Archive for the ‘`Game Reviews/Guides’ Category

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XCOM 2 by Firaxis – First Look

June 3, 2015

logo

A sequel to Firaxis’s reboot of the franchise was announced recently. The game seems to follow a divergent timeline from the original games.

XCOM Timeline

In the original xcom games released by microprose the games followed the “win” condition of the previous game.

  1. XCOM: UFO Defense – (1998) – The Aliens appear for the first time attacking humanity. XCOM is tasked with eliminating the threat. Eventually tracking them down on Mars and defeating them.
    1. XCOM: Enforcer – (1999) – An Enforcer program is started that attempts to create the perfect robot warrior to combat the emerging threat. Though the program was discontinued by the primary XCOM project, it continued in secret by a scientist who refuses to give up on its potential.
  2. XCOM: Terror from the Deep – (2040) – Following their defeat on mars the aliens activate their earthbound ocean base to continue their assault on earth.
  3. XCOM: Interceptor – (2067) – Though the aliens are defeated earth is finding it increasingly difficult to find the resources we need and so, using its space travel capabilities we set forth to gather resources from space. Our enemy however wants those resources for themselves and so the inevitable conflict commences.
  4. XCOM: Apocalypse – (2090) – Humans have been forced to live in domed cities as the surface of the earth has become inhospitable to life. The XCOM project is now little more than a non-profit organization. The aliens return via portals and you are forced to fight them back and save the primary domed city.

The original series took some interesting twists but it seems that firaxis is taking a different approach. The reboot timeline is as follows:

  1. The Bureau: XCOM Declassified – (1962) – Aliens show up with a plot to abduct people and terraform the earth to suit their needs. The US creates a branch called XCOM to deal with the threat discretely. The aliens are defeated and the events are hidden from the general public.
  2. XCOM: Enemy Unknown – (2012) – The aliens have returned and cannot be ignored as they are openly attacking cities and gaining major media coverage. XCOM is established again but as a national organization.
    1. XCOM: Enemy Within – (2012) – XCOM pursues radical methods such as genetic manipulation and cybernetics to combat the alien threat.
  3. (2015) – In the end, XCOM is unable to deal with the threat and the nations of the earth are forced to unconditionally surrender. The XCOM project is dismantled and scattered. The aliens build new cities that they operate to deal with the survivors of the conflict. This becomes known as unification
  4. XCOM 2 – (2035) – Survivors of the XCOM project have banded together on the edges of society to try to fight back against the alien incursion and reclaim the earth for humanity.

So basically things went down like this

Gameplay

Though we only have the following still image to go by

01_x2_screens_media

It looks to be similar to Enemy unknown and a return to the turn based strategic combat the game is known for. It looks like we will be seeing melee weapons in this game. This is something we’ve not seen in an XCOM game since terror from the deep and UFO defense. Though it looks like we’ll be getting a bit more verity than what was  featured in those games. At the very least we’ll be getting swords instead of stun rods and vibro blades (which were just glorified drills).

New Robot units

We see in the trailer what appears to be a robotic unit fighting alongside the XCOM group. It has a similar appearance to the flying drones in Enemy Unknown. What we can tell from the trailer:

  • It flies. Yeah ok, this is obvious but mechanical flying units friendly to XCOM were pretty non-existent in Enemy Unknown. it’s nice to see a return of this type of unit as even UFO defense had flying heavy weapon platforms(later called SHIVs in Enemy Unknown) that could be built.
  • It some sort of energy effect around it suggesting it has some level of shielding
  • It fires an electrical attack reminiscent of the arc throwers in Enemy Unknown and the foe hit by it simply crumples to the ground without any other sign of damage, this suggests that the drone either is or can be equipped with an arc thrower that can stun opponents. However, the alien drones in Enemy Unknown had a lethal electrical attack so it may just be this.

Return of the Snakemen

Snakeman

This was also nice to see. In the trailer one of the guards standing outside the genetic processing center is a snakeman. Snakemen were a normal enemy in UFO Defense. The thinmen in enemy unknown were suggested as being genetically altered snakemen who had been made to look human.

These new snakemen look like they have a constriction attack similar to the strangulation attacks the seekers had in Enemy Within. Though they probably can also poison like the thinmen did.

Muton Streakers I mean Secoids

This is just a theory but we see these guys in the trailer

02_x2_screens_media

When I first saw these guys I thought maybe it was a human/secoid hybrid. But apparently these are secoids? This seems like a weird change since they have always been short naked aliens. Making them taller like this to me just makes them look like Mutons who have been neglecting their steroids and have decided to run around without any clothes on for some reason. Even in the trailer we see these guys creeping around in the dark alley ways of the city. This seems really bizarre since the city is controlled and run by the aliens, maybe these really are just muton streakers and they’re trying to not get busted by the cops.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I am excited about this game. I was a little bit confused when I first saw the trailer as I didn’t have any context for it and was beginning to wonder if XCOM was being turned into some kind of weird syndicate game. Since I saw XCOM solders running around in populated city with civilians going about their daily lives, whilst ignoring the heavily armed solders. it looks like they might be going the same direction half-life went. I just hope they aren’t. Not because half-life is a bad game, but because the XCOM games have always been best when they’ve only tried to be themselves. Games like Interceptor, Enforcer and even The Bureau all tried to copy other popular games and they were worse for it.

I’m hoping this game is actually XCOM and not just a half-life wanna be.


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The Sims Freeplay – Infinte Life Points and Money

March 25, 2015

SimsFreePlayLogo

In the sims life points can be used to purchase high-end items as well as speeding up completion time of quests. Using this method I can gain as many life points as I want, it just depends on how much time I’m willing to put into it. What’s nice is that since this isn’t a cheat using this method will not risk your game in any way.

The Toast Factory

Step 1: Build a house that will be devoted entirely to the farming of life points. Basically you can just build an empty lot.

Step 2: Build a single room that is 6×18

Step 3: This will give you room to set up 6 stations consisting of (1 toaster, 1 oven and 3 Empty countertops) and 2 stations consisting of (1 toaster, 1 oven, 1 empty counter top and 1 sink).

Toast Factory 1

additional decorations can be added, but these are the basic things you’ll need. It should be noted that for this there is no difference between 1 star and 3 star appliances, so you can get away with buying cheap appliances for each of the stations.

Step 4: You will now want to send as many sims as you can muster to this location to cook. A maximum of 10 sims can be sent, but the factory can be operated with less, but you will gain life points slower.

Ideally you will want 8 sims cooking while 2 sims are on cleanup. (hence the two sinks)

Step 5: Get Life points. Ok, sure there’s slightly more to it than that, but not much. Once you have mastered the cooking hobby you will be given the option to collect all of the cooking items again and your reward for doing so? 5 life points. Additionally, the skill level of your sim no longer matters with regard to collecting items, this means that even a novice can receive the golden measuring spoons. Also, this is infinitely repeatable.

Toast only takes 1 minute to make and costs 5 simoleons, this means that with 8 sims all cooking at the same time you will reveal 8 items every minute. There are only a total of 18 items to collect. In theory you can complete the entire hobby in as little as 3 minutes. In practice though, you will collect all but a few of the items very quickly. After that it can sometimes take a while to get the last items.

In testing you have to cook 70 to 75 toast meals to collect all 18 items. This means that with 8 cooks constantly cooking you will net 5 life points every 10 minutes or so.

But don’t I lose money?

Actually, not only do you not lose money in the process, but you actually make money. This is because each time you collect an item you receive a simoleon reward. The reward varies depending on the level of the item. The rewards are as follows.

 

Simfrees Rewards
Level Bronze Silver Gold
1 25 50 150
2 25 80 250
3 50 100 275
4 75 200 500
5 500 500 500
6 500 500 500

This means that each time you complete the hobby you get 4,780 simoleons. This is of course not taking into account that as cooks skill up, you also get xp, money and a life point. Even taking into account a cost of 5 per dish and having to make 75 dishes, you only end up spending 375 simoleons.

So, in the end, every 10 minutes you will not only net 5 life points, but earn 4,400 simoleons as well.

I will point out that in order to do this, you basically have 8 sims that are devoted to cooking. The two clean up sims can have whatever hobby you wish as all they are doing is constantly washing dishes. Also, this method requires your constant attention. But, if you want to grind out 30 life points real quick you can do so in an hour, thus making all of the timed quests easily accomplished.

 

 


 

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The Sims Freeplay by EA Games

February 13, 2015

SimsFreePlayLogo

Publisher Electronic Arts
Platform Mobile
Multi-account Yes
Type Life Simulation, Free to Play
Initial Review Date 2/13/15
Last Updated 2/13/15
Wiki  http://sims.wikia.com/wiki/The_Sims_FreePlay
Files/Tools
Click here to Play

I admit the last “The Sims” game I played prior to playing this game was the original. Like the original you take control of virtual people who seem to be completely incapable of making any decisions. They will sit around becoming dirty and miserable until you command them to do even the most basic of tasks like “go to the bathroom”. However, the game can be fun without becoming overly tedious.

Gameplay

As stated before your sims will not do anything without being told what to do. Due to the free to play model (not to mention being built on a mobile platform) you don’t have the familiar customization of the PC games. There isn’t a built-in method to import original creations and so your options are only what you are provided with. EA does occasionally have specialty events and every so often will introduce new content. Something you will notice right away is the quest system in the game. This system helps give you some direction by rewarding you with points and money for doing certain activities.

Quests

Quests come in three different types. You have Event quests, Weekly quests and Social quests.

Event quests are sort of like mini-stories. At the conclusion of each story you will be rewarded with something major that will give you more play options in the future. These Game play options can be things like giving you a new hobby that your sims can partake in or adding a new feature that can be added to your houses like pools. These event quests also have a count down timer that begins the instant you start a new story. If you complete the story within the time limit you will get an additional reward. The downside is that often the bonus reward can not be obtained any other way and there isn’t a way to try again later or stop the timer. I feel that these options are missing in an effort to monetize the game.

Weekly quests are a random series of tasks that if you finish all of you are rewarded with a single key. Keys can be spent to open mystery boxes that will give you random items. The better boxes require multiple keys requiring you to save up for (quite literally) weeks to get to open. The items you win are added to your inventory which you can then use to place in which ever home you would like them in. Otherwise, completing these tasks will reward you with either life points or simoleons.

Social quests are similar to weekly quests, but with a couple of differences. To start with there is no over reaching goal or limit. A quest can sit uncompleted for weeks with no penalty or limit. You don’t get a special reward for completing a certain number, but you will occasionally get social points. All of these quests require you to complete the task in a neighbor’s town. Unfortunately, this means that if say you have to play with a soccer ball, but none of your neighbor’s have one you’ll either have to convince one of your friends to get one or pay some life points to skip the quest. Purchasing the required item yourself so you can interact with it does not count with regard to completing these.

It should be noted that only social quests can be completed at a neighbor’s town. Interacting with a neighbor’s widget will not count towards other types of quests.

Life Points Vs Social Points Vs Money

As you play you will notice that there exists in the game three types of currency. You have Life points (LP), Social Points (SP) and Simoleons ($). All of your basic items can be purchased with simoleons, these items can be very expensive but its rare to litter ally purchase anything better than a 2 star item (out of a possible 3) just using simoleons. Premium items are always purchased using LP and SP. Often (but not always) these will be 3 star items and can be relatively cheap or quite expensive. EA of course will allow you to spend real money to get any of these currencies, however they can be gotten though normal gameplay as well.

Simoleons are earned by planting, completing quest tasks, working at jobs and a daily bonus which arrives in your sim’s mailbox each day. This is the easiest to get, it is even possible to build a particular building that will give you a chance each time you complete a task, to get bonus money (even if the original task doesn’t give you money or even if it normally costs money).

Life points can be obtained as stated above by completing weekly and event quests. These points will often be rewarded at milestone quests. There are other ways in the game to get them though as follows:

  • Leveling: Every time you level you will earn LPs.
  • Growing your town: each building you construct adds to the overall value of your town. When you hit certain milestones you are rewarded with LPs.
  • Pets: pets will randomly generate simoleons. Often the amount is quite small compared to what you could normally get via baking or planting, however occasionally you will get a LP convince. The higher star pets generate more money and have better chances at give you LPs
  • Mastering a Hobby: Once you have gotten all of the collectables for a particular hobby and have gotten all of the special rewards for that hobby, getting all of the collectables again will reward you with LPs
  • Maxing out a Hobby: When a sim reaches the highest skill level of a hobby you are rewarded with a single LP
  • Watching Ads: Sometimes when you have the quest screen open a blinking filmstrip/LP symbol will blink in the upper left hand corner of the screen. Clicking on this icon will cause you to temporarily leave the game to watch a 30 sec commercial for another mobile app (often other games, but not always). After you watch the commercial you can click on the “x” in the upper right of the screen to close the ad and take you back to the game. You are then rewarded with a single LP. The opportunity to do this seems to be limited and so you can’t just constantly watch ads to build up LP while you wait for your sims to complete a task. Even so, this seems like a fair trade, as you are not required to do anything other than let the ad play.

Life points can also be used to speed up tasks. Generally, this is a poor use of a LP as its benefit is fleeting and they are harder to acquire.

Social points as stated above are earned by completing milestone social quests. I have not yet encountered any other way in-game to get these.

Conclusion

The game has fairly high production value for a free to play mobile game. The graphics are on par with the graphics found in the regular pc sims games and sims are generally responsive to your commands. They do occasionally have pathing issues but they are quick to alert you if they can’t reach something because it is blocked. The biggest annoyance I’ve encountered is when it comes to adding new sims to the game. You have to have an empty house in order for the option to show up though some of the text would seem to indicate you should be able to reach the sim creation screen via other methods. this means that you’ll have to do some shuffling around just to have more than 1 sim per house. This is a minor issue though as it can be worked around without a painful amount of effort. I do miss the customization that the PC games offer but they give you  a reasonable assortment of items to work with. In the end, if you haven’t played the sims, this is the one to try since it’s free. If you have played one of the other games then you already have a pretty good idea if you would like it or not. This game doesn’t really offer anything above or beyond what the other games do, but it is nice having it available on a mobile platform.


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Organ Trail by The Men who Wear Many Hats

July 13, 2011

Publisher The Men who Wear Many Hats
Platform Facebook
Multi-account No
Type Educational/Adventure/Zombie Horror
Initial Review Date 7/12/11
Last Updated 7/12/11
FAQ
Files/Tools
Click here to Play

Do you remember the old classic game Oregon trail?

It was one of those educational type games that was supposed to teach you about the early days of the united states. When people moved in mass across the continent in covered wagons to carve out a new life on the west coast. In that game you took control of a family who was moving to Oregon.

Organ trail is a new twist on this old game. This game takes place during a modern day zombie apocalypse. You are the leader of a small group of survivors that is trying to make its way to safety. Safety however can only be found in one place, in the city of new haven located in Oregon.

This wouldn’t be so bad except you’re stuck in New York and most of the northern Midwest has been nuked. This means you’ll need to load up a station wagon with supplies and drive in a roundabout path to Oregon.

Gameplay

Though the setting is different it holds true to the original game in a lot of ways. You have a number of resources you have to manage during your trip. Spare parts for the car, gasoline, food, ammo, medical supplies and cash.

Like the original game you can control pace and food rationing. A faster pace puts more risk to the car and fatigues the passengers. Less food results in health loss each day. Health is recovered by resting and using medical supplies.

There are obviously new twists to the game appropriate to the setting. One hazard you have to watch out for is infection. People in your group can and will become infected with the zombie virus. At that point you have the decision of killing them off or letting them continue with you. Why would you not kill them off? because you get more points at the end of the game if you don’t. So, keeping them around is a gamble, since they could turn.

The game feels and plays like an old 386 game, which could make it less appealing to younger players who never played the original. The music is original 8-bit songs that are well done.

Conclusion

It is a lot of fun to play but I think the game suffers in replay value. Just like the original game, after you beat it you can try again to get a higher score but there isn’t much reason otherwise.

Something nice about the game is that the in-game help is actually helpful and the advice you’re given is fairly reasonable without really detracting from the game. You’re given hints not step by step instructions.


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Ninja Warz – Shuriken Attack

February 11, 2010

this is a new addtion to the ninja warz mini games. In this game you attempt to defend yourself from a hostile blimp FPS style, armed with nothing more then your trusty sword.

So, the scoring in this game is pretty harsh compared to the other mini games. Just like the turtle and hospital suppy game, if you want to get a maxium grade then you have to avoid damage completely. Every time you are hit your grade will decrease by one. However, like the blimp invasion and fire games you are also graded on accuracy. So hacking madly away at the screen will not help you either.

Place your curser here

at the start and then click. Then while holding the button down, slide the mouse so that it is ontop of the projectile and then release the button.

you will perform a nice long devistating slash at the object. At this point you will want to click underneath the blimp and then go again. I find that if you start your click roughly underneath the blimp you can reach the projectile in time. Just be careful, sometimes it will throw things at the edges of the screen, these still need to be “deflected” to get a perfect score since they will still hit you otherwise. The key to winning this one is to click early well before the next target shows up. That way you can immediately mouse over and release. Trying to click after the target is in the air will often result in you missing the target. so click early, the game doesn’t count it as an attack until you release so doing this will not count against you and it makes the game much much easier.

done correctly and you should get a screen like this.


Part 1: Ninja Warz – An Overview
Part 2: Ninja Warz – Achievements
Part 3: Ninja Warz – Mini-game Madness
Part 4: Ninja Warz – Gift Items
Part 5: Ninja Warz – Belt Levels
Part 5: Ninja Warz – Shuriken Attack
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Zoo World – Infinite Money

February 4, 2010

I was rather shocked at this exploit. not so much that it exists but how remarkably simple it is. I would not be surprised if this is corrected in the near future. But for now it works and so for now all you need is time to make all the money you could ever want in this game.

To start with, go to the Visit zoo screen

click on the ticket booth to change your ticket price.

Alter the price one step down from your current price and then click the ok button

You will immediately gain money equal to your current daily profit

Repeat until you have all the money you want


I’m really surprised this was not caught by the development team. I guess it’s just that when you’re normally changing ticket prices you’re not looking at your current money and since you normally get money every 5 minutes it’s easy to over look the fact that you just gained a “zoo day’s worth” of cash instantly.


Part 1: Zoo World by Rockyou
Part 2: Zoo World – Infinite Money
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Zoo World by Rockyou

February 4, 2010

Publisher Rockyou
Platform Facebook
Multi-account Yes
Type Simulation
Initial Review Date 2/3/2010
Last Updated 2/3/2010
FAQ Official FAQ
Files/Tools
Click here to Play

In this game you run a virtual zoo. As you add animals you attract more people and sell more tickets. More money means you can buy more animals and so forth. This game is clearly still being developed and is some what unusual in it’s format as a result. Surprisingly the entire game can be played without ever visiting your zoo. Given that the visit zoo tab takes you into what appears to the the “main game” this is odd. As it is, aside from looking at and arranging your zoo there’s very little you can do from this screen and from what I can tell it is purely cosmetic. After all, you don’t even have to actually place your animals in order to earn money from them. I guess people are willing to pay for the “idea” that you own a bunch of exotic animals. Whether they see them or not isn’t important.

To advance in the main game, for the most part you just want to keep on accomplishing whatever goals are listed on the top of the screen from your “home” tab These can be anything from buying trash cans to having 16 small mammals. The shopping tab is pretty straightforward but if you’re not sure where you need to go to buy something for an accomplishment, you will be given a link or hint explaining where or what you need to do.

In any case you earn money based on what your current ticket price is set to versus how many people visit your zoo and your current rating. As you add animals the number of people you attract increases. The rarer the animal the bigger the increase is. Of course the more animals you have the more support items you will need to maintain your high rating. If you don’t purchase these support buildings then your rating will suffer and you will make less money. It’s a good idea every time you buy an animal to see if you can increase ticket prices. Most of the time you will make less money at the higher ticket price (due to chasing people away) but every now and then you will make more money at the new higher level. Doing this you can progressively charge more and more money for tickets to see your zoo.

There are a number of other features in the game that are secondary, but do help add to the over all game. They are as follows

Visiting Friends: what FB game would be complete without the ability to visit your friends who are also playing the game? Visiting a friend earns you money based on your level. Finding the “hidden treasure” in your friend’s zoo will net you an additional cash depending on how high level your friend is. This can be quite profitable if you have a lot of friends. To find the treasure you need to click on animals in your friend’s zoo till you find it. This means that low level friends who only have 3-4 animals are the best kind to have since you can rapidly find your cash and get out. High level friends who have 40-50 animals however probably just aren’t worth the effort.

Hiring Friends: You can hire your friends as zookeepers. This is something you want to do as much as possible since it’s free. As you get more and more animals you will be required to have a certain number of zoo keepers. These keepers get progressively more expensive as well. However, any of your friends who are already playing the game can be added as zookeepers. There doesn’t seem to be any sort of limits on this, so hire all of your friends and then you shouldn’t have to worry about needing zookeepers for awhile (depending on how many friends you have of course!)

Training Birds: There are some birds that can be trained to learn tricks. As your bird learns more tricks the graphic will change. This otherwise seems to have no purpose but to act as a place to spend money.

Breeding Animals: Certain animals can be breed. These are generally your 3 star rare animals. Since the rarity of your animals directly affects how much money you make I guess this was done to help curb your income. Basically you hit the breed button and you will be given a time frame. Then when that time frame runs up you need to go back and “feed” the new born animal or else you lose it. Of course to help prevent this you can authorize the game to automatically post to your wall so that your friends can feed the animal instead. It would be nice if some of the farming games gave you this option for crops 😛

Racing Eagles: Your eagles specifically can be raced. You are  given 1 race per “zoo day” up to a maximum of 10 races. To race you pickand name an eagle. Then you pick an opponent to race against. Depending on your success you earn rocks. These rocks grant you a speed bonus. Additionally, the rocks can be combined into more powerful rocks at a rate of 3 to 1.

Additional Tips

  • To do the missions that require you to have X number of visitors, go temporarily set your ticket price to $1. This should boost your visitor number to the required level. Once achieved you can set your ticket price back to it’s original level.
  • To do the missions that require you to have X number of a certain type of animal, look to see what the cheapest animal of that type is and buy a whole bunch of them. keep in mind that even if it’s not an animal you particularly like you don’t have to display them in your zoo if you don’t want to.
  • You only  make money when the game is running, so an easy way to make a bunch of money is to let it run in the background while you do other things. It does have a built in timer that needs to be reset every hour or so, but it’s amazing how much money you can make in a few hours just having it run in the background.

Part 1: Zoo World by Rockyou
Part 2: Zoo World – Infinite Money