In this second issue of META GEAR FILE I decided to take a good hard look at what the future could look like, by reflecting back on things I love. There is an appraisal of the current console race–if we can even call it that–and a few games that remind me of a time when I looked forward to what the future of games would be. To top it off, I decided I should share some thoughts on a movie I recently watched. It’s an old movie that seems to echo in today’s world, and which will no doubt grow in relevance with every passing month. Thank you to the Patreon supporters.
Here are the excellent features you will find in Issue #2:
• Retro Bowl Review (mobile phone game) • Book of Aliens, Revival or Requiem? • The Worst Console Race in History • Taking Notes: Wag the Dog
Did you forget about Phoenix Point, the upcoming turn-based tactical shooter from the original creator of X-COM? Because I sure as hell haven’t! This is one of my most anticipated games of all time, so I’ve been waiting for a nice big update and now it looks like we’ve got one. The game’s Geoscape and ballistics systems have been laid out.
You start with just a single home base (called Phoenix Point) which you will protect and maintain. You’ve got a jet, and plenty of places to check out. Some of them will be “havens” — which will generally belong to other factions who must be dealt with through negotiation or combat — or they could be independent havens who have their own rules and trade offers. They could be alien constructs, resource-rich material sites, and a lot more. Exploring the world is a series of gambles.
You can see a list of basic options on the right side of the screen, and below you can see a more detailed look at what the game could look like. It’s all placeholder, but it proves that this game will be WAY more advanced and detailed than the simplistic board-game system of that Firaxis XCOM reboot. This is very good news.
The blog post emphasizes that they’re aiming for a “4X” style of gameplay. That means Explore, Expand, Exploit, and Exterminate, which is the foundation of most strategy games like StarCraft or Masters of Orion. But there’s a feature even more exciting to me that hearkens back to the most advanced video game ever created: Dwarf Fortress!
A very clever simulation, which all happens behind the scenes, simulates several years of war between the factions and the independent Havens, fighting over outposts and resources. The alien threat starting to encroach on the land, consuming and mutating as it goes. Each faction has its own “personality” which tells the simulation how and where it should try to expand. You will never have the same play-through twice.
Rather than randomly placing a bunch of stuff and sacrificing logic in the process, the game will randomly “seed” the world with people and places and then fast-forward what would happen in that arrangement. What you see is a world with history and logic, but one that will never be the same twice.
Just as exciting is the ballistics system, which has been confirmed by Julian Gollop himself. In a triumphant victory for trueX-COM fans, projectile simulation is coming back and better than ever! Your bullets will always hit something, even if it’s not the target, and this can have unintended consequences! Shooting your friend in the back, or hitting some piece of terrain? Yes, those tough decisions will have weight once again. You can manually adjust your aim once you select a target as well. If you’re like me, you’ll want to jump over to the forums to read it in detail. He even acknowledges the challenges and potential downsides of such a simulated system, such as not being able to mathematically calculate how good a piece of cover is, or how exactly a creature’s pose should be if he wants to maximize cover effectively. “Cover” is dynamic and complex, not just waist-high objects all over the damn map.
If you want to watch Julian Gollop modestly walk through the history of X-COM and its derivatives. I laughed when he said that he only plays Japanese turn-based games like Advance Wars, Disgaea, and Final Fantasy Tactics! Great taste!
Now that I’ve finally put up Part 5 of the MGS2 review, I plan on taking a short break from the series before diving into Part 6. In the meantime, I want to do some more reviews of games, although not as lengthy as the XCOM: Enemy Unknown review.
I’ll probably review Retro City Rampage and Path of Exile (once I’ve played the full version), but that’s not all! I also plan on adding a rating to things I’ve already examined such as Intrusion 2, Brink, and The Last of Us. Now granted, I haven’t personally played those last two games, and one of them isn’t even released yet, but I feel comfortable judging them anyway, because it’s fun and I trust that my cautious deductions are good enough. Not only that, but my superpower of insight allow me to simulate the entire game in my head from just a handful of screenshots or a single promotional trailer. Don’t believe me? I looked up your Facebook pictures and am judging YOU right now. I give you a +2. Keep up the good work.
Y’all know that I love X-COM, which is why I was highly displeased at 2K’s accusation that strategy games are not contemporary and so we need to turn every classic strategy franchise into a Mass Effect or Deus Ex clone.
But not only are Firaxis proving those dummies wrong, they’re doing it in so many ways, including multiplayer. A turn-based tactics game that isn’t a flash-based or played in your browser? It’s on consoles? Yes! In fact there is a preview of it here: