Tag Archives: firaxis

Thoughts: Beyond Earth

beyond_peaceful

Beyond Earth is a doomed-from-the-start attempt to shift the familiar Civilization empire-building action into the future. It’s doomed because no matter how good Firaxis made this game, by setting it around the colonisation of an alien world it draws inevitable comparison with one of Firaxis’ very first products: Alpha Centauri, a game that’s rightfully regarded as one of the genre’s absolute classics. Beyond Earth was never going to live up to Alpha Centauri’s better qualities, both real and imagined, and I’ve tried to take this into account when playing the thing; Beyond Earth should be judged on its own merits, not the nostalgia-fuelled remembrance of a sixteen year-old predecessor. What surprises me, however — and especially so for a Firaxis title — is that even if you take SMAC out of the equation, even when you compare Beyond Earth to the modern Civilization franchise that spawned it, I think it fundamentally still isn’t a very good game.

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Thoughts: Enemy Within.

prophet

Enemy Within is the first expansion to the XCOM remake, a game which was pretty well received on here over a year ago but which in the long run turned out to suffer from some fairly deep-seated structural issues – the aliens’ completely supine geoscape presence and an inverse difficulty curve  being amongst the most prominent. A good thing, then, that it was made by Firaxis, since if there’s one thing Firaxis excel at it’s fixing critical flaws with comprehensive and well-designed expansion packs. After the success of Gods and Kings and the well-designed additions Brave New World made to Civ V (even if I didn’t particularly agree with them all that much) I had high hopes that Enemy Within would do the same for XCOM.

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Thoughts: Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol.

furball  Come on, it had “Sid Meier’s” in the title. I’m pretty much obligated to buy it.

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The Trouble With XCOM.

archangel

Darren asks

 I was poking around in the archives yesterday and noticed that there was a comment from earlier this year regarding XCOM and its lack of replayability. I agree that the game has a serious replayability problem, and I’m a little surprised I haven’t heard much about this. Would you care to elaborate? Also, since Firaxis have been hinting at it, what would you like to see in an expansion?

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In Praise Of: Civilization’s City View.

city

I found myself cranking through yet another game of Civilization V the other day and a thought crystallised in my brain that’s been niggling me ever since I started playing it back in 2010: for a game that is based so much around cities and the civilizations built from them, a city in Civ V is a staggeringly two-dimensional entity. Open up the city screen for your capital and all you’ll see is a big list of numbers, symbols and building names. Open up the city screen for your newest colony and you’ll see exactly the same thing; the numbers might be smaller and the lists shorter, but there’s nothing to really differentiate the two as entities apart from the name. Cities in Civ V exist purely as resource gathering and production nodes, and while this is certainly how they are supposed to function mechanically I feel that the game loses something for not having them feel like places.

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Thoughts: XCOM.

This is it. This is the game I have been waiting for ever since it was announced at the start of the year, and for a good decade before that. Watching literally every single attempt to “update” XCOM for the modern generation over the last ten years has been a painful experience, and I was more than a little aghast when it seemed like the official update would be a first-person shooter with lots of conveniently-placed waist-high cover. Then Firaxis said they were making a proper tactical squad-based TBS, and everyone rejoiced. Then Firaxis mentioned the things they were going to change – no time units, only one base, unlimited reloads on the guns, to mention just a few of them – and everyone said “Er.” Or at least I did. The lead designer on XCOM, Jake Solomon, did an excellent job of explaining the reasoning behind Firaxis’s tinkering and at least left open the possibility that it might not be a total disaster, so while I wasn’t all that hopeful for the game I decided to reserve judgement until I actually played it.  

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