Sins of a Solar Empire

256px-sins_of_a_solar_empire

By Mario Garcia

Manufacturer: Ironclad Games

Publisher: Stardock Entertainment

Review Rating: 9

Website:  http://www.sinsofasolarempire.com/

Sins of a Solar Empire is a RTS within a 4X game.  4 X games are classically turn based games with the premise of “eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate.” Sins does this beautifully with many planets to explore and conquer within each game. There can be from one star and a few planets to up to hundreds within a single game which means taking on a game means you should clear some time in your schedule.The feel of the game truly conveys the massive scale of planets and distances in space along with the scale of the ships and battles in space.

The exploration of the planets is pretty straightforward in the beginning of the game as each race scrambles to take a good foothold. Though some planets require tech upgrades for exploration and you may end up fighting over a planet you can’t take and then have to defend the space or retreat until you can colonize it. Once you have acquired a planet you can position space stations around the planets. Logistical platforms like metal and crystal extractors, frigate and capital shipyards, research stations and trade outposts make and use the resources that your empire needs to run. Orbital defense platforms such as Gauss cannons and strike craft hangars keep enemy fleets and marauders at bay.

Ships come in frigate, cruiser, and capital classes. The frigates make up the basic ship types including construction and colonization ships. They are usually lightly armored and fast with either laser or missile armaments. Cruisers are the more specialized support ships made for ship to ship, strike craft defense, planetary bombardment or repair capabilities. The Ship Design is a bit bland though many mods add extra ship designs as well as classic Sci Fi franchise ships. Star Wars and Star Trek Mods are currently available and are constantly being upgraded.

There is no Single Player campaign for Sins so each game essentially writes its own story of conquest and treachery. The slow pace and micromanagement make it easy to get into for people who generally do not like the lighting fast pace of standard RTS fare. However this slow paced game play makes Sins a Serious time sink so make sure you have plenty of time if you want to get through even a small map.

factor_high2All in all Sins of a solar empire is a great Strategy Game. Different mods and fresh systems every game makes a new experience. Multiplayer is alot of fun and the addition of themed mods make this a gem that will be great to come back to again and again . Just make sure you have plenty of time to play.

TME Holiday Mario’s What I Want for Xmas List

top-10By Mario Garcia

With the holidays here sometimes its hard to find the perfect gift for your PC Gamer.  Here is my top 10 picks for great gifts in no particular order.

World of Warcraft – Of course the biggest most popular MMO of all time its really the gift that keeps on giving.  WoW is a game that is fun all year with events all the time, exciting gameplay and a great community. World of Warcraft is a great gift and dont forget Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King expansions.

Left 4 Dead – One of the greatest Cooperative First Person Shooter. The Soundtrack keeps the tension and feel of a great zombie horror.  Dingle player or cooperative online this one is a winner

Command and Conquer 3 – The new sequel to one of the greatest Real Time Strategy Series of all time. Fast Action, a good story and all around fun gameplay. Make this one a must have.

Peggle – Think crack in rainbow colors.  A mash up of cute characters and extremely addictive gameplay. You will find yourself trying again and again for the perfect shot.

Orange Box: Portal, Team Fortress 2, Half Life 2, Half life 2 Episode 1, Half life 2 Episode.  The Value of this one is over the top 5 games each worth a full price all or the price of one.  Portal is one the the most innovative games in a long time. Team Fortress 2 is a cell shaded cartoony team based shooter is fun and exciting with a huge player base for great online play.  Half Life 2 + Episode 1 and 2 bring a compelling story and exciting play make these some of the best First person shooters ever.

Spore – Will Wright’s Life Simulation game lets you create all manner of strange and interesting lifeforms.  The games allows you to play a life form from single cell all the way to a space faring race. Some describe this as a more of a toy than a game it is definitively different and alot of fun for all.

Bioshock – This game is a wonderful first person shooter. An exciting run through an underwater utopia called Rapture.  Though the game is over a year old it is definitely one that many have missed.  Just watch out for Big Daddy

Sins of a Solar Empire – The first 4XRTS.  A Real time strategy on a huge scale. Taking place on a galactic scale truly conveys the massive scale.  Fantastic scenery and exciting soundtrack plus the huge maps make every game different plus with many mods alredy available make Sins  one is great the first time and will have a lot of replayability

World of Goo –  This puzzle game is fantastic.  The gameplay is fun and addictive.  You use droplets of goo to solve various puzzles.  The great thing about this game is its 2D physics based cartoonyness.  THe little balls of goo babble and ooze  while they are molded into interesting slimy structures.  Dont let this one slip by.

Bionic Commando Rearmed:  This remake of the classic 8 bit NES title holds a special place in my heart.   The classic soundtrack and sidescrolling gameplay mixed with the updated 3D graphics and new abilites and weapons make this one a great game.  Perfect for those who enjoyed the original and fun for those new to the Bionic Commando story.

I know there are a few older games but sometimes games get overlooked or missed in the great holiday shuffle.  There are also some brand new games that i didn’t include in this list but don’t worry there’s always next year.

– Mario Garcia

The Heavy Hitters of the Holidays

top-101By Lauri Hong

Well, its that time of the year again, here are some top tiles you’ll probably won’t want to miss out on for your PC…

1. Left 4 Dead – How can you not kill zombies to get you in the holiday spirit?!

2. Fallout 3 – Just like the console versions… Fun with a gun!

3. World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King – HA! Need I say more to those MMO junkies?!

4. Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning – Even more juice for the MMO players around the world!

5. Far Cry 2 – Who can resist a good first person shooter?!

6. Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 – For those that love RTS, raise your hand!

7. Call of Duty: World at War – Cheers to another great FPS!

8. Spore – Oooh… goody! My very own monster!

9. World of Goo – Gotta love those puzzle games, and besides… how can you pass up goo?!?!

10. Dead Space – Always good to have a good scare!

Hope you all enjoy having these around, ’cause I highly recommend that you invest those gift cards of yours in these babies!

World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King

By Angie Quidimwrath-of-the-lich-king

Developed and Distributed by Blizzard Entertainment

Number of Players MMO (ALOT)

Platform: PC only

ESRB T (rating changes depending on online play)

Website World of Warcraft:Wrath of the Lich King

 

Blizzard returns with its long awaited expansion to the ever popular “World of Warcraft” Series with Wrath of the Lich King.

The story continues with the awakening of the lich king, Arthas, in Northrend. Northrend is a cold fridgid territory reminding one of the Icelandic countries and Russia in others (ie Borean Tundra)

Characters that have reached the edge of their leveling from the last expansion, Burning Crusade, can now look forward to 10 more levels increasing their skills and weaponry.  This time Blizzard Developers promised the new equipment that gamer would obtain will last longer and not become useless with every expansion.  As for traits and skills, Blizzard added a new Glyph feature to characters.  Players will able to enhance specific spell properties such as mages’ evocation to improve performance.  A number of other changes to abilities can also be found on the World of Warcraft main site that go into further detail.  If you are a power player and reached the max in a day or so, a new hero class is available for you to play.  

 

dk57

 Death Knight opens a new chapter for those interested in the Warcraft Lore and offer new areas and quests for those that want something new.  Also referred to as the “dark paladin”, this casting plate class opens up new opportunities for PVE and PVP with abilities such as death grip ( Simulates Scorpion’s Spear move in Mortal Kombat).  This hero class is limited to one per server on an individual account starting at level 55 with a horse and all rare (Blue) gear.

The instances and battlegrounds are all varied and also include the usage of siege weapons such as tanks and catapults. Players will now be involved in epic warfare using everything in their arsenal.  The environments are always beautiful with a soundtrack that is quite eclectic ranging from classical to trance techno.  Mobs are a bit more intelligent and not as limited on their AI.  

Trade skills go up to 450 now so you have much to do in the ways of raising  those professions.  Materials for some professions don’t come so easy as items are concentrated in the central part of Northrend.  The different factions have many differnt item sets that do some major buffage.  Also the sets that drop in Northrend will not go out of style so quickly.  Blizzard has vowed that this time items will last a bit longer after the next expansion.  

Mounts have changed where they are able to carry more than 1 person. Mammoths that are available for those who have 18K gold can carry up to 3 people a vendor and repair/reagent person.   There are epic war bears and cold flying mounts available as you go up in reputaion with certain factions.   For a death night a skeletal mount is availble when you reach 70.

Evo Factor

factor_high1

 

 

 

There is much to see and do and see on the new continent and there are always new ways to exploit the expansion.  So what are you waiting for.  Please note that you must have the first World of Warcraft game and the Burning Crusade expansion in order to play.  There is much more to the game that the basic stuff that was written here so stay tuned for updates!

Red Alert 3

Red Alert 3


By Mario Garcia

Manufacturer: Electronic arts

Review Rating: 8

Website:  Red Alert

Welcome Back Comrade.  Time travel has once again altered the course of history.  The Soviets finding themselves losing the war against the Allies have travelled back in time to try to save themselves and killed Albert Einstein before he can create weapons the allies can use to defeat the Soviets. Now a new faction rises from the east the anime inspired Empire of the Rising Sun threatens the world.  Command and Conquer Red Alert 3 is the next great RTS chapter in the Red Alert universe.

Continuing the trend from Command and Conquer 3, a third faction has been added to the traditional 2 of allies and soviets. The 3 factions Allies, Soviets and Empire of the Rising Sun are varied and fun to play.  The Soviets with their industrialized mega Apocalypse war tanks and Kirov Airships and armored bears decimate enemy forces. Allies take a more high tech approach using dolphin troops with devastating sonic attacks Mirage Tanks to mask their true numbers while Cryocopters Freeze enemies solid to be shattered with the next shot.  The Empire of the Rising Sun is the new faction taking definitely Anime inspired with psychic schoolgirls and Giant robots like the King Oni and transformable helicopter/walkers.  Another new addition is the Co-Commander you may either team up with a friend for online co-op play or with one of the computer controlled AI allies. So no matter what, you always have an ally during your mission   This definitely makes for interesting gameplay and adds an extra element to the strategy have your ally take out one of the targets or flank the enemy forces. The building portions seemed a bit slower than CNC3 and there was a few levels that were nearly infuriatingly challenging but overall the combat was fun and exciting.

One of the best parts of the Command and Conquer games are the live action sequences. Red Alert 3 did not fail to deliver.  With a fantastic scf fi packed cast starring Tim Curry, George Takei, Gemma Atkinson, Peter Stormare, JK Simmons, Jonathan Pryce, Jenny McCarthy and Kelly Hu.  The live action cut scenes bring the story to life like no narration could. They are a bit cheesy but that is part of the charm. The Collectors edition came with a bonus DVD and Soundtrack CD.  The DVD came with a large collection of concept art, blooper reel, “Making of” and Women of Red Alert 3 featurettes.

The gameplay is fast and furious.  The story is a lot of fun to play through with great performances from the whole cast. Cooperative and Competitive multiplayer makes the game last far beyond the single player campaign. The great RTS gameplay and fantastic live action cut scenes make this addition to the command and conquer franchise a must have!

 

Evofactor

factor_high