…My Intro Scene…

A little bit about the man behind the keyboard

“We all make choices in life, but in the end our choices make us.”

Andrew Ryan, Bioshock.

Awkwardly this seems a lot harder than anticipated, sitting here almost bashing my head against the keyboard (but not otherwise my intro would have read “qwert-multiple random keys and spaces-;’sjfg”) but now as I’m getting into the groove of this maybe I will be able to give some actual about info in the second paragraph.

Let’s get to the basics and the boring, I was born in one of those small towns even tumbleweeds dare not go as there is less than nothing that happens there called “Winburg” (it sounds more interesting than it is), a small speck located in a region called “Free-Sate” in South Africa on a possibly lovely spring day on the 15th of September 1985 (think my other senses were more overwhelmed by where I just crawled out of and who is this alien in a blue suit and face mask making first contact by smacking me) where through the years as we moved closer to civilization and as advances in technology happened a small electronic sprout was planted in me and it just continued to grow to the gaming tech-head i am today and continues to grow still with the only major difference being that I now call New Zealand home.

It evolved even more when I met a group of likeminded individuals at school where we were fortunate enough to still grow up in the era where we played pen and paper D&D to the awesome array of games on the shared “Nintendo Entertainment System” we got one Christmas (granted it was created when I was born but we only made first contact much later in life), where till today even though being thousands of miles apart our group kept close contact and thanks to the advancements in technology and the gaming industry as a whole it is now easier to still enjoy the one thing that brought us together… The escape from reality, the place where fiction becomes a figurative reality for us, where we can embark on a new world and a new kind of adventure, be it exploring the galaxy and stars beyond, to the simple act of building arb items required by townies or even just spending(wasting) countless hours fishing to now real progression or reward in the game.

In closing I guess I just came to appreciate every aspect of this industry, I have a keen love for experiencing all sorts developers have to offer, from the lowest graphical games that hardly ever get a mention or a glance(yet ones where I find myself losing the most hours in) right up to the heavy hitters(that sometimes also end in big failures) and this is what inspired me to start this blog, I have spent so much time trying to find someone who explores all aspects and genres in the gaming world and even less truly expressing their honest opinions on what they have played, I have stopped listening and reading reviews along with avoiding the masses of videos out there either promoting or shooting down titles before they have even launched, not to say that their reviews and efforts should not get credit, by all means if it speaks to you then listen and make your own informed decision however I have yet to find that voice that speaks to me, so in saying that I have become my own voice and running through the experience and learning the hard way, by “buying before I try” and not the norm “try before you buy” (seeing that is hardly an option bar the occasional free weekends here and there) but also i’m just keen on having a general discussion around the topic of gaming in general, sharing my thoughts, reading everyone’s comments and just forming a dialogue from there.

So if you find that this is something that speaks to you or that this could possibly help you in any way come follow me on my journey as I will start off with reviewing some old, some new and then some I’m definitely looking forward to getting my hands on. On top of that I will also try throw in more hardware related reviews on what I’m using or acquire in the future and if it was worth the upgrade or if there’s some serious buyer’s remorse, my love for this field expanded beyond what games have to offer but also to tinker with the other things that make them run better and just to try and be as up to date as possible with our ever changing and evolving technological world.

…Foundation…

A rough diamond in a very rough patch, that will get better as it’s polished.

Sinking into another somewhat strategy-ish, slash medieval city-builder simulator. Today I’m giving my 10cents worth on a game called Foundation. Being a big lover of strategy and city builder games, you really have to have something unique and different nowadays in order to make it, especially with how spoilt we are for choice with the Anno’s and civilizations titles out there, and with this game there was something fun and different about it. Granted this game is in very…very…VERY early access as you will notice if decide to get it, with images missing from certain in-game notifications, or with the lack of variety of envoys and missions you get at the time of writing this review. But all that aside they are working on something that will really be a well-rounded title, after some serious polish work.

Gameplay and Map and “Story”

Starting off with the story of the game…There is no story…Yet! And I’m not to sure if that is something that will be added down the line, but for now you are pretty much just thrust into a portion of a map, where you then have to start building a flourishing city, taking baby steps in getting there, as you need to manage the needs of your citizens, control the rate of migration to your town/city and making sure they all have enough work and sufficient food/materials in order to make a jolly living for themselves . Like I said earlier, this title is very early access so the focus was on delivering something playable and testable before anything else gets added on, and luckily the game runs well and I haven’t experienced any crashes or game breaking elements. Like with many other city builders, you have to keep track of your citizens general happiness, wants and needs as those factors will retain them or on the flip side look for greener pastures. Although they don’t make it impossible to achieve this, it can sometimes get away from a person a bit, especially after a migration burst that comes with a housing, food and material shortage. That was one of the things that I really enjoyed about this title, the fact that you have to really get down and dirty with your town and know what is happening, keeping control over all the tiny elements, basically micro managing to the max, but not in an annoying way.

Actual in-Game visuals (even when in loading screen)

Moving onto the Map, now this is one area where this game really shines, so you start off with one territory and initially your surroundings look somewhat spacious until you start zooming out, and zooming out more, and even more, the map transforms into something I cant even explain in words. Although initially it can look quite intimidating, you realise quite quickly that you fill up a territory in no time. The natural growth of your town is also something somewhat out of your control, you will designate zones for residential for example, and where most other games allow you to choose the rotation of your houses, this game makes it the choice of your little lemmings that make the whole machine run, with that you have this AI driven growth, where I love seeing how some of them choose where to place a home and the orientation of the placement, so although you can have a somewhat structured city, the freedom your citizens have in building their homes adds this incredible organic feel to your city, especially when it starts growing.

Screenshot of my growing village/city

Other than that they also do make it challenging for you to unlock additional structures for your city, where normally you would research into a certain direction and follow that tech tree route until you can divert to other channels in that tech tree. Here it works completely different, you have to spend some time adding tiny little flares to your buildings, the tiniest add on to your market will gain you certain “influence” which you need “X” amount of influence in order to unlock that structure. But! It doesn’t stop there, on top of that you have to perform certain tasks for the king, clergy or another Noble faction to gain “action points” for lack of a better term, so those 2 elements combined, once accumulated enough of them will allow you to expand the constructible buildings in your city. You will get the occasional event where something bad strikes your city, like heavy rain from the skies, hampering the growth of your crops, so you will need to have enough food stockpiled for the rainy period so your citizens don’t bail on you, that is just one of the smaller elements in the game that had a fun little spin on it, and I’m sure they will expand on this as the game continues to grow. They really give you a ton of freedom with this game, something I really enjoyed, you get to choose where farmers get to plant their crops, where the cows and sheep need to herd, all those little elements which I thought was an awesome little touch. You will also be able to muster up some form of military force, but sadly you have little to no control over them, apart from dispatching them on big missions for the king (that will at least yield you gold and free territories), hopefully they will expand on that somehow and introduce elements where you have a bit more direct control over the military or some campaigns to introduce a fun RTS element, but it is in no way a game or deal breaker when it comes to Foundation.

Screenshot from a different angle

Conclusion

This is really a fun city manager, with enough tiny elements to keep you entertained in a different way, it has its own unique identity and will definitely easily make a name for itself as a standout game. I have already lost a good couple of weekends playing this, and foresee a whole lot more being dedicated to this game, especially that it is only onward and upward from here as they roll out new updates and content. Because it is still in early access it luckily wont break the bank, and the entertainment value you get for the little money you have to spend made it well worthwhile for me.

…Destiny 2…

A worthy predecessor to the first title.

After the first Destiny had a bit of a shaky first year with many fans being disappointed with the product they got so hyped up about (myself included). Bungie eventually managed to pull themselves together and delivered quite an enjoyable title, one that I have lost well into a couple of hundred hours in. Now they built on what eventually became a winning recipe after learning some hard lessons from the first derailment. Luckily this is one of those stories with a happy beginning, middle and end, as they have done quite a lot right with this second instalment. This was mainly a solo play on the single player campaign, but I did team up with the normal crew in some multiplayer activities and I can happily say both experiences were more than enjoyable.

The Main Protagonist & NPC’s

After choosing your Guardian which are split into 3 different classes i.e. Warlock, Hunter or Titan who all come with their own special attributes and special abilities, you delve into the usual and not to overly annoying mini in-game tutorials (detracting from the main character description here I know…). So moving on to the actual main character, they have done quite a lot of effort to make you feel connected with your character, granted you still don’t have a voice and you will always just have the voice of your “Ghost” (if haven’t played any Destiny games, a “Ghost” is your very own floating personal assistant, with scanning and a host of other abilities to assist you in your missions and general activities). You will get a lot of opportunity to customize your Guardian to fit any playstyle and make it unique, as you have various amounts of customizations at your disposal, from your combat skills and special abilities, right down to what you want to look like down to the smallest detail. You will also have a worthy adversary in Destiny 2, one you feel you want to engage with in an epic fight to the bitter end, they did an impressive amount of effort with character development in all areas, right down to your fellow Guardians, where there were a few tear jerk moments with some developments in the story and how it affected some of your in-game NPC teammates. So that was one massive win for me as story and well written/developed characters are massive game making or breaking things for me as might know by now.

Gameplay and Map

Starting with the Map or maps, you will travel to different planets with different environments just like in the first one, with the addition of the maps in Destiny 2 being significantly larger, so your inner “Dora the Explorer” will be very happy with all the nooks and crannies you will be able to explore at your own peril. As mentioned in the main character paragraph, you will have no shortage of elements you can customize when it comes to your Guardian, the weapons you wield, even what your ship and “Ghost” will look like. Those were little things I actually came to appreciate, as it is nice to see your artistic masterpiece being unleashed on a chaotic battlefield and do some serious damage in style. You will have numerous encounters all over the map, as there will tons of tiny skirmishes scattered over every map, with the classic main “Global” event to partake in (obviously the more player the better, as some of those global events are crazy hard). Every planet you visit will be open and you will load in with numerous other players, noting that it is all a PVE environment and you won’t randomly get taken out by stronger players who are just bored or itching to wreck someone else’s game day. But if you want to test your steel against other players, they will have numerous different PVE arenas you can join to see how you fare against non NPC’s. We spent quite a bit of time in the PVE section (which I hardly ever do) as they actually made it a fun experience, with different game modes that engage players in other ways, not only in the classic run and gun, trying to kill as many players as you can, so that was a very refreshing PVP experience. The gameplay is fast and smooth, with everything being loaded into the map, meaning no annoying additional loading screens or anything like that, and just pure uninterrupted fun.

Main Story

They actually did well with the story, keeping you gripped and entertained every step of the way, making sure to keep the progression and climaxes going. I never went through any portion of the game feeling that it lacked in any form or way, where they kept every part of me fully satisfied with an in depth story, one that actually follows a natural progression, where it made sense and all fit together like a puzzle (and a massive 10 000 piece puzzle). So just on that alone it won me over whole heartedly. To give you a little bit about the actual story of Destiny 2, One year after the SIVA Crisis, Cabal forces of the Red Legion launch an aerial assault on the Last City, destroying the main portion of the Tower, the headquarters of the Guardians. The player’s Guardian and their Ghost respond by assisting the Vanguard in assaulting the Red Legion command ship. As they confront the Red Legion’s commander, Dominus Ghaul, his forces attach a device to the Traveler and begin draining it of the Light, the power used by the Guardians. The Guardian loses their powers and is nearly killed by Ghaul. Waking two days after the attack, the Guardian locates their Ghost. They find a haven known as “the Farm” in the European Dead Zone (EDZ) with the assistance of Suraya Hawthorne, a non-Guardian human from the outskirts of the Last City. You then follow visions from the Shard of The traveller who leads your across the galaxy (with each planet having it’s own mini story, to eventually build and tie in with the massive main storyline) to restore the light and plan your counter-offensive. Eventually through numerous other trials and challenges, you build up to the final battle with Calus (the awesomely done main antagonist), where I wont carry on as that will just spoil the story, but it is well written and executed.

Conclusion

Destiny 2 was and is well worth the money, they hit all the right notes in all the right places. They cater for all types of gaming fans, allowing you the customization many want, without making it affect you to much if you choose not to go all “Bedazzled” on your Guardian and pimping it out to the max. You will lose even more countless hours in this game, as I already have, along with that the game has enough going to keep you going back and grinding in different ways, even after completing the game they made sure that there will be enough activities at your disposal to want you to come back and grind to get the epic rewards at the end of that “grindbow”, and the rewards are well worth it trust me. This game is fun if you want to just fly solo and kill some time doing some arb exploration and global events, but also fun when you want to team up with your mates and see how well you do at the various different PVP modes. All round they hit a lot of right marks with this game, so much so that I will happily recommend this to anyone still on the fence on whether to get it or not. They really cater for a large and varied audience, and odds are you will definitely find something that suits your playstyle, making your experience in the game that much more enjoyable, and have you be a happy returning customer to fight on another day.

…Flashing Lights…

Another instalment on becoming either good cop or bad cop.

I really do love games that allow you to step into a role you dreamt of as a child. The beauty of this game is that you are spoilt for choice, with all 3 being at your disposal. You can either protect and serve as part of a dedicated police force, rescue granny Smith’s cat that always gets stuck in the tree, or just perform some defibrillation on a car crash victim as a paramedic. All this and a whole host of varied looks and vehicles at your disposal to see what role best suits you.

You can go at it solo, or join a multiplayer game hosted by individual players, who will all have different scenarios for their hosted server, where you get to engage in some awesome roleplay with other like minded people. I generally hop around between the 2 areas, but prefer the multiplayer parts of it more, as it’s nice to step into character and do the proper responses and use the actual codes emergency services personnel would use (after downloading the codes from the net I might add)

Gameplay, Story and Map

This game is also in early Alpha (like bulk of the titles are I seem to play), so it is a work in progress. To classify this game I would copy the creators and stick with “emergency service simulator”, noting that the developers are very active with this game so there are always updates of sorts when fire this game up, so you will always have some improved gameplay or even new content to try out. The game has no real story to it, nor does it have lengthy intro’s to tell you who you are or what your purpose is in the game. You are taken directly to a character customization screen after you have chosen your preferred method of play (online or solo). Where I can definitely say that the online portion of this game is where it really shines, you can do solo play but the world will feel very…very empty with you being the only officer or first responder to any and all scenes, apart from the pre-programmed ones where there are static officers just fixed in place and you have to defuse the situation at the end of the day. With the online part of it, the players get so into character that you really get that sense of involvement and playing a key role in whatever scenario they create. From roadblocks checking for drunk drivers or other offences, right up to surrounding a gas station where there is a robbery in progress, where you then communicate tactic with fellow players on how to approach the scene in question. Sometimes you even tag along with medics or firefighters and do some traffic control for them, as they battle fires or rescue said cat’s from trees.

The game allows you to play in any style you see fit, bearing in mind there is a sort of a scoring system where reckless behaviour gets penalized, and small tasks such as issuing parking violation tickets wins you points (if you issue the fine under the correct category of course). All this sounds pretty mundane and lame, but this is just to give you an example of how varied the tasks are in the game. From the smallest thing to large gunfights, they are all there. This is the case for all the roles you can undertake in the game, so no matter what shoes you step into, you will have lots to do and keep you entertained.

Moving on to the map. Now it’s pretty sizable, with lots of varied areas ranging from inner city, to very rural, where you will really feel that sense of urgency while rush to opposite sides of the map trying to respond to emergencies, this being even more the case when play online and a fellow officer is taking fire (yes I know I seem to favour the police more, just love the 5-O). The thing I also loved was how the roads transition the more rural you get, now everything is connected by one massive motorway, but once you branch off to the smaller less populated areas they will turn to dirt roads, making you wish you rather chose the 4 wheel drive SUV. The map was not to big, nor was it to small, they definitely struck a good balance with everything (noting that as they build on the game they will populate more areas), if you find the map in some areas feels a bit empty.

Luckily the inner city part will feel quite busy, depending on the pedestrian count the person chose when they hosted a server. But you are also more than welcome to host your own server and make your own roleplay rules for your server. You will definitely always have a few random people who joins in, and depending on what they feel like on the day, they will either get into the roleplay or try and find a more casual server. The choice is completely yours at the end of the day on what you want on your map and your server.

Conclusion I really enjoy this game, although not wasting entire days playing this game without stopping, it is really a fun time filler if you don’t want to do any serious story driven gaming. The community in this game is pretty awesome, as they all have that same love and passion for it. You will like with everything get the odd troll here and there who just try and get to players, but that is a very rare experience, and in all the time I have played I have had probably one or two interactions with these types of players, with them leaving not long after joined. The game is cheap enough not to break the bank, and was well worth the buy. It will provide quite a beautiful experience as the vehicles and surroundings are quite detailed, knowing it will only get better from here onward. So if you prefer a more 3rd person experience (I think also first person) not to sure as always sport the 3rd person view, then I suggest picking up this title.

…Keep The Peace…

This one goes out to all those who still have that cops and robbers roleplay love in them.

I don’t think I ever grew up. And by this I mean in the sense that I have always enjoyed playing cops and robbers, luckily nowadays game developers have made it easier to step into that role (granted not many titles out there, but the few I am playing don’t disappoint). I love going onto platforms like Kickstarter to see what titles are up and coming in the gaming world, mostly from small developers trying to make a name for themselves. And being an early backer of the game you get quite a bit of say in it, helping to shape the game to something you would really enjoy and that makes it feel that it was tailored specifically for you (noting that the change would need to make sense and enhance the game).

This is mainly solo for now (as the game is still in very…very…veeerryy early Alpha stages) and for the foreseeable future as they try and iron out all the bugs and create a super functional title before they build onto that. The label I guess you can give this game is a police simulation title, just minus the construction part. You will receive a stock standard precinct to manage and to keep safe, with a whole host of other challenges being thrown in as the developers expand on their game development. Although you don’t get your hands dirty by controlling your units individually, you still feel a sense of control and involvement (at your discretion and if choose to) with the amount of actions you will have with regards to unit control in each callout they respond to.

Gameplay/Map and “Story”

So delving into more detail with what this game actually is, let’s start with the basics. This as briefly mentioned would be a city-builder (minus the building part as precinct is already up and running), mixed in with some strategy and real time tactic management all bundled into one package. You take on the roll of police chief of this precinct, trying to see if you have the ability to balance the books and balance the needs of your little town and officers. The developers have really gone the extra mile with regards to allowing you to manage your police force and the way they approach each situation, allowing you to choose the level of force that they can use, along with the approach (like surrounding a building before entry etc..). Then delving a bit deeper into some features to help you make your force unique and stand out above the rest. They allow you to fully customize the look of your patrol cars, from the classic undercover car, right up to and if you feel like it a disco on wheels. I loved that little aspect of it and makes you appreciate the level of detail that sometimes goes into the design of these vehicles.

Moving onto some other mechanics of the game, apart from being able to fully customize your vehicles, you are also put behind the enrolment if your officers, being able to pick the cream of the crop from a roster (if the funding allows), or if you want the doughnut loving cops who don’t really contribute much in a physical way but excel in tactics you can also go that route. This is why keep using the word balance a lot, you have to get that right balance in your force in order for them to be able to defuse any situation that might come up. There will be a whole host of callouts you can respond to, with the developers always working on more scenarios and callouts you will have to deal with in future updates. You get to set the patrol routes and assign the level of visibility you want from your officers, or have minimal presence and more reserve officers to respond to situations (it’s all up to you in the end) with bother scenarios mentioned having their own cause and effect.

Now let’s talk about the size of the map and areas you will have to manage, at the moment the map feels just right and not overly big. They have quite a good balance going, where you don’t feel to overwhelmed with the amount of real estate you have to keep safe and secure, and have a good police visibility going. Along with that they have also made it pretty easy to set up your patrol routes and not making you feel stretched out to thin when you start with limited amount officers and vehicles, although it always helps to have a unit or two at the station in order to assist other officers when needed.

The callouts also give you a good sense and feel of how hectic life of a dispatcher must be, with numerous callouts coming in at the same time, all of them having varied levels of severity, so you really have to stay focused on what is going on in your little city. The amount of times I have overlooked a callout is just scary, and you do end up feeling a bit guilty that forgot about that silly noise complaint as you don’t want to treat lesser offences or complaints as something you can just overlook. That and I’m pretty sure it affects the level of confidence citizens have in you and your police force.

I threw story into the heading just to give a breakdown of the game and your purpose in the game. there is no real linear story to the game and your purpose as Chief of Police is to manage your officers and precinct in a financially sustainable way along with the officers under your control. Ensuring whatever you call your town will be the safest community out there, a place where criminals will fear setting up shop and making sure people respect the rule of law.

Conclusion

 This title is really a hidden gem, although it possibly only fits a certain market (the cops and robber lovers like me), I still think it does have something for everyone to enjoy, the game never felt mundane or repetitive (although you do get the same callouts to respond to, they will all require a different approach). It feels awesome seeing your precinct grow and become a safer place (as all your zones go from red to green) and how your officers improve in skill level and how they handle situations as they progress. I do wish that there was some auto incident assignment in the game, but I say this not as a negative thing. I just sometimes love to switch on a game and  enjoy the dynamic and free flowing feel of a town as everyone goes about their day to day life, watching how officers would have responded to a scene when controlled by AI, so in no real way is this part aimed at anyone (more just a little inner monologue I have going sometimes). So if you enjoy managing a police force on a grander scale, this is definitely something I recommend joining the “Alpha Team” on the games actual official page, I have found this was money well spent and the developers are extremely active in the community and in releasing updates and fixing bugs that do get reported.

… About my writing style…

In this short Blog entry I wanted to just give a bit of a breakdown on my writing and reviewing style. I know the game reviews up to now possibly felt a bit short of detail and content, and if you also feel like it lacked in content the please feel free to let me know by commenting on any of the Blog entries or even by private message. Now the general lack of details in blogs in the sense of what upgrades are possible in the game, or being able to pimp your weapons to the nth degree. This is mainly because I’m trying to limit the word count and not have you read a short novel and get bored less than halfway through, i usually have so much to say about every game that if had to add in depth explanations of the upgrading and modifications to a Blog I “think” they might not go down so well (again this is me assuming and if you feel they will add the missing touch, I will definitely look at incorporating it).

My style is more along the lines of a overall look at the general entertainment value a game provides in other respects, like storylines/content and character depth. This sometimes helps to make a decision on a game, for me personally the upgradability or customizability of my weapons etc, was never really a main factor that made me buy or put back a title. I wanted to know how a game would grab me in other ways, the ways that I generally write about and sadly bulk of the reviews I tended to read just focused on what you will be able to do with your equipment, as if that was the only drawing card an main feature of the game. Like always if those reviews are your thing then I have no problem with it, and on a side note if you would prefer some of that information in my reviews I will gladly oblige. Whatever makes the experience and read more pleasurable for everyone.

So to end off this short little entry. Input helps make better content, I would love to know anyone’s thoughts on what they have read up to now, where they felt the reviews fell flat, and what you rather would have liked more or less of in order to make your reading experience a more pleasurable one. Also on a side not and this is important, by no means am I or have I been trained as a professional writer. I’m just an average Joe who wanted to fill a little bit of a gap I felt there was, trying to add an extra voice to help on aspects in this awesome gaming industry we get to enjoy. So there may be a lot of grammatical errors and possible incorrect wording of sentences etc. So if you find that element frustrating I sincerely do apologize and can only hope it will get better as I continue on with this side hobby.

Finally just a big thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read any of my blogs, visited the other sites and platforms I produce content on. Your support means a lot, and thank you never gets extended enough to the main influencers of all these things, all of you special people out there who show us your support and gift us a bit of your precious time.

…Red Dead Redemption 2…

“The best way to describe a cowboy Is mud, blood, guts, and glory”.

After some pressure from a good friend of mine to get my hands on Red Dead Redemption 2, I can honestly say I have no regrets in trying my hand at the cowboy life. Having so many titles I still need to smash through I am always a bit hesitant and reluctant to start up something new, always feeling like there is just to much “unfinished business”. This title was well worth adding to the list though, sadly it is so worth it that all other titles have been shelfed for a bit as I get stuck into the role of Arthur Morgan.

I was actually itching to get my hands on this title for a while now, knowing the gaming giant Rockstar and the amazing Grand Theft Auto series they are so well known for. I just feel bad always having so many titles to finish and get to. But let me not repeat myself and sound like an old broken record droning on and on. Luckily this title allows one to go at it solo, or tear it up online with some friends, taming the Wild West or adding to it’s already chaotic nature. For this review I will focus on the solo play aspect more, as this was and still is the main area I am stuck in at the moment.

The Main Protagonist and the NPC’s

As I briefly mentioned, you take control of Arthur Morgan. One of the roughest toughest cowboys out there, who can defuse a situation with a simple stare down (seriously this dude is tough as anything). You form part of what is known as the “Van der Linde gang”, in a time where outlaws are being hunted down like animals and are forced to move from region to region to try and escape the long arm of the law. A new America is on the horizon and sadly it has no place for the lawless cowboys who once ruled the West and helped shape it in a sense. Along with that you ride with quite an interesting crew, no shortcuts were taken here as they have given each NPC quite a rich backstory and history. Especially when it comes to how they found themselves joining the crew and how they all contribute in their own special way to make your crew as unique as it is. The crew at  Rockstar did not stop there however, with every little “one horse” town feeling unique in it’s own sense. So much detail has gone into every element that I sometimes find myself just getting lost in the day to day lives of all the townies, where you can spend hours just watching them as the game was done this well and felt this immersive. The NPC’s all feel that they serve some purpose in the game, from the veteran beggar on the corner, right up to the sometimes corrupt sheriff of the town.  

Gameplay and Map

If you are well versed in Grand Theft Auto titles especially on pc (the platform I’m playing this on) you will somewhat be able to just pick this one up an go, although sometimes the controls do get away from you a bit and might feel a bit slow or sluggish. The amount of times slow character reaction and command registration has gotten me into trouble was more than I would want to mention, but like in all the other titles you get used to it and try find ways to incorporate that into your playstyle, and plan accordingly to whatever situation you dive into. The map is massive, there will be no shortage of exploration for you to undertake while on horseback. The map is also very detailed and well put together, with no patch feeling dull or dead (unless you stumble on some random dead NPC’s), but other than that there is always something happening, from random wildlife interactions to just plain entertaining townies having some form of violent or nonviolent interactions with one another. There will also be no lack of side missions/challenges for you to undertake, all of them with their own little twists and turns and sometimes very interesting tales. Some of those tales being so classic of that paranoid era and some as they start to profile criminals like serial killers etc, so there are so many elements to this game that you are just completely overwhelmed (in a good way) and can see this being one of the many titles on my list that I will keep going back to.

Main Story

Red Dead Redemption 2 is a prequel to the other titles in this series, so although you will gain a little from having played the other titles, it was not a necessity and you will more than easily be able to pick this up and not be overly confused. The story in it’s own right is gripping and well thought out. In short you and continuing on from introduction in this blog. You are forced to flee from the West where you planned on settling after a big score (which you had to leave behind trusting your crew leader “Dutch” to ensure it remains safe) and now have to start from scratch in a new region. Being left with little to nothing in your pockets, starving and without a physical place to call home (apart from the mobile wagon camp), lying low and trying to blend in as normal upstanding citizens. You start working your way up and building your reputation from a clean slate. With this I can also add, you decide what direction you want your reputation to go into. Be it a life of crime and building a rep as a ruthless outlaw with a short temper and even shorter fuse. Or be it a more balanced and having a more positive effect on the community and help them build up their towns, helping them flourish. Now both of these will have affects down the line for you, be it good or bad, but this was the beauty in it for me. The game shapes and forms in such a natural way that you can actually feel and see your input with the choices you have made. The rich and deep storyline will also give you such a connection to the game that you just cannot drag yourself away from it. I don’t want to give to much of the story away as I think it is so worth everyone trying to pick it up and discover it for themselves. This was just my thoughts on the game itself and give a short breakdown of what they did right and wrong. With Rockstar delivering in a good way again as they are known for.

Conclusion

This title like all the other ones from Rockstar games is just a hit, in so many respects. If you have ever had the privilege to play any title from them, you will know that they go that extra mile to make every aspect of the game a hit, be it from the story, character depth and even to an extent the gameplay and game mechanics. Granted they have their own unique feel to their games and you can spot a Rockstar game from the first time you enter the game world. Not necessarily being a bad thing, just referring to their unique game styles and game mechanics. The map and everything in it is just beautifully detailed, with no stone left unturned or not detailed. I love how alive everything felt in the map, with you being able to explore any random part of the map and being able to find yourself getting lost in the beauty that was created. This game will definitely provide entertainment value that will extend into the triple digits of hours spent in the game. I find myself going back into the game when try and sleep at night, thinking of things I want to do and areas I want to go explore. Even in some cases areas I want to go back to, as it just possessed something magical about it. This game will challenge you at times which was also great, as you don’t just easily stroll through the story missions and other challenges, having to use your noggin to sometimes get you out of a situation you possibly accidentally got yourself into. This in my opinion was, is and will be a massive hit for a long time to come, having discovered a secret recipe in games and always managing to build on that to make an even greater gaming experience.

…Rimworld…

When randomly generated chaos and fun have a baby…

One of my closer friends who sometimes knows more about my gaming likes and dislikes than me introduced me to this hidden treasure. The name of the game today is Rimworld, and if you love strategy games, sprinkled with a hint of colony management/simulation and maybe also in a weird way The Sims then you would want to try this bad boy out. This is one of those games I love to just sit down in front of and watch what my colonists/survivors get up to, along with expanding my small camp/farming grounds into something that will be able to hold more survivors as they randomly stumble into my region of the map, in need of rescue from a whole host of things. But also try and research fast enough in order to arm my colonists that have the occasional threat from bandits or raiders that want to either enslave us or just wipe out all traces of us from the map.

This was a solo play, although you have the option after some mods from other players give you the ability to play with some friends and make colonies of their own to ally up with you, or become your rivals… Depending on how solid the friendship is. But for the purpose of this review I will stick to my solo play and experience around that. To get a bit more into detail it is so hard to peg down what this came exactly is, there are so many labels to it but the best way I can describe it would be a “time black hole”. The amount of times I started the game up just to add some amenities to my colonists/survivors lives and lost a whole day just honestly faffing around in the colony happens way more often than not (which in my opinion is a good thing as that means the game hits some right buttons).

Gameplay/Map and Story

Where to start…ohh where to start, I have such a brain overload at this point with everything I want to write about this game, as they did so many things right with it. So let’s just start at the beginning once fire the game up. The maps are extremely customizable and you get the option to determine the difficulty level you want to host your colony in like with most games. That will also determine your starting resources and tech level and then you progress to the actual point you want to be on the map. However before you crash land at this location you have the daunting task to pick only 3 colonists that will be going on this journey, where you encounter your first difficult choice in the game as they all have unique personalities and character traits, and you get that sense of connection after reading everyone’s little backstory as you sift through the host of little characters that will fill your screen, and then knowingly have to leave them behind to “perish” in the game world. After you have chosen your top 3, making sure they will all gel as they have individual needs, likes and dislikes, so if you pair the wrong bunch of survivors they will not be happy and you will feel it in the sense where they just wont function at all and just wander around dazed, where in some cases just straight up angry and then proceed to destroy what has taken you some time to build, this is where that Sims aspect came in where you have to keep everyone happy and make sure their needs are sufficiently met, just to a lesser extent off course.

Now there is no real main protagonist in this game and you pretty much control all your colonists either directly (when there is a combat situation that comes in the form of rabid animals or bandit threats/raids), which brings in the strategy aspect of the game that I love so much, I enjoy when a game at least gives you the option to take control of a situation in order to affect the outcome. But for all the normal mundane day to day tasks you are left to focus on colony expansion with your colonists all going around taking care of those elements as you queue them up, harvesting or researching (if that is where their passion lies). Touching on that and this is why it was such a difficult review to write as you just have so much to talk about that goes on in this game that it is hard to scrape the surface. So trying my best to keep it all short I will touch briefly on the needs of your survivors, this was another fun little addition to the game, where their backstories affect their passions and what they are willing to do in the game and what not. Where if they had a bad history of violence they won’t handle weapons as an example, and they all have their own individual passions and likes that will greatly affect their abilities. So when someone is passionate about construction you will have far less botched construction efforts from them, just like a math genius will be passionate about research and thus boost his speed while researching new technologies for your colony to adapt.

Moving on to random events in the game, depending on what difficulty level you choose, the events will either be frequent and quite extreme or spread far apart and a lot more manageable. You off course have the option to decide whether want to partake in the event or not. So if Betty Loo is trying to escape from slavers you can decide if want to provide her shelter and safety by taking her into your colony or leave her to her fate, to either be captured or killed. So the game will definitely play on your morals a tad which was another fun little element to throw into this soup pot of amazingness that is called Rimworld. There will be no shortage of things to do or achievements to strive for, where you move from fighting with bows and arrows to researching high velocity automatic rifles to get the upper hand. This game throws in the perfect balance of strategy and simulation, allowing you to also grow, expand and explore.

The map, now I have played games on some big maps, and I cannot even put into words how massive this map is. They basically generate an entire planet made up of little blocks, with every block being a place you can send a scouting party to explore, or if want even relocate your colony. In all the hours I have spent in this game I haven’t even touched the map exploration part that much, apart from the off mission you do here and there to gain influence with other colonies. So if size is something that always bothers you, this will definitely satisfy everyone’s needs 100 fold. Noting again that it is completely your choice if want to explore or not.

Depending on what starting conditions you choose the main goal always stays the same, so yes there is a main mission to all of this if you don’t feel like an endless loop of colony management. This comes in the form of your survivors striving to build a spaceship (after researching it I might add) and then escaping the planet to live happily in space or to go and settle on a different planet. I have not gotten to this point, nor have I even gotten close to researching the ability to build said spaceship, as this game just keeps on giving, and I find everything else just way to fun to be bothered by unlocking and building the ship to escape the world we inhabit.

Conclusion

If you are a fan of strategy games then this title will be a good one to pick up. Rimworld just has a lot more micromanagement involved but that was something I came to appreciate and love. As mentioned in earlier paragraph you will find that this game just eats away time, how and why is because you actually just sit and have un-scripted fun. Testing your skills and seeing how effective you will be able to manage “people” and any situation that might arise, be it how small or big. This game mashed up so many different concepts and tweaked them into something extremely functional. I can honestly say that I have never regretted firing up this game and just getting lost in my own little world, so I would highly recommend that you give this one a try (even if it is just to fill a gap – although you will find it does a lot more than that). Now like with everything else if you want a bit of an in depth look into this, watch some let’s play videos to get a feel for it. This game won’t win best looking game of the year, but what it lacks in graphics it makes up for that with everything else, and the look of the game is unique and something that I came to love and appreciate about it.

…Final Fantasy X – Remaster…

A classic remastered title that’s still as good as ever.

Little secret titbit about me, i’m a massive fan of the Final Fantasy franchise it was super hard to pick one to review, but after some consideration FFX-HD Remaster won the day for a number of reasons. This was actually quite a lot harder to write about than what I initially hoped it would be, not because I have tons of bad stuff to say about it but more I have so many good stuff that I had to watch my word count, as this game just has all the right stuff and made it way to easy to ramble on forever about the sheer awesomeness of it.

Being a Final Fantasy title this was a solo play, even though they actually made a Final Fantasy XIV Online version that I will review at a later date, as pretty much stuck with all the titles in this franchise as they have always delivered games that just satisfy any and all aspects one might crave in a game. Luckily FFX was released on steam so everyone who did not own a Playstation could also pick it up and enjoy this absolutely amazing game and just experience, now if they can just do it with all the other ones life would be great.

The Main Protagonist and the NPC’s

After quite a breath-taking intro scene casting some major spotlight on the character you will control (although you will be able to control all Guardians in your group) you play as Tidus (or whoever you decide to be as you can rename you main character), star Blitzball player of the Zanarkand Abes, one of the most if not only sport played in this game, luckily you will be able to try your luck at this as a little extra “mini-game” in the main game. Where in short a super being (Main Boss) “Sin” shows up in your world, destroying anything and everything in site, sucking everything into some spherical vacuum leading to an unknown origin.  Where after all the destruction and chaos (along with short combat and game control tutorial) you are teleported to a place called Spira (the world you will be exploring).  Now before I get to carried away with the amazing character introduction and start re-telling the whole game story let me just keep it short and say, Tidus along with the other Guardians will have such a depth of character development and story that (for me at least) you feel such a connection as you progress that I found myself do more than just tear up as you reach some heart wrenching scenes in the game, which is so rare where they have gotten the character depth so spot-on that it was just impossible to find any fault whatsoever, and this was the case with every character. Even the main Foe(for lack of better word) will awaken some feelings of rage and general anger in you when he appears, but at least you will be able to transfer that anger and hate into a good old fashioned beat down.

Gameplay and Map

Gameplay wise and Map wise there will also be no disappointment, granted that the story and exploration is very linear. They have made the map big enough with a few little hidden easter eggs you can search for while cruising in your Airship (although you wont directly control the ship sadly). The visuals are just absolutely stunning, with a significant increase in graphics from the original, allowing those who crave the beauty games have to offer nowadays and fulfilling those needs with absolute ease. Getting into gameplay, I loved the winning recipe the franchise has been known for, it comes in the form of “turn based combat”. Granted it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, it allows you to strategize your attacks and swop out characters as need to in order to give you the upper hand in the fight. Along with that they have given you enough freedom to explore all the maps without feeling rushed to complete the game or progress to the next part of the story, the levelling system was one of my favourites in the franchise so far, introducing this spherical type of system, unlocking new skills and spells to increase you Guardians power. With that if you felt one character would do well having another Guardians skills, it allows you to gain their skills to make the ultimate Guardian. The control of you characters in combat or general exploration is also smooth, without much that can happen to make you do the wrong thing. I loved how every area i explore had it’s own unique identity and history, where they did an amazing job not to make it all feel repetitious and a case of seen one area on the map, seen them all. The variety of elements in general in this game and sometimes the scale of it to will in many instances (again for me) just stop what you are doing and take in the grandeur of where you are. The team who did the levels and artistry in this game deserve a massive pat on the back for a job very well done. This was one of the most involving and immersive games in the sense of, I just couldn’t stop playing as you don’t want to abandon the characters in their quest, along with just wanting to experience the group interactions and shenanigans that they get up to. 

Main Story

This game is quite old so doubt I will have any spoilers at this point. So taking off from where I ended in my introduction, after being propelled into Spira by a being everyone refers to as “Sin” (I won’t get into the story of who he is and spoil it if there are some who still haven’t enjoyed this title) you then after quite some back-story and character introduction meet “Yuna”, a Summoner who controls what we have always known them as “GF’s” amazingly powerful creatures that will aid you in your fight, where the story really starts kicking off, now again I had to stop myself with this paragraph in just rambling on and putting the whole story down in words. That was just the base premise of the game, with the story being incredibly in depth. And by in depth I mean this game and story will bring you to physical tears. I cannot hamper enough on how incredible I felt this story was and how well it was put together, I wish I could use a reference in here but that will be a spoiler of sorts….Ahh what the heck I’m just going to drop this one in. This was one of the few games that deviates away from the normal happy endings we all like to see and experience in games, granted this does not give away the ending, it does show that they really have gone that extra mile to build you up and get you involved and then just burst that happy bubble. There was however a silver lining to this all, it came in the form of FFX-2, where you will find that happy ending and as a bonus for buying the Remaster edition you get that one along with FFX so you will be able to pick up the pieces and see how it all ended in the greater scheme of things, but let’s stick with FFX for now. The story will not disappoint anyone, with a winning recipe of twists and turns to keep everyone hooked. The story never felt like it got boring or dragged out to long, as they brought in enough variation and deviations to the main story (that all intertwine in the end) to produce an even more explosive and climatic ending to the game. This game leaves me speechless in trying to describe how the creators of this franchise have always managed to deliver on a great story, showing it is indeed possible to alter someone’s feelings with a well developed bunch of characters and experiences those in game characters have to go through.

Conclusion

If epic storylines along with comfortable and controlled action is your poison, then I cannot recommend this game enough, I don’t have enough fingers and toes on my body to count the amount of times I have actually re-played this game, and bulk of the other Final Fantasy titles on my aging consoles(which is why I’m hoping for pc remakes of all of them), even though the outcomes are pre-determined and the storylines are linear by nature, I go back for the characters, just to have those interactions with them all again. This was one game where I wish it was possible to make this an ever evolving game and having it last forever, but then it would have destroyed what was so beautiful about it. This will really bring so much joy every second you spend playing it, and hopefully have you so hooked that you also find yourself re-playing the game a number of times, there just is not fault to find whatsoever with this game, with every nail being hit on the head, every box being checked and over-filled with what look for in a good game. Even if you did not grow up with the heart breakers like FFVII and FFVIII, they don’t all tie in together and can all be enjoyed as a standalone experience, one I would highly recommend. If something more graphical and today is your thing (with some limitations to what they could do remastering a title) I would suggest you get your hands on this, just so you can experience something great and worth it in my opinion.

…Surviving the aftermath…

As Confucius used to say Study the past if you would define the future” .

One thing that will always have some deep routed love for me will be strategy games. Granted again I grew up with big hitters like the entire Command and Conquer series, with the graphically limited Red Alert being my first real new world introduction into strategy gaming, I can go back even further to when we had floppy and stiffy days where played some beauties like Realms etc. But for the purpose of this exercise let’s stick with ones more people might know about, and I’m pretty confident the  Command and Conquer series had a lot of fans, definitely me being one of the bigger ones.Granted this review won’t be about that series but more just a little titbit of my history and where I came from that fuelled my love for gaming so much.

As far as I know this game is single player and in early access stages, so the developers are trying to get the single player aspects all smoothed out and functional before expanding the list of features and other areas. Now this game crossed my path because I play a lot of strategy/simulation games like Banished and the Anno series just to name a few. What made this one a tad more special is it wasn’t like the classic city builders or medieval city managers but more one where you jumped into the future, the world is desolate and destroyed, despair and chaos is just your experience before even had your morning cup of coffee. If you enjoyed or have played a strategy/simulation called Frostpunk and enjoyed it then this will definitely be up your alley. But let’s get into it a bit more shall we?! 

Main Story

After one of the many speculated catastrophes has struck earth (in this case someone had an itchy nuclear trigger finger), and most of the major city’s have been wiped off the face of the earth. You and a small group of survivors have well… survived and now have to re-build and prepare/safeguard your colony against the fallout of this now nuclear wasteland and all the new challenges that will be thrown at you and your colony testing your survivability. With this you will also have to make some morally challenging decisions, be it being generous and supportive like giving your survivors some scarce materials to help them rescue someone who fell into a sinkhole under their shelter, to deciding if you can spare the space and food to take in other survivors. Along with that you will also encounter other choices (random events) like slavers who have seen an opportunity for a new business venture that was outlawed ages ago, trying to pawn slaves off on you for valuable resources.

Your survivors that form part of your newly found colony will also have individual identities with their own wants and needs, just to help you form that extra bond with Betty Loo or James Doe, and depending on the difficulty level you choose, the wants and needs will increase and have more of an effect on your colony as their happiness levels change. With that the negative effects of having an unhappy colony will be reflected in them not working at full capacity thus affecting resource production and gathering speeds, so you will feel the pinch of this as you try and stockpile for the next imminent disaster headed your way. Other things that will affect their happiness is how you handle situations that might flare up in your colony. Like with Frostpunk where your colonists might come to loggerheads with each other and depending on the severity of it you can decide the punishment or outcome of such an altercation, noting that it will either have a positive or negative outcome.

Gameplay and Map

Like with all the other survival strategy/simulation games you scurry your colonists to collect and stockpile as many resources as they can from what is available while fighting the elements, illnesses and sometimes extra body part growths that require medical attention. Resources are widely spread across your starter location and will take time to recover and convert into usable material, but that was one element I enjoyed as they don’t make it easy by just dumping you in an area that has ample resources at your disposal (although that might be the case if play on an easier difficulty setting). You also have to keep track of what building or stockpile is assigned to what area, another fun aspect that makes you feel more in control of your colony, with survivors not taking initiative like in other games to stockpile resources and really needing input from you in every aspect. You will also eventually gain access to “Heroes” for lack of a better word, you can send them out on scouting missions on a more global scale, as they explore a larger map with a “turn based” feel to it. Your heroes will have to contend with other bandits who might control resource points critical to your colonies expansion, and they will also have lots of varied expertise. Some of them will be more suited to a combat role while others will be better at scavenging or researching and will be better utilized being brought in after combat to gain more resources or research points.

With that being said you will have to venture out into the great unknown to acquire these research points in order to unlock new structures and technologies, like electricity or nuclear waste clean-ups that litter and limit your colonies expansion. Along with that in the beginning it also helps you to scavenge for resources that you cannot create because of limited structures and manufacturing abilities, so the fact that they made the global exploration very rewarding helps it not feel like an annoying additional/mundane task you have to deal with. This is a survival simulation so there will be no real fixed/climatic ending (not at the moment at least from all the time I have spent playing) and you will have this continuous cycle of just growing your colony and seeing them survive and thrive as you better everyone’s lives. These kinds of strategy games probably only appeal to certain gamers, with no real time combat action to indulge in when you want some proper action like other RTS titles offer, but for those who enjoy theses kinds of simulation games I would definitely recommend picking it up

Conclusion

To close out this and my final thoughts on the game are all positive, as mentioned I would definitely recommend this title if strategy/simulation games are up your alley. With this game being in early access and already being so much fun I can only imagine where it will be once they have a final product on offer, I will definitely be returning to my colony on a frequent basis to see how they are doing and trying to better their post-apocalyptic lives, making civilization great and functional again (within the limits placed in the new world). There will be more than enough elements that will keep you going for a while, enough events during the course of your play to make it challenging for you and trying to re-build as the disasters hit your colony, adding to the fun and playability and even re-playability of the game (starting new colonies and correcting the mistakes made in first playthroughs). I have not had any feelings of boredom or having it just feel mundane to where just have the same cycle repeating over day by day. Definitely one of the few strategy/simulators I am happy to shine some light on and getting more players out there making this game a great one.  olor

…Some Extra Content…

This will just be another general discussion on other platforms I have branched out into and what they are all about so just some extra DLC without having to pay for it.

Firstly I have a mixed YouTube channel on the go. As mentioned in the ASMR post I started making some content featuring static scenes in games, where you feel quite immersed in the scene and just get to enjoy the sheer beauty some games have, sprinkled with some awesome calming sounds to add to the mood even more. I am working on branching out and doing some videos where I explore the surroundings a bit more, but sadly have not found that sweet spot on how to make the experience relaxing and immersive (as the hard sound of footsteps with full combat gear overpowers everything), and need to play around with the audio settings in the program I use to try and muffle those sounds a bit.

Then the flip side of the content I am creating showcases a more action packed, chaotic version with explosions and death everywhere. You will see me (well the game version) along with a few closer friends stumbling through the games together, sometimes completely deviating from the path and fighting amongst each other as we test out new toys or features we discover as we play various games. Now these videos are mostly in our native tongue (Afrikaans) and I know it is not the most popular language in the world, but I have added subtitles to the videos so you can at least follow the conversation (when not to distracted by the chaos on screen). Along with that as I am improving my editing skills with each new video I try and add little quirky elements to just add to the unscripted chaos in each game, as it just adds that hint of extra spice to make it a tad more entertaining (I hope).

Sadly the combined gameplay videos take so much time to edit so the number of videos in that field are limited (for now) but I am slowly working on them after hours, adding subtitles and those extra little spicy bits to enhance your viewing experience, so if you see the ASMR portion dominating but enjoyed the action videos more I will add more down the line. Along with that I will also look at other areas that people might enjoy, maybe some “Let’s Play” videos where I try and narrate the game as I am playing, but I will leave that up to you guys if want content like that or not. Or if you have any other suggestions of content that you would like to see on there leave a comment and I will definitely look into it.

Some other areas apart from You Tube I am looking into but have not developed as much yet are Twitch and Facebook pages, but will leave links on those below. Twitch wont be as active at the moment as trying to find a sweet spot with the rest of the group on when we can play together, as we have a crazy 12-13 hour time zone difference between us, so not so easy to just all link up and game together, and with Facebook it is mainly also about promoting all the platforms I’m currently on, but will also try and add more interactive elements to it as I progress.

You Tube Channel – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvgvY2l9DnGasTr1HsNvbWw

Facebook Page(work in progress) – https://www.facebook.com/EasyCo-Gaming-114834669954064/?view_public_for=114834669954064