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Member Since 22 Feb 2006
Offline Last Active Feb 27 2018 08:29 AM

#287813 Space Marshals

Posted by MrToad on 13 December 2017 - 01:58 PM

The end of storyline chat hinted at a bonus mission for Ava, which they've just released. That was quick! And it's very good - a pretty big map and lots of fun :)

#287804 Space Marshals

Posted by MrToad on 27 November 2017 - 04:30 PM

Pleased to say the 10 mission bonus pack was well worth the £3 :)

You get to play as Ava (the pilot from the main storyline) who has a completely different playstyle, largely focused on manipulation and incapacitation rather than damage. Your primary weapon is fixed as a "riot gun", which has a very short range, no damage, but knocks enemies over backwards. It can be upgraded using a workbench once you find various spare parts and schematics, and there are a lot of different options. Once upgraded a bit it becomes immensely fun sneaking up on people to blast them halfway across the screen and into a chasm, lake, explosive trap or some other sticky end :D

Combined with the riot gun your primary thrown weapon is fixed as a drone, which again can be upgraded using parts and schematics. When using a drone you take direct control and Ava sits still, so they're best used from a safe hiding spot. They fall into two categories: utility and combat. Utility drones can manipulate most objects, so you can use them to do things like fly to inaccessible places or kamikaze round a corner and switch off a turret without getting killed. Combat drones cannot manipulate objects, but as the name suggests they come armed :)

It takes a little getting used to, but once you get the hang of it the play style is hugely fun - there's a much bigger emphasis on stealth, as Ava is really quite squishy.

#287802 Space Marshals

Posted by MrToad on 23 November 2017 - 01:49 PM

Just discovered that Space Marshals 2 has been given 4 new bonus missions, which of course means new equipment to play with :D And it's all free! And rather a lot of fun ;)

There's also a 10 mission pack to buy for £2.99 which follows a side character, and also promises new and fun sounding toys :)

#287784 Death of board?

Posted by MrToad on 07 November 2017 - 12:40 PM


Yeah, that's a fair call. Whilst I may not have posted that much, I've still enjoyed lurking and reading the collected ramblings. It's always interesting to get a taste of the variety of stuff out there, even the obscure Japanese RPGs ;)

Thank you all for the thoughts, company and discussion. It's been a fun ride :)

I'm still poking about on the PIE forums and use Discord occasionally. We could make a private FB group or similar if we want an alternative means of discussion.

#287778 Ghost Trick

Posted by MrToad on 24 October 2017 - 03:26 PM

Yeah, there are some great twists, both in plot and gameplay. That one you mention is particularly good! :) And some brilliant setpieces too; I was completely hooked on wanting to see what insanity would be around the next corner.

There are some bits that get a bit fiddly, but never to the point where it's more than mildly annoying, and rarely for very long. And tbh they are totally eclipsed by the general brilliance of everything else.

Loved it :)

#287776 Ghost Trick

Posted by MrToad on 19 October 2017 - 11:36 AM

Technically this isn't really a new game, but an iOS conversion of an old DS classic. The good news is it's great, largely because it's a complete breath of fresh air in many ways :)

At the beginning of the game your character finds that he's a ghost next to his corpse, which is lying at the bottom of a junkyard. An unfortunate side effect of being recently dead is that you've completely lost your memory, so you've got no idea who you are, let alone why you're lying dead or how you got there... or who the redhead girl is or why she's being attacked by a blue skinned hitman in a sharp suit. And you've only got until dawn to unravel all these mysteries.

Thing is though, you're a lucky ghost because you've got special "powers of the dead" (or indeed "ghost tricks" ;)) which allow you to possess and manipulate objects, travel down phone lines and rewind time to four minutes before someone's death (except your own, of course) so you can change their fate. And thus an unusual film noir-esque mystery thriller unfolds through the medium of a continuous series of puzzles.

The action itself is quite straightforward. You switch into "ghost mode", where time is paused, to move between objects which you can then manipulate when you switch back to real time. But your transfer range between objects is very short, so you have to create a chain of objects to get from A to B. It starts off pretty simple, with solutions as simple as opening a box will cause the lid to extend far enough for you to reach the gate which you can swing to knock the gun out of the hitman's hand and save the girl... at least temporarily. But it gradually gets more complicated and introduces timing related challenges too, such as open a cupboard door to flick a ball across the room, then quickly move to the ball so you move with it and get into position for the next trick. Thankfully the game is quite forgiving; it's primarily about solving the problem, not precision timing. Once I'd worked out what I was supposed to do it usually only took a few goes to get it right. Also, while some of the solutions can be a little "unusual", the characters are often quite generous with hints to point you in the right direction. I found I made it through the whole game quite comfortably without ever really getting stuck for long.

However, what really sucked me in and held me was the plot. The story is quite dark in theme, but told with tongue firmly in cheek. There's a large cast of crazy characters and events get increasingly outlandish. Things possibly get a little too silly towards the end, but is saved by a suitably satisfying denouement. It's also just about the right length too - I managed to blitz it in probably about 10-ish hours.

I found solving problems and manipulating events from the shadows became immensely satisfying, particularly when combined with the wacky but involving plot served with large dollops of humour.

On iOS it's free to download the app itself which includes the first couple of chapters, and that's more than enough to know if you'll like it. After that you can buy the rest of the plot as an IAP for £9.99, which is a fairly reasonable price for the considerable enjoyment I had from it :)

If you want something completely different and refreshing then I highly recommend it :)

#287750 Life Status

Posted by MrToad on 28 September 2017 - 03:33 PM

Sounds like you've done pretty well out of what was looking to be a really crap situation - well done! And it sounds like you've got a plan to change and hopefully improve things too :)

Things here have stabilised and become, well, boring. The new owners have indeed so far been benevolent. The former (self titled) "Vice-President" was kicked out, which is a good thing as tbh he caused a large portion of the company's problems. The sales team are getting a bit of attention too I think... maybe. To be quite honest there isn't really much else different. The COO and his immediate management (I use the word loosely) team are still the same and still just as ineffectual. In fact that's the big problem: bugger all happens.

I'm in the customer support team, which puts us at the "coal face" where we are most aware of and directly influenced by all the problems with internal processes (or lack of them). But of course all our attempts to point out glaring faults and suggest corrections fall on deaf ears or into the void of no response. Nothing happens, and nothing we say makes any difference, or at least that's how it feels.

It also doesn't help that at the moment I've got bugger all to do. All I'm getting at the moment is a few odd jobs coming through because no-one else wants to do them.

I could rant on for quite a long time, but the basic fact is I need to change my circumstances... but I've no idea what the heck I even want to do or what I can do/apply for with the odd collection of IT-related skills I've got. I'm a jack of all trades odd job problem solver and from what I've seen everyone wants a technical specialist, with lots of specialist experience. Maybe I'm just looking in the wrong places or aiming too high.

#287421 Fire Emblem: Heroes

Posted by MrToad on 17 February 2017 - 12:50 PM

Usually I take the App Store tags "Price: Free" and "Offers In-App Purchases" as an indicator of freemium pay to win tat and give the bearer a miss, but this one also had "Publisher: Nintendo".  Hmmm... maybe I'll give it a look then.  One week of playing an hour or two a night and I've got to admit I'm hooked... at least for the moment.


Whilst I've heard the name, I've never played a Fire Emblem game before.  Turns out the franchise is pretty big (15 games?) and detailed, and this is a much simplified mobile version.  You have a team of (up to) 4 heroes to take out a similar team of AI characters in a turn based battle.  What makes it interesting is the array of character categories, which results in a complicated game of rock, paper, scissors.  Each character has a weapon class, movement type and colour.


Colour is either red (sword), green (axe), blue (lance) or colourless (ranged).  It's a straight RPS loop: Red > Green > Blue > Red.  Coloured characters are either melee or ranged magic users, and are largely focused on trumping the appropriate colour.  Colourless characters are either specialist ranged weapons (bow for flying units, shuriken for infantry) or healer (staff).


You get a hint of what's coming up in the next match (e.g. level 15, 2 red melee, 1 archer, 1 blue magic user) and can choose a suitable team from your pool of heroes... assuming you have them.  If not there's always the training tower or an arena match.


The main appeal for me is the heroes.  There is a huge array, all from other Fire Emblem games, so I guess anyone who knows the series will enjoy seeing some familiar faces. Playing through the first few story missions gets you a starter team, but to get more you have to summon them using "orbs", which is a "spin the wheel" RNG affair.  There's no choice, you just have to hope for a good one.  Orbs can be bought as in-app purchases or given as rewards for story missions and other quests.


What's more, characters have a 5 star rarity rating. 5 star characters have high stats and access to the full array of skills, lower tiers are more limited.  You can upgrade a favourite character to the next tier by getting them to level 20 and spending items.  Upgrading their tier resets them to level 1, but retaining all their skills and unspent skill points.  Summoning guarantees at least a 3 star, but you can also earn a 1 or 2 star version from a daily quest.


There's also PvP... of a sort.  In the Arena you pick a team and go up against another player's hand picked team, although the enemy team is controlled by the AI.


Yes, it's a fairly shameless grind... but yet it's one that I'm enjoying a lot.  The characters are fun and appealling, and creating teams and growing them is satisfying.  Maybe I'll burn out when I hit the free grind limit (I never spend money on these games), but so far it doesn't seem to be pay to win so all good :)


#287412 Life Status

Posted by MrToad on 07 February 2017 - 04:40 PM

Holy shit Randy, that's awful!  I feel your pain too - I'm in a very similar situation, albeit not quite as bleak.  IT job that I've been in for a very long time, jack of all trades but master of none elastoplast odd job guy doing all the tedious crap that no-one else wants to do.  And the company was sold just before Christmas - they told us on the morning of the Christmas lunch.  Thankfully so far the takeover seems to be benevolent, although no major actions so far; they're taking their time talking to everyone and getting the lie of the land.  The mood is positive that it's going to be a good thing and they'll sort out a lot of internal processes and politics that badly need fixing, but we'll see.


I'm worried for exactly the same reasons as you.  I was nearly kicked out in the middle of last year during "belt tightening", and have exactly the same problem of no idea wtf I want to do or can realistically apply for, as of course everyone wants a specialist, not a generalist.  The main thing that kept me here was that I've been here for so long and know more than anyone else about the old suite of products... which are rapidly being phased out.


Had a chat with my sister (who has been a recruiter) about it recently and she suggested signing up for the daily job alerts email on the Guardian's jobsite, mainly because apparently they get some interesting companies advertising on there with the occasional oddball position that might be suitable.


She also suggested perhaps trying to find a charity to work for, as whilst they might not be the most lucrative jobs they often make up for it with working environment and caring about their employees.  And there are plenty of them about all over the country.  Have a look on https://www.charityjob.co.uk .  It's mostly specialist care workers, fundraisers etc, but they do need IT people too.


Good luck man :)

#287370 Completed 2017

Posted by MrToad on 09 January 2017 - 08:12 AM

Are you going for a game per day for 2017? :lol:

#287361 Happy Christmas

Posted by MrToad on 04 January 2017 - 10:45 AM

And a splendid New Year to one and all! :D

#287333 Invisible Inc

Posted by MrToad on 09 December 2016 - 12:27 PM


Techno-noir. Espionage. Role playing. Turn based strategy. Rogue-like. Stealth. These are all words that feature strongly on my personal list of Things That Make Me Happy™. Invisible Inc takes all these things (and more) and wraps them up in a stylish package, so it pretty much had me at "Greetings, Operator..." It promises a lot, and thankfully it delivers. In spades.

Corporations have superceded governments and now run the world. Your espionage agency has been rumbled by the corps, and you have 72 hours to run a series of infiltration missions against them to prepare for a final showdown.

Now here's the thing: This is not an action game. It might be dressed as an action game, but underneath the veneer lies a deep and complex puzzle where strategy and tactics are key. The phrase "Your every decision counts" has been used a lot over the years, but never more accurately than here. And there are a lot of decisions to be made :)

Even choosing a mission has subtle ramifications. You have 72 hours to get your team kitted out for the final mission. Each potential mission will take between 4-12 hours depending on how far away it is, so you can stay close and squeeze in more missions (and thus more rewards) before the big finale or travel further for a high priority reward.

You start with a team of 2 agents chosen from a selection of 10, and can potentially rescue a couple more along the way. Each agent has their own unique combination of abilities, augmentations and starting equipment. You also have to choose 2 programs for Incognita, your friendly AI.

Missions involve sneaking through an office in turn based style, carefully positioning your agents to avoid patrolling guards and other hazards.


The offices are filled with a variety of electronic devices including cameras, sound bugs, patrolling drones, shops and more, all of which can be controlled by your AI for your benefit. But of course hacking devices requires power, so careful management of your power supply is crucial.

Stealth and subtlety are the order of the day here. You can go all-action and take down guards, but that tends to work against you in the long run as KO'd guards eventually wake up and come looking for you. Killing is usually worse, as that will advance the alert level and bring in more challenges.

If/when a guard catches you, it's not insta-death; you have a chance to respond. The agent in focus can take one action before the guard guns them down, so they can dive for cover or take out the guard if possible. However, other agents can use their full turn to help, so there's often a mad scramble to work out how to save the "rabbit in the headlights". Even when you fail, all is not lost. A downed agent can be instantly revived by an injection of med-gel or dragged to the exit and teleported to safety. Should you really mess up, you can at any point use a rewind to go back to the beginning of your previous turn and try doing things differently.

So how is all this "rogue-like"? For a start, everything is procedurally generated so no two runs will be the same. In fact the whole game is heavily designed towards repeated replayability. The array of options both in starting setup and upgrades caters for a wide variety of play styles. When creating a new game you can choose from a selection of standards (beginner, experienced, etc) or completely customise your own from a myriad of settings.

It's also brutally difficult and punishing. Death comes suddenly to the unwary, but with every failure comes learning. Every time I've come out of it blaming myself and considering alternatives rather than feeling unfairly treated. But with great difficulty comes great reward. The tension can be incredible, as every decision can be make-or-break, but so is the sense of accomplishment when it all works and you somehow scramble out of a complete mess of a mission by the skin of your teeth.

There's a whole lot more I haven't even touched on yet, including the awesome art style, the tense soundtrack and sense of attachment to your team. But in case you hadn't already guessed, I love this game. It might not be for everyone, but it pushes all my nerdy happy buttons in just the right ways.

Invisible Inc is on Steam for PC, Mac and Linux, and there's an iPad version (N.B. only iPad, not other mobiles to my knowledge).

#287285 Ace Attorney - The Anime

Posted by MrToad on 03 October 2016 - 12:31 PM

Finished off the series finale last night :) My initial impressions still stand - it's a faithful recreation of the first two games crammed into 24 episodes. It skips the first game's bonus 5th case (the Skye sisters) and the second game's intro case (the police officer couple) as they don't fit the narrative flow. They get replaced by a childhood flashback episode, which turns out to be rather good.

So is it any good? In short: yes. Once I got over my initial disappointment over the music the series really grew on me. It's made with a lot of love for the source material, and it recreates the same fun sense of hammy melodrama. The big cases in the games (each game's final case) are again the stand out cases in the show and really ramp up the action and tension. Big OBJECTION!! moments are handled well, the Judge still gets some sneaky sarcastic one-liners and generally all the boxes are ticked :)

Really enjoyed it - it's a lot of fun :)

#287269 Space Marshals

Posted by MrToad on 06 September 2016 - 07:36 AM

Finished SM2 last night. It felt perhaps a little short, but then I was caning through it pretty intensely. Still well worth it, and I'll definitely go back and 100% it.

I think a large part of the fun comes from the huge variety of weaponry and equipment available. Pistols, SMGs, shotguns, rifles and assault rifles of all shapes, sizes and ammo types. Crossbows that fire standard, poison or explosive bolts. Then there's the more exotic stuff like energy beams, electro rifles, rocket launchers and more... and that's just the weapons - not even touched on the armour or throwable equipment yet. A lot of imagination has gone into designing it all, which in turn has created a myriad of options for the player. If you want to collect all the equipment then you need to play each mission through multiple times, but it's entirely possible to use alternative equipment loadouts to make each run completely different.

Thanks for the tip on Xenowerk :) Checked it out and it's also by pixelbite, who made Space Marshals, so will definitely give it a look next.

#287261 Space Marshals

Posted by MrToad on 30 August 2016 - 12:47 PM

Saw Space Marshals 2 promoted on the App Store yesterday, so grabbed it on the spot :)

I'm very glad to say that so far it's very much more of the same. The original pretty well nailed it, so whilst there are a few tweaks and additions thankfully they haven't messed with the formula too much.

The "secret hints" hidden round the maps have become "COR-V Tokens", which you can feed into a vending machine back at base for shiny equipment. There seems to be a wider variety of equipment to play with too, with stuff like mines and beam weapons making an appearance early on.

However, the single biggest change is the addition of "stealth takedowns". Sneak up behind a bad guy and you'll quietly stifle them. It means that you can still be stealthy even when you've only got the noisiest weapons equipped, and has the added benefit of saving ammo. It's also loads of fun! Of course there is a catch: it takes a couple of seconds for them to pass out, and if you take any damage in that time then the move is interrupted and you're suddenly stood next to a rather upset bad guy. At the moment it feels a little easy to pull off, but I'm only in the early stages of the game. They're just starting to limit its use by introducing better covering patterns and robots that can't be stifled, so I'm guessing it'll get much trickier as things develop. Oh yes, and of course it doesn't work on bosses unless they're on low health.

Anyway, so far so good :D