Reviews by Ithuraen
Amazing!Ithuraen | Dec. 1, 2013 | Review of Kerbal Space Program
I never even knew I wanted a space program/Newtonian physics simulator until I got this. The recent career mode update has bolstered this title into a brilliant game with an enjoyable difficulty curve (probably because you choose your own pace, goals and achievements) and I found it fun even in failure because of the gains in science (so long as EVERYTHING didn't explode...)
If you've ever had a class or course in physics or maybe astronomy you'll love the little things you can do in this game: calculating and pulling off slingshots around large bodies to send a probe into deep space around a tiny moon on the other side of the system is really amazing when done right, and in doing it wrong will really see you go back with a vengeance to the drawing board and rethink your own strategies.
At once the game is relaxed and quite frantic as you can never pause and set up a maneuvre when you're 20 seconds from your apoapsis and you really need to escape orbit, but at the same time you'll be rocketing through space for days at a time (with the variable speed warp settings on of course, going up past x10000 speed) For ultra-long missions you can even of back to your space centre and launch another mission at the same time.
Anyway, if the following situation ignites any kind of interest in you, buy this now and enjoy it: Fully custom built deep space probe docking with your fully custom built space station orbiting the moon at 300km, before refueling and firing off into the sun.
If you don't have much of a head for flight simulators or physics/astronomy, maybe give it a miss. Check some youtube videos maybe!
A good, solid expansion.Ithuraen | Nov. 24, 2013 | Review of XCOM: Enemy Within
Before I begin I will say in a word this expansion is great. What follows will be mostly highlighting of issues, but through difficulty and second wave options balance issues can be overcome and what is left is definitely a clean-cut expansion that is immensely enjoyable for anyone remotely keen on XCOM:EU.
Enemy Within is a solid expansion pack that does what it says on the box with only a few twists that you might not see coming. The idea from Firaxis was to improve in thirds: a third innovation, a third renovation and a third bug fixing. On the innovation front you have an expanded toolset in outfitting your soldiers with MECs and genetic enhancements. With the MECs you have much more powerful weaponry and survivability at the cost of them not able to take cover and having limited vertical maneuverability. The genetic enhancements are mostly minor changes that affect the game in only very context sensitive moments (aim bonus when elevated above an enemy/reflect damage to psionic attackers etc) except for one which kind of broke the mid-game for me balance-wise (mimetic skin). With it I was able to send a soldier out completely undetected and have squad sight enabled snipers obliterate the enemy, it wasn't until facing Ethereals did he actually have the chance at being detected. As for the rest of balance it has been a hard task to change the base game for Firaxis and mostly they've done well to keep it balanced, new enemy types are introduced in the campaign at sensible intervals, and tech is researched at a comfortable pace (slightly lengthened I feel from the base game). Some additional items and foundry tasks are added to make up for the stretched out gameplay which really help bolster your soldiers.
Unfortunately I can't say that it's entirely thought out. I believe your soliders are being tooled up to face the bigger threats, but the aliens for the most part aren't equally as beefed up. The Sectopods seem quite dangerous now, and the mechanised Sectoid can be quite a danger early-mid game, but otherwise the bulk of the aliens are little danger to your squad. Even the most basic MEC at a low rank can stand toe-to-toe with 90% of alien troops, maybe a muton elite could pose a problem but by the time you see them you'll have at least one (or three) tier two MEC and a squad backing it up with plasma weaponry.
Of course the battle isn't ever fought with numbers on your side, but I just get the feeling that the difficulty has been eased downwards purely due to power creep. The variety of enemies is bolstered by the appearance of EXALT, a human threat that (tries to) also have similar tech to XCOM and proves an almost-equal threat. Due to the previously mentioned genetic ability my agent was never discovered by them and felt more like a mission where I had to just kill all humans rather than really do anything stealthily or tactically. The EXALT soldiers do come up with some interesting game changers, having most of the tools the XCOM soldiers do, such as stim-paks, med kits, grenades, sniper rifles, etc, but they had only just started fielding laser weaponry by the time I had finished them off.
I feel I'm harping on the issues more than the highlights because they are the only things wrong here, aside from the power creep and sometimes nasty animation bugs, there is nothing else wrong with this expansion (as said above). Compared to the base game, bugs are fixed, a whole slew of them, and only one introduced (MEC animations are off-sync, only noticeable in slo-mo). There are a slew of features introduced I didn't even know about, including a streamlining of council missions (no longer have to choose to do Slingshot, it works its way in seamlessly), a new set of council missions, a heap of new maps (didn't repeat a map once in 30-hour playthrough), new soldier customisation options, new second wave options (training roulette really spices up the next playthrough) and probably some more that I've forgotten.
For a tonne of content it's worth it's RRP pricetag let alone with GMG vouchers and specials I got it 45% off. There are still some options on my wishlist that I feel could have taken the place of some features, such as expanded end-game enemies (super-mecha-sectoid reskin maybe?) and maybe some more distinct downsides to the MEC/GM soldiers (one second wave options does disallow GM soldiers from being psionics though)
Anyway enough rambling, here's the tl;dr
If you enjoyed Enemy Unknown enough to get more than a weekend of play, buy this expansion pack and enjoy the new features to spice it up. If you played through EU once or more, buy this right now and enjoy enough content to see one or two more playthroughs. You're looking at 30-50 hours of gameplay for the price of a BluRay. No negatives I've listed here can deny you enjoyment in this product
Overpriced but definitely greatIthuraen | Oct. 7, 2013 | Review of Tropico 4
The fourth Tropico is hard to rate, personally, as I bought it very cheap I'm tempted to rate it rather high. Certain caveats to that though are as a full-priced title, it doesn't differentiate itself enough from Tropico 3. Much of 3 is left-over and honestly at first glance I'd find it almost impossible to tell apart. At a bargain price though, I'd accept Tropico 4 as a stellar expansion to 3. The campaign follows on from 3, though for all Tropico games it is hard to feel a sense of progression: every time you start a new mission, you'll find yourself in the same place as the last, a palace, a dock, several farms and logistics buildings. The only difference is how many homes you have, starting cash and mission objectives. Of course the objectives are what keep you playing (outside of a sandbox mode) and these are varied enough to have kept my interest in nearly 80% of the campaign. At the 16th or 17th mission my interest started to wane, but I can't fault the 40 hours of gameplay those previous 15 missions provided. I like to think of the last 3 or 4 missions as extra content for the die-hards, and this game will keep you entertained for quite a while. The gameplay itself is almost identical to Tropico 3, if you're unaware of what that is, it's a city-building game set in the 50s on various fictional Caribbean islands. You start by either choosing a historical, fictional or custom avatar as your dictator, and the depth of customisation is very nice here: You can be anything from a ruthless capitalist, rising to power from a hotel tycoon empire, who is also an alcoholic, to a priest, appointed by the pope to lead your island to glory. Really it just adds little bonuses and penalties to how the game plays out, and you'll want to mix this up as you play to change the game in subtle ways. If you stick to one character though, your bonuses increase with use, so it's nice to have that option if you find a nice combo. After choosing an avatar you start your island off in usually a poor state: a meagre corn crop to feed your citizens and only a few buildings to house them. Luckily you either have a modest amount of cash to start building something which produces raw resources for sale, a tourist haven, or some kind of industry for high-cost/high-yield cash. Usually you'll be having some ratio of the three as your game progresses, and the game's learning curve is gentle enough you'll be able to make enough money to pass by with just selling raw resources, easing yourself into industry slowly without too much penalty, tourism however seems either an on/off thing: Either the island is good for it (and makes money) or isn't (and doesn't) Missions and objectives crop up as you play and complete them, they add spice to what would otherwise be a repetitive task, often at later stages of the game asking things of you that you would normally shy away from early game, and ramping up the difficulty either with time limits, money sanctions, or rebels threatening your buildings/people/own life. I would still say the game is a bit too easy on you, the only mission I lost was where I encountered a bug (the only one I found as well) where a rebel attack happened as a volcano erupted, causing my soldiers to flee the volcano, but not the rebels. When the volcano ended, the soldiers returned to their posts and calmly watched the rebels level my palace. The autosave happens often enough that it only set me back 5 minutes of play time. Otherwise you'll probably only lose a mission due to poor economic planning, or more likely, just not paying attention to you funds and going deep into debt. I can't rate it too badly due to that though, the game is accessible, and if you love city-building (or even mildly enjoy it) I can recommend Tropico 4. If you never played 3, then 4 is a great game to pick up without losing any storyline or gameplay features. If you have owned/played Tropico 3, try to find 4 cheaply otherwise you may question why you spent so much on a stand-alone expansion.