The Lost Reviews – Big Pharma

19 10 2016

big-pharma (twice circled - 2015)

You know when you played Theme Hospital (assuming you did, because, you know; why wouldn’t you?), did you ever think to yourself: “I could be doing so much more here, why don’t I leave the life of being a Hospital CEO and go into Pharmaceutical Production?” Well chances are that you thought no such thing as for one; Theme Hospital was a game, not real life or an RPG, and for two; you were really quite content with the game you were playing at the time. If it were the case though that one day while playing Theme Hospital and you actually thought the above statement, well now you can – not in Theme Hospital, but in a game that focuses on the production of Medicine based products.

bp1

Big Pharma (produced by Twice Circled) is a game where you the player are managing director of a pharmaceutical company. You start your company off with a small brightly coloured interior warehouse and a few inventions and ingredients at your disposal to which you can use to create cures for illnesses. All you need to do is put these assets into production and sell sell sell.

bp6

Game play is very simple; in your empty warehouse you need to use one of the holes in the wall to import an ingredient, and then use machines at your disposal to meet certain requirements before either finishing off the ingredient mixture or upgrading it to be a cure for something else. Once that is done, you need to turn the current ingredient into a manufactured cure by putting it through a pill maker, and then transport it to another hole in the wall to name it and sell it. Later options at your disposal include creaming the drugs instead of selling them as pills, and even packing them. The game though is not as easy as it sounds as machines, conveyor belts and equipment take up space (turning it into a mini puzzle game in the process) and you have a limited area, plus in some cases are required to create a catalyst in order for some cures to be upgraded. The game though is not all about Medication Manufacturing, as it’s also a part business and research sim. You will be required to hire explorers and researchers to discover new ingredients and new machinery, while at the same time use their down time to provide you with upgrade points. At the same time however, you need to be concerning yourself with making money too, as production costs can be quite astronomical, and your company is in competition with others.

bp2

Big Pharma is a nicely animated little game. The game graphics are nicely detailed, but not too detailed so can work on most machines without a fuss. The Animation though is superb. It can be quite mesmerizing watching the ingredients progress along the conveyor belts, changing form and colour as machines work on them, and watching the machines work is a nice little added extra, and comes with a form of animation very similar I find to that of Theme Hospital. Watching the water boil in the Dissolver, or seeing ingredients pulped in the Agglomerator, working their way down the production line and being made into either pills or as a cream. It’s really fun to watch and nice little bits like that really help this game to provide a detailed experience.

bp4

The game; all be it relatively fun and still pretty unique, does have its short comings. For one, I like the idea of creating a production line, but the production line does seem to be rather slow, I did not know that Conveyor belts started and stopped every second, I thought they just kept going? It can take a while for the process to complete and when you need money fast, but the conveyors only move at one speed (which is sort of move and stop, move and stop), or the other cases where you are trying to reach a deadline in the game’s objectives mode, it can be very annoying. You can of course speed things up with the mystical speed change options in the bottom left of the screen, but you may as well just keep it up at full speed in that case just to speed up the game and make the conveyors more realistic. The objectives are not bad and it is pretty fun going through each one, just to give you something to do in the game, but with your mind on reaching a certain objective, you may as well ignore everything else in the game, and concentrate on what you need to do rather than what else you could be doing. Then once you have done enough and or have reached your goal, you do have the option of getting a better score than the basic score which is a nice added add-on, but by this point you may as well just speed up the game in places or end the level just to be done with it and do something else.

bp7

Most of the cures you make can be upgraded relatively quickly on, but they require the use of machines you have not unlocked yet, in which case I found myself spending time and money in researching the things I needed each time before sending anything in production, just to be able to give the game the best I could. The other thing though is the Catalysts. The game comes with a very comprehensive tutorial mode which is very descriptive and also very fun, but each time I tried to do a catalyst in the real game, I would not achieve it. Making catalysts is supposed to be hard, but when you are doing everything right, the catalyst still does not make itself, and it can be very annoying, especially as sometimes you need that upgraded cure to move on.

bp5

Big Pharma is one of these Production line games that have begun to make a real appearance in the industry along with other games like Factorio. Making a production line is a good fun idea and when combined with making product to sell turns the game not just into a factory based game but also a resources and economic game, where you need to concentrate on not just making a good product but also turning a profit. I like that idea, and when combined with the games look, idea and animation, it makes a good fit that is at least to begin with a fun game to play. But as the game progresses and its short comings come to light, it becomes a game that I was once excited to play but now don’t really see a future for. Maybe I like my games with a little more realism in its depictions of production, but for its slow speed, but also relatively pointless extras during its objective based gameplay, I feel that this game was once fun, but then just ended.

bp3

GENEPOOL





The Strain Is Back……….Sort Of

19 08 2015

The Strain (FX Productions - 2014)

Last September/October, a new TV series from FX began airing on UK channel Watch. The first episode was terrifying and scary but left an incredible impression on me. Through the next 12 Episodes I was gripped by the show’s setting, story, ideas and characters from start to finish. I just could not get enough, watching each episode when I could. But like many TV Shows, it had to end, but a Second Series was announced, so all I had to do was wait for the next series to begin. Well, nearly a year later, next week in fact; The Strain is back on TV……….sort of. The Second series has already begun showing in America, so it shouldn’t be too long until that is shown in the UK. Just over a week ago a trailer was aired on Watch saying that The Strain returns on the 26th August (when I am on holiday, but the series link record is already set up). When I looked however, it just appeared to be the pilot episode being shown, which probably means that they are going to show the first series again before the second series airs. Pity about that, but anyway you are probably wondering; “What is The Strain?”

Based on the book series of the same name by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, The Strain is about a terrifying new virus which slowly builds to become one of the most deadly and contagious disease strains in the history of mankind. A strain that turns people into Vampires. These Vampires have one major physical difference however in a very long, muscular tongue which they use to suck out people’s blood, and possibly turn them into Vampires too. The series stars Corey Stoll as Dr. Ephraim ‘Eph’ Goodweather; a lead agent for the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), who after investigating a strange disease discovered on board a plane gets caught up in a plan to resurrect an ancient disease, one that could spell the end of all human life. In his attempts to prevent it, he is joined by CDC agents Dr. Nora Martinez (Mia Maestro) and Jim Kent (Sean Astin). Meanwhile, the attempts to resurrect this virus has not gone completely unnoticed, as pawn shop owner Professor Abraham Setrakian (David Bradley) has knowledge and history of this, and begins the fight to eradicate it as soon as possible. As the series goes on however, things get bad very quickly, and before you know it, Manhattan soon begins to turn ever more quickly into blood sucking Monsters, all led by the Mysterious Master (Robert Maillet and Robin Atkin Downes).

TS1

As the series builds, more characters are introduced, such as Vasiliy Fet (Kevin Durand); a New York exterminator who begins to grow ever more suspicious about what is hiding in the sewers and Dutch Velders (Ruta Gedmintas); a computer hacker. Meanwhile, on the opposing side, there is Eldritch Palmer (Jonathan Hyde); a business tycoon who finances the operation to get the strain released, and Thomas Eichhorst (Richard Sammel), a former Nazi German Prison Camp officer who has a history with Setrakian, but is also The Master’s supposed number 2. And while all this is going on, there is an ex-con by the name of Gus (Miguel Gomez) who is soon beginning to realize there is more going on than what people are telling him.

TS3

Since the first episode I have been hooked. I really do like this TV series. At the time it first came on I was watching Breaking Bad on DVD, but since this started, I turned my attention towards The Strain. I have been saying for years that my Favourite show on TV at the moment has been Rookie Blue (although my attention on that has gone more towards Castle this year), but right now I consider The Strain as the best TV show on at the moment. It is interesting, yet scary. It has really interesting characters (I particularly like the character of Dutch) and a story that just continues to open up and be explored as it continues. It has some terrifying moments and really scary creatures as well as a creepy but cool opening intro and theme from Ramin Djawadi.

TS2

While the show has started airing its second series in the US, I take this as a note that the second series is not far from being shown in the UK. While I am a little annoyed that I still have to wait some time to watch the Second Season, I am still happy that I have the opportunity to watch the First Series all over again, starting with the Awesome Pilot Episode; Night Zero, Directed by Guillermo Del Toro himself. So, what are you waiting for? Turn on your sky box or whatever you watch TV on these days, set a record for The Strain on Watch beginning next week, watch the first series if you haven’t already and get set for the Magnificent return; of The Strain.

GENEPOOL








%d bloggers like this: