Lost: Black Earth

I just came across this movie and not sure exactly if it has actually been released or not? The movie was made a few years back in 2004 for about 10,000 AU by James Cole. The movie has a website located here: http://www.lostblackearth.com

Here is the basic story around the movie:

Escaping a devastating attack on her space station, the N.O.H.A.Gen. scientist Myola Jackson (Marianthe Esse) finds herself uncontrollably heading toward Earth in her damaged capsule.

Crashing on a coastline off Austrasia, she awakens to find herself lost on a hostile continent. Washed ashore, she is rescued by a Romid Warrior, Wez DeMillen (Jamie Wilson) and his son Gart (Dale DeSilva), who quickly find themselves pursued by the Kryslum aliens intent on her destruction. To reach the safety of the coastal town of Dignity Bay, they embark on an epic journey through the treacherous and unpredictable environment. Constantly pursued by the evil Kryslums, they are joined by an eccentric hermit scientist known only as Fergus (Peter Davies), who helps them rescue a Kryslum slave soldier they call José (Cameron Plant). Together this band of misfits defeat the odds only to discover that the people of Dignity Bay are being held captive by the Kryslums. As it appears all hope is lost and chaos rules, they must fight in the last days of the black earth to bring forth a new dawn.

I have checked Netflix and my local video store and I cannot seem to fin Lost: Black Earth anywhere? I know I read somewhere that James Cole was thinking about releasing this movie for free download did this ever happen? I will try to contact James and see if there is any status on it going free or not.

Watch the movie for free and tell us what you think:

Shattered Origins: Guardians of Unity Review

Finally sat down with Elder Games latest game release, Shattered Origins: Guardians of Destiny. The general story behind Shattered Origins is that humankind has devastated Earth’s resources and now humanity is trying to branch out into space to find more resources to sustain life. A company called ‘Guardians’ emerged as the sole entity that could provide the populous with the resources needed to sustain life on Earth. The ‘Guardians’ wanted unite humanity, which seemed to work for a short while until its leaders started to become to controlling. The populous started to defect and revolt against the support and protection of the Guardians. The defectors were labeled as ‘Pirates’, the Guardians and the Pirates have now been fighting for hundreds of years and Shattered Origins takes place during this time period.

Here is some info on Shattered Origins

Developer: Elder Games
Publisher: Rawen Group
Platform: Windows (XP and above)
Version tested: v1.02

I’m going to skip right to the game mechanics and gameplay. No sense in covering the tutorial, because it does what it says and teaches you the basics of the game. You start the game in ‘Guardian Prime Sector’ and you have a few small engagements and quests to do. But here is where you do some crystal mining to equip your cruiser and small missions to build some experience for yourself and your squadron of ships. I personally liked the concept of being able to pause the action to switch to any ship under your command. And you can also use this pause action to gain access to the cruisers construction and research abilities. On the guardian cruiser you can send out mining drones, use crystals gathered to purchase ships, do tech upgrades and build additions (hanger and research areas) and defenses (turret) for your cruiser.

Shattered Origins has a strategy element to this space combat game where you can build/customize your squadron of ships. As the game progresses your wingmen will level, you then get three attribute points to distribute between three areas (weapons, repair and reflexes). This is where the strategy component comes into play because you now have to take your type of ship (ie: light, medium, heavy fighters), assigned weapons or components and your attribute points and build a squadron of wingmen that can survive in combat.

The combat is somewhat unique in that you can pilot every ship under your command. You do this by pausing the action (right mouse button) and then select which ship you want to jump into. I used this feature a lot personally, to level my wingman during battle and to try to save wounded pilots by jumping into their ships and taking over. I did this because most times I could level my ships quicker and I think I am better than the AI.

Something I should mention as well as that there is some mini-games in Shattered Origins that surprised me when i ran into them and these mini-games can be quite challenging, especially the ‘Freeway’ clone from back in the Atari 2600 days. There was also a tower defense style game that you will run into which didn’t seem to have much difficulty to it to me. Heck a little more refinement and the tower defense style game could be a standalone game.

Shattered Origins Pros/Cons

Pros:

  • Graphics and Sound – Personally I liked the feel of this game. The music was decent and was not annoying, the voice acting was good and better than most of the recent titles to come out. The graphics are not setting new benchmarks for visual quality, but Shattered Origins should be able to be ran on most systems without issue. The game seemed to have a dull color palette and not he over coloring that seems to happen in most space games today.
  • Ship movements and controls – I really liked the ship switching concept of the game and this game you the opportunity to try different ships and weapon and system layouts.The mouse/keyboard controls seemed real responsive and easy to learn and use. For all of the newton physics fans out there, Shattered Origins doesn’t fully support this and flight is almost like Freelancer.
  • Achievements and un-lockable skirmishes – During the campaign or skirmish mode you will unlock some new skirmish maps and achievements.
  • AI – The wingmen in your squad are not just cannon fodder, they actually respond quite well in combat. It would have been great if there was more wingmen command functions.

Cons:

  • Campaign is to short, it took me about 18hrs to complete the campaign. Just as I was getting some of the higher upgrades and higher level wingmen (lvl9+) the game is done and a little ‘to be continued’ message.
  • Need to have a larger sector map, currently there is only 8 sectors you can visit. And the sectors that you can visit are empty. There should be at the least some stations (faction based) in some of the sectors and some civilian and merchant traffic to make the sectors seem alive.
  • Not many side missions. I think I only performed 10 or so the whole time I played and I tried to complete every mission. I noticed that when i left the sector with the trader that my trader missions were removed and I couldn’t get them back. Not sure if that is a bug or not?
  • Didn’t have the ability to sell ships or remove/exchange certain mounted equipment. So if you assigned the hull enhancement that would make you take less ramming damage, but then you wanted the shield enhancement you were out of luck.
  • I would have liked to have the ability to mouse-over my wingman and get a experience status. Because I could have used this to help level my wingmen by jumping into ships to kill pirates.

Conclusion

Shattered Origins is a bit short on campaign length for my liking, I would liked to have at least 25-30hr campaign. The story flowed well and it kept me playing the game. The AI is pretty good and you may have some frustrating moments on the harder difficulty and in skirmishes. I very much liked the leveling of wingmen (remember the same type of concept in Space Force II) and the tech tree that can be used to research both ship and cruiser items. At times you did spend some time waiting for resources to build up and you had nothing to do but sit around. That was really the only boring part of the game for me and could be easily remedied with a patch to create side missions or let you actually mine asteroids as well. So what would I grade Shattered Origins? I would rate the game a 82/100. My main issues were the short campaign and needed more in-game content (ie: missions and sectors to explore). Not sure what the future holds for Shattered Origins and whether the sequel is coming in a patch or a release? But with a few fixes and tweaks to gameplay Elder Games can make Shattered Origins shine.

I will be keeping my eye on Shattered Origins to see what gets fixed and about any sequel that may be coming? For now I would recommend trying the demo.

Also checkout the Shattered Origins trailer below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJ42Wgxk5DY

Thanks Lord Crusare and the rest of Elder Games for giving SpaceSimCentral the opportunity to review your game and you can comment on Shattered Origins here.

Anyone seen Hunter Prey?

The other day I was on Netflix streaming browsing through the SciFi section looking for new releases and saw Hunter Prey. This was a movie that came out in 2010 and I don’t ever remember it seeing advertisements for it. So first thing I thought was a low budget B rated movie. Boy was I wrong, the movie may have been low budget because of location (the desert) and special effects. But this wasn’t really needed, because the storyline and the acting was pretty darn good in this movie. The end is left open for a sequel which I hope does happen because it would be great to see.

As far as I know this is Sandy Collora’s first full length movie he has directed. In the past he has made a few short films, see his youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/MontaukFilms7

So checkout the Hunter Prey trailer and if you have Netflix you can stream, you can go out and rent it or buy it from Amazon. Let us know what you think of the movie.

Starpoint Gemini Review

Title: Starpoint Gemini
Developer: Little Green Men (LGM)
Distributors: Iceberg Interactive (boxed copy) and Steam, GamersGate for digital download
Version tested: 1.0.0.10
Purchase from: Amazon and GamersGate

I have been following Starpoint Gemini (SPG) for some time now and have actually had time to sit down and play and review the boxed copy of the game that is distributed by Iceberg Interactive. When I received Starpoint Gemini in the mail I was impressed with package it came in. It was put together quite well.

So what is Starpoint Gemini about?

You play the game as Cpt. Jared Hunt, and 23 yrs ago in the Gemini star system you were part of the Gemini League a revolutionary group that challenged the the authority and ruling of the Gemini Colonial Directorate. The Gemini League’s strength grew and was able to push the Directorate back to ‘Sector Zero’ and tried to seize control of Starpoint Gemini the structure built to protect the wormhole. Which is the only way back to Empire main space (Sector Zero). During the retreat of the Directorate forces they set off a massive explosive inside the wormhole, which sealed off the Gemini system from the Empire system.

The devastation was done. The explosion was so massive that the nearby planets were scorched and the majority of the Gemini fleet was either destroyed or placed into a status rift, an anomaly caused by the wormhole breakdown. Cpt. Jared Hunt and his ship was caught in the status rift and have no clue that 23 yrs has passed and now there is multiple factions fighting for dominance over Gemini sector. Your game starts with a group of scientists pulling your ship (the Amargosa) out of the rift and now your adventure starts.

Gameplay and in-game experiences

You will need to complete a tutorial before you start the main game and this takes about 30mins and it will cover basic menu screens, movement, combat and skills. I have read a few complaints about the difficulty when your first starting out in your adventures in your ship (the Amargosa), which is fairly weak and you will be hard pressed to defeat more than two targets at once and if they get the jump on you you may not survive. After doing a few starter missions and finding some cargo containers in space from various engagements I was able to get some better equipment/weapons for the Amargosa. You will get prompted for some missions that will follow the story arc/campaign and you don’t have to be in a real hurry to do them. If you want to do some missions (available at the stations) and or combat in other sectors to build up your credits I would. Something I tend to do in the game a lot is, if I see some combat between some factions I engage the target or help a faction out to increase my reputation. This will make leveling a bit quicker and in exchange you should come across some decent loot you can sell, least in my experiences.

I have been to maybe 30% of the sectors in the game and I do like what I see so far. There is usually always some type of mineable material in each sector and there is some sort of outpost or base. The radar or targeting system will show NPC’s in colors from green (friendly) to red (enemy). So keep track of where the red targets are because they can surprise you quickly and if they get the jump on you when your shields are down you could be destroyed pretty quickly. The story up to this point has moved at a nice pace and you occasionally have some in-game cinematic that show some battles. For the most part the story is relayed through communication between Gemini League associates and the scientists to Cpt. Hunt.

Now to some gameplay thoughts both pros/cons:

Pros:

  • I like the fact that you can individually target sub-systems on a given target.
  • You can capture ships
  • A lot of upgrades (engines, thrusters, weapons, missiles, torpedo’s, scanners, grappler’s, tractor beam, mining tools, etc…) and these upgrades have class levels from I – V (1 thru 5).
  • Your tactics and what you choose for upgrades for your ship really matter in combat.
  • Each sector has a lot of NPC activity going on (ex: NPC’s mining, rogue faction fighters attacking convoys/ships, NPC’s traveling through gates, trading and docking with stations and comm chatter)
  • Having crew members
  • The LGM team has been putting out patches to fix issues on a regular basis

Cons:

  • The controls for the x-axis needs to be refined in that you can over steer using either the keys or mouse
  • Would like to be able to move on the y-axis
  • When buying components/equipment for you ship the interface could be more useful. That when you mouse-over a object to buy of a certain type it will popup a info screen showing the comparable differences.
  • Seeing some AI glitches when it comes to combat and ship capture
  • Some of the comm chatter gets annoying after a while because of repetitive comments
  • Time/Date stamps on game saves

Graphics and Sound

Starpoint Gemini uses DirectX9. So it’s not using the latest graphic enhancements and any graphics card that has come out in the past 2-4 years should be able to play SPG with relative ease. I witnessed only a few graphic glitches with ships passing through objects and or animations not always showing (like in mining, the laser would be missing). I thought the graphics were good (really liked the debris and nebula’s) and if I could change anything, I would have space be a bit darker. The ships, weapons fire and explosions all looked good.

On the music and sound in SPG, there could have been a lot more in-game choices for music or let the player play there own MP3’s. The voice acting I thought was really good compared to other recently released foreign games (ex: The Tomorrow War was awful). Like I stated above, the comm chatter could have been better implemented.

Conclusion

LGM has done an excellent job with their first game release. It was a little buggy at first, but LGM did what most larger companies don’t do when there is issues with a game. They kept up communications with the fan base and addressed critical issues quickly with patches. All of the issues I pointed out here can be fixed with a few patches and or let your community fix it by releasing either some mod tools or some in-depth instructions on the files used to manually mod the game. With looking over some of the files in the SPG directory it looks to be very mod friendly, so it might be just a matter of time until we see some nice user created content.

So where does Starpoint Gemini rank?
I would have to say 88% out of a 100%. My biggest gripes is really only the axis controls and the random AI glitches. I am really a fan of space and scifi games so my pros/cons tend to be a bit more critical or focused than most reviewers. But I will let you know how I feel about a game and whether the issues I find are deal enders. SPG is overall a great game to play (which I am still playing) and will update this post when I finish playing. Comment on this post here or discuss it further in the SPG forums here: http://www.spacesimc…php?f=32&t=2052

Little Green Men (LGM) did put out a demo recently for Starpoint Gemini, which you can download here: http://www.gamershel…oad_71644.shtml. So make sure you download it and give it a try or you can just jump right into the game and buy it from Amazon and GamersGate. Do checkout the gameplay video below it will give you an idea of the gameplay in store for you in Starpoint Gemini:

EgoSoft: X-Rebirth

It looks like Egosoft has been hard at work the past few years working on X-Rebirth while patching X3: Terran Conflict in the process to make the wait just a little shorter for the fans of the series. When can we expect to see X-Rebirth… hopefully in Q4 of 2011. Egosoft will be publishing more info on X-Rebirth on the 28th of April at a press conference at FedCon XX in Düsseldorf, Germany. So we will see what details are leaked out about the game story-line and gameplay to see if EgoSoft is really expanding the style of games they have been creating since the mid 1990’s. In general the X games are more of a hardcore space combat, trading and exploration game that tended to be hard to get started up in and from most feedback received a lot of people tended to not complete their games (myself included).

If you haven’t seen the X-Rebith reveal trailer check it out now… if you can, make sure you watch it at full screen 1080p.

You can definitely see the gfx facelift to the engine used and the ships and stations look great!

Egosoft really has the opportunity to start over and create a game that will appeal to more gamers. But what should they work on? If I had to pick five items that I feel would improve X-Rebirth over the rest of the X series of games they would have to be:

  • Seamless exploration with no jumpgate/wormholes for travel.
  • You can still have a economic and trading system, I would just try to design the system in a way that players can choose their level of involvement in the economics of the game world. Meaning that you can build your empire, but try to keep micro-management to a minimum. Build more automation into the system with managing your mining and factories, for patrols and protection of your assets. This way a casual player can just pay more attention to the story-line, quests, factions, exploration and combat.
  • A little faster paced combat and have selectable targeting system so you can attack specific ship systems.
  • A bigger universe. Egosoft does a great job with the artwork and ship/station design in all of the X games and I would think people would like to see more of that and if you tie that in with the seamless space flight you could spend countless hours navigating through sectors not knowing what you may find next. Oh I know some uncharted sectors.
  • A universe that will let you do almost anything you want and you have to live with your decisions. Meaning if you decide to take out an entire station or sector that it stays dead for quite sometime or stays dead. Failing any quest may have a impact on the game or in a sector in the game. Make things matter, make me a part of the game and keep me hooked into playing 50-100hrs at the least.
  • I know I said five… but having the ability to move around some of the ships and stations would be great addition to X-Rebirth.

To me, in today’s gaming its not often you see a game that really immerses the player into the game and really evolves the game around them. The space genre of games is a great place to build that immersiveness into a game. With a few good quality titles from various developers we could see space combat games rise back to the fame of 15-20yrs ago when Elite, Privateer, Wing Commander, Freespace and many others graced our monitors and wore out our joysticks. So let’s see what Egosoft has in store for us and lets hope it is epic.

There discuss this post and more Egosoft and X game discussions in the SSC forums: http://www.spacesimcentral.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=44

-D1-