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Iceberg Interactive

Vector Thrust Review | Too Early For Missiles

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Reviews
Tags:
Flight Simulator, Games reviews, Iceberg Interactive, PC games, Vector Thrust

Vector Thrust!

Even its name is awesome.  As a cel-shaded combat flight sim that plays like a slightly more authentic Ace Combat, boasting 260 aircraft and a huge number of modes, this one-man effort fills a void that's been cruelly ignored over the last few years. Arcade dogfighting. Beyond a couple of Ace Combat spinoffs and a few Sci-Fi efforts, we've had little to celebrate until now.

So naturally I jumped at the opportunity to review Vector Thrust as soon as it graduated from Steam Early Access to full release, being a huge fan of the genre and small-team boutique development. Sadly, it turns out that the celebrations are a tad premature, because what could have been a great combat flight sim launched far too early.

Vector Thrust Review | Too Early For Missiles

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StarDrive 2 Review | Space Bears On Fire Off The Shoulder Of Orion

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Reviews
Tags:
4X games, Games reviews, Iceberg Interactive, PC games, StarDrive 2, Strategy games, Zero Sum Games

StarDrive 2 Review | Space Bears On Fire Off The Shoulder Of Orion

Exploration is nice. I'm partial to a little Expansion and Exploitation too. StarDrive 2 offers all of these things, but when it comes right down to brass tacks, it's all about wholesale Extermination on a galactic scale. Sweeping battles in space and on land, attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion, glittering armadas reduced to smouldering ruin. And that's absolutely fine by us.

While the space 4X genre is actually booming thanks to a small number of true greats (such as Distant Worlds and Endless Space), there's also a slew of generic, mechanically unsound and lacklustre cookie-cutter clones attempting to satisfy the demand. Though much closer in mechanics and tone to a traditional 4X game than its RTS-inspired predecessor, StarDrive 2 cuts through the noise by doing things differently, and in many cases, better.

Also there are Space Bears. Which we like immensely, even when they're rampaging through our colonies thanks to surprisingly canny AI.

Note that this review is based on v.1.0h, which includes a huge number of stability and balance tweaks alongside major AI and difficulty level tuning. - Jonathan

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PODCAST | We Need To Talk About 4X Games

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
4X games, Endless Space, Iceberg Interactive, Lords of the Black Sun, PC games, Podcast, Strategy games

Jon and I have been playing a fair few 4X games of late, and so we decided to have a little recorded chat about the state of the genre, why it seems to be coming back in such a big way lately, and why so many of those games are actually falling rather short.

Endless Space has been a bright beacon in recent memory, but even that game had its faults. We're seeing a number of games such as Drox Operative and The Last Federation incorporate 4X elements into hybrid setups, but is that the answer? And how is it that so many of these games are emerging, lacking a universe boasting any sort of distinctive personality or flavour?

Over the course of half an hour, we hope to root out a few answers. Let us know what you make of it all in the comments below!

Let's Play... Lords of the Black Sun | Crushing Pirates

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
4X games, Iceberg Interactive, Lords of the Black Sun, Star Lords, Strategy games, Turn-based strategy games, Videos

 

Let's Play... Lords of the Black Sun | Crushing Pirates

We've fast-forwarded a little bit for the second part of the Lords of the Black Sun preview. My humans have gone out and conquered a few more planets, but everyone is still playing nice. Even the pirates are all being utterly delightful.

That's not how this is supposed to be!

Time to build an enormous fleet and start cracking some skulls. In this second video, we take a look at combat and espionage, using an agent to go behind enemy lines and pinch some money off of our neighbours.

As I say towards the end of the video, Lords of the Black Sun has a promising foundation laid out here. Arkavi have managed to get the basics of a decent 4X game in play, and it should be remembered that the game is still in Early Access. But I struggle to see why the game is being priced close to £20. There's just nothing here that really stands out. The AI is a little more aggressive on the higher difficulty levels, but there's little to distinguish the various races from one another.

Let's Play... Lords of the Black Sun | Crushing Pirates

Furthermore, it strikes me that so much more could be made of the universe. It's not enough to simply have a star map, eight thumbnails of hand-drawn alien races, and to adjust a couple of sliders here and there to create a setting that demands interest. It used to be, but we already have 4X games that perfected that formula. Modern 4X titles need to kick on in some respect and try to deliver something that doesn't just resemble a copy of games that have come before.

To be fair to Lords of the Black Sun, story elements are yet to come, but it remains to be seen how they'll tie into things. Strategy games don't need stories, but context can certainly help. I just want to see more depth everywhere -- from more expansive, exciting research options to more background lore to more variety in terms of racial playstyles. The eight races play out in fairly similar fashion to one another as far as I can tell (I've tested four of them at this point) and there are still too many empty turns.

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Let's Play... Lords of the Black Sun (or The Game Formely Known As Star Lords)

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
4X games, Iceberg Interactive, Lords of the Black Sun, Star Lords, Strategy games, Turn-based strategy games, Videos

Let's Play... Lords of the Black Sun (or The Game Formely Known As Star Lords)

Everyone's making 4X games these days, it seems. But the trouble with a well-worn genre that's been practically perfected in the likes of Galactic Civilizations II and, before that, the utterly sublime Masters of Orion II is that it can become difficult for newcomers to make a mark. Endless Space had a worthy bash at it, but even with that game, after a while I just found myself firing up DOSbox and thanking GOG for allowing me to go back in time and delight once more in a childhood spent conquering galaxies in MOO and its sequel.

In many ways, GOG has ruined the modern space-based 4X market. If you can play Masters of Orion II for a fiver, why the hell would you ever need any other pretender?

Enter Lords of the Black Sun, or the game formerly known as Star Lords. It's in beta right now, a term that has admittedly lost its once-singular meaning these days -- it's basically done, but it's missing a few bits such as story elements, occasionally crashes to the desktop, and occasionally seems a bit sparse.

Let's Play... Lords of the Black Sun (or The Game Formely Known As Star Lords)

The 4X formula is pretty addictive, and that makes it very easy to create a game that sucks you in via a strategic template of sorts. I'm not saying that Lords of the Black Sun copies the games that have come before, it's just that... wait, no that's exactly what I'm saying. But every single game in this genre has done that, so it's not that big of a deal. What is a big deal, however, is just how generic things feel. I've sunk several hours into the game, and the core gameplay is enjoyable, but too often you just find yourself endlessly ending turns. The UI is small and finicky, though pleasingly rather uncluttered and easy to navigate, but the level of depth doesn't seem to be there yet. One of my biggest bugbears is not being able to see the diplomatic relations of my allies. In fact, simple visual communication in general is not exactly one of the game's fortes.

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Horizon Review | Catastrophic Combat Cripples A 4X Contender

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Reviews
Tags:
4X games, Iceberg Interactive, L30 Interactive, PC, PC games

Horizon Review | Catastrophic Combat Cripples A 4X Contender

Platform: PC

Developer: L30 Interactive

Publisher: Iceberg Interactive

The space 4X genre is in a very strange place right now. There's demand and supply thanks to crowd-funding and early access, yet we still don't have a truly great modern game that gives GalCiv, Master Of Orion 2 and Birth Of The Federation a run for their money. Even the magnificent Endless Space alienated many players with its controversial card combat, while we've seen so many promising titles release unfinished, unpolished or plain unplayable.

But all hope is not lost. Cue Horizon, an unapologetically old-school affair that dreams of the genre's glory years. Players lead their chosen race to dominate sprawling galaxies, expanding their reach with new colonies, exploring the wild frontier and tech trees, exploiting virgin territory and exterminating all comers when diplomacy fails. Offering unique races and turn-based fleet combat, Horizon has been on our radar for some considerable time.

Horizon Review | Catastrophic Combat Cripples A 4X Contender

Having previewed the Early Access build a few weeks ago, I was worried that Horizon might need a lot of work to bring it up to snuff, but a massive v.1.0. patch put paid to many of my concerns. Minutes turned to hours as I led the fledgling human race to take its first steps towards becoming a major galactic superpower.

Sadly, continued play reveals that L30 Interactive have built an otherwise enjoyable game on shaky foundations.

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Starpoint Gemini 2 Early Access Preview | Launch All Fighters, Fire At Will!

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Features
Tags:
Early Access, Games previews, Iceberg Interactive, Little Green Men Games, PC, PC games, RPG, Space Sim

Starpoint Gemini 2 Early Access Preview | Launch All Fighters, Fire At Will!

Platform: PC (Steam Early Access, £16.99)

Developer: Little Green Men Games

Publisher: Iceberg Interactive

Starpoint Gemini 2 promises to be an intoxicating proposition for fans of space sims and RPGs. Throughout a freeform galaxy wracked by fierce conflict, players will battle, mine, salvage and trade their way to bigger and better starships bristling with turrets and fighters, exploring dozens of systems, all while pursuing a lengthy storyline and levelling up their character with perks and skills.

However, we've heard it all before, since the original Starpoint Gemini made much the same boast but fell short in the execution. Little Green Men Games have therefore gone back to the drawing board to deliver a firm foundation for the sequel: a fully 3D, PhysX-powered sandbox universe to explore and conquer in real-time, allowing us to directly control our capital ships in tense naval battles among the stars.

This foundation -- sans storyline and several features -- is currently available on Steam Early Access. Though Starpoint Gemini 2 still has much to prove, I'm delighted to report that it's shaping up very nicely indeed. Full power to engines, launch all fighter wings and fire at will!

Starpoint Gemini 2 Early Access Preview | Launch All Fighters, Fire At Will!

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Endless Space & Disharmony Expansion | £9.86 | GamersGate | PC

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Deals
Tags:
4X games, Amplitude Studios, Endless Space, Endless Space: Gold, Iceberg Interactive, PC games

Endless Space & Disharmony Expansion | £9.86 | GamersGate | PC

Endless Space Gold | GamersGate | £9.86 (save £7.99)
Endless Space Review | Price Comparison

If you're having trouble deciding on a 4X deal today, buy this over StarDrive. Costs less, has more content, is much better.

Endless Legend Announced By Endless Space Devs

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
News
Tags:
4X games, Amplitude Studios, Gamescom 2013, Iceberg Interactive, PC games, Strategy games

Endless Legend Announced By Endless Space Devs

Fantasy 4X Gets First Details & Screens

Amplitude Studios have officially announced Endless Legend, a "fantasy 4X" game that will release alongside the previously-teased as Dungeon Of The Endless. Expect the same eXploration, eXpansion, eXploitation, and eXtermination we're used to from the genre, but set in a world of heroes, quests and legendary creatures.

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Endless Space: Disharmony Expansion Coming This Summer

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
News
Tags:
Amplitude Studios, Endless Space, Iceberg Interactive

Endless Space: Disharmony Expansion Coming This Summer

UPDATE: Now With Trailer

Endless Space, the excellent 4X title from Amplitude Studios, will receive its first full expansion pack in a matter of weeks. Endless Space: Disharmony contains a brand new faction, new fighter units, redesigned interface, invasions and more. We've got the all-important feature set and a teaser trailer after the break.

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StarDrive Review | Space Bears Off The Starboard Bow!

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Reviews
Tags:
4X games, Iceberg Interactive, Indie Games, PC games, RTS, Strategy games, Zero Sum Games
Discuss:
StarDrive | PC

StarDrive Review | Space Bears Off The Starboard Bow!

Platform: PC

Developer: Zero Sum Games

Publisher: Iceberg Interactive

Let's start with the great news. After a brave Kickstarter drive back in 2011, Dan DiCicco and his tiny studio Zero Sum Games have finally released StarDrive to an expectant PC audience hungry for eXploration, eXpansion, eXploitation and inevitable eXtermination. Not to mention Samurai Space Bears. 4X strategy games have received little love this generation, and DiCicco promised a title with genuine personality rather than glorified spreadsheets.

Now for the good news. Instead of copying existing 4X games, StarDrive aims to shake up the genre with extensive real-time space combat and ground battles that makes the action resemble a deep spacebound RTS. Though it shares similarities with classics like GalCiv and newcomers such as Endless Space and even AI War, Zero Sum's crowd-funded effort has an identity all of its own.

The bad news, unfortunately, is that StarDrive should have stayed in beta a while longer. Some of its more radical ideas end up falling prey to a slew of niggling issues, while missing gameplay elements will likely annoy customers who buy at launch.

StarDrive Review | Space Bears Off The Starboard Bow!

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StarDrive Out On Steam Today: Space Bears Ahoy!

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
News
Tags:
4X games, Iceberg Interactive, PC games, StarDrive, Strategy games, Zero Sum Games

StarDrive Out On Steam Today: Space Bears Ahoy!

StarDrive, the Kickstarted 4X space strategy game from Zero Sum Games, is leaving beta later today. It'll launch on Steam for £24.99 (a pre-order discount expires in a matter of hours), offering "deep ship design, colonization, diplomacy, research" and all the rampant space bears you can handle. More details below.

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Endless Space: Emperor Special Edition | £13.48 | GamersGate | PC

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Deals
Tags:
4X games, Amplitude Studios, Endless Space, Iceberg Interactive, PC games
Endless Space: Emperor Special Edition | £13.48 | GamersGate | PC

GamersGate's Spring Sale is now underway, and offers a huge saving for Endless Space's Emperor Edition. Though some of the extras are rather redundant now that the game has shipped (like your forum name in the credits), this 4X extravaganza is definitely worth picking up, even if you hold off for a cheaper deal on the standard version.

You can knock off a little extra with the "elder-geek.com" voucher code.

Endless Space: Emperor Edition | £10.80 | Green Man Gaming | PC

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Deals
Tags:
4X games, Amplitude Studios, Endless Space, Iceberg Interactive, PC games
Endless Space: Emperor Edition | £10.80 | Green Man Gaming | PC

Endless Space is a truly brilliant 4X game: deep, addictive, infinitely customisable and (shock horror) actually easy to use. You can tailor every aspect of the experience to suit your whims, from the makeup of the galaxy to the traits and weaknesses of your own personal alien race.

GMG's voucher code deal brings the weighty Emperor Edition down to the same price as the standard (Admiral) version usually gets to during sales. Nice.

Endless Space | £11.50 | GamersGate | PC

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Deals
Tags:
4X games, Amplitude Studios, Endless Space, Iceberg Interactive, PC games
Endless Space | £11.50 | GamersGate | PC

Endless Space is a truly brilliant 4X game: deep, addictive, infinitely customisable and (shock horror) actually easy to use. You can tailor every aspect of the experience to suit your whims, from the makeup of the galaxy to the traits and weaknesses of your own personal alien race.

Despite being unwilling to match their £7.82 deal from last November (that was probably a misprice considering how quickly it was changed), GamersGate are touting a £3 saving.

Tiny Troopers | £1.99 | Green Man Gaming | PC

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Deals
Tags:
Iceberg Interactive, Kukouri Mobile Entertainment, PC games
Tiny Troopers | £1.99 | Green Man Gaming | PC

Tiny Troopers is shamelessly inspired by Cannon Fodder, and actually provides an enjoyable bite-sized squad experience. Some players balked at its value at £7.99, but at a discount (and packing free extra content), I'd suggest checking this one out if you miss Jools and Jops.

Endless Space | £7.82 | GamersGate | PC

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Deals
Tags:
4X games, Amplitude Studios, Endless Space, Iceberg Interactive, PC games
Endless Space | £7.82 | GamersGate | PC

Endless Space is a truly brilliant 4X game: deep, addictive, infinitely customisable and (shock horror) actually easy to use. You can tailor every aspect of the experience to suit your whims, from the makeup of the galaxy to the traits and weaknesses of your own personal alien race.

And it's £7.82. GamersGate have shown up even the Steam Thanksgiving sale with what appears to be the cheapest price yet.

Tiny Troopers Review | Cannon Fodder 3

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Reviews
Tags:
Action Games, Cannon Fodder, Iceberg Interactive, iOS games, Kukouri Mobile Entertainment, PC games, Tiny Troopers

Tiny Troopers Review | Cannon Fodder 3

Platforms: PC (reviewed) | iOS (tested)

Developer: Kukouri Mobile Entertainment

Publisher: Iceberg Interactive

As misty-eyed lovers of Sensible Software to a man, we've been craving an up-to-date revamp of the seminal Cannon Fodder experience for years. An experience that, sadly, the officially-licensed Cannon Fodder 3 was unable to deliver. Bereft of a fun-yet-hardcore romp featuring small squads of expendable (if loveable) troopers, we were forced to look elsewhere to get our fix.

So imagine our delight upon discovering that an unassuming iOS app from Kukouri Entertainment managed to deliver the goods. Tiny Troopers is an unabashed homage to classic Cannon Fodder gameplay, bringing things into the 21st century with a nifty approach to persistent currency for a bargain price.

Now that Tiny Troopers has graduated from iOS to PC, it's high time that Dealspwn got involved. To quote an old saying: war has never been so much fun.

Tiny Troopers Review | Cannon Fodder 3

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