Welcome to theopinionatedinternet.blogspot.com, a whirling hotpot of political opinion, poetry, prose, philosophy, reviewing, and other assorted wild ramblings! Here you will find: PWN, Grand Reviewer and assistant thinker; JAFHR, head of Philosophy, Literature, and Ambassador for France; JHWW, critic/comic materialist; and iTech, computer technician, pilot-in-the-making and co-politician. Fare Thee Well!

Pour les Francophones

Cher Lecteur/lectrice,
Nous vous souhaitons la bienvenue A notre blog, L'Internet Dogmatique. Vous trouverez ici tout votre bonheur- Literature, Philosophie, Politique, Revues, Technologie... Par dessus tout, vous trouverez des opinions. Ne manquez pas a publiez le votre!
Pour rendre tout cet Anglais lisible, traduisez simplement cette page en utilisant le gadget que vous trouverez sur votre droite, un peu en bas. Nous regrettons que cette traduction est rarement exacte; il serait peut-etre plus sage d'utiliser ce blog pour pratiquer votre Anglais.
Bien le Bonjour, Messires et Demoiselles,
JAFHR, le Fou Francophone.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Cheap Classics (Part One - Introduction and Strategy)


In this miniseries I'll be looking at some of the best video games that are now available for under £10. Please remember that this is my list and is in no way objective. Please leave any angry opinions in the comments section below. And if you're trying to persuade parents to buy them, they're all rated 12+ or below and are available on PC.

Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance (2007)

I'll cut to the chase here and say that this is really good. Really, really good. I'm not really sure where to start because there's so much to explain, but I'll start by saying what it is I like about it so much and I'll get onto the bad stuff later. Firstly, the  soundtrack is fitting (see my mini-series about video game soundtracks). I know that's an odd thing to start with, but this was really one of the things that made it a much better game for me, and I've been humming it ever since I first played the original. Okay, it might be a bit generic at times but it suits the game's epic scale and military sci-fi style.

Now what is probably the best thing. The scale. This game is epic in every sense of the word. The maps are massive (some take several minutes to cross even with the fastest units), there are at least forty units for each faction (although there are only three factions) and at the highest tech level you can build massive 'experimental' units (like the 'Fatboy' in the picture above). I chose the expansion Forged Alliance mainly because of its campaign and updated interface, both of which are a massive improvements on the previous game, where reviewers pointed out the weaknesses of both.

So what's wrong with it? It pains me to say it, but it is true that in creating a game with such an epic scale some details have been overlooked.  The multiplayer network GPG.net is great for downloading mods but makes it pretty difficult to actually set up a game online. Also, the AI is average at best. Sure it's challenging, but it can never pull off the crazy strategies that someone online is able to. The pathfinding is an improvement on the original, but it's still a little cumbersome and while I like the general aesthetic of the game, it's nothing new and some may find it a little too blocky.

If you want to buy this game, it's now on Steam for £9.99 (or £14.99 for the original as well) or order it on  Amazon for slightly less.

Rome: Total War (2003)

Widely accepted as one of the best strategy games of all time, it is my personal favorite of the entire Total War series because of its simplicity, realism and soul. Everything has been thought through and it is a definite improvement on Shogun and Medieval, unlike the modern games which are all a bit similar, not building enough on the previous games (I'm talking about Empire and NapoleonShogun II I haven't played).

I can't really think of anything bad about this game, except that I hated the expansions (although I must admit I barely played either of them, the just didn't grab my interest) and the fact that there is no naval combat. This was only introduced two games later, in Empire, when really this was the game that needed ship combat and in Empire it was far too late. Also, the multiplayer is somewhat limited. I don't know what I wanted from it, but I didn't get it.

The reason I love it is because it is so realistic, yet also so much fun. It combines turn-based and real-time strategy perfectly. If you want to just be a Roman general, then just play skirmishes all the time. If you want to conquer the world, then auto-resolve all of the battles. There's not much more I can say, sorry this has been so short. It's really cheap now to, so check it out on Steam or  Amazon, just avoid the expansions.

Age of Empires II: Age of Kings (1999)

While I haven't played it for a while, this remains the definitive real-time strategy (RTS) game because of its simplicity and its personality. As soon as you see the title screen, you'll realize that this is a properly heartfelt game. Before I get any further, I'd like to say that this is not realisitic in the same way as Rome: Total War or even Supreme Commander. Instead of expecting a historical game, expect an RTS that incorporates parts of history into it. This is perhaps what makes it so enjoyable. In the end, the game mechanics are simple, and I was constantly frustrated with the lack of strategic zoom that Supreme Commander made such great use of. But when you consider that this is a really old game, it's perfectly excusable.

I played this a lot when I was a lot younger (about six or seven years old) because it was so simple to understand. It did take me a while to work out what some more complicated things do (such as advancing an epoch), which severely limited my chances of winning any games. Despite this, I loved it and I think that it deserves some recognition, as new maps can always be made using the excellent map editor. If mythology  (I'm looking at you, JAFHR) or the colonization of America is more your cup of tea, then there are sequels that fill those niches, although in my opinion none were quite as good as the second game (the first is a little too dated).

It's now available on Amazon for about £10.


P.S. Sorry, about the weird spacing. I think it's something to do with the picture, I'll try and fix it later.