Irmagerd – gaming in the wake of a hurricane
Casa de Grimmtooth exists in the path that Hurricane Irma took, and as a result we lost internet connectivity for over a week. Fortunately, I have plenty of games loaded up on my PC that have received little love while I was playing WoW, and do not require The Internets.
This window of time gave me ample opportunity to fully evaluate and compare some games that had especially languished while I went and did other thingys.
Here, then, are some mini reviews and in some cases, final reviews.
Of all the games I’ve recently purchased, this is the one I was most eager to get. I’ve been playing it on and off since before Blizzcon 2016, and yet I have not finished a single game.
Once we got power back after Irma, this was the first one I fired up, and played it for three days solid (in between things such as cleaning up and stuff). Finally, I’ve had time to come to the realization that Civ 6 is no where near the game that Civ 4 was. Civ 5 also suffered from that, but it grew up to be a much better game with a few DLCs. Civ 6 isn’t even as fun as Civ 5, though.
The problems with Civ 6’s core mechanics, however, will never allow for basic improvement unless some core mechanics changes come with any future DLC. It’s a lovely game, with some interesting takes on the original, but in the long run it just isn’t Civilization. It’s a game that looks like Civilization but isn’t Civilization, made by some company in China looking to rope in a few rubes.
The next time I get some time for extended play, I’ll go back to Civ 5, to see if I’m just growing disenchanted with the series and misremember my experience with Civ 5, or if Civ 6 truly took a wrong turn.
Sorry, Sid. But this wouldn’t be your first miscue.
Railroad Tycoon 3
My existing copy of RRT3 is only on CD, along with the Coast to Coast patch. It was the final game I picked up during the outage. Even with its terrible graphics, I feel it holds up over time. I really wish I had bought it via some service like GoG, but I hadn’t. (Of course, if there are no improvements with the GoG version, why bother, amirite? Weeellllll … I had to go dig out the “play” CD just to run it, so maybe it is. Hm. /ponder)
I mentioned Sid Meier’s previous miscue earlier, and here it is. The successor to this game was a game called “Railroad!”, which was so horrible that it took very little time to kick it to the curb. Even the master can mis-read the curve.
It was so bad, I didn’t even keep the discs. And I never throw anything away. Just ask Mrs Grimm.
Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion
Here’s an oldie but a goodie that got acquired by Stardock, which also makes a rival game (Galactic Civilizations). Hopefully that does not bode ill for SoaSE, because I’ve tried both but only bought one of them. And it wasn’t GalCiv.
This game is often described as a cross between the 4X genre and RTS genre. I’m not sure how that’s really applicable – once you hit RTS territory, you’re an RTS. Any 4X elements are secondary at that point. Besides, every RTS I’ve ever played generally has elements of the other three X’s in it, so it’s not really a distinction I care to make.
Having said that, here’s the prognosis. Whether or not it’s a true 4X game, I really do like playing it, and it has enough challenge to it without ROFLstomping your ass at ever turn, but you don’t get a free pass, either. It’s balanced, and fun, and that says a lot for any game.
Which brings me to the final one.
I had really high hopes for this one, but never really spent enough time with it to get a handle on it. This down period gave me ample opportunity to give it a thorough examination. And in the end, I was really, really disappoint.
I never really got out of the opening game. Ever. I’m usually pretty good at this stuff, but the tech tree was so opaque, the diplomacy so ragged around the edges, and the gradients between “best friend” and “deadly enemy” so steep that there was never a point where I found myself in a position to be able to survive in the galaxy even as an inoffensive empire. I could spend every spare credit on improving my space fleet, upping the warmonger ante as much as possible, and every. single. time. I would be ambushed by a far superior fleet of ships, far advanced to mine and far superior in numbers.
There wasn’t a single game in which I didn’t find myself hopelessly mismatched somewhere in between when destroyer and cruiser tech were discovered. I’d meet two or three alien races, we’d say “hi” and form cordial and friendly relations between us, and then the next one would come along and rattle its sabre, at which point any of the three possible responses (“hi”, “don’t hurt me”, and “die, alien scum”) resulted in almost instant attack and the enemy entering my homeworld’s space without any sign of scouting – an impossibility for myself since in order to attack something, I have to know where it is. In other words, it really looks like the AI is cheating.
This happened every time. Without fail.
I reiterate, I don’t suck at this genre. I’ve played 4X games enthusiastically since they first appeared on 8-bit platforms (Reach for the Stars, anyone?), and I am here to tell you that this game lacks some serious balance. A good 4X game will challenge you enough at low levels so that you feel like you’re encountering some resistance, and yet give you at least a random chance to win every now and then.
Sure, I’ve had opening scenarios that landed me on worthless starting planets and poor luck in exploring, but never so consistently.
At the end, it was a completely unfun game and I’m pretty much on the edge of uninstalling it for good.
Don’t be that game.
At the end of the day, the most fun had was with Railroad Tycoon and Sins of a Solar Empire. Both are strong entries in their genres, and present challenges no matter your skill level, with the means to adjust as you get better at it. I am especially fond of SotSE’s depiction of space battles, which feel epic and meaningful and urgent all at the same time. In many ways, it reminds me of Gratuitous Space Battles, only with depth and situational awareness.
The real funny part of the Internet Crisis of 2017 is that once service was restored to our area, we were still out of service. It turns out that we had an amp hooked up to an external power socket that had a GFI breaker in it, and when the power did its final flicker, it popped that breaker. Here I am, the mighty Electronics Tech of days past, and I didn’t even think to look at that. Yeah yeah, I wasn’t actually aware it was there, but point is I didn’t even look. What eggs that didn’t get pitched, were on my face 🙂
The internets and WoW have been embraced within our loving arms, and we’re back to letting our souls drain down a coax cable. So life is back to what passes for normal around here. I’m just glad to have alternatives.
For the next go-round, I plan on getting the GoG edition of RRT3 and downloading some mods for SotSE (Star Trek, Star Wars, and Babylon 5), and maybe getting up to speed with The Settlers on Steam. That was always one of my favorites.
Right now I’m looking at Hurricane Maria, as it grinds on the edges of the Dominican Republic. Puerto Rico has been clobbered, may not even have electricity for three to six months. So I’m not winge-ing over a week without internets. In the long run, we were supremely lucky. If you pray, pray for Puerto Rico and all points in the path of Maria. This is a gaming blog, about gaming shit, but real life Doth Intrude from time to time.