XCOM 2 Review

Lieutenant Vaclev Skorski is stood atop the burning ruins of an alien warehouse. He’s wounded and down to the last shot of his sniper rifle. Ahead of him, crouched behind the low cover of a clump of rocks, is his squadmate – the last remnant of what had been a five man team. Bearing down on his comrade, who is making a final dash for the evac zone, are a hulking robotic walker and an alien assault trooper. Skorski is the last thing between the success of the mission and a slaughter. He takes aim, knowing that, with enemy reinforcements inbound, covering for his teammate means certain death for himself.

Such moments are scattered throughout XCOM 2, the sequel to 2K and Firaxis Games’ squad-based tactics game XCOM: Enemy Unknown from 2012. There are very few games that can be punctuated with snapshots of pure emotion, drama and, at times, rage while leaving the player wanting so much more. XCOM 2 is one of those games.

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In Enemy Unknown the player is tasked with defending Earth from an unknown alien threat, using the might of the world’s combined nations to be a bulwark against the extraterrestrial menace. XCOM 2 reveals just how fruitless that effort was. 20 years on the aliens have almost totally subjugated Earth’s population, installing themselves as governors, overlords and even deities under the umbrella name of the ADVENT. Only a few still try to fight back against these outer-space oppressors, and it’s up to you to lead them from scattered bands of fugitives to a full-fledged rebellion.

Read the rest of this review at GameGrin

Grand Ages: Medieval Review

If you were flying blind going into your time with Grand Ages: Medieval, you might be forgiven for thinking that this game would turn out to be a Total War-a-like. Indeed, the preview pictures feature a number of sumptuous shots of medieval towns and armies marching to battle. That’s not the case, though. Yes there are battles, armies and shiny-looking villages but this title is all about the power of trade and commerce in medieval Europe.

Developed by Gaming Minds, the game is an economy simulator at its heart. You take control of a merchant operating in a European town and set about building your empire through the means of supply and demand. The game does dabble in combat, strategy and exploration, too, but only momentarily, before dragging you back into the world of trade routes and currency exchange.

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Grand Ages: Medieval, to give it its due, does a good job of introducing you to the basic mechanics. The single player campaign revolves around a noble family from the ailing Byzantine Empire in 1050 and serves as your main tutorial and proof of concept. There is some narrative there as well and it offers a decent amount of twists, but never more than enough to keep the player coming back to the campaign once they’ve got the grasp of the mechanics.

Starting a sandbox game presents you with the wide open space of Europe in which to start your adventure. At the beginning you have one merchant, one town and one scout. Players will need to explore to discover neutral towns and the major trading players in the continent. Trade carts can be managed, as well as their cargo, but the game provides some good tools for creating routes that can pass through most of your target cities on the way.

Read the rest of this review on GameGrin.com

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