Stellaris 2.0 With Apocalypse.

Your favorite grand strategy game in space, Stellaris, recently received both a massive overhaul, and a new expansion. But was it for better or for worse?

It’s been about a year since my first Stellaris review, in which I gave the game a rock solid 94 out of 100 score. When our heroes at Paradox released Stellaris 2.0, and the accompanying Apocalypse expansion, I’d put a massive 83 hours into the game. That put it on par with Tropico 4 in terms of gameplay hours. Other players have racked thousands of hours in Stellaris, so a measly 83 might not sound like much compared to that. But for me, that number of hours put in a game show just how entertaining it really is. That the 83 hours only covers three games, 2 won, 1 forfeited, also says a lot about Stellaris’ longevity.

Paradox is well know for keeping their games alive by frequently releasing free patches, and new DLC. Crusader Kings 2 is a good example. The game was released in 2013, but it’s still updated by Paradox. It looks like Stellaris is no exception to that rule. Two years after its release, the game has received multiple patches, two major expansions, and several story packs. Even without buying the DLC, you get a lot from just patching the game. Me, I’m throwing all my money at Paradox, one of the very few companies I buy games and DLC from on release day.

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“Storm Front” by Jim Butcher.

Writing a review of Storm Front 6 months after I finished the book is probably less than ideal. But this year I’m making an earnest effort to finish some of the 35+ post drafts I’ve got lying around. A half-finished review Jim Butcher’s urban fantasy novel is one of them.

The word “stormfront” isn’t something Joe Sixpack would normally associate with a book. When the word was used on the news last year, it was either because of really bad weather on the horizon, or when neo-Nazis plowed their cars through crowds of anti-fascists. But fantasy fans thankfully think of something a whole lot nicer when they hear the word. Storm Front is the name of the first book in the The Dresden Files, a series of urban fantasy/detective noir novels.

Storm Front is set in modern-day Chicago. The story’s protagonist, Harry Dresden, is a professional wizard who specialize in missing items, paranormal investigation, and consulting. But he doesn’t do love potions, or children’s parties. You have to draw the line somewhere, right? There are not many real wizards like Harry around. Still, business is slow, and he lives paycheck to paycheck.

Then a damsel in distress steps into his humble office. Monica Sells hires Harry to find her husband, and the scene is set for a fast paced adventure full of magic, spells, demons, faeries, drugs, vampires, love, and sex1.

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Firewatch.

Campo Santo’s Firewatch made it to the top of quite a lot of Game of the Year lists back in 2016. As always, I’m a little late to the party, but here’s my quick and dirty Firewatch review.

Firewatch is a first person, mystery adventure game. Released in 2016 – like we’ve already established – it raised quite a few eyebrows, and developer Campo Santo got a lot of awards thrown their way for the effort. One of the things that made Firewatch stand out, was the stunning visuals. The game looks absolutely gorgeous, there’s not doubt about that.

The game sets the scene in the summer of 1989, and you play as Henry, a 40-something who takes a job as a fire lookout in Wyoming. Why would someone want to spend months in the middle of nowhere looking for smoke? In Henry’s case, it’s because he’s having some family issues at home. Reluctant to face these issues, he decides to escape into the woods instead. Very mature, Henry!

But he is not the only fire lookout in the area. On arrival in his tower, Henry is hailed on his walkie-talkie by Delilah, who is working in one of the other towers. They start talking, and after a few days it gets very friendly, as in “don’t-forget-that-you’re-married-Henry”-friendly. But what happens in the middle of the Wyoming wilderness stay in the Wyoming, right? Not when they discover someone is listening in on their conversations, writing down everything they’re saying.

Dum, dum, duuuuum!

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The Long Dark.

Welcome to the quiet apocalypse. Here’s my quick The Long Dark review.

The Long Dark is a first-person survival video game developed by Canadian Hinterland Games. Despite the survival genre being amazingly popular, this is my first real go at a survival game. Back in 2012, I dipped my toes in DayZ, which was one of the genre-defining titles, but it didn’t sit too well with me.

Most of the popular survival games are multiplayer. Hinterland has decided to take a different approach with The Long Dark, making it singleplayer only. This suits me just fine, because multiplayer stresses me out. I prefer to wrestle with fairly predictable NPCs, instead of having to worry about other players bashing my head in for the lulz.

The Long Dark features three game play modes: Story, survival, and challenges. So far, I’ve only played the story mode – Wintermute – for about 12 hours, and I’ve not touched the survival mode, or any of the challenges. So this is basically a review of game’s story mode, and not even the entire story mode. After 12 hours, I’ve got the feeling I’m roughly 2/3 through. That might, or might not be the case, through. At any rate, 12 hours of entertaining gaming is quite good value for money. And there are still the two other game modes to explore when I’ve finished Wintermute.

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“Ringworld” by Larry Niven.

Larry Niven’s Ringworld is a piece of classic science fiction that everyone interested in the genre should read. Here’s my review.

The year is 2850 AD. Louis Wu is celebrating his 200th birthday. To make the day last as long as possible, Louis moves west1 through transfer booths, when one of them suddenly malfunctions. He finds himself in a hotel room with a Pierson’s puppeteer, a peculiar-looking, two-headed alien. The puppeteer has an offer for Louis, and it’s an offer he can’t refuse.

The puppeteer propose that Louis joins him, and two additional, unnamed, crew members on a journey to an undisclosed location. Louis reward, should ha accept the mission, will be access to a space ship with quantum II hyperspace shunt engines. These engines, developed by the puppeteers, will cut travel time through space to a fraction of what it currently is. Any race with access to the engines would find themselves in a superior position compared to races that only have access to conventional, hyperspace shunt engines.

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