Reviews by BefuddledTrooper

Tropico 6
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WARNING! Tropico 6 May Not Work with OS Catalina

Installed Tropico 6 (via Steam) on my iMac Pro (2017) running Mac OS 10.15.3 on March 21, 2020. Game did not start immediately; tried verifiying local files via Steam, then started again: Tropico 6 re-verified the files, started, then crashed right after initialization. Other purchasers have reported similar problems with this game running under 10.15.

by BefuddledTrooper, - Mar 21st 2020
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Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna)
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Concept great; gameplay terrible

"Never Alone" presents the story of Nuna, a brave little girl, and Fox, her spirit companion, based on a traditional story from the legends of the Inupiat, a people of northern Alaska. Your goal is to direct Nuna and Fox in a quest to find the source of an endless, blinding blizzard that prevents Nuna's people from hunting, and thereby threatens the extinction of the tribe from starvation.

This game was lovingly designed to convey (to the urban gamer) some of the culture of the Inupiat, and a bit about their current situation. In style, the game succeeds admirably: you really get a feeling of the frozen Arctic tundras, ice floes, and forests, and the magical beings that inhabit the spirit world of the Inupiat. It's a "2D" game (action is left-to-right, with some exceptions), but the beautifully-designed graphics give it a lifelike effect.

Short videos (some with Inupiat people describing their lives, and how they experience the world) are available, either within the game (like an optional cutscene) or playable separately. Reviews of "Never Alone" on the Internet indicate that the developers worked with Inupiat people to ensure that they were staying true to their traditions, throughout the game.

Unfortunately, despite all of the care that was given to the design and "feel" of the game, it fails in execution. I'm speaking here of the Mac version, designed for keyboard and mouse (since I'm not familiar with any other version). The game is clearly intended for young people, but it's loaded with quick time events (QTE)—i.e., pressing the appropriate keys in order, within a strictly-limited time period—that most kids can't handle. In fact, these QTE are difficult enough for adults: after struggling for an hour or so with the "bear's cave" episode, I gave up, and "sought professional help" from my own "Nuna," a 7-year-old gamer (a whizz at Yepi games, and a formidable opponent for her own father, an experienced gamer himself, whom she regularly crushes at "Mortal Kombat" and other fast-action games). After trying for several minutes to work through the "bear's cave" QTE, (following the instructions in the walkthrough), she announced "I can't do it!—It's too hard!" and walked away.

Too bad the developers didn't beta-test the game with a group of kids! Not recommended.

by BefuddledTrooper, USA - Apr 11th 2016
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Total War: MEDIEVAL II – Definitive Edition
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"I've Tried Whipping Them, My LIege, But They're Too Tired to Advance!"

Wikipedia has a pretty good description of this game in the entry "Medieval II: Total War." The PC version was released in 2006, so this not a new game, and it has some shortcomings that seem to reflect an early design that was improved in later games. For example, when the game pops up a note on some historical development, like the invention of spectacles or gunpowder, the date is not shown, a rather strange omission for a game that is ostensibly based on real-world history. Medievel II even omits the display of the current year of play, such as "1234 AD," a standard feature of other games in the franchise (no doubt intended to maintain a link to real-world history). There is an option to set a time limit on battles, but the battle Window doesn't display the usual clock, ticking down to zero. Graphics are a bit rough and "cartoonish," compared to "Shogun 2," for example. And so on.

This game is fun to play, up to a point: the settings, buildings, costumes, weapons and so on are pretty close to their historical equivalents; the battles are (as usual in Total War) fierce and unpredictable. City-building offers many more options in Medieval II than do others in the franchise, with everything from brothels to cathedrals available to build for your citizens, each with different costs and benefits. You may use Merchants to collect valuable trade items, Spies to discover your enemy's capabilities, and Assassins to take out an enemy general or two.

Balance has always been the "Achilles' heel" of the Total War series, especially in the endgame of a campaign: once the player has developed a solid economy for his Empire, and a big standing army, how do you keep him from simply rolling over every remaining AI opponent, in a Final Conquest that is just too easy to be interesting?—The designers solved this problem in various ways for different games; in "Shogun 2," for example, you get the "Realm Divide" condition, where the remaining AI all turn on you at the same time.

In Medieval II, this problem is addressed by imposing a strict limit on the number of units of each type that a city can produce: four armored knights, for example, or ten longbowmen. The result of these limits is that, for example, if you made the mistake of recklessly generating lots of knights to eliminate some pesky brigands in your expanding realm, and most of those knights were killed off during the campaign, you're in real trouble when a major foe invades with a whole army full of knights. No matter if you have ten times the cash NOW that you had BACK THEN, you can't get any more knights: you'll just have to make do with whatever other units you can dig up.

In a game based on real-world history, a limitation like this just doesn't make sense. As a result this reviewer quickly lost interest in Medieval II.

by BefuddledTrooper, USA - Jan 25th 2016
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Total War™: SHOGUN 2 Collection
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Win or Die in Old Japan

A beautifully-designed addition to the "Total War" game series, the Mac version of the "Shogun 2" game package stands out for its graphics (extraordinarily detailed and very lifelike warriors, horses, castles and landscapes) and streamlined gameplay. The map and landscapes (in battle scenes) change to reflect the passing seasons.

Like the other "Total War" games, "Shogun 2" is a turn-based, military/political strategy game which allows you to play against the computer or (online) against human opponents. Each game offers "long" and "short" versions, and a game may take days or weeks to complete.

The package currently available for the Mac has two of the three games ("Campaigns") offered within the PC package, listed below in historical order:

Rise of the Samurai

Beginning in 1175 AD, just before the "Genpei War" (1180-1185), you take control as leader of one of six families during the great struggle of the Taira and Minamoto clans for dominance in Japan. To win, you must hold your family's heartland provinces and capture a required minimum number of additional provinces. Don't dawdle!—Failure to win by the last quarter of the specified year means the total destruction of your family!

Shogun 2

You play as leader of one of 12 clans clawing their way up the pyramid to dominance during the "Period of Warring States" (1467-1573). To win as "Shogun" (roughly equivalent to Rome's "Caesar"), you must take the minimum number of provinces required, including your clan's heartland and the capital, Kyoto, by the cutoff date.

Fall of the Samurai (not included in the Mac version)

This campaign is set in the 19th century, around the time of the "Boshin War" (1868-1869), between supporters of the Tokugawa Shogunate and the imperial court. On the campaign-selection page of the Mac version of "Shogun 2," this option is present but disabled; it will presumably be offered as an add-on expansion (for an extra charge!), eventually.

Aside from the fine visuals, "Shogun 2" stands out in the "Total War" series for its "Difficulty Spike:" as you approach victory, it gets harder to win. Your enemies join against you; your provinces revolt; the current Shogun becomes alarmed and brands you an enemy of the state, causing even your allies to turn against you, and so on. Winning is not easy!

If you enjoyed playing other games in the "Total War" series, you'll probably enjoy "Shogun 2:"

PROs:

A fascinating introduction to Japanese history and culture
Beautiful visuals
Complicated and intriguing strategy
Exciting, lifelike battles

CONs:

Endless provincial revolts are a major drag
Diplomacy functions are weak, unimaginative, and frustrating
Gameplay (battle after battle after battle) gets repetitive
Endgame can be a grinding slog.

Biggest complaint: not only are there far too many provincial revolts (which add nothing to the joy of the game, and put a significant drag on your progress), but, while the human player labors for years to develop an army, these illiterate peasants can pop out companies of trained samurai with fancy armor and advanced weapons, overnight!—Unfair, unfair! And typical of "Total War."

However, no game is perfect, and "Shogun 2" is certainly the best of the "Total War" series.

by BefuddledTrooper, USA - Oct 1st 2014
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The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition
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Not Ready for Mac!

Downloaded this game 12/24/12. The "Arena" combat worked OK, but I couldn't get through the Tutorial (some functions didn't work). The Witcher website offers patches for the PC version, but not the Mac version, so I'm guessing that the missing patches are the source of the problem. Unfortunately, the Support staff is on vacation until Jan. 2! So, Mac users, be prepared for disappointment, if you take advantage of the discount to buy this game now.

by BefuddledTrooper, USA - Dec 28th 2012
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Darkest of Days
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Time-Travel, Combat, Puzzles: a Sci-Fi Thriller

A decent run-and-shoot (LOTS of running around!) with very satisfactory graphics: battlefields, towns, forests and canyons, even a dirigible ride! Complicated battle scenes tend to lag (even on my top-of-the-line 27-inch Mac), the action becoming slow and jerky; reloading the episode may help. (Poor performance is a frequent complaint from Mac users, so make sure you have the minimum requirements, or better.)

The script is a science-fiction story involving time travel and competing agencies; your avatar (a soldier from the Battle of the Little Big Horn) will be told to switch sides several times. Do you think the Union cause was just and noble, a crusade to preserve the Union and free the slaves?-Youll have plenty of chances to shoot some traitorous Confederate rebels. Hate the arrogant damnyankees, and their murdering bluebelly soldiers? -You can shoot lots of THEM, too! Not to mention Prussians, Russians, and well-armored Roman soldiers. (Reversing your loyalties may leave you feeling a bit sleazy at times, but youll get used to it.)

Early episodes may seem a bit too easy, since the AI soldiers are slow and stupid (they tend to stare at you for a second or two before trying to shoot you), but the pace picks up later on, and your avatar will die many times. The script includes some puzzle elements (how do you get from A to B to C, if theres a high cliff blocking your path at B?) Walkthroughs are available on the Internet (the PC cheats dont seem to work in the Mac version). YouTube has some videos of segments of various episodes, which will give you an idea of what the game looks like, and tips on how to fight effectively.

One minor annoyance: no player-initiated saves. If youre interrupted in mid-episode, youll have to start at the beginning, next time. But auto-saves are fairly frequent.

The writing is a bit uneven-at one point, a Confederate officer whom youre helping to escape seems to vanish into thin air, leaving you wondering Wha-?-and the overall story ends abruptly, with a major threat looming over humanity (which implies that a sequel is in the works). However, if you enjoy combat, puzzles, and science-fiction, youll likely enjoy Darkest of Days.

by BefuddledTrooper, USA - Sep 8th 2012
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Postal 2: Share The Pain
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Technical Problems Spoil Good Nasty Fun

Got as far as the end of the "Burning Library" scenario: this is a shoot-'em-up (Kill the "Parents for Decency!" Kill the library-burners! Kill kill kill!!) with puzzle-solving elements and some really nasty, non-PC language, but still fun to play. However, the game crashed several times on my iMac (a 27-inch built 2011, 16 GB solid-state memory, running Lion 10.7.4 ), and then, upon restart, displayed a message that the software would have to be reinstalled. When this happened a third time, I gave up: just too much of a technical hassle. Other games run just fine on my Mac, so it's not the computer. At least it was cheap!-Farewell, Postal Dude!

by BefuddledTrooper, USA - Sep 1st 2012
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Two Worlds II
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Gorgeous, But Demanding!

Gorgeous landscapes; thrilling action; lots of fun-if your PC or Mac is powerful enough to support this game (be sure to check the requirements). And youll have lots of freedom within the game to wander around Antaloor and explore this bizarre and beautiful world. But, if you want to win, or even advance to the next level, be prepared to invest MANY hours in study and experimentation, in everything from potions to swordplay. (See YouTube for some demo videos on problem-solving in Two Worlds II-theyll give you an idea of what youll need to learn-and check out the various walkthroughs and Strategy Guides on the Internet.) In addition, be prepared for maddening frustration (due to unsolvable puzzles) and for frantic adjustments in the middle of combat (like reworking your weapons on the spot!)

All of this was too much for me-Im a casual gameplayer, not a devotee. And, well-I have a life! So I trashed my copy of Two Worlds II, in favor of something easier to learn and easier to play.

by BefuddledTrooper, USA - Aug 27th 2012
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