Archives for : moddable

Euro Truck Simulator 2 Review

It’s time to grab your lorry and hit the European roads. I said lorry not loli and definitely not a loli named Lori. You sicko’s it means truck. Euro Truck Simulator 2 by SCS Software; the same devs who brought us 18 Wheels of Steel and other simulators, has gifted us with this for our simulator collection. Is it a gem or more gum on the motorway?

Why should I care about a truck simulator, well read on and you shall see.

Now as far as driving in Europe, well I’ve never done it nor have I driven a Semi either. What I can say is this game is Fun and that was with a capital F. The driving is a blast and while some routes can be long and a little too straight that you are just flying along, others are a really harrowing experience with more turns than any road should rightfully have.

The game offers you more experience, if you park it yourself or you can take the easy route and let them do that once you make it to the destination. So in some ways the difficulty is dependent on you. As you level up you gain new skills that open up more types of deliveries and higher bonuses for completing them. Making that 14 hr in-game drive really does feel like an accomplishment. Just don’t look at how much time it took in real life to make the trip.

The game boasts some neat features, a sleepy driver can cause you to lose control of the vehicle. You need to stop for gas. While the game isn’t extreemly complicated it is a simulator and does throw a lot of things at you. To name some things you can expect; speeding tickets, damage from hitting things, price of tolls, ferries, gas not to mention the need for sleep and one can never ever forget asshole drivers. Excuse my English.

As far as the business end is concerned. You can upgrade your starter garage and buy more trucks and hire more employees to start. You’ll need to take loans or some of this can take a really long time. You can even build garages in other cities as well and expand your empire. With the goal of having a trucking empire all the while you can manage your garage more choosing what traits your drivers will learn when they level up as well.

There are lots of customizations that can be made to the trucks from paint jobs to added lights, better engines down to even the door handle. So you can make your trucking fleet all look pretty as a peach. With multiple companies you can buy from depending on the truck dealers you have found and your current level you can purchase more types of trucks for your fleet.

I will say this, I can’t make more than a couple trips in a row without getting groggy-eyed as fun as this game is it is tiring at times. I don’t mean boring, I mean tiring like any long drive can get. Your watching the road and the next thing your pulling to the side and the guard rails way to close. So I take my break the whole time just wanting to get back in the game and make some more cash and pay off that nasty loan or hire another driver.

The good and bad of it all.

The good
1. so many trucks, routes and types of deliveries.
2. the business, once started runs itself allowing you to enjoy the driving simulator aspect, but also allows for more depth.
3. You level up with experience.
4. It’s got an easily accessible list of European radio stations to listen to while you play. (Not a huge deal, but definitely adds to the feel a lot).
5. It’s moddable. That is always a great feature.

The bad
1. It’s kinda hard to keep track of the speed limit in some areas.
2. The light of other cars at night is horrendous, you can’t see them (luckily there is a mod for this).
3. The AI of other drivers isn’t all there, but hey I am the one hitting the guard rail to squeeze past them in a traffic jam. So who am I to talk about their intelligence.

I give this a 4.5 out of 5. Keep on trucking, with this simulator that can be enjoyed by just about everyone.

Minecraft and A Few Mods Review

This game has killed so much of my time to not write about it would be a sin. So here is both my reviews of Minecraft and a few Minecraft mods. Mojang the makers of Minecraft have put together one heck of a java game. Minecraft has spread like crack in the gaming community, something most indie developers never see.

So what is the deal with Minecraft? Well, it’s pretty simple. First, the game is really easy to play. It has 2 modes of play with a third mode of play coming out in the next edition. The two modes are creative and survival with a hardcore survival mode coming out in 1.9, 1.8.1 is the current official release at this moment. Creative mode is just you building whatever your heart desires in a landscape of random layouts. Although, you can create the same map over and over again by using a map generation key. The second mode is survival mode which is as it sounds survival is the key with all the fun of creative mode, except with the challenge of monsters and having to obtain the materials to survive and build. The third mode, hardcore survival will have the same thing as survival mode except upon death the world is deleted so there is no trying again with what you may have done.

Keeping the game simple enough for just about anyone to grasp the game uses blocks for pretty much everything. So as you wander around these block based worlds what you want to do is pretty much up to you. A common theme to sandbox games, except in Minecraft there are no bosses to hunt down no real objectives. Creative mode is just as it says. It gives you access to all the blocks in the game without limit. So if you don’t like to fight or have to survive you can build like it’s a virtual Lego wonderland. Really who doesn’t have fond memories of playing with blocks.

Survival mode has monsters also known as mobs that come out at night to kill you, whether you come out of your shelter to face them or not is entirely up to you. That is unless you didn’t build a shelter before your first night. In survival mode you craft materials, tools, weapons, and armor to face the threats of the night, caves or just hunting for food. As of 1.8.1 you actually need to eat regularly to survive. You can build small farms of wheat, sugarcane, and watermelons to aid in your survival or hunt for cows, pigs, and chickens. You can even go fishing if you build a fishing pole. It is all up to you. Mine as much as you want or just explore the huge map that is built for you. You can build a portal to enter a lava filled dimension called the Nether if you want a change of scenery.

With the next version of the game looking to add more structures to the Nether realm, another dimension called the End, NPCs that spawn in little villages, and an potion table, Minecraft is continuing to expand and add more with each update. It’s hard to find yourself bored in this game, but if you do there is a large modding community for Minecraft that adds all sorts of new and different options to the game. Giving you a virtually endless array of possibilities.

Not to mention there are tons of servers with different mods or just standard play of creative or survival mod out there to allow for a great multiplayer experience. Some might require you to install certain mods, but many just require you to talk to the person running it via IRC or forum emails.

By itself I would say Minecraft easily is a 5 out of 5, with decent replay value. With the mods though it has an inexhaustible level of replay value. I’d say one of it’s biggest downfalls is the silence that comes fairly often.

Now as I said I wanted to talk of a few mods that I find extremely enriching to the game.

MAtmos – This mod is a simple sound mod that adds nature sounds and wind sound as well as a number of other sounds that may seem unnecessary, but truly does bring a lot of life to this game. It also solves the silence issue when the music isn’t playing. Hearing the wind blow when on a hillside or mountain or the little birdie sounds of the forest. It’s a great mod that doesn’t change the game by adding tools or blocks just cleans up the silence.

Dr Zhark’s Creatures – This mod adds a ton of mobs to your game. From hostile mobs, water mobs, animal mobs and hunter animal mobs. You want cats in the game along wolves or foxes and bears, maybe sharks or even a dangerous ogre then this is the mod for you. It adds a large quantity of mobs to the game with a gui that makes it easy to customize the rarity, in its most recent version it even has the ability to edit the rarity of the standard mobs of the game. If you are looking to add more animals to the game or even more nasty monsters this mod offers both. I would say it is a must have for anyone looking for more life in their Minecraft world.

Humans+ – This mod adds a number of NPC factions to your world. If you feel a bit lonely wandering around this mod might be what it takes to solve that one. It adds, Knights and Samurai, Hunters, Assassins, Elves, Bandits, Desert Bandits, Pirates, and Peasants and a few other factions. All your actions involving these NPCs effects how different factions may see you. Kill a bunch of hunters and the bandits may fight with you since you crossed over to the evil side. Kill a bunch of animals in front of the elves and you can be sure they will attack you. This mod adds quite a bit of people running around in the wild trying to kill you and each other, but it does make things interesting. It’s biggest issue seems to be that in general the knights almost always attempt to kill you so it never seems viable to side with them. Although it is fun hacking down other people instead of a bunch of creepers and spiders all the time.

The next two mods I will talk about aren’t really done but can and do work well enough.

Twilight Forest – No it has nothing to do with the Stephenie Meyers book about vampires. The Twilight Forest is a dimension mod, which means it adds another dimension much like going to the Nether. Twilight Forest is a dimension of perpetual twilight. In other wards both monster and animal mobs can spawn at all times. So you are never really safe. What really makes this world worth exploring is that you are in a huge forest canopy with trees taller than some mountains in Minecraft. The ground is lower so you won’t be able to dig as deep but you don’t need to hills have ores and tons of monster mobs that defend them. There are Hedge Mazes, and Ice Walls, and currently one courtyard with the Naga as a boss for the mod. You can choose whether you want to take it one or not. Even if you don’t climbing to the top of the tree canopy is quite a site and makes for a very interesting world to visit. This is a great mod with a lot of potential.

Tale of Kingdoms – This mod is fairly new to the scene, but just fantastic. If you play and want to build a castle, but at the same time you want to spend your time mining and killing. Then this mod is for you. It immediately adds a guild that you join where you learn what it takes to be a king. This is pretty much done by slaughtering enemy mobs with your fellow guild-mates. Once you’ve earned enough you can take a builder out somewhere of your choosing and tell him to build there. He will build the out castle wall and request Cobblestone and wood to build more buildings. The castle can be upgraded to tier two currently and it does take some time to acquire the materials to build the buildings, mainly the wood that is. Once you hit tier two you can hire guardsmen for your castle, but even before that you can hire guilds men as body guards. You can also sell many of the Items you may find useless to the guild or shop once you build one and use the money from those items as well as the critters you kill to purchase better tools, weapons, armor and just about anything else. This gives you a lot more freedom to play the game as you like, while giving you an optional goal. Although this mod isn’t completed and an Enemy kingdom is planned in future releases as it stands now it is a lot of fun and adds a whole new feel to the game.¬† Worth taking a look at if you are even a little interested in modding your Minecraft.

All of those mods are compatible with each other in 1.8.1 without any issues that I have seen and create a very hectic and dangerous landscape, but it sure is a lot of fun. Don’t limit yourself to these mods check out others as well. These mods and many more can all be found at http://www.minecraftforum.net/

Armada 2526: Supernova Review

Ntronium Games developed and Iceberg Interactive published Armada 2526 for the PC. With the expansion, Supernova having just been released, new life is being brought to this turn based strategy game. Armada 2526 is all about a bunch of races attempting to spread across the universe and accomplish their goals to win. While the Supernova expansion adds so many things to the game I will be splitting this review into two sections: Armada 2526 and Armada 2526: Supernova.


Armada 2526 without the Expansion:

Armada 2526 is a 4X space game reminiscent of games like Civilization. Everything is done in turns. You will meet other races and have the options of diplomacy as well as open war for dominance. This game has a fairly robust diplomatic set of options available to you, not to mention a large tech selection and a real-time battle system, on top of its turn based aspects. We’ll start with the tutorial because even for veterans of this genre you can always learn something new.

First off I have to say the Tutorial was very informative and helpful in a lot of ways. Like a lot of tutorials at first it forces you to follow certain steps. It pretty quickly moves you to the point where you’re doing more and more one your own. After you reach the end of the major lessons your on your own to finish the match. Which is you and two other races and your goal to win is to destroy one of those races. It still gives you helpful information as you find new systems and objects so you never get to lost even after it says now take out the enemy to finish the tutorial. This is a task I failed at miserably at, but I learned a lot about diplomacy, researching technologies, fighting battles, and even some strategies by watching how the enemy AI decided to stomp me into the ground. Now some people might wonder why a tutorial would be that difficult I thought it was great because it gave me a much better idea of what I would face in the other scenarios.

Selecting new game offers up 4 Scenarios; Kull 2 Players, The Rim 17 Players, Tutorial, 3 Players, and Twelve Races 12 Players. All are set to run for 500 turns. You can also start a custom game. The Custom game, allows you to set up 104 Players, The Difficulty, number of turns, The Map to use or to use a randomly made map. You control the star density as well as whether the stars are mostly centrally located or spread throughout the map. All the players you chose to have, You can pick their race and factions. Since there are some pre-made factions in the game and 12 races to chose from. You can also set which players are AI and which are players in the hotseat mode of play. Since the game is turn based all players can play from the same PC in with hotseat turned on. Without the expansion this is your only way to play with others.

All the races have different victory conditions. Some races even lose victory points for destroying other races. These differences force you to change tactics while playing these different races. It also effects how you will deal with them when you meet them amongst the stars. Armada supports a large selection of stars you can run into some of which you need special ships to create colonies on. With over 100 technologies to research you are pushed to focus on certain technologies to gain the upper hand against the computer AI’s. This is very important as that the AI’s are not push overs and really can be quite aggressive.

Building new colonies to expand your range of space you can view as well as colonize is how you progress across the star map. With a number of building types for your colonies to build some being dependent on the solar system your building them in. You are left with a number of options as well as reasons to transport people from one colony to another. To build the next building. It won’t let you build more buildings than your people can support So keeping a good population amongst your colonies is important.

When you go into battle you have two options. The first option is to just let the computer figure out who would win, for players looking to play a more speedy game this is nice and what I was used to in most games of this genre. The other option is more of a real-time tactile battle where you can select groups of ships and tell them what enemy ships to target as well as what formation to use. This is a fairly complex system to get used to, but can be very advantageous to get used to. The enemies battle tactics are usually pretty straight forward so getting good at this can definitely give you a better chance at beating the odds.

To top all this off the game has a map editor built into it, so you can build your own universes to play your custom games on. The map editor is pretty easy to use even with it’s many options available to select. If you’re looking to do more than just make a map, well the game supports modifications. With a majority of the game being in easy to read and edit XML documents you can add/remove a lot of things to this game and how it plays. Ntronium Games website’s forum helps you out with this and provides links to some mods already out there for the game.

Without the expansion this game is a 4 out of 5. I would have rated this a 5 out of 5 because it is just such a great game, but it is one that is not easy to play unless you are a fan of this genre. This difficulty curve and it’s lack of multiplayer support outside of sharing the same computer I think really hurts it and would detour many. Thankfully the expansion addresses the multiplayer issue.

Armada 2526 with the Supernova Expansion:

At first I looked at Supernova as something of a mod to the game, but it really is much more. It changes aspects of the planets, adds new races, more technologies, but above all it adds LAN and Play By Email support for those dying to play against other fans of the game.

So the two races it adds are a floral and a crab race. The crab race deals better with oceanic planets, but overall the races are more of a bonus than anything too special. I am sure a dedicated modder could add races to the game and have similar results. The expansion also adds a lot more technologies to pursue and changes up the tech tree a little, this allowed them to add a number of other features and tweaks to the game, like a new scenario the Triangle.

At this point the expansion doesn’t seem to be all that special, but it does a lot more. The planet changes are a huge change in my eyes. Now planets are oceanic, or a number of other types. These types of planets have more pluses in some areas and negatives in other areas. This isn’t all that has changed with the planets you colonize though. Now special events like solar flares in a system can stop ship movement, or a planet with old tech found on it could increase it’s ability to research certain techs on that planet. There are some planets that you people will believe are cursed and as a result buildings can be damaged for no reason, the rate of growth can slow down and other bad effects. You can also find planets that have features that speed up the population growth rate or attract tourists and can help increase you profits.

Visually some things have changed one of which is the colony window which shows you what type of planet it is from it’s background. This can be distracting when trying to read the number of units you have on a planet or what buildings you’ve already built. In a game with as many options as this one has it does help you see quickly what might be the best thing to build on that planet.

With the new planet system, and updates to the technologies and diplomatic aspects as well as the new races you are getting a lot out of this expansion. I can’t stress enough how much the new planet system improves the game though. Even with all this, when you install the expansion the original game is still remaining and available to play as well as the expansion is also moddable. So you can update any old mods to work with the expansion and get some of the best of both the old and the new.

Would I recommend getting this expansion, my answer is a simple, but emphatic yes. If you enjoyed Armada 2526 before the expansion, You will surely enjoy what the expansion brings to this game. Just don’t get it for the new races alone, they aren’t really game changing, it is all the other aspects that makes this expansion so worth getting. As far as an expansion goes I would say it is a must have for anyone who has the game or plans to pick it up.

With the expansion this game is a 4.5 out of 5. I love it, with the added functions this game only got better. The only reason I can’t give it a 5 is it is still a game that I feel some people couldn’t handle the sheer amount of things to keep track of or might get annoyed by the time the game takes.

I can’t wait to start working on my own mod to the game.

Starpoint Gemini Review

Little Green Men’s Starpoint Gemini published by Iceberg-Interactive is a space based action RPG for the PC. Starpoint Gemini features an interesting story in a for the most part free roam star system. With a few bonuses for people who just want to do their own thing or even create their own thing. That’s right folks the game is very moddable so as long as people are playing this game their will be more to do and see than what I’m going to talk about here.

In SPG you take on the role of a Captain who’s ship has been trapped in time. You are brought out of the rift to find out, you’ve missed a lot. That includes that the war you fought for ended up being for nothing. No happy reunion of lost pilots here. Sort of a strange start as your thrust into doing whatever you want until you find the next person you need to talk with. This is a good thing as you can hopefully get in a nice upgrade or two before going on your next mission (or Campaign storyline). Much like in real life no one seems to want to give it to you straight and they all seem to be holding information back.

For me, this gave me a bit of early on resentment towards the very people who saved me. Your character seems to be agitated by it as well. I could be wrong he tends to seem agitated by most things, as if he’s better than them. Anyways, into this new system you go to find your way amongst the stars, bandits, merchants, miners, researchers and militant folk. Early on your motivation is to find out what happened to you and the Gemini system as a whole and what is happening to it now.

Since I won’t ruin the story of the Starpoint Gemini campaign mode lets move on to the modes of play and the features of the game. When you start the game up, you can go to options and alter some settings like the difficulty as well as the sound. I recommend turning up the voice volume up. Alright, now once you start the game you will need to create the appearance of your character and his name. It lets you alter facial structure, hair style, skin color, and what primary abilities he will start with. After that bit of the game is taken care of its on to picking the mode; Tutorial, Starpoint Gemini, or Life Goes On.

Lets start with the tutorial. It’s long, so don’t start this until you can set some time to really work through it. This game is not a jump in and just go game. There are a lot of features and abilities to learn and options available to you in this game. Now I know this may scare some people off, but the tutorial took me an hour and a half to complete. I’m glad I did it though, as I learned a lot about how to play and what I was doing that just reading the manual would have left me wondering what I was doing.

Starpoint Gemini is the campaign mode of the game. This mode is a mix of free roam with story line progression. Your actions will affect how the different factions and organizations see you. You’ll also gain experience from doing storyline missions and taking commissions from starbases. It’s pretty important to save often since it isn’t that uncommon to start a fight only to find that more enemy ships arrive to make things more difficult.

Finally there is Life Goes On mode. This is a completely free roam mode. You have all the features of the campaign without the storyline to force you into specific paths. You gain experience and gain levels and abilities just as you would in the campaign mode. With 50 sectors to explore and do as you will in. Life Goes On mode offers that freedom you may want away from having to follow any storyline.

The rpg elements of the game allow you as the captain to gain abilities and stats that give bonuses to your ship and other aspects. With multiple choices each level as well as reasons to save level points to increase stats that follow your play style you can play the game a different way every time you start a new game. With that in mind the LGM team decided to make the game extremely moddable. They have on there site a community tab that will bring you to a forum that discusses mods to the game and will have User created mods on it as well.

If you’re like me you probably won’t go through the extra effort of creating any modifications, but it is nice to know I can and that as long as they help keep the community going they can continue to bring fresh ideas and ships to the game.

The downsides of the game are the learning curve and some bad voice acting. The incredibly long tutorial is a bit of a turn off.

Based on the initial content alone I give this game a 4 out of 5.

I think the games initial difficulty may turn away many players, but I recommend keeping at it. SPG definitely gets better once you get the feel of the game.