Without The Sarcasm https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com Insights. Analysis. Answers. Sat, 20 Aug 2016 17:13:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 10 Things I Wish I Knew Sooner About Pokemon Go https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/10-things-wish-knew-sooner-pokemon-go/ https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/10-things-wish-knew-sooner-pokemon-go/#respond Fri, 19 Aug 2016 12:59:00 +0000 https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=8374
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Pokemon Go is a lot of fun, but some things about it are really non-obvious. Below we’ve compiled the 10 most important things we wish we’d learned sooner. Read up on these things and you’ll get a jump start as a new Pokemon Go Trainer on your way to catch them all.

1. How Pokemon Spawn

One of the most impenetrable aspects of Pokemon Go is also one of the most fundamental. The whole game is about catching Pokemon, and yet when you first play it it can be incredibly non-obvious how to do that. Past the first few days, the tracker system delivered by Niantec has been garbage – but even beyond tracking it is important to understand where an how Pokemon spawn. Pokemon only spawn at certain exact locations. If you are not near one of these locations, you can literally run a marathon and never see a single Pokemon. For more on tracking Pokemon, check out our guide.

2. Pokestop respawn time

Pokestops are a huge part of Pokemon Go, because its going to take a lot of Pokeballs to “catch ’em all”. It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that Pokestops are on an extremely short five minute timer. This means there is no need to make a long loop through a group of them. In fact, you can often fill your backpack by just sitting in a spot with two Pokestops close together and spamming them for 20-30 minutes. Pokestops near a restaurant you like are a great fit for this type of Pokestop-spamming.

Pro Tip You don’t need to pop the “bubble” around items you get at a Pokestop. If you hit the “X”, all of those items will automatically go into your backpack.

3. Trainer level effects Pokemon max CP

If you’ve looked around a bit, you’ve probably heard from other sources that the initial Pokemon you find in Pokemon Go are crap. I can not emphasize just how much this is the case. As your Trainer level goes up, the CP of Pokemon you find goes up substantially. Before about level 18 you’ll likely have a pretty hard time getting a Pokemon above 1000 CP even with plenty of expensive Power Ups and Evolutions. After about level 18, you will just find Pokemon that strong. While this obviously means that you shouldn’t go crazy upgrading your early mons, it also means that 2nd and 3rd evo Pokemon (as well as Pokemon with few or no evolutions) can be worth tracking down at higher Trainer levels even if you already have them.

Pro Tip It is even possible to increase the CP of a Pokemon you engage by running away and leveling up and then re-engaging them.

4. Special rules for “walking” credit

In Pokemon Go it is necessary to do a lot of walking. That’s just the nature of the beast if you want to hunt down all those mons, but it is also a requirement for “incubating” Pokemon eggs. You might think that it would be as simple as say… walking, but in fact just like most things in Niantec’s curious implementation of this game concept, the truth is a bit more abstract. The Pokemon Go game client regularly pings back to the Niantec servers every few seconds to establish your position. This position is used to fetch data for things that are near you like Pokemon, Pokestops, and Gyms, but it is also the way Niantec defines movement for egg incubation. This causes a bunch of weird side effects. First of all, if you walk slowly in a path that crosses back on itself, the game will interpret you as standing still and give you no credit towards incubation. To prevent “hyper-incubating”, Niantec also implements a speed check that will eliminate credit for distance traveled if you are moving faster than a certain rate. This can cause a second artifact where poor GPS signal causes your avatar to bounce around at what the game determines to be “too fast”, causing you to accrue no credit for incubation. It also means that if you are riding a bike, or even running at a decent clip you may not be getting credit for incubation. Your best bet is to turn on WiFi for optimum location detection, and then walk at a reasonable pace in a straight line.

Pro Tip Sometimes when you are inside a building, the game won’t register any movement when you walk. Turning off WiFi in this case can sometimes cause some random motion that gives you at least some credit for movement. Some lazy Poke-hackers have even devised ways to spin or vibrate their device in poor GPS environments to gain slow incremental credit towards egg incubation.

Pro Tip You won’t find us recommending playing Pokemon Go while driving, but playing as a passenger can be fairly doable. Besides just hitting Pokestops, grabbing Pokemon, and even tossing defenders in passing Gyms you can also usually get some walking credit if you are going through parking lots, especially if the route is curvy enough that your straight line speed is pretty slow. Please Trainers, do everyone a solid and double fist with the drivers phone rather than letting them drive distracted.

5. Catching Common Pokemon helps level up later

After playing Pokemon Go for a week or two, you might be pretty damn tired of Ratattas and Pidgeys. These are very common Pokemon, and in truth even the best of them will usually not stand out once you have more rare and powerful alternatives when it comes to Gym battles – but they can be very useful for leveling up. Unwanted Pokemon can be “transferred” to the Professor via the lower left menu on the info screen you see when you tap on them. Doing so will award you 1 candy, to add to the 3 you get for catching them. These candies add up, and for some common Pokemon evolution costs as little as 12 candies. As you climb the levels you’ll occasionally get a “Lucky Egg” which gives you bonus experience for 30 minutes. If you horde the candies you acquire, you can go on an evolution spree for common Pokemon and rack up a ton of experience in a short period of time – without spending precious Stardust.

Pro Tip When you are getting ready to use a Lucky Egg, count out the number of common Pokemon you have and make sure it is enough to match the number of evolutions you have candies for. If you are like me and purge unwanted acquisitions quickly, you might need to stock up on a few before you pop the Egg.

Pro Tip I haven’t crunched the numbers on every mon, but the general wisdom when evo-spamming is to only perform the first evolution. The second evolution tends to cost a lot more candy, without generating an equivalent amount of experience.

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Pokemon Go Tracking Beginner’s Guide https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/pokemon-go-tracking-beginners-guide/ https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/pokemon-go-tracking-beginners-guide/#respond Fri, 19 Aug 2016 12:56:37 +0000 https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=8378
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Once you’ve decided to take the plunge into Pokemon Go, you will very quickly be presented with a surprising problem: Pokemon Go Tracking. One of the most basic parts of the game – finding Pokemon is almost completely unexplained by the game itself. Trainers are left with very few clues about where Pokemon are likely to be found, and after recent updates the few hints that Niantec gave from within the game are almost completely eliminated. Even though we can hope that they are working on something better it seems that at best they have no plans to explain the basics of where Pokemon will and will not appear, or how to find the rarest Pokemon. Fear not, we’ve got a few Pokemon Go tracking tips to get you started below!

Pokemon Spawning Locations

Pokemon only spawn at certain exact locations. If you are not near one of these locations, you can literally run a marathon and never see a single Pokemon. If your neighborhood is new, or in a remote area, it is possible that you do not have a single Pokemon spawn near you. This is the cruel joke of Niantec’s rubbish tracking system and its crack down on fan map sites. Pokemon Go isn’t really a game about purely walking around – it is a game about walking around specific invisible locations. Get to know these locations for a certain area and you’ll be able to almost immediately pounce on any Pokemon as they spawn – rather than wandering aimlessly for hours with no sightings. Getting some clues from fan made maps to get you started won’t hurt either.

Timing

How often a Pokemon spawns at a “spawn point” appears to be random. Each spawn point seems to have a random mixture of Pokemon that can potentially spawn at it, likely with some random chance calculation each time a spawn event occurs. Certain Pokemon do seem to spawn more commonly at certain times of day. The location of the spawn point will also have some influence on the types of Pokemon that can spawn there (ie Water Pokemon spawn near water, Grass Pokemon spawn a lot in parks, etc). Once a Pokemon spawns, you’ll have anywhere from a few minutes up to somewhere around 15 minutes to find them and catch them, or they’ll disappear.

Pro Tip Rare Pokemon and Pokemon spawned by Lured Pokestops seem to have the shortest timers. Keep that in mind and when appropriate up your Razz Berry and Pokeball game to nab mons that are likely about to split.

Lures and Incense

It is possible to increase the spawn rate of Pokemon by using Lure Modules on Pokestops or Incense. Lure Modules benefit all Poke Trainers in the area, whereas Incense is specific to the Poke Trainer who uses it. Lure Modules attract a specific kind of Pokemon depending on the Pokestop they are attached to, but without digging into game data it won’t be possible for you to tell which Pokemon type it is. If you see a Pokestop attracting a lot of Pokemon you don’t want, don’t lure it again. Both Lures and Incense seem to attract about one extra Pokemon every 5 minutes.

Tracking and Teamwork

Once you understand where Pokemon spawn in a given area, it is much easier to track them and catch them. Go back to areas where you have had success in the past, and slow down when you are near Pokemon spawn points to give your mobile device adequate time to scan. The latest tracking update from Niantec seems to move the closest Pokemon up the list (as with older tracking systems), so if you know you are near a spawn point the Pokemon at the top of your list is probably there. If you are working with a group of fellow Pokemon Trainers, all of you can catch the same Pokemon, but you won’t all immediately see the Pokemon at the same time. Use this to your advantage and have the first Trainer to see a target Pokemon call them out and direct others to the spawn point.

Hopefully these tips put you on the way to being a master of Pokemon Go Tracking. See anything we missed? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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Brigador Review: Tech Mechs https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/brigador-review-tech-mechs/ https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/brigador-review-tech-mechs/#respond Thu, 28 Jul 2016 23:09:40 +0000 https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=8360 Brigador is an isometric 2D mech-combat action game, and the debut game from indie studio Stellar Jockeys. In Brigador, you stomp, bulldoze, and/or hover your way through a variety of different futuristic cities while battling enemy mechs and causing mass destruction. I snagged a key from the developers and beat the campaign, so I'm ready to present my Brigador review!
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Brigador is an isometric 2D mech-combat action game, and the debut game from indie studio Stellar Jockeys. In Brigador, you stomp, bulldoze, and/or hover your way through a variety of different futuristic cities while battling enemy mechs and causing mass destruction. I snagged a key from the developers and beat the campaign, so I’m ready to present my Brigador review!

Although Brigador might draw comparisons to DOS classic Syndicate for some, for me I’m most reminded of games in the Desert Strike series. In the Desert Strike games, you command a powerful war machine from an isometric viewpoint and are tasked with certain objectives. Most of the time, you’ll be headed into enemy territory and blowing up enemy vehicles and structures, while keeping an eye on your ammo and health.

brigador-review-combat

Brigador‘s retro styling and isometric action locks right into the Desert Strike groove I have carved into my brain. Helicopters are now hovertanks, and there’s no fuel to worry about, but otherwise the basic action feels similar. Overall, the gameplay gets the action right – wielding the power of a motorized destruction dealing walking tank feels meaty, and the variety of weapons feel different while all mostly feeling powerful.

Let’s Play! Come watch us play a freelance campaign in Brigador from our YouTube channel:

Combat technically takes place in a 2D plane, although the third dimension does come into play when aiming. Shots fired arc towards a point on the ground, and depending on how tall (or how high) your enemy is, you might need to aim a little closer or a little further away to hit them. Various weapons have different targeting methods, as well.

There are several ways to play Brigador. There’s a 21-mission campaign, where you’ll be given 4 fixed mech loadouts to choose from. Some of these loadouts are harder than others – especially the tiny, light scout mechs that barely have any armor or weapons at all. Quick reflexes and careful planning have to be used in order for you to have any hope at survival.

brigador-review-lore

The campaign follows a group of mercenaries as they help to liberate a futuristic colony from the lingering influences of a recently deceased dictator. There’s not a lot of story shoved in your face, as there aren’t any real characters or strong narratives in the missions. You have to buy and read lore articles or listen to the audiobook included in the deluxe version if you want to get the bigger picture.

If you’d rather forge your own path, there’s a “Freelance” mode where you can pick and mix your loadout and your mission however you like. Harder missions task you with clearing more and more districts before you get to punch out and collect your earnings. Those earnings can then be invested in unlocking more loadout and mission options.

You are almost always outgunned in Brigador, so exploiting your enemies’ AI and the terrain is key. Enemies won’t power up their shields until an alarm goes off or they’ve seen you, so staying out of sight and quickly destroying scouts who will raise the alarm is a good way to keep the bad guys weak. Enemies also investigate noise that you create, which can work for or against you. You can shoot buildings to draw enemies into a trap, but if you shoot at a group of enemies or cause a big explosion, you’ll draw a big crowd that might be tough to handle.

Sometimes it’s not clear where enemies are hiding, and there’s no map or anything to help there. Thus, you might shoot at a distant enemy and unwittingly knock over a hornet’s nest worth of trouble coming down on you from all sides. In the campaign, that’s no big deal since restarting is cheap and easy. In longer Freelance games, though, one mistake can erase quite a bit of progress.

brigador-review-trashing-environment

The terrain is fully destructible, so if a wall is in your way, it won’t be for long. Walking mechs can stomp, treaded mechs can dash, and hovering mechs can slam themselves into the ground to remove obstacles from your path. Of course, you could also just roll over them. Keeping the environment intact is sometimes as key a strategy as destroying it – enemies that can’t see you can’t hit you very well, after all.

There’s an impressive amount of mechs and gear to choose from in Brigador. There are dozens of pilots, 31 chassis, many different types of weapon slots, each with its own set of armaments, and four special weapons that recharge and can give you an edge in battle. That said, it can be tricky to figure out what the “good” stuff is without a lot of trial and error.

brigador-review-lore

In fact, the loadout interface in general could use a bit more work. There’s no way to save a completed mech and load it up later, you’ve got to remember what combination of weapons and so forth were good together on your own. In the “fixed loadout” campaign missions, it’s difficult to figure out even what type of mech you’ll be piloting until you get good at recognizing their shapes. Since different mech types have different control schemes, swapping back and forth can be difficult on the ol’ muscle memory.

Brigador doesn’t feature any achievements, which is a bit odd. Without them, playing Freelancer mode feels a bit aimless. I was able to buy a pretty good loadout with the cash I had saved from finishing the campaign. From there, it’s basically just “how long do I want to play Brigador?” Luckily, it’s fun, so the answer is “probably quite a bit longer.”

Brigador
Links:Homepage, Store Page
Release:6/2/2016
Price:$19.99
Rating: - Awesome!
Our Thoughts:

Brigador nails a lot of the core features of an isometric action game. Walking tanks stomping through fully destructible missions is a ton of fun. The vast variety of mech and loadout choices is impressive, and the game’s strategy changes depending on your choices. There are a few issues and omissions that keep Brigador from being an instant classic, but it’s still a ton of fun to play.

Review Policy

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Tips and Tricks for Travel to Hana, Maui https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/tips-tricks-travel-hana-maui/ https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/tips-tricks-travel-hana-maui/#respond Sun, 24 Jul 2016 22:57:00 +0000 https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=8332
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After a good decade and a half of planning and saving, my wife and I were finally able to visit Hawaii. We traveled to Maui and spent a week on the eastern shore, in a region called Hana. There’s basically one hotel there, which used to be the Hana Hotel and is now Travaasa Hana. If you’re thinking of traveling to Maui to visit Travasaa or Hana, read on!

This trip has been years in the making. We had really wanted to travel to Hawaii for our honeymoon, but my wife and I were both broke college students at the time, with car loans, student loans, and everything else. After the kids were born, time was more the issue than money. Finally this year the stars aligned and we were able to get away for a week, just the two of us.

We picked Travasaa in Hana because we were already familiar with Travasaa in Austin. My wife and I spent a day there, which they call an “experiential resort.” There’s a bunch of activities to participate in – stuff like archery, ziplining, yoga, and a massive aerial challenge course.

Travaasa recently renovated their Hana location, and they offered us a promotional rate to come visit. It’s still an expensive hotel, but having a lot of other stuff included (spa credits for the wife, excursion credits for me) helped offset the cost.

We flew American Airlines through Dallas to get to Kahului on the island of Maui. The trip wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. I’ve traveled to Asia and Europe before, and those flights are just long and grueling. This one wasn’t nearly as bad.

Once in Kahului, we flew to the Hana airport. Both Kahului and Hana are on the same island, so you could just rent a car and drive. However, Travaasa included the airfare (around $40 per person per way), and the drive to Hana tends to take a long time. It’s actually a scenic route that tourists flock to while on Maui, called “the road to Hana.”. It takes several hours, and the roads are often very narrow, allowing just one car at a time.

Hana Travel Guide: The Travaasa Hotel

Travaasa picked us up at the Hana airport and we settled into the hotel. We had an “Ocean Bungalow” room that was absolutely gorgeous. The bungalows are situated on either side of a shallow, grassy ravine which leads right to the ocean. You can very clearly hear the surf from the room. The bungalows are spaced out enough that they feel quite private. It also helps that the hotel wasn’t particularly busy while we were there.

hana-trip-travaasa-bungalo

The room had a mini fridge but no microwave – we learned late in our trip that you can request a microwave from the front desk. Food was a bit of an issue, but we’ll get into that later. There’s no air conditioning, so we left the windows open (but the screens closed) to keep cool.

There’s not a lot else to say about the room, except for what’s not in it. There’s no TV, which is kind of understandable. You’re on Maui, look out the window! However, there’s also no clocks whatsoever. A clock radio would have been a nice touch. There are ceiling fans, but they felt underpowered, and a stand or box fan to assist in air flow would have been awesome.

There wasn’t much in the way of internet or cell service either. Verizon apparently works, but my Google Fi phone just barely had 1 bar of coverage the whole time I was in Hana. Travaasa Hana has free wi-fi, but it was quite spotty and often times I waited minutes or more for simple webpages to load.

hana-trip-travaasa

Travaasa Hana has a couple of good sized pools, although the one they call the “infinity pool” is definitely the most impressive. It overlooks the ravine at the top of the line of bungalows, and it’s just a breathtaking view. I can think of far, far worse places to be than the hot tub there.

Hana Travel Guide: Travaasa & Hana Activities

Since Travaasa bills itself as an “experiential resort,” there are a host of activities to participate in. Some are included in the hotel room price, and others cost extra.

The included activities run the gamut, and I can honestly say we enjoyed almost every one we participated in. Some are more “arts and crafts”-y, like learning the ukulele or making flower leis. Others are more “outdoors”-y, like trying to make fire by rubbing sticks together, or going bamboo pole fishing in the harbor. The activities rotate and repeat, so there was usually something in particular we wanted to do on any given day. On the other hand, there wasn’t a lot of pressure to overload any particular day.

We also took on a couple of the “costs extra” activities while we were there. The two that we picked were the Hana Gold Cacao tour, and the Skyview Soaring glider tour.

hana-trip-hana-gold-cacao

Hana Gold is a “branch to bar” cacao plantation in Hana where they do it all – from growing the cacao to making their own chocolate bars. It’s a complex process, and the Frost family takes it very seriously. During the roughly hour tour, we saw cacao (and eventually chocolate) at every step along the way. For most of the process, it doesn’t taste anything like what you’d expect chocolate to taste like – it starts out very citrus-y, then very bitter, before it is roasted and mixed with other ingredients to make it closer to what we associate with chocolate.

The tour was fascinating, as we actually got to get up close and personal with every step in the process. We got to see the pods on the trees, and then follow the cacao seeds through their journey through various devices and machines until they became chocolate. Naturally, after the tour was over, we got to sample some fresh chocolate. Hana Gold’s chocolate is quite a bit different than your everyday Hershey bar. The rich taste lingers long after you’ve finished eating.

hana-trip-skyview-soaring

Skyview Soaring is owned and operated by Hans Pieters, a Dutch flying enthusiast who technically lives in California, although he much prefers Maui. My wife and I each signed up for a one hour glider tour, and it was fantastic. The glider is actually self-powered, so you take off from the airport and climb to 15,000 feet before coasting back down to the ground. The first half of the trip (or the entire thing if you opt for a 30 minute tour) is dedicated to exploring the eastern and southern coasts of Maui.

The second half varies depending on the weather – in my wife’s case, she got an up-close look at Maui’s volcanic crater. However, when it was my turn, clouds had rolled in and made that particular destination a bit risky. Instead, we angled more towards the Haleakalā Observatory. The glider ride is quite serene and peaceful, and a great way to get a birdseye view of Maui.

Hana Travel Guide: Sites to See

Travaasa appears to have a deal with Enterprise to rent cars on a per-day fee schedule. We rented a car from the concierge desk one day to see the things that were beyond walking distance.

hana-trip-black-sand-beach

Just to the north of Hana is Waiʻānapanapa State Park. There’s a small black sand beach here, and some caves to explore. You can also take a short hike to the top of the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. This park was the more chill and relaxed of the two. There’s no fee to get in, although I suggest going early in the day (before lunch) to avoid the rush of tourists taking the Road to Hana.

hana-trip-pools

About 45 minutes south of Hana is Haleakalā National Park, which is much, much bigger. There is a fee to get in here, although paying once gets you into several national parks nearby. There are several trails to hike, with the longer Pīpīwai Trail taking you up to some beautiful views of Maui’s waterfalls. The far less strenuous Kuloa Point Trail heads down to the Pools at Ohe’o, a scenic spot right on the cliffs of Maui overlooking the ocean.

Hana Travel Guide: Food

Food in Hana can be a tricky subject. Hana’s schedule seems to be very much centered around when the tourists arrive from the Road to Hana, so at lunchtime there is a lot of variety. Food trucks are located all up and down the main road through town. My favorite was probably Braddah Hutt’s, a bar-b-que joint that’s a short walk from the center of town. The chicken was just amazing, and the rice soaked in the leftover sauce was divine.

hana-trip-braddah-hutts

Breakfast is a bit more tricky for mainlanders like us – we’d wake up at 5 am or even earlier, which is late by Texas time but crazy early Maui time. We typically relied on cereal and snacks for breakfast. Dinner is likewise difficult, as most places closed around 2 pm. For dinner, we often had lunch leftovers or just a quick peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

There are only a couple of restaurants we could find that were open for dinner, and both of the closest ones were owned by Travaasa. The food prices are pretty insane – you’re not getting out of the restaurant for less than $20 a person for breakfast or lunch, and it’s more like $50 per person at dinner. Yeah, things are more expensive on Maui. But 3 pancakes shouldn’t cost ~$17 anywhere on this planet. You can eat at the food trucks for around $10 a person, which is far more reasonable, and far more “authentic” Hawaiian food. For these reasons, we tended to avoid the Travaasa food.

Grocery-wise, there’s a couple of stores in the town center that sell a reasonable selection of pantry staples. Hasegawa General Store is at the bottom of the hill, while Hana Ranch Store is near the top. It pays to check both out, as they’re both small shops with somewhat limited selection.

Fresh fruit is about the cheapest and easiest way to eat in Hana. There are tons of roadside stands and food trucks that serve it. My wife’s favorite by far was the “apple banana.” It’s a sweeter, more flavorful banana than what’s available in the continental US. There’s also the “ice cream banana” which is even sweeter and creamier, but my wife definitely preferred the apple bananas to them.

Hana Travel Guide: What to Bring

Packing for our trip to Maui was a bit complex, but we brought a lot of that on ourselves. On the ride over, we opted not to check bags because the fees were kind of outrageous and we were worried about lost luggage. Thus, we had to fit all our liquids into two quart size bags. It’s tricky to pack a week’s worth of sunscreen, bug spray, and toiletries into such a small space! Plus, that meant we were limited to what would fit in two carryon size pieces of luggage, which was tricky as well.

As always, I ended up packing some stuff that was super useful and leaving behind some things I wish I’d taken. Here’s my “must have” list while packing for Maui:

  • Sunscreen. It’s bright, you will burn. The sun is oppressive and hates my skin. I got burned the first day, but luckily it was mild.
  • Bug repellant. Get the “deep woods” maximum strength stuff, and wear it when you’re going somewhere forested (like the parks, Hana Gold, etc) and in the evenings. Mosquitoes ate us for lunch whenever we forgot to wear bug repellant.
  • Hats. I brought a couple ball caps, but I wish I had a wider brim hat for some of the longer hikes to keep the sun off my neck and shoulders.
  • Sunglasses. Noticing a trend yet?
  • Swimsuits. Obviously, if you’re on a beautiful island in the middle of the ocean and you’re not wet, you’re doing it wrong.
  • Athletic t-shirts. The kind that dry fast are wonderful to just wear around. It gets moist in a lot of uncomfortable spots quickly otherwise. I actually wore mine with swimsuit bottoms on days when I wasn’t planning to get in the water just because they were lighter than normal clothes.
  • Baby powder. Keeps you dry!
  • Shoes. Something beach appropriate, and something for hiking.
  • Bags for carrying stuff. We had one reusable grocery bag that made the hike from the grocery store a bit more bearable. Also having a small but comfortable pack to take places can be quite useful.

Hana Travel Guide: Conclusion

hana-trip-caves

Hana is a beautiful, remote, quiet destination for vacation seekers who want to relax and take life slow for a bit. The people are awesome and super friendly, the food is excellent, and there’s plenty to see and do in the surrounding area. Things get quiet after dark, and there’s just the sound of waves to rock you gently to sleep.

Travaasa Hana is a luxury hotel, with all the things that being a luxury hotel implies. It’s expensive, but it’s a nice, well maintained property with plenty of amenities.

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Kerbal Space Program (XB1) Review – Not Because They Are Easy https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/kerbal-space-program-xb1-review-mun/ https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/kerbal-space-program-xb1-review-mun/#respond Sat, 23 Jul 2016 17:16:47 +0000 https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=8335 Kerbal Space Program (often abbreviated KSP) is a rocketry and space simulation game that has been available in some form or another for the last 5 years. On PCs, Kerbal Space Program has been out of Early Access since April 2015. Now a console version of KSP is available for both PS4 and Xbox One. I got a review code for the Xbox One version, and after spending some quality time with a few Kerbals, I'm ready to weigh in. Stand by for launch - here comes my Kerbal Space Program Xbox One review.
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Kerbal Space Program (often abbreviated KSP) is a rocketry and space simulation game that has been available in some form or another for the last 5 years. On PCs, Kerbal Space Program has been out of Early Access since April 2015. Now a console version of KSP is available for both PS4 and Xbox One. I got a review code for the Xbox One version, and after spending some quality time with a few Kerbals, I’m ready to weigh in. Stand by for launch – here comes my Kerbal Space Program Xbox One review.

Kerbal Space Program is a complex, rather realistic simulation of the physics of rocketry and orbital mechanics. In it, your goal is to launch brave (and/or stupid) Kerbals into space and have them explore the solar system they inhabit. Depending on the mode you choose, Kerbal Space Program can be a sandbox for experimentation, or a more challenging space center simulation with research, budgets, missions, and other factors to consider.

Since Kerbal Space Program is such a huge game, I can’t really “beat it” before writing a review if I want that review to come out before the heat death of the universe. Thus, I stopped to write this review after completing all the tutorials and starting my own game, successfully launching a rocket that went to the Mun and landed safely.

Kerbal Space Program is divided into several different pieces. The two major ones are designing new spacecraft and piloting those craft to accomplish whatever goals you feel like making.

kerbal-space-program-xb1-review-spaceplane-hangar

The Vehicle Assembly Building and Spaceplane Hangar are where you’ll be designing your spacecraft. Craft can be assembled by snapping parts together, and then organizing those parts into stages that can be deployed during flight. There are a few starter designs in each building, but making your own is just a matter of snapping the various parts together in whatever arrangement works for you (and hopefully flies…).

3… 2… 1… Contact!

Once you’ve assembled your space craft, you can wheel it out to launch it. From here, you can take direct control of the craft, determining when to burn engines and what direction to fly. There’s a sort of autopilot that can assist you in keeping the craft pointed in certain directions, or just stabilizing the flight and keeping you from overshooting turns or spinning out of control.

From here, the sky’s the limit! Well, I guess the sky’s not really much of a limit, considering the fact that you’re strapping into a giant rocket…

kerbal-space-program-xb1-review-maneuver-planning

From here, the edge of known space is the limit! With a good knowledge of physics and orbital mechanics you can go anywhere you like. You can establish orbit over Kerbin (KSP’s Earth), and then set a course for the nearby moon (fittingly named the Mun), or any of the other planets and moons in the solar system. You can enter orbit around another planet or object, and land on it if you want to. Send your kerbonauts out to explore, plant a flag, claim a whole swath of otherworldly goodness!

kerbal-space-program-xb1-review-mun-landing

The physics might be daunting to new players – there’s a lot of terminology and precision required to understand it all. For instance, in order to get into orbit, you’ve got to max out your thrust until you’re going around 100 m/s relative to Kerbin’s surface. Then you’ve got to perform a gravity turn to get into an orbital trajectory. Next, at your apoapsis, burn prograde to move your periapsis up until you’re in a circular orbit.

Now you can add a maneuver node to intercept another stellar body. Burn prograde again to move your craft into the sphere of influence of the other object, and then when you arrive, burn retrograde to get into a tight orbit. From here, you can move your periapsis close to the surface, then burn retrograde to execute the reverse operation of the gravity turn to exit Kerbin atmosphere. Then, slow to a safe landing velocity and touch down, hopefully on your lander’s legs.

But that’s just the start! If you want to get home, you’ll probably have to do an orbital rendezvous with the engine you left in orbit before maneuvering back into Kerbin orbit, descending through the atmosphere, and deploying the parachute to stop yourself before you splat into the ground or water.

Oh, and keep an eye on your fuel. Chances are you’re going to run out and strand someone someplace in the cold, dark reaches of space.

You Lost Me at “Apoapsis”

kerbal-space-program-xb1-review-tutorial

If this all sounds a bit daunting, have hope! There’s a whole set of tutorials in-game that walk you through some of the more complicated maneuvers that make up most of the major activities in the game. In its early days, Kerbal Space Program was more about trial and error – you could spend weeks just trying to land on the Mun, for instance. These tutorials speed that process up considerably, and within a few hours you should understand the basic steps required to get there.

For “trial-and-error purists,” these tutorials may seem like they shortcut a lot of the challenge of Kerbal Space Program, and perhaps rob players of some of the feelings of accomplishment you get from finally nailing a tricky sequence of steps. On the other hand, these tutorials don’t do a perfect job of explaining things or holding your hand. Some of them I had to repeat a bunch of times before I figured out the parts I wasn’t being told, or before I was able to figure out precisely what the directions were telling me to do.

What’s Different in the Xbox One Version of Kerbal Space Program?

All of this is basically stock Kerbal Space Program. If you’ve never played it before, hopefully you get the basics of the game. What is probably interesting to most people is “should I buy the PC version or the Xbox One version?”

The Xbox One version is basically a straight-up port of the PC version. There’s not a lot of new stuff added that I could determine. The base feature set seems identical between the two. One notable addition is Xbox achievements, which is kind of surprising considering the devs don’t seem to think achievements in KSP are a good idea.

kerbal-space-program-xb1-review-achievements

This being a straight up port, Kerbal Space Program still seems optimized for higher resolution displays and keyboard/mouse input. Many of the tutorials pop up windows that cover most of the screen, and sometimes obscure important informational dialogs. The text can sometimes be small and fuzzy at TV viewing distances. Reliance on the controller for input is occasionally frustrating when trying to make precise movements, or when multiple actions are bound to the same button when pressed in different combinations/ways.

A lot of this can be worked around, for instance the popup text blocks can be moved by moving the cursor over them and holding the A button. Holding one of the bumper buttons down slows the cursor movement, which makes precise movements a bit easier. I figured a lot of these things out on my own, although there is a “help” function that shows the button bindings while flying.

Another concern is how often the Xbox One version gets updated relative to the PC version. Right now, the Xbox One version is at 1.1.0 where the PC version is on 1.1.3. That’s not nearly as bad as some games (Team Fortress 2, I’m looking at you…), but keeping it updated is going to be a long term problem. We won’t know what the patch landscape looks like until months or even years from now.

Yet another thing to consider is mod support. Right now there doesn’t seem to be support for mods in the Xbox One version of Kerbal Space Program, which locks a lot of community-created content out from Xbox One players. Xbox One has mods on other games – like Fallout 4, so perhaps this is a feature that will eventually be possible. However, I can’t find any official word on when or if this is planned.

kerbal-space-program-xb1-review-lander

Performance-wise, the Xbox One version isn’t without its share of issues. While flying, I often experienced a lot of frame drops and lag when switching to and from the map. I’ve had the game crash on me one time, and ran into a few glitches where stuff like auto-warping and maneuver settings didn’t work until I exited the game and reloaded. Given that Kerbal Space Program is a game that is still being actively developed, a bug or two isn’t that surprising. I can’t say it seriously negatively impacted my experiences. However, depending on the aforementioned post-launch patch support, it’s not clear what the timetable is for bugfixes.

Kerbal Space Program (Xbox One)
Links:Homepage, Store Page
Release:7/15/2016
Price:$39.99
Rating: - Awesome!
Our Thoughts:

Kerbal Space Program is an easy game to recommend to anyone curious about physics, rocketry, orbital mechanics, or anyone who wants to shoot off rockets and blow stuff up. If you’re seriously considering the Xbox One port, I have to assume you can’t play the PC version – so keep that in mind when looking at the score. The Xbox One version isn’t the best way to get Kerbal Space Program compared to the PC version, but if your options are “Xbox One” or “Not at All,” I wholeheartedly suggest picking it up.

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Zombie Night Terror: Living up to the Zombie Hype https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/zombie-night-terror-living-zombie-hype/ https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/zombie-night-terror-living-zombie-hype/#respond Thu, 21 Jul 2016 04:16:02 +0000 https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=8323
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Recently I got to sit down with Zombie Night Terror from developer NoClip, a game that previously got high praise from WOTS when we saw an early build at PAX. The game is now finished and released, and with more time to play it was quite and undead feast.

Zombie Night Terror Zombies

Undead Lemmings

The concept of Zombie Night Terror is Lemmings-style zombie mass management without as much focus on individuals. You will often “break a few eggs”, but that’s okay because zombies are surprisingly good team players when it is for the greater evil. “Undead Lemmings” as a concept is great right off the bat, as the vast timespan since the last Lemmings game I played make the experience ripe for nostalgia. I was pleased to see as an example that early in the game you unlock several forms of zombie “suicide” that are actually strategically beneficial – and I recalled 99 Lemming levels of the past where I would nuke them all just for the satisfaction of the popcorn explosions.

Zombie Night Terror Gameplay

Nature Finds a Way

Zombie Night Terror goes far beyond scratching old itches (and facilitating worker explosions) – it does a great job of rethinking previous tropes of “blockers” and “climbers” to make them thematically fit as zombies. Zombie jobs take the form of evolutions, which can lead to a temporary or permanent change in behavior. These mechanics get layered as the story progresses so that for example the “blocker” Overlords can also confer the ability to run fast or jump. This layering ends up creating multiple solutions to a lot of problems, which helps to keep the puzzle aspect of the game fun without oppressive difficulty. There are also challenges for each level which incentivize replay and exploring different solutions. At its core the evolution mechanic is awesome and the core of what makes the game fun. After the first few disemboweling Overlord transformations, you’ll be mutating zombies like its going out of style… and these zombies have excellent style.

Zombie Night Terror Challenge

That One Thing

Some sophomoric dialogue, and a decent dose of pixel art T & A seem at times a little unnecessary. In fairness, the game harkens to a B horror movie vibe which is absolutely full of the exact same thing. I think the reason it is more noticeable is that at times you repeat scenes several times while perfecting a strategy, or you might sit in place reading dialog bubbles while you wait for your slow shuffling zombies to make their way to the next point of interest. In these moments you may groan a little at female upper body pixel physics or cheesy one-liners… or you may feel like you are watching Stacy: Attack of the Schoolgirl Zombie. If you eyeroll when watching the more indulgent portions of horror movies you may do the same at times in Zombie Night Terror, but if that sort of thing doesn’t seriously push your buttons the gratuitous zombie mayhem will usually put it out of your mind.

Zombie Night Terror
Links:Homepage, Store Page
Release:7/20/2016
Price:$12.99
Rating: - Awesome!
Our Thoughts:

You know all those Lemmings you killed? They’ve risen from the dead, and now they are even more awesome in Zombie Night Terror.

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DubWars Review: All About That Bass https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/dubwars-review-bass/ https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/dubwars-review-bass/#respond Tue, 19 Jul 2016 13:00:42 +0000 https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=8309
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DubWars Gameplay 2 While we were at RTX 2016, we stumbled upon a lot of indie gems for the first time. One example that really jumped out at me was DubWars, a twin stick shooter with a musical twist. Instead of controlling your weapon systems, in DubWars they are completely controlled by the sounds and beats of the games intense EGM soundtrack. The quick look we got at RTX left me eager to dive deeper into dual stick dub town, and now that I’ve had a little more time with it I can say it definitely lives up to the phat beats.

DubWars Swamp Level

An Epic Origin Story

Originally release for the Ouya developer Mura Interactive shortly thereafter held a Kickstarter that got funded in July 2013 as well as getting successfully “Greenlit” on Steam. When I look at the Ouya version and the later PC Demos I’m amazed at how far the game has come graphically during development. Some of the same awesome dubstep tracks have been with the game since the beginning, but the polished visuals do a lot to crank the experience to 11.

DubWars Gameplay

Being “One” with the Dub

While I’ve listened to the occasional Salmonella Dub or Odesza I would definitely not characterize myself as an EGM expert. Even still, I have a great appreciation for the genre, and seeing DubWars for the first time made me wonder why it feels under represented in games of any type. Regardless, if ever there was a game for EGM – it is DubWars. Each level features a track from a different artist, and even as someone not deeply steeped in the genre I’ve enjoyed every single one of them. During our chat at RTX, Jonathan from publisher Wobbl3, explained that connecting with and celebrating the artists is big goal of the game – and it shows. Each level starts out with a bio for the featured artist, and there is even an acheivement for reading them. This is a really cool way to discover new music, and DubWars lists all the details if you want to head over to iTunes or SoundCloud and hear more.

This guy is begging for a bass laser to the face

This guy is begging for a bass laser to the face

DubWars wouldn’t be much without awesome graphics and effects, but luckily this is where the game shines the most. The levels manage to be highly frenetic and still visually appealing at the same time. About five levels in I encountered “Tough Guy”, which includes a central rotating-laser-of-death and a spinning visual tunnelling effect similar to the Death Start trench run. Executing perfect evasions and firing back at just the right moment when the base drops feels epic and makes you feel that much more connected to what is already a really powerful soundscape.

DubWars Upgrades

Finishing the Set

There are a few things about DubWars that were a bit confusing at first. Upgrades are explained only with an icon that gives a rough idea of the kind of weapon it will improve.

Pro Tip Since at first you don’t know which weapons will be used most in a level, its a good idea to not spend too many Wubs until you’ve figured out what you’ll be using most.

The level select screen also doesn’t make it very clear how to unlock new levels, and at some point you may feel that you are stuck and can’t progress. In fact, there are “portals” that open at the end of certain levels, and it matters which one you choose if you want to unlock a different level.

These small things aside, the music and the experience will keep you coming back. Upgrades, difficulty tiers, achievements, and high scores all give you a reason for a lot of replays if the awesome soundtrack wasn’t reason enough.

DubWars
Links:Homepage, Store Page
Release:7/19/2016
Price:$19.99
Rating: - UNBELIEVABLE!
Our Thoughts:

If you like music games and have the slightest interest in EGM or Dubstep music you’ve got to check DubWars out. Using wub-wubs to defeat your incinerate your enemies is so entertaining you’ll be spraying bass-lasers for hours and hours.

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Top 4 Clash Royale Tournament Tips to Win Top Spots https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/top-4-clash-royale-tournaments-tips-win-top-spots/ https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/top-4-clash-royale-tournaments-tips-win-top-spots/#respond Sat, 16 Jul 2016 15:37:37 +0000 https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=8300
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Clash Royale Tournament As part of the latest update SuperCell added Clash Royale Tournament, and after a week of clashing it up we’re ready to share our Top 4 Clash Royale Tournament tips, along with some bonus pro tips along the way. Enjoy!

1. Finding a Tournament

One of the first things that can be kind of a challenge if you don’t want to create your own Clash Royale Tournament is actually finding a tournament to play in. At least as of SuperCell’s initial release it seems finding tournaments is pretty easy but they are all full. To some extent this unavoidable and secretly a good thing since the games popularity is ultimately good to keep the community thriving, but it can be a bummer when you just want to get a match. The trick that I’ve found works best is to just repeatedly mash the “magnifying glass” icon with no search terms, and keep trying to join the very first tournament you find.

Pro Tip You can leave a Clash Royale Tournament at any time by pressing the blue info icon on the leaderboard page and choosing “Leave Tournament”. If you spam your way into a tourney you don’t want to be in, just leave and try again. Ideally, try and find a tournament with a time duration and enough time left that you can get in enough matches for a top spot.

Tournament Rules

2. Tournament Rules

The Clash Royale Tournament meta is extremely different. To an extent, P2W players don’t have as big of an advantage since level caps are signficantly reduced. In reality what this means is that Rares and Epics that are maxed tend to face off better against Commons. The Royal Giant in particular feels much weaker, but other noteable Commons like Goblins and Zap will also be a known quantity that can’t win on level alone.

Pro Tip Clash Royale Tournament Rules also mean an especially long 3 minute Overtime. This tends to favor “beat down” decks that benefit from the 2x Elixir in Overtime, but it can also mean that “chip” damage from troops like Goblins and Fire Spirits can add up to a downed tower. With weaker RGs, defensive buildings like Inferno Tower and Hidden Tesla can help to prevent chip damage and possibly distract beat down troops while you build a counter attack.

Big Log Tournament

3. A Spectator Sport

A surprising amount of info can be gained by sizing up your competition before you wade into battle. If your Clash Royale Tournament is long enough, or if you’ve got some time to kill while you wait for it to start – look at your opponents decks and see what is popular. Pay particular attention to the “Cards won” stat on each players profile. If they’ve got a large number, chances are that they’ll be a contender.

Once things get started, try to spectate the folks at the top to learn their decks and how they play them. If one of the big guys is playing a combo you don’t defend well against, either make adjustments or try to avoid them.

Pro Tip While you are spectating one of the big matches, if you see a top player that you’ve got your eye on, wait till their match is over or almost over and then queue up. A surprisingly large portion of the time, this will guarantee you a match with them – giving you a chance to steal some big trophies.

Clash Royale Tournament Bracket

4. Hold em/Fold em/Walk/Run/Etc

An interesting nuance of the Clash Royale Tournament trophy system is that when you start you have nothing to lose, but the more you play the less you have to gain while your risk of losing reaches a maximum. Keep an eye on the time left, and who your chief competition is. If there is an opponent you don’t want to face, try to only match up when they are already in a match. When you are in the spot you are shooting for and you have a good lead on the next closest opponent, stop playing. Opponents will get anywhere from a few trophies all the way up to 40 for a big win, but if you have a 70-100 advantage you’ll be pretty hard to over take once time is short. This is not the bravest way to play, but hey – a win is a win.

Do you know any Clash Royale tournament tips that we missed? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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Infinium Strike Review: To Infinium & Beyond https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/infinium-strike-review-infinium-beyond/ https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/infinium-strike-review-infinium-beyond/#respond Thu, 14 Jul 2016 20:00:34 +0000 https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=8220 Infinium Strike puts you in the captain's chair of humanity's last hope - the battlecarrier Freedom Strike. Aliens, man. It's always aliens. They've come to destroy us, like for reals. Us puny humans have mostly lost the war, but we managed to discover the secrets of a material called "Infinium" that has all sorts of nifty properties. With it, we're able to strike back (get it?) and perhaps deal a killing blow to the Wrog. If tower-defense games keep you up all night, you really should learn more about Infinium Strike. Lucky for you, we're just about to start my Infinium Strike review!
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Infinium Strike puts you in the captain’s chair of humanity’s last hope – the battlecarrier Freedom Strike. Aliens, man. It’s always aliens. They’ve come to destroy us, like for reals. Us puny humans have mostly lost the war, but we managed to discover the secrets of a material called “Infinium” that has all sorts of nifty properties. With it, we’re able to strike back (get it?) and perhaps deal a killing blow to the Wrog. If tower-defense games keep you up all night, you really should learn more about Infinium Strike. Lucky for you, we’re just about to start my Infinium Strike review!

Tower defense games are another broad genre with a lot of different gameplay tweaks that can make games feel significantly different from one another. Infinium Strike‘s take on this formula is that your job is to defend the Freedom Strike by outfitting its various weapon hardpoints on the fly, from salvage you find from destroying Wrog ships. Wave after wave of Wrog are incoming, and the only thing stopping them is Freedom’s defenses.

infinium-strike-review-cutscene

There are a lot of cool tactical options in Infinium Strike. In addition to choosing your defensive turrets from a set of around 10 different, unique options, there’s a lot of other elements to consider. For instance, as you level Freedom Strike up, you unlock various “TSF SuperTech” abilities. These abilities each have a cooldown, but are otherwise free to use. They can really save your bacon in a tricky firefight by taking the pressure off or restoring your defenses. Properly timing the “Super Salvage” ability is also key to keeping ahead of the power curve.

Additionally, there are “fleet points” that accumulate over time, which can be traded in to launch drones to help deal with stubborn enemies and incoming projectiles. If you let these accumulate, you can use them to upgrade your drones, making them cheaper and more effective. Knowing when to stockpile and when to deploy can make or break a Wrog invasion.

The turrets themselves each have a “sector” they’re capable of being effective in, and the Freedom Strike is divided into four quadrants. This means there’s technically 12 zones of engagement. Wrog ships warp in from sector 3, and move towards the ship until they reach their desired combat range. Some weapons can hit multiple sectors, while some prefer a particular type of ship. If two or more of the same type of turret are placed together, they do bonus damage. Strategic deployment of defenses is therefore critical.

infinium-strike-review-advanced-combat

All of this, blended together, makes for a very satisfying and deep tower defense experience. There are a lot of interesting tradeoffs to consider, and many different strategies to employ. To its credit, Infinium Strike’s UI does a good job of keeping you apprised of Freedom Strike’s status and what is going on in each sector. I never felt overwhelmed by the amount of information it provided, and getting into the groove with the various HUD indicators makes the game feel manageable.

However, I’ve got some complaints to level at Infinium Strike. One thing I’ll get out of the way is that the campaign is really rather short. There’s only 10 levels, although there are three difficulty settings. I guess you could say there are 30 then, but that’s a bit of a stretch for me. Every level basically boils down to “kill Wrog, upgrade the Freedom Strike, try not to die.” The actual objectives vary slightly, but they don’t drastically change the way levels play out.

infinium-strike-review-difficulty-levels

The other complaint I have is in the presentation. Don’t get me wrong – Infinium Strike looks fine. It’s just that there’s a lot of emphasis placed on moving the camera around to see the fight from various angles. The most useful tactical view is right off the bows of the ship, and there are quick camera views for each of the four quadrants. However, a lot of keyboard and controller real estate is dedicated to moving the camera around. When enemies are attacking from all sides and seconds matter, stopping for a pretty view of the alien cruiser that is shoving missiles up your butt is not high on the priority list. It’s a bit like playing a shooter and having an analog stick dedicated to moving the camera around to get a more cinematic angle on the action.

infinium-strike-review-cinematic-camera

On top of that, often you’re fighting mostly black enemies on a mostly black background. It can be tough to pick out enemy units at times, or to understand what enemies you’re up against until it’s a bit late to start reacting. Sometimes enemies or their missiles will move out of the default camera field of view. The variety of enemies also means you’ve got to try to learn each enemy’s attack pattern, the type of weapon they fire, and the correct anti-alien weapon to deploy. I found myself building the same turrets on all sides of Freedom Strike, once I found a combo that was generally useful against most threats.

Infinium Strike
Links:Homepage, Store Page, Free Demo
Release:7/14/2016
Price:$0.00
Rating: - Good
Our Thoughts:

Infinium Strike brings a lot of meaty choices to bear when dealing with the Wrog menace. It’s never frustrating to keep track of everything, despite the tactical depth. However, I really feel like the emphasis on cinematic camera angles and black-on-black enemy design detracts from the fun.

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Crush Your Enemies Review: What Would Conan Do? https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/crush-enemies-review/ https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/crush-enemies-review/#respond Wed, 13 Jul 2016 20:00:41 +0000 https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=8216
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Crush Your Enemies is one of a few games we saw at the Gambitious booth at PAX South, where the viking-helmet adorned team from Vile Monarch was on hand to ease us into the world of barbarianism. A couple months later, I scored a pre-release build of the game and streamed it. Now, the full version is available at the usual digital storefronts. I’ve had early access to the final release for a few weeks now, so I’ve done a lot of crushing! Now I’m ready to report on Crush Your Enemies in my full review!

Crush Your Enemies is a 2-D top-down grid-based real time strategy (RTS) game. The RTS genre boasts a wide range of sub-genres and there are tons of different ways for a game to make its own mark. Crush Your Enemies hews closest to games like Galcon with its core concepts.

Each level is divided up into square regions. These regions can be claimed by your team or your enemies. You can’t cross an enemy region without first claiming it, which takes time. Units are produced automatically at huts on special squares. The more barbarians there are in a hut, the faster it produces. However, the max stack on a particular tile is capped at 50.

When your army meets an enemy army on the field, they get to crushin’. Generally speaking, numerical advantages hold the day. However, other special buildings on the map can outfit your generic barbarians with more powerful weapons and equipment. Stepping on one of these immediately changes the class of an entire stack of units.

crush-your-enemies-review-complex-combat

The core of the game revolves around managing your various stacks of units, moving around the map, and trying to capture strategic squares and/or buildings. Keeping the right balance of units and classes is key to victory, and moving your barbs around to take advantage of territory adds to the strategic depth.

The art in Crush Your Enemies evokes a sort of 16-bit aesthetic. The relatively small size of each level, coupled with the low res graphics gives the game an initial impression of simplicity. However, Crush Your Enemies quickly becomes devilishly complex and deeply strategic. Fixed crossbow towers, archers, giant slugs, beer as a currency… there’s a lot of depth here.

The levels in Crush Your Enemies are arrayed in order of difficulty, with a plot that ties all the crushing together and periodic challenging side missions to undertake. The campaign is divided into two halves. Each half is quite lengthy, and each mission can take anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes to complete, depending on how anal you get about getting all the optional objectives.

crush-your-enemies-review-objectives

The plot is very stereotypical “manly man raaaar war!” – beer and violence and so on. It’s very appropriate to the whole barbarian theme, and it never takes itself all that seriously. The second half introduces a lot of additional mechanics, and throughout the game new riffs and ideas are incorporated. The end result is a game that doesn’t wear out its welcome.

crush-your-enemies-review-manly-men

In addition to a pair of single-player campaigns, there’s also a multiplayer mode where you can challenge your friends and see who is the better enemy crusher.

My main complaint with Crush Your Enemies is that it can often be tricky to manage and keep track of all the various stacks of units that are in play at any one time. The CPU is often moving several units at once, whereas it generally takes two or three clicks for me to get things moving on my end. I would like to see a “slow motion” mode where I can take a bit longer to think. (Thankfully, for times when you just need to wait, there is a fast forward option.)

In the second campaign in particular, the AI sometimes has a tough time coping with the resource management aspect of the game. For instance, if it is very weak, it will send all its troops to harvest meat, and leave none behind to recruit new barbarians. I’ve gotten into several occasions where I won a major skirmish against it, only to find that it was basically in a state where it couldn’t recover.

Crush Your Enemies
Links:Homepage, Steam
Release:7/13/2016
Price:$9.99
Rating: - Awesome!
Our Thoughts:

Crush Your Enemies is a terrific strategy game that proves that RTS games don’t need to be huge in terms of scale and complexity in order to be fun. The Steam version is a worthy addition to any library, but I personally think this is a great “on the go” RTS that fits perfectly on your phone or tablet.

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