Monday, 27 March 2017
Friday, 24 March 2017
|"There's a voice, keeps on calling me..."|
|I stuffed up incapacitating the male model 47 bears an uncanny resemblance|
to, so he was found and revived and actually walking about somewhere else
while I snatched his catwalk spot and his meeting with Blackmail Inc.
Hitman is a game that rewards patience and observation, but does not demand long periods of inactivity and gives you plenty to look at and discover as you go through. It also, as I feel is necessary for assassination games, paints an ugly enough picture of your targets that you don't have to feel too bad lobbing them over a rail into the Seine (especially not when there's a punning achievement on offer.)
Wednesday, 15 March 2017
|Bom-bom baba-bom-bom baba...|
Over the weekend, we broke out one of Hanna's birthday presents: Game of Thrones Cluedo.
This game follows the essential rules of Cluedo (Clue if you're American,) but with a twist. Each player takes one of six characters, moves around a map with a number of rooms and has to work out which of the six characters, including themselves, done a murder(1), in which room and with which of six weapons. All of the variables are on cards, and one of each is placed in an envelope to define the terms of the crime. Each turn you aim to get your character to a new room, where you can 'start a rumour', calling a character and a weapon to the same room and putting it about that this is the killer combo. In turn, each of your opponents gets a chance to prove you wrong by showing you one card from their hand that matches your rumour. Eventually, when you think you know the solution, you can make an accusation, check the envelope, and either win or be excluded from the game. Because the game was made in older and simpler times, the win condition is the same for everyone, even if you realise that it was you what done it.
|Is anyone significantly murdered with a battle axe in the series?|
Game of Thrones Cluedo has the twist of featuring two scenarios on its reversible board: Mereen, in which you are solving a murder in one of nine major buildings; and The Red Keep, in which you are figuring out who was behind a murder plot which reached its grim conclusion in one of eleven rooms, making for a slightly more complex case. In addition, because we no longer live in those simple times, each character has a special ability and an additional mechanic allows you to collect Intrigue cards by various means, which allow you to take extra turns, see additional cards and other such things. Just for funsies, eight of the Intrigue cards are White Walkers, which must be played immediately into a separate discard pile. Drawing the eighth White Walker takes you out of the game, and the card is shuffled back into the deck to potentially kill someone else later.
|Varys: Master of Modifiers|
Most of the Game of Thrones trappings are just window dressing on your basic Cluedo, and even the special abilities are interesting one-shots at most, but the Intrigue cards are a radical change to the pacing of the game. Given the near-certainty of someone stealing the prize if you stumble on solution – say by guessing the weapon and room out of nowhere, damnit – an extra turn can reverse one's fortunes. With only three players the White Walkers aren't that much of a thing, but I can see that with eight the Intrigue deck would be much more akin to a revolver(2) in a game of Russian roulette. All in all, it's the Intrigue deck that makes this more than just a reskin, with Miss Scarlett wearing some sort of creepy, serial killer Cersei Lannister mask.
Also, the world is clearly ready for a Game of Thrones edition of Kill Doctor Lucky, with Joffrey as the obvious victim.
(1) Murder has its own grammar.
(2) A revolver that fires zombies.
Wednesday, 22 February 2017
Thursday, 26 January 2017
|Regions have different ADVENT strengths; currently I'm dealing with low|
strengths, but I suspect it's going to get nasty once I manage to scrape together
the resources to build a radio room and reach out to somewhere I've not been
Once you get into it, two things strike you about Long War. One is the increased depth of the overworld strategic game; the other is how the way you play changes. Stealth becomes important for more than just setting up your first ambush. Whereas in the standard game it's a point of pride to get all of the aliens even if your mission is to evac a VIP; in Long War, you've never done better than if you never have to fire a shot. The first time I stealthed all the way to the cells and nipped out the back door with the prisoners without a single exchange of fire, I felt like a god; probably Loki. There's still a satisfaction - a huge satisfaction, even on easy - in a two-strong Ranger team taking on five-to-one odds to put down the guard on a prisoner transport, but it's no less a victory when you then book for evac without even stopping to see what reinforcements are coming.
|Infiltration fundamentally changes human resource management.|
Secondly, infiltration completely alters your troop management. In the basic game, you get one or maybe two squads-worth and train them hard, while the bottom of the order sort of languishes. In Long War, teams spend days at a time infiltrating mission sites. Between that and healing times, you'e going to use much, much more of your roster and it really is worth cycling through to keep everyone trained up. Weapon and armour management is also once more a thing, as Long War removes the squad upgrade option; new weapons have to be built individually and supplies are at a premium. Something is nicking most of my drops and I still don't know what. Maybe if I can get the Officer corpse I need to make a skulljack(3) I can finally find out!
Finally, there's the whole question of managing the resistance. I've barely got into that, and although it mostly seems simple - each resistance member at a haven can scavenge for supplies, snoop for intel, recruit new resistance members or hide - I suspect it may become important later and I may regret not paying more attention now. Given that the havens are now persistent entities with characters who do things for me, I anticipate retaliation missions feeling a lot more personal.
(1) Attempting anything with less than 200% infiltration is a doomed venture, at least with basic gear. Once I can send a couple of heavily armoured ninjas into the field, I may spec a squad for short infiltrations.
(2) I'm basically not committed enough to break the cycle, so I never get the catharsis of victory to counter the constant frustration.
(3) Proving Ground projects don't need huge amounts of supplies, but tend to require 'parts', and since most of your missions end in evac, you don't have as many stiffs lying around. You can't pick up dead or incapacitated enemies and carry them to evac; I've tried.
Friday, 20 January 2017
Make no mistake, Long War 2 is not just about making XCOM 2 last longer, it makes it tough. Entry level missions have Sectoids and armoured drones with stun guns, and new ADVENT troops like the Engineer with her grenade launcher and the Sentry with her mad Overwatch skillz, and they all dodge like absolute bastards. Your hit rates are for shit and there's every chance that even a successful shot will be dodged for a minor graze. Oh, and there are a lot of them on each level, with a tendency to converge on you as soon as you go loud.
Now, it's not all doom and gloom. First, you begin the game with a few extra bits and bobs, in particular three grenade/utility slots, nanoweave vests - which provide 'protection' instead of extra health, which means that the first few damage levels don't count as wounds - and sweet, sweet flashbang grenades. Within the first mission I had come to love these little beauties, so much so that I felt betrayed the first time an ADVENT Engineer lobbed one back at me. On the other hand, regular frag grenades are much less reliable.
In addition, you begin with the ability to ship eight soldiers on the Skyranger, so you can send a hell of a lot of hurt out in a single package; the flipside is that you no longer land in the combat zone. The Skyranger drops off your squad and they infiltrate the AO, a process which takes several days, and longer the more people you send and the more heavily tooled up they are. Missions are time limited, and if you don't have time to fully infiltrate the already bastard hard opposition is increased. At low infiltration levels, the mission launch screen advises that the opposition is 'impregnable.' So, while you can send eight heavily armed bastards, unless you have plenty of time available, it may be better to send a leaner squad to face a reduced defence. As an additional factor, emergency extraction is not instant; it takes time for the Skyranger to fly in. Best not to hold out to the bitter end.
All in all, Long War 2 is a tougher, grittier version of XCOM 2, with more choices to make and much more of a feeling that you are scrabbling against the real power in the world. There's a whole extra level to the Strategic game as well, with Resistance Havens to manage and a sector control game I haven't even touched on yet on account of getting my arse kicked in the missions the whole time. Now, partly this is because I screwed up. The game assigns all of your squaddies from the first mission to a single squad - a pre-assigned group of soldiers that can be quickly selected in the load-out screen - and I didn't mix them up, so I have one unwieldy group of shitkickers and a bunch of frail and unsupported rookies instead of salting the veterans across the squads to support the newbies in leveling up. And partly it's because the game is brutal.