Review | 2009.10.09


So Bungie finished their contribution to the Halo series and did the dreaded franchise handoff. This has led to the titles Halo Wars and Halo ODST. After Dan came down again I had a jones for more shooter action so I picked up the recent release. As expected, it plays pretty much the same as the last three with minor visual tweaks and new features.

The last game succeeded throwing action at you in a crescendo/decrescendo fashion, everything contributed to the mood. You knew from the music, the scenery, and the dialogue when to expect wandering and when to expect a scarab assault. ODST takes a stab at this, but doesn't accomplish it so smoothly - it fluctuates between Resident Evil and choppy, unpredictable action.

ODST's win comes from the set piece battles that are replayable in the team survival mode that I have yet to try (having no team). Maybe tonight intermixed with Beatles.

It's good and faithful/identical to the franchise, but some of the liberties taken by the designers don't work as well as others.

Sins of a Solar Empire screenshot

Also I've spent some time with a 2008 release, Sins of a Solar Empire. Hailed as the epic-est strategy game ever, I like their attempt to make Rebellion right and, to paraphrase their mantra, create a strategy game that doesn't base success on how fast you can click the mouse.
It's grandiose, with culture, resources, economics, tech, tactics, experience, topography, and the lot. It seems like everything, however, is a means to create the big fleet that you will need to win. This stands in contrast to Civ, for example, where you can succeed as an isolationist until the game ends.

But, like I said, it seems everything comes down to a large clash of fleets. This might be cool in most cases - it worked well when I played on the small map. But my two medium map games resulted in a fighting stalemate where I had enough resources to defend my planet but the ai could not be diminished. This owes in part to the number of tiny ships in its fleet and its ability to easily focus firepower while I had to do lots of clicking to send everybody after a particular target. To make matters worse, my ally kept announcing reinforcements had arrived - in the form of one or two light frigates.

The action leading up to this endless frustration is enough to let me give it a few more tries, but if every match is similarly predestined, it'll be a bitter end - like the pointy side of a Novalith Cannon.

thumbnail Sins of a Solar Empire novalith cannon thumbnail Sins of a Solar Empire planet culture thumbnail Sins of a Solar Empire fleet battle thumbnail Sins of a Solar Empire asteroid resources thumbnail Sins of a Solar Empire map
thumbnail Sins of a Solar Empire battleship experience thumbnail Sins of a Solar Empire fleet combat thumbnail Sins of a Solar Empire technology tree

Futurama wild green yonder

I finally saw the last of the Futurama movies, Into the Wild Green Yonder. Excellent. The previous ones either had a muddled story, subpar slapstick, or sparing use of the characters' entertaining personalities. This one succeeds at all three.

Bacon gorgonzola burger onions grill

Bacon gorgonzola barbecue burger gets an A+.

Grass terraces yard

The grass is coming along.

Plants driveway


I need to ask the Navy program officer if you can be part of the grant.

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