XCOM: Enemy Within took an outstanding game in Enemy Unknown, and made it better. This standalone expansion is bigger, deeper, and more challenging than its impressive predecessor, forcing players to rethink their approaches, and delivering near endless replayability. Given how many weeks you'll lose to this game, paying just over a fiver for it seems like an absolute steal. Cheers Turkey!
Sometimes when an ancient series is dragged into modern times it ends horribly, upsetting all fans in the process, which is what happened when 2K said they were turning strategy title XCOM into an FPS. But then they got Firaxis to have a stab at creating a traditional XCOM game, which ended up being bloody brilliant. Remind 2K why we need more like Enemy Unknown rather than the mess that was The Bureau: XCOM Declassified by picking it up for one of the cheapest prices yet.
Thanks to jaystan at HotUkDeals.
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.
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.Click here to read more...
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.
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.Click here to read more...
When we look back at sequels that took a long, hard look at their predecessors and simply made everything better, that list of success might well include Warlock II: The Exiled. Ino-Co Plus have crafted a game that improves on Masters of the Arcane in almost every way possible, delivering a hex-based slice of deep, turn-based strategy that comes out firing on all cylinders.
Though the game's sandbox mode bears much resemblance to the original Warlock, and there are tweaks aplenty to the core gameplay that we'll get to in due course, the big addition to Warlock II, comes in the form of a new mode.
"The Exiled" refers to you, the player, along with a host of other mages who've all been cast out of the realm of Ardania by a super evil grand wizard calling himself The United One. Not only has The United One kicked out anyone who could pose a threat to him, but he's gone and shattered the realms surrounding Ardania, meaning that the worlds have splintered into shards, connected only by ethereal portals. As a super awesome mage yourself, it's up to you to consolidate your power, raise an army or two, navigate those pesky portals, and take back Ardania.Click here to read more...
By all accounts, Warlock: Master of the Arcane was a game that took a number of cues from Civilization V, setting out its turn-based strategy atop sprawling, hex-based maps. But it was a rather more light-hearted affair than most strategy games out there, freely combining the fantastical and the ridiculous with often hilarious effect, and just about managing to avoid a decent into wacky, random humour just for the sake of it.
Now, its sequel is almost here. The world has been torn asunder, ripped into shards connected only by magical portals and its your job to find your way back to the world of Ardania from the far-flung shard upon which you find yourself at the start of the game. The maps are all dynamically-generated, every playthrough is going to be different, and there's a new race in the form of the Planestriders, whom we take control of here.Click here to read more...
Sometimes when an ancient series is dragged into modern times it ends horribly, upsetting all fans in the process, which is what happened when 2K said they were turning strategy title XCOM into an FPS. But then they got Firaxis to have a stab at creating a traditional XCOM game, which ended up being bloody brilliant. Remind 2K why we need more like Enemy Unknown rather than the mess that was The Bureau: XCOM Declassified by picking it up for less than a fiver.
Thanks to BuzzDuraband at HotUkDeals.
Platforms: PC | PS3 | Xbox 360 (reviewed)
Developers: Firaxis Games
Publishers: 2K Games
Jon died last night. Just after reaching the rank of Lieutenant, both him and my good friend Seb got ambushed by a bunch of Thin Men and copped it. Soldier Me was back at base, nursing a grave injury after a run in with some particularly brutal Mechtoid, groaning in the infirmary with an equally bloodied and battered Carl. My girlfriend was the only one who made it out of that mission alive, largely thanks to a Hail Mary play that saw a fluke shot hit home, clearing a path to extraction. Jon and Seb and the sniper captain I'd named Starbuck weren't so lucky. Except it had nothing to do with luck, not really. I'd gotten them killed; I was the one who sent them running in too quickly after a time-sensitive resource. All those hours of careful progression and upgrading gone.
Welcome back, Commander. Everything you thought you knew has changed.
It's good to be sinking hours into XCOM again. Enemy Unknown was one of our favourite games of last year, and now, at a time when many are lamenting the absence of meaningful expansion packs like how they used to do, Firaxis have gone and dropped just such a big, fat expansion pack into the mix just in time for another run at Game of the Year.
Enemy Within presents the same outstanding turn-based strategy that you know and love, but with a host of additional maps, missions, customisation options, troops types, and enemies to face thrown into the equation. That might sound a little like a bit of a cop out, but nothing could be further from the truth. It's more like an outstanding director's cut -- a standalone package (on consoles, at least) that includes the original game, all of the DLC that's come out in the last year, as well as a host of new content. It's the gaming equivalent of those Lord of the Rings Extended Edition boxsets. And it's excellent.Click here to read more...
XCOM: Enemy Within is out later this week for PC, PS3, and Xbox 360, and the hefty expansion to last year's stunning XCOM: Enemy Unknown is bringing a host of new features along with it, including a mysterious resources named Meld.
We're not going to give too much away, here, but Meld basically turns XCOM into Mechs-COM. Or Genetics-COM... but that didn't roll off the tongue as nicely.
As you wait breathlessly for our XCOM: Enemy Within review, here's a little taster video showing off a couple of the Meld introductory missions. Expect another Dealspwn Playthrough featuring ridiculously amped-up cyborgs and recombined gene-stuffed commandos very soon as well.Click here to read more...
Hex-based grand strategy game Warlock: Master Of The Arcane will receive a sequel next year, Paradox Interactive announced today. Warlock 2: The Exiled will "challenge strategic sorcerers and megalomaniacal mages to conquer Ardania in an all-out war of cunning, combat, diplomacy, and excessively enormous fireballs," - at least according to a reveal trailer that riffs on Fallout in all the right ways.
Check it out below, along with more details.Click here to read more...
Age Of Wonders 3 has been floating on the periphery of our radar for some time, and was recently delayed from late 2013 to early 2014 on Steam. However, Triumph Studios have released ten wonderful minutes of gameplay showing off the depth and scope of the turn-based strategic gameplay, which looks a little like Civilization jumped into a massive Dwarven land barge and stole a city. Because that's exactly what happens.
With numerous spells, strategic options, diplomacy and both overground and underground realms available, Age Of Wonders 3 has suddenly skyrocketed up near the top of our wishlist.Click here to read more...
Full Control Games have released their Space Hulk remake on PC and Mac today, causing old-school Games Workshop fans (like myself) to get more than a little excited about strapping back into our Tactical Dreadnought Armour. Or more accurately, setting up the board. We've got a launch trailer, details and screenshots below.Click here to read more...
Terrific turn-based strategy game Skulls Of The Shogun, a labour of love from 17-Bit Studios that took many years to complete, has finally thrown off the shackles of Windows 8 and made its way to Steam. To celebrate the release of the 'Bona-A-Fide' Edition, which includes loads of new content, the tiny studio has released a hilarious trailer warning against the dangers of spontaneous human skeletalisation.
More details in our 8/10 Skulls Of The Shogun review.
Double Fine have taken to Kickstarter once again in order to crowd-fund a new title. Massive Chalice is described as the lovechild of "turn-based tactics and feudal fantasy," presenting players with a mash-up of Game Of Thrones, X-COM and Fire Emblem.
Once you've stopped drooling, we've got the pitch, premise and details after the break.Click here to read more...
The new expansion for Might & Magic: Heroes VI, titled 'Shades of Darkness', releases this week, and Ubisoft have dropped a launch trailer showing off the new slice of DLC.
Shades of Darkness focuses on the Dungeon and Necropolis factions, and adds in new creatures, new hero classes, eight new maps for multiplayer, and a campaign that focuses on a crusade by the Dark Elves.
We love games that defy easy genre pigeonholing, and Larian Studios have certainly tried to smash down a few genre walls with their upcoming game Divinity: Dragon Commander
We rather imagine that Dragon Commander is the sort of deliciously complex smoothie you'd get if you shoved the Total War series into a blender along with Civilization, the ship hubs from Wing Commander, the fast-paced strategy from innumerable RTS titles, and finished it all off with Panzer Dragoon-esque action courtesy of a jetpack-enhanced dragon.Click here to read more...
Developer: Arcen Games
Was I too generous to A Valley Without Wind? My peers seem to think so, but I saw massive potential in Arcen Games' recklessly ambitious side-scroller. It tapped into our fundamental urge to explore, to continually venture into a brave new world to gradually improve our characters and build a civilization over the course of countless hours. Its rough edges were thoroughly eclipsed by a wealth of hidden depth and genre-defying content, to the extent where I wholeheartedly nominated it as one of the best indie games of 2012.
The sequel is a very different proposition. A Valley Without Wind 2 refines and distils the gameplay of the original instead of expanding on its ambitious ideas, with Arcen describing the change as "the difference between Zelda and Zelda 2." Ruthless streamlining abounds, while new turn-based strategy elements challenge players to lead a ragtag band of resistance fighters through a randomly-generated world in a desperate retreat from evil overlord Demonaica. The sandbox has become a fight for survival.
This could have worked brilliantly were it not for one major problem. Even at its very best, A Valley Without Wind 2 is simply not fun to play.
Click here to read more...
After a somewhat inglorious premature leak, Sony has officially announced Uncharted: Fight For Fortune.
In case you don't already know, it's an "action-adventure turn-based card game" for the PS Vita. Details and trailer after the break.Click here to read more...
Julian Gollop, the strategic mastermind behind the original X-COM, plans to revisit one of his earliest games as his next project. Chaos: The Battle Of Wizards originally graced the Speccy in 1985, and the legendary developer hopes to use new technology and the Unity engine to develop a spiritual sequel rather than a by-the-numbers revamp.Click here to read more...
Haemimont Games CEO Gabriel Dobrev is a hard man to find. Tracking him down to a secret speakeasy operating underneath Central London (no, really), I presented the doorman with my password (Tony "Two Gun" Tucci sent me) and eventually came face to face with the kingpin behind Omerta: City Of Gangsters.
Having gotten hands on with the prohibition-era blend of city simulation and cut-throat strategy, it was time to interrogate the big cheese. Be sure to mug up on our Omerta: City Of Gangsters preview first, capiche?
Jonathan Lester (Dealspwn): Thanks for talking to us, Gabriel. First things first: why 1920s America? Haemimont have been all about ancient history and tropical islands thus far...
Gabriel Dobrev (Haemimont): As a child, I was really interested in gangster stuff and read a lot of books about it. I had absolutely no idea that there would be some point where I would be working on a setting like this. When the idea came up, both me and the entire team just liked it, because there was so much potential to do so many things that people know about that era that we can use. So it was instantly liked.
We had several different ideas to pick from, like we could do 'this' or "this' or 'this,' but [Omerta] stood in front of everything else.
Click here to read more...