Solar Crusaders, Cities: Skylines First Impressions, NXT Recap, Anki Overdrive, Two Gallants – Incidental
Solar Crusaders from PureMana Studios
I’m super happy that I came across Solar Crusaders the other day, a game described as “A multiplayer top-down strategy game featuring 4x gameplay elements, sandbox universe, and simulated virtual economy”. Above is an early game engine demo, and it looks like the game is still pretty early on, but it also looks incredibly promising. First, I love the art style, which is very colorful and clean (it reminds me of FTL, although that could also be the subject matter) and I dig the idea of a game where you explore the galaxy (possibly colonizing planets) and building your fleet of (customizable) ships to expand your domain. Also, simulated virtual economies are basically my favorite. PureMana Studios Founder / Dev Hilary Craven has been posting updates over on the official blog (they are currently taking Alpha sign ups, which I currently did, but they said they were closing soon), which I will definitely be keeping an eye on (there are lots of updates over on the PureMana Studios Twitter). Solar Crusaders is currently slated for a late 2015, early 2016 release.
Cities: Skylines First Impressions
I’ve had a little time with Cities: Skylines (since I grabbed it after I saw the positive reviews) and I must say, it’s quite good. Those coming in and expecting a new SimCity will be both pleased and a little disappointed, potentially. My main disappointment isn’t with the core of the game itself, which is rock solid, but rather that the game lacks the flair of personality that really made the SimCity games go from very good, compelling games to landmarks in gaming history. Of course, if you just want a game to be a very good city builder (no mean feat if the past is any indication), this is one and it comes with a good price tag ($29.99).
That said, my city is so poorly planned. I mean, just look at it.
Part of it was getting used to the tools, which is very forgiving in letting you draw roads of all sorts of interesting shapes. You can end up with some much more organic cities that way, I think. I put a roundabout in there mostly because I thought it looked neat. In any case, the gameplay – at its core – is what you expect: You draw some roads, zone some land (I actually like the zoning system that only lets you zone spots that are properly connected to a road). The water and power work almost exactly like the classic SimCity games. There is a Twitter-like mechanism that the game uses to keep you updated with whether or not the people are happy or if you lack amenities that they want. I often have problems in these games not just giving them everything all at once. I mean, I am going to build a high school whether or not we have jobs demanding graduates yet or not. Right now, my city is mostly demanding residential and industrial zones, but it has recovered from a rocky start that saw me go bankrupt and take out a $50,000 loan almost first thing. My road building was exceedingly bad at the start, which resulted in lots of poorly designed neighborhoods. Now I’ve decided that is the art of the thing. I am not building the world’s most efficient city. I am building a city like some real cities seem to be built: randomly once odd-shaped road at a time. There is no grid system. There is only chaos. But we have good public amenities and everyone has access to parks. I was pretty sure that I was going to need to start the game over, but – subsequently – we started making money and even built that high school. My town (I don’t even know the name of it) is now a”Boom Town” with a population over 2,600 residents. It feels like an accomplishment even if it is still tiny. It is making money and it proves that there are jobs in a city that people will move there and deal with your crap city planning. Or, at least that’s what has happened in my Cities: Skylines game so far.
NXT 3/11/2015 Recap
Oh my gosh, we should just start every episode with Enzo and Cass. Ah, and they’re facing the Lucha Dragons, I see. A team that looked like it was going somewhere so recently, but they are clearly the heels with the NXT crowd when it comes to Enzo and Cass. Kallisto is a little wild at times, but he can do some really incredible moves. Enzo is looking a little sharper in the ring this week than I’ve seen him in the past. Really good work by both teams in this match. I really liked Sin Cara going back in the corner with another stomp after being pulled off by the reg, a heel-ish move that works since Enzo and Cass were so clearly the fan favorites. The clean win by Enzo and Cass is a nice continuance of their push, but they are clearly building Cass as the more legit of the two. If they keep going that way, it could also be good fodder for a chip-on-the-shoulder breakup between the two. For now, I like them getting some screentime. Next up is Carmella vs. Alexa Bliss. The crowd was not buying this one and it really hurt what was not a bad match, although it was a little spotty at times. Neither Bliss nor Carmella had even the slightest bit of heat, although Bliss got a little crowd support. Polite applause to end the match. The NXT crowd is classy if nothing else. Anyway, pretty clear that Bliss is being lined up for Sasha Banks, although the stakes aren’t really set yet. I think Carmella has more go-away heat than heel heat. Hey! Good promo from Riley. It’s a nice touch that he is less ‘made up’ than usual. He’s up next against NXT jobber extraordinaire CJ Parker. Alex Riley looks impressive and throws a couple of incredibly stiff clotheslines in there. Lots of offense for Parker early on and then Riley wins with the blockbuster. Riley is over, though, so it’s a pity he is probably just going to be fed to Riley. I’d like to see Owens – Riley not end clean, Owens defeat Balor and then Riley go into a longer-term feud with Owens afterwards. Last match of the night is Breeze – Itami, which is basically guaranteed to be good. And it is pretty good, but only that. I don’t love the beauty shot as a finish, but Breeze goes over clean. Overall, though, this was a good episode. Much better than last week, and I’m sure that Breeze – Itami will continue to evolve until they can face off at the special event or whatever in two weeks at which time I have no doubt they will tear the house down. We shall see.
When I first saw Anki Drive I knew it was something that I needed to own. For real. If you are not familiar, they are basically electronic slot cars that your smart device to steer in virtual lanes and control AI opponents (or you can use multiple devices to play mutliplayer). It’s really a neat experience, as there is something very compelling about the tactile experience of seeing the cars actually move around the track and light up and spin out as they shoot and get shot. Still, in the original iteration of the game you played with tracks printed on play mats. In September, though, Anki will be releasing the next iteration of the game: Anki Overdrive. Instead of the pre-printed tracks, Anki Overdrive will let you use magnetically-connecting track pieces to build your own custom tracks. It’s crazy expensive (the starter is $150, I think) and it’s a bit of a tech-showoff-piece, but it’s such neat technology (watching the cars control themselves and chase you about the track) that I really dig it.
Two Gallants – Incidental
A song that I wasn’t sure how I felt about during the first verse, but was completely sold on with the higher-tempo chorus. I dig the shaky voices. I especially like the bridge.