Barnestorming #2012.1- GOTY Expansions in Review, Kohan, Tomb Raider, Judas Priest

Barnestorming #2012.1- GOTY Expansions in Review, Kohan, Tomb Raider, Judas Priest Hot

Michael Barnes     
 
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Expansion time again...

On the Table

Slow week, but at least I’ve had a chance to get the new Mage Wars and X-Wing expansions written up. Both are great- if you’re already invested in these 2012 Games of the Year. X-Wing practically sells itself, but if you’re not playing Mage Wars you should be. It’s a damn good game with tons to offer. It is a little hard to get people on board with it since it’s fairly complex and handing someone a binder of 50 cards and saying “OK, pick two of these to play” is pretty intimidating. But once you dig in, there’s plenty of dirt to play in.

Hey look, a FedEx truck. That should be my copy of Batman from Wizkids.

Escape Pod was kind enough to send me a  copy of Gunship, which showed up yesterday. Pawed through the components, it looks pretty good. Something about it reminds me of Gammarauders or Road Kill, the whole thing where you place component cards into slots and then duke it out with someone’s else’s contraption. Some neat concepts in it, looking forward to checking it out.

On the Consoles

I’ve started on Tomb Raider, and I’m really kind of torn on it. On the one hand, it’s very well written (at least if you’re comparing it to early 2000s TV shows) and there are some really well done sequences in it as well as some absolutely stunning presentation elements. But on the other, it’s hard to shake the feeling that the game is a series of very, very narrow corridors linking larger areas that you’re supposed to mess around in for a while before going through some more corridors. The combat is awful- I shouldn’t be able to stand two feet in front of a clueless bad guy and shoot him in the face. With a bow and arrow. But the exploration element is great, I love the hunting, and I love how Lara is developing as a character and not a hot pants wearing T&A model. I’m only about 15-20% into it, so we’ll see how it goes.

I’ve actually been playing more PC games than even Tomb Raider, and this week I finally went all the way back to 2001 to see what the fuss about Kohan: Immortal Sovereign was. I remember reading about how great the game was back then, how it was a different kind of RTS game. I got the Warchest from Timegate (yes, the folks that developed Aliens: Colonial Marines did these games!) so I have all three.

Wow. Why didn’t somebody tell me to get this game before? It’s brilliant, at least the first one is. It is a totally different take on RTS. Virtually none of the tropes and clichés that were already worn out when this game released are in it. There is no way to tank rush a settlement, and the game never turns into this messy slog where 50 guys are just beating on a flaming building. They did some really genius things with the design, mostly tied to a higher level of abstraction and reducing micromanagement.

You build companies, not individual units (that showed up again in Relic’s RTS games). You assign them a frontline unit type and then up to two supports and a leader. Buildings are abstracted in a single town, and you only have a certain number of slots. Then those buildings can be upgraded. Formations change unit capabilities, all mining is automatic, and the AI can be ruthless.

I’m totally loving it, but I’m thinking about going on and jumping up to Kohan 2. 3D graphics and all.

 

On the Comics Rack

I’m still pretty much just reading Kirby’s Fourth World stuff, I’m totally taken by it.

Mr. Miracle…wow. I had no idea how good that book was. It’s Kirby at his weirdest and funniest, and sometimes his most inventive. The third issue blew my mind in a way that comics from that era rarely do. Mister Miracle is challenged by Dr. Bedlam, a servant of Darkseid, to escape this 50 story skyscraper from the top down. The catch is, he’s dropped this Paranoid Pill into the ventilation shaft so the entire building is full of ranting, raving maniacs. They catch Mr. Miracle, lock him in a safe, and throw him down a stairwell. No spoilers, but Big Barda shows up.

Then there’s Jimmy Olsen, where I had my mind blown in a different way. Don Rickles. Two issues with special guest star Don Rickles. Yes, Don Rickles and Apokalips in the same book.

Forever People is odd. It’s definitely the more “groovy, kids” Kirby, but there’s some genius stuff in it as expected.

On the Screen

Not much here, playing too many computer games. I did watch Rise of the Guardians with River, it was pretty fun. The concept is sort of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, and Sandman forming a Justice League-like team to defend children. Santa is a huge, sleeved-out Russian with “Naughty” on one arm, “Nice” on the other. The Easter Bunny is an Australian. No disco dancing, no poop jokes.

I really, really, really want to watch Cobra right now. There was an awesome retro-review of it at CHUD yesterday.

On Spotify

Lots of Judas Priest. After Metaldome this week, in which “British Steel” defeated “Blizzard of Ozz”, I decided to do a full catalog tour.

You know, it’s kind of easy to forget how awesome “Painkiller” is. How many bands, nearly 20 years into their career, have doubled down and beat everybody that they’ve they’ve inspired at their own game? It’s a full on thrash record, but it’s still 100% Priest. It’s also easy to forget that there were great records before “Stained Class” (which is a stone classic in its own right)- “Sad Wings of Destiny” and “Sin after Sin” are great. “Dissident Aggressor”-  wow. No wonder Slayer covered it on “Reign in Blood”.

I love pretty much everything they’ve done- the older blues-rooted hard rock, the proto-thrash, the pop metal, the return to heavier material in the 90s. Not into the “Ripper” Owens stuff though- if it ain’t Halford, it ain’t Priest.

So yeah, all I want to hear right now is classic British heavy metal. I’ll probably hit up Iron Maiden next, it’s been a while since I’ve really listened to their records and not just a greatest hits comp. I might mine for some NWOBHM rarities on Spotify. Wonder if they have Holocaust’s “The Nightcomers”, that’s a great record.

Hot damn, I’m going to go listen to Diamond Head RIGHT NOW.

Barnestorming #2012.1- GOTY Expansions in Review, Kohan, Tomb Raider, Judas Priest There Will Be Games
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