Out in the Universe

I’m in a spacey mood. I spent parts of last week (as much of it as I could,) playing EVE Online on the 5 free days. Having decided not to continue with that for the time being, I’ve since been dabbling with a couple of things.

One has been Sword of the Stars, which I snapped up on the cheap from Steam a while back. At $5 for the game and three expansions, it was a nice deal, and while not my ultimate dream 4X space game, it’s a solid entry in that field. I am mildy put off by a couple of things, namely the cartoony art style, lack of ability to customize the races

One thing that does irk me outright about it, though, is the similarity of its title to The Sword and the Stars, a fine old board wargame from SPI. That game along with other SPI sci-fi titles like Freedom in the Galaxy and Outreach happen to be favorites of mine. As far as I’m concerned Kerberos and Paradox are stepping on SPI’s toes here without so much as a thanks. I will slake my anger by not buying Sword of the Stars II and its inevitable expansions are $5 for the lot as well. Besides, they’ll have shaken out all the bugs and issues (said to be prodigious) by then.

Now, the game that just might be my ultimate dream 4X space game is Star Ruler, and I’ve been fussing with the demo for that and trying to figure out how well it reflects the current state of the full game, which by all accounts has evolved quite a bit, and the demo is said to not be entirely caught up. Star Ruler is mightily ambitious and has a learning curve to match, and the interface is none too elegant. Picking up the full game likely awaits the Steam sale in the near-certain future.

Also on the space front, I’ve been playing a fresh game of Mass Effect 2 since I installed it using Origin on the new PC. It runs flawlessly at maximum settings. This playthrough is a custom female Infiltrator Shepard that’s going all-out renegade. My first game was a custom male Soldier that went as heavy paragon as was possible. In both cases, though, I’m not resisting the interrupts of the opposing path.

I have my old savegame as well and now a large chunk of DLC that hasn’t yet been played through: Overlord, Kasumi, Shadow Broker and Arrival. Considering that on my original Shepard I romanced Liara and she plays only a token role in ME2 out of the box, I’m looking forward to playing through the newer content more or less in that order. The connection-crushing 4+ GB is downloading now. Mass Effect 3, due out in March, is one of the very few must-own titles on my docket for the next year.

Back down to Earth, I also hit level 49 in LotRO, having been inching along at it for weeks. At any time I can drop everything and finish up a huge swath of Volume 1 that’s yet undone. There is enough left in that end of the epic questline to get me to level 50 very easily. For right now I’m going to finish up the questing deeds in Forochel… and probably drop the +25% kill XP pocket item, since it sure doesn’t look like I’m in need of the boost. Then on to finish Eregion and finally see the shadowed halls of Khazad-dûm.


2 responses to “Out in the Universe

  1. Ooh, you got the Kasumi DLC! Two tips for that:
    1) do her loyalty mission fairly early if you use SMGs much. It gives the best SMG in the game, the Locust.
    2) Keep an eye on where Kasumi is when you use her as a squadmate. Listen especially for her “now you see me…” line, which is one of the indicators she’s doing a Shadow Strike attack. She teleports back to where she started from after the strike, but has an occasional habit of not retaking cover afterwards. I’ve lost her quite a few times to standing up behind the cover instead of taking cover after a Shadow Strike. It’s really the same not retaking cover problem the AI has when it gets knocked back by a rocket explosion, just more frequent since she uses Shadow Strike a lot.

    She’s great fun, though. My Engineer used her as a squadmate most of the game, except for a few situations where another squadmate seemed preferable. I did avoid using her in the final Collector missions because I was concerned about having her Shadow Strike into trouble, especially husk mobs. It’s also worth talking to her after every significant event. She doesn’t have a dialog tree, just an opening recognition and then 3 sets of comments before a ‘come back later.’ But she has unique comments after each squad loyalty mission and most recruitment missions.

    I don’t have the other 3 DLCs there. Shadow Broker is probably next on my list, followed by Overlord and then Arrival. Currently I’m focused on playing a Paragade ME2 Male Vanguard (no ME1 import). Eventually I need to get back to my ME1 Male Vanguard (full renegade), and my ME1 Female Infiltrator so I can play them through to import.

    You’re 10 levels ahead of me in LOTRO. Right now, my LOTRO time is absorbed by festival activity though. And figuring out what to do with Haunted Trees. Right now, between the three of us, my family has in excess of 60 of the things. And there’s still a few days of festival left.

    I have also just started dabbling with Rome: Total War, picked up cheap off Steam. This is the fault of watching the UK series “Time Commanders” on Youtube. Teams of 4 playing out historical battles using R:TW as a command staff, 2 generals and 2 captains/lieutenants. Stop reading here if you don’t want spoilers on some teams. 🙂

    If you want the best team of the series (so far in what I’ve watched), check out the team of 4 Vicars at Teutoberg Forest (Teutobergerwald). Genuine pleasure to watch. Note that this one is later than the other two below, so the format is different with the addition of skirmishes, etc.

    If you wanna blow your mind, though, check out the 4 musicians (2 music teachers, 2 students) at the Battle of Tigranocerta. Success through incompetence more than in spite of incompetence.

    For an entirely different brand of utter incompetence, check the Battle of Chalons. Painful. I’ll just say “horse archers hand-to-hand stationary against heavy infantry” and leave you to view the rest if you can stomach it. :>

  2. To be fair, Freedom in the Galaxy was a ripoff of Star Wars. But it also was a very fun game. More fun, in fact, than any licensed Star Wars board game I can recall from that time. I regret selling my copy of it, not that I play many boardgames these days.

    Never played The Sword and the Stars. Outreach was okay considering when it came out. It certainly was easier to play than Starforce or Battlefleet Mars, both of which, as I recall, used a 3D tactical combat system using two mini-boards and were more like doing math problems than playing a fun game.

    The High Crusade was another SPI favorite, from SPI’s wonderful Ares magazine; as was their RPG game Universe. Good times, good times…