Gaming

Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth – My thoughts.

Hello there! I wholeheartedly apologise for such a lack of content recently and I’m not going to bore you with excuses but I will say that this isn’t so much of a review rather than my thoughts and experiences with the game so let’s just get on with it.

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If you own a computer or are in to strategy games and haven’t heard of the behemoth that is Sid Meier then where the fuck have you been? The strategy game giants have graced us with another instalment to their Civilization series this time however there is a twist. It’s set in the future! Instead of doing the usual business of building a famous empire from the ground up over thousands of years this time we take on the job of setting up a colony on a distant planet. Each Civ is funded by a sponsor so instead of having separate countries you have different corporations. Now for the interests of impartiality I will admit that I am quite the Civilization fan but for the sack of this article I have put aside my preconceptions and tried to play this game with an open mind.

First off I am going to address an issue that I have seen a lot of people have with this game and that is that there is a lack of personality from the A.I. leaders. I don’t really think this is as big a deal as what some are making it out to be. Yes their aren’t as many leaders(as of yet) as there have been in previous games so most playthroughs are similar but you can clearly see patterns in behaviour and individual characteristics of each one. I think the major difference in this game is that none of the names are recognisable as in previous Civ games so we have no previous ideas of what that person is like. I do agree that the level of personality isn’t as high as in previous games but it is undeniably still there. I found myself many times getting angry with how certain factions were acting and even being very spiteful in different playthroughs because of how a leader acted in a different game. Anyway rant over.

The game plays a lot like any other Civ game so if you aren’t a fan of the previous ones then this probably won’t float your boat however if you are a fan of the earlier games or the genre in general then this will be a happy edition to your collection. For most part the game is almost identical to Civ V as they run on the same engine however it is the new setting and tweaks that they have made that make the game feel drastically different. The most notable change is the tech web, previously being a tech tree, allowing for much greater variation in advancements and giving science an even greater level of strategy as it makes each technology you research that little bit more significant. It also separates the different countries/corporations quite drastically as there are now hundreds of different orders to unlocking things like buildings and new units. The next most significant feature is probably the Affinity system. By acting in certain ways or researching certain things you gain affinity points and increasing your chosen affinity will lead to stronger units, new perks and also affect how other Civs react to you. This is a welcome addition however can prove a bit distracting as sometimes you focus on growing your affinity rather than your own Civilization.

There are so many choices to make in this game that it borderlines on the ridiculous. One of the reasons there aren’t that many starting leaders(in this game they are called sponsors) is because after picking which one you want to be there are then three more choices for you to customize your Civ with such as starting bonuses etc. This can be really fun as it really feels like your Civ is your own however as all the A.I. also customize themselves can make it difficult to work out how the opponents will play. The game also runs a quest system helping you to feel like there is a progression to what you are doing and with certain quests you are given a decision to make which will change what certain buildings output or give different buffs again further customizing your Civ.

Level design is a bit lacklustre as most places feel very similar however knowing Firaxis, the company behind the game, they will be releasing a bunch of dlc maps as they normally do. This is cushioned as from day one this game came with steam workshop support so modders have already been hard at work making the game have even more content.

Civilization: Beyond Earth is another good instalment in the franchise and is well worth a play if you are a fan. There are a few things that I think don’t make this a less fun game but do impact replayabillity and so I doubt it will eat up as many hours as say Civ V will/has/is but given the history of these games once a few large expansions have been released I would not be surprised if this game could eat away around 60hours+. Let me know what you guys think and what things you would like to be included in the expansions or made as a mod, thanks for reading!

Civilization: Beyond Earth is out now for PC.

 

-Joe

Mario Kart 8- An Overdue Review

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Hello there! I apologise for the lack of content from me for the past few weeks, been a little bit mad. I’ve been meaning to review this game for absolutely ages but every time I sat down to write one up another game just came along and distracted the ever loving shit out of me. But finally I’ve gotten around to it.

 

Mario Kart. Now unless you’ve had your head under a rock for the past decade you will have heard of this franchise and know what its about, so im gunna move swiftly onwards and not treat you like morons by going over the premise. Mario Kart 8 is the reason we’re here folks and Mario Kart 8 is what we’ll get. This game is fucking amazing. Period. It was actually the sole reason that I went out and bought a Wii U and boy oh boy I wasn’t disappointed.

First off let me say that this game is beautiful. Sometimes lost if you play split screen but hugely noticeable when played single player, or in the replays at the end of a race, the detail in every little thing just astonishes me. My personal favourite are the textures for DK and Bowser, It’s just something about their scales and fur that send a shiver through my body and make me go “oooooooh!”. Granted those aren’t great examples of little details as I mentioned earlier but just be patient and let me get to it, after all im just one man! Things like tracks in the sand and clouds (there’s a cloud level in case you were thinking I had gone insane and thought you could drive through the sky, what do you think Im a fucking idiot? what’s the matter with you?) that actually last for quite a while and actually make you feel like you’re driving on said object. The levels themselves are well constructed and an absolute joy to race on, granted a few take a couple of runs to get used to them but that’s the same with any racing game. The new anti-gravity sections of races adds a new element to the game and really make you think about what you’re doing because in these parts if you hit another player instead of bouncing off like a oversized grapefruit, you both get a small speed boost. this may sound like nothing but it really does factor in, say you’re on rainbow road doing some sweet drifts and some schmuck gives you a little nudge when he passes you, instead of just being slowed or both bouncing off each other you fire off like a pre-mature rocket and fall to your horrible death. Yeah not so insignificant now huh.

Babies got back!

Babies got back!

 

 

The character list although extensive I think is rather poor. They got rid of characters like Boo, Dry Bones and even Bowser Jr. and replaced them with all of the Koopalings. Now I don’t have anything against the Koopalings necessarily it’s just they all seem the same to me. I was especially shocked at no Bowser Jr. as this game has more Baby characters than ever. And don’t even get me started on Pink Gold Peach!

The new tracks are memorable and fun and the adjusted “classic tracks” are also incredibly enjoyable. Everything just seems really polished and there isn’t really one level that doesn’t have at least some redeeming part to it. It just really seems like a lot of care and effort went into each and every track. Now I can’t speak about the levels and their design without mentioning the music. this may seem sad but the music in this game is a real high point for me, They just seem to perfectly mirror the atmosphere of the level that they are being used for and give you that sense of real awe and excitement. And boy does this game have a lot of those moments (don’t want to spoil anything so you can feel the same innocent wonder that I felt when seeing these moments for the first time).

Items make an appearance as always and like with every new Mario Kart we have some new additions. The music box item is by far the most useful of the new entries as it’s the only thing that can stop you from being hit by a blue shell, yeah they done went and brung it! Speaking of blue shells they have been slightly modified in this outing, instead of doing a straight beeline for the person in 1st and flying towards them they have since had their wings clipped and now run along the ground like normal shells. Difference is that now if you get in the way of a blue shell they fuck you up too before getting on their merry way to the front runner. My least fave (Other than the god damn coins!) would have to be the piranha plant, which replaces the chain chomp I might add. This item acts in a similar way to chain chomp by eating the other racers but doesn’t do the whole bullet bill thing and drag you around the track really fast. Again doesn’t sound like a big deal but it is, When it does try and eat another driver it drags you in that direction, oh and if no one is around you it just bites at the air randomly, meaning that if you are near an edge or something and it takes a bite towards the edge then you are done! It becomes really annoying.

Overall this game is a must buy for anyone with Wii U and is a perfect game to play with your friends (I have even came up with my own drinking game for it which I will be sure to post at some point If anyone would like to try it out). This game is even so good that I would consider It a console seller and I honestly think this game and the future sales of Super Smash Bros will save the so far failing Wii U console.

Mario Kart 8 gets my highest ever score 10/10.

Subscribe and share! or Luigi will come get ya.

Subscribe and share! or Luigi will come get ya.

 

-Joe

Broforce: Testosterone Fueled Carnage!

 

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Previously I have spoken about early-access games and one in particular I highlighted was Broforce. Finally I got my hands on the game and after playing for even just a few minutes I was hooked and just had to share my thoughts with other people. This game is some sort of potion of awesome with dashes of humour and charm but with a whole heap of napalm and adrenalin!

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The game itself plays out like your conventional platformer, going from left to right (mostly) and has incredibly tight controls which a game like this so desperately needs so that when you die you have no one to blame but yourself. The action element is where the gameplay shines with each bro playing differently which adds a sense of strategy into the run and gun shoot-em-up, Enemies are varied and progressively change as the campaign (which isn’t complete at the time of this article) moves forward. Boss fights are fun and help give you that feeling of accomplishment at the end of stages as well as force you to really use your experience with all the different bros to beat them as some can only be killed in certain ways.

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I love this art style! I have always been a fan of pixel art and games that do it well just make me melt inside. This game evaporates me. The characters are distinct and easy to recognise which is a feat in itself but coupled with the different environments and enemies it just makes it seem that much more cared for. Oh and speaking of environments, they are fully destructible! At first it seems funny but again its these little details that add depth to the game. It allows you to create your own path through the levels but on the flipside it can also become your downfall if you abuse it too much to the point where there is no floor left to stand on. The stages themselves get harder as the game moves forward so their isn’t some massive jump in difficulty nor is this game a cake-walk it finds a nice balance and if you can’t beat a level it doesn’t dumb it down or take it easy it just sits back and lets you keep repeating till you get it. Same with multiplayer and single player. Playing with friends while much more fun and enjoyable also can make the game easier as each level has the same amount of enemies as if you played single player. Not to say single player isn’t fun, far from it, it’s a great way to get to know the game and really progress and see what the game has to offer. I would say multiplayer = funnier not anymore fun.

Now for the part that makes this game what it is. The bros. The care and detail that has gone into every single sprite and character move set really blows your mind, especially when they are always updating the game with new bros, heck even while preparing this article an update came out adding another two more! Each character feels different and unique and really impact how you play the game. Each character is balanced well almost right off the bat which is excellent for when the game is updated because the new characters just slot right in there with the others you’ve collected. The addition of female bros will be seen by some as funny and as others by pleasing a demographic but I really don’t think that the case. Each bro has been designed specifically from the ground up, they will have been chosen not just for how recognisable a character they are but for their strengths and weaknesses and how they can add something new to the game.

This game is currently on a weekend sale on steam for £7.99 but if you go to humblebundle.com you can get it on sale for £5.99 and help charitable organizations at the same time and even when not on sale is cheaper than on steam normally. I can’t stress enough how much love I have for this game and could go on for hours ranting about it but instead I will just say go and get it and you will understand.

Im not going to give the game a rating as It isn’t actually finished but even if it were even in its current state It would get at least a 7/10. My prediction for when it finally releases will be more like 9/10.

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Thank you for reading!

-Joe

5 Early-Access games to watch out for (Joe)

For those of you who don’t know Early-Access games are games that aren’t finished or even in beta testing stage that you can buy and play while they are being developed. Some of you are thinking why the hell would I pay full price for an unfinished game? But there are a few perks for instance some developers might give extra incentive and content like concept art or soundtrack downloads etc. while there is still the obvious reason which is to help support the team making the game. Because of the huge growth of the Indie game genre more and more developers are looking to making their game early access to help not only cover cost but to get as much community feedback as possible so that fans can actively take a part in shaping a game.

I have always felt that reviewing early access games is a little unfair because game builds change so often and the developers even admit themselves that their games aren’t finished so instead of reviewing an Early-Access game I’m going to give you a list of 5 of them to keep a watch out for.

*Disclaimer: This isn’t a top 5 or my favourite 5 this is just a short list of potentially good games that I am excited to see when they are finished. I have not personally played/own all of the games listed but have done my fair share of research on each one.

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1)   Prison Architect. Prison architect does exactly what it says on the tin, you build and managed a simulated prison. Simple enough? Nope! There is so much to this game that is continually being added too that you will be kept entertained for hours. Not only re they always adding new features but it is also integrated with the Steam Workshop so there are also lots of mods available from already built prisons to re-skins and community bug fixes. For anyone who enjoys simulator games or management games this is the game for you.

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2)   Overgrowth. Overgrowth is a game that in premise sounds ridiculous but in practice plays amazing. It is currently an open sandbox game where players create their own levels and play and share them but it is scheduled to have a full campaign and many more features added before it is finished. You play as a ninja rabbit, yes a NINJA-RABBIT! Where you can free run, explore and fight either hand to hand or with weapons. Now even though the game is visually very appealing the real gold is in the combat system, it flows brilliantly and the impacts feel weighted and control very fluid.

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3)   Starbound. Now a lot of people have criticised Starbound for just copying Terraria but the game itself is a lot more than just that. The exploration and customization even in such an early stage is very good and I can’t wait to see it once they have fully fleshed out the story and added the features they have gone on record to say they are going to. They are currently overhauling the majority of the farming and building mechanics though so I can’t say that the final game will be anything like the current build but if its anything to go by it could be the next big indie game.

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4)   Pixel Piracy. Re-Logic, the creators of Terraria, are currently helping produce the game which looks set to forever change the face of pirate games. From fully customizable ships, pirate battles and even parrots this game tries to give the player the full pirate experience. With features like perma-death playing a major part in the game it seems reminiscent of other indie games such as FTL and rogue legacy but with a pirate theme. Currently the game is rather bare but still with enough features and content to keep you entertained but the reason this game makes my list is because of the mechanics they are trying to introduce in the future such as being able to find and loot your previous characters ship once they have died.

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5)   BroForce. Last but by no means least is the game that is in a rather finished state. BroForce looks to take everything we love about macho action movies and combine it all in to a game. Taking characters from all areas of Bro-dom, such as Brobo-Cop and Indiana Brones, and has players fight together to liberate each level from a devil type villain. Each Bro comes with his own weapons and style and the amount of characters and level of detail put into this game is truly astonishing. This is the kind of game that you and your friends can play while you drink a beer and just bond. It perfectly encapsulates the era of 80’s action movies even down to the kind of campness only the most muscle bound men could pull off.

 

Anyway that was my list of games to watch out for! Thanks for stopping by make sure to like, comment and subscribe and tell me what games you’re keeping an eye out for?

 

-Joe

South Park: The Stick Of Truth QUICKPICKLE!

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Okay for this week’s review I’m going something slightly different, its gunna be a really quick talk about a game and might become a regular thing but till then we shall see.

Right, when I first heard about the game in question I couldn’t have been more excited. I am a huge South Park fan and as a writer I can’t help but admire Trey Parker and Matt Stone for their creation. When the game got pushed back for release It was a little bitter sweet though. On one hand bitter because I wanted to play this game more than anything but sweet because it shows that they really care about the finished product and like with much of Parker and Stone’s work they wanted it perfected. Well that’s what I hope. If gameplay footage is anything to go by then the wait has been well worth it. The game seems to play exactly like an episode and I’m very happy they went with this instead of attempting to make it 3d (I still have nightmares of their last attempt at a 3d south park game for the ps1). After a lot of deliberation I decided to spend my student loan wisely and pre-order the game for my PC however it isn’t released until this Friday so instead of differing a few days to give you my verdict I thought I’d give you a little snippet of my thinking to tithe you over till sometime this weekend(I’d wager Saturday).

Its no exaggeration to say that this game is my most anticipated for 2014 but I’m gunna give a shout out and want to know what some of your most anticipated games for this year are? Also are there any games you’d like to see reviewed on the site? Leave a comment or write on the face book page over at https://www.facebook.com/picklepantsreviews

Hero Siege, A Review

Hero Siege is the first outing for Panic Art Studios, It sells itself as a Hack ‘n’ slash with heavy rogue-like element with randomly generated levels and some player customisation but in my opinion fails to deliver in almost every category.

I know hats are funny in TF2 but c'mon!

I know hats are funny in TF2 but c’mon!

The game on the surface looks like it was going to be similar to the game Rogue Legacy (Which btw is possibly my favourite Indie game ever) so I was very excited to play this when I first caught wind of it. Now my views may be slightly biased and some of you may think it unfair that I compare this game to others rather than judge it on its own merits but that becomes seriously hard when the games are so similar.

The makers of this game Panic Art Studios were actually very helpful with answering my questions when  I spoke with them so I do feel slightly bad when I say that I dislike their game but honestly I tried my hardest to make myself like this game but it just didn’t happen. The team behind this game had previously only made 2 games for the Appstore and Google play and my god does it show! The controls are very basic and there is’nt much skill involved in playing this game. When playing I found that if you just looped the AI just tries to follow you so you can line them all up in a straight line and just blast them away, I actually died more in this game trying to get traps to kill enemies and backfiring on me then actual enemy damage. This game is way too easy! If you are going to venture into the PC indie gaming universe there are 2 things you’re going to need to know;

Who knew every enemy in the horde would explode?

Who knew every enemy in the horde would explode?

1) We like our games hard as fucking balls!           2) We love pixel art

Now even though this game has a pixel art feel I would in no way call it art. Pixel art for any art fans out there is all about simplicity, making the most of out of the least, seeing a portrait in a single block. This game however just kind of feels empty and already done.

That’s the other thing, the enemies just seem uninspired and a bit lazy it’s like they sat around and said “Guys what’s the most generic enemy?” “Umm skeletons and rats?” “Great now instead of doing any form of editing for higher levels of those enemies let’s just change their palette!” and everyone screams genius! Maybe I should cut them a break seeing as the game was made by just 3 people, some of you might be saying and I reply NO! Why should that matter? Super meat boy was made by 2 guys, Indie games don’t have massive teams but what good ones do is innovate and perfect. This game did neither.

Oh no a spider! Run Ms Muffet!

Oh no a spider! Run Ms Muffet!

The level design is pretty boring too, There are different themed levels and granted they are still working on the final level to be released but they all just kind of feel empty and the same and don’t even get me started on the poor excuse of randomly generated dungeons used in this game! When done correctly randomly generated dungeons can be brilliant however the extent to which this game goes is basically just moving traps around and placing a few box’s on the other side of the screen. It’s laughable.

They claim the inspiration for this game was taken from Diablo and The binding of Isaac, does it show? Absolutely not other than the camera angle is similar to Isaac’s.

Teslagrad ,which I covered last week so go read it if you haven’t yet, took 2 and 1/2 years to make. Hero Siege took 6 months and they had half the size team and It is glaringly obvious that they didn’t take enough time to make this game. It feels like something someone might play on their phone a few times if it was free then put it down and never open it again and yet they ask for £5.99 for the game on PC!

In conclusion I do not think this game is even worth your time as there are much better games out there that do the same thing only on a much higher level. 2/10 don’t waste your time.