R.U.S.E. is a Real-Time Strategy Game That Does Justice to Its WWII Setting

R.U.S.E. is a 2011 real-time strategy video game that puts you in the role of a WWII commander. There is a campaign which takes you through a number of historic WWII battles. R.U.S.E. is available to play on Windows, Mac, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3; I have personally played both the PS3 and Windows Steam versions. The Steam version is, of course, much better, but the console version was surprisingly playable, too. The game works mostly like a traditional RTS, except it incorporates special abilities called “ruses” which give the players on the battlefield various advantages. The game includes units from every European faction from World War II, and you can play as all the factions in the game’s skirmish mode.RUSE 2RUSE 1

The game is getting old now, but it’s aged well. In a time where few games are being made anymore that do well to represent the RTS genre, it’s never bad to go back and try some old games. If you can find it, pick up R.U.S.E.  sometime and see how you like it.

 

 

Fallout Shelter Is More Fun Now Than Ever Before

Bethesda Softworks’ Fallout Shelter became a hit the very night it was announced and released at E3 2015. The title is part of the normal base-building mobile game genre, but Fallout Shelter is also extremely unique since instead of building a village like most games, you are constructing a Vault-Tec vault in the setting of the Fallout universe.

Personally speaking, I love everything to do with Fallout, and I think the game is great. I recently picked it up again for the first time since its original release in 2015, and I am happy to see that Bethesda has kept developing it since then. Fallout Shelter captures the essence of the Fallout universe so that all of us would-be wastelanders have something to play on the go. 

The addition of quests and pets since the last time I played have really taken Fallout Shelter to the next level in my book. Questing makes the game feel more like a true Fallout game instead of just another base-building game, and I’m sure my fellow Fallout fans appreciate that as much as I do. The ability to give your vault dwellers pets is also a welcome feature, although I admit I do have one gripe… there’s no cocker spaniel! There are numerous dog breeds available, but I just want to give one of my vault dwellers a happy little cocker spaniel. They aren’t in the game. Sad times.

Overall, Fallout Shelter is a delightful little mobile game to play, and I’m excited to see what Bethesda does with it in the future. The game is currently available for download on iOS, Android, Microsoft Windows, and Xbox One. 

Paradox Interactive’s Europa Universalis IV Is Still a Fantastic Grand Strategy Game

Nearly 4 years after its August 2013 release, Europa Universalis IV is still at the pinnacle of the grand strategy genre. Forget the likes of Civilization or Total War. EU4 is a game which continues to impress me even after pouring endless hours into it over the past few years.

To be perfectly honest, I’m surprised at myself for not having made an EU4 post sooner than this. I can wholeheartedly say that it’s my favorite game in terms of both enjoyment and time played, and it’s not aged at all since I’ve begun playing it. In fact, Paradox’s team is still developing the game and updates it regularly, so it’s actually gotten much more enjoyable over the years.

EU4 Nation Select

A shory summary for those new to the game: in Europa Universalis IV, you can select any nation in the world and lead them to war or victory as you see fit. The game begins in the year 1444 and runs until 1821, but it also has bookmarks which can allow you to start your game in a number of historically significant years from throughout the time in between the end dates. Many nations, especially the more prominent ones, feature unique gameplay mechanics and events which allow the player to either follow the course of history or take control and make their nation their own. The basic gameplay feels—at least to me– like a mix between Total War (the video game) and Risk (the board game) but in real-time strategy form. It’s a unique experience.

EU4 Tunis

The game is also notorious for its massive and still-growing number of Steam achievments to unlock. I admittedly have spent a lot of time trying (and often failing) to achieve them. However, the only thing on Steam that has the Europa Universalis community talking nowadays is the game’s reviews.

Europa Universalis IV currently holds an 79% approval rating on Steam, and that rating is only 33% amongst recent reviews. I’m writing this now to lend my voice to the disapproval, but also to explain it to anyone looking for a new strategy game. EU4 is and always has been a fantastic game to play. Those reviews do not reflect the gameplay; read the comments if you don’t believe me. The reason the reviews are so negative is because Paradox has recently raised their DLC prices significantly and inexplicably.

Two of EU4’s DLC’s (namely Art of War and Conquest of Paradise) are somewhat essential for having decent games, so the uproar is understandable. However, don’t give up on EU4! It’s a great game, and I would highly recommend it. Just wait for the prices to go down, or buy it now (with some DLC) if you happen to have a wad of cash burning through your pocket.

Reflecting on Bethesda Softworks’ 2017 E3 Conference; Nothing New from Bethesda Game Studios?

Bethesda’s 2017 E3 conference is over, and I must admit that I’m disappointed. They talked about some expected things I mentioned in my preview post like Quake Champions, Fallout VR, and Skyrim for Switch, but the reveals they had seemed a bit underwhelming.

Bethesda Game Studios needs something new. There had been plenty of speculation about BGS coming out with a new space-themed IP at E3 2017, but this proved not to be the case. If there wasn’t any announcement for this “Starfield” IP, I had at least expected Bethesda Game Studios to come out with something new, but the studio had nothing to offer.

On the other hand, Bethesda Softworks as a whole did reveal two new games, The Evil Within 2 and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. The Evil Within 2 looks pretty decent, and I’m sure it’ll end up being a good horror game just like The Evil Within 2… but my word, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus looks absolutely amazing. I’ve never actually played a Wolfenstein game (yes, I know, I’m a disappointment), but this game looks like a ton of fun. From the trailer, it feels a lot like the popular book and Amazon series, The Man in the High Castle, and it feeds off the American Dream of killing Nazis and restoring the Stars and Stripes to their rightful place on every flagpole in America.

Bethesda had a disappointing conference overall (we didn’t even get to see Todd Howard!), but on the bright side, E3 2018 will probably be huge.

My Thoughts on Cities: Skylines, an Innovative City-Building PC Game

As a veteran of the old SimCity games (SimCity 2000 and SimCity 3000, in particular), I admit that I did not expect any city-building game to amaze me. I thought that the genre had already seen its golden days, and any modern city-building game would just be playing off the nostalgia of the SimCity games of the past without making any innovation of its own. Still, I was willing to hop into the world of Cities with an open mind due to the raving reviews (it’s been out for awhile now) and its publisher whom I hold in the highest regards for their Europa Universalis and Crusader Kings series, Paradox Interactive.

Cities: Skylines is a spectacularly fun game filled with more intricacies and challenges than any city-building game I’ve ever seen. As advertised, the game looks absolutely gorgeous, and I’m saddened to say that my two-year old laptop cannot do it justice. The game does indeed envoke feelings of nostalgia from my days playing SimCity on a bulky old computer running Windows 98, but it also strives to be so much more than those old games. Cities: Skylines is the first city-building game in what I hope is a whole new era for city-builders and similar genres.

CSky windmill night

While I could rave about the game all day, I’d like to say a few short points about the new (to me, anyways) which stood out to me the most.

  1. The Graphics. Believe it or not, superior graphics in a city-builder really do significantly improve the gameplay experience. Sure, SimCity 2000 was a great game that I’ll always be fond of, but that game is just downright ugly when compared to Cities: Skylines. You can see cars driving the streets and pedestrians walking the sidewalks. Then you can click on the cars and the pedestrians and get a little blip about what they’re doing, where they’re going. My only complaint about the graphics is that I wish they hadn’t gotten lazy with some of the textures on larger buildings, and it’d be nice for the sky to be more vibrant at night.
  2. Dynamic Weather. Cities: Skylines brings weather to the city-building genre, something I’ve not really seen before. The alterations between rain and shine really give the feeling that you’re creating a real city, not just playing a zoning simulator.
  3. Traffic. As both a blessing and a curse, traffic seems to be the core mechanic that players go to battle with in Cities: Skylines. There are very real amounts of traffic on the roads given the city’s size, and the realistic traffic distributions give players very real problems. For example, I decided that it’d be fun to play with an island map. Unfortunately, with my starting island being short on space, I’ve been forced to place a major portion of my industrial and business districts on a different island. The ensuing traffic jam on the single highway traveling between the islands has caused a whole host of issues including business closures on the second island because businesses aren’t getting enough customers.
  4. Education. In previous city-builders,  it seemed as if education was just another thing that you had to do to complete your city, but education didn’t really have a massive impact on the economy. Now, businesses need set amounts of workers with various education levels in order to function optimally, so schools and universities must be placed with great care in order to create the correct proportions of educated citizens for the city’s needs.
  5. Free-Form Road Design. Road design in old city-builders was always done on a lame, basic grid with square tiles. Any curves added were merely for aesthetic purposes, but the square grid was always present underneath. In Cities: Skylines, the old grids have been thrown out the window. As a result, the curvatures of roads now seem extremely realistic, most notably in the interchanges between highways. You can create complex curves between highways with varying elevations for on-ramps and off-ramps which give the game an extra level of realism.

CSky hill street

If you’re a city-builder fan or just a strategy game lover in general, I’d recommend purchasing Cities: Skylines. I think the game could also be used to get new gamers into the strategy genre. The game has a fairly easy learning curve, and it’s able to lend its beauty to anyone who wants to make their city great.

A link to the game on Steam can be found here.

Looking forward to E3 2017: Early Expectations for Bethesda Softworks

It’s almost that time of the year again. E3 2017 is coming soon, taking place this year from June 13th to June 15th.

Like normal, I think I’m most excited to see what Bethesda Softworks has to offer at this E3. I personally own Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, Fallout 4, and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, so I’ve been a fan of Bethesda Game Studios’ work for quite awhile now. I admittedly haven’t been playing as much video games as of late, but I think there’s nothing better than E3 to get me back in the groove again.

The popular Fallout-centric Youtuber MrMattyPlays (you should check him out if you’ve never heard of him; I’ve been following his channel for two or three years now and it’s top-notch) posted this video analyzing the E3 invites sent out by Bethesda Softworks. The invitation is notable for showing imagery of every game franchise published by Bethesda Softworks as well as two zones which are “under construction” in the picture.

Here’s what I’m expecting from Bethesda at E3:

  • information about TES Skyrim coming out for Nintendo Switch
  • Quake Champions
  • some more Prey release hype
  • DOOM DLC?
  • Elder Scrolls in some form: either TES VI or an ESO expansion or maybe even a new mobile game
  • Fallout will certainly make an appearance somehow. Fallout VR might come back out, but other than that I’m not sure. A new game wouldn’t be out of the question, but it seems unlikely
  • this “Starfield” project which has been in the works for some time. With no mention of a new full Fallout or Elder Scrolls game coming out of Bethesda Game Studios, I’m expecting there to be a game reveal at E3 for an entirely new franchise

Whatever happens at E3, I’m sure Bethesda will deliver a good show and keep their fans happy. They seem to be the one video game company which is never upsetting customers very often. Cheers to Bethesda for that. I’ll be making some more posts like this in the future, either as E3 approaches or as a retrospective look after E3 ends.

Chess.com’s iOS App: A Review

First off: sorry for the lack of posts lately. I’ve been a bit busy, and so I’ve not really been able to generate many new ideas for the past couple of weeks. Secondly, I’d like to clarify that this post is only in the ‘Video Games’ category because it’s a game that is on an electronic platform since it’s not really much of a video hame in the truest sense of the word.

Now for the app: all I can really think to say is that it’s fantastic! The app has lessons to help you get better (most of which are paid, but there are also daily puzzled which test your board vision skills) and the ability to play games against either a computer or human opponent. You can play your friends, too. This can happen either on the same device (just go to the play computer screen and make both players human) or online in either a daily or timed format. There are also always lots of other players online to play head-to-head, and your ELO rating is calculated and readjusted after each ranked match’s conclusion.

Now admittedly, I suck at chess. I really do. My ELO rating right now is in the high 800s… but hey, I’ll get better! As I keep learning, maybe I’ll make some posts about chess tactics and such, but I’ll probably post those under ‘Culture’ in the future.

I Am Bread is the Most Infuriating Video Game of All Time

I Am Bread is a game developed and published by Bossa Studios, the same devs who brought us Surgeon Simulator.In essence, the title says it all: you are bread. The game is played from the perspective of a piece of bread. The objective is to turn yourself into toast in a timely manner without compromising your own edibility.

I bought the game about a year ago thinking that it sounded so stupid, it must surely be fun. At this point, I’m beginning to rethink that previous notion. The game isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s almost idiotic to the point of not being any fun. Once you get past the hilarity of being a piece of bread, you quickly realize how absurdly the difficult the game actually is. The controls are terrible. Bread is not mobile in any way, and the game developers made sure to make the most realistic bread physics possible.

The bread flops around. The bread flips over wildly. The bread loses grip right next to the edge of a shelf and tumbles sadly to the dirty floor below. Admittedly, I have been playing on a keyboard, and the game recommends a console controller, but I see no way in which a controller would actually grant you better control over the bread. I also learned after some months of owning this game that you can change the camera settings so they don’t whip around in the wrong direction. Maybe I’m missing some other tricks about controlling the bread?

I’d recommend buying this game if it’s on sale (as it was when I purchased it), you thoroughly enjoy stupid games, and you don’t mind getting extremely angry at a piece of virtual bread. As for me, all I can say is… next time I want toast, I’m just gonna use the toaster.

How to Play Team Fortress 2 with a Crappy Framerate

Now I’m not saying that I’m amazing at TF2 (far from it), but I’m starting to get a pretty good idea of how to play with my abysmal framerate. I’m not exactly sure as to what my framerate may be, but I think it’s safe to say that it’s abysmally low. At the very least, I’ve learned that playing scout, sniper, or soldier is utterly hopeless. Also, scouts seem to teleport across the screen when they’ll double/triple jumping in front of me.

So what does that leave to play in TF2 if I can’t play a third of the classes? While I’ve found that demoman is also playable with a poor framerate, it’s not as easy to hit grenades properly when the other players appear to be teleporting or moving erratically.Also, I’m not very good at spy or engineer, but I’d imagine they’re pretty decent to play with no matter what your framerate happens to be. That leaves pyro, medic, and heavy.

I’m a pyro main for two reasons: fire seems to be fun, and my framerate doesn’t allow me to play half the other classes. As pyro, the w+m1 strategy can prove highly effective during periods of low framerates, and as long as you are also airblasting, no one seems to care much, even in competitive mode. Now ideally as a pyro you want to be able to use your flare gun as well, but that’s generally not a possibility while having a poor framerate unless you’re shooting at stationary snipers or slow-moving heavies.

Medic is also simple to play. Just hold down the heal button and you’ll be able to ride out the peiod of low framerate. I understand that’s not particularly fun for most people, but if you want to play TF2 with friends and you have a terrible framerate, then medic is one of the easier options. Just get one of your friends to play a power class, and pocket heal them (sidenote: refrain from doing this if you’re the only medic and other people need healing).

And with heavy, you just need to watch out for scouts. I’ve tried playing heavy while my framerate has been particularly poor, and one of two things happens: you play a fairly standard heavy game, or soldiers and scouts rip you to pieces. It’s generally difficult enough while playing heavy normally in TF2 since they’re so slow, but when the game punishes your computer with low framerates, playing heavy can be a nightmare. I say it’s an option since it’s still more-or-less normal heavy gameplay, but you need to be aware of the composition of the other team. If they have 4+ scouts/heavies, I’d refrain from playing heavy.

Anyways, I hope this helps! Stop playing the other classes with your crappy framerate! Get a better computer!

 

Open RA is the Active, Evolving Game for Fans of Westwood Studios’ Old Red Alert Franchise

Open RA is the current home of the Red Alert community, a real-time strategy (RTS) video game franchise which was originally produced by Westwood Studios (Red Alert and Red Alert 2) and later by Electronic Arts’ EA Los Angeles studio (Red Alert 3). I’ve played all three games, so it saddens me that EA hasn’t graced us with another installment since Red Alert 3 was released in 2008. However, Open RA brings back the old-school feel of the first Red Alert game and has an active community with multiplayer support.

I’ll admit, I’ve not played all that much Open RA, but I think what the community is doing to develop the game and keep the dream alive is really cool. With the mods for Red Alert, Tiberian Dawn, and Dune 2000, Open RA has recaptured the essence of three classic Westwood Studios games. According the their website, the devlopers of Open RA are now working to recreate the second generation of Command and Conquer games, starting with Tiberian Sun. Even if EA drops the ball and never makes another Command and Conquer game or a Red Alert 4, Open RA will strive to make sure the franchise won’t die off entirely.

open-ra-setup

Open RA’s Red Alert mod, which is the only one I’ve played, offers the regular Soviet and Allied factions as well as a variety of maps, many of which are designed by the Open RA community. The Open RA community also hosts competitve multiplayer seasons and torunaments. Hopefully as more people become aware of the existance of Open RA, the multiplayer base will continue to grow alongside the community as a whole.

There’s not really much more to say since I’m sure most people reading this already know how the game works; if not, download it and try it out! Here’s the link to the download page for Open RA. The game is completely free, but make sure to voice your appreciation for the devlopers by spreading the good word if you enjoy the game! There is also a subreddit for the game as well as an active forum.

I’ll probably make some more posts about Open RA in the future, especially since I saw today they have a Dune 2000 mod (I’ve been reading Dune for a couple weeks now and it’s a fantastic book).

Edit: I just realized I typed the entire post with a space between Open and RA instead of typing OpenRA. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Anyways, cheers!

AtlantanKnight