Age of Wonders: Planetfall Review [Pixelkin]

Read the full review at Pixelkin

In 2014 Triumph Studios revitalized the niche 4X strategy series Age of Wonders with the excellent Age of Wonders 3. After two solid expansion packs the studio quietly began working on their next project, and was acquired by Swedish publisher Paradox Interactive, known for big, densely packed strategy games.

Age of Wonders: Planetfall is the long-awaited next step in the franchise. It’s less of an evolutionary leap forward, but builds upon the successes of Age of Wonders 3 along with several smart and fun gameplay improvements and dozens hours of replayability.

Read the full review at Pixelkin

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 Tips, Synergies, and Team Bonuses [Pixelkin]

Read the full guide at Pixelkin

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 is a flawed but fantastic action-brawler. One of its biggest flaws is how poorly it describes some of its underlying mechanics, such as attributes and synergies. We’ve compiled some quick tips, details, and strategies so you can spend less time staring at statistics and more time punching bad guys.

Read the full guide at Pixelkin

Frostpunk Review [Pixelkin]

A unique post-apocalyptic city-builder that forces you to maintain hope as much as heat and wood.

Read the full review at Pixelkin

Things were going well, or least as well as can be expected against an apocalyptic snowstorm, until the temperature plummeted another 40 degrees. “Snowmaggeddon” is a joke during brutal winters. But nobody’s laughing in the world of Frostpunk when temperatures approach -90 degrees, rendering most of the world uninhabitable.

In the last city my supply of coal dwindled to nothing as my geothermic reactor began shutting down. I watched a cascade of Bad News as my workforce grew sick, homes grew cold, and people began dying.

I was forced to pass a law to enable emergency 24 hour shifts. Brave men and women operated frozen coal mines in the dead of night to give us the juice we needed. Some grew sick, and some were so frostbitten they had to have limbs amputated.

But the city survived. These harrowing moments solidify Frostpunk as one of the most memorable and emotional city building sims I’ve ever played.

Read the full review at Pixelkin

My Top Ten Games of 2017: #10

My top ten favorite games of the year, presented in ascending order each day leading into the holidays. Look for my full Top Ten list with categories and awards on December 24!

#10 Fire Emblem Heroes

Last year saw my first ever mobile game inclusion in my annual Top Ten Games of the Year list with Pokémon GO. Yet another Nintendo-adjacent property squeaks into my list this year with Fire Emblem Heroes.

Unlike Pokémon GO, Fire Emblem Heroes is a reasonable facsimile of its venerable tactical strategy-RPG series. By smartly condensing battle maps into the exact size of a phone screen (or tablet), the series was translated reasonably well onto the mobile platform. Continue reading “My Top Ten Games of 2017: #10”

StarCraft: Remastered Review [Pixelkin]

Read the full review at Pixelkin

Blizzard’s online service Battle.net wasn’t quite my first foray into online gaming, but it did solidify my love of computer gaming throughout the late 90s and early 2000s. Many a Friday evening in the early days of high school were spent constructing marines and mowing down Zerg with friends. To say I have deeply ingrained nostalgia for StarCraft is an understatement.

StarCraft: Remastered is a very faithful HD update to one of the best strategy games ever created. It suffers a bit from forgoing any gameplay or UI updates that strategy games from the last two decades have evolved (such as StarCraft 2). But make no mistake, StarCraft: Remastered makes a great game better.

Read the full review at Pixelkin

My Top Ten Games of 2016: #2

 My top ten favorite games of the year, presented in ascending order each day leading into the holidays. Look for my full Top Ten list with categories and awards on December 24!

#10 Pokémon GO
#9 Skylanders Imaginators
#8 Stellaris
#7 Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun
#6 Fire Emblem Fates
#5 Overwatch
#4 Pokémon Sun and Moon
#3 XCOM 2

#2 Sid Meier’s Civilization VI

top five 2016

More than any other game on my list, Civilization VI benefits from “game I most recently played” syndrome. I’m still knee deep into Civ VI, cresting 60 hours and just finished my fifth game. Had XCOM 2 released now and Civ back in February, the two might be in reverse order.

Out of the gate Civilization VI is the most complete Civ packaged I’ve ever played, building upon the successful elements of previous games while tweaking and adding its own. After the slight misstep of Beyond Earth, Civilization VI is a return to strategy greatness. Continue reading “My Top Ten Games of 2016: #2”

My Top Ten Games of 2016: #7

 My top ten favorite games of the year, presented in ascending order each day leading into the holidays. Look for my full Top Ten list with categories and awards on December 24!

#10 Pokémon GO
#9 Skylanders Imaginators
#8 Stellaris

#7 Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun

shadow-tactics-banner

Occasionally I’ll have some last minute additions to my game of the year list, but none more last minute than this one. Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun just released last week, and I’ve already completely fallen in love with this unique real-time tactical stealth game.

Shadow Tactics drops you into an incredibly cool, and violently dramatic time period: 17th century Japan, the height of the age of samurai. Instead of randomized soldiers you play as five distinct heroes, each with personalities and unique abilities. Mugen the honorable samurai can defeat multiple foes and has the largest health pool, but only the ninjas Hayato and Yuki can use hookshots to scramble onto rooftops. Continue reading “My Top Ten Games of 2016: #7”

Fire Emblem Fates Review [Pixelkin]

The tale of family, love, and war remains captivating throughout each tactical battle in Fire Emblem Fates.

Read the full review at Pixelkin

Fire-Emblem-Fates banner

Fire Emblem may not be as recognizable as Final Fantasy or Pokémon. But it is one of the most prolific franchises in gaming. Fire Emblem Fates combines the series’ trademark chess-like battles with building up relationships between your soldiers. The tale of family, love, and war remains captivating throughout each tactical battle.

The immediate biggest difference between Fire Emblem Fates and 2013’s Fire Emblem Awakening is the split story and dual release. Early on your avatar is forced to choose between two warring factions. It’s a critical decision that determines whom your allies and enemies will be for the rest of the game. It’s also decided for you depending on which version you buy.

Read the full review at Pixelkin

Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void Review [Pixelkin]

Another full-fledged stand-alone expansion to Starcraft II, another great reason to return o the Koprulu Sector.

Read the full review at Pixelkin

starcraft ii: legacy of the void

Playing new standalone expansion Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void is like slipping on a comfortable pair of slippers, or ordering your “usual” at a frequented restaurant. Knowing what you’re going to get is comforting. Legacy of the Void relies on your familiarity and love of Starcraft to create an enjoyable, if cheesy, campaign. And there are enough new features to warrant a return to the war-torn Koprulu Sector.

Read the full review at Pixelkin

Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – This War of Mine

Effectively combines the physical danger and emotional toll of war with a strategy layer of managing survivors and resources.

I have finished another backlogged game via Rogue’s Adventures. You can read my latest Final Thoughts below and also on my gaming blog on Game Informer.

Developer: 11 bit Studios

Publisher: Deep Silver

Release Date: November 14, 2014

rogues adventure

This War of Mine presents an immediately intriguing concept – tell the story of a heart-breakingly realistic war, from the civilians caught in the middle. The setting has a decidedly Eastern European flavor, and uses real photos for all the characters. The realistic dialogue and attitudes of everyone effectively ratchets up the empathy and emotional resonance throughout the rather lengthy experience. The board game-like cadence of crafting by day and scavenging by night gets a little repetitive at the end, but the overall experience has a perfect difficulty ramp. It’s a constant battle for emotional and physical survival, creating a very memorable experience. Continue reading “Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – This War of Mine”