Spellforce 3 Review

Some cross-genre games are blended like ingredients in a mixing bowl, while others let their two halves live side-by-side. SpellForce III fits into the latter category, pairing role-playing and real-time-strategy elements. Though the end result is anything but unified, such a contrasting design keeps you from falling into a consistent routine. It also broadens the outlook of the stereotypical fantasy RPG, expanding the limited worldview of a handful of adventurers into the more expansive perspective of a general controlling an army.

Opening missions serve as an extended tutorial, first giving you the basics on how role-playing works, then moving into base-building strategizing where you take the fight to foes on a larger scale. You may start off exploring a map as part of a small party of heroes, slaying the odd gang of goblins or undead or giant spiders and cracking open chests stuffed with weapons, armor, and the usual assortment of magical goodies. You may finish off by taking all that you learned about the landscape while exploring, and build a base, constructing facilities to gather resources, and then whip up an army to hurl at foes who have been doing the same thing.

The baroque plot carrying you through it all assumes some familiarity with the SpellForce franchise, as you are dropped right into the aftermath of the Mage Wars on the Dungeons & Dragons-ish world of Eo. Events here serve as a prequel to the earlier SpellForce games, so it is tough to get up to speed initially. Main plot points feel like typical fantasy fare, though, as they revolve around your semi-chosen one status as the child of a treasonous mage. But there is a lot of depth and background information to absorb. Thankfully, everything eventually rounds into a compelling story. You just need some time to figure out your place amidst all the initially bewildering references if this is your first visit to Eo.

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Plot is further developed through dialogue that includes quiet, character-building moments alongside stereotypically epic conversations about gods and magic. But as far as your involvement is concerned, there aren’t a lot of meaningful choices to make. There are also strange shifts in tone, like some of the dialogue was written and recorded before any decision was made on what sort of age rating the game would aim for. So you get lengthy stretches where characters clearly go out of their way to avoid swearing, using awkward words like “heck” and “crap,” and others where characters let loose with incessant f-bombs.

Impressive presentation gives the game real visual impact whether you are playing adventurer or general. Maps are extremely detailed, with lots of little touches and great variety in background scenery. There is a very good balance here between trudging through murky caverns and wandering through forests and plains. The one drawback is that the settings can be too detailed at times, and things like chests and other points of interest are not all that easy to notice. You need to swivel the camera a lot to ensure that you don’t miss anything. And all of this fidelity comes with the price of lengthy loading times, too. Venturing into any new locale drops you to a screen that gives you percentages on loading things like “Initializing Creature Resources,” which pulls you right out of the moment.

Character progression involves few surprises compared to other D&D-inspired games, and each character has access to just a few main skill classes and branching abilities. And since you gain experience fairly quickly, you can ultimately sample a lot of what’s on offer. There are various schools of magic, combat skills like brutality and archery, and all-around categories such as leadership, with branching talents that include the usual range of attacks, buffs, and spells.

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Combat is equally forthright. It’s all real-time and rather chaotic, without a tremendous amount of thinking required in a given moment. Consider it a blend between the tactical battles of traditional RPGs and the more frenetic hack-and-slash of action-first RPGs. Combat is never so incessant as to grow tedious, and individual battles seem to fly by. The pacing of these sections is spot-on, with one distinct map after another pulling you into ever-more exciting bouts.

A similar story can be told when it comes to the RTS side of SpellForce III. Whenever a mission gets to the point where more is required than a party of adventurers, the game switches to an RTS mode and unlocks a construction menu where those adventurers lead the way as heroes in the army. From there, you build a town center and begin gathering the wood, stone, and food that form the game’s staples. There are three building tiers, which means you start with expected basics such as the logging cabin, hunting cabin, stone works, and barracks, move on to a second level of iron smelters, forges, and farms, and then into a third that lets you exploit magical Arya water, train elite units, and build stone watchtowers.

Population caps regularly get in the way of fully manning facilities. This forces you to quickly expand territory and earn more population by setting up new outposts (peasants are locked to their regions, too, which also makes it imperative to keep pressing forward), but manpower always seems to lag behind. Needing to wait for carriages to ship resources to new outposts causes further delays, and you can’t wait around to let stockpiles grow because enemy AI is on the attack almost immediately. Resources are also extremely limited, which also keeps you pushing onward so that you can keep the goods flowing to keep cranking out troops.

While both the RPG and RTS elements presented here stay true to form, the overall game is more than the sum of its parts because of how it makes such disparate concepts serve the goal of creating a militaristic role-playing epic. Incorporating base- and army-building into a traditional role-playing formula adds a scope and weight that would not be present if the game never went beyond three or four guys swinging swords and slinging spells. The end result may not be innovative, but it is an interesting and entertaining tweak of RPG conventions offering a lot to anyone looking for something offbeat and engaging.

from GameSpot https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/spellforce-3-review/1900-6416834/

Black Mirror Season 4 Breakdowns: Every Episode Analyzed And Secrets Revealed

Black Mirror, Neflix’s modern-day take on The Twilight Zone with a tech twist, is finally back for your binging pleasure. Season 4 released on Netflix December 29 with six brand-new episodes, and we’ve broken them all down.

In true Black Mirror fashion, this season follows the same sort of sci-fi anthology type of storytelling. Each episode is a complete story, and the characters within them are in their own universe. It’s dark, satirical, and plays off of much of what we see in our society today in regards to developing technology. This season is absolutely no different, no different, using unsettling scenarios to deliver commentary on commentary on tech can twist society and the people within it.

If you’ve already had a chance to watch every episode we’ve put together detailed breakdowns exploring the themes and ideas behind each episode, and revealing their secrets. You can watch all of our breakdown videos below, or alternatively check out this YouTube playlist.

USS Callister

A woman finds herself aboard a ship that resembles pop-culture darling’s Star Trek. But for some reason, everyone on this ship doesn’t just love their jobs, they’re utterly obsessed with their captain, Robert Daly.


Love makes us do crazy things. A mother, Marie, who has nearly lost her daughter turns to technology that will help her keep an eye on her child at all times.


Shazia has a device called the Recaller which allows her to revisit the recent memories of people she interviews.

Hang the DJ

There’s a hip new dating app out in the open, but the catch is that the length of all relationships are dictated by a mysterious algorithm.


Bella, Tony, and Clarke, are on a mission to fulfill a promise to Bella’s sister, and it lands them in serious danger.

Black Museum

Nish comes across the Black Museum, the home to “authentic criminal technology.” The proprietor, Rolo Haynes, tells her the stories behind the artifacts.

from GameSpot https://www.gamespot.com/articles/black-mirror-season-4-breakdowns-every-episode-ana/1100-6455828/

Let’s Play Resident Evil 7 Part 8 – Resident Kinevil

It’s all been building up to this – the boss fight with Jack, the escape from the mansion, and the fake end of the game. Seriously, we’re not sure how Mary doesn’t know about the tanker yet, either.

Mary also discovers the secret second half of the game that makes it even better. There’s no joke here, this game is just really good.

Join former GameSpot producer Mary Kish and current GameSpot producer Mike Mahardy every Saturday at 3 pm PT as they play through every numbered Resident Evil title. You can catch up on previous episodes on the show’s GameSpot page here, or on its YouTube channel here.

from GameSpot https://www.gamespot.com/articles/lets-play-resident-evil-7-part-8-resident-kinevil/1100-6455811/

PlayStation Sale Offering Up To 50 Percent Off On Some Games Until January 2

Holiday deals are finally coming to an end. PlayStation already has featured mark downs on their higher-end products, like the PS4 Pro and PSVR headsets, but now the games are getting a little love. Until January 2, catch all your favorites on the PlayStation Store for up to 50 percent off.

The sale appears to be exclusively for video games, but it isn’t limited to full games alone. Deals include mark downs on PS4, PS Vita, PS3, PS2 and PS1 Classic, and PSVR titles, as well as bundles and DLC.

PlayStation Plus members can save even more with this sale, netting upwards of 60 percent off. But it should be noted that PlayStation Plus memberships themselves are not currently on sale. You can take a sneak peek at some of the deals below, but the prices listed may be a little less for Plus members.

PlayStation Holiday Sale

  • Rise of the Tomb Raider: $26
  • Ark: Survival Evolved: $36
  • Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 Remix: $30
  • Overcooked: $9
  • Suikoden IV: $6
  • Final Fantasy XV Digital Premium Edition: $38
  • Grim Fandango Remastered: $5
  • Mind Zero: $13
  • Skyrim VR: $41
  • Thief: $3
  • Final Fantasy XIII-2: $9
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 w/ DLC: $18
  • Silent Hill: $4
  • The Evil Within Digital Bundle: $18

from GameSpot https://www.gamespot.com/articles/playstation-sale-offering-up-to-50-percent-off-on-/1100-6455827/

Free BlizzCon Goody Bag Giveaway

If you missed BlizzCon 2017, we got you covered! We teamed up with Blizzard to give away ten (10) BlizzCon Goody Bags. What’s included:

  • A sleek black BlizzCon backpack, featuring BlizzCon-themed lining
  • A Badge Icon Pack containing 6 badges—1 each for World of Warcraft®, StarCraft® II, Diablo® III, Hearthstone®, Heroes of the Storm®, and Overwatch®
  • 1 Blizzard Collectible Pin from Series 4
  • 1 Cute But Deadly® Blind Vinyl from Series 3 (Overwatch Edition)
  • 1 Overwatch Backpack Hanger featuring Eidgenossen Mercy, a BlizzCon exclusive

Ten (10) winners will be chosen after the giveaway closes on Tuesday, January 2, 2018 at 9:00AM PT.

Open to US residents only, void where prohibited.

Enter below (the additional entries are optional to increase your chances of winning):

from GameSpot https://www.gamespot.com/articles/free-blizzcon-goody-bag-giveaway/1100-6455739/

Best of 2017: Game Design Deep Dive: Creating believable crowds in Planet Coaster

“10,000 guests was what we targeted, and simulating each seemed like a challenge. This was where using flow/potential fields became very appealing.” – Owen McCarthy, principal programmer at Frontier. …

from Gamasutra News https://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/288020/Game_Design_Deep_Dive_Creating_believable_crowds_in_Planet_Coaster.php

Get a job: Insomniac Games is hiring Engine Programmers

Insomniac Games is looking for mid to senior level Engine Programmers to work with the team to design, add and modify features of both runtime and tools components of the engine. …

from Gamasutra News http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/312387/Get_a_job_Insomniac_Games_is_hiring_Engine_Programmers.php

Tiny Metal Review

With no sign of Nintendo’s Advance Wars strategy series returning any time soon, a game that attempts to fill the void like Tiny Metal is easy to get excited about. Thankfully, developer Area 35 has delivered a game that captures the spirit of the works that inspired it, and one that feels right at home on PC and on the go with Switch.

By and large, this is simply a game where adorably rendered soldiers with little armored vehicles take turns moving across a gridded map to fight their enemies one turn at a time. A unit represents a small squad, and when two units meet, the squads exchange blows while you pray some of your soldiers and vehicles survive the shootout.

Though Tiny Metal props up dire circumstances as the backbone of its campaign, it’s also a game with a shady arms dealer dressed as a circus clown, so you know it doesn’t take itself too seriously at all times. Average soldiers are expressively animated, and every unit type has their own personality, accent, and enthusiasm for destruction. This silliness is at odds with the dialogue-heavy and po-faced cutscenes, yes, but it also grows into the defining attitude of the game as you become more entrenched in combat. That said, don’t feel too bad for turning off the in-battle emotes, which quickly grow repetitive.

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You’re given plenty of options to consider during combat, with a range of ground troops and military vehicles that grows steadily from the start, each offering distinct capabilities. Average, run-of-the-mill riflemen can only survive encounters with similar troops, but they’re also the best at capturing city buildings and military facilities in pursuit of resources. A squad of rocket-launcher-equipped Lancers can’t travel very far per turn, or capture as quickly as infantry soldiers, but they’re the only units on foot that can put a dent in armored machines, known as Metals. Metals are probably the most all-around useful unit to place on the board, but they’re not as mobile as some of the recon vehicles that help unveil the fog of war, like Scouts, Radar units, or Fighter jets.

Most of this should be familiar to anyone who’s put more than a few rounds into an Advance Wars game, but Tiny Metal also has some new tricks up its sleeve to keep battles interesting for veterans. Focus Fire is a maneuver that allows multiple units to combo attack a single target. The benefits are twofold: the enemy can only retaliate against one unit per attack, and your combined attack gives you a better chance of wiping the target out before they get the chance to fire back at all. The riskier move, Assault, allows you push enemies off of a specific square, but at the cost of the enemy being able to fire first. Tiny Metal also has a Hero unit system where a super-powerful version of a specific unit type can be summoned to wreak havoc, but only once per match. These tactical considerations keep matches lively and unpredictable, and help distinguish Tiny Metal from being a mere Advance Wars copycat.

Following the tutorial battles at the start, the difficulty gradually increases as tactical options grow more diverse, with new units and commands appearing at a steady rate throughout the six-hour campaign. With multiplayer on hold until next year, one-off skirmishes are the current best way to keep playing after the credits roll, though they take some getting used to. Skirmish mode offers over 50 challenging battles, often in either inordinately small playing fields, groupings of rough terrain, or situations where you are grossly outnumbered and outgunned by the enemy. These fights will definitely keep you busy, but the jump in difficulty from the last mission of the campaign to even just the first few skirmishes is a big one that’s initially off-putting.

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The PC version of Tiny Metal is notably better looking and allows you to use a mouse, but fans of Advance Wars will find that playing on the go with Switch completes the nostalgic experience. The only major flaws in portable mode are the tiny fonts used in some menus, and a marked decrease in resolution when the camera zooms in to watch two units attack each other. The PC version gets more graphical options, and an unlocked framerate, but Tiny Metal’s throwback action feels at home on Nintendo’s portable.

Newcomers to the turn-based strategy genre are likely to have a blast with Tiny Metal all the way through its campaign, though the endgame is no doubt a little restrictive. Old hands to this type of strategy game will find a campaign that wears its influences on its sleeve, but still admirably and respectfully fits right in with them. It’s the kind of game where you jump in just to take two or three more turns and suddenly an hour has passed, and you can’t rest until that pesky enemy gunship or tank fleet is down for good. Hopefully that can continue next year if the multiplayer patch comes as promised.

from GameSpot https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/tiny-metal-review/1900-6416833/