Electronic Games - What have you played recently?

For me there was a tiny bit of a knack to ship to ship combat in No Man's Sky, but after a couple of scraps it was straightforward enough.

I've started playing the first Witcher game. Better late than never.
Seeing as my current laptop would probably swear at me if I tried to install the latest crop of games (plus we like it when they are sales me loves oh yesss), I've been returning to games of up to a decade ago :O

Call of Duty - In many ways the original and the best in the series, riding on the wave of Band of Brothers popularity, for cinematic WW2 action. Throw in United Offensive and you've got an intense sequel and I spent many happy hours on multiplayer, which in many ways a Battlefield 1944 beater.

Just Cause 2. You are a CIA operative, who is a barely concealed Antonio Banderas rip off, enacting regime change on a small series of islands, toppling the dictator one stronghold (be it be a village, a city or a military base at a time). For me this is most unbridled fun I've had in an open world type game, swinging from building to building, via a quick ride on a helicopter or car, using a grappling hook :)
So with the laptop increasingly becoming temperamental, and my daughter wanting one to play online with her friends we got an XBOX One a couple of months ago (sometime in Feb? ). As a long time PC gamer, I wasn't sure about the move, and to some extent, I still prefer the intimate "hands-on" feeling of sitting up close and personal on a desktop/laptop. However, with the new XBOX coming this year, the once-mighty XBOX One is being sold cheap, alongside a Game Pass (which we bought the Gold version so Evie can play online with her mates) which is sort of the Netflix of gaming. It is also nice to have games that just work out of the box.

I bought Borderlands 3 and it was as awesome as I had hoped. More guns, big personalities, the new worlds to explore were great. The story was is well developed, and the side quests are worth doing on their own to reveal more of the setting background. I've blasted my way through the main plot, and I'm now in the "play it all again, at higher levels with more guns and more MAYHEM" (there's a new mayhem mode that unlocks when you complete the game). Its taken up three months of my gaming life so I'm trying other games.

This I'm doing with newly bought EA Access, another yearly subscription, which I bought for £19 to give my daughter access to Sims 4 (which is her main game, and almost unplayable on the laptop due to having all the addons) and me access to ALL THE BATTLEFIELD GAMES, as well as a stack of Bioware games such as all Mass Effect and Dragon Age games, which I've dabbled in but never sat down seriously to play. That changes now :)

So I've started with Battlefield Bad Company, a well-regarded game from 2008 yikes!. Fortunately, it holds up very well, and after playing various military games (from the early Battlefield 1942 to the uber-serious Operation Flashpoint/Armed Assault games) is a nice mix of authentic-looking gun porn and just the right amount of black humour. You see you play a character who has been demoted to B Company, where the B stands for Bad and all the other members of the unit are similar bad apples who have been put in one basket to keep them out of the way of the serious army. It plays smoothly, and the cutscenes where you and your three NPC buddies interact and the story advances are entertaining and just the right length. Its a fun game without going down the Gonzo route :)
Recently-ish I played through Mass Effect (the first one). Late to the party but still there. I love the universe building.

I dipped down into easy mode for three of the big fights, but it's the first computer game I've completed for years. More!
Civilisation VI is free FOREVER via epicgames.com.

Oh dear. I've not played CIV since the original game back in the days of beige box PCs in the 90s. On a mate's machine, where it was the centre of a smoking session where I brought the beer :) Whole days were lost to the game. Sometimes I'd pop in to see my mate and there would be some lost soul playing a game of it sat down in the corner, completely engrossed. It was worse than drugs :) I knew then that if I was to ever achieve my dream of being a published rpg writer I would have to not have this game installed on my pc. EVER!

So is it still the same timesink that it was twenty-odd years ago? Yes, I lost a good part of last Saturday to raising the Chinese up from the Stone Age to currently the Modern Era. Still addictive as hell. I had to cheat on my family, "oh dear I'm just going upstairs to do the supermarket order", and flat out blank them for hours on end :) I'm completely losing my first game of it. I hadn't twigged the tech-tree and fell behind in terms of technology. I got a reputation as a warmonger early on, which I've never shaken with my prissy neighbours. Heck bloody Peter the Great doesn't like me because I'm not as cultured as his Russians, oh yes I forgot to advance culture for pretty much the first two-thirds fo the game :) And the age-old of tactic of going to war to advance my culture, isn't going as well because WAR COSTS MONEY, and even when I've got sweet Elisabeth I (of the English) on the ropes she always offers me a fortune in gold with a sweet smile, and I accept peace between our neighbouring civilisations. Then a couple of turns later she is looking down her nose and denouncing me as a warmonger :D But even though I know, playing the long game, I've got long term problems which I should have dealt with in the Ancient Period, I love my little Chinese civilisation and I'm not quite ready to give up on them and restart anew with a culture that I will take everything I've learnt and lead to VICTORY!

So CIV is back, I just have to keep on telling myself I've not got a problem, I can stop anytime I want (after this next turn) :D
Just acquired Black Mesa, a fan-created update and re-work of the origin version of Half Life. Thus far it's a very faithful rendering of the original game, although I've read things suggesting it diverges from the original later on. The graphics are really nice and it plays very smoothly. Even the music, while updated, is true to the sound of the original game while being much higher quality. As a fan of the original Half-Life, I'm really enjoying playing it again like this.
European Air War: Detailed but accessible WW2 Flight Sim from the early 2000s. Loads of fan made add-ons still available which expand the game massively. I'm having a go at recreating the exploits of the RAF's 616 squadron which flew the UK's first operational jet fighter, the Gloster Meteor, in the latter part of the war. Looking forward to taking on Jerry in his ME262 a la Killer Kane in Warlord Comic (strictly boy's own fantasy this as the two aircraft never actually met in combat).
Kicking my heels while waiting for Cyberpunk 2077. After a engrossing experience which is Ghost of Tuschima. A game I would recommend wholeheartedly. Certainly Game of the Year (so far) for me. It is the only Game where I have gotten most of the achievements just through playing the Game and not crunching special obscure requirements.

I am mainly playing Civilisation VI, Stellaris & Planetfall on the PS4. Getting that “just 1 more turn” itch scratched. Glad some decent 4x games are on the PS4 now.
Been playing a bit of Mars Horizon (Steam, currently on offer about £13), which is about running a space agency. A bit like the board game Lift-Off (Buzz Aldrin's Race into Space was the PC version) where you research tech, plan missions, train astronauts, launch test rockets, etc, etc from 1957 onwards. It's very nicely done and had ESA involvement for its design. Esach mission brings improvements, support, annual funding etc and you can bootstrap yourself up from firing sounding rockets into multi stage crewed missions.
Still playing EAW. Have moved on to the P39 Airacobra, an aircraft not much liked by the Americans, loathed by the British, yet loved by the Soviets. I rather like it myself. It's not the fastest fighter in the air but it's manoeuvrable, rugged and packs an awful lot of firepower. Anything drifting into your gunsights is odds on to be turned into a non-aerodynamic lump of flaming scrap iron in short order.

I do think about moving onto one of the more modern flight sims, but the learning curve for something like Sturmovik looks a bit too intimidating.
I'm currently partway through Rise of the Tomb Raider. I'm enjoying that reboot more than the originals.

I've played more Borderlands and Borderlands 2 than anything else over the last couple of years, though. Other favourites are FTL, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and the Half-Life series. I would like to play Elite: Dangerous (I enjoyed earlier games in the series) but I don't have the hand-eye coordination to land the damned ship in space stations.

I'm a long way behind the curve as I tend to wait for the price to drop to around £10-15 before buying anything.
Finally finished Geneforge 3; I got it in a Spiderweb bundle years ago from either Steam or Gog, finished the first 2 in the series, and got part way through 3 before stalling.

Similar to the other Geneforge games, you play as a member of the Shapers Guild in a time of rebellion and turmoil. Here you start as an apprentice at the Shaper school on a remote archipelago; the school is attacked and ransacked by the rebellion; you are the surviving shaper (or guardian or agent depending on what you choose at start-up). You work your way through the five islands, clearing up messes, and in the end deciding whether to be loyal or join the rebellion. Gameplay is broadly similar to other Spiderweb games of that era - fairly retro in style (especially the graphics).

There are some known bugs - there's a limit of around 199 items per zone, and if there's things you want to keep, pop them in a container. The algorithm for clearing beyond that limit prioritises junk items; but some artifact ingredients are zero value.... If you sell items to merchants, they are gone forever (i.e. don't appear in the store inventory), but merchants have unlimited gold.

My personal issues with the game:
  • Unlike the previous games, you can't steer a neutral path; you have to choose one side or the other (Loyalist or Rebel), and frankly I found both factions equally repellant. I suspect the scripting for a third faction turned out to be a impossible task.
  • The in game peasantry (serviles) are gengineered, and to my eyes come across as slaves.
  • This was one of the first Spiderweb games to use item enhancements; later games had stat boost enhancements, this one doesn't. Not all items can be enhanced.
  • You can craft artifacts, wands and gems, but you can't craft potions.
  • Travel within islands is easy; travel between islands is irritatingly hard - you have to visit a specific zone, board a boat, travel to another specific zone on another island, and so on. This means if you need to travel from Island 5 to Island 1 to complete a quest, you have to travel across Island 4-2 as well. My view is that once you visit a new island, it should be possible to return directly any cleared zone on a previously visited island without going through the faff of transhipping. It may be more realistic, but the more you do it, the more irritating it is.
Overall, I am glad I finally completed the game, but like the Avadon series, I probably won't find this one particularly re-playable as I don't enjoy playing as an utter bastard. I much prefer the Avernum series which are more heroic in style.
I see I never reviewed Geneforge 2; more of the same as GF1, this time set on the mainland rather than one of the islands. As with GF1, you start as a young apprentice fresh out of school, choosing either Shaper, Guardian or Agent. You are on your 'graduation exercise', accompanied by an Agent. Again, it's set against the backdrop of the rebellion, and again you have a choice of factions to ally to - or stay neutral. All the factions from the first game are in this one, although the Sholai (the invaders) don't really feature.

As with GF1, it's a very sand-boxy game; although there's an overarching meta-plot, you can chose the order you complete things, and do as many of the side-quests as you like.

As with other games in the series, I am uncomfortable with various aspects - particularly how the serviles are handled. It really comes across as servile = slave, and the whole servile issue looks and feels like Hollywood Deep South (pre-ACW). The game itself I enjoy; it suits my style of play. At some point I ought to replay Nethergate (Romans v Celts).
Banner Saga 1. Grim but rewarding Norse style fantasy game with checkerboard turn based combat.

I see the complete Banner Saga Trilogy is in the Steam sale at £12.22.

What's the gameplay like? I dislike anything that requires hand-eye coordination (i.e. anything like a FPS or platformer), and am not terribly keen on a lot of combat.

I recall the crowdfunding when it first came out - didn't back it, because at that point it was PC only.
Completed Geneforge 4: Rebellion. Similar to the other Geneforge games, you play as a member of the Shapers Guild in a time of rebellion and turmoil. However, instead of actually being a member of the Shaper Guild with innate talent, you are a created Lifecrafter in the Rebellion; the rebels use the Geneforge to instil shaping talent into certain individuals. You start out as a rebel, and you can choose your path in the game to support either the rebel or the shaper sides, or remain fairly neutral. There is a third way in the end game - you can choose a 4th faction which believes that Shaping is out of control.

I found this game to be less objectionable than the preceding game, although I am still uncomfortable with the inclusion of the gengineered peasantry, the serviles. There are a couple of modifications to gameplay - the mechanics skill has been somewhat nerfed, and the combat technique of pop out from round corner, fire shot, duck back is no longer possible as you cannot move once you take a combat action.

I'll probably give the last game in the series a go - I'll be working 4 day weeks for the rest of the year (apart from the 3 weeks I have a meeting on a Monday), so I'll start it on my first leave day. My current project is culling and cataloguing the comics collection prior to storing it properly.
So CIV is back, I just have to keep on telling myself I've not got a problem, I can stop anytime I want (after this next turn) :D

LOL ever since I discovered all the mods available for Civ 5.... I've lost literally months of my life "Conquering small nations"... I haven't time to get the next version... ;)