TMGR [11]: Mount & Blade Warband Multiplayer

This was a totally different night from my Napoleonic 20mins, but it doesn’t seem to make so much difference which night you play on the original vanilla game.

I loaded in and was browsing the multiplayer servers in under a minute. I chose the busiest server – it’s always a siege server where one group of plays defends a castle from another group of attacking players – and loaded in. Unfortunately, it was a server that uses custom maps, and big custom maps at that. Cue 2 mins wasted loading that map! That left me a bit miffed, but raring to get going once I was in.

This one was a round nearing its end. I joined the defenders and got stuck in.

To make the most of my small time I decided to go as infantry fighter. I generally like to warm up as an archer or crossbowman on Mount & Blade’s multiplayer, but infantry is where it gets really exciting, so I cut straight to the chase. Funnily enough, I never really play as cavalry online which is a bit ironic for a game called Mount & Blade!

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True to form, the infantry fight was intense. There was 4 mins left, where we were holding a gate from hordes of Nord (essentially Vikings) attacking players. I held it with basic armour but a big shield and long spear. It really did the job and I got a very respectable 4 or so kills for my one life. I find other players on the vanilla multiplayer aren’t so good against spears, which gives me a bit of an advantage as Napoleonic War’s muskets act like spears when you use them in melee. 

We held that gate, and that was awesome feeling when the timer hit 0. There we stood in the gate, undefeated like heroes.

A few seconds later, the next round loaded and it was a much more difficult map to defend. A sort of round village, with our flag to defend at the centre of a half walled square in the middle. The enemy all went as cavalry and trampled us. The first round was over in under a minute, they rushed us before we could even organise, which wasn’t so great.

Next round we were ready though, and I managed to take down 8 horsemen before I got caught by one of their lances. I was dead proud of that.

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Just then the timer went. That has to be the cruelest 20min ending timer yet. I really struggled to drag myself away, but that I did.

All in all, Mount & Blade Warband’s Multiplayer was great fun. Fighting as infantry was a great choice to get the excitement going fast. The only negative was how difficult it was to tear myself away, I wanted to go on for ages longer. For that, it loses a tiny half point, but for an awesome 20mins I’m happy to give it 4.5 out of 5. 

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Star Trek Deep Space 9 – Looking Back Part 2

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Back on with my thoughts on Deep Space 9 now that I’ve finished it. In Part 1 I talked about my thoughts on Captain Sisko, Major Kira and Odo. Time to finish off the cast!

Commander Worf, originally a major character in The Next Generation as one of the senior officers on the USS Enterprise, makes a return in Deep Space 9.

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The quintessential grumpy Klingon, Worf begins to mellow throughout the later series of Deep Space 9.

Mostly, thanks to Jadzia Dax that is, who he eventually marries. We see some conclusions to some plots from back in the Next Generation, such as Worf’s son Alexander grown up and coming to terms with his outsider status amongst the Klingons, which is a nice touch weaving the series together.

Overall, though, Worf moved on from being an interesting character in TNG to one of my favourites in DS9. His grumpiness becomes amusing even to himself, and the inter-play between his character and Jadzia’s is well done. *Plot spoiler – its just such a shame that they killed Jadzia off so abruptly, it seemed an unjust end to the Worf mellowing story arch*.

Chief O’Brien is the second character to make a return from TNG. The Enterprise’s transporter whizz takes on the job of Chief Engineer on DS9 – and that’s one heck of a major project to get the Cardassian relic in working order.

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Chief does an admirable job of keeping the station together, whilst being the endlessly loveable character he’s famous for being.

Particularly, he starts off really not getting along with the somewhat cocky new doctor – Julian Bashir. Over the series though they eventually grow into one of the best bro-mances of TV history.

Chief is the ever practical and grounded family man whilst Dr Bashir is the charming genetically enhanced genius. Opposites who end up getting on incredibly well.  I particularly enjoyed the running theme of their weekly holosuite sessions where they would fight a famous battle from history.

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Last but not least of the major characters there’s also Quark & Garak. Quark – the Ferengi bar owner on DS9 on a never ending quest to gain ever more profit. Garak – the Cardassian outcast who owns a tailor shop on DS9 and maintains a network of contacts from his days in the shadowy Obsidian Order of the Cardassian Empire.

Both very different businessmen who make up the vibrant patchwork of civilian life on the space frontier. They’re both quite different characters for Star Trek up to this point, previous focused on the quasi-military inner workings of Star Fleet ships. DS9 is a place of commerce and all the rest of civilian life, not just the front line in the war against the dominion. Quark especially is a good reminder of that.

While Quark is perhaps the more universally adored of the two characters, for me Garak is probably one of my favourite characters, and ultimately I think my favourite of DS9. He’s the outsider, akin to Odo, yet with a fantastic dark whit and very dry sarcasm.

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Here’s to all the Deep Space 9 characters. They were all memorable and I enjoyed my time with them. Some were bigger favourites than others, but ultimately they altogether made Deep Space 9; well, Deep Space 9.

I’m not going to give DS9 a rating, but I would recommend it. It’s the ‘hipster’ of all Star Trek series. It has a small hardcore of fans who will swear blind to the last that it’s the best series when you get to know it, but it’s probably the least known series in retrospect. DS9 is different, but fits in to the broader universe well. Maybe it isn’t my favourite, but I’m very glad I watched it.

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TMGR [10]: Mount & Blade Full Invasion 2

This is part 2 of my Mount & Blade series of reviews, after last week’s review of the Napoleonic Wars DLC. This week it’s the Full Invasion 2 mod.

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Full Invasion 2 (FI2) is a huge mod, and arguably one of the most popular of the wide variety of free ones out there. FI2 is the same gameplay, with the one mode of co-operatively holding out against increasingly difficult waves of bots.

The major difference between this and my favourite Napoleonic Wars server that I mentioned last week is that this takes place in all sorts of odd settings. You can hold out as the Spartans from the movie 300 against an invasion of anyone from the Persians to Modor from Lord of the Rings to modern army soldiers as just one example.

First things first, it took 5 mins 30secs to load this mod up.

FI2 is a massive mod of countless totally new textures and whatnots. In total its probably bigger than the original game it’s built on – and that hits the load time massively. It was incredibly frustrating waiting on that load-in screen with the time ticking down.

It wasn’t over there though. I picked the busiest server and loaded in. It was WW2 soldiers versus an invasion of skeleton bots. Sounded fun and nice and halloween-y. Trouble is, you only spawn in once a boss is killed, and a boss only spawns every 3 rounds. You guessed it – I loaded in just after they’d killed a boss.

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Partly because of my own bad timing, it wasn’t until 14 mins and 30secs into my 20mins that I actually spawned in to fight. That’s essentially ¾ of my time gone to loading and waiting. Not good! Even if you ignore that I was doing a TMGR, nearly 15mins from pressing play to actually playing just isn’t good enough for a game full stop!

Once I was in to the fight I was having great fun though. I picked to play as a German sniper and started dropping the skeletons. In just 5 mins I managed to kill 14 of them and got through about 4 rounds; we even got a boss kill in. It was great fun working together as a team once I was in, but the trouble was how long it took to get in.

The best game in the world would still be rubbish in practice with a massive load-in time. One of the Digital Salad rule of games design there! 

Sadly I’m going to have to give Full Invasion 2 a 2 out of 5. It pains me, because if the 5mins I had with it were spread to even just 15mins of the 20mins I had to give to it, it would’ve probably been a 4.5 out of 5. After all though, the whole point of these reviews is to be time limited, and Full Invasion 2, despite being awesome, isn’t kind to a time limited gamer.

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TMGR [9]: Mount & Blade Napoleonic Wars

Onwards with the 20min game reviews – and this one will kick off a series of Mount & Blade themed 20mins. The game I often rave so much about, how does it stand up to the tough test of the 20min review?

Also, Happy Guy Fawkes Night!

I did this first 20mins on a Wednesday night as a quick disclaimer. As boring as this may sound, Wednesday night is the worst night to play on a public Napoleonic Wars server as it’s the night all the regiments do their training and that leaves the public servers pretty empty of excitement. Regiments aren’t my kind of gig, they’re way to serious for my liking, but whatever floats your boat I guess!

Anywho, I loaded into one of my favourite servers, the Roleplay server. Two teams of real players face off against each other on a battlefield. One life each, 200 players, and a strict set of rules that you have to follow officers and don’t kill musicians or surrenderers.

From pressing the play button I was into and playing in a round within a minute and a half. That’s damn quick, so extra kudos there, and it meant plenty of extra time to play! There was a bit of good luck on my part, as a round had just ended so I spawned straight in to the start of a new one.

I loaded in to a snowy map as an Austrian infantryman against the French. First round we were holding a church and got annihilated by some French cavalry which encircled us. That was mainly just 10 minutes of firing in the vague direction of a far away target and then being trampled by the overwhelming French cavalry – not the most fun. 10mins remained and I was starting to worry 20mins wouldn’t be enough to give the game I rave about so much justice!

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I got two more rounds in in the next 10mins though, which were quick and brutal wins for us Austrians holding the church – much more fun!

I think this 20min review highlighted the slight problem of Napoleonic Wars, and some other games. It can be really incredibly boring sometimes (actually, maybe more than 50% of the time if I’m honest), but those good rounds are so awesome you just want more. You’d be prepared to play for hours of the dull stuff for just 10mins of the awesome stuff. I got 10mins of the dull and 10mins of the good, which is a pretty good ratio.

Because of how addictive I used to find the pull of the good I’ve made a promise to myself to not play if I’m finding it dull. I only keep going if I’ve dropped in to one of those awesome rounds. I can afford to be a picky gamer when there’s so many games vying for my attention out there.

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I guess Napoleonic Wars was lucky in this 20mins that I got so much awesome gameplay in. That said, the score has to be based on the 20mins I had with the game, and aside from a slightly slow start I had great fun and at least 10mins of fantastic team based Napoleonic warfare. It was the Mount & Blade series at it’s best for that time, and for that I give it 4 out of 5.

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Star Trek Deep Space 9 – Looking Back Part 1

I mentioned recently that I’d been watching Star Trek: Deep Space 9. I’ve always been a fan of Star Trek, mainly through a childhood of watching re-runs of The Next Generation with Captain Picard.

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Whilst the Next Generation has been a big influence in my childhood, I’d never watched more than an episode or two of Deep Space Nine; the series which followed on from the Next Generation.

I decided it was time to see how I got on with Captain Sisko and his crew aboard their space station above the deeply religious world of Bajor.

Deep Space Nine is the name of the space station the series is based on. Taken over by the Bajorans after they gained independence from the Cardassian Empire; Captain Sisko is brought in as commander of the station after the Bajorans invited Star Fleet to administer it.giphy

The seven series of Deep Space Nine follow the wide and varied cast of inhabitants on the space station. Here’s part one of the breakdown of what I made of them, looking back over the long journey of all the series:

There’s Odo. Chief of Station Security under the Cardassians, and now for the Bajorans. Odo is known as ‘changeling’ in the Alpha quadrant. A few series in to Deep Space 9, a worm hole opens up in the space around the station which makes travel all the way to the Gamma quadrant as if it was a walk round the corner. It turns out that the Dominion which rules most of the Gamma quadrant is all masterminded by a race of Odo’s.

Odo is an outsider. People distrust him because he’s a liquid based form – which to be fair is pretty weird. But, it certainly doesn’t help that his race are the masterminds of the Dominion, which ends up hell-bent on taking over the entire Alpha quadrant by any means necessary. I guess people also don’t trust Chiefs of Station Security, it’s a lonely job.

Odo’s in the same vein as Data and Spock, the outsiders with the rigid sense of morals and rules. They’re the ISTJs of Star Trek. I’ve always loved the characters of Data and Spock from the previous series, and resonated with them on a personal level. I instinctively really like Odo as a result.

Eventually, though, by the end of seven series, I hated to admit it, but Odo became a bit stale. In fact, I felt like Odo at the end of the story was a totally different character from the start. Sure, he’d had a lot of character development, but I felt a little like they used and abused Odo’s character a little too much and his character lost a bit of coherency along the way.

I remain a fan of Odo in the grand scheme of things. I suspect, ultimately, though he was up with the very strongest of competition against Spock and Data to be the most memorable and likeable ISTJ of Star Trek.

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Major Kira is Captain Sisko’s second in command and the most senior Bajoran on the space station. She’s deeply religious, like the majority of Bajorans, and has next to no tolerance for Cardassians.

For me, being brutally honest, Major Kira was the most boring character of the series. Her stubborn personality made sense, but was just too damn stubborn sometimes. I did enjoy when her hatred of the Cardassians was challenged, but ultimately there always seemed to be something that eventually proved her right. I really wished they hadn’t written that in, it was an interesting plot device to see someone who fought for freedom against an Empire learning to see people of that Empire as individuals, not faceless goons.

As much as Major Kira was a key character to the series, especially with grounding the somewhat surreal religious ‘Emissary’ aspects of Captain Sisko’s story arc. I didn’t really like the element of the whole story arc to do with the Bajoran religion, and how Captain Sisko gets wrapped up in it as their ‘Emissary’ of the gods. That’s all personal opinion, but I felt it would have been better off without it.

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Last but not least for part 1; Captain Sisko himself. He grew on me, from a shaky start beginning right in the first episode with a very contrived arguement with Captain Picard – essentially just to so how different he was going to be. Sisko isn’t one of the great Captains – the infamous argument of Kirk vs Picard really is true. I think Sisko is a pragmatist Captain, in the same vein as Janeway from Star Trek: Voyager.

Both Sisko and Janeway are thrown in to impossibly difficult situations and they have to make the best of it. There is no inspired fix like Kirk would find, or intelligent solution like Picard would – these are the Captains who have to keep slogging on in a world that will otherwise consume everything they hold dear.

Sisko’s good, but I’ll forever be in the Picard camp.

Part 2 to come soon!

Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

TMGR [8]: Napoleon Total War

I wanted to return to one of my favourite features – the 20min game review. I give myself just 20mins with a game and review it based purely on the experience I had. Lets face it, we don’t all have hours to sink in to games, so how does a game feel when you only have a handful of minutes to dedicate to it?

Let’s find out how Napoleon: Total War fares!

I all of the Total War games apart from the most recent outing – Atilla. As much as that might make me look like a big series fan, I wouldn’t say so. I mean, I was definitely pretty into them as a teenager, but they never really fully charmed me even then. I’ve never had more than one loaded on my PC at once, and I’ve never put all that many hours into them. Napoleon is the main exception, which I used to play multiplayer with a friend which was great fun.

I could never work out why I didn’t get on with Total War games as much as I should have done on paper, but I think this 20mins has really helped me work that out a bit more.

So here’s my after action report of how the 20mins went.

I set myself up as a small force of French, under attack from a much larger force of British on a map based on the Spanish peninsular war. We had good artillery and other than a unit of elite Old Guard, just a handful of standard line infantry regiments.

2015-07-12_00003I dug in and waited for the British to come. Their cavalry came first, already shaken by my artillery, they took one volley of musket fire from my lines and ran – they never actually finished their charge. My men were confident and warmed up – and they’d need to be for the horde of British line infantry coming for them. Just then the British artillery started firing as well.

My artillery were crucial, cutting huge lines through their clumped up infantry as they slowly advanced in the high of the Spanish midday sun (they were exhausted before they even reached my lines).

I used my one unit of weak cavalry to sneak around the British lines and take out their artillery – giving my infantry some breathing space to ready for the infantry assault.

When the British finally arrived to face my lines they were broken and didn’t take all that much fighting until they completely routed. A regrouped cavalry charge took out my Old Guard, but the line did a fantastic job of facing them off.

The 20mins finished just as I was charging down their last unit – some plucky riflemen who’d stayed far back from the fight.

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As fantastic as the battle was, I felt like 20mins just didn’t give it justice. I’ve managed so much in 20mins of other games, but on Total War I couldn’t even finish one custom battle.

When Mount & Blade: Napoleonic Wars can give me a similar kick to Total War, I know which one comes off the best every time when I’m sitting choosing which game to play. Not that Napoleon: Total War is a bad game in the slightest, it’s just very greedy on time!

Time for the score.

I had really great fun in the custom battle I (nearly) finished. Although it showed me why I always got on a bit uneasily with the Total War series – how greedy on time they are – I still had a great 20mins. For that reason I’m going to give it 4 out of 5.
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TMGR [6 + 1]: GTA Online

This 20min review is more of an add-on to last week’s, hence the 6+1! I played this 20mins straight after I played the 20mins of GTA V’s single player. Baring in mind how much I didn’t enjoy that 20mins, that’s probably affected how I felt about this 20mins in comparison.

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I spawned into the same world as before, but after a much longer 4 minute loading time (not as bad as feared but certainly way too long!).

The first noticeable difference was, I was me, DigitalSalad in his biker jacket with his bright pink guns. I was playing as my guy, with the personality I gave him and it felt so much better than the single player straight off for that reason. I’ve definitely been spoiled by the level of personalisation out there in games these days. I completely understand why GTA V’s single player restricts it in the name of the narrative, but GTA Online’s customisation options felt like a genuine relief in comparison. 

First thing, I checked what the daily was. ‘Steal a vehicle from the military base’ popped up – one of my favourite things to do whether it’s a daily task or not. Cue a few minutes drive to the military base in my armoured car, a jump over the fence and I was away in a stolen fighter jet – part 1 of 3 for the daily done. Someone else was around in their own stolen fighter jet from the base as well, so we had a quick dogfight that ended up with both of us dead – good fun with another player which I’d begun to lose hope with all the hackers about.

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Part 2 of the daily I chose to do was a ‘Flight School’ mission. I chose to do one where your engine cuts out in a jet plane and you have to land safely on a runway without power. Quick and easy – I always love trying to land planes in extreme conditions on GTA. The flying is one of my favourite activities, alongside the off-road driving.

All of that stuff done and I still had a big chunk of time left! I filled this up with a mad rampage (what can I say!).

A little flavour of my mad rampages
A little flavour of my mad rampages

All in all, GTA Online felt so much better than the single player experience I’d had in the 20 minutes beforehand. I actually had a good experience with the other players as well for a change. That said, I really need to learn that I can play Online solo. It seems to me like that’d be a good option as my go-to play style for GTA V. I much prefer playing Online – but I can do that without other players irritating me or hacking the game!

As always, it’s time for the score.

Compared to the single player experience of GTA V, Online was miles better. It also helped that I had a particularly good experience in this 20mins of Online compared to a pretty rubbish experience of regular offline. If GTA Online could always be guaranteed to be as fun as it was in this case, in such a concise and time effective way despite the huge load in time, I wouldn’t hesitate to load it up again for many more 20min sessions. The trouble is, in reality I know it isn’t always that way. The rules are the rules though, and my rating is based purely on the 20mins of play that I had.

For this 20mins I’m going to give GTA Online a very well deserved 4.5/5. GTA remains a great game even this long down the line, and still has some great moments. I was lucky enough to have one of them in my Online 20mins.

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TMGR [6]: GTA V

I’m no stranger to GTA V, I’ve completed the single player before on the Xbox 360. I’d never done GTA Online before I picked up the PC version of GTA though, so that was the biggest pull of the PC version for me. That said, I really wanted to give the single player a go and do it ‘properly’ – crossing all the t’s and dotting all the i’s. This is my 20 minutes with the single player, offline, PC version of GTA V.

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Giving myself the 20mins time limit was not only damned difficult on GTA V but also a real eye opener. Besides the obnoxiously long load in that anybody who has played GTA V will attest to (in this case over 2mins for the single player), I only got one mission and one rampage done.

I loaded in as Franklin, went to a gun shop, bought him a delightful pink gun, did a really short mission where you shoot up some gangsters in an alley way, got into a fight with the police, died … and then time was up!

When it comes to things GTA, I really enjoy the missions Rockstar have created, but I only play it in short stints. I’ll do a mission or two and then do a mad rampage or two until I die and call it quits – I don’t take it too seriously.

In my 20mins I only managed a segment of the relatively small amount I usually do, so it seems GTA is far greedier on my time than I thought – even when I was only doing single player. I like my spare time, I don’t like games that greedily try to steal it from me! It’s certainly not a feature you want in a game when you only have 20mins to spend with it, and that’s without even considering the massive load times!

It was also kind of boring playing GTA single player again, I hate to say. I’d done the mission before on the Xbox, but I fear it’s a bit more than that. I’m worried I’ve been spoilt by the personalisation of GTA Online. For all the negatives of the GTA Online game and community, the world they’ve created there is more dynamic and more fun to play in. It’s a shame, because I really want to do the single player through again but the 20 mins has actually left me wondering whether I have the stamina and patience to go through it all again!

Unpopular Opinion Puffin time!

I realise I don’t really like any of the pretty universally adored characters in the single player story. I don’t even like the support cast like Lamar or Lester. I’m not totally sure why either, but rather than the mesh of like and dislike that Rockstar try to make you feel for each character, I just find that they all irritate me. Maybe that’s more me though!

Any who, as with all 20min reviews it’s time to do a score.

These scores are always based on the rigid 20mins I have with a game, and this 20mins wasn’t a good one for GTA V’s single player.

Combine being at the start of the game, with a boring experience (which was partly the luck of the draw of missions) and I have to say it’s not all the game’s fault. I know part of it’s me as well, especially having done it all through once before. That said, despite all that I still don’t think GTA V’s single player is a good game to play in a small amount of time. It wants to draw you in, and if you’ve not got time to do that it leaves you feeling pretty crap when you tear yourself away part way through something.

So, all said and done GTA V’s single player gets 2/5. Stay tuned for the GTA Online TMGR soon!

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TMGR [5]: Spintires

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I think that Spintires is a really good game. It’s an off-roading simulator, and I do really enjoy off-roading in games, particularly in GTA V at the moment.

I loaded into the game pretty quickly and decided to play on a map called ‘The Flood’. It basically does what it says, it’s a flooded countryside area, where your task is to deliver supplies to areas that need it in specially off-road adapted lorries.

I tried to cross the massive flooded river in the first lorry I had available and it ended as you might guess:

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That blue lorry half submerged in that picture was my first attempt.

Time to try again in my back up lorry. I tried encourage the other lorry out, but it just wouldn’t budge. So I thought I’d give crossing another go – trying to keep as closely to the submerged road as possible so that I didn’t sink in the mud.

Almost entirely predictably, I ended up stuck in the mud again when I slightly left the road for a moment.

And that was it, 20mins over. 20mins and all I’d managed to do was get two lorries stuck in a flooded river!

Spintires, whilst a great game, is too tough for a decent 20mins of gameplay. I think that’s potentially the curse of being a simulator game. Simulators eat up your time greedily, without so much as even a guarantee of anything coming out of all that time. You could well come out of 2 hours of Spintires and still not have crossed that river.

These 20mins reviews have helped me to understand a lot more about what I like in a game. It’s helped me realise that whilst I enjoy time greedy games, and Spintires is a great example, I don’t enjoy the feeling afterwards when I haven’t accomplished much for all the time spent on the game.

I’m not afraid to admit that I prefer the quick and simple arcade style off-roading to be had in GTA V to Spintires. That’s not so much a reflection on Spintires as a game, but more about me getting to know what I like and going with that.

All that aside, it’s time for the score as always. Trouble is, it’s a little trickier than usual this time because it’s the first TMGR that I uninstalled afterwards. I decided Spintires wasn’t really adding much special that wasn’t already covered in my gaming library.

That said, Spintires is still a great game, that’s really well made by a dedicated development team; I’ve just recognised that it wasn’t for me.

Given all that, I’ll give Spintires a 2.5/5.

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TMGR [4]: Cities Skylines

Onwards with another 20min review with a game in a similar vein to last week’s review. Cities: Skylines is often lauded as the game that SimCity’s 2013 reboot should have been. Here’s what 20mins with it is like!

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I loaded up Cities: Skylines and was in to my pet city New Plymouth in next to no time. I’m beginning to really appreciate games with short load times when I’m doing a 20min review. As an adult gamer with all the responsibilities that go with being adult, I don’t always have that much time to spend on a game – every extra minute spent waiting on a loading screen counts! I’m looking at you GTA Online.

I’ve only spent about 6 hours growing up New Plymouth, but it’s already a flourishing city of over 30,000 people with a very dense and busy central business district. I’m quite attached to it at that, and I especially like how you can track individual people’s lives through your city – from work, to home to wherever. It’s gets you a bit more involved, it feels a bit more alive than just watching ants from up on high.

The first problem I had to deal with in my 20mins is one that plagues nearly every city in existence – traffic.

I had a chronic traffic problem, particularly on one major road heading into the city centre. I’d attempted a couple of small projects and even built a park and ride style train line to ease the congestion, but the roads I originally built just simply weren’t big enough for the traffic volume coming in to my city. It was time to get creative and widen that road. I had to knock down a few houses to make room for the much wider road, which didn’t exactly make for happy residents, but the benefits of much eased congestion made most people happy overall thankfully!

A very busy road in the middle of New Plymouth
A very busy road in the middle of New Plymouth

I really enjoy the challenge of city builders, and Cities: Skylines is great for that. Sorting the traffic out was a great challenge. That said, it wouldn’t have been possible without the massive array of mods out there on the Steam Workshop for the game, especially some very handy traffic info tools. I love how open the developers made the game for mods, it keeps it alive and vibrant, and most importantly lets the community improve on the base game.

Second task in my 20mins was to get a business park I’d been trying to get going out by the inter-state motorway and airport to grow. It had originally been just a handful of small dodgy businesses when I first started growing it, but with some encouragement – including a snazzy new University, it’s now off the ground and going places. I’m hoping it’ll turn in a high-flyer’s area, a sort of silicone valley of New Plymouth.

And; that was it for my 20mins. I got 2 big projects done, but the real magic of Cities: Skylines, and other sandbox builders like Prison Architect, is the bug it gives you. I have a thousand and one ideas going on in my head of where I want to take the city next. It often won’t go to plan, and there’s even more magic in how it develops when it goes off-piste. I really like the sandbox bug, but it can be a cruel mistress.

Last but not least for the 20min review I have to do a rating!

I really enjoyed playing Cities: Skylines for 20mins, but I’m not sure I could actually play for much longer than an hour at the most. That’s good when it comes to a 20min review, I felt like I got a decent amount of stuff done and felt happily rewarded, but I think if you had more than an hour it might not be the best game as it would potentially get dull.

I like a game that I can dabble in though, and based purely on my 20mins and whether I’d play it again in another 20min slot, I’ll give Cities: Skylines a very solid 4/5. Plus, I’ll chip in with my personal opinion that I think it’s the best modern city builder out there.
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