Reviews by cybrxkhan

80

Nice Additions

cybrxkhan | March 28, 2014 | Review of Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India

The three religions of India introduced by Rajas of India - Jainism, Buddhism, and Hinduism - attempt to provide some new, interesting gameplay opportunities for RoI. In some ways, they succeed in that. The caste system forces players to carefully consider their marriage options, for instance, while there is a clear distinction between the advantages of each religion - Buddhism encourages tech, Hindus are likely to expand more quickly, Jains have stable realms. The map is also impressive - it's clear the devs put in a lot of time trying to research the many different groups that inhabited the subcontinent. Furthermore, it appears their promised optimizations worked - the game won't really run that much slower despite having a lot more provinces. However, while the additions are fun, after the first few times, they get a bit repetitive, particularly the special decisions such as the Diwali feast or choosing a Guru.

Lastly, aesethically, Rajas of India does pretty well with its flavorful interface and its Indian portraits. While the Indian portraits aren't the best I've seen, they do a decent job. Certainly the women look a bit old for their age, and the men tend to have a bored stare all the time, but overall they are decent.

All in all Rajas of India is a good expansion pack. I still think Sword of Islam and the Republic were overall better big DLCs, but Rajas of India is no slouch.

91

A Great Portrait Pack

cybrxkhan | March 28, 2014 | Review of Crusader Kings II: Turkish Portraits DLC

The Turkish portraits included in this DLC are probably some of the best I've seen since the Mongol portrait DLC ages ago. The difficult thing with these portraits was how to capture the wide variety of found within the steppe peoples - ranging from stereotypical Mongoloid features to more Caucasian ones. However, I think the artists found a good balance between the two.

The main issue with the Turkish portraits is their skin tone, which is NOT exactly as you see in the preview screenshots. In fact, the faces are a bit more greyer and Mongoloid-looking compared to the previews. Whether this is a bad thing is up to you - you can probably search online for more accurate screenshots. Anyhow, the problem with their greyish skin tone isn't so much the skin tone itself, but that it isn't consistent with and contrasts severely with all the existing portrait sets.

Still, given that before these portraits, the vanilla game basically had Arab portraits everywhere, the Turkish portraits are a welcome addition, and provide important variety for some of the most widespread and diverse peoples in CKII's map.

95

One of the Best in the Total War Series

cybrxkhan | Nov. 19, 2013 | Review of Medieval II: Total War Collection

Medieval II is starting to show its age, but I still find it an engrossing game, even more so than Rome Total War (the old one, not the new one) that many Total War fans seem to worship. Gameplay is ultimately very similar to the original Rome Total War, which is no surprise as Medieval II was made using the same game engine. However, improvements in both gameplay (new types of map characters like merchants, and the split between castles and cities) as well as cosmetics (the return of assassination mini-movies, and much improved graphics (which even nowadays is pretty impressive)). Unlike other later Total Wars like Empire and Rome II whose numerous additions and changes overwhelmed the player, and were perhaps too ambitious and complex for their own good, Medieval II had a decent balance between adding in new features while still retaining what made earlier Total Wars interesting. With a variety of factions, an expansion that adds in four new campaigns, and many mods available and still being developed, it has a high replay value. While I personally think Shogun II was more accomplished in its visuals and its streamlined, sensible gameplay, Medieval II isn’t too bad either. It is probably the Total War I’ve played the most alongside Shogun II, and I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a good, cinematically amazing strategy game.

75

Fun and Light

cybrxkhan | Nov. 15, 2013 | Review of Reus

I picked up Reus a while back, as they aren’t too many interesting god games these days. I wasn’t too disappointed. Reus is deceptively simple at first - you only need to know how to do a few things in order to play the game, more or less - but as time goes on you’ll realize that it is much more complex, and you’ll have to remember and utilize a wide variety of resource and building chains to achieve your goals. One person has told me it’s more like a city builder game disguised as a god game rather than an actual god game per se due to the game’s foundation on these often complicated chains, and I have to agree. After a while the game does get a little redundant, since you’re really only doing the same actions over and over again, just with essentially cosmetic differences. Still, if you want something light and fun to pass the time, buy the game, especially if it’s on sale.

96

A Deep, Intellectual Game

cybrxkhan | Nov. 14, 2013 | Review of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind Game of The Year Edition

Morrowind may be over a decade old, but I was still enchanted by it when I picked it up relatively recently a couple of years back. Having already played quite a bit of Oblivion, which I enjoyed immensely, I was expecting good things from Morrowind. Sure, while Morrowind may lack the gameplay and graphical improvements of Oblivion and Skyrim, it more than makes up for it with lore and one of the best-crafted settings in fiction - ever. The amount of detail and nuance put into creating the deep and complex society of Morrowind was, and is, and will probably be, something that is rare among video games. Here is a game where you could, if you wanted, consider the consequences of colonization and the struggle between tradition and newness; here is a game where, like in real life, history as told by the authorities may or may not be accurate, and even the “bad guy” has his own perspective and bias; here is a game where you can eat strange food like scrib jelly and go into mines that mine insectoid eggs. Morrowind is a magical place, a place that feels, in some way, real, and very similar to ours in the complexity of its setting. If you’re looking for a game with a complex and nuanced setting, and the freedom to do whatever you felt like, Morrowind is a safe bet.

98

One of the Greatest RPGs

cybrxkhan | Nov. 14, 2013 | Review of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Game of the Year Edition

Oblivion was my first TES game. Before I tried it, I was never really into RPGs. I always found their stories trite, fantasy cliches with little imagination nor depth. Oblivion, and the TES series in general, offered an alternative: instead of being forced to deal with a bad story, you, the player, get to choose what bad stories you want to experience and at what pace. It was surprisingly refreshing - if I don’t like a questline, I can just walk out. Additionally, I later discovered that if you dig deeper into the game world, the stories aren’t always that bad - there is a lot of lore and background to everything, and though not as amazing as Morrowind or even Skyrim, it was there for you to discover if you had the patience to read books, listen to conversations, and explore hidden locations. Even though it is more than half a decade old, I find Oblivion has aged well. As evidence for how wonderful I found Oblivion, I played around 500 hours of it within two months - unmodded, too. With mods, you can extend the experience even further. All in all, Oblivion is a game I recommend, as well as the entire TES series in general.

85

Wonderful Medieval RPG

cybrxkhan | Nov. 14, 2013 | Review of Mount and Blade Collection

The Mount and Blade Series is a rare gem among RPGs. Despite its outdated graphics, I’ve found it one of the most engrossing simulators for medieval warfare and politics. Unlike many RPGs, you aren’t a “chosen one” or a superhero of sorts - you are just one of many people struggling to gain power and glory. There is no real main quest, which gives you a lot of freedom to achieve your goals - if you survive, that is. For some this sandbox gameplay - which bears some resemblance to the Elder Scrolls series, in a way - may be too overwhelming and confusing, and I would not recommend the game for those who don’t like sandbox games. To me, however, this lack of structure gives the game a much more immersive feel, particularly in the beginning, when you have to find ways to survive against bandits and ruthless nobles. Unfortunately, as wonderful as the game’s concept and ideas are, it can get somewhat tedious once you get the hang of it - this is where mods really help, and the dedicated modding community has developed many mods for all sorts of players and tastes.

80

Best Portraits in the non-original/non-vanilla Style

cybrxkhan | June 26, 2013 | Review of Crusader Kings II: Celtic Portraits

The Celtic Portraits is probably the best of the portrait DLCs. Women look much more feminine compared to the Russian and Mediterranean DLCs, for instance. While the men do look a little funny at times, it is nothing out of the ordinary and both women and men look like people I have seen, much more so than the Russian or Mediterranean portraits or even Norse portraits. If you are one of those who absolutely detest the DLC style of portraits in general (the typical elements of the DLC portraits, such as small eyes for men and large eyes for women), at least consider getting the Celtic portraits sometime - the quality, while not the same as the vanilla or Mongol portraits, probably comes the closest out of all the portrait DLCs to the original portraits. Like all portrait sets, the Celtic portraits are not essential to enjoying the game - however, they're a good buy if they're on sale, and/or you want to add some more variety to your game.

75

Good Songs

cybrxkhan | June 19, 2013 | Review of Crusader Kings II: Songs of Byzantium

Andreas Waldetoft's music for Crusader Kings II has always been excellent, and really good for immersion. While these new songs are still in Waldetoft's typical CKII style, I don't think that's much a complaint - you know the sort of good music you'll get. The new songs do have some flourishes that harken more to the historical Byzantine Empire rather than the generic Christian flair of the other songs. They tend to be more grandiose and bombastic than the other songs, but this isn't a bad thing, of course. Like all music DLCs, this one isn't really needed, but if you have some money to spare, and/or if it's on sale, this is a good pick.

75

Decent Expansion If You're Interested

cybrxkhan | June 11, 2013 | Review of The Sims 3: World Adventures (NA)

World Adventures was the first expansion for the Sims 3, and probably one of the better ones. Unlike some of the others that add fun but ultimately superfluous elements, World Adventures actually introduces an entirely new way to play, in a sense - your Sims can go to foreign locations and explore them. Exploring the locations in France, Egypt, or China is a mini-game in and of itself, where your Sims can try to discover new artifacts and encounter dangers. In terms of aesthetics, there's a lot of nice new French, Egyptian, and Chinese themed material to use in your house, and the new music is cute and nice too. However, like all Sims expansion, if you're not interested in this, don't buy it unless it's on a sale, and even then, consider whether you want other expansions first.

70

Nice Additions, but Should've been in the Base Game

cybrxkhan | June 11, 2013 | Review of The Sims 3: Pets (NA)

Pets does exactly what it says: adds Pets to Sims 3. You can create them when you start out your family, or you can choose to adopt one. Playing with pets is quite a chore, though, as it requires you to constantly watch them like a normal Sim - it's fun at times, but other times it just gets annoying babysitting them and making sure they don't ruin the house or pee inside. However, the variety of pets available is nice - besides the big three, Dogs, Cats, and Horses, there are also those such as rodents, birds, insects, and so on Sims can collect in the wild. All that said, I have to wonder why this wasn't included in the base game in the first place given how pets are an integral part of a modern suburban lifestyle the Sims 3 tries to depict. Like all SIms material, it's best to buy this when it's on sale, and only if you want it.

80

Good Neighborhood with Italian Flavor

cybrxkhan | June 11, 2013 | Review of The Sims 3: Monte Vista (NA)

Monte Vista is a very well-made world that adds some Italian flair to your Sims game. From the Mediterranean brick houses to the appropriately tinted sunshine to all the Italian families living in the world, this is probably one of the best Sims 3 worlds in terms of immersion. As someone who really likes the Mediterranean aesthetic, this was something that appealed to me a lot. However, like all Sims 3 material, I'd only advise buying this when it's on sale - it's not really necessary for enjoying the game, and I'd only recommend it if you too like the Mediterranean aesthetic. Otherwise, your money is better spent on other Sims material.

80

Good for Roleplaying, but Not Much Otherwise

cybrxkhan | June 11, 2013 | Review of The Sims 3: Generations (NA)

The Sims 3: Generations adds in quite a lot of options for roleplaying during your sims' lifetime. These range from new activities to do, to different types of interactions All of these are pretty amusing and provide some good roleplay value. However, these new additions are nowhere near as substantial as that of other expansions, such as Late Night or World Adventures. Some of these I feel could have easily been included in the base game to begin with, or as part of other expansions. Ultimately, Generations, while fun and probably one of my more favorite expansions, is not a necessary one unless you're really into roleplaying. Otherwise, it's best to buy this when it's cheap and on sale.

70

Portrait Packs are Improving

cybrxkhan | June 10, 2013 | Review of Crusader Kings II: Norse Portraits

This latest set of portraits for the Scandinavian peoples does show some clear improvements over the Russian and Mediterranean portraits - females look a bit more feminine, and there is a greater variety among the faces. As always, clothing looks very nice and detailed. It's also nice that the code differentiates between pagan and Christians for hairstyles. My general complaints would be that some of the faces (particularly that of the males) look a little bit off-color, perhaps a little too purple or blue. Ultimately despite the improvements it doesn't compare to the original Western/Muslim and DLC Mongol portraits. Nevertheless, it is one of the better portrait sets, and worth the money particularly if it's on a sale.

88

Great DLC, Though Non-Norse Could've Gotten More Love

cybrxkhan | June 10, 2013 | Review of Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods

The Old Gods is the largest and most extensive expansion/DLC for Crusader Kings II yet, and it is worth every penny. The start date at 867 plays extremely differently from the normal start dates - it is extremely chaotic, and most games will play differently. Raiding is fun and allows you easily accumulate money even if you are small and weak. Even for non-pagans, the 867 start date will prove a refreshing challenge. As for the actual pagans, it appears like the Norse got the most love - they have the most features and flavor events. Other pagan groups, including the Romuva, Suomensko, and Tengri pagans, get very little in terms of flavor - the first two, for instance, only get their own festivals. The West African pagans, while a welcome addition, get nothing at all. Zoroastrians, on the other hand, do get a bit of flavor, and provide a tough challenge for those seeking to recreate the old Persian Empire. Overall, despite the typical balance issues with every major update to CKII, TOG is well worth it.

100

The Greatest Game

cybrxkhan | May 8, 2013 | Review of SimCity 4 Deluxe Edition (NA)

SimCity 4 may be a decade old, but it has aged ridiculously well - perhaps too well - and remains playable even to this day.

It is not an easy game, even with mods that ease the process, and it requires careful monitoring of everything that goes on in your city - budget, crime, transportation, and so on - and beyond it - the connections between cities in your region and how these affect Residential, Commercial, and Industrial demand. Still, it is highly enjoyable even for someone like me who doesn't fully grasp the game mechanics.

With mods, the sandbox nature of the game is limitless. There is a kind of indescribable serenity and peace at being able to build the city of your dreams. I've played SimCity 4 for ten good years, and it's probably one of the few games I've played for so long; I must have put in hundreds, if not a thousand and more hours playing it. I consider SimCity 4 one of my most favorite games - if not my most favorite game of all time - and it is worth every single penny.

92

Excellent, Could Easily be a Stand-Alone Game

cybrxkhan | May 8, 2013 | Review of Total War: Shogun 2 - Fall of the Samurai

Fall of the Samurai is arguably one of the best expansion/DLC campaigns in the total war series, if only because of the large atmospheric difference between the original Shogun 2 campaign and FotS. FotS captures well the time period it represents, the end of Tokugawa Japan; though it hints at the stereotypes horridly displayed in the movie The Last Samurai, it thankfully portrays the era in a much more accurate and morally dubious light. There is, firstly, a question of whether modernization is worth it, and what types of modernization. Secondly, there is the question of whether to support the Emperor or the Shogun. Unlike the movie The Last Samurai, both the Shogunate and Imperial factions are more accurately portrayed as using modern weaponry, and it is mastery of this weaponry - as well as the new tactics that go along with it - that will be key to victory in FotS. Other than the new style of warfare, the overall campaign mechanics remain the same, except for one main difference - the clear division between Shogunal and Imperial factions (or a third way, Republican faction if you so desire), which gives the later stages of the campaign some focus and purpose other than all-out conquest.

The only complaint I have about FotS is that archers have greater range than rifle-armed units, a completely inaccurate and ludricous mistake on the part of the developers. Other than this minor issue, however, FotS is worth the money. While it shares many mechanics with the original Shogun 2, it feels like an entirely new and fresh experience - almost like another game.

70

Interesting but Unremarkable Campaign

cybrxkhan | May 8, 2013 | Review of Total War: SHOGUN 2 - Rise of the Samurai Campaign

Rise of the Samurai is a good campaign for those looking for something a bit different than the normal Shogun 2 campaign, but not too different. There are a number of important differences - clan loyalties matter more, unit tactics work a bit different than in the age of organized armies in the normal Shogun 2 campaign, Samurai units are (accurately, for once) portrayed as mounted horse archers, and so on - but the gameplay mechanics overall are largely the same. As thus, Rise of the Samurai, while a solid campaign, isn't entirely necessary. If it's on sale, it might be worth a try.

60

Nice Faction but not Necessary

cybrxkhan | May 6, 2013 | Review of Total War: Shogun 2 - Fall of the Samurai - Saga Faction Pack

The Saga faction DLC adds in one playable faction - the Saga - and does nothing else. The Saga are fun to play with, as they have a head start on modernizing (already trading with Western powers) and are one of the few factions (and the only playable faction) that starts with a decent artillery piece (which helps with early battles). However, in all reality, like the other Shogun 2 faction DLCs, the Saga faction DLC is only worth it if it's on sale and if you really want to play it. My suggestion is to read up on the other faction DLCs to figure which one suits your playstyle and sounds interesting - otherwise, there's no need to buy it.

60

Optional Cosmetic DLC

cybrxkhan | May 6, 2013 | Review of Crusader Kings II - Mongol Faces DLC

This DLC adds much-needed variety to the Mongols, who in vanilla CKII appear, rather horridly and ahistorically, like swarthy, dark-skinned Muslims. Unfortunately, this portrait pack won't be of much use if you don't deal with the Mongols much (although some CKII mods make better use of it) and/or tend not to play far enough into the game to see the Mongols. Thankfully, it is entirely optional and won't ruin your gameplay experience. In the CKII community they are considered arguably the best of the portrait DLCs, on par with the original vanilla Western and Muslim portrait sets. Still, if you're looking for some variety and immersion, the Mongol portraits aren't too bad a deal if you can find them on sale.

80

Brings Civ5 Up to Par with Older Games (Somewhat)

cybrxkhan | May 6, 2013 | Review of Sid Meier's Civilization V: Gods & Kings

I was relatively disappointed with the original Civ5, like many long-time Civ fans. Though I didn't quite detest it as much as some of its detractors, I still found it lacking - there was really nothing else to do besides waging war and preparing for war, and there was little of interest to do besides those two things. However, Gods and Kings fixes this, somewhat, and makes Civ5 a relatively enjoyable experience compared to vanilla Civ5. The addition of religion is cleverly implemented - the choices you make in terms of religious beliefs for your civ will impact your game and allow you to specialize your religion. Overall, God and Kings is a solid expansion pack that makes Civ5 enjoyable at last - unfortunately, this sort of thing should have been in Civ5 in the first place.

70

More Variety - Good or Bad Depending on your Tastes

cybrxkhan | May 3, 2013 | Review of Crusader Kings II: Mediterranean Portraits

The Mediterranean Portraits DLC adds in new portrait sets for many of the Mediterranean cultures, including the Iberians, Italians, and Greeks. It adds in some sorely needed variety to Europe in particular. However, whether it is good or not depends on your personal taste. Some have found the Mediterranean Portraits DLC to be inaccurate in its portrayal of Southern Europeans, for instance. I think the portraits look fine, though they are rough in some aspects - females look block at times, and old males look somewhat zombie-like. Still, like all cosmetic DLC for CKII, this one isn't absolutely required - just make sure you look at screenshots from elsewhere before deciding whether you want to buy this or not as some players regretted buying this as it did not match their exceptions (though I am perfectly content with this).

80

Good Aesethic Addition

cybrxkhan | May 3, 2013 | Review of Crusader Kings II: African Portraits

The African Portrait DLC adds much-needed variation to Africa, which previously was portrayed with only the Muslim portrait set. The portraits are not as high-quality as the Western, Muslim, or Mongol portraits (which were all worked on during the game's main development), but I still find them adequate in their detail and the variety they add to the game. The portrait set does engage in the catch-all stereotyping that all the portrait sets have to some degree - east Africans and west Africans are portrayed as similar, with face paint and so on, even though the two groups are very different in terms of clothing styles, hair, and looks in real life. Nevertheless, like the cosmetic CKII DLCs, the African portraits is not required at all to enjoy the game, and should only be bought if you want some more variety and immersion.

75

Good if you Want RPG Features, Otherwise Look Elsewhere

cybrxkhan | May 3, 2013 | Review of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Hearthfire S

Hearthfire offers some new RPG elements for those looking for a bit more RPG depth in Skyrim, particularly when it comes to relationships and feeling like you're really settling into the immersive world of Skyrim. However, this DLC isn't for everyone - it probably isn't for a lot of PC players. Firstly, while amusing, Hearthfire does not add any deep questlines, locations, or lore that would keep players entertained for many more hours. Secondly, a number of the features available - such as custom houses - have already been done by other modders. This is less a problem on consoles where there isn't any access to mods. Ultimately, Hearthfire is not really a necessary DLC at all. While fun and charming in a way, it's only really worth it if it's on sale - it doesn't add a lot and there are plenty of mods that offer much more for free.