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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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GENEPOOL





I Miss MAG

29 07 2015

MAG (Zipper Interactive - 2010)

MAG is a game I have mentioned on this blog on numerous occasions. It was a game produced by Zipper Interactive for the PS3 that was entirely multiplayer, meaning that there was no real single player mode……….apart from a little tutorial. The idea behind MAG (Massive Action Game) was to have one giant multiplayer battleground where up to 256 players, split into two teams and fight each other. At the time of release it was both revolutionary, but also risky as no-one could see a game with so many players working. Well, when it did work, it was a really enjoyable game.

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Out of all the games I have had on my PS3, I think it was the one I was most committed towards. From the first day I got it, to almost every day since then, I was playing on it. I was fighting in giant battles with players in my chosen faction against another faction. I was shooting enemy players, healing my teammates and securing objectives. While I wasn’t the best player in the game, I was doing well at it enough to enjoy it. If my PS3 had a time calculation thing on it (like games on Steam where it shows how many hours you have played games for), MAG, even to this day might still be my most played game on the console.

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The Faction I originally chose was Raven. I liked the futuristic, technological look of them, and I played the game right through to I think level 60, where players could then change the faction as Veteran, to which I did to become a fighter for Valor. As the game progressed I levelled up through several varying ranks and even got promoted to Team Commander, where I could lead a squad of 8 men including myself. As the game went on I also upgraded my character and received new weapons and skills. It was a game I liked as it gave me reason to continue, plus I enjoyed it so much, despite the fact that I probably died more times than killed people, but I don’t think I was too bad. The levels were good too, while most of the time it was restricted to just a few maps and objectives, some of these were large and varied enough to keep me interested. When new expansions came out I purchased them too, even if the demand for those levels eventually just dried up. On top of that, it had vehicles, paratroopers, guns galore, and a terrific soundtrack, plus an opening video. It’s E3 trailer from 2008 was pretty sweet too, and was the reason why I wanted to play it.

But eventually, it just began to die out. Levels began to get harder to get into, it was hard to fight on missions you wanted to as it relied on other people wanting to play them too. Then eventually, it’s time came, as the servers were announced to be shut down. I quickly traded in my copy somewhere, just so I didn’t have a dead useless weight in my collection that couldn’t be played again.

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It’s true; I really do miss this game. I could only play it downstairs as that was where the best internet connection was to play it. I enjoyed it more than multiplayer on Call of Duty:Modern Warfare 2, as MAG had things to strive for, while CODMW2 just didn’t for me. It has left me with some terrific memories, but sadly is not the same as playing it. I will just have to find something else to play instead, and wait until another game like it, maybe, one day (hopefully) comes along.

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GENEPOOL (maybe if a new Frontlines game is made, it could be the multiplayer for that?)








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