First Strike: Final Hour (PC) Review

Developer/Publisher: Blindflug Studios || Overall: 6.0/10

Final Strike: First Hour is a real-time strategy game that gives you command of a nuclear superpower.  Your one and only goal is to destroy everyone else in the world and do it before they destroy you.  As a mobile port to PC, it’s lack of content and lack of sensibility for the platform it has *ahem* launched on are the largest drawbacks to the game.  After about fifteen minutes into my first game, I wanted to send a nuclear missile at myself just to end it quicker.

Final First: Strike Hour allows you to take control of a multitude of different countries as a starting point.  While they don’t have much in the way of actual differences, your starting point and concentration of “Nations” to take over will force you to adjust your strategy so that you aren’t immediately wiped out.  If you choose to start in the USA, you are able to more focus on attacking since the “Nation” land masses are much larger and one nuke can only destroy one at a time.  However, if you choose Western Europe, which has a high concentration of countries, one incoming nuke can easily take out three in one go.  The benefit to being in Western Europe is that you basically have easy access to most of the world and can expand much more quickly due to the increased amount of Nations you are able to take over.

Strike First: Hour Final doesn’t have much in the way of resources, other than what you use to attack and defend.  Cruise missiles and ICBMs have to be used tactically to eliminate your enemy to the point they can no longer expand.  Once you tell a Nation to do something, it goes on a long cooldown, at which point it becomes helpless.  If you or your enemy take advantage of these cooldown phases, you’ll be able to make a large dent in their capabilities to further their goal.  If you don’t want a Nation to build missiles, you can have it research, which leads down a tech path to your superweapons, of which you get two.  There are two tech trees and you’ll need to research everything; each research item grants a buff to allow you to get an upper hand (if your enemy hasn’t already researched it already, that is).

Hour Strike: First Final is kind of boring, and very dependent on micromanaging your Nations.  There is no way to select multiple Nations or mass produce your nukes.  You’ll have to click on each individual Nation you currently have and tell them what to do, and eventually it gets to the point of clicking things as fast you can just so that things keep happening, making it difficult to make truly strategic decisions.  Of course since the game is singleplayer only, you’ll be fighting against the computer, who doesn’t need to click shit, so they can just sit back and watch their missiles blow your shit up while you have to click on floating circles and wonder why your nuke won’t launch even though you’re clicking a bunch of times on the map.

Strike Final: Hour First has very little in the way of content.  There is no multiplayer (though, I wouldn’t want it anyway), no “campaign” (it is all essentially free-play), and very little to shake up the formula or do something different.  There’s plenty of countries and weapons to unlock, and there are also achievements to achieve if you so desired.  The look of the game is more-or-less what you’d expect, having a military-war-game-computer sort of feel.  The music is not varied enough, and it felt like I was listening to the same one or two songs throughout, with some shorter interludes weaved in as things occurred in the game.  After one or two games, it sort of begged why you’d want to keep going since you’ve essentially seen what the game has to offer.  If the game as is works for you, there’s definitely a lot of potential to replay, working towards the different unlocks.

All in all, Strike Strike: Hour Hour isn’t a game that held my interest.  Hell, it’s hard for me to even remember what the name of the game is!  It’s a competent piece of software, honestly, no bugs, no real issues with the play experience itself.  There was nothing impeding me being able to play the game as it was designed — it is just too simple to give it much attention.  It’s frankly just your typical example of when a mobile game port doesn’t translate very well to the PC at an intrinsic level.

 

Tahira: Echoes of the Astral Empire (PC) Review

Developer/Publisher: Whale Hammer Games || Overall: 6.5

Tahira: Echoes of the Astral Empire is a small spin on the world of tactical turn-based strategy games.  Through its unique art style, story takes the forefront with gameplay taking a bit of a backseat.  While the gameplay itself can be engaging at times, its mostly a slow and plodding chore **exasperated whinny.**

We follow the protagonist Tahira, a 20-something-year old who looks like she is in her early 60’s — she has white hair and wrinkles and wears an old lady’s robe.  Tahira, and her friend Iba, will encounter many-a-dangerous situation in the fallout from the destruction of their home of Avestan by an invading army.  Iba, who could be Mr. Ed’s progenitor (or possibly evolved ancestor), is an overly-expressive horse, who apparently loves olives **excited whinny** and won’t let genocide or his friends being murdered keep him from enjoying those damn olives **not-so-remorseful whinny.**  While Iba isn’t a playable character, he makes his appearances occasionally during the story sequences as a minor character.

Tahira: EotAE tells the story of the first night of a war between what is old and what is new.  In a post-apocalyptic (kinda sci-fi) medieval setting, a large army rallies around the idea of the foregone Astral Empire, a once star-spanning empire humans created.  The new Astral Empire decides to invade all other kingdoms/city-states, taking no prisoners in their brutal imperialism.  Tahira, a princess of the city-state Avestan, and daughter of one of the important figures of this planet’s history, must re-assume her role as her father disappears without a trace due to the invasion.  And so unfolds the scenario.

The game will teach you, slowly, about the tactics and abilities of the characters you’ll be using.  Every battle is in advance of the plot and has something new to teach you, so it keeps the levels from being too samey and you’ll never play “extra” missions either.  During battles, turn cycles are interesting as your units are “grouped” together and will take alternating turns with the enemy’s groups.  Since all of the battles are of very large scale, you’ll be taking on 10 to 20 enemies in one battle, and more will keep coming in sequential phases of the same battle.  You will have control over approximately the same amount of characters as well but, other than the Heroes, your ranks will be filled with generic solider-types that mimic the hero unit.  Using the unit groups strategically is important to minimizing your losses, and most of your units are a bit overpowered compared to your enemies.  It becomes necessary to quickly chew through as many enemies as possible to mitigate any future losses.

The tactics aren’t too out of the ordinary or even that complex when it comes to your strategy, but there are some interesting aspects.  Health pools are split into “Health” and “Guard;”  Health is not regenerative, but Guard is and can be recovered by special tiles on the map or by using a special action.  Special actions are limited by a resource called “Will.”  Characters regain Will by killing enemies, and can use powerful abilities to vanquish foes with skills that use Will.  Different unit types have different special abilities and they all mix in to your repertoire of strategy to fell your foes.  Some units are able to string together kills, hit multiple characters in a straight line, stun, do knockbacks, and more.  Possibly the most unique mechanic is Ambush.  Ambush can be used to disrupt your enemy’s plans by popping out your units from an Ambush point and killing the enemy at opportune times.  These are considered “stealth” turns by the game and happen outside of the planned turn cycle.

It can be a challenge to enjoy actually playing Tahira: EotAE, as it primarily tells its story through a cinematic approach and leaves the gameplay elements to the wayside in helping the story along.  The story basically pauses itself for pesky gameplay and you almost feel like you are wasting your time until you get through the battle at hand.  An example of a good mix of gameplay and story to move a game’s narrative along is X-COM: Enemy Unknown — the base-building and gameplay progression actually feeds into the game’s story along the way.  Unfortunately, a missed opportunity comes as there is no overall progression in Tahira: EotAE; no overlying gameplay system that rewards you when you defeat enemies or battles is present.  Your only impetus to do well is to minimize your losses in the beginning phases of a battle so the later phases can have more units, at which point you can more easily continue on with the story.  You feel like you are playing a new game of Chess each battle, and nothing you’ve done as a whole will help you in the future.  Nor is there any sort of talent system for Tahira herself to at least feel like you are taking a part in her gaining power.  Of course, you could just say “fuck it” and literally skip all of the combat by opening the menu and clicking the option to do so — yes, this is actually in the game.

At a few points you’ll enter an “exploration” mode where it becomes a bit of a normal RPG, talking to recurring characters and seeing the finer details of what is going on.  There is also a lot of opportunity for witty banter and interesting story bits, but there’s not a whole lot of different places where this occurs or anything “hidden” to find as far as I could tell.  There are also dialogue trees that seem to have little to no effect on the way the story ends in this episode.  By the way, it is clear to see that the game is meant to be an episodic series with the way the story ends.  There is no final resolution to any of the conflicts set up, and we are left with more questions than answers about what we experience.  All in all, the game will last around 10 to 15 hours depending on how well you do during the fights and what challenge level you decide to play on.  Or it can last about 30 minutes and you can skip all of the battles and just read through the story.

The shining aspect of Tahira: EotAE comes with its atmospheric music and wonderful art and animation.  The art has a very unique look to it and the animation of the units are fluidly motion captured.  The hand-drawn style of the game is a great look that makes it look more like a storybook and in turn more like fantasy.  Character designs are also interesting, more or less.  While voice acting isn’t really needed in every game, I can’t help but feel that since the idea was for the game to be cinematic that it should have paired some voice acting to the characters to get more of an attachment to their emotions.  Also, don’t be surprised when you see a couple of random F-bomb-equivalent words dropped in the dialogue.  They were “intriguing” when they did happen, but just end up sort of being needless since it only happens a few times.  I’m not one to complain about cursing usually, but they shouldn’t have restrained themselves if they were going to jump over that hurdle.  The main character definitely should have screamed “FUUUUUUCCKKKKKK!!!!” at some point.  Why the fuck not?

Tahira: EotAE is probably not going to impress seasoned strategy gamers just on its gameplay alone.  While some interesting aspects are introduced in the gameplay, they are not enough to help you stay engaged in wanting to complete the game “the long way.”  Because the battles are so long and there are so many enemies, you’ll feel like the game is very slow.  With no way to progress your troops, there will be very little reason to put up with any of it.  If a series of games is the plan, we’ll probably get an interesting story but not much else.

 

 

The Mammoths In the Ocean

Once upon a time, there lived a magnificent civilization under the sea.  While you might be thinking it is a society of merpeople or single fish, you are wrong.  This society was created by mammoths. Mammoths wearing scuba gear.

Everyday they would refill their oxygen tanks at the Oxygen Station.  They would comb their hair and eat pop-tarts for lunch, dinner, and sometimes breakfast.  They would eat water for breakfast.

So, anyway, humans evolved and started shitting on the ocean and dumping their Twinkie wrappers in the middle of the Pacific like assholes.

This soon created a Trash Island that became as big as the Pacific itself.  Eventually, the Insectoid Empire declared the Trash Island as their sovereignty and announced war against the humans.  After a long, arduous game of Monopoly, the humans lost and agreed to fly to the moon and remake their society there since no one gives a shit about that place.

The Insectoid Empire enjoyed a long and prosperous reign on land but they wanted more.  The Ocean Mammoth embassy on the Trash Island gave the Insectoid Empire an idea.  Why not take over the Ocean Mammoth civilization?

A surgical strike at the mammoth’s Oxygen Stations sealed the deal and soon enough the streets of the Ocean Mammoth civilization were filled with drowned mammoths.  Eventually large schools of barracudas and piranhas came and ate all of them and destroyed all of their inventions, losing all of their technology forever.

The Insectoid Empire relished this victory and soon became an imperialistic power taking over one planet after the next.  They were parasites after all.

Moral of the story:  Foreign dependence is bad.

 

The Boy Who Ate Diamonds

One day, an irate king felt it was necessary to declare economic warfare on his neighboring, rich, kingdom full of goody-do-gooders and twody-shoesters.  He hired a mercenary to go and find a secret, yet silent way to eliminate Rich Kingdom’s wealth and make Irate Kingdom supercede it.

This mercenary was actually a double agent for Rich Kingdom and he told Richie, the King of Rich Kingdom what Irate King was planning on doing.  After rewarding the mercenary with two hot lesbians for his loyalty, the king had a perfect plan for countermanding Irate King’s verdict.

Locked in the deep dark dungeons of Rich Kingdom lie the Boy who Ate Diamonds.  They call him BAD.  BAD was living off lesser carbon densities during his stay in the dungeon, such as coal.  Richie King unlocked the doors to BAD’s cell and gave him a chance of freedom.

His mission: eat the diamonds of Irate Kingdom and destroy their wealth.  BAD screeched and ran out into the world, never to be seen again.  Rich King felt like a dumbass, he just let a crazy psychotic who ate diamonds out of jail!

Moral of the story:  Think twice about how to pre-emptiviely attack someone who wants to destroy you.

 

If There Were No Birds

If there were no birds, there would be an overpopulation of insects and mountain goats.

Then insects would have their own insect white house and declare war on the mountain goats as they expanded towards the mountainous regions because of gross overpopulation, and with the advent of personal hygience in the insect community, their population exponentially increased to the point where the expansionist dictator of the United Insects of America find that the only places to expand to are the mountains

And so began the Greatest War of All Time — Insect War I, followed by the sequel Insect War II which was against the Earth’s atmosphere because the insects began to develop in such a way that they could fly through space if they only breeched through the atmosphere.

 

Dead or Alive

This was made by someone else in my group in Media Arts. It had a lot of corrections on it, so this isn’t exactly the same as the real thing. We eventually made this into a movie, which you can see here:

 

INT. OFFICE – DAY

EDDIE MOON, is sitting in front of a desk, with white “asylum-clothes” on. His head is shaved and has a sickly expression on his face. Doctor walks in the office. The Doctor is wearing a white lab coat with a notebook, pen, and a tape recording.

Doctor

(cautiously)

Hello Mr. Moon…how are you today?

 

Eddie

(coldly)

Fine.

 

Doctor

Well, have you been taking the medication prescribed for your…um…hallucinations?

 

Eddie

(shouting)

I don’t have hallucinations and I never did! I am not crazy! I know what I saw wasn’t a hallucination! You don’t even know what happened that day!

 

Doctor

(curiously)

What exactly happened to you that day? What was it that you saw?

 

The Doctor carefully turns on his tape recorder to record Eddie’s story.

 

Eddie

(calmly)

Well, it all started off when I got into some trouble with a gangster in L.A….

CUT TO:

EXT. PARK – DAY

Ordinary park with a couple trees in the background.

Eddie is walking across the park. TYRONE comes chasing after him. Tyrone is wearing a black wife-beater and a black cap backwards and has a menacing look on his face.

 

Tyrone

(angrily)

Hey fool, you in a gang?! Where you from?!

 

Eddie

Nowhere man..chill out.

 

Eddie pushes Tyrone with one arm and tries to walk away. Tyrone blocks his path.

 

Tyrone

You don’t know what you just did, do you?

 

Before Eddie can answer, Tyrone swings at Eddie. Eddie ducks and punches Tyrone in the stomach and finishes him off with a right cross. Tyrone falls onto the ground. Eddie kicks Tyrone while he is on the ground and starts to walk away. Tyrone is bleeding from his nose.

 

Tyrone

(shouting)

Hey! You just committed suicide, you know that?! You better watch your back, fool, ’cause imma get you!

CUT BACK TO:

INT. WHITE OFFICE – DAY

 

Eddie

That was probably the worst mistake I ever made

 

Doctor

What are you talking about?

 

Eddie

well…the gangster came after me the next day and when he said I committed suicide at the park the other day…he was right.

CUT TO:

EXT. RESIDENTIAL STREET – DAY

Nice middle-class suburban neighborhood in California.

Eddie is walking down a street. He passes a parked car with two people in it. He doesn’t notice the people.

INT. CAR

The car is somewhat clean with TOMRONE in the driver’s seat and Tyrone loading a gun. Tomrone is a muscular guy with a light beard. He is driving the car. Tyrone is wearing the same outfit from the incident at the park and is holding a gun.

 

Tomrone

You sure that’s the guy?

 

Tyrone

Shut up! I know it’s him!

 

Tyrone finishes up loading his gun and cocks it.

 

Tyrone

All right, let’s go.

 

The car starts to slowly follow Eddie. Eddie doesn’t notice the car. The car pulls up right next to him.

 

Tyrone

(shouting)

HEY! Remember me?! I told you you were committing suicide! Die!

 

Eddie suprisingly looks toward the car. Before he can do anything, Tyronefires his gun at Eddie. Eddie screams and falls to the ground. The car Tyrone is in races down the street. Eddie is lying on the ground motionles. There is a puddle of blood coming from beneath him.

CUT TO:

INT. OFFICE – DAY

 

Eddie

That is all I remember. Hearing those gunshots and me falling. I died right after, you know.

 

Doctor

(unbelievingly)

OK…so if you died that day, then how are you here right now?

 

Eddie

(annoyed)

I DID die. But I came back to life. How many times do I have to tell you people that?!

 

EXT. SAME RESIDENTIAL STREET – DAY

Eddie is motionless and lying on the ground with a puddle of blood oozing out of him. Suddenly, Eddie’s transparent spirit rises from his body. He looks around, feeling his body, checking for wounds. Then looks down at his human body.

 

Eddie

(bewildered)

What? What the hell is going on?! Why am I lying there?

 

People start gathering around Eddie’s dead body. One leans over to check Eddie’s pulse. After a short time, he sadly shakes his head. Eddie starts to wave his arms to the people gathered around his body.

 

Eddie

(scared)

Can you guys see me? Come on! Say something! Oh my God…I can’t believe this is happening…

 

CUT TO:

INT. OFFICE – DAY

Eddie is sitting quietly as if he is thinking about something. The Doctor waits patiently.

 

Eddie

You understand what has happened so far don’t you?

 

Doctor

I’m not that sure. But please, go on.

 

Eddie is quiet again. He is thinking to himself.

 

Eddie

(solemnly)

That is when I realized what had happened. My spirit had left my body. That is why my body was lying on the ground…dead. When I finally accpted this fact I couldn’t believe that I had made nothing of my life. I had dreams. I prayed that if I could have one more chance…just one more chance to live again…I would do something with life. That is when another miraculous thing happened.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. SAME RESIDENTIAL STREET – DAY

Eddie’s transparent spirit is sitting on the sidewalk with his eyes closed as if he is praying. A loud booming VOICE is heard from the sky. The voice is deep and filled with wisdom.

 

Voice

IT is not your time yet. Live again and fulfill your destiny.

 

Eddie’s spirit is looking around extremely puzzled by the voice. Then all of a sudden Eddie’s spirit disappears. Bird’s eye view of Eddie’s body. His eyes flicker a bit. Then it slowly begins to open. It opens all the way. He starts blinking fast breathing heavily. He is alive but barely.

 

CUT TO:

INT. OFFICE – DAY

 

Eddie

(reminiscing)

It was crazy. Right then, a miracle happened…

 

Doctor

(impatiently)

What? What happened after that?

 

Eddie

(enthusiastically)

God had sent my spirit back into my body to fulfill my destiny on earth!

 

Doctor

(sarcastically)

So…what you’re trying to say is that your spirit left your body…and God sent your spirit back into your body so you could fulfill your destiny?

 

Eddie

(beginning to get angry)

You don’t believe me, do you? You think I’m crazy like everyone else is, don’t you!? Isn’t that why I’m locked up in here? In this asylum?

 

Doctor

(calmly)

Thank you for your time, Mr. Moon. I’ll see you same time next week, take your medicine daily.

 

Eddie glares at the Doctor with hateful eyes. Then Eddie is escorted out. After Eddie leaves, the Doctor picks up the still running tape recorder and speaks into it.

 

Doctor

(slowly with no feelings)

Patient 257 is suffering from severe hallucinations and hears voices…may be suffering from long-term schizophrenia and manic depression…due to his conditions…he cannot be helped.

 

The Doctor clicks the recorder…pauses as if to think…shakes whatever he’s thinking about off…and turns off the light…

(end)

 


I thought this was a pretty bad script actually…it had potential, but it came out realllllly bad….

 

 

Squirrels From Hell

For years now the great Squirrel Army has been trying to conquer the world, unbeknown to the public. Through their clever and devious military tactics, they have succeeded thus far in conquering the sixteen (16) small countries in Africa and Asia, including; Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Comoros, Lesotho, Mauritius, Swaziland, Reunion (which they call Crap Land, for some reason-maybe they don’t like the French), Oman, East Timor, Bhutan, Kyrgyz Stan, Turkmenistan, North Korea (yes, Squirrels have nukes!), Tajikistan, Cyprus, and Maldives. Well, I said included, but that’s all of them. Don’t complain; now you know where not to go!

Only the amazing defenders of all things not Evil Squirrel related, the Uber-Peanut Army (or Peanut Army for shortish) has stopped them from a more complete conquest. Yes, you read that right! Super Peanuts are at war with Evil Squirrels in order to stop them from taking over the world!

Not too long ago, in fact, the Squirrels were close to winning, but in what seemed like the end of all things non-Evil Squirrel related, new hope arose; the Great and Mighty Almost-All Powerful Orange Peanut!

Now, as you know (or at least I do) anything Orange (with a capitol O, that is) is magical. Now, in Orange Peanut, the O is most definitely capitol, so the logical conclusion is that Orange Peanut is magical, right? Of course it’s right! So, this Orange Peanut was a magical Super Peanut who rose to be the leader of the Peanut People and…um…uh…hmmm….*thinking of words*………laid the smack-down on those friggin’ Squirrels!

Well, he actually didn’t do it by himself, or with just him and his Peanut Army; he help from a Singing Cat named Juke (that is; Juke the Singing Cat), but that’s a REALLY long story, so for now we’ll just say he did it alone.

After he whooped the Squirrel Army’s ass, he began a top secret project (actually his scientists did, but it was really his idea). It was a really good plan, meant to make a super race of Peanuts. And guess what? It worked.

After three long years working, his scientist devised a plan to make all the Peanut People into Super Peanuts; they painted the entire populace of Peanut City (for security reasons I can’t tell where that is-never trust anyone!) Orange and changed their name’s from Peanut People to Orange Peanut People (the city was also called Orange Peanut City). Now that all the Peanuts were magical, the easily kept the Squirrels at bay, but failed to defeat them because the Squirrels had gained a new ally; Brussels-Sprouts!

I know Brussels-Sprouts aren’t Orange, but they ARE magically EVIL! I mean, they stink, they taste bad, and they give you really bad gas! Can’t much more magically evil than that, can you?

Well, enough un-important details (for now)! I really should get back to the history of the Orange Peanuts.

So anyway, the Orange Peanut People fought bravely (and magically) for many, many years. After many, many years, though, they decided that their name-Orange Peanut People-was way to long and ugly, so they shortened it to Orange Peanuts. That’s a lot better, huh?

Ever since then (which was a rather ling time ago) the Orange Peanuts have been fighting and dieing bravely to protect everything non-Evil Squirrel related.

So help the cause; if you see a squirrel that looks even mildly evil, kill the bitcher!

 

The Cheese Wrapper Theory

You know those Cheese Squares that come in those hard to open plastic wrappers? Those aren’t what you think they are. There actually spy cameras that have been sent here by the Canadian UnSpecial Forces and The Mexican Salsa Dancers Union. The cameras (“cheese singles”) are sold to house holds and plan to take over your fridge. You might be like: “Whoa wait a minute, MY fridge?” Yes YOUR Fridge. They plan to start a war (they are also robots) and blast everything in your fridge so it goes bad and gets all rotten and ucky and disgusting. Those lumps when your milk goes bad are the cheese’s poop. Notice how there always sold in packs and never in singles? And why are they so hard to open? It’s EASY! They just want you to throw the “cheese squares” in the fridge while they zap all your other food and make it go rotten…

 

The End of the World Theory

No no no, i’m sick of all this comet and ice melting crap…the world isn’t going to end like that, see…the goverment of every country will give money to people and the people will run to the casino’s and spend it all…so the whole world goes bankrupt, but then all the casino’s in the world will flood with money and all the people will drown by getting coins and stuff down there throat. When the coins hit the ground, the aliens (who can hear a pin…i mean pants drop from long distances…) think the sound of a coin drop is someone dropping there pants and mooning them…and flashing your ass to aliens is a serious offense and you get your ass chopped off and forced to eat Laxatives (stuff that makes you poop A LOT) and be forced to look at a toilet….the horror….anyways the aliens come and give everyone in the world a purple nurple(twisting your nipple) and a kick in the ass. Now everyone is getting kicked and having aching nipples and so they start a moon war, where who can blind the most enemy eyes with one ass. Now it would be a hard war to win but eventually an old Alien guy called Bubba Lubba Fat Ass Tubba Witha Bubba Tummy Tom would show his big ass and the whole human race will go blind and they’ll be forced to watch…i mean listen too porno movies with out picture (cause there blind) and they’ll kill themselves and the aliens will rule the earth. It’s the truth…