumbling fool.

It's just so ridiculous.

While the visual effects and action bits are entertaining, the plot has many question marks for me - everything from stupid decisions to some secondary characters being wastes of space. The main problem for me though was I never bought that they needed to eat other cities for resources which I assume is fuel, not food since no one is starving, yet every new scene just negates this fact.

My favorite is when the regular "bandit" types also use giant vehicles to chase prey. An ok "turn your brain off" flick, I give this two and a half cyborgs out of five. Yeah, I'd probably watch it again.

Metal Gear Survive: Solo Scout

[Part of the MGS Diary]

While Reeve and the team continue the Iris energy base digs I explore a little bit more of the map, finding it a lot easier now that I have the scout special ability active camouflage which literally turns you invisible for a time and makes all enemies drop aggro (or randomly attack the direction they are facing).

The cool down on it is pretty quick too, and it proves vital when I take on the deadly beast called Big Mouth. I can literally setup traps and shoot it a few times then run away and hide while the ability regenerates. It takes a little time and a lot of ammo but I am victorious!

Can't aim for the brain? Shoot the nuts instead!

I also try harvesting Iris energy from an abandoned airport - now this is meant to be a co-op map and it sure is difficult but I still manage a victory regardless. Unfortunately back at base camp, Reeve has fucked up on dig #6, and almost the entire camp is destroyed and wiped out.

Since that really means a lot of repetitive grinding to repair, I think I'll just call it a day here since I've had enough of it.

Insight: Co-op missions drop some excellent gear but they will make you work for it. For the airport map, but the large square traps (like flame) at the top of the interior staircases, as far over the edge as it allows (you'll get maybe 15-20% of it in midair). This really helps slow the horde down.

Wednesday 27 January 2021

GTFO: R4B1 - Malachite (Normal)

Huge rooms with poisonous fog inhabited by giant sleepers await you here, but the worst part is the lack of gear. With that in mind, here's the loadout that took us to victory: DL (dmr/sniper/mines), Jim (dmr/combat shotty/cfoam), Me (autopistol/machine gun/cfoam). Yep, that second cfoam is imporant!

The first objective is to plug three power cells that came down with you into their respective generators so remember to bring them with you out of that room. There's a  handy terminal near the start too which you can use to ping stuff and Jim has actually advances to writing things down in a notebook per run. Important things to find are the keys and the fog turbine.

Easy tip to getting past the first door: jump and stand ON the lock, then use a hammer to simply break the door. As long as your head is above the gas, you won't get infected. Go through and there should be a ladder to your left to get out of the fog.

Now this whole bit of putting the cells is pure stealth and for practice I could actually do it solo. That means there should be no reason to fight anything at this point (still stealth bop little guys if needed), though you might need to go back and forth a bit depending where the keys spawn. A cakewalk after sneaking past that mother in R4C2. For this walk through we'll pretend you got everything in the first room (which never happens).

From that ladder you will spot a key-locked security door. Once you have the key it will open with no alarm, but the room beyond is dark, always populated, and has those ugly screaming sacs on the walls and ceiling (which can be subdued using your flash light).

Carrying one cell I went in solo and followed the right wall eventually there's a small door to go through then turn right. There's good odds the generator required is in that corner. If there's a giant in the way, remember you can actually flank around and get to the generator from the other side - though it requires a quiet jump. Get out of there and that's one done.

Note: there is a second door from that initial dark chamber which you'll need to visit if the generator isn't in this room. Don't freak out if you goof up. I did on my way out and we had to fight the room, yet we still had enough gear to win the mission. Use the space provided to gun em down. :)

To find the second generator you simply need to explore to the North. It won't be in the fog nor will it be up any stairs. This is the easiest one to find/do. You also need to find the fog repeller and bulkhead key anyway. If you keep going North you will reach a darkish room that opens up to a "courtyard with balconies" sort of deal. The doors to the left hold both the bulkhead controls and a terminal to help ping stuff.

Once you find the bulkhead key, plug it in and choose the normal mission then head North again to find the actual non-alarmed bulkhead door. Things you need to bring here are a cell and the fog turbine. Ideally you've loaded up on fog repellers too as you will need them.

Go slow and follow the right wall, up the stairs and down the other side - you will find a big door to go through so do so and shut it behind you. The last generator is in here somewhere (usually to the right of the door). Find it, plug in the cell and now the fun part. Clear this room of all enemies as quietly as you can! Use repellers as needed if you need the fog turbine carrier to drop it for hammer use instead.

You need this clear as to reach the forward extraction you have to do the class III alarm door in this room! Once done, set mines and cfoam the door. Also put a fog repeller so that door-duty guy (in this case Jim) can focus on icing the door while everyone else does circles. He managed to hold it until all were done and then it was simply a matter of shooting well. I did toss a few more repellers to keep line of sight though.

Do the next zones as normal and avoid the scout if you can. Your last challenge will come from an Alarm IV blood door. If you've shut all the doors on the way in, there is only one the swarm will try enter from - the one nearest the blood door so Jim was on cfoam duty again, calling out when he ran low to swap with me. Some of those circles drop into the fog so again, repellers are handy. Obviously DL mined the door too and again all circles were done before the door broke.

Once done just hold the furthest space opposite the door. None of the scum even made it to us. Use everything left for the blood door and hold the corridor the scum came from next, as there are a pair of hybrid shooters in the mix that will come out. For some reason, there was also a pair of giants still sleeping in the final room that we killed just in case.

Anyway, the forward extraction circle is right here and it's a fast one to complete. Basically if you've made it here, you've already won.

Tuesday 26 January 2021


A good way to tell a good story.

As a contractor sent into the Tacoma space station, you must explore the seemingly abandoned corridors to find out what exactly happened there. There's decent controls to help you through the very good story, and the use of "recorded" imagery works really well not just in "cheating" for simplified models but fits in the setting so nicely. The voice acting is definitely good enough to cover for it anyway.

Full of simple but effective ideas.

Also, props for an ingenious use for sign language. The only drawback for some is that this is definitely a "story" more than a "game" but for something this good, it shouldn't matter. I wish some of the loading times were faster though. Still highly recommended, I give it four space cats out of five.

Insight: Don't worry about missing stuff. Any plot important codes you need to find, you will find simply be experiencing the story. The only thing explorers get is a bit more world building and background.

Sunday 24 January 2021

GTFO: R4C2 - Pabulum (Normal)

Finally won another mission in GTFO - this time we're in R4C2: Pabulum, with the almost standard loadout of DMR/Sniper/Mines (DL), DMR/Combat Shotty/Cfoam (Jim), and Autopistol/Machine Gun/Auto turret (me). My particular kit this round is focused on stunning enemies rather than killing as there's a sh*t load of them who will make your circle standing hell.

Immediately after the drop you've got a huge circular chamber with a pit in the middle that has three doors branching from it. The base objective is to retrieve 15 jars of GLP so use the terminal to scan ahead where you need to go / what doors you *must* open, keeping in mind one the doors to Z8 from this circle chamber requires a key.

The blood door holds a nightmarish swarm of hybrids who will give you a run for your money in a shooting contest, but luckily that is one door we didn't need to enter on our succesful run. Instead, we hit the large class IV alarm to Z10 first which is tricky in that the swarm comes from your drop point and the circles also sometimes go there.

Hopefully you get lucky on placement, but half the battle is preparation - mines (at least one at giant height) and the auto turret facing the top of the ladder was our setup. You can also parkour across some tubes and on the railings to buy time while drawing/running from enemies.

Z10 itself is filled with big rooms but only one or two will be packed with enemies. It also branches out into three more zones, and on this run we skipped the North one (class III alarm) because we knew there was enough GLP elsewhere and opened the non-alarmed West door first, to find a pair of scouts! As the designated hammer assassin I managed to bop them both with a lot of patience and good spotting from DL and Jim.

After looting everything its on to the South security door which looks like a regular non alarm scan but is actually a CLASS IV alarm. Mine and cfoam all three doors (we found lots of cfoam grens) and with Jim on door icing duty we managed to complete the scan before even one broke. The turret and my autopistol also helped in holding the wave afterwards.

Beyond the door is basically a sneak mission. You need to get everything and escape without waking up the MOTHER sleeping inside. Stressful but easy peasy for us now. One of the items here is the KEY to Z8 back at the start so that's where we go next - after a large mining type cavern there's a non-alarmed security door leading into tiny dark rooms. Any room that looked bad we just skipped unless we confirmed a GLP was inside. Collecting the last of the 15 we then returned to the extract point and setup defenses. Sure enough, entering the final team scan triggers a wave but just as they came into view we got to 100% scan and GTFO. =)

Metal Gear Survive: Aftermath

[Part of the MGS Diary]

With the Lord of Dust dead, we are now able to mine Iris energy right at base camp. This obviously attracts wanderers but I can finally let Reeve and the team deal with that (especially since the gap between attack waves is in the 12-22 hour mark). Instead I go rescue more people in the horrible jungle where it seems the spider things and mosquito things now also dwell.

On one rescue I also encounter wanderers who are fully armored or flaming, both of whom I simply flee from. Powerful creatures have also been detected in the dust, no longer hiding since the great centipede is gone - I make it a point to avoid those for now as my ammo is scarce.

I do manage to activate the teleporters I previously skipped though - the one in the swamp being much easier now since the trackers and mortars had moved elsewhere. It's there I find a portable oxygen resupply item, which would have been much handier earlier on!

Anyway, I retrieve one last memory board - this one located further past the mansion in the mountains but a walker gear assists to cut down the travel time. Upon making it back, this one unlocks "class" abilities and the four classes of assault, medic, scout and jaeger themselves... definitely an interesting place to find that.

Now its up to Reeve and the squad to harvest that Iris energy and figure out what to do with it while I do what I do best... scavenge and rescue.

Basically you want three times the attack values coming for you.

Insight: In end game base digs you can choose to defend yourself or leave it to your team (and stupidly no in between combination). Leaving it to the team certainly seems easier as it is literally a mathematical battle per directional sector which you can observe on an active digger. Since explosives are plentiful, I've taken to dotting the base with mortars which increase the score of each side by a whopping 900 per emplacement. Hopefully that will be enough for Reeve to keep winning!

Saturday 23 January 2021

The Escapists 2

Because you haven't escaped ENOUGH!

I didn't like the first game and the theme in this one hasn't changed at all: you are a prisoner that needs to escape from whatever prison you are placed in. Luckily, most of what I disliked was fixed here. There are much better controls and a more user friendly HUD, and there are some awesome prisons: every thing from a regular jail to a moving train and space station!

I quite liked this one.

Even better, there is co-op capability for up to four people so you can try this out with friends. While it's still not a game in my wheel house, this is definitely an improvement from the initial offering and one that would probably interest those who like this genre. Not something I'd go out of the way to play though, so I give it two escapes out of five.

Insight: Read the signs near the start as they give great options per map.

Thursday 21 January 2021

Metal Gear Survive: The Lord of Dust

[Part of the MGS Diary]

With the crew working on the rail gun and construction on the traps, I am sent to get the last thing we need: Iris energy to bait the Lord of Dust. Dan gives us the location of a teleport outpost he'd already activated (YAY) which is close to another singularity site: some hybrid of a shipyard and mine.

This is the worst defense mission to date with enemies coming from all around and a generally poor spot to defend. Even with guns and turrets I barely scrape through again, surviving thanks to a tracker kicking an explosive barrel next to me that also triggered a chain of bombers to detonate. Miranda patches me up back at base camp and once everything is prepared, it is time to face the Lord of Dust.

Once the bait wormhole is open, the gigantic creature comes running right into the traps operated by my crew - but its not enough to just railgun it then and there, first I have to fight off three massive armies of wanderers that he summons. There are a few defenses that are established for each, but really it comes down to the portable ones you can carry. While regulars and bombers are present in all, mortars show up at the end of the second force and a team of trackers arrive near the end of the third force: good thing I still had ammo for those!

The Lord of Dust, about to be dusted!

With all the minions defeated I head over to Sahelanthropus' rail gun and double tap the great centipede, finally killing the monster. Unfortunately we lost the disabled kid during the battle but the survivors now have a clear shot of trying to get home.

Insight: Your base defenses are somewhat useless here as you need to protect a trio of traps out on the field to the East. Between each wave you can sprint back to your storage area to resupply though.

Next Up Hero

Only the dead can help you now.

This online only game has some rather odd art coupled with rather odd game design. In it you must go on expeditions on randomly player made generated floating islands to beat the random foes there. While it plays a bit like Gauntlet, there is no healing. Instead, you can find "echoes" of other defeated players you can revive (as NPCs) to assist you in combat.

Just me and my ghosts...

You can also "spend" the echoes to activate various special abilities, like increase damage or temporary invulnerability. This is pretty cool, but also a massive flaw in that expeditions that are more popular will always be more popular simply because the number of echoes you can find there will be greater than if you made a fresh one of your own.

The always online factor also can be problematic in that looking for maps on the server can sometimes be really slow. Not one I could get into and not one I can recommend, I give this one rocket launcher out of five. Not worth playing.

Insight: Follow the title and simply find what game is next up for you. Skip this garbage.

Wednesday 20 January 2021

Metal Gear Survive: Sahelanthropus Mansion

[Part of the MGS Diary]

After making preparations it's time to secure Sahelanthropus in one of the longest defense missions so far (15 minutes). The narrow passage is a great funnel for the first few waves to get caught on my fences and traps but bombers and mortars that appear towards the end push me back. Luckily there is a blind corner that is very handy not just for mines and balloon traps but the mortars tend to miss their shots which explode their allies who line up on the other side of the rock face.

Sending zombies into the stratosphere via hot air balloons is a thing.

Finally the rail gun is secured, but back at base Seth has shown his true colors: an infected agent for the Lord of Dust! With the disabled kid as a human shield he opens a portal back to the original base camp where Reeve and I chase him down. Grenades seem to do the trick in both stunning and killing the monster he turns into, and after some repairs both base camp and the FOB in the jungle are now accessible to the team.

Dan, who is actually a Charon Corps survivor, says we'll need a few more things before facing the Lord of Dust - the first being blueprints to a trap that can restrain the large creature. These are located in a mansion high up in the mountains and the trek there is both lengthy and dangerous as the jungle is full of grabbers. Somehow I sneak in and out and still have just enough oxygen to make it back to the Sahelanthropus outpost with the plans in hand.

Insight: Bait bottles will force grabbers to hop out of their hiding spots and investigate. Also don't be too greedy with looting in this mission as you have to make it all the way back before the game saves. That's unlikely to happen if you can only walk.

Monday 18 January 2021

Rise of Empires: Ottoman

Because the Roman's can't have all the fun.

Much in the same vein as Roman Empire, this docudrama narrated by Charles Dance focuses on the Ottoman Mehmed and his burning desire to conquer Constantinople from the Romans. Budget wise, this show certainly is in better standing as the sets and costumes aren't "recycled" like in that other show.

War is a dirty business.

Also, there's a decent amount of special effects and fight scenes which gets a thumbs up from me. Unfortunately their method of story telling is an annoying one with way too many flashbacks for my liking. Perhaps that's why there is only one season of it. Or maybe the big cannon blew up their treasury? Whatever the case may be, this makes it only just as good as Roman Empire. I give it two Janissaries out of five.

Metal Gear Survive: Dark Mire

[Part of the MGS Diary]

After the initial food scavenging I don't have much choice but to scout out the dust jungle and quickly find more enemy types: "grabbers" scorpion type bugs that pose as plants whose first attack is to rope your leg and immobilize you, "mortars" who are wanderers that can shoot either bullet like projectiles or explosive rocks from their hand, and the most deadly "trackers": kung fu wanderers who can leap great distances and enjoy spinning roundhouse kicks.

I am forced to flee from that last type on our initial encounter, hanging off a broken bridge to hide until a herd of goats distracted them away from me. I also recruit survivors Seth and Dan who really distrust each other but are in agreement that the Lord of Dust needs to be destroyed before any further wormhole research takes place. There is a weapon that arrived recently that can do it too, but I first have to reach it.

Literally hanging on by a thread...

Using a handy walker gear I make my way through a wanderer filled swamp - so many that I opt to simply ignore the teleporter outpost in the center and sprint past, following the river to the remains of a familiar massive metal gear: Sahelanthropus! The rail gun it sports is the weapon we need but first I opt to unlock the teleporter outpost right beside it. While my walls and mines deal with the regular wanderers, emplaced mortars in the outpost clear out enemy shooters that appear on the high ridge line. An easy defense!

Insight: Enemies seem to spawn around objectives. If you complete the objective stealthily and leave enemies alive, there's a good chance that they will just vanish on your next visit to the area.

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.

Sunday 10 January 2021

Metal Gear Survive: The First Defense

[Part of the MGS Diary]

Visibility drops considerably inside the wall of dust as does all digital mapping which means its up to me to manually remember the path back out. Worse, the oxygen tank steadily runs out of air while traversing the area - meaning I often have to decide if I should just sprint past wanderers lurking within.

I soon find the first of many teleportation platforms the Charon Corps established here, which would link up to the one already present at base camp. Turning these on to expand our area of operations (thanks to the oxygen concern) is a no brainer, but the sound it makes calls all the wanderers in the nearby area to attack!

Arrows are heavy and wasteful. Should have stuck to the spear.

Luckily I had already prepared a whole set of basic defensive walls for this and while it initially seemed impossible for me to spear them all, the teleporter finished powering up and released a blast of energy that wiped out all the remaining enemies in the vicinity. Apparently, it is enough to simply survive until the countdown expires.

Insight: If the teleporter is destroyed it is the same as if you are killed - you restart at the last save point. This is usually just before you stepped out from base camp so to be most time efficient do the hard/dangerous stuff first before scavenging (in case you die).

Friday 8 January 2021


A nice idea with bad execution.

In this platform world of grayscale, Hue (you) the protagonist is on a quest to complete a "magic" color ring. Each color you acquire can be set to become the background color, making any foreground item of the same color "invisible". Need to walk through those blue rocks? Set a blue back ground! Need to push the purple box through the orange wall? Orange background!

Its a puzzle of rainbows.

Pretty cool right? Unfortunately this gets terribly repetitive as the puzzles seem to simply repeat, only with more complexity as you have access to more colors. What really killed me though is the game somehow tied the color wheel button to the ESC / Menu key, meaning I could no longer access the game menu. The plus the repetitive nature of the tasks (which feels just like "busy work", you're moving boxes half the time) means I only give this 1 gradient out of 5. Not worth playing.

Insight: You can only swap colors if you are standing in a color neutral space, so leave gaps when you are moving boxes around to do so.

Thursday 7 January 2021

Metal Gear Survive: Hunter Scavenger

[Part of the MGS Diary]

Having established a small base camp, the first order of business is to scavenge up supplies. This includes food, water and materials to make crude weapons. Thanks to the debris it's very easy to fashion a pipe spear, and a nearby watering hole offers some dirty water (yuck). Food wise, there are some goats, gerbils and wolves whom I hunt and cook to keep our strength up.

Afterwards, it's time to look for nearby memory boards listed on the damaged computer to see what else we can learn about getting off this planet. These lead to small outposts the Charon Corps previously established and are now guarded by the wandering zombies, who we end up just calling "wanderers".

Portable fences. Brilliant!

Early on I find their weakness: fences, especially the type you can poke a spear through. This tactic makes it pretty easy to clear those areas and retrieve the data, which in turn shows the location of the next memory boards. Eventually though, the next closest one is beyond a gigantic wall of deadly dust. Good thing Reeve knows a thing or two about oxygen tank crafting and can do something with the broken pieces of one I brought back.

Insight: The best way to hunt goat or wolf sized enemies is to sprint at them and punch them. This knocks them down, making for easy kills or captures. Careful against large packs of wolves though as this tactic is risky if you have four or more bearing down on you.

The Old Guard

Doesn't have answers you're gonna like.

A group of highly trained soldiers is exploited by a research company who are equal parts greedy and stupid. Led by Andy (Charlize Theron) these special individuals are really not people you should be messing with. While the plot is somewhat predictable, the intentionally sketchy lore presented works fine in terms of creating tension during the piece.

Everyone cool has a violent job.

What shines are the violence and fight scenes, which obviously had a bit of work put into it. Gunplay here is quite nice too (in the John Wick way) and the acting is pretty solid all around (apart from maybe the main bad guy). A very entertaining film for those who like action, I give this 3.5 out of 5 and would definitely watch it again. Recommended!

Wednesday 6 January 2021

GTFO: R4A3 - Onwards (Extreme)

Since my notes were kinda lacking from our last visit here (which went really well), I've decided to redo the whole thing here to help with clarity and to fix up some errors last time. The initial part of this map features large open and vertical spaces, as well as giants AND a lone scout - making it a decent practice place for stealth hammerites. Ideally clear as much as you can until you reach both bulkheads, the normal one in the East and the Extreme one in the West, just so you have room to run if needed.

Then head to the security door North of the starting spot, this one is just a non-alarmed regular team scan. Beyond it is a room usually home to giants with the bulkhead key which you might be able to sneak to, unless a scout is present. Use your best judgement if you can bop it silently. Remember it's better to go loud and kill the scout and fight the room rather than goof up and fight the room AND a scout wave. The next bit is for the EXTREME version, so skip down to the NORMAL tag below if you aren't interested in it.

Once you have the key plug it in to the slot (one room East of the security door you just opened on the bottom floor) and select extreme. A handy marker will point you to the door which isn't even alarmed. Just open and behold the oppressive darkness that is the theme of this next area. Yes, it sucks but it's better than fog. Use your flashlight and continue carefully to bop things in the dark. You objective here is five vials of OSIP which you need to scrounge around for. While you are at it, find the bulkhead key and two colored key cards too.

There is a terminal to past the South door that can help with this - followed by narrow dark tunnels with many scouts. Avoid the ones you can. If at any point the spawn looks bad, setup firing position outside the bulkhead in the lit area and have one person trigger the room (single shot) before running out.

The door to the West leads to a pair of class IV security doors (3 sets of circles) with only one roller door to defend, but both are locked and need the colored keys. Note: you only need to open ONE door, use the terminal to LIST out which one contains the majority of the OSIP. Setup turret, mines and cfoam the roller door when ready. If you want to open both, then I suggest doing the team scan at the back before doing the team scan at the forward door. We didn't do that though, we just opened the one we needed, collected the gear and returned to the light.

Now it's back to NORMAL. Put the bulkhead key you found into the slot and pick the normal/main mission one then follow the handy marker to the bulkhead. This one is a class III (2 sets) so shut both doors and set defenses / foam duty on the small one upstairs as it is the favored entry of the enemy.

Beyond this is the bridge room, which holds another bulkhead key and another slot to plug it in. Giants are also usually here. If you don't have enough gear for them / the next few holds, head to the left where there is a regular non-alarmed team scan into zone 31 (totally optional). There's lots of supplies here, just keep it quiet. There was also a scout for us.

Clear the bridge room and then plug the bulkhead key in. At this point you can pick overload but we just went with the normal one, unlocking the bulkhead at the end of the bridge. This is a Class IV scan, so setup guns/mines/cfoam at the other end. Ideally have your sniper (DL) dedicated to the circles on the bridge so they can shoot down range easily. Other team mates should also try get on the bridge asap to control the flow of the horde.

The forward extraction spot is just beyond that bulkhead, but its a slowish scan and infinite waves will be coming at you now so grab the turret and place "combat" mines as you head to and hold the extraction spot. Live until 100% and you GTFO. For us this also now unlocked Floor D!

Tuesday 5 January 2021

GTFO: R4A1 - Cytology (Extreme)

The steps to clear this are almost the same as doing the normal version, but at the selection of what bulkhead to open pick Extreme, then head to the bulkhead room and setup - mining and foaming the little door next to the normal bulkhead and the large door as well. Don't worry about the little one next to the extreme bulkhead, just make sure it's closed. The horde seems to love the tight passage on beside that door though, so feel free to mine/c-mine/c-foam that too. There's a lot of gear lying around in this level (not in boxes) so be like Jim and pay attention to shelves and tables.

The bulkhead itself is a class III alarm (2 sets of circles) and inside is your usual bop city. You want to collect two generators and plug both of them into the deepest chamber that features two security doors, but with only a single large roller door leading into the room. Once the generators are in place, seal and cfoam that door. Mine the inside and also put an auto turret (if you brought one) with a firing arc to cover the door once the scum break in.

The trick here is to do BOTH security doors simultaneously. Starting with the team scan on the bottom one, everyone then has to run up to team scan the top door (Jim had to refoam mid way). Once done, Jim was left on door foaming duty while DL and I worked on the cluster alarms for each door (around 16 circles a piece). Easily cleared before the door breaks, and then it's just a matter of surviving.

You'll need to visit each security door so the order doesn't really matter, but you can definitely expect solo scouts lurking within. Stealth hammer is ideal as you will be hurting for supplies. The extreme objective involves typing codes into a terminal (3 codes each), and once you begin you can expect waves of scum to try stop you. It's not so bad though, as long as you can c-foam the door protecting each terminal, and you don't make any typos.

Since you need six HDDs as well for the base mission, remember you can do that at any point after finding the bulkhead key. Just open up the normal bulkhead and do the class II hold (one set of circles). The only challenge here is the door(s) to the bulkhead chamber are probably broken now so enemies can come from three directions (including the now open extreme bulkhead). The solution is simply to fight well, and remember that the autosentry or a mine can give you advanced warning of the direction to overwatch.

Also worth remembering there is another class III alarm blocking the final HDD so make sure you have enough gear to handle that. Once you have all hard disks and are done with both terminals, you've basically won as nothing new will spawn to come and get you. Just head over to the extract spot and GTFO.

Monday 4 January 2021

GTFO: R4A2 - Foster (Overload)

Today we're revisiting the easiest map of this rundown to do the hardest optional mission. To recap, you should have already done the Normal version of R4A2, have the second CRYO objective just meters from extraction and have unlocked the extreme bulkhead. Yep, that's not a typo... you need to clear the very same chambers to reach the second lock option. It's at this point that you need to find the next bulkhead key and use it on the nearby mechanism to unlock the Overload bulkhead, which is an error alarm.

This means after the team scan, you will have waves of four sleepers spawning and coming at you every minute or so for the rest of the mission. These can show up from any direction, including ahead of you - past closed doors. While this is happening you need to navigate three rooms in, past around three scouts (occasionally two in the same room), reach the terminal and type in DISABLE_LIFE_SUPPORT then get back to the extraction spot (or find the next bulkhead key, unlock the extreme objective and complete that for a prisoner efficiency badge).

Despite getting good at stealth bopping scouts, what actually worked for us in the end was simply going loud. Once we reached the overload bulkhead our setup was as follows: mine the extraction spot and freeze the doors on the wings, mine the overload bulkhead  door we are about to open, and Jim would foam the large door behind for as long as possible, until we advanced. Staying together is essential.

Once DL sniped the first scout, I put down an autosentry on a box facing the overload bulkhead to help us fight/delay everything. It would also provide overwatch as we advanced together and did the same thing for the next rooms - DL snipes, and we clear. Afterwards it's simply a matter of returning to the extraction (picking up the turret on the way back and planting it at extract to assist) and GTFO.

Sunday 3 January 2021

MG Survive: The Shadow of Mother Base

[Part of the MGS Diary]

They attacked without warning, and while we fought back as hard as we could the enemy used some sort of gateway technology to reverse gravity and rip Mother Base out from the ocean and into the sky, taking me along with it.  

Somehow I survived - waking up in some dusty ruins, and I wasn't alone: the place was inhabited by aggressive crystaline zombies! Thanks to teaming up with Reeve, a soldier from the enemy PF who also survived the gateway event, we both made it out of there alive and found that we were on a different planet!

Reeve was just as in the dark about this development as I was, and was adamant his PF had nothing to do with the portal. Since his leg was injured, we decided to make use of a small abandoned camp in the shadow of the Mother Base debris and found a damaged foreign computer system there.

That's a nice title card.

In its files we learned that we were not the first ones here. An army known as the Charon Corps had been sent from Earth to harvest some form of energy in this world. Both Reeve and I gained some hope with this, as that meant they would have had a way back home. We just had to find it.

Insight: Crawling makes you near invisible to the enemies but crouching walking works too - as long as you use the "walk" key when you get closer to these baddies, who seem a little bit more alert than the soldiers in Phantom Pain.

Friday 1 January 2021

Enter the Gungeon

Everything is gun related!

On a quest for a gun that can kill the past, you must pick a gungeoneer to descent into the randomized, bullet hell dungeon and survive the many bullet themed enemies who obviously increase in lethality as you descend.

You literally fight bullets.

The tutorial does a good job of explaining your invulnerability frames too, and you will need it because dying will send you right back to the start! Yep, this is a roguelike - though fortunately there's a button at the end of each floor to save and quit if you (the player) require rest.

Despite being pixely the whole game oozes with theme, especially being able to flip tables to serve as cover. Unfortunately the randomness turned me off a bit (I much preferred God's Trigger), so while this isn't one for me it's certainly worth looking into if you like bullet hell shooters. 2.5 dodge rolls out of 5.

Insight: Unless you are super confident, don't fight bosses with your starting gun.

The Hitman's Bodyguard

Can't plan for everything!

Why would a hitman (Samuel Jackson) need a bodyguard (Ryan Reynolds)? Because he happens to be the key witness in a trial against one evil president (Gary Oldman). As expected, it is not even close to smooth sailing as the pair are just as likely to kill each other in this entertaining action comedy.

It's a fun time!

Expect a decent body count and a lot of swearing. There are some surprisingly good fight and chase sequences too, definite props to the stunt team for that. I don't want to give anything more away so I'll head straight to my score: 3.5 Jags out of 5 and I would definitely watch it again.