Multiwinia Review

Multiwinia is a stand-alone multiplayer skirmish game based on Introversion’s 2003 release of Darwinia. Fans of this sleeper title might not have expected a sequel from the developer, one that tends to shy away from rehashes and instead focus on entirely new games. While Darwinia has a lengthy single player campaign, it lacks any kind of multiplayer. So, Multiwinia combines the action elements from Darwinia with six multiplayer gametypes.

King of the Hill involves holding marked locations to gain more points than your enemy. Blitzkrieg is similar to King of the Hill, except the sectors you capture contain flags that are raised and lowered like those in the Battlefield series of games.

Rocket Riot requires the capturing of solar panels to harvest their output for rocket fuel. Assault mode has one side defending a base while another attacks. Domination is a free for all. Capture the Statue has your Darwinians lug statues back to your base for points while the enemy is attempting to do the same and prevent you from capturing any.

The spin on these modes is that you have to capture Darwinian production facilities (the only way to improve your numbers), and locate crates dropped from space which contain bonus units like turrets and transports.

The six gameplay modes and the new selection methods offered make this RTS feel more like Pikmin on the Nintendo Gamecube than a conventional RTS game like Command and Conquer. This is both good and bad: good in that the bite-sized games only last a few minutes, but not so great if you’re looking for any depth, which is only to be found in making formations out of your Darwinians and using the crates.

However good those modes are, there are some problems with the game. First of all, the tutorials are vague and not polished very well. Most of the interface changes appropriately when you plug in a gamepad except for the tutorial messages, which still refer to keyboard keys instead of the gamepad buttons.

After each game you’re dumped out to the menu with no way to continue with the same opponents. The game also does not force you to change your nickname in order to be uniquely identified in online matches, nor does it tell you how to do this. You’re left to guess until you figure out that you have to click on it at the pre-game lobby.

In-game, every player must ready up for the game to start, leaving the power in the hands of any one person to hold the game hostage. Routinely I’ve seen players online hold out, refusing to ready up, until their conditions are met for the game to be played. Granted, this particular issue isn’t the fault of Introversion, however these and other issues must be addressed for the community to thrive.

Multiwinia is on the right track, as Introversion have already released a patch implementing text chat in the pre-game lobby.

Even though it is more of an enhancement to Darwinia than a new game, Multiwinia is a worthwhile purchase if you enjoyed Darwinia and were left wanting more with the same theme. However, it would be a poor starting point if you haven’t played the earlier game in the series. So, try out the demo if you’ve played Darwinia and see if you like Multiwinia. It is a quirky RTS that should convert those who try it.

MegaMan 9 Demo (PSN) Impressions

Do you miss being extremely frustrated with your video games?

If so, then Mega Man 9 is the game for you.

Unlike Capcom’s other recently released throwback title Bionic Commando, Megaman 9 retains the exact look and feel of its predecessors on the NES. While that graphical style is compelling, it also serves as a warning to keep those who were bad at the original games away. Fortunately, this demo is available to everyone who wants to take the game for a test drive on the 360 and PS3. WiiWare users have to suffer the indignity of purchasing a game only to find that they can’t defeat the elephants on the concrete man stage. I suspect that playing the game on the 360 will suffer due to the smushy d-pad on that platform.

Though you should still buy the shirt, even if you don’t get the game. Boxart will never be this cool again.

Battlefield: Bad Company Notes

I purchased Bad Company the day it was released for $44 (after tax) at Circuit City thanks to a gift card from a GTA 4 purchase and the register jockey was kind enough to immediately apply the gift card (thanks CAG!) I would have received for purchasing Bad Company. Here are my notes from my time with the game so far. I’ve completed the Single Player campaign and spent several hours in Multiplayer.

Single Player:

  • The unlimited Health Stabs are a refreshing change from either picking up health kits or hiding behind cover and waiting for your “shield” to recharge. Basically it works like this: Get hurt, hide, stab, step out, fire, get hurt, wait for stabby-stabs-mc-stabberson-the-recharging-stab needle to recharge, stab again. Excellent!
  • Also, I like the term “Health Stabs”.
  • PIcking up a weapon + secondary weapon at a time is great. The SMG + Underslung Grenade Launcher or LMG + Grenade launcher is great. Even better is the combo of a Pistol and a Sniper Rifle.
  • The Single Player is buggy as all hell, at least on PS3. A lot of the problems seem to be in or around vehicles. I’ve gotten into cars only see drivers pop-in behind the car and float (while in a “seated” position) through the rear hatch and then into the drivers position. During the first level.
  • At least some of the bugs seem to be fixed after the demo.
  • During one level at a harbor my cohorts exclaimed “GOD DAMNED LIBERALS!” while shooting at some mercenary or whatever. This is awesome.
  • The soundtrack in the vehicles is awesome, it isn’t a GTA 4 cross-section of the music universe, nor is it a Burnout-style fist full of jammy jams. Instead it is a small sample of good and simple music. Good job on this one.
  • The 7 missions in the game are fairly free-form. While you have to reach certain points along the map, the Battlefield style changes normal shooter gameplay into a wide open experience.
  • The Single Player gets better as you proceed.

Multiplayer:

  • Gold rush is fun, and I guess I have to continue waiting for Conquest – the main mode from BF2)
  • Ranking up is a little bit faster so far than 2142, and much faster than BF2. I still like this style of ranking up more than Call of Duty 4’s since it provides you with the choice of what you want, as opposed to some distributed standard.
  • Multiplayer is also buggy. I’ve had the sound buffer completely lock up and produce a repeating sound. Exiting back to title didn’t end it. Only exiting the game and re-launching did.
  • The Multiplayer Squad feature before you join a game is great. The constant problem with BF2 is trying to stay on the same team with you buddies. In Bad Company you join up with your buddies before you go into the game, and then the game keeps you together.
  • Stats exist on the Bad Company website, however I don’t believe there is a way to publicly link them. Or if there is, the method isn’t obvious. (The URL I use to view my stats is generic, blahblah.com/myprofile)
  • Sniping is fluid for the first time in a multiplayer Battlefield game. There are clearly set up places for you to go and snipe, that aren’t overexposed, and can be countered if players attempt to.

General Issues:

  • The Find all Five thing. EA I have to tell you, your friend isn’t the retail chain, it is the player. Why must one of your marketing schemes depend on an outdated scheme (pre-ordering) in order to get all the weapons.
  • Character control just feels poor. I’m not sure why, but it does. It is like the character isn’t really in the world. This lack of immersion is intensified whenever I see a corpse floating in some weird position after I’ve sniped it from halfway across the map.
  • Limited destructibility in environments. Some pieces of the level are just immune to destruction. This is probably so some mission details won’t be destroyed. However it breaks the immersion each time you figure out that something you were trying to go through simply won’t. The illusion works best when you don’t think about it.
  • Unfortunately, bullet penetration almost never works vertically. That is to say, if an enemy is on a thin floor above you, you cannot kill him through that floor. Meh.

TimeDoctor’s Top Three Web Massives

  1. Urban Dead\'s logo arises from its graveUrban Dead: This older massive has been around since the July of 2005. In which you play the part of either a post-zombocolypse Human or Zombie Corpse. This game has a decidely non-graphical approach which is closer to MUDs of yore. The only graphics provided by default are the city map and the logo. Various extensions for browsers exist to add graphics for those who are, shall we say, imagimpaired, or simply desire something else. At start, the human players can choose from a variety of classes in addition to the races mentioned above. These effect the initial abilities of the players, which can later be modified (regardless of race) with skills. Even the choice of race is a transitory one; at any point Zombies can — with varying degrees of difficulty depending on skills of both humans and the target zombie — be revived and turned into productive members of the living society. Even then this opportunity to live can be aborted by player-killers, other zombies, and the free will to jump from any building.
  2. Ikariam: While Urban Dead seems to exist mostly to harvest the joy of the game from a player and doesn’t attempt to charge for any gameplay elements, Ikariam‘s three-tiered overworld exists to generate revenue for the developers. Though it also happens to be a fun civ/populous-style omnipotent hand-of-god game wherin you build little colonies to collect resources on islands and venture for war or peace with others in alliances. In another stark contrast to Urban Dead, Ikariam’s interface is graphically rich and even the sliders you use to choose what amount of goods to send to another colony is customized. This makes up for the fact that you’re just twiddling numbers to provide for your colonies and that your interactions with other players can be limited at first.
  3. PMOG: Contrary to the onomonopiedic title, pmog has nothing to do with pogs.  Instead it stands for Passively Multiplayer Online Game. Which is disappointing as you might wish for an online Pog trading simulation. It also consists of user-generated content more than any other web-massive I’ve played. The user interface consists largely of a stripped-down toolbar for you to utilize at any time while you’re browsing the internet. Ah-ha, now you see, that is the passive part. This game has character classes, but you don’t choose them. Instead they are provided to you by the system based on your actions. What are these actions? Well you can make missions, kind of mini-webrings, linking sites together. These consume the “lamp post” resource which you can refill at the in-game shoppe. Though you still can’t buy pogs, hm. You can also drop mines (which are defended with armor) , or attack those who drop mines with St. Nicks. Of course you can also put out one way portals between sites. For example, I just put one down from souceforge.net to icculus.org. That portal was named: “Perhaps you’d like a little bit more soul.”

TimeDoctor Approved Podcasts of the Week 05/23/08

This week has another American favorite, greedy bastards presented in the most presentable way possible, screaming for money.

One of my favorite podcasts, Radiolabcovered the trading floor of the New York Mercantile Exchange. It is only ten minutes long and is quite fun. If you enjoy that one and are looking for more, check out their War of the Worlds episode next.

Also this week, the Cheap Ass Gamer podcast was as consistently good as it always is. I have to give them credit for recommending Pain on the Playstation 3 PSN store. Tried that out after their last episode where they suggested it and I really enjoyed it. It is surprisingly fun for five minutes of playing, though the fact that you have to complete a tutorial before playing the actual game is terrible.

Small, Pretty, Hybrid, Cars

Hybridcars has a post up detailing more information on some cars we’ll be seeing from Honda in next two years:

The first new dedicated hybrid vehicle, due in 2009, will be offered as a 5-door hatchback with seating for five passengers and will employ an exterior design concept that evokes the FCX Clarity fuel cell vehicle. With the new hybrid, Honda is aiming to produce the most affordable hybrid on the market. Fuel economy for the new car is expected to exceed 40 miles per gallon.