Vegard Skjefstad

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Tag: Reviews (page 2 of 31)

Block’hood

What happens when a design studio decides they want to take a stab at making a computer game? You get Block’hood.

The Plethora Project (or perhaps it’s “Plethora-Project”, they can’t make up their mind, and that annoys me), is a “design studio with a mission to accelerate computational literacy in the frame of Architecture and Design.” In 2017, they released Block’hood, a city building simulator video game that focuses on ideas of ecology, interdependence and decay. From the screenshots, it might resemble a tower building game, but it’s not. In Block’hood, you don’t create towers, but entire create ecosystems, called hoods, with the goal of making them self-sufficient.

I really like the premise of the game. It reminds me a lot of The Settlers series, of which I played a few of the titles for hours on end. The ecosystems in The Settlers are pretty basic compared to those in Block’hood, though. In The Settlers, you would plant some wheat, harvest, make flour at the mill, then a baker would make bread from one part flour, and one part water. An equivalent ecosystem in Block’hood would be similar, but involve a lot more components, or “blocks” as they are called in the game, and be more complex. Blocks in a Block’hood ecosystem more often than need several inputs to function, and produce both products and bi-products.

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Red Bull Silver Edition Lime

Red Bull Silver Edition Lime

When it comes to the question of whether or not I should reload my energy drink review series, I’m still very much on the fence. Recently, though, I came across a Red Bull Silver Edition Lime review draft I started in 2015, but never got around to finish. So regardless of the reload or not, it’s time to get this draft done and published. It’s based on the old, boring review format. I’ve decided to stick with it for this review, perhaps to prove a point, or perhaps because it’s the path of least resistance to get the review published.

Without further ado, let’s get started.

A variety of Red Bull flavors has appeared on the shelves lately1. Marketed as “Red Bull Editions“, they sure are a welcome addition to a somewhat stale energy drink market. Most manufacturers desperately try to copy the original Red Bull flavor, when they should rather use the opportunity to innovate. Instead, it’s Red Bull itself that comes up with something new and original flavors. Give them a rounds of applause!

The Red Bull Editions come with the same energy related benefits as a can of the original Red Bull, but in a range of other flavors. Currently, three are available: Cranberry (The Blue Edition), Cranberry (The Red Edition), and Lime (The Silver Edition). In this review, we’ll give the lime flavored Silver Edition a try.

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Project Highrise

The sky is the limit in SomaSim Game’s Project Highrise.

If you’ve been around for a while, you might be familiar with the 1994 simulation title SimTower. The Japanese game, which was published by the once great Maxis outside of Japan, allowed the player to construct and manage a modern, multi-use skyscraper. Even though I never really got the hang of it1, I loved SimTower. When Chicago based developer SomaSim released Project Highrise back in 2016, I got properly excited. The game behaved like SimTower’s older brother, but with an even more detailed simulation than its spiritual predecessor offered.

But I didn’t put on my hardhat, and entered the construction business immediately when Project Highrise was released. I had too much else on my plate, and the game’s art style put me off a little, to be honest. But when Project Highrise, and all its DLC appeared on sale last week, I couldn’t resist the temptation anymore. It was time to see if this was a skyscraper construction and management sim I could actually master.

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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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