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





A Poem On The Failures And Foibles Of Playing Rollercoaster Tycoon

2 12 2015

Rollercoaster Tycoon (Hasbro Interactive - 1999)

A couple of weeks ago; I wrote a poem in a Limerick format about the failures and foibles that can happen while playing the video game Rollercoaster Tycoon. So here it is. For a little more backstory; recently I have been replaying Rollercoaster Tycoon. I remember purchasing a copy of the game pretty much when it was first released in the 1990’s on the PC, but this copy is one that I purchased off GOG.com about 4 years ago. While playing it, some things happened to the customers in some of my parks that greatly affected my ability to win those levels. Though I should have grown out of and learned over the years that doing such things can cause issues for winning the game, I thought I would use that as inspiration for this little set of poems. They’re kind of bad (near Vogon Bad possibly), it was more a spur the moment kind of thing, kind of inspired by Jim and Yahtzee‘s Rhymedown Spectacular.

Anyway, Here is some Rollercoaster Tycoon inspired Poetry…..Enjoy.

RCT 2

I once built a monorail with a track of brown,

Thinking the exit was above the ground

Completely forgetting the math,

I forgot to build a path,

And as such everyone drowned.

RCT 3

I was in need of extra cash,

So I built a rollercoaster in a flash,

But I threw safety out the Window

And it was something I couldn’t undo,

And eventually it ended in a big crash.

RCT 1

Everyone was getting lost,

So I built a maze of paths at great cost,

Soon everyone got even more stuck,

So much so I would need to ship them out in a truck,

So I built a miniature railway (and even that didn’t solve the problem).

RCT 4

GENEPOOL (I know that last one did not end in a rhyme, but I ran out of ideas).





The Joy Of Cheap Games

26 08 2015

Geometry Wars Galaxies (Bizarre Creations - 2007)

I am a gamer, of that there is no doubt. I love playing video games; I almost play them every day at the moment. I like playing all sorts of games from different mechanics, to settings, to genres; I like all sorts of games. Games however have one major flaw. I cannot blame them for this, they are expensive to make and deserve to make their money back, however it is still rather hard to buy games when they are first released as they are rather expensive. Such the expense they are, I have not bought a single video game on its day of release since Beyond: Two Souls (I think).

Beyond: Two Souls (Quantic Dream - 2013)

Most games retail for the price of £40 in the UK when they are first released, and this is quite a lot of money, especially for those of us who are unemployed and looking for work. Even before that when I was on Student Loans and having a set amount of pocket money a month, about £40, that meant I could only buy a video game once a month and that was about it, and more recently I have been taken up by other hobbies and interests which sort of cut into this. As such I have not bought a game first day release since Beyond: Two Souls. It’s not like there are other games I want to buy first day of release either. I still want to play Far Cry 4, I like the look of the recent Godzilla game release for the PS3, and the number of 3DS games I would like to get for my Nintendo 3DS.

Godzilla (Natsume - 2014)

I have plenty of platforms that I play on, but due to the expensive costs games can be, I find that it’s much easier now to wait a while (roughly a year or two) until they become cheaper. Most of the games I have bought through Steam, or even GOG.com are when there is a sale on, because when it goes down in price remarkably, I can just get up and buy them. As for other consoles, I usually end up now buying them when they have dropped by a rather lot. Another 5 or 10 pounds I will be able to better afford Far Cry 4. While it could be a year away, I would rather buy Godzilla on the PS3 for a much cheaper price as money is valuable, and if you can get something for a cheaper price, why not? It’s a system I have used in the past and bought Spec Ops: The Line nearly a year after it was first released. In recent weeks I have played a lot of games, and bought quite a few. Some of these I have bought for rather cheap prices from GAME (and one from Barnardo’s) Now whether or not the quality of these games are any good is another question, but some of the games I have bought recently are games I never thought I would ever play. Games like Geometry Wars: Galaxies and Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas, whereas games like Modern Warfare 3 and Lost Planet 2 are ones I have fancied playing in the past. The last 3 I actually got as part of a deal and only paid about £6 overall for all three of them. Most of these games though I have yet to play (at time of writing) as due to a recent busy schedule. I have been able to play Geometry Wars: Galaxies though and have found it to be rather fun.

Rainbow Six Vegas (Ubisoft - 2006)

Another game I have played recently is Harvest Moon DS. I have wanted to get a Harvest Moon game on my 3DS for a while now. I like these sort of games because while the idea of a farming game does not sound all that exciting, it is actually quite fun trying to run a farm, and do all the activities needed in running one. While I have sighted lots of Harvest Moon games in places like GAME, maybe CEX too, but when Harvest Moon DS turned up inside Barnardo’s, I just had to grab it. Why? Because it was going for about 99p. Doesn’t really show confidence in price from the shop selling it, but Barnardo’s isn’t exactly a video game shop. The other reason I just had to grab it is because of an issue with the cheap games thing. While most games reduce in price in rapid succession meaning that within a year a game could be nearly less than half its normal price, DS games don’t.

Nintendo 3DS

DS games cost the same as new games upon release. For some unknown reason (or that I just don’t know) however they don’t depreciate as quickly as other games. It could be that on one side because they are not a disc based format, are harder to make, but the lack of depreciation doesn’t make sense when you realise that the Nintendo DS is the Second Best Selling Video Game Console in history behind the PlayStation 2. So why it doesn’t depreciate is still something of a mystery. Because of the lack of depreciation though, it means that most pre-owned titles still cost rather a large amount of money, even if the game came out 2 or 3 years ago. Getting a copy of Geometry Wars: Galaxies and Harvest Moon DS then were good spells of luck as I got Harvest moon in the end for 49p, and Geometry Wars was £2.99. In the past when I wanted to buy games for my 3DS I have had to trade in games for value to buy them; such as when I bought Pokémon White. The expense bracket for 3DS game in particular means that while I do own a few games for the console (and borrow quite a few from my brother), I only have 1 3DS game (Super Pokémon Rumble) and consider it lucky that the 3DS plays all previous DS games too. Which does become rather sad when there are games I want to play on it, I will have to wait even longer to buy them.

Super Pokémon Rumble (Ambrella - 2011)

Waiting for games to get cheaper can get a bit tiresome when you want to just play them, but usually in the end it’s a lot more worth it, because even if the game turns out to be more mediocre, or just generally bad than what you were hoping for, at least you didn’t nearly break the bank buying it on day one of release. Also it means that you can play other things and try new things you didn’t first think about. It makes games less of a chore and plan as to which to buy next and the need to play the same as everyone else; something which it can easily become and more like the hobby you want it to be. You may also find a treasure or two too. For the time being I am just going to play the cheap stuff, (things pre-owned or mega cheap from GAME, CEX or That’s Entertainment), or things in the GOG.com and Steam sale seasons, but right now I have 3 PS3 games that I need to play, plus finish Beyond: Two Souls (I restarted playing it as I was too far behind).

Steam (Valve Corporation, 2003 - Present)

GENEPOOL





The Steam Issue

25 03 2015

Steam (Valve Corporation, 2003 - Present)

Ok, I have had my problems with Steam in the past, but most of those old ones are more or less resolved right now. Anyway, most of them came as a result of Supreme Commander 2. No, my latest issue with Steam is trying to decide what to play. I now have a large collection of games on Steam but choosing what to play is becoming something of a problem, but luckily the reasoning behind it is rather simple to explain. Still rather hard to solve.

Payday 2

The issue is not knowing whether or not my laptop will be able to play them or not. Since putting Steam on this laptop, most of the games I have played have not had much of an issue in terms of the power needed to play them. But more and more games that I have recently acquired require an element more power and so while they are easy to install, their gameplay is a little lacklustre. A couple of examples include Brütal Legend and Payday 2. I really like the first Payday, I think it’s absolutely terrific and offers a little more in multiplayer terms than Left 4 Dead 2. When I played Payday 2 however, it was apocalyptically slow and the only way I could make it any quicker was to drastically reduce every setting, and that still wasn’t enough. As for Brütal Legend, while I have previously played it on the PS3, on the PC it took time from the press of a button to the action being committed. So in the driving scenes this became particularly annoying. Due to these issues I have begun to get a little put off before putting titles on the Laptop due to the unsure-ity of whether or not they will be playable.

Skulls of the Shogun

More recently I have been playing a lot of mini games, things I can enjoy briefly while taking a break. Games include; Kingdom Rush, Skulls of the Shogun and One Finger Death Punch. But I still want to play games that are big and contain stories. Games that are mostly (First Person is preferable) action orientated but more importantly involve stories. Something to get into and involved with. The 2 games that stand out the most in this are is the Borderlands games, of which I have played 1 and 2. I love those games, but I don’t want to just continually play them over and over again when I have already done them. I need a touch of Variety. More recently I played The Wolf Among Us which I enjoyed so much, it is questioning me whether or not it is my favourite game.

The Wolf Among Us

I do have a PC upstairs which was purchased to be a gaming computer, but there is a list of problems that are just growing with that one. More recently I used it to play GOG.com games as I found that it was hard to play both a GOG.com game on my Laptop and have Steam installed games too. So I use the PC for GOG.com Games. This is also a better option for it too as the Wi-Fi signal is rather weak upstairs, whereas the laptop serves as a better platform for some PC gaming on Steam, such as Co-op. Other issues with the PC are that it is getting rather old and due to my choice of operating system (Vista) for when I bought it in 2007, several online features are being lost. For instance, I can’t have the next version of Internet Explorer on it, so I can’t use Facebook, and now neither can I access my GOG.com Profile. So an upgrade or a replacement is probably due, but I don’t have the money. However the machine still allows me to watch my; Region 1, DVD Coding, collection of Godzilla Films (due to them not being released in the UK, almost at all). In an ideal world I would replace it with something much more powerful and then have a wired internet connection to produce top quality gameplay play back. But as said, I don’t have the money to do so.

GOG.com Logo

Back to the steam issue, I have a lot of games I want to play, but am in fear of they’ll work or not. Recently I did try to play Metro 2033, but after the initial install, it just wouldn’t play, can’t remember why now. It pretty much refused to just start and showed me a box with a red X in it. Other games I have a worry for include Dead Island because it looks too graphically powered, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (or sometimes simply referred to as KOTOR) but mainly because it’s for an old OS, Saints Row: The Third, because I played Co-op with my brother and it jittered a lot, but that could be an internet connection issue (also I don’t do well controlling things in third person), Just Cause 2, Dragon Age: Origins, Risen (mostly because I don’t know what it’s about, the same has to go to Sacred 2 and Sacred Citadel) and the BioShock games (however at time of writing, I was installing 1, which I had also played on PS3). It has become something of fear and disappointment to me as I don’t know If I can play these games or not, and if when I buy something on Steam, I’ll be able to play it or not.

BioShock

Eventually I am just going to have to buck up and try it when I get games because I can’t necessarily let this thing corrode whether or not I want to play something. I have had some recent help from friends who have said which games should be playable or not, so I suppose I should just get on with it really. Or I could just go back to having GOG.com games on my Laptop again. I may finally be able to play a proper online game of Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds in that case.

Borderlands 2

GENEPOOL (So far, Bioshock is working).








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