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Galactic Civilization II: Dread Lords Review

Galactic Civilization II

Galactic Civilization took the PC gaming scene by surprise. The game generated such a strong following that fans were rabid for more. Earlier this year, Stardock answered the call and released Galactic Civilization II: Dread Lords. The result is a game that not only attempts to improve on the formula set forth by the original, but also introduces new and unique features that will surely revolutionize the genre.

For those not familiar with the series, Galactic Civilization is a 4x turn-based strategy game. The genre basically means that a player can successfully complete a game by cultural domination, military conquest, technological supremacy or by universal alliance. Four different ways to achieve your goal.

The A.I. in Galactic Civilization II is quite advanced, maybe too advanced for its own good. The exceptional A.I. means that the game has a pretty steep learning curve. Luckily, there are several difficulty settings, but even at the lowest denomination, the game remains pretty hard. A little suggestion to you all would be to revisit the tutorial levels on more than one occasion, mastering those tutorials would be beneficial in the long run as you’ll be familiar with the game’s basic gameplay elements. All in all, the game’s overall difficulty is what makes Galactic Civilization II fun and exciting.

Not only does Galactic Civilization II features 10 playable races, but it’s also possible to create your own custom race. Eight of those races are groups that appeared in the original game, they include: the Altarian Republic, the Arcean Empire, the Drath Legion, the Dominion of the Korx , the Drengin Empire, the Terran Alliance, the Torian Confederation and the Yor Collective. The last two races are exclusive to the sequel, these races are the Iconian Refuge and the Thalan Empire. As noted previously, one can design his own race to cater to his specific needs.

In comparison to other games in the genre, the game’s graphics are a tad disappointing. What you get is a game powered by a custom 3D game engine. The engine enables gamers to pan and zoom through Dread Lords’ detailed surroundings. The amount of detail given to these surroundings makes Galactic Civilization II aesthetically pleasing to the eyes. Sure, this might not be the nicest game in its genre, but the game’s overall presentation makes it all worthwhile in the end.

Another nice thing about the game is that it doesn’t come with any sort of copy protection. You can install Galactic Civilization II on any machine without even using the provided CD-key. The only down side to not using the serial number is that you won’t be eligible for future patches and updates. Stardock promises that registered owners will be able to re-download the game from their servers at any time, which is a nice feature for those people who have a knack of either loosing their CDs or damaging them.

My main gripe with this game is that it doesn’t have any multiplayer component. The thought of being able to play Galactic Civilization II with others is just too hard to resist. The interesting thing about this is that developer Stardock is hinting on the game’s official site that it’s considering implementing the functionality to the game through an expansion pack or update.

Galactic Civilization II: Dread Lords is available to purchase via digital download through Stardock or get a boxed retail copy through your favorite PC game vendor. No matter how you acquire the game, you’re bound to have a great time with one of the year’s best strategy games. Galactic Civilization II: Dread Lords gets a near-perfect 4.8 star review (out of five) from this editor. Get your Galactic Civilization II fix by visiting http://www.galciv2.com.

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Cuban Missile Crisis: The Aftermath Review

Cuban Missile Crisis: The Aftermath

You know what most real-time strategy games (RTS) have in common? They give you a set scenario, a base, resources to build units and everything in the field. I don’t know about you, but when the US forces invaded Iraq I don’t think they had a mobile construction yard or an ore collector. If you really want to try a RTS that not only gives you realistic resources, but also makes it so that the game itself is different every time you play, then Cuban Missile Crisis: The Aftermath from developer G5 Software is definitely for you!

Cuban Missile Crisis places you in an alternate point in history where the US actually fires a nuke on Cuba during the cold war, thus causing another world war and destruction worldwide. You pick between the USSR, China, the US -Great Brittan alliance and the France – Germany Alliance. The goal, like most other RTS; is to take over the world. Each team has their own strengths and weaknesses, so make sure to take advantage of these things.

The game is a cross between a RTS and a turn base strategy game. During the first part of your turn you move your troops around and place orders for re-enforcements. Once you have engaged into battle you then switch to RTS mode. This game really hits the best of both worlds.

The gameplay is rather simple. It’s your standard point and click troop movement and top view perspective. A great feature, not found in many other RTS, is that Cuban Missile Crisis allows the player to build trenches, bridges and other defensive structures that you could not do in previous RTS’. One other thing I really like about this game is that you can choose the type of munitions you use. For example, if you are using a long-range canon, you can fire standard changes, troop mines, tank mines or smoking shells. Cuban Missile Crisis is much more realistic than the rest.

On the tech side of things this game is nothing to be buying a new video card over. Minimum specs are: a 1 GHz CPU, 256MB RAM, 64MB video card and the only big thing about this game is that it will require 2GB of hard drive space.

The graphics are pretty good for an RTS. The game gives you a feeling of realism that cannot be found in similar real-time strategy games such as Command and Conquer and Warcraft III. The score is your standard RTS stuff, nothing special here. The real enjoyable thing about this game is that it handles very well. Controls are simple and the tutorial makes things real easy to use.

The overall greatness of this RTS is that even if you start the same campaign, depending on how you move your troops and how you do in combat you will have a different game play every time. The other great thing is at $29.99 you definitely get your money’s worth. So go on out and give this game a try.

By Gilles Gaumont

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Neighbors from Hell: On Vacation Review

Neighbors from Hell: On Vacation

Finally released in North America; this sequel to Neighbors From Hell is everything the original was except 10 times funnier. The game on its own is pretty simple; you are Woody a character whose goal is to piss off his neighbor who are on vacation trying to get away from you. In order to achieve your goal you must continue to annoy your neighbors and turn their vacation into a living hell, hence the name Neighbors from Hell: On Vacation.

So why did it take so long for this game to get released in North America? Well perhaps this is mainly due to the fact that we have ESRB and therefore have to obey their certain rules, even if it means almost having to rewrite the whole game again. Let’s be honest, the European version of this game was released in March of 2004 and the North American version you ask, two-years later in March of 2006.

The original game never really found an audience in North America due to the fact that wasn’t advertised as well as it should have been. Trust me, if you know someone who has played the original Neighbors From Hell, they will surely tell you that this a game that will keep you laughing for hours. And the same can be said for this one.

The nice thing about this game is that it retails for around $19.99, and for added value, it comes packaged with the original. So if you missed out on the first one then this is your opportunity to have and enjoy both games.

Their isn’t much of a learning curve for this game, in other words, you start to get the hang of things within the first 20 minutes of gameplay. After which you want to start making combos. In each level you play, you must get a certain number of traps setup in order to piss your neighbor off with. The more of these traps your neighbor hits in a row, the higher your score gets. If you successfully manage to have them hit all the traps in a row you will annoy your neighbor to the breaking point and win a bonus award. All and all, it’s just plain and simple fun.

As for the technical aspect the game, it does not require much to run. You will need nothing more than a measly 233 MHz processor, 128 MB of RAM, an 8MB Video card and about 550 MB of disk space. This baby will even run on Microsoft Windows 95. Now, before you go and say that those are pretty crappy requirements and thus must mean the game graphics suck; well you couldn’t be more wrong!

The graphics for this game are pretty good, and the animation is very well done for its kind. The soundtrack is nothing to dance about, but then again you’re not playing this game for its graphics or music, you’re playing it to piss off a big fat guy and see him have a heart attack after all the pranks you pulled on him.

One thing for all you soccer moms out there; this game is rated teen – that means that kids under the age of 13 should not be playing this game. The crude humor is not for everyone. But who am I kidding the average person will have a hell of a good time and find themselves rolling on the floor laughing.

Go buy Neighbors From Hell: On Vacation, it will end-up being the best $19.99 you’ve ever spent on a budget title.

By Gilles Gaumont

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