Infinium Strike (PC) Review

Developer: Codex Worlds | Publisher: 1C Company || Overall: 6.0

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Freedom Strike. Its continuing mission: to not really explore anything, to seek out the Wrog, and to boldly blow the buh-Jesus out of them.

What do you get when you combine Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek, and a tower defense game?  Infinium Strike ::echo::.  Infinium Strike sounds like one of those random cool names you’d expect a sci-fi game to be.  One part “Infinity” and the other part “-ium.”  Don’t ask me what an Infinium is, but its the resource you gather in the game.  Thinking about it, I’m not entirely sure why the game isn’t just called Freedom Strike, since that’s the name of the ship you actually commandeer.  Freedom Strike’s goal is to hunt down a bio-mechanical race of aliens that have all but pushed back human civilization and space exploration back to its last line of defense.  Freedom Strike dives right into the thick of it and seems to be a magnet for humongous portals that the Wrog come through in endless droves.  That’s your cue to start lasering everything you can see.

Infinium Strike’s hook is its 360 degree tower defense layout.  Albeit, very unique from a tower defense standpoint where enemies typically follow a predetermined path and get laid into by tactfully-placed towers, enemies in Infinium Strike just barrel towards your ship and try to blow it up.  You have four platforms to build towers on, each with a limited amount of spots.  Depending on the enemies that spawn you’ll have to be aware of what sort of towers should be placed in each quadrant.  Each tower has the capability of shooting things within a certain range, known as Sectors.  There are three sectors total, and each tower can shoot one, two, or all three sectors in different combinations.  Some enemies will start way back in Sector 3 and make their way to Sector 1, while others always stay in Sector 3.  There are about as many different combos of enemies as there are towers to build, and if they begin to overwhelm your defenses, you’ll begin to lose Shield and Armor.  When Armor gets down to zero, you’ve lost.

Infinium Strike’s unique feature is also its greatest flaw.  Once you have to maintain all four quadrants there can be way too many things happening at the same time.  Monitoring one or two quadrants is not that challenging but when all four begin to have enemies spawning like crazy you’re going to be going a little bit out of your mind.  You will suddenly realize your Shield is taking a pounding because Quandrant 2 didn’t have enough towers that shot into Sectors 2 and 3, while Quadrant 1 has enough for all Sectors, but not for shooting projectiles… etc etc.  Its very hard to keep track of your capabilities due to the fact there are four different tower defense games going on and none of the platforms help each other while they are idle.

A large part of the challenge in a tower defense game usually comes in placement of towers, which can inspire you to replay or retry learning what you failed at.  Infinium Strike unfortunately rips out a large part of what makes tower defense fun by only having about eight spots in a horizontal line.  Most of the towers you’re going to want to rely on are laser-based, since they are the cheapest to place and upgrade, which lessens variety.  Towers upgrade their damage only by paying an increasingly exorbitant cost, but while you may opt to do that, you have to upgrade your base several times to get some vital buffs that allow you to live longer when the going gets tough.  Upgrading your base is kind of a no-brainer but at the same time you’re going to have to spend millions of Infinium to get it to its max level.

A fun mechanic that helps you reinforce one of your quadrants temporarily is the use of your drone Fleet.  There are three types of drones to use, all doing different things, and have a life span of about 30 seconds unless you upgrade.  You can summon a few here and there, but they cost a portion of a bar that maxes out at 250; the bar recharges at one unit per second.  Using your Fleet effectively is a must as you’ll always have at least one quadrant being overrun and you want to make sure they are all in a manageable state as much as possible.

Unfortunately despite turning the genre around on its head a bit, Infinium Strike is dull.  The actual action of things blowing up isn’t very satisfying and kind of gets downgraded to a fireworks show.  The graphics are fine, but the alien designs aren’t that great.  The ship you are in charge of is an okay design but the tower defense platforms are kind of an eye-sore on the design of the thing.  It could remind you of the ship Battlestar Galactica, but only if they glued some rectangular boards on top of it.  Through the 10 missions, you’ll be treated to a little Captain’s log voice over that gives more info about the Wrog (the aliens) and the conflict that is going on between them and humanity.  There are also different difficulty levels and extra objectives to meet if you are particularly inclined to complete them.  Another itchy point is that despite going through the motions of upgrading your base over and over and building towers, you always start the next mission with nothing.  There is no explanation about why you lost all of the progress you made in developing your ship in the last fight.  Considering there is no meta game where you are upgrading your ship through the campaign, it of course makes sense gameplay-wise why you start with a clean slate each mission.

Infinium Strike doesn’t have a whole lot going for it.  Other than its interesting tower defense scenario and a light sci-fi story to go along with it, there won’t be much enjoyment to find in the dredges of space.  I guess we know now why the Wrog want to destroy all of humanity, and its because one of them played Infinium Strike.

 

Deadly Tower of Monsters, The (PC) Review

Developer: ACE Team | Publisher: Atlus USA || Overall: 8.5

B-Movie science fiction is always characterized by its low-budget charm.  You could see right through the awful costumes, terrible props, and strings the monsters would hang off from — all of which added to the fun.  The Deadly Tower of Monsters seeks to recapture this aesthetic of effects supplanted by computer graphics… by replicating them with computer graphics.

ACE Team, the developer of The Deadly Tower of Monsters, did an amazing job in recreating the B-Movie feel as you play, keeping it interesting throughout.  The set up for the story begins as if you are watching the “movie” on DVD with commentary by the belligerent director, Dan Smith.  As you defeat stop-motion monsters, while completing missions across the sprawling tower, Dan Smith will acknowledge and give background on certain aspects of the production — breaking the fourth/”fifth” wall, reminding you that you are “watching a movie” while playing the game, or rather listening in on the recording session for said commentary.  There are a lot of layers here.

Though the game is not usually laugh-out-loud funny (there are a few great jokes), it is entirely tongue-in-cheek.  Throughout, they introduce new elements that kept me consistently amused.  The attention to detail adds to the goal of being a successful B-Movie homage and the commentary track spreads a layer of cynicism about the film industry on top.  It is important to listen to the commentary while you play, as it is an integral part of the story, and the uniqueness of the game.  Your typical gaming tropes are also explained away using movie tropes, such as blaming watching deleted scenes for when you die and the director “intentionally” wanting the actor to stand still for five minutes “because it is artistic” if you decide to idle for a while.  Some of these tropes are less clever than others, but the narrative essentially includes all of your deaths and “mistakes” as part of the experience.

The visuals and art style are very important to the successful execution of the B-movie homage.  A stop-motion frame-rate effect is used on many of the monsters and is one of the best effects used.  Since most of the game runs at a higher-frame rate than an actual movie would, the most “filmic” part of the game comes with the stop-motion effect and serves to distinguish it from the rest of the “movie” quite well.  Homage is paid to practically every genre of classical sci-fi, with obvious references to Star Trek, Planet of the Apes, and others including dinosaurs, bugs, an evil scientist, giant robots, clones, and a galactic emperor among a wide range of other characters and monsters.

The level design of the tower is essentially a humongous and vertically sprawling 3D platforming level.  You will go for what seems like miles in mostly one direction: up.  While the prevailing theme is space technology, on the ground-level you will encounter things like mutant insects and dinosaurs.  As you climb, the tower is very elaborate and changes themes more meticulously within science fiction.  You will encounter aliens, disembodied brains, space slugs, and other fun monsters.  All parts of the tower are fluidly accessible, and there are no loading screens unless you warp around to checkpoints.

The tower is used to the game’s advantage occasionally.  You are usually tasked with shooting enemies from below in reverse-Space-Invaders style.  At any time you can be knocked off the tower, sending you into a free-fall towards the bottom; mistiming your platforming will also have the same result.  To counteract the annoyance of having to re-scale the tower you can easily warp to any checkpoint, or use an “Air Teleport” button that is available if you haven’t landed on another platform yet.  You also take fall-damage and have a very low amount of jetpack fuel to adjust and break your fall.  Unfortunately, you are not allowed to control the camera very much, which can be annoying at times, but it wouldn’t make sense in the context of watching a movie to be able to switch an angle at any time.  On the plus side, the platforming is designed well enough where this isn’t usually an issue.  For similar reasons, the game is very linear and there isn’t as much exploring to do as you might expect in a 3D platformer.

Combat gameplay is fun and light, and the weapon variety is also great.  Enemies and weapons alike keep the “B-Movie” aesthetic, where you can plainly see re-purposed household items or other everyday items, such as a vacuum cleaner or a puppy, being used as space-age weaponry and monsters.  As you have access to three different characters, their real difference comes in their special abilities.  Dick Starspeed is able to use landmines, Scarlet Nova has a running speed ability, and The Robot is able to use a time vortex ability.  All of the characters will gain more unique abilities you can use during combat and only cost a time-based cooldown, whereas your energy weapons deplete from an energy bar.

Upgrading weaponry, skills, switching characters, and other gameplay systems are accessed via in-game computer consoles.  While they show up often enough, it can detract from the “joy” of playing around with the progression systems and possibly even the “movie” aesthetic.  The systems aren’t very complicated, but it is sort of questionable why they give you 16 different weapons, but only allow you to have access to four at any given time before switching around at a console.  It would have felt better to be able to switch out weaponry through a pause menu (a prop closet?) since in-game consoles aren’t necessarily used in an intriguing gameplay fashion other than to be more props to put in the levels.  The in-game consoles bring up a game-based UI regardless, so the argument for being immersive doesn’t hold very much weight.  It might have also been more convenient to halve the variety of weapons and allow you to use them at all times; instead I just keep four random weapons and rarely trade them out.  Despite that, the variety of weaponry is still a nice part of the game.

Difficulty and challenges in the game are not too bad.  If you die, checkpoints are usually pretty close to where you could possibly die.  That isn’t to say you don’t need to play smart (as health is hard to come by), but the only real punishment for dying is wasting time.  Puzzles aren’t too trying on the intelligence and there’s only a few situations where you need to use one of your special abilities to get items or into certain areas.  There are also miscellaneous missions that aren’t easily earned on your first trek up and will require you to backtrack certain parts of the tower to complete.  One fun side-quest is jumping off the tower and skydiving into floating hoops, using the tower’s height to the game’s advantage.  The game can be pretty short as well, but its nice to be able to get through a whole game in a couple of days.

If you are a fan of classic film and games, you will get a blast out of The Deadly Tower of Monsters.  Even if you aren’t knowledgeable about older sci-fi film, it is a light, fun, and short game that is visually pleasing and humorous.  It is available now on Steam at a sale price of $9.89, and regularly priced at $14.99.

 

Squacklecast Episode 29 – “Air Bag Recall Beyond Darkness Awakens”

This entry is part 29 of 31 in the series The Squacklecast

Hey everyone!  Sorry for the long break, but we’re finally back with a new Squacklecast.

This time we talk a little bit about the reason behind using aliases on the web site as well as the inspiration/explanation behind the current theme song for the 3rd set of Squacklecasts.  I’ll be debuting a new song for the 4th set (Episodes 30 through 39) with Episode 30.

With David Bowie‘s passing this month, we go into David Bowie‘s career and what movies/music we personally have interest in when it comes to him.

The Prestige is the most notable acting performance to me, other than knowing he was in Labyrinth.  Music was obviously a big part of our exposure.

davidbowieprestige

The Man Who Fell to Earth is the movie Billy referenced to.  The Hunger, as well.

Red Dawn has been stuck on my desk for like six months.  I never seem to have “time” to sit and watch a movie for 2 hours because there’s so many other things to do (like this).

Netflix DVD was on its way to being called Qwikster at some point.  We talk about the effects of the movie/TV show streaming on small rental stores.

Fierce Creatures was the most recent “rare” DVD I’ve had to get from Netflix because it was a very long wait.

I finished Quantum Leap last month, and I’m still watching Gotham, but its on break.  They announced plans for a possible spin-off in the future.

The new Star Trek series speculation.  What we think it’ll be like and what we hope for.  Battlestar Galactica discussion.

…and Star Wars discussion   What else did you expect?  The Force Awakens was released since last podcast, and we talk about why Star Wars has become such a big cultural relevance.

starwarsforceawakensreyfinn

A deeper Star Trek movie discussion commences after.

Other random movie stuff, like Die Hard, Terminator: Genisys, etc.

We go into a longer discussion of Terminator: Gensisys and talk about how laser weapons, time travel, and killer robots are much more believable than one billion pre-orders of an operating system.  Also, the movie seemed to be trolling people after the third time travel jump.  They also turned Terminators into metal zombies.  It was basically one big cartoon of a movie.

It’s a lot easier to remember what you didn’t talk about when you do more than one podcast every 3 months.

See ya guys next time!

 

#23794: davepoobond -> clairebyoot

On Plenty of Fish…

davepoobond: Star Trek or Star Wars?

clairebyoot: Easy- Star Wars

davepoobond: Uh oh, I don’t know how easy that is! I like them both, but I’m more into the hard sci-fi rather than the fantasy sci-fi. What’s your favorite Star Wars character?

11 days later…

clairebyoot: Hmmmmm the Emperor and Darth Vader actually Darth Vader is my guy I’m sticking with that. Any you?

davepoobond: Original Trilogy would probably be Han Solo, prequel trilogy would be a tie between Jar Jar and Qui Gon. Jar Jar is hilarious to me because of his voice and everyone getting mad at him being a character. Do you have a favorite movie from the series?

clairebyoot: I hate jar jar deeply this will never work. Good luck on POF

davepoobond: lol 🙁 it was a joke…

 

Squacklecast Episode 23 – “Episode 23.14159265359”

This entry is part 23 of 31 in the series The Squacklecast

Happy Pi/Pee Day, everyone.

There is this video that Billy was talking about, I don’t know why I even watched it as it was kind of terrible.

I go on a rant about month-long commemorative holidays, similar to an opinion article I wrote in the past.

Month long Zombie Awareness Month is this coming May 2015!  Also, Month-Long-Holiday Awareness Year starts this year and every year before and after.

We start talking about Star Trek and Star Wars all of a sudden, not sure why, which leads into Interstellar.  This is the video Billy talks about where the author of the book The Prestige says Chris Nolan only has a couple of good movies:

Then we go into the different movies Nolan has made and how he is as a general filmmaker nowadays.

Nolan’s Memento is similar in structure to Irreversible, according to Billy.

We finish out the Nolan discussion and then talk about Gotham a little bit.  Gotham pretty much jumped the shark the first episode.

fishmooneyspooning

Then we go into where Gotham is actually supposed to be located.  We talk about this map on comicvine, which may or may not be canon:

We also talk about Agent Carter, as well.  And then we go into the Superman movies and how Superman 2 was cut in two different ways.

For some reason I saw Da Hip Hop Witch before any of the Superman movies (yet to see) or probably even the Rocky movies.  We talk about Da Hip Hop Witch a little bit, too.

We talk about how crap movies like Da Hip Hop Witch is able to get on Netflix and inspect the process of actually getting on Netflix insofar as a Google Search can tell us.

Squackle: The Movie? I guess it would just be my YouTube channel

Pi ya’ll! See you in National Poetry Month!

 

Squacklecast Episode 15 – “Crappy Movies Under the Stars”

This entry is part 15 of 31 in the series The Squacklecast

Hey folks!  We’re back after a mini-hiatus.  We failed at coaxing our only previous guest from attending this podcast, so we catch up with the freelancing gig I’m doing tomorrow instead.

And it looks like its going to be a disaster!  Just like the rest of this week’s episode… full of technical problems!  Technically the problem is davepoobond.  (Get it?)

Billy watched The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2.

Total Recall (the new one) sucked balls.  I didn’t see it yet, but its just an example of dumbing down and mainstreaming the source content for no apparent reason.

Len Wiseman is a terrible director.  Fuck that guy.  He’s going to ruin the Mummy reboot, just like he ruined Total Recall.

The new Mummy should be in space.

Guess I know what’s going on my shelf in the near future!

 

Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story

Wouldn’t you do Red Sonja back in the day?

Brigitte Nielsen as Red Sonja

What about Maria Shriver?

Maria Shriver Looks Like Predator

I think I know which Arnold Schwarzenegger movie counterpart I’d do.  And that would be the predator — that mouth is so sexy.

Deep Space Nine introduces a character named Vic Fontaine halfway through Season 6.  There is… A LOT of singing.  For no apparent reason.  They just hang out there a lot for no particular reason.

Vic Fontaine

They couldn’t think of anything better?

iPhone 5 came out this past week.  Did I get one?  No.  Will I get one?  Maybe.  The maps suck on it though.

iPhone 5

Who woulda thought upgrading to iOS 6 Maps would be about as useful as that Fox News app?

Who’s going to make the world’s first nutritional supplement replicator?  Apple or Google?

I say Apple.

First thing I’m going to do with that new Replicator thinger is replicate some alcohol to put in my piss and sell it.

So, how much would you pay for the Crappy Movies Under the Stars Film Festival?  HMMMMM???

 

Squacklecast Episode 14 – “An Eternity of Dog Food Commercials”

This entry is part 14 of 31 in the series The Squacklecast

Welcome to the “try-weekly” episode of the Squacklecast.  This week we talk about this super sappy and emotional dog food commercial that will make anyone have a tear come to their eye because they’ve been puking their guts out at how much it makes you sick:

Another thing, is that they’re preparing Mac and Cheese for this asshole hours before he even gets home.

Imagine getting out of your car one day, closing the door, and seeing a huge dog all of a sudden appear in front of you.

Mean Dog

OH SHIT!

Wouldn’t you like to live forever?  It would give you enough time to finish off all of the Star Trek series before passing onto the next world, after all.

If there’s one, two, or three movies you need to see before you die, it would be the 3 Ninjas series, with High Noon at Mega Mountain being the best.

It features a dangerous course full of fire built by a decrepit old man for his grandsons.  I think that constitutes as child endangerment.  Good thing he dies.  Whoops, spoiler.

Surf Ninjas was pretty awesome too.  Here’s the others we were talking about:

Santa’s Slay

Santa with Muscles

ThanksKilling

Next Squacklecast, we’ll talk about more movies on our Netflix queues…

What I learned from World of Warcraft is:  “You don’t have something until you have it.”  It’s a life lesson.  Or something.

Ras Al Ghul from Batman Begins became an eco-terrorist with his eternity of time to live.

Total Recall (the real one) foretells a time of three-titted babes on Mars.  I can’t wait to live there during my fifth lifetime.

Curiosity is just using Instagram filters to take its pictures of Mars.  Behold.

Before Instagram (aka before being cool):

Curiosity Taking a Picture of Mars

After Instagram (aka now its cool):

Curiosity Taking an Instagram of Mars

Facebook City?  Also known as Las Vegas…

Jonathan Frakes kind of overacts during his “Riker-focused” episodes in Star Trek.  Here’s a select few where he’s always trying to bang a chick, a job once reserved for a Captain, now given to the Second-in-Command.:

See you guys next month!!!  GET ITTTT???!?!?!?