Planet Explorers

Planet Explorers is an open world sandbox game set on another planet. You have a cool backpack and also a jetpack to fly around in. It also uses what the devs call a “new OpenCL calculated voxel system” which basically means that you can build stuff like in Minecraft only more complex, less blocky things. Do you like sandbox games? More specifically, do you like Minecraft? If you like the idea of open world exploration, mining and gathering resources for survival, and then building stuff, well then this could be the game for you.

There are a few huge things that set Planet Explorers apart from Minecraft. Obviously the graphics are different. There are a few aspects that look really nice, like some grass and the water and generally the color palette and art style are all very good. When you look close though the textures aren’t so good and neither are most of the models (trees, etc). But for what it is, it looks pretty damn good. You can also build a lot more than you can in Minecraft, mostly in the way of ships and whatnot. And Planet Explorers makes it pretty easy to build ships. If for some reason you thought the stupid Trade Federation barricade ships looked cool in Star Wars Episode 1 you could build those ships, like this guy.

WE MUST BOW TO THEIR WISHES

Anyways, the gameplay is basically what you would expect from a sandbox game on another planet. You can dig, and dig, and then do some more digging, and then after you do that you can dig some more. Then you run around a lot looking for stuff, and then when you find some stuff you can build yourself a helicopter to fly around to find some stuff. The sense of exploration is great though due to the art style.  Combat is pretty basic and mostly just consists of running around punching things. But this is all pretty standard for a sandbox game. It is in early release game but Planet Explorers is pretty far along for an alpha. It’s not exactly polished but there is enough there to mess around with and have a good time. Supposedly there are serious memory leaks that become game breaking if your character lives for too long, which is basically the worst possible scenario. Early access everyone!

C3PO gets lost storming away from a fight with R2

Planet Explorers is currently 40% off and $14.99. This is a pretty decent deal but the game has consistently gone on sale for the exact same price every few months. It will surely go on sale for this price again so if you have reservations about buying a game in this state, you can feel good about waiting. If you love sandbox games though, there is enough here to keep you entertained for a while, and thus far the devs have been good about updating. Verdict: Buy it.

Natural Selection 2

Maybe you played the original Natural Selection back at the day, possibly in some dank, smelly, cyber cafe, knocking back Dew after Dew in between spawns. But you probably wanted to play CS but nobody else wanted to play CS and instead everybody was playing some weird game about Darwinian theory. Or maybe that never happened at all and Natural Selection II is just another cool looking Source mod. Well it is pretty cool. Natural Selection II is one of those multiplayer FPS games that is more about strategy than it is about skill. But you still have to be skillful in your strategy. If that makes any sense.

The game pits players against each other as humans versus the zerg, or aliens from some other planet, who knows. In the beginning, the humans have an advantage over the zerg team, as they are weak and die quickly to gunfire. However, the alien players have an easier time ambushing people so they can take down unaware players pretty quickly when given the right opportunity. It’s all about taking advantage of the right situations in this game. If as a tiny, puny zergling you attempt a full frontal assault you will get destroyed. As you get kills you can evolve into more interesting, more deadly creatures, and the game gets more fun. If you stayed a zergling the whole time the game would not be as fun, but it gets pretty exciting as you move up the evolutionary chain. Imagine going on killstreaks in the Modern Warfare games except instead of calling down airstrikes you can morph into an Ultralisk and stomp people into the ground instead.

everyone starts as a vagina dentata

 Natural Selection II is pretty fun once you get going, but there is definitely a learning curve. If you can’t figure out how to kill people to move up the evolutionary chain then it can become more frustrating than anything else. Natural Selection II is currently on sale for 75% off at $6.24. I wish it was a little bit cheaper, but if you like team based multiplayer gameplay featuring aliens and lots of biting you can’t really go wrong here. Verdict: Buy it.

StarForge

StarForge is an Early Access Game that also got Indie Go Go’d. They got like $150,000 off the campaign and everybody quit their jobs to work on the game. It’s the dream! Of course, according to forum posts and reviews as well as online petitions for refunds, this game is a pipe dream at best and a nightmare at worst. What’s the deal with these early access game/crowdfunding scandals? I think with StarForge, there’s not so much a scam going on but a game that was perhaps too ambitious to be completed.

StarForge has been in development for a few years now and it’s officially in Beta. It is a sandbox style world building planet exploration game. Apparently there was supposed to be space exploration but that’s probably never going to happen. Gameplay consists mostly of exploring a procedurally generated world and shooting zerg, and also building a house. You can also dig. That’s about it. It’s kind of like Minecraft on a strange planet. Most of the servers are dead, or there are only 3-4 people in them at a time. There is a single player mode as well. If this sounds like your cup of tea go ahead and check it out, but it looks like it will probably not get finished. But some people are staunch defenders of the game. There also used to be an asking price of $75 which is just silly.

This is the problem with Early Access Games. Devs don’t ever have to make good on all their promises, and progress on the game can be slow. Updates on this game have become monthly and communication from the devs has become better than it was. The problem is nobody knows what kind of game StarForge is even going to become anymore. It started as a Survival/Exploration sandbox game and then started leaning towards PvP but the community can’t decide what it wants and neither can the devs! So best case scenario it will eventually be a combination of both but who knows?

Turok 2 looks pretty good

If you don`t mind playing an unfinished sandbox game with no end in sight than go ahead and try StarForge. Otherwise you’re better off just waiting to see what happens with the game. In summary: fuck early access games. Verdict: Skip it.

Aliens: Colonial Marines

Aliens: Colonial Marines is the highly anticipated and then of course much maligned game from Gearbox that was in development since kind of 2001 but then got canceled and then had been kind of in development since 2006. Of course everyone was all excited about it because of the multiplayer of that one AvP game that everyone used to play, and of course everyone hated it when it came out. Poor Gearbox. They keep trying to revive these games from the dead (see: Duke Nukem Forever) that have all these pieces thrown into place and then they get all hyped up and end up like some kind of Frankenstein’s monster of a game. I don’t know what they expect to happen when they try and play god. Half Life: Opposing Force was still awesome though.

Aliens: Colonial Marines is no exception to the rule. The first thing people got all uppity about is that the “actual gameplay” footage shown a couple years ago was nothing like the actual game. Well maybe saying nothing is a little bit strong but the ACTUAL game looks a hell of a lot different. This happens all the time with devs using prerendered footage that looks like gameplay but in general it doesn’t seem to work out so well in the long run. It’s not just the graphics that suck, though. And they’re not that bad, everything just looks sort of dark and bland and vaguely electrical in a Doom 3 kind of way. But everything else is pretty bland. The gunplay isn’t so good and the AI is awful. Here is a helpful review from Steam user starshipwaters:

The most rewarding part of this game is that sometimes the Xenos use Marine animations and take cover. It’s hilarious.

The whole game is kind of like that, and besides everyone knows Aliens and Predators for that matter too don’t stand a chance against a real carnivore like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Hey Steve, you gotta check this out. Uh, Steve?

 The saving grace for this game is that multiplayer is OK and there is even a Left 4 Dead-style game mode. But honestly it is not nearly as good as either L4D or Natural Selection 2. You are better off spending your money on Natural Selection 2 to get your humans versus aliens/ Darwinism fix. Aliens: Colonial Marines is currently on sale for $4.99 at 75% off. If you are a die hard Aliens fan maybe you will like it but probably not. Verdict: Skip it.

Sanctum 2

“Sanctum? I damn near killed ’em,” is what you might be saying to yourself after you play this game. No? Fine. Sanctum is a tower defense/FPS hybrid. That alone is a welcome change for the genre. Get it? It’s not top down. It’s First Person. The concept works the same. You get money or experience after each round and instead of just being able to upgrade your towers you can also upgrade your guns. Guns?? What??? Yeah, you’re knee deep in the dead in this one. You also build the level as you go along, to try and funnel the Zerg into a slaughterhouse-type situation.

This game is great though. It’s trial and error but in the best way possible. Like any tower defense, there’s work to be done before the first enemy hits the ground. The difference is once the action starts you get to run around and shoot the baddies.

You get to play as that hot ghost from Starcraft.

There is a sequel out. But the original appears to still be updated with new weapons and the like. More importantly, it’s only $0.99. The replay value is pretty high. It scales with the difficulty and it’s a pretty good time waster. The problem/asset of the game is that it is much, much better in co-op and not nearly as good single player. But at 99 cents you can convince one of your friends to buy it. Verdict: Buy It.

Wait a minute…what do you mean this is the sequel?! I thought the original was just on sale last month! What the hell is this crap! Oh well. For $1.49 it’s probably worth it anyways.

Steam Daily Deal for Thursday, 2/27/2014: Mass Effect 2

Humanity, or every other species, needs a leader against the Reapers. If you’re like me and you used the Unreal Engine to unwittingly make your Shepard an abomination, you will not get a clean slate here. It’s too late to go back. Time for several more hours of staring at your own god awful creation.

It’s horrible!

The consensus seems to be that you play Mass Effect for the story, not the gameplay. I don’t really mind either. If you like shooting aliens, or robots, or robot aliens, or maybe tossing them around with your mind, ENLIST, PRIVATE. The problem is this game is long and if you have a relatively long backlog it will most likely just take up space. Not really a jump in and play for an hour to get the full experience type of game.

Now if you loved the first one, you probably already bought this one. If you hated it, you might like this one better. There’s a lot more Lycra ass shots and British accents. You can also get a girlfriend. Or a boyfriend. Or really whatever you want. Time to repopulate the galaxy!

Verdict: If you haven’t felt the burning desire to play it already, SKIP IT.